Wed Mar 3 6:22pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Feb. 25, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders general manager Mike Mayock speaks during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis. Las Vegas Raiders general manager Mike Mayock says the jury is still out on whether highly paid right tackle Trent Brown will be back in 2021 after being limited by injuries in his first two seasons with the team. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
In this Sept. 9, 2019, file photo, Oakland Raiders offensive tackle Trent Brown (77) protects a gap in the offensive line during an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, in Oakland, Calif. Las Vegas Raiders general manager Mike Mayock says the jury is still out on whether highly paid right tackle Trent Brown will be back in 2021 after being limited by injuries in his first two seasons with the team. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit, File)
Las Vegas Raiders general manager Mike Mayock says the ''jury is still out'' on whether highly paid right tackle Trent Brown will be back in 2021 after being limited by injuries in his first two seasons with the team.
The Raiders gave Brown a $66 million, four-year contract in free agency in 2019 in Mayock's first season as general manager to be the anchor of the line.
But after a strong start to his tenure, Brown has been hampered by various injuries and a bout with COVID-19. He managed to be healthy enough to play at least 10 snaps in just 14 of 32 games since joining the Raiders.
''When he's healthy, in shape and ready to go, he's as dominant as any tackle in football,'' Mayock said Wednesday. ''He proved that early in the 2019 season. Since then, it's been kind of a roller coaster. What he needs to do more than anything is get himself in the best shape of his life and come out ready to prove that he is a dominant tackle in the National Football League. That's all it takes. If Trent gets in shape and stays committed, there's not a better talent out there.''
Brown, who is listed at 6-foot-8, 380 pounds, wasn't in great shape when he arrived last season and missed most of training camp with a calf injury. He returned to play the opener but lasted just three snaps before injuring his other calf.
Brown played well in a victory at Kansas City in Week 5 before missing the next seven games after testing positive for COVID-19 and having a reported mishap with an IV that sent him to the hospital before a game at Cleveland.
He returned to play three games in December before missing the season finale with a knee injury.
Brown has salaries of $14 million for 2021 and $15.25 million in 2022 but none of that is guaranteed and the Raiders could trade or cut him without any impact on the salary cap.
''We believe in the talent of that player,'' Mayock said. ''There would be nothing finer than you have Trent Brown at right tackle protecting Derek Carr next year. But the jury's out and we still have to make some decisions on our roster in general.''
The Raiders could have other changes coming on the offensive line with the team expected to release starting right guard Gabe Jackson as well in order to save more than $9 million in salary cap room.
Las Vegas is hoping left guard Richie Incognito can return healthy after missing almost all last season with an ankle injury.
But Mayock once again gave public support for Carr to remain at quarterback despite speculation about possible trades for stars like DeShaun Watson or Russell Wilson.
Carr set career highs last season with 4,103 yards passing and a 101.4 passer rating to go along with 27 TD passes. But he also ranked tied for fourth in the league with the most turnovers with 17 as the Raiders collapsed down the stretch for a second straight season.
The Raiders lost five of six following a 6-4 start in 2019 and went 2-5 last season after having a 6-3 record through Week 10. The Raiders have had one winning record in the past 18 seasons.
Las Vegas fired defensive coordinator Paul Guenther during that collapse and brought on Gus Bradley to improve a unit that has ranked among the worst in the league in coach Jon Gruden's three seasons.
The offense ranked 10th in the league in scoring at 27.1 points per game and Mayock hopes to build on that with Carr.
''I think he's one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and we couldn't be happier with him,'' Mayock said. ''We evaluate every position every year. I have no idea who might call me or who may not call me. So you have to do the evaluation both on your own player and every other player in the league. You got to stack your boards and understand what league value is all around the league. And we do that. I think Jon and I would both stand shoulder to shoulder and pound the table for Derek Carr.''
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has yet to make a decision on whether he'll continue his career in 2021, and general manager Steve Keim said that the window remains open for Arizona to find a way to bring him back. Keim also said that the start of the new league year on March 17 is not a deadline for Fitzgerald to decide on whether he'll return. The future Hall of Famer had the lowest production totals of his career in 2020, catching 54 passes for 409 yards and only one touchdown behind DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk. The Cardinals wouldn't mind if the 37-year-old returns for another season, but fantasy managers have already moved on with Fitz moving to more of a secondary role in the Cardinals offense. With a lowered salary cap, Fitzgerald will likely have to return at a reduced cost if he wants to make one more run at a championship.
The Las Vegas Raiders don't sound like they're looking to get rid of quarterback Derek Carr this offseason. "I think Derek Carr had his best year yet, under Jon Gruden. I think he's one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and we couldn't be happier with him," general manager Mike Mayock said Wednesday. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback's name has come up in trade rumors, but it sounds like the Raiders are content in keeping him around. Las Vegas is more likely to trade backup Marcus Mariota, although his trade market has dried up in recent weeks. Fullback Alec Ingold and star tight end Darren Waller have voiced their support for Carr this week as well. While the 29-year-old did have the best season of his career in 2020, he's still more of a QB2 in fantasy circles.
The Washington Football Team released veteran linebacker Thomas Davis on Wednesday. Davis had announced back in December that he would be retiring after the 2020 season. The soon-to-be 38-year-old finished his lone season with Washington with just six tackles and a pass defensed in seven games played (no starts). He spent one year with the Chargers in 2019, but before that he spent 13 years of his career in his prime with the Carolina Panthers. A three-time Pro Bowler from 2015-17, including one first-team All-Pro selection, Thomas will finish his career with 1,216 total tackles (90 for loss), 13 interceptions, 55 passes defensed, 18 forced fumbles, 11 fumble recoveries (one touchdown) and 29 sacks in 15 NFL seasons.
New Orleans Saints executive vice president/general manager Mickey Loomis announced on Wednesday that the team has terminated the contracts of tight ends Jared Cook and Josh Hill. Cook is a 12-year veteran who was originally selected in the third round of the 2009 draft out of South Carolina. Since joining the Saints in 2019, he has recorded 80 catches for 1,209 yards (15.1 average) and 16 touchdowns, which is tied for the second-most TDs at the position during that span. The 33-year-old was due an $8.04 million roster bonus on the second day of the new league year. He was a Pro Bowler in 2019, when he had 43 catches for 705 yards and nine touchdowns. With both Cook and Hill now out of the picture in New Orleans, Adam Trautman could be a name to watch as a sleeper at the position in 2021.
The Las Vegas Raiders have had talks about potentially trading offensive tackle Trent Brown, according to a source. With few quality available tackles in free agency this year, the Raiders could receive some real interest in Brown. "The jury is still out here, he's under contract. We believe in the talent of that player. There would be nothing finer than having Trent Brown protecting Derek Carr in the season opener. But the jury is still out," general manager Mike Mayock said. The 27-year-old would account for a $14 million salary cap hit in 2021 if he remains on the roster, which is second on the team to Carr's $22 million. Brown hasn't performed up to expectations and played in just five games in 2020 due to conditioning issues, injuries and multiple trips to the COVID-19 list. He was limited to 11 games in his first season with the team, although he still earned his first Pro Bowl nod.
Former Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $6.2 million with the Detroit Lions on Wednesday, according to a source. With both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones set to hit free agency -- Golladay is a candidate to receive the franchise tag -- Williams gives Detroit some insurance at the position heading into free agency in a few weeks. The 29-year-old pass-catcher didn't play at all during the 2020 season due to injury, but he found the end zone six times in 14 games for the Raiders in 2019. He's also had a 1,000-yard season back with the Chargers, so he could rebound if he can stay on the field in 2021. However, being paired up with new quarterback Jared Goff won't give him a ton of fantasy upside, especially if Golladay returns.
Former Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker, who took off last season due to COVID-19 and to get 100 percent healthy, intends to play again in 2021, according to a source. Walker, a three-time Pro Bowler with Tennessee from 2015-17, played in just eight combined games due to injury in 2018 and 2019. In his most recent season in 2019, the 36-year-old veteran had 21 catches on 31 targets for 215 yards and just two touchdowns in seven games (four starts). Smith had a 1,000-yard receiving season in 2015 and had four straight campaigns with at least 800 yards receiving, but he hasn't been healthy in years and is ancient for an NFL tight end. He could command some interest on the open market, but it remains to be seen if he'll have a shot to regain some fantasy relevance.
New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas said he's had "productive" talks with agent Erik Burkhardt on impending free-agent safety Marcus Maye, who is a franchise-tag candidate. The soon-to-be 28-year-old had two sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles while racking up a career-high 88 tackles (52 solo) for the Jets in 2020. Since being selected by the Jets in the second round out of the University of Florida in 2017, Maye has 266 tackles (189 solo), six interceptions, 22 passes defensed, four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and 2.5 sacks in 54 games, all of which he has started. New defensive-minded head coach Robert Saleh obviously wants to keep Maye in the fold at free safety for New York's secondary.
Former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who is projected as the No. 1 overall pick in this year's NFL draft, said his rehab from left non-throwing shoulder surgery last month is going better than expected. He underwent surgery on Feb. 16 to fix damage to the labrum of his left shoulder. Lawrence remains in California, rehabbing his shoulder at MOTUS Specialists Physical Therapy in Orange County. The focus of his rehab right now is working within pain-free ranges of motion and strengthening the scapular (shoulder blade) muscles along with the core. Lawrence is expected to remain in a brace for around two more weeks, and he could begin throwing in six to eight weeks if the rehab goes as planned. Expected to land with Jacksonville at No. 1 overall, Lawrence could be fantasy relevant in single-year leagues right away as a QB2 with upside.
The New Orleans Saints agreed to a two-year deal worth $4 million with safety and special-teamer J.T. Gray on Wednesday, according to sources. The deal includes $2 million guaranteed. The Saints also did a simple restructure on defensive tackle David Onyemata's contract, creating $4.34 million in salary cap space heading into the 2021 season. With plenty of work to get under the salary cap this season, New Orleans has also considered trading defensive tackle Malcom Brown. Brown is in the final year of a three-year deal and his departure, combined with Onyemata's restructure, would clear nearly $10 million in salary cap space. The Saints are likely to continue with smaller re-signings and restructures in the coming days and weeks.
San Francisco 49ers center Weston Richburg (hip) recently underwent hip surgery, according to a source. There is currently no timetable for Richburg's return. After he did not play in 2020 due to other injuries and while being owed $8.35 million in 2021, it's likely that Richburg has played his final down for the Niners. His future on the field is also up in the air moving forward. The 29-year-old former second-round pick of the New York Giants in 2014 last played in 13 games for the 49ers in 2019. He spent four years with the G-Men before joining San Francisco in 2018. Coming off hip surgery and having not played since 2019, Richburg could easily struggle to find work if he hits the open market this year.
The Minnesota Vikings released long-time tight end Kyle Rudolph on Tuesday, ending a 10-year tenure with the team for the two-time Pro Bowl selection. According to Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot, Rudolph would reportedly love to join back up with former offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, now the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, if the team moves on from David Njoku this offseason. Clearly on the downside of his career, Rudolph caught just 28 passes and one touchdown in 2020 while appearing in 12 games. There's no word yet as to whether the Browns would be interested in Rudolph's services, although Stefanski's familiarity with the tight end certainly could help. His days as an impact tight end are over, but the 31-year-old could emerge as a depth option, either in Cleveland or elsewhere.
Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is reportedly engaging in contract talks with the team that are 'more productive than they have been' in previous months, according to a source via Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News.
The Minnesota Vikings released tight end Kyle Rudolph on Tuesday, according to sources. Rudolph becomes a free agent after 10 seasons and two trips to the Pro Bowl with Minnesota. He was set to make a base salary of $7.65 million in 2021 in the second season of a four-year, $36 million contract. Releasing Rudolph will save the team a little more than $5 million in salary cap space and $8 million in cash in 2021. A second-round pick in 2011, the 31-year-old is a free agent for the first time in his career and should draw real interest on the open market. In the right situation, he could return to TE1 status as a solid red-zone target. Back in Minnesota, Irv Smith Jr. had already started to take over as the team's top pass-catching tight end in 2020. Smith had 30 catches for 365 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games (seven starts) last year, while Rudolph had 28 receptions for 334 yards and one TD in 12 starts.
Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley has recorded a league-high 89 catches on throws that traveled at least 10 yards in the air since the start of the 2019 season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Fantasy Spin: Ridley is an exquisite route-runner, which helps to explain how he is so proficient in the intermediate passing game. Julio Jones figures to remain the alpha receiver in the Atlanta offense for at least another year or two, but 2020 removed any doubt that Ridley is more than ready to slide into that role. Ridley averaged 88 yards receiving in the seven full games Jones missed last year, but he only scored two of his nine touchdowns in those contests. Ridley should be among the first 10 receivers off the board in fantasy drafts this spring and summer.
Arizona Cardinals DE J.J. Watt (101) and DE/LB Chandler Jones rank first and tied for second in the league in sacks since the start of the 2012 season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Free-agent TE Kyle Rudolph (Vikings) leads the NFL with a drop rate of just one percent on catchable passes since 2017, according to Pro Football Focus Tuesday, March 2.
Fantasy Spin: Rudolph is sure to have a market, especially with a jump on free agency. He could be a top red-zone option in the right offense and will be a quality low-end TE1 option in 2021 fantasy drafts.
Green Bay Packers WR Devin Funchess hasn't shared his intentions for the 2021 season with the team after opting out of the 2020 campaign, according to offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett Tuesday, March 2. He remains under contract.
Fantasy Spin: The Packers may not have as much of a need for Funchess after the emergence of WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling in 2020. WR Allen Lazard projects as the starter opposite Davante Adams. Funchess can be dropped in all dynasty leagues.
Updating a previous story, releasing DL Henry Anderson Tuesday, March 2, will save the New York Jets $8.2 million in cap space for the 2021 season.
Chicago Bears WR Allen Robinson is a candidate to receive the franchise tag for the 2021 season, according to general manager Ryan Pace Tuesday, March 2. 'No firm decision on that yet, but we know we have it at our disposal. ... We want to keep our good players and Allen is a good player for us,' Pace said.
Fantasy Spin: Robinson was the team leader in targets, receptions and receiving yards in 2020, and his six touchdowns ranked second among pass-catchers. WR Darnell Mooney would be the next-best in-house option if the Bears do part with Robinson. Robinson is a top WR2 regardless of where he plays in 2021, but his volume in Chicago has provided a very steady floor of fantasy production.