Thu May 28 1:35pm ET
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
In this Jan. 5, 2020, file photo, Philadelphia Eagles' Carson Wentz is hit by Seattle Seahawks' Jadeveon Clowney (90) during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game in Philadelphia. The Browns remain interested in Clowney, the talented defensive end _ and former No. 1 overall draft pick _ who remains unsigned and the top target on the free agent market. During a Zoom meeting with reporters on Thursday, May 28, 2020, Browns new defensive coordinator Joe Wood praised Clowney but deferrred any questions about the Browns' pursuit of the speedy edge rusher to general manager Andrew Berry.(AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
In this Sept. 8, 2019, file photo, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney sits on the bench during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Seattle. The Browns remain interested in Clowney, the talented defensive end _ and former No. 1 overall draft pick _ who remains unsigned and the top target on the free agent market. During a Zoom meeting with reporters on Thursday, May 28, 2020, Browns new defensive coordinator Joe Wood praised Clowney but deferrred any questions about the Browns' pursuit of the speedy edge rusher to general manager Andrew Berry.(AP Photo/John Froschauer, File)
CLEVELAND (AP) Myles Garrett on one end. Jadeveon Clowney on the other.
Just the thought of it elicited a quick smile from new Browns coordinator Joe Woods, who oversaw a star-studded defensive front in San Francisco and could have a similar one in Cleveland.
The Browns remain interested in Clowney, the talented defensive end - and the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2014 - who remains unsigned and the top current target on the free agent market.
During a Zoom meeting with reporters on Thursday, Woods praised Clowney but deferred any questions about the Browns' pursuit of the speedy edge rusher to general manager Andrew Berry.
''Obviously, he has been a really good player in this league, a great pass rusher when he was in Houston, in Seattle,'' Woods said.
''Just really affects the game. To be honest with you, that is really a question you have to ask Andrew. I read the articles, too. I see him linked to us, Tennessee and see all these teams. Really, right now, I am really focused on coaching the guys we have.''
Clowney spent last year with Seattle, which acquired him in a stunning trade from Houston before the season. It's possible the 27-year-old, who had a career-high 9 1/2 sacks with the Texans in 2017, could stay in the Pacific Northwest and re-sign with the Seahawks.
However, the possibility of him as a bookend on a Cleveland line opposite Garrett, the No. 1 overall pick in 2017, has caused some of the Browns' barking fans to salivate.
Berry has been consistent in saying he'll stay aggressive to bolster Cleveland's roster.
It's just fantasy football at this point. But until Clowney, who reportedly turned down an offer from the Browns already, decides what he wants to do, it's still in play.
Woods knows something about dominant defensive lines. The 49ers had one of the league's best last season as Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas and Co. wreaked havoc on opposing lines and quarterbacks. The group had 48 sacks.
Woods said it took time for the unit to jell. But once the players figured out they were better collectively, egos were put aside and they never looked back.
''You have a bunch of alpha dogs out there and they all want to be the guy,'' Woods said. ''What they learned in San Francisco, and I think the guys here will learn, is that if you all work together, everybody is going to eat. That is what you want. You do not want anybody going hungry, right? You want everybody to eat.''
Cleveland's defensive front under-performed last season, and that was even before Garrett was suspended for the final six games for his helmet-swinging attack on Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph.
Berry addressed the line in free agency by signing former Bengals tackle Andrew Billings and ex-Falcons end Adrian Clayborn. In the draft, Cleveland added Missouri standout Jordan Elliott, who will provide some needed inside depth.
If the Browns sign Clowney, it could mean they'd move on from Olivier Vernon, a Pro Bowler in 2018 with the Giants whose first season with Cleveland was slowed by a knee injury. Vernon seemed to be settling in when he got hurt, and now the Browns have to gauge his long-term value with the 29-year-old scheduled to make $15 million this season.
His future has been a constant source of speculation this offseason, but Woods said he's been impressed by Vernon's dedication.
''All of my conversations have been good with him,'' Woods said. ''I get on the phone and talk to him personally. He is ready to go. We just had an honest conversation, and he has been great. He is 100 percent attendance, In all the meetings, he has been there and he is speaking up. I just think for him, he really wants to just come back this year, play healthy and just show everybody what he is capable of doing. So far, he has been great.''
July 5th: Tightend Preview
New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead has agreed to restructure his deal for the upcoming 2020 NFL season. His base salary will drop from $2.5 million to $1.05 million and includes a $550,000 signing bonus in 2020. The 30-year-old running back is entering his final year of his deal with the Pats. Sony Michel, James White, and possibly Damien Harris will all be above Burkhead on the depth chart. He won't carry much value in most fantasy formats, but a couple of injuries could open up an opportunity for Burkhead. However, until that happens, Burkhead will be stuck towards the bottom of the depth chart.
The Cleveland Browns and edge rusher Olivier Vernon have agreed to a restructured deal for the 2020 season. Vernon was originally owed $15.25 million non-guaranteed and will now bring home $11 million guaranteed for this upcoming season, with a $3.75 base salary and a $7 million signing bonus. The team and the pass-rusher were originally expected to part ways earlier in the offseason but he will stick around to bookend star defender Myles Garrett at least for another year.
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III thinks Denver's backfield in 2020 will be explosive with himself and Phillip Lindsay. Gordon realizes that both he and Lindsay will be fighting to be the No. 1 back, regardless of the balance in the play-calling. "I hope it's electric, man, just cause it's crazy that his numbers [are what they are]; I just had a season with Austin Ekeler phenomenal player. Their game is about the same. And I think Lindsay is a great, phenomenal back," Gordon said. The former Bolts back acknowledged that the two will be competing for top-dog duties, but the Broncos didn't sign Gordon in free agency for him to be the No. 2. The two-time Pro Bowler should see plenty of work and is an RB2 with upside in an offense more suited to his strengths.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson ended last year as one of the league's most dominant players. He finished with 3,127 passing yards and 36 touchdowns (six interceptions) while maintaining an exceptional 66.1 completion percentage. He also added 1,206 yards and seven additional scores on the ground and finished second with 867 rushing yards before contact. Though it is reasonable to think that the 23-year-old will regress this season, analyst Marcellus Wiley believes the opposite. While conversing on Fox Sports "Speak for Yourself," the former defensive end stated that he feels the young signal-caller will be "greater than great" in 2020, which is a scary declaration considering his statistical output through 15 games last season. He also indicated that a second consecutive MVP award is on the horizon. Whether fantasy managers agree or not, they should expect Jackson to be the first or second quarterback off the draft boards for the upcoming campaign.
The San Francisco 49ers have signed journeyman cornerback Jamar Taylor and waived cornerback Teez Tabor in a deep roster move on Monday. Taylor has bounced around the league for seven years, and he's likely to serve as nothing more than some depth at DB on the off chance that the team needs it. With COVID-19 cutting a swath through rosters this season though, depth players may find themselves in starring roles if push comes to shove. Hopefully, Taylor won't have to be leaned on very hard.
The Kansas City Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes agreed to a 10-year contract extension on Monday, according to a league source. The deal that ties Mahomes to Kansas City through the 2031 season will be the richest contract in NFL history. Last year's Super Bowl MVP had two years remaining on his contract, so it's essentially a 12-year contract in total. Mahomes' extension is worth over $400 million in total, and sources think it will be tied to a percentage of the salary cap for each season. Cha ching. Mahomes cashes in after winning MVP in 2018 with 50 regular season touchdowns and leading the Chiefs to a Super Bowl title last season. His dual-threat ability makes him extremely dangerous on the football field in KC's explosive offense. Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are the top two fantasy signal-callers in 2020.
Detroit Lions WR Kenny Golladay recorded 17 receptions of at least 25 yards during the 2019 season.
Fantasy Spin: Golladay was successful last season even though he had to play with several quarterbacks. He has a chance to improve on his stats with a full season with Matthew Stafford. He should be at least a No. 2 receiver in all fantasy leagues and will be a weekly starting option.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes agreed to terms on a 10-year contract extension with the Chiefs Monday, July 6, that will run through the 2031 season, according to sources. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the contract with be the richest contract in NFL history.
Fantasy Spin: Mahomes is coming off his first championship and is only 24 years old, so the Chiefs locked him up for most of the rest of his career. He is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and is a must-start in all fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers CB Teez Tabor (undisclosed) was waived Monday, July 6, with a Non-Football Injury designation.
Free-agent CB Jamar Taylor (Falcons) signed a one-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers Monday, July 6. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Adam Schefter is reporting the Chiefs and QB Patrick Mahomes have reached an agreement on a 10-year contract extension that ties him to Kansas City through the 2031 season.
New York Jets head coach Adam Gase was looking to trade safety Marcus Maye prior to the start of last season, and general manager Joe Douglas has been fielding offers for him for almost a year. Maye is in the final year of his rookie deal and isn't believed to be in the team's long-term plans, especially since the Jets would prefer to extend All-Pro safety Jamal Adams instead. New York also selected safety Ashtyn Davis in the third round this year. The 27-year-old had 65 combined tackles and an interception over a full season in 2019, but he has only four interceptions and half a sack in his three seasons in the NFL. You can ignore Maye in IDP leagues.
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku demanded a trade from the team several days ago but the team may not be so quick to accommodate him. ESPN's Josina Anderson tweeted on Monday that she believes that Njoku is still a big part of the Browns' plans going forward. Anderson went on to state that the Chicago Bears have been monitoring the situation, signaling that they may be a potential trade partner if Njoku is moved. The Browns signed Austin Hooper earlier in the offseason, prompting Njoku to want out of town.
Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku remains a big part of the Browns' offense, but a source said that Njoku has wanted out.
Fantasy Spin: Njoku is coming off of a lost season, and now he has Austin Hooper in town fresh off of a career year. So Njoku is blocked to a degree, but he might be a lottery ticket TE2 late in drafts.
San Francisco 49ers George Kittle remains without a new contract. While some reports suggest that the 26-year-old could land a deal that would pay him around $17 million per year, Matt Barrows from the Athletic was the latest to chime in, with the reporter hinting that Kittle would instead receive $13 million per year. The 2017 fifth-round pick has been one of the most consistent producers for the team over the years and finished the 2019 regular season with 85 receptions for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns. Fantasy managers should prepare for him to be the first or second tight end selected in fantasy drafts for 2020.
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs could be in line for a breakout year, a sentiment that was echoed by ESPN's Mike Clay, who predicted the sophomore back to total 1,400 yards from scrimmage this season. The 22-year-old finished 2019 with 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns but was hindered by a shoulder issue that cost him three games while impacting him in others. With the Raiders having some potent weapons on the receiving end, things may open up more for Jacobs in 2020. Look for him to fly off the draft boards within the first round the majority of fantasy drafts for the upcoming campaign.
New York Giants DE Leonard Williams is seeking $18-$20 million in a long-term extension. The Giants are unwilling to approach that price tag.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon could lead the league in rushing this season, according to MSN's Matt Johnson. Johnson stated that with the team's enhanced offensive line and the arrival of rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, he wouldn't be surprised if the 23-year-old accumulated nearly 1,400 yards on the ground this year. Mixon finished last season with 1,137 yards and five touchdowns off of a career-high 278 attempts. He also pulled in 35 catches for three additional scores and ranked seventh in rushing yards after contact. Fantasy managers will want to plan accordingly as he should be one of the first backs off the boards in fantasy drafts for the 2020 campaign.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley could be in line for his best season yet under new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. According to NFL Network's Kimberly Jones, the team "may run an offense that's similar to the Cowboy's scheme under Garrett." Dallas was ranked in the top 10 in rush attempts under Garrett between 2016 and 2019, during which time, Ezekiel Elliott won two rushing titles. Despite being hindered by a high ankle sprain last season, Barkley still ran for over 1,000 yards and had six touchdowns in 13 appearances while also catching 51 receptions for an additional two scores. Look for him to come off the board within the first three picks in fantasy drafts for the 2020 campaign, especially in PPR formats.