A Possible Ezekiel Elliott Holdout, Jarrett and Gould Get Paid, No Deal for Clowney
1. With Grady Jarrett and Robbie Gould both striking extensions with their teams before today's 4 p.m. deadline for franchise tagged players, Jadeveon Clowney is the lone player in position to play on the tag this year. We wrote in last week’s MMQB that we expected the Texans would not agree to a long-term deal with Clowney. He’s had some injury issues throughout his career, but a bigger factor may be that the Texans may not feel his production warrants Clowney being paid as a top-tier pass rusher. This saga appears to be far from over. Clowney, who has not signed his tag, can hold out from training camp without being subject to fines since he does not have a contract. He also can challenge the Texans’ decision to tag him as a linebacker rather than a defensive end.
2. It’s a unique structure for the 49ers’ Robbie Gould deal. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, it’s a two-year, $10.5 million fully guaranteed contract, which includes an option clause that can turn it into a four-year, $19 million deal with $15 million guaranteed. The 49ers typically do not offer full guarantees in future years of contracts, but after Gould requested a trade earlier this season and sat out offseason workouts, the sides reached a compromise that will give both the 49ers and Gould at least two years of security.
3. Ezekiel Elliott taking a hardline contract sense makes sense. Pro Football Talk reported today that the Cowboys RB has said privately that he will hold out of training camp if he does not get a new contract. Elliott has two years left on his rookie deal (the Cowboys picked up his fifth-year option this spring), and knowing that the team sees him as the centerpiece of the offense, now would be the time to put pressure on Jerry Jones before his value begins to diminish.
4. On the other hand, I don’t believe that Melvin Gordon carries the same leverage as Elliott. Not to mention, his stance regarding his contract has been somewhat inconsistent. One of his agents told ESPN that, absent a new contract, he will not report to training camp and will demand a new deal. But Gordon himself said he wants to remain a Charger, adding, “I’m not going to sit here and be like, ‘Man, I don’t want to go back to the Chargers.’” I don’t think that Gordon, 26, has particularly great leverage as it is: His production tailed off toward the end of the 2018 season (he didn’t top 70 rushing yards after Week 10 of last season, and had a total of 55 yards and 2.1 per carry over two playoff games) after suffering another knee injury, and Todd Gurley’s injury issues and late-season drop-off after signing a lucrative extension certainly gives pause to other teams deciding whether to pay a running back.
5. After the WSJ reported last week that the NFL plans to discuss with players in CBA negotiations the idea of an 18-game schedule, with players eligible to play 16 of those games, there's been a lot of discussion about if or how the schedule could be re-formatted. This idea would be a way to get to the 18 games the owners covet for economic reasons without expanding the number of games each player participates in, which would fly in the face of health and safety efforts. But, as Peter King laid out in his FMIA column this morning, the logistics would be tricky. There’s another proposal that has some appeal, which we wrote about a few years ago based off a reader comment: A 19-week season with 17 games and two bye weeks. The second bye week could give players an extra break during the season to help their bodies recover, and also could be used to ensure that no team has to play on just three days rest, by placing the bye before Thursday night games. The 17th game could be used for neutral-site games in both international and domestic locations, and in exchange the preseason could be reduced by two games.
6. The Giants suspended safety Kamrin Moore from the team after he was charged with third-degree aggravated assault for punching a woman and stepping on her neck, according to court records cited by NJ Advance Media. In a statement, Moore’s agent, Eugene Lee, called the charges “baseless” and said he believed that Moore would be “exonerated and vindicated completely.”
7. The Bengals’ biggest offseason need, hands down, was their offensive line, which (not coincidentally) was a strength of the team when it made the playoffs five straight years. After losing first-round draft pick Jonah Williams for the season to shoulder surgery, guard Clint Boling retired on Monday due to medical reasons. In a prove-it year for Andy Dalton, the Bengals will have big question marks up front.
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