It’s taken a little while to get here, but the NFL Draft is less than a week away. While we wait, let’s check out the top news stories from around the league not related to the draft.
Beat the Deadline
All eyes were on Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks this week, as Wilson set an April 15 deadline for signing an extension. At the 11th hour, the sides reached an agreement, with Wilson getting a four-year, $140 million extension, including a $65 million signing bonus. With the new contract, Wilson has surpassed Aaron Rodgers as the league’s highest paid player with an average of $35 million per season. The extension will also keep Wilson in Seattle through the 2023 season. The deal follows a week of great speculation about Wilson’s future and how much he wanted to stay in Seattle long-term. Obviously, this deal will put that talk to rest.
Big Money Extensions
Two of the best young wide receivers in the NFL received long-term commitments from their teams this past week. First, Sterling Shepard agreed to a four-year, $41 million extension with the Giants that includes $21.3 million guaranteed. Shepard caught 66 passes for over 800 yards last season, playing both outside receiver and in the slot. He figures to have an even bigger role in the team’s offense moving forward after the Giants traded away Odell Beckham Jr.
Elsewhere, the Vikings inked Adam Thielen to a four-year, $64 million extension. The two-time Pro Bowler will get $35 million guaranteed and could make up to $73 million with incentives. Once an undrafted free agent who went to a Division 2 college, Thielen has over 2,600 yards receiving over the past two seasons, totaling 13 touchdowns, and is now part of one of the best receiver tandems in the NFL alongside Stefon Diggs.
Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette just can’t seem to stay out of the headlines, and for all of the wrong reasons. Fournette was arrested last week following a routine traffic stop for speeding, improperly tinted windows, and knowingly driving with a suspended or revoked license. His license had been suspended in Florida for failing to pay a speeding ticket he received in November 2018. Fournette paid the bond of just over $1,500 and was released after less than 30 minutes in custody. The Jaguars are aware and gathering more information. This doesn’t appear to be a huge deal for Fournette, but it’s just one more thing to pile onto all of his other on- and off-field issues over the last year or two.
Big Shoes to Fill
Many people around the New England Patriots are still holding out hope that Rob Gronkowski will change his mind about retiring. However, the team is preparing to move on without him, signing Austin Sefarian-Jenkins this past week. The former 2nd-round pick had just 11 catches in Jacksonville last season. But he’s just two years removed from catching 50 passes for the Jets in 2017. He figures to be New England’s starting tight end this season barring something eventful happening during the preseason.
Happy to Be Here
The New York Jets have signed Ty Montgomery to be their backup to running back Le’Veon Bell this season. The 26-year-old Montgomery finished last season with the Ravens after three and a half seasons with the Packers. He’s had some ups and downs in his career, but he should be a stable backup behind Bell rather than the Jets leaning on youngster Elijah McGuire to be Bell’s primary backup.
On the Mend
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz indicated this week that he’s still not 100% recovered from the stress fracture in his back that ended his 2018 season early. When Wentz was sidelined in December, the team said recovery would take about three months. However, four months later, Wentz says: “It’s still getting there.” Of course, there are a few more months until the start of training camp for Wentz to get back to 100%. However, without Nick Foles around, the Eagles should be a little more concerned about their starting quarterback being slow to recover from an injury.
So There Was a Problem?
Elsewhere on the injury front, Todd Gurley answered questions about his bum knee on Monday after questions about his health arose leading up to the Super Bowl last season. Gurley said his knee was “feeling pretty good” but didn’t completely deny reports that he has a degenerative condition, adding “I don’t know how I’m going to be feeling six months from now.” It appears Gurley is confident that he’ll be fine for next season, although some uncertainty is sure to linger until the season gets underway.