The NFL Draft is fast approaching, but NFL teams are still trying to put the finishing touches on this year’s free agent class. Let’s check out all of the top headlines from the past week.
The Dallas Cowboys stole headlines this week by signing defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence to a five-year, $105 million extension. Lawrence received the franchise tag earlier this offseason, but rather than spending 2019 with that label, the two sides have come to an agreement. The new contract includes $65 million in guaranteed money, the fourth-highest sum among defensive players. Of course, Lawrence played last season with a torn labrum, limiting him to just 10.5 sacks after accumulating 14.5 sacks the previous season. Lawrence will soon have shoulder surgery that will keep him out until training camp.
He Said, He Said
A number of headlines were made last week relating to a feud between former Packers coach Mike McCarthy and star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. According to a report, there was widespread dysfunction in the Packers organization, as well as claims that McCarthy and Rodgers didn’t get along, possibly costing the team opportunities to win more than one Super Bowl while one of the best quarterbacks in league history was in his prime.
McCarthy called some of the allegations about him in the report “absurd,” specifically knocking down the notion that he received massages in his office rather than go to team meetings. Rodgers, meanwhile, called the report a “smear attack.” The quarterback pointed out that he wouldn’t have been offered an extension last year if there were deep, underlying problems between him and McCarthy and that he wouldn’t have stayed in Green Bay if he didn’t like McCarthy, knowing that the head coach would be there a long time if the Packers continued to win and make the playoffs, which had been the case until the last two seasons.
The Raiders continue to be the business team in the NFL during the offseason. They made two more signings this past week, adding defensive end Alex Barrett and safety Jordan Richards. Barrett is coming off a stint in the AAF while Richards made 12 starts for the injury-riddled Falcons last season.
Before making those two signings, the Raiders parted ways with wide receiver Seth Roberts. Soon after being released by Oakland, Roberts caught on with the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are once again revamping the wide receiver position in hopes of giving Lamar Jackson more support on the outside than he had last season. Of course, Roberts joins Chris Moore and Willie Snead as the only receivers on Baltimore’s roster who have caught a pass in the NFL.
Someone’s Been Bad
Minnesota Vikings cornerback Holton Hill will sit out the first four games of the 2019 season after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Hill was an undrafted rookie last season but ended up being a key part of the Minnesota defense amidst injuries to starting corners Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes. Hill reportedly failed a drug last at last year’s NFL Combine. If everyone stays healthy this year, Hill could have a hard time working his way back up the depth chart with the Vikings.
Paying Off for Some People
The Alliance of American Football has suspended operations, but the short-lived league has paid dividends for a number of players who are now getting an opportunity in the NFL. The Chiefs were the first to sign an AAF player, adding cornerback Keith Reaser, and a number of teams have followed their lead. To date, over a dozen players have signed with NFL teams after their stint in the AAF, including three offensive linemen who all signed with the Panthers, quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who signed with Cleveland, and wide receiver Rashad Ross, who is going to the Panthers after leading the AAF with seven touchdown catches.
Let’s Try This
The Buffalo Bills have made an interesting addition to their backfield, signing former rugby player Christian Wade as a running back. The 27-year-old was part of the NFL’s International Pathway Program that gives players from overseas a chance to make it in the league. The other three teams in the AFC East will also be adding a player from the program, with those four teams all receiving an extra roster spot. Wade is just 5’8’’ and 190 pounds and ran a 4.53 40-yard dash at his Pro Day in Tampa. He joins an aging Buffalo backfield that also includes Frank Gore and LeSean McCoy.