It's being touted as "Franchise Tag Friday" with the NFL deadline for negotiations on players franchise tagged expired on July 15th. An eventful days saw deals for some, not for others and worse still for two players as suspensions were handed out.
The winner is Von Miller, the Denver Broncos All-Pro pass rusher whose $114.5 Million deal over six years with $70 Million of guarantees makes him the highest paid Defensive player in NFL history. Denver's season would have taken a blow had Miller sat out the 2016 season as he'd stated he would, those close to him insist he was serious and Broncos GM John Elway chose not to roll that particular dice.
The Broncos GM tweeted Friday evening "Congrats @Millerlite40! Excited for what the future holds for you & our team. Proud of everyone for getting it done!" A plethora of players joined the chorus of praise headed by JJ Watt who said "Very well deserved. Congrats."
The surprise deal came in New York for a player who had stated his aim to be "paid more than JJ Watt." Muhammad Wilkerson achieved that aim and agreed an extension reported to be worth $86 Million over five years, with $53.5 Million guaranteed through the first three years and a $15 Million signing bonus. Averaging just over $17 Million per year the most shocking element of this is that the Jets have significantly invested in the Defensive Tackle position and still felt the need to make this deal happen.
The glaring bit of business outstanding for Jets GM Mike Maccagnan now is wrapping up the Ryan Fitzpatrick situation, should he do this successfully the offseason looks a lot better than it might have been for Jets fans.
The Baltimore Ravens tagged kicker Justin Tucker, which in itself was a bold move and the players agents engaged in the waiting game throughout the offseason. Seemingly restless they issued an ultimatum Thursday to the GM Ozzie Newsome, pay the NFL's second most accurate kicker or lose him in 2017. Newsome and the Ravens paid up!
Last night they paid him more guaranteed cash ($10.8 Million) than New England's Stephen Gostkowski or Dan Bailey of the Cowboys, but an overall lesser deal than those two with an overall four years at $16.8 Million.
All the action did not include the Kansas City Chiefs and Eric Berry though, Huddle reported earlier in the week that the Safety had stated how unlikely it would be to conclude negotiations and that proved to be true. Berry was the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year 2015 after a bout of Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of Cancer and despite the high level of productivity this didn't clinch his long term deal in KC.
The negotiations have been far from amicable, NFL Media's Mike Garafolo reported that the Chiefs had entered a clause into their deal requiring Berry to purchase a disability insurance policy which would name them as the beneficiaries to protect their investment. Garafolo said, "Given everything he's been through, that didn't go over so well." The clause was later pulled and the Chiefs insisted they'd resume talks with the player, but a consulsion hasn't been reached.
Another deal not agreed was that extended by the London bound Washington Redskins to their Quarterback Kirk Cousins during the scouting combine. The deal reportedly worth $16 Million per year and $24 Million guaranteed would have tied the signal caller for the 21st placed average salary among NFL Quarterbacks.
Instead Cousins will play out his tagged year at $20 Million in 2016 and explore free agency there after, this will either be a master stroke ending in a huge payout if he has a good year or make the Redskins front office look like financial geniuses. Only time will tell!
In the NFL where elation and disappointment can be found, trouble isn't too far away. If San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator Jim O'Neil thought he'd left the woes behind in Cleveland he'll be thinking again this morning. Aaron Lynch the Niners best pass rusher was handed a four game suspension Friday for violation of the league substance abuse policy.
Joining Lynch on the naughty step is Buffalo Bills Running Back Karlos Williams who turned up to minicamp overweight due to eating "anything and everything" as he put it in sympathy of his fiancée's pregnancy. Compounding the situation at the Bills, Running Back Jonathan Williams was arrested Thursday for DWI (Driving Whilst under the Influence).