The Dolphins have reached a 3-year, $30 million deal with former Bills DE Shaq Lawson, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Lawson spent his 1st two seasons looking like a 1st-round bust but improved over the past 2. His final Bills campaign included 18 QB hits, tied for 25th in the NFL. Lawson also saw his playing time grow to starter-level over the final third of the 2019 season. He joins a Miami defense in dire need of edge help. The Dolphins' scheme shouldn't alter his position designation for IDP purposes.
The Ravens have traded TE Hayden Hurst and a 4th-round pick to the Falcons in exchange for 2nd- and 5th-rounders. The 25th overall pick of the 2018 draft was a bust in Baltimore, totaling just 43 catches for 512 yards and 3 TDs over the past 2 seasons. Hurst is still just 26, though, and closed his college career with 48-616-1 and 44-559-2 receiving lines. There should be untapped pass-catching potential here. And Hurst now gets a major opportunity in Atlanta, where TE Austin Hooper and his 6.4 targets per game over the last 2 seasons just walked out the door.
The Saints have applied a 1st-round tender to QB Taysom Hill. It essentially locks him in with the Saints for 2020 and will pay him $4.66 million. Hill became a valuable gadget player for New Orleans last year, compiling a 19-234-6 receiving line, 156 yards and a score on the ground and 55 passing yards. It's unclear if HC Sean Payton views Hill as a future starting QB -- but that's a question for 2021 with Drew Brees set to return for another season.
The Cowboys and TE Blake Jarwin have agreed to a 3-year, $24.25 million extension with $9.25 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. That makes Jarwin a heavy favorite to operate as Dallas' lead TE in 2020. The 25-year-old has totaled 58 catches, 672 yards and 6 TDs over the last 2 seasons, posting a 75.3% catch rate and 11.6 yards per catch. His fantasy upside would get a boost if Dallas loses WR Amari Cooper in free agency.
The Texans are set to trade WR DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. Wow. Hopkins is an elite receiver in the prime of his career with 3 years remaining on a manageable contract. It's a mind-boggling move by the Texans, leaving Will Fuller and Kenny Stills atop the depth chart for now. Those 2 are big winners here, while QB Deshaun Watson's fantasy stock takes a significant hit. QB Kyler Murray, meanwhile, gets the legitimate #1 WR that he was missing last year. He looks like a top-5 QB in 2020 fantasy drafts. Hopkins should easily remain a WR1 in a pass-leaning offense piloted by an accurate QB.
Update: Schefter reports that the Cardinals are receiving Hopkins and a late-round pick in exchange for RB David Johnson and a 2nd-rounder. Other picks are involved in the trade. Hopkins is expected to get a new contract from Arizona.
Update: The Houston Chronicle's John McClain reports it's Hopkins and a 4th-round pick to Arizona for Johnson, a 2020 2nd-rounder and a 2021 4th-rounder.
The Cardinals have traded RB David Johnson to the Texans, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. No word yet on the details of the trade, but Arizona will reportedly take on some of Johnson's salary. It reeks of a salary-dump maneuver with a 28-year-old RB coming off an ugly 2019 campaign. Johnson missed 3 games last year and averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. Among 68 RBs with 50+ carries, he ranked 38th in Pro Football Focus' rushing grades and 67th in Elusive Rating. There's plenty of opportunity in Houston with both Carlos Hyde and Lamar Miller free agents, but we'd expect the Texans to add more to the backfield alongside David and Duke Johnson. Meanwhile, Kenyan Drake is set up for a big workload in Arizona.
TE Austin Hooper is set to sign with the Browns, according to The NFL Network. Terms haven't been disclosed and the deal won't be official until Wednesday, but Ian Rapoport hears that Hooper will be the league's highest-paid TE. The 25-year-old has posted 71-660-4 and 75-787-6 lines over the past 2 seasons, ranking 6th among TEs in PPR points both years. After finishing 17th among 28 TEs with 40+ targets in Pro Football Focus' 2018 receiving grades, Hooper climbed to 6th among 35 last year. He improved from 15th to 12th in yards per route run. Hooper certainly benefitted from playing on Falcons teams that ranked top 5 in pass attempts and pass rate in both of the last 2 years. New Browns HC Kevin Stefanski's 2019 Vikings ranked 30th in both pass attempts and pass rate. Now factor in the presence of WRs Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, and it's tough to bank on Hooper getting the 6.4 targets per game he averaged in Atlanta over the last 2 seasons. Our snap call is to expect a decline in Hooper's fantasy production in 2020 -- although he shouldn't have trouble sticking in TE1 territory.
Update: Hooper's deal is for 4 years and $44 million with $23 million guaranteed. That $11 million average annual salary does indeed make him the league's highest-paid TE.
The Cardinals have used their transition tag on RB Kenyan Drake. The move means Drake can negotiate with other teams as a free agent, but Arizona has the right to match any offer. We'll see where this goes, but it's mostly likely that Drake remains with the Cardinals in 2020. He was awesome after arriving from Miami last year, averaging 80.4 rushing yards per game on 5.2 yards per carry -- plus 3.5 catches and 21.4 receiving yards per game. Drake ranked 4th among RBs in PPR points across those 8 games.
The Browns placed a 2nd-round tender on restricted free-agent RB Kareem Hunt. That pays Hunt $2.9 million this season and would net Cleveland a 2nd-round pick if another team offers Hunt a contract that the Browns choose not to match. In short, expect Hunt to be a Brown in 2020. It's a significant ding to RB Nick Chubb's fantasy stock. Chubb averaged 19.3 carries, 4 targets and 18.9 PPR points in 8 games without Hunt last season. Those numbers sunk to 18 carries, 2.1 targets and 13.0 PPR points in 8 games with Hunt. Hunt averaged 5.4 carries and 5.5 targets in his 8 games with Cleveland, scoring as the PPR RB16 over that span.
The Cowboys have placed the franchise tag on QB Dak Prescott. The 2 sides have been working on hammering out a long-term deal and still have until July 15 to do so. But this at least ensures that Prescott will be with Dallas for the 2020 campaign. He's coming off a career-best season that saw him rank 2nd among QBs in fantasy points. It was his 4th straight top-11 finish.
The Bengals are using their franchise tag on WR A.J. Green. This move seemed likely, based on HC Zac Taylor talking this offseason about wanting to keep the veteran wideout around. Green lost all of 2019 and half of 2018 to injury. But if he can return to full health for 2020, the veteran should remain Cincinnati's lead WR. A healthy Green in the 1st half of 2018 didn't hurt Tyler Boyd's target share at all. (Boyd actually drew a slightly larger share with Green on the field than he did after Green went down.)
The Falcons have released RB Devonta Freeman, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The move saves Atlanta more than $3 million against the 2020 cap. Freeman just turned 28 but looked like a guy running on empty last season. He averaged a career-low 3.6 yards per carry and ranked dead last in Pro Football Focus' rushing grades among 45 RBs with 100+ attempts. We'll see what kind of interest Freeman garners on the open market. His departure leaves the Falcons with Ito Smith and Brian Hill atop the RB depth chart, making Atlanta 1 of the top destinations for a free-agent or rookie RB.
The Titans have applied the franchise tag to RB Derrick Henry. The move was expected, as Tennessee reportedly wants to work out a longer-term deal with its lead back. We have all seen, of course, big-money RB deals quickly look bad in other situations. But Henry should be well set up for workhorse usage and good fantasy value for 2020 (and perhaps beyond).
The Vikings have agreed to a 2-year extension with QB Kirk Cousins. The contract alters Cousins' 2020 cap hit and adds 2 more years beyond that at $96 million total, according to Ian Rapoport. The new pact figures to keep Cousins leading the Minnesota offense at least through 2021. (We'll see about the final season on the new contract.) Cousins fell from QB11 to QB19 in total fantasy points in his 2nd Vikings season. But he actually tallied more fantasy points per pass attempt in 2019 (0.65 vs. 0.55).
The Packers have reached a 2-year, $16 million deal with LB Christian Kirksey. That's clearly starter money for the former Cleveland Brown. It also makes you wonder whether Green Bay has decided to let veteran ILB Blake Martinez walk in free agency. Martinez figures to command at least as much on the open market -- and likely more. Kirksey should go back to being a solid-to-good IDP LB with the Packers, if he can stay healthy. Injuries limited him to just 9 of a possible 32 games over the past 2 years. We'll see about Martinez.
The Jaguars on Saturday traded DE Calais Campbell to the Ravens for a 5th-round pick. It's obviously a salary-cap move by Jacksonville, but one bound to negatively impact the pass rush. Campbell spent the past 3 seasons with the Jaguars and helped the team finish 2 of those among the league's top 7 in sacks. Campbell posted the 2 largest sack totals of his career (14.5 and 10.5) in 2017 and 2018 before falling back to 6.5 last season. But his 25 QB hits in 2019 marked the 2nd most of his career, behind only the 30 of his first Jacksonville campaign. Campbell heads into his age-34 season this fall but should help a Baltimore pass rush that ranked just 21st in sacks and 27th in Pro Football Focus pass-rushing grade in 2019.
The Titans and QB Ryan Tannehill have agreed to a 4-year, $118 million deal with $91 million in total guarantees, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. That $29.5 million average annual salary makes Tannehill the league's 7th highest paid QB. After a mostly disappointing 6 seasons in Miami, Tannehill was awesome for Tennessee last year. Including the playoffs, he completed 68.5% of his passes, averaged 9.0 yards per attempt and tossed 27 TDs vs. 7 INTs across 14 appearances. He was fantasy's #3 QB after taking over as the Titans' starter in Week 7. Note, though, that Tannehill averaged just 25.4 pass attempts in his 13 starts. He'll need to reproduce last year's otherworldly efficiency in order to score as a top 10 QB on that type of volume. Consider Tannehill more of a high-end QB2 in early best-ball drafts.
The Ravens have used the franchise tag on OLB Matt Judon. Designating him at OLB will mean a lower tag salary than if the Ravens tagged him as a DE, which could be an issue. Judon has delivered 8, 7 and 9.5 sacks the past 3 seasons and played a career-high 80.9% of the defensive snaps last season. He'll turn 28 in mid-August.
The Broncos have placed the franchise tag on S Justin Simmons. Barring a trade, he'll remain in the role that has made Simmons a nice IDP contributor the past 2 years.
The Chargers have released LB Thomas Davis. The veteran opened last season as the team's playing-time leader at the position, but his snap counts dipped later in the season. Drue Tranquill -- a 4th-round pick in 2019 -- looks like the best bet to lead 2020 Chargers LBs in playing time at the moment. Expect the team to address the corps in some fashion this offseason, though. The Chargers have also restructured the contract of LB Denzel Perryman, shifting guaranteed salary to incentives. That doesn't point to him gaining snaps and becoming a bigger IDP contributor.
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