Eagles

NFL Notes: Bills host free-agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin

NFL Notes: Bills host free-agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- With prompting from running back LeSean McCoy, free-agent receiver Jeremy Maclin is making the Buffalo Bills the first stop in his bid to land a new job.

The Bills announced they were hosting Maclin for a visit on Tuesday, four days after the seven-year veteran was released by the Kansas City Chiefs for salary-cap reasons. Maclin has twice topped 1,000 yards receiving, but is coming off a season in which he was slowed by injuries and had career lows with 44 catches, 536 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

McCoy revealed during his charitable softball tournament last weekend that he began lobbying for the Bills to sign Maclin. McCoy said it wouldn't be a surprise if the receiver signed with Buffalo.

The two spent five seasons playing together in Philadelphia, and McCoy was a member of Maclin's wedding party last month.

Maclin is also familiar with several members of Buffalo's coaching staff, including first-time head coach Sean McDermott, who was the Eagles defensive coordinator in 2009-10.

Buffalo lacks experienced depth at receiver behind starter Sammy Watkins.

Jets: Team planning to part with WR Decker
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets are planning to trade or cut wide receiver Eric Decker, the latest move in what has been an offseason purge of veterans with big contracts.

General manager Mike Maccagnan says Tuesday night that if the Jets can't deal Decker, they will move forward without him.

Decker's departure will save the Jets $7.25 million on the salary cap. The news came a few hours after New York cut linebacker David Harris after 10 seasons.

Decker, 30, had 163 catches for 2,183 yards and 19 touchdowns in three seasons with the Jets, although he was limited to just nine receptions for 194 yards and two TDs in three games last year because of a shoulder injury. He had his torn rotator cuff repaired last November -- just over a month after having surgery on his hip, which had also been ailing him.

Decker appeared to be recovering nicely this offseason while participating in organized team activities the past few weeks, although he sported a red no-contact jersey during team drills.

Patriots: Gronkowski ready for new season
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When healthy, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski can be one of the most devastating weapons in the NFL.

The 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end is one of quarterback Tom Brady's favorite targets. Seemingly able to run through opposing defenses at will, Gronkowski is the first tight end with three straight seasons of 10 or more touchdowns (2010-12), and with three seasons of 1,000 or more yards receiving and 10 or more touchdowns. A three-time All-Pro, he led the league with 17 touchdown receptions in 2011, his second pro season.

The problem for Gronkowski and the Patriots has been his ability to stay on the field. He appeared in eight games last season before undergoing December back surgery -- the third in his career -- missing the Patriots' stunning comeback win in the Super Bowl. The last time he appeared in all 16 regular-season games was 2011. Since his rookie year, he has appeared in 88 of 112 regular-season games.

Gronkowski is confident he's fully ready for the 2017 season.

"Definitely no doubts," he said Tuesday after the first of the Patriots' three-day mandatory minicamp at Gillette Stadium. "All the hard work you put in is what you're going to get out of it. So, I love to put in the work, love the challenge sometimes. So ... now I'm good to go.

"It's always important whenever I get a little setback like that that happened, just get back to where I need to be and I feel like I am, doing everything out here, and competing. It's fun" (see full story).

Raiders: Lynch decided on comeback after team announced move
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- For Marshawn Lynch, the decision to come out of retirement and resume his NFL career was made as soon as the league announced his hometown Raiders were leaving for Las Vegas.

Lynch wanted to give Oakland fans one last chance to cheer an Oakland native playing for an Oakland team.

"Maybe them staying probably wouldn't have been so big for me to want to come and play," he said Tuesday in his first news conference since joining the Raiders in April. "But knowing that they were leaving and a lot of the kids here probably won't have an opportunity to see most of their idols growing up being a hometown no more. With me being from here, continuing to be here, it gives them an opportunity to get to see somebody that's actually from where they're from and for the team that they probably idolize."

The NFL approved the Raiders' proposed move to Las Vegas starting in the 2020 season on March 27. The following week, Lynch visited the Raiders to talk about the possibility of coming out of retirement.

That happened three weeks later when Seattle agreed to trade Lynch's rights to Oakland in a deal that included a swap of late-round draft picks in 2018. Lynch agreed to a restructured $9 million, two-year deal that includes incentives that could increase the value even more.

There were billboards welcoming Lynch back home and palpable excitement for Oakland fans.

"It was heartfelt," Lynch said. "At the end of the day, I still walk outside. Besides the billboards and all of that, I really just get out with the people. The billboards are for the commercial people. When you get outside and you walk in the cracks you get to find out what's real" (see full story).

Packers: Fans give stranded House ride to Green Bay
GREEN BAY, Wisconsin -- Packers cornerback Davon House got a lift to Green Bay from a couple of fans.

House was stranded Monday night at the Minneapolis airport while trying to get to Tuesday's organized team activities session. House tweeted that he needed a ride, and two brothers obliged.

Mike Johnson of Hudson, Wisconsin, picked up House for the four-hour ride. His brother Chad Johnson, who lives in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, rushed off to meet the other two.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports the brothers took House to Green Bay's airport to get his car. House offered to pay for the ride, but the brothers refused.

House insisted they follow him to Lambeau Field, where the brothers got to go into the locker room.

Eagles hoping no-risk, high-reward veteran signings can rekindle past success

Eagles hoping no-risk, high-reward veteran signings can rekindle past success

When you’re in salary cap hell, you have to be creative when building a roster.

And one tactic Howie Roseman used when putting together the Eagles team that begins training camp Thursday is signing a handful of no-risk, high-reward guys.

Players trying to revive their careers. Players trying to reclaim past glory. Players running out of chances.

These are no-risk, high-reward guys. They could become contributors, but if it doesn’t work out? The Eagles can release them before the season with modest or no cap ramifications.

When you’re in salary cap hell, you can’t sign all the free agents you want. So you sign the free agents that you can. And you do that by signing players nobody else wants. Guys with no leverage.

One tool Roseman likes to use is the NFL’s minimum-salary benefit, which gives teams some salary cap relief when they sign veteran players to certain deals.

The minimum-salary benefit can be used only for veterans with at least four years of experience who sign one-year minimum-wage deals with combined bonuses equalling $90,000 or less. 

Here’s a look at four of these no-risk, high-reward players the Eagles added this offseason.

Markus Wheaton

The Eagles signed Wheaton to a one-year deal with a $790,000 base salary (sixth-year minimum) with a $45,000 signing bonus, a $45,000 workout bonus but a cap number of $720,000, thanks to the minimum-salary benefit.

If the Eagles release Wheaton before the season, he would count just $90,000 against the cap, the value of his two bonuses.

Wheaton is only 27 and should be in his prime but has done nearly nothing the last two seasons after two very good years.

In 2014 and 2015, he combined for 97 catches for 1,393 yards, seven touchdowns and a 14.4 average. He had seven catches of 40 yards or more during those two years. Pretty good production.

But the last two years, Wheaton had just seven catches for 102 yards and one TD for the Steelers and Bears.

If he’s healthy and can be even half the player he was in 2014 and 2015, he could really help as a fourth receiver.

Matt Jones

The Eagles signed Jones to a two-year, $1.51 million deal that includes base salaries of $705,000 this year and $805,000 next year with no bonus money, which means no dead cap money if he’s released.

Even though Jones’ deal is not subject to the minimum-salary benefit, his base salaries of $705,000 and $805,000 are minimum wage for a third-year veteran in 2018 and a fourth-year vet in 2019.

Jones was one of the NFL’s best running backs the first half of 2016. Through seven games, he had 460 yards and a 4.6 average with three TDs. In a mid-October win over the Eagles at FedEx Field, he ran for 135 yards, the most rushing yards against the Eagles the last two years.

But he hurt his knee and never got his job back, then was released before last season. He resurfaced with the Colts but had only five carries all year.

Jones is only 25 and is a good enough receiver that he caught 19 passes for 304 yards and a TD as a rookie reserve.

With LeGarrette Blount gone, Jay Ajayi on a pitch count because of chronic knee soreness, Corey Clement’s role still undefined and Darren Sproles likely to be limited on offense at 35 years old, Jones will have a chance to work his way into the mix.

And if it doesn’t work out? No cap hit.

Richard Rodgers

The Eagles signed Rodgers to a one-year, $880,000 contract that includes a $790,000 base salary, a $45,000 signing bonus, a $45,000 workout bonus and a $720,000 cap figure, courtesy of the minimum-salary benefit rule.

If the Eagles release him, he’ll count $245,000 in dead money, the amount of guaranteed money in his one-year deal.

As recently as 2015, Rodgers caught 58 passes for 510 yards and eight touchdowns, which ranked him 12th among all NFL tight ends in catches and fifth in TDs. But he dropped to 30 catches in 2016 and just 12 last year.

Rodgers is only 26 and should be in his prime, but he’s reached only 30 yards twice in his last 31 games.

With Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, the Eagles have a potent 1-2 punch, but if Rodgers can regain his form of 2015, it would give Doug Pederson even more options in a ridiculously talented array of skill players.

LaRoy Reynolds

The Eagles signed Reynolds to a one-year, $880,000 contract that includes a $790,000 base salary, a $90,000 roster bonus and a reduced $720,000 cap figure.

Because there’s nothing guaranteed in his contract, the Eagles would not absorb any dead money under the cap if they release him before the season.

Reynolds, now with his fourth team in four years, has played in 68 games with seven starts. He’s only 27 and is considered an above-average special teamer and adequate depth linebacker.

The Eagles have some big question marks at linebacker, with Paul Worrilow (Reynolds’ former teammate) out for the year, Mychal Kendricks now with the Browns, Nigel Bradham suspended for the opener and Jordan Hicks able to finish one of his first three seasons.

Reynolds will have a chance to work into that mix. If not? No harm done.

More on the Eagles

Eagle Eye: When does a contract negotiation become a problem?

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Eagle Eye: When does a contract negotiation become a problem?

In the latest edition of Eagle Eye, John Clark and Barrett Brooks are pumped for the start of training camp. Following MLB Commissioner's comments on Mike Trout's marketability, the guys discuss if it's on the player or the league to market an athlete? The Falcons said they will not give Julio Jones a new contract. At what point does a public contract negotiation become a distraction in the locker room?

1:00 - Guys are excited for the start of training camp.
4:45 - Is it on a player or a league to market an athlete?
11:00 - When does a Julio Jones contract situation become a locker room distraction?
18:00 - When money starts dividing a locker room.

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