Yesterday (Friday) was the last day for NFL teams to sign players they had placed the Franchise Tag on to long term deals. If a deal couldn’t be reached then the player would go through the 2016 season playing for what the Franchise Tag ranks his position at. If I remember correctly it’s the average of the Top 5 salaries at the position. One player who looked like he wouldn’t be able to come to an agreement with his team and even threatened to sit out the entire season was Von Miller of the Denver Broncos. Miller won the Super Bowl MVP award and until yesterday was unable to come to contract terms with the Broncos. Apparently Miller was so unhappy he even cropped Broncos General Manager John Elway out of a photo he posted on social media. Yesterday the Broncos and Miller agreed to 6 year $114.5 million dollar deal with $70 million dollars in the deal being guaranteed. This deal makes Miller the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history based on guaranteed money, as well as the highest-paid player in Denver franchise history.It’s being reported that Miller gets a $23 million signing bonus and $42 million guaranteed at signing, $61 million guaranteed after the first year and $70 million guaranteed after the second year of the deal. The guaranteed money was the biggest hurdle the two sides needed to clear to get the deal done. A lot of the big money contracts handed out to defensive players haven’t really worked out. Just ask the Miami Dolphins about Ndamukong Suh’s contract. It’s a big time deal for a Super Bowl MVP so now he has to play up to it.
Miller wasn’t the only player to receive a new contract yesterday. The Baltimore Ravens agreed to terms wit their kicker Justin Tucker on a 4 year $16.8 million dollar deal. Tucker’s deal includes $10.8 million fully guaranteed, with a $6 million signing bonus. The New York Jets and defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson reach a contract agreement yesterday. Wilkerson’s deal is for 5 years and $86 million dollars. The deal also includes . $36.75 million of the deal guaranteed at signing. The contract also includes a $15 million signing bonus. The contract, which averages $17.2 million per season, also includes an injury guarantee of $53.5 million. The Oakland Raiders signed cornerback David Amerson to a 4 year contract extension worth a maximum value of $38 million dollars. Amerson wasn’t a Franchise player for the Raiders, but they still worked out a contract extension with him.
There where four players who didn’t agree to new deals with their teams and can no longer negotiate long term deals again until after the season. Each is tied to his team for one year on a franchise player price. Those four players are; Kirk Cousins, quarterback Washington Redskins. Eric Berry, safety Kansas City Chiefs. Alshon Jeffery, wide receiver Chicago Bears and Trumaine Johnson, cornerback Los Angeles Rams. In a few of these cases it may actual be in the teams best interest to have these guys player under the Franchise Tag for a season. There are still plenty of questions about Cousins as a quarterback and now the Redskins get a chance to look at him for one more season before deciding if they want to make a long term commitment to him. There are a lot of experts who think Jeffery is a #1 receiver in the NFL, but he’s had his share of injuries. The Bears now have the entire season to see if he can stay healthy and be their top receiver. Berry returned to the Chiefs after going through treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma 2014. After being declared cancer free, Berry came back for the 2015 season and was named to the Pro Bowl, the AP All-Pro team, and was named the 2015 AP Comeback Player of the Year. While it’s not the happy ending to the story that people will want; it’s not a bad idea for the Chiefs to let Berry play under the Franchise Tag and make sure he stays healthy. Johnson led the Rams with 7 interceptions last season. He had never had more than 3 in any season before 2015 and I don’t believe the Rams had any injury concerns with Johnson. It may have been more of a case of him having his best season in 2015 and the Rams may want to see if he can repeat that or if it was an anomaly.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss this week’s NASCAR race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway because of concussion like symptoms. Earnhardt Jr. mentioned he wasn’t feeling well going into last weeks races in Kentucky, but thought it might be a sinus infection or allergies. After the medication that Earnhardt Jr. was given by a family doctor didn’t help he met with a neurological specialist. After that evaluation was done it was decided that it would be best for Earnhardt Jr. to sit out this week. Now there is no timetable for Earnhardt Jr’s return and this maybe end up being more than a one race absence. Remember Earnhardt Jr. missed two Sprint Cup Series races in the 2012 season after suffering two concussions in a six week stretch. It’s a difficult time for Earnhardt Jr. too miss, but it’s better for him to sit out than try to drive with those symptoms. Earnhardt Jr. currently sits 13th overall in the driver standings, but does not have a win. Depending on how many races he’ll have to sit out there’s a chance that Earnhardt Jr. will fall out of The Chase. Alex Bowman is going to fill in for Earnhardt Jr. in the #88 car for the New Hampshire race. Bowman drives part-time for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. JR Motorsports is owned by Earnhardt Jr. It was announced yesterday that if Earnhardt Jr. is going to be out for the July 24th race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Jeff Gordon will take the wheel of the #88 car as the fill in driver. This type of injury will be a day by day thing to deal with and hopefully it won’t keep Earnhardt Jr. out to long. Of course it’s better to wait and make sure he’s 100 % before he gets back behind the wheel. There;s no reason for him to put his life at risk or possibly something happening to another driver. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Jimmie Johnson won the pole for Sunday’s New Hampshire 301 with an average speed of 133.971 m.p.h. Johnson will share the front row with Kyle Busch who’ll start 2nd. Martin Truex Jr starts 3rd while Kyle’s brother Kurt Busch is starting 4th. Denny Hamlin starts 5th to round out the Top 5.
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