The Latest: 49ers trade DeForest Buckner to Colts
The Latest on NFL's free agency. Teams were required to use franchise tags on players by noon EDT Monday. Teams can negotiate with representatives of free agents for the next two days but cannot finalize any agreements. (all times EDT):
The San Francisco 49ers have traded star defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts for the No. 13 pick in this year's draft.
A person familiar with the deal said Buckner will receive a new contract worth $21 million a year from the Colts. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal and contract can't be finalized until the start of the league year Wednesday.
The trade of Buckner came almost immediately after the 49ers announced a deal to keep defensive lineman Arik Armstead with a five-year contract worth up to $85 million before he hit the open market.
— Josh Dubow in Santa Clara, California
The San Francisco 49ers have signed defensive lineman Arik Armstead to a five-year contract worth up to $85 million before he hit the market as a free agent.
The defending NFC champion Niners locked up one of the key pieces of their defense with a long-term deal instead of using the franchise tag.
Armstead was a first-round pick for San Francisco in 2015 but didn't make a big impact in his first four seasons in the league as he dealt with injuries that limited his playing time in 2016-17 and finding the right fit for his skills.
Ben Watson is hanging up his cleats for the second time.
The 39-year-old tight end announced his retirement in a message on Twitter on Monday, marking the end of a 15-year NFL career that included two stints in New England, as well as stops in Cleveland, New Orleans and Baltimore.
Watson retires with 547 catches for 6,058 yards and 44 touchdowns. He was drafted by the Patriots in 2004, winning a Super Bowl ring as a rookie. He spent his first six seasons in New England.
“I entered this league with a duffel bag and a dream,” Watson wrote in his Twitter post. “I exit holding the loving hand of my best friend, my wife of 14 years, and the (seven) tender gifts God has graciously given us to lead and love.”
His best season was in 2015 with New Orleans when he caught 74 passes for 825 yards and six touchdowns — all career highs.
He initially planned to retire following the 2018 season but was courted by several teams. The Patriots eventually signed him to a one-year, $3 million deal as they looked to fill the hole created by the retirement of Rob Gronkowski.
He began his last NFL season by serving a four-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance following his final season in New Orleans in 2018.
He appeared in 10 games for the Patriots in 2019, catching 17 passes for 173 yards.
The Dallas Cowboys are moving forward with their plan to replace record-setting tight end Jason Witten.
The Cowboys have re-signed Blake Jarwin, giving their fourth-year player a $24 million, three-year contract with $9 million guaranteed. The move came a few weeks after Witten said he wanted to keep playing, even if it wasn’t in Dallas.
Witten set a club record by spending 16 seasons with the Cowboys, the most recent last season after retiring and spending one year in broadcasting. The 37-year-old is also the Dallas leader in catches and yards receiving. Witten is one receiving touchdown behind Dez Bryant’s career franchise record of 73.
Jarwin had 365 yards receiving and three touchdowns last season. The fourth-year pro tied the Dallas club record for touchdowns receiving in a game for a tight end in 2018 with three in the regular-season finale at the New York Giants. Those were the first three TDs of his career.
The 25-year-old Jarwin joined the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and spent most of that season on the practice squad.
— Schuyler Dixon in Dallas
A person familiar with the negotiations says defensive end Shaq Lawson has agreed to a $30 million, three-year contract with the Miami Dolphins.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the NFL free-agent signing period hasn't started. The contract could be worth up to $36 million, and $21 million will be guaranteed.
Lawson spent his first four NFL seasons with the Buffalo Bills and last year had a career-high 6 1/2 sacks, which would have led the Dolphins. He was a first-round draft pick by the Bills in 2016.
__ Steven Wine in Miami, with John Wawrow in Buffalo contributing.
Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster is retiring.
The 11-year veteran made the announcement on Instagram, saying “when the time comes, you just know and now is a time for me to take a bow.”
Foster made the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Tennessee in 2009. He became a steadying force on a unit that evolved into one of the league's best, helping pave the way for a high-powered offense that led Pittsburgh to four straight playoff appearances from 2014-17.
Foster turned 34 in January and the Steelers have several placements ready. Though he had a year left on the two-year, $8.25 million extension he signed in 2019, Foster figured to become a salary cap casualty if he didn't decide to step away from the game. The Steelers are in the process of clearing cap space after placing a franchise tag on outside linebacker Bud Dupree earlier Monday.
—- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh
A person with direct knowledge of the deal says the Dallas Cowboys and tight end Blake Jarwin have agreed on a $24 million, three-year contract.
The agreement essentially means the Cowboys believe Jarwin can replace Jason Witten as the starter.
Witten has said he wants to return for a 17th season, but the Cowboys haven’t indicated it will be with them. Witten set the club record by spending 16 seasons with Dallas, the most recent after taking a year off to try broadcasting.
The person said the deal includes $9 million guaranteed. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because deals can’t become official until the league year begins. That’s supposed to be Wednesday.
Jarwin had 365 yards receiving and three touchdowns last season. The fourth-year pro tied the Dallas club record for touchdowns receiving in a game for a tight end in 2018, when he had three in the regular-season finale at the New York Giants. Those were the first three TDs of his career.
— Schuyler Dixon in Dallas
A person familiar with the deal says free agent linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski has agreed to a contract with the Las Vegas Raiders.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Kwiatkoski can't officially sign the deal until the new league year starts on Wednesday.
The Raiders are in dire need of upgrades at linebacker after a revolving door at the position the past few years. The only linebacker who started a game last season that is still under contract with the Raiders is Marquel Lee.
The 26-year-old Kwiatkoski was a fourth-round pick by Chicago in 2016. He had his most extensive playing time last year when he had career bests with 76 tackles, three sacks, one interception and four passes defensed.
— Josh Dubow reporting from Alameda, California
Offensive lineman Ereck Flowers has agreed to terms on a $30 million, three-year contract with the Miami Dolphins.
The deal was confirmed by Flowers’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, who said $19.95 million is guaranteed.
Flowers played for the Miami Hurricanes, was a first-round draft pick by the New York Giants in 2015 and started 46 games at tackle for them in his first three NFL seasons.
He started all 16 games last year for Washington, splitting his time between guard and tackle.
The Dolphins are in the market for four starting offensive linemen in free agency and the draft.
The Indianapolis Colts have released defensive tackle Margus Hunt and will re-sign receiver Daurice Fountain.
Releasing Hunt will save the Colts roughly $4 million against the cap.
He signed a two-year deal worth $9.1 million last year after having his best season in the NFL. But he lost the starting job in 2019 and wound up with 17 tackles, no sacks and no tackles for loss.
Fountain spent all of last season on injured reserve after suffering a dislocated and fractured left ankle in training camp. The Colts offered the exclusive free agent a one-year tender, which his agent, Andy Simms, says he will sign. Fountain was Indy's fifth-round pick in 2018.
— Michael Marot reporting from Indianapolis.
The Browns are working toward a deal with two-time Pro Bowl free agent tight end Austin Hooper, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.
Hooper was one of the main free agency targets for Cleveland, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because teams can’t officially announce deals until Wednesday.
Hooper has spent the past four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. He’s had more than 70 catches the past two seasons.
NFL Network reported the sides have agreed to terms on a package that will make Hooper the NFL’s highest-paid tight end.
By adding the 25-year-old Hooper, the Browns will have another offensive playmaker for quarterback Baker Mayfield, who struggled in his second NFL season. Hooper will be a dependable option to go along with star wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry and running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
New Browns coach Kevin Stefanski preferred to run two-tight end formations during his one season as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator. Hooper could be paired with 2017 first-round pick David Njoku, who missed most of last season with a broken wrist suffered in Week 2.
Hooper had 75 catches for 787 yards and six touchdowns last season.
— Tom Withers reporting from Cleveland.
The Bengals used their franchise tag on A.J. Green, giving them time to try to work out a long-term deal with the star who is one of the most accomplished receivers in franchise history and would be a vital part of breaking in a new quarterback.
Green, 31, wants to finish his career in Cincinnati, where he has put down roots. Although he's open to a multi-year extension that would pay him as an elite receiver, he has objected to staying for only one more season on a franchise designation.
Green has said he'll skip voluntary offseason workouts if he's tagged. The Bengals are expected to take Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow or another quarterback with the first overall pick in the draft, and having Green in offseason workouts would accelerate a rookie's development.
The Bengals are free to negotiate with Green on a long-term deal through July 15.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have placed their franchise tag on linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who led the NFL in sacks last season.
The move had been anticipated ever since coach Bruce Arians stated late last season that the 27-year-old Barrett “ain’t going anywhere” after setting a team record with 19½ sacks in 2019.
Barrett signed a one-year, $4 million contract in free agency with the Bucs last winter after spending the first five seasons of his career with the Denver Broncos. The franchise tag for an outside linebacker calls for a salary of about $16 million for 2020.
The decision to place the franchise tag on Barrett also means quarterback Jameis Winston will become an unrestricted free agent if Tampa Bay does not re-sign the No. 1 overall pick from the 2015 draft by Wednesday.
Winston led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards last season, but also became the first player in league history to throw for at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in a season.
The Patriots have placed a franchise tag on Patriots left guard Joe Thuney, his agent Michael McCartney said in a tweet shortly before the start of the legal tampering period.
Thuney, a third-round pick in 2016, has been one of the most dependable pieces on the Patriots’ offensive line over the past four seasons. The nonexclusive tag is expected to cost the Patriots around $14.7 million this upcoming season.
If he had hit free agency Thuney was expected to be one of the most sought-after guards on the market. He has not missed a single game and wasn’t whistled for a single penalty in 2019.
— Kyle Hightower, reporting from Boston
The Minnesota Vikings have placed the franchise tag on safety Anthony Harris, according to a person with knowledge of the decision.
The person spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the one-year, $11.441 million contract was not finalized. Harris was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, after a breakout 2019 season.
The Vikings cleared salary-cap space to keep Harris by agreeing to a two-year, $66 million contract extension with quarterback Kirk Cousins that reduced his salary-cap hit for 2020 by $10 million. The Vikings also agreed to a new four-year, $12.25 million contract with fullback C.J. Ham, who was set to be a restricted free agent.
— Dave Campbell reporting from Minneapolis
The Atlanta Falcons will dramatically boost their financial flexibility by releasing three high-priced veterans — running back Devonta Freeman, cornerback Desmond Trufant and offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo.
The Falcons announced the Sambrailo move on Monday. The team is finalizing the moves with Freeman and Trufant, former Pro Bowl players who had been considered foundation players for the franchise. Financial constraints made the moves necessary.
The cuts will clear $12.15 million in salary cap space before Wednesday's start of free agency. Before the moves, the Falcons ranked 31st in the league with less than $1 million in cap space.
Freeman, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Sunday, ran for 656 yards and two touchdowns in 2019. The Falcons ranked only 30th in the league in rushing with 85.1 yards per game and now may look for help at running back in free agency and the NFL draft.
Freeman hasn't played a full season since his second Pro Bowl season in 2016, the last year he ran for at least 1,000 yards. He played in only two games in 2018.
The 29-year-old Trufant was a first-round pick in 2013. Trufant started nine games last season before he was placed on injured reserve with a broken forearm. He has 13 interceptions in his seven-year career, including a career-high four last season.
Sambrailo signed a three-year deal before the 2019 season but played in 13 games only as a backup. The Falcons drafted Kaleb McGary last year to start at right tackle, and Jake Matthews is a fixture at left tackle.
The Buffalo Bills have announced re-signing offensive lineman Quinton Spain to a three-year contract.
The deal with the pending unrestricted free agent was agreed to Thursday. Spain was completing a one-year contract he signed with Buffalo a year ago as part of the team's major overhaul of its offensive line.
Spain is a fifth-year player who started 16 games at left guard and finished with the second-most snaps on offense for the Bills last season.
Spain’s return assures Buffalo’s offensive line has the potential of returning fully intact.
— John Wawrow reporting from Buffalo, New York.
The Arizona Cardinals have placed the transition tag on running back Kenyan Drake, which allows the team to match any offer he receives from another team during free agency.
The Cardinals traded for Drake midway through last season and he quickly became a major part of their offense. The 26-year-old ran for 643 yards and eight touchdowns in eight games, including a four-touchdown game against Cleveland in Week 15.
The projected transition tag salary number for a running back is about $10 million, according to overthecap.com.
— David Brandt reporting.
The New York Giants have placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on defensive tackle Leonard Williams two before the 2015 first-round draft choice was to become an unrestricted free agent.
A franchise tag allows the two sides to work on a long-term contract. If there is no contract agreement before July 15, Williams will play this coming season under the one-year deal. His salary will be a calculation based on the average of the top five salaries from his position, expected to be around $16 million.
Williams is free to negotiate with other teams when the free agency signing period begins Wednesday. If he signs a contract with another team, the Giants will receive two first-round draft choices as compensation.
New York acquired Williams from the Jets for two draft choices on Oct. 29: a third-round selection in 2020 and a second choice that is a conditional fifth-rounder in 2021.
Williams is the first Giants player to receive a tag since another defensive lineman, Jason Pierre-Paul, in 2015.
Williams played in eight games with five starts for the Giants. The former Southern California player had 26 tackles, a half-sack, two tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hits, two passes defended and a forced fumble.
The Giants also made a qualifying offer to placekicker Aldrick Rosas, a restricted free agent.
— Tom Canavan reporting.
The Kansas City Chiefs have placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on Chris Jones, raising the possibility that the Pro Bowl defensive tackle will remain with the Super Bowl champions for at least one more season.
The nonexclusive tag means Jones must be offered a one-year contract for no less than the average of the top five salary cap hits at defensive tackle for the previous five years. It also means that if Jones signs an offer sheet from another team, the Chiefs can match that offer or let him go and receive two first-round picks as compensation.
Jones had 15 1/5 sacks two seasons ago, which spurred his desire for a long-term deal. He wound up skipping the entire offseason when that didn't happen, but he returned in time for training camp and started 12 of 13 games. He finished with nine sacks and help the Chiefs win their first Super Bowl title since 1970.
— Dave Skretta reporting.
The Cleveland Browns opened free agency by placing a second-round tender on running back Kareem Hunt, who played eight games last season after returning from an NFL suspension.
Hunt is a restricted free agent and can negotiate with other teams about a contract. If he reaches an agreement elsewhere, Cleveland can match any offer. If the Browns decide not to match the offer, they would receive a second-round draft pick from the team that signs him.
The Browns also released veteran safety Morgan Burnett, creating another need as the team moves into free agency amid nationwide shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Burnett suffered a torn Achilles tendon last season and missed the final six games.
Cleveland also tendered exclusive tags to free agents Pharoah Brown, Dontrell Hilliard and KhaDarel Hodge.
Hunt was banned from the first eight games last season by the league or two physical altercations while he was with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Cleveland-area native was primarily a blocker for Pro Bowler Nick Chubb, but he rushed for 179 yards and scored two touchdowns. He also caught 37 passes for 285 yards and a TD.
With more than $60 million of salary-cap space, Cleveland is expected to be active in free agency, with offensive tackle a priority.
— Tom Withers reporting.