The Latest: Bills agree to deal with DT Vernon Butler
The Latest on NFL free agency. Teams can negotiate with representatives of free agents for the second day Tuesday but cannot finalize any agreements until Wednesday (all times EDT):
A person with direct knowledge of the move confirms to the Associated Press that defensive tackle Vernon Butler has agreed to a two-year contract with the Buffalo Bills.
The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity Tuesday night because the contract isn’t official until the NFL’s signing period opens Wednesday.
Butler continues the trend of former Carolina Panthers joining the Bills. Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott both made the move from the Panthers to the Bills in 2017.
Butler entered the NFL as a first-round pick of the Panthers in 2016. He had a slow start to his pro career before a breakout campaign in 2019, when he became a starter for the first time and finished with 32 tackles, six sacks and three forced fumbles.
He’s expected to help the Bills replace defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, who has agreed to sign with the Arizona Cardinals in free agency. Phillips led the Bills in sacks in 2019 with 9.5.
Butler will join former Panthers teammate Star Lotulelei, 2019 first-round pick Ed Oliver and Harrison Phillips in Buffalo’s defensive tackle rotation.
-- AP Sports Writer John Wawrow and freelance writer Mark Ludwiczak reporting from Buffalo, New York.
Linebacker Sean Lee is returning for an 11th season with the Dallas Cowboys.
The 2016 All-Pro and the Cowboys have agreed on a $4.5 million, one-year contract with $2 million guaranteed.
Lee took a step back into a supporting role last year behind promising young linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. But the 33-year-old started the final 10 games after Vander Esch sustained a neck injury that eventually required surgery.
In 2019, Lee played all 16 games for the first time in his injury-plagued career. The two-time Pro Bowler finished second on the team to Smith in tackles.
The Las Vegas Raiders are making even more upgrades to their struggling defense.
Two people familiar with the deals say the team has agreed to contracts with defensive tackle Maliek Collins, safety Jeff Heath and defensive end Carl Nassib. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the deals can't be finalized until the start of the league year Wednesday.
Collins fills a big hole at defensive tackle for the Raiders. He had four sacks and 10 quarterback hits last season for Dallas and will give an immediate boost to the interior pressure.
Nassib had 12 1/2 sacks the past two seasons for Tampa Bay and provides help on the edge.
Heath provides another option at safety for the Raiders to team with Johnathan Abram. Heath started 44 games the past three seasons for Dallas. He had four interceptions and 17 passes defensed.
-- Josh Dubow from Alameda, California
The Seattle Seahawks have bolstered their offensive line by agreeing to a two-year deal with B.J. Finney, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.
The deal is worth up to $9.5 million and includes $4.5 million guaranteed. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the deal has not been announced by the team.
Finney was an undrafted free agent signed by Pittsburgh in 2015. He’s played three different positions for the Steelers and started 13 games during his time in Pittsburgh with most of his snaps coming at left guard. But Finney started four games at center last year and his versatility is notable for the Seahawks.
Seattle has questions at both left guard and center. Guard Mike Iupati is a free agent after his one season with the Seahawks, and starting center Justin Britt is coming off surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered midway through last season.
-- Tim Booth reporting from Seattle.
A person familiar with the negotiations says the Carolina Panthers and free agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater have agreed to a three-year, $63 million contract to replace Cam Newton.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Tuesday because the deal cannot be announced until the start of the league year on Wednesday.
The Panthers announced earlier Tuesday they were parting ways with Newton, their No. 1 overall pick in 2011.
The 27-year-old Bridgewater started five games last season for the Saints, going 5-0 while completing 68% of his passes with nine touchdowns and two interceptions. He has spent the last two seasons in New Orleans after four with the Vikings.
Safety Tre Boston is staying with the Carolina Panthers, agreeing to an $18 million, three-year contract.
Boston's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, confirmed the deal.
Boston started all 16 games last season for the Panthers. He had 59 tackles and three interceptions.
The 27-year-old Boston spent his first three seasons with the Panthers, and then spent single seasons with the Chargers and Cardinals before rejoining the Panthers last year. He will be paired at safety this season once again with Eric Reid.
The Detroit Lions have released linebacker Devon Kennard. He had seven sacks last season, matching a career and team high, and equaled a personal best with 58 tackles as a team captain.
Kennard has 23½ sacks in his career, which started in 2014 with the New York Giants as a fifth-round pick from Southern Cal. He started 15 games in each of his two seasons with the Lions and has 65 starts as a linebacker. The veteran is an outside linebacker, who rushes the passer, stops the run and plays in pass coverage.
Earlier on Tuesday, Detroit released safety AJ Howard and quarterback Kyle Sloter.
The Lions have reportedly agreed to deals with four players: offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, linebacker Jamie Collins, who appeared to make Kennard expendable, defensive tackle Nick Williams and backup quarterback Chase Daniel.
— Larry Lage reporting from Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The Browns are acquiring fullback Andy Janovich in a trade from the Denver Broncos, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.
Cleveland will send a seventh-round pick in 2021 to the Broncos for the 26-year-old Janovich, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the free-agent signings and trades can’t be announced until the league year begins Wednesday.
New Browns coach Kevin Stefanski has said he wants to add a fullback. The team rarely used a traditional blocking back under Freddie Kitchens last season.
A sixth-round pick in 2016, Janovich has started 19 games. He’s rushed for just 51 yards and scored three touchdowns, and added 22 catches for 223 yards.
He played in just seven games last season because of an elbow injury.
— Tom Withers reporting from Cleveland.
The New York Jets continued to overhaul their offensive line by agreeing to terms with former Denver Broncos center Connor McGovern on a three-year deal.
The move Tuesday night comes a few hours after the Jets re-signed left guard Alex Lewis and agreed to terms with former Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle George Fant on Monday night.
The New York Daily News first reported the deal with McGovern, and NFL Network reported it is worth $27 million.
McGovern, who turns 27 next month, started 31 out of 32 games the past two seasons for the Broncos. He was a fifth-round draft pick out of Missouri in 2016. He started at right guard in 2017 but moved to center midway through the following season after an injury to starter Matt Paradis.
Jets general manager Joe Douglas' top priority heading into the offseason was improving the offensive line in front of quarterback Sam Darnold, and he has done just that since the NFL's legal tampering period began Monday.
— Dennis Waszak Jr. reporting from New York
A person with direct knowledge of the decision tells The Associated Press that safety Jordan Poyer has agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Buffalo Bills.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity on Tuesday because the team does not announce this information. ESPN.com first reported the agreement.
Poyer was entering the final year of a four-year contract, and his new deal runs through the end of the 2022 season.
The 28-year-old Poyer has been a starter since signing with Buffalo, where he’s been part of a formidable backfield alongside safety Micah Hyde and cornerback Tre’Davious White. The Bills allowed the fourth-fewest yards passing in the NFL last season, a year after finishing first in that category.
The trio has been together since 2017, coach Sean McDermott’s first in Buffalo.
Poyer has 11 interceptions in 47 games with Buffalo, and had a team-leading four forced fumbles last season.
— John Wawrow reporting from Buffalo, New York.
The Atlanta Falcons have placed a fifth-round tender on running back Brian Hill.
Hill, a restricted free agent, was a fifth-round draft pick in 2017. If he signs with another team, the Falcons will receive a fifth-round draft pick as compensation. The Falcons have the option to match any team's offer.
Hill ranked second on the team with 323 yards rushing on 78 carries in 2019.
The move comes after the team's decision to release veteran running back Devonta Freeman. Freeman's release, first reported on Monday, was confirmed by the Falcons on Tuesday.
General manager Thomas Dimitroff thanked Freeman "for six great years with our organization."
Dimitroff said Freeman has been “a solid member of our team, both on and off the field.”
— Charles Odum reporting from Atlanta.
The New York Giants have added another former Green Bay Packers linebacker.
The team has reached an agreement with Kyler Fackrell on a reported one-year contract.
Fackrell spent the last four seasons in Green Bay, recording 17 1/2 sacks as a backup used mostly in passing situations. During some of that that time he worked with Patrick Graham, who was hired as defensive coordinator by new coach Joe Judge. Fackrell had 10 1/2 sacks in 2018.
The Giants agreed to terms with former Packers middle linebacker Blake Martinez on Monday. They also reached a deal with Panthers cornerback James Bradberry and franchised defensive tackle Leonard Williams the same day.
The Minnesota Vikings have placed a second-round tender on restricted free agent linebacker Eric Wilson.
Wilson has become a valuable backup and special teams player after latching on as an undrafted player.
The Vikings also announced new contracts for punter Britton Colquitt and fullback C.J. Ham and an extension for quarterback Kirk Cousins, all deals that were initially agreed to on Monday.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have agreed to terms with former Cincinnati cornerback Darqueze Dennard, giving their defense a potential starter.
Dennard served mostly as a nickel cornerback during his six years with the Bengals, but he will get a chance to compete on the outside in Jacksonville. The Jaguars are looking to replace cornerback A.J. Bouye, who was traded to Denver earlier this month for a fourth-round draft pick.
A person familiar with the transaction says Dennard agreed to a three-year deal worth $13.5 million that includes $6 million guaranteed. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deals won't become official until the new league begins Wednesday.
— Mark Long reporting from Jacksonville, Florida.
The Denver Broncos have placed a second-round tender on offensive lineman Elijah Wilkinson.
The restricted free agent started a dozen games at right tackle last season when free agent Ja'Wuan James was sidelined by a nagging knee injury.
The move allows the Broncos to match any offer the third-year player receives in free agency and ensures them of a second-round draft pick if they choose not to match.
The Broncos also applied low-round tenders to four exclusive rights free agents: defensive backs Trey Marshall and Shakial Taylor and wide receivers Tim Patrick and Diontae Spencer.
Anthony Castonzo briefly considered retiring after his first Pro Bowl season.
Then he realized how much more he still had to offer.
Two days after becoming one of the league's highest paid left tackles, the longtime anchor of the Indianapolis Colts' offensive line told reporters he believes he's still improving.
"I play football because I want to dominate the people I play against," he said. “That's where the joy in playing football comes from for me. If I say I have the ability to do that, that's what I love about the game and that's why I want to continue playing.”
It didn't take Castonzo long to figure things out.
He quickly realized how healthy he felt when he started offseason workouts. Then he realized how much fun he was having having with his teammates. Castonzo decided to come back for two more years and $33 million.
"Seeing the potential to put up my best year in Year 10, it seemed really kind of silly not to (come back)," he said. “So I just said I'm not ready to hang it up yet.”
— Michael Marot reporting from Indianapolis.
Offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga has agreed to a contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal can’t be signed until the new league year begins on Wednesday.
The 6-foot-5, 335-pound Bulaga spent the past 10 seasons with Green Bay. He will turn 31 on Saturday and upgrades an offensive line that struggled last season. He is likely to start at right tackle and will be reunited with James Campen, who was Bulaga’s line coach at Green Bay and was recently hired by Los Angeles.
Bulaga’s signing isn’t the only offensive line makeover for the Chargers. Left tackle Russell Okung is being traded to Carolina for right guard Trai Turner.
— Joe Reedy reporting.
Linebacker Thomas Davis says he's reuniting with former coach Ron Rivera and signing with the Washington Redskins.
Davis posted on Instagram on Tuesday afternoon that he'd be back with Rivera. Davis played under Rivera with the Carolina Panthers for eight seasons from 2011-2018.
The 36-year-old is going into his 15th NFL season. He spent last year with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Adding Davis gives Washington more linebacker depth.
Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis also said on social media that he's joining the Redskins.
A person familiar with the deal says veteran tight end Jason Witten has agreed to a one-year contract with the Las Vegas Raiders.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal can't be signed until the league year starts on Wednesday.
Witten turns 38 in May and will team up with the coach he once replaced in the "Monday Night Football" announcing booth. Witten retired from the NFL following the 2017 season to take a job as an analyst for ESPN after Jon Gruden left the broadcast booth to return to the Raiders.
Witten changed course a year later and returned to the Dallas Cowboys. He had 63 catches for 529 yards and four TDs last season.
Witten has 1,215 catches for 12,977 yards and 72 TDs in 16 seasons with Dallas. He will provide depth behind starter Darren Waller on the Raiders.
— Josh Dubow reporting.
The New York Jets continued to address their offensive line by agreeing to terms with guard Alex Lewis on a three-year contract.
Lewis was acquired by New York from Baltimore last August and started 12 out of 15 games after taking over at left guard for the injured Kelechi Osemele.
The Jets announced the move Tuesday to bring back the 27-year-old Lewis, but financial terms weren't immediately disclosed. The New York Daily News reported the deal is worth $18.6 million, with $6 million guaranteed.
The offensive line is a top priority for general manager Joe Douglas this offseason, and he began restructuring the unit by agreeing to terms Monday night with former Seattle tackle George Fant. A person familiar with that deal told The Associated Press it's a three-year deal worth up to $30 million. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the contract can't be signed until Wednesday, when the new league year begins.
Lewis was a fourth-round pick of Baltimore in 2016 out of Nebraska. He missed the 2017 season with a shoulder injury suffered during the Ravens' preseason opener and played in 10 games the following year.
He came to the Jets as a backup, but was pushed into the starting lineup when Osemele injured a shoulder and was ultimately released after having season-ending surgery that wasn't approved by the team.
Lewis played 764 snaps on offense last season, third-most among offensive linemen behind only starting right tackle Brandon Shell (806) and left tackle Kelvin Beachum (805) — both of whom are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents.
— Dennis Waszak Jr. reporting from New York.
The Los Angeles Rams have declined their contract option on cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, a valuable part of their defense for the past three seasons.
Robey-Coleman has been the Rams’ nickel cornerback and their top defender on slot receivers since the team signed him in 2017. The USC product had three interceptions and 122 tackles for Los Angeles.
Robey-Coleman was the defender who admittedly got away with pass interference against New Orleans receiver Tommylee Lewis in the NFC championship game in January 2019.
His option would have counted for only $4.5 million against the cap for the Rams, who have little available space.
The Rams also have lost defensive tackle Michael Brockers and leading tackler Cory Littleton in the opening days of free agency. Their defense will look much different in the fall under new coordinator Brandon Staley.
— Greg Beacham reporting from Los Angeles.
The Chicago Bears have released outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, parting with a former first-round draft pick who never boosted their pass rush the way they envisioned.
Floyd contributed against the run and in pass coverage. But he did not develop as a pass rusher the way the Bears thought he would when they traded up to draft him at No. 9 overall in 2016.
Floyd had 18 1/2 sacks in four seasons, including a career-low three last year. The Bears agreed to a five-year, $70 million deal with former All-Pro pass rusher Robert Quinn on Tuesday to join forces with Khalil Mack. That made it clear Floyd was on his way out of Chicago.
Only two of general manager Ryan Pace's four first-round draft picks since taking over in 2015 remain with the Bears — quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and linebacker Roquan Smith. Receiver Kevin White, taken seventh overall in 2015, was limited to 14 games in three seasons in Chicago and is out of the league.
— Andrew Seligman reporting from Chicago.
The Tennessee Titans have added a pass rusher, agreeing to terms with defensive end Vic Beasley.
The No. 8 overall pick in the 2015 draft led the NFL with 15 1/2 sacks in 2016 for the Falcons. Atlanta declined to re-sign Beasley after he managed only 18 sacks combined over the past three seasons.
The Titans limited their risk by agreeing to terms with Beasley for only one season, according to a person familiar with the deal. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the deal cannot be completed until the new league year starts Wednesday.
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs exposed the Titans’ issues at outside pass rush in the AFC championship game in January. Beasley led Atlanta with eight sacks last season, which would’ve ranked him second to Harold Landry in Tennessee. But 6 1/2 of those came in the second half of the season.
— Teresa M. Walker reporting from Nashville, Tennessee.
The Eagles released safety standout Malcolm Jenkins, who led their secondary for the last six years and helped them win the 2017 NFL title. Jenkins, 32, had one year left on his contract at $7.6 million. He will cost the team $6 million under the cap, but the Eagles also save nearly $5 million by cutting Jenkins.
Jenkins also has been a strong voice in the players' union, and a leader in the players' social justice initiatives.
Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips has agreed to sign with the Arizona Cardinals, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
The person spoke to the AP on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the deal can't be completed until the league's business year begins on Wednesday.
The 6-foot-6, 341-pound Phillips just finished a breakout season for the Buffalo Bills, where he played in 16 games, starting nine and finishing with a career-high 9 1/2 sacks.
Phillips fills a big need for Arizona's defense, which gave up the most total yards in the NFL last season. The Cardinals hope Phillips can be another playmaker who can put pressure on the quarterback, joining linebacker Chandler Jones, who led Arizona with 19 sacks and eight forced fumbles last season.
— John Wawrow and David Brandt reporting.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have agreed to terms with free agent linebacker Joe Schobert, filling one of the team's biggest needs.
Schobert spent the past four years in Cleveland, where he led the team in tackles twice and made a Pro Bowl.
A person familiar with the transaction says Schobert will sign a five-year contract worth $53.75 million and includes $22.5 million guaranteed. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the deal won't become official for another day.
Jacksonville had been looking to upgrade its linebacking group after failing repeatedly to adequately replace retired starters Paul Posluszny and Telvin Smith.
— Mark Long reporting from Jacksonville, Florida.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have given contract offers to a pair of restricted free agents, linebacker Austin Calitro and receiver Keelan Cole.
Jacksonville tendered Cole a second-round offer and applied an exclusive rights tender on Calitro. Both are expected to sign the deals. Cole will earn $3.259 million next season and Calitro will make $750,000.
The team also released veteran tight end Geoff Swaim, a move that will create $3.73 million in salary cap space. Swaim played in six games last season before ending up on injured reserve with a concussion and an ankle injury.
Cole has 104 receptions for 1,600 yards and seven touchdowns in three seasons with the Jags. Calitro has played in 29 games with nine starts during three years with the New York Jets, San Francisco, Seattle, Cleveland and Jacksonville.
The Chicago Bears have agreed to a five-year, $70 million deal with former All-Pro defensive end Robert Quinn, giving them another elite pass rusher to line up opposite outside linebacker Khalil Mack.
Agent Sean Kiernan confirmed the deal, which includes $30 million guaranteed, to the NFL Network on Tuesday. He did not immediately return messages from the Associated Press.
Quinn bounced back with 11 1/2 sacks last year following a trade to Dallas from Miami despite a two-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy against performance-enhancing drugs. He finished with single-digit sacks the previous four seasons for the St. Louis and Los Angeles Rams and the Dolphins. Quinn, who turns 30 in May, had 19 sacks for St. Louis in an All-Pro season in 2013 and had 10 1/2 the following year on the way to his second straight Pro Bowl selection. He has 80 1/2 in nine seasons.
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