Read below for the latest news & rumors on day five of 2022 NFL free agency…
Olszewski to the Steel City
Dec 6, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Gunner Olszewski (80) returns a punt return for a touchdown Los Angeles Chargers during the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
According to Ian Rapoport, the Pittsburgh Steelers are signing Gunner Olszewski to a two-year, $4.2 million contract. Olszewski spent the last three years with the Patriots and was an All-Pro punt returner in 2020.
JuJu Smith-Schuster headed to Chiefs
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster #19 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders in the first half of the game at Heinz Field on September 19, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Another receiver off the board for the Patriots: former Steelers wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster is signing a one-year, $10.75 million deal with the Chiefs, according to Ian Rapoport. Another dynamic weapon for Patrick Mahomes, who still has Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce in his arsenal.
Deshaun Watson headed to Browns
Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans in action against the Tennessee Titans during a game at NRG Stadium on January 03, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Just when you thought Davante Adams would be the biggest trade-and-sign move of the week, Deshaun Watson and the Browns just dropped a whopper on Friday. Watson is headed to the Browns for three first-round picks and more, according to Ian Rapoport. The quarterback is also signing a five-year deal worth $230 million, fully guaranteed. That shatters the previous record for guaranteed money by $80 million.
Bills release DT Star Lotulelei
The Buffalo Bills have identifed their first payroll casualty in the wake of signing Von Miller to a six-year megadeal. The team announced Friday that they’re releasing defensive tackle Star Lotulelei.
No progress between Patriots and Jamie Collins
Jamie Collins #58 of the New England Patriots celebrates after causing Colt McCoy #12 of the Washington Redskins a to fumble the ball during the second half at FedExField on October 6, 2019 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
According to Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald, there’s been no progress on contract talks between the Patriots and linebacker Jamie Collins. It’s the latest signal that the Pats are aggressively getting younger at the linebacker position. They recently released Kyle Van Noy, while Dont’a Hightower remains a free agent as they’ve re-signed several other internal pieces.
Patriots re-signing Bentley
Ja’Whaun Bentley #8 of the New England Patriots celebrates after tackling Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
According to Mike Reiss, the Patriots are “closing in” on a new contract with linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley. The 25-year-old is coming off a career year in his third NFL season, leading the Pats with 109 total tackles and forcing three fumbles.
The Patriots certainly value Bentley’s experience in the system compared to the rest of their linebacker depth chart, as the team moves toward a youth movement at the position. He’s one of the veterans of the group on a depth chart that includes Matthew Judon, Josh Uche, Raekwon McMillan, Anfernee Jennings, Ronnie Perkins, Cameron McGrone, and Jahlani Tavai.
Cowboys re-sign Vander Esch
Free-agent linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is staying with the Dallas Cowboys, agreeing to a one-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport. The Patriots had been showing interest in Vander Esch before his decision to re-sign with Dallas, per Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal.
Logan Ryan reuniting with Tom Brady
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) greets Tennessee Titans cornerback Logan Ryan (26) before the start of the preseason game at Nissan Stadium Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.
Tom Brady is getting yet another former teammate back in Tampa Bay. Veteran defensive back Logan Ryan confirmed himself via Twitter on Friday that he’s signing with the Buccaneers, bolstering their secondary depth and reuniting himself with his former Patriots teammate. Ryan and Brady last played together on the Patriots in 2016. He’s been durable throughout his career, with 140 of a possible 145 games played, and has made at least eight pass breakups in every season since 2015.
Davante Adams gets historic contract
Davante Adams #17 of the Green Bay Packers makes a catch for a touchdown while being guarded by M.J. Stewart Jr. #36 of the Cleveland Browns in the second quarter at Lambeau Field on December 25, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
The Raiders made what could go down as the biggest off-season splash of 2022 when they acquired wide receiver Davante Adams from the Packers, then signed him to a five-year deal worth up to $142.5 million. ESPN’s Field Yates noted that the deal is the largest ever for a non-quarterback in terms of average annual value ($28.5 million) and total value. According to Adam Schefter, the contract includes $67.5 million guaranteed.
Raiders making push for Gilmore?
Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots looks on prior to the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on December 20, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
The Raiders – led by a pair of former Patriots in head coach Josh McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler – may still not be done adding to their roster. And they’re looking at a familiar face: according to Vincent Bonsignore at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Las Vegas is “making a run” at cornerback Stephon Gilmore in free agency. So it sounds like Gilmore could get himself another nice contract, if multiple teams are competing for his services.
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