Running back Rex Burkhead and the Patriots have reworked the final year of his contract, ESPN reported Tuesday morning.
Burkhead’s base salary will drop from $2.5 million to $1.05 million, according to ESPN. He will instead receive a $550,000 signing bonus and can earn another $400,000 in roster bonuses. The move creates $981,250 in salary-cap space for the Patriots, who recently added quarterback Cam Newton.
In March 2017, Burkhead and the Patriots agreed to a one-year contract worth up to $3.15 million. In March 2018, he signed a three-year contract extension.
Burkhead rushed for 302 yards and three touchdowns, and also caught 27 passes for 279 receiving yards in 13 games last season.
“Rex has been a solid player for us,” coach Bill Belichick said in December. “He does a lot of things well — plays in the kicking game, plays on all four downs, catches the ball, blocks, runs, gets tough yards, can make plays out in space. I think he’s always been like that.”
Browns’ Vernon reworks deal
Defensive end Olivier Vernon, whose future in Cleveland seemed in doubt for months, has renegotiated his contract for next season, a person familiar with the talks told the Associated Press.
Vernon's days with the Browns seemed numbered as he was going to make $15.25 million — a non-guaranteed deal that was the largest current one-year contract on Cleveland's roster — as long as he was around after training camp.
But the club reworked his deal and the 29-year-old Vernon will earn $11 million, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team is not publicly disclosing the agreement.
ESPN was first to report Vernon will get a $7 million signing bonus, $3.75 million base salary, $250,000 workout bonus, and $2 million in incentives.
Vernon joined the Browns last season after coming over from the New York Giants in the blockbuster trade that brought wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to Cleveland.
Eagles’ Jackson apologizes for social media posts
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson apologized for sharing an anti-Semitic quotation attributed to Adolf Hitler, after that and other social media posts were widely condemned, including by his team.
In the series of posts, made on Instagram over the weekend, Jackson also praised Louis Farrakhan, a minister notorious for his history of anti-Semitic comments. Jackson’s team condemned the posts in a statement Tuesday, calling them “offensive, harmful, and absolutely appalling.”
“They have no place in our society, and are not condoned or supported in any way by the organization,” the team said. “We reiterated to DeSean the importance of not only apologizing but also using his platform to take action to promote unity, equality and respect.”
It was unclear whether Jackson, 33, would be disciplined for his posts. The team said it was “continuing to evaluate the circumstances” in weighing action. “We take these matters very seriously and are committed to continuing to have productive and meaningful conversations with DeSean,” the team said.
Jackson apologized on Instagram, calling it a mistake and writing, “I truly apologize for posting it and sorry for any hurt I have caused.”
He said that he “really didn’t realize what this passage was saying” and that “we should be together fighting anti-Semitism and racism.”
In an Instagram story over the weekend, Jackson shared a photo of a racist and anti-Semitic quotation attributed to Hitler, which was highlighted on the page of a book.
In a statement, the NFL said Jackson’s remarks “were highly inappropriate, offensive and divisive and stand in stark contrast to the NFL’s values of respect, equality and inclusion.” The league said it was “in contact with the team, which is addressing the matter with DeSean.”
NFL, NFLPA still have work to do on protocols
The NFL and the NFLPA haven’t come to an agreement on all protocols for training camp and the preseason as the report date for teams draws closer.
The sides finalized the protocols regarding team travel, media, and treatment response, and have also updated the facilities protocol to specifically address training camp based on recommendations from a joint committee of doctors, trainers, and strength coaches formed by the league and players’ union.
The league sent a 42-page memo to teams last Friday outlining those proposals. But the NFL Players Association and its president, Browns center JC Tretter, say testing and the number of preseason games remain unresolved.
“Our normal return date for training camp is quickly approaching and we are still far from back to ‘normal,’ ” Tretter wrote in a letter on the union’s website. “Our main concern is player safety, both in regard to preventing the virus’ transmission as well as preventing injuries after an extended and historically unique layoff.”
Tretter reiterated that players don’t want to play any preseason games and want a 48-day training camp schedule to give them more time to prepare for the season and avoid injuries. He cited an increase in injuries following the 2011 lockout.
The league last week decided to cut the preseason schedule from four games to two and pushed back the start of exhibition play an extra week to give teams more time to prepare because the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of on-field workouts.
The league previously requested that players report to camp earlier than July 28 to give them more acclimation time for strength and conditioning because they held no formal workouts or team minicamps. But the union declined.
“When we asked for a medical reason to play games that don’t count in the standings during an ongoing pandemic, the NFL failed to provide one,” Tretter wrote.
A league official told the Associated Press that Tretter’s comments were “disheartening” to read because “we’ve been working in good faith.”
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league doesn’t want to engage in a public dispute similar to the contentious discussions between Major League Baseball and its players’ union.
“It’s not constructive. We’d rather do this face to face,” the person said. “The committee understood the utility of playing one or two preseason games to get players ready for game-day conditions, which you can’t simulate playing against yourselves, and also to practice the protocols. We will continue working together.”
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.)