The Cowboys acquired cornerback Stephon Gilmore from the Colts for a fifth-round draft pick Tuesday.
The addition of the five-time Pro Bowler came on the same day Dallas re-signed safety Donovan Wilson and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch as the Cowboys try to further bolster a defense that carried the club at times during a second consecutive playoff season in 2022.
The Cowboys will give up a compensatory fifth-round pick in this year’s draft.
It will be the third team in three seasons for Gilmore, the 2019 AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year when he was with New England.
The 32-year-old Gilmore played 16 games for the Colts last season, finishing with two interceptions and 11 pass breakups as a four-year Pro Bowl run ended.
The second of Gilmore’s two All-Pro seasons was with the Patriots in 2019, when he led the NFL with 20 pass breakups and had six interceptions.
The trade pairs Gilmore with 2021 NFL interceptions leader Trevon Diggs, who had 11 of his 17 career picks that season. Diggs dropped off to three interceptions last year.
Earlier, the Cowboys agreed to a contract with Wilson, their leading tackler, to a $24 million, three-year deal, while Vander Esch is returning for $11 million over two years.
The safety rose from a sixth-round pick out of Texas A&M in 2019 to a starter in his second season. The 28-year-old started all 17 games last season and led NFL safeties with five sacks, tying Bill Bates’s 1984 club record for the position.
Vander Esch, the former Boise State standout emerged as the signal-caller in defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s scheme, earning praise from Quinn for setting the defense’s tone.
Is RB Ekeler on the move?
Chargers running back Austin Ekeler could be on his way out.
Ekeler’s agent, Cameron Weiss, said Tuesday that the team has given Ekeler permission to seek a trade after both sides could not agree on a contract extension.
Ekeler, who has scored an NFL-high 38 touchdowns over the past two seasons, is entering the final season of a four-year, $24.5 million extension. He is scheduled to earn $6.25 million in the 2023 season.
He led the league with 18 scrimmage touchdowns last season and became the fifth running back in league history with at least 100 receptions. His 107 catches were tied for second most by a running back in a season.
Ekeler also rushed for 915 yards, including a pair of 100-yard games.
Ekeler emerged as the Chargers’ lead back in 2019 after Melvin Gordon held out until four weeks into the regular season because of a contract dispute.
Ekeler has spent his entire six-year career with the Chargers after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2017.
If Ekeler stays, he’ll once again have Trey Pipkins in front of him, as the tackle agreed to a three-year contract, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.
Pipkins was drafted in the third round out of Division 2 Sioux Falls in 2019 but finally came into his own last year, starting 15 games, including the playoffs, at right tackle as the Chargers made the postseason for the first time since 2018.
The Chargers also announced that Eric Kendricks has signed a multi-year contract. The 31-year old linebacker spent eight seasons with the Vikings before being released March 6.
Raiders ship off TE Waller
Tight end Darren Waller is being traded to the Giants, who will send the Raiders a 2023 third-round draft pick, two people familiar with the deal said Tuesday.
Waller was traded just 10 days after marrying Las Vegas Aces star Kelsey Plum.
They spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the trade has not been announced. One report said the Giants will send the Raiders their No. 100 overall selection, which was acquired from the Chiefs in the deal for wide receiver Kadarius Toney.
Waller, who made the Pro Bowl in 2020 gives the Giants a major playmaker and an upgrade at tight end. Last year’s starter, Daniel Bellinger, caught 30 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns.
Waller twice has surpassed 1,000 receiving yards, in 2019 and 2020, before injuries cut into his production the past two seasons. In 2022, Waller caught 28 passes for 388 yards and three TDs, missing eight games because of a hamstring injury.
For the Raiders, their acquisition of wide receiver Jakobi Meyers on Tuesday helped make Waller expendable. Meyers agreed to a three-year, $33 million deal, a person familiar with the contract told the AP, giving Las Vegas a player who averaged 70 catches and 800 yards receiving over the past three seasons.
Now the Raiders’ offense includes quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, running back Josh Jacobs, and receivers Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, Meyers, and Phillip Dorsett, who also has a history with coach Josh McDaniels, having played for the Patriots in 2017-19.
On the other side of the ball, the Raiders will signing linebacker Robert Spillane, who is getting a two-year, $9 million contract, $4 million in guaranteed money. Spillane spent the past four seasons with the Steelers. He started five games and played in 16 last season, making 79 tackles, with four for losses.
Texans acquire G Mason from Buccaneers
The Texans have agreed to send the Buccaneers a sixth-round draft pick for guard Shaq Mason and a seventh-round pick, a person familiar with the trade told the AP.
Mason started 18 games for the Buccaneers at right guard last season after spending his first seven years in New England. The 29-year-old Mason has started 115 games in his eight seasons.
Mason gives the Texans another veteran presence on an offensive line that includes tackles Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard entering the final year of their contracts.
Texans general manager Nick Caserio was New England’s director of player personnel when the team drafted Mason in the fourth round in 2015.
Dolphins run it back with Mostert and Wilson
The Dolphins are bringing back running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr., agreeing on two-year contracts for both players; Mostert’s agent, Brett Tessler, reported the deal. A person familiar with the deal confirmed Wilson’s intention to re-sign on a deal worth up to $8.2 million.
The Dolphins brought in Mostert as a free agent last year after he spent the previous five seasons with San Francisco. He led Miami’s rushers in 2022 in yards (891) and carries (181), both of which were career highs.
Wilson joined Miami at the trade deadline and finished with 392 yards on 84 carries in eight games with the Dolphins.
They were teammates on the 49ers and played under Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel, who was credited for San Francisco’s potent rushing attack when he was the offensive coordinator from 2017-2022.
Eagles hold on to Bradberry
James Bradberry is returning to the Eagles.
Bradberry, a second-team All-Pro cornerback, agreed to a $38 million, three-year contract, a person familiar with the deal told the AP, that has $20 million guaranteed.
Earlier Tuesday, the Eagles and running back Rashaad Penny agreed on a contract, a person told the AP.
Bradberry joined the Eagles last year after he was released by the Giants and played a key role in the secondary for the NFL’s No. 1 pass defense. He helped the Eagles reach the Super Bowl but his holding penalty on Kansas City’s JuJu Smith-Schuster late in the fourth quarter set up the go-ahead field goal in Philadelphia’s 38-35 loss.
A first-round pick by Seattle in the 2018 draft, Penny has been slowed by injuries throughout his career. He was limited to six games last season because of a broken fibula. He tore his ACL in 2019 and played just three games in 2020.
Penny’s most productive season was 2021, when he ran for a career-best 749 yards with six touchdowns and led the NFL with an average of 6.3 yards per carry. He rushed for 349 yards last season, with an average of 6.1 per carry. Penny’s career average is 5.7 yards per carry.
The NFC champions likely won’t re-sign Miles Sanders, who led the team with 1,269 yards rushing last season. Sanders tweeted Tuesday: “To the city of Philadelphia Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Bears get help on defensive line
The Bears are adding help on the defensive line, agreeing to a deal with former Titans defensive end DeMarcus Walker, who tweeted that he has an agreement in place.
The Bears agreed to a two-year contract extension with fullback Khari Blasingame through the 2025 season and a one-year extension with long snapper Patrick Scales. Offensive lineman Dieter Eiselen — an exclusive rights free agent — signed a one-year contract.
The Bears also have agreements in place with Bills two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, former Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards, and former Tennessee guard Nate Davis, according to people familiar with their situations.
Walker is coming off his best year, with a career-high seven sacks in his lone season with the Titans. He played for Denver from 2017 to 2020 and Houston in 2021.
The Bears sorely needed help on the defensive line after finishing with a league-worst 20 sacks, their lowest total since the 2003 team had 18. A safety — Jaquan Brisker — led them with four sacks, and no lineman had more than three.
Falcons add Heinicke to QB mix
Setting up a competition at quarterback, the Falcons have agreed to terms with Taylor Heinicke on a two-year contract worth up to $20 million, a person with knowledge of the deal told the Associated Press. The person spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contract cannot be signed until the official start of free agency Wednesday.
For Heinicke, it’s a homecoming. He was born in Lawrenceville and played at Collins Hills High School in suburban Atlanta.
Now, after starting 24 games over the last two seasons with the Commanders, he is headed to the Falcons to compete for a starting job with Desmond Ridder.
Ridder started the last four games of his rookie season after taking over for Marcus Mariota with the Falcons headed toward their fifth straight losing season.
Heinicke was a fan favorite in Washington after he went undrafted out of college at Old Dominion and bounced around to four NFL teams and the XFL’s St. Louis BattleHawks before landing in the nation’s capital.
Panthers get their veteran QB in Dalton
The Panthers have found their stop-gap quarterback, agreeing to a two-year, $10 million contract with unrestricted free agent Andy Dalton, according to two people familiar with the situation. One of those people, who spoke to on condition of anonymity, said the deal includes $8 million in guaranteed money.
The Panthers traded up last week to get the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft and are almost certain to use it on a quarterback — a position that has seen repeated turnover over the past five seasons in Carolina. So while the 35-year-old Dalton could open the season as the starter if the rookie isn’t quite ready to play, eventually he is expected to be relegated to the role of mentor and backup quarterback.
Dalton has spent 12 seasons in the NFL, including the first nine with the Bengals. He played last season with the Saints going 6-8 as a starter with 18 touchdown passes and nine interceptions.
Defensive line big point of emphasis for Seahawks
Two days into free agency and all the focus for the Seahawks has been on the defensive line.
Seattle brought back a familiar face Tuesday, agreeing to a two-year deal with defensive tackle Jarran Reed, according to a person with knowledge of the deal, worth up to $10.8 million.
Reed, 30, is reuniting with the team he spent the first five seasons with after being drafted in the second round in 2016. Reed was released by Seattle after the 2020 season and spent 2021 with Kansas City and last season in Green Bay. Reed had a career-high 52 tackles with the Packers starting 14 of 17 games last season.
Reed is the second deal for Seattle on the defensive line after reaching agreement with Dre’Mont Jones on a three-year deal that is worth up to $51 million on Monday.
Seattle also did some housekeeping on the defensive line by releasing veterans Shelby Harris and Quinton Jefferson earlier Tuesday, clearing more than $13 million in salary-cap space before the start of the new league year.
Lions bringing aboard CB Moseley
The Lions, who allowed the third-most yards passing in 2022, and cornerback Emmanuel Moseley agreed on a $6 million, one-year contract, a person familiar with the deal told the Associated Press.
Moseley started 33 games in five years with the 49ers, but missed the final 12 games last season after tearing his ACL. Moseley has four interceptions, 33 pass breakups, and held opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating under 70.0 over the past two seasons.
Moseley is the second cornerback the Lions have added in the first two days of free agency. They agreed to a deal with Cam Sutton on Monday.
Brendel stays in center of 49ers line
The 49ers agreed to a contract extension with starting center Jake Brendel before he could hit the open market. A person familiar with the deal said Brendel will sign a four-year contract instead of becoming an unrestricted free agent; NFL Network said the agreement had a maximum value of $20 million and includes $8 million in guarantees.
Commanders fire line coach Matsko, 72
The Commanders fired offensive line coach John Matsko, according to a person with knowledge of the decision.
It’s the latest shakeup for Ron Rivera’s staff since bringing in Eric Bieniemy as offensive coordinator and assistant head coach.
Matsko, 72, worked under Rivera the past three seasons in Washington and all nine years Rivera coached in Carolina.
It was not immediately clear who Matsko’s replacement will be. Assistant offensive line coach Travelle Wharton remains on staff.
Since Bieniemy was hired, Washington has made several staffing changes.
Ken Zampese was shifted to senior offensive adviser for game management, Stanford’s Tavita Pritchard was hired to replace him as quarterbacks coach, and Bobby Engram was brought in to coach the wide receivers. Shane Toub was also hired to oversee offensive quality control.
The Commanders offensive line is expected to have a different look next season beyond a new coach. They agreed to terms Monday with Andrew Wylie and Nick Gates on three-year contracts and may not be done after allowing 48 sacks in 2022, eighth most in the NFL.