Jan 3, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata (93) tackles Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel (10) in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Saints restructure David Onyemata, free up $4.3M

The New Orleans Saints have restructured the contract of defensive tackle David Onyemata, freeing up $4.34 million in cap space for this season, according to reports Wednesday.

Onyemata agreed to convert $4.34 million of his $7 million into a signing bonus as the Saints chip away at trying to get under the cap for 2021.

Onyemata, 28, has been with the Saints since they drafted him in the fourth round in 2016. He started 15 games last season, recording 6.5 sacks, 44 tackles — 10 for losses — to go with 16 quarterback hits and an interception. He has 16 sacks in 78 career games (40 starts) for the club.

The Saints are reportedly considering trading DT Malcom Brown in a cap move. He poses a $6.4 million cap hit for this season.

The Saints also agreed to a two-year, $4 million deal with safety and special teams player J.T. Gray.

–Field Level Media

Feb 29, 2020; College Park, Maryland, USA;  American sports broadcaster Rece Davis stand curtsied before the between the Maryland Terrapins and the Michigan State Spartans is at XFINITY Center. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Rece Davis signs contract to remain with ESPN

Dec 29, 2020; San Antonio, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman is being interviewed during the first half against the Colorado Buffaloes at Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rece Davis is staying with ESPN and will continue to host “College GameDay,” the network announced Monday.

Davis, 55, signed a multiyear deal. Length and financial terms were not announced.

Davis has been with the network for more than 25 years and will begin his seventh season as host of football’s “College GameDay” this fall. He also will host coverage of events such as the NFL Draft on ABC and the College Football Playoff National Championship game, with play-by-play duties mixed in.

He also will continue to host “College GameDay” during basketball season, and this summer, will host the UEFA European Football Championship.

“I’m extremely grateful to ESPN and pleased to continue working with my extraordinarily talented colleagues and friends on all of these remarkable projects,” Davis said. “I get to cover the sports I am most passionate about with people who care deeply not only about the show, but the sports themselves. That is what makes our place special, and it’s something I never take for granted.”

Davis is a two-time Sports Emmy Award nominee.

–Field Level Media

Dec 20, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) during warmups before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

J.J. Watt, Cardinals agree to two-year deal

Star defensive end J.J. Watt took to social media on Monday afternoon to announce that he is joining the Arizona Cardinals.

Watt wrote on Twitter “source: me” while posting a picture of himself working out in a Cardinals shirt.

The Cardinals confirmed that Watt agreed to a two-year deal but didn’t announce financial terms. Multiple media outlets reported Watt’s contract is worth $31 million with $23 million guaranteed.

Watt ended what he termed as a “wild” free agency after asking for — and receiving — his release from the Houston Texans on Feb. 12.

Watt, who will turn 32 on March 22, will join former Texans teammate DeAndre Hopkins with the Cardinals. Because he was released by the Texans, Watt is eligible to sign his contract now.

Watt was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year on three occasions during his 10 seasons in Houston. He was also a first-team All-Pro five times and won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2017 after raising more than $37 million for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

He is the team’s all-time leader in sacks with 101, tackles for loss (172), quarterback hits (282) and forced fumbles (25). He has 531 career tackles, 61 passes defensed and 16 fumble recoveries since the Texans made him the No. 11 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Watt played in 128 games with the Texans, despite losing chunks of three seasons to injuries. He played in just three games in 2016, five in 2017 and eight in 2019.

–Field Level Media

Dec 6, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) runs onto the field before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Free agent J.J. Watt reportedly has $15M-$16M offer

Free agent J.J. Watt received at least one offer for $15 million to $16 million annually, ESPN reported on Thursday.

Watt was released by the Houston Texans at his request and the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year has described his first foray into the open market as “wild.”

Several teams have been connected to Watt, who was a first-round pick out of Wisconsin and spent his entire career to this point with the Texans.

The home-state Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills are rumored to be contenders.

Watt might not be basing his decision entirely on money, considering his contract with the Texans would have paid him $17.5 million in 2021.

Watt turns 32 on March 22 and ESPN reported he has received “multiple offers.”

–Field Level Media

Feb 10, 2021; Tampa Bay, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady during a boat parade to celebrate victory in Super Bowl LV against the Kansas City Chiefs. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady, Buccaneers GM to talk contract extension

Tom Brady committed to the 2021 season in the afterglow of his seventh Super Bowl victory this month, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht envisions talking about another contract with his 43-year-old quarterback.

Brady signed a two-year deal in free agency in March 2020, exiting New England for $25 million in 2020 and the same amount in 2021.

The Buccaneers are strapped for cash entering the new league year, and turning Brady’s $25 million salary into a bonus, or splitting his contract between base salary and bonus, would bring significant cap relief. The accounting maneuver was commonly utilized by the Patriots.

“We’d like to keep this going,” Licht said on The Rich Eisen Show.

The NFL league year, which is the official start of free agency, begins March 17.

A move on Brady’s contract likely would come before March 9, the deadline for the Buccaneers to employ the franchise tag. Likely candidates for the one-year tag include wide receiver Chris Godwin.

Head coach Bruce Arians said Brady is showing no signs of wear and the uninformed observer would never guess his age. Brady repeated this month that he’d like to play multiple more seasons, and in the past pointed to 45 as a benchmark he was striving to hit. He will turn 44 in August.

“It appears he had a really good time this year winning the Super Bowl and likes our organization,” Licht told the Rich Eisen Show. “Likes our coaches, likes our head coach and ownership and we certainly love him. Usually when you have those two things going for you, it’s a match made in heaven. So we’d like to keep this going.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2018; San Diego, CA, United States; Northwestern Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald runs onto the field during the 2018 Holiday Bowl against the Utah Utes at SDCCU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern gives Pat Fitzgerald new deal through 2030

Northwestern and football coach Pat Fitzgerald agreed Wednesday to a new contract through the 2030 season.

Fitzgerald, 46, has held the job at his alma mater since 2006, leading the Wildcats to a 106-81 record with 10 bowl appearances.

“We have one of the best coaches in college football and, more importantly, a leader uncommonly suited to this University,” vice president for athletics and recreation Jim Phillips said in a news release. “Over the course of his tenure, Coach Fitzgerald has built a culture of unwavering belief in excellence both on and off the field, and led our Wildcats to unprecedented sustained success. They boast incredible achievement in the classroom, in the community and in competition, and will for years to come.”

He is the winningest coach in school history and the sixth-longest tenured head coach in the FBS.

Northwestern finished 7-2 and ranked No. 10 in the country in 2020 after winning the Big Ten West division for the second time in three years and beating Auburn in the Citrus Bowl. Fitzgerald was named the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year.

It was the highest end-of-season ranking for the program since 1995, a team that featured Fitzgerald as a starting linebacker.

“From the moment I stepped on campus as an undergraduate, I have believed this is the finest University in the country, with the potential to offer an unmatched student-athlete experience,” Fitzgerald said in the release.

“… We have built the foundation to compete for championships in tandem with the best academic and personal development opportunity anywhere in college football. We all have a lot to be proud of, but our best is yet to come.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs with the ball against the Buffalo Bills during the third quarter of an AFC Divisional Round game at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens GM: Lamar Jackson deserves long-term contract

Lamar Jackson remains a crucial component for the Baltimore Ravens, and the franchise intends to keep him around long-term.

Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said Monday that he plans to begin negotiations toward a long-term deal with Jackson “in the next 10 days.”

“I will be talking to Lamar probably within the next 10 days or so. He’s down in Florida,” DeCosta said. “He certainly deserves a contract. He has played phenomenal football over the last couple of years. Our intention and my intention is to keep him in Baltimore for many, many years.”

DeCosta said credit for the Ravens’ philosophy of “signing up more players” to long-term deals goes to the front office. DeCosta said it took more than a year to get the five-year extension done with left tackle Ronnie Stanley.

“We have these players, we draft them, we like them, we know them, they really fit us,” DeCosta said. “We want our fans to reap the enjoyment of these players. … We will continue to engage in these talks with our young players. Sometimes you can’t get a deal done. I learned this from Ozzie (Newsome), you can’t sign everyone.”

DeCosta said the Ravens’ objectives include having the “best offensive line” in the NFL, and he includes tight end Mark Andrews in that group. DeCosta said talks with Andrews, who is entering the final year of his contract, also will start soon.

Last season, Jackson was 38th among quarterbacks in total salary according to OverTheCap.com, behind multiple backups, including Andy Dalton (Cowboys), Case Keenum (Browns), A.J. McCarron (Texans), Taysom Hill (Saints), Tyrod Taylor (Chargers), Marcus Mariota (Raiders) and Jacoby Brissett (Colts).

Setting a price tag for Jackson, 24, could be an intriguing piece of contract talks. The 2019 league MVP might make an argument to be among the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL, but the Ravens’ playoff failures loom over discussions.

Patrick Mahomes signed a 10-year contract extension worth up to $503 million in 2020 with the Kansas City Chiefs and has the team in a second Super Bowl. Dak Prescott of the Cowboys was franchised in 2020 and will be a free agent in March.

Dallas was unable to complete a contract extension of Prescott’s rookie deal last year and talks are expected to be renewed soon, but the uncertainty around the projected NFL salary cap is a major consideration in all long-term deals, DeCosta said Monday.

If the Ravens and Jackson can’t come to an agreement, he’s still under contract next season for a relatively paltry figure.

In 2021, Jackson is scheduled to carry a base salary of $1.77 million with a cap hit of $3.01 million. That’s the final year of the four-year, $9.47 million rookie deal he signed after the Ravens selected him No. 32 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Jackson has appeared in 46 regular-season games with the Ravens and is 30-7 as a starter. He’s thrown for 7,085 yards with 68 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He’s also had back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and has 19 touchdowns on the ground.

In the playoffs, he is 1-3 as a starter, and his completion percentage is just 55.9 percent compared to 64 percent in the regular season. He has thrown three touchdown passes and five interceptions in the playoffs.

–Field Level Media

Jun 12, 2018; Renton, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, right, and general manager John Schneider observe minicamp practice at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Seahawks GM John Schneider signs contract extension

Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider, the architect of two Super Bowl teams, signed a contract extension to remain with the team for six more years.

The team did not announce financial terms for Schneider, who is in his 11th season in the role. Speculation had been building that teams with GM openings, including the Detroit Lions, would pursue him.

His previous contract would have expired after the 2022 draft.

“I am pleased to announce that we have extended the contract of general manager John Schneider through the 2027 draft,” team chairperson Jody Allen said in a news release Tuesday. “For the last decade, John and head coach Pete Carroll have formed a tremendous partnership and the Seahawks have established a successful, unique, and truly winning culture respected throughout sports. I know we are all excited to see that continue.”

Carroll is signed through the 2025 season.

Schneider and Carroll have been together since 2010. In that time, the Seahawks have reached the postseason nine times, including eight of the past nine seasons. They have won five NFC West titles and two NFC championships.

Seattle won Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2, 2014, defeating the Denver Broncos 43-8. They lost Super Bowl XLIX the following season, defeated by the New England Patriots 28-24.

The Seahawks have nine straight winning seasons — the longest mark in the NFL. They finished 2020 with a 12-4 mark and won the NFC West, but lost Saturday’s wild-card game to the Los Angeles Rams, 30-20.

Before joining the Seahawks, Schneider, 49, held a variety of NFL jobs. He was with the Green Bay Packers for eight seasons, joining the team in March 2002 before being promoted to director of football operations in May 2008.

–Field Level Media

Oct 17, 2020; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Ole Miss Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin prior to the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss extends Kiffin’s contract

Ole Miss is extending the contract of football coach Lane Kiffin.

The school made the announcement on Saturday, just a few hours before Kiffin’s Rebels were set to kick off against No. 11 Indiana in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.

The school didn’t announce terms, but it reportedly is a one-year extension through the 2024 season. He signed a $16.2 million contract in 2019 and has led the Rebels to a 4-5 mark in his first season entering Saturday’s game.

“This is an investment in the future of Ole Miss Football,” athletic director Keith Carter said in a statement. “We hired coach Kiffin with the hope of revitalizing our football program, and in just one short year, he has done just that. His innovative offensive approach has shattered SEC records, and with a top-20 recruiting class coming in, the future is bright under Coach Kiffin’s leadership.”

The Rebels’ 2021 class currently is ranked No. 18 in the nation, according to 247Sports.

“I appreciate Keith’s leadership and his commitment to building a winning football program,” Kiffin, 45, said. “While I’m proud of what our team accomplished this season, we have higher aspirations for Ole Miss Football. This is just the start, and I look forward to continuing to build a championship program.”

Ole Miss is averaging 562.4 yards per game — the most among any Power Five conference team in the nation.

Kiffin was the offensive coordinator at Southern California when the Oakland Raiders hired him at age 31 as their head coach in January 2007. He was fired in September 2008 after the Raiders posted a 5-15 record during his tenure.

He returned to the college ranks in 2009 with Tennessee and also was the head coach of USC (2010-13) and FAU (2017-19) before heading to Mississippi.

–Field Level Media

Aug 19, 2020; Owings Mills, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith (22) warms up before the morning session of training camp at Under Armour Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Ravens CB Smith agrees to one-year deal

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith agreed to a one-year contract worth up to $5 million, agent Drew Rosenhaus confirmed to multiple media outlets on Thursday.

The one-year deal is the second in 2020 for Smith, who was in line to hit free agency after this season. Smith signed a one-year, $6 million contract in March.

Smith, 32, recorded 27 tackles and one fumble recovery in 11 games (five starts) in 2020.

He has 356 tackles, 14 interceptions, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 118 career games (88 starts) all with the Ravens. He was selected by Baltimore in the first round (27th overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Smith missed the past two games with a shoulder injury and did not participate in practice on Wednesday. His availability for Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Bengals in Cincinnati is unknown.

–Field Level Media