The 2020 NFL free agency period officially began on Wednesday but the unofficial ‘legal tampering window’ brought with it news of multiple big-name players who are slated to be on the move this offseason. We here at PacificTakes are tracking all your former favorite Pac-12 players and alumni who are making news during this period.
Marcus Mariota comes back ‘home’
Arguably the biggest former Pac-12 name on the move is former Oregon QB Marcus Mariota who agreed to a deal with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Mariota likely slides into the No. 2 spot behind Derek Carr in Vegas but we’re expecting the contract terms to be released today to see if his contract value sheds light on anything newsworthy there. We’ll see if he can get back to the form that saw him win the Heisman Trophy and set then-Rose Bowl records for points scored when the Oregon Ducks trounced Florida State in 2015.
Kiko Alonso stays put in New Orleans
Former Oregon linebacker Kiko Alonso is staying in New Orleans, agreeing to a reduced contract as he rehabs a torn ACL that he sustained during the Saints playoff loss to Minnesota last year. Alonso’s scheduled contract of $7.58 million is now down to a $1.45 million roster bonus with a $1.7 million base salary and the rest tied to incentives he can earn with playing time.
Alonso brought down just 25 solo tackles a season ago with the Saints but did add value in the passing game when he was on the field. He broke up a pass and had multiple other forced incompletions on his resume from the 2019 season, albeit on a career-low number of snaps played.
For his career, Alonso has brought down 368 solo tackles over six seasons spent with Buffalo, Philadelphia, Miami and New Orleans. He was selected by the Bills with the 46th pick in the second round of the 2013 draft.
Alonso was second team All-Pac-12 during the 2012 season after spending four much-maligned seasons with the Oregon Ducks and head coach Chip Kelly.
Danny Shelton jumping ship to Detroit
After two years in New England, former Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton is signing with the Detroit Lions on a 2-year, $18-million deal. Shelton will now have his third home in the NFL after the last two were spent with the Patriots and the three previous seasons with the Cleveland Browns, who drafted him 12th pick of the first round in 2015.
Shelton had a career-high total tackles with the Patriots a season ago, recording 61 total including 30 solo tackles. He brought down three sacks and had a forced fumble to his name as well in 2019. He never has been quite the pass-rusher some may have thought but by all means, his 2019 season was definitely the finest of Shelton’s young career to date in terms of getting after the QB.
Perhaps former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia can harness even more out of the former Husky who wreaked havoc on Pac-12 quarterbacks and running backs just a few short years ago. Shelton was a 3x First-Team Academic All-Pac-12 member, First-Team All-Pac-12, First-Team AP All-American and a First-Team Academic All-American during his time at Washington.
Devon Kennard released by Lions
Quietly a productive member of the Detroit Lions for the past two seasons, former USC linebacker Devon Kennard was released by Detroit after they added fellow linebacker Jamie Collins on Monday night. Kennard recorded a career-high 45 solo tackles a season ago and had a forced fumble with two other fumble recoveries.
Kennard has been a sure-tackler in his career to date as he’s an extremely well-rounded linebacker. He’ll likely land on his feet with another team as he’s logged over 3,700 snaps in his six-year career so far. He’d spent the last two seasons with the Lions after spending the first four years of his career with the New York Giants who selected him in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Kennard was a Pac-10 All-Freshman First-Team in 2009, winning USC’s John McKay Award in the process. He finished his USC career with an All-Pac-12 Second-Team nomination in 2013.
[UPDATE] Kennard did indeed land on his feet, rather quickly, joining the Arizona Cardinals on a three-year deal.
Jordan Poyer extends contract with Buffalo
The Buffalo Bills reached a two-year extension with former Oregon State safety Jordan Poyer, locking him up through at least the 2022 season. Poyer has logged over 1,000 snaps in each of the past three seasons for the Bills, locking down one half of their safety positions since he entered their defensive secondary.
Poyer has long since played above his draft position after he was selected in the seventh round by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013. He spent time with the Cleveland Browns before sticking and becoming one of the league’s best safeties during his time in Buffalo. Poyer has 13 career interceptions and 28 career passes broken up, including multiple plays on the ball that weren’t even into his coverage zone.
Poyer played for Oregon State from 2009 to 2012, finishing his career with the Beavers as a consensus All-American in 2012 and First-Team All-Pac-12 as well after leading the conference in interceptions.
Nickell Robey-Coleman has his option declined by LA
Former USC Trojan CB Nickell Robey-Coleman had the final year of his three-year contract declined by the Los Angeles Rams. He’s now an unrestricted free agent and is free to sign wherever he likes this offseason.
He played for USC from 2010-2012, earning First-Team and Second-Team honors over his career. For more on NRC and any news about him signing with a new team, check out ConquestChronicles.
Cory Littleton joins the Las Vegas Raiders
In one of the bigger moves on the defensive side of the ball so far this free agency period, the Las Vegas Raiders agreed to a three-year, $36-million deal with $22 million guaranteed for the former Washington standout. Littleton is expected to be the team’s starter at weakside linebacker in 2020, the Raiders’ first year in Las Vegas.
Littleton lettered for the Huskies from 2012-2015, ending his career with the L. Wait Rising Front 7 Man of the Year as well as the Chuck Niemi Big Hit Award from his alma mater in 2015. He was an honorable mention Pac-12 linebacker after starting all 13 games in his final season of 2015 but went undrafted in the 2016 draft before signing a three-year deal with the Rams. He played sparingly over his first two seasons but logged over 1,000 snaps the past two seasons and recorded over 100 tackles in each of the last two years.
Multiple Stanford alum headline NFL free agency first two days
From our friends at RuleOfTree — multiple Cardinal alum headlined the first two days of the legal tampering period including Austin Hooper, who is now the league’s highest-paid tight end. Levine Toilolo also joined a new team, as did former linebacker Blake Martinez.
For more on these three, as well as any news-breaking bits, head to RuleOfTree.
Leonard Williams earns franchise tag from Giants
Former USC Trojan defensive tackle Leonard Williams garnered the New York Giants franchise tag this past Monday, earning him some serious compensation in the process. Though just one year guaranteed, Williams will receive a salary within the top five of his position after he spent just half the season with the Giants. He joined one New York team after leaving the other New York team in the Jets midway through the season in 2019.
During his time at USC, Williams finished with 218 tackles, 36 of which were for a loss, 21 sacks, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and nine more pass deflections at the line. His career highlights also include being selected as the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2012, a 2x All-American by ESPN from 2013-14 as well as All-American selections by the American Football Coaches Association in 2014.
For more Pac-12 standouts and their NFL journeys, stay tuned as we’ll be monitoring all the late-breaking news and stories developing from this year’s NFL free agency period.
Nate Orchard returns to the Washington Redskins
Former Utah defensive end Nate Orchard has agreed to a one-year deal to return to the Washington Redskins, according to Jeremy Fowler.
Orchard played 118 snaps for the Redskins a season ago, recording eight solo tackles in his five games with the team. He was drafted in the second round of the 2015 draft by the Cleveland Browns, where he spent the first three seasons of his career before bouncing around to the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs in 2018.
Spending the 2011-2014 seasons with Utah, Orchard capped his terrific college career with First-Team All-Pac-12 honors and the Ted Hendricks Award, given to the nation’s top defensive end, in 2014, his final season with the Utes.
Seattle gives Tedric Thompson permission to seek trade
The Seattle Seahawks have given former Colorado safety Tedric Thompson permission to seek a trade, which would likely come at the price of a late-round draft pick, according to Ian Rapoport. Thompson has recorded three career interceptions and was limited to just 387 snaps across six games last season with the Seahawks.
Thompson was a menace to multiple Pac-12 teams during his time with the Buffaloes, recording 26 pass breakups and 13 interceptions during his four years in Boulder. He recorded 157 solo tackles during the 2013-16 seasons and was selected in the fourth round of the 2017 draft.
Desmond Trufant joins Detroit
Former Washington Huskies CB Desmond Trufant has agreed to a two-year contract worth $21M with $14M guaranteed, according to Jordan Schultz. Trufant’s signing likely pushes Darius Slay out the door in Detroit as Trufant has secured 13 career interceptions including a career-high four a season ago.
Spending his entire seven-year career with the Atlanta Falcons, Trufant was selected back in 2013 with the 22nd pick in the first round after a dominant career with Washington. He played 50 games with the Huskies and recorded six interceptions and 151 solo tackles during his time. He’s a lockdown cornerback and has been durable in his time in the NFL, giving Detroit a solid addition to their secondary.
Former UCLA Bruin Marcedes Lewis continues his career in Green Bay
An NFL career spanning 14 seasons is going to go on for at least one more season as TE Marcedes Lewis has agreed to a one-year deal with the Green Bay Packers, worth $2.25 million according to Field Yates.
Lewis was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars way back in 2006 and has been a dominant presence on an NFL field ever since. He’s recorded at least 10 receptions in 13 of his 14 seasons and has 35 career touchdowns as well as 4,822 yards on 405 receptions. While his play has significantly dropped off, rightfully so, in his last few seasons, he still represents a veteran leader in the locker room for what should be a young receiving corps.
Lewis recorded 1,571 receiving yards on 126 catches for 21 touchdowns during his four years with UCLA, earning his way to a first-round selection in the 2006 draft.
Cam Fleming joins the New York Giants
Former Stanford tackle Cam Fleming is joining the New York Giants on a one-year deal, according to Mike Garafolo. Fleming was drafted by the New England Patriots with the 140th pick of the 2014 draft and spent the first four seasons of his career with New England, adding two Super Bowl rings to his two Pac-12 Championships he recorded with Stanford.
Fleming joined the Dallas Cowboys for the past two seasons and now adds a valuable asset to the Giants offensive line. His contract deal will max out at $4 million, the same he would have been owed by the Cowboys, according to Tom Pelissero.
Sean Mannion agrees to terms with Minnesota
The Minnesota Vikings re-signed QB Sean Mannion to backup Kirk Cousins, according to Tom Pelissero. Mannion has attempted 74 regular-season passes over his NFL career and has made over $3.25 million dollars prior to his re-signing with the Vikings.
He played for the Oregon State Beavers from 2011-14 and finished his illustrious career with 13,600 passing yards and 83 touchdowns. He set all sorts of Pac-12 records during his career including breaking the single-season passing yards mark at the time (4,662) and career passing yards.