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NFL news: Cowboys franchise Dak Prescott; Titans tag Derrick Henry

Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys have placed the exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Dak Prescott, according to multiple media reports.
(Tom Pennington / Getty Images)

The Dallas Cowboys have placed their exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Dak Prescott, securing the rights to their star quarterback for an estimated $31.5 million while the sides continue working on a long-term deal.

The Cowboys announced the decision on their website about an hour before the deadline for teams to designate the franchise tag.

By using the tag on Prescott, the Cowboys will work to get a deal with Amari Cooper before the receiver becomes an unrestricted free agent when the new league year starts, currently set for Wednesday.

The Cowboys and Prescott have been working on a deal for about a year. The two-time Pro Bowler was one of the best bargains in the NFL last season with a base salary of $2 million as a fourth-round pick in 2016.

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The Houston Texans are sending star receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a draft pick to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for running back David Johnson and two picks.

Titans tag Derrick Henry

The Tennessee Titans have tagged Derrick Henry as their franchise player, making sure they keep the NFL rushing leader around for at least this season.

The Titans on Monday used the nonexclusive franchise tag on Henry. That means Henry still can receive offers from other teams, with the Titans able to match or receive two first-round draft picks. The Titans also have until July 15 to sign Henry to a long-term deal, or he will be paid $10.2 million in 2020.

The move comes a day after the franchise agreed to a four-year, $118 million deal with quarterback Ryan Tannehill, keeping the Titans’ top offensive players together.

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Not everyone agreed with the Titans’ decisions.

“Damn they paid the QB but the RB who made the QB job 75% lighter he don’t get no love,” Kansas City safety Tyrann Mathieu wrote on Twitter. “Boy it’s cold, thank God that man come from a good family.”

Henry led the NFL with 1,540 yards rushing on 303 attempts for a 4.8-yard average. He also tied for the league lead with 16 touchdown runs during the regular season with Aaron Jones of Green Bay. He earned his first Pro Bowl appearance.

But the 6-foot-3, 247-pound Henry most showed his value as he ran for at least 100 yards seven times over the final six weeks of the regular season and in three playoff games. Henry became the first to rush for at least 180 yards in three straight games over the regular season or postseason.

The decision to tag Henry also means that right tackle Jack Conklin is poised to hit free agency when the market opens Wednesday. The Titans chose not to pick up the fifth-year option for the eighth overall draft pick in 2016 last year after Conklin was limited to nine games in 2018 by knee injuries.

49ers trade DeForest Buckner to Colts

The San Francisco 49ers have traded star defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts for the No. 13 pick in this year’s draft.

A person familiar with the deal said Buckner will receive a new contract worth $21 million a year from the Colts. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal and contract can’t be finalized until the start of the league year Wednesday.

The trade of Buckner came almost immediately after the 49ers announced a deal to keep defensive lineman Arik Armstead with a five-year contract worth up to $85 million before he hit the open market.

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Arik Armstead re-signs with 49ers

The 49ers have signed defensive lineman Arik Armstead to a five-year contract worth up to $85 million before he hit the market as a free agent.

The defending NFC champion Niners locked up one of the key pieces of their defense with a long-term deal instead of using the franchise tag.

Armstead was a first-round pick for San Francisco in 2015 but didn’t make a big impact in his first four seasons in the league as he dealt with injuries that limited his playing time in 2016-17 and finding the right fit for his skills.

Blake Jarwin re-signs with Cowboys

A person with direct knowledge of the deal says the Dallas Cowboys and tight end Blake Jarwin have agreed on a $24 million, three-year contract.

The agreement essentially means the Cowboys believe Jarwin can replace Jason Witten as the starter.

The person said the deal includes $9 million guaranteed. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because deals can’t become official until the league year begins. That’s supposed to be Wednesday.

Jarwin had 365 yards receiving and three touchdowns last season. The fourth-year pro tied the Dallas club record for touchdowns receiving in a game for a tight end in 2018, when he had three in the regular-season finale at the New York Giants.

Bengals tag A.J. Green

The Bengals used their franchise tag on A.J. Green, giving them time to try to work out a long-term deal with the star who is one of the most accomplished receivers in franchise history and would be a vital part of breaking in a new quarterback.

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Green, 31, wants to finish his career in Cincinnati, where he has put down roots. Although he’s open to a multi-year extension that would pay him as an elite receiver, he has objected to staying for only one more season on a franchise designation.

Green has said he’ll skip voluntary offseason workouts if he’s tagged. The Bengals are expected to take Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow or another quarterback with the first overall pick in the draft, and having Green in offseason workouts would accelerate a rookie’s development.

The Bengals are free to negotiate with Green on a long-term deal through July 15.

Nick Kwiatkoski to Raiders

A person familiar with the deal says free agent linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski has agreed to a contract with the Las Vegas Raiders.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Kwiatkoski can’t officially sign the deal until the new league year starts on Wednesday.

The Raiders are in dire need of upgrades at linebacker after a revolving door at the position the past few years. The only linebacker who started a game last season that is still under contract with the Raiders is Marquel Lee.

The 26-year-old Kwiatkoski was a fourth-round pick by Chicago in 2016. He had his most extensive playing time last year when he had career bests with 76 tackles, three sacks, one interception and four passes defensed.

Ereck Flowers to Dolphins

Offensive lineman Ereck Flowers has agreed to terms on a $30 million, three-year contract with the Miami Dolphins.

The deal was confirmed by Flowers’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, who said $19.95 million is guaranteed.

Flowers played for the Miami Hurricanes, was a first-round draft pick by the New York Giants in 2015 and started 46 games at tackle for them in his first three NFL seasons.

He started all 16 games last year for Washington, splitting his time between guard and tackle.

The Dolphins are in the market for four starting offensive linemen in free agency and the draft.

Browns working on deal with Austin Hooper

The Browns are working toward a deal with two-time Pro Bowl free agent tight end Austin Hooper, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

Hooper was one of the main free agency targets for Cleveland, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because teams can’t officially announce deals until Wednesday.

Hooper has spent the past four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. He’s had more than 70 catches the past two seasons.

NFL Network reported the sides have agreed to terms on a package that will make Hooper the NFL’s highest-paid tight end.

Hooper had 75 catches for 787 yards and six touchdowns last season.

Bucs tag Shaquil Barrett

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have placed their franchise tag on linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who led the NFL in sacks last season.

The move had been anticipated ever since coach Bruce Arians stated late last season that the 27-year-old Barrett “ain’t going anywhere” after setting a team record with 19{ sacks in 2019.

Barrett signed a one-year, $4 million contract in free agency with the Bucs last winter after spending the first five seasons of his career with the Denver Broncos. The franchise tag for an outside linebacker calls for a salary of about $16 million for 2020.

The decision to place the franchise tag on Barrett also means quarterback Jameis Winston will become an unrestricted free agent if Tampa Bay does not re-sign the No. 1 overall pick from the 2015 draft by Wednesday.

Winston led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards last season, but also became the first player in league history to throw for at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in a season.

Tom Brady’s potential path to the Chargers became clearer after Tennessee and quarterback Ryan Tannehill agreed to a four-year contract extension.

Patriots tag Joe Thuney

The Patriots have placed a franchise tag on Patriots left guard Joe Thuney, his agent Michael McCartney said in a tweet shortly before the start of the legal tampering period.

Thuney, a third-round pick in 2016, has been one of the most dependable pieces on the Patriots’ offensive line over the past four seasons. The nonexclusive tag is expected to cost the Patriots around $14.7 million this upcoming season.

If he had hit free agency Thuney was expected to be one of the most sought-after guards on the market. He has not missed a single game and wasn’t whistled for a single penalty in 2019.

Vikings tag Anthony Harris

The Minnesota Vikings have placed the franchise tag on safety Anthony Harris, according to a person with knowledge of the decision.

The person spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the one-year, $11.441 million contract was not finalized. Harris was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, after a breakout 2019 season.

The Vikings cleared salary-cap space to keep Harris by agreeing to a two-year, $66 million contract extension with quarterback Kirk Cousins that reduced his salary-cap hit for 2020 by $10 million. The Vikings also agreed to a new four-year, $12.25 million contract with fullback C.J. Ham, who was set to be a restricted free agent.

Falcons release Devonta Freeman, two others

The Atlanta Falcons will dramatically boost their financial flexibility by releasing three high-priced veterans — running back Devonta Freeman, cornerback Desmond Trufant and offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo.

The Falcons announced the Sambrailo move on Monday. The team is finalizing the moves with Freeman and Trufant, former Pro Bowl players who had been considered foundation players for the franchise. Financial constraints made the moves necessary.

The cuts will clear $12.15 million in salary cap space before Wednesday’s start of free agency. Before the moves, the Falcons ranked 31st in the league with less than $1 million in cap space.

Freeman, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Sunday, ran for 656 yards and two touchdowns in 2019. The Falcons ranked only 30th in the league in rushing with 85.1 yards per game and now may look for help at running back in free agency and the NFL draft.

Kirk Cousins agrees to extension with Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings and quarterback Kirk Cousins have agreed to a two-year contract extension, his agent Mike McCartney said Monday.

McCartney made the announcement on his verified Twitter account. Terms of the deal were not immediately available.

Cousins was entering the final season of the fully guaranteed, three-year, $84-million contract he signed as a free agent in 2018. He was scheduled to carry a $31-million charge to Minnesota’s salary cap in 2020, so the impetus for doing a new deal now was to provide the team with some immediate relief while giving Cousins some additional security.

Cousins had a career-best season in 2019, ranking fourth in the NFL with a 107.4 passer rating and leading the Vikings to a wild card round win in the playoffs at New Orleans.

Tom Brady’s potential path to the Chargers became clearer after Tennessee and quarterback Ryan Tannehill agreed to a four-year contract extension.

Steelers franchise Bud Dupree

The Pittsburgh Steelers placed the franchise tag on outside linebacker Bud Dupree on Monday, just hours before the NFL-mandated deadline for teams to use the designation.

The move means Dupree, who collected a career-high 11 1/2 sacks in 2019, could make around $16 million in 2020 if he signs the tag, though that number would likely change if Dupree reaches an agreement with the Steelers on a long-term deal by July 15.

Coach Mike Tomlin called retaining Dupree “a priority” heading into the offseason after the 2015 first-round pick flourished while playing across from All-Pro T.J. Watt. Dupree recorded 16 tackles for a loss in 2019, fourth-most in the NFL last season. He also added four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Cardinals use transition tag on Kenyan Drake

The Arizona Cardinals have placed the transition tag on running back Kenyan Drake, which allows the team to match any offer he receives from another team during free agency.

The Cardinals traded for Drake midway through last season and he quickly became a major part of their offense. The 26-year-old ran for 643 yards and eight touchdowns in eight games, including a four-touchdown game against Cleveland in Week 15.

The projected transition tag salary number for a running back is about $10 million, according to overthecap.com.

Giants tag Leonard Williams

The New York Giants have placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on defensive tackle Leonard Williams two before the 2015 first-round draft choice was to become an unrestricted free agent.

If there is no contract agreement before July 15, Williams will play this coming season under the one-year deal. His salary will be a calculation based on the average of the top five salaries from his position, expected to be around $16 million.

Williams is free to negotiate with other teams when the free agency signing period begins Wednesday. If he signs a contract with another team, the Giants will receive two first-round draft choices as compensation.

The Giants also made a qualifying offer to placekicker Aldrick Rosas, a restricted free agent.

Chiefs tag Chris Jones

The Kansas City Chiefs have placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on Chris Jones, raising the possibility that the Pro Bowl defensive tackle will remain with the Super Bowl champions for at least one more season.

The nonexclusive tag means Jones must be offered a one-year contract for no less than the average of the top five salary cap hits at defensive tackle for the previous five years. It also means that if Jones signs an offer sheet from another team, the Chiefs can match that offer or let him go and receive two first-round picks as compensation.

Jones had 15 1/5 sacks two seasons ago, which spurred his desire for a long-term deal. He wound up skipping the entire offseason when that didn’t happen, but he returned in time for training camp and started 12 of 13 games. He finished with nine sacks and help the Chiefs win their first Super Bowl title since 1970.

Browns place tender on Kareem Hunt

The Cleveland Browns opened free agency by placing a second-round tender on running back Kareem Hunt, who played eight games last season after returning from an NFL suspension.

Hunt is a restricted free agent and can negotiate with other teams about a contract. If he reaches an agreement elsewhere, Cleveland can match any offer. If the Browns decide not to match the offer, they would receive a second-round draft pick from the team that signs him.

The Browns also released veteran safety Morgan Burnett.

Cleveland also tendered exclusive tags to free agents Pharoah Brown, Dontrell Hilliard and KhaDarel Hodge.

Packers reach deal with Christian Kirksey

Linebacker Christian Kirksey has agreed to terms on a deal with the Green Bay Packers less than a week after the Cleveland Browns released him.

Kirksey’s agent, Brian Mackler, confirmed that Kirksey would be signing with the Packers but didn’t disclose terms. NFL Network first reported the deal and said Kirksey would be getting a two-year, $16 million contract. Free agency opens Wednesday.

Kirksey, 27, played six seasons with Cleveland, where he collected 148 tackles in 2016 and 138 more in 2017 before struggling with injuries the last two years.


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