Wednesday's NFL: Buffalo Bills sign Von Miller; TE O.J. Howard

Associated Press

Orchard Park, N.Y. — It’s Von Miller time in Buffalo.

The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and coming off his second Super Bowl title agreed to a six-year contract with the Bills on Wednesday. Miller is an 11-year NFL veteran who spent his first 10-plus seasons in Denver before being traded to the Los Angeles Rams last season and winning the NFL championship.

Outside linebacker Von Miller (40) celebrates The Los Angeles Rams victory against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl 56 on Feb. 13, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif.

At 32, Miller brings a veteran presence to a young group of starting linebackers made up of Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano. With Buffalo playing a hybrid style defense, there’s a chance for Miller to provide an outside pass-rushing presence. He has 115 1/2 career sacks.

The Bills also announced reaching a one-year agreement to sign tight O.J. Howard, who spent his first five seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The splashy additions came on the opening day of free agency, and were made by the two-time defending AFC East champions who had very little room to maneuver under the salary cap. The Bills opened the day by restructuring the contract of safety Micah Hyde to free up about $4.5 million in salary cap space.

Raiders overhaul d-line by signing Jones, trading

The Las Vegas Raiders have overhauled their defensive line at the start of the free agency period by agreeing to a three-year deal with former Arizona edge rusher Chandler Jones and trading away Yannick Ngakoue to Indianapolis.

The Raiders also cut defensive end Carl Nassib in a salary cap move and agreed to a two-year deal with interior lineman Bilal Nichols as new coach Josh McDaniels and coordinator Patrick Graham put their imprint on the defense.

The switch at edge rusher from Jones to Ngakoue was the most consequential move as the new regime sought a better fit for its scheme for the spot across from Maxx Crosby. Jones played for coordinator Patrick Graham when he was an assistant in New England and has been one of the most productive pass rushers in the NFL over the past decade.

The 32-year-old leads the NFL with 107 1/2 sacks since entering the league in 2012 and has seven double-digit sack seasons. He bounced back from an injury-plagued 2020 season to get 10 1/2 sacks last season in Arizona.

Linebacker Chandler Jones bounced back from an injury-plagued 2020 season to record 10 1/2 sacks in 2021 for his seventh double-digit sack season. Only 12 players have had more seasons with at least 10 sacks and Jones' 107 1/2 for his career lead the NFL since he made his debut in 2012.

NFL Network reported his contract will be worth about $51 million.

Ngakoue had 10 sacks in his first season with the Raiders and now will join his fifth team in less than 19 months. He was traded from Jacksonville to Minnesota on Aug. 31, 2020, then dealt to Baltimore that season before signing with the Raiders last March. Las Vegas will carry an $8 million cap charge for Ngakoue in 2022.

The Raiders get back cornerback Rock Ya-Sin in the trade. Ya-Sin was a second-round pick by the Colts in 2019 and started 29 games the past three seasons. He has two interceptions and eight passes defensed in his career and allowed a career-low 9.5 yards per reception last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

The move to cut Nassib will save the Raiders $8 million in room on this year's salary cap as of June. ESPN first reported that move.

Nassib’s biggest impact with the Raiders came off the field last June when he became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib got strong support from his teammates and the organization.

The Raiders signed Nassib to a three-year, $25 million contract in 2020 but he never took on a big role on defense, playing less than half the snaps each season. His best highlight on the field came in last season's opener when his strip-sack in overtime against Lamar Jackson set up the winning touchdown in the Raiders' 33-27 win over Baltimore.

In 27 games over two seasons with the Raiders, Nassib had four sacks and 13 quarterback hits.

Nassib was due a $7.75 million salary this year, which was too expensive for the Raiders given his production. Las Vegas had restructured his contract last season and will carry a cap charge of $1.65 million this season and $4.95 million next season to account for bonuses that hadn't hit the cap yet.

The Raiders also have added some help for the interior of their defensive line by locking up Nichols to a deal that NFL Network said is worth $11 million, with $9 million in guarantees.

The Raiders needed help on the interior of their line with Quinton Jefferson, Solomon Thomas, Johnathan Hankins and Darius Philon all hitting free agency after getting the bulk of the snaps there last season. Las Vegas previously signed Andrew Billings to compete for time there in 2022.

Extra points

... Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday he recently spoke with Colin Kaepernick, who expressed an interest in another chance to be a quarterback in the NFL.

Kaepernick had recently posted on social media looking for wide receivers to throw with. Seattle wide receiver Tyler Lockett took Kaepernick up on his offer and caught passes from the quarterback earlier this week.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) looks for a receiver in the team's NFC divisional playoff NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in San Francisco, Jan. 12, 2013. Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday, March 16, 2022 he recently spoke with Kaepernick, who expressed an interest in another chance to be a quarterback in the NFL.

Kaepernick last played in the NFL in 2016, the same year he started kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.

...  A person familiar with the move says the Tennessee Titans will be releasing seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones in a move to clear salary cap space. Jones will be designated as a post-June 1 release with the Titans carrying the cap hit until June 1. 

The Titans traded for Jones last June in a move that gave Atlanta salary cap space. Jones started only 11 games, counting the postseason. Jones finished with a career-low 31 catches for 434 yards and one touchdown.

... The Kansas City Chiefs have agreed to a $2 million contract with quarterback Chad Henne, keeping their longtime backup to Patrick Mahomes in the fold for next season. The 36-year-old former Michigan QB Henne has spent four seasons with the Chiefs, appearing in eight regular-season games with one start.

... The Minnesota Vikings re-signed punter Jordan Berry and agreed to contract terms with defensive tackle Harrison Phillips, tight end Johnny Mundt and interior offensive lineman Austin Schlottmann.

... The New York Jets and quarterback Joe Flacco agreed on a one-year contract. The Jets also agreed to terms on a deal with former Minnesota tight end Tyler Conklin and one-year deals to re-sign defensive lineman Nathan Shepherd and offensive lineman Dan Feeney.

... Raheem Mostert agreed to a one-year deal Wednesday with the Miami Dolphins.

... The Los Angeles Rams have released punter Johnny Hekker after 10 seasons. The Super Bowl champion Rams dropped their longest-tenured player Wednesday night in a move that creates just over $2 million in salary cap room.

We're running a new-subscriber special. Support local journalism, and subscribe here.