Best of Thursday: Big contracts, more helmeted workouts … and puppies

On a day when three elite talents signed massive, multiyear contract extensions, players at every income level around the NFL continued to do some work with helmets on at training camps across America.

And, oh yeah, we found some photos of the adoptable dogs that will be available at the Cleveland Browns‘ “Puppy Pound” tomorrow.

Here’s what you need to know from camps across the league for Aug. 13:

Jump to the best of the day:
Photos | Videos | Notes from NFL Nation reporters

Top news of the day

Source: George Kittle, 49ers reach 5-year, $75 million extension

The San Francisco 49ers are making George Kittle the highest-paid tight end in NFL history. By a lot. The Niners and Kittle agreed to a five-year, $75 million contract on Thursday, league sources confirmed to ESPN.

TE Travis Kelce, Chiefs agree to four-year, $57.25 million extension

The Kansas City Chiefs continued to spend to retain stars from their Super Bowl LIV championship team by agreeing to a four-year, $57.25 million contract extension with tight end Travis Kelce, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Thursday.



Ryan Clark breaks down the importance for the Chiefs to extend tight end Travis Kelce and what the future holds for their offense.

Bills, Dion Dawkins reach $60 million extension through 2024 season

Buffalo Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins has agreed to a four-year contract extension through the 2024 season, the team announced Thursday. The contract is for $60 million and includes $34 million guaranteed, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Source: Seahawks waive rookie Kemah Siverand for trying to sneak female visitor into team hotel

The Seattle Seahawks waived rookie cornerback Kemah Siverand earlier this week after he was caught on video trying to sneak a woman into the team’s hotel, a source confirmed to ESPN. NFL Network first reported the circumstances of Siverand’s release, noting that the woman was wearing Seahawks gear in an attempt to disguise herself as a player.

Jets DC Gregg Williams says Jamal Adams ‘may get bored’ playing Seattle’s scheme

The Week 14 matchup between the New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks will have plenty of juice because of the Jamal Adams storyline. On Thursday, Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams might have provided a little extra. Commenting for the first time on last month’s blockbuster trade that sent the star safety to Seattle, Williams poked at the Seahawks’ defensive scheme.

Asked if Adams’ departure will change the way he deploys his safeties, Williams responded, “It really doesn’t. We’re very multiple with how we do those things anyway.”

Then Williams added, “Jamal may get bored there because they don’t use their safety-type things with all the complexities … uh, maybe not showing what they’re doing as much as we do.”

What our NFL Nation reporters saw and heard today

The Panthers are without star middle linebacker Luke Kuechly for the first time since the former Boston College star was the ninth pick of the 2012 draft because he unexpectedly retired during the offseason — at least as a player. Kuechly’s presence still is felt at Bank of America Stadium, where the seven-time Pro Bowl selection is a pro scout. He has apparently become a mentor for second-round pick Jeremy Chinn. Asked what advantages he has in the NFL that he didn’t have at Southern Illinois, the safety/nickel corner/dime corner and perhaps even part-time linebacker said: “I come in and I get to see Luke Kuechly every single day and pick his brain and talk to him.” Kuechly might one day become a coach as coach Matt Rhule has mentioned, but for now he’s settled on being a scout. With travel to college campuses on hold, he has a lot of free time to work with young players such as Chinn. “In the building, out on the practice field, after practice, before practice. I mean, we just talk football,” Chinn said. “You know, just about our bodies. I asked him how he maintained his weight or how he felt during his rookie year and throughout his career and things like that. So just any little thing I can take from him, I take from his brain and put it in mine.” — David Newton

The Patriots streamed part of practice on their website, and it revealed that Bill Belichick once again has rookies in temporary jersey numbers. So top draft pick Kyle Dugger, the safety from Lenoir-Rhyne, was in No. 50. Undrafted QB Brian Lewerke was No. 68. Diminutive undrafted RB J.J. Taylor was No. 72. This is something Belichick has done each of the past three years, in part as a reminder to rookies to focus on the things that are most important — football details and not their numbers/jerseys/gloves, etc. — Mike Reiss

Neither running back Josh Jacobs nor right tackle Trent Brown practiced again on Thursday, the second straight day the starters sat out. A day earlier, coach Jon Gruden said he had no “update” on their status while Jacobs, who missed three of the Raiders’ last four games last season with a fractured right shoulder, said on a Zoom call he simply had the day off, per the team trainer’s rotation. “That’s just the schedule that the trainers have me on right now,” he said at the time. “Some days I go in, some days I do less than others.” Still, missing the first two days of practice in helmets does raise an eyebrow, or two. David Sharpe worked at right tackle with the first-team offense in Brown’s absence. Tight end Jason Witten, 38, also sat out practice. — Paul Gutierrez

Not many players chose to stick around Green Bay right after the season ends, let alone rookies who haven’t had the chance to get away after a long first season. But safety Darnell Savage decided to stay mostly in town throughout the winter. He said he felt it was the best place for him to focus on improvement after a first season that landed him on the PFWA All-Rookie team: “I just wanted to be somewhere where I felt comfortable,” the 2019 first-round pick said Thursday. “I wasn’t worried about any other place as far as any Florida, California, nothing like that. I just wanted to be comfortable and still be able to get good work in.”

He added: “I’m not going to stop until I’m on top of the world so …”

Savage was off to a fast start but was slowed by a midseason ankle injury that cost him two games. “I think I did a pretty good job with it being my first injury that I actually had to play with,” Savage said. “Obviously, would’ve been a lot better if it never happened but it did happen, so it is what it is. I learned from it.” — Rob Demovsky

Curtis Samuel was one of the most versatile offensive players in the country in 2016, his senior season at Ohio State. He rushed for 771 yards and eight touchdowns, and caught 74 passes for 865 yards and seven touchdown. So far at Carolina the 2017 second-round pick has been used primarily as a wide receiver, catching 108 passes for 1,236 yards. He has rushed only 31 times in three years, and most of those were on reverses. Could you see Samuel spell Christian McCaffrey at running back some this season? Or line up in the Wildcat behind center? “I’m not gonna really get into the details and you know, spoil it, and give people heads up of what’s to come,” Samuel said on Thursday. “Not to talk too much about myself, but with my skill set, the ability to do so much, outside and inside and, you know, play running back … a lot of experiences playing different places in my career that definitely gives me the flexibility to do more. We’re practicing real hard and looking forward to what’s to come.” — David Newton

Eagles wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead likes the vibe rookie Jalen Reagor is giving off, saying he has “that swag of a big-time receiver” while remaining humble. On the field, Reagor’s explosiveness, speed and workmanlike approach are standing out, according to Moorehead, who added that over the past few weeks Reagor has really been “starting to put things together.” — Tim McManus

Mike Tomlin has no time for “gamers” this season. With the preseason eliminated, the Steelers’ head coach is looking for players who show up at practice — not just under the lights of a game. If there is such thing as a “gamer” at Steelers training camp, he better change his habits quickly. “If there is, he won’t get an opportunity to display it in this environment,” Tomlin said, cracking up in his Zoom interview Thursday morning. “So he better be a practice player.” — Brooke Pryor

Bruce Arians said last week that Tom Brady will “get cussed out like everybody else.” I asked him if it has happened yet. “He did a little bit yesterday because he likes to throw the ball in walk-throughs and we don’t throw the ball in walk-throughs … but not very bad.” — Jenna Laine

Byron Jones said he and Xavien Howard are “certainly working toward” being one of the NFL’s best cornerback duos. “We both excel in man coverage. I think he’s better at attacking the ball than me.” Jones said he can learn from Howard on that. Howard is currently on the PUP list recovering from December knee surgery and on the COVID-19/reserve list. — Cameron Wolfe

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, meeting the media for the first time since the Jamal Adams trade and the C.J. Mosley opt out, gave a lesson in how a coach should react to losing star players. He complimented them and wished them well, but he spoke confidently about his system and its ability to withstand key losses. Williams’ swagger rubs off on his players. One of them, LB Jordan Jenkins, told reporters, “I’m tired of f—ing losing.” Music to Williams’ ears. — Rich Cimini

Mike McCarthy will be on the field for the first full-squad workout between the offense and defense on Friday as the Cowboys conduct an OTA-like session in helmets and shells. The first padded practice comes Monday, but this will be the first look at position battles including at center, where Joe Looney has been working with the first group. Other positions of note: cornerback and left guard.

“We’re making progress,” McCarthy said. “In a lot of ways this would be kind of the end of an offseason program, and that’s probably a little further along than we would be as far as my experience and awareness of how an offseason program would end. Feel really good about where we are.” — Todd Archer

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray is continuing to get plenty of reps with new wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins as the two work to build an on-field relationship: “On the field, I think that’s gonna continue to grow. He’s a great dude. Obviously, a great football player, one of the best. Him and Larry [Fitzgerald] being able to catch anything thrown their way definitely helps me out. But we got a lot of great weapons. So I’m excited to get out there and put it to work.” — Josh Weinfuss

Saints safety Marcus Williams didn’t go easy on himself when asked what he needs to do to consistently reach his potential in Year 4. “I definitely have to improve on my tackling,” said Williams, who had a few noticeable gaffes in that department overshadow an otherwise strong season in deep coverage. “I feel like last year was a down year [in that area]. I know you can see it on film. I can’t be blind to it. I know that’s what I need to improve on, and I’m not gonna shy away from it.” This will be a big year for the former second-round draft pick as he heads into the final year of his rookie contract. — Mike Triplett

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