Nov 19, 2022; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops looks on during the first quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky signs Mark Stoops to massive extension

Kentucky has extended football coach Mark Stoops’ contract through the 2030 season.

The deal, signed on Nov. 11, extends his current contract by three seasons and runs through June 2031.

Stoops, 55, will earn $8.6 million per season beginning in February 2023, according to multiple reports Sunday.

That represents a jump from his $6.35 million salary in 2022.

The Wildcats (6-5, 3-5 SEC) lost 16-6 to No. 1 Georgia on Saturday in Lexington, Ky., but are bowl eligible for the seventh consecutive season under Stoops.

Stoops has compiled a 65-58 record, including 4-2 in bowl games, since taking over the program in 2013.

He was the SEC Coach of the Year in 2018 and he is the winningest coach in program history, passing Paul “Bear” Bryant (60-23-5 from 1946-53) earlier this season.

“We have been working on this for over a month and are glad to have it finalized,” Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a news release. “Continuity has become more and more important in today’s landscape, and make no mistake about it, the job that Coach Stoops has done is well known and highly regarded throughout the college football world.

“This extension also recognizes what Coach Stoops has done over the past decade, with unprecedented achievements in the history of Kentucky football, and reinforces his commitment to UK as we strive for continued success in the future.”

Stoops’ buyout was also raised from $1.75 million to $4.5 million. His deal includes significant bonuses if Kentucky makes a College Football Playoff appearance.

The Wildcats finish the regular season Saturday at home against rival Louisville.

–Field Level Media

Oct 22, 2022; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers head coach Eli Drinkwitz leaves the field after a game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Mizzou extends Eliah Drinkwitz’s deal through 2027

Missouri football coach Eliah Drinkwitz received a two-year contract extension Saturday through the 2027 season.

Drinkwitz is in his third season with the Tigers and owns a 15-16 record, including 4-4 this season.

The university’s Board of Curators voted 7-0 to approve the extension, athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois said. Financial terms were not released.

“My family and I want to thank the Board of Curators, President (Mun) Choi, and AD Reed-Francois for their faith in me as a coach and leader,” Drinkwitz said in a news release. “You can’t do this alone, and our players, coaches and staff have worked their tails off and stuck with the process as we’ve built this program. We feel strongly about our trajectory and are proud to represent our state’s flagship institution. We are grateful for the investment in our program from the administration and excited about the future of Mizzou Football!”

Drinkwitz led Missouri to the Armed Forces Bowl last season. His teams are 10-13 in Southeastern Conference play, including 2-3 this season entering Saturday’s game against Kentucky (5-3, 2-3) in Columbia, Mo.

Drinkwitz, 39, guided Appalachian State to a 12-1 record in 2019 before being hired at Missouri to replace Barry Odom.

–Field Level Media

Oct 6, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos linebacker Bradley Chubb (55) gestures after a play in the second quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Dolphins, new LB Bradley Chubb finalize $119M deal

Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb changed addresses on Tuesday and the newest member of the Miami Dolphins received a $111.25 million door prize on Thursday, agreeing to a five-year deal with $63.2 million guaranteed.

The contract doesn’t account for the $7.75 million remaining on Chubb’s rookie contract, which became the obligation of the Dolphins when Miami acquired the pass rusher Tuesday. All told, the Chubb contract has value of $119 million.

According to Chubb’s agents, the contract was part of the conversations that began two weeks ago between Dolphins general manager Chris Grier and Denver Broncos general manager George Paton.

Miami shipped a first-round pick in 2023, originally acquired from the San Francisco 49ers in the Trey Lance draft bonanza, to the Broncos for Chubb hours before the trade deadline Tuesday. The Dolphins also sent running back Chase Edmonds and a fourth-round pick of the 2024 NFL Draft to Denver for a 2025 fifth-round selection.

Chubb, 26, is two years removed from a torn ACL and led the Broncos with 5.5 sacks this season.

Grier said Wednesday he researched recovery and performance of pass rushers from similar injuries. That data combined with universal praise from past and present coaches for Chubb’s professionalism and work ethic fed the motive to move on Chubb now rather than wait for free agency bidding in March.

Miami has only 15 sacks this season and is in the bottom four in the NFL in most pass defense categories despite what head coach Mike McDaniel referred to as a “loaded” secondary.

Chubb was on the field with the Dolphins at Wednesday’s practice along with running back Jeff Wilson, who was the 49ers’ leading rusher this season. But Wilson became expendable when San Francisco acquired Christian McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers.

Wilson knows the McDaniel system well. McDaniel, Rams coach Sean McVay and 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan are former assistants of the Washington NFL franchise and McDaniel was offensive coordinator in San Francisco before he landed his first head-coaching job with the Dolphins.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA;  Liberty Flames head coach Hugh Freeze looks on against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons before the game at Truist Field. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Liberty extends coach Hugh Freeze through 2030

Liberty extended football coach Hugh Freeze’s contract through the 2030 season on Friday.

Terms were not disclosed but ESPN reported Freeze, 53, will average just under $5 million per season.

The Flames are 7-1 this year and 33-12 (3-0 in bowl games) since Freeze was hired before the 2019 season.

“We are grateful for Coach Freeze’s outstanding leadership of Liberty Football and the positive influence he has on our student-athletes,” Liberty athletic director Ian McCaw said in a statement. “Liberty Football is realizing the vision that was cast for it decades ago and we are excited that Coach Freeze will lead the program into the future.”

The Flames defeated BYU 41-14 last Saturday before a Williams Stadium-record crowd of 24,012 fans in Lynchburg, Va.

An FBS independent program, Liberty has a bye this weekend before traveling to face Arkansas on Nov. 5.

Freeze previously coached one season at Arkansas State (2011) and five seasons at Ole Miss (2012-16). His overall record is 82-40 (.672), including a 6-2 record in bowl games.

–Field Level Media

Sep 19, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) celebrates scoring a fourth quarter touchdown  against the Kansas City Chiefs at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Lamar Jackson rejected Ravens’ $250M offer

Lamar Jackson turned down a $250 million contract offer from the Baltimore Ravens, ESPN reported Sunday.

The star quarterback, who represented himself in negotiations, rejected a five-year deal through the 2027 season that included $133 million guaranteed at signing, per the report.

That would have boosted the overall value of his deal to about $274 million over six years.

ESPN said the Ravens refused Jackson’s request for a deal that was fully guaranteed, similar to what Deshaun Watson got with the Cleveland Browns in March for five years and $230 million.

Jackson’s self-imposed deadline passed Friday without an agreement and he will play out this season on his fifth-year option, earning about $23 million.

Both sides said contract talks won’t resume until after the season. The Ravens can use the franchise tag on Jackson next offseason if an agreement still can’t be reached.

Jackson, 25, is 37-12 as a starter since Baltimore drafted him in the first round in 2018. The two-time Pro Bowl pick and 2019 NFL MVP has passed for 9,967 yards and 84 touchdowns and rushed for 3,673 yards and 21 touchdowns in 58 career games.

The Ravens kick off the season Sunday against the New York Jets in East Rutherford, N.J.

–Field Level Media

Safety Jordan Poyer pulls in a ball during drills on the fourth day of the Buffalo Bills training camp at St. John Fisher University in Rochester Wednesday, July 27, 2022.

Sd 072722 Bills Camp 5 Spts

Report: Bills, Jordan Poyer agree to reworked deal

The Buffalo Bills and All-Pro safety Jordan Poyer have agreed to rework Poyer’s 2022 contract, and he could earn up to $2 million in incentives, ESPN reported Saturday.

The incentives are tied to statistics such as playing time, on-field production and team accomplishments, such as wins.

Poyer is playing in the final season of a two-year, $19.5 million contract he signed in March 2020. He is due to become a free agent when the new league year begins in 2023, but he has said he wants to stay in Buffalo.

“I want to be here,” Poyer said during training camp in July, per Sports Illustrated. “That’s how I feel — I want to be here.”

Agent Drew Rosenhaus told ESPN on Saturday that the two sides are talking.

“Jordan appreciates this good-will gesture by the Bills as we continue to work for a contract extension,” Rosenhaus said.

Poyer, 31, entered the NFL as a seventh-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles out of Oregon State in 2013. He played in three games with the Eagles, where he was waived and then signed by the Browns. He played in Cleveland through the 2016 season and signed with the Bills in 2017.

Last season, he was named a first-team All-Pro when he played in 16 games, making five interceptions, 93 tackles and a career-high three sacks. He appeared on 95 percent of defensive plays.

In the Bills’ 31-10 season-opening victory against the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday, Poyer had an interception, a pass defensed and two tackles.

In 80 games (all starts) with the Bills, Poyer has 521 tackles, 10 sacks, 19 interceptions, six forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and a touchdown.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals linebacker Markus Golden (44) against the Green Bay Packers at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Cardinals OLB Markus Golden agrees to one-year extension

The Arizona Cardinals and pass rusher Markus Golden agreed to a one-year contract extension worth up to $6.5 million, ESPN reported Friday.

Golden, 31, recorded 11 sacks, 19 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles and 48 tackles in 16 games (five starts) with the Cardinals last season.

The outside linebacker signed a two-year, $5 million deal with the Cardinals in March 2021. The extension keeps him in Arizona through at least the 2023 season.

Golden began his career with the Cardinals as a 2015 second-round draft pick. He signed with the New York Giants before the 2019 season, and the Giants traded him back to Arizona on Oct. 23, 2020 for a 2021 sixth-round pick.

He has 275 tackles, 44.5 sacks, 110 quarterback hits, 11 forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in 94 games (54 starts) with the Cardinals (2015-18, 2020-21) and New York Giants (2019-20).

The Cardinals open the 2022 season on Sunday at home against the Kansas City Chiefs.

–Field Level Media

May 25, 2022; Tampa, FL, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard Shaq Mason (69) gives a press conference following organized team activities at AdventHealth Training Center Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Bucs rework OL Shaq Mason’s contract

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers restructured the contract of offensive lineman Shaq Mason, carving out $4.3 million in cap space, multiple outlets reported Wednesday.

The Bucs reduced Mason’s 2022 salary from $6.5 million to the league minimum of $1.12 million and converted the rest to a bonus, the Tampa Times reported. They added three void years to his deal.

The Bucs had just $1.4 million in cap space prior to restructuring Mason, per Overthecap.com.

The Bucs acquired Mason in a trade with New England in the offseason.

Mason, 29, played his first seven seasons with New England after the Patriots made him a fourth-round selection in the 2015 draft out of Georgia Tech. They gave Mason a five-year, $50 million extension before the 2018 season.

Mason appeared in 103 games for New England, starting 98.

–Field Level Media

Tight end Dawson Knox eyes in a pass on the opening day of the Buffalo Bills training camp at St. John Fisher University in Rochester Sunday, July 24, 2022.

Sd 072422 Bills Camp 22 Spts

Reports: Bills, TE Dawson Knox finalize 4-year, $53.6M extension

Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox agreed to a four-year contract extension on the eve of the NFL season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.

Multiple reports placed the value of the deal at $53.6 million through the 2026 season. His deal was set to expire at the end of the 2022 season.

Knox, 25, receives $31 million guaranteed according to the Buffalo News but will play the 2022 season under the terms of his existing deal at a salary of $2.51 million.

He caught 49 passes for 587 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021, career-best production by a wide margin in his third NFL season. Knox has 101 receptions for 1,263 yards and 14 touchdowns in 42 regular-season games.

The Bills selected Knox in the third round of the 2019 draft out of Ole Miss.

–Field Level Media

Aug 26, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; New England Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith (81) during the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Patriots 23-6. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pats rework Jonnu Smith’s deal, clear $5.31M in cap space

The New England Patriots reworked tight end Jonnu Smith’s contract to clear cap space, ESPN reported Friday.

By converting $7.965 million of his base salary into a bonus, the team created $5.31 million in 2022 in cap space.

The Patriots signed Smith in March 2021 to a four-year, $50 million deal with $31.25 million fully guaranteed.

Before the move, New England was about $1.5 million over the 2022 salary cap, according to Overthecap.com.

Smith, 27, caught 28 passes for 294 yards and one touchdown in 16 games (11 starts) with the Pats in 2021.

He has 142 receptions for 1,596 yards and 17 scores in 76 games (64 starts) with the Tennessee Titans (2017-20) and New England.

The Patriots open the season at Miami on Sept. 11.

–Field Level Media