Denver Broncos

NFL: Miller, Wilkerson, Tucker shed franchise tags with big deals

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NEW YORK (AP) — Von Miller got a monstrous contract, befitting a sack-happy Super Bowl MVP. Muhammad Wilkerson and Justin Tucker also received big paydays, shedding their franchise tags and getting new deals.

Kirk Cousins, Alshon Jeffery, Eric Berry and Trumaine Johnson, however, will all be playing this season under the value of their tags after they and their teams failed to agree on long-term contracts by the NFL’s Friday deadline.

Miller and Denver spent the offseason in a contract stare down this season, but the sides agreed to a six-year, $114.5 million deal that includes $70 million guaranteed.

Miller and agent Joby Branion parlayed patience into a record-breaking deal in terms of overall value and guarantees. The outside linebacker received $23 million at signing and will earn $61 million over the first eight months of the blockbuster deal that makes him the highest-paid player outside of quarterbacks in NFL history.

Miller’s camp had rejected the $38.5 million the Broncos offered in guarantees, and Miller threatened to sit out the season barring a long-term deal. About two hours before the 4 p.m. EDT deadline, the cornerstone of the league’s best defense accepted the Broncos’ blockbuster offer and tweeted a photo of himself in his orange No. 58 jersey with the caption “For Life.”

In a statement, Miller thanked general manager John Elway, team owner Pat Bowlen, president and CEO Joe Ellis and coach Gary Kubiak.

“I’m also thankful for the way my teammates and our fans have supported me,” Miller said. “I’m excited for the future and ready to get back to work.”

The New York Jets pulled off a last-minute stunner, signing Wilkerson to a five-year extension shortly before the deadline.

Wilkerson had a career-high 12 sacks last season and was selected for his first Pro Bowl, but was unable to play after breaking his right leg in the season finale at Buffalo. The 2011 first-round draft pick said he was frustrated at not receiving a new deal from the Jets, who instead placed the franchise tag on him.

But just as many fans began to take to social media, upset at a deal not getting done, the Jets announced on Twitter that they had signed Wilkerson to a multiyear contract. The deal is worth more than $85 million, including $37 million in guarantees through the first two years, according to a person familiar with the contract. Through three years of the deal, Wilkerson will be paid $54 million in guaranteed money, added the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team does not announce financial terms of contracts.

“I give my all every Sunday on the field and play with so much love and passion for the game,” Wilkerson wrote on Twitter. “I’m thankful for everything that comes my way and proud to say I’m back on the green and white for a few more years.”

Tucker and the Baltimore Ravens agreed to a four-year contract, announced late Friday afternoon by the team.

Since joining the Ravens as a free agent in 2012, Tucker has made 130 of his 148 field goal tries — an 87.8 percent success rate that is second-best in NFL history. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2013 after making 38 of 41 field goal attempts, including a 61-yarder that beat the Detroit Lions

“Justin has become a cornerstone for our team, and we are happy to get this contract completed,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said.

Cousins will earn $19.95 million this season while playing under the franchise tag for Washington after the sides failed to agree on a long-term contract. Franchised players who didn’t sign deals by Friday now must wait until the offseason to re-open negotiations.

He’ll be the first quarterback to play a season on the tag since San Diego’s Drew Brees in 2005.

The 27-year-old Cousins started all 16 regular-season games for the Redskins last season, throwing for 4,166 yards and 29 touchdowns with 11 interceptions last season. In 30 career NFL games, the 2012 fourth-round pick has thrown 47 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.

Jeffery will be paid $14.6 million this season by Chicago. He missed seven games last season with injuries, but still led the team with 54 catches and 807 receiving yards while scoring four touchdowns. His per-game average of 89.7 receiving yards was the seventh-best mark in the NFL.

Kansas City general manager John Dorsey announced in a statement released by the team on Twitter that the Chiefs and Berry were unable to reach a long-term deal. Berry, the NFL Comeback Player of the Year last season after being diagnosed in November 2014 with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, will play this season under the tag worth $10.8 million.

“Although both sides would have preferred a different outcome, Eric is a true professional and a tremendous football player, and we know that he will continue to be a leader in our locker room,” Dorsey said. “We look forward to resuming our discussions on a long-term agreement when the negotiating window reopens after the season.”

The Los Angeles Rams and Johnson also couldn’t close on a deal Friday, meaning the cornerback will under play his tag value, worth $13.952 million.

In four NFL seasons, Johnson has 15 interceptions, including seven last year in a breakout season for the Rams after being a third-round draft pick out of Montana in 2012.

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AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton, and AP Sports Writers David Ginsburg and Stephen Whyno contributed to this report

NFL: Mark Sanchez a surprise participant in Broncos OTAs

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Mark Sanchez wasn’t about to let a weight room mishap keep him from running the Denver Broncos’ offense when the Super Bowl champs began OTAs.

Sanchez donned a black wrap on his surgically repaired left thumb and got in plenty of work Tuesday, defying the odds and enjoying some cachet among his teammates.

“That’s what you like to see in a competitor,” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said.

Sanchez tore a thumb ligament on his non-throwing hand on May 13 and underwent surgery 48 hours later. He was originally expected to miss the start of organized team activities this week, which might have stalled his quest to win the starting job ahead of first-round draft pick Paxton Lynch and second-year pro Trevor Siemian.

Instead, he led the way during individual and 7-on-7 drills before giving way to Lynch and Siemian during the team periods.

“Anytime you’re not in there full go, you’re just itching to get back into the swing of things,” Sanchez said. “But this was better than nothing and we’ll just take it smart, slow and steady.”

Coach Gary Kubiak said it was obviously important for Sanchez to lead the offense during Denver’s first practice since the Broncos hoisted the Lombardi Trophy back on Feb. 7.

“Oh, I thought it was huge,” said Sanchez, who termed his injury a “minor setback” and “no big deal” and soon he’ll look back on it and “it will be nothing.”

This was the first real opportunity for Sanchez to face the league’s top defense, the one that throttled Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl.

“There’s not a lot of room out there on the field,” Sanchez said. “Those guys cover ground quickly and there’s a reason they got so much publicity last year.”

When Sanchez retreated to the sideline, Lynch and Siemian showed off strong arms.

Whereas Sanchez drew kudos for playing hurt, Lynch was quick to make a strong impression himself.

“The rookie looked really good,” receiver Emmanuel Sanders said.

“He looked like, hey, that’s why we drafted him in the first round,” safety Darian Stewart said. “He definitely has what it takes.”

And what about Siemian, who was a seventh-rounder in 2015 and has but one snap to his pro resume? He has the most experience in Kubiak’s system and it certainly showed.

“Not many guys are asking about him, but I’m really excited about Trevor,” Kubiak said. “He’s got a chance to be a really good player. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He basically took the first group today.”

Harris said Siemian “has a great maturity to him.”

“He’s kind of a sleeper I would say because of course Mark and Paxton are going to be the headlines but Trevor, man, he knows the offense, and he’s very comfortable and he can throw the ball, too,” Harris said. “And we’ve also seen him make big plays in the preseason games under the lights. So, I wouldn’t sleep on Trevor winning the job, either.”

Lynch, who hit Jordan Taylor with his first TD pass as a pro, is adjusting to the West Coast offense after running the spread at Memphis. So, he’s going to have to adjust to making calls and reading defenses at the line of scrimmage and while backpedaling after taking the snap from under center rather than in the shotgun.

“It’s kind of my first time doing it, being under center, having routes and throwing on time. But today I felt pretty good,” Lynch said.

He looked good, too, Harris said.

“I think he still has some things to process a little bit faster. We’re very vanilla. Everything is very vanilla. Everything will turn up as OTAs go on,” Harris said. “I think for the first day coming out against us, I think he did a great job.”

Working with three QBs splitting snaps isn’t ideal, but “we’re not the first team that has ever dealt with a little quarterback controversy,” Sanders said. “The thing is, competition always brings the best out of guys. We’re going to see who the best guy is at the end of this process.”

Notes: OLB DeMarcus Ware (back) and DE Kenny Anunike (knee) were held out. … TE Virgil Green recently underwent finger surgery and will “miss probably a good portion of OTAs,” Kubiak said.

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Denver Broncos- quarterback Mark Sanchez looks to hand off the ball during NFL football practice, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, at the team’s headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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