Month: April 2024

Latest On Ravens’ RB Situation

The Ravens’ offense has produced a top-three rushing attack in each of the past five seasons. This certainly doesn’t mean that the team had have its fair share of issues at running back, namely injuries.

Dating back to 2018, when a rookie, Gus Edwards, was forced to start in place of an injured Alex Collins, nearly every back on the roster, from Edwards to Mark Ingram to Justice Hill to J.K. Dobbins has missed time due to injury. Will that affect the way they fill their roster this season? Not exactly, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.

In the past, the serious nature of some of these injuries have forced Baltimore to invest in inexpensive veterans with starting experience like Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray, and Le’Veon Bell. Veterans with starting experience are available in bulk this year with Dalvin Cook, Kareem Hunt, Ezekiel Elliott, and Leonard Fournette all available on the free agent market. None of those options are necessarily cheap, but according to Zrebiec, the Ravens aren’t looking for an option that would take snaps away from their top tandem, anyway.

The Ravens are extremely confident in their one-two punch of Dobbins and Edwards. The two are impressive, each with starting ability in their own right while providing different attacking styles and running traits. When both are healthy in the backfield behind quarterback Lamar Jackson, it’s easy to predict yet another strong rushing performance in Baltimore.

The injuries have held the duo back in recent years, though. Dobbins has missed 26 games in the past two years, including the entire 2021 season. Edwards missed 25 games in the same time period after also missing the entire 2021 season. The fact that the Ravens aren’t looking for anyone to take significant carries in free agency, though, bodes well for their prognoses for 2023.

The team isn’t looking for potential starters in case of injury, but they are looking for camp bodies who can keep Dobbins and Edwards off their feet throughout the preseason. Currently on the roster, Baltimore is home to the veteran backup Hill and undrafted rookies Keaton Mitchell and Owen Wright. The Ravens re-signed Hill back in March to a two-year, $4.51MM deal, and while his special teams prowess should guarantee him a roster, he’s never contributed significantly on offense. Mitchell and Wright, on the other hand, are great camp bodies, but unless one of them breaks out this preseason, neither is likely to make the initial 53-man roster.

So, what is Baltimore looking for in a free agent addition? The Ravens could really use another camp body or two that can serve as injury insurance throughout the season, as well. Zrebiec suggests a strong option in former-Raven Kenyan Drake. The veteran running back spent his seventh season in the league in Baltimore last year and ended up leading the position room in carries, trailing only Jackson for the team lead. Drake provided some solid depth to a team gingerly returning from significant injuries to its top three running backs and would likely be an affordable option to bring back in for the 2023 season.

Drake would already be familiar enough with the team, despite a new offensive coordinator in Baltimore, but J.D. McKissic and Marlon Mack provide similar potential as roster additions. James Robinson provides a younger option after his recent release from the Patriots. All three have shown flashes of starter potential but don’t necessitate a contract befitting a starter. Adding one or two of these backs could provide the Ravens with a little insurance heading into the season with a hopefully healthy tandem for the first time since 2020.

Staff Updates: Texans, Falcons, Colts, Jags

The Texans announced a slew of adjustments to their coaching and front office staffs for the 2023 season under new head coach DeMeco Ryans, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2. The moves included confirmed new hires, promotions, and title additions throughout the staff.

On the coaching staff, Danny Barrett, who was confirmed to be sticking around as running backs coach as a holdover from last year’s staff back in February, has reportedly added the mantle of assistant head coach to his title. He’s been with the team for the past five years, providing Ryans with crucial insight into team dynamics. Wilson also announced that William Burnham has been hired as assistant special teams coordinator, replacing Sean Baker in the role. This is also news for Baker, as we were previously informed that he would be retained in the role for 2023 when the team finalized the coaching staff back in February.

In the personnel office, James Liipfert was promoted to executive director of player personnel after being promoted to assistant director of personnel/director of college scouting a year ago. John Ritcher joined Mozique McCurtis as a national scout for the team in 2019. Now the two are both moving up together into co-college scouting director jobs. Brad Matthews, a Midwest Area scout since 2018, will move into one of the open national scout roles. The team officially announced that Chris Blanco will rejoin the staff after two years in Minnesota. After reaching the role of director of pro personnel in his two years with the Vikings, Blanco will serve as assistant director of player personnel in Houston. Lastly in personnel, general manager Nick Caserio will add the title of executive vice president to his role.

Finally, in operations, Joe Vernon was officially announced as special advisor to football ops, leaving his job as an attorney at Miller Canfield in Michigan. The team also added Jeremy Stabile, who announced on Twitter that he would be leaving the Dolphins to accept the role of football data analyst in Houston.

Here are a few other staff updates from around the league, most of them coincidentally coming out of the AFC South, as well:

  • The only move not out of the AFC South, the Falcons hired Brian Zeches as their new player personnel coordinator. Zeches in the son of Jim Zeches, who was a scout in the NFL for 16 seasons. The younger Zeches has spent seven years in Washington and has experience with the Chiefs and the Senior Bowl, as well. He also has college experience, coaching at UTEP, Weber State, and New Mexico.
  • The Colts announced a number of promotions to their front office, as well, recently. In operations, Melainey Lowe has been named director of football operations after serving as a football operations intern in 2021 and the football operations assistant in 2022. In analytics, Nick Bayh was named strategic football analyst. He was previously a military intelligence officer for the US Army Reserve before serving as a personnel assistant in his first year with the Colts last year. In personnel, former scouting assistant Andrew Hoyle has been promoted to player personnel scout. He started with the team as an equipment intern in 2018 before moving his way through the ranks of the personnel department.
  • Lastly, the Jaguars made a couple of moves in their analytics department, according to ESPN’s Seth Walder. Previously under the title of director of coaching analytics, Ryan Paganetti‘s title has been changed to director of football analytics. Additionally, the team recently hired Avery Horvath as a data scientist.

Minor NFL Transactions: 6/30/23

Today’s only minor transaction across the league:

Carolina Panthers

Dorn’s tenure in Carolina ends without a game appearance. Originally an undrafted free agent signing for the Vikings in 2020, Dorn spent his rookie year on injured reserve. After playing out two practice squad contracts in Minnesota, Dorn signed a reserve/futures deal with the Panthers back in January. Over his time with the Vikings, Dorn made 14 game appearances, tallying five total tackles in a purely special teams role. His release today comes as a result of the team’s signing of defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth.

Titans RB Hassan Haskins Arrested On Assault Charge

Titans running back Hassan Haskins was arrested on an assault charge Thursday, Caleb Wethington of WSMV reports. Metro Nashville Police booked the second-year back on an aggravated assault by strangulation charge.

Haskins was released on bond later Thursday,’s Turron Davenport adds. The Titans released a statement indicating they are aware of the arrest. Haskins, 23, is scheduled to appear in Davidson County Court July 10.

The Titans chose Haskins in the 2022 fourth round out of Michigan. The Eureka, Missouri, native shined in a breakout 2021 season with the Wolverines, rushing for 1,327 yards and totaling 20 touchdowns. He spent his rookie season as Derrick Henry‘s top backup. Haskins’ 25 carries were the second-most by a Tennessee running back last season.

In addition to potential legal punishment, this arrest puts Haskins on the radar for a suspension and a possible Titans exit. Haskins gained 93 yards on his 25 totes last season, adding 11 receptions. But the Titans have since changed general managers since selecting him 131st overall last year. Ran Carthon replaced Jon Robinson atop the team’s front office, and the team chose Tulane’s Tyjae Spears in this year’s third round. Spears is also a clear candidate to become Henry’s top backup.

Bengals, Joe Mixon Aiming For Near-Future Resolution On Contract

On the radar for several weeks, the Joe Mixon pay-cut situation still lingers for the Bengals. The seventh-year veteran went through Cincinnati’s minicamp in his usual starting role, but he is still not a lock to be on the team when it begins padded practices in August.

While vested veterans’ salaries do not become guaranteed until the Tuesday before Week 1, the Bengals and Mixon want this situation resolved “sooner rather than later,” Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Mixon, 27 in July, is tied to a $9.4MM base salary this year; the Bengals have long aimed to reduce that.

This probably is not going over well with Mixon, but his status has been an uncertainty since before the running back position began sustaining steady body blows. Bengals executive VP Duke Tobin said back at the Combine that Mixon’s status on the 2023 roster would be determined, and word of a pay-cut request emerged in mid-April.

As we wrap up June, Mixon remains tied to the four-year, $48MM contract he signed just before the 2020 season. The Bengals may be waiting to hammer out their Joe Burrow extension before addressing the Mixon matter, but no updates have come out on the quarterback’s negotiations in some time. With Burrow’s talks partially tied to how the Chargers proceed with Justin Herbert, the team may need to reach a Mixon agreement before Burrow signs.

This year has brought grim updates for the running back position. The Cowboys and Vikings shed two of the position’s top four deals from their respective payrolls, releasing Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook. Although Aaron Jones‘ restructure came with more 2023 security, the Packers back agreed to a $5MM pay cut. The Chargers refused to give Austin Ekeler, the NFL’s touchdown leader in each of the past two seasons, a raise; a minor incentive package became the solution instead. Miles Sanders‘ $6.35MM-per-year contract led the way for a deep free agency class this year. None of the three franchise-tagged backs — Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard — have extensions in place. Sanders said this week that “it sucks to be a running back right now.”

The developments of the past few months may point to the Bengals asking for a significant Mixon reduction — perhaps more than the Packers $5MM Jones trim. With the likes of Elliott, Cook, Leonard Fournette and Kareem Hunt unsigned, the Bengals still have outside options. But the team is unlikely to consider those UFAs until they drop their asking prices, Dehner adds. This creates an interesting scenario for the AFC power.

The Vikings were rumored to be seeking a Cook cut, but they are not believed to have offered a specific number before releasing their 2017 RB draftee. Coming off a down year, Mixon is seemingly short on options. But the Bengals did lose Samaje Perine to the Broncos in free agency. The Bengals are believed to have offered their veteran backup a deal similar to the two-year, $7.5MM terms the Broncos proposed. Cincinnati used a fifth-round pick on Illinois’ Chase Brown and has fifth-year player Trayveon Williams and third-year back Chris Evans rostered as well. None of the team’s other options profiles as a starter. Perine’s exit provides apparent Mixon leverage, but the cadre of accomplished free agents would stand to undercut it.

Mixon did earn a Pro Bowl nod after totaling 1,519 scrimmage yards and 16 touchdowns — both career-high marks — in 2021, helping the Bengals to Super Bowl LVI. This extension, like those given to Cook and Jones, has benefited the team. But the state of the market — and the contract statuses of Burrow, Tee Higgins and Logan Wilson — prompted the Bengals to make this play. Mixon’s response will either keep the Bengals’ stacked skill-position corps intact or add another big name to the free agent mix.

Top Second-Round Picks In Mix For Fully Guaranteed Contracts

Signing second-round picks continues to be a slow-moving process for many teams. Fourteen second-rounders remain unsigned. That accounts for almost half the unsigned draftees remaining from this year’s class.

No. 39 overall pick Jonathan Mingo receiving three fully guaranteed years and part of his 2026 season locked in has undoubtedly caused the gridlock for teams negotiating with players chosen shortly after the Panthers wide receiver. The Nos. 40-48 picks have not signed their rookie deals. But more clarity came earlier in the round; the Nos. 34-39 players have inked their respective rookie contracts. Three-year guarantees are now the standard in that slot range. But the two players chosen atop Round 2 are likely looking to further adjust the draft pay structure.

Neither Joey Porter Jr. (Steelers, No. 32 overall) nor Will Levis (Titans, No. 33) have signed. Agents for both players are likely aiming to land fully guaranteed deals for their clients, and’s Howard Balzer notes others in the agent community view full guarantees as in play for the two second-round leadoff picks. No second-rounder has secured a fully guaranteed deal since the 2011 CBA implemented the slot system.

The first round has featured fully guaranteed deals for just two years. Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, the No. 32 overall picks in 2020 and ’21, received partial fourth-year guarantees. But last year’s 32nd pick — Vikings safety Lewis Cine — effectively closed the book on the partial guarantee era for first-rounders, receiving all his money ($11.494MM) guaranteed. As such, this year’s final first-rounder — Chiefs defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomahsigned a fully guaranteed $11.818MM deal. The tide now appears to be rising toward Round 2, putting the onus on the Steelers and Titans to offer more player security.

Since the NFL stripped the Dolphins of their first-round choice, Porter has a clear case for a fully guaranteed pact. Had the Sean PaytonTom Brady tampering matter not removed Miami’s slot from the equation, Porter’s draft slot would have arrived in Round 1. As a quarterback, Levis has some additional leverage as well. Levis securing a buttoned-up deal may be more notable going forward, due to his No. 33 slot, but he will probably need Porter’s help.

A drop-off in guaranteed cash took place after Cine in 2022; Buccaneers No. 33 overall selection Logan Hall only received $225K of his $1.98MM 2026 base salary guaranteed. This year’s 34th overall choice — Lions tight end Sam LaPorta — has already done better, securing $408K of his 2026 salary guaranteed. Porter and Levis look to be aiming to follow Cine in moving the bar forward for picks in this range, though the gap between Anudike-Uzomah’s guaranteed money and LaPorta’s overall guarantee ($9.47MM) does provide a reasonable bridge for the Pittsburgh and Tennessee rookies to cross.

This can be considered a fairly minor development; the 2011 CBA’s slot system removed much of the haggling and ensuing holdouts involving rookie contracts. But any second-rounder securing a fully guaranteed deal will represent a notable hurdle cleared, as the slot system has now been in place for 13 drafts. It will also be worth watching to see if the Steelers and Titans attempt to hold the line, thus bringing holdouts into play this year. Titans rookies report to camp July 22, with Steelers opening July 26.

Latest On Ravens, OLB Justin Houston

Cornerback would represent a logical position for the Ravens to make a late-offseason addition at, but the same could be true with respect to edge rushers. That leaves Justin Houston‘s situation as one to watch.

[RELATED: Kyle Fuller On Ravens’ Radar]

The 34-year-old has been with the Ravens since 2021, signing a pair of one-year deals each of the past two summers to play for Baltimore. His 2022 pact was worth $3.5MM, a figure which proved to be a bargain for the team considering Houston’s production. The former All-Pro recorded a team-leading 9.5 sacks last season, despite logging a snap share of just 44%.

“The way I feel right now – I’ll be back,” Houston said in January when asked about his intentions heading into free agency. “We’ll see if the chips work out, and I’ll be here. That’s out of my control. We’ll see what they do. [But] I’d like to be back here.”

The former Chief and Colt remains unsigned at this point, but Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic notes that another new Ravens deal “would surprise no one” (subscription required). Houston has not been linked with any other teams up to now, and Baltimore has little in the way of known commodities in their current edge group. Especially if it were to come on another one-year, low-cost deal, a reunion would make plenty of sense.

The Ravens have veteran Tyus Bowser and 2022 second-rounder David Ojabo set to play considerable pass-rushing roles this season, but each were limited last season as they recovered from Achilles tears. 2021 first-rounder Odafe Oweh posted five sacks as a rookie, but that figure dropped to three last season as he also saw his playing time get cut slightly. Rookie linebacker Trenton Simpson is likely to see at least some time playing off the edge in the NFL, as was the case in college, but the only true pass rusher the Ravens drafted this year was fourth-rounder Tavius Robinson.

Given the question marks surrounding the team’s other options at the position, it would indeed not come as a shock if Houston were to find himself in Baltimore (a team which currently has $9.9MM in cap space) by the start of training camp. A repeat of last year’s production could help his value heading into free agency in 2024, or allow him to close out his career on a high note.

Panthers Eyeing CB Addition?

At full health, the Panthers could have an intriguing group of corners at the top of their depth chart. Injury concerns could entice the team to make at least a depth move at the position, however.

[RELATED: Panthers Sign DT Stallworth]

Carolina has Jaycee Horn and Donte Jackson entrenched as starters, but each are dealing with injury recoveries at the moment. Horn recently suffered an ankle injury which did not require surgery, and he is expected to be at full strength in time for training camp. Still, the setback is the latest of several he has dealt with in his young career.

Jackson, meanwhile, tore his Achilles in November and is continuing the rehab process. His ability to return to form will be a key factor in the Panthers’ defensive success. The 27-year-old has been a full-time starter throughout his career, and the team’s depth was tested late in 2022 while he and Horn were sidelined. C.J. Henderson, Keith Taylor and Stantley Thomas-Oliver represent Carolina’s other options at the CB spot.

As a result, Joe Person of The Athletic writes that it would not come as a surprise if the Panthers were to make an addition at the position this summer (subscription required). Marcus Peters tops the list of players still available this deep into the offseason, though he has frequently been linked to the Raiders. Other options include Ronald Darby, Bryce Callahan, William Jackson and Anthony Averett.

The Panthers currently hold more than $26.5MM in cap space, but they have been frequently linked to adding an edge rusher before the start of training camp. The team was also added to the list of potential DeAndre Hopkins suitors this week, and a deal for the All-Pro wideout would of course significantly eat into their available funds. Depending on how Carolina proceeds financially in the coming weeks (along with any unexpected health updates which could come along), a depth corner signing could be in the cards.

Latest On Lloyd Howell, NFLPA’s Executive Director Search

The NFLPA unveiled their new executive director on Wednesday, introducing Lloyd Howell as the leader tasked with overseeing the union moving forward. Details regarding his selection and expected start date have emerged.

Howell, 57, was not mentioned as one of the known candidates in the union’s search process for its DeMaurice Smith successor. Secrecy surrounded the build-up to Howell’s selection, and the identities of the other finalists voted on remains unknown. Of note, though, is the fact that ex-players Matt Schaub, Domonique Foxworth and Kellen Winslow Sr. were mentioned as names to watch, but the top position was once again given to someone with no playing experience.  

“You don’t need to be a former player to be able to motivate and galvanize a group of people,” president J.C. Tretter said, via The Athletic’s Zak Keefer (subscription required). “We were really looking for anybody that was capable of doing that, and we found a great one.”

Tretter added that the search process – which began in October – involved casting a “wide net,” and ultimately landed on Howell. The latter has no background in pro sports, and he has yet to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, though that is expected to soon change. Howell declined to go in to specifics on his opinion regarding the current CBA, but he indicated his views with respect to the 2020 negotiations and the ones which will take place after the 2030 campaign helped earn him the position.

Veteran reporter Daniel Kaplan tweets that Howell’s start date is expected to be July 10, which will mark a quick transition from Smith to the new director. After the former won his most recent re-election with the minimum votes, it was expected his final term would be much shorter than his previous ones, which will be the case if Howell is in place by next month. The success he makes in integrating into the union and establishing new relations with the NFL will be a key factor when CBA talks take place and in the time leading up to that point.

Follow NBA Free Agency At Hoops Rumors

NBA free agency kicks off this evening at 5:o0 p.m. CT, and our sister site Hoops Rumors (@HoopsRumors on Twitter) has all the latest news, rumors and transactions for each of the league’s 30 teams.

We’ve already seen quite a bit of trade activity in the weeks leading up to free agency, including blockbuster deals involving former All-Stars like Chris Paul, Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, as well as the 2021/22 Defensive Player of the Year, Marcus Smart. Young veterans on pricey multiyear contracts (Jordan Poole, John Collins) have also changed teams.

There were several surprises yesterday, including 10-time All-Star and former league MVP James Harden exercising his $35.6MM player option with the Sixers. However, instead of staying with Philadelphia, he’s working alongside the club to find a new team via trade, which would mark his fourth team in four years.

While this free agent class may not have as much top-end talent as some previous years, it’s deep with quality players and features several highly accomplished veterans, including Kyrie Irving, Draymond Green, Khris Middleton and Fred VanVleet, among others. One of the hot names on the market is Nuggets guard/forward Bruce Brown, who helped Denver win its first championship earlier this month.

For the latest updates on those stories and more, check out Hoops Rumors today! There will be a whirlwind of activity over the next couple of weeks as teams reshape their rosters for next season, and we’ll be covering it all. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter – @HoopsRumors.