Alex Lewis

AFC Notes: Mason, Herndon, Foreman

Zack Martin just inked a massive extension with the Cowboys, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com wonders what effect Martin’s contract will have on Shaq Mason‘s future with the Patriots. Mason is not on the same level as Martin or Andrew Norwell — who signed a similarly large deal with the Jaguars this offseason — but he is still a very good guard and should command upwards of $10MM per year when he hits free agency at the end of the 2018 campaign. Reiss is skeptical that New England will pony up that much cash for a guard, so this could be Mason’s last year in Foxborough.

Reiss also observes that other key players, like DE Trey Flowers and K Stephen Gostkowski, are entering the last year of their respective contracts, but he does not offer an opinion as to how those negotiations will play out.

Now for more notes from the AFC:

  • More details have emerged regarding the arrest of Jets‘ rookie TE Chris Herndon. Herndon, a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, was charged with driving while intoxicated several weeks ago, and per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, an eyewitness told New Jersey State Police that an SUV believed to be driven by Herndon was traveling at least 100 mph. Herndon’s SUV flipped after colliding with another vehicle, which caught fire, and the SUV slid approximately 700 feet after initial contact. Eyewitness reports are notoriously shaky, but if this one is accurate, it will not bode well for Herndon, either from an NFL or legal perspective.
  • The Bills‘ WR corps is pretty thin overall, so second-year wideout Zay Jones — whom the team selected in the second round of the 2017 draft — is generally considered to have a stranglehold on Buffalo’s No. 2 wideout job opposite Kelvin Benjamin. However, Jones has dealt with some issues this offseason, as he was arrested in March and underwent knee surgery, and new GM Brandon Beane said the East Carolina product will not be handed anything. During an interview with WGR 550 (via Ryan Talbot of NewYorkUpstate.com), Beane said, “He’s not just going to necessarily go right to the top of the line. He’ll have to earn his way. Part of that will just be just getting his feel. He’s only played with Nathan Peterman. He has not got to play with Josh Allen or A.J. [McCarron] yet. So that bond there will just have to form.”
  • Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle provides an in-depth look at Texans RB D’Onta Foreman‘s recovery from a torn Achilles, which ended his rookie campaign prematurely in November. There is still no specific date for Foreman’s return, and it is unlikely he will be a full participant at the beginning of training camp next month (even the 2018 regular season opener is up in the air at this point). However, the former Texas standout remains confident that he will eventually regain the form that made him a 2017 third-round pick and the heir apparent to Lamar Miller.
  • The Ravens have some depth along their offensive line, part of which is last year’s fourth-round pick, Nico Siragusa. Siragusa suffered a brutal injury last August, as he tore his ACL, MCL, and PCL. Of course, that ended his rookie campaign before it began, but as Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun writes, Siragusa was able to fully participate in last week’s minicamp. He will compete for a backup role this year and could soon become a starting guard or center if he can remain healthy. Alex Lewis, who also missed the entire 2017 season, is expected to start somewhere along the O-line this year — either at left guard, center, or right tackle — but he was held out of minicamp due to back spasms. Head coach John Harbaugh said Lewis should be ready for training camp, but the Nebraska product’s injury history will be cause for concern until he can manage to stay out of the training room for an extended period of time.
  • Tyler Matakevich, a 2016 seventh-round pick, will be given every opportunity to win the Steelers‘ starting ILB job alongside Vince Williams, per Will Graves of the Associated Press. Pittsburgh has a gaping hole at that spot due to Ryan Shazier‘s horrific injury, but the team is confident Matakevich is ready to take the reins. He will need to fend off veteran Jon Bostic, whom the team signed this offseason.

North Notes: Vikes, Browns, Ravens, Sutton

At Vikings OTAs this week, they placed Mike Remmers back at right tackle, per Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Remmers finished last season playing guard, and the Vikings used a second-round pick on tackle Brian O’Neill out of Pittsburgh. Minnesota had UFA signee Tom Compton working as its first-string right guard during OTAs, per Rand. Compton has never been a full-time starter in his six-year career, coming closest with the 2014 Redskins, who used him as a nine-game starter. Last season, the Bears started Compton in five of the 11 games he played. Minnesota lost its most effective blocker, Joe Berger, to retirement and did not make any notable additions beyond Compton at the guard spot.

Here’s more from the north:

  • The Browns have made some adjustments to their front office and scouting department, and Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com expects that to continue. She targets the VP of player personnel decision as a possible turnover spot. Alonzo Highsmith, Ken Kovash and Andrew Berry currently reside in that role. John Dorsey just hired Highsmith, and Cabot reports Berry is safe from a change despite being an integral part of the previous regime. The Browns promoted Kovash shortly after the Sashi Brown regime took over in 2016 after he’d previously worked as the franchise’s director of football research.
  • Converted cornerback Damarious Randall will be the Browns’ starter at free safety this season, relocating Jabrill Peppers to strong safety, per Cabot. Gregg Williams‘ deep placement of Peppers, sometimes more than 25 yards off the ball, became a constant source of discussion and derision among Browns fans, and Peppers himself may be a bit tired of the jokes. But the Browns will now place him closer to the line of scrimmage, which is similar to the role he had at Michigan.
  • Optimism exists around Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith, who saw a strong season end early in 2017 because of a torn Achilles, but Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun notes the veteran may not be ready for the start of training camp. The career-long Raven is going into his age-30 season.
  • Additional Ravens’ timelines are coming into focus as well. Defensive lineman Carl Davis, who started nine games last season, underwent surgery to repair a tear in his shoulder earlier this offseason, Zreibec reports. The former third-round pick is questionable to participate in minicamp. Offensive lineman Nico Siragusa also had an operation this offseason. The 2017 fourth-round pick missed all of last season because of ACL, MCL and PCL tears and required an additional knee surgery this year. Zreibec reports the goal for him is a training camp return. As for Alex Lewis, Baltimore’s projected guard starter opposite Marshal Yanda, he’s fully recovered from the shoulder injury that nixed all of his 2017 season, Zreibec notes.
  • The Steelers aren’t sure where to station Cameron Sutton. The 2017 third-round pick played 117 snaps as a rookie after an injury delayed his NFL debut. Pittsburgh may be planning to use him at outside or slot cornerback, or as a safety alongside Morgan Burnett, Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. But he notes that Artie Burns and Sean Davis will still have first crack at their respective jobs, outside cornerback and the non-Burnett safety starter, with the Steelers still hoping for the high draft picks’ upside to show. Mike Hilton remains the frontrunner to be the Steelers’ slot corner, where the former UDFA fared well in 2017.

North Rumors: Richardson, Steelers, Ravens

The $3MM incentive package for Sheldon Richardson will center on the interior defender’s sack production. Richardson’s one-year, $8MM Vikings deal will include a $667K bump if he reaches six sacks, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes. Should Richardson register eight sacks, that number spikes to $1.3MM. It rises to $2MM for a 10-sack slate. These benchmarks will be difficult to hit. The former first-round pick has only exceeded six sacks once in five seasons (eight in 2014). Richardson can also earn $500K if he makes the Pro Bowl, which he has done once (in that ’14 season). That will increase to $1MM if a first-team All-Pro nod follows the Pro Bowl acclaim, per Goessling.

Here’s the latest from the North divisions.

Ravens’ Alex Lewis Done For Season

Ravens offensive lineman Alex Lewis suffered a shoulder injury that will require surgery, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) has learned. The operation will rule him out for the 2017 season. "<strong

Lewis is no stranger to injury as a high ankle sprain cost him a good chunk of the 2016 season. This year, he was slated to return as the team’s starting left guard. For a team that has been decimated by injuries all summer, this is a crushing blow.

The Ravens have lost three key interior linemen in recent months. Center John Urschel opted to retire this summer while rookie guard Nico Siragusa was shut down with a torn ACL.

The advanced numbers at Pro Football Focus painted Lewis as a below-average guard last year, ranking him 61st out of 75 qualified players. The loss still stings, however, since the team is already pretty shallow on the O-Line. The Ravens will likely look into signing a guard to replace Lewis, but they could alternatively add a center and slide Ryan Jensen over to guard. Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun (Twitter link) suggests that moving tackle James Hurst to the interior could also be an option. The Ravens also have fifth-round rookie guard Jermaine Eluemunor on the roster, but he may be too green for the first unit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens’ Alex Lewis Out Six Weeks

The Ravens will be without an offensive lineman for six weeks. ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley reports that starting guard Alex Lewis will be out for the next month-plus as he recovers from a high-ankle sprain. Although there are only seven regular Alex Lewisseason games remaining, Hensley notes that the team isn’t planning on “immediately” placing the lineman on the injured reserve.

“There’s nothing imminent along those lines,” said coach John Harbaugh said. “We’re going to try to see where that goes in the next few weeks. Hopefully, we’ll get him back.”

The fourth-round pick out of Nebraska has started eights games for the Ravens this season, including four at left tackle and four at left guard. The team is struggling through injuries on their offensive line, as right guard Marshal Yanda has recently missed time with a shoulder injury. John Urschel filled in for Lewis during last week’s victory, although when Yanda returns, Vladimir Ducasse could keep his spot in the starting lineup. Ryan Jensen could also see some snaps during Lewis’ absence.

Ravens Sign Seven Draftees, 11 UDFAs

Like a number of other teams around the league, the Ravens made an effort to get plenty of contracts done before their rookie minicamp got underway, securing seven of their 11 draftees, and adding another 11 undrafted free agents to their roster.

The Ravens confirmed today that they’ve signed fifth-round defensive end Matt Judon, whose agreement was reported earlier this week, and announced that they’ve locked up six other draft picks, writes Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com. Sixth overall pick Ronnie Stanley remains unsigned, as do Bronson KaufusiTavon Young, and Keenan Reynolds. However, the following Baltimore draftees are now under contract, having signed their four-year rookie deals:

In a separate press release on their website, the Ravens also listed their 11-man UDFA class, complete with a scouting report for each player. Here are Baltimore’s UDFA additions:

NFC Notes: Washington, Artis-Payne, Saints

Josh Norman‘s signing with Washington will likely lead to Will Blackmon making the move to safety, Mike Jones and Master Tefatsion of the Washington Post write. Blackmon started 10 games at corner last season. Although Washington signed David Bruton to compete for a starting safety job this offseason, the team has questions on the back line. Kyshoen Jarrett‘s status is unknown after a season-ending injury, and career-long corner DeAngelo Hall‘s full-time transition to the position will come in a season where he turns 33.

Jones and Tefatsion also point out that Bashaud Breeland looks like the favorite to start alongside Norman for Washington this season, since 2015 free agent acquisition Chris Culliver‘s $8MM base salary is non-guaranteed. Washington would take on $3.75MM in dead money if the club decides to release Culliver, Pro Football Focus’ second-worst full-time corner last season.

Here’s more from around the NFC, including a couple more notes on how Norman’s signing affects Washington:

  • Speaking of Breeland, when he first heard the news that Norman was heading to Washington, he “took it as disrespect,” he admitted during an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio (SoundCloud link). However, he came to view the signing as a “chess move” that will not only improve the team, but could also allow Breeland himself to improve by working with one of the league’s best corners.
  • Landing Norman shouldn’t negatively impact Washington‘s chances of getting a long-term deal done with quarterback Kirk Cousins or any of the club’s other key contributors, writes John Keim of ESPN.com.
  • Panthers running back Cameron Artis-Payne was arrested after police recorded him driving 102 mph in a 65-mph zone, per WSOCTV (on Twitter).
  • The Eagles brought in Auburn cornerback Blake Countess for a pre-draft visit last week while clubs were still permitted to host prospects, according to Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net (Twitter link).
  • The Saints held pre-draft visits with Washington linebacker Travis Feeney and Nebraska offensive lineman Alex Lewis, reports Joel Erickson of the Advocate. Both prospects project as Day 3 picks, and Lewis is particularly interesting as the college tackle could be moved inside to guard at the pro level.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

Draft Rumors: Dolphins, Titans, Cook

The first and second picks in the upcoming draft have already changed hands, and several teams are convinced that there will be even more shuffling near the top of the opening round, reports Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (on Twitter). The Dolphins could move up from No. 13 in hopes of landing Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, per La Canfora, who names the Titans (15th overall) as another club that might climb the board. Tennessee likes a pair of offensive tackles, Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley and Michigan State’s Jack Conklin, according to La Canfora.

More on the draft:

  • Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook had a great college career and has a chance to end up a first-round pick, but questions about his attitude and leadership persist, writes Tom Pelissero of USA Today. “He’s going to fall, I think. Just the guy – people have their questions,” one executive told Pelissero. Said one NFL quarterbacks coach, “There’s something about him that you just don’t trust him.” An offensive coordinator also chimed in, commenting, “There’s just something put-offish about him. It appears to me – I could be dead wrong – but he’d be a guy that, when he got in the locker room, they’d try to eat him up and spit him out.” Cook came off as “flippant and cavalier” during some team interviews, Tony Pauline of WalterFootball.com reported last week.
  • Nebraska offensive lineman Alex Lewis has logged official visits with the Cardinals, Titans, Giants, Colts, Eagles, Ravens, Lions, Bears, Packers and Saints, tweets Mike Jurecki of FOX Sports 910 (Twitter link).
  • The Colts worked out Jacksonville University receiver Andy Jones this week, a source told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Jones, who possesses a 41.5-inch vertical leap, visited with the Cardinals and Jaguars previously, tweets Wilson.

Draft Rumors: Bosa, Jones, Elliott, Jack

About seven Cowboys coaches were in Columbus, Ohio, recently to work out top Buckeyes prospects, including Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott and Cardale Jones, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter tweets.

Owners of the fourth pick in the draft, the Cowboys’ selection window resides in the neighborhood where Bosa currently is expected to go off the board, with the team in need of running back help as well.

Here are some other draft items as we advance further into the month where prospects dominate the NFL news cycle.

  • Also involved in Ohio State scouting, the Ravens put a full-court press on Buckeyes talents Wednesday, assessing their stock in multiple cities. They visited with Bosa in Baltimore and worked out Braxton Miller and Michael Thomas in Columbus, NFL.com’s Albert Breer tweets. The Ravens, who pick at No. 6, also interviewed Myles Jack and Vernon Hargreaves n Baltimore.
  • The Bengals recently worked out Jones, Rand Getlin of NFL.com tweets. He’ll also visit with the Cardinals and Bills, per Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
  • The Texans are meeting with Illinois wide receiver Geronimo Allison in Florida today, according to a source who spoke with Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter).
  • The Packers are bringing in BYU wide receiver Mitch Mathews, according to Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net (on Twitter). Mathews, he adds, is the type of receiver that the Packers like to target in the late rounds.
  • The Buccaneers worked out Southern Utah cornerback LeShaun Sims on campus last month, as Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.
  • Bucs offensive line coach George Warhop went to Nebraska to work out offensive tackle Alex Lewis last month, Auman tweets.
  • The Saints worked out Western Kentucky tight end Tyler Higbee this week, according to Nick Underhill of The New Orleans Advocate (on Twitter).
  • Western Carolina wide receiver Karnorris Benson worked out for the Falcons on Wednesday, Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report