Ben Garland

Falcons G Ben Garland Signs RFA Tender

Falcons guard Ben Garland has signed his second-round restricted free agent tender, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Garland will now be paid $2.914MM for the 2018 season.

Garland was one of 14 NFL restricted free agents to be tendered at the second-round level, and he’s the first to officially sign his tender. Atlanta also tendered safety Ricardo Allen at the second-round level, but he’s yet to sign his contract. There’s no rush for Allen or any restricted free agent to sign his tender, as RFAs have until April 20 to work out offer sheets with other clubs.

Adding another guard was a key offseason priority for the Falcons, but Garland isn’t likely to become a starter in 2018. Not only did the Falcons sign veteran guard Brandon Fusco to a three-year deal, but they restructured the contract of fellow interior lineman Andy Levitre, ensuring he’ll remain on Atlanta’s roster during the upcoming campaign.

Instead, Garland will once again serve as depth for the Falcons, acting as a reserve alongside Ty Sambrailo, Wes Schweitzer, Austin Pasztor, and Sean Harlow. Last season, the 29-year-old Garland appeared in all 16 games and made three starts, ultimately playing on roughly a third of Atlanta’s offensive snaps and a third of the club’s special teams snaps. For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus graded Garland as the No. 50 guard among 77 qualifiers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/12/18

Here are today’s restricted free agent and exclusive-rights free agent tender decisions, with the list being updated throughout the day.

RFAs

Tendered at second-round level:

Tendered at original-round level:

Non-Tendered:

ERFAs

Tendered:

Non-Tendered:

OL Notes: Colts, Peters, Giants, Falcons

Jim Irsay is generally unafraid to make bold statements, and the longtime Colts owner made another recently by proclaiming the team’s embattled offensive line as “fixed.” Andrew Luck took the second-most hits of any quarterback last season at 128 despite missing a game due to a concussion. The team also allowed the fifth-most sacks with 46. Luck missed nine games in 2015 with a shoulder injury and absorbed plenty of hits before that season-ending malady. And the Colts did not make any big additions this offseason, former Titans starter Brian Schwenke‘s one-year deal notwithstanding.

Let me say this: The offensive line is fixed,” Irsay said, via Mike Wells of ESPN.com. “I’m telling you guys, the offensive line is fixed. The reason I’ll tell you it’s fixed is because (former Colts offensive line coach) Howard Mudd told me it’s fixed. If Howard Mudd tells you it’s fixed, trust me, it’s fixed.”

The Colts do return an entrenched left side of the line in Anthony Castonzo, Jack Mewhort and Ryan Kelly. Wells projects Joe Haeg to start at right guard and Le’Raven Clark to man right tackle. Irsay added the team may be ready to run more in 2017. Indianapolis did add fourth-round running back Marlon Mack and UFA Christine Michael to join Frank Gore. The Colts ranked 16th with 25.6 rushing attempts per game last season.

We’ve worked hard to bring in the right type of players (on the offensive line),” Irsay said. “We’re ready to run the football and protect Andrew.”

Here’s the latest news on some other offensive lines, moving first to the Eagles’.

  • Jason Peters did not attend the Eagles‘ OTA sessions but will be back for minicamp, Bob Ford of Philly.com notes. Lane Johnson worked at left tackle in the 35-year-old’s stead. Peters will be back with the team despite the Eagles approaching him about a paycut in February and the sides not agreeing on one. Ford notes Johnson is expected to slide over to the left side after Peters’ Philadelphia tenure concludes.
  • The Giants‘ tackle situation is not as enviable, but a consensus appears to be forming. Big Blue seems to agree with the Chargers’ coaching staffs of the past two years. D.J. Fluker did not play right tackle during OTAs, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com notes, focusing strictly on guard duty. Even after Bobby Hart was absent during the team’s final OTA sessions, sixth-round rookie Adam Bisnowaty took first-team reps instead of Fluker on the right edge, Raanan writes. Fluker played right tackle during his first two seasons in San Diego, but the Giants are going with Hart — a 2015 seventh-round pick — right now. This means Fluker may have a tougher time auditioning, barring injury, for a long-term contract with the Giants re-signing holdover right guard John Jerry. Fluker is signed to a one-year deal.
  • Ben Garland may be ready to stick on one side of the ball this season and will probably see time in consecutive seasons for the first time in his career. Used on defense as well during the Falcons‘ NFC championship season, Garland will battle Wes Schweitzer for the right guard job vacated by Chris Chester, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Schweitzer was a sixth-round pick last year who did not suit up as a rookie. Ledbetter notes the 29-year-old Garland may have a slight upper hand going into minicamp. Garland’s previous opportunity to vie for a starting job ended quickly, with the 2015 Broncos bringing in Evan Mathis midway through training camp after Garland worked with Denver’s first-stringers at that camp’s outset. Garland, though, played in all 19 Falcons games last season after spending most of the ’15 season on Atlanta’s practice squad.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/8/17

Unrestricted free agent news will obviously dominate the day, but several clubs also had to make decisions on whether to offer tenders to restricted and exclusive rights free agents. All RFA tenders listed are original round/right of first refusal (worth $1.797MM), and all links go to Twitter:

RFAs:

Tendered:

Non-Tendered: 

ERFAs:

Tendered:

NFC South Notes: Bucs, Falcons, Panthers

The Buccaneers and impending free agent wide receiver Vincent Jackson have discussed a potential return, but the 34-year-old could retire, writes Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. “We did have conversations with Vincent,” general manager Jason Licht said Wednesday. “I have the utmost respect for him. Everybody in the organization does. In my mind, in head coach Dirk [Koetter’s] mind, in the owners’ minds, he’ll be a Buc for life. So whatever happens happens, but we’ll always want Vincent to be around the organization.”

Jackson has been with the Buccaneers since 2012, and he started 16 games in each of his first three seasons as a member of the club, but he has endured back-to-back knee injury-shortened campaigns. The six-time 1,000-yard man has combined for just 15 appearances since 2015.

Regardless of whether the Buccaneers re-sign Jackson, they’re going to target “playmakers” this offseason, Licht revealed. Entering free agency, only three teams have more cap space than the Bucs.

More from the NFC South:

  • Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff said wide receiver Taylor Gabriel and guard Ben Garland will be tendered as RFAs (Twitter link via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com). He did not specify what level, however. Gabriel was the far bigger contributor of the two last year, when he averaged 16.5 yards per catch on 35 receptions and combined for seven touchdowns through the air and on the ground. Garland appeared in all 16 of the Falcons’ regular-season games, but he didn’t start any.
  • Dimitroff also announced that the Falcons will let defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux become an unrestricted free agent after 12 years together, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Conversely, the Falcons are trying to re-sign fullback Patrick DiMarco (Twitter link). Babineaux, 35, has totaled 185 appearances, 133 starts, 27 sacks and 10 forced fumbles in Atlanta, which selected him in the second round of the 2005 draft. He’s coming off the eighth 16-game season of his career, in which he picked up six starts and 22 tackles. DiMarco, a four-year Falcon, has three 16-appearance seasons in a row under his belt. He made eight starts in 2016.
  • Panthers GM Dave Gettleman told reporters on Wednesday that tackle Michael Oher is still in the league’s concussion protocol. This means the Panthers could be in the market for a starting left tackle. Oher has been dealing with a brain injury since September and only played in three games last year as a result. The eight-year veteran is under contract through 2019.
  • Reserve defensive end Darryl Tapp made it clear Wednesday that he wants to re-sign with the Saints, relays Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com. Tapp’s agent and the Saints have engaged in discussions about a new deal. The 32-year-old journeyman just finished his first season in New Orleans, where he started in two of 16 appearances.
  • As of last month, the Buccaneers hadn’t held contract talks with soon-to-be free agent running back Jacquizz Rodgers. However, the team would “love to have” him back, Licht stated (via Kevin Patra of NFL.com). Rodgers, 27, put up 560 yards on 129 rushes (4.3 per carry) and scored two touchdowns last season.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Falcons Cut Hankerson, Place Moore On IR

3:54pm: The Falcons have made Hankerson’s release official, and have confirmed two more roster moves, announcing in a press release that they’ve moved safety William Moore to IR and promoted guard Ben Garland from the practice squad.

Moore, a former Pro Bowler, had been a starting safety for Atlanta once again this year, racking up 51 tackles and two interceptions in 11 games.

12:05pm: The Falcons are cutting wide receiver Leonard Hankerson from their injured reserve list, according to Zac Jackson of Pro Football Talk. The move will allow other teams to place a claim on Hankerson — if he clears waivers, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.

Hankerson, who turns 27 next month, totaled 26 receptions for 327 yards and three touchdowns in his first season with the Falcons. He was placed on injured reserve earlier this month after aggravating a hamstring injury, and it seemed at the time that he had played his last game in Atlanta, since his contract was set to expire at season’s end.

The fact that the Falcons are releasing Hankerson from IR without an injury settlement suggests that he should be healthy going forward, so we could see him draw interest from a contending team short on wide receivers down the stretch.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/9/15

Here are Wednesday’s practice squad signings and cuts from around the NFL:

Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

  • Signed: LB Jason Ankrah; LB Justin Staples (Twitter link via Terry McCormick)

Free Agent Notes: Gray, Coxson, Workouts

Former Patriots running back Jonas Gray was one of the more notable offensive players to hit the waiver wire this weekend, as his time in New England came to an end. Now that he’s a free agent, Gray is drawing interest from several teams, as we heard yesterday, and he’ll pay a visit to one of those teams on Tuesday.

Gray’s agent, Sean Stellato, tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link) that his client has a workout scheduled for tomorrow with the Titans. Tennessee also acquired Terrance West from the Browns in a weekend trade, so the club is clearly looking for other options to complement Bishop Sankey, after having placed David Cobb on injured reserve with the designation to return.

Here are a few more notes on free agents, or players who figure to become available soon:

  • Wide receiver Adrian Coxson, who signed with the Packers as an undrafted free agent in May and was let go by the team in August, is retiring from the NFL due to ongoing concussion symptoms, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. “It’s been recommended to me by two neurologists and two doctors to retire from football,” Coxson told Wilson. “The next hit to my head could possibly kill me or be life damaging.”
  • The Dolphins are trying out former Falcons linebacker Marquis Spruill today, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com.
  • Linebacker Nick Moody, cut by the 49ers yesterday, is headed to New York for a workout with the Giants, a source tells Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com (Twitter link).
  • Agent Brett Tessler says (via Twitter) that his client, guard Mike Liedtke, formerly of the Dolphins, is visiting the Jets today. Caplan notes (via Twitter) that the Jets also worked out wide receiver Shane Wynn, who will audition for the Titans this week as well.
  • Veteran offensive lineman Ben Garland, who has spent time with the Broncos in some capacity – either on the team’s roster or practice squad – for the last four seasons, was cut during Denver’s cutdown to 53 players this week. However, he’s drawing around interest around the league, according to Mike Klis of 9 News (Twitter link).
  • Running back Daniel “Boom” Herron was waived/injured by the Colts on the weekend, and isn’t a free agent quite yet. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Herron suffered a sprained AC joint, which isn’t considered a serious injury. If he goes unclaimed on waivers, Herron will work out an injury settlement with the Colts and become a free agent.

Broncos Make Cuts, Down To 53 Players

The Broncos have officially announced the series of roster moves that reduces their roster to 53 players. In addition to confirming the previously-reported cuts of tight ends Dominique Jones and Marcel Jensen, along with the release of Tony Carter, the club announced 19 other moves.

Montee Ball‘s name was not mentioned among those moves, so the young running back, who was considered to be on the roster bubble, remains a Bronco for now. Here are the players who are no longer on Denver’s active roster, per a team release:

Released:

  • NT Sione Fua

Waived:

  • ILB Zaire Anderson
  • ILB Lamin Barrow
  • RB Kapri Bibbs
  • WR Isaiah Burse
  • C Dillon Day
  • S Josh Furman
  • G Ben Garland
  • ILB Steven Johnson
  • WR Corbin Louks
  • NT Chuka Ndulue
  • CB Taurean Nixon
  • OLB Gerald Rivers
  • T Kyle Roberts
  • T Charles Sweeton
  • WR Jordan Taylor
  • DE Josh Watson

Reserve/suspended:

  • S T.J. Ward
  • DE Derek Wolfe

Minor Moves: Friday

Here are today’s minor moves from around the NFL, with any additional minor transactions added to the top of the list throughout the day:

  • The Broncos re-signed exclusive-rights free agents Ben Garland and Paul Cornick, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun on Twitter. An undrafted free agent out of North Dakota State in 2012, Cornick has been with the team for three years and was one of three Broncos to start at right tackle last season, along with Chris Clark and Louis Vasquez. Cornick started three games in 2014, grading positively in one on Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. Garland, who signed with Denver in 2010 but spent two years on the team’s reserve/military list due to his commitments with the National Guard, served as a backup guard last year.