Dan Feeney

Chargers’ Matt Slauson Out For Season

The Chargers already lost one starting offensive lineman when rookie Forrest Lamp suffered a torn ACL before the season even started, now they can add another name to that list. According to the Chargers official Twitter account, offensive lineman Matt Slauson will miss the remainder of the season with a biceps injury. The tweet was a direct quote from head coach Anthony Lynn, confirming the news.

Matt Slauson

Slauson, 31, started at left guard in each of the Chargers first seven games. The veteran lineman originally signed with the team after the 2015-16 season for two years, $4 MM. Slauson was the starter at center last year before shifting over to guard for the 2017-18 season.

The news is a bit of downer for the Chargers considering that the team has won three games in a row after an 0-4 start. Los Angeles will now have to turn to rookie third round pick Dan Feeney to start in place of the nine-year veteran. The Chargers team may also decide to add another offensive lineman to the active roster with now only three backup lineman on the depth chart.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers Sign Third-Round OL Dan Feeney

The Chargers have agreed to terms with third-round guard Dan Feeney, meaning the club has now locked up every member of its 2017 draft class.Dan Feeney (Vertical)

[RELATED: Melvin Ingram Could Stay Away From Workouts]

Feeney, an Indiana product, was the second guard chosen by Los Angeles in last month’s draft, following second-round Western Kentucky alum Forrest Lamp. Clearly, the Chargers are attempting to revamp an offensive line that ranked in the bottom-third of NFL clubs in both adjusted sack rate and adjusted line yards, per Football Outsiders. Veteran guard Orlando Franklin was released two weeks ago, meaning both Feeney and Lamp are likely to have starting jobs come Week 1.

Here’s an overview of the Chargers’ 2017 rookie class:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Bolts, Bills, Lechler, Seahawks

After parting ways with Orlando Franklin with three years remaining on his deal, the Chargers are going to have a revamped offensive line in 2017. But they will be doing some rearranging on their own as well. Matt Slauson functioned at center for the 2016 Bolts, but the former Jets and Bears guard looks like he’s going to be moving back to his original position. The second-year Charger worked at left guard during the team’s voluntary minicamp last month, Dan Woike of the San Diego Union-Tribune notes. Franklin lined up at left guard the past two years for the Bolts. Slauson played center, and graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 18 player there last season, but he was a left guard starter for his first five-plus seasons in the league. Slauson moved to center with the 2015 Bears due to a Hroniss Grasu injury. New Bolts HC Anthony Lynn was the Jets’ running backs coach throughout Slauson’s time with Gang Green.

Woike adds that Forrest Lamp has begun working at right guard, where D.J. Fluker played in 2015-16, and Indiana Dan Feeney took early reps at center. That would be a way to get both Day 2 picks in the lineup, along with Slauson. A 2016 third-round pick, Max Tuerk could also factor into the equation at center.

Here’s more from around the league.

  • In moving from the Texans to the Bills, Brian Gaine made a lateral move in Brandon Beane‘s eyes. As Bills VP of player personnel, Gaine will oversee the Bills’ pro and college scouting departments while reporting directly to Beane, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com reports. Beane, of course, beat out Gaine for the Buffalo GM job. But the New York native saw enough in the Bills’ offer to move over from a similar job with what’s been a more successful franchise to the franchise with the longest active postseason drought among American major pro sports teams.
  • Speaking of the Texans, Shane Lechler‘s 2017 deal will contain a $500K signing bonus, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. The 40-year-old punter re-signed with Houston for $2MM this year and doesn’t sound like retirement is especially close. This will be his 18th season. Despite being regarded as one of the greatest punters in NFL history, Lechler at this point is a middle-of-the-pack player in terms of salary. He’ll be making $200K more than last season.
  • The Seahawks don’t plan to play Malik McDowell as a defensive tackle, but rather as an interior player on passing downs, Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com notes, adding that Pete Carroll wants him to operate in a Michael Bennett-like capacity. That means McDowell may be a second-stringer as a rookie but play multiple positions. While Carroll said the second-round pick would see time at the three-technique spot in Seattle’s 4-3 scheme, he doesn’t view the Michigan State product as a pure tackle. “We’ll play him a little more at defensive end,” Carroll said, per Kapadia. “He played inside a lot. He was over the center a lot, and he doesn’t look like that kind of player in our system to us.” The Seahawks still have 2016 second-rounder Jarran Reed and Ahtyba Rubin at defensive tackle, along with third-round rookie Nazair Jones.
  • The Eagles did not sign safety Weston Steelhammer after inviting the Air Force alum to their rookie minicamp. One of three Air Force products to receive a tryout over the weekend, Steelhammer sits in limbo after the Department of Defense reversed its more lenient ruling just before the draft. If nothing changes, Steelhammer and more prominent Air Force prospect Jalen Robinette must serve for two years before beginning an NFL career. “Things didn’t work out how we thought or how we hoped, but everything happens for a reason,” Steelhammer said, via Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com. “I’ll just try to make the most of it.”

AFC Rumors: Patriots, Johnson, Browns

An interesting what-if scenario emerged after the Patriots signed center David Andrews to a three-year extension. The UDFA success story, though, may have seen his Patriots path unfold differently if the team’s most recent draft had gone in another direction. Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports the Pats came close to drafting Indiana interior lineman Dan Feeney in the third round, but the Chargers stepped in and made the decision to bring the ex-Hoosiers blocker to Los Angeles with the No. 71 overall pick. New England, which held the No. 72 choice, then traded down and ended up selecting Youngstown State defensive end Derek Rivers at No. 83. Reiss notes Andrews’ three-year extension may not have come to fruition if Feeney was in the fold.

Here’s more from the AFC.

  • More from the defending champions: their recent extension for Super Bowl hero James White comes with some incentives that may be difficult to reach. White’s three-year, $12MM extension can max out at $15MM via playing-time and accomplishment bumps. White can earn $250K extra per season by playing in 50 percent of the Pats’ offensive snaps, with another $250K available to him if he suits up for 60 percent of their plays, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports. Should White gain 1,000 total yards in a season, he would earn a $250K bonus. Another $250K would come his way if he gains 1,200 yards in a campaign. However, the 25-year-old Wisconsin product amassed a career-high 717 yards from scrimmage last season — one that mostly didn’t feature a healthy Dion Lewis. Plus, the Pats brought in Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead this offseason and could still have LeGarrette Blount in the fold after being the first team in 17 years to use the May 9 tender. White has maxed out at 38 percent of the Pats’ plays, so eclipsing 50 or 60 percent will be difficult going forward.
  • A training camp return remains the goal for 13th-year Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson. The inside ‘backer said Sunday from a NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway, per Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star, he’s still on track to be ready by camp. “I’ll go back Texas after we break OTAs, get my body right,” the 34-year-old Johnson said. “That’s the plan. Be ready for camp.” Johnson has now suffered two severe Achilles injuries in a three-season period. The Chiefs did not draft a linebacker until Round 5 (Ukeme Eligwe out of Georgia Southern), and although Johnson accepted a paycut this offseason, the Chiefs are still counting on him to return to his post on their starting defense.
  • Jabrill Peppers missed the first day of Browns rookie minicamp by not signing a participation waiver, which lets rookies practice without having signed their contract. The rookie safety could not be drug tested until he did. However, the Michigan product did sign it and joined his first-year peers on Saturday and said the delay did not stem from any attempt to avoid a drug test. “I don’t know why you think of me like that, but everyone is entitled to an opinion,” Peppers said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Peppers will enter Stage 1 of the NFL’s drug program after a diluted sample resulted in a failed drug test at the Combine.

Draft Rumors: Mahomes, Texans, Humphrey

Texans head coach Bill O’Brien “absolutely loves” Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes, according to one report, but Houston’s interest could be a smokescreen, writes Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com. Pauline spoke to sources close to the organization who pointed out that the Texans are in win-now mode, meaning they’re more likely to use their first-round pick (No. 25) on a player who can make an immediate impact than select a project like Mahomes. There’s also a sense that current starting signal-caller Tom Savage‘s familiarity with O’Brien’s system will enable him to successfully transition from a backup to a No. 1. As such, there’s a stronger probability of the Texans taking an offensive tackle or a cornerback than a QB with their initial pick, per the sources.

More draft-related news and rumblings:

  • “Several” clubs have concerns regarding Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey, notes Pauline. Specifically, they fear that Humphrey is too much of a straight-line defender and someone who’s only capable of playing in limited schemes. Those teams liken him to ex-Crimson Tide corner Dee Milliner, who, despite going ninth overall to the Jets in 2013, is no longer in the NFL.
  • Kansas State edge defender Jordan Willis was among the Ravens’ pre-draft visitors Tuesday, and Houston’s Tyus Bowser will meet with the team Wednesday, relays Albert Breer of The MMQB (Twitter links). Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com ranks Willis as the 49th-best prospect in the 2017 class – right in the vicinity of the Ravens’ second-rounder (No. 47) – and rates Bowser an even better 36th.
  • Missouri defensive end Charles Harris stock has risen so much that he could come off the board before Tennessee DE Derek Barnett, per Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jeremiah places Harris 21st in his rankings and Barnett 13th, and PFR’s Dallas Robinson currently has the former going 26th overall and the latter ninth. Harris recently worked out for the Falcons, as he tells Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com.
  • Indiana offensive lineman Dan Feeney could be a late first-rounder or an early second-rounder, according to Pauline, who reports he has visited the Vikings, Bears and Colts. Feeney also has meetings with the 49ers and Rams on tap. The Dolphins have also worked out Feeney, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, who adds Miami has also spent “considerable time” with Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp.

Extra Points: Thomas, Saints, Dolphins, Draft

Here are some notes from around the league on the final Sunday before the Scouting Combine.

  • Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union examines a few reasons why the recently traded Julius Thomas did not meet expectations with the Jaguars. Citing a league source, O’Halloran says that Thomas’ Jacksonville tenure was marred by the fact that he did not make enough downfield catches, that he did not create enough yards after the catch, and that he performed poorly as a blocker. Still, O’Halloran believes the Jags should not have dealt Thomas, as he says they are not in position to part with talented players, regardless of their flaws.
  • The Saints have expressed their desire to bolster their pass rush this offseason, and Larry Holder of the Times-Picayune notes that New Orleans, for the first time in a while, has money to spend in free agency. Holder adds that New Orleans would probably be willing to make a splash for a big-name pass rusher like Melvin Ingram, though if Ingram gets the franchise tag from the Chargers, or if his price becomes too rich for the Saints’ liking, Holder points to Nick Perry as a quality alternative.
  • Without a similar deep-threat playmaker on the team, James Walker of ESPN.com wonders why the Dolphins would potentially allow Kenny Stills to depart as a free agent. One of the top wideouts who stand to be available this year, Stills has drawn interest from the receiver-needy Eagles and wouldn’t mind moving to the west coast. The former Oklahoma Sooner is an Oceanside, Calif., native. While the Dolphins have reportedly attempted to prioritize Stills, it’s clear they will have competition if he reaches the market.
  • The NFL rule that keeps incoming draft picks with certain types of past off-field misconduct away from all league-sponsored events — like the Scouting Combine — is coming under increased scrutiny, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. Florio observes that teams will evaluate all players regardless of whether they are invited to the Combine, but they nonetheless prefer that the players be available in one place at the same time. As such, the competition committee could address the issue later this year, either by modifying the current rule or by scrapping it entirely, and any changes could be effective as soon as 2018.
  • Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com believes that as many as three guards could go in the first round of this year’s draft, with Pittsburgh’s Dorian Johnson, Indiana’s Dan Feeney, and Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp all looking like players that could be among the top 32 selected. Pauline notes that the offensive line as a unit is probably the weakest area of the draft, which means that some of the higher-rated prospects — like Lamp, whom Pauline does not believe is worthy of a first-round selection — and even those with middle-round grades will be overdrafted.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report

NFL Draft Rumors: Guards, Foreman, Griffin

Here’s a look at some interesting NFL Draft buzz, via DraftAnalyst.com’s Tony Pauline:

  • The general belief is that this year’s offensive line crop is weak, and that will lead to some of the better prospects in this year’s class to be overdrafted. Right now, it seems like as many as three guards could be taken in the first round. Dorian Johnson of Pittsburgh is generally regarded as this year’s best guard with Indiana’s Dan Feeney behind him. If a third guard sneaks into the first round, it’ll be Forrest Lamp of Western Kentucky, multiple insiders tell Pauline. Lamp played left tackle for the Hilltoppers but he is commonly projected to guard or possibly center.
  • Texas running back D’Onta Foreman of Texas has been running in the low-to-mid 4.5s in the 40-yard-dash, a solid time for a 235-pound RB. Pauline believes that he is an underrated pass-catcher and can offer more than just his powerful downhill running skills.
  • Central Florida cornerback Shaquill Griffin is ready to run “an elite time,” trainers tell Pauline, which means clocking in under 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard-dash. At 6’1″, Griffin also has the height to succeed as an NFL cornerback.
  • In other draft news, Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II has received a second-round grade from the league’s advisory committee. This comes on the heels of talk that he could be in the mix as a top three overall pick.
  • Last week, we learned that Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly will not be among the players invited to the combine.

Draft Updates: Ramsey, Goff, Underclassmen

With five weeks remaining in the NFL regular season, not many teams are looking ahead to the draft yet, but the NCAA year is winding down and many underclassmen are determining whether or not to declare their intent to enter this year’s draft class. Here’s the latest on a few prospects:

  • Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey and his family have spent “meaningful time” vetting potential agents as he considers entering the draft, tweets Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports. That’s no surprise, considering Ramsey is a potential top-10 pick.
  • A pair of receivers, Florida’s Demarcus Robinson and Pitt’s Tyler Boyd, are strongly considering entering the draft, according to Getlin (Twitter links). Getlin adds that one of Boyd’s family members has been looking into possible representation.
  • Sources close to Cal quarterback Jared Goff indicate that there’s a 99% chance he’ll enter the draft, and wide receiver Kenny Lawler is expected to declare as well, writes Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net. Bengals receiver Marvin Jones has been a common point of comparison for Lawler, per Pauline.
  • Boise State edge defender Kamalei Correa, who has received second-day grades, has been interviewing agents and is very likely to enter the draft, says Pauline. Maryland defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson and San Diego State cornerback Damontae Kazee are also likely to enter the draft, according to Pauline.
  • Indiana guard Dan Feeney, Mississippi State defensive tackle Chris Jones, and Mississippi defensive back Tony Conner are waiting to hear back from the advisory committee before making a decision on the draft, per Pauline.
  • Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil, defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, and receiver Laquon Treadwell are all expected to enter the draft, says Pauline.
  • Other underclassmen considering making the jump to the NFL, according to Pauline:
    • Texas A&M defensive end Daeshon Hall
    • Alabama cornerback Eddie Jackson
    • Louisville safety Josh Harvey-Clemons
    • Mississippi tight end Evan Engram