Daryl Williams

Panthers Sign OT Chris Clark

The Panthers are bringing in some offensive line help, signing tackle Chris Clark according to Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).

The move is in response to Carolina placing starting right tackle Daryl Williams on injured reserve. Williams went down in the Week 1 opener against the Cowboys, a huge blow to an already depleted offensive line. They’ll now turn to Clark for help, who has plenty of starting experience if the Panthers decide to move him into the lineup.

Clark spent the last three seasons in Houston, where he started 26 games. He worked out for the Texans yesterday as they dealt with some offensive line injuries of their own. Clark came into the league as an undrafted free agent back in 2008, but didn’t appear in a game until 2010. He was able to carve out a role with the Broncos as a reserve, and eventually became a starter in Denver.

Clark’s 2017 was ended prematurely due to an ankle injury. Overall, it won’t be great for the Panthers if Clark is starting the rest of the way. He’s already 32 and hadn’t drawn much known interest before his Texans workout yesterday. Needless to say, it would be a massive downgrade from Williams.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers’ Greg Olsen Fractures Foot

For the second straight season, Greg Olsen‘s going to miss time because of a foot fracture. The Panthers confirmed the Pro Bowl tight end’s exit from Sunday’s win was because of another fractured foot.

Olsen will be evaluated on a monthly basis. It appears the Panthers are preparing for the veteran pass-catcher to miss extensive time. An IR stay was required because of a similar occurrence in 2017. It’s the same right foot Olsen broke last season.

The team announced no plans are in place for Olsen to undergo surgery, but he’s almost certainly out for the foreseeable future nonetheless. Olsen missed nine games last season as a result of his foot injury; a similar absence appears likely for Cam Newton‘s top target.

This throws a wrench into the Panthers’ plans. They signed the 33-year-old tight end to a two-year extension this offseason. And Carolina does not have the depth at this position that existed on its 2017 roster. Ed Dickson defected as a free agent. Former waiver claim Chris Manhertz and fourth-round rookie Ian Thomas, an Indiana product, comprise the Panthers’ backup contingent.

The Panthers also revealed Daryl Williams will undergo knee surgery, and the Charlotte Observers’ Jourdan Rodrigue tweets it’s the same knee the right tackle injured during training camp. Although, it’s a different injury. Williams damaged his MCL and dislocated his patella during camp. Rodrigue notes Williams had an MRI done Monday morning and sought a second opinion before deciding to undergo surgery. It’s unclear precisely what the contract-year blocker is dealing with now.

An IR decision looms for the Panthers, with two players seemingly posing as candidates. Though, that’s not a choice the Panthers would want to make after Week 1, when other injuries could surely occur down the line. But Williams does appear headed there, per Rodrigue (on Twitter). The current line of thinking, though, points to Olsen avoiding the injured list. Of course, Williams was believed to be an IR candidate after his last knee injury only to avoid it and play in Week 1.

It’s unclear how long he will be out, but Amini Silatolu looks to be the next man up, per ESPN.com’s David Newton, who adds Thomas will get the first crack at replacing Olsen as the Panthers’ tight end starter. While Silatolu will get a look, the Panthers are expected to be on the lookout for tackle help, Newton adds.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: D. Johnson, D. Williams, Thielen

Although it was not expected that the two sides would be able to come to terms before the start of the season, the Cardinals and David Johnson agreed to a three-year extension yesterday that will keep Johnson in the desert through 2021. Per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the key to getting the deal done was the team’s agreement to give Johnson a short-term extension that gives him a chance to hit free agency again at a time when a new CBA will be in place and when owners’ income streams will be at an all-time high thanks to renewed TV deals and gambling revenue.

As Week 1 gets underway in earnest, let’s take a look at more news from around the NFC:

  • Former NFL agent Joel Corry is less optimistic about Johnson’s chances to cash in a second time. Although he thinks the Cardinals‘ tailback did well for himself with his new deal, he points out (via Twitter) that Johnson will be 30 by the time he is eligible for unrestricted free agency again, so he will need to defy conventional wisdom concerning RBs to get another big contract.
  • Just last month, it appeared as though the Panthers would have to place starting right tackle Daryl Williams on IR, but Carolina finally got some good news with respect to its O-line. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Williams has a good chance to start the team’s opener against the Cowboys this afternoon, and that the structural damage to his injured knee is minimal. That is good news for Williams as well, as he is eligible for unrestricted free agency at the end of the year.
  • Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen has a number of incentives that could boost his $4.85MM 2018 salary, but even if he hits all of those incentives, Thielen will still be significantly underpaid relative to the WR market. Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune details the incentives and suggests that, if Thielen performs in 2018 has he did in 2017, his reps could approach Minnesota about redoing his current contract, which runs through 2020.
  • Eagles QB Carson Wentz could return to action in Week 3.
  • Cowboys DE Randy Gregory could be suspended yet again after suffering a relapse.

South Notes: Panthers, Colts, Texans, WRs

An offensive line that already lost a first-team All-Pro this offseason became beleaguered by injuries in training camp. Andrew Norwell left the Panthers for the Jaguars, and Carolina then lost Daryl Williams, Amini Silatolu and Matt Kalil to injuries. However, Carolina’s receiving good news on this front entering Week 1. Williams returned to Panthers practice, per Bill Voth of Panthers.com, despite being barely a month removed from an MCL injury and a dislocated patella. The contract-year right tackle was believed to be an IR-return candidate in August, but the Panthers still have him on their active roster. He hasn’t been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Cowboys, but the Panthers may be cautious with their right tackle starter.

Silatolu is also back on the field. The veteran blocker tore one of his menisci in mid-August but said he’s 100 percent, per Joe Person of The Athletic (on Twitter). Voth adds Silatolu may be available for the Panthers’ opener. Greg Van Roten took over as the team’s starting left guard after Silatolu went down.

Here’s the latest from the South divisions:

  • D’Onta Foreman wasn’t as fortunate with his rehab process, though the Texans‘ backup running back was rehabbing a more severe injury this offseason. The Texans placed Foreman, who tore his Achilles’ tendon in November 2017, on the Reserve/PUP list to shelve him for six weeks. And Bill O’Brien said (via Deepi Sidhu of Texans.com, on Twitter) the second-year back “no question” needed the time to finish his recovery from the malady. Foreman is expected to be Lamar Miller‘s top backup again, but it’s uncertain how quickly he’ll be able to return to that role.
  • The Colts may have identified their starting right-side offensive linemen. For now, as this team-issued depth chart is unofficial, Indianapolis is going with veterans to man those spots. Matt Slauson is listed as Indy’s starting right guard, and third-year starter Joe Haeg is the first-string right tackle. Second-round rookie guard Braden Smith was tried at right tackle, but for now he will learn from the sideline as his career begins. Haeg started as a Colts right guard and right tackle the past two seasons. The Colts cut Austin Howard, the Ravens’ starting right tackle last season, over the weekend.
  • The Titans will worked out a pair of wide receivers on Tuesday. Devin Lucien and Drew Morgan auditioned for the team, per NESN.com’s Doug Kyed and the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson (Twitter links). The Patriots cut Lucien last week, and Morgan didn’t make the Dolphins’ 53-man roster.
  • Recent Seahawks wide receiver cut Malik Turner is in Houston working out for the Texans today, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets.

Panthers To Place Daryl Williams On IR

The Panthers will place right tackle Daryl Williams on injured reserve, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. The hope is that Williams will be able to heal up in time to return for the second half of the season. 

[RELATED: Panthers, Tyler Larsen Agree To Extension]

Williams dislocated his right kneecap and tore the MCL in the same knee in late July. The tackle opted for rehab over surgery, but that path means that he’ll still need a fair amount of time to heal.

It’s a tough blow for a Panthers offense that will likely also be without guard Amini Silatolu to start the year. The Panthers will likely use Brandan Mahon or Tyler Larsen to fill in for Silatolu while 2017 second-round pick Taylor Moton figures to start in place of Williams.

Williams, a fourth round pick in 2015, will be a free agent after the season, so he has extra motivation to get back out on the field. The Panthers, meanwhile, will have to hope for the best while they’re without one of the game’s better tackles. Last year, Williams graded out as the 15th best overall tackle in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Amini Silatolu To Undergo Meniscus Surgery

Panthers left guard Amini Silatolu has a torn meniscus that will require surgery, the club announced Tuesday. Silatolu will undergo a procedure on Friday and will subsequently be evaluated on a “week-to-week basis.” Although Carolina didn’t announce a recovery timeline for Silatolu, Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer indicates a four-to-six week rehabilitation period is typical for meniscus tears.

The Panthers could ill afford another blow to their offensive line, which already saw starting right tackle Daryl Williams go down with a dislocated knee and a torn MCL. Per Wilson, Williams is planning to attempt a 2018 return without undergoing surgery. Either way, Carolina’s offensive line — which ranked as a bottom-half unit in both run- and pass-blocking in 2017 before losing All-Pro left guard Andrew Norwell, per Football Outsiders — doesn’t have the depth to withstand multiple absences.

Silatolu had been competing to replace Norwell as a starting interior lineman, and had reportedly been seeing the most reps at the position. Now, undrafted rookie Brendan Mahon is the likely starter at left guard, according to Bill Voth of Panthers.com. Jeremiah Sirles and Greg Van Roten might also be candidates for increased reps, but Person reports Sirles is slotted in as a pure backup, while Van Roten has spent most of his time at center.

The 29-year-old Silatolu started three games and made 14 total appearnces for the Panthers in 2017, a season which marked his return season in Carolina. Originally a Panthers second-round pick and 15-game starter in 2012, Silatolu spent the 2016 campaign out of the NFL. He re-upped with Carolina this offseason on a one-year, minimum salary benefit contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Daryl Williams Has Dislocated Knee, Torn MCL

Panthers tackle Daryl Williams was rolled up on during a training camp practice earlier today, and now the diagnosis is in. Williams “dislocated [the] right patella and tore the MCL in the same knee” according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Rapoport notes that the injury is “not as bad as anticipated,” but it’s still very serious. The team’s official release on the injury said there’s “no timetable” for his return.

Rapoport then reported in a follow-up tweet that the injury “is not expected to be season-ending,” but as Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer tweets, head coach Ron Rivera said the team is still unsure as to whether it will try to get Williams back this year. Williams will clearly be missing at least some of the regular season, then, which represents a huge blow to the Panthers’ prospects.

2017 second-round pick Taylor Moton is the “next man up” noted Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). It’s a tough break for Williams, who has been looking for a new contract recently. It was reported back in June that there was a “monster gap” between the two sides during negotiations.

Williams, a fourth round pick in 2015, will be a free agent after the season. The Panthers were already going to have some turnover on the offensive line with guard Andrew Norwell departing for Jacksonville in free agency, and now will have even less continuity. It’s bad news for Cam Newton in what some are billing as a make-or-break year for the quarterback.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Vikings, Panthers, Jones, Tate, Boston

Following the tragic and unexpected death of offensive line coach Tony Sparano this week, the Vikings have made some adjustments to their coaching staff. Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune reports (via Twitter) that the team will names Clancy Barone and Andrew Janocko co-coaches for the offensive line.

Barone, who’s been working in the NFL since 2004, was the Vikings tight ends coach last season. With the reorganization of the coaching staff, senior offensive assistant (and former Raiders offensive coordinator) Todd Downing will take on the tight ends gig. Meanwhile, Janocko had previously served as the team’s assistant offensive line coach.

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes (via Twitter) that the team had also pursued former Vikings head coach Mike Tice for the offensive line job. We heard back in February that the 59-year-old was eyeing retirement.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFC…

  • Panthers right tackle Daryl Williams appeared to suffer a serious knee injury during practice today, writes Bryan Strickland of the team’s website. The 25-year-old reportedly went down following a “non-contact injury,” and he was later carted off the field. “He’s being evaluated,” said head coach Ron Rivera. “They’ll send him up to Charlotte where he can be closely looked at, and we’ll go from there. I’m not sure. I just know they’re going to take him up and evaluate him later today…Daryl is a solid young man, and he’s a big part of what we do. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.” If the 2017 second-team All-Pro ends up missing time, Rivera said 2017 second-round pick Taylor Moton will be given the chance to earn the starting gig.
  • Julio Jones saw several adjustments to his contract before reporting to Falcons training camp, writes Michael Davis Smith of ProFootballTalk.com. The star wideout will now earn a $4.4MM signing bonus thanks to his revised deal, while his 2018 and 2019 base salaries were reduced to $1.5MM and $2.9MM, respectively.
  • Lions wideout Golden Tate is entering the final season of his five-year, $31MM deal that was signed back in 2014. While the 29-year-old shouldn’t anticipate a similar payday as Brandin Cooks or Sammy Watkins, he’s still hoping the organization has some leftover money to keep him around. “I hope there’s some (money) left,” Tate told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press“Congratulations to all those guys who’ve gotten big deals. They definitely deserve it. I mean, all those players like Cooks and Sammy, they’re all hell of players. Who else? The guy who used to be in Chicago? Alshon (Jeffery). He got a payday, too. So congratulations to all those guys. I hope everyone who plays this game has an opportunity to earn a big payday. I’m happy for them.” Tate had another productive season in 2017, hauling in 92 receptions for 1,003 yards and five touchdowns.
  • We heard earlier this week that Tre Boston‘s deal with the Cardinals was worth $1.5MM (although this could be increased to $3MM). However, Pro Football Talk reports that the safety’s deal only contains $800K in guaranteed money. The deal also includes a number of incentives, including per-game bonuses, playing time bonuses, and Pro Bowl/statistical bonuses. The 26-year-old had a productive season for the Chargers last season, compiling 79 tackles, eight passes defended, and five interceptions in 16 games (15 starts).

Panthers, Daryl Williams Far Apart In Talks

There’s a “monster gap” between the Panthers and Daryl Williams in contract negotiations, a source tells Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. The source added that it would be “shocking” if a deal came together between now and the start of training camp in July.

Williams, a fourth-round pick in 2015, is eligible for free agency after the season. Last year, he started in all 16 games for the Panthers and played on every offensive snap. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ highest-rated right tackle in the league, good for third amongst all tackles in the NFL. Only David Bakhtiari (Packers) and Joe Staley (49ers) performed better than him, per the advanced metrics. Head coach Ron Rivera has praised Williams’ development over the years and recognizes his importance to the team.

When he first got here, it was understanding how to practice. Then as he became a starter it was continuing to practice hard. Now it’s the consistency of how hard he practices,” Rivera said. “He’s a smart player, understands the game, has good technique. But it’s about coming to work every day and being consistent with that effort, (and) he’s done a great job with that.”

In theory, the Panthers could use 2017 second-rounder Taylor Moton at right tackle down the line, but right now the plan for him is to also see time at left guard to help replace Andrew Norwell. But, unless Moton takes a major step forward, the Panthers will want to avoid losing another key cog on the offensive line next spring.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2018 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.Jay Ajayi (Vertical)

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $1.908MM in 2018. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2018 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

49ers: Trent Brown, T; Eli Harold, LB

Bears: Adrian Amos, S

Bengals: Tyler Kroft, TE; Josh Shaw, DB

Bills: John Miller, G

Broncos: Max Garcia, G; Trevor Siemian, QB

Browns: Duke Johnson, RB

Buccaneers: Kwon Alexander, LB

Cardinals: David Johnson, RB; J.J. Nelson, WR

Chargers: Kyle Emanuel, LB

Chiefs: Chris Conley, WR; Steven Nelson, CB

Colts: Henry Anderson, DE; Mark Glowinski, G; Denzelle Good, OL

Dolphins: Bobby McCain, CB

Eagles: Jay Ajayi, RB; Jordan Hicks, LB

Falcons: Grady Jarrett, DT

Jaguars: A.J. Cann, OL

Lions: Quandre Diggs, CB

Packers: Jake Ryan, LB

Panthers: Daryl Williams, T

Patriots: Trey Flowers, DE; Shaq Mason, G

Raiders: Clive Walford, TE

Rams: Jamon Brown, G

Ravens: Za’Darius Smith, LB

Redskins: T.J. Clemmings, OL; Jamison Crowder, WR

Saints: Tyeler Davison, DT

Seahawks: Tyler Lockett, WR

Steelers: Jesse James, TE

Vikings: Stefon Diggs, WR; Danielle Hunter, DE

OverTheCap.com was essential in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.