Denico Autry

Injury Updates: Patriots, Colts, Lions, Redskins

The final injury reports for Week 7 came out earlier today, and there was a lot of news. Lots of key players will be missing their team’s games, while others will be returning after extended absence. One notable rule-out was the Patriots declaring that starting right tackle Marcus Cannon would miss their game against the Bears. It’s a big loss for New England, especially in a week where they have to go up against Khalil Mack. Mack will now be lining up across from a backup tackle, and could end up making life miserable for Tom Brady.

Here are more injury updates from around the league:

  • The Colts have been the most injured team in recent memory the past few weeks, but are finally getting some good news. Star receiver T.Y. Hilton has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, but is ready to make his return this week. Unfortunately for Indianapolis, they’ll still be without tight end Jack Doyle and receiver Ryan Grant as well as several key contributors on defense like safety Clayton Geathers and defensive tackle Denico Autry.
  • The Lions will be without running back Theo Riddick, who went down during the team’s win over the Packers. Riddick has been operating as the Lions’ third down back, and rookie Kerryon Johnson should get more run with him out of the way. On the bright side, the team looks like it could be getting back pass-rusher Ezekiel Ansah, who hasn’t played since Detroit’s Week 1 loss. Ansah is listed as questionable but practiced all three days this week.
  • The Redskins will be thin on pass-catchers, as Jamison Crowder has been ruled out for the team’s game against the Cowboys while Paul Richardson is listed as doubtful. Washington promoted Jehu Chesson from the practice squad yesterday, signaling they weren’t expecting Richardson to play. Tight end Jordan Reed should see a ton of looks as the Redskins’ receiving corp is completely depleted.

For a rundown of every team’s injury situation, you can view all 32 injury reports over at ProFootballTalk.com.

Injury Notes: Titans, Mariota, Falcons, McKinley, Colts, Doyle, Eagles, Ajayi

Marcus Mariota‘s injury remains a mystery. It hasn’t been disclosed exactly what he’s dealing with although it has reportedly caused him to lose some feeling in his hand. Blaine Gabbert started, and won, for the Titans last week, and it’s possible he’s asked to do so again this week against the Jaguars.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel told reporters that he would make the decision between Gabbert and Mariota within the next “24 hours” and that he would let them know then according to Jim Wyatt of the Titans’ official website (Twitter link). If Mariota can’t go it would be a huge blow for Tennessee against the league’s top defense. One thing that could make their matchup a bit easier is that Jalen Ramsey was added to the injury report Friday with an ankle injury, although it’s unclear if he’s in any danger of missing the game.

Here’s more injury updates from around the league:

  • The Falcons just can’t seem to catch a break. It was already known they’d be without Devonta Freeman and several other starters, but it was announced today that they’d also be without talented pass-rusher Takkarist McKinley. McKinley is currently dealing with a groin injury.
  • The Colts will be quite shorthanded for their trip to Philadelphia as the team ruled out tight end Jack Doyle, running back Marlon Mack, defensive tackle Denico Autry, and right tackle Anthony Castonzo. Doyle’s injury is a big blow, as he formed an effective tight end duo with Eric Ebron through the first two games.
  • The Eagles will also be significantly shorthanded on offense, with their backfield being particularly banged up. Running backs Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles have been ruled out, while Corey Clement is questionable. If Clement isn’t able to go, the running back situation would be dire. Alshon Jeffery is questionable, but reporters have written that he’s very unlikely to play.

South Rumors: Conklin, Colts, Panthers

As expected, the Titans placed Jack Conklin on the PUP list at the outset of training camp. The third-year right tackle tore an ACL in Tennessee’s divisional-round loss to New England in mid-January. Given that barely six months have passed, this could be expected. Mike Vrabel said this was a possibility as his team concluded minicamp, and Conklin confirmed this was a methodical process.

Here’s the latest from the Titans, along with some of their top rivals.

  • Tennessee also placed tight end Phillip Supernaw on the PUP list while also slotting second-round pick Rashaan Evans and free agent wideout addition Michael Campanaro on the non-football illness list. The Titans’ rookies and quarterbacks opened camp Sunday, and each of these players is eligible to be reinstated for full work by the time full practices begin Thursday.
  • Titans linebacker Kevin Dodd wound up on the reserve/did not report list.
  • The Colts added multiple veterans up front this offseason, with Matt Slauson and Austin Howard now in the mix for starting roles as stopgaps. Indianapolis boasts some depth at guard now with Slauson, the recently re-signed Jack Mewhort and No. 6 overall pick Quenton Nelson on the roster. Mewhort’s re-up and the Slauson addition, though, did not deter the Colts from selecting Braden Smith in the second round. The franchise’s goal is for Smith, an Auburn alum, to be the long-term starter at right guard opposite Nelson, Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star notes. Though, Holder cautions his development figures to take longer than Nelson’s. Once entrenched as a Colts guard starter and a candidate for a long-term extension, Mewhort suffered significant injury setbacks in 2016 and ’17 to limit him to a one-year, $1.5MM deal with just $300K guaranteed. Slauson is signed for one year and $2.5MM. One member of this tandem could begin the season in an unfamiliar backup role.
  • It looks like Denico Autry has a path toward either a full-time starting role or a prominent backup job with the Colts. Chris Ballard raved about the defensive end/tackle’s skill set this weekend. “Let me tell you the one you need to watch: It’s Autry,” Ballard said. “Denico Autry is legitimate. He’s long; he’s strong; he’s passionate. I am really excited to watch him play. He’s made up of all the right stuff.” Autry (career-high five sacks last season) served as a rotational player with the Raiders, lining up as an end and a tackle during his four-year run in Oakland.
  • A host of players are vying to replace Andrew Norwell on the Panthers‘ starting line. Amini Silatolu, Taylor Moton and former Viking Jeremiah Sirles are among them, with Jordan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer noting Ron Rivera has expressed optimism about the prospect Silatolu can man the first-string post opposite Trai Turner. Silatolu started 15 Panthers games as a rookie in 2012 but hasn’t been a first-stringer on more than three occasions in a season since 2014. Rodrigue adds that Moton may be the top challenger but may also be used as a tackle and be in line to succeed Daryl Williams in the event he follows Norwell’s path as a UFA defection in 2019.

Colts HC, GM Discuss Team’s Free Agent Signings

The Colts have been relatively quiet this offseason. The team did acquire a haul when they traded off the third-overall pick, but they haven’t made many big splashes via free agency.

However, the team has added four notable unrestricted free agents, and head coach Frank Reich and general manager Chris Ballard talked with Stephen Holder of IndyStar.com about the transactions. We’ve highlighted some of the notable soundbites below:

On wideout Ryan Grant, who signed a one-year, $5MM deal with the team:

Reich: “I did a little homework on him even after we signed him and talked to a couple coaches who coached him and guys who played with him. I talked to one guy who had definite inside information. He said, ‘This guy will run every inside route at full speed, no matter what. He works his butt off in practice.’ That’s the kind of player we’re looking for.”

On tight end Eric Ebron, who signed a two-year deal after being let go by the Lions:

Reich: “There is a lot of man coverage in this league — the league is going more and more man coverage — so, now you put an elite tight end on the backside, it’s like clearing it out for LeBron (James), or something, in basketball. Just get everybody on one side of the court and get this guy one-on-one. Well, that’s the analogy here. So, in football, get all the receivers on one side, get the back on the other side, and then just put the tight end back here and see what (the defense) does. And some teams will double him. And then (if) you get a linebacker, you get a safety, and if you get a tight end like Ebron — and even when they have a corner on him, you feel like it’s still a winning matchup, because of his size and catch radius.”

On veteran offensive guard Matt Slauson, who signed a one-year, $3MM deal:

Ballard: “We want our fans to know that we’re serious. Signing Matt Slauson was a good one for us. He’s a 32-year old. And his presence and what he’s going to bring to the O-line room, I don’t think you can put a price on. He’s the ultimate pro and he’s going to bring a level of toughness to that room that I think is going to be really good for everybody in it.”

On defensive lineman Denico Autry, who signed a three-year, $17.8MM deal ($6.5MM guaranteed):

Ballard: “I’d seen him (when I worked) in Kansas City. He’s a good player and he’s going to help our front. What you see is the defensive line is going to be one of the engines that drives us going forward. You need seven or eight guys that can get that done. And Autry is a good example. We think we got a good player at a fair market value for the player.”

Colts To Sign DL Denico Autry

The Colts have an agreement with free agent defensive lineman Denico Autry, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). It’s a three-year deal worth $17.8MM in total and contains $6.5MM guaranteed.

Indianapolis and general manager Chris Ballard have shown a willingness to invest in its defensive line over the past two years. In 2017, the Colts brought in free agents Johnathan Hankins and Jabal Sheard, and now they’ll add Autry to the mix.

While Autry may not be a household name, he’s been an underrated player for the Raiders over the past four seasons. Last year, the 27-year-old appeared in all 16 games (three starts) and posted 23 tackles and three sacks. For that effort, Pro Football Focus graded Autry as the No. 56 interior defender among 122 qualifiers.

The Colts haven’t made any other free agent moves this week, but they are clearly interested in defensive lineman, as they are reportedly targeting Benson Mayowa and Adrian Clayborn.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2018 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. After looking at offense on Monday, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2018:

Edge defender:

  1. Julius Peppers
  2. William Hayes
  3. Trent Murphy
  4. Pernell McPhee
  5. Aaron Lynch
  6. Alex Okafor
  7. Adrian Clayborn
  8. Kony Ealy
  9. Connor Barwin
  10. Jeremiah Attaochu
  11. Junior Galette
  12. Derrick Shelby
  13. Barkevious Mingo
  14. Kareem Martin
  15. Erik Walden

As a positional group, pass rushers comprise interesting market on the defensive side of the ball. It’s not often that a list of best available players is topped by a 38-year-old, but Peppers is the top free agent edge defender after the Cowboys and Lions deployed the franchise tag on Demarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah, respectively. As with quarterbacks, NFL clubs are extremely reluctant to allow pass rushers to hit the open market, so top-tier options are rarely ever truly “available.” Peppers, for his part, hasn’t even declared whether he’ll return in 2018, but indications are that he’ll suit up for a 17th campaign after posting 11 sacks last year.

Alongside Peppers, other veterans populate the edge market, and while William Hayes may not be a household name, he’ll be a contributor for whichever team signs him. A stout run defender, Hayes is also capable of generating pressure despite managing only one sack in 2017. The Dolphins used Hayes on only 271 defensive snaps a season ago, and have since replaced him by acquiring fellow defensive end Robert Quinn from the Rams. Now that he’s entering his age-33 season, Hayes should come cheap, but will almost assuredly outplay his contract.

Nearly every other available pass rusher has some sort of flaw which will likely limit his market next week. Trent Murphy is only 27 years old and put up nine sacks in 2016, but he missed the entirety of the 2017 campaign with injury. Pernell McPhee, Alex Okafor, Junior Galette, and Derrick Shelby have also been plagued by health questions in recent seasons. And Adrian Clayborn famously registered the majority of his 2017 sacks (and 20% of his career sack total) in one game against overwhelmed Cowboys backup Chaz Green.

The two names that I keep coming back to are Aaron Lynch (49ers) and Jeremiah Attaochu (Chargers). Yes, Lynch has been suspended for substance abuse, struggled with his weight, and was reportedly in danger of being waived prior to last season. He’s also extremely young (he won’t turn 25 years old until Thursday) and ranked fifth in the league with 34 pass pressures as recently as 2015. Attaochu, a 25-year-old former second-round pick, also has youth on his side, and while he hasn’t quite flashed as much as Lynch, he’s also been buried on LA’s depth chart for much of his career.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Sheldon Richardson
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Muhammad Wilkerson
  4. Star Lotulelei
  5. DaQuan Jones
  6. Beau Allen
  7. Denico Autry
  8. Justin Ellis
  9. Tom Johnson
  10. Bennie Logan
  11. Chris Baker
  12. Kyle Williams
  13. Dominique Easley
  14. Haloti Ngata
  15. Jay Bromley

Interior rushers are getting more respect in today’s NFL, but that still hasn’t translated to them being paid on the level of edge defenders — the 2018 franchise tag for defensive tackles, for example, is roughly $3MM cheaper than the tender for edge rushers. While the 2018 crop of interior defenders boasts some impressive top-end talent, none of the available players figure to earn a double-digit annual salary. Sheldon Richardson may have the best chance to do so, but Seattle determined he wasn’t worth a one-year cost of $13.939MM, so is any other club going to pay him $10MM per year? I’d guess he comes in closer to $9MM annually, which would still place him among the 25 highest-paid defensive tackles.

Dontari Poe will be an intriguing free agent case after setting for a one-year deal last offseason, but the most interesting battle among defensive tackles will take place Star Lotulelei and Muhammad Wilkerson, and I’m curious to see which player earns more on the open market. Both are former first-round picks, and it’s difficult to argue Wilkerson hasn’t been the more productive player — or, at least, reached higher highs — than Lotulelei. Wilkerson also won’t affect his next team’s compensatory pick formula given that he was released, but his off-field issues, which include a reported lack of effort and problems with coaches, could limit his appeal.

While Beau Allen and Denico Autry are potentially candidates to be overpaid based on their youth, there are bargains to be had at defensive tackle. Tom Johnson is 33 but he’s offered consistent pressure from the interior for years — his last contract was for three years and $7MM, so he shouldn’t cost much this time around. Haloti Ngata was injured in 2017 but plans to continue his career, and he can still stop the run. And Dominique Easley was outstanding as a 3-4 end in 2016 before missing last season with a torn ACL, meaning the former first-round pick could be a value play for any number of teams.Read more

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/17/17

The latest minor moves…

  • Raiders defensive end Denico Autry has signed his RFA tender, reports ESPN’s Adam Caplan (Twitter link). The Raiders gave the 2014 undrafted free agent an original-round tender, leading to speculation that he could draw interest from elsewhere. Instead, Autry will return to the Raiders on the heels of back-to-back three-sack seasons. ERFAs Seth Roberts (WR) and Denver Kirkland (G) are also back in the fold, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (on Twitter).
  • The Seahawks have re-signed linebacker Kache Palacio, writes Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Palacio, a former fullback who went undrafted out of Washington State last year, spent most of 2016 on Seattle’s practice squad.
  • Lions ERFAs Brandon Copeland (DE), Kerry Hyder (DT) and T.J. Jones (WR) have signed their tenders, tweets Birkett. Dolphins ERFAs Mike Hull (LB) and Anthony Steen (C) did the same earlier Monday, per Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).

Earlier updates:

  • The Panthers have re-upped restricted free agent guard Andrew Norwell and a pair of exclusive rights free agents – center Tyler Larsen and punter Michael Palardy – writes Bryan Strickland of their website. Carolina used a second-round tender on Norwell, who will earn $2.746MM in 2017. Norwell combined for 29 starts over the previous two seasons and ranked 11th in performance among Pro Football Focus’ 72 qualified guards last year.
  • Steelers RFA cornerback Ross Cockrell has inked his original-round tender, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). Cockrell went in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, so the Steelers would have been entitled to a fourth-rounder had Cockrell signed elsewhere and they elected against matching the offer. The 25-year-old caught on with the Steelers in 2015 and has since totaled 31 appearances, 23 starts and two interceptions. Cockrell started in every Steelers game last year, and his performance ranked an improve 28th among 111 qualified corners at PFF.
  • Chiefs RFA kicker Cairo Santos has signed his tender, per Schefter (on Twitter). Santos, undrafted in 2014, received a low tender; as such, Kansas City wouldn’t have been entitled to compensation had he gone elsewhere. The three-year veteran has connected on 84.3 percent of field goal attempts, including 88.6 percent last season (good for fifth in the league).
  • Lions offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas has signed his RFA tender, tweets Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The Lions assigned Lucas an original-rounder tender last month, so they wouldn’t have gotten a pick had the 2014 undrafted free agent signed elsewhere and they chose not to match. Lucas is now slated to make $1.797MM this year in Detroit, where he has started in six of 35 career appearances.
  • The Buccaneers have re-signed quarterback Ryan Griffin, cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah, tight end Cameron Brate, linebacker Adarius Glanton, and wide receivers Adam Humphries and Freddie Martino, per Scott Smith of the team’s website. As a restricted free agent, Griffin is the only one of the bunch who could have potentially gone elsewhere (the rest were exclusive rights free agents). The Bucs tendered the 2013 undrafted free agent at an original-round level last month, and he’ll now try to win the No. 2 role behind Jameis Winston. Tampa Bay’s previous second-stringer, Mike Glennon, is now the Bears’ starter.
  • RFA defensive back Marcus Burley and ERFA running back George Atkinson III are returning to the Browns, per a team announcement. Burley, undrafted in 2013, received an original-round tender. The former Seahawk is coming off his first year in Cleveland, where he appeared in 12 games and played just under 40 percent of the Browns’ special teams snaps.
  • Fullback Tommy Bohanon and receiver Larry Pinkard have signed with the Jaguars, tweets the team’s account. Bohanon is the only with NFL experience, having logged 36 appearances and 14 starts as a Jet from 2013-15.
  • Speaking of the Jets, they have re-signed linebacker Julian Stanford (via Randy Lange of the team’s site). The Jets could Stanford on Friday, but both sides knew that was only a procedural move. Last season was the first as a Jet for the 26-year-old Stanford, who appeared in nine games (two starts) and played about a quarter of their defensive snaps and a third of their special teams snaps.

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:

RFA/ERFA Signings: 4/18/16

We’ll round the latest news on restricted and exclusive-rights free agents here…

ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/9/16

Unrestricted free agent news will obviously dominate the day, but several clubs also had to make decisions on whether to offer tenders to exclusive-rights free agents. We’ll round up those decisions here:

Tendered

Non-Tendered