Devin Taylor

NFL Workout Updates: 10/17/17

Today’s workout updates, with all links going to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account unless otherwise noted:

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions 

Houston Texans

  • QB Taylor Heinicke (link via Caplan)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Washington Redskins

Falcons Place DE Jack Crawford On IR

The Falcons have placed defensive Jack Crawford on injured reserve with a biceps injury, the club announced today.Jack Crawford (Vertical)

Crawford, whom Atlanta signed away from the Cowboys this offseason, is now the third Falcons defensive lineman to go down with injury in recent weeks. Star edge rusher Vic Beasley is still working his way back from a hamstring issue, while Courtney Upshaw may be close to returning from an ankle ailment. Crawford, for his part, had played on 101 defensive snaps this season but graded as just the No. 87 interior defender among 100 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.

With Crawford sidelined, the Falcons auditioned defensive ends Devin Taylor, Jonathan Woodard, Sterling Bailey, Nicholas Williams, Pat O’Connor, plus linebacker Lavar Edwards, on Monday, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. Atlanta is on the hunt for defensive line reinforcements, and its workout session comes as no surprise given that head coach Dan Quinn indicated that he and general manager Thomas Dimitroff would soon discuss adding help to their front four.

Taylor, 27, offers vast experience, as the former fourth-round pick appeared in 61 games (18 starts) for the Lions over the past four seasons. While he’s posted 15 sacks during his NFL career, PFF wasn’t complementary of Taylor’s performance in 2016, ranking him as the second-worst defensive end in the league. Taylor signed with the Giants in May but didn’t make it through final cutdowns, and has since worked out for the Vikings.

The Falcons’ defensive front, which currently includes Grady Jarrett, Dontari Poe, Brooks Reed, Adrian Clayborn, Derrick Shelby, and first-round rookie Takkarist McKinley, hasn’t played all that well in 2017, as the unit ranks 21st in adjusted sack rate and 25th in adjusted line yards, per Football Outsiders.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Workout Updates: 9/22/17

Friday’s workout updates (Twitter links via Howard Balzer):

Cleveland Browns

  • LB Austin Calitro

Indianapolis Colts

Minnesota Vikings

Giants Down To 53

The Giants are all kosher. Here’s the full rundown of their cuts and moves to get to 53:

Cut:

Placed on IR:

Giants Release DE Devin Taylor

Devin Taylor‘s tenure with the Giants ended relatively quickly. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), the team has released the veteran defensive end.

Devin Taylor (vertical)Taylor originally joined the Giants back in May. Previously, the 2013 fourth-round pick had spent his entire four-year career in Detroit, where he served mostly in a reserve role. Taylor earned a bit more responsibility in 2016, starting a career-high 16 games while compiling 21 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. The 27-year-old has 15 career sacks in four seasons.

With Taylor out of the picture, it appears that the Giants will roll with a younger reserve at defensive end. Among the candidates for a backup role are Romeo OkwaraAvery Moss, Kerry WynnIshaq Williams, and Bobby RichardsonOlivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul are slotted in as the team’s starters at defensive end.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Giants, Redskins, Saints, ‘Boys

The Giants’ decision to hand defensive end Devin Taylor a minimum salary benefit deal last month has mostly generated positive reviews around the NFL, with one source calling it a “great signing,” reports Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com. One NFC source took a less enthusiastic tone, however, calling Taylor “just a guy.” But, considering what they’re paying him, the Giants aren’t expecting Taylor to do much more than provide passable depth behind stars Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon. Taylor, who started in all 16 of the Lions’ games last season and piled up a respectable 4.5 sacks (down from seven in 2015), will rotate at defensive end with the Giants and could see time as an interior rusher on passing downs, according to Raanan.

More from the NFC:

  • Late-March free agent signing Brian Quick won’t be long for the Redskins’ roster if he doesn’t impress in training camp, writes Rich Tandler of CSNMidAtlantic.com. Quick didn’t perform well during offseason practices, and the team has a few locks at wide receiver, leaving the 28-year-old on the bubble as camp nears, per Tandler. The 2012 second-round pick spent his first five years as a member of the Rams, with whom he exceeded the 20-catch plateau only twice. To his credit, though, Quick posted a career year in 2016, hauling in personal highs in catches (41), targets (77), yards (564) and touchdowns (three).
  • Saints left tackle Terron Armstead underwent successful surgery for a torn labrum on Monday, reports Herbie Teope of NOLA.com. While that’s a relief for Armstead and the Saints, it’s not going to change his expected recovery timeline. He’s still set to miss between four to six months, which will leave the club without arguably its best offensive lineman until sometime in the fall.
  • Cowboys receiver Brice Butler will head into camp with his roster spot in jeopardy, relays David Moore of the Dallas Morning News. Butler could face a challenge from rookie seventh-round pick Noah Brown, notes Moore, and the Cowboys also have shoo-ins to make the roster in fellow wideouts Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and fourth-rounder Ryan Switzer. Butler was a seventh-rounder himself not long ago, in 2013, and put up his first 16-game campaign last year. All told, he caught 16 passes for 219 yards and a career-high three scores.

NFC East Notes: Redskins, Cousins, Giants

Redskins safety DeAngelo Hall wants to be a coach or a GM when his playing days are done.

I see myself in a suit doing something,” Hall said (via John Keim of ESPN.com). “I don’t see myself on the field coaching. I see myself in the front office….I feel I can see talent.” “I’m not saying I’m a mastermind or Bill Belichick…But when you play the game, or you’re asked to do other things, like Doug, you have a little more feel than the guy who has been in the office his whole life. I wish it was the NBA where you could stop and go be a head coach or GM like that. I understand it’s a process, but it’s definitely something I want to get involved in.”

Hall, 34 in November, recently took a pay cut for the 2017 season so that he could remain on the roster. The veteran obviously isn’t in a hurry to begin his post-playing career, but he has a pretty good handle on what he’d like to do when it’s all over. It wouldn’t be a surprise if 2017 was his final season on the field.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • Talk of an extension for the Redskins and Kirk Cousins doesn’t mean a whole lot in June, one source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “So much noise,” said a source with knowledge of the situation. When asked whether progress has been made, the source added, “Nothing to report. Will be interesting to see what happens mid-July.” Recently, the NFL pushed back the deadline for teams to sign franchise players to long term deals – from July 15 to July 17 – and it’s likely that talks won’t really progress until the hourglass is almost out of sand. Cousins’ agent, Mike McCartney, may be seeking upwards of $52MM guaranteed at signing, representing the total of this year’s salary ($23.94MM) and next year’s transition tender ($28.7MM). The Redskins, presumably, are hoping to chip away at that number.
  • The Giants‘ deal for defensive end Devin Taylor is a minimum salary deal with just $40K guaranteed, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com tweets. The advanced metrics haven’t been crazy about Taylor’s play, but he did record 11.5 combined sacks over the last two seasons.
  • Jason Peters could be playing guard for the Eagles down the road.
  • Will the Cowboys regret losing Barry Church to free agency? One beat writer believes that will be the case.

Giants Sign Devin Taylor

The Giants have signed defensive end Devin Taylor to a one-year contract, tweets Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The addition of Taylor is the second of the evening for New York, which reached a deal with safety Duke Ihenacho earlier Wednesday.

Devin Taylor (vertical)[RELATED: Updated Giants Depth Chart]

The 27-year-old Taylor went to Detroit in the fourth round of the 2013 draft and ended up spending his first four seasons there, appearing in 61 of a possible 64 games and totaling 18 starts. Taylor also registered a respectable 15 sacks, 11.5 of which came from 2015-16 (four last year), and is coming off his first 16-start campaign. But Pro Football Focus wasn’t exactly enamored of Taylor’s output in 2016, as it ranked his performance 108th among 109 qualified defensive ends, and he drew no known interest in free agency before his meeting with the Giants this week.

Unlike the Lions, the Giants won’t lean on Taylor as a starter. Big Blue already has an elite defensive end duo in Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul, so Taylor will give the club further depth behind those two. Taylor offers the most proven track record among a group of backup Giants DEs that includes Romeo Okwara, Owa Odighizuwa and fifth-round rookie Avery Moss, among others.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Meet With DE Devin Taylor

Former Lions defensive end Devin Taylor is visiting the Giants today, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. This marks Taylor’s first known visit since free agency kicked off more than two months ago. Devin Taylor (vertical)

Last year, Taylor started in all 16 regular season games for the first time in his career. The former fourth-round pick had 4.5 sacks and 28 total tackles on the year, but the advanced numbers at Pro Football Focus portrayed him as the second-worst qualified edge defender in the NFL. For what it’s worth, in the prior year, Taylor had 7.0 sacks and an overall score of 68.5 – a significantly better showing than his 39.1 mark in ’16.

Taylor is not a starting-caliber player at this point in his career and that suits the Giants just fine as they arguably have the league’s most fearsome DE duo in Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon. There are a number of reserve DEs under contract behind them including Romeo Okwara, fifth-round rookie Avery Moss, and Owa Odighizuwa, but there has been some chatter this offseason about Odighizuwa stepping away from football. Right now, it seems like Odighizuwa will play, but if he has a change of heart, someone like Taylor could serve as an insurance policy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 3.0: Defense

The initial wave of NFL free agency is now complete, and while many of the league’s top available players are now off the board, there are still plenty of quality options still on the open market.

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 2017:

Edge defender:

  1. Dwight Freeney
  2. Elvis Dumervil
  3. Chris Long
  4. Mario Williams
  5. Connor Barwin
  6. Paul Kruger
  7. Trent Cole
  8. Erik Walden
  9. Jason Jones
  10. Darryl Tapp
  11. Devin Taylor
  12. Eugene Sims
  13. Howard Jones
  14. Wallace Gilberry
  15. Sam Acho

The pass rushing market has been completely depleted during the first week of free agency, as 14 of our original top 15 edge players have now been franchised, signed, or, in the case of DeMarcus Ware, retired. As such, a 37-year-old with 15 NFL seasons under his belt is now the best pass rusher on the market. Dwight Freeney played on roughly a third of the Falcons’ defensive snaps in 2016, and posted three sacks and 18 hurries. Capable of playing in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, Freeney can still help out a club on the cheap.Dwight Freeney (Vertical)

Three players on this list — Elvis Dumervil, Connor Barwin, and Eugene Sims — were released by their respective clubs last week, meaning they won’t count against the compensatory formula if and when they’re signed. Dumervil, now 33, was hampered by injuries last season but still earned strong pass-rushing marks from Pro Football Focus. Barwin, meanwhile, wasn’t a good fit in Jim Schwartz‘s 4-3 defense, but he should flourish if he signs with a team running a 3-4 look. So far, he’s met with the Bengals (who use a 4-3) and Rams (3-4).

Chris Long has already indicated he won’t be returning to the Patriots, indicating he wants to join a roster where he’ll earn more playing time. Erik Walden, too, won’t re-sign with his 2016 club (the Colts), but he has taken a visit with the division rival Titans. Further down the list, Howard Jones has also met with at least one club, as he was hosted by the Jets on Tuesday. Jones, 27, is recovering from a torn ACL, but did post five sacks in five starts last season.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Johnathan Hankins
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Jared Odrick
  4. Vance Walker
  5. Sen’Derrick Marks
  6. Ricky Jean-Francois
  7. Roy Miller
  8. Al Woods
  9. Tony McDaniel
  10. Cullen Jenkins
  11. Frostee Rucker
  12. Cam Thomas
  13. John Jenkins
  14. Tyson Jackson
  15. Tyson Alualu

Although top-flight players such as Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams have already been signed, the crop of interior defenders remains strong at the top. The buzz around Johnathan Hankins has been virtually non-existent, as the only club that’s been even tangentially linked to the 25-year-old is the Redskins. He’s one of the youngest free agents on the market, and therefore is probably looking for a massive payday. But the lack of interest around Hankins may be an indication that he’s simply asking for too much money.Johnathan Hankins (Vertical)

The same issue could be surrounding Dontari Poe, although he’s not wanting for meetings around the league. He’s visited with the Colts, Falcons, Jaguars, and Dolphins, while the 49ers and Raiders also reportedly have some level of interest. Clubs may have concerns about Poe’s lingering back issues, and he might have to accept a one-year deal in order to prove he’s healthy and willing to provide full effort.

The remaining defensive interior players are mostly over-30 veterans, with names such as Tony McDaniel, Cullen Jenkins, Frostee Rucker, and Tyson Jackson still looking for new deals. While most of these guys can still play, they may have to wait awhile — possibly into the summer — before signing on with their next club. Jared Odrick (Patriots) and Vance Walker (Bears) have both taken visits, but the most intriguing lineman here may be Sen’Derrick Marks, who offers a good amount of pass rush from the interior.

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