Eli Harold

Bay Area Notes: Melifonwu, Mack, Harold

Obi Melifonwu did not do much to draw praise from Jon Gruden this offseason, and the new Raiders coach cut bait on Reggie McKenzie‘s 2017 second-round pick. The Combine phenom out of UConn struggled to recover from his 2017 hip injury this offseason, and he recently suffered a setback that Vic Tafur of The Athletic notes (subscription required) was related to his hip problem. Melifonwu recently went to see a specialist, and Tafur adds he hasn’t been at the Raiders’ facility in more than a week. If no team claims Melifonwu, officially waived with an injury designation, the Raiders will take a $1.73MM dead-money hit, Tafur tweets. If not, the 6-foot-4 defensive back revert to Oakland’s IR. That is, unless an injury settlement is reached. He adds that neither last year’s Raiders staff nor this year’s were convinced Melifonwu was fully committed to football, believing that was going to result in Gruden cutting ties with him. Melifonwu, though, received first-team reps earlier this month before that setback. Another team could take a chance on him because of the athleticism he showed during his pre-draft workouts.

Here’s the latest out of northern California.

  • Khalil Mack remains at odds with the Raiders, and SI.com’s Albert Breer does not expect this situation to be resolved by Week 1. Although the Raiders provided hard no’s to teams inquiring about the former defensive player of the year’s trade availability, Breer notes there’s still no progress between the team and Mack. Guarantee structure strikes Breer as an issue, with cash flow serving as a potential problem for the Raiders. Derek Carr‘s landmark extension was heavily backloaded toward the Las Vegas years. Perhaps Mark Davis is trying to do the same with Mack.
  • Eli Harold lined up with the 49ers‘ starters throughout the offseason, but the now-Lions linebacker didn’t stay on the field during nickel sets and wasn’t a quality special-teamer, per Matt Barrows of The Athletic. Kyle Shanahan and his staff realized Harold wasn’t going to make the team, Barrows notes. Traded for a conditional 2020 seventh-rounder, Harold started for most of the past two seasons. However, his departure leaves just 12 49ers left from the Trent Baalke years. Fellow 2015 draftee Mark Nzeocha took Harold’s place with the starters at San Francisco practice Thursday, Barrows notes. A former Cowboys seventh-round pick, Nzeocha played in 10 games for the 49ers last season but has yet to start an NFL contest.
  • One of the Baalke-era 49ers, though, returned to the team this week. The 49ers re-signed defensive lineman Chris Jones after Cedric Thornton decided to retire. Jones will see reps at both defensive tackle spots while spending time at San Francisco’s “big end” position as well, DC Robert Saleh said (via Barrows, on Twitter). Jones last played in 2016 for the 49ers, but he started all six contests in which he participated.

49ers Trade Eli Harold To Lions

The Lions have acquired outside linebacker Eli Harold from the 49ers, a source tells Kyle Meinke of MLive Media Group (on Twitter). San Francisco will receive a conditional 2020 seventh-round pick in the trade. 

Harold has to be on Lions’ roster for four weeks in order for the pick to be conveyed to the 49ers, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears. So, if Harold doesn’t make the final cut on Sept 1 – or doesn’t last until the Lions’ Week 3 contest against the Patriots – the Niners will get nothing in return.

Harold, a third round pick in the 2015 draft, has played in all possible 48 games since entering the league. He started ten games last year and seemed to be in the mix for a starting job this year before the trade. Without Harold, Dekoda Watson is likely to start at outside linebacker in San Francisco with Pita Taumoepenu as his primary backup.

In Detroit, Harold will compete for an OLB job in support of presumptive starters Devon Kennard and Christian Jones. The Lions have yet to record a sack through two exhibition games, so they’re open to making changes in the front seven.

For some, Harold may be best known for his anthem protests, but he has been standing for the anthem so far in the preseason.

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. 

Extra Points: Eagles, Raiders, 49ers, Colts

Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis spoke Sunday on the statuses of two of the team’s injured linebackers, Kiko Alonso and DeMeco Ryans.

Regarding Alonso, who suffered a concussion Tuesday and has missed four practices: “Kiko’s fine,” said Davis, according to Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I’ve been coaching linebackers my whole career. It’s just part of that position, when it sneaks up on you nowadays, we have great protocol. It’s not an issue. Kiko’s doing great. He won’t miss a beat.”

Davis was more guarded when discussing Ryans, who is recovering from a ruptured right Achilles tendon for the second time in his nine-year career.

 “DeMeco is a pro all the way through and is taking strides ahead of where most people would be, but he still has a little ways to go,” Davis said.
Ryans has participated in all seven of the Eagles’ training camp practices, but next Sunday’s preseason opener against the Colts will be a much bigger litmus test.
“Any time you’re coming back from injury, you have to get in the game to see where you are,” said Ryans, who got hurt last November. “Go to the ground, tackle somebody, stand up, make sure everything is still intact. And mentally, I think that’s the last hurdle, going out and getting back in a game.”
More on Philly and the rest of the NFL:
  • The Eagles’ right guard situation could take some time to sort out, writes Jeff McLane of the Inquirer. The team has a vacancy there after cutting three-time Pro Bowl left guard Evan Mathis and replacing him with former RG Allen Barbre. John Moffitt, Matt Tobin, Andrew Gardner and Julian Vandervelde are competing for the job.
  • 49ers defensive coordinator Eric Mangini is using his linebackers’ flexibility to his advantage as he tries to find a way to fill the void left by Aldon Smith, whom the team cut earlier this week because of off-field issues. “A guy like Aldon is not a guy that you just can replace,” Mangini said, per ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez. “He’s got a unique skill set. But one of the things that we focused on defensively is building flexibility, in terms of what we can play, and then building flexibility with who’s going to play there.” The lion’s share of reps at Smith’s former spot have gone to Corey Lemonier and Eli Harold, writes Gutierrez.
  • The Raiders could have the biggest interior defensive line in the NFL when Dan Williams and Justin Ellis, who combine to weigh 665 pounds, line up side by side. The two have been paired together often in camp, writes Jerry McDonald of InsideBayArea.com. “To be able to have those guys in the front, we feel like you shouldn’t run the ball on us,” safety Charles Woodson said. “If they put those guys up there, we should be a very stout defense. That’s what we’re counting on.”
  • Colts head coach Chuck Pagano is bullish about the team’s secondary, which helped the defense finish a respectable 12th overall against the pass in 2014. “I think we have an excellent group. We got playmakers and smart guys that communicate well and play well together. I’m excited for that group,” Pagano said, according to USA Today.

49ers Sign Nine Draft Picks

The 49ers announced they have signed nine of their ten draft picks. That group includes second round safety Jaquiski Tartt but does not include first round defensive end Arik Armstead.

Tartt, third-round linebacker Eli Harold, third-round tight end Blake Bell, third-round running back Mike Davis, fourth-round wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, fifth-round punter Bradley Pinion, sixth-round lineman Ian Silberman, seventh-round lineman Trent Brown, and seventh-round tight end Rory Anderson.

Tartt, 23, played in 44 games and totaled 277 tackles, six interceptions, 20 passes defensed and 6.5 tackles for loss in his career. The Samford product was named American Football Coaches Association FCS All-America team and Second-Team AP All-America in his senior season.

AFC Draft Notes: Pats, Browns, Chargers, Titans

The Patriots have had a number of successful drafts during Bill Belichick‘s tenure, but Malcom Brown is confident he’ll be regarded as one of the best picks in team history.

Following the Patriots’ selection of the hulking defensive lineman last night, the University of Texas standout expressed his confidence to reporters (including Phil Perry of CSNNE.com):

“Ya’ll about to get the best player ya’ll have ever drafted so just be ready for when I touch the field.”

Of course, that may be a bit of an overstatement, especially since the team stole future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady in the sixth round. However, Brady made similar comments following the 2000 draft (also via Perry):

“I’m the best decision this organization has ever made.”

Let’s take a look at some more draft notes out of the AFC…

  • Browns GM Ray Farmer denied trying to move up to the No. 2 pick for quarterback Marcus Mariota, as Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. “No, no, no,” Farmer said. “Again, I’ve tried to tell people without telling them specifically, but the answer is no. There were no conversations of trading.”
  • The Chargers traded up to No. 15 because Melvin Gordon was the last of seven “impact players” left on their board, Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego writes.
  • Meanwhile, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco told reporters (including Michael Gehlken of UTSanDiego.com) that he’s open to trading down either Friday or Saturday.
  • ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini examines some possible targets for the Jets on the second day of the draft. Among the possibilities are Virginia outside linebacker Eli Harold and Ohio State wideout Devin Smith.
  • The Titans like Dorial Green-Beckham, and Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com says he wouldn’t be “shocked” if the team selects the wideout with the 33rd pick (via Twitter).

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Draft Notes: Rams, Jets, 49ers

When the Rams swapped quarterback Sam Bradford for Nick Foles, it was expected that the former Eagles signal-caller wouldn’t be the organization’s longterm answer at the position. So, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the Rams will work out both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota next week, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network (on Twitter).

Of course, the workouts aren’t a guarantee that the organization will select a quarterback. As Breer points out, the Rams brought in Johnny Manziel twice last year, but they ultimately decided against drafting the rookie.

Let’s take a look at where more of the draft’s top prospects will be visiting…

  • Besides the top two prospects, Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says (via Twitter) the Rams have “shown varying degrees of interest” in quarterbacks Garrett Grayson, Brett Hundley, and Sean Mannion.
  • Despite canceling their private workout with the quarterback, the Jets will bring in Jameis Winston for a visit, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Following the prospects impressive Pro Day, the organization decided they didn’t need to see much more.
  • The Jets will bring in Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty for a pre-draft visit, reports Mehta (via Twitter). The former Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year won a pair of Big 12 Championships during his tenure with the Bears.
  • Virginia outside linebacker Eli Harold will visit the Jets, tweets Brian Costello of the New York Post. Harold, who finished last season with seven sacks and 14.5 tackles for a loss, is project to be a late-first/early-second round pick.
  • LSU cornerback Jalen Collins will pay a visit to the 49ers next week, according to Fox Sports’ Mike Garafolo (on Twitter). The reporter notes that Collins has about ten pre-draft visits scheduled, including workouts with the Vikings and Panthers.

Draft Updates: Mariota, White, Falcons, Jags

The previously-reported visits for top draft prospects Marcus Mariota, Leonard Williams, and Dante Fowler Jr. are all happening today for the Titans, tweets Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. Although the Titans are getting a closer look at Mariota, another team in the top five apparently won’t get an opportunity to do so. Albert Breer of the NFL Network tweets that Washington had planned to bring in Mariota for a visit, but the two sides couldn’t work out a time, so that trip is now off.

The news may not mean anything significant, but Charles Robinson notes in his latest piece for Yahoo! Sports that sources around the league are skeptical that Washington is truly interested in selecting Mariota with the No. 5 overall pick. “They’re trying to create leverage to get someone to [trade] up,” said one AFC personnel source.

With a report today suggesting that the Browns have real interest in moving up for Mariota, the Oregon quarterback is certainly generating the most draft buzz this week, but we have plenty of updates on other prospects as well. Here’s the latest:

  • Within Robinson’s previously-linked piece, he notes that Buccaneers ownership will ultimately make the final call on whether or not to draft Jameis Winston, adding that there have been some internal questions about the community relations impact of selecting Winston.
  • Kevin White, arguably the top receiving prospect in this year’s class, said today that he’s setting up visits with the Jets, Bears, Rams, and Giants, per Ross Tucker of SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link).
  • The Falcons are hosting a pair of top-tier pass rushers today, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who reports (via Twitter) that Clemson’s Vic Beasley and Kentucky’s Bud Dupree are in town.
  • Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union provides a full list of the 20 prospects that visited the Jaguars this week. While we’ve passed along many of those names already, there are also plenty of new ones: Javorius “Buck” Allen (RB, USC), T.J. Yeldon (RB, Alabama), Amari Cooper (WR, Alabama), Rashad Greene (WR, FSU), DeAndre Smelter (WR, Georgia Tech), Cedric Ogbuehi (T, Texas A&M), Andrus Peat (T, Stanford), Eli Harold (DE, Virginia), Arik Armstead (DL, Oregon), Landon Collins (S, Alabama), and Trae Waynes (CB, Michigan State).
  • In addition to visiting the Eagles, UCF wide receiver Breshad Perriman met with the Raiders, Colts, and Steelers this week, according to Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter).
  • Washington cornerback Marcus Peters, Stanford cornerback Alex Carter, and Virginia linebacker Max Valles made visits to Pittsburgh to meet with the Steelers today, tweets Scott Brown of ESPN.com.
  • The Giants, Steelers, and Texans have hosted visits for Ohio State cornerback Doran Grant, who has also worked out for the Cowboys, Raiders, and Buccaneers, sources tell Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post.

Draft Visits: Titans, Jags, Steelers, 49ers

Having hosted receiver Kevin White for a visit already, the Titans are scheduled to meet with Alabama wideout Amari Cooper next week, according to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean (via Twitter). While the two players are considered the top two prospects at their position, it would still be a surprise to see either player go as high as No. 2 to Tennessee, so perhaps the team is doing due diligence in case it trades down. Of course, I’d argue that the Titans have multiple positions that are bigger holes than wide receiver, but there’s no harm in exploring every potential option.

Here are more updates on upcoming draft visits, as well as some that have already happened:

  • Another top-five team keeping its options open is Jacksonville, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who reports (via Twitter) that the Jaguars have hosted Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Georgia’s Todd Gurley for pre-draft visits. Third overall is almost certainly too high to draft a running back, so the Jags could be doing their homework in case they make a draft-day trade.
  • Rapoport also passes along an update on wide receiver DeVante Parker, tweeting that the former Louisville Cardinal has visits with the Jets, Titans, and Bears on his schedule. Parker has also visited the Jaguars and is meeting with the Vikings today.
  • Virginia edge rusher Eli Harold, Ole Miss cornerback Senquez Golson, Utah defensive end Nate Orchard, and Auburn tight end C.J. Uzomah all visited the Steelers today, tweets Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
  • Speaking of Harold, according to Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link), the Virginia product has visited or worked out for 14 teams, including the Bears, Jaguars, Saints, and Jets.
  • The 49ers and Steelers will host Auburn receiver Sammie Coates for visits next week, sources tell Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. Coates has also visited the Browns and, as previously reported, the Dolphins.
  • Per Wilson (via Twitter), USC tight end Randall Telfer has visited the Eagles, will visit the Patriots, and has a private meeting lined up with the Falcons.
  • Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports (via Twitter) that that Sacramento State wide receiver DeAndre Carter worked out for the Cardinals this week, and will attend local pro days for the Raiders and 49ers next week.

Extra Points: Bears, Stanton, Draft, Conduct

Last week, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported that the Bears are having serious doubts about Jay Cutler going forward. In a bizarre twist, offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer confessed to the team that he was the anonymous source for parts of the report and apologized for his actions, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. One source said that Cutler shook his head during Kromer’s apology and two players that spoke with Biggs were stunned by what they had witnessed. Head coach Marc Trestman, Kromer, and others on the staff could be on the hot seat this offseason.

  • Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton has been diagnosed with a sprained ACL and MCL, according to Mike Jurecki of FOX Sports 910 in Arizona (Twitter link). As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, the injury isn’t expected to end the 2014 season for Standon, who is considered week to week. That’s good news for the Cards, who will hope to have the QB back in time for their first playoff game.
  • Three NCAA underclassmen – Tulane cornerback Lorenzo Doss (Twitter link), Syracuse safety Durell Eskridge (Instagram link), and Virginia defensive end Eli Harold (Twitter link) – announced via social media this week that they’ll leave school early to enter the 2015 NFL draft.
  • The NFLPA and its leaders may not like the league’s new, more “robust” conduct policy, but they only have themselves to blame for ceding so much power to Roger Goodell and the NFL, writes Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post.
  • Giants co-owner John Mara tells Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com that the new conduct policy is “a step in the right direction” for the NFL, and also answered questions regarding the Ray Rice case and the pending Robert Mueller report.

Zach Links contributed to this post.