Frank Ragnow

NFC Notes: 49ers, Newton, Lions, Vikings

After a report indicated the 49ers brought longtime offensive line coach Chris Foerster out of coaching exile surfaced Friday, Kyle Shanahan confirmed as much. The third-year 49ers coach said Foerster joined San Francisco’s staff as a consultant. Consultants do not serve as in-game coaches, and Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area notes the 49ers have Foerster working on film and in position group meetings. Shanahan said the 49ers brought on Foerster as a consultant last year and elevated his duties in 2019, though the 57-year-old assistant — who has 20-plus years of NFL coaching experience — is still classified as a consultant. Shanahan and Foerster worked together in Washington.

He is still in a consulting role because I do understand the seriousness of this matter,” Shanahan said of Foerster, who resigned from the Dolphins in 2017 after a video showed him snorting a white powdery substance. “We’re trying to ease him back in. I understand how big of a problem he did have. I also understand what he’s doing in committing to fix that problem. We’re trying to give him a chance to get back on track.

He’s done that exactly the right way for two years. We will see if he continues to do that, and then we will reassess that after this year.”

Here is the latest from the NFC:

  • Some positive news for Cam Newton. Although the Panthers quarterback remains in a walking boot and without a definitive return timetable, Jordan Rodrigue of The Athletic notes (subscription required) the team was encouraged by the follow-up MRI the ninth-year passer underwent. If Newton continues to progress in his recovery from a mid-foot sprain, Rodrigue adds he is expected to participate in practice in some capacity Monday. This would point to the veteran being ready for Week 1. Kyle Allen received first crack at Newton’s reps Saturday, but David Newton of ESPN.com notes Will Grier split time evenly with Carolina’s presumptive QB2. Ron Rivera confirmed the Panthers will not work out quarterbacks.
  • More good news on the injury front. Matt Patricia said (via the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers, on Twitter) he is not considering an IR trip for Jarrad Davis, who was carted to the Lions‘ locker room Friday night. Davis suffered a lower-leg injury against the Bills. Were Davis to be placed on IR in between next weekend and Week 1, he would miss at least eight regular-season weeks. This points to the Lions expecting him back during the first half of the season, at the latest.
  • Frank Ragnow, too, appears to have dodged a bullet. The Lions center suffered what’s being categorized as a minor ankle sprain Friday, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. The Lions are typically vague regarding injuries, with Patricia declining to elaborate on the nature of those suffered by Ragnow and Davis. But the second-year coach said (via Rogers) neither player is believed to have suffered a season-nullifying malady.
  • The Vikings and since-cut long snapper Kevin McDermott agreed to an injury settlement, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. McDermott suffered an elbow injury, which required surgery this week, and will collect $150K via this settlement. Austin Cutting beat out the longtime incumbent for Minnesota’s snapping job.

Injury Notes: Gabbert, Gary, Ragnow

We heard earlier today that Buccaneers backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert had dislocated his non-throwing shoulder during last night’s preseason win over the Eagles. Fortunately, it doesn’t sound like the veteran will be out for an extended amount of time. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that it isn’t expected to be a long-term injury.

While Gabbert may not be sidelined for all that long, the team is still eyeing some reinforcement at the position. ESPN’s Jenna Laine tweets that the Buccaneers have looked at signing Vincent Testaverde. The 23-year-old had spent the early parts of camp with Tampa Bay, and his head start on the offensive playbook could give him an edge over other free agent quarterbacks. Besides starter Jameis Winston, the only other healthy quarterback on the roster is undrafted rookie Nick Fitzgerald.

Let’s check out some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Packers linebacker Rashan Gary was carted off the field during Thursday night’s loss to the Raiders. Fortunately, it sounds like the 21-year-old is doing alright. RG Sports Agency tweets that Gary is “fine and doing well.” The rookie had suffered a lower-body injury early in the game, and he was later carted off the field after taking a hit to the head and neck area. The Michigan product was the 12th-overall pick in this past year’s draft.
  • Lions center Frank Ragnow was carted off the field after suffering a right leg injury during last night’s loss to the Bills. If the 2018 first-round pick has to miss time, Detroit’s offensive line situation will be bleak. As Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets, the team currently has journeyman Kenny Wiggins and former fifth-rounder Joe Dahl slotted in at offensive guard. The team was originally counting on Wiggins to be their top backup offensive tackle with Tyrell Crosby out of the lineup.
  • There’s some good injury news! Free agent cornerback Chris Campbell has been cleared from his mild hamstring strain and is now ready to audition for teams, tweets ESPN’s Mike Triplett. The 23-year-old was waived/injured by the Saints early in training camp. Campbell was a 2018 sixth-round pick out of Penn State, but he didn’t make an appearance during his rookie campaign.

NFC North Notes: Vikings, Lions, Bears

Tight end Kyle Rudolph confirmed that he’s attempting to negotiate a new deal withe Vikings, but also said he’s been told there are “plenty of other teams” that would have interest in acquiring him, as Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com writes. Rudolph, who is scheduled to earn $7.275MM in the final year of his contract, has already stated he won’t accept a pay cut. Minnesota has the second-least cap space in the NFL, and also drafted tight end Irv Smith Jr. in the second round of last month’s draft.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • Graham Glasgow could be on the move again. The Lions deployed Glasgow — who played center on nearly every offensive snap in 2018 — at right guard at organized team activities, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Glasgow’s position change will allow Detroit to move 2018 first-round pick Frank Ragnow from left guard to center, his more natural position. Glasgow, for his part, split time between left guard and center in both 2017 and 2017 before moving to center full-time last season.
  • The Bears are listing former offensive tackle Bradley Sowell as a tight end, per Adam Jahns of The Athletic (Twitter link). as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune notes (via Twitter), Chicago doesn’t necessarily have an in-line tight end on its roster, and Sowell played that role in 2018. Per Pro Football Focus, Sowell lined up as an tight end for 30 snaps last season, and spent another eight plays in the backfield. Memorably, Sowell caught a touchdown pass on a trick play against the Rams in December.
  • Former AAF quarterback Luis Perez recently worked out for the Lions, tweets Adam Caplan of SiriusXM NFL Radio. Perez, who signed with the Rams after going undrafted in 2018 and just spent a month on the Eagles’ roster, tossed five touchdowns against six interceptions for the AAF’s Birmingham Iron. Detroit currently has Tom Savage and Connor Cook behind starter Matthew Stafford.

Extra Points: Sanders, Eagles, Lions

Emmanuel Sanders became one of the NFL’s upper-echelon wide receivers since signing with the Broncos, stringing together three straight 1,000-yard seasons and being Peyton Manning‘s top postseason target en route to Denver’s Super Bowl 50 title. But the 31-year-old pass-catcher saw the Broncos change the equation this offseason. After three seasons featuring scant production behind Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, Denver drafted two wideouts — second-rounder Courtland Sutton and fourth-rounder DaeSean Hamilton — to try and build depth behind its experienced duo. Considering Sanders has a $12.94MM cap number in 2019, one that would cost the Broncos barely $2MM to shed, he may see the writing on the wall heading into his fifth year with the team.

Even prior to them signing those young guys, even when I signed the contract … only two years are guaranteed and after that it’s year-to-year,” Sanders said, via Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (subscription required) of his September 2016 extension. “You play long enough and you start understanding these contracts are not guaranteed. And, truthfully, for everybody, including Von Miller, it’s year-to-year, because who knows what might happen? Who knows what situation might play out?

I always play like that, like it’s always year-to-year. I got something to prove this year and if I don’t prove it to the Broncos, then I’ll be proving it to some other team.”

Denver has both Thomas and Sanders signed through 2019, the former with a cap number slated to climb to $17.53MM next year. So, the team will have some big decisions to make a year from now regarding one of the top receiving duos in franchise history.

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • After receiving his initial OTA reps at left guard, Lions first-rounder Frank Ragnow is expected to start his career there, per Nate Atkins of MLive.com. This would likely mean using improving talent Graham Glasgow at center. Glasgow lined up at center at times during both of his first two seasons but spent more time at guard in a breakout 2017. The Lions were planning to try Glasgow at center at the offseason’s outset, and that experiment may continue into training camp. Ragnow was Pro Football Focus’ top-rated center in each of the past two years while at Arkansas. Newly acquired Wesley Johnson, the Jets’ starting center for the past 1 1/2 years, would then represent a depth piece.
  • Sixth-year defensive lineman Cornelius Washington resides on the Lions’ roster bubble, Atkins notes. The former Bears defender is entering the second season of a two-year, $6MM deal. Washington played 488 snaps last season at defensive end with Detroit, registering 2.5 sacks. The Lions, though, drafted Da’Shawn Hand in the fourth round this year, and Atkins envisions Washington being close to the chopping block as a result.
  • The Eagles are planning to use Jay Ajayi as their unquestioned starter, and Darren Sproles will join emerging second-year back Corey Clement after missing most of last season. The defending Super Bowl champions are likely to keep a No. 4 back on the active roster, per Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia, who doesn’t expect that to be 2017 draftee Donnel Pumphrey. Despite Pumphrey being yet to show what he can do after an injury wiped out his entire rookie season, the former fourth-round pick is battling one-time Redskins starter-turned-castoff Matt Jones. Zangaro expects Jones to win that battle. The Eagles also have Wendell Smallwood and paid a premium to add UDFA Josh Adams this year, creating an intriguing competition for this back-end roster spot.

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Price, Browns

Two key Steelers will be changing positions. Pittsburgh’s outside linebacker starters, Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt, will swap spots, with Dupree shifting to the right outside linebacker role and Watt moving to the left side, Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes. Dupree’s issues with being too far behind quarterbacks on outside rushes, in a league that features mostly right-handed passers, prompted Keith Butler to relocate him.

What Bud did too much of last year, in my opinion, was he got past the quarterback,” Butler said. “To me, you’re useless when you’re past the quarterback. Now, he won’t be as useless behind the quarterback because he can work back a little bit or he can go up and under where the quarterback won’t see him.”

Although the Steelers exercised Dupree’s fifth-year option, the 2015 first-round pick has not lived up to expectations just yet. The Kentucky product rated as a bottom-10 edge defender, per Pro Football Focus, last season, but the Steelers will try to give him another opportunity to make good on their investment. Butler said the relative inexperience of the players involved in this switch prompted him to wait until the offseason to make this move.

I think I’m more natural on the left side just because I’m more right-hand dominant,” Watt said, via Benz. “I can have a better dip and a better stab. I have more pitches I can throw on the left side.”

Here’s the latest out of the AFC North, shifting to the division’s most pressing issue — Le’Veon Bell‘s status in Pittsburgh.

  • As less than a month remains until the pivotal extension deadline for franchise-tagged players, Bell has not shown up at Steelers workouts. This was expected. But as of last week, the Steelers had yet to resume contract talks with their All-Pro running back. And Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette puts the odds at an extension occurring as longer than the sides continuing their present arrangement. Fittipaldo writes Bell not reaching a long-term agreement would again induce him to skip training camp and the preseason. Of course, Bell and the Steelers failing to come to terms this year could well mean the 26-year-old dynamo will be playing elsewhere in 2019, considering the prohibitive cost for tagging a player three times.
  • Tyrod Taylor will be a free agent at season’s end, but one AFC executive views him as a player who could make Baker Mayfield wait a long time before taking the Browns‘ reins. “Tyrod Taylor could keep Baker Mayfield on the bench for years,” the anonymous staffer said, via Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report. This seems unlikely given the investment the Browns made in Mayfield, and the fact full redshirts for first-round QBs rarely occur anymore. But Taylor does have three years’ experience as a starter and has maybe the best cast of wide receivers he’s enjoyed since ascending to a starting role. That said, the risk-averse passer will need to be re-signed for this to occur. It would likely take Mayfield’s development stalling considerably for Cleveland to bring back Taylor.
  • Prior to the Lions taking Arkansas interior lineman Frank Ragnow with their first-round pick, the Bengals had he and Billy Price ranked “pretty much evenly,” Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com notes. After watching the Ohio State product operate this offseason, one that didn’t feature him becoming fully cleared until Monday, the Bengals believe Price might be a better fit for their offense rather than the player who was selected one spot ahead of him. He’s expected to be Cincinnati’s starting center from Day 1.

North Notes: Bears, Browns, Ragnow

Fans of another Midwestern team will recognize much of what the 2018 Bears‘ offense looks like. Matt Nagy said, via Dan Pompei of The Athletic (subscription required) the Bears’ offense will be 70-80 percent the same as what the Chiefs run under Andy Reid.

It will be different in some regards, which is only fair to our coaches on offense and the ideas they have,” Nagy said. “But the identity is going to be the same. It will feel very similar to Kansas City’s. We’re in the lab now. That’s the fun part. All the coaches are giving their ideas and thoughts. Coach [Reid] always said he had 51 percent of the say. So ultimately, he had final say. Now I have that. There are plays I liked that Coach [Reid] didn’t like, so now those plays are in.

Reid and Nagy each had roles as the Chiefs’ primary play-caller during the pair’s two years working in an HC-OC relationship, with Nagy’s shift toward play-calling responsibilities coinciding with Kansas City’s late-season charge toward a second straight AFC West title. He’ll attempt to replicate that with the Bears.

With OTAs continuing for some and minicamps starting elsewhere this week, here’s the latest from the North divisions.

  • The Browns believe Mychal Kendricks can play all three linebacker positions, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. Lining up the ex-Eagles starter — who is set to sign with the Browns on Monday — in the middle would give him the best chance of starting, with Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey on the outside. However, Joe Schobert started all 16 Browns games as the middle linebacker and was the top-rated (per Pro Football Focus) Browns ‘backer last season. Kendricks was unhappy with his role with the Eagles, but in Cleveland, the Browns’ recent futility notwithstanding, he’s going to be playing with a deeper group of linebackers. A three-down role won’t be guaranteed. Of course, the previous Browns regime re-signed Collins and extended Kirksey, which could complicate matters a bit as John Dorsey steps into his first full season with the franchise.
  • Also in Cleveland, Browns coaches are high on Duke Johnson, despite the team signing Carlos Hyde and drafting Nick Chubb, and Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com envisions an extension coming to fruition this offseason. The Browns have nearly $70MM in cap space, and Johnson would seemingly fit alongside either Hyde or Chubb as a passing-down back. The sides have been discussing a re-up for a bit now.
  • Despite being open to Joel Bitonio as Joe Thomas‘ replacement, the Browns kept him at left guard at OTAs this week, per Terry Pluto of cleveland.com. Bitonio would prefer to stay at guard, and the Browns — who drafted Austin Corbett, Bitonio’s left tackle successor at Nevada — in Round 2. Corbett is currently working behind Shon Coleman at left tackle.
  • On the subject of rookie offensive linemen’s roles, the Lions have begun first-round pick Frank Ragnow‘s tenure at guard, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com notes, adding he took some first-team reps at that spot. This is interesting considering Graham Glasgow played well at guard last season. The Lions have T.J. Lang entrenched at the other guard slot and signed ex-Jets center Wesley Johnson. However, Detroit’s discussed the notion of moving Glasgow to center. Ragnow played center for all but one game as an upperclassman but started throughout his sophomore season at guard for Arkansas.
  • Tyler Matakevich underwent surgery to repair three areas — his rotator cuff, labrum and a biceps muscle — repaired shortly after the Steelers‘ divisional-round loss to the Jaguars. And the Steelers subsequently signed Jon Bostic, seemingly to replace Ryan Shazier this season. However, Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes Matakevich was the first-string inside linebacker alongside Vince Williams throughout OTAs this week. While this situation is likely far from being settled, the Steelers holding a competition between a 2016 seventh-round pick and a sixth-year veteran who started 14 games last season is interesting.

Lions Sign Frank Ragnow, 2 Others

Add Frank Ragnow to the list of first-round picks who have signed their rookie deals. The Lions came to terms with their top draft choice, and this draft’s first center chosen, on Friday. Here’s the full list of Friday agreements heading into Detroit’s rookie minicamp:

Ragnow figures to immediately compete for a starting job in the Motor City. The Lions allowed starting center Travis Swanson to defect to the Jets, but they added ex-Jets starting snapper Wesley Johnson in free agency. Detroit was considering moving Graham Glasgow from guard to center, but the Ragnow addition may keep him at guard, where he fared well last season.

The former Razorback was a consensus All-American last season, and Pro Football Focus twice bestowed first-team All-American honors on Ragnow — in both his junior and senior slates. The draft slot system will place Ragnow’s rookie deal at $11.8MM over the customary four years, with an approximate $6.6MM signing bonus, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).

This leaves only third-round pick Tracey Walker, a safety out of Louisiana-Lafayette, as Detroit’s only unsigned pick.

NFL Draft Rumors: Sweat, Giants, Patriots

FSU pass rusher Josh Sweat is a player to keep an eye on as the NFL Draft approaches. Sweat, a five-star, top-10 overall recruit nationally coming out of high school, impressed at the draft combine and drew the attention of evaluators across the league. However, his history of knee issues including ACL, MCL, PCL injuries have teams concerned, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Interestingly, his 2016 knee surgery was performed by Giants team doctor Russ Warren, and that leads Rapoport to wonder aloud if that could make New York a potential landing spot for him. Sweat has been widely projected as a third round possibility, but it sounds like he could find his way into the second round based on his potential.

Here’s the latest NFL Draft buzz:

La Canfora On Draft, Raiders, Miller, Patriots

UCLA tackle Kolton Miller could be a target for the Raiders if they trade down from the No. 10 overall pick, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com hears. However, they probably can’t move back all that far if they hope to land him. Evaluators and offensive line coaches that have spoken with JLC believe that Miller – and not Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey – is the best tackle in this year’s class. Plenty of teams in the teens are eyeing the 6’9″ prospect and McGlinchey is more likely to go in the late teens or early 20s, La Canfora hears. The Lions at No. 20 could be Miller’s floor as they would plug him in on the right side.

Here’s more draft buzz from JLC:

  • The Patriots are entertaining the possibility of moving up in the teens if the right quarterback falls, La Canfora writes. The Dolphins and Bills are exploring QBs at Nos. 11 and 12, so the Raiders could potentially find value by trading down from No. 10. Josh Rosen, in JLC’s estimation, appears to be the most likely of the big four QBs to slide. I’d agree with that assessment as the Browns, Giants, and Jets are reportedly not high on the UCLA product.
  • The Broncos say they are open to moving down from No. 5 and JLC believes that linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is very much on their radar. The likely trade scenario, he believes, would see the Bills moving up to get Josh Rosen if Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and Baker Mayfield come off of the board in the top four. The Bills own the Nos. 12 and 22 picks in the draft.
  • The Bengals at No. 21 could be the floor for Arkansas center Frank Ragnow. Ragnow is climbing up boards around the league and has a good chance of going in the first round.
  • The Ravens are looking for a tight end, but they would rather not select one at No. 16. La Canfora hears that the Ravens, ideally, would like to move down 5-7 spots to get South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst. The Ravens can’t go too far, however, with the Saints sitting at No. 27.
  • Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who won’t turn 20 until after the draft, is a lock to go in the top 10, JLC hears. He also wouldn’t be shocked to see him go as high as No. 6 overall, depending on how the first five picks shake out.
  • Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan could go just outside the top 10 and JLC believes his worst case scenario is No. 26.
  • Florida state defensive lineman Josh Sweat could sneak into the late first round and seems very possible for the second round.

NFL Draft Rumors: Bengals, Ragnow, Browns

It increasingly sounds like Arkansas center/guard Frank Ragnow has a good chance to be drafted in Round 1, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com hears. The Bengals got a last minute meeting in with Ragnow and it’s possible that they could consider him with the No. 21 overall pick. Pelissero wonders if we could be in for a run on interior linemen towards the back of the first round, with guys like Ragnow, Iowa center James Daniels, Georgia guard Isaiah Wynn and Ohio State center Billy Price (despite his partially torn pec) coming off of the board sooner than expected.

Those guys are just safe. They’re steady. The bust factor is very low on those guys,” an AFC executive said. “Maybe they’re not the sexiest picks, but worst-case scenario, you’re going to end up with a solid player who can step in and contribute pretty early.”

Here’s the latest NFL Draft buzz:

  • Most people believe the Browns are zeroed in on a quarterback, but GM John Dorsey isn’t publicly ruling out Penn State running back Saquon Barkley at No. 1 overall (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Of course, draft season is full of smokescreens, so we shouldn’t necessarily take Dorsey’s comments at face value. In all likelihood, the Browns will be selecting their QB of the future with the top pick while considering other players at No. 4.
  • Draft visits are officially over, but the Seahawks are still doing their homework. On Thursday night, they’ll dine with Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, Rapoport tweets. The Seahawks pick at No. 18, so they may have to trade up if they want him. It will be interesting to see if they go in that direction since they have opted to trade down in recent drafts.