Gareon Conley

Texans To Decline Gareon Conley’s Fifth-Year Option

Months after acquiring Gareon Conley via trade, the Texans plan to make him a contract-year defender. The team is passing on the cornerback’s 2021 option, per Mark Berman of Fox 26 (on Twitter).

While the Texans are still high on Conley, per Berman, this changes his status. The cornerback would have been attached to a $10.24MM salary in 2021 had the Texans exercised the option. Conley will earn $1.89MM in 2020.

This option would have been guaranteed for injury only, with the 2017 class being the last first-round group to not have their fifth-year options fully guaranteed.

The Texans sent the Raiders a third-round pick for Conley before the deadline last season. The former Ohio State defender resides as one of Houston’s key corners, along with Bradley Roby and 2019 second-rounder Lonnie Johnson. Conley, however, played just 38% of Houston’s defensive snaps last season. The Texans, though, let nine-year contributor Johnathan Joseph sign with the Titans, opening up more time in their secondary.

Pro Football Focus graded Conley as the Texans’ top corner last season, though he came in outside the top 50 at the position. Conley missed much of his rookie year with an injury but started 14 games for the 2018 Raiders. He was operating as a 2019 Oakland starter before the trade.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Acquire Gareon Conley From Raiders

Eight days away from this year’s trade deadline, two AFC teams have struck a deal. The Raiders agreed to send cornerback Gareon Conley to the Texans in exchange for a third-round pick, according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic (on Twitter).

Conley has started every Raiders game this season and will head to a Texans team dealing with injuries at corner. The 2017 first-round pick is signed through the 2020 season and can be controlled through 2021 via fifth-year option. The Ohio State product has started 20 games over the past two seasons, shaking off an injury-marred rookie slate.

And just like the Broncos did when they traded Demaryius Thomas to the Texans last season, the Raiders will see Conley again soon. The Raiders will be in Houston for a Week 8 Texans matchup Sunday.

This marks yet another high 2020 pick the Texans have surrendered, with the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain reporting (via Twitter) it’s a 2020 third. The Texans owned the Seahawks’ 2020 third-rounder from the Jadeveon Clowney deal and will send that selection to the Raiders. The Texans traded their 2020 first-rounder in the Laremy Tunsil deal and are likely to send a third-rounder to the Browns for Duke Johnson. Overall, Houston has traded five 2020 or ’21 Day 1 or Day 2 picks since August.

This would stand to leave Houston with only its second-rounder on Days 1-2 of next year’s draft, further committing the current GM-less team to a hopeful deep 2019 playoff run.

This marks an interesting deal between two teams contending in the AFC. Although the Raiders did not fare well in Green Bay on Sunday, they remain 3-3. They have struggled in pass defense this season, with Aaron Rodgers‘ historic day being the most recent such reminder. Oakland also added two corners in this year’s draft — second-rounder Trayvon Mullen and fourth-rounder Isaiah Johnson — and signed Nevin Lawson. Lamarcus Joyner has also worked in the slot as a Raider. Johnson is expected to make his debut soon, and this transaction figures to mean more Mullen snaps going forward.

The Texans have lost Bradley Roby, also an Ohio State-produced first-rounder, and on Sunday saw veteran Johnathan Joseph carted off the field Sunday. They drafted Lonnie Johnson in Round 2, but he has graded as Pro Football Focus’ second-worst cornerback this season. The Texans also placed Phillip Gaines on IR on Monday. The 4-3 team will add Conley to the mix, and he should be set to contribute immediately. PFF has Conley slotted as this year’s No. 82 overall corner. He has four career interceptions, one of which coming this season.

Conley, 24, represents yet another Reggie McKenzie-era first-rounder the Jon Gruden regime has jettisoned. Gruden shipped out Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper in trades last season and has now dealt away McKenzie’s final first-round pick as Raiders GM. Karl Joseph is the last remaining McKenzie first-rounder on the Raiders’ roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Audition T.J. McDonald, Other DBs

One of the many veterans the Dolphins either traded, released or let walk in free agency this year, T.J. McDonald has drawn interest from another AFC team. The Raiders put McDonald through a Thursday workout, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

McDonald and fellow defensive backs Kentrell Brice, Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Juston Burris participated in the audition. Additionally, Marcus Cooper and Coty Sensabaugh were part of this extensive audition, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter).

The Raiders lost first-round safety Johnathan Abram to a severe shoulder injury, which is expected to end his rookie season after one game, and saw cornerback Gareon Conley stretchered off the field in a scary scene Monday. Conley, however, avoided a serious injury and may have a chance to play in Week 2.

A 28-year-old safety who came into the league with the 2013 Rams, McDonald has started all 75 games in which he’s played. This included 14 starts for the 2018 Dolphins. The Dolphins ate nearly $5MM in dead money by cutting McDonald in August.

The Buccaneers signed Brice in March but cut him earlier this month. Brice started 10 games at safety for the Packers last season. A three-year cornerback veteran, Boddy-Calhoun played in 43 games (22 starts) for the Browns from 2016-18. Burris suited up for 38 with the Jets and Browns from 2016-18. Sensabaugh and Cooper are much older, having begun their careers in 2012 and ’13, respectively. Sensabaugh started in 10 Steelers games last season; Cooper was buried on the Bears’ 2018 depth chart and didn’t see too much action later that season as a Lion.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Rumors: Carr, Raiders, Peterson, Taylor

We learned earlier this morning that Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson has requested a trade, though the team wants to keep him. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that Jackson, on his way to the team bus this morning, declined to comment on the report.

With the trade deadline two days away, let’s round up a few more trade rumors from around the league (Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who says many GMs expect there to be three to five “impactful” deals over the next 48 hours, offers a helpful primer, which includes a list of some of the most-discussed players on the market):

  • Albert Breer of TheMMQB says that the Raiders may not be done dealing just yet, though he does not expect the team to move Derek Carr (indeed, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported this morning that the Raiders have told Carr that he is the quarterback of the present and future). However, Oakland is open to moving Karl Joseph and Gareon Conley, though the Raiders are driving a “hard bargain” with teams interested in Conley.
  • Breer names a number of other players whose names we have not heard in recent rumblings but who could nonetheless be on the move: the PackersHa Ha Clinton-Dix, the 49ersPierre Garcon and Jimmie Ward, the CardinalsChandler Jones, and the BroncosShane Ray and Brandon Marshall. Breers adds that San Francisco would need to get something “significant” to deal Ward. He also says that, while teams are certainly interested in Denver corners Bradley Roby and Chris Harris, he thinks it would be difficult for the team to trade either.
  • If they had elected to trade Patrick Peterson, La Canfora writes that the Cardinals could have received a bounty for him, and may have even landed multiple first-round picks (in fact, several teams were already prepared to offer a first- and second-rounder). JLC reports that Peterson was considered the “crown jewel” of the deadline, and given his attractive contract status, he may be the subject of renewed trade rumors during the offseason.
  • Breer also writes that the Browns are open to trading Tyrod Taylor, whose contract structure could make a deal feasible. Meanwhile, Tony Grossi of ESPN.com suggests that Cleveland GM John Dorsey may be trying to acquire wide receiver help (Twitter link).
  • The Bills remain unlikely to trade LeSean McCoy, per Schefter.
  • Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has demonstrated a proclivity for making trades, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says Maccagnan has been doing his due diligence on everyone, including big-name players. But while there is a sense that New York could swing a deal, the fact that the team is in a no-man’s land between buyer and seller, and the fact that the roster does not have many tradeable pieces, could make a trade difficult to pull off.

AFC Rumors: Jets, Nagy, Conley, Bengals

Todd Bowles and Matt Nagy will face off Sunday when the Jets head to Soldier Field, but this matchup’s visiting coach wanted Nagy to be his offensive coordinator last year, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports. The Jets ended up hiring the since-fired John Morton to be their OC in 2017, but Mehta writes Bowles’ top choice to replace Chan Gailey was Nagy, whom he’s known for decades. However, Nagy did not take an interview, continuing as Andy Reid‘s top offensive lieutenant with the Chiefs. Reid did not want to lose Nagy, per Mehta. Nagy stayed in Kansas City and served as a part-time play-caller last season. That ended up being a critical decision, with Nagy overseeing a dynamic Chiefs offense — one that continued to incorporate college concepts and doubled as one of the league’s most innovative attacks — and the season leading to the Bears hiring him as their head coach. Jeremy Bates is now the Jets’ OC.

Here’s the latest out of the Big Apple and other AFC cities:

  • Bilal Powell‘s career may be in jeopardy. The Jets placed their longtime passing-down running back on IR today, and the neck injury Powell’s sustained will need to be surgically repaired. Bowles said (via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, Twitter link) this could be a career-threatening setback. Powell’s played with the Jets since arriving in New York as a fourth-round pick in 2011. He’s by far the longest-tenured Jet, having served as a backfield complement to the likes of LaDainian Tomlinson, Chris Ivory and Matt Forte.
  • Patrick Peterson is either off the market, or the Cardinals are orchestrating an impressive smokescreen, so cornerback-needy teams will need to look elsewhere. Some are gauging whether the Raiders would trade another Reggie McKenzie first-round pick, with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweeting teams are inquiring about Gareon Conley. Janoris Jenkins is the other player contenders are monitoring, but Conley is only in his second season. He is, however, one of the many Raiders who’ve seen their stock drop under Jon Gruden. The Raiders benched Conley prior to their London game; he’d started the previous five Oakland games after missing almost all of his rookie season due to a shin injury. However, the Raiders aren’t believed to be ready to part with Conley. JLC adds the Eagles, Patriots and Steelers are among the teams exploring what it would take to land a corner.
  • An NFLPA grievance against the Bengals filed on behalf of Eric Reid did not go in the union’s favor, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reports. An arbitrator denied the grievance, ruling the Bengals were within their rights to ask the then-free agent safety if he planned on continuing to kneel during the playing of the national anthem. The NFLPA argued the Bengals passed on Reid solely because of the anthem controversy, per Garafolo. Now on the Panthers, Reid has knelt during the anthem with Carolina. His collusion grievance against the NFL is still pending and isn’t expected to be heard in the near future, Garafolo adds.

Fallout From Raiders’ Trade Of Amari Cooper

After looking at the Amari Cooper trade from the Cowboys’ perspective, let’s take a look at things from the Raiders’ side:

  • Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie insists that Cooper’s contract situation, or the fact that he is represented by the same agent as Khalil Mack agent (Joel Segal) had nothing to do with his desire to make a deal (Twitter link via Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area).
  • McKenzie said the trade “was an opportunity I couldn’t pass on, to get a first-round pick. … I love Amari but I just felt it came down to getting the pick,” (Twitter link via Vic Tafur of The Athletic).
  • The Raiders are now in a full rebuild mode, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) doesn’t think they’re done yet. Safety Karl Joseph is another first-rounder who could be available, giving the Raiders a chance to add even more to their 2019 draft haul. As Rapoport understands it, quarterback Derek Carr and cornerback Gareon Conley are unlikely to be dealt, but many other players could be had for the right price.
  • Head coach Jon Gruden did not immediately address the trade with his team (Twitter link via Michael Gehlken of the Review-Journal). Some players saw Cooper pulled off of the practice field on Monday but didn’t know why until they checked their phones in the locker room.

Saints, Eagles Could Be Aggressive At Trade Deadline

The Saints and Eagles are expected to be among the most aggressive teams in advance of the October 30 trade deadline, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who adds that the two clubs are interested in a few of the same players.

Interestingly, La Canfora writes that Philadelphia is still monitoring the trade markets for Le’Veon Bell and LeSean McCoy, though recent reports surrounding both running backs suggest that they will be staying with their current teams. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer says it would not cost much to get McCoy, despite what the Bills have been saying, but it does not seem likely that the Eagles will reunite with their former star. Instead, in keeping with previous reports, it sounds as if the Eagles are content with their running back situation, and Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets that the team sees a defensive tackle, secondary help, and a field-stretching wide receiver as bigger priorities.

La Canfora also writes that the Eagles are seeking another receiving option and a quality corner, and he says the Saints are looking for upgrades at the same positions. The Raiders are said to be shopping Amari Cooper, who is probably the best wide receiver who could be had at the deadline, but Larry Fitzgerald and Emmanuel Sanders may also be in play. Meanwhile, Eli Apple, Gareon Conley, and Bradley Roby are some of the corners who have been attracting the interest of rival clubs.

The Saints are currently 4-1 and are atop the NFC South, and they are clearly in win-now mode as they hope to bring home another Lombardi Trophy before Drew Brees, 39, hangs up the cleats. The defending champion Eagles are just 3-3 but are very much alive in the wide open NFC East.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Raiders, Cooper, Conley, Broncos, Keenum, Chiefs, Berry

There’s been several high profile names rumored to be trade candidates over the past week, including Raiders receiver Amari Cooper. It was reported earlier today that the Raiders were shopping the former first round pick, but now coach Jon Gruden is pushing back on those reports.

“I’m not. I’m not. I’m just sorry to have to deal with a lot of these reports” Gruden insisted when asked about the reports saying he wanted to get rid of Cooper, according to Scott Bair of NBC Sports (Twitter link). Cooper was injured in the Raiders’ loss to the Seahawks after taking a nasty hit and was diagnosed with a concussion. He’s in the last year of his rookie deal but has a fifth-year option for next year, meaning any team that traded for him would have control of him in 2019. Gruden also previously insisted he wasn’t trying to trade Khalil Mack, so perhaps his denials should be taken with a grain of salt.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • Case Keenum had another rough game, prompting reporters to ask coach Vance Joseph after the game if Keenum would remain the starter for the Broncos. Joseph answered affirmatively, saying “Case is our quarterback”, according to Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (Twitter link). Keenum left for one play to be evaluated for a concussion, and the home crowd gave backup Chad Kelly a standing ovation. With the Broncos a sinking ship and Joseph on the hot seat, it wouldn’t be surprising if Kelly gets a look at some point.
  • Speaking of Oakland, the Raiders have benched their 2017 first round pick, cornerback Gareon Conley, playing him on zero defensive snaps in their Week 6 loss. Conley could be a possible trade target, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, who tweets that “teams looking to buy low on Conley will be calling.” Gruden has shown a willingness to get rid of high-profile players, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the team gives up on Conley despite his limited time on the field. He missed most of his rookie season due to injury.
  • Chiefs All-Pro safety Eric Berry has mysteriously missed every game this season without much of an update from the team, and he is still without a timetable for a return, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Sources told La Canfora that the team is “extremely confident that he will play this season”, but no one seems to know when and the team will continue to “exude extreme caution” handling him. The Chiefs defense has been a liability this season, and would get a massive boost from Berry’s return.

Raiders Rumors: Mack, Conley, Richard

The latest on the Khalil Mack front continues to paint a picture of a situation that has no resolution in sight. Mack remains a Raiders holdout. He and the team are not making progress on an extension, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). If that weren’t enough, Rapoport adds no communication’s commencing and no optimism exists. Jon Gruden having yet to speak with his top player is certainly interesting, with the now-two-time Oakland coach having accepted the job in January. Mack has not reported for any Raiders activities this year. But more than five weeks remain until the regular season begins. Unlike Aaron Donald, Mack has already accrued four seasons toward free agency after not holding out last year. This provides the 2016 defensive player of the year with leverage to continue his holdout beyond August 7, whereas Donald will have to make a big choice by then to avoid possible restricted free agency in 2019.

Here’s the latest from the AFC’s Bay Area franchise:

  • A shin injury Gareon Conley cost almost his entire rookie season, and the corrective surgery cost the 2017 first-round pick part of his offseason. The second-year cornerback has not experienced additional known shin trouble, but he now has encountered a hip problem. Conley missed Saturday and Sunday’s Raiders workouts because of this, and this raised eyebrows among some coaches, Vic Tafur of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The Raiders are calling this ailment a hip strain, but new DC Paul Guenther doesn’t anticipate Conley being out for too long. Daryl Worley took Conley’s place with the Oakland first-stringers, per Tafur.
  • Jalen Richard‘s also dealing with an injury, and without a roster spot secured, this setback figures to pose trouble for his latching on with Gruden’s Raiders. The return man/passing-down back suffered a calf strain at Sunday’s practice, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. Richard was spotted walking without crutches after practice, however, but Gehlken anticipates the Raiders adding another running back. Richard and DeAndre Washington, both 2016 additions who have backed up Latavius Murray and then Marshawn Lynch, are believed to be competing for one roster spot. Richard is not expected to factor into the Raiders’ new-look return-men competitions, with the team having signed Dwayne Harris and traded for Ryan Switzer — both having experience under new ST coordinator Rich Bisaccia.
  • Kolton Miller has a legitimate chance to win Oakland’s starting left tackle job, with Donald Penn on the mend for now.

Extra Points: Contracts, Raiders, Conley

If NFL players want to land fully guaranteed contracts, they’d need to be willing to accept short-term deals, argue Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap. Teams likely wouldn’t be willing to hand out full guarantees over a five- or six-year term, so two- or three-year pacts would probably become the norm. New Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is Exhibit A, as he received $84.5MM fully guaranteed on a three-year deal this offseason. Taking shorter contracts wouldn’t necessarily be a negative for players — the last years of long-term deals often turn into de facto team options, giving teams almost all the leverage. On the subject of guaranteed accords, Bills linebacker and NFLPA stalwart Lorenzo Alexander says they’re “something players are always going to fight for,” per SiriusXM Radio, while Rams running back Todd Gurley suggested to TMZ Sports that a lockout will be required before fully guaranteed deals are dispersed.

  • Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley is suing the woman who accused him of rape in advance of the 2017 draft, per TMZ Sports. Conley, an Ohio State product, was still drafted in the first round last year even with those allegations hanging over his head, and prosecutors ultimately decided not to press charges (and Conley has vehemently denied his accuser’s story). Still, Conley believes the claims not only caused him to drop in the draft — he was viewed as an early first-round selection but ultimately went 24th overall — but broke up endorsement opportunities. On the field, Conley’s rookie year was a lost campaign, as he played in only two games before a shin issue landed him on injured reserve.
  • A number of head coaches will be on the hot seat almost as soon as the 2018 campaign gets underway, and John McClain of the Houston Chronicle ran down the list of coaches who could be fired. Hue Jackson seems like an obvious candidate after posting only a single victory over two seasons with the Browns, while Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter was thought to be on the chopping block following the 2017 campaign. Pro Football Rumors recently examined a similar topic, asking readers which coach will be handed his walking papers first. Your early favorite? Jackson.
  • In case you missed it, only 14 of 256 2018 NFL draft choices remain unsigned. We’ve got the entire list here.