George Fant

NFC West Notes: Cardinals, 49ers, Fant

Cardinals executive vice president/COO Ron Minegar was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence Saturday night in Chandler, Ariz., according to Shane Dale of ABC15. The Cardinals released a statement, calling the act “inexcusable” and indicated it will bring “serious consequences” (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). This comes a year after Cardinals GM Steve Keim was arrested for DUI. Keim served a five-week suspension for that. Minegar has been with the Cards much longer than Keim, joining the franchise in 2000. He serves mostly in a business-side capacity.

Here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • Jerick McKinnon‘s 49ers debut may be further delayed. The team “seems to be drifting toward” the notion that McKinnon might not be ready to play by Week 1, Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes (subscription required). McKinnon is out for the preseason’s remainder after receiving a PRP injection in his troublesome knee, which required surgery a year ago. The former Vikings back spent the offseason rehabbing but came off the 49ers’ active/PUP list to practice Tuesday. But after soreness, the sixth-year talent is again shut down. Barrows projects the 49ers will place McKinnon on short-term IR to start the season, with the reserve/PUP list no longer being an option.
  • Veterans Malcolm Smith and Jordan Matthews may not have a place with the 2019 49ers, with Barrows predicting both will fail to make the 53-man roster. Matthews signed a one-year, $2MM deal ($300K guaranteed) with San Francisco earlier this offseason. Smith has disappointed since coming over from the Raiders, missing all of 2017 due to injury and four games last season. The Super Bowl XLVIII MVP registered just 35 tackles in 2018. Although Barrows notes the 30-year-old linebacker was having a good camp prior to tweaking a hamstring, he has rookie UDFA Azeez Al-Shaair making the team over the veteran. Smith agreed to a restructured deal in March, one that shortened his five-year contract to three years. But cutting Smith would tag the 49ers with $4.2MM in dead money.
  • Would-be 49ers swing tackle Shon Coleman suffered a season-ending ankle injury Saturday night and underwent surgery Sunday. The 49ers are searching for a potential replacement for this role, Kyle Shanahan said (via Barrows, on Twitter), naming former 49er Garry Gilliam as a possible solution.
  • The Seahawks have used George Fant as a starter in 17 games over the past three seasons and are expected to keep him around in 2019 as a swing tackle. But a second-degree ankle sprain will shelve Fant for multiple weeks, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com notes.
  • Charles Clay and Brandon Williams are cleared to return to full Cardinals practices. The veteran tight end and cornerback came off the Cards’ active/PUP list Sunday.

Seahawks OT George Fant Signs RFA Tender

Seahawks offensive tackle George Fant has signed his second-round restricted free agent tender, while defensive end Quinton Jefferson has signed his original round RFA tender, according to the NFL’s transaction wire.

A collegiate basketball player with only one year of NCAA football experience (which came as a tight end), Fant went undrafted in 2016 but still managed to start 10 games during his rookie campaign in Seattle. A torn ACL cost Fant the 2017 season, but he rebounded to appear in all 16 games and play 35% of the Seahawks’ offensive snaps in 2018.

Fant, who will now collect a $3.095MM base salary next year, graded out well in 2018, with Pro Football Focus ranking him as the No. 26 offensive tackle among 80 qualifiers. While he won’t be locked in as a starter heading into next season, Fant could compete with former fist-round pick Germain Ifedi for playing time at right tackle.

In addition to Fant and Jefferson, the Seahawks have also re-signed the following exclusive rights free agents:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/13/19

Here is the latest news involving restricted free agents and exclusive-rights free agents, with updates coming throughout the day:

ERFA

Tendered:

Non-tendered:

RFA

Tendered at second-round level: 

Tendered at original-round level:

Non-tendered: 

Seahawks Notes: Tight End, Penny, Wright

With Will Dissly on the injured reserve and Nick Vannett dealing with a lower-back injury, the Seahawks may be forced to get creative at tight end. As Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com writes, one of the options could be offensive lineman George Fant, who played three snaps at the position last Sunday.

Vannett, who played 54 of 66 offensive snaps last weekend, seemed to all but confirm Fant’s role in the offense.

“If we go 12 personnel [one running back and two tight ends], we’ll probably have George Fant be the big tight end and me be in my usual [pass-catching and blocking] role,” Vannett said. “So I don’t think it will be too different [this week]. But I think just the 11 personnel [one back, one tight end] stuff I’ll obviously be having to take on a bigger role.”

Besides Vannett, Darrell Daniels is the only other healthy tight end of the roster. The 23-year-old was acquired in a trade with the Colts back in September. Ed Dickson is also sitting on the NFI, and he’s expected to return in Week 8.

Let’s take a look at some more notes out of Seattle…

  • Despite using a first-round pick on Rashaad Penny, the Seahawks have seemingly settled on a rotation at running back. Despite the rookie’s talents, Seattle will apparently lean mostly on Chris Carson and Mike Davis, and Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com thought it was telling that offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer didn’t mention Penny when discussing the position. “I think we have a number of backs that can challenge you different ways,” Schottenheimer said. “That’s why it’s hard to get guys rolling sometimes but I think we’ve figured that out the last two weeks, that you go in with a mindset of ‘Okay, this is the guy that we’re going to start with,’ and if things don’t work out that way then you adjust but Chris the week before got significantly most of the touches and then this last week, the plan was to let Mike go. A veteran player, let him get started, see how he does and he didn’t disappoint.” Through four games, Penny has compiled 92 rushing yards on 29 carries. For comparison’s sake, Davis had 101 rushing yards on 21 carries last weekend.
  • K.J. Wright will miss this weekend’s game against the Rams, but head coach Pete Carroll sounded optimistic that the linebacker will return soon. “He has had a great few days,” Carroll said (via John Boyle of Seahawks.com). “He’s going to be off today, then the next three days will be solid days back to back to back, see how he tolerates that. He’s working his way back in hopes that that kicks him into high gear next week.” The 29-year-old has missed his team’s first four games as he recovers from knee surgery.
  • After Earl Thomas went down with a season-ending injury, the Seahawks signed Maurice Alexander to take his place on the roster.

NFC West Notes: Cardinals, Keim, Seahawks

The Cardinals‘ five-week suspension of GM Steve Keim ended on Wednesday, but he was nowhere to be found during Arizona’s morning practice, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic tweets. Keim is almost always in attendance for practices, so this may be a sign that he has not been fully reinstated just yet.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

  • The Seahawks are trying George Fant at right tackle and allowing him to compete with 2016 first-round pick Germain Ifedi, as Brady Henderson of ESPN.com tweets. Ifedi led the NFL in penalties last season and struggled in the team’s preseason game on Saturday. Fant started at left tackle as a UDFA in 2016 before tearing his ACL last summer, so the Seahawks have reason to believe that he can be a first-stringer on the other side. Ultimately, one has to wonder if the Seahawks could consider going out-of-house again for a tackle as they did by acquiring Duane Brown last year.
  • Erik Walden‘s deal with the Seahawks is worth $1.105MM and includes just $50K guaranteed, a source tells Henderson (on Twitter). The low guarantee means that the veteran pass rusher is far from a lock to make the Week 1 roster, though it is an area of weakness for Seattle. With the minimum salary benefit, Walden’s contract only counts for $720K against the cap.
  • The Rams have decided against signing Junior Galette, which may improve the Seahawks‘ odds of landing him.

Seahawks Notes: Thomas, Fluker, Fant, Hill

Earl Thomas remains at an impasse with the Seahawks, who’ve stripped the defense — at least, their first and third levels of it — almost completely bare of Thomas’ Super Bowl teammates this offseason. But future franchise tags give the Seahawks the leverage on Thomas in this holdout, Bucky Brooks of NFL.com writes. The 29-year-old safety skipping regular-season weeks would obviously cost him financially, and he must report by the midseason point to avoid his contract tolling over to 2019. Thomas’ four-year, $40MM deal expires after this season. Pete Carroll expects Thomas to be at camp, but Brooks writes the Seahawks probably don’t want to pay him $12MM per year (or north, if the three-time All-Pro is intent on surpassing Eric Berry‘s $13MM-AAV deal that doubles as the safety high-water mark) in what’s been an oddly soft safety market.

If the Seahawks do decide to get serious about a trade, Brooks notes that, beyond the Cowboys, the Chargers, 49ers, Buccaneers and Bengals are the most logical destinations. The Bolts drafted Derwin James and have Jahleel Addae on the books for three more seasons, but Brooks cites the need for a deep centerfielder-type safety nonetheless. And Thomas has a history with Los Angeles DC Gus Bradley. He has a background with San Francisco DC Robert Saleh as well. The Bengals hosted Eric Reid on a visit that went poorly, but they were only in the market for a backup safety at that time. Tampa Bay spent plenty to add to its defensive front this offseason and added three DBs in the draft’s middle rounds. The Bucs boast Chris Conte and second-year man Justin Evans as their top safeties.

Here’s the latest out of Seattle:

  • A Chargers trade for Thomas wouldn’t add up with the franchise’s usual M.O., Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune notes. Tom Telesco and football ops president John Spanos aren’t big on parting with draft capital, with Krasovic adding that extensions for Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon — along with Los Angeles’ approximate $9MM cap-space total — would also impede a move like this.
  • Should the Seahawks deal Thomas, Delano Hill would be the favorite to succeed him alongside Bradley McDougald, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. McDougald would move to free safety, with Hill — a 2017 third-rounder — making his starting-lineup debut as Seattle’s strong safety. Hill ran with the starters in Thomas’ stead during minicamp.
  • The right side of Seattle’s offensive line figures to be manned by tackle Germain Ifedi and guard D.J. Fluker, per Condotta, who adds Fluker could be an option at tackle if Ifedi struggles. Fluker, though, has not played much tackle since the Chargers shuttled him to guard prior to the 2015 season. However, former left tackle starter George Fant will be thrust into the right tackle competition in training camp, Condotta writes. Fant is expected to be healthy after suffering a torn ACL last summer and would profile as the Seahawks’ swing tackle if Ifedi keeps the top right-edge job.
  • Amara Darboh (eight receptions, 71 yards in 2017) received essentially a redshirt year as a rookie, but Condotta notes the Seahawks are “counting on” the third-round pick to see a significant playing-time uptick this season. Seattle has Tyler Lockett and recently added UFAs Jaron Brown and Brandon Marshall. However, the latter is coming off a poor season and spent time recovering from multiple injuries this offseason. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Darboh’s role could hinge on how Marshall fares in camp. Seattle did not guarantee Marshall much, so it’s not certain the 34-year-old target makes the roster.

NFC West Rumors: 49ers, Rams, Seahawks

While the NFL announced its new national anthem policy as a unanimous decision, only 31 teams actually voted on the measure. 49ers owner Jed York said his club abstained from voting on the change, which will penalize teams if any of their players do not stand for the national anthem, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets. In a related move, York indicated the 49ers will close concession stands during the anthem. “I don’t think we should profit during the national anthem if we’re going to ask people to be respectful,” York said, per Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com (Twitter link). York supported his former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, as the progenitor of the national anthem protest movement, so his stance on the matter at hand shouldn’t be too surprising.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

  • While the Rams seemingly upgraded at nearly every conceivable position this offseason, the club’s linebacker depth chart is still relatively weak after it traded Alec Ogletree to the Giants earlier this year. Nevertheless, don’t expect Los Angeles to be a major suitor for free agent ‘backer Mychal Kendricks, who was released by the Eagles on Monday, according to Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter link). Cory Littleton, Ramik Wilson, and rookie fifth-rounder Micah Kiser are among the candidates to play opposite entrenched starter Mark Barron, and the Rams are content to let those contenders battle for playing time. Kendricks, for his part, shouldn’t want for interest, as he’s the most coveted linebacker on the open market at present.
  • Seahawks offensive tackle George Fant, who suffered a torn ACL last August, is progressing normally and should be available for the start of the 2018 campaign, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes. Fant may even be ready for training camp, as the early nature of his injury has allowed him to recover in time for this summer’s activities. Seattle’s starting left tackle for 10 games in 2016, won’t have any chance of re-claiming that spot during the upcoming season, as the Seahawks have since acquired veteran Duane Brown to hold down the blindside. However, Fant will work as a reserve on the left side, and could even compete with former first-round pick Germain Ifedi for playing time at right tackle.
  • Reuben Foster will now be welcome back to the 49ers’ facilities after the domestic violence charges against him were dropped earlier today, and San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan had been in regular contact before today’s decision, per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. Shanahan revealed he’d been talking to Foster once or twice per week during his ongoing legal case, enabling him to check in on the linebacker’s state of mind.

George Fant Tears ACL

The Seahawks now have a hole on their offensive line. Following last night’s preseason win over the Vikings, head coach Pete Carroll revealed that left tackle George Fant tore his right ACL and will require surgery. While the team hasn’t announced a definitive timeframe for the lineman, it’s assumed that he will miss the entire season. The 25-year-old was injured during the second quarter after teammate Justin Britt accidentally rolled into his leg.

George Fant“Really broken-hearted about George Fant getting hurt,” Carroll said (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). “Just unfortunate. He’s done so much, come so far and everybody’s cheering for him and rooting for him all along. He’s going to be in trouble getting back this season. He’s got a knee injury that’s going to require surgery, unfortunately. Kinda takes a little something out of it for everybody.”

Fant had a bit of an unconventional path to the NFL. Despite not having played organized football since the eighth grade, the former Western Kentucky University basketball star decided to join the school’s football team for the 2015 season. After playing sparingly during his lone collegiate season, he signed on with the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2016.

While he mostly played tight end during his college career, the Seahawks transitioned Fant into an offensive tackle. The 6-foot-6 rookie ended up playing a significant role for Seattle last season, starting 10 of his 14 games. While ProFootballFocus.com wasn’t particularly fond of his performance, the Seahawks clearly had high hopes for the lineman.

That sentiment was emphasized this offseason, as Fant came into camp 20 pounds heavier, and Carroll certainly recognized the player’s improvement at the position.

“I don’t think anyone has done more than George Fant,” Carroll said (via Matt Calkins of the Seattle Times). “George just had a fantastic spring and offseason … he got bigger and stronger and was able to add, shoot, maybe 22-23 pounds from where he was last year.”

Fant was expected to be the Seahawks’ starting left tackle, leaving the team with a hole on that unit. Rees Odhiambo replaced his injured teammate during last night’s contest, and ESPN.com’s Sheil Kapadia suggests that the team could also use left guard Luke Joeckel at the position.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks Notes: Lacy, Joeckel, Fant

Eddie Lacy‘s next weight test will come on Monday, Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com reports, noting that the Seahawks running back must be at or below 250 pounds to earn a $55K bonus. Lacy made his May weight requirement, at or under 255 pounds, and collected the $55K bonus after the scale read 253 pounds. The goal remains for the fifth-year running back to be at 245 during the season. Lacy has come a long way from earlier this year, when the former Packers ball carrier reportedly weighed 267 pounds during one UFA visit. Guaranteed $2.865MM, Lacy can collect up to $2.685MM through incentives — the weight program being part of that package. This latest weight date coincides with Seattle’s minicamp, which begins Tuesday.

Here’s more from the Pacific Northwest.

  • We didn’t hear much about other suitors for Luke Joeckel prior to the former No. 2 overall pick reaching a one-year agreement with the Seahawks, but an anonymous executive confirmed — via Mike Sando of ESPN.com (Insider link) — the tackle/guard generated some interest despite an underwhelming Jaguars tenure and an injury-marred contract year. “We were all in it for Joeckel, too,” the exec said. “Joeckel had a market.” The Seahawks gave Joeckel an $8MM deal featuring $7MM in full guarantees. The latter number may well have come from Seattle having to beat out competition for the 25-year-old lineman.
  • The Seahawks may be evolving on Joeckel’s position. In April, Pete Carroll said Joeckel would begin at left tackle. Now, he’s playing more left guard after unconventional NFLer George Fant has convinced the Seahawks he’s a viable option to stay at left tackle, per Kapadia. Fant, who went from eighth grade to his rookie NFL season without playing football, has gained more than 20 pounds this year. Kapadia reports the former Western Kentucky basketball player is up to 320 after suiting up at 296 last season. Joeckel is still receiving looks at tackle and guard, but Kapadia notes guard will probably be where he plays.
  • Seattle also followed through with the move of shifting Mark Glowinski from left to right guard and Germain Ifedi to right tackle, per Kapadia, who identifies Glowinski as being more comfortable on the right side. The third-year player started 16 games at left guard last season but played some right guard as a rookie.
  • John Schneider has not used the franchise tag option to retain a player since his first year as Seahawks GM, when he tagged Olindo Mare in 2010, but Jimmy Graham is due to be a free agent in 2018 and has been tagged before. The tight end’s bounce-back 2016 season shows he could have value for a third NFL contract, and Roy Cummings of FanRag Sports writes that it wouldn’t be costly for the team to use the tag on Graham next year. Graham will make $10MM in 2017 after earning $9MM last season. The tight end tag number came in at $9.78MM this year, so a Graham tag in advance of his age-32 season in 2018 would not cost the Hawks much more than they’re already paying him. Seattle is projected to possess $34MM-plus in cap space next year, but this is without contracts for Kam Chancellor or Justin Britt on the books.

OL Notes: Seahawks, Joeckel, Eagles, Paradis

As teams get set for the start of offseason workouts, they are assembling their pre-draft offensive line depth charts. One such team with some fluidity: the Seahawks. They plan to make a move that ended up backfiring on the Jaguars in stationing Luke Joeckel at left tackle. While Pete Carroll acknowledges Joeckel could end up at left guard, the recently added blocker will begin his Seahawks tenure as a left tackle.

Luke is a guy who started at left tackle, was drafted at left tackle. I’m thinking of him as that, knowing he can play left guard,” Carroll said, via Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com. “He had a really good experience this year moving in, and he liked it and felt comfortable doing that. So my first thought is we head into it with he’s coming into it as a left tackle that can play left guard.”

Jacksonville shuttled Joeckel from left tackle to left guard before the 2016 season, but an injury limited him to only four games. The former No. 2 overall pick did not fare especially well at left tackle as a full-time starter from 2014-15; he began his Jags run as a right tackle while a rookie. The Seahawks signed Joeckel to a one-year deal for a fully guaranteed $7MM in an attempt to help what’s been a maligned offensive line over the past two seasons. Carroll plans, for now, to sit converted basketball player George Fant behind Joeckel. Fant started 10 games for the NFC West champions last season.

If George had to sit for a while, what could be better for him than sitting behind a guy who was a [No. 2] pick in the draft and knows how to play the position?” Carroll said. “If that happens, it would only enhance his future, and we have high expectations for him down the road — high expectations.”

Here’s more out of Seattle and the latest from other offensive fronts.

  • The Seahawks’ most recent first-round pick, Germain Ifedi, is expected to receive a long look at right tackle, per Kapadia. Ifedi started 13 games at right guard last season, but a chain reaction might relocate him. Should Joeckel move to left guard, 2016 left guard starter Mark Glowinski would shift to the right side and possibly bump Ifedi to right tackle. Ifedi primarily played right tackle at tackle-rich Texas A&M but slid inside during his debut NFL season. Seattle, of course, is no stranger to moving its linemen. Former second-round pick Justin Britt shifted from tackle to guard to center during his first three seasons in the league.
  • Isaac Seumalo started four games — at three different positions — for the Eagles last season, and it looks like Doug Pederson is eyeing more time for the second-year blocker. “He’s a guy that we want to get into the mix,” Pederson said, via Zach Berman of Philly.com. Berman adds Seumalo could wind up at center or guard long-term. The Eagles, though, are keeping left guard Allen Barbre and center Jason Kelce after being rumored to be set to unload both. Philadelphia also brought back center/guard Stefen Wisniewski, complicating Seumalo’s immediate path to playing time.
  • Matt Paradis underwent offseason surgery on both of his hips and has an uncertain timetable back to his spot on the Broncos‘ starting offensive front. The fourth-year center shed his crutches last month and is expected back. But Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post notes the hope now is Paradis won’t miss any regular-season action, meaning Paradis might not be a lock for training camp. The former sixth-round pick enjoyed a breakout season in 2016, finishing as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 center and doing so on one of the league’s shakiest offensive lines. He’s played every Broncos snap over the past two seasons.