Gerald Everett

NFC West Notes: Fitzgerald, Stafford, Everett

When the Cardinals signed A.J. Green last month, all eyes turned to Larry Fitzgerald and his place on the team. Although the legendary receiver hasn’t made his intentions known just yet, it appears he’s headed in the direction of hanging up his cleats. “Execs anticipate” that Fitzgerald, who is unsigned for 2021, is going to retire, Mike Sando of The Athletic writes. This stops short of being a full-on report, but it certainly sounds like that’s the way things are trending.

With Green now in the fold alongside the returning DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk, the Cardinals’ receiving room would be pretty crowded if Fitz wanted to give it one last go. The surefire future Hall of Famer played in 13 games for Arizona last year, racking up 54 catches for 409 yards and a touchdown. It was easily the lowest output of his decorated 17-year career. We should know more soon, but unfortunately it seems likely we’ve seen the Pittsburgh product play his final down.

Here’s more from around the NFC West on a quiet Sunday afternoon:

  • Matthew Stafford was banged up a lot during his last season with the Lions, and he just had a procedure to address one of those lingering injuries. The new Rams quarterback had surgery on the thumb of his throwing hand last month, a source told Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. Fortunately, Rodrigue reports it was just a simple cleanup and Stafford isn’t expected to miss any real practice time. Stafford said back in February that he had partially torn the UCL in his right thumb. Despite dealing with a slew of significant health issues, he didn’t miss a start last season.
  • The Seahawks signed away tight end Gerald Everett from the Rams in free agency, and it turns out a prior poaching played a large role in that. Seattle hired former Rams passing game coordinator Shane Waldron to be their new OC after firing Brian Schottenheimer, and Waldron played a role in delivering Everett. “Shane is a mastermind,” Everett said, via John Boyle of the team’s official site. “He’s very creative, and I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do in Seattle… When Shane went to Seattle, obviously the idea was there, it lingered in my head.” Everett was a second-round pick of Los Angeles in 2017, and although he never put up huge numbers in Rams offenses that had a lot of mouths to feed, he flashed a lot of potential. “Yes, he was a factor in my decision to come to Seattle,” Everett said of Waldron. The Seahawks gave him a one-year, $7MM deal in March.
  • In case you missed it, the 49ers are asking for a first-round pick in exchange for Jimmy Garoppolo.

Seahawks, TE Gerald Everett Agree To Deal

Gerald Everett will stay in the NFC West. The four-year Rams tight end agreed to terms with the Seahawks on a one-year deal, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The deal is worth $7MM, including $6MM guaranteed (per Rapoport on Twitter).

There were some high hopes for Everett when he was selected in the second round of the 2017 draft, but he’s yet to put together a standout NFL season. 2020 was arguably a career year for the 26-year-old, but he still only finished with 41 receptions for 417 yards and one touchdown (plus the first rushing touchdown of his career).

It seemed clear that his stint with the Rams was coming to a close when the organization inked fellow tight end Tyler Higbee to an extension. Everett was also mentioned as a potential trade candidate towards the beginning of the 2020 season.

He will now join a Seahawks team that has been searching for tight end stability for a bit now. Seattle relied on the trio of Greg Olsen, Jacob Hollister, and Will Dissly in 2020, with that grouping combining for 73 receptions, 709 yards, and six touchdowns. Olsen has since announced his retirement, opening a spot on the depth chart.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: Seahawks, Golden, 49ers

For the second time in three years, K.J. Wright is a free agent. The longest-tenured Seahawks player has already signed three contracts with the franchise that drafted him. He is eager to ink a fourth.

I’m having fun; I love this city. I love this team, so let’s make it happen,” Wright said of a return to Seattle, via ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson. “… (A return is) up to Pete (Carroll) and John (Schneider). They know how much I mean to this team. They know I’m a great teammate, a great leader and it would be a great investment — in my opinion — if they invest in K.J. and to bring him back into the building. You get what you pay for, and I bring a lot to the table still.”

Wright, 31, does not sound interested in a hometown discount, per veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson (on Twitter). The Seahawks have paired Wright and Bobby Wagner for nine seasons and used both as sub-package linebackers for most of the 2020 slate. But Seattle drafting Jordyn Brooks in last year’s first round could complicate a Wright return. Pro Football Focus rated Wright as its No. 8 overall ‘backer this past season.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • The Seahawks were not planning to part ways with OC Brian Schottenheimer, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes an end-of-season meeting — in which Carroll reinforced his preference to focus on the run game — helped lead to the team changing play-callers. The Seahawks deviated in the season’s first half from Carroll’s run-centric vision but reverted more toward their usual setup down the stretch. It will be interesting to see how Seattle’s offense looks under new OC Shane Waldron, who spent five years in Washington and Los Angeles working under Sean McVay.
  • Markus Golden‘s sack total dropped from 10 in 2019 to 4.5 in 2020, and the Cardinals saw Haason Reddick complete a contract-year breakout. Still, the older Arizona edge rusher would like to return. “It gave me another shock of energy just being back home,” Golden said of the trade that sent him from the Giants to the Cards, via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. “Being here where I know my heart is, it really matters to me to be in Arizona on the Cardinals.” Golden, who signed with the Giants in 2019 and stayed in New York via the rare UFA tender last year, is set for free agency for a third straight year.
  • Big expenses at the top of the Rams‘ payroll have forced the team to let several role players walk in recent offseasons. This year may be no exception. The Rams are unlikely to re-sign Josh Reynolds, Malcolm Brown or Gerald Everett, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The Rams having drafted contributors at these positions in 2020, and having two wideouts (Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods) and a tight end (Tyler Higbee) signed long-term already, pointed this trio to free agency.
  • Jeff Wilson‘s one-year 49ers extension can max out at $3.6MM, according to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco. Wilson will receive $2.05MM fully guaranteed, with another possible $1.55MM available via incentives. The incentives would give Wilson a chance to out-earn the low-end RFA tender price, which OverTheCap projects at $2.24MM for running backs. He is still due to be a 2022 UFA.
  • Nick Mullens underwent elbow surgery last month, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. This, however, was not a Tommy John operation, with Garafolo adding the 49ers backup’s injury was not as severe as initially feared. He is expected to be ready by training camp.

NFC West Rumors: Fitzgerald, Gould, Reed

Speculating about Larry Fitzgerald‘s future has become something of a holiday tradition over the past few seasons. The surefire Hall-of-Famer did say earlier this year that if the Cardinals were to win Super Bowl LV, he would ride off into the sunset, but Arizona’s hopes for its first Lombardi Trophy suffered a major blow in an upset loss to the 49ers last night.

So will Fitz be back in 2021? As Rachel Gossen of ArizonaSports.com writes, head coach Kliff Kingsbury said he believes Fitzgerald could play for another four seasons, but Fitzgerald himself was noncommittal.

“I haven’t really given it much thought to be honest with you,” he said. Though Fitzgerald did add that it will be nice to have fans back in the stands when it’s safe, Kingsbury downplayed the notion that Fitzgerald would return just to receive a proper sendoff from the Cardinals’ faithful.

As we wait to see whether one of the best receivers in NFL history will call it a career, and as the Cards focus on keeping their fading playoff hopes alive, let’s round up a few more notes from the NFC West:

  • The 49ers have a big decision to make on kicker Robbie Gould this week. Per the four-year extension Gould signed in 2019, San Francisco has until January 2 to pick up an option that would guarantee $2.25MM of Gould’s $4.5MM 2021 salary. Gould had hit 90.5% of his field goal attempts heading into last night’s matchup with Arizona, but he missed two FGA’s and a PAT in a 20-12 win that could have been more decisive. However, head coach Kyle Shanahan said the performance will not impact the team’s decision on Gould’s contract. “You got to look at the body of work, and Robbie has been unbelievable,” Shanahan said (Twitter link via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area).
  • Claimed off waivers from the division-rival 49ers in August, Seahawks CB D.J. Reed has been a great find for Seattle. In eight games (six starts), Reed has lined up both in the slot and outside the numbers and has accumulated 49 tackles, two interceptions, and six passes defensed while yielding a modest 77.9 passer rating as the nearest defender (via NFL Next Gen stats). Though the 5-9 Reed does not fit the mold of the big-bodied specimens that Seattle generally prefers at the outside corner positions, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com thinks his presence could make the club more amenable to moving on from contract-year players Quinton Dunbar and Shaquill Griffin. Reed will be entering the final year of his rookie deal in 2021.
  • As Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic points out, the Rams would be about $26MM over the 2021 salary cap if the cap is decreased to $175MM as many expect. So while the club can certainly restructure the contracts of players like Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp to create space, it will also have tough decisions to make on pending free agents. Rodrigue posits that, if DC Brandon Staley gets hired as a head coach, he may try to bring safety John Johnson and outside linebacker Leonard Floyd with him, though Los Angeles will doubtlessly prioritize re-ups with both players. Meanwhile, Rodrigue sees players like WR Josh Reynolds and TE Gerald Everett signing elsewhere this offseason.

Rams’ Gerald Everett Drawing Trade Interest

Ahead of Gerald Everett‘s contract year, the Rams opted to extend Tyler Higbee. This leaves Everett as a player who could be bound for free agency in 2021.

Certain other teams appear to view the situation this way, with Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic noting the Rams have received calls on Everett’s availability (Twitter link). However, the Rams are not currently planning to move the former second-round pick, Rodrigue adds.

While Everett has not quite lived up to his Round 2 billing, he has worked in Sean McVay‘s system for three seasons and has served as an auxiliary contributor. Last season, he was enjoying a potential breakout year. But an injury halted his progress. Everett finished last season with 37 catches for 408 yards. The Rams used a fourth-round pick on Brycen Hopkins this year, but the pandemic taking away rookies’ onsite offseason work stands to limit their development.

The Rams appeared closer to trading Higbee in 2018, having exchanged offers with the Vikings on the 2016 draft pick. But after Higbee’s strong stretch to close last season, the Rams extended him instead. It would seem Everett will make a final audition reel for free agency this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Sign Top Three Picks

The Rams have finally begun to lock up their draft class. The club signed its top three picks – tight end Gerald Everett, wide receiver Cooper Kupp and defensive back Josh Johnson – on Friday, tweets Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com.

Gerald Everett

Trading up to No. 1 overall in 2016 for quarterback Jared Goff left the Rams without a first-rounder this year, meaning they didn’t pick until No. 44. That’s where they landed Everett, who transferred from UAB to South Alabama after the 2014 season and ended his college career with back-to-back 40-catch seasons. With the Rams having released their previous No. 1 tight end, Lance Kendricks, earlier this offseason, the 6-foot-3, 239-pound Everett is in line to open his NFL career as a starter. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com likens Everett to the Titans’ Delanie Walker, a pass-catching machine who has racked up 282 receptions and 23 touchdowns since 2013.

Kupp, the 69th pick and the first of two third-rounders for the Rams, thrived at Eastern Washington, where he combined for FCS-record-setting numbers (428 catches, 6,464 yards and 73 TDs) over four seasons. Along with free agent pickup Robert Woods, the 6-2, 204-pound Kupp is one of two prominent newcomers in LA’s receiving corps, which was among the league’s worst last year.

Johnson was the Rams’ second choice in Round 3 (No. 91), and is coming off back-to-back three-interception seasons at Boston College. The 6-0, 208-pounder has the coverage skills necessary to start right away, per Zierlein, and is capable of playing both safety and cornerback.

“I think I fit best as a safety, although I think I have a corner body type,” Johnson said in April (via Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times). “I came into Boston College as a corner, and I like covering man to man. I like covering the intermediate zone … but I think I would fit best as a safety.”

The Rams still have five more picks to sign, including two fourth-rounders.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Notes: Mixon, Tight Ends, Giants

A pair of notable college players will not be showcasing their talents at the NFL scouting combine. ESPN.com’s Adam Caplan reports that Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon and Baylor wide receiver Ishmael Zamora were not invited to the event.

Both players have had their share of issues. Mixon was suspended for the entire 2014 season after having punched a woman, while Zamora was suspended three games this past season after videos emerged of him beating his dog. The ESPN report indicates that it’s uncertain whether these “off-the-field troubles were factors in their omission” from the combine.

The Sooners running back finished the 2016 campaign with 1,274 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns on only 187 carries. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. believes Mixon is among the top-five most-talented running backs in this year’s class (behind Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, D’Onta Foreman and Christian McCaffrey). Meanwhile, Zamora appeared in 10 games this past season, compiling 63 catches for 809 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Let’s take a look at some more draft notes…

  • A trio of University of Washington defensive backs are garnering plenty of interest from NFL teams. Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com writes that Budda Baker, Sidney Jones and Kevin King have been intriguing front offices. Jones is generally regarded to be one of the top cornerbacks in the draft, while Baker is projected to be taken outside of the first round.
  • USC wideout Adoree Jackson is a “lock” to be a first-round pick, writes Pauline. His teammate, offensive tackle Zach Banner, is projected to be drafted in the fourth round.
  • While many scouts believe Alabama’s O.J. Howard is the best tight end in the class, Pauline writes that South Alabama’s Gerald Everett isn’t far behind. The talented playmaker impressed coaches at the Senior Bowl, and Pauline notes that he’s currently the top tight end on the Giants‘ draft board.
  • One prospect who didn’t look good during the Senior Bowl was Troy offensive tackle Antonio Garcia, with one scout comparing him to “a deer in headlights.” Pauline notes that the lineman looked unsure of himself during team practices.

Extra Points: Romo, Gase, House

Let’s round up a few notes from around the league as the early Week 11 rage on:

  • We heard earlier today that retirement was a real possibility for Tony Romo at the end of the season, but Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Cowboys‘ newest backup quarterback fully plans to play in 2017 (Twitter link). If Romo did retire, Dallas could recoup $19.6MM from him, according to former NFL agent Joel Corry (via Twitter), which further supports the belief that Romo will not hang it up just yet.
  • The Dolphins have turned their season around in a big way, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports observes that first-year head coach Adam Gase is getting a great deal of credit both inside and outside the locker room. The players have responded to Gase’s no-nonsense, meritocratic approach, highlighted by his decision to release starting offensive linemen Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas, and his decision to leave Jay Ajayi home during the team’s Week 1 trip to Seattle (Ajayi’s subsequent breakout performance, of course, has been a big reason for Miami’s success). Gase has also stood steadfastly by quarterback Ryan Tannehill, which has done wonders for Tannehill’s confidence.
  • The Jaguars‘ signing of Davon House in 2015 was widely regarded as a shrewd move that added a young and ascending player to Jacksonville’s secondary. During the first half of this season, though, opponents were 16-of-19 passing for 204 yards and three touchdowns against House in man coverage, and as Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union observes, House has been fully phased out of the team’s game plan. It seems likely that the Jags will part ways with House in the offseason, as they could save $6MM against the cap without absorbing any dead money.
  • 49ers wideout Torrey Smith is unlikely to play today, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). If Smith does not suit up, his streak of 89 consecutive regular season games played, which dates back to the first game of his rookie year in Baltimore, would come to an end.
  • Bucky Brooks of NFL.com takes a look at two collegiate prospects who are generating a great deal of buzz: USC’s Adoree’ Jackson and South Alabama’s Gerald Everett. Brooks writes that Jackson could be one of the top prospects in the 2017 or 2018 class, and Everett could become the best tight end in the 2017 class, which is especially impressive considering that this year’s crop of tight ends is quite strong.