Grady Jarrett

South Rumors: Irvin, Dez, Fitz, Titans

Bruce Irvin clearing waivers and landing with the Falcons gives him a chance to earn nearly $10MM this season. His one-year (or, eight-game) Falcons deal is worth $1.5MM, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. Irvin was playing on an $8MM salary with the Raiders this season, and Florio notes he can recoup the balance of that salary ($3.76MM) by filing a termination pay claim. Vested veterans (at least four seasons’ experience) can do this one in their careers, and this may be the most money Irvin, 31, can claim through this measure. Total, the seventh-year veteran can collect $9.75MM this season. Considering he entered the year with no more guarantees remaining in his deal, that’s not a bad haul.

Here’s more from the Irvin front, along with the latest from the South divisions:

  • With Irvin rejoining a Dan Quinn defense, this one housing recent first-round defensive ends Takk McKinley and Vic Beasley, he won’t be the unquestioned top edge rusher like he was in Oakland. However, Quinn — who coached Irvin with the Seahawks — is planning a NASCAR package with the three ends and Grady Jarrett, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Quinn said the team will use the trio on the field together in practice this week in preparation to deploy the speed set a game at some point. The Falcons’ 17 sacks rank 27th in the league. Beasley has just one and is Pro Football Focus’ worst-graded full-time edge defender this season.
  • A six-plus-month stay in free agency ended for Dez Bryant earlier Wednesday, but the new Saints wide receiver is still looking to return to the market in 2019. Bryant wants to prove himself on a contending team and become a free agent again, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes. This has been Bryant’s plan all along, and he’ll likely join Tre’Quan Smith as a key complementary receiver for Drew Brees.
  • The Buccaneers won’t be pivoting back to Jameis Winston this week. Dirk Koetter confirmed (via ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine) Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the starter in Week 10. Although Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions in a 42-28 loss to the Panthers, he led the Bucs back from 35-7 and made it a one-score game. Tampa Bay ranks first in pass offense (356.6 yards per game) by more than 30 yards.
  • The TitansMalcolm Butler signing hasn’t worked out the way the team had hoped yet. Signed to a five-year, $61.25MM deal, Butler has struggled in coverage and rates as PFF’s No. 98 cornerback through eight games. Mike Vrabel, though, does not plan to bench Butler. The first-year coach attributes some of the defender’s woes to reading the wrong keys, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.
  • Tennessee may have to temporarily demote Jack Conklin, though. The right tackle starter is in concussion protocol after the Titans’ win over the Cowboys. Conklin already missed this season’s first four games because of the ACL tear he suffered in last year’s playoffs. Conklin has started five games this year and was on the field for all 32 Tennessee regular-season contests during his first two NFL seasons.

South Rumors: Colts, Saints, Jarrett, Jags

Chris Ballard‘s operational style through two offseasons has the Colts in rebuilding mode. They possess the second-most cap space ($51MM) and are projected to hold an NFL-high $126MM in 2019. However, the Colts are 1-5 and may be set for their worst two-year stretch since the Jim Harbaugh-to-Peyton Manning transition produced six wins between the 1997-98 seasons. Ownership isn’t wavering on the Ballard hire, though, per Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. Ballard’s been intent on building from within, with Keefer pointing out the Colts were never a serious Le’Veon Bell trade contender nor were they going to entertain a Dez Bryant signing. Only one defensive starter, Clayton Geathers, remains from the Ryan Grigson era. Although, especially during T.Y. Hilton‘s absence, the Colts have been reeling at wideout. They let Donte Moncrief walk and didn’t address the position when promising rookie Deon Cain was lost for the season, so the GM deserves some blame for the state of this spot, Keefer adds.

It will be interesting to see if Ballard deviates from his methods when the Colts begin working with that staggering amount of cap space come 2019. Here’s the latest from other South locales:

  • The Falcons will have the services of Grady Jarrett on Monday night against the Giants, Dan Quinn said. The team’s top interior defender missed the past two games because of an ankle injury. This will be key for the Falcons, who have lost several defenders thus far this season, and Jarrett, with the 2015 fifth-round pick being in a contract year.
  • Teddy Bridgewater is also in a walk year, and the timing of the Saints‘ trade to acquire the Jets reserve passer suggests they’ll be interested in attempting to convince the former first-round pick to stay as Drew Brees‘ successor. But next year’s quarterback market doesn’t look to be as strong as this year’s, and Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com doesn’t expect Bridgewater to be with the Saints in 2019. Bridgewater signed with the Jets for one year and $6MM, with an incentive package that can now be classified as NLTBE. Prior to any major cuts, Bridgewater and Tyrod Taylor stand to be the centerpiece attractions in the 2019 free agent quarterback class. Katzenstein expects Bridgewater to wait and sign for far more money than the Saints, with Brees still operating in high gear, will be willing to pay him.
  • No quarterback’s taken more sacks than Deshaun Watson (25), and the Texans will be without one of their top blockers on Sunday. Zach Fulton is out for Week 7’s Houston-Jacksonville game. The fifth-year guard is dealing with an ankle injury.
  • The Jaguarstrade for Carlos Hyde seems to suggest they’re concerned about Leonard Fournette going forward, but Hays Carlyon of 1010XL (on Twitter) doesn’t believe the second-year running back endured a setback and expects him to suit up in Week 10 after the Jags’ bye. Fournette’s been dealing with hamstring trouble throughout the season, and Carlyon adds this move was likely more about the Jags’ fear of being shorthanded for much longer rather than Fournette suffering another setback.

NFC Notes: Packers, Falcons, 49ers, Lions

The Packers could potentially be without two starting receivers when they face the Lions on Sunday, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Randall Cobb is dealing with a hamstring injury and worked out with a rehab group during practice today, while Geronimo Allison is in the concussion protocol. If neither pass-catcher can go, Green Bay will be forced to turn to a pair of rookie receivers, Marques Valdez-Scantling and J’Mon Moore. Valdez-Scantling took over slot duties last week while Cobb was out, so he’d probably play there in three-wide sets against Detroit. For what it’s worth, No. 1 Packers wide receiver Davante Adams was listed as limited with a calf injury on Wednesday, but he’s expected to be ready for Sunday’s divisional matchup.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Week 5 presents a good news/bad news situation for the Falcons, as running back Devonta Freeman is expected to return from a multi-game absence while defensive tackle Grady Jarrett will miss Sunday’s game against the Steelers with an ankle injury, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The 1-3 Falcons have scored plenty of points with Tevin Coleman filling in for Freeman, but the latter’s return will nonetheless add another dimension to an already potent offense. Jarrett, for his part, is one of the best players left on an Atlanta defense that has already lost safeties Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal, plus linebacker Deion Jones, for the year. The Falcons rank as a bottom-six defense in yards allowed, scoring, and Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
  • 49ers rookie wideout Dante Pettis has already been ruled out for San Francisco’s Week 5 contest against the Cardinals, reports Matt Barrows of The Athletic (Twitter link). Pettis, the 44th overall selection in this year’s draft, injured his knee on a punt return in Week 4. The Washington product produced nearly 100 receiving yards over the first two games of the season, but hasn’t caught a pass since. Fellow receiver Marquise Goodwin, who’s been hampered by a hamstring ailment all season, didn’t practice today and could also conceivably miss Sunday’s action, meaning Kendrick Bourne and Trent Taylor, among others, could be in for more looks.
  • Even after fracturing his hand in Week 4, Lions safety Quandre Diggs practiced on Wednesday and should be available for Sunday, as Justin Rogers of the Detroit News writes. Diggs, who inked a three-year, $18.6MM extension last month, has played the second-most snaps of any Detroit defender this season. If Diggs unexpectedly can’t play against the Packers, Tavon Wilson would take over at strong safety.

NFC Notes: Falcons, Seahawks, Cardinals, Lions

The Falcons have had a relatively quiet offseason in terms of additions. They’ve chosen to focus instead on developing their own players and locking them up. They tied up a lot of money on last month’s long awaited Matt Ryan mega-extension. Last month it was reported that Julio Jones wanted an “adjustment” made to his contract. Ricardo Allen is also pushing for a new multi-year deal. To top it all off, GM Thomas Dimitroff recently said the team hopes to sign offensive tackle Jake Matthews to a new contract soon.

Overall, there’s a lot of deals for the Falcons to get done. But despite the long list of Falcons waiting their turn, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett appears to be “next in line” for an extension writes D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Jarrett, a fifth round pick back in 2015, is entering the final year of his rookie contract.

Jarrett made an immediate impact as a rookie, and sacked Tom Brady three times during Super Bowl LI. He started all 16 games this past season and is a key component of the Falcons’ defense, even more so now that the Falcons let Dontari Poe walk in free agency. Jarrett says he’s not worrying about a new deal and that “at the end of the day, that will work itself out.” Jarrett might not be focused on his contract, but if Ledbetter is right, he should have a new one soon.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • The Seahawks currently have a crowded running backs room full of well-known names. First round rookie Rashaad Penny seems like the only lock to make the team. Although it’s been speculated that one or more could be cut, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times thinks all five of Penny, Chris Carson, Mike Davis, C.J. Prosise, and J.D. McKissic will make the team.
  • Lions star defensive end Ezekiel Ansah reportedly “dodged” questions about his contract, according to Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press. Ansah was franchise tagged back in April, and little progress has been made on a longterm deal since. Lions GM Bob Quinn seemed to hint back in March that the team wasn’t interested in locking Ansah up longterm, and would like to see him play out the year under the franchise tag and prove he can stay healthy. Given the Lions’ reluctance to give him a multi-year deal, it makes sense that Ansah had no interest in discussing his frustration’s with the media.
  • The Cardinals could bring in a veteran wide receiver to be the number two behind Larry Fitzgerald, according to Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. Fitzgerald is entrenched as the number one receiving option, but there’s currently a wide-open competition behind him between Brice Butler, rookie second-rounder Christian Kirk, and potentially J.J. Nelson. Kirk would seem to have the most upside, but if he’s not ready for such a large role as a rookie, the Cardinals could sign a free agent during training camp Urban believes.

Falcons Look To Extend Matthews, Jarrett

Now that Matt Ryan‘s deal has been taken care of, the Falcons are looking to address other players with contracts that are near expiration. The Falcons will now turn their focus towards new deals for tackle Jake Matthews and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, GM Thomas Dimitroff says (Twitter link via Kelsey Conway of the team website). 

[RELATED: Details On Matt Ryan’s Whopping Extension]

Both players are entering their walk years. Matthews, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make nearly $12.5MM after the Falcons triggered his fifth-year option for 2018. The Falcons did not have the same option for Jarrett, a 2015 fifth-round choice, so he is slated to hit the open market after earning $1.9MM this year.

Matthews has a perfect attendance record across four NFL seasons, save for one missed game as a rookie. Last year, the Texas A&M product graded out as the No. 14 tackle in the NFL, per the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus. Meanwhile, Matthews’ 1,159 regular season snaps was the fourth-highest of any tackle in the NFL last season.

Coincidentally, Jarrett rated as the 14th best interior defender in the NFL last year, per PFF. Last year, he tallied 34 tackles and four sacks while serving as one of the better run-stuffing DTs in the league. It’s safe to say that Jarrett’s next deal will give him a significant pay bump from his rookie pact.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Notes: Falcons, Panthers, Bucs

The Falcons have opened extension talks with quarterback Matt Ryan, general manager Thomas Dimitroff told reporters, including Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (Twitter link), at the combine today. Ryan, 32, has only one year left on his current contract at a cost of $19.25MM in base salary. On an annual basis, Ryan ranks just 14th among quarterbacks, but any new deal will likely catapult him into $28MM+ range. Atlanta has previously expressed a willingness to make Ryan the highest-paid signal-caller in the NFL, so Ryan and his camp may prefer to wait until free agent passer Kirk Cousins inks a new contract (expected to be worth ~$30MM annually) before working out his own pact.

Here’s more from Atlanta and the rest of the NFC South:

  • Left tackle Jake Matthews is set to play on his fifth-year option in 2018, and Dimitroff indicated the Falcons are interested in signing both Matthews and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett to multi-year deals, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). Matthews has settled in as an above-average tackle since being selected sixth overall in the 2014 draft. He’s scheduled to earn $12.496MM next season. Jarrett, likewise, has developed into one of the league’s best interior defenders, and graded 14th among 122 defensive tackles a year ago, according to Pro Football Focus.
  • Falcons wide receiver Taylor Gabriel and linebacker Kemal Ishmael will both be allowed to hit free agency, Dimitroff said today (Twitter links via McClure). That doesn’t necessarily mean Atlanta doesn’t have interest in retaining either player, but the club will allow Gabriel and Ishmael to gauge their value on the open market. Last season, Gabriel regressed from his excellent 2016 campaign, while Ishmael spent the majority of his time on special teams.
  • Bids for the Panthers franchise haven’t yet been entered, but the sale of the club is likely to be wrapped up in time for the NFL’s spring meeting in late May, report David Newton and Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. At that point, the league’s finance committee must approve any potential deal, and 24 of the NFL’s 32 owners must vote to go forward with the sale. Presently, the only two serious contenders to purchase the Panthers from current owner Jerry Richardson are hedge fund manager/minority Steelers owner David Tepper and South Carolina businessman Ben Navarro, per the ESPN scribes.
  • While the Buccaneers have had conversations with free agent backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, they aren’t nearing a new deal, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter links). Fitzpatrick, 35, managed a 2-1 record in relief of starter Jameis Winston last season while completing 59% of his passes for six touchdowns and three interceptions. He earned $3MM for his year of work in Tampa Bay.

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. 

Draft Signings: Falcons, Cowboys, Ravens

Here are some of the signings of players selected between the third and seventh round of the draft that took place today.

  • Third-round pick Carl Davis agreed to a contract with the Ravens, Wilson reports. The defensive tackle’s deal is for four years and worth $2.95MM with a 625K signing bonus. First-rounder Breshad Perriman is the team’s only unsigned player from this year’s class.
  • The Cowboys inked linebacker Mark Nzeocha and defensive end Ryan Russell to deals, reports ESPN.com’s Todd Archer. A fifth-round selection, Russell will receive a signing bonus of nearly $203K. Nzeocha, taken in the seventh round, claimed a $64K bonus.
  • The Falcons have signed fifth-round defensive tackle Grady Jarrett to his four-year rookie deal, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. As Over the Cap’s data shows, Jarrett’s contract will be worth about $2.528MM in total, including a $248K signing bonus.
  • Washington continues to agree to terms with its rookies, reaching a deal with sixth-round safety Kyshoen Jarrett today, according to John Keim of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jarrett will formally sign his contract when he gets into town on Sunday.
  • The Steelers have started locking up their draft picks, signing sixth-round defensive tackle L.T. Walton to his rookie contract, the club announced today (Twitter link). The first of two players drafted in the sixth round by the Steelers, Walton is in line for a signing bonus worth nearly $117K.

Falcons Acquire No. 137 Pick From Vikings

The first pick of the fifth round has already traveled quite a distance, having previously been held by the Buccaneers and Bills. The Vikings were set to pick at No. 137, but according to Andrew Krammer of 1500ESPN (on Twitter), the team will be shipping that pick to the Falcons. In return, Minnesota will get a fifth-rounder (No. 146) and sixth-rounder (No. 185), according to Matt Vensel of The Minneapolis Star Tribune on Twitter.

Atlanta will select Clemson defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, according to Vaugh McClure of ESPN.com (via Twitter). NFL.com projected the defensive lineman to be selected in the second round.