Graham Glasgow

NFC North Notes: Diggs, Lions, Packers

There’s been a lot of drama with the Vikings this season, as their offense has once again been a disappointment. Minnesota bounced back with a big win over the Giants in Week 5, but it’s unclear if that will be enough to smooth things over. Adam Thielen publicly called out Kirk Cousins, and Stefon Diggs has made it clear he hasn’t been happy with his role. There’s been plenty of trade speculation surrounding Diggs, but it appears it’s little more than just speculation. Speaking recently on a WEEI radio appearance, Peter King of NBC Sports said he’s been told it’s “highly unlikely,” that Diggs gets dealt.

Just earlier today we heard that the Patriots were hoping to pry Diggs away, but it sounds like they’ll have to look elsewhere for receiver help. Diggs is still only 25, under contract through the 2023 season, and the Vikings don’t have any clear replacement for him on the roster, so it makes sense why they’re insistent on keeping him. Minnesota is attempting to establish a run-first identity in 2019, and Diggs has grown frustrated with his usage. The Maryland product has only topped three catches once this season, and he only has put up more than 50 yards on one occasion as well.

Here’s more from around the NFC North:

  • The Lions have been doing something pretty unusual with their offensive line this year. Instead of sticking with their five-man unit at all times for chemistry purposes, Detroit has been rotating three guards in all of their games. Graham Glasgow has been starting at right guard, Joe Dahl has been starting at left guard, and Kenny Wiggins has been mixing in for series’ here and there at both positions. The system was the idea of offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “There came a time, obviously in that first week (of the season that) I’m sitting here trying to agonize over who’s winning the starting job and all that stuff there,” Davidson said. “To me, it was clear who owned the starting jobs, but I also believed that Kenny Wiggins earned the right to be on the field and it’s just a way to be able to get that done also.” As Birkett points out both Glasgow and Dahl have received strong marks from Pro Football Focus, but the team doesn’t plan on changing things anytime soon. The Lions have gotten off to a better start than just about anybody expected, so it’s understandable why.
  • The Packers will be playing Detroit on Monday Night Football in a pivotal divisional game, and they’ll be a little shorthanded. We already know they’ll be without top receiver Davante Adams, but they also just ruled out starting safety Darnell Savage, who picked up an ankle injury in their win over the Cowboys. The rookie first-round pick from Maryland has been an every-down player for Green Bay, so it’s a big loss. Fortunately for them, starting center Corey Linsley has cleared the concussion protocol and will play here after leaving the Dallas game early.
  • Speaking of Monday Night Football injuries, Lions defensive tackle Mike Daniels will have to wait a bit longer for his revenge. The longtime Packer was released in July and signed with Detroit shortly after, but he’s going to miss his second straight game with a foot injury. Daniels signed a one-year, $9.1MM deal with the Lions just two days after getting cut.

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.

2019 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.

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 $2MM in 2019. 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 2019 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

Bears: RB Jordan Howard, LB Nick Kwiatkoski

Bengals: LB Nick Vigil

Broncos: G Connor McGovern, S Will Parks, S Justin Simmons

Browns: S Derrick Kindred, LB Joe Schobert

Buccaneers: G Caleb Benenoch, DE Carl Nassib, CB Ryan Smith

Chargers: LB Jatavis Brown

Chiefs: CB Kendall Fuller, WR Tyreek Hill, S Eric Murray, WR Demarcus Robinson

Colts: QB Jacoby Brissett, T Joe Haeg

Cowboys: CB Anthony Brown, DT Maliek Collins, QB Dak Prescott

Dolphins: RB Kenyan Drake

Eagles: CB Jalen Mills, T Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Falcons: LB De’Vondre Campbell, TE Austin Hooper, G Wes Schweitzer

Jaguars: DE Yannick Ngakoue

Jets: LB Jordan Jenkins, CB Rashard Robinson, T Brandon Shell

Lions: C Graham Glasgow

Packers: LB Kyler Fackrell, DE Dean Lowry, LB Blake Martinez, LB Antonio Morrison

Patriots: G Joe Thuney, LB Elandon Roberts

Rams: G Austin Blythe, TE Tyler Higbee

Ravens: DE Matt Judon, OL Alex Lewis, CB Tavon Young

Saints: DT David Onyemata

Steelers: DT Javon Hargrave

Texans: DT D.J. Reader

Titans: S Kevin Byard, WR Tajae Sharpe

OverTheCap.com was essential in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. 

North Rumors: Bengals, Lions, Packers

Some more clarity regarding Tyler Eifert‘s incentive-laden Bengals contract emerged. The tight end’s deal contains some interesting benchmarks for financial rewards, ones that would seemingly be within reach should Eifert stay healthy. The sixth-year tight end has $3MM in possible performance incentives included in his one-year agreement. Additionally, $62.5K will come Eifert’s way for every game he plays.

As for the performance thresholds, Eifert will collect $250K for catching 50 passes in 2018. The former first-round pick getting to 55 receptions would bring another $250K his way, with the 60- and 65-catch barriers representing $250K triggers as well. Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports these catch incentives max out at $1MM, adding the yardage bonuses do as well. The 500-yard mark represents the first $250K trigger, with the next $250K bonus benchmarks coming at 550, 600 and 650 yards, per Owczarski. As for touchdown receptions, Eifert snaring five would bring him $250K. Each additional touchdown would bring him $250K apiece as well, and this incentive category also maxes out at $1MM.

Eifert scored a tight ends-best 13 TDs in 2015 but only has five since. He only exceeded 500 yards once (in ’15, with 615 yards) and caught a career-high 52 passes that year. He didn’t come close to 50 catches in a season in any other year, so describing these as “likely to be earned” incentives is pushing it.

Here’s the latest from some North-division franchises, continuing with news from the Cincinnati offensive front:

  • Cedric Ogbuehi may be shuttled back to right tackle, a position at which he previously said he wasn’t comfortable. The former first-round pick will compete with both Cordy Glenn and Jake Fisher for the starting tackle jobs, per Marvin Lewis (via Owczarski), but the 16th-year coach said the team expects Glenn to start on the left side. Ogbuehi has started 25 games over the past two years but has dealt with injuries in both, and each season involved him being in a rotation rather than being a full-time player throughout each campaign. Owczarski notes it’s unlikely the Bengals pick up his fifth-year option, which is expected to be for nearly $10MM.
  • Speaking of northern line movement, the Lions plan to try Graham Glasgow at center instead of guard, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reportsWesley Johnson could be set for a backup job. Birkett writes free agent Kenny Wiggins and 2016 fifth-rounder Joe Dahl will compete for at the guard spot opposite T.J. Lang. Wiggins started 16 games for the Chargers at right guard last season. However, Glasgow — who rated as Pro Football Focus’ No. 20 guard last season — may stay at guard if the Lions deem Johnson solid enough to start at center. Johnson is only making $880K this season, which would gibe with backup status.
  • Both Ziggy Ansah and wideout T.J. Jones underwent offseason surgeries, per Birkett, who describes Ansah’s as a “minor cleanup” on his knee. Jones had a shoulder operation. Birkett adds Kerry Hyder‘s return goal is training camp. The defensive lineman tore his Achilles’ tendon last season.
  • Ansah remains in Ghana for family reasons, but Justin Rogers of the Detroit News tweets the franchise-tagged defensive end has kept Matt Patricia and the organization in the loop and is expected to return to the team shortly. Birkett writes Ansah could sign his franchise tender as early as the spring rather than having this drag into July. The Lions are not expected to pursue a long-term extension with their top pass rusher at this point.
  • The Packers shook up their offensive coaching staff this offseason, and it sounds like their playbook will reflect that. While refusing to divulge specifics, Mike McCarthy said recently (via Pete Daugherty of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) the team will “go back to Page 1” of the playbook. Joe Philbin, Jim Hostler and Frank Cignetti are now key offensive assistants, so their input may well be reflected in these changes.

NFC Notes: Clayborn, 49ers, Lions

Falcons defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn was prepared to hang up the cleats last offseason, as D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Clayborn suffered a torn biceps in Atlanta’s playoff win over the Seahawks in January, which marked the third time that he had endured a season-ending injury, and he was ready to retire rather than risk more pain and frustration. However, his fiancee (now wife) convinced him to give it another shot, and Atlanta is reaping the benefits. In addition to his otherworldly (and perhaps cathartic) six-sack performance against Dallas last week, Clayborn has rated as the 10th-best edge defender in the league (out of 110 qualifiers) per Pro Football Focus. He will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, and he could be on the verge of a very nice payday.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • 2017 was always going to be a rebuilding year for the 49ers, and Cam Inman of the Mercury News offers his thoughts as to each current player’s future with the club. He suggests, for instance, that the team may prefer to let oft-injured Jimmie Ward test a soft free agent market but may want to re-sign fellow free agent-t0-be Daniel Kilgore.
  • Kyle Meinke of MLive.com says he would not be surprised if the Lions simply cut Eric Ebron this offseason. While Ebron is due an $8MM salary under the fifth-year option of his rookie contract, that salary is guaranteed for injury only, so Detroit could move on from him with no penalty (assuming, of course, he does not get hurt in the meantime). Theoretically, the two sides could attempt to work out some alternate arrangement — after all, Ebron would not get close to $8MM on the open market — but given that Ebron seemed anxious for a fresh start when his name was bandied about at the trade deadline, it sounds as if Ebron may be playing his last games as Lion.
  • In the same piece, Meinke says it is hard to imagine Lions head coach Jim Caldwell getting the axe after the season, even if the team fails to qualify for the playoffs. However, Meinke predicts that Detroit will let impending free agent center Travis Swanson, who has performed poorly this season, hit the open market while sliding Graham Glasgow from guard to center.
  • Ty Montgomery‘s re-aggravated rib injury is more painful than the original injury that he suffered earlier in the year, as ESPN’s Josina Anderson tweets. Anderson said the Packers running back, who will miss today’s contest against the Ravens, will try to practice later this week with the hopes of suiting up for Green Bay’s Week 12 game against Pittsburgh, but it does not sound particularly promising right now.
  • Mike Pettine, who is currently serving as a consultant with the Seahawks, would be one of Matt Nagy‘s top choices for defensive coordinator if Nagy lands a head coaching job this offseason, as Michael Lombardi of The Ringer tweets. Pettine served as the Browns’ head coach from 2014-15, and he was previously a defensive coordinator for the Jets and Bills. Nagy currently works as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator and is expected to be one of the hottest head coaching candidates in 2018.

North Notes: RGIII, E. Rogers, Swanson

We learned earlier today that a number of veteran Browns scouts who were dismissed prior to the 2016 draft actually preferred Carson Wentz–last seen delivering a sterling debut against the Browns–to Jared Goff. Now let’s take a look at a few notes from the league’s north divisions, beginning with more on the Browns’ quarterback situation:

  • It won’t come as much of a surprise, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III is now expected to miss 10-12 weeks as a result of his shoulder injury, which means that his season could well be over. Even before Schefter’s report, however, it was expected that RGIII would miss the remainder of the 2016 campaign.
  • Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer believes that the Browns will draft a quarterback early in the 2017 draft and that the team will likely have whoever that quarterback is open the season as the starter. As such, Cabot thinks the RGIII experiment is over, even if the team holds an “open competition” in next year’s camp.
  • Steelers wideout Eli Rogers, a former UDFA out of Louisville, seemingly came out of nowhere to post six catches for 59 yards and a score in his debut against Washington last week. Rogers spent all of 2015, his rookie season, on IR, but he has earned the trust of coaches and teammates and is set for an expanded role with the team, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes. Pittsburgh OC Todd Haley is an especially big fan of Rogers, and one member of the organization said Rogers has “kind of been [Haley’s] pet project for a while now and I give him a lot of credit. He’s worked very closely with him and brought him along, and he really thinks he can be an impact guy.” Rogers could be the latest in a long line of receivers not drafted in the early rounds that become an integral part of the Steelers’ offense.
  • Kyle Meinke of MLive.com writes that Lions center Travis Swanson, whom the team selected in the third round of the 2014 draft, has finally begun to show signs of improvement. Swanson’s Week 1 performance against Indianapolis was stellar, and if he can continue along his current trajectory, Meinke says it may be a while before Lions fans see Graham Glasgow, the team’s third round pick in this year’s draft.

Lions Sign Taylor Decker, Eight Draftees, 12 UDFAs

The Lions have officially locked up nearly all of their draft class, along with a dozen undrafted free agents, the team announced today in a pair of press releases. The most notable name in the group is Ohio State offensive tackle Taylor Decker, who was Detroit’s first-round pick, but the team has also signed eight other draftees to go along with its 12 new UDFAs.

Of Detroit’s 10 draft picks, only second-round defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson remains unsigned for now. Here’s the complete list of draft picks secured by the Lions:

And here are the 12 undrafted free agents who signed contracts with the Lions: