Greg Robinson

NFC Notes: Fairley, Packers, Lane, Lions

Nick Fairley‘s heart issue has stalled his career to the point the Saints are preparing for this season as if the recently re-signed defensive tackle won’t play, Larry Holder of NOLA.com reports. Last we heard, the 29-year-old defender was getting a third opinion on the condition. Fairley signed a four-year, $28MM deal to stay in New Orleans in March. But if he’s not going to play this season, Holder notes the Saints are going to be at a loss. They used 2016 fourth-rounder David Onyemata alongside Sheldon Rankins on the first-string defense during minicamp, but Holder notes the starting nose tackle will probably be Tyeler Davison, a 2015 fifth-rounder who started 15 games last season. Davison is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

Here’s the latest from around the NFC.

  • Davante Adams has shot to the top of the Packers‘ 2018 UFA contingent after a breakout 2016 season, one that also includes Morgan Burnett, center Corey Linsley and guard Lane Taylor, Rob Reischel writes for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. This could mean Randall Cobb faces a pivotal season, with Reischel noting the Packers could elect to prioritize an Adams deal and move on from Cobb despite his young age. The slot target will only be 27 this season, but Cobb recorded a modest (for him) 60-catch, 610-yard season. He’s signed through 2018 and has cap numbers of $12.6MM and $12.7MM this season and next, respectively.
  • The Seahawks have a pair of cornerbacks that have suffered severe injuries in recent years, but while DeShawn Shead rehabs, Jeremy Lane looks like the starter opposite Richard Sherman. Pete Carroll said Shead is recovering well from the ACL and meniscus tears sustained in January, but with the re-signed player unlikely to be ready for Week 1, the team may be turning to Lane. “He’s physically as fit as he’s been in a long time,” Carroll said, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. “Remember, he had a really difficult offseason a couple years back (following knee and arm injuries in Super Bowl XLIX) and it’s taken him almost a couple years to overcome all of that, and he’s back to full form.” The Seahawks drafted Shaquil Griffin in the third round and moved rookie sixth-rounder Mike Tyson from safety to corner, but those first-year talents look to enter camp as depth pieces behind Lane.
  • Once Taylor Decker suffered a shoulder injury that will keep him out up to six months, the Lions gave first-team left tackle reps to Joe Dahl. The second-year player worked as a guard in six games last season. But after the additions of Greg Robinson and Cyrus Kouandjio, Dahl seems on his way back to guard, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. Neither Robinson nor Kouandjio participated in Detroit’s minicamp, but Jim Caldwell confirmed they will compete for the now-vacant left tackle job come training camp. A fifth-round pick last year, Dahl would then be in line to compete for a guard spot with Graham Glasgow and Laken Tomlinson opposite T.J. Lang.

North Notes: Browns, Ravens, Lions, Vikings

Browns edge rusher Myles Garrett, the first pick in this year’s draft, suffered a left foot injury Wednesday that left him in “obvious pain,” reports Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland. A day later, Garrett sat out practice as team doctors evaluated his foot, a club spokesman announced. The Browns won’t provide further details on Garrett’s ailment, per Cabot, who relays that the injury likely isn’t serious. Meanwhile, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Garrett should be “fine.” Foot issues are nothing new for Garrett, who dealt with soreness throughout organized team activities and battled a high ankle sprain during his final year at Texas A&M last season. Fortunately, though, it looks as if he and the Browns will escape relatively unscathed in this instance.

More from the NFL’s North divisions:

  • Unsurprisingly, it appears injured tight end Dennis Pitta‘s release from the Ravens last week will bring an end to his career. When speaking with reporters Thursday, Pitta didn’t announce his retirement, but he conceded, “I’m not delusional” (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun). Hip problems limited Pitta to seven games from 2013-15, but he returned last season to post a 16-game campaign and catch a team-high 86 passes. The soon-to-be 32-year-old suffered a hip dislocation earlier this month, though, leading the Ravens to cut ties after seven seasons.
  • In his first meeting with the Detroit media on Thursday, newly acquired Lions offensive tackle Greg Robinson called the trade that sent him from Los Angeles to the Motor City “a big surprise,” per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Robinson busted with the Rams, who selected him second overall in 2014, and acknowledged that things “haven’t really went the way I would like” to this point. The 24-year-old expects to jump-start his career in Detroit, however. “I plan on benefiting from (my fresh start) tremendously,” Robinson declared. “It’s really refreshing and I plan to make the most out of it.”
  • Browns quarterback Brock Osweiler has been “very happy” with his performance this spring, and the ex-Texan explained Wednesday why his play has improved from his disastrous 2016 in Houston. “The best part is I’m getting coached hard on my fundamentals,” Osweiler said, via Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com. “And I believe firmly that when your fundamentals and your feet are right as a quarterback, you’re going to make great decisions and you’re going to throw accurate footballs.” Osweiler added that his “fundamentals slid” last year, but he declined “to go into great detail” on why. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk interprets Osweiler’s remarks as a shot at the Texans’ coaching staff, particularly Bill O’Brien, who didn’t get along well with the signal-caller last season.
  • Defensive back Lardarius Webb experienced a “tepid market” during his month of unemployment before re-signing with the Ravens in May, as Zrebiec details. The only club known to have expressed interest in the 31-year-old Webb was the Vikings, although Baltimore reportedly had interest in bringing Webb back almost instantly after releasing him. The Ravens saved $5.5MM in cap space by originally cutting ties with Webb, who has since inked a new three-year deal worth $6.3MM (with another $1.4MM available annually via incentives).
  • Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer indicated Wednesday that both kicker Kai Forbath and punter Ryan Quigley will have to fight for their jobs this summer, telling reporters that “there’s an open competition” at both spots (via Mark Craig of the Star Tribune). Forbath, whom the Vikings signed last November after releasing Blair Walsh, made all 15 of his field goal attempts with Minnesota in 2016 but will battle second-year man Marshall Koehn to stay with the club. “He’s got the stronger leg,” Priefer said of Koehn. “This kid is coming on strong. It’s a great competition.” Quigley, an April signing, will try to fend off another second-year player, Taylor Symmank, after averaging a career-worst 41.6 yards per punt on 34 attempts with the Cardinals last season.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

Lions Acquire Greg Robinson, Sign Cyrus Kouandjio

The Lions have acquired offensive tackle Greg Robinson from the Rams for a sixth-round pick in 2018, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Additionally, Detroit has signed free agent offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, according to ESPN’s Field Yates (Twitter links).

Greg Robinson (vertical)

Both Robinson and Kouandjio will compete to start at left tackle for the Lions, head coach Jim Caldwell announced. The position became a concern for the Lions when stalwart Taylor Decker suffered a torn labrum during organized team activities, thereby creating an obvious need opposite big-money right tackle Ricky Wagner.

Like Decker, a first-round pick last year, both Robinson and Kouandjio were high selections in recent drafts. However, neither has established himself as a quality NFLer. Robinson disappointed in St. Louis and Los Angeles after going second overall in the 2014 draft, which led the Rams to decline his fifth-year option for 2018 before dealing him. Robinson does come with plenty of experience, having started in 42 of 46 appearances (including all 14 in 2016), though Pro Football Focus ranked him among the league’s worst tackles in each of his first three seasons. He’s due a $3.3MM salary as he enters the final year of his contract.

Kouandjio was in the same draft class as Robinson, and the second-rounder from Alabama is coming off a three-year stint in Buffalo that saw him appear in just 25 of a possible 48 games. He only started in seven of those contests, including a career-high five last year, when PFF placed him a solid 34th among 78 qualified tackles. Despite his recent output, the Bills waived Kouandjio in May after an odd off-field incident in April. The 23-year-old was found partially undressed in a field in Elma, N.Y., not far from the scene of a car accident and taken to a nearby hospital, though he wasn’t arrested.

To create roster space for its two newest players, Detroit waived long snapper Jimmy Landes and tackle Arturo Uzdavinis, per Tim Twentyman of the team’s website (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Ja. Peppers, Rams, Texans

Jabrill Peppers played both linebacker and cornerback at Michigan, but nearly all NFL teams view the draft-bound prospect as a safety, he told the Associated Press. Peppers is on board, saying, “I didn’t play safety, but I’m going to be a safety.” While one club informed Peppers it would use him at linebacker, another had an outside-the-box idea. “One team told me they thought I should play offense,” revealed Peppers, who did see time on that side of the ball at Michigan last season. Peppers rushed 27 times for 167 yards, caught two passes and scored three touchdowns. He also fared well in space as a punt returner, posting a Big Ten-leading 14.8-yard average on runbacks.

More from around the game:

  • Ravens college scouting director Joe Hortiz is the Rams’ top choice to take over the same position in Los Angeles, reports CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (all Twitter links). The Rams have shown interest in Hortiz in the past, notes La Canfora, who adds that Baltimore wouldn’t be able to prevent him from leaving. Los Angeles started reshuffling its scouting department when it dismissed four evaluators on April 9.
  • The Rams are also making changes on the field, with several familiar names apparently set to switch positions as the Sean McVay era begins, according to Myles Simmons of the team’s website. Contrary to a prior report, the signing of left tackle Andrew Whitworth will not force Greg Robinson to shift to guard; rather, Robinson will head to right tackle, leaving Rob Havenstein to move inside. Elsewhere, cornerback Lamarcus Joyner will play free safety and Maurice Alexander will take over at strong safety in the wake of the team’s addition of Nickell Robey-Coleman, who’s primed to handle Joyner’s old job as a slot corner. Finally, Robert Quinn is transitioning from defensive end to outside linebacker, though his role as a pass rusher will remain the same.
  • Utah offensive tackle Garett Bolles visited the Texans on Monday, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. With potential first-rounders in Bolles, Alabama’s Cam Robinson and Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk on their radar, it’s clear the Texans are strongly considering taking a tackle with the 25th pick in the draft.
  • The surgery Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster underwent on his right rotator cuff in February won’t keep him out for any portion of training camp, his agent, Malki Kawa, announced Monday (on Twitter). The soon-to-be first-rounder is “ahead of schedule,” per Kawa.

Rams To Decline Greg Robinson’s Option

The Rams are exercising the fifth-year option for Aaron Donald, but they won’t be doing the same for another 2014 first-round pick. Offensive tackle Greg Robinson, taken No. 2 overall that year, will not have his 2018 option picked up, Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times tweets. The fifth-year option is guaranteed for injury only, but that’s not a risk the Rams are willing to take. Greg Robinson (vertical)

Robinson entered the league with huge promise, but so far he has been a massive bust. Last season, he was assigned a dreadful 38.0 overall score by the metrics at Pro Football Focus, ranking him as one of the seven worst qualified offensive tackles in the NFL. He had roughly similar showings in his previous two campaigns.

This year, the Rams are moving Robinson to the inside with the hope that he can finally produce. Free agent pickup Andrew Whitworth will hold down the left tackle spot while Robinson will have to fight for playing time behind projected starters Rodger Saffold and Cody Wichmann.

Just as the decision to trigger Donald’s option was a no-brainer, the same goes for the decision to decline Robinson’s option.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams To Sign OT Andrew Whitworth

Former Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth is expected to sign with the Rams today, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). In terms of talent, I had the veteran ranked as the top tackle on the open market. "<strong

It’s a three-year, $36MM deal with $15MM guaranteed, Schefter tweets. That also includes $2.5MM guaranteed for year two of the deal. The cash flow seems favorable as Whitworth is ticketed for $24.5MM through the first two years, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

This will result in former No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson sliding inside to guard, Rapoport tweets. Under interim coach John Fassel, the Rams were exploring this idea. They’ll now follow through with it under Sean McVay in what seems like a last-ditch move to try and salvage Robinson’s career with the franchise.

Reportedly, the Bengals front office tried to convince teams at the scouting combine they’d ultimately re-sign the veteran.Whitworth’s camp, meanwhile, told potential suitors that a return to Cincinnati was not locked down. Whitworth’s crew wasn’t lying – he’s leaving.

Whitworth spent some time at guard last season but he’s likely going to play on the outside in L.A. Offensive line was one of the Rams’ major areas of need this offseason and they have found themselves a major piece to group with Rodger Saffold and Rob Havenstein. Now, rising sophomore quarterback Jared Goff should have much better pocket protection. Whitworth’s 92.5 score for pass blocking on Pro Football Focus led all tackles last season.

Whitworth, 35, spent his entire 11-year career in Cincinnati until now. He’s been remarkably durable, missing only two games since the start of the 2009 season. In 2016, PFF rated him as the second-best tackle in the entire NFL and he’s been a Top 5/Top 10 guy for the last five years in a row.

The former first-rounder has started 71 games during his five-year career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Robinson, Broncos, Bolts, 49ers

A new Rams coaching staff seems ready to give Greg Robinson another chance. Despite being benched late in a woeful third season, the underwhelming tackle remains a “big part” of the Rams’ plans going forward, Sean McVay said.

When you see some of the things he’s able to do, you see the athleticism in space when he’s pulling around and using some of those perimeter schemes that they did offensively last year,” McVay said, via Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com. “He’s a guy that we’re excited to get around.”

Gonzalez notes a possible course of action prior to McVay’s vote of confidence was simply moving on from Robinson, the No. 2 overall pick in 2014. Cutting Robinson, though, would not make much sense financially given that the team would not save any money — while incurring $6.77MM in dead money — by doing so. McVay did not specify whether he wants Robinson to remain at tackle or move to guard, a topic broached during interim HC John Fassel‘s stewardship. Robinson himself wasn’t eager to make a move to guard when asked about doing so in January.

Robinson committed a league-high 31 penalties between the 2015-16 seasons. The former Auburn tackle is entering the final season of his rookie deal, and the Rams have a fifth-year option decision coming on him soon.

Here’s more from some teams out west.

  • New Broncos quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave turned down offensive coordinator jobs to reunite with Mike McCoy in Denver, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post notes. Musgrave and McCoy each interviewed for the Broncos’ OC job. The pair coached together briefly with the Panthers in the early 2000s and spent the 1995 preseason together as backups to John Elway before the Broncos cut McCoy. Supplanted as the Raiders’ OC after two seasons, Musgrave was only previously connected to the Broncos’ OC job during the hiring period.
  • Elway probably would not have allowed Adam Peters to interview anywhere besides San Francisco, where he’s now the 49ers‘ VP of player personnel. The Broncos GM said (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle) he would have restricted a move elsewhere, but since he was going to help John Lynch as a first-time GM, Elway gave the go-ahead.
  • Despite using him as an evaluator during the 2013 draft process, Elway did not attempt to hire Lynch full-time with the Broncos due to his interest in staying as a television analyst, the Denver GM told Branch.
  • Matt Slauson figures to return for a second Chargers season, Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune notes, before adding that D.J. Fluker‘s future is less certain. Despite the Bolts picking up Fluker’s fifth-year option last year, Tom Telesco is unlikely to bring the converted guard back at the $8.8MM option price. Fluker’s 2017 salary is guaranteed against injury only, so the Chargers could cut him and save that money.
  • Gehlken also expects the newly relocated team to at least restructure King Dunlap‘s contract if not outright release the veteran left tackle. Dunlap, 31, is due to make $5.25MM and take up $8.125MM of Los Angeles’ cap. He’s due a $500K bonus if on the roster by March 18. The Chargers reworked Dunlap’s contract last year, converting $1.2MM of his $4.5MM salary into availability-based bonus payments. He earned back $800K of that $1.2MM last season. It would cost the Bolts $3.25MM in dead money to cut Dunlap.

West Notes: Lockett, Kelly, Rams, Houston

Tyler Lockett underwent surgery today to repair a broken right leg he suffered during the Seahawks‘ loss to the Cardinals on Saturday, but the wide receiver avoided any further damage. The second-year player avoided ligament damage, Pete Carroll said (via Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk, on Twitter).

The tibia and fibula bones breaking through Lockett’s skin provided the Seahawks with some urgency to complete this surgery as soon as possible to prevent infection, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times reports. Per Carroll, Lockett should be up and moving in four-to-six weeks. However, the team does not expect the receiver to return should it make a third Super Bowl trip in four years, and Lockett will likely head to IR to open up a roster spot, per Condotta.

Seattle has already made a roster move involving a wide receiver, Condotta reports (on Twitter), so that would point to Lockett venturing on IR as another pass-catcher rises to the 53-man roster. Seventh-round rookie Kenny Lawler and 2015 UDFA Kasen Williams comprise the receiver contingent on the Seahawks’ practice squad.

Here’s more from the West divisions as Week 16 winds down.

  • Chip Kelly says he hasn’t had discussions with 49ers ownership about his status for 2017, but the first-year San Francisco coach figures to do so once season ends Sunday, Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group reports (on Twitter). Both Kelly and GM Trent Baalke are on thin ice after this 49ers season included a 13-game losing streak, the longest in franchise history.
  • The Rams are considering moving Greg Robinson to guard for Week 17 against the Cardinals, interim coach John Fassel said (per Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com). Robinson started 35 straight games at left tackle for the Rams and has led the NFL with 31 penalties since the start of the 2015 season. Gonzalez writes the Rams may have already moved on from Robinson at left tackle after two different head coaches deactivated him in the past two weeks. The Rams used the No. 2 pick on Robinson in 2014 and are in danger of seeing next to nothing from another No. 2 overall tackle. Then-St. Louis abandoned the Jason Smith experiment after three seasons in 2011, giving Smith 26 starts.
  • Andy Reid said Justin Houston experienced swelling in his surgically repaired knee, leading to the Chiefs deactivating him on Christmas night. When asked about the possibility Houston could miss the playoffs, the fourth-year Chiefs coach said the team “will take it day by day and see.” Houston, who was severely limited during Kansas City’s two-game stay in last year’s AFC bracket, missed 10 games this season after offseason ACL surgery. “It felt a little bit better than it did the day before. He felt like things were getting better,” Reid said of Houston, via Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star. “That’s what we’re going on here. It’s just a matter of that thing calming down a little bit and he’ll be back.”
  • Gary Kubiak said he will make a decision on Paxton Lynch starting Week 17 for the Broncos soon, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post reports. The defending Super Bowl champions are now eliminated from the playoffs, and this season finale against the Raiders would give the first-rounder a third start in advance of an offseason where he’ll be expected to compete with Trevor Siemian for the 2017 starting job. Although, Siemian seems to have the leg up despite being previously viewed as a stopgap solution.

Zach Links contributed to this report

Greg Robinson Benched

The Rams have benched former No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson, as Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com writes. Robinson, whom the Rams selected out of Auburn in the first round of the 2014 draft, was a healthy scratch for today’s matchup against the Saints.

Sep 27, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams tackle Greg Robinson (73) is introduced before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Edward Jones Dome. Steelers defeated the Rams 12-6. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Robinson started 12 of 16 regular season contests in his rookie campaign and all 16 games in 2015. However, Robinson has suffered from inconsistent play and frustrating penalties since he entered the league, and his 28 penalties over the past two years are four more than anyone else in the NFL. He has also allowed a whopping 21 quarterback hurries this year, and he ranks 75th out of 80 qualified tackles according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics.

Offensive line coach Paul Boudreau said of Robinson’s struggles, “[r]ecently, it’s just a matter of his technique. He’s all over the place with his feet, he’s all over the place with his hands. And when he gets in trouble, when he stops his feet, he grabs, and he gets those holding penalties that you really don’t need. So he’s got to concentrate on focusing on the little things.”

Although head coach Jeff Fisher may simply be giving Robinson a game off to get his head straight and to regain his focus, his struggles have spurred some speculation as to his status with the club heading into next year. Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com wonders if this is the beginning of the end of Robinson’s tenure in Los Angeles, observing that the Rams were forced to trade a struggling Jason Smith some years ago for a pittance. Fitzgerald further points out that Robinson’s contract does make it feasible for him to be dealt if Los Angeles wants to go that route (Twitter links).

Left guard Rodger Saffold shifted over to left tackle for today’s game to take Robinson’s place.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: Lee, Davis, Washington

Anthony Davissudden retirement announcement and caveat this may be a boxing-style sabbatical rather than a move similar to ex-teammates Patrick Willis or Chris Borland will feature financial ramifications.

Should Davis indeed return next season or in 2017, it will likely cost him the signing bonus money he intends to pay back to the 49ers, writes Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The 49ers will place the right tackle on their reserve/retired list, retaining his rights and locking in his 2015 salary for the next season in which Davis plays, if he does. But Florio notes the 2011 labor deal doesn’t contain language about a player returning to the game’s ability to recoup signing bonus money he returned, which could lead to the 49ers and the NFL management council to argue that the bonus money is gone forever. In Davis’ case, that figure is $4.66MM.

NFL Insiders also suggest to Florio that Davis could have said his 2014 concussion was limiting his ability to play and force the 49ers to either cut him or place him on injured reserve instead of him retiring with a much bigger hint at a return to the game than most who retire offer, complicating this process.

Here are a few other Saturday-afternoon items from the NFC West.

  • Retirement, trades or free agency have besieged the 49ers’ Pro Bowl contingent of its roster, which was one of the league’s healthier stables last season, writes Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. The team’s trade of Andy Lee marked the fifth Pro Bowl performer — after Mike Iupati and Frank Gore‘s traditional exits, and the retirements of Patrick Willis and Justin Smith — San Francisco has lost in the past three months.
  • The 33-year-old Lee, midway through a six-year, $20.5MM extension he signed in 2012, will make $2.55MM this season in Cleveland, but his cap figure balloons to $4.13MM by 2018, writes Branch. Assuming Lee’s spot, 21-year-old draftee Bradley Pinion led all Power 5 conference punters with 33 induced fair catches, according to Pro Football Focus. The ex-Clemson punter who’s stood out this offseason with the 49ers flashed potential in high school with a 100-yard kickoff at a national showcase.
  • Daryl Washington‘s murky future remains, especially after the Cardinals linebacker’s agent hasn’t exactly been timely with paperwork, reports Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. Eligible for reinstatement 60 days prior to the one-year anniversary of his suspension (May 30, 2014), Washington has yet to force any action from Roger Goodell since agent Jordan Woy hasn’t submitted his reinstatement application. Woy plans to do so soon, but as Somers points out, a player who’s met the criteria to return and has the desire to do so would’ve probably had the application submitted the first day it was permitted.
  • The Rams are shuttling three candidates into first-team reps, with Tim Barnes, Demetrius Rhaney and Barrett Jones vying to replace Scott Wells, reports Joe Lyons of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Second-year pro Rhaney, from Tennessee State, received the first snapping work on Friday after spending last season on IR.
  • Greg Robinson‘s shed 20 pounds and is working out at 319 currently, notes Lyons. The 2014 No. 2 overall pick is still recovering from offseason toe surgery.