Jabrill Peppers

Giants Place S Jabrill Peppers On IR

The Giants have made a series of roster moves this morning, via ESPN’s Jordan Raanan (via Twitter). The team placed safety Jabrill Peppers and linebacker Chris Peace on injured reserve. Linebacker Kareem Martin was activated from the injured reserve, and safety Sean Chandler is being promoted from the practice squad.

The Giants acquired Peppers in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade this past offseason. The former first-rounder was on pace to have his best NFL season, as he had compiled 76 tackles, five passes defended, three forced fumbles, and one pick-six in 11 starts. The 24-year-old suffered a transverse process fracture during the Giants’ late-November loss to the Bears, but coach Pat Shurmur had expressed optimism that Peppers would be able to finish the season. Peppers didn’t play in last weekend’s loss to the Packers.

Peppers will be replaced on the roster by Chandler, a former undrafted rookie out of Temple. The 23-year-old has spent his two professional seasons with the Giants organization, and he’s compiled 23 tackles and one sack in 25 career games. Chandler was waived by New York in early November, and he later caught on with the team’s practice squad.

Martin spent the first four seasons of his career with the Cardinals before landing a three-year, $21MM ($7.5MM) deal with the Giants in 2018. He appeared in all 16 games (seven starts) during his first season in New York, compiling a career-high 48 tackles and 1.5 sacks. The 27-year-old suffered a knee injury in Week 1 and was placed on the injured reserve. He was designated for return in late November.

Peace, an undrafted rookie out of Virginia, was claimed off waivers from the Chargers back in September. The linebacker has appeared in four games for the Giants this season. He was listed on the injury report with a knee issue earlier this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants S Jabrill Peppers Suffers Fracture

Giants safety Jabrill Peppers was diagnosed with a traverse process fracture, according to a team press release. While it is not uncommon for fractures to end a player’s season, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post reports that head coach Pat Shurmur told reporters he does not expect the injury to be season ending. The training staff does not seem to think that Peppers would be at greater risk of suffering a major injury if he played with the injury, but pain is still a large concern.

In the third season of his professional career, Peppers has avoided missing time with any major injuries, starting 40 of his team’s 43 games. Acquired last offseason in the trade that sent Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns, Peppers has been one of the most productive players on New York’s defense. He has recorded 76 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 5 passes defended, and one pick-six.

According to Paul Schwartz of The New York Post, Peppers suffered the injury after returning a kickoff in the first half of the Giants 19-14 loss to the Bears. Normally, Peppers only handles the team’s punt returning duties, but convinced special teams coach Thomas McGaughey to give him a shot. He had returned a punt for 40 yards earlier and felt like he was in a good spot to make a big play.

Julian Love replaced Peppers on Sunday, but defensive back Michael Thomas is listed as the backup strong safety on the team’s website. Thomas is a veteran special teamer and may be hesitant to remove him from that role. Furthermore, Love, a fourth-round selection in the 2019 draft, recorded an interception in his first extended playing time on the defensive side of the ball.

Giants To Use Jabrill Peppers In Return Game?

New Giants safety Jabrill Peppers, whom the Browns selected in the first round of the 2017 draft, is still highly-regarded in NFL front offices. Peppers, of course, was a key part of the trade that sent Odell Beckham to Cleveland, and Browns GM John Dorsey was loathe to let him go, while Giants GM Dave Gettleman was adamant that the former Michigan star be included in the deal.

We have already heard that Big Blue envisions a versatile role for Peppers. Although the club sees him as a classic strong safety, Peppers will not line up in the same position from snap to snap and will be asked to line up deep, up near the line, at slot cornerback, and at nickel linebacker. And, as Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com writes, the Giants had their starting safeties on the field for almost all of the team’s defensive snaps last year, so Peppers — who didn’t play more than 76% of the defensive snaps in either of his two seasons with the Browns — could be looking at a healthy increase in playing time.

But will that increase carry over to special teams? Dunleavy observes that the Giants’ return game was a mess last season, and Peppers could help in a big way. He was a quality return man with the Wolverines, and while he has not been as electric in that regard at the professional level, he has been at least serviceable. New York’s coaching staff thinks he can thrive as a returner if he continues to get the opportunity.

Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said, “[Peppers] is a for-sure ball-handler. Can make all the cuts full speed. He just brings juice.”

It remains to be seen whether Peppers’ heavier workload on the defensive side of the ball will force the Giants to keep him on the sidelines when they send out the special teams units. But Dunleavy expects Peppers to be the primary punt returner and to flank Corey Coleman on kickoff returns (Dunleavy believes Coleman will remain the team’s No. 1 kickoff returner given the stability he brought to that role last season).

If Peppers does need a breather, the club also has the sure-handed Golden Tate and rookie Darius Slayton at its disposal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Dennard, Browns, Steelers

Still unsigned, Darqueze Dennard remains an option for the Bengals. But the franchise looks to have given the cornerback a price point. The Bengals have not closed the door on a reunion with the sixth-year cornerback, according to Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer, but they have since signed B.W. Webb and retained some of their own free agents. The most recent negotiations between Dennard and the Bengals revealed a disconnect, with the team viewing him as strictly a slot cornerback — and one they may not consider paying at the top-market slot price Justin Coleman just reset with the Lions. Dennard’s camp came in with an offer north of what Coleman just signed, proposing a deal north of $10MM per year with the Bengals, Dehner reports, adding the corner’s representation never came back to the table with the Bengals. The team was willing to keep Dennard at around $8.5MM AAV, but that was before reaching a deal with Webb. The new Bengal corner played for first-year DC Lou Anarumo with the Giants.

Dennard was scheduled to visit the Chiefs this weekend. Shifting first to a higher-profile AFC North situation, here is the latest out of this division:

  • John Dorsey called Dave Gettleman on Monday to ask if Odell Beckham Jr. was indeed available. The Giants’ GM had twice said in 2019 he did not extend the wideout to trade him, but Gettleman told Dorsey he was, in fact, willing to move Beckham, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes. Dorsey had several Beckham trades planned, but Cabot adds the talks never included Emmanuel Ogbah or Duke Johnson. Both of those pre-Dorsey Browns investments are now on the trade block.
  • As for the player the Giants did obtain for Beckham, Jabrill Peppers profiled as one the Browns did not want to let go. Despite being a Sashi Brown-era draft choice, Dorsey wanted to keep the improving safety, per Cabot. But Cleveland’s second-year GM was not going to let Peppers stand in the way of acquiring Beckham. Gettleman was “adamant” about Peppers’ inclusion in this trade because of the Giants’ recent decision to let Landon Collins walk in free agency, Cabot adds. The Giants are planning a versatile role for the third-year safety. Peppers can be under Giants control through 2021 via the fifth-year option.
  • The Steelers‘ acquisition of Mark Barron will likely not preclude them from using another early-round pick on a linebacker, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac (on Twitter). Pittsburgh did not elect to devote significant resources to replacing Ryan Shazier last year but has used four first-round picks on linebackers since 2013 — Jarvis Jones, Shazier, Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt. Shazier’s unfortunate circumstances may again prompt the Steelers to use a first-round choice on an off-ball ‘backer.
  • Eli Rogers‘ latest Steelers contract is for two years, not one, the team announced. The auxiliary receiver may have a bigger role in Pittsburgh’s 2019 offense, considering Antonio Brown is out of the picture and Rogers is entering an offseason healthy. He tore an ACL in the Steelers’ 2017 divisional-round game and only played in three games last season.

NFC Notes: Verrett, Peppers, Packers

The 49ers are placing a lot of faith in their training and medical staffs, as Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle observes (Twitter link). The club’s two major offseason acquisitions, Kwon Alexander and Dee Ford, come with medical red flags, as do new cornerback Jason Verrett and the recently re-signed Jimmie Ward. But Verrett could offer the most bang for San Francisco’s buck.

Verrett’s one-year deal carries a cap charge of just $1.5MM and maxes out at just $3MM. As Branch writes in a separate piece, Verrett has been told that the starting cornerback position opposite Richard Sherman is up for grabs, and Verrett, a 2015 Pro Bowler, is determined to make the most of his chance. He said, “[t]he opportunity is there for me. Wide open. It’s just there for me to take. It’s just for me to get back healthy and get back there on the football field and do what I love to do.” Verrett’s primary competition for the job is Ahkello Witherspoon and Tarvarius Moore.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • Eli Manning will not collect his $5MM roster bonus until tomorrow, per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv (via Twitter). It had previously been reported that Manning earned his bonus yesterday, all but ensuring that he will remain with the Giants in 2019. But Vacchiano says Manning is still expected to return next season and that he will not be cut within the next 24 hours.
  • Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes that the Giants are very excited about the acquisition of Jabrill Peppers, part of New York’s return in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. Per Schwartz, Big Blue sees Peppers as a classic strong safety, but the club will take full advantage of his versatility. Peppers will not line up in the same position from snap to snap and will be asked to line up deep, up near the line, at slot cornerback, and at nickel linebacker. New York brass has been heavily criticized for the OBJ deal, but if Peppers can live up to his draft pedigree, that will go a long way towards the Giants’ rebuild.
  • Eagles top personnel executive Howie Roseman has made it abundantly clear that he does not value the running back position, as Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com observes. Roseman has invested neither top dollar nor top draft capital in running backs, and that remains an area of glaring need at the moment. But since Roseman has built a strong offense and a roster that is in win-now mode, and since he has again avoided the free agent market for running backs, one has to think that he will use one of his three picks in the first two rounds of the 2019 draft to add some talent to the offensive backfield.
  • The Packers made a rare foray into the top end of the free agent market this year, and thus far they have dished out free agent contracts with a total value of $184MM (though less than one-third of that figure is guaranteed). But as Pete Dougherty of PackersNews.com notes, Green Bay ranks near the bottom of the league in 2020 salary cap room, and it opted for smaller salary cap hits on its big-ticket FAs this year in exchange for bigger hits down the road. That means that at least a couple of the club’s major signees — Za’Darius SmithPreston SmithAdrian Amos, and Billy Turner — will have to pan out, and GM Brian Gutekunst will have to have a successful draft in order to field a competitive team over the next several seasons, as he will not be able to splurge again next year.

Final Terms Of Odell Beckham Jr. Trade

The trades of Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon were originally reported as separate moves, but the Browns and Giants have have each announced the acquisitions as one large transaction. Additionally, as Art Stapleton of NorthJersey.com first reported, the fourth- and fifth-round picks that were originally part of the Vernon/Kevin Zeitler trade are no longer involved in the swap.

Here are the full terms of the stunning trade:

Browns acquire:

Giants acquire:

Giants Trade Odell Beckham Jr. To Browns

Odell Beckham Jr. is finally on the move. Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports (via Twitter) that the Giants are trading the wide receiver to the Browns.

It sound like New York has received a relative haul for their star receiver. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the Giants will be receiving a 2019 first-rounder (No. 17 overall), a 2019 third-rounder (No. 95), and safety Jabrill Peppers. The deal will leave $16MM in dead money for the Giants, who inked the receiver to a five-year, $95 million contract ($65MM guaranteed) back in August. The move will open up $5MM in cap space, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter).

This would seem to be a relatively big haul for Beckham, especially when you consider what the Steelers recently received for Antonio Brown. While Brown is older and desired a new contract, Pittsburgh was still only able to fetch a third-round pick (No. 66 overall) and fifth-round pick (No. 141) from the Raiders. Of course; Beckham may also be seeking a new deal; NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that the receiver is expected to ask Cleveland for a new contract.

There had been conflicting reports regarding Beckham’s availability in recent days. Despite general manager Dave Gettleman‘s consistent insistence that Beckham was not available, we learned yesterday that the Giants had been discussing a trade. We heard earlier today that an AFC North team was engaged in conversations with the Giants, and we’ve now learned that the team was Cleveland.

The Browns seemed like a relatively natural fit for Beckham and his $18MM salary. Despite signing Jarvis Landry to a lucrative deal last offseason, Cleveland’s front office was still hunting around for a big-name addition. The 26-year-old surely fits that bill, as he’ll team up with Landry, quarterback Baker Mayfield, and running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to form one of the more talented offenses in the NFL.

The 26-year-old was still productive in 2018 despite missing four games due to a quad injury. In 12 games, Beckham hauled in 77 receptions for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns. The former first-rounder is all over the Giants all-time leaders list, with top-five appearances in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions.

While the focus of the trade will surround Beckham, Peppers is an intriguing inclusion in the deal. The former Michigan standout had spent the first two seasons of his career in Cleveland, including a 2018 campaign where he compiled 79 tackles, one sack, and five passes defended. While the 23-year-old hasn’t necessarily displayed the talent that earned him a first-round selection, he’s still an intriguing asset for the Giants. While the team recently added Antoine Bethea, Peppers could theoretically supplant Michael Thomas in the starting lineup.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Vikings, Bakhtiari, Dupree

Prior to Teddy Bridgewater‘s career-defining injury at Vikings practice two Augusts ago, Mike Zimmer assumed the 2014 first-round pick would be his quarterback for the remainder of his head-coaching tenure. But the gruesome leg injuries Bridgewater suffered eventually led him out of the Twin Cities and to the Big Apple. Now, the 62-year-old head coach envisions Kirk Cousins, attached to a three-year contract, as the quarterback for the rest of his run as Vikings HC.

I always thought Teddy was going to be my quarterback for my career and these are the way things go,” Zimmer said during a Sirius XM Radio interview. “Now, I hope that Kirk is the quarterback for my career … and it’s long, too. Not one year.”

Zimmer expanded a bit on what drew him to Cousins, though Minnesota certainly wasn’t alone in the rare pursuit of a franchise-level quarterback on the market. But the Vikings weren’t viewed as the obvious choice from the outset, given Case Keenum‘s success in 2017.

Part of it was his accuracy,” Zimmer said of the Cousins pursuit during the interview. “He threw the ball into a lot of tight windows, and we’re seeing that here in camp. Very consistent in the things he was able to do. So I think that was part of it. You know, not too many times is a quarterback that’s really entering his prime at 28 (Cousins turns 30 later this month) get out on the free agency market that’s thrown for 4,000 (yards) for three straight years. I think he’s my fifth quarterback in five years, so I’m hoping we’ve stabilized the quarterback position.”

Here’s the latest from a Vikings rival and the AFC North.

  • The Packers received a scare when a cart transported cornerstone left tackle David Bakhtiari from the practice field Saturday night, but Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (on Twitter) Bakhtiari suffered a sprained left ankle. He won’t return to action immediately, but at this point, it doesn’t look like the sixth-year lineman will miss regular-season time.
  • Bud Dupree suffered a setback this weekend and is in concussion protocol, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). The Steelers will be without their starting right outside linebacker for a bit, per Fowler, after seeing the fourth-year player start camp strong. Anthony Chickillo and Keion Adams reside as the top backups, per Pittsburgh’s first 2018 depth chart, and will see more time while Dupree is sidelined. Adams was a 2017 seventh-round pick who did not play last season.
  • Jabrill Peppers kept his starting spot after the Browns released their first depth chart, but Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal tweets the battle between the 2017 first-rounder and Derrick Kindred is not over. Both continue to receive first-team reps opposite Damarious Randall, and Ulrich adds each will play plenty in three-safety looks this season (Twitter link). It would, however, be notable if Peppers couldn’t keep his starting job considering what the Browns invested in him. A 2016 fourth-rounder, Kindred’s started 15 NFL games.

North Notes: Vikes, Browns, Ravens, Sutton

At Vikings OTAs this week, they placed Mike Remmers back at right tackle, per Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Remmers finished last season playing guard, and the Vikings used a second-round pick on tackle Brian O’Neill out of Pittsburgh. Minnesota had UFA signee Tom Compton working as its first-string right guard during OTAs, per Rand. Compton has never been a full-time starter in his six-year career, coming closest with the 2014 Redskins, who used him as a nine-game starter. Last season, the Bears started Compton in five of the 11 games he played. Minnesota lost its most effective blocker, Joe Berger, to retirement and did not make any notable additions beyond Compton at the guard spot.

Here’s more from the north:

  • The Browns have made some adjustments to their front office and scouting department, and Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com expects that to continue. She targets the VP of player personnel decision as a possible turnover spot. Alonzo Highsmith, Ken Kovash and Andrew Berry currently reside in that role. John Dorsey just hired Highsmith, and Cabot reports Berry is safe from a change despite being an integral part of the previous regime. The Browns promoted Kovash shortly after the Sashi Brown regime took over in 2016 after he’d previously worked as the franchise’s director of football research.
  • Converted cornerback Damarious Randall will be the Browns’ starter at free safety this season, relocating Jabrill Peppers to strong safety, per Cabot. Gregg Williams‘ deep placement of Peppers, sometimes more than 25 yards off the ball, became a constant source of discussion and derision among Browns fans, and Peppers himself may be a bit tired of the jokes. But the Browns will now place him closer to the line of scrimmage, which is similar to the role he had at Michigan.
  • Optimism exists around Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith, who saw a strong season end early in 2017 because of a torn Achilles, but Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun notes the veteran may not be ready for the start of training camp. The career-long Raven is going into his age-30 season.
  • Additional Ravens’ timelines are coming into focus as well. Defensive lineman Carl Davis, who started nine games last season, underwent surgery to repair a tear in his shoulder earlier this offseason, Zreibec reports. The former third-round pick is questionable to participate in minicamp. Offensive lineman Nico Siragusa also had an operation this offseason. The 2017 fourth-round pick missed all of last season because of ACL, MCL and PCL tears and required an additional knee surgery this year. Zreibec reports the goal for him is a training camp return. As for Alex Lewis, Baltimore’s projected guard starter opposite Marshal Yanda, he’s fully recovered from the shoulder injury that nixed all of his 2017 season, Zreibec notes.
  • The Steelers aren’t sure where to station Cameron Sutton. The 2017 third-round pick played 117 snaps as a rookie after an injury delayed his NFL debut. Pittsburgh may be planning to use him at outside or slot cornerback, or as a safety alongside Morgan Burnett, Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. But he notes that Artie Burns and Sean Davis will still have first crack at their respective jobs, outside cornerback and the non-Burnett safety starter, with the Steelers still hoping for the high draft picks’ upside to show. Mike Hilton remains the frontrunner to be the Steelers’ slot corner, where the former UDFA fared well in 2017.

Extra Points: Gronk, Eli, Barber, Peppers

Although the result of the Patriots-Bills game this afternoon was an expected New England victory, something rather surprising did happen during the fourth quarter of the contest. Up handily by 20 points, Tom Brady threw an interception to cornerback Tre’Davious White. However, when the rookie fell down after his return, tight end Rob Gronkowski clearly hit him in the head while he was just face down on the turf. Gronk was not thrown out because of his malicious action, but Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com was surprised he wasn’t and thinks further punishment could be coming for the star tight end.

Seifert points out in his piece that former NFL referee Dean Blandino said that Gronkowski should have been ejected for the hit and that he could “maybe” be in-line to miss game action for the incident.

The NFL will review the situation over the next 24 hours and see what type or if any discipline is needed. Gronkowski clearly lowered his shoulder into White well after the play was over, seeming upset that the 2017 first rounder picked off Brady in his direction. However, Seifert notes that the 28-year-old doesn’t really have a track record of misbehaving on the field, despite some minor incidents. The league will also take into account that Gronkowski apologized immediately after the game.

While the NFL did levy two-game suspensions to Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree this past week, this situation is clearly different given that there was no history of bad blood between the two players, Though, it’s clear that the Pats All-pro was in the wrong and could miss time or at least get heavily fined because of his actions on the field today.

  • Despite being benched for the remainder of the regular season, Eli Manning remained rather unequivocal when asked if he will suit up for another year in the league, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com“I plan on playing next season,” Manning said twice Sunday after the Giants‘ 24-17 loss to the Raiders. It’s more likely that the veteran signal caller won’t be back with the Giants after what’s transpired this past week. However, that doesn’t mean Manning won’t have his suitors. While he may be 37 years old heading into next season, the two-time Super Bowl winning QB should garner interest from a host of quarterback needy teams. Manning is clearly not the player he once was, but with the need at the position still so high around the league, his track record is tough to come by on the open market. He’s under contract with New York for 2018-19, but the front office could trade him at some point in the offseason or release him before March 18, 2018, when he is due a $5MM roster bonus.
  • The Buccaneers lost their eighth game of the season when the Packers were able to seal the contest in overtime, but running back Peyton Barber was a major bright spot for the team, opines Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders. With Doug Martin out due to a concussion, the 23-year-old back carried the ball 23 times for 102 yards. Cummings points out that it was the team’s first 100 yard rushing effort from a tailback since late last season. In his second year since being undrafted out of Auburn, Barber’s performance on Sunday likely earned himself some more chances to impress in the final four weeks of the regular season.
  • Browns rookie safety Jabrill Peppers injured his knee in the team’s game against the Chargers this afternoon, according to Pat McManamon of ESPN.com. Head coach Hue Jackson said that the first round pick will get an MRI tomorrow in order to assess just how serious the injury is. Cleveland has backup safeties Derron Smith and Kai Nacua should Peppers need to miss time.