Jason Verrett

AFC Notes: Verrett, Raiders, Browns, Stephenson

Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett has appeared in five totals games over the past two seasons. The 27-year-old is excited to head into the 2018 season fully healthy, and he’s ready to return to his Pro Bowl level.

“I think it’s going to be a little bit more juice, just dealing with the fact that I lost two seasons,” Verrett told Hayley Elwood of Chargers.com (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). “I’m hungry. I’m going to grind. I’m going to grind, grind, grind. They’re going to see the Pro Bowl player they saw in 2015.”

The former first-rounder had a breakout season in 2015, compiling 42 tackles, 12 passes defended, and three interceptions en route to a Pro Bowl nod. However, the cornerback has recently been battling through a torn ACL that he suffered during the 2016 campaign.

Starters Trevor Williams and Casey Hayward will still be around next season, but Verrett will be given every opportunity to contribute if he’s healthy.

“We can be real special,” Verrett said. “I know it’s a tough for the coaches to make a decision on who’s going to go out there, just because of how deep we are. But I think just how tight we are as a group, it’s going to allow us to keep feeding off each other. Everyone’s going be wanting to get better each and every day because you know the guys behind you are going to want to be where you are.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the AFC…
  • The Raiders brought in a number of new players and coaches this offseason, and Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area takes a look at the five additions with the most to prove. Head coach Jon Gruden naturally leads the list, with linebacker Derrick Johnson ranking second. Bair notes that Johnson is expected to provide Oakland’s defense with some much-needed leadership, and the signing will be a win if he can prove to be a three-down linebacker. Running back Doug Martin, wideout Jordy Nelson, and cornerback Rashaan Melvin also earned spots on the list.
  • Former NFL agent (and current CBS Sport contributor) Joel Corry observes the “interesting dynamics” between the Browns pair of first-round picks (Twitter link). As Corry points out, cornerback Denzel Ward, who was selected fourth overall, doesn’t have any incentive to sign his contract until the team inks their first-overall selection, quarterback Baker Mayfield, to a deal. If Mayfield ends up receiving guaranteed money without any offsets, Corry believes Ward can push to get similar advantages on his contract. For what it’s worth, 2017 first-rounder Myles Garrett does have offsets in his deal.
  • After being suspended for the first two games of the upcoming season, Browns offensive lineman Donald Stephenson decided to retire yesterday. As Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com points out, coach Hue Jackson was set to fine the player after he was a no-show from mandatory minicamp. Now, the team presumably won’t hit Stephenson with any fines, especially since he gave up his $1MM in guaranteed money by deciding to retire.
  • Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer believes the Browns have improved, but he’s wondering if Jackson will be able to take a step forward. The writer notes that the head coach had a built-in excuse (“rebuild”) during his 1-31 start with the organization, but there will now be actual expectations for the squad. The hiring of offensive coordinator Todd Haley will certainly help, but it will ultimately be up to the head coach to lead the Browns to success.

Jason Verrett Returns To Full Participation

Good news for Chargers fans (at least for now). Per Dan Woike of the San Diego Union-Tribune, cornerback Jason Verrett was a full participant in practice on Wednesday, the second day of last week’s mandatory minicamp, and he looked like his old self. Woike reports that, over the course of the three-day minicamp, Verrett flashed the ability that earned him a Pro Bowl nod in 2015 and that suggested he would become one of the better corners in the league.

Of course, Verrett has struggled to stay on the field since his Pro Bowl campaign. His 2016 season was limited to four games due to a partially-torn ACL, and although he returned during last year’s training camp, he only played in the season opener before it was revealed that he would need another surgery on the same knee.

Chargers faithful can therefore be forgiven for being skeptical about Verrett’s return to form, but it seems that Verrett is in a better place — both physically and mentally — than he was at this time last year, when he was recovering from his first knee surgery. Verrett said, “Man, last year was tough. I was in a brace the whole time. It was like a little bit mentally and physically [challenging]. But now being out of the brace, not even thinking, being able to cut and get out of my breaks, I’m able to cut and get back to where I was before.”

In some ways, Verrett’s absence has been a blessing for the Bolts, as it has given players like Casey Heyward, Trevor Williams, and Desmond King an opportunity to shine. So if Verrett can, in fact, recapture at least most of his pre-injury form, Los Angeles should be well-stocked at one of the game’s most important positions.

At his best, Verrett could be better than any other CB on the roster. As defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said, “[Verrett’s] skill set, what he has, his speed, his athleticism, his change of direction, it is elite. Just to see him go through the individuals sometimes, you see a guy come back from an injury like that, it takes some time. I don’t see that right now. The way he’s working out, the way he’s practicing, he’s in a really good place right now.”

Verrett, a 2014 first-round selection, also has plenty of financial motivation to stay healthy and productive, as he will play out the 2018 season under the fifth-year option of his rookie deal before being eligible for free agency next year. Although his two knee surgeries will likely dampen his earning power even if he stays healthy this year, a strong showing will make him a highly valuable commodity on the open market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Anderson, Verrett, Steelers

C.J. Anderson seemed surprised he didn’t see better offers after the Broncos released him. The Panthers signed the sixth-year veteran to a one-year, $1.75MM deal that comes with a $500K signing bonus. While Anderson was making much more with the Broncos the past two years, Denver didn’t do him any favors by cutting him so late into free agency. However, Anderson asked for a one-year deal for the purposes of re-entering free agency in 2019.

I should be in my prime. I think I have an opportunity to do something really special here,” Anderson said, via Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer. “I asked for the one-year deal. I want to prove myself that I can still play this game at a high level.”

Anderson will be set for what would be his age-28 season in 2019 and, at the moment, be part of a UFA class that includes Le’Veon Bell, Mark Ingram and Ameer Abdullah. Although, Anderson would be able to test the market immediately once the 2019 league year opens. And several running backs signed for more than $1.75MM per year this March.

Here’s the latest from around the league.

  • Jason Verrett has yet to be cleared for full practices after his latest injury, Eric Williams of ESPN.com reports. The former first-round Chargers pick suffered a knee injury in September of last season, cutting short a third season for the talented cornerback. But that talent’s come with a well-earned injury-prone label, with Verrett having missed 39 of a possible 64 games in his career. The Chargers have him under contract for 2018 due to picking up his fifth-year option last year, and Williams writes Verrett will start opposite Casey Hayward if he’s healthy.
  • The Steelers liked their situation at linebacker enough to avoid reaching for one in the draft, Kevin Colbert said (via the Associated Press). Pittsburgh signed veteran Jon Bostic in free agency, and Colbert said they plan to give 2016 seventh-rounder Tyler Matakevich a look at the spot alongside Vince Williams as well. Additionally, Steelers first-rounder Terrell Edmunds is expected to receive a look there. While it’s uncertain how extensive the Steelers will examine the Virginia Tech talent at this spot, he spent some time in a linebacker role in Hokies sub-packages.
  • As for some veteran safeties, the market’s been unkind. The Steelers signed Morgan Burnett early in free agency, but arguably the other three top safeties available in March — Eric Reid, Tre Boston and Kenny Vaccaro — remain unsigned. While Reid’s situation isn’t hard to figure out based on recent events, Boston and Vaccaro have not landed jobs despite free agent visits. A former defensive coordinator believes teams’ myriad responsibilities for these players — and the lack of reliable statistics — create issues evaluating outside talent. “It’s hard to determine the value of safeties, based on the different ways that teams use them,” the coordinator said, via Bucky Brooks of NFL.com. “You can’t simply look at the stat sheet and figure out how much of an impact a player makes, due to the different roles that they’re playing in today’s game. Some guys are center fielders asked to play in the middle of the field, while others are playing down in the box as run defenders. Throw in the other guys who play as hybrid slot defenders and nickel corners, it’s hard to put them in the right order when it comes to stacking the board.”

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/23/17

Here are today’s minor moves.

  • Jason Verrett‘s 2017 season ended up including just one game. The cornerback will undergo season-ending left knee surgery, and the Chargers placed the cornerback on IR Saturday. To make room on their 53-man roster, the Bolts signed linebacker Nick Dzubnar, Eric Williams of ESPN.com reports. Dzubnar played in 20 games for the Chargers over the past two seasons.
  • Steven Johnson‘s transaction-heavy month continued today when the Steelers cut the veteran linebacker and signed linebacker L.J. Fort, Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets. The Steelers made this reverse transaction last week, and Fort re-signed with Pittsburgh’s practice squad soon after. Johnson’s been involved in four September transactions. He figures to be a candidate to re-sign.
  • The Bears promoted linebacker John Timu from their practice squad and cut wide receiver Tre McBride, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Already down multiple key receivers, the Bears currently are carrying just four on their active roster.
  • The Titans also made a receiver transaction before their Week 3 game, swapping out pass-catchers. The team promoted wideout Darius Jennings from the practice squad and waived wideout Zach Pascal. Jennings has spent time with several teams prior to this promotion, but his most relevant work came in making 14 receptions for the 2015 Browns.

Jason Verrett To Have Season-Ending Surgery

Jason Verrett‘s season is over. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), the Chargers cornerback has decided to undergo season-ending surgery on his left knee. The team is expected to place him on the injured reserve.

Jason Verrett (vertical)This is another tough blow for the former first-rounder, as Verrett has been hindered by injuries throughout his brief career. This current injury is attributed to an ACL tear that limited the cornerback to only four games in 2016. Last week, reports indicated that Verrett was experiencing soreness in the knee, although some expected him to return in several weeks. However, we later heard that there wasn’t a definitive timetable for the 26-year-old’s return.

“It was never right in my opinion, just watching him in practice,” coach Anthony Lynn said at the time. “He’s such a competitor. … But he wasn’t able to play to his standard. So we just want him to get healthy.”

Verrett did appear in the team’s season-opening loss to the Broncos, playing nearly every snap for the Chargers. The Texas Christian product flashed his talent during his lone healthy season in 2015. In 14 games (13 starts), Verrett compiled 47 tackles, 12 passes defended, and three interceptions (including one pick-six).

2016 undrafted free agent Trevor Williams has been starting in Verrett’s place opposite Casey Hayward. The team could look to add some depth at the position, as the team is only rostering a pair of reserves in Desmond King and Michael Davis. They could also promote former third-rounder Craig Mager, who is currently on the team’s practice squad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

No Timetable For Jason Verrett Return

The Chargers don’t have a return date for cornerback Jason Verrett, who is dealing with soreness in his knee as he continues to recover from a torn ACL that ended his 2016 campaign, according to Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com."<strong

“There’s really not a timetable on Jason right now,” head coach Anthony Lynn said. “We’re still evaluating him and we just want him to get right before he’s back on the football field.

“It was never right in my opinion, just watching him in practice,” Lynn said of Verrett’s knee. “He’s such a competitor. … But he wasn’t able to play to his standard. So we just want him to get healthy.”

Verrett, 26, played nearly every snap for Los Angeles in the club’s Week 1 loss to the Broncos, but sat out for the Chargers’ game against the Dolphins on Sunday. The fourth-year defensive back was placed on injured reserve last October after playing with a torn ligament for at least two weeks. A former first-round pick, Verrett is signed through the 2018 season thanks to his fifth-year option.

With Verrett sidelined, the Chargers turned to 2016 undrafted free agent Trevor Williams to play every defensive snap at corner opposite Casey Hayward. Williams played well, as he allowed just three receptions and 41 yards on five total targets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Vikes, Bolts, Raiders, Lions

Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford is dealing with “swelling, pain and discomfort” in his left knee, Chris Mortenson of ESPN reports. Notably, that’s the same knee in which Bradford underwent procedures to repair a torn ACL in 2013 and ’14. Thanks to his latest knee issue, Bradford’s not a lock to play Sunday against in Pittsburgh, though the Vikings are “cautiously optimistic” he will, per Mortenson. At the same time, the Vikes do have some reservations about the injury, Mortenson notes. In the unlikely event Bradford doesn’t suit up, the Vikings’ offense would presumably experience a marked drop-off after handling the Saints on Monday. Bradford was the driving force behind that 29-19 win, going 27 of 32 for 346 yards and three touchdowns. His backup is Case Keenum, who struggled mightily with the Rams last season.

Elsewhere around the NFL…

  • Speaking of left knee troubles, Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett is experiencing soreness there after an ACL tear limited him to four games last season. He’ll miss Sunday’s game against Miami as a result and could sit out “several” more weeks, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Verrett played nearly all of the Chargers’ defensive snaps (63 of 69) in their loss to Denver on Monday, but head coach Anthony Lynn held him out of practice Friday and stated that the corner is “just not right.” Lynn added that he has “no idea” how long Verrett will be on the shelf, only revealing that the player is “week-to-week.” Verrett, 26, is less than a year removed from the knee surgery he underwent last October.
  • Left tackle Donald Penn expected the two-year deal he signed with the Raiders in 2016 t0 be his last contract, according to Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area. Penn didn’t show signs of slowing down last season, though, leading him to shelve any thoughts of retirement. He’s now under Raiders control through 2018 after inking an extension Friday. The 34-year-old believes the new pact will ensure that he’ll retire a Raider, which would be a “childhood dream,” as he told Bair and other reporters. Penn, who held out over the summer, noted that he wasn’t optimistic an agreement would come. “There was a lot of doubt (about getting a new deal),” he said. “I didn’t want to hit free agency again. I told them, ‘You know how much I love you guys. Show me how much you guys love me back, and let’s get this done so I can retire a Raider.’
  • Lions second-round pick Teez Tabor was a healthy scratch in Week 1 and, given the team’s depth at cornerback, probably won’t be a factor for a while, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com writes. But head coach Jim Caldwell still thinks the ex-Florida Gator could pay short-term dividends. “That probably would not be an accurate statement in terms of a ‘long-term project,'” Caldwell said. “I’m not certain what that denotes, but that probably wouldn’t be how we would assess it.” Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is pleased with the progress Tabor has made in recent months. “He’s doing everything right and we’ll see him at some point,” Austin declared. “(He’s) much different than when he first got in here. I think he’s a really super smart player. Gets it, can get around the ball, again, just growing him right now.” Once considered a good bet to go in the first round this year, Tabor fell to the Lions at No. 53 after posting slow times in the 40-yard yard dash in the offseason.

Chargers Exercise CB Jason Verrett’s Option

Late last week, Chargers GM Tom Telesco said the team would exercise cornerback Jason Verrett‘s fifth-year option (Twitter link via Eric Williams of ESPN.com). On Monday, the Bolts made it official. "<strong

Verrett, 26 in May, missed all but four games last season thanks to a partially torn ACL. Injuries also limited him as a rookie, but he showed what he could do in a full season of work in 2015. In 14 games that season, Verrett earned his first career Pro Bowl nod with 47 total tackles, three interceptions, and 12 passes defensed.

Before being placed on IR, Verrett tried to play through the injury. While his toughness was admirable, his play was clearly suffering as a result. Through four games, Pro Football Focus pegged him as just No. 71 out of 114 qualified corners in the NFL. In the year prior, he was among PFF’s best cornerbacks.

Verrett, the No. 25 overall pick in the 2014 draft, will start opposite of Casey Hayward in 2017. Safeties Dwight Lowery and Jahleel Addae will round out the starting secondary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers CB Jason Verrett Done For Season

Today’s tests revealed some bad news for Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett. The starter has suffered a partially torn ACL and will undergo surgery to fix the issue, Verrett told Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego (on Twitter). Verrett added that his “season is done with.” Jason Verrett (vertical)

Earlier today, it was reported that Verrett feared that he had been playing on a torn ligament in his knee for the last two weeks. While his toughness is admirable, that’s obviously unsustainable. Verrett will face a lengthy rehab process after going under the knife with an eye on playing in 2017.

Verrett, who is often assigned to the other team’s top receiver, earned his first career Pro Bowl nod in 2015. In 14 games last year, Verrett had 47 total tackles, three interceptions, and 12 passes defensed.

Through four games, Verrett has 13 tackles, three pass deflections, and one interception. The advanced numbers at Pro Football Focus pegged him as just No. 71 out of 114 qualified corners in the NFL. That’s an indication that Verrett has been held back quite a bit by his injury.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers CB Verrett Has Torn Knee Ligament?

Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett fears that he has been playing with a torn knee ligament through the last two games, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter. He is meeting with doctors today to determine the extent of the injury and whether or not he can play through it. If he does in fact have a torn ligament, that could mean a lengthy absence for one of San Diego’s top corners. Jason Verrett (vertical)

The Chargers haven’t had the best luck with injuries so far in this young season. Before Week 1, the team saw running back Branden Oliver go down with an Achilles tear. Then, in the first couple of weeks of the season, San Diego lost both Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead to season-ending injuries. Losing Verrett would be another major blow for the 1-3 Chargers as they get ready to face the rival Raiders on Sunday.

Through four games, Verrett has 13 tackles, three pass deflections, and one interception. While that sounds like a solid stat line, the advanced numbers at Pro Football Focus seem to indicate that Verrett’s knee is slowing him down. He is currently ranked 71st out of 114 qualified corners in the NFL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.