Johnathan Joseph

Texans Give Raise To CB Johnathan Joseph

The Texans gave cornerback Johnathan Joseph a raise, as Field Yates of tweets. In the revised deal, Joseph received a $1.5MM signing bonus and a base salary bump from $2.9MM to $4MM. Meanwhile, his per game roster bonuses were reduced from $1MM to $500K total. 

[RELATED: Latest On Texans’ RB Situation]

It’s a solid reward for a veteran player who has outperformed the two-year, $10MM deal he signed prior to the 2018 season. Joseph has pretty much been a starter throughout his career, but last year he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 10 ranked cornerback in the NFL, though his check put him in the middle of the pack at his position.

Joseph finished out 2018 with 58 tackles, two interceptions, and a touchdown. At the age of 35, Joseph now has 30 career picks, seven scores, and 175 total starts to his credit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Johnathan Joseph Expected To Miss 2-3 Weeks

On the same night they lost receiver Will Fuller to a season-ending injury, it sounds like the Texans also lost a top cornerback for several weeks. Mark Berman of Fox26 in Houston reports (via Twitter) that Johnathan Joseph suffered a high ankle sprain and a MCL sprain during Thursday’s win over the Dolphins. The injury will sideline him for two to three weeks.

The Texans’ cornerback corps have been decimated by injuries. Kayvon Webster, Kevin Johnson, and Jermaine Kelly are currently sitting on the injured reserve, while Aaron Colvin is expected to be out for the next few weeks as he recovers from an ankle injury. With Shareece Wright sitting out Thursday’s game, the Texans rolled with three healthy cornerbacks: Joseph, AJ Moore, and Johnson Bademosi.

While Joseph’s absence is exasperated by the team’s injury woes, the 34-year-old would be especially missed in the Texans’ secondary. The veteran was having a resurgent season in Houston, compiling 34 tackles, one pick-six, and eight passes defended in eight games (eight starts). Pro Football Focus has Joseph ranked 12th among 112 eligible cornerbacks.

Fortunately for the Texans, they may not need to add another cornerback. The team can always turn to safety Kareem Jackson for snaps at the position. Plus, since there are nine days between their Week 8 and Week 9 contests (plus a bye in Week 10), Joseph could end up missing only a single game.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Foster, Joseph, Mack

Good news for Steelers fans. Left guard Ramon Foster, who was carted off the practice field yesterday, hyperextended his knee but did not suffer any ligament damage and will not require surgery, as Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network reports (via Twitter). Kinkhabwala adds that Foster will miss four to five weeks but is expected to be ready for Week 1.

Now let’s get to more notes from around the AFC:

  • Browns owner Jimmy Haslam expressed unwavering support of head coach Hue Jackson during Haslam’s traditional training camp address yesterday. Per Tony Grossi of ESPN 850 WKNR, Haslam said, “I think we will see the real Hue Jackson (this year). He has good quarterbacks, he has some skill players, he has veteran offensive line – now, we have to figure out left tackle – and three really good backs and a good defense. I think this will be the first opportunity Hue will have to do what we know he can do as head coach and as a leader. We are excited to see it.” That certainly sounds to some, like Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, that Jackson is getting a clean slate, which is quite surprising for a head coach who has compiled a 1-31 record over his two seasons with the club. But Grossi suggests that the Haslams could also be subtly putting Jackson on notice that he is out of excuses.
  • Johnathan Joseph, who signed a two-year, $10MM deal to remain with the Texans this offseason, does not plan on calling it quits anytime soon, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle writes. The 34-year-old Joseph is entering the 13th year of his career, but he remains a starting cornerback and stills loves the game and the camaraderie it engenders. Joseph said, “as long as I’m healthy and I’m fine, I’m going to go out there and compete and contribute to the team. I’ll never play this game just to be playing and out there taking checks and stuff like that. So, if I’m able to be out there playing winning football, I’ll always play.”
  • We learned several days ago that Raiders star defensive end Khalil Mack, who is staying away from the team in an effort to land a new contract, has not spoken with head coach Jon Gruden since Gruden was hired in January. That report sent some of Raiders Nation into panic mode, but as Jerry McDonald of the Mercury News opines, there is no cause for alarm. He says Gruden is right to stay out of the negotiations, which is the domain of GM Reggie McKenzie and ownership, and that there should be no issues between Mack and Gruden when the contract situation does get resolved. McKenzie, meanwhile had no updates to offer on the negotiations.
  • In other Raiders news, Paul Gutierrez of reports that rookie Kolton Miller will be given every chance to win the starting LT job from Donald Penn, who is currently on the PUP list.
  • Embattled Bills DE Shaq Lawson could be on his way out of Buffalo, but DC Leslie Frazier isn’t casting him aside just yet. Frazier said Lawson’s best football is ahead of him, and that he is much too young to say that 2018 is a make-or-break year (via Joe Buscaglia of WKBW on Twitter). However, as Mike Rodak of tweets, Frazier also refers to Trent Murphy as the team’s starting left end, which is further evidence that Lawson has ground to make up if he wants to remain a Bill.

Extra Points: Seahawks, Nelson, Browns

The Raiders are in the mix to sign Jordy Nelson, but it’s not a done deal just yet. Ian Rapoport of (on Twitter) cautions not to count out the Seahawks in the Nelson chase, given John Schneider‘s history with the wide receiver.

In 2008, the Packers traded back with the Jets in the second round in order to select Nelson. Schneider was a big reason for that deal as he advocated for Nelson in the war room. Now, Schneider is at the helm in Seattle with a very real chance at signing the veteran.

The Saints, reportedly, are also pushing to sign Nelson.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Browns GM John Dorsey said he released cornerback Jason McCourty because he wasn’t sure he’d make the roster and, given his veteran status, wanted to give him a chance to catch on with another team (Twitter link via’s Pat McManamon). McCourty had a solid bounce back year with the Browns, so it’s surprising to hear that Dorsey wasn’t sure if McCourty would quality for the 53-man roster. In any event, he figures to have a ripe market.
  • Meanwhile, Browns coach Hue Jackson confirmed that Tyrod Taylor is the Browns starting quarterback for 2018. “He’s going to be the starting quarterback. There is no competition,” Jackson said (Twitter link via’s James Palmer). The Browns hold the No. 1 and No. 4 overall picks in this year’s draft and one of those selections will almost certainly be used on a QB. Whoever that rookie is, apparently, will be learning from the bench at the outset.
  • The Raiders were a close second for Johnathan Joseph before he agreed to re-sign with the Texans, according to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). Joseph re-upped with Houston on Thursday with a two-year deal.
  • The Eagles and Giants are showing interest in Bears free agent punter Pat O’Donnell, Adam Schefter of tweets.

Texans Re-Sign CB Johnathan Joseph

The Texans have agreed to re-sign cornerback Johnathan Joseph, according to Ian Rapoport of (on Twitter). It’s a two-year deal worth $10MM with $3.9MM guaranteed, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). 

Joseph, one of our top 15 ranked cornerbacks before the start of free agency, didn’t appear to take any other visits this week. His representatives likely spoke with other teams, but ultimately, he has opted to return to the Texans for his eighth season in Houston.

Joseph has pretty much been a starter throughout his career, dating back to his entry into the league as a first-round pick of the Bengals in 2006. In 2018, it’s not a lock that he’ll start for the Texans. Houston has been flirting with a number of free agent corners, so another signing could theoretically push Joseph down the depth chart. We know for sure that free agent pickup Aaron Colvin will hold down at least one starting job. The other starting gig could be filled by Joseph, Kareem Jackson, or perhaps another outside addition.

Last year, Joseph started all 16 games for the Texans and managed two interceptions. He rated as just Pro Football Focus’ No. 62 corner out of 121 full-time players at the position, but simultaneously ranked 21st in Football Outsiders’ success rate, meaning he was excellent at stopping wideouts short of the sticks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2018 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. After looking at offense on Monday, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2018:

Edge defender:

  1. Julius Peppers
  2. William Hayes
  3. Trent Murphy
  4. Pernell McPhee
  5. Aaron Lynch
  6. Alex Okafor
  7. Adrian Clayborn
  8. Kony Ealy
  9. Connor Barwin
  10. Jeremiah Attaochu
  11. Junior Galette
  12. Derrick Shelby
  13. Barkevious Mingo
  14. Kareem Martin
  15. Erik Walden

As a positional group, pass rushers comprise interesting market on the defensive side of the ball. It’s not often that a list of best available players is topped by a 38-year-old, but Peppers is the top free agent edge defender after the Cowboys and Lions deployed the franchise tag on Demarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah, respectively. As with quarterbacks, NFL clubs are extremely reluctant to allow pass rushers to hit the open market, so top-tier options are rarely ever truly “available.” Peppers, for his part, hasn’t even declared whether he’ll return in 2018, but indications are that he’ll suit up for a 17th campaign after posting 11 sacks last year.

Alongside Peppers, other veterans populate the edge market, and while William Hayes may not be a household name, he’ll be a contributor for whichever team signs him. A stout run defender, Hayes is also capable of generating pressure despite managing only one sack in 2017. The Dolphins used Hayes on only 271 defensive snaps a season ago, and have since replaced him by acquiring fellow defensive end Robert Quinn from the Rams. Now that he’s entering his age-33 season, Hayes should come cheap, but will almost assuredly outplay his contract.

Nearly every other available pass rusher has some sort of flaw which will likely limit his market next week. Trent Murphy is only 27 years old and put up nine sacks in 2016, but he missed the entirety of the 2017 campaign with injury. Pernell McPhee, Alex Okafor, Junior Galette, and Derrick Shelby have also been plagued by health questions in recent seasons. And Adrian Clayborn famously registered the majority of his 2017 sacks (and 20% of his career sack total) in one game against overwhelmed Cowboys backup Chaz Green.

The two names that I keep coming back to are Aaron Lynch (49ers) and Jeremiah Attaochu (Chargers). Yes, Lynch has been suspended for substance abuse, struggled with his weight, and was reportedly in danger of being waived prior to last season. He’s also extremely young (he won’t turn 25 years old until Thursday) and ranked fifth in the league with 34 pass pressures as recently as 2015. Attaochu, a 25-year-old former second-round pick, also has youth on his side, and while he hasn’t quite flashed as much as Lynch, he’s also been buried on LA’s depth chart for much of his career.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Sheldon Richardson
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Muhammad Wilkerson
  4. Star Lotulelei
  5. DaQuan Jones
  6. Beau Allen
  7. Denico Autry
  8. Justin Ellis
  9. Tom Johnson
  10. Bennie Logan
  11. Chris Baker
  12. Kyle Williams
  13. Dominique Easley
  14. Haloti Ngata
  15. Jay Bromley

Interior rushers are getting more respect in today’s NFL, but that still hasn’t translated to them being paid on the level of edge defenders — the 2018 franchise tag for defensive tackles, for example, is roughly $3MM cheaper than the tender for edge rushers. While the 2018 crop of interior defenders boasts some impressive top-end talent, none of the available players figure to earn a double-digit annual salary. Sheldon Richardson may have the best chance to do so, but Seattle determined he wasn’t worth a one-year cost of $13.939MM, so is any other club going to pay him $10MM per year? I’d guess he comes in closer to $9MM annually, which would still place him among the 25 highest-paid defensive tackles.

Dontari Poe will be an intriguing free agent case after setting for a one-year deal last offseason, but the most interesting battle among defensive tackles will take place Star Lotulelei and Muhammad Wilkerson, and I’m curious to see which player earns more on the open market. Both are former first-round picks, and it’s difficult to argue Wilkerson hasn’t been the more productive player — or, at least, reached higher highs — than Lotulelei. Wilkerson also won’t affect his next team’s compensatory pick formula given that he was released, but his off-field issues, which include a reported lack of effort and problems with coaches, could limit his appeal.

While Beau Allen and Denico Autry are potentially candidates to be overpaid based on their youth, there are bargains to be had at defensive tackle. Tom Johnson is 33 but he’s offered consistent pressure from the interior for years — his last contract was for three years and $7MM, so he shouldn’t cost much this time around. Haloti Ngata was injured in 2017 but plans to continue his career, and he can still stop the run. And Dominique Easley was outstanding as a 3-4 end in 2016 before missing last season with a torn ACL, meaning the former first-round pick could be a value play for any number of teams.Read more

FA Notes: Burkhead, Seahawks, Broncos

Free agent running back Rex Burkhead is expected to see a “competitive market” for his services and it’s not a lock that he re-signs with the Patriots, according to Doug Kyed of NESN. Burkhead, 27, inked a one-year deal with New England last offseason and went on to produce 518 yards from scrimmage in 10 games. Viable in both the running and passing game, Burkhead ranked seventh in receiving DVOA in 2017, meaning he was highly effective on a per-play basis. The Patriots, of course, have another free agent running back in Dion Lewis, who is expected to draw interest from six-to-seven teams on the open market.

Here’s more from the free agent front:

  • The Texans and cornerback Johnathan Joseph have mutual interest in a return, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Joseph, 33, has spent the past seven seasons in Houston after beginning his career in Cincinnati. Last year, Joseph started all 16 games for the Texans and managed two interceptions. Even more impressive, Joseph ranked 21st in Football Outsiders’ success rate, meaning he was excellent at stopping wideouts short of the sticks. If he does re-sign with Houston, Joseph will need to accept less than the $7.3MM annual salary he earned under his previous contract, per Wilson, who adds Joseph would also likely see a reduced role in the Texans’ secondary.
  • With Kam Chancellor‘s status for the 2018 season in doubt, the Seahawks have discussed moving cornerback DeShawn Shead to safety, reports Brady Henderson of Shead is a free agent, so Seattle would have to re-sign him if it wants him to play safety, but the club clearly has interest in retaining him. A 15-game starter as recently as 2015, Shead tore his ACL in January 2016 and took awhile to recover. Two surgeries later, Shead is hitting the free agent market after appearing in only two contests a season ago. Fellow reserve defensive back Bradley McDougald is also a pending free agent, so the Seahawks will need to work to retain their secondary depth this offseason.
  • Although the Broncos would prefer to re-sign linebacker Todd Davis, they will likely allow him to gauge his value on the open market, general manager John Elway told reporters, including Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post (Twitter link). The Broncos plan to meet with the representatives for both Davis and fellow linebacker Corey Nelson on Saturday, per Jhabala. Davis, for his part, has started 29 games for Denver over the past two seasons. Now 25 years old, Davis graded as the No. 34 linebacker among 87 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.

AFC Notes: Joseph, Bengals, Titans, Bolts

Johnathan Joseph played the past seven seasons of his career in Houston, and the soon-to-be 34-year-old cornerback would prefer to remain with the Texans. The UFA returning in 2018 would mark a 13th NFL season, but he’s not ready to retire. It doesn’t sound like Joseph certain he’ll be back in Houston, though. But Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes (on Twitter) he would like to be. “I’m just chilling. We’ll see how it goes,” Joseph said. “Obviously, I want to be here. That’s my first choice. We’ll see how it goes.” The Texans still have Kareem Jackson and Kevin Johnson under contract for 2018, the former on a $9MM cap number in the final year of his deal, and lost A.J. Bouye in free agency last year. Whether or not Joseph returns, the Texans will probably need to make another investment at this position in the near future.

Here’s the latest from the AFC as we enter Super Bowl week.

  • Mike Vrabel‘s Titans staff continues to fill out. Former Raiders wide receivers coach Rob Moore will trek east to coach Tennessee’s wideouts, Adam Caplan of tweets. Since the former All-Pro wideout’s career concluded, he’s coached at the high school, JUCO, Division I college and NFL levels — the previous five being with the Bills (2013-14) and Raiders (’15-’17). His main task will certainly involve Corey Davis‘ development. Moore helped bring Amari Cooper‘s career forward, but the top Raiders target struggled this season.
  • Organizational optimism centers around Jake Fisher as the Bengals‘ right tackle despite an inconsistent first year as a starter, Paul Dehner Jr. and Jim Owczarski of report. However, Fisher’s counterpart, Cedric Ogbuehi, may not figure in as prominently. The Bengals reporters expect the team will decline Ogbuehi’s fifth-year option, and Marvin Lewis offered a sobering assessment of the 2015 No. 21 overall pick’s status. “Ced’s had two seasons, basically, and it’s just not been exactly where we need it to be,” Lewis said. “That’s held us back.”
  • Texas A&M is attempting to hire Chargers assistant defensive line coach Eric Henderson, Ian Rapoport of tweets. He spent his first season with the Chargers last season under Gus Bradley. The former NFL defensive lineman and New Orleans native, though, is viewed as a plus recruiter — particularly in the south — and spent three seasons with Oklahoma State and in 2016 coached Texas-San Antonio’s defensive linemen.

Texans Notes: Lechler, Savage, Joseph

Shane Lechler will turn 42 before the 2018 NFL season begins, but the Texans punter wants to play a 19th season. He is not under contract beyond 2017 but wants said 19th campaign to come in Houston.

Is this my last year? No, it’s not,” Lechler said, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “I have too much, I think, to offer to the game, and I hit the ball good consistently this year. I went into the year with a good plan and, for the most part, it worked out. … I think the way this year we were hit so hard with injuries, there’s no way I would walk away with the talent in this room. I’m very excited about next year and I’m looking forward to it.”

The Texans and Lechler agreed on one-year deals in each of the past two Marches. He earned $2MM this season after signing for $1.8MM in 2016. Lechler’s final years with the Raiders during the early 2010s were for more money, but he seems to have settled on a consistent path with the Texans. Lechler’s currently averaging 48.9 yards per punt, which would be his best single-season figure since his most recent All-Pro slate of 2010.

Here’s the latest out of Houston.

  • The NFL and NFLPA released a joint statement regarding the handling of Tom Savage‘s concussion, and the Texans will not be disciplined for how they dealt with the matter. However, the statement said the outcome was “unacceptable and therefore further improvements in the protocol are necessary.” As a result of the Savage incident, the NFL will make enhancements to its concussion protocol. Kevin Patra of details the updated chain of events.
  • Johnathan Joseph‘s second Texans contract will expire after Sunday’s game against the Colts, but the 33-year-old cornerback wants to stay in Houston. This will wrap up Joseph’s 12th NFL season; he’s played seven of those with the Texans on two contracts. He will turn 34 in April. “This has been home for me; I’d like to continue it being my home,” Joseph said, via Wilson. “At the end of the day, that’s not my call to make. We’ll see what happens. I think I’ve had a great run here.” Joseph rates as Pro Football Focus’ No. 62 corner (out of 121 full-time players at the position), and the former Pro Bowler would figure to draw interest on a short-term deal come March. The Texans have Kareem Jackson and Kevin Johnson under contract for 2018 but have started Joseph the past seven seasons.
  • The Texans could be forced to make a difficult choice after Week 17, with the Bill O’BrienRick Smith relationship looking to have deteriorated to or near the point of no return.

Extra Points: Patriots, Ryan, Browns, 49ers

The Patriots ultimately traded linebacker Jamie Collins to the Browns in late October for a third-round pick, but the Pats initially had their sights set much higher. We learned back in December that New England tried to deal Collins to New Orleans for receiver Brandin Cooks, and Ian Rapoport of wrote today that the Patriots also tried to trade Collins to the Texans for DeAndre Hopkins. Unsurprisingly, Houston was unwilling to entertain that offer, but New England also attempted to pry Johnathan Joseph from the Texans in exchange for Collins. Houston was more intrigued by that proposal but valued Joseph too highly to pull the trigger.

Now let’s take a look at a few more links from around the league:

  • On the subject of seminal trades, the Ravens were ready to part with their entire 2008 draft class in order to trade up to take Matt Ryan at No. 2 that year, Rapoport reports. The Ravens held the No. 8 pick and offered their entire ’08 picks stockpile to the Rams, who held the No. 2 choice. St. Louis also wanted Baltimore’s second-round pick in 2009, which ended up being Paul Kruger, to clinch that deal, per Rapoport. The Rams ended up taking Chris Long at No. 2, with the Ravens trading down to No. 18 and selecting Joe Flacco. In the ’08 draft, Baltimore acquired Ray Rice in the second round but largely whiffed on its other picks. However, the Ravens ended up making 10 selections. The Falcons selected Ryan at No. 3 overall.
  • More trades: we learned in recent weeks that the team is willing to deal backup Jimmy Garoppolo and that the 49ers, Browns, and Bears could be among the teams with interest. In her latest mailbag, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer believes the Browns would be willing to part with their No. 12 overall selection as part of a Garoppolo deal if that’s what it takes to land the young signal-caller.
  • John Lynch isn’t completely devoid of scouting experience, with Matt Maiocco of noting the former Buccaneers and Broncos safety joining recently hired 49ers exec Adam Peters in Broncos meetings and prospect evaluations, eventually accompanying Denver’s contingent to the 2013 Combine. John Elway also put Lynch on some special assignments in recent offseasons, per Maiocco, dispatching the eventual Hall of Fame finalist to evaluate draft-eligible safeties.
  • In an expansive breakdown of today’s Super Bowl teams’ financial distribution,’s Joel Corry writes the Patriots using the franchise tag on Martellus Bennett isn’t out of the question due to Rob Gronkowski‘s inability to stay healthy. Corry projects the tight end tag number to come in at $9.894MM. The Patriots have Dont’a Hightower as their apparent top tag candidate, but the linebacker’s tag is slated to be $14.754MM, which could lead the Patriots to proceed with caution despite having already traded Collins and Chandler Jones.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report