Lane Taylor

Packers Notes: Rodgers, LaFleur, Bakhtiari, Taylor

The Packers’ offense lacked its usual punch in 2019 and, so far, they have yet to add a playmaker this offseason. If the Packers aren’t able to address that need between now and September, head coach Matt LaFleur believes that he can make a difference from the sideline.

It does start with the playcalling, maybe taking a few more chances to try to help generate those plays down the field,” said LaFleur (via ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky). “Typically, if you’re getting explosives, you’ve got a much better chance at scoring points.”

Last year, the Packers ranked 20th in explosive plays – passes of 20 yards or more and runs for at least ten yards. But, as Demovsky notes, it wasn’t the result of a conservative strategy. Aaron Rodgers had the league’s fifth-highest rate of pass attempts for 15+ yards and placed third in attempts for 20+ yards.

For now, the Packers are hoping that wide receiver Devin Funchess, second-round running back A.J. Dillon and third-round tight end Josiah Deguara will make a difference.

Here’s more out of Green Bay:

  • After taking a pay cut in late May, Packers guard Lane Taylor will earn just $910K in base salary this year, according to Demovsky (on Twitter). He’s now set to count for $2.4MM against the cap in his final year under contract, saving the team roughly $3MM against the cap. The Packers now have about $14MM to spend, which could give them some room to add a playmaker for Rodgers.
  • The extra cap room could also help the Packers lock up left tackle David Bakhtiari. In 2016, the Packers made Bakhtiari one of the five highest-paid tackles in the NFL with a four-year, $48MM extension. Now set to enter his final year, Bakhtiari’s value is tough to peg, as Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette writes. Bakhtiari, 29 in September, is one of the league’s best outside protectors, but he did regress slightly in 2019. Last year, he was flagged 12 times, his highest penalty total since 2015. For his part, Bakhtiari says that it was the product of adjusting to a new system. “The false starts are … I mean, that’s just unacceptable,” Bakhtiari said. “That just really comes down to thinking more about the concepts. Also just being new to a bunch of new things that are going on, So I’m taking my thought process away from the cadence. I think I kind of situated that and ironed that out.”
  • The Packers inked rookie Jon Runyan Jr. late last week, officially bringing one of Bakhtiari’s new backups into the fold.

Packers’ Lane Taylor Agrees To Pay Cut

The Packers and Lane Taylor have agreed to revise his contract, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). Taylor was originally set to earn a non-guaranteed base salary of $3.8MM for 2020, but it was completely non-guaranteed. Now, the veteran guard will make less than half of that – $1.5MM, with a $100K signing bonus. 

[RELATED: Aaron Jones “Would Love To Be A Lifelong Packer”]

Taylor was a likely release candidate for the Packers, who could have cut him without much in the way of cap consequences. Taylor, a former undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State, started 45 games for the Packers between 2016 and 2018. He started the first two games of 2019 at left guard, but a biceps injury suffered in a September win over the Vikings wiped out his year.

With the reworked deal, Taylor will have a chance to stick on the roster and compete with Elgton Jenkins for the starting left guard spot, opposite of Billy Turner.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Notes: Big Ben, Massie, Rankins

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger underwent elbow surgery today, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). The veteran is expected to be ready for the 2020 season. This optimism is similar to what we heard yesterday when we learned about Big Ben’s impending surgery.

Schefter adds that Roethlisberger had surgery on his right elbow. The operation was done by Dr. Neal ElAttrache (in consultation with team physician Jim Bradley) in Los Angeles. ESPN’s Rob Demovsky notes (on Twitter) that this is the same surgeon who operated on Aaron Rodgers collarbone back in 2017.

“Once Ben returns to Pittsburgh, he immediately will begin working with the Steelers’ medical staff on his rehabilitation, and he is expected to make a full recovery and return to the field for the 2020 NFL season,” the Steelers said in a statement (via Schefter).

We learned yesterday that the procedure would repair a muscle tear, and it didn’t involve any ligaments or tendons. Roethlisberger is expected to begin throwing by the spring, and it sounds like he should be good to go come next season.

Let’s check out some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Bears right tackle Bobby Massie was forced to sit out tonight’s game against the Redskins due to a bout with vertigo, reports Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (via Twitter). The illness apparently popped up today, and it’s uncertain if this is a temporary or long-term issue for the 30-year-old. After starting each of his 46 games during his first three seasons in Chicago, Massie added another two starts to his resume this season.
  • On Saturday, the Packers placed offensive guard Lane Taylor on the injured reserve with a biceps injury, and we now have a bit more clarity on his outlook. Demovsky reports (via Twitter) that the 29-year-old will ultimately need surgery on his left bicep. While the veteran could return from the injured reserve in late November, the operation may sideline him for the rest of the season. Taylor started a pair of games this season before suffering the injury.
  • There’s a chance that Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins sees this field next Sunday night, but Nick Underhill of The Athletic tweets that the 25-year-old is more likely to return in Week 5 or Week 6. The 2016 first-rounder has yet to play in a game this season as he recovers from his Achilles injury. After compiling a career-high eight sacks during the 2018 regular season, Rankins suffered the injury during the divisional round of the playoffs.

Packers Place OL Lane Taylor On IR

Lane Taylor is out for at least the next eight games. The Packers announced that they have placed the starting offensive guard on the injured reserve with a biceps injury.

Taylor, a former undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State, started 45 games for the Packers between the 2016 and 2018 seasons. He started the first two games of 2019 at left guard before suffering the biceps injury during last weekend’s win over the Vikings. The 29-year-old will be eligible to return to the field in late November.

With Taylor sidelined, the Packers will now turn to rookie Elgton Jenkins. The rookie second-rounder out of Mississippi State saw only a pair of snaps during the season opener, but he garnered 21 snaps in Week 2. If the rookie struggles, the Packers could also turn to versatile lineman Alex Light.

In a corresponding move, the Packers signed offensive lineman Adam Pankey off the Titans practice squad. The 6-foot-5, 313-pound was signed by the Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2018. He appeared in one game as a rookie before moving on to the Titans practice squad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Hunt, Steelers, Lions, Packers

It turns out Kareem Hunt‘s suspension won’t be as significant as it originally seemed. The Browns’ running back is suspended for the first eight games of the season, but he would’ve missed the first handful of those games anyway. Hunt underwent sports hernia surgery on Thursday, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. The injury will likely sideline Hunt for the next 4-6 weeks, according to a tweet from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

The Browns announced in a tweet of their own that a “full recovery is anticipated prior to his return to action in Week 10 of the regular season.” Hunt will be eligible to return from his suspension on November 10th against the Bills. Until then Cleveland’s backfield will still be in good hands, as they have Nick Chubb holding down the fort. Once Hunt returns, the Browns will have a potentially scary one-two punch. Hunt was one of the best running backs in the league before Kansas City cut him last year, scoring 14 touchdowns in just 11 games.

Here’s more from the league’s North divisions:

  • Ben Roethlisberger has a new backup. Second-year player Mason Rudolph has won the competition to be the Steelers’ backup in 2019, sources told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Pittsburgh drafted Rudolph 76th overall last year, and he spent the 2018 season as the third-string passer behind Roethlisberger and Joshua Dobbs. During the preseason Rudolph impressed by completing 65 percent of his passes while throwing four touchdowns and only one interception, and some think he’s a potential heir to Roethlisberger. He hasn’t been cut yet, but it looks like this could be the end of the line for Dobbs, a 2017 fourth-rounder, in Pittsburgh.
  • The Lions gave defensive tackle Damon Harrison an extension last week, and now we have the full details, courtesy of Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. In addition to getting an extra year tacked onto his deal, Harrison also received a $2MM raise for the 2019 season. He also got a $7.5MM signing bonus. His contract now runs through the 2021 season, with an option on the final year that must be exercised by the final day of the 2020 league year.
  • Speaking of Lions contract details, punter Sam Martin had his deal reworked, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Martin had a non-guaranteed base salary of $2.4MM for 2019, which was bumped down to a guaranteed $1.7MM. Yates adds that 2020 is now a voidable year in his contract. Martin took a pay-cut for 2019, but he’ll now get the chance to reach free agency sooner and cash in as a result of the 2020 year becoming voidable when it was previously just non-guaranteed salary.
  •  The Packers have settled on their starting left guard. After a training camp battle between veteran Lane Taylor and rookie Elgton Jenkins, the team has opted to go with Taylor, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “It’s going to be a competition throughout the season, but right now Lane Taylor is the starter,” head coach Matt LaFleur said. Taylor signed with Green Bay as an UDFA back in 2013 and has been with the team ever since. He’s started at least 14 games each of the past three seasons, although his play has been underwhelming at times. The Packers drafted Jenkins 44th overall out of Mississippi State back in April.

Packers, G Lane Taylor Agree To Extension

The Packers announced that they have agreed to an extension with guard Lane Taylor. It’s a three-year, $16.5MM extension, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The deal includes a $5MM signing bonus and gives him $7.8MM overall in 2017. Lane Taylor (vertical)

This time last year, Taylor was thrust into a starting job after the Packers surprised everyone with the release of Josh Sitton. He did well in the new role, grading out as the league’s No. 41 guard among 72 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. In May, he earned a $400K raise for 2017 thanks to performance escalators.

Taylor was one of three Packers offensive linemen to start every game last year, along with David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga. Thanks in part to Taylor and the rest of the O-Line, the Packers’ offense finished top ten in points, yards per game, and first downs in 2016.

Taylor’s previous deal called for him to reach unrestricted free agency in March. Under the terms of the new contract, Taylor will have another opportunity to cash in again at the age of 30.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Redskins, Packers, Cowboys

The Redskins auditioned Josh Norman’s older brother, Marrio Norman, as Nora Princiotti of the Washington Times writes. “Josh has been touting him pretty hard for the last year and a half, so we wanted to give him a shot and give him a look,” head coach Jay Gruden said. “You know, he’s got a skill set. I’ll tell you what, he’s a good player. He’s played in a couple different leagues and runs around out there good.” The elder Norman, who also plays cornerback, last spent time on an NFL roster in 2014 (Baltimore), and also boasts three stints in the Arena Football League.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Lane Taylor has earned a $400K raise for the 2017 season after reaching performance escalators last year, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Taylor, who became the Packers‘ starting left guard after the club surprisingly released Josh Sitton, will now take in a base salary of $2.25MM. Scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next spring once his two-year deal runs out, Taylor graded as the league’s No. 41 guard among 72 qualifiers in 2016, per Pro Football Focus.
  • The Cowboys will officially gain $14MM in cap space on June 2 when Tony Romo‘s release becomes official, and Dallas could use that savings to ink guard Zack Martin to a long-term extension, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com speculates. Martin, 26, is currently signed through the 2018 season thanks to the Cowboys exercising his fifth-year option, but executive VP Stephen Jones has called a Martin deal a “big priority.” As Archer details, Dallas could conceivably frontload Martin’s next contract in an attempt to fully realize the benefit of quarterback Dak Prescott‘s cheap rookie deal.
  • The Texans could find it difficult to replace executive Brian Gaine, whom the Bills hired as vice president of player personnel on Monday, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com details. Gaine had acted as something of a liaison between Houston’s coaching staff and front office, a critical role in an organization where decision-makers haven’t always “been on the same page,” per Breer. In Buffalo, Gaine will oversee the Bills’ pro and college scouting departments.

NFC Contract Details: JPP, McClain, Stanton

Here are the latest updates on many recently agreed-upon or signed contracts from around the NFC:

NFC East:

  • Jason Pierre-Paul, DE (Giants): One year, $10MM. $8.5MM fully guaranteed. $4.25MM signing bonus, $4.25MM base salary. $1.2MM per-game roster bonuses. $300K incentive tied to sacks. $10.5MM max value (Twitter links via Tom Pelissero of USA Today).
  • Rolando McClain, LB (Cowboys): One year, $4MM. $1MM available via incentives if McClain plays 75% of defensive snaps (Twitter link via Drew Davidson of the Star Telegram).

NFC South:

  • Michael Hoomanawanui, TE (Saints): Three years, $5.2MM. $1.85MM guaranteed. $1MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle).
  • Kyle Wilson, CB (Saints): One year, minimum salary benefit. $80K signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Keith Tandy, S (Buccaneers): Two years, $1.85MM. $250K roster bonus guarantees on fifth day of league year (Twitter link via Wilson).

NFC North:

  • Andrew Sendejo, S (Vikings): Four years, $16MM. $950K 2016 base salary (fully guaranteed). Contains option for 2019 (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Lane Taylor, OL (Packers): Two years, $4.15MM. $600K signing bonus. Contains $1MM in playtime and workout incentives (Twitter links via Wilson).

NFC West:

Packers Sign G Lane Taylor To Two-Year Deal

The Packers have signed guard Lane Taylor to a two-year deal worth $4.15MM, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Only $600K of that total contract is guaranteed, however.

We learned last week that Taylor wouldn’t be getting a restricted free agent tender and now we know why. Last year, Taylor appeared in four games for the Packers and the club is likely banking on him becoming a bigger part of the offensive line rotation going forward. Had he been given a low tender, Taylor could have been in line for a $1.671MM salary in 2016. Instead, he has a mostly non-guaranteed two-year deal that hurts his 2017 upside but still gives him a decent chunk of guaranteed cash.

RFA Tender Decisions: 3/4/16

When teams assign first- or second-round tenders to their restricted free agents, like the Raiders did today with quarterback Matt McGloin, we’ll devote full news stories to those moves. But for the most part, RFAs around the league can expect to be either non-tendered or given a low-end tender worth $1.671MM. We’ll round up the players that fall into that group on Friday in the space below, with the latest updates added to the top of the list throughout the day….

  • The 49ers have offered linebacker Michael Wilhoite the low-end tender, reports Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. The 29-year-old has started in all 28 of his appearances over the last two seasons. Despite missing four games in 2015, Wilhoite was second on the Niners in tackles (85), though he graded dead last in overall performance out of Pro Football Focus’ 97 qualifying linebackers (subscription required).

Earlier updates:

  • The Saints aren’t expected to submit an RFA tender to running back Khiry Robinson, according to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. Katherine Terrell of NOLA.com confirms as much (via Twitter). Robinson, 26, saw his 2015 campaign come to an early end when he suffered a broken leg in November, but he has been a steady contributor in New Orleans’ backfield since 2013, averaging 4.1 yards per carry on 186 total attempts. He’s now on track to reach the open market as an unrestricted free agent.
  • The Eagles have given RFA offensive lineman Matt Tobin the low-end tender, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today (Twitter link). Philadelphia now holds the right of first refusal on the 25-year-old lineman, who made 13 starts for the Eagles in 2015. Depending on the moves the team makes in free agency and the draft, Tobin could return to a reserve role in 2016.
  • One restricted free agent who won’t get a tender offer from the Eagles is offensive lineman David Molk, who has decided to retire rather than continuing his career, according to the team (Twitter link). Molk, who started four games at center for Philadelphia in 2014, is widely believed to be the anonymous author of a book called NFL Confidential: True Confessions from the Gutter of Football, which provides a behind-the-scenes look at life in the NFL.
  • The Packers have a pair of players eligible for restricted free agency, and according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (via Twitter), the team won’t be tendering one of them, linebacker Andy Mulumba. Silverstein adds that guard Lane Taylor probably won’t get a tender offer either, which would make both players unrestricted free agents next week.