Larry Warford

2020 NFL Opt Out Tracker

Per an agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA, players with COVID-19 health concerns can opt out of the 2020 season. Initially, the deadline was believed to be Tuesday, August 4. Talks between the league and the union have pushed it to August 6.

Chiefs guard and medical school graduate Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the first player to officially opt out. Scores of players followed.

Here’s the rundown, so far:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • T Brad Seaton

Tennessee Titans

  • OL Anthony McKinney

Washington Football Team

Free agents

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Larry Warford Will Not Play In 2020

Larry Warford has received multiple offers to play in 2020, but the Pro Bowl guard will not sign with any team. He is instead opting out for the season, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

The Saints released Warford shortly after using their first-round pick on interior lineman Cesar Ruiz. Warford, who made the Pro Bowl as an alternate from 2017-19, is looking to start a family, per Schefter, and will continue to train for the 2021 season.

Players who inform their teams of a voluntary opt-out decision are in line for a $150K stipend; players who do so because of a higher risk of potential COVID-19 complications receive $350K. Warford not being on a team places him outside of these categories. So, Warford is essentially pausing his career independently during the coronavirus-clouded season.

The stipend payment likely would not affect Warford much; the former Lions and Saints blocker has made quite a bit of money playing this sport. He played three seasons on his four-year, $34MM New Orleans pact. This would have been Warford’s age-29 season. He was seeking around $7MM per year as a free agent.

The Texans and Bears immediately showed interest in Warford after his Saints release, though Chicago backed out of the pursuit. The Dolphins were connected to Warford as well, but as of a few weeks ago, it did not appear they were overly interested. But given how valuable quality O-linemen are, Warford would have had little trouble finding a starting job this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Backing Off Logan Ryan Pursuit?

Despite making major investments at cornerback this offseason — in signing Byron Jones and drafting Noah Igbinoghene in the first round — the Dolphins were linked to Logan Ryan at multiple junctures this offseason.

The team may have backed off in this pursuit. The Dolphins are not aggressively pursuing the free agent cornerback, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

Rumors about Ryan landing with the Dolphins (and former Patriots assistant Brian Flores) circulated in March and May, but nearly four months into free agency, the former Patriots and Titans corner remains a free agent. The seven-year veteran’s price demand almost certainly has contributed to this. Ryan was linked to wanting $10MM per year earlier this offseason. The Jets have been the team most closely connected to Ryan this offseason.

Additionally, the Dolphins do not appear to be angling to add Larry Warford to their offensive line, Jackson adds. The Dolphins signed Ereck Flowers to be one of their starting guards and drafted Robert Hunt in Round 2. Hunt has been linked to lining up at guard or right tackle, however, giving the team a possible need at guard. Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders assessed the 2019 Dolphins’ offensive line as the league’s worst.

Warford was connected to the Bears and Texans shortly after his Saints release, but the former bowed out of the bidding early. The Pro Bowl guard, as of June, was seeking a contract north of $7MM per year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: O’Shea, Warford, Ryan

The Dolphins fired former OC Chad O’Shea after just one season in his post, and the move surprised many at the time. After all, Miami’s offense wasn’t exactly brimming with talent, but O’Shea’s unit actually ranked in the top-10 in passing offense and top-15 in scoring offense after QB Ryan Fitzpatrick reentered the starting lineup in Week 7.

We had previously heard that O’Shea’s offense was overly complex for the young Dolphins talent, but as Barry Jackson, Adam H. Beasley, and Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald write, the term “overly complex” may not be strong enough.

O’Shea, who brought in elements of the Patriots’ notoriously difficult offensive system after spending 10 years as New England’s WRs coach, tried to install especially advanced and complicated portions of the Pats’ scheme, which went over the heads of his new charges in Miami. And though he can’t be faulted for trying to replicate an offense that has thrived for years, players complained that he was a terrible teacher to boot, with one player calling his instruction during film study a “disaster.”

Head coach Brian Flores had O’Shea pulled out of his exit meeting with Fitzpatrick to advise him of his dismissal. O’Shea was reportedly blindsided by the news, and Fitzpatrick was apparently taken aback as well. It’s unknown if Flores asked Fitzpatrick about Chan Gailey — who was immediately hired as O’Shea’s replacement — prior to O’Shea’s firing. Fitzpatrick has played under Gailey for five seasons.

Let’s round up several more items from the AFC East:

  • In his most recent mailbag, Connor Hughes of The Athletic says the Jets should pursue former Saints guard Larry Warford, who was released by New Orleans earlier this month. Hughes believes Warford would represent an upgrade over incumbent RG Brian Winters — whose release would create a cap savings of $7MM — but he does not get the sense the Jets are interested. Warford does not fit the mold of the athletic, quick O-linemen that head coach Adam Gase wants in his system.
  • Hughes also notes that while the Jets are definitely interested in free agent corner Logan Ryan, Ryan will have to come off his current $10MM/year ask in order to reach an accord with Gang Green. We recently heard that New York believes it will sign Ryan, and it seems as if no team is willing to touch the $10MM sticker price at this point.
  • The Patriots have a talented crop of undrafted free agents, and their UDFA wideouts are particularly intriguing. Doug Kyed of NESN.com believes Miami product Jeff Thomas has the best chance to make the team, though Will Hastings — who received a salary guarantee of $57.5K and who served as Jarrett Stidham‘s slot receiver at Auburn — also has a good shot.

Larry Warford Targeting $7MM Per Year

Amassing a rare surplus of interior offensive linemen, the Saints released Larry Warford last week. In doing so, the team made one of the league’s better guards a mid-May free agent.

The Saints signed Warford to a four-year, $34MM deal back in 2017, and the three-time Pro Bowler wants to pick up nearly where he left off. The soon-to-be 29-year-old blocker is believed to be targeting around $7MM per year on his next deal, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link).

Twenty guards are currently signed for more than $7MM AAV; several are much less accomplished. Even at a point when NFL teams have mostly assembled their depth charts, this makes Warford’s ask quite reasonable. In three years with the Saints, Warford made three Pro Bowls. While each trip came as an alternate, he was still a key part of one of the NFL’s best offenses.

The Texans and Bears immediately surfaced as suitors. While the Bears are no longer believed to be in the mix, Rapoport adds that the former Lions third-round pick has already received plenty of interest. Warford has never missed more than three games in a season and has started all 101 NFL games in which he’s played.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Won’t Pursue Larry Warford

Bears fans have been clamoring for the team to improve its offensive line after that unit disappointed in 2019, but Chicago did not make many investments in the front five either in free agency or the draft. And it looks like that trend will continue.

Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune indicated that the Bears were considering a pursuit of former Saints guard Larry Warford after Warford’s release on Friday, but according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Chicago is no longer in the market for Warford. It’s unclear if Warford’s asking price is too high or if GM Ryan Pace is content with his personnel as is, but in any event, the soon-to-be 29-year-old will not end up in the Windy City.

The Bears inked former Seahawks first-rounder Germain Ifedi in March and added two offensive linemen in the seventh round of the draft, but the club’s O-line will largely look like it did last year. Ifedi, who was signed to a veteran minimum pact, will compete for the starting RG role along with Rashaad Coward.

Warford, who was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his three years with the Saints, would represent a marked upgrade over Ifedi and Coward, but Chicago is hopeful that it can help Ifedi reach his potential by kicking him into the interior of the line. Meanwhile, the Texans presumably remain in the hunt for Warford, and other teams are surely interested in his services as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Release Larry Warford

The Saints released guard Larry Warford on Friday in a move that cleared $7MM+ from the salary cap. As expected, the multiple-time Pro Bowler is already drawing interest from teams. The Texans are one club that’s already considering Larry Warford, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. Same goes for the Bears, who would offer considerably more upside than new pickup Germain Ifedi.

[RELATED: Saints To Be Sanctioned for Tommy Stevens Pursuit?]

Warford, 29 in June, has earned Pro Bowl nods in each of the last three seasons. However, the Pro Bowl selection process for offensive linemen tends to be less than scientific, and Sean Payton was less than thrilled with his performance in 2019. The Saints made that crystal clear late last month when they drafted interior lineman Cesar Ruiz in the first round. Ditto for their re-signing of Andrus Peat on a five-year, $57.5MM deal in March. Ruiz will now battle with Erik McCoy – a center, by trade – for a starting guard spot on the line.

Before the release, Warford was set to play out the final season of the four-year, $34MM deal he inked as a free agent in 2017. Now released, Warford will count for $5.125MM in dead money against the cap, but they’ll save $7.75MM in cap dollars.

Warford scored that deal off of the strength of his play in Detroit. As a third-round pick of the Lions, he went on to start in all 57 of his games and he ranked as Pro Football Focus’ 20th-best guard in his walk year.

The Texans could use a guy like Warford, who could supplant Zach Fulton as their top right guard.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Rework Larry Warford’s Contract

The Saints have created a bit of financial breathing room by restructuring the contract of guard Larry Warford, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). New Orleans has converted $5.5MM of Warford’s base salary into a signing bonus, opening up $2.75MM worth of cap space in the process.

Prior to reworking Warford’s deal, the Saints possessed the fourth-least amount of cap space in the league ($1.754MM), per Over the Cap. Now, they’ll have a little more room if they need to make more transactions — in-season signings, moving players to injured reserve, practice squad, etc. — throughout the remainder of the season.

Warford, 28, inked a four-year, $34MM deal with New Orleans prior to the 2017 campaign. After re-doing his contract, Warford now have cap charges of $7.85MM and $13.35MM in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Through three games this year, Warford has played 100% of the Saints’ offensive snaps while grading as the No. 9 guard in the league, per Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Burton, Foles, Saints, Floyd

Trey Burton has been a quality under-the-radar performer for the Eagles this season and he could find himself with a very robust market entering free agency this offseason, opines Mike Garafolo of NFL.com in a video on Twitter.

Burton, 26, has produced solid numbers as the backup to one of the best tight ends in the game in Zach Ertz. However, the former undrafted free agent has stepped up when Ertz has been banged up. Garafolo notes that Burton has caught three touchdown passes in the last two games, when Ertz has not been 100%.

Coming from the University of Florida, Burton didn’t really have a position entering the draft, but has seemingly found a role as a versatile tight end/receiver in the Philadelphia offensive scheme. The tight end market is not very deep either, with their being a noticeable dip after the likes of Jimmy Graham and Tyler Eifert. Given his recent play, you can expect Burton could be a name that gets more money than you may expect given his relative lack of a track record.

Let’s take a look at more notes throughout the NFC:

  • Nick Foles led the Eagles to victory over the Giants in his first start since Carson Wentz was lost for the season. It was an encouraging performance for the former third round pick, who pondered retirement just two years ago, reports Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia. It was after the 2015 season when the quarterback really gave some thought to hanging it up. “Yes, I sat there and talked with my wife,” Foles said. “You go through a lot of emotions. Changing teams, being traded, going there, going through that year, and once I was a free agent, we just sort of sat there and said, ‘Hey what do we want to do?'” Nick Foles eventually decided to stay in the league and was a backup for a season in Kansas City before making his way to the Eagles this past offseason. Foles has a bit of a track record in the league and is looking to continue to build on his rebound story in the playoffs.
  • The Saints lost a few players to injury during their win over the Jets on Sunday afternoon. Guard Larry Warford and tight end Michael Hoomanawanui both were forced to leave the game with concussions, according to Joel Erickson of The New Orleans Advocate. Erickson adds that guard Andrus Peat was also active to start the contest, but was held out because of a groin injury. He was available in an emergency role, with backup guards Senio Kelemete and Josh LeRibeus taken the starting sports when both starting offensive lineman were unable to play. Hopefully all three players will recover fully for the team’s critical Week 16 affair against the Falcons. The game will have major implications to who ultimately will win the ultra-competitive NFC South.
  • Vikings wide receiver Michael Floyd expressed that he is more at peace and hopes to be back in Minnesota next year, in a deep diving piece from Chris Tomasson of the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. “I would like to stay here, for sure,” Floyd said. “I love this place.” While the former Cardinals and Pats wideout has seemingly got his life together, it’s an uphill battle considering the quality depth of the position on the team, which includes Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Laquon Treadwell and Jarius Wright.

NFC Notes: Winston, Wilson, Lane, Saints O-Line

We now know that the NFL is investigating an incident regarding Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and an uber driver from last year. The female uber driver claimed that the former number one overall pick groped her during a ride, but Winston has denied those allegations. but adding onto this story, Steve Wyche of NFL.com reports in a Twitter video, that the 23 year-old signal caller will not go on the exempt list because no charges have filed as of yet.

However, it might not be long until the quarterback faces suspension from the league, according to Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders. Cummings says that while Winston may avoid suspension for the rest of the year because the investigation could take some time, but notes that sexual assault allegations have resulted in missed time in the past. The writer points to when Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for four games back when he faced similar charges in 2010.

The story is still unfolding, so while Winston’s playing outlook is in flux given his current injury, this situation adds an unexpected twist to his 2017 season and perhaps even in 2018.

  • Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson shed some light on the jaw injury that he suffered vs. Arizona last Thursday in a session with the media today. The signal caller said that while he wasn’t concussed in the game, his jaw injury forced him to undergo some drastic treatment in the days after, according to Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times.  Condotta relays that Wilson was forced to wear a mouthguard and could not eat solid foods for the three days following the midweek contest. “Basically, the game was on Thursday, so Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, I was pretty sore,” he said. “Tons of ice and treatment and all of that, so I feel good now. … the first two-and-a-half, three days, I couldn’t really eat anything. I was just doing smoothies and all that kind of stuff.” While the injury does sound painful, it looks like Wilson is going to tough it out for Monday night’s game vs. the Falcons.
  • While Wilson will remain in the starting lineup, another team leader in Richard Sherman will miss the rest of the season. With that news finally settling in for Seahawks fans, Condotta also passes along that cornerback Jeremy Lane will replace him in the defensive backfield (Twitter link). Lane was notably rescinded in the Duane Brown trade because he failed the Texans physical, and now finds himself as a key cog to Seattle staying afloat in a competitive NFC playoff picture.
  • The Saints have been one of the hottest teams in football winning their last seven games after dropping their first two at the start of the regular season. A big reason for this has been the emergence of arguably the league’s best 1-2 backfield punch that includes veteran Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara. However, Joel Erickson of the New Orleans Advocate notes that the team has been helped by some notable early returns on their offensive line. Erickson states that three of the team’s starting lineman have returned sooner than expected, including guard Larry Warford, center Max Unger and left tackle Terron Armstead. Warford returned this past Sunday from an abdominal strain, missing only two games, Unger progressed ahead of schedule from offseason Lisfranc surgery and Armstead’s return was premature after suffering a torn labrum. All three lineman have helped the Saints offense change it’s identity to a more ground and pound style, which has been on full display in the past seven weeks.