Marcus Cannon

Injury Notes: Fisher, Cannon, Wagner

The Colts were hoping for a Week 1 return for new LT Eric Fisher, who has been rehabbing from the torn Achilles tendon he suffered as a member of the Chiefs in January. According to Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star, Fisher had a real chance to suit up for the September 12 opener against Seattle, but his recent positive test for COVID-19 has seriously complicated matters.

Fisher’s positive result has forced him to quarantine for 10 days — which suggests he is not vaccinated — so he is unable to continue his rehab at the team facility. As such, there is no way for the Colts to comment on his availability until he is activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list. Until he is ready to go, Indy will roll with Julie’n Davenport at left tackle.

Let’s take a look at several other injury-related items:

  • Texans OL Marcus Cannon was recently activated off the PUP list, and as veteran NFL reporter Aaron Wilson tweets, there is optimism that Cannon could be ready for Week 1. Houston acquired Cannon in a March trade with the Patriots, but the 33-year-old underwent knee surgery in June and had been recovering ever since. For now, Houston is set to deploy second-year pro Charlie Heck at RT, but Cannon could push Heck for that job while also providing valuable depth at multiple spots along the O-line.
  • The Seahawks have been without LB Bobby Wagner for the past few practices, but there is no cause for alarm. Per head coach Pete Carroll (via Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk), Wagner is simply recovering from a minor knee procedure similar to those he has undergone in recent preseasons. The future Hall-of-Famer has missed just two games over the past six years.
  • The fact that Broncos OL Brett Jones landed on IR prior to final cutdown day suggested that his season was over, and that turned out to be the case. Mike Klis of 9News.com recently tweeted that Jones suffered a torn biceps in the team’s second preseason game and required season-ending surgery. Jones, who appeared in 61 games (19 starts) with the Giants and Vikings over the past five seasons, just signed with Denver in July.

Texans Cut OL Lane Taylor, Get Roster To 53

While much of the focus in Houston is on quarterback Deshaun Watson, the Texans still needed to reduce their roster today. They did just that, making the following transactions:

Released

Waived

Released/Failed Physical

Activated from PUP

Placed on Reserve/Suspended list

There’s a number of notable names on this list, including wideout Keke Coutee, who has started 10 of his 23 games over the past three years for the Texans. Perhaps the most important move is the activation of Cannon, who was acquired from the Patriots earlier this offseason. The 33-year-old is expected to provide the Texans offense with a veteran presence, and his return to practice may have bumped another veteran from the roster. The team released lineman Lane Taylor, who sat on PUP for all of the preseason while recovering from a torn ACL. The veteran has only appeared in two games since the 2019 season, and his return to the NFL will now have to take place elsewhere.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/26/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here.

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Signed: WR Reece Horn

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

  • Placed on IR: DT Rob Windsor (out for year)

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

  • Signed: TE Carson Meier
  • Cut with injury settlement: TE Jibri Blount

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Signed: DB Chris Cooper

Tennessee Titans

Surgery For Texans’ Marcus Cannon

Texans tackle Marcus Cannon underwent minor knee surgery following the team’s OTAs (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Fortunately, Cannon’s already on the mend and he’s expected to be ready in time for training camp.

[RELATED: Watson Still Interested In Broncos]

New Texans GM Nick Caserio traded for Cannon in March, bringing a familiar face to Houston. The deal saw the Texans and Patriots swap draft positions in the fourth round, fifth round, and sixth round, a reasonable sacrifice for an experienced starter.

Cannon has appeared in 115 games over the course of his career, including 69 starts, mostly at right tackle. The Texans are planning to slot him at right guard with Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard manning the outside. Tackles are typically pricier than guards, but Cannon is owed just $4.7MM over the next two seasons, so his salary isn’t prohibitive for an interior lineman.

Cannon opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19, but the Texans believe that the 33-year-old is in game shape, or close enough to it. But, if his health proves to be an issue, they have recently-signed ex-Packer Lane Taylor as insurance.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Trade OT Marcus Cannon To Texans

New Texans GM Nick Caserio is bringing in a familiar face. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Houston will acquire OT Marcus Cannon from the Patriots, and Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports that the two clubs will exchange draft positions in the 2021 fourth round, fifth round, and sixth round (Twitter links).

After the Pats traded for Trent Brown last week, speculation concerning Cannon’s roster spot began to pick up. Many assumed that New England would let him go in order to create $6.3MM of cap space, but the club managed to get its cap relief while also upgrading its picks in the middle rounds of next month’s draft.

As Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets, Cannon will likely be shifted to guard in Houston, as the Texans are set at right tackle with Tytus Howard. Cannon is owed $4.7MM in each of the next two seasons, so his salary isn’t prohibitive for a guard, and he did play on the interior earlier in his career.

Cannon opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19, and as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes, the soon-to-be 33-year-old had yet to return to New England for a physical examination/workout. Obviously, the Texans are not overly concerned about Cannon’s health at this point, and though their new acquisition showed signs of decline in 2018-19, a move back to guard could help his performance.

This is the second trade the Texans have swung today, following this morning’s deal that will send inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney to Miami in exchange for edge defender Shaq Lawson. And according to Dianna Russini of ESPN.com (via Twitter), LB Whitney Mercilus might also be on his way out of Houston.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots’ Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung, Marcus Cannon To Return

The Patriots are getting three of their key players back for 2021. After opting out of the 2020 season, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung, and offensive tackle Marcus Cannon all plan to retake the field in 2021, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets

Hightower, 31 in March, was slated to make $8MM in base salary last year in what would have been his walk year. Instead, his contract tolled, tying him to the Pats through 2021. His deal isn’t necessarily cheap, but Hightower is one of the better on-ball linebackers in the NFL. Even with the numbers crunch, the Pats are expected to keep him.

And, besides, releasing Hightower would save only $9.95MM, and it wouldn’t be easy to replace his production. The same goes for Chung. Cutting him would save just $1MM on the books and he could still have a role on defense alongside the likes of Kyle Dugger and Adrian Phillips.

Cannon, meanwhile, isn’t guaranteed to remain on the roster between now and September. The Patriots could pocket $7MM by cutting him and sticking with Michael Onwenu at right tackle. Cannon has impressed in the past, but he showed signs of decline in 2018 and 2019. Alternatively, the Patriots could keep Cannon as their RT and slot Onwenu at left guard, provided that Cannon is willing to take a pay cut.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Notes: Hightower, Chung, Cannon

The Patriots had eight players opt out of the 2020 campaign, the most in the NFL. The organization will naturally welcome back a handful of these players, but Jeff Howe of The Athletic writes that others may have already played their final game in a Patriots uniform.

For keepers, Dont’a Hightower seems like a guarantee to come back. Besides the two-time Pro Bowler’s on-field production, the Patriots would save only $9.95MM by releasing the 30-year-old; the organization wouldn’t be able to sign a player of Hightower’s caliber with that kind of money. It’s a similar sentiment for safety Patrick Chung. The team would only save $1MM by cutting the veteran, and Chung could still have a role on defense alongside the likes of Kyle Dugger and Adrian Phillips.

As for lesser names, Howe opines that running back/special teams ace Brandon Bolden will likely be back in 2021. The team would save $1.5MM by cutting the 31-year-old, but the organization clearly values his special teams ability. Elsewhere, fullback Danny Vitale ($1.2MM savings) will compete with Jakob Johnson for the starting gig, while tight end Matt LaCosse ($1.3MM) will compete for the third tight end spot. Both of those players’ roster spots are dependent on the camp competition.

One name that could be on his way out of New England is Marcus Cannon. The team could save $7MM by cutting the veteran, who already showed signs of decline in 2018 and 2019. The organization also appears to have their long-term answer at right tackle in Michael Onwenu. On the flip side, Onwenu could also be an option at left guard, which could carve a path to a roster spot for Cannon. Either way, Howe believes the Patriots will ask Cannon to take a pay cut.

Two other names that are probably long shots to stick around: wideout Marqise Lee ($687K savings) and offensive lineman Najee Toran ($780K). Howe says Lee could stick around as a reclamation project, but the reporter is confident Toran probably won’t make the team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Saleh, Darnold, Patriots, Bills

Robert Saleh signed his contract with the Jets today, making him the 20th head coach in franchise history. While speaking to the media, the former 49ers defensive coordinator indicated that he’d be looking for specific types of players as he helps general manager Joe Douglas fill out the roster.

“There are no shortcuts to success, and I am committed to working with Joe to build this team the right way: with talented players that play fast and smart, and a staff that supports and helps develop them through it all,” Saleh said (via the team website).

Douglas, who led the coaching search alongside included team president Hymie Elhai, noted that Saleh believes in many of the same principals that the executive brought with him from Philadelphia when he joined the Jets in 2019.

“We spoke to some tremendous coaches, but Rob is the right partner and leader for us,” Douglas said. “His vision for this team aligns with what we have been working to establish here the last two years.”

The 41-year-old Saleh was an early favorite for the job based on the strength of his SF defense. In 2020, the Niners finished fifth in total yards, seventh in rushing yards, and fourth in passing yards allowed. In 2019, Saleh’s D surrendered just 169.2 passing yards per contest — the lowest average since Rex Ryan‘s 2009 Jets D.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the AFC East…

  • Saleh and new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur have spent time evaluating Sam Darnold‘s tape, and the coaches believe the Jets quarterback has “untapped potential,” per ESPN’s Rich Cimini. The former third-overall pick had a rough season in 2020, leading some to wonder whether the new staff would prefer to take a quarterback with the second-overall pick.
  • The eight Patriots players who opted out of the 2020 season were asked to return for year-end physicals last week, writes ESPN’s Mike Reiss. Wideout Marqise Lee and running back Brandon Bolden have both said they plan to play in 2021, and Reiss opines that safety Patrick Chung, tight end Matt LaCosse, and fullback Danny Vitale will also return. However, the writer is much less certain that offensive tackle Marcus Cannon and linebacker Dont’a Hightower will be back in New England.
  • While Dave Ziegler was always an underdog in the Broncos GM search, he parlayed that experience into a “multiyear contract and pay bump as Nick Caserio‘s successor” in New England, writes Reiss. The Patriots assistant director of player personnel eventually withdrew his name from the search in Denver, and Reiss writes that this is a “reflection of the decisiveness that has earned him a measure of respect in the Patriots’ offices over the past eight year.”
  • Bills running back Zack Moss underwent minor surgery on his ankle this morning, tweets ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The 23-year-old is expected to make a full recovery from the “tight rope procedure,” and he should be ready to go for offseason workouts. The third-rounder finished his rookie campaign having compiled 576 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns.

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.

Patriots LB Dont’a Hightower To Opt Out Of 2020 Season

Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower will opt out of the 2020 season, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Hightower wrestled with the decision, but ultimately decided to skip the season in order to protect his 2-week-old son. 

Me and my fiancée are just more concerned with the health of our family than football — especially the new addition to our family,” Hightower explained.

With that, Hightower becomes the fifth Patriots player to opt out. Running back Brandon Bolden, right tackle Marcus Cannon, fullback Danny Vitale, and guard Najee Toran have also decided against playing. Hightower is the highest profile player of the Pats bunch, and one of the more notable players league-wide to opt out.

Hightower was slated to make $8MM in base salary before reaching free agency in March. Now, his contract will toll, with that final year being moved to 2021. With Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, and Elandon Roberts out of the picture, the Patriots were counting on Hightower to hold down the fort at linebacker. There aren’t a ton of impact off-ball linebackers left on the open market, so the Patriots will likely have to work with what they have on hand.

Hightower, 30, has been a staple in the Patriots’ starting lineup since entering the league in 2012. Injuries aside – including a mostly lost 2017 – he’s served as the club’s locker room leader and the point guard of the defense. Last year, Hightower earned his second Pro Bowl trip and even managed 5.5 sacks from the middle.

Hightower’s opt-out falls under the “voluntary” label, meaning that he’s entitled to a $150K salary advance (likely negated by his 2020 earnings to date). Cannon, meanwhile, is “higher risk,” which means he’ll get a $350K stipend (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). Cannon had two years to go on his current deal with a total of $9.5MM in base pay. His contract will also toll, with his 2020 season being bumped up to 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.