Max Garcia

Cardinals Activate Max Garcia, Cut Zach Brown

The Cardinals have announced a series of roster moves including the activation of guard Max Garcia from the physically unable to perform list. Arizona has also placed defensive tackle Clinton McDonald on injured reserve and released linebacker Zach Brown.

Garcia, a fourth-round pick of the Broncos in 2015, signed with the Cardinals this offseason while still recovering from an ACL tear. A regular starter during his time with Denver, Garcia is expected to become a reserve for Arizona. Per the club, Garcia will likely act as the Cardinals’ top backup interior lineman on Sunday.

McDonald, 32, is now in the midst of his ninth NFL campaign. The Memphis product spent time with the Bengals, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Broncos, and Raiders before landing with the Cardinals this offseason. McDonald had appeared in every game for Arizona this year, typically playing 20% of the club’s defensive snaps. He’s going on IR with a neck injury.

Arizona had just signed Brown last week to add depth to its linebacker unit, but he’s already out of a job. Brown inked a one-year, $3MM deal with the Eagles in May after being released by the Redskins in March, but was cut after six games in Philadelphia.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Players Returning From IR/PUP

Now that we’re approaching the midway point of the regular season, players on various injury lists are now able to begin to return to practice and, eventually, return to game action. Here’s the list of players coming back to practice this week while on injured reserve or physically unable to perform list, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets:

Players on the PUP list are only required to miss six weeks of the regular season, so every player listed above with the exception of Sternberger could technically be activated this weekend. Sternberger has officially been designated as one of Green Bay’s IR/return players, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Because he was originally placed on IR, Sternberger — a third-round rookie — will be absent for at least two more weeks.

NFC Notes: Elliott, Cards, Redskins, Giants

Adding some additional spice to the Ezekiel ElliottCowboys situation, the running back may be making plans to be unavailable when his team convenes for training camp. While it is still uncertain if Elliott will indeed hold out, a source informed Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk the two-time rushing champion plans to leave the country in the coming days. Extension-eligible since January, Elliott is considering staying away from Cowboys camp due to his contract. The coming days were expected to be key for the Cowboys and Elliott, but the running back’s travel plans may affect these proceedings.

The Cowboys have prioritized extensions for Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, both entering contract years, and have been rumored to be considering a future without an Elliott extension. The 24-year-old star has until August 6 to report to camp in order to accrue a fourth year toward free agency, so any holdout past that date would be quite bold. But withholding services from a team whose offense revolves around him could be a game plan for Elliott, regardless of the free agency-related date.

Here is the latest out of the NFC:

  • The Cardinals will begin camp without some notable veterans. Robert Nkemdiche, Charles Clay, Brooks Reed, Max Garcia and Brandon Williams on their active/PUP list, the team announced. Clay and Nkemdiche have been battling knee injuries, the latter’s stemming from a December torn ACL. A four-year Broncos guard, Garcia tore his ACL last season as well. Hip and back problems currently limit Reed and Williams, respectively. All players placed on the active/PUP list can return at any point in camp.
  • The Redskins tabbed Reuben Foster to be a three-down linebacker for them, but following his ACL tear, the team does not have a surefire full-time linebacker. While J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington notes Mason Foster will reprise his role as a starter, it is not certain if he will play consistently in nickel sets. Pro Football Focus did not grade Foster as a solid coverage ‘backer last season. However, the Redskins may have a nickel answer in third-year man Josh Harvey-Clemons. The team plans to use the former Louisville safety as a passing-downs linebacker, Finlay adds. A former seventh-round pick, Harvey-Clemons played just 196 snaps last season.
  • Despite the minicamp Darius Slayton buzz, Corey Coleman may still have the inside track on the Giants‘ No. 3 wide receiver job. Coleman’s first-round pedigree and his progress as a Giant gives him the edge over the likes of Slayton, Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes. During games, Coleman has not shown much since early in his rookie year. He caught five passes for 71 yards with the 2018 Giants.

Contract Details: Vaccaro, Callahan, Okafor

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently-signed NFL contracts, with all links going to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle’s Twitter account:

Contract Details: Ford, Mosley, Crowder

Some assorted contract details from around the NFL:

Cardinals To Sign Max Garcia

The Cardinals have agreed to sign guard Max Garcia, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Garcia, 27, spent the previous four years with the Broncos. 

[RELATED: Giants Interested In Cardinals’ Josh Rosen]

Last year, Garcia’s season was cut short in November by a torn ACL. It was a bad blow to a Broncos O-Line that already had lost guard Ronald Leary to an Achilles tear and center Matt Paradis to a broken fibula.

Garcia was a Broncos fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft. Although he started 32 consecutive games from 201-17, Garcia wasn’t a deployed as a starter in 2018 until after Leary got hurt. Indeed, Garcia didn’t play a single offensive snap until Week 6, but he was on the field for every play between Leary’s injury and his own.

Garcia’s 242 snaps were not enough to qualify for Pro Football Focus’ rankings, but he drew a favorable score in 2016 when he started in every game for Denver.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos G Max Garcia Tears ACL

Broncos guard Max Garcia will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn ACL, according to Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link).

It’s unclear exactly when Garcia tore his ACL, but it sound as though it may occurred during practice on Thursday. Per Klis, Garcia took every snap at practice yesterday, but felt discomfort in his knee afterwards. A subsequent MRI revealed the ACL injury and will now knock Garcia out for the rest of the year.

Denver’s offensive line has already been decimated by injury this year, and the loss of Garcia will only further deplete the unit. Veteran guard Ronald Leary went down with a Achilles tear in mid-October, while starting center Matt Paradis suffered a fractured fibula and ligament tears earlier this month. Per Klis, backup Billy Turner now figures to take over as the Broncos’ starting left guard, meaning Denver will now field an interior offensive line that is entirely different than its Week 1 configuration.

Garcia, 27, was a Broncos fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft. Although he started 32 consecutive games from 201-17, Garcia wasn’t a deployed as a starter this season until after Leary got hurt. Indeed, Garcia didn’t play a single offensive snap until Week 6, but has since been on the field for every play.

Garcia is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next spring, but his market will certainly be affected by his ACL tear and subsequent recovery. He’ll join a class of free agent guards that also includes Rodger Saffold, Quinton Spain, Mark Glowinski, Ramon Foster, and Mike Iupati.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos HC Vance Joseph Still On The Hot Seat

The Broncos nearly fired head coach Vance Joseph at the end of the 2017 season, and even though team president and CEO Joe Ellis publicly backed Joseph several days ago, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Joseph’s job security is tenuous at best.

Denver is in the midst of a three-game losing streak, and Rapoport writes that upper management will be closely monitoring Joseph’s performance over the next few weeks. The clear implication is that, if the team does not perform well during that time, Joseph could be axed before the season is over, and perhaps as soon as next month.

Joseph, with his job on the line, has made a series of changes in an effort to save himself. As Rapoport and Mike Klis of 9News.com write, Joseph will take on a more active role in defensive play-calling, although defensive coordinator Joe Woods will continue to be the primary play-caller for a unit that ranks No. 26 in the league in yards per game. Also, as was speculated yesterday, Max Garcia will start at right guard this afternoon in place of Connor McGovern, and both Klis and Rapoport note that practices were shorter this week while the number of team meetings were increased.

Joseph, whose club suffered an eight-game losing streak last year, will have a tall order against the 5-0 Rams today. The Broncos will get an eminently winnable game on a short week this Thursday, when they take on the Cardinals, but they will then head to Kansas City to take on the league’s only other defeated team, the Chiefs.

Given the Broncos’ upcoming opponents — Denver will also host the Texans before their bye week — it is difficult to say exactly what they need to do in order for Joseph to keep his job. But our readers believe that Joseph will be the next coach to get a pink slip, and today’s report only serves to support that notion.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Notes: Keenum, Draft, Joseph, OL

Case Keenum‘s gotten off to a rough start with the Broncos, going from being the No. 1 DVOA quarterback during a potential outlier 2017 season to sitting 24th in that metric and 31st in Total QBR through five games this season. However, this is unlikely to produce a Chad Kelly promotion in the near future, with Albert Breer of SI.com noting the sense he’s getting is any such switch won’t come until the team falls out of contention. Denver won its first two games but has lost its past three, and Vance Joseph is now 1-9 on the road after the Broncos dropped Week 3 and Week 5 games in Baltimore and New Jersey. The Broncos may have discussed Kelly, who has never attempted a regular-season pass but fared well in the preseason. But Breer adds Joseph and John Elway are tied to Keenum thanks to the $25MM in fully guaranteed money the journeyman passer’s making on his current deal. Keenum’s on pace to throw more than 600 passes, and the Broncos have oddly turned to the weaker component of their offense more so than committing to their strong ground attack that ranks third (137 yards per game).

Here’s the latest out of Denver:

  • It’s likely Elway will have to look for yet another post-Peyton Manning solution in 2019, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes. The Broncos have cycled through an unlikely successor (Trevor Siemian), a spectacular first-round misstep (Paxton Lynch), a retread (Brock Osweiler) and now Keenum. Elway and Broncos player personnel director Matt Russell are in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday for a Washington-Oregon game that features possible top 2019 QB prospect Justin Herbert, Mike Klis of 9News reports. Several teams are in attendance for this Pac-12 matchup, per Klis, who adds the Broncos figure to be looking at cornerbacks and tackles as early-round possibilities as well.
  • An interesting indictment of Pro Football Focus appears to be coming out of Denver this week. The acclaimed advanced-metrics site has Broncos right guard Connor McGovern rated as the No. 4 overall guard in football (and No. 1 in run-blocking), but OC Bill Musgrave said (via Klis) Max Garcia will take some of McGovern’s snaps this week against the Rams. McGovern struggled at times against Leonard Williams, and Garcia — a starter from 2016-17 and a player not graded nearly as well by PFF — may start this week, per Joseph, against the Rams’ menacing defensive front. This would be a curious move for a team that’s running the ball as well as it is.
  • Volin also doesn’t view Broncos president Joe Ellisstatement this week as a ringing Joseph endorsement, pointing to the team’s once-vaunted defense struggling against the run vs. Jets backs and entering Week 6 with just 11 sacks (19th) despite having used a No. 5 overall pick on Bradley Chubb. Elway hired Joseph, a career defensive-based coach, after one season of DC experience. The Broncos’ pre-Week 10 bye slate features a home game against the Rams, a Thursday road assignment in Arizona, a road matchup in Kansas City and a return home to face the Texans. With Joseph looking like a two-and-done coach at this point, this will be a pivotal stretch for the embattled leader.

2018 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.Jay Ajayi (Vertical)

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $1.908MM in 2018. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2018 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

49ers: Trent Brown, T; Eli Harold, LB

Bears: Adrian Amos, S

Bengals: Tyler Kroft, TE; Josh Shaw, DB

Bills: John Miller, G

Broncos: Max Garcia, G; Trevor Siemian, QB

Browns: Duke Johnson, RB

Buccaneers: Kwon Alexander, LB

Cardinals: David Johnson, RB; J.J. Nelson, WR

Chargers: Kyle Emanuel, LB

Chiefs: Chris Conley, WR; Steven Nelson, CB

Colts: Henry Anderson, DE; Mark Glowinski, G; Denzelle Good, OL

Dolphins: Bobby McCain, CB

Eagles: Jay Ajayi, RB; Jordan Hicks, LB

Falcons: Grady Jarrett, DT

Jaguars: A.J. Cann, OL

Lions: Quandre Diggs, CB

Packers: Jake Ryan, LB

Panthers: Daryl Williams, T

Patriots: Trey Flowers, DE; Shaq Mason, G

Raiders: Clive Walford, TE

Rams: Jamon Brown, G

Ravens: Za’Darius Smith, LB

Redskins: T.J. Clemmings, OL; Jamison Crowder, WR

Saints: Tyeler Davison, DT

Seahawks: Tyler Lockett, WR

Steelers: Jesse James, TE

Vikings: Stefon Diggs, WR; Danielle Hunter, DE

OverTheCap.com was essential in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.