Nick Easton

Texans Submit Offer To OL Nick Easton

Despite being a frequent starter, veteran offensive lineman Nick Easton is a street free agent for the second time. The former Vikings and Saints blocker continues to weigh his options, but he may have an option of signing with the Texans.

The rebuilding team has been busy this offseason, and Easton received a Texans offer, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. Easton visited Houston earlier this offseason, and Tomasson notes the team’s proposal is reasonable. Easton was previously attached to a four-year, $22.5MM Saints deal, but they released him in February.

Interest came from a few teams. At least four franchises reached out to the interior lineman, including the Bengals, whom Easton met with in late March. A 2015 UDFA out of Harvard, Easton has 32 career starts under his belt. He worked as a Vikings starter at center and guard in 2016 and ’17 but missed all of 2018 due to injury, leading to his Vikings exit. Easton started 15 games at guard for the Saints over the past two seasons.

With the Texans agreeing to terms with Lane Taylor on Thursday, this offer may no longer be on the table. That said, Taylor has played in just three games over the past two seasons and qualifies as a flier at this point in his career. Houston has also added center Justin Britt, who did not play in 2020, and former Chargers interior lineman Cole Toner this offseason. But the Texans still need help up front.

At 28 and with considerable experience, Easton may be willing to wait for a better offer. That could come after the draft, depending on how certain O-line-needy teams proceed.

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Nick Easton To Visit Bengals, Texans

Nick Easton‘s market is starting to heat up it seems. The veteran offensive lineman was cut by the Saints about six weeks ago, and not too long after we heard that he’d already been in touch with four teams.

Things went quiet after that though, until now. Easton has “possible visits” with the Bengals and Texans in the coming days, a source told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Fowler notes that New Orleans has also expressed interest in bringing him back “if they can make it work cap-wise.” That tracks with what we heard back in February, as the Saints cut him in as part of their complicated maneuvering to get under the cap.

Easton entered the league as an UDFA in 2015, and became a part-time starter with the Vikings in 2016. He became a full-time starter in 2017, showed well, and after missing the entire 2018 season due to injury signed a four-year, $24MM pact with the Saints in 2019.

He made it just two years into that deal, and started nine games for New Orleans last year. He’s still only 28, and with his NFL experience at both center and guard would make for a solid late signing for teams in need of interior line help. The Bengals are looking to completely remake Joe Burrow‘s protection for 2021, and recently added fellow former Viking Riley Reiff to start at right tackle.

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Vikings Haven’t Spoken With Nick Easton

Four teams have reached out to free agent guard Nick Easton. The Vikings — Easton’s first NFL team — are not among them, according to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press (on Twitter). 

[RELATED: Four Teams Interested In Easton]

The Saints released Easton in mid-February in a cost-cutting move. And, although Easton has never been a world-beater, he appeared to be a logical fit for Minnesota. Vikings guard Dakota Dozier struggled and Pat Elflein couldn’t stay healthy. Even with solid performances from Ezra Cleveland, the interior line left much to be desired.

Now, Dozier is set for free agency, and they may or may not want back for another year. Meanwhile, Riley Reiff‘s contract could leave them searching for a new tackle. The veteran has a $5MM roster bonus due on March 19th. If they release him before that date, they can save a total of $11.75MM with just $2.2MM in dead money.

All in all, the Vikings’ O-Line is in flux. But, as of this writing, they’re not interested in solidifying that group with Easton. Other teams have reached out to Easton, however, including the incumbent Saints.

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OL Nick Easton Has Spoken With 4 Teams, Including Saints

Offensive lineman Nick Easton became one of the first veteran cap casualties of the offseason when the Saints released him nine days ago, but the cut could end up working to his advantage as he’s now been able to get a head start on free agency. 

Easton has had discussions with at least four teams already, Josina Anderson of ESPN tweets. Interestingly, one of those teams is New Orleans, who apparently has interest in bringing him back. Anderson writes the team is open to having him return for 2021 “after the club maneuvers through cap gymnastics.” She adds that Easton himself “is not in a huge hurry to sign,” so it sounds like the Saints can take their time figuring out their cap issues.

New Orleans is currently dealing with one of the worst cap situations in the league, and they saved $5.87MM by releasing him. Easton entered the league as an UDFA out of Harvard back in 2015, and after bouncing around a couple teams found a home with the Vikings.

He started 12 games for Minnesota in 2017, and after a neck injury costed him the whole 2018 season he landed a four-year, $24MM deal from the Saints in 2019. This past season he appeared in 12 games and started nine for Sean Payton’s offense. Still only 28, it’s not surprising there’s significant interest from teams looking for guard help, and he should be able to land at least a few million in guaranteed money.

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Saints Release OL Nick Easton

Operating as a key fill-in player for the Saints over the past two years, Nick Easton is back in free agency. The Saints released him Friday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

New Orleans signed Easton two offseasons ago and used him as a starter in 15 games over the past two seasons. The Saints, however, have one of the worst salary cap situations in history and must continue to make moves to get under a 2021 cap that is expected to be reduced.

The Saints will save $5.87MM by making this move. This marks the second straight offseason in which New Orleans released one of its interior O-line starters. They cut Larry Warford last year. Easton finished his second Saints season on IR and did not play in either of their two playoff games.

Coming into the offseason, the Saints were more than $100MM over the projected 2021 cap, but Drew Breesrecent restructure — one likely to precede his retirement — helped bring that figure down near $70MM. The Easton move will continue the franchise’s process in trimming salary.

While Warford and Easton are now gone, the Saints have invested highly on their offensive line in recent years. They used a first-round pick on Cesar Ruiz last year and extended Andrus Peat. Center Erik McCoy‘s rookie deal runs through the 2022 season.

Following his release from the Vikings in 2019, Easton signed a four-year deal worth $22.5MM with the Saints. Injuries continued to move the veteran swing man into New Orleans’ starting lineup. Pro Football Focus was not particularly high on Easton’s work, ranking him outside the top 50 among guards in each of his two seasons. But given teams’ annual interest in proven offensive linemen, Easton should not have too much of an issue finding work for next season. For his career, the 28-year-old former UDFA has made 32 starts.

The Saints also cut tight ends Cole Wick and Jason Vander Laan. Both players opted out last season. Unlike Easton, neither has vested-veteran status.

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Minor NFL Transactions: 1/9/21

Here are the latest NFL minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Cleveland Browns

Green Bay Packers

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

  • Signed to reserve/futures deal: QB/WR Joe Webb

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

South Rumors: Saints, Kelly, Titans, Jaguars

The Saints are currently without one of their starting offensive linemen. That may be the case for a bit. Andrus Peat suffered a broken thumb, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Recently re-signed to a lucrative deal, Peat is set to be out up to three weeks, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com notes. While the sixth-year guard could be ready for Week 1, the Saints have an experienced interior-line swing man ready to fill in. Former Vikings starter Nick Easton is now working in Peat’s place at left guard. Easton replaced an injured Peat as a starter in six games last season.

Here is the latest from the South divisions:

  • Alvin Kamara and the Saints began extension talks last week, but the sides may be far apart on terms. A deal is not particularly close at this juncture, Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.football tweets. Kamara is going into the final year of his third-round rookie contract. The three-time Pro Bowler will make just $2.13MM this season. Kamara joins Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones and Joe Mixon among 2017 running back draftees in negotiations. This group will battle a few hurdles — short running back primes, the position’s low value, poor returns on a few recent high-end running back deals and a likely 2021 cap reduction — as they attempt to secure long-term deals.
  • Jameis Winston has hired a new agent. The new Saints QB2 has selected Reggie Johnson of Stellar Group to represent him, Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets. Johnson will be Winston’s third agent since 2018. The former Buccaneers starter may be a long-term option for the Saints, but unlike Drew Brees and Taysom Hill, Winston is signed only through 2020. He could also be set to test the market again next year.
  • Ryan Kelly said in May he and the Colts were discussing an extension. With a contract season looming, the Pro Bowl center insists he would like to stay in Indianapolis long-term, Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star notes. Given Kelly’s age (27) and importance to a Colts O-line that ranks as one of the NFL’s best, he is in line to become the NFL’s highest-paid center — perhaps by a notable margin. Rodney Hudson‘s second Raiders deal currently resides atop the center list, at $11.25MM per year. This AAV figure sits more than $3MM below the top guard salary and nearly $11MM south of the leading tackle contract.
  • The Titans worked out one of their former linebackers Monday. Will Compton auditioned for the team, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Compton, 30, played 12 games for the 2018 Titans, starting two. He last played for the Raiders, suiting up for nine Oakland contests in 2019.
  • An assault case against Jaguars fullback Bruce Miller has been dismissed, according to Miller’s attorney (via Matt Barrows of The Athletic, on Twitter). Miller, 33, has not played since 2015. After allegedly assaulting a man and his son in 2016 in San Francisco, Miller was charged with aggravated assault and elder abuse.

NFC South Notes: Bucs, Falcons, Saints

While previous reports have indicated the Buccaneers plan to retain Gerald McCoy, the veteran defensive tackle may actually not be safe, especially given head coach Bruce Arians‘ most recent comments to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “He’s not as disruptive as he was four years ago,” Arians said. “But he’s still pretty disruptive. He’s still a good player….I got to evaluate him. I mean, guys at a certain age, it’s different. Usually, the age they get paid the most and production (doesn’t) match. We’ve got to find that out.” McCoy, 31, ranked fourth among defensive tackles with 21 quarterback hits in 2018 and finished as the NFL’s No. 28 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus. He’s signed through 2021, but Tampa Bay won’t incur any dead money by releasing McCoy (and would save $13MM against the cap).

Here’s more from the NFC South:

  • The Buccaneers had interest in edge rusher Brandon Copeland before he re-signed with the Jets, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com tweets. Tampa Bay ranked 28th in the NFL with 31 sacks a season ago, so the club can certainly use some extra help in getting pressure. However, the Bucs have already signed Shaquil Barrett to a one-year deal, so Copeland could have been viewed as redundant. Copeland. who also drew interest from New England, Washington, and Detroit, only landed one year and $1.25MM from New York, so Tampa Bay could have probably outbid Gang Green if it had serious interest.
  • Franchise-tagged defensive tackle Grady Jarrett will be a “Falcon for life,” team owner Arthur Blank told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Atlanta will control Jarrett through at least the 2019 campaign after franchising him, but that will come at a heavy cost: $15.209MM, a figure that makes Jarrett the NFL’s sixth-highest-paid interior defender. Jarrett, who has started 44 games over the past three years, will likely target an average annual value closer to Fletcher Cox‘s $17.1MM and a full guarantee package in excess of $50MM. Atlanta currently has less than $5MM in available cap space; an extension for Jarrett would lower his 2019 cap charge and increase the Falcons’ available funds.
  • Saints general manager Mickey Loomis will no longer be involved in running the NBA’s Pelicans, reports Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com (Twitter link). Loomis, who’s been the Saints’ GM since 2002, took over as the Pelicans’ executive vice president of basketball operations in 2012. However, there was reportedly some concern within the Saints’ franchise that Loomis was being “spread too thin,” according to Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk. The Pelicans are in the process of hiring a new GM, one who will report directly to Saints/Pelicans owner Gayle Benson.
  • Nick Easton‘s four-year deal with the Saints is worth $22.5MM but contains only $4MM in guaranteed money, tweets Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune, who adds Easton received a $2MM signing bonus. As Mike Triplett of ESPN.com suggests (via Twitter), Easton’s deal is essentially a one-year deal with a series of options in 2020 ($5MM), 2021 ($6MM), and 2022 ($7.5MM).

Saints, Nick Easton Hit Snag

Center/guard Nick Easton is set to join the Saints’ offensive line – unless he isn’t. On Wednesday, Easton’s contract was “disapproved,” according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Meanwhile, Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press (Twitter link) hears that it’s a minor issue and that everything is still on track for Easton to play for the Saints.

Reading between the lines, it sounds like the contract was turned down by the league office, but the reason behind it is unclear. Typically, if a contract is rejected by NFL execs in New York, it signals a salary cap issue or language-related snafu.

The Saints agreed to sign Easton earlier this week after losing Max Unger to retirement. The plan was for Easton to man the center position, filling a major void in the front five.

As far as we know, that’s still the plan in New Orleans, though there are other options for the Saints to explore if worst comes to worst.

Saints To Sign Nick Easton

The Saints are acting fast in their effort to replace Max Unger. They made the winning offer to sign Nick Easton, according to the lineman’s agent (Twitter link).

Easton will sign a four-year, $24MM deal with the Saints, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio reports (on Twitter). Easton had been considering the Saints, Vikings and another team and had hoped to sign by Monday. While the NFL originally disapproved Easton’s deal with New Orleans over a minor incentive issue, the league has since officially announced the transaction.

Indeed, the Saints will install Easton at center, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Easton played both center and guard with the Vikings, his most recent season coming at guard. Easton missed all of 2018 with an injury. This $6MM-per-year pact represents a strong deal for a player who has not suited up since December 2017. A fractured ankle ended Easton’s 2017 season early, and a neck injury sidelined him throughout 2018.

This will add another veteran contract to New Orleans’ offensive line payroll. Easton Terron Armstead and Larry Warford up front for the Saints, and Andrus Peat is due to make more than $9MM this season on his fifth-year option. With 2017 first-rounder Ryan Ramczyk in place at right tackle, the Easton deal continues the franchise’s significant investment on its offensive front.

That has paid off in the recent past, however, given what Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram have achieved. Set for his age-27 season, Easton will now be involved in blocking for Kamara and former teammate Latavius Murray. While the Saints have been high on backup Cameron Tom, per The Athletic’s Larry Holder (via Twitter), a near-future promotion does not appear to be in order. Tom will likely stay on as a reserve option next season.

The Vikings submitted an offer to keep Easton in Minnesota, and the interior lineman’s defection is a blow to a less acclaimed offensive line. A UDFA out of Harvard, Easton started five games at center for the 2016 Vikings and was a 12-game starter in ’17.

Minnesota has not made any additions up front yet, despite this area being a major problem for last season’s underwhelming team. The contracts of Mike Remmers, Tom Compton and Brett Jones expired after last season, thinning out Minnesota’s guard options considerably. Josh Kline, however, recently appeared on the Vikings’ radar.

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