Nick Martin

OL Rumors: Raiders, 49ers, Giants, Solder, Eagles

The Raiders are tracking to have two starters from their 2020 Week 1 offensive line setup back, with Kolton Miller signed long-term and Richie Incognito back on a lower-cost deal. But spillover from another training camp battle may affect Incognito’s standing. Denzelle Good and John Simpson will vie for the starting right guard spot, but Vic Tafur and Tashan Reed of The Athletic note Raiders coaches have informed the team’s guards the loser of this competition may still wind up replacing Incognito at left guard (subscription required). Incognito, 38, played well in 2019 but missed 14 games due to an Achilles injury last season. The Raiders cut him in March but re-signed him weeks later on a one-year, $2.12MM deal. Good replaced Incognito last year, and the Raiders are hoping Simpson — a 2020 fourth-round pick out of Clemson — can win the right guard competition.

Here is more on the Raiders’ O-line and the latest from some other offensive fronts around the league:

  • Elsewhere on Las Vegas’ O-line, the center spot may not be much of a competition. Despite offseason addition Nick Martin having started four full seasons with the Texans, the former second-round pick appears to be clearly behind former UDFA Andre James, according to The Athletic. After trading Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson to the Cardinals, the Raiders gave James an extension. James has played 116 offensive snaps as a pro; all came in 2019.
  • Nate Solder has moved to the Giants‘ roster bubble, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com. The 6-foot-8 veteran worked as New York’s starting left tackle in 2018 and ’19, after signing a then-record tackle contract in free agency, but opted out in 2020. The Giants can spread out Solder’s cap hit over multiple years, but they would face a $13.5MM cumulative dead-money charge by cutting Solder. Andrew Thomas has taken over as New York’s left tackle, with Raanan adding that Solder will compete with second-year blocker Matt Peart for the right tackle job. Solder has not been a full-time right tackle since his rookie season in 2011.
  • Although former UDFA Daniel Brunskill provided some stability amid 49ers injury chaos last season, starting 16 games, the team plans to return him to a utility role. The 49ers are eyeing second-round pick Aaron Banks as their starting right guard, Matt Barrows and David Lombardi of The Athletic note. Brunskill worked as a swing backup as a rookie in 2019, primarily filling in for left tackle Joe Staley. The 49ers selected Banks 48th overall; the 325-pound rookie started in part of his sophomore season and throughout his junior and senior years at Notre Dame.
  • Rather than stockpile depth at tackle, the Eagles may look to trade the loser of the Andre DillardJordan Mailata left tackle competition, Eliot Shorr-Parks writes. While keeping both would provide insurance, Shorr-Parks notes moving Mailata in a contract year would make sense and Dillard may lose more value if he goes through this season as a backup. A 2019 first-round pick, Dillard missed all of last season due to injury and has logged just four career starts. A rugby convert chosen as a project in the 2018 seventh round, Mailata spent two full seasons in development but broke into Philadelphia’s starting lineup for 10 games last season.

Raiders To Sign C Nick Martin

After trading their center of the past six years, the Raiders appear to have settled on a replacement. They are signing former Texans snapper Nick Martin, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Martin’s work will not remind most of Rodney Hudson‘s, with the since-traded center being a three-time Pro Bowler. Still, the Raiders figure to save substantially by replacing Hudson with Martin.

Transitioning to their Nick Caserio regime, the Texans cut Martin after he spent the past four seasons as their starting center. While he did not fare as well as Hudson did in this span, Martin did receive an $11MM-per-year extension from the previous Texans regime. Martin will attempt to rebound in Las Vegas.

The Raiders have made some interesting decisions this week. Their three highest-paid O-linemen — Hudson, right tackle Trent Brown and longtime right guard Gabe Jackson — are gone. The team has since re-signed Richie Incognito after cutting him, and brought back the player who replaced Incognito post-injury last season, Denzelle Good. Las Vegas appears to still have a hole at right tackle, but the other four spots along its offensive line may be set.

However, third-year blocker Andre James may factor into the equation at center. This should be considered James’ job to lose, Vic Tafur of The Athletic tweets. While Martin has a massive experience edge (62 starts to one), he might not be a lock to start in Vegas.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Release C Nick Martin

The only center to start a Texans game during Deshaun Watson‘s career is now on the market. The Texans released Nick Martin on Friday, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports (on Twitter). The move is now official.

A 2016 fifth-round pick, Martin missed his entire rookie season but established himself as Houston’s starting center a year later. In every game Watson played as a pro, Martin operated as his center. Martin will join Senio Kelemete as Texans O-linemen cut this week. The Texans also released Duke Johnson on Friday.

By releasing Martin, the Texans will save $6.25MM in cap space. The younger brother of Zack Martin, Nick was due a $7.25MM base salary in 2021 and was signed through the ’22 season. The Texans have moved up to north of $15MM in cap space.

The Texans gave Martin a three-year, $33MM extension ahead of the 2019 season. Going into Friday, that deal remained a top-five center contract. The Nick CaserioDavid Culley regime will now look for a new snapper. Whether the new center will snap to Watson in 2021 is certainly another story.

Pro Football Focus has never been especially high on Martin’s work, grading him as the league’s No. 29 center last season and never slotting him higher than 17th. Martin, however, has not missed a start since the 2017 season and remains in his prime. He will turn 28 this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: White, Newton, Julio, Jags

Devin White left Thursday night’s game before the lightning delay hit, but the rookie Buccaneers linebacker appears to have dodged a long-term injury. Bruce Arians said (via ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine) the No. 5 overall pick suffered a grade 1 MCL sprain. While it would seem White is in danger of at least missing the Bucs’ Week 3 game against the Giants, Arians would not rule out an immediate return.

Here is the latest from the South divisions, moving first to the Bucs’ Week 2 opponent:

  • Ron Rivera denied Cam Newton is experiencing issues with the foot he injured during preseason play or his surgically repaired shoulder. The Panthers have now lost two home games, and Newton has not played especially well in either. He completed 48% of his passes on Thursday and did not fare well against Bucs blitzes. Prior to Newton’s shoulder injury last season, he had the Panthers on track for another playoff berth and was on a better statistical run than his 2016 or ’17 slates. Now 0-2, the team will have an uphill battle to make it back to the postseason. The 30-year-old passer is signed through the 2020 season.
  • Nick Martin‘s three-year, $33MM Texans extension features fully guaranteed salaries ($6.1MM and $7.25MM) for the 2019 and ’20 seasons and a $5MM signing bonus, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. The Texans center’s 2021 and ’22 base salaries of $7.25MM and $7.75MM are non-guaranteed.
  • Julio Jones‘ three-year, $66MM Falcons extension came with $64MM in guarantees, which outpaces every other wide receiver’s deal by a staggering margin. Jones’ pact also could bump up to $72MM, with Joel Corry of CBS Sports tweeting the 30-year-old wideout’s deal has annual escalators. It’s not yet known what benchmarks Jones would have to hit to trigger those, however.
  • Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson has received clearance to make his season debut, but Doug Marrone said (via ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco, on Twitter) the third-year blocker will be held out against the Texans. It would appear Robinson, who is dealing with a different knee problem than to the ACL tear he suffered last season, will be on track to return to his post in Week 3. He has not played since September 2018. Due to a hamstring malady, Yannick Ngakoue is also out for the Jags this week.
  • The Texans worked out cornerbacks Jeremy Clark, Rodney Randle and D.J. White, per veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (on Twitter). Houston made a cornerback roster swap this week, releasing Aaron Colvin and signing Phillip Gaines.

AFC South Rumors: Foles, Texans, Colts

The current plan for Nick Foles involves a return in November. The Jaguars‘ high-priced free agent addition is out until at least Week 11 due to the broken clavicle he suffered Sunday, and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter) Foles is loosely targeting that week for his return. This would be welcome news for the Jaguars, but they will have to get through eight games without their experienced passer. Gardner Minshew fared well against the Chiefs, completing 22 of 25 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns, but he’s a sixth-round rookie. Jacksonville also traded a fifth-round pick for Josh Dobbs. These two represent the team’s quarterback options at this point.

Here is the latest from the AFC South:

  • Another avenue the reeling Jags took in an attempt to patch up their quarterback solution post-Foles involved a Texans passer. The Jaguars contacted then-Texans practice squad QB Alex McGough, presumably offering a roster spot, this week, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. However, the Texans thwarted their division rival’s attempt by promoting McGough to their active roster. McGough now resides behind Deshaun Watson and A.J. McCarron.
  • Bill O’Brien called Nick Martin, who signed a three-year extension worth $33MM this week, “one of the leaders” of the Texans. “[Martin] is one of the leaders of our team, smart, tough, dependable,” the coach said (via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle). “Had to in the past deal with some injuries. Played good on Monday night, want him to be a Texan. We all felt like best move for Nick and our team.”
  • In extending Martin in advance of Week 2, the Texans deviated from recent regimes’ rule of no in-season extensions, Wilson notes. The GM-less franchise turned to senior VP of football administration Chris Olsen to finalize Martin’s deal. Previously, both Rick Smith and Brian Gaine avoided in-season re-ups.
  • Former Packers first-round pick Datone Jones remains on teams’ radars. The Colts worked out the defensive lineman this week. Jones has been on the in-week workout circuit for a bit now. He played in one Cowboys game last season and caught on with the Jaguars before camp. The 2013 first-rounder did not make the team but has now worked out for the Colts and Redskins this week.

Chris Crouse contributed to this report.

Texans Sign Nick Martin

The Texans have signed center Nick Martin to a three-year, $33M extension, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The pact includes $18.35MM guaranteed, giving Martin some solid security on the pact. 

Martin has been the Texans’ starting man in the middle since 2017. Initially, he was primed for a big role as a second-round rookie in 2016, but an ankle injury wiped out his would-be frosh season. Along the way, the Texans have considered moving him to guard, but he has remained the battery mate of quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Prior to this extension, Martin was set to reach the open market after the 2019 season. That ’19 year will remain in tact, but he’ll see a serious pay bump after he collects on his $1.1MM base and $418K prorated bonus. With an average of $11MM/year, Martin will become one of the five highest-paid centers in the NFL.

With Martin under center, the Texans suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Saints on Monday night. Next up, they’ll try to get to .500 when they face the Jaguars in Houston on Sunday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Rumors: Watson, Martin, Mathieu

Despite tearing an ACL in November, Deshaun Watson looks like he’ll have some involvement in the Texans‘ offseason program. The one-time offensive rookie of the year favorite is ahead of schedule in his recovery process, just as Bill O’Brien anticipated he would be coming into the offseason program, James Palmer of NFL.com reports (video link). Watson will be throwing some during the offseason. Although Watson is currently working out in a brace on the injured knee, Palmer notes the second-year quarterback may not have to wear a brace once he returns to game action. The former national championship-winning passer will not participate in the team portions of the Texans’ OTAs but will throw during the seven-on-seven and passing portions of the workouts, per Palmer.

Here’s the latest out of Houston.

  • The Texans are considering moving center Nick Martin to guard, Palmer reports. The third-year player started in 14 Texans games at center last season, his first as a healthy NFLer after he missed all of his would-be rookie year due to injury. Having reached an agreement with another former Chiefs offensive lineman in Zach Fulton, it’s possible the Texans could slide Martin to guard and Fulton to center — where he played at times in Kansas City. O’Brien said as many as four new starters could be set to block for Watson this coming season. Senio Kelemete and Seantrel Henderson are now in the fold as well. Houston’s highest-paid lineman remains Jeff Allen, who has not lived up to the $7MM-per-year deal he signed in 2016. Martin’s brother, Zack, of course, is arguably the best guard in the game.
  • Tyrann Mathieu may be gradually pushed into a versatile position with his new team. Palmer notes the Texans plan to initially just play him at safety but do want him working at cornerback and as a blitzer. This hybrid job description helped Mathieu to an All-Pro perch in 2015 and a then-record safety contract before another injury sidetracked him and eventually re-routed him to Houston.
  • Joe Webb will make $915K in base salary and will carry a $720K cap figure this season, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. The wide receiver/quarterback received a $90K signing bonus.
  • Defensive lineman Christian Covington has been fully cleared after his torn biceps injury in October ended his 2017 season, per Wilson. Covington started two games last season and played in seven, doing so after making five starts in 2016.
  • The Texans released right tackle Derek Newton earlier on Thursday and did so with a failed physical designation, Wilson tweets. Newton had not played since October 2016, when he sustained two severe knee injuries on one play.

Texans Activate OL David Quessenberry

In one of the more inspiring stories of the NFL season, the Texans have promoted offensive tackle and cancer survivor David Quessenberry from their practice squad to their active roster. In a series of other moves, Houston also promoted safety Ibraheim Campbell and defensive tackle Jarrod Clements while placing center Nick Martin, tight end MyCole Pruitt, and defensive tackle D.J. Reader on injured reserve.David Quessenberry (Vertical)

Quessenberry, 27, spent more than three years on the Texans’ non-football injury list after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in June 2014. After an amazing battle that was recently well-documented by Robert Klemko of TheMMQB.com, Quessenberry completed his treatment earlier this year. He’s spent the entirety of the 2017 campaign on Houston’s practice squad.

Although he has yet to appear in an NFL game, Quessenberry could potentially see action for the Texans during the final two games of the regular season. Houston currently has just two offensive tackles on its roster, and neither Kendall Lamm nor Breno Giacomini has been impressive. Theoretically, the Texans could give Quessenberry — a 2013 sixth-round pick out of San Jose State — a two-game audition to close the year.

Martin, meanwhile, will close his second NFL campaign after suffering a “serious” ankle injury, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. A second-round pick in 2016, Martin also missed his entire rookie season after breaking his ankle. This year, Martin played nearly 1,000 offensive snaps in the middle of the Texans’ line but graded as a bottom-10 center, per Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Down To 78 On Roster

The Texans announced additional roster moves this afternoon, bringing their total count to 78 players on the roster. Here is a full rundown of all of their moves thus far today, including those disclosed earlier in the day:

Released:

  • DT Ra’Zahn Howard
  • WR Tevin Jones
  • LB Ryan Langford
  • WR Josh Lenz
  • OT Matt Pierson
  • LB Carlos Thompson
  • OT Arturo Uzdavinis

Injured Reserve:

  • S Kurtis Drummond
  • K Ka’imi Fairbairn
  • C Nick Martin (story)

PUP List:

Texans C Nick Martin Out For Season

Texans center Nick Martin recently underwent ankle surgery from Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina and is expected to miss the 2016 season, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweetsNick Martin (vertical)

The injury is a big blow to the Texans who were banking on Martin to start for them in 2016. For now, Toledo product Greg Mancz is slated to take that spot. Mancz spent his rookie season on IR with a knee injury that required surgery. The good news is that the reviews on him so far have been positive.

Recently, in a PFR exclusive, scouting guru Dave-Te Thomas wrote that he was high on Martin and optimistic about what he could do as a rookie:

Martin is a vast upgrade from the Texans’ previous snapper, Ben Jones, who is no longer with the team. He’s already formed a good bond with Brock Osweiler and should join the Colts’ first round pick, Ryan Kelly, as immediate starters at center for their respective teams. Martin’s arrival will see newly signed Jeff Allen slide into the right guard spot vacated by Brandon BrooksGreg Mancz and Tony Bergstrom were hoping to compete for the pivot spot after Jones left, but both now vie for second unit duties.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.