Austin Corbett

NFL Restructures: Saints, Corbett, Grant, Eagles

The Saints restructured two contracts yesterday in an effort towards salary cap compliance, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. Both linebacker Demario Davis and tight end Taysom Hill have agreed to the new arrangements to lower their cap hit next season.

Davis is under contract through the 2025 season, Hill through 2026. Davis had another stellar season for the Saints in 2022. Since joining the team in 2018, he’s missed one game and been a first- or second-team All-Pro in every season but his first in New Orleans. The team converted $7.09MM of base salary for the 34-year-old’s 2023 season into a signing bonus, clearing $5.67MM in cap space off of his contract. He now holds a cap hit next year of $7.61MM with a base salary of $1.17MM.

Hill had another productive year as a Swiss-army weapon for New Orleans. The quarterback/tight end continued to show a much larger impact rushing than receiving but steeply declined in his passing numbers this year. The team converted $8.82MM of base salary for the 32-year-old’s 2023 season into a signing bonus, clearing $7.06MM in cap space off of his contract. He now holds a cap hit next year of $6.87MM with a base salary of $1.08MM.

The team still has several avenues it can explore to create cap space. Defensive end Cameron Jordan ($25.7MM), cornerback Marshon Lattimore ($22.4MM), guard Andrus Peat ($18.3MM), running back Alvin Kamara ($16MM), and quarterback Jameis Winston ($15.6MM) all hold cap hits over $15MM that could likely be restructured.

Here are few other recent moves as teams strive towards cap compliance:

  • After signing a three-year, $26.25MM contract a year ago, guard Austin Corbett has agreed to a restructured deal with the Panthers, according to Panthers staff writer Darin Gantt. Corbett contributed to a much-improved offensive line this season, starting all 17 games before suffering a torn ACL in the team’s last game of the year. The 28-year-old is working towards a return spending every day at the facility in recovery. Yates of ESPN reports that the team converted $7.72MM, consisting of his base salary and a $1MM roster bonus, into a signing bonus, freeing up $5.79MM in cap space. Corbert now holds a 2023 salary of $1.08MM and a cap hit of $5.16MM.
  • Yates’s above report on Corbett also mentioned the Browns recent restructuring of wide receiver and return-specialist Jakeem Grant. Grant missed the 2022 season with a torn Achilles tendon after signing a three-year, $10MM contract in the offseason. The renegotiated deal for Grant reportedly reduces his cap hit by $1.77MM.
  • Eagles center Jason Kelce is currently headed towards free agency or, potentially, retirement. Still, since Philadelphia has a habit of building voidable years into contracts in an effort to lessen the salary cap burden of deals, the team found it necessary to decrease that financial burden that Kelce’s expiring contract has on their future. According to yet another report by Yates, the Eagles paid Kelce a $3MM bonus yesterday, consisting of his $2.75MM 2023 roster bonus and $250,000 2023 offseason bonus, to reduce his 2023 cap hit. The move reportedly cleared up around $2.4MM of cap space for Philadelphia next season.

Panthers Guards Brady Christensen, Austin Corbett Facing Injuries In Offseason

Carolina was hoping to still be playing football at this point in the season. However, after injuries to starting guards Brady Christensen and Austin Corbett that would have held them out of the playoffs, the Panthers will not be faced with the prospect of replacing 40-percent of their offensive line in only a week. Both linemen played every snap of the season for Carolina until lower body injuries took each of them out in the team’s win over New Orleans yesterday.

After a rookie season that saw the former third-round pick spot-start as a backup, Christensen took his opportunity to become a full-time starter this season and ran with it. While Christensen’s below-average run blocking kept him from grading out as a top guard in the league, his pass blocking ability graded out in the top half of NFL starting guards, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

The big-bodied guard broke his left ankle only six snaps into the team’s season finale, according to Joe Person of The Athletic. Person reported that “an MRI exam would determine whether (Christensen) would need surgery,” but there’s confidence that he will be ready to go in time for training camp.

The veteran, Corbett, was a newcomer on Carolina’s offensive line this year after signing as a free agent in March but immediately became a strength alongside right tackle Taylor Moton. Corbett graded out as the league’s 19th-best offensive guard, thanks to an impressive pass blocking grade.

Corbett’s injury was a bit more severe than his teammate’s. In an attempt to tackle Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu during an interception return, Corbett’s foot got caught in the artificial turf leading to a torn ACL, according to ESPN’s David Newton. Corbett’s recovery will likewise take a bit more time than Christensen’s. After undergoing surgery to repair the torn ligament, Corbett will strive to make it back to the field in time for the 2023 season.

The two are likely expected to resume their starting jobs once healthy, as both are under contract through the 2024 season, but the injuries could cause Carolina to seek some depth this offseason for the interior line. After a remarkably healthy season for their offensive line, the offseason poses the challenge of health for the Panthers’ big men.

NFC North Rumors: Smith, Corbett, Peterson, Udoh

One of the biggest headlines of the day was when Baltimore acquired Bears linebacker Roquan Smith in exchange for a second- and fifth-round pick. Lots led to this deal being made, but no one can say the Bears didn’t try to hold on to Smith.

General manager Ryan Poles claimed that the Bears made a contract offer to Smith that contained a “record-setting” piece, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Smith had been representing himself and negotiations have reportedly gone nowhere, according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. Not only were the negotiations at an impasse but Adam Jahns of The Athletic tells us they were also apparently tenuous enough to change the team’s perception of Smith.

Regardless, negotiations to extend Smith will now fall on the Ravens’ shoulders, and, according to Biggs, the move shows that pretty much anyone on the Bears’ roster is fair game to be traded before tomorrow’s deadline.

Here are a few more rumors from around the NFC North, all coming out of the Twin Cities of Minnesota:

  • As the trade deadline approaches, an ideal target for the Vikings is Panthers offensive guard Austin Corbett, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News in Minnesota. Minnesota was in on Corbett during his free agency this offseason but lost out to Carolina, who signed him to a three-year, $26.25MM deal. The Vikings would love to add Corbett to anchor an offensive line with several young, impressive players, but it appears that Carolina, justifiably, views him as a core player to build around for the future.
  • After throwing some shots at Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray during his in-game celebrations, Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson expressed some lingering discontentment with his former franchise, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Peterson claimed that someone in the organization used to print out emails from a fan about “how he couldn’t tackle and was washed up” and would leave the letters at his locker in Arizona. Peterson’s jabs make a little more sense with some context about his feelings towards the organization near the end of his tenure.
  • Vikings backup offensive lineman Oli Udoh was arrested last weekend after allegedly harassing a female patron then scuffling with club security at Club e11even in Miami, according to John Shipley of the Pioneer Press. Udoh and his attorney “dispute the reported facts of the incident,” according to Kevin Seifert of ESPN, and head coach Kevin O’Connell told the media that he expects a positive outcome. He participated as usual in practice this week. Udoh was a full-time starter for the Vikings last year but has functioned in a backup capacity this season with rookie second-round pick Ed Ingram taking over as the team’s starting right guard.

Panthers To Sign OL Austin Corbett

7:32pm: The Panthers have agreed to terms with Corbett, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reports. Carolina lands a guard with 40 starts’ worth of experience. Corbett agreed to a three-year contract worth $29.25MM, per Mike Garafolo of (on Twitter). The deal contains $13.6MM in guaranteed money, per’s Aaron Wilson (on Twitter). The first two years of his deal are fully guaranteed.

6:49pm: The Rams reached agreements to retain center Brian Allen and swing tackle Joseph Noteboom, but they may be ready to see their other free agent offensive lineman of note depart.

Austin Corbett is close to an agreement with the Panthers, Jeremy Fowler of tweets. Carolina has multiple needs up front, one of those being at guard.

After a midseason trade in 2019, the former Browns second-round pick became a regular Rams starter. Corbett started every game for the past two Rams squads, including all 21 during the team’s Super Bowl-winning campaign. Operating as Los Angeles’ right guard, Corbett provided some stability at that spot as the Rams transitioned to Matthew Stafford under center and used three primary running backs last season. PFF assigned Corbett a 69.6 regular-season grade, which ranked tops among the Rams’ guards.

Carolina struggled consistently at guard, deploying John Miller (52.1) and Michael Jordan (50.8) as their primary first-stringers last season. While the Panthers encountered steady quarterback issues, their O-line did not do this collection of passers many favors.

The Panthers saw Pat Elflein play just nine games last season, though they restructured the would-be starter. Elflein-Corbett would likely be the team’s direction at guard, should the latter end up finalizing this agreement.

Rams Shuffle Offensive Line

Rams HC Sean McVay did not play most of his projected starters in last night’s preseason tilt against the Chargers, but when his starters do take the field for live action, there will be a notable shakeup on the O-line. Earlier this week, Austin Corbett — who took almost all first-team reps at center during the spring — was shifted to right guard, and Brian Allen was inserted at the pivot, as Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic writes.

Allen served as the Rams’ starting center for nine games in 2019 before an MCL injury ended his season prematurely. He spent all of last season recovering, and Austin Blythe took over the center position. But Blythe signed with the Chiefs in March, so Los Angeles moved Corbett, 2020’s right guard, to center for spring practices. He stayed there throughout the early stages of training camp, but Allen has done enough to show that he can be trusted as QB Matthew Stafford’s snapper.

Because Corbett offers more size than Allen, whose body type lends itself more to the wide-zone concepts than the gap-power looks that McVay started to favor with RB Cam Akers, it was believed that Corbett might be the better option at center for the Rams’ offense. But McVay thinks Allen will allow the team to do everything it wants to do in the run game (especially now that Akers has been lost for the season due to a torn Achilles).

“We’ll be able to do the same things,” McVay said. If you look at Brian Allen, he looks physically impressive. He’s strong, he’s sturdy. You can see all of the work that he has really put in. I think you can see that he’s feeling really good being another year removed from that knee injury.” 

Corbett’s move to right guard could put Bobby Evans on the bubble. Evans did play extensively in last night’s game — which clearly suggests he has fallen down the depth chart — and he struggled. He entered the spring as the projected starter at RG, but one wonders if he will even make the final roster at this point.

Rams’ Austin Corbett To Move To Center?

After losing Austin Blythe to the Chiefs in free agency, the Rams plan on replacing him internally. Guard Austin Corbett is practicing at the center position, according to head coach Sean McVay

He and Matthew [Stafford] have established a nice rapport together,” McVay said (via Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times). “I know that Austin can play really well at guard, and we’re going to continue to see what it looks like at center and try to find the best combination of five to play up front.”

It’ll be an adjustment, but this is roughly what the Rams did with Blythe. Blythe was a full-time guard starter on the Rams’ Super Bowl LIII-qualifying team. Then, in 2020, they moved him to the middle, where he graded out as Pro Football Focus ninth-best center in the NFL.

Corbett, meanwhile, came to the Rams in a 2019 midseason trade with the Browns. Since then, he’s appeared in 24 games (23 starts) for the Rams, including 16 starts last year at right guard. Now, he’ll try his hand at center, working alongside Brian Allen and Coleman Shelton.

NFL Distributes Performance-Based Payouts

Since 2002, the NFL’s performance-based pay system has rewarded low-salary players who exceed their expected playing time. This year, due to the pandemic, the league and the players’ union negotiated a gradual payout schedule, one that will meter out the money between now and 2024.

All in all, the league divested $8.5MM per club. This year’s top earner is Buccaneers guard Alex Cappa, a 2018 third-round pick who played every single snap for the eventual champs. Cappa will now receive an extra $622K on top of his $750K base salary for 2021. Per the union’s records, 25 other players also topped $500K, including Cardinals tackle Kelvin Beachum ($604K), Bills cornerback Taron Johnson ($579K), Rams guard Austin Corbett ($573K), Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye ($572K), Bears tackle Germain Ifedi ($571K), Steelers offensive lineman Chukwuma Okorafor ($568K), Vikings offensive lineman Dakota Dozier ($561K), Ravens safety DeShon Elliott ($557K) and Bucs safety Jordan Whitehead ($555K).

The full list, going team-by-team, can be found here, courtesy of the NFLPA.

Rams C Brian Allen Out For Season

Rams head coach Sean McVay told reporters earlier today that starting center Brian Allen had suffered a season-ending MCL injury, according to Lindsey Thiry of ESPN. It remains unclear whether Allen’s injury could impact him next season or in the offseason, but he is definitely done in 2019.

Allen supplanted John Sullivan as the starter at center this season. While the entire Rams offensive line has struggled, Allen has played a major role in those issues. Trade deadline acquisition Austin Corbett had experience at both guard and center and seemed like a possible replacement for Allen, but instead slotted next to Allen at left guard.

When Allen left Los Angeles’ game on Sunday, starting right guard Austin Blythe slid over to center and backup Coleman Shelton replaced Blythe at right guard. Shelton was an undrafted free agent out of Washington last season who bounced between the 49ers and Cardinals practice squads before joining the Rams active roster this season.

The Rams were surely disappointed with Allen’s performance on the interior line, but are no better off with even less depth. If Los Angeles chooses to look at free agent options, Sullivan remains available on the open market.

In addition to Allen, Los Angeles could be without starting right tackle Rob Havenstein for two weeks, as veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer tweets. Havenstein is dealing with a knee injury.

Browns Trade Austin Corbett To Rams

The Browns have traded guard Austin Corbett to the Rams. In exchange, the L.A. will send a fifth-round pick in the 2021 draft to Cleveland, per Tom Pelissero of (on Twitter).

Corbett, the No. 33 overall pick in the 2018 draft, has appeared in 14 games since becoming a pro. This year, he appeared in three games as a reserve.

After the Browns traded Kevin Zeitler to the Giants, Corbett was thought to be a shoo-in to take over as Cleveland’s starting right guard. That didn’t happen – Corbett didn’t meet the club’s expectations and veteran Eric Kush wound up as one of the team’s top five linemen instead.

The Rams acquired Corbett just as they shipped cornerback Marcus Peters to the Ravens. The team acquired a 2020 fifth-rounder for Peters from one AFC North franchise and will send its 2021 fifth-rounder to another. Busy day for the 3-3 Rams.

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Bengals, Browns

The Steelers will use the preseason to determine their backup quarterback behind Ben Roethlisberger, but 2018 third-round pick Mason Rudolph appears to have a leg up over fellow signal-caller Josh Dobbs, as Ed Bouchette of The Athletic writes. Dobbs, a fourth-round selection in the 2017 draft, served as Pittsburgh’s No. 2 last season, but managed just 12 passing attempts in relief of Roethlisberger. Rudolph, meanwhile, only played during the 2018 preseason, completing 24-of-44 passes for 315 yards. “I had the general concepts down and our plays but there are things that you take a little deeper dive,’’ Rudolph said. “Run schemes, protections, signals. Just the no-huddle calls. Ben does such great job of ad-libbing.” As Bouchette notes, No. 3 quarterbacks rarely get significant practice reps during the regular season, so if the Steelers view Rudolph as Roethlisberger’s successor, he could use the practice snaps due a backup quarterback in order to develop this year.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • Another Steelers battle is taking place at wide receiver, where veteran Donte Moncrief appears to be the frontrunner for No. 2 duties behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, according to Dan Graziano of (Twitter link). Moncrief, who signed a two-year, $9MM deal with Pittsburgh in March, is competing against 2018 second-round pick James Washington and 2019 third-rounder Diontae Johnson for time. In his first and only season with the Jaguars in 2018, Moncrief posted 48 catches for 668 yards and three touchdowns, but ranked as a bottom-15 wideout in Football Outsiders‘ efficiency metrics. The Steelers lost the second-most air yards and sixth-most targets of any NFL team during the offseason, so there should be plenty of work to go around.
  • Bengals sixth-round rookie running back Rodney Anderson has been cleared to practice, tweets Ben Baby of Once viewed as a potential early-round selection, Anderson suffered a torn ACL during his final season at Oklahoma and subsequently fell to Day 3 of the draft. In 2017, however, Anderson put up 1,161 yards on the ground and scored 18 total touchdowns. Cincinnati is set at the top of its running back depth chart with Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard, but Anderson and fellow sixth-round rookie Trayveon Williams should make the roster as reserves.
  • After the Browns traded Kevin Zeitler to the Giants, Austin Corbett was thought to be a shoo-in to take over as Cleveland’s starting right guard. But the 2018 second-rounder may not enter the regular season as one of the Browns’ top five linemen, per Graziano (Instagram link). Corbett hasn’t had the offseason the Browns “wanted or expected him to have,” so much so that veteran Eric Kush could end up starting at right guard. Kush, 29, started seven games for the Bears in 2018 and has appeared in 33 career contests.