Brandon Facyson

Zamir White Expected To Be Raiders’ RB Starter; Jack Jones ‘Set’ As Starting CB

One of the more eventful days in running back history, transactionally speaking, occurred March 11. More than a third of the league either signed a veteran starter or lost one, with several clubs in both camps. The Raiders ended up only in the first section, losing Josh Jacobs to the Packers hours into the legal tampering period.

More moves affecting 2023 starters occurred soon after, as the Raiders added primary Vikings first-stringer Alexander Mattison a week into free agency. While Mattison worked as Minnesota’s initial Dalvin Cook replacement last year, the Raiders might not be readying a competition to fill the spot Jacobs held for five years.

[RELATED: Raiders’ Josh Jacobs Offer Not Close To Packers’ Proposal]

The Raiders brought in Mattison as a player who will work as a sidekick to Zamir White, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Vincent Bonsignore. White filled in for Jacobs as the Las Vegas starter over the final four games last season. He totaled 100-plus rushing yards in two of those tilts. Two seasons remain on White’s rookie contract, giving him a path to take over as a multiyear option for the Raiders.

The Vikings released Mattison one year into a two-year contract; the Raiders gave him a one-year, $2MM deal. The former third-round pick’s run as Cook’s replacement did not go well. While the Vikings look to have picked the right offseason to jettison Cook, their run game ranked 29th. Mattison averaged 3.9 yards per carry and did not score a rushing touchdown. The Vikings joined the Raiders in investing a 2022 Day 3 pick on a back (Ty Chandler), and Jacobs’ Green Bay arrival led Aaron Jones to Minneapolis. Mattison, 25, fared better as a Cook spot starter in prior years; the Raiders will give him a chance to mix in behind White, who is going into his age-25 season.

Elsewhere on the Las Vegas depth chart, Bonsignore adds Jack Jones is “set” as a starting cornerback. The ex-Patriots draftee is on track to work as one of the Raiders’ boundary starters, with a competition in the works for the role alongside he and slot cog Nate Hobbs. Considering where Jones stood prior to the Raiders claiming him, a route to a clear-cut starting role is interesting.

Jones undoubtedly benefited from ownership’s decision to remove Antonio Pierce‘s interim tag. Pierce coached Jones at both Long Beach Poly High and then at Arizona State. Jones, 26, ran into off-field trouble in college and in the NFL. An arrest for trying to bring a loaded gun onto a plane overshadowed Jones’ 2023 offseason, and the 2022 fourth-round pick fell out of favor with Bill Belichick late last season. The Patriots waived Jones after he had missed curfew in Germany.

The Raiders upped the talented corner’s usage rate shortly after the November waiver claim, using him as a starter over the final three games. Jones delivered a memorable stretch, which included pick-sixes in back-to-back games. A 2022 starter who encountered speedbumps last year — which also featured an IR stint following a September hamstring injury — Jones is on steadier ground with his second NFL team.

The team let Amik Robertson walk (to the Lions) in free agency and did not draft a corner until Round 4. The Raiders used fourth- and seventh-round picks at the position, but the team is planning to have Jones and Hobbs as locked-in starters. Jakorian Bennett and the reacquired Brandon Facyson may be the early leaders for the other boundary CB job, Bonsignore adds, with the rookies (Decamerion Richardson, M.J. Devonshire) in the mix now as well.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/24/23

Sunday’s minor moves around the league:

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Facyson has not played all season, but the Raiders opened his practice window on Dec. 6, making him eligible to return to the field. The 29-year-old played for the Colts last season, but he spent the previous year with the Raiders, starting nine of his 12 games. Facyson is under contract through 2024, but none of his $2.27MM salary is guaranteed. Logging some game action down the stretch could thus be beneficial to his roster security.

Neal has missed the past five games due to an ankle injury, and today’s move means he will be shut down for the remainder of the season. The 2022 first-rounder underwhelmed when on the field, to the point where a switch to guard was suggested. No such move has been given consideration, but Neal will nevertheless face considerable expectations to rebound in 2024. Peart will have the chance to see playing time late in the year after suffering a shoulder injury in Week 5.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/6/23

Today’s minor transactions from around the league:

Dallas Cowboys

Houston Texans

Las Vegas Raiders

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Tennessee Titans

The Cowboys made some adjustments to their injured reserve list today. Waletzko returned to practice today as he continues to work his way back from a shoulder injury. McKeon was placed on IR in order to make room for Hendershot after the latter’s activation. This will give McKeon a chance to deal with an ankle injury that’s bothered him this year and a chance to serve as a potential activation candidate for the playoffs.

Raiders To Place CB Brandon Facyson On IR

Although Chandler Jones will miss Sunday’s game due to the events of this week, the Raiders carry a thin injury report into their season opener. Only two players carried injury designations into Friday, but one of them — Brandon Facyson — will be moved off the roster for the time being.

Facyson is dealing with a shin injury, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Vincent Bonsignore notes the veteran cornerback will head to IR. This will sideline Facyson for at least four games while opening a roster spot for Josh Jacobs. For a second straight year, teams have eight IR activations to use over the course of a season.

The Raiders reunited with Facyson this offseason, signing the Gus Bradley favorite to a two-year deal worth $6.5MM. Facyson, who turns 29 today, has only played for Bradley over his first five NFL seasons. He spent the first three years of his career with the Chargers but made his way to the Raiders in 2021, doing so after the team hired Bradley as its DC. The Colts hired Bradley to run their defense in 2022, and a Facyson signing commenced. Facyson’s first tour of duty without Bradley calling the signals will be on hold.

Facyson started nine games with the Raiders in 2021. He Joined Marcus Peters, David Long and Duke Shelley as Raiders UFA corner pickups this offseason. But the former UDFA did not win a starting job out of training camp. Fourth-round rookie Jakorian Bennett is set to start alongside Peters and Hobbs. The Raiders did not keep Shelley, who is now with the Rams. Long remains on Las Vegas’ roster as a backup.

Last season, the Colts used both Facyson and Isaiah Rodgers as boundary defenders opposite Stephon Gilmore. Facyson only made four starts but played on defense throughout the season. Prior to his gambling suspension, Rodgers was in Indianapolis’ plans to stay a starter. But he is now gone (with the Eagles), joining Gilmore and Facyson in exiting. Bradley’s Indy unit features some young options alongside Kenny Moore.

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Raiders, Samuel

Although their interest in Dalvin Cook appeared to cool early in the long-running sweepstakes, the Broncos did keep tabs on the high-profile free agent. The team continued to look into Cook, Tom Pelissero of said during a Rich Eisen Show appearance (video link). Cook has since signed a one-year, $7MM Jets deal. While Pelissero adds the Broncos may look to add another back to a group headlined by Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine, the team is sorting through some options behind the veterans. Second-year back Tyler Badie, rookie UDFA Jaleel McLaughlin and ex-Sean Payton Saints charge Tony Jones Jr. are vying for Denver’s RB3 job presently.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • The Raiders took a few fliers at cornerback in free agency, signing Duke Shelley and David Long and reuniting with Brandon Facyson. None of the trio looks likely to start. Instead, fourth-round pick Jakorian Bennett looks to have leapfrogged them. Shelley and Long have fallen out of the mix to start, per The Athletic’s Vic Tafur and Tashaun Reed, who project Bennett to start alongside Marcus Peters and Nate Hobbs (subscription required). Both Long and Facyson have missed time due to injury in camp. The Raiders chose Bennett 104th overall, which would make a Week 1 starting assignment notable. But the Silver and Black, who let Rock Ya-Sin walk (to replace Peters in Baltimore), came into the offseason with major questions at corner.
  • Despite a three-interception wild-card performance, third-year Chargers corner Asante Samuel Jr. faced the prospect of being a backup to start this season. Ja’Sir Taylor, a sixth-round 2022 draftee, has competed with the multiyear starter for the slot job. But Samuel looks to have surged ahead, per The Athletic’s Daniel Popper. If J.C. Jackson completes his recovery from a torn patellar tendon in time, the Chargers are preparing to roll out a Jackson-Samuel-Michael Davis cornerback look. If Jackson needs more time, the Bolts would likely go with a Davis-Samuel-Taylor trio.
  • The Bolts are fairly set at receiver, with Quentin Johnston and Derius Davis‘ Fort Worth-to-Los Angeles treks giving the team five locks at the position. In addition to the TCU alums, Josh Palmer has made strides in his third training camp. This looked to put Jalen Guyton and John Hightower to a battle for the final spot, Popper adds. But both players are dealing with injuries. After a strong start to camp, Hightower — a 2020 Eagles draftee who has not caught a pass since his rookie year — suffered an injury and has not practiced in a week. Guyton, who suffered an ACL tear in Week 3 of last season, remains on the Bolts’ active/PUP list. Stashing the deep threat on the reserve/PUP list to start the season is looking likely, per Popper.
  • K’Waun Williams is expected to be the Broncos‘ slot corner for a second season, but an ankle injury has sidelined him for over a week. The veteran slot defender sought a second opinion on the injury recently, per 9News’ Mike Klis, who notes surgery is not on the docket at this point. A rest-and-rehab operation will be utilized to have Williams ready for Week 1, though this becomes a situation to monitor for a Broncos team that remains without third-round corner Riley Moss. Essang Bassey filled in for Williams as the top nickel in Denver’s preseason opener.
  • Davis Webb resides in the strange position of being a 28-year-old quarterbacks coach tasked with helping a decorated 34-year-old passer bounce back. But Russell Wilson‘s position coach has been on the coaching radar for a bit now, despite only retiring this year. After the Bills wanted him to be their QBs coach last year, Sean McDermott, Brian Daboll and Eli Manning endorsed Webb to Payton, Jori Epstein of notes. Webb “blew away” Broncos brass in his interview, per GM George Paton. His final season — as a Giants third-stringer — involved scouting and coaching, Epstein adds, making this an easier transition than it would appear.

Raiders To Sign DB Brandon Facyson

The Raiders continue to make moves. The team is expected to sign defensive back Brandon Facyson, per Vincent Bonsignore (via Twitter).

[RELATED: Raiders To Sign S Marcus Epps]

This will mark Facyson‘s second stint with the organization. The cornerback started nine of his 12 appearances for the Raiders during the 2021 season, finishing with 55 tackles, 13 passes defended, and one interception. That first Raiders gig followed a three-year stint with the Chargers.

Facyson spent the 2022 campaign in Indianapolis, starting four of his 16 games for the Colts. The defensive back finished the season with 28 tackles and six passes defended. Besides playing on defense, the 28-year-old also has plenty of experience playing on special teams, making him an intriguing addition for the Raiders.

This will stop a Facyson run under DC Gus Bradley. The veteran corner had played for the well-traveled DC at his past three stops. The Raiders, who then employed Bradley as their DC, claimed him off waivers from the Chargers in 2021; the Colts signed him to work with Bradley last year. Facyson is again ticketed to wear the Silver and Black, but he will be part of DC Patrick Graham‘s scheme.

The Raiders have already added one defensive back today, signing former Eagles starting safety Marcus Epps. Of course, the Raider also made headlines on the other side of the ball, adding quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

CB Rumors: Hill, Sutton, Pats, Colts, Lions

After seeing Troy Hill join the Browns in free agency last year, the Rams entered the 2022 league year eyeing Cleveland’s cornerback decisions. The Rams began discussing the idea of reacquiring Hill in early March, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic notes, and the team monitored the Browns’ draft to determine if it was a realistic move (subscription required). If the Browns drafted a cornerback on either Day 1 or Day 2, Rodrigue adds the Rams planned to make a move for Hill. Martin Emerson‘s third-round Cleveland arrival led to L.A. brass bringing back the veteran slot cornerback. The Rams, who had lost Darious Williams in free agency, sent a 2023 fifth-rounder to the Browns for Hill. Although Hill spent time in Youngstown, Ohio, growing up, the 30-year-old defender wants to stay with the Rams beyond his current contract — a two-year, $9MM deal that expires after the 2022 season.

Here is the latest from the cornerback scene across the league:

  • Cameron Sutton is going into the final year of his second Steelers contract and, with Joe Haden out of the picture, will go into the season as the team’s top cornerback. Sutton expects to go into the season without a new deal, but the now-Omar Khan-led Steelers have extended three contract-year players — Minkah Fitzpatrick, Chris Boswell, Diontae Johnson — in recent weeks. Sutton has confirmed he and the team have not discussed an extension, via Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. The sixth-year corner also is expected to spend most of his time in the slot this season, lining up on the outside in base sets and moving inside — with Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon outside — in sub-packages.
  • The Patriots have primarily used Jonathan Jones as a slot cornerback. His 2019 extension came as a result of slot play, and Pro Football Focus graded him as a top-tier cover man in 2020. But New England has been using Jones on the outside in recent days at camp, Doug Kyed of PFF notes, with third-round rookie Marcus Jones working in the slot. The Pats have been searching for an outside corner alongside Jalen Mills, and the recently unretired Malcolm Butler has yet to seize that gig. Marcus Jones is also viewed as the likely Pats punt returner, per Kyed.
  • Will Harris has worked as a safety during his first three seasons, but the fourth-year Lions defender is now battling former No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah for an outside cornerback spot, Eric Woodyard of notes. Harris started all 17 games for the Lions last season, but in addition to re-signing Tracy Walker, Detroit added ex-Baltimore safety DeShon Elliott. Okudah losing this competition would be a massive disappointment, given his draft slot, but’s Jeremy Fowler adds the Ohio State product is not being restricted by his 2021 Achilles rupture and is firmly in the Lions’ plans. Detroit’s first “unofficial” depth chart has Harris ahead of Okudah, alongside corners Amani Oruwariye and slot A.J. Parker.
  • The Colts may be ready to declare a winner in the battle to determine their third primary cornerback. Veteran addition Brandon Facyson is likely to play alongside Kenny Moore and Stephon Gilmore, Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star notes. Facyson, a Gus Bradley-system vet who has been with the new Colts DC with the Chargers and Raiders, appears to be beating out 2020 sixth-round pick Isaiah Rodgers. Largely a backup before starting nine Raiders games last year, Facyson signed a one-year, $3.84MM deal this offseason.
  • Darqueze Dennard spent 2021 with four teams — the Cardinals, Colts, Giants and 49ers — and played in just two games. But the 49ers, with K’Waun Williams now a Bronco, have Dennard in pole position to be their slot corner, Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes. A former first-round pick, Dennard spent years as the Bengals’ primary slot. The 31-year-old defender is attempting to fend off rookies Samuel Womack and Qwuantrezz Knight.

Colts CB Brandon Facyson To Compete For Starting Role

The one-year deal that cornerback Brandon Facyson signed with the Colts earlier this month is worth $3.84MM, per Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star. That is roughly the same money that Indy gave Xavier Rhodes in 2020 — a season in which Rhodes would start all 16 games — and it cements Facyson as a legitimate threat to win a starting job as a boundary CB.

Further underscoring the Colts’ faith in Facyson is the fact that, one day after acquiring him, GM Chris Ballard traded fellow corner Rock Ya-Sin to the Raiders in exchange for edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue. As Erickson writes, Facyson will indeed have a chance to replace Ya-Sin in Indianapolis’ starting lineup.

Ballard was not the only GM interested in Facyson’s services. According to Erickson, the Raiders — with whom Facyson made a name for himself last season after three nondescript years with the Chargers — were pursuing a re-up, and another club was also in the mix. However, Facyson elected to follow defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and DB coach Ron Milus from Las Vegas to Indianapolis. Facyson has worked under Bradley and Milus exclusively during his four professional seasons, first with the Chargers and then with the Raiders, and when the Colts hired both men this offseason, Facyson had largely made up his mind.

“I ultimately had like three teams really come after me, but in my head, I always kind of knew where I wanted to be,” Facyson said. “I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to play with Gus and Milo. … It definitely was a big impact on me coming to Indianapolis.”

In 12 games (nine starts) for Las Vegas in 2021, Facyson racked up 55 tackles and 13 passes defensed, along with his first career interception. Pro Football Focus was not high on his work, giving him a subpar 51.7 overall grade, but he did limit opponents to a 59.1% completion percentage and 7.2 yards per attempt, both of which are solid enough numbers. And, given the interest he attracted on the open market, it’s clear that evaluators of defensive talent — particularly Bradley and Milus — believe there is more potential to be unlocked.

Of course, Facyson is not assured of a starting job. The Colts do not have much depth behind him, Kenny Moore, and Isaiah Rodgers at this point, so there will be another addition or two, which could push the Virginia Tech product down the pecking order.

Colts To Sign CB Brandon Facyson

Gus Bradley is the Colts new defensive coordinator, but he’s also helping the front office by recruiting some former players. According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo (via Twitter), the Colts have signed former Raiders cornerback Brandon Facyson. It’s a one-year deal for the defensive back.

Following three somewhat anonymous seasons with the Chargers, he caught on with the Raiders practice squad in 2021. He ended up transforming into one of the most dependable members of Bradley’s defense, compiling 55 tackles, 13 passes defended, and one pick in 12 games (nine starts).

Xavier Rhodes remains unsigned, but one of Facyson or Kenny Moore could pick up the slack (alongside Rock Ya-Sin) in the Colts’ secondary.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 12/29/21

Several key players returned to practice Wednesday. Here are the latest COVID-19 updates from around the league:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

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 Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Activated from practice squad/COVID-19 list: WR Rico Bussey

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team