Casey Hayward

NFC South Notes: Panthers, Hayward, Wirfs

Next year’s running back market stands to feature a glut of starter-caliber options. Even if the Giants and Raiders respectively keep Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs from hitting free agency, potential first-time free agents Miles Sanders, Tony Pollard, David Montgomery, Damien Harris, Devin Singletary and Alexander Mattison are unsigned through 2023. Ditto Kareem Hunt, who is expected to hit the market after the Browns held off on a deadline trade. Jeff Wilson and Jamaal Williams would also be intriguing second-go-round UFAs, but the Panthers have a player in a similar position.

D’Onta Foreman signed a one-year, $2MM deal to relocate from Charlotte to Nashville this offseason, and he has continued his Titans pace. Christian McCaffrey‘s replacement, who ended up being Derrick Henry‘s top fill-in last year, now has seven 100-yard games over his past 13. Teams are monitoring the former third-round pick’s status, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. The Panthers have Chuba Hubbard signed through 2024, and although they are likely to change coaching staffs come January, Foreman makes sense as a re-sign candidate. Despite being a 2017 draftee, he is just 26. And thanks to a lengthy hiatus that covered much of a three-year stretch from 2018-20, the ex-Texas Longhorn only has 366 career carries. That bodes well for more quality seasons being ahead.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Casey Hayward has been on IR since mid-October; he has been eligible to return for a bit now. But the Falcons cornerback is not a lock to come back this year, per AtlantaFalcons.com’s Scott Bair, who notes the 11th-year veteran underwent shoulder surgery after hitting the injured list. Hayward and the Saints’ Chris Harris are the NFL’s oldest active-roster cornerbacks, at 33, and the former represents a key defender for a team gunning for an unexpected division title. Hayward signed a two-year, $11MM deal to come over from Las Vegas. The Falcons have used second-year man Darren Hall in his place. Pro Football Focus does rank Hall, a fourth-round pick out of San Diego State, 35th overall among corners this season.
  • The Buccaneers are expected to be without Tristan Wirfs for a bit because of a high ankle sprain. While the team is hoping the All-Pro right tackle can return in three or four weeks, Fowler adds the third-year blocker could be facing a five- or six-week absence. Some ligament damage occurred, per Fowler, but Wirfs is not expected to need surgery. This timetable would put run up against the end of the regular season, though the Bucs have not placed Wirfs on IR yet.
  • Whereas Foreman’s free agency stock is rising, Baker Mayfield‘s keeps tumbling. Steve Wilks announced Sam Darnold will start in Week 14 against the Seahawks but stopped short of declaring Mayfield the backup, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. Mayfield’s QB2 status depends on P.J. Walker‘s health, according to Wilks. This certainly points to Wilks having more confidence in the ex-XFLer. Despite pushing for Offensive Rookie of the Year acclaim and playing a lead role in snapping one of major American sports’ longest playoff droughts two years later, Mayfield will likely need to sign a one-year deal and attempt to prove himself once again. Mayfield, 27, remains last in QBR among qualified starters.

Falcons Move CB Casey Hayward To IR

Off to a 3-3 start that places them in a tie atop the NFC South, the Falcons will be tasked with staying on that pace without one of their starting cornerbacks. Casey Hayward is now on IR.

The Falcons moved the free agency acquisition to their injured list because of a shoulder injury. Arthur Smith said Monday the team worried about this injury affecting Hayward for a while. He will be out at least four weeks because of the ailment.

At 33, Hayward joins the Saints’ Chris Harris as the NFL’s oldest active corners. The Falcons signed Hayward to a two-year, $11MM deal this offseason and have used him as a starter opposite A.J. Terrell. The former Packers draftee has made 118 career starts and is now with his fourth franchise, having teamed with Gus Bradley with both the Chargers and Raiders. Pro Football Focus graded Hayward as a top-15 corner in 2021; the advanced metrics site has assigned him a middle-of-the-pack mark (50th) thus far this season.

This Hayward news comes just after the Falcons brought Isaiah Oliver off IR. Terrell suffered a thigh injury during the team’s win over the 49ers, but he remains on Atlanta’s active roster. The Falcons are still in good shape, activations-wise, having only used one of their eight IR-return spots this season. Hayward figures to be one of Atlanta’s IR-return moves this year. The team passed on activating Deion Jones from IR, instead trading the veteran linebacker to the Browns.

Darren Hall and Dee Alford were in for Hayward and Terrell against San Francisco, and AtlantaFalcons.com’s Tori McElhaney expects the former to take over for Hayward alongside Terrell. A fourth-round 2021 draft choice out of San Diego State, Hall played a season-high 38 defensive snaps against the 49ers.

Falcons To Sign Casey Hayward

The Falcons have agreed to sign Casey Hayward (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). The veteran cornerback will receive a two-year, $11MM deal, keeping him under club control through the 2023 season. 

[RELATED: Falcons, Saints Chasing Watson]

Hayward spent the past five seasons with the Chargers, up until he was released in 2021. At the time, the move came as a surprise. Hayward’s first deal with the Bolts — three years, $15.3MM — produced two Pro Bowls and a second-team All-Pro nod. Ultimately, they bailed on the rest of his three-year, $34.25MM re-up, leading him to the rival Raiders.

Hayward, 33 in September, led the NFL with seven INTs in 2016. He’s slowed down a bit in recent years, though he did start in all 17 of his Raiders games last year, notching 46 tackles, one interception, three tackles for loss, nine passes defensed, and a safety.

The move will help to fortify the Falcons’ secondary, though Heyward is likely ticketed for a supporting role. The Falcons are still expected to target CB help in the draft next month, where they could use the No. 8 overall pick to take a top-ranked cover man like Cincinnati’s Ahmad Gardner.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/1/22

Here are the New Year’s Day activations from and placements on the reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: G Oli Udoh

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: CB Bryce Hall

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Raiders Activate CB Mullen From IR

Trayvon Mullen is primed for a return to action as the Raiders have announced that he’s been activated from injured reserve today. Las Vegas had designated the former second-round pick to return from injured reserve a little over a week ago.

Interim head coach Rich Bisaccia had made a statement saying, “[Mullen] wants to be in a position where he feels like he’s ready to go and he’s not at 70 percent or 80 percent,” so Mullen’s activation should indicate a return to full health for the Raiders’ starting cornerback.

While the Raiders will certainly be happy to have a bit more depth to a cornerback room that was looking fairly slim with Mullen injured and Damon Arnette‘s release, Mullen’s absence has allowed Las Vegas to test out some of the corners they had available. Even after losing Mullen and Arnette after only four games, the Raiders knew they had experience in ten-year veteran Casey Hayward and liked what they saw in rookie fifth-round pick Nate Hobbs. They did take action, reaching out to sign Hayward’s former teammate, Brandon Facyson, off the Chargers’ practice squad to help fill out the room. The signing has paid off as they’ve seen Facyson start their last six games as Hobbs continues to develop as a pro.

Adding Mullen to the mix strengthens an already impressive position group for the Raiders’ defense. Mullen’s activation was joined by defensive tackle Darius Philon‘s activation off injured reserve. Las Vegas also announced the signing of linebacker Will Compton to the active roster and the release of defensive tackle Damion Square. From the practice squad wide receiver Tyron Johnson, linebacker Javin White, and running back Trey Ragas have been called up for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs.

AFC West Notes: Raiders, Sutton, Chubb

When the Raiders selected Damon Arnette 19th overall last year, it marked the second straight year the Jon GrudenMike Mayock regime stunned draft viewers in Round 1. Despite multiple thumb issues and a placement on the Raiders’ reserve/COVID-19 list, Arnette started seven games as a rookie. Pro Football Focus graded Arnette as a bottom-10 cornerback, however, and the Raiders may not have the Ohio State product in their lineup plans this year. Arnette has nearly drifted off the Raiders’ radar, Vic Tafur of The Athletic notes, adding that Casey Hayward is expected to line up as Las Vegas’ outside corner starter opposite Trayvon Mullen (subscription required). While a few lower-profile corners’ names surfaced during Raiders minicamp this week, Arnette’s was conspicuously absent, Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal adds. Talk surfaced last month of Arnette moving into the slot, but Tafur adds that job looks like Nevin Lawson‘s to lose. Arnette did not practice in the slot during minicamp.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • Yannick Ngakoue is in search of a new agent. The recently signed Raiders defensive end left the Wasserman agency this week, according to the Sports Business Journal’s Liz Mullen (on Twitter). This is not a first for the former Jaguars, Vikings and Ravens pass rusher. He left his first NFL agent in May 2018 and made another change last August. Ngakoue’s next agent will be his fourth as a pro. Ngakoue signed a two-year, $26MM deal with the Raiders in March; that pact featured $21MM fully guaranteed.
  • Numerous key players missed extensive time for the Broncos last season, but the team received good news as it prepares for its next training camp. One of the biggest names to miss Denver’s 5-11 2020 slate, Courtland Sutton is not expected to start camp on the team’s active/PUP list, Vic Fangio said this week. The Pro Bowl wide receiver suffered an ACL tear in Week 2 of last season. Neither Sutton nor Bradley Chubb, who is rehabbing offseason ankle surgery, are likely to miss camp time, Troy Renck of Denver7 notes. Chubb needed bone spurs removed from his ankle.
  • Bashaud Breeland moved on from the Chiefs after two seasons, signing with the Vikings. But the veteran cornerback initially wanted to re-sign with the Chiefs.

Raiders To Sign CB Casey Hayward

Casey Hayward will stay in the AFC West. The former Chargers Pro Bowler intends to sign with the Raiders, veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson tweets. It’s a one-year deal worth up to $4MM, Anderson adds (on Twitter).

The Bolts cut Hayward this offseason, ending a five-year tenure. The veteran cornerback will link up with former Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, whom the Raiders hired this offseason. Hayward met with Raiders coaches Tuesday, Anderson adds (via Twitter). He will also reunite with secondary coach Ron Milus, whom the Raiders brought over with Bradley. Milus was the Chargers’ DBs coach throughout Hayward’s tenure.

Corner has resided as a perennial Raiders need, and they have extensive experience going against Hayward to judge his credentials. Experience in Bradley’s system will benefit the nine-year veteran as well. This move, however, likely will send Richard Sherman elsewhere. The former All-Pro spoke with the Raiders about a deal this offseason, but Hayward’s impending Las Vegas stay likely will point Sherman to another team.

Hayward, 32 in September, operated as one of the league’s better corners for a while. He signed what turned out to be a bargain deal for the Chargers in 2016, coming over from the Packers, and made the Pro Bowl that season and under Bradley in 2017. Hayward intercepted 11 passes between the 2016-17 seasons. This led the Bolts to reward him with a $12MM-per-year extension. While 2020 can be classified as a down year for Hayward, he is not far removed from elite work. Pro Football Focus graded the former second-round pick as a top-five corner in 2019.

Las Vegas drafted a corner this year — Nate Hobbs — but not until the fifth round. The team still has highly drafted cogs Damon Arnette and Trayvon Mullen; Hayward will provide veteran support for these young defenders. Arnette missed much of last season due to injury.

Chargers Release CB Casey Hayward

One of the better free agent signings in recent years, Casey Hayward will be forced to head back to the market. The Chargers are releasing the veteran cornerback, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The team announced the move.

A former Packer, Hayward spent the past five seasons with the Bolts. The Chargers will save $9.75MM by cutting Hayward in the final year of his contract. They attempted to trade Hayward first.

I’ve known for a couple of days,” Hayward said (via veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson, on Twitter) of the Bolts’ plans to move on. “I know they were seeing if they could trade me, wanting to keep my salary the same. I’m definitely open to new possibilities now. I want to play at least a couple more years.”

This marks a major change for the Bolts, who saw their initial Hayward contract — three years, $15.3MM — produce two Pro Bowls and a second-team All-Pro honor. Hayward agreed to a three-year, $34.25MM re-up ahead of the 2018 season.

Going into the 2020 slate, the Chargers had three All-Pro corners — Hayward, Desmond King and 2020 signing Chris Harris. Entering free agency, Harris is the only one left for a Bolts defense that will transition to Brandon Staley‘s scheme. While Staley was only with the Broncos for one season and helmed the outside linebackers during his Denver stint, Harris was with the team during Staley’s stay.

Hayward, 31, led the NFL with seven INTs in 2016. He picked off four passes in his second Chargers season, another Pro Bowl slate, and was a key presence for a Chargers defense that ranked third overall in the team’s 2018 playoff campaign. The nine-year veteran’s play tailed off last season, with Pro Football Focus slotting him outside the top 60 players at his position.

With the cuts of Hayward and Trai Turner, the Chargers have moved their cap-space figure north of $45MM. This will help the now-Justin Herbert-centered team in need areas. The offensive line certainly profiles as one. But with Hayward gone and Michael Davis a free agent-to-be, cornerback will be an area to address as well.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/1/21

Here are the minor moves from New Year’s Day:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: WR John Brown

Dallas Cowboys

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Chargers Activate Chris Harris, Place Melvin Ingram On IR

A Pro Bowl defender will be available for the Chargers against the Bills, but the team will also be without one. The Bolts activated Chris Harris on Friday but cleared the roster spot by placing Melvin Ingram on IR.

Harris has been out since Week 2 with a foot injury, but the All-Decade cornerback returned to practice last week. The Chargers signed the longtime Broncos slot corner to a two-year deal this offseason, but their squadron of All-Pros in the secondary has largely failed to materialize.

Derwin James is out for the season, and the Chargers traded 2018 All-Pro Desmond King to the Titans. Casey Hayward will also miss the Bills game with a groin injury, interestingly leaving Harris as the only member of that would-have-been All-Pro quartet on track to suit up in Buffalo.

The Chargers previously ruled Ingram out for Week 12 with a knee injury. This will be the second time the ninth-year edge rusher has landed on IR this season. He missed time earlier this year because of knee trouble. These setbacks have damaged Ingram’s 2021 free agency stock. After lobbying for a new contract in August, Ingram returned to practice. The 31-year-old defensive end’s multi-injury season — one that has yet to produce a sack — and the expected cap reduction could severely affect his market come March.