Eric Murray

Texans Place S Eric Murray On IR

The Texans saw a hit to their depth in the secondary this past weekend when primary backup safety Eric Murray suffered a torn meniscus in the team’s win over the Saints. The severity of the injury was confirmed by MRI on Monday, leading to Houston’s decision today to put Murray on injured reserve after undergoing knee surgery, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2.

Murray took a backseat in Houston last year after nearly two years as the team’s starting free safety. With Jalen Pitre and Jonathan Owens starting in the defensive outfield, Murray found himself coming off the bench and playing special teams. The Texans have replaced Owens with Jimmie Ward this year, but Murray has been able to increase his role a bit due to injuries. With Ward missing the first two games of the year and Pitre missing two himself, Murray has logged four starts as the team’s first choice off the bench.

Unfortunately, now Houston will see injury force Murray’s absence. Knee surgery is enough to force a long-term absence, hence Murray’s placement on IR. Fortunately for both sides, though, the Texans aren’t yet calling the injury season-ending, holding out hope that Murray may be able to return late in the year.

In the meantime, Ward and Pitre will continue to start. If anything were to keep either of them off the field, the Texans would need M.J. Stewart to step up. The veteran out of North Carolina has 10 starts in his career, including one this season, when both Pitre and Ward were out. Houston also has versatile defensive back Grayland Arnold, who has filled in some at cornerback this season, as well, due to an injury to Tavierre Thomas.

To fill Murray’s roster spot, the Texans called up cornerback D’Angelo Ross from the practice squad. Ross has played in two games so far this year, solely appearing on special teams. Ross’s spot on the practice squad will be filled by cornerback Alex Austin, who was waived from the team’s active roster earlier this week to make room for wide receiver Noah Brown coming off IR.

Restructure Details: Cousins, Bills, Cowboys, Saints, Warner, Jets, Texans

Facing a Kirk Cousins cap crunch last year, the Vikings worked out a third contract with their starting quarterback. They did not take that path this year. Minnesota instead agreed to a restructure, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). The reworking frees up $16MM in cap space for the Vikings, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert tweets. The Vikes look to have tacked on two more void years to Cousins’ deal. While the void years — for cap-reducing purposes — run through 2027, Cousins’ contract expires after the 2023 season. No extension is imminent.

The 34-year-old passer has enjoyed leverage throughout his Vikings relationship — via his free agency in 2018, ahead of his 2020 contract year on that fully guaranteed deal, and in 2022 as his second Vikes pact was set to produce a historic cap hit — but Minnesota’s new regime may now be looking toward moving on after the season. This will be a situation to monitor moving forward; Cousins has not played in a contract year since his 2017 Washington finale.

Here is the latest on teams’ restructures:

  • The Bills moved close to the 2023 league year in a cap hole, but they restructured the deals of their two highest-profile players to create considerable space. Buffalo reworked Josh Allen and Von Miller‘s contracts to create approximately $32MM in space, ESPN’s Field Yates tweets. The Bills have moved their way up past $8MM in cap room.
  • Per usual, the Saints have been hard at work on restructures. They adjusted the deals of Cameron Jordan, Alvin Kamara and Marshon Lattimore to create cap space, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Katherine Terrell (all Twitter links). The Jordan move created more than $10MM in cap space for New Orleans, which was back to being north of $20MM over the cap following its Derek Carr signing. As the league year begins, New Orleans made it under the cap by just more than $300K.
  • In addition to restructuring Tyron Smith‘s deal to ensure the All-Decade tackle plays a 13th season with the team, the Cowboys adjusted the contracts of DeMarcus Lawrence and Michael Gallup, Todd Archer of ESPN.com notes (Twitter links). Between them, the Lawrence and Gallup restructures freed up around $16MM for Dallas, which had already created more than $30MM in space by redoing Dak Prescott and Zack Martin‘s deals last week.
  • The 49ers restructured Fred Warner‘s extension, according to Yates (on Twitter). The move created nearly $9MM in cap space for San Francisco, which gave Javon Hargrave a four-year, $84MM deal to start the legal tampering period. A void year now exists in Warner’s contract, which runs through 2026 (with the void year coming in 2027). Warner’s cap number drops to $9MM but spikes past $24MM in 2024, which will probably prompt more maneuvering from the 49ers. They currently hold just more than $12MM in cap space.
  • Circling back to the Vikings, Jordan Hicks agreed to a restructure that will keep him in Minnesota this season, Insidethebirds.com’s Adam Caplan tweets. Hicks signed a two-year, $10MM deal with the Vikings last year.
  • Amid their Aaron Rodgers pursuit, the Jets created $4.8MM in cap space by restructuring John Franklin-Myers‘ contract, Yates tweets. Two void years are attached to the defensive lineman’s pact, which runs through 2025.
  • Texans safety Eric Murray agreed to a restructured deal as well, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 notes. Attached to a two-year, $10MM deal he signed in 2022, Murray remains on a Texans team that has seen its roster become crowded at safety. The team has added Jimmie Ward and re-signed M.J. Stewart this week. Murray played 17 games for the Texans last season but did not start any. This sounds like a pay-cut agreement, with Wilson adding Murray can make up to $4MM this season.

Texans Re-Sign DB M.J. Stewart

The Texans are bringing back a key special teamer. The team announced that they’ve re-signed defensive back M.J. Stewart. The 27-year-old is inking a two-year, $7.5MM deal, per Aaron Wilson of Click2Houston.com.

Stewart, a former second-round pick, had two-year stints with the Buccaneers and Browns before catching on with the Texans last offseason. He ended up getting into all 17 games for his new squad, compiling 41 tackles. Stewart also got into 84 percent of Houston’s special teams snaps.

It’s uncertain where Stewart will fit in the secondary heading into 2023. The Texans added Jimmie Ward on a two-year deal, and they’re also still rostering Jalen Pitre and Eric Murray. Either way, the Texans can expect Stewart to contribute on all ST plays.

Speaking of, Murray reworked his contract yesterday, per Wilson. The move provided the Texans with an extra $732K in cap space. The defensive back inked a two-year, $10MM contract with Houston last offseason.

Contract Details: Watt, Rams, Texans

With teams preparing their cap sheets for the start of the NFL season, we’ve seen a number of front offices rework some contracts. We’ve compiled some of the recent contract maneuverings (as well as some details on recent signings and extension) below:

  • T.J. Watt, LB (Steelers): restructured contract yesterday, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). The move opened $6.75MM in space for Pittsburgh. Watt inked a four-year deal worth up to $112MM (including $80MM guaranteed) last September.
  • Rob Havenstein, OT (Rams): three-year extension. The deal is worth $34.5MM, according to Rapoport (on Twitter). The extension includes $24.1MM guaranteed and offers $6MM in incentives.
  • Tyler Higbee, TE (Rams): restructured contract earlier this week, according to ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter). The team converted $4.75MM of Higbee’s base salary into a signing bonus, creating $3.8MM in space.
  • Jalen Thompson, S (Cardinals): three-year extension. The $40MM deal includes $24.5MM in guaranteed money and a $10MM signing bonus, according to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (on Twitter).
  • Lane Johnson, OT and Jake Elliott, K (Eagles): restructured contracts today, according to Yates (on Twitter). The Eagles converted $5.88MM of Johnson’s base salary and $2.715MM of Elliot’s base salary into signing bonuses, creating about $6.9MM in cap space.
  • O.J. Howard, TE (Texans): one-year deal. The contract is worth $1.035MM, according to Wilson (on Twitter). The tight end will receive $910K in offset from the $1.945MM guaranteed base salary he got from his previous deal with the Bills. When coupled with the $1.25MM signing bonus he got from Buffalo, Howard will earn a total of $3.25MM this year.
  • Eric Murray, S (Texans): restructured contract yesterday, per Yates (on Twitter). Specifically, the team converted $1.465MM of his contract into a signing bonus, opening $732.5K in cap space.
  • Ka’imi Fairbairn, K and Cameron Johnston, P (Texans): restructured contracts earlier this week, per Wilson (on Twitter). The two moves saved the Texans $2.1MM in cap savings.

NFL Injury Notes: McCaffrey, Texans, Young, Brady, 49ers

Since signing a deal that gave him the highest average salary of any running back in the NFL, Christian McCaffrey has missed 23 of 33 games. From a high ankle sprain to a shoulder injury to a hamstring injury and back around to his ankle again, McCaffrey has seen more than his fair share of the injured reserve. According to Joseph Person of The Athletic, McCaffrey reached out for some help this offseason.

Among a few others, one of the players McCaffrey sought help from was Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk, one of two players who share with McCaffrey the distinction of recording at least 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season, the other being Roger Craig. Faulk was especially healthy later in his career despite having a tendency for a higher amount of total touches as a receiving back, his late health being a trait that McCaffrey would love to emulate.

Person reports that Panthers head coach Matt Rhule indicated McCaffrey would again be held out of the preseason and that the team is also looking into how they use their star during practice. McCaffrey, himself, has been tweaking his own offseason routine, in hopes of reversing his string of bad luck.

Here are a few other injury updates from around the NFL, starting with two out of the Lone Star State:

  • From an interview with Texans head coach Lovie Smith, Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reports that pass rusher Jonathan Greenard and safety Eric Murray will be ready to return to the field by the time training camp rolls around. Greenard, who led the team in sacks last season with 8.0, underwent foot surgery over the offseason. Murray had shoulder surgery after starting 11 games for Houston last year.
  • The Commanders are expecting former Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young to rejoin the team in the next couple of weeks, according to Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post. The young defensive end is coming off an ACL tear he suffered in a Week 10 game against the Buccaneers. Young was having a bit of a sophomore slump last year, only recording 1.5 sacks in nine games of action, but Washington will nonetheless be happy to reunite him with Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat, and Daron Payne in what may be the NFL’s best all-around pass rushing defensive line.
  • Although not a recent injury, Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady talked about the condition of his left knee in a call with Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times this week. Last offseason saw Brady limited a bit due to surgery he underwent to repair the MCL tear he suffered during his last season in New England. With the injury far in the rearview mirror, Brady has reportedly been doing much more to prepare for the upcoming season this summer, “including some sprint work to help with his mobility.”
  • Cam Inman of the East Bay Times reported an assertion from 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan that San Francisco will likely play it safe and hold out tight end George Kittle and linebacker Fred Warner until training camp. About two of his stars, the sixth-year head coach claimed the team was “being smart” by using a little extra time to allow the two to get over their “lower half” issues.

Texans To Extend S Eric Murray

Not long after letting Justin Reid defect to the Chiefs, the Texans are retaining one of their own safeties. They reached an extension with Eric Murray, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets.

Previously set to go into a contract year, Murray agreed to a two-year bump worth a maximum of $10MM, Wilson adds (on Twitter). The Texans initially signed Murray in 2020, and he has been a regular starter in Houston.

Formerly a Chiefs draft choice once traded straight up for Emmanuel Ogbah, Murray came to Houston after a year in Cleveland. The 28-year-old defender has started 25 games over the past two seasons. Despite arriving during Bill O’Brien‘s decision-making stint, Murray is in position to keep contributing under Nick Caserio and new HC Lovie Smith.

This marks the second re-up in Houston’s secondary this week; the Texans re-signed Desmond King to keep him off the market. They also added ex-Browns safety M.J. Stewart.

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

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/23/21

We’ve compiled a list of players who were placed or activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list today. In some instances, players activated from the list remain on IR:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Football Team

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/13/21

Today’s minor transactions:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

  • Activated off reserve/COVID-19 list: C Alex Mack

Cleveland Browns

Houston Texans

Texans Sign S Eric Murray

Eric Murray is heading to Houston. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the safety is inking a three-year, $20.25MM deal with the Texans.

The 2016 fourth-round pick spent the first three seasons of his career with the Chiefs, and he started nine game for Kansas City during the 2018 campaign. The defensive back appeared in 45 games during his stint with the Chiefs.

Last offseason, he was dealt to Cleveland in exchange of Emmanuel Ogbah, and he proceeded to appear in nine games (four starts) for his new squad. Murray finished the year having compiled 24 tackles and one sack.

This is the second (former) Browns safety to sign elsewhere tonight. Earlier, we learned that Juston Burris was joining the Panthers.