Evan Brown

Evan Brown Favorite For Cardinals’ LG Job; Latest On Paris Johnson Jr.’s Position Change

Although the Cardinals swapped out D.J. Humphries‘ veteran contract for new right tackle Jonah Williams‘, the team is keeping costs low along its offensive front. Only one player — Williams — is tied to a deal worth more than $7.5MM per year.

Paris Johnson Jr.‘s first-round salary checks in behind Williams’ $15MM-per-year pact at this Cardinals position group. Among Arizona’s interior O-line, backup-level salaries are present. One of those is allocated to Evan Brown, who signed a one-year, $2.35MM contract with the team in March. Brown spent last season as the Seahawks’ starting center, but he will shift positions once again.

The Cardinals have installed Brown at guard, and the Arizona Republic’s Bob McManaman notes the veteran is in the lead to win the team’s left guard post. While a host of competitors are vying with Brown for the only undecided spot along Arizona’s offensive front, Brown came to the desert after three seasons as an O-line regular.

The Seahawks used Brown as a 16-game center starter last season. That came after Brown worked as a fill-in starter in back-to-back seasons in Detroit. The Lions plugged Brown in as a Frank Ragnow injury replacement in 2021; that season brought 12 starts for the former UDFA. He operated as Halapoulivaati Vaitai‘s RG fill-in during the 2022 season. All 40 of Brown’s career starts came over the past three seasons, as he bounced around between four teams from 2018-20.

Brown, 27, played for similar terms in Seattle (one year, $2.25MM) to plug a hole created by Austin Blythe‘s retirement. Pro Football Focus graded Brown as a bottom-tier center in 2023, slotting him 27th last season. The advanced metrics site viewed Brown’s pass protection as an issue in 2022 as well, though it graded the former UDFA as much better in that department as a center in 2021. As the Cardinals continue to rebuild, Brown will attempt to hold off some competitors — including last season’s Week 1 starter at the position — on an inexpensive front featuring another journeyman starter.

Hjalte Froholdt, a 2019 fourth-rounder who played for three teams from 2019-21, is entrenched as the team’s center. Will Hernandez is locked in as the team’s right guard, McManaman adds. Brown will battle LG incumbent Elijah Wilkinson (nine starts last season), Trystan Castillo-Colon, Carter O’Donnell and third-rounder Isaiah Adams in the primary competition for the job. Adams’ presence figures to be important here, though the Cardinals appear to be planning to ease the Day 2 draftee into the mix slowly. Brown is a stopgap guard option, and Jonathan Gannon said he is also seeing time at center — perhaps in preparation for a swing role if Adams becomes the LG starter.

Johnson and Williams, of course, are locked in as starters as well. Johnson is making the switch from full-time right tackle as a rookie to the left side. This aligns with D.J. Humphries‘ trajectory, as the former first-rounder moved from RT to LT after one season as a starter. Johnson is now replacing Humphries, and McManaman adds the 2023 No. 6 overall pick began preparing for the position switch before officially receiving word it was a go. Noting he and Humphries still communicate regularly, Johnson — an All-American left tackle at Ohio State in 2022 — said the Cardinals informed him a switch could happen depending on how free agency unfolded.

I got a text one day and it said, ‘Hey, can you play left?’” Johnson said. “I’ve been training both. I asked after the season and they were like, ‘Honestly, we’ll talk to you at some point in the season,’ and I got a text, and it was like, ‘Depending on what happens in free agency.

I had a whole season at right tackle, so if I get the word I’m staying at right tackle, I’ll just do what I did before. But I thought I might as well train at left tackle now as if I’m going to be left tackle. I’d rather do that than train all at right tackle and get the call, ‘Hey you’re at left tackle now.’ … I was just preparing in advance.”

Humphries, the Cardinals’ LT starter for seven seasons, remains a free agent. Johnson is under contract through the 2026 season. Kelvin Beachum remains in place as a swingman behind Johnson and Williams, who is staying at the position he played — following a trade request based on a left tackle role — in his Bengals contract year.

Cardinals Move Paris Johnson Jr. To LT

Seven years ago, the Cardinals flipped their starting tackles by moving Jared Veldheer to the right side and first-round pick D.J. Humphries to the left edge in their then-Carson Palmer-centered offense. Chosen in the first round eight years after Humphries, Paris Johnson Jr. will be at the center of a Cardinals position revamp up front.

Arizona used Johnson as its right tackle in 2023, but the former No. 6 overall pick is ticketed for the blindside post this season. Jonathan Gannon confirmed the Ohio State product will play on the left side during the offseason program, as a development effort — one that will see free agency addition Jonah Williams continue at right tackle — ensues ahead of Johnson’s second season. Johnson has been working at his new spot since the Cardinals began on-field work this offseason.

Paris obviously playing both, Jonah playing both, but we’ll start there and see how it goes,” Gannon said, via AZCardinals.com’s Darren Urban. “That’s what they both feel comfortable with right now.”

While noting he holds veto power regarding this effort, Gannon is pointing to another Cardinals tackle switch-up. The above-referenced change occurred after Humphries played right tackle in his de facto rookie year (the 2015 first-rounder missed all of his actual first season). Humphries remained in that post through last season. The Cardinals said they would be open to re-signing Humphries — a March cap casualty — but their recent Johnson-focused announcement makes a reunion highly unlikely.

At this time last year, the prospect of Johnson beginning at guard was in play. The Cardinals employed Humphries and Josh Jones and had just re-signed Kelvin Beachum. But the team slotted its top draftee on the right side. Johnson started all 17 games at RT as a rookie. A move to the left side always seemed in play, with Johnson finishing his college career there and earning first-team All-American acclaim. Johnson played right guard for the Buckeyes in 2022.

This move is perhaps more interesting for Williams, who made a trade request — a Bengals regularity over the past two springs — after the team kicked him to the right side. Cincinnati’s Orlando Brown Jr. signing “blindsided” Williams, though the three-year Bengals LT retracted his trade ask and went to work on the right side. Williams started opposite Brown throughout last season and signed a two-year, $30MM Cardinals deal.

Williams agreeing to terms with a team to play right tackle is notable given the events in his final Bengals offseason. It would also seem easier for the Cardinals to keep Johnson on the right side and install Williams at the position with which he is most comfortable. But Johnson certainly brings higher upside; the team will begin an earnest developmental effort for him to take over as Kyler Murray‘s blindside protector. Pro Football Focus ranked Johnson and Williams 57th and 59th among tackles last season.

Beachum, 35 next month, remains on Arizona’s roster as a swing tackle. The team returns right guard Will Hernandez and center Hjalte Froholdt. Williams’ deal contains $19MM fully guaranteed, covering part of his 2025 salary. The team added Evan Brown in free agency, still rosters Elijah Wilkinson and used a third-round pick on Isaiah Adams. Brown, Wilkinson and Adams are set to compete for the left guard gig, Urban adds. Gannon confirmed the Brown signing will not move the Cardinals to try Froholdt at guard.

Cardinals To Add C Evan Brown

A 16-game starter for the Seahawks last season, Evan Brown has a deal in place to relocate within the NFC West. The Cardinals are signing the veteran interior O-lineman, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweets.

Brown agreed to a one-year, $2.35MM Cardinals contract, one that can max out at $2.9MM. Brown worked as a low-cost solution for the Seahawks up front, and while that season did not elevate the ex-Lions blocker into the upper echelon of this year’s center market, he will have another opportunity in 2024.

While the Seahawks used Brown at center, he has extensive experience at guard as well. The Lions plugged in Brown at guard in 2022, using him as their primary fill-in option for Halapoulivaati Vaitai that year. He had previously worked as Frank Ragnow‘s center replacement in 2021. Brown has made 40 career starts. This signing will give the Cardinals another option inside.

Pro Football Focus rated Brown as its No. 27 overall center last season — eight spots behind Cardinals starter Hjalte Froholdt. The latter remains under contract with the Cardinals, who also re-signed guard starter Elijah Wilkinson. Brown could compete for either position, with both starters attached to low-end contracts. Wilkinson re-signed on a one-year, $1.83MM deal, per CardsWire’s Howard Balzer, who adds $1.58MM is guaranteed. Froholdt is attached to a two-year, $4.6MM deal he signed in 2023. PFF rated Arizona’s O-line 25th last season, and the unit will be without D.J. Humphries — a recent post-June 1 cut — next season.

PFF rated Brown 17th among centers in 2021 and viewed him as a mid-pack guard in 2022. At worst, the Cardinals have a player capable of providing swing depth. A former UDFA going into his age-28 season, Brown will attempt to commandeer a starting job and use this season as a chance to command a better payday down the line.

Seahawks, OL Evan Brown Agree To Deal

The Seahawks may have identified their Austin Blythe center replacement. They are signing former Lions starter Evan Brown, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets.

It is a one-year deal, per KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson (on Twitter). This move comes minutes after the Lions agreed to a deal to bring back one of their former interior O-line starters (Graham Glasgow). Brown started 24 games for the Lions — both at center and guard — from 2021-22.

With his starting role in Detroit in jeopardy given Glasgow’s arrival, Brown will move to his fifth career NFL franchise. The 26-year-old also has experience with the Dolphins, Giants and Browns preceding his two-plus-year stint in the Motor City.

Brown originally received more favorable PFF grades for his pass protection than his run blocking, including an impressive 80.1 grade in the former category in 2020. Recently, however, his metrics have shifted and he has graded out better in the run game while struggling in protection. He earned a PFF rating of just 45.5 in pass protection in 2022, after being charged with two sacks and 22 pressures allowed.

In spite of those struggles, the former UDFA will bring experience to Seattle as they look to replace Blythe (who retired at the end of the season) individually, but also maintain their success on offense from 2022 in general. Improved play up front was a key factor in the Seahawks’ top-10 scoring unit, which included a pair of rookie tackles in Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas.

With Brown in place, Seattle will have an experienced option in the middle of their re-vamped O-line. He will likely compete with former sixth-rounder Joey Hunt for the No. 1 center spot, or with veteran Phil Haynes at the right guard position. Seattle will have a number of options up front, regardless of what other depth is added in the coming weeks.

Texans, Titans Pursuing LB Denzel Perryman

MARCH 16: Perryman is meeting with the Texans on Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The former Chargers, Panthers (sort of) and Raiders linebacker is looking to find a home for a ninth NFL season.

MARCH 15: This year’s crowded inside linebacker market has produced one big contract (the Bears’ Tremaine Edmunds pact) and a host of mid- or low-level agreements. While the legal tampering period has taken many off-ball ‘backers off the board, a few key names remain.

Denzel Perryman is one of the top options left, and he may end up deciding between two AFC South suitors. The Texans and Titans have shown interest in the veteran linebacker, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 reports.

Perryman hit free agency after two seasons with the Raiders. While those slates helped re-establish the former Chargers draftee’s value, his profile as a run-stopping linebacker — as opposed to a true three-down player with plus coverage skills — will impact his market. The 30-year-old defender logged a 70% defensive snap share last season. Pro Football Focus graded Perryman as a top-12 linebacker against the run, propelling him to a top-20 overall assessment.

The Panthers gave Perryman a multiyear deal in 2021, but he never ended up playing for them after a preseason trade to the Raiders. Gus Bradley, Perryman’s primary DC with the Chargers, put the former second-round pick to work quickly, using him on 83% of the Raiders’ defensive plays that season. Perryman finished the year with 154 tackles — far and away a career-high total — and helped Las Vegas rally to the playoffs despite a turbulent season.

The Raiders showed interest in a Perryman extension before the season, but nothing came to pass. They did circle back last month, though there is a real risk he departs now. The Titans have lost starters David Long and Zach Cunningham, though GM Ran Carthon is reuniting with ex-49er Azeez Al-Shaair. The Texans, who were also linked to Al-Shaair due to his DeMeco Ryans connection, but have not made a move at linebacker yet during the tampering period.

Houston has also shown interest in Mack Wilson, per Aaron Wilson. Mack Wilson spent last season with the Patriots, having been traded straight up for Chase Winovich, but logged 28 starts with the Browns from 2019-21. Houston is also interested in defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, Wilson adds, while also being in on centers Garrett Bradbury, Ethan Pocic and Jake Brendel, the latter of whom having ties to a few Texans coaches. But the center market has largely led to retention thus far. Bradbury, Brendel and Pocic have returned to their respective teams (Vikings, 49ers, Browns). The Texans are believed to be interested in former Lions center Evan Brown, however. The Detroit center/guard option has not signed anywhere yet; Brown has started 24 games over the past two seasons.

The Jets are trying to bring back Rankins, who has played for the team for the past two years. The Texans’ center interest stems from the team cutting Justin Britt, its two-year pivot starter. Britt is planning to retire.

Lions Rumors: Oruwariye, Brockers, R. Okwara

Just a few months ago, Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye was reportedly in line for a lucrative contract extension, or perhaps a notable free agent contract next offseason. To say that Oruwariye’s stock has dropped since those reports surfaced would be an understatement.

Oruwariye has struggled mightily in 2022, and he was benched for Detroit’s Week 5 loss to the Patriots. He returned to the field for the team’s Week 7 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday — the Lions had a Week 6 bye — but a player that entered the season looking like a potential defensive cornerstone is now a trade candidate, as Justin Rogers of the Detroit News opines.

For what it’s worth, head coach Dan Campbell does not believe that Oruwariye’s uncertain contract situation has impacted his performance (via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press), though the return of Jerry Jacobs — who was activated from the PUP list this week and who made his 2022 debut against Dallas — could make Oruwariye more expendable. Rogers believes the Lions would look for a fourth- or fifth-round pick if they seek to trade the Penn State product.

Here are a few more Detroit-related items:

  • Like Oruwariye in Week 5, Michael Brockers was a healthy scratch for the Lions’ Week 7 contest against the Cowboys, as Kyle Meinke of MLive.com notes. The 31-year-old D-lineman had started each of the club’s previous five games, but he appeared in just 11 snaps in the New England matchup several weeks ago, and he has a grand total of two quarterback hits in 21 starts for Detroit over the past two years. Brockers is under club control through 2023, though the team can save $10MM against the cap if it releases him at year’s end. At this point, a release appears inevitable.
  • Edge rusher Romeo Okwara suffered a torn Achilles last October, which ended his 2021 season after just four games, and he has been parked on the PUP list since July. He has been eligible to return for several weeks now, but Rogers says the Lions have given no indication that Okwara is ready to practice. Even if Okwara gets back on the field this year and performs as he did during his 10-sack 2020 campaign, Rogers believes the team may not retain him after the season is over. A release would create $7.5MM in cap room, and the team’s draft position and the development of players like second-round rookie Josh Paschal will factor into GM Brad Holmes‘ decision-making process.
  • The Lions continue to be without first-round rookie Jameson Williams, and fellow wideout DJ Chark was recently placed on IR. Detroit’s WR group was further depleted on Sunday, as second-year pro Amon-Ra St. Brown took a hit to the head in the Dallas game and was immediately ruled out for the remainder of the contest pursuant to the new concussion protocol provisions (Twitter link via Rogers). His status for the Lions’ Week 8 game against the Dolphins will obviously be up in the air.
  • In addition to Oruwariye, Rogers names DL Austin Bryant, C Evan Brown, and LB Chris Board as potential trade candidates. The 1-5 Lions profile as sellers as we approach the November 1 trade deadline.

Lions C Frank Ragnow Sidelined For Week 2

The Lions’ highly-regarded offensive line has taken another notable hit. Starting center Frank Ragnow will miss the team’s second game of the season, as noted by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press

[RELATED: Lions G Vaitai Undergoes Back Surgery]

Groin and, more notably, toe injuries are the cause for the Pro Bowler’s absence. Birkett notes that Ragnow played through the ailments last week against the Eagles, but that the toe issue is on the same foot which caused him to undergo season-ending surgery last year.

That injury limited him to just four games in 2021, the first season after signing a then-historic extension which briefly made him the NFL’s highest-paid center. The former first-rounder has been a full-time starter since his rookie season, and played a key role in the Lions’ offensive line emerging as one of the best in the NFL. Any extended absence would deal a significant blow to the unit, which is already shorthanded.

The Lions have been without fellow starter Halapoulivaati Vaitai since the start of the year, so they will have only three-fifths of their best projected o-line against the Commanders. Just as he did after Ragnow’s injury last season, Evan Brown will step in at center. His play in 2021 – one sack allowed en route to an overall PFF grade of 66.8 – fell well short of Ragnow’s caliber of play, but, if repeated, could at least provide stability at the position.

Between the injuries up front, and the potential for top running back D’Andre Swift to sit out (or least play a more limited role) due to an ankle issue, head coach Dan Campbell admitted that the team’s offensive approach will need to be altered.

“[The injuries change] what we do a little bit, just the style that we need to play,” he said. “You just, we’ll have to shift the burden a little bit other places or the load to other places on our team, which is OK. That’s what we got to do. That’s what we’re charged with.”

Whether with a run-heavy approach or a more pass-oriented attack utilizing the team’s upgraded pass-catching corps, the Lions will look to move to 1-1 on Sunday, with the hopes that Ragnow will be sidelined for far less time than he was last year.

Lions To Re-Sign OL Evan Brown

Set to be a restricted free agent, Evan Brown is bypassing that process to stay with the Lions. The team’s Frank Ragnow replacement is staying on a one-year deal, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

After Ragnow went down early in the season, Brown stepped in and started 12 games. Pro Football Focus graded the Lions’ O-line 13th, and while Brown checked in with the lowest grade among full-time starters, he posted a respectable mark for his position. This move bolsters the Lions’ depth for the 2022 season.

Brown’s deal is worth just more than $2MM, Doug Kyed and Brad Spielberger of PFF note (via Twitter). This salary comes in just below the right-of-first-refusal tender figure, the lowest of the RFA tender values.

The former UDFA out of SMU remains on track for unrestricted free agency in 2023. The Lions now have all five O-line starters and nearly their entire backup nucleus signed for next season.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/2/21

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

  • Signed off Jets’ practice squad: G Blake Hance
  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: S Karl Joseph
  • Promoted: G Cordell Iwuagwu, LB Montrel Meander, T Alex Taylor

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Promoted: DB John Brannon

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 11/10/20

Here are the NFL’s recent practice squad moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

  • Released: C Cohl Cabral

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans