Frank Ragnow

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 G Halapoulivaati Vaitai Undergoes Back Surgery

When the Lions placed Halapoulivaati Vaitai on IR shortly after finalizing their 53-man roster, the extent of his injury was unknown. Dan Campbell provided more clarity on the matter, which now appears to have the veteran guard facing an extended absence.

Vaitai underwent back surgery this week in Dallas, Justin Rogers of the Detroit News notes. Campbell is not ruling out the seventh-year blocker for the season, but the Lions will be without their right guard starter for an extensive stretch.

This news comes during a week in which the Lions placed Vaitai’s primary backup, Tommy Kraemer, on injured reserve. Kraemer also suffered a back injury, one that caused him to miss the team’s season opener. Third-year guard Logan Stenberg started against the Eagles and is expected to remain in that role in Week 2. Stenberg, a 2020 fourth-round pick, had not started a game through two seasons. He committed two penalties and allowed a sack in his debut.

Although Kraemer (three starts as a rookie last season) did not play in Week 1, the Lions waiting until this week to place him on IR means he cannot return until Week 6. It is uncertain if the former UDFA will be ready by then. Vaitai’s timetable became clouded because of his procedure. He could be staring at his longest absence as a pro.

A former fifth-round Eagles pick, Vaitai signed a five-year, $45MM deal with the Lions in 2020. Detroit’s Bob QuinnMatt Patricia regime authorized that contract. Vaitai has moved from right tackle to right guard during his time with the Lions, who drafted Penei Sewell to play right tackle last year. The high-priced acquisition has started 25 games for the Lions in two seasons, including 15 last season. Vaitai is signed through 2024, though the team can escape the contract with just more than $5MM in dead money in 2023.

The Lions were expected to feature one of the NFL’s top offensive lines this season, but they have suddenly seen that unit depleted early. In addition to Vaitai’s shutdown, center Frank Ragnow and left guard Jonah Jackson missed practice Thursday. Left tackle Taylor Decker is battling a calf injury, leaving Sewell as the only Detroit O-line starter not dealing with an ailment presently. As a result of the injury troubles, the Lions signed guard Kayode Awosika off the Eagles’ practice squad this week.

NFC Rumors: Toney, Packers, Hainsey, Ragnow

With the news early this morning that Giants wide receiver Kadarius Toney is on the trading block after only one season in New York, questions have arisen about the value Toney commands. According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, interest in Toney covers the gamut across the NFL.

Howe reports that some teams have absolutely no interest, while other teams believe that giving him a chance to develop in their system will allow his talent and ability to shine. Toney showed explosive ability in college at Florida, scoring on big plays and showing elite ability after the catch. The Giants looked past several off-field concerns during his time in Gainesville when drafting Toney at 20th overall. Unfortunately for New York, Toney’s off-field issues continued into Year One of his NFL career.

Howe thinks that New York has potentially been trying to move Toney for a while now with little success. He posits that the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft will create some urgency either for receiver-needy teams looking for a young boost to their pass-catching group or for New York to accept a lesser price to get any value out of their failed first-round experiment from 2021.

Here are some other rumors from around the NFC, starting with a new name in Green Bay:

  • According to the Packers’ website, Green Bay finalized their staff this week with the addition of John Donovan as a senior analyst. After 19 years in college football culminating in offensive coordinator jobs at Vanderbilt and Penn State, Donovan first entered the NFL as an offensive quality control coach for the Jaguars. He left Jacksonville to return to college for the offensive coordinator job at the University of Washington. After two years in that role, Donovan will give the NFL another try, this time in Green Bay.
  • Former third-round pick Robert Hainsey played offensive tackle at Notre Dame before working through his rookie year in Tampa Bay at center. Greg Auman of The Athletic believes Hainsey could split the difference and compete for a starting job at guard this year. With Ali Marpet retiring and Alex Cappa signing in the offseason with the Bengals, the Buccaneers will need to replace both spots. They addressed one position, signing former-Patriots guard Shaq Mason to slot in at right guard. They also re-signed Aaron Stinnie who has been a reliable backup in Tampa Bay, but has only started one game in his four-year career. Expect Hainsey to get a chance to compete for the starting spot this offseason.
  • After suffering a season-ending toe injury in a Week 4 loss to the Bears last season, the Lions have reported that Frank Ragnow is feeling strong, healthy, and ready to return to his role as a leader in the middle of the Lions’ offensive line. The Lions will look forward to getting Ragnow back to lead an impressive-sounding group that includes Jonah Jackson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Taylor Decker, and Penei Sewell.

Bucs Re-Sign C Ryan Jensen

The Brady effect has started already and it is strong. Buccaneers center Ryan Jensen was poised for quite the pay day on the free agent market this week, but, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Jensen has agreed to a three-year, $39MM deal returning him to Tampa Bay.

Drafted by the Ravens in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Jensen was released, signed to the practice squad, and then eventually promoted to full-time starter over the first four years of his career. After one season as the starting center in Baltimore, Jensen signed a four-year, $42MM contract with the Buccaneers that made him the highest-paid center in the NFL at the time. The new deal makes Jensen the second-highest-paid center in the NFL now behind only Frank Ragnow, who averages $13.5MM per year. Jensen’s new contract has a guaranteed amount of $23MM at signing, with a potential $3.3MM of incentives.

Jensen’s efforts in Tampa Bay last year were rewarded with a Pro Bowl appearance. He didn’t have his best season according to Pro Football Focus, who graded him out as the league’s 14th-best center. But Jensen hasn’t missed a game in five straight seasons and he should be able to replace the leadership on the offensive line lost with the retirement of Ali Marpet. Who knows? The return of Jensen and quarterback Tom Brady may have some influence in bringing back right guard Alex Cappa, set to hit free agency this week, and maybe even Marpet, who retired at 28-years-old.

Regardless of what else may come in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers and Brady will be happy to see the return of their Pro Bowl center. Center-quarterback chemistry is an important dynamic on an NFL offense and, some may remember, Jensen already knows just the right techniques to keep his butt sweat-free, just the way his quarterback prefers it.

Lions’ Frank Ragnow Done For Year

The Lions can’t catch a break. Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow will be shut down for the year after undergoing season-ending toe surgery (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Previously, there was hope that Ragnow could return after a short stint on the IR list. 

He’s got, basically, a version of turf toe right now is what he’s got,” said Lions head coach Dan Campbell less than one week ago (via ESPN.com). “We’ll know a lot more this afternoon with him. I would say he’s probably going to be out [for a little while] though.”

The winless Lions have already lost several key players to injury, including left tackle Taylor Decker, edge rusher Romeo Okwara, and wide receiver Quintez Cephus. Up until this latest issue, Ragnow was mostly healthy throughout his career, save for three missed games.

Ragnow been first-string for Detroit ever since he was taken with the No. 20 overall pick in 2018. At first, the Lions used the Arkansas product at left guard. In 2019, they shifted him to the middle. And, in May, they made him the highest-paid center in the NFL with a $70MM re-up. That deal cemented his status as a pillar of the Lions’ offensive line and vaulted him ahead of Chargers C Corey Linsley, who led the position with a five-year, $62.5MM pact.

The wounded Lions will face the 3-2 Bengals on Sunday.

Lions Place Frank Ragnow On IR

The Lions have placed Frank Ragnow on injured reserve, per a club announcement. The center will miss at least three games as he works his way back from a toe injury. 

It’s another bad blow for the winless Lions, who also have left tackle Taylor Decker on the injured reserve list. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, they’ve lost edge rusher Romeo Okwara for the year with a torn Achilles. They’ve since added offensive lineman Ryan McCollum and promoted linebacker Jessie Lemonier, but the Lions are hurting as a whole.

Up until now, Ragnow has been mostly healthy, save for three missed contests due to injury. He’s been first-string for Detroit ever since he was taken with the No. 20 overall pick in 2018. At first, the Lions used the Arkansas product at left guard. In 2019, they shifted him to the middle. And, in May, they made him the highest-paid center in the NFL with a $70MM re-up.

The 0-4 Lions — sans Ragnow — will face the Vikings on Sunday.

Lions, Frank Ragnow Agree To Record Extension

Lions center Frank Ragnow has agreed to a brand new four-year deal (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). The extension will position Ragnow as the highest-paid center in NFL history and keep the young center in Detroit through 2026. 

On average, Ragnow will make $13.5MM per year (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). In total, the deal is worth approximately $70MM with $25.5MM fully guaranteed and $42MM in total guarantees. That’s not chump change, but new Lions GM Brad Holmes has long said that he’d be willing to pay the price.

It’s extremely important. We already view him as a long-term piece and he is a foundational piece because Frank is a guy that plays the game the right way,” Holmes said (via Kyle Meinke of MLive.com). “He’s everything that we look for and what we want as a Lion. I’ll never forget when it first got announced that I got the job, Frank reached out immediately. I told him, ‘Man, huge fan of you and you play the game the right way.’ So, very important to get it done. Not going to comment on timetable right now — that would be a little bit premature — but we’re not sitting back and waiting on that one.”

Ragnow has been first-string for the Lions ever since he was taken with the No. 20 overall pick in 2018. At first, the Lions used the Arkansas product at left guard. In 2019, they shifted him to the middle. He’s started in every game since, save for three missed contests due to injury.

Earlier this spring, the Lions made the easy call to pick up Ragnow’s fifth year for $12.657MM. Now, Ragnow has a fresh deal to top Chargers center Corey Linsley for the richest contract at the position.

Lions GM: Frank Ragnow Extension Is “Extremely Important”

Last week, the Lions exercised Frank Ragnow‘s fifth-year option to keep him under contract through 2022. Beyond that, GM Brad Holmes: says a long term deal for the young center is a top priority.

It’s extremely important. We already view him as a long-term piece and he is a foundational piece because Frank is a guy that plays the game the right way,” Holmes said (via Kyle Meinke of MLive.com). “He’s everything that we look for and what we want as a Lion. I’ll never forget when it first got announced that I got the job, Frank reached out immediately. I told him, ‘Man, huge fan of you and you play the game the right way.’ So, very important to get it done. Not going to comment on timetable right now — that would be a little bit premature — but we’re not sitting back and waiting on that one.”

Ragnow has been first-string for the Lions ever since he was taken with the No. 20 overall pick in 2018. At first, the Lions used the Arkansas product at left guard. In 2019, they shifted him to the middle. He’s started in every game since, save for three missed contests due to injury. Holmes, who took over as the Lions’ GM earlier this year, has every intention of keeping him in place.

Thanks to his Pro Bowl nod, Ragnow’s fifth year will be worth $12.657MM. His next deal could put him in the neighborhood of Chargers center Corey Linsley, who leads the position with a five-year, $62.5MM contract.

2022 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 3 to officially pick up their options on 2018 first-rounders who are entering the final year of their rookie deals. In a change from years past, fifth-year option seasons are fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement, and specific performance metrics:

  • 2-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • 1-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • 75%+ snaps in two of their first three seasons
    • 75%+ average across all three seasons
    • 50%+ in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will get the average of the 3rd-25th top salaries at their position.

With the deadline looming, we’ll use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

Updated 4-30-21, 4:24pm CT

  1. QB Baker Mayfield, Browns: Exercised ($18.858MM)
  2. RB Saquon Barkley, Giants: Exercised ($7.217MM)
  3. QB Sam Darnold, Panthers (via Jets): Pending ($18.858MM)
  4. CB Denzel Ward, Browns — Exercised ($13.294MM)
  5. LB Bradley Chubb, Broncos — Pending ($12.716MM)
  6. G Quenton Nelson, Colts — Pending ($13.754MM)
  7. QB Josh Allen, Bills: Pending ($23.106MM)
  8. LB Roquan Smith, Bears: Exercised ($9.735MM)
  9. OT Mike McGlinchey, 49ers: Exercised ($10.88MM)
  10. QB Josh Rosen, Cardinals: N/A
  11. S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers (via Dolphins): Exercised ($10.612MM)
  12. DT Vita Vea, Buccaneers: Exercised ($7.638MM)
  13. DT Daron Payne, Washington — Exercised ($8.529MM)
  14. DE Marcus Davenport, Saints: Exercised ($9.553MM)
  15. OT Kolton Miller, Raiders — N/A (extension)
  16. LB Tremaine Edmunds, Bills: Pending ($12.716MM)
  17. S Derwin James, Chargers: Exercised ($9.052MM)
  18. CB Jaire Alexander, Packers: Exercised ($13.294MM)
  19. LB Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys: Pending ($9.145MM)
  20. C Frank Ragnow, Lions: Exercised ($12.657MM)
  21. C Billy Price, Bengals: Declined ($10.413MM)
  22. LB Rashaan Evans, Titans: Pending ($9.735MM)
  23. OT Isaiah Wynn, Patriots: Pending ($10.413 MM)
  24. WR D.J. Moore, Panthers: Exercised ($11.116MM)
  25. TE Hayden Hurst, Falcons (via Ravens): Pending ($5.428MM)
  26. WR Calvin Ridley, Falcons: Pending ($11.116MM)
  27. RB Rashaad Penny, Seahawks: Pending ($4.523MM)
  28. S Terrell Edmunds, Steelers: Pending ($6.753MM)
  29. DT Taven Bryan, Jaguars: Pending ($7.638MM)
  30. CB Mike Hughes, Vikings: Pending ($12.643MM)
  31. RB Sony Michel, Patriots: Pending ($4.523MM)
  32. QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens: Exercised ($23.106MM)

Lions Exercise Frank Ragnow’s Fifth-Year Option

The Lions have triggered Frank Ragnow‘s fifth-year option for 2022 (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Now, the interior lineman is set to collect $12.657MM in 2022.

[RELATED: 2022 Fifth-Year Option Tracker]

Ragnow has been first-string for the Lions ever since he was taken with the No. 20 overall pick in 2018. At first, the Lions used the Arkansas product at left guard. In 2019, they shifted him to the middle. He’s started in every game since, save for three missed contests due to injury.

So far, ten players from the 2018 draft class have had their options exercised. In years past, fifth-year option decisions were fairly easy for teams — the additional year was always fairly low risk, because it was only guaranteed in the event of an injury. Now, those extra seasons are fully guaranteed and a little pricier, thanks to performance escalators.

Keeping Ragnow for an extra year, however, was still an easy call for the Lions. Quality young lineman are hard to come by and the Lions want to keep their starting center for the long haul.