Garett Bolles

AFC West Rumors: Payton, Munchak, Nagy

With a young, top-flight QB in Justin Herbert and a talented roster surrounding him, the Chargers would appeal to almost any head coaching candidate. The team has once again dealt with major injury problems this year, but the decision-making of second-year HC Brandon Staley and the defense’s poor performance under Staley, a former defensive coach and coordinator, has led some to question his job security.

While it would be highly surprising to see Staley dismissed in-season — after all, as of the time of this writing, the club is 3-2 — Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post suggests that the Bolts could be willing to move on if the 2022 season does not “provide an acceptable outcome” (for a team like Los Angeles, an acceptable outcome presumably means at least a postseason berth). If Staley is indeed ousted, one longtime NFL personnel exec who has worked with former Saints head coach Sean Payton says the Chargers job is the one that Payton really wants.

Payton, 58, surprisingly stepped away from the Saints in January after having served as New Orleans’ head coach since 2006. He has left the door open for a return to the sidelines, and in July, it was reported that the Chargers would be one of his preferred teams, along with the Dolphins and Cowboys. Payton is said to be looking for a club that plays its home games in a warm weather city and that boasts a strong QB situation and roster, and the Chargers check all of those boxes. Plus, since the team is in the AFC, the Saints — who still hold Payton’s rights — may be willing to trade their Super Bowl-winning coach to LA.

However, Payton is also seeking control over personnel decisions, and Chargers GM Tom Telesco has been with the club since 2013. It would be interesting to see if team ownership would ask Telesco to cede at least some of his authority if a Payton acquisition becomes a possibility, and if Telesco would be willing to do so.

Now for more from the AFC West:

  • The surprising performance of rookie Jamaree Salyer means that the Chargers have a viable solution at LT in the absence of Rashawn Slater, as Daniel Popper of The Athletic writes (subscription required). Originally drafted as a guard, Salyer was appointed as Herbert’s blindside protector in Week 4 after Slater was placed on IR, and he played quite well in the team’s victory over the Texans. Then, in a Week 5 win over the Browns, Salyer held his own against Cleveland’s Myles Garrett, so Los Angeles should not have to make a move for a left tackle while it waits for Slater to return (which could happen at the end of the season).
  • Speaking of left tackles, Broncos LT Garett Bolles went under the knife on Wednesday to repair his broken right fibula, per Mike Klis of 9News.com. Bolles suffered the injury during Denver’s Week 5 loss to the Colts, and he will miss the remainder of the season. As Klis notes, Bolles’ $2MM injury guarantee for 2023 will be triggered, but given that the 2017 first-rounder is due to earn $14MM in salary in 2023 — a modest sum for a top left tackle — that presumably won’t matter too much.
  • Broncos rookie HC Nathaniel Hackett is under plenty of heat at the moment, and there are rumors that he may not even make it through his first season as a head coach. In light of his early difficulties, pundits are revisiting Hackett’s construction of his coaching staff, which included the decision to part ways with Denver’s former O-line coach, Mike Munchak, and replace him with Butch Barry (who had never worked as a lead OL coach in the NFL). Hackett made the move for schematic reasons, but as Peter King wrote in his weekly FMIA column on Monday, Munchak wanted to stay in Denver, and in addition to his reputation as one of the game’s best OL coaches, he is also a respected leader who has HC experience of his own. In hindsight, retaining a veteran influence like Munchak might have been the better decision.
  • The Bears relieved Matt Nagy of his head coaching duties at the end of the 2021 season, and he subsequently rejoined the Chiefs as quarterbacks coach/senior offensive assistant. Nagy put himself on the HC radar as the QBs coach and offensive coordinator for Kansas City from 2013-17, and he also worked under Chiefs head coach Andy Reid when both men where with the Eagles. It’s clear that Reid thinks highly of Nagy’s abilities, and a league source tells Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network that Nagy could eventually succeed his mentor as head coach of the Chiefs. Reid, 64, is under contract through 2025, and though he has said he is open to coaching into his 70s, it is feasible that he could end his Hall of Fame career before then. By the end of Reid’s current contract, Nagy will have had time to distance himself from the disappointing end to his Chicago tenure, and he may even find himself back as Kansas City’s OC if Eric Bieniemy ever lands his own head coaching post.
  • Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay Jr. is set to serve the final game of his four-game suspension on Sunday, and as Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports writes, the league initially pushed for the maximum six-game ban. The union advocated a two-game suspension, and the two sides met in the middle at four games before the matter reached the jointly-appointed disciplinary officer, Judge Sue L. Robinson. Gay missed time due to injury in 2021 but finished the season as a top-25 ‘backer in the eyes of Pro Football Focus, and his return should provide a boost to KC’s defense.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/10/22

Today’s minor moves:

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

Seattle Seahawks

  • Claimed off waivers (from Saints): RB Tony Jones

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Young continues to struggle to find a long-term home in the NFL. After Baltimore drafted him and traded him in his second year to the Rams, it took Young over a full season with the team to earn a starting role. When he was finally starting on a consistent basis, Los Angeles traded him once again to Denver where he started six straight games before being inactive for the remainder of the year. Young signed in the offseason with the Raiders but was released ahead of roster cut deadlines. He signed to the Buccaneers practice squad days before the season started and was active for the last four weeks, only playing on special teams. He’ll likely land on another practice squad somewhere in the league, perhaps with one of his former teams as both Baltimore and Los Angeles have experienced some injuries to their linebacker depth.

Broncos LT Garett Bolles Suffers Broken Leg

12:37pm: Nathaniel Hackett confirmed Friday afternoon Bolles will need surgery and will miss the rest of the season. Anderson will move into position as the Broncos’ starting left tackle.

8:39am: Injury troubles continue to mount for a Broncos team that has now endured two crushing primetime losses. Thursday’s Colts overtime defeat brought an injury to their longest-tenured offensive starter.

Sixth-year left tackle Garett Bolles sustained a broken leg during the closing minutes of regulation, Mike Klis of 9News reports (on Twitter). A six-week timetable represents the best-case scenario here, but Klis adds the Broncos fear a lengthier absence could be in store. It is a lower right leg fracture, per ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold. This injury, which will remove a fifth offensive starter from the team’s equation, could sideline Bolles for the season’s remainder.

The Broncos lost wideout Tim Patrick to an ACL tear early in training camp, while Javonte Williams went down with the same injury in Week 4. Denver entered the season without both members of its right tackle competition (Billy Turner, Tom Compton) and has played without right guard Quinn Meinerz since Week 1. The team’s third-round tight end, Greg Dulcich, has also been on IR throughout the season. Bolles’ absence will represent fairly new territory for the franchise, however. The 2017 first-round pick has not missed more than three games in a season previously.

The first tackle chosen in that 2017 draft, Bolles has started all 82 games he has played in Denver. The Broncos went through a period of left tackle instability between Ryan Clady‘s run and the Bolles selection, and while the Utah product has gone through an up-and-down tenure as a pro, he has locked down Denver’s blindside post since being acquired.

Holding penalties have been a frequent issue for the talented blocker, and the Broncos declined Bolles’ fifth-year option in 2020. That season, however, provided a breakthrough — a second-team All-Pro campaign — that prompted the franchise to reverse course. Bolles, 30, signed a four-year, $68MM extension midway through that season. That contract runs through 2024. Thanks to Russell Wilson‘s recent extension, Bolles’ $21MM 2022 cap hit checks in atop the Broncos’ payroll.

Denver brought in Calvin Anderson to replace Bolles on Thursday. Turner suited up for the first time this season against the Colts but did not see any game action. A knee injury led to Turner’s extended absence to start the season. Compton is on Denver’s reserve/PUP list due to a summer back surgery. He has not yet returned to practice. A former UDFA, Anderson is playing on an RFA tender ($2.5MM) this season. He has made five career starts. That number will likely rise in the coming weeks.

Largest 2022 Cap Hits: Offense

After the COVID-19 pandemic led to the second reduction in NFL salary cap history last year, the 2022 cap made a record jump. This year’s salary ceiling ($208.2MM) checks in $25.7MM north of the 2021 figure.

While quarterbacks’ salaries will continue to lead the way, a handful of blockers and skill-position players carry sizable cap numbers for 2022. A few of the quarterbacks that lead the way this year may not be tied to those numbers once the regular season begins. The 49ers, Browns and Ravens have made efforts to alter these figures via trades or extensions.

Here are the top 2022 salary cap hits on the offensive side of the ball:

  1. Ryan Tannehill, QB (Titans): $38.6MM
  2. Patrick Mahomes, QB (Chiefs): $35.79MM
  3. Kirk Cousins, QB (Vikings): $31.42MM
  4. Jared Goff, QB (Lions): $31.15MM
  5. Aaron Rodgers, QB (Packers): $28.53MM
  6. Carson Wentz, QB (Commanders): $28.29MM
  7. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (49ers): $26.95MM
  8. Russell Wilson, QB (Broncos): $24MM
  9. Lamar Jackson, QB (Ravens): $23.02MM
  10. Kenny Golladay, WR (Giants): $21.2MM
  11. Garett Bolles, T (Broncos): $21MM
  12. Dak Prescott, QB (Cowboys): $19.73MM
  13. Derek Carr, QB (Raiders): $19.38MM
  14. D.J. Humphries, T (Cardinals): $19.33MM
  15. Keenan Allen, WR (Chargers): $19.2MM
  16. Taylor Decker, T (Lions): $18.9MM
  17. Sam Darnold, QB (Panthers): 18.89MM
  18. Baker Mayfield, QB (Browns): $18.89MM
  19. Matt Ryan, QB (Colts): $18.7MM
  20. Ronnie Stanley, T (Ravens): $18.55MM
  21. Donovan Smith, T (Buccaneers): $18.4MM
  22. Ezekiel Elliott, RB (Cowboys): $18.22MM
  23. DeAndre Hopkins, WR (Cardinals): $17.95MM
  24. Cooper Kupp, WR (Rams): $17.8MM
  25. Laremy Tunsil, T (Texans): $17.71MM
  • The Chiefs’ cap sheet looks a bit different this year, with Tyreek Hill and Tyrann Mathieu off the roster. But Mahomes’ cap number rockets from $7.4MM in 2021 to the league’s second-largest figure in 2022. This marks the first time Mahomes’ 10-year contract is set to count more than $10MM toward Kansas City’s cap, with the AFC West champs not yet restructuring the deal this year.
  • Tied to a few lucrative extensions since relocating to Minnesota, Cousins’ third Vikings deal dropped his cap number from $45MM. The fifth-year Vikings QB’s cap number is set to climb past $36MM in 2023.
  • Prior to negotiating his landmark extension in March, Rodgers was set to count more than $46MM on the Packers’ payroll.
  • The 49ers are aiming to move Garoppolo’s nonguaranteed money off their payroll. That figure becomes guaranteed in Week 1, providing a key date for the franchise. San Francisco is prepared to let Garoppolo negotiate contract adjustments with other teams to facilitate a trade.
  • Wilson counts $26MM on the Seahawks’ 2022 payroll, due to the dead money the NFC West franchise incurred by trading its 10-year starter in March.
  • Jackson, Darnold and Mayfield are attached to fifth-year option salaries. Jackson’s is higher due to the former MVP having made two Pro Bowls compared to his 2018 first-round peers’ zero. The 2020 CBA separated fifth-year option values by playing time and accomplishments. The Browns and Panthers have engaged in off-and-on negotiations on divvying up Mayfield’s salary for months, while a Jackson extension remains on the radar.
  • Golladay’s cap number jumped from $4.47MM last year to the highest non-quarterback figure among offensive players. The Giants wideout’s four-year deal calls for $21MM-plus cap hits from 2023-24.
  • Prior to being traded to the Colts, who adjusted their new starter’s contract, Ryan was set to carry an NFL-record $48MM cap hit this year. The Falcons are carrying a league-record $40.5MM dead-money charge after dealing their 14-year starter.
  • The Texans restructured Tunsil’s deal in March, dropping his 2022 cap hit from $26.6MM to its present figure. Because of the adjustment, Tunsil’s 2023 cap number resides at $35.2MM

Contract information courtesy of Over The Cap 

Broncos Notes: Offensive Line, Veteran CB Search, Javonte Williams

With OTAs and mandatory minicamp finished across the league, organizations and media members alike have had the chance to break down some of the elements of the offseason which have stood out the most to them. In the case of the Broncos, 9News’ Mike Klis has detailed some of his key observations.

Among those is the plethora of variances in the team’s offensive line combinations during practices. Klis notes that the most commonly-used unit comprised Garett Bolles and Dalton Risner on the left side, with Lloyd Cushenberry III at center and Quinn Meinerz and Calvin Anderson occupying right guard and right tackle, respectively.

There are a number of other options being plugged into various positions, though. Included among those is Netane Muti, who has seen work with the other starters while filling in at both guard positions, as well as Graham Glasgow, who recently returned to practice to compete for a starting role. Lastly, Klis lists Billy Turner as a veteran who is “expected to play” somewhere along the o-line. The 30-year-old came back to the Broncos on a one-year, $5MM deal this offseason, but is also the linemen most experienced in working with new HC Nathaniel Hackett. 

Here are a few other notes from that same Klis piece:

  • Cornerback had the potential to be an area of need, at least in terms of depth behind Patrick Surtain II, Ronald Darby and K’Waun Williams, at this point in the offseason. However, Klis cites the play of Michael Ojemudia during the spring as cause for optimism that the team’s best option for the No. 4 role may already be on the roster. The 2020 third-rounder is set to compete with Damarri Mathis, whom the Broncos drafted in the fourth round this year, for that spot. A number of veteran free agents could still “wind up on GM George Paton’s radar,” Klis notes, however.
  • To no surprise, running back Javonte Williams is expected to “bump up to the 1A role” in 2022. In his rookie season, the North Carolina alum produced over 1,200 scrimmage yards despite splitting carries with Melvin Gordon, who signed a one-year deal to stay in Denver. Given his the former’s efficiency, and the seven-year age gap between the two, Williams is the logical candidate to assume a larger workload going forward.

 

Broncos Activate LT Garett Bolles From Reserve/COVID-19 List

After three missed games, Garett Bolles looks set to make his return in a big spot. The Broncos activated their starting left tackle off the reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday.

Bolles will replace Calvin Anderson on the Broncos’ 53-man roster; Denver placed Anderson on IR. Bolles missed last week because he contracted the coronavirus and was down in Weeks 10 and 11 because of a high ankle sprain. Vic Fangio said earlier this week he expects the fifth-year blocker to return against the Chiefs.

Given an extension barely a year ago, Bolles has not quite played on the level he did last season. He went through last year without allowing a sack. In nine games this season, the former first-round pick has allowed five. Pro Football Focus, which slotted Bolles as as the No. 3 overall tackle in 2020, rates Teddy Bridgewater‘s blindside protector 33rd this season. Still, Bolles was a steady lineup presence throughout his career leading up to this recent absence. The Utah product had missed just one game during his first four seasons.

Bolles’ return will come at a critical time for the Broncos, who finished their Week 12 game with just one starter — center Lloyd Cushenberry — available. Bolles and guard Dalton Risner, however, are expected to be back in Week 13. Right tackle Bobby Massie also worked in a limited practice Wednesday; Massie has missed the past two games.

Broncos To Place T Calvin Anderson On IR

The Broncos have played the past two weeks without their starting tackles, and they lost their top backup to injury early in a Week 12 win over the Chargers. Calvin Anderson will end up missing time, but his season is not certain to be over.

Anderson is set to land on IR, Mike Klis of 9News tweets, but the young blocker is not expected to need surgery on his knee and ankle injuries. A three- to five-week recovery timetable is in the cards here, Klis adds, putting Anderson in position to return late this season. Such a return would make sense should the Broncos still be in contention for a playoff spot around the holidays.

Tendering Anderson as an ERFA this offseason, Denver had him in place as its swing tackle behind Garett Bolles and Ja’Wuan James. While James’ Achilles tear changed Denver’s plans at right tackle, leading to Bobby Massie coming in, Anderson has remained an important cog as more injuries hit the Broncos’ offensive front during the season.

A former UDFA who played at Rice and Texas, Anderson has started the past three Broncos games and was a first-stringer in two games last season. Anderson has logged starts at both left and right tackle. Anderson and guard Dalton Risner‘s midgame exits left the Broncos with just one starter left on their O-line — center Lloyd Cushenberry — but they are positioned to be in better shape in Week 13.

The Broncos are expected to have Bolles and Risner back for their pivotal game against the Chiefs on Sunday night, Klis notes, lessening this Anderson injury blow. Bolles has missed time due to injury and a COVID-19 contraction. He remains on Denver’s reserve/COVID-19 list. It is not certain Massie (ankle) will be able to return to his right tackle post. Fellow mid-offseason pickup Cameron Fleming has started the Broncos’ past two games at right tackle.

Broncos G Graham Glasgow Out For Season

The Broncos placed Graham Glasgow on IR on Tuesday. This represents an old-school IR designation, with Mike Klis of 9News noting the veteran guard will miss the rest of the season.

Glasgow suffered a broken leg against the Cowboys, ending his second year with the Broncos. Denver signed the former Detroit blocker to a four-year, $44MM deal in 2020. How Glasgow’s replacement fares may determine his future in Colorado.

Third-round pick Quinn Meinerz will take over at right guard for the Broncos, lining up opposite third-year left guard Dalton Risner. A Division III standout who impressed at the Senior Bowl, Meinerz will not be the lone backup on Denver’s offensive line to start in Week 10. The Broncos are likely to be without left tackle Garett Bolles (high ankle sprain) for a second straight week, per Vic Fangio, and Cameron Fleming is expected to start in place of right tackle Bobby Massie. Denver signed Massie and Fleming after Ja’Wuan James‘ offseason injury, and the former suffered knee and ankle injuries during the Broncos’ win in Dallas.

Additionally, Patrick Surtain II will miss time because of a knee sprain, Klis adds. The Broncos are already down slot cornerback Bryce Callahan, who is on IR, though the team held onto Kyle Fuller at last week’s trade deadline. Fuller and Ronald Darby are set to start at corner against the Eagles. Surtain is not on IR and could potentially return after the Broncos’ Week 11 bye.

AFC Notes: Texans, Rivers, Tua, Bolles, Jets

Following the trade deadline, Deshaun Watson revealed how much of an issue a Will Fuller trade would have caused for him. Now, the Texans quarterback does not want Week 12 to have been his final game throwing to the deep threat. Despite Fuller’s six-game PED suspension set to drag into next year, Watson wants the Texans to bring back the impending free agent.

That’s very important,” Watson said of the Texans re-signing Fuller, via ESPN.com’s Sarah Barshop. “That’s definitely one guy that I’m going to be working on this last month and offseason, for sure. Will’s my brother. The whole organization knows that tooAnd you know, make sure that we get him back for next year, especially in this organization.”

A 2016 first-round pick, Fuller has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career. He did in his contract year and was on pace to venture well into four-digit yardage territory. The 26-year-old receiver finished his shortened season with 53 receptions for 879 yards and eight touchdowns — all career-high numbers — and will be one of the top free agents in 2021. The Texans will have exclusive negotiating rights with Fuller until the legal tampering period begins in mid-March.

Here is the latest from the AFC, shifting first to Houston’s Week 13 opponent:

  • Philip Rivers has not missed a game due to injury as a pro, having made 235 straight starts since the Chargers let Drew Brees defect to the Saints in 2006. But Rivers appeared on the Colts‘ injury report this week, being reduced to a limited practice Thursday because of a toe malady. Praising Rivers’ toughness, Quenton Nelson revealed (via the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson and Jim Ayello) the 17th-year quarterback is playing through a “really bad” foot problem presently. Rivers said he has no concerns about being able to play in Week 13.
  • Also expecting to play Sunday: Dolphins rookie Tua Tagovailoa. After Brian Flores said Tagovailoa was “very close” to being able to play against the Jets, the first-round passer expects to start this weekend against the Bengals, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald notes. Although Tua struggled in Denver and was benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick, Flores said the job is the rookie’s when he is medically cleared. Tagovailoa has been limited in both Miami practices this week.
  • Garett Bolles‘ belated breakout resulted in a big payday from the Broncos, who went from not picking up the once-embattled left tackle’s fifth-year option to signing him to a four-year, $68MM deal. That contract contains $38MM guaranteed and $21MM fully guaranteed over the first two years, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Although the $17MM-per-year figure places Bolles as the NFL’s sixth-highest-paid tackle, the full guarantee is more in line with his uneven performance through three-plus seasons. That number ranks 20th among tackles and comes in $43MM south of what the Ravens recently gave Ronnie Stanley in full guarantees.
  • More weirdness out of New York. Jets guard starter Alex Lewis did not play against the Dolphins last week, and Adam Gase said the absence was not injury-related. This may stem from a dustup between Lewis and Gase. The second-year Jets HC indicated the two had a “conversation” but stopped short of calling it a verbal altercation, SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano notes (Twitter links). Gase did not confirm if Lewis will return in Week 13. A 2019 trade acquisition, Lewis signed a three-year deal to return to the Jets in March.

Broncos, Garett Bolles Agree On Extension

Garett Bolles‘ contract-year emergence will transform him from a scrutinized player to the Broncos’ long-term left tackle. The Broncos announced Saturday they agreed to terms on a new deal for their breakout blocker.

It’s a four-year, $68MM deal for Bolles, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. This news comes days after Bolles indicated he wanted to stay in Denver beyond his rookie contract, though no known negotiations had transpired.

Bolles is not the NFL’s highest-paid tackle, at $17MM per year, but he now becomes its sixth-best-compensated tackle. This represents one of the most stunning contract-year developments in recent NFL history.

The 2017 first-round pick led the NFL in holding penalties by a wide margin from 2017-19 and entered this year’s training camp in a battle to keep his job. The Broncos did not pick up Bolles’ fifth-year option in May, but after 10 strong games as one of the best left tackles in the game this season, the franchise has changed its line of thinking.

Going into Week 12, Bolles grades as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 overall tackle. He has not allowed a sack this season, despite the Broncos having used three starting quarterbacks. The 28-year-old blocker has become Denver’s first long-term tackle starter since Ryan Clady and followed the former All-Pro in signing a Broncos extension. Denver has used a different right tackle starter in Week 1 of every season since 2013, but Bolles — his struggles from 2017-19 notwithstanding — has started every game since he arrived out of Utah three years ago. The Broncos already have right tackle Ja’Wuan James — a 2020 opt-out after missing most of last season — signed to a big-ticket deal.

This deal doubles as the Broncos’ first major extension for a draftee selected since Super Bowl 50. Denver kept 2016 third-rounder Justin Simmons around via franchise tag but had not previously come to a notable extension agreement with a player chosen since its February 2016 victory parade.