Jermaine Eluemunor

Giants’ Evan Neal To Return At Training Camp; Joshua Ezeudu In Place As Swing Tackle

Evan Neal‘s performance to date has not come especially close to justifying his No. 7 overall draft slot, and the young tackle ran into a significant injury issue midway through his second season. Although Neal went down in early November, the Giants kept him off the practice field throughout their offseason program.

The 2022 draftee suffered what was believed to be a sprained ankle in Week 9 — the same day Daniel Jones‘ ACL tear occurred — but follow-up testing became necessary after the Alabama alum was not healing as expected. The additional testing revealed a broken foot that required surgery. The Giants have slow-played Neal’s comeback, but Brian Daboll confirmed (via the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard) he will be back at practice during training camp.

Big Blue added multiple starter-level pieces up front, along with a host of potential depth options this offseason. Jermaine Eluemunor, the Raiders’ primary right tackle over the past two seasons, is in place as the team’s first-string left guard. Eluemunor said (via Leonard) he can slide to right tackle if necessary but confirmed he is preparing for his first Giants season by working solely at guard.

The prospect of Eluemunor working at guard, opposite $10MM-per-year free agent Jon Runyan Jr., emerged several weeks ago. Despite most of the veteran’s starting experience coming at right tackle, Leonard adds the Giants kept Eluemunor at left guard throughout their offseason program. Third-year blocker Joshua Ezeudu, who was part of the Giants’ guard competition last year, appears in line for the team’s swing role behind starters Neal and Andrew Thomas.

Injuries to Thomas and Matt Peart early last season prompted the Giants to kick Ezeudu — a 2022 third-round pick — to left tackle. That effort did not go well. Pro Football Focus charged the North Carolina alum with five sacks allowed despite playing on just 266 snaps. Ezeudu was also lost for the season midway through, sustaining a toe injury in Week 6. The Giants expected Ezeudu would win one of their guard competitions during training camp last year. After he failed to do so before going down with the toe injury, two UFA additions are in place at guard. Peart has since signed with the Broncos.

Eluemunor would seem a more stable option as a swing tackle, though that route would require New York to plug someone else in at guard. Although the team did not re-sign starter Ben Bredeson or the injury-prone Shane Lemieux, it did add ex-Buccaneers spot starter Aaron Stinnie and swingman Austin Schlottmann in free agency. Ex-Lion Matt Nelson and former Falcons guard starter Jalen Mayfield, given a reserve/futures deal in January, are also set to vie for backup roles in training camp.

Of course, the Giants will hope none of these RT contingency plans will be necessary. They have seen a top-10 tackle pick (Ereck Flowers) fail to impress in the not-so-distant past; Neal following suit would be a blow for the Joe Schoen regime. PFF, though, slotted Neal 80th among tackle regulars in both of his two NFL seasons.

As Neal attempts to complete his recovery from the foot fracture, he will certainly need to show improved form to stay on track as a starter.

Giants Keeping Evan Neal At RT; Team Viewing Jermaine Eluemunor As G?

Jermaine Eluemunor‘s Raiders run offers the Giants some flexibility up front. The veteran, who received a considerable raise from the Giants this offseason, played tackle and guard in Las Vegas. A potential threat to Evan Neal, Eluemunor looks to first be on track to return to an inside role.

Although Neal has not delivered anything close to what the Giants hoped for when they chose him seventh overall in 2022, no plans to kick the Alabama alum inside are on tap. Neal is staying at right tackle, SNY’s Connor Hughes notes.

Neal missed the second half of last season due to the fractured ankle — a diagnosis that surfaced after his rehab stalled — he suffered in early November, but he may be on notice after concerning early returns. Pro Football Focus has rated Neal as the NFL’s second-worst tackle regular (80th of 81) in each of his two seasons. The Giants, who saw top-10 investments fail to produce a tackle answer in Justin Pugh and Ereck Flowers during the 2010s, would be staring at a major draft whiff if this trajectory continues.

The Giants gave Eluemunor a two-year, $14MM deal on Day 1 of the legal tampering period. This marks a significant raise from Eluemunor’s most recent Raiders contract (one year, $3MM), with his Giants guarantee ($6.75MM) outpacing each of his three Raiders deals combined. Although Eluemunor’s work as Las Vegas’ right tackle garnered him this Giants deal, Big Blue added him to start somewhere else up front, according to The Athletic’s Dan Duggan, who lists the eighth-year veteran as the team’s right guard starter opposite fellow UFA addition Jon Runyan Jr. (subscription required). Runyan worked at both guard posts in Green Bay, but Duggan adds he prefers left guard.

Playing a key role in Josh Jacobs‘ 2022 rushing title, Eluemunor graded 21st and 36th at tackle (per PFF) over the past two years. He has experience as an emergency RT solution, having provided the Raiders a safety net after their surprise Alex Leatherwood first-round investment bombed. Eluemunor also played exclusively at right guard in 2021 (though, he only logged 266 snaps that year). Exclusively a tackle in his only other extended starter run (with the Patriots in 2020), Eluemunor at guard seems a somewhat risky proposition for the Giants due to his limited NFL history here.

The team held a guard competition last year, one that featured Ben Bredeson, Mark Glowinski and Joshua Ezeudu. The team had expected Ezeudu, a 2022 third-round pick, would win the starting left guard job. But he did not do so out of training camp; the North Carolina alum suffered a season-ending toe injury in October. While Ezeudu remains on New York’s roster, Bredeson, Glowinski and Shane Lemieux are out of the picture. The team did add ex-Buccaneers spot starter Aaron Stinnie and swingman Austin Schlottmann in free agency, potentially offering help if Eluemunor needs to be moved back to tackle to replace Neal.

Neal was viewed by some as a future guard when he entered the draft, having started 13 games at left guard in 2019. GM Joe Schoen, however, said midway through last season the team still viewed Neal as a tackle. As the Giants begin their offseason, that remains the plan. Though, Neal’s January surgery may leave him sidelined during part of the offseason program. Once the 23-year-old blocker returns to work, this will be a pivotal offseason.

OL Notes: Jets, Alt, Titans, Jones, Steelers, Shelton, Rams, Jones, Ravens, Giants, Hawks

Once the draft moves past its quarterback stage, wide receivers are expected to be the focus. This draft also features a few high-level tackle prospects that should go off the board soon after, potentially breaking up the QB-WR string that could lead off this year’s event. Arguably the top tackle available, Joe Alt, has begun his run of pre-draft visits. The Jets and Titans used “30” visits on the Notre Dame tackle this week, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. A first-team All-American in back-to-back years and the top tackle on Daniel Jeremiah’s NFL.com big board (No. 8 overall), Alt should not need to wait long before his name comes off the board.

The Titans (No. 7) and Jets (No. 10) figure to be two prime suitors. The Jets are not as needy here compared to the start of free agency, having reacquired Morgan Moses via trade and signed Tyron Smith. The All-Decade blocker is among the NFL’s most injury-prone players, and with both Smith and Moses going into age-33 seasons, a tackle-in-waiting would benefit a Jets team that has encountered regular issues up front over the past several years. The Titans cut Andre Dillard and have not added a tackle, potentially making them the Alt floor. Though, the Chargers should not be entirely ruled out — now that Jim Harbaugh is running the show — of a first-round tackle investment to pair with Rashawn Slater.

Here is the latest from the O-line ranks around the league:

Giants To Sign OL Jermaine Eluemunor

The Giants’ investment in Evan Neal has yet to pay off. While the team is not bailing on the former top-10 pick just yet, the third-year blocker may be set for an offseason position battle.

Jermaine Eluemunor is set to sign with the Giants, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports. Working as a starting tackle and guard in Las Vegas at points over the past three years, Eluemunor will receive a considerable raise on his most recent Raiders contract. Eluemunor could give the Giants an option at guard, but the veteran spent last season at right tackle.

The former fifth-round pick spent time in Baltimore and New England prior to his stint with the Raiders. He’s started 45 of his 87 career appearances, with 31 of those starts coming over the past two seasons.

Eluemunor finished this past season ranked 36th among 81 qualifying offensive tackles, per Pro Football Focus, with the site slightly favoring his run-blocking prowess to his pass-blocking ability. Pro Football Focus liked him even more in 2022, with the lineman barely missing a top-20 ranking at his position.

The Giants have been busy adding to their offensive line after allowing 85 sacks last season, the second-highest total in league history. The team agreed to a deal with former Packers starter Jon Runyan Jr. earlier today, and they could be in the market for even more depth with both Ben Bredeson and Justin Pugh hitting free agency.

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Chiefs, Eluemunor

Coming off their Russell Wilson misstep, the Broncos will be taking on a chunk of their record-setting dead money ($35.4MM) this year. The more punishing hit will come in 2025 ($49.6MM), and although both numbers will be offset to a degree by the cap’s rise, Denver may need to be thriftier at quarterback. Mock drafts continue to include a Broncos QB pick or a trade-up move for a passer, but 9News’ Mike Klis writes a veteran will likely be added in free agency.

Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield are probably out of play for the Broncos, who are still $2.5MM over the cap following their Justin Simmons release. But after other cost-saving moves, the team will have a host of bridge options available. Jacoby Brissett, Ryan Tannehill, Gardner Minshew and Sam Darnold headline that list, and the volume of passers in free agency should lead to affordable options for teams looking to pair a rookie with a stopgap vet. The Broncos do have Jarrett Stidham tied to a $7MM base salary, and they plan to give him a chance. But it is possible two outside options will be joining the season-ending starter this offseason.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • Chris Jones remains the Chiefs‘ top priority, but after rumblings the defending champions could retain the likely Hall of Famer before free agency, they are running short on time. Other clubs can begin talking to Jones at 11am CT March 11. Seeking at least $30MM per year, Jones remains Kansas City’s top priority. Some uncertainty exists if the Chiefs’ the near-year-long retention effort will succeed, but the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora indicates the team is expected to devote more funds to its offense. After a wildly inconsistent receiver year, the Chiefs were believed to be interested in Mike Evans. Calvin Ridley, Marquise Brown and Gabe Davis are among the top options available, though it should also be expected the team — particularly if Jones is back on a monster contract — devotes a high draft choice to this group.
  • The Raiders appear to want to re-sign right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor, per ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez, who notes the team’s stopgap right tackle starter might be the highest priority among the team’s free agent O-linemen. That would be interesting given Andre James‘ presence as a younger UFA-to-be. Eluemunor joins James and guard Greg Van Roten as Raiders starting O-linemen set for free agency. Eluemunor has signed three Raiders contracts, receiving a notable raise (to $3MM) in 2023. Showing himself to be a capable starter instead of a swingman, the 29-year-old blocker has started 34 games for the Raiders — at both guard and right tackle — over the past three seasons.
  • Releasing their longest-tenured player earlier today, the Broncos will need to make a plan at safety. As Simmons searches for a new team, the Broncos also have P.J. Locke as an unsigned starter. The team is interested in keeping Locke, according to the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson. Locke replaced the twice-suspended Kareem Jackson as a starter and played well during the team’s five-game midseason win streak, holding off Jackson for the gig alongside Simmons. Caden Sterns, who suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1, remains under contract.
  • While Locke should be expected to return, Klis does not anticipate Lloyd Cushenberry or Josey Jewell coming back. Cushenberry’s likely high price should be viewed as a borderline non-starter for a Broncos team that has three other veterans (Garett Bolles, Ben Powers, Mike McGlinchey) on veteran contracts and Quinn Meinerz as a potential extension candidate. Jewell, who joined Simmons as a holdover from Vance Joseph‘s HC years, discussed terms with the Broncos recently. But the six-year vet may be ticketed to leave Colorado as the team regroups after its failed Wilson extension.
  • The sports betting criminal case in Iowa against the former Denver fourth-round defensive lineman Eyioma Uwazurike will be dropped, Tomasson adds. A rotational player in 2021, Uwazurike drew a full-season ban for gambling on NFL games. Uwazurike’s NFL future is in doubt, but he can apply for reinstatement in July.

NFL Injury Updates: Jacobs, Miller, Vikings, Sutton

To start with, let’s address one of the remaining games of this week. It appears that the Chiefs’ route to an eighth consecutive AFC West title will be a bit easier today as the Raiders will be playing without leading running back Josh Jacobs, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. After starting the first 13 games of the season with Las Vegas, Jacobs is now set to miss a second straight game.

Jacobs was held out of last week’s contest after suffering a quad injury in the previous week. He hadn’t been able to practice during a short week and the team had decided it better to act out of an abundance of caution so as to not risk further damage. The Raiders had been holding out hope that Jacobs would be able to find his way back to the field this week, but an illness combined with the healing quad to ensure that Jacobs would not be able to make an appearance in Week 16. If his absence last week, backup Zamir White earned his first career start, rushing for 69 yards and a touchdown in place of Jacobs.

After a promising start to his career, the last few years have been a bit inconsistent for Jacobs. He followed up two seasons in which he rushed for a combined 2,215 yards and 19 touchdowns with only an 872-yard campaign, though he was still breaching the endzone often with nine touchdowns. After a down year that led to the Raiders choosing not to pick up his fifth-year option, Jacobs exploding into a rushing title with 1,653 yards and 12 touchdowns. This year, Jacobs is at 805 rushing yards on a career-worst 3.5 yards per attempt and six touchdowns.

Jacobs had avoided playing out this season on the franchise tag, after coming to a one-year agreement with the Raiders, but a long-term deal remained elusive. Missing time due to injury at the tail end of disappointing season is unfortunately not going to help matters much when Jacobs enters the offseason at the end of the year.

Here are a few other injury updates from around the NFL:

  • In addition to Jacobs, while Las Vegas will reportedly have left tackle Kolton Miller return today as an active player, it appears that he may only be available as an emergency option on the offensive line, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Miller has missed four of the team’s last five contests. In his absence the Raiders have experimented with moving usual starting right tackle Thayer Munford to the left side while having backup lineman Jermaine Eluemunor start on the opposite side of wherever they line up Munford. That trend should continue into Week 16.
  • We already reported on the situation with Vikings pass rusher D.J. Wonnum, but the team lost three other significant contributors to injury during yesterday’s game. Budding tight end T.J. Hockenson, rookie first-round wide receiver Jordan Addison, and cornerback Mekhi Blackmon were all forced out of Sunday’s game early. Fowler of ESPN reported this morning that the outlook for Hockenson is “not good.” While Minnesota is still holding out hope that his MRI will tell a different story, the team is bracing for bad news on the subject. As for Addison, an ankle sprain is projected to have him on a week-to-week status, and the Vikings will hope to glean a bit more information after further testing today, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
  • Lastly, the Broncos played much of yesterday’s loss to the Patriots without their leading receiver after Courtland Sutton left the game with a concussion, according to Parker Gabriel of The Denver Post. Sutton has struggled over the years to find the yardage success he had in 2019 but has rediscovered his redzone proficiency in 2023. The big-bodied receiver leads the team in receptions (58), receiving yards (770), and receiving touchdowns (10) this season. Sutton will have to pass through concussion protocol to return next week in time to help his team in what has become a bit more difficult race for a Wild Card spot.

Raiders Eyeing Thayer Munford For RT Job

After receiving some surprising returns up front last season, the Raiders largely stood pat this year. Only Greg Van Roten arrived as a notable free agent along the offensive line. No draft choices were allocated to the position.

The Raiders do, however, look to be strongly considering an internal shakeup. Thayer Munford has taken most of the team’s first-string right tackle reps during training camp, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Vincent Bonsignore notes the Raiders are confident the 2022 seventh-round pick is ready for a bigger role.

Jermaine Eluemunor primarily manned that position last season, and the veteran resides as one of many ex-Patriots on Josh McDaniels‘ roster. Eluemunor has extensive guard experience as well, having played there for the Raiders in 2021. A potential move back inside has been on the Raiders’ radar for a bit now, and the team has a potential opening there. Incumbent Alex Bars, who rated as one of Pro Football Focus’ worst guards in 2022, has been taking most of the first-team reps during camp, per Bonsignore. Van Roten, whom the Raiders signed after the draft, has not seen many first-team cameos.

The Raiders re-signed Eluemunor to a one-year, $3MM deal in March. He has started 20 games since coming to Las Vegas, including all 17 last season. The seventh-year veteran, who played for McDaniels in New England from 2019-20, could serve as a swingman as well. This would give the Raiders some proven depth, as Eluemunor has started 31 career games, provided Munford is truly ready to move into the starting lineup.

Pro Football Focus viewed Eluemunor’s work fondly last season, rating him 21st among tackles; the advanced metrics site slotted Munford 52nd. But the team was high on the Day 3 pick’s progress before his rookie year. Munford played 370 offensive snaps as a rookie. Munford saw time at right tackle, left tackle and left guard at Ohio State, a program that has certainly seen its share of O-linemen make their way into the NFL in recent years. Enough improvement between Year 1 and Year 2 looks like it would trigger a lineup change in Vegas.

After rotating O-linemen during camp last year, the Raiders are sticking with their front five in this year’s camp. Munford and Bars have joined Kolton Miller, Dylan Parham and Andre James on the first-unit line. PFF ranked the Raiders’ line 10th last season, as it helped Josh Jacobs win the rushing title. Observing how they construct the right side of this year’s O-line, as the injury-prone Jimmy Garoppolo is now in place at quarterback, will be a storyline worth following in Vegas. A Bars-Munford right side would be light on experience, but Eluemunor and Van Roten also provide experienced depth — in the event the former Buckeyes blocker seizes the RT job.

Raiders Rumors: Adams, Renfrow, OL

Shortly after the Raiders’ plan to separate from Derek Carr surfaced, Davante Adams indicated he was not planning to make an effort to follow his ex-college teammate out the door. Adams is signed through 2026 on what is still the NFL’s second-most lucrative receiver deal. The Raiders have made some changes this offseason, most notably replacing Carr with Jimmy Garoppolo. Adams made some cryptic comments about the franchise’s direction this week.

[The front office] thinks this is the best bet for us right now to put us in a position to be urgent,” Adams said regarding the team’s offensive vision, via The Ringer’s Mirin Fader. “We don’t see eye-to-eye on what we think is best for us right now. … I’m going to have to buy into this and try to be as optimistic as possible. It’s not what I expected to happen, but it’s something that’s the reality now.”

Rumored to be potentially kept in the loop regarding the Raiders’ big-picture decisions, Adams expressed hesitancy regarding his fit with Garoppolo. The veteran quarterback is tied to the Raiders through at least 2023, due to his $33.75MM guarantee, and may well be a multiyear Las Vegas starter, seeing as the team did not draft a quarterback.

It all depends on the style of ball that we play,” Adams said. “If we play a certain brand of ball, I can get [Garoppolo] to conform to whatever. But if we use him a certain type of way, then it’s going to make it tough for us to maximize who we should be this year.”

For what it’s worth, Adams shared a photo with GM Dave Ziegler after that interview surfaced. Adams, who will turn 31 later this year, earned his third straight first-team All-Pro honor last season. He will team with Josh Jacobs, Hunter Renfrow and UFA addition Jakobi Meyers as Garoppolo’s lead supporting cast. Here is the latest out of Vegas:

  • While Ziegler and Josh McDaniels signed off on Renfrow’s two-year, $32MM extension during the 2022 offseason, the veteran slot player delivered underwhelming early returns in McDaniels’ system. After Renfrow’s 1,038-yard 2021 showing helped drive the Raiders into the playoffs, he managed just 330 in 10 games last year. Since giving Renfrow that extension, the Raiders have signed Meyers to an $11MM-per-year deal and drafted slot target Tre Tucker in Round 3. Pegging the odds of Renfrow being elsewhere by 2024 as “90%,” The Athletic’s Vic Tafur notes he joined Darren Waller in being a poor fit for McDaniels’ offense (subscription required). McDaniels also cut down on Renfrow’s route improvisations, which were encouraged under Jon Gruden. Trading Renfrow in 2024 (when his base salary spikes to $11.2MM) would save the Raiders $8MM.
  • The Raiders have surprisingly made it to mid-May without adding a starter-caliber outside free agent on their offensive line. That might not be the case by training camp. Citing the team’s potential to add a veteran guard or tackle, Tafur adds he would be “shocked” if Alex Bars remained the team’s right guard starter. Pro Football Focus rated Bars, a former Bears UDFA, as the Raiders’ worst starting O-lineman by a wide margin last season. Guard Dalton Risner remains unsigned, as do Rodger Saffold, Pat Elflein, A.J. Cann and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. Longtime Raider Gabe Jackson, whom Gruden traded to the Seahawks in 2021, is also available. The Raiders also showed interest in Paris Johnson, per Tafur. Although the Cardinals discussed a deal with the Raiders for the No. 7 pick, Arizona moving ahead of Vegas for No. 6 (to take Johnson) makes sense.
  • The team re-signed right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor but also brought back 2021 right tackle starter Brandon Parker, who missed last year with an injury. Eluemunor will also be a candidate to slide to guard, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Vincent Bonsignore, after having played there in the past. That would be an internal way to upgrade from Bars. Second-year tackle Thayer Munford and Justin Herron, one of many ex-Patriots in Vegas, stand to factor in for the RT gig.

Contract Details: David, Eluemunor, Agholor, Howard

Here are a few contract details on deals recently reached around the league:

  • Lavonte David, LB (Buccaneers): One year, $4.5MM. The deal, according to Greg Auman of FOX Sports, is quite a complicated one. It has guaranteed money at $3.34MM, consisting of David’s signing bonus. The remainder of the contract value is a veteran league minimum salary of $1.17MM. The signing bonus is spread out over four void years that help dissipate his cap hit.
  • Nelson Agholor, WR (Ravens): One year, $3.25MM. The contract, according to Wilson, is fully guaranteed with a $2.09MM signing bonus adding to the veteran league minimum base salary of $1.17MM. There is $3MM of incentives based on playing time, playoffs, catches, yards, and touchdowns. The Ravens somewhat uncharacteristically gave Agholor a high enough value to qualify him as a seventh-round valued compensatory free agent signing. The move wipes out a sixth-round compensatory pick that Baltimore would’ve received in 2024 for the departure of tight end Josh Oliver. The team also continues to go outside their comfort zone by once again creating a contract with void years, something they had never done prior to this offseason. Agholor’s deal has four void years to spread his cap hit out over time.
  • Jermaine Eluemunor, T (Raiders): One year, $3MM. The new contract, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2, has a guaranteed amount of $2.29MM, which includes a signing bonus of $491,000 and most of Eluemunor’s base salary. The deal includes a $142,000 workout bonus and a per game active roster bonus of $30,000 for a potential season total of $510,000.
  • O.J. Howard, TE (Raiders): One year, $1.23MM. The deal, according to Wilson, includes a guaranteed amount of $451,250, consisting of a $76,250 signing bonus and $375,000 of his base salary (worth a total of $1.08MM).

Raiders To Re-Sign OL Jermaine Eluemunor

The Raiders are bringing back Jermaine Eluemunor. The team has reached an agreement with the offensive lineman, according to Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

A former fifth-round pick by Baltimore, Eluemunor bounced around the NFL a bit before landing in Las Vegas, spending time with the Ravens, Patriots, Dolphins, and Jaguars. He got an extended look in New England between 2019 and 2020, starting eight of his 22 appearances with the team.

He caught on with the Raiders for the 2021 campaign, starting three of his 14 games. The lineman then earned the starting right tackle gig heading into the 2022 campaign and proceeded to start all 17 games for the Raiders. Pro Football Focus ended up grading him 21st among 81 qualifying offensive tackles.

The Raiders also re-signed offensive tackle Brandon Parker earlier this offseason, but the two moves won’t preclude the organization from picking an offensive tackle in the draft, per Bonsignore. However, the return of their 2022 start will make that potential draft selection “less urgent.”