The Saints are shoring up their defense. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (via Twitter), safety Johnathan Abram is planning to sign with the Saints. Meanwhile, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweets that defensive tackle Malcolm Roach is planning to re-sign with the Saints.
After missing most of his rookie season, Abram showed some of his first-round pedigree in 2020 and 2021. After finishing with 86 tackles in 13 starts in 2020, he collected 116 tackles with the Raiders in 2021. After having his fifth-year option declined last offseason, Abram was let go after starting six of his eight appearances for Las Vegas. He had a brief stint in Green Bay before ending the campaign with the Seahawks.
Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams will continue to lead the safeties depth chart, with the Saints also retaining Ryan Neal and signing former Giants defensive back Julian Love. Abram will have to fight for every snap in that secondary, but at the very least, he should be able to contribute on special teams.
Roach has spent his entire three-year career in New Orleans. He had his most productive season in 2022, finishing with 26 tackles and one sack in 13 games (three starts). ESPN’s Katherine Terrell tweets that Roach is inking a one-year deal with the Saints.
The Seahawks will be Abram’s third team this month. The Raiders waived Abram not long after the trade deadline, and the Packers moved on after two games. While much of Abram’s first-round contract has been paid out, more than $500K remains on the through-2022 deal.
Bouncing around the league yet doing so without having reached free agency, Abram is now set to play in a fifth defensive scheme since 2020. The Raiders went from Paul Guenther to Gus Bradley to Patrick Graham at defensive coordinator over the past three years, and after a short time in Green Bay, Abram will attempt to carve out a role in Pete Carroll and Clint Hurtt‘s defense.
The Seahawks have been without Jamal Adams since a Week 1 injury and have Ryan Neal working as Quandre Diggs‘ sidekick. Beyond the starters, Seattle has former second-round pick-turned-journeyman Josh Jones and rookie UDFA Joey Blount on the roster. The Seahawks have also used Teez Tabor, who entered the NFL as a cornerback several years ago, as a safety in limited time this season. Tabor, who has bounced around the league as well, has been on the Seahawks’ active roster since they signed him off the Falcons’ practice squad in September. Neal was on Seattle’s injury report last week but played against the Raiders; he came out of that game with a bruised elbow, however.
Abram, 26, began this season as a Raiders starter and started six games for the team that once took him 27th overall. But Las Vegas’ new regime attempted to trade the Mississippi State product before the deadline and ended up reducing his role. That preceded a post-deadline cut, which led to a Packers claim. Green Bay, which at the time held waiver priority over Denver (which also tried to claim Abram earlier this month), used Abram on just one defensive snap in two games. Abram did contribute on special teams, however.
Abram’s start count remains at 34; most of those came from 2020-21. While coverage issues have affected his NFL development, Abram does have a 116-tackle season on his resume (2021). He has three career interceptions and 12 career pass deflections. The former first-team All-SEC defender will attempt to make this latest relocation stick — until being eligible for unrestricted free agency in March.
The Packers will become the second team this month to move on from Johnathan Abram. Green Bay is waiving the former first-round pick, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.
Abram ended up playing just one defensive snap with the Packers in two games, seeing most of his work on special teams under former Raiders interim HC Rich Bisaccia. But the Packers would prefer to evaluate their younger safeties the rest of the way, per Pelissero.
One other team — the Broncos — attempted to claim Abram when the Raiders cut him. It will be interesting to see if Denver pulls the trigger again, but Abram’s stock has undoubtedly dropped. He began the season as a Raiders starter but was demoted toward the end of his run with the team.
No team claiming Abram will lead him to free agency for the first time. While Abram is eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2023, two teams having cut him this season indicates a tepid market will await the former No. 27 overall pick — obtained when the Raiders traded Amari Cooper to the Cowboys ahead of the 2018 deadline.
Abram, 26, has started 34 career games. Six of those came for the Raiders this season. He bounced back from a season-ending shoulder injury in his NFL debut to be a full-time Raiders starter from 2020-21. Since 2020, Abram has been in four different defensive schemes.
Although the Raiders have regressed defensively under new DC Patrick Graham, the new regime did not view Abram as a keeper. The Raiders passed on the fifth-year options for he, Clelin Ferrell and Josh Jacobs. Of the three 2019 first-rounders, only Jacobs — who is submitting by far his best season — has played a regular role for Las Vegas this year.
Johnathan Abram‘s inconsistent Raiders career did not stop two teams from claiming his rookie contract, one that still includes more than $1MM in salary. In addition to the Packers, the Broncos submitted a claim for Abram, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.
Sitting at 3-6 — their worst record through nine games since 2005 — the Packers won out over the 3-5 Broncos. Green Bay will reunite Abram with special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, the Raiders’ 2021 interim HC.
Like the Packers, the Broncos have used the same safety starters since 2019. Behind Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson, some uncertainty exists. Denver’s No. 3 safety, Caden Sterns, is on IR with a hip injury. The Broncos have fourth-year man P.J. Locke and rookie fifth-rounder Delarrin Turner-Yell as backups, and they promoted veteran Anthony Harris to their active roster earlier this week. Despite his pedigree, Harris has played in two games for his new team this season. He has yet to log a defensive snap in Denver. Ditto Turner-Yell, whose usage has come strictly on special teams in his first season.
Simmons is also on the team’s injury report this week. The Pro Bowl cover man did not practice Wednesday due to a knee injury. Simmons spent four weeks on IR because of a thigh ailment sustained in Week 1. The Broncos will be eligible to use one of their injury activations on Sterns later this year, should he be healthy enough to return, but they also have Randy Gregory and Tom Compton on their way back. Denver has five injury activations remaining.
Although the Broncos’ coaching staff is new, the team has gotten a good look at Abram, 26, due to his previous AFC West employment. Drafted 27th overall in 2019, Abram made 34 starts with the Raiders. Coverage issues plagued the Jon Gruden-era draftee in Las Vegas. He will attempt to use his upcoming Wisconsin stay to generate some momentum toward what will likely be a modest free agency market.
Johnathan Abram will not reach free agency. The Packers stepped in with a successful waiver claim to land the former Raiders safety, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).
The Raiders cut bait on the former first-round pick Tuesday, but he will have a chance to make a better impression in Green Bay. Abram’s rookie contract runs through season’s end, after the Raiders did not pick up his fifth-year option. Just more than $1MM is now the Packers’ responsibility.
Green Bay rosters an experienced safety tandem; Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage have started together for the past four seasons. Abram will, however, reunite with former Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia, who is now the Pack’s special teams coordinator. Abram also rejoins ex-Raiders safety/special-teamer Dallin Leavitt with the Packers.
Abram, 26, will trek to Wisconsin with 34 career starts under his belt. Six of those came this season. The former Mississippi State prospect began 2022 in the Raiders’ starting lineup, under ex-Packers assistant Patrick Graham, but saw his playing time reduced over the past two games. The Raiders did not use Abram on special teams over the first five weeks but began using him in that capacity in October; he played 52% of Las Vegas’ special teams snaps Sunday in Jacksonville.
Drafted with the No. 27 overall pick the Raiders obtained in the Amari Cooper trade, Abram suffered shoulder injuries that forced him to miss 15 games as a rookie. He bounced back to be a full-timer under Jon Gruden and Bisaccia from 2020-21. In going to the Packers, Abram will now be part of a fourth defensive scheme since 2020. The Raiders went from Paul Guenther to Gus Bradley to Graham from 2020-22; Abram will now work under second-year Packers DC Joe Barry.
Issues in coverage were a major part of Abram’s failure to pan out with the Raiders, who have made significant changes since adding a new regime this offseason. Pro Football Focus ranks Abram outside the top 75 at safety this season. He made 116 tackles in 2021 — second on the Raiders — and has 48 stops this year. The Packers now have six safeties on their active roster, with Abram and Leavitt joining Rudy Ford and seventh-round rookie Tariq Carpenter. That is on the high side, so it will be interesting to see if Green Bay keeps that sextet on its 53-man roster going forward.
The Raiders dangled Johnathan Abram in trades leading up to last week’s deadline, and they are now moving on from the former first-round pick.
Las Vegas plans to cut Abram on Tuesday, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The veteran starter, whom the Raiders recently demoted, will be available on waivers. Abram has made 34 career starts, but the Jon Gruden-era draftee was unable to carve out a spot as a long-term Raiders piece. Just more than $1MM in base salary remains on Abram’s rookie contract. The Raiders have since announced the move.
Trades of Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper gave the Raiders three first-round picks in 2019. The team selected Josh Jacobs with the Mack-produced draft slot and landed Abram with the Cooper-obtained pick. The Bears and Cowboys, respectively, gave the trade acquisitions second contracts. The Raiders did not pick up Abram or Jacobs’ fifth-year options. The first pick from the first Gruden-Mike Mayock draft, Clelin Ferrell, is also playing out his rookie contract after never gaining a foothold as a viable starter.
The Raiders shopped both Abram and Ferrell before the deadline, but no takers emerged. Despite being on Las Vegas’ roster bubble this offseason, Ferrell has seen a greater snap share compared to Abram in recent weeks. Abram started the Raiders’ first six games but did not open the team’s Week 8 Saints matchup in the lineup.
Abram, 26, played at least 75% of the Raiders’ defensive snaps over their first six games. The Raiders saw the former No. 27 overall pick’s rookie season nullified by a torn rotator cuff and a torn labrum. He bounced back to return to the starting lineup in 2020 and tallied 116 tackles in 2021. During his final three Raiders seasons, Abram has played in three defensive systems. The Raiders have gone from Paul Guenther to Gus Bradley to Patrick Graham as defensive coordinator over the past three seasons. The Raiders’ defense, which has struggled regardless of coordinator for most of the 21st century, ranks 28th in both points and yards allowed.
Coverage issues have plagued the Mississippi State alum as a pro. While Pro Football Focus rates Abram outside the top 75 among full-time safeties this season, the advanced metrics site has Vegas starter Trevon Moehrig slotted in the bottom five at the position. The Raiders’ Josh McDaniels–Dave Ziegler regime brought in ex-Patriot Duron Harmon this offseason; the veteran has worked as a full-timer at safety since arriving.
Abram’s exit during his rookie contract makes him the fourth Raider first-rounder over the past four years who failed to play out his rookie deal. The Raiders cut Henry Ruggs and Damon Arnette within a two-week period last fall, with off-field incidents leading to each’s exit. Alex Leatherwood did not make it into his second season, being waived after training camp this year. Although the Gruden era produced draft hits like Maxx Crosby and Hunter Renfrow, the first-round misses have undoubtedly set the Raiders back.
Since Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels were brought on board, the Raiders have been busy reworking their roster. As one NFC executive told Fowler, the organization is valuing players “who fit their personality,” and it’s not overly surprising that they’d be looking to move from a pair of players who were drafted by the former front office.
Abram’s name has been “circulating a lot,” per Fowler. The safety missed the majority of his rookie campaign with a torn rotator cuff and labrum, but he’s otherwise been a reliable defender for the Raiders. He finished with 116 tackles in 2021, with Pro Football Focus grading him as an above-average linebacker (especially when it came to pass rush). However, the Ziegler/McDaniels combo had little time to evaluate Abram before having to decide on his fifth-year option, which they ultimately declined. The 25-year-old is still seeing a significant role in 2022; he’s started all five games while collecting 32 tackles. However, after appearing in almost all of the team’s defensive snaps through the first four games, he was limited to only 75 percent of the Raiders defensive snaps in Week 5.
Similar to Abram, Ferrell also didn’t have his fifth-year option picked up by the new front office. The fourth-overall pick in 2019, the defensive lineman has disappointed during his time with the organization. He started all 26 of his appearances through his first two seasons in the NFL, compiling 6.5 sacks. He didn’t start any games in 2021, and while he’s seen time in all five games in 2022, he’s still appearing in less than half of his team’s defensive snaps.
Meanwhile, Fowler notes that the Raiders could be a match in a trade with New England if the Patriots decide to move on from wide receivers. Ziegler has already pulled off a handful of trades with his former organization, and he played a role in the Patriots adding their current crop of wideouts. Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor are among the names that have been mentioned as traded candidates, per Fowler.
September 25th, 2022 at 3:51pm CST by Adam La Rose
Johnathan Abram‘s future with the Raiders both in 2022 and beyond seemed to be in question this offseason. His status as a starter was once in doubt, but his tenure under the team’s new coaching staff has begun with a somewhat surprising new role.
As noted by Tashan Reed of the Athletic (subscription required), Abram has not only remained a starter, but he has seen time at a number of different positions. The 25-year-old has been aligned at both safety spots, but also inside and outside linebacker, along with cornerback and nickelback. That represents a stark contrast to the sense dating back to July that Abram could be relegated to backup duties.
That sentiment was fueled in part by the fact that veteran Duron Harmonwas signed during free agency to compete for a first-team spot. On a larger scale, the team’s decision to decline Abram’s fifth-year option makes the 2022 campaign a contract year for the former first-rounder. Instead of being phased out, Abram has been an effective and productive member of new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham‘s unit.
The Mississippi State product has played all but one defensive snap through two weeks, making 19 tackles. He has also put up better numbers in coverage than his previous seasons in the league, something which had been a sore spot early in his career.
“He’s a smart guy,” head coach Josh McDaniels said. “I mean, we put a lot on him. He’s been able to handle the duality of the multiple roles that we’ve given him. He’s a big cog in terms of the overall communication on the defense.”
Staying healthy and in control with respect to his physicality will, of course, remain important factors in determining Abram’s success this season. If he continues to wear multiple hats, though, he could not only help the Raiders’ defense in general, but also boost his own free agent stock heading into the spring.
In 2019, the Oakland Raiders used a first-round pick acquired by trading wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Cowboys to draft Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram. Since being selected at No. 27 overall, Abram has been a starter in the Raiders’ secondary, whenever he’s healthy. That presumed role as a starter may be in jeopardy, according to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur and Tashan Reed.
Abram has plenty of talent to offer the Raiders’ defense, but one reason that he may get relegated from his starting duties is that he can’t seem to keep that talent on the field. Injuries have bitten Abram early and often during his time in the NFL. After competing in his first NFL game, it was reported that Abram would be out for the remainder of his rookie season with a torn rotator cuff and labrum. Abram missed three games in the 2020 NFL season (one due to COVID-19) and ended the 2021 season on injured reserve after undergoing shoulder surgery, forcing him to miss the team’s final three regular season games and their first playoff game since the 2016 season.
When he has been on the field, Abram has developed into a gifted safety in the box. While that’s all good and well, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s defense usually requires safeties to play in multiple roles. Abram does have three interceptions and 11 passes defensed over three years, but he has yet to show the versatility required of him to consistently cover deep zones. So far Abram hasn’t been able to show he isn’t a liability in coverage. Last year, Abram led all safeties, being targeted 68 times and allowing 54 receptions, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Another factor that hurts Abram’s chance to remain at the top of the depth chart is the offseason signing of veteran safety Duron Harmon. The former long-time Patriot has spent the past two seasons in Detroit and Atlanta. Despite leaving New England at 29-years-old, Harmon broke out in his new cities, going from a part-time starter to starting every game for the Lions and Falcons. Harmon has more ability in coverage than Abram, recording at least one interception in every season and maxing out at 4 interceptions in a season twice. Since earning a starting role, he’s also increased his play on ball carriers, more than doubling his average tackles per season as a starter. He also has some familiarity with Graham from the three seasons they spent together in New England.
Last year’s rookie, Trevon Moehrig, will likely man one starting spot while Harmon pushes Abram for the other. According to PFF, Moehrig rated 25th among all NFL safeties. Harmon, at 68th, just edged out Abram, 75th, in the positional rankings.
The good news for Abram, is that he’s shown improvement every year he’s played in the NFL. He will continue to be targeted by NFL quarterbacks until he proves he can keep the ball out of receivers’ hands. Fortunately, he’s impressed his coaching staff so far this offseason, but whether that means they can count on him to not be a liability in the secondary this year has yet to be seen.
Monday marked the deadline for NFL clubs to officially pick up their options on 2019 first-rounders. Fifth-year option seasons are no longer just guaranteed for injury — they’re now fully guaranteed, which makes these decisions a little tougher for teams.
Nineteen players had their options exercised, a tick up from 14 last year. Here’s the full rundown: