Jonathan Greenard

NFC North Notes: Bears, Vikings, Reader

Coleman Shelton started every Rams game at center last season, and the former UDFA logged a few starts there during the 2022 season. The Bears gave Shelton only a one-year, $3MM deal, however. Already rostering guards Teven Jenkins and Nate Davis, the Bears may view Shelton as a backup. This is because Chicago acquired Ryan Bates from Buffalo. Given a Bears RFA offer sheet in 2022, Bates remains attached to that contract (four years, $17MM). He looks more likely to be the favorite for Bears center duties than Shelton,’s Courtney Cronin notes.

Bates, 27, does not have a notable history at center. At Penn State, he primarily played left tackle. The Bills used him primarily at guard, with Mitch Morse previously entrenched at center. Despite Buffalo matching the 2022 Chicago offer sheet, the team added two new guards — Connor McGovern, O’Cyrus Torrence — in 2023. Bates did not start a game for the Bills last season, but the ex-UDFA looks set to have a good shot at taking over at center for the Bears.

Here is the latest from the NFC North:

  • The Bears’ four-year, $76MM Jaylon Johnson extension features an out in 2026. The deal calls for $10.6MM of Johnson’s $15.1MM 2026 base salary to be guaranteed for injury, but no skill guarantees are in place beyond 2025. KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson notes $7.6MM of Johnson’s 2026 base will shift to a full guarantee if the Pro Bowl cornerback is on the roster by that date. With no true guarantees on this deal post-2025, the Bears could get out with just $5MM in dead money (in the event of a post-June 1 cut) in 2026.
  • The Vikings have been active in using void years under GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. This practice cost the team when Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Tomlinson departed, but it is turning to cap space-saving measure heavily this year as well. Minnesota included four void years in Sam Darnold, Aaron Jones and Andrew Van Ginkel‘s deals, with three void years used to spread out the three-year, $22.5MM Blake Cashman contract’s cap hits. While this will create some dead money if these players are not re-signed before their contracts officially expire, the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling observes it created some cap space in the event the Vikes need to carry a bigger 2024 cap number for Justin Jefferson, who has been on the extension radar for two years. That said, Jefferson’s 2024 cap figure is already at $19.7MM on the fifth-year option.
  • Looking elsewhere on the Vikings’ payroll, their Jonathan Greenard deal (four years, $76MM) features $42MM in total guarantees. The contract includes $4MM guaranteed for 2026, per Goessling. Though, that money is classified as injury guarantees, providing the Vikes — like the Bears with Johnson — some flexibility down the road on a $19MM-AAV contract.
  • Rounding up some Minnesota contract matters, Goessling adds Shaquill Griffin‘s one-year contract is worth $4.55MM and features $3.99MM fully guaranteed. The Vikings are giving Jonathan Bullard a one-year, $2.25MM deal to stay, per Goessling, who adds Dan Feeney‘s contract to come over from the Bears is worth $1.8MM. Jonah Williams, the defensive lineman, signed a one-year, $1.5MM deal that includes $350K guaranteed, Goessling offers. Jihad Ward‘s one-year accord is worth $1.8MM and includes $1MM guaranteed, The Athletic’s Dan Duggan tweets.
  • Initially labeled as being worth up to $27.25MM, D.J. Reader‘s Lions pact contains $22MM in base value. The Lions are only guaranteeing the veteran nose tackle $7.4MM at signing, per OverTheCap. Coming off his second quad tear in four years, Reader would receive a $4MM roster bonus on Day 3 of the 2025 league year. That date will certainly be pivotal for his Detroit future.
  • Arrested on a fourth-degree DWI charge in December, Vikings OC Wes Phillips pleaded guilty to a lesser charge recently. The third-year Minnesota OC pleaded guilty to a careless driving charge, Fox 9’s Jeff Wald notes. Phillips, 45, agreed to pay a $378 fine and will serve eight hours of community service.

Texans LT Laremy Tunsil Undergoes Successful Knee Surgery

Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil recently underwent successful surgery on his left knee, as Aaron Wilson of reports. Per Wilson, the surgery was an arthroscopic procedure to address the injury that sidelined Tunsil for three games during the 2023 season.

Critically, both Wilson and Ian Rapoport of note that Tunsil will make a full and fast recovery, so the club can continue to count on him to serve as one of the league’s best LTs. Despite the nagging knee ailment, which Tunsil managed last year by having it drained and by sitting out of practice once or twice per week, the former first-round pick of the Dolphins earned the fourth Pro Bowl nod of his career in 2023.

Tunsil’s work on the blindside was instrumental in quarterback C.J. Stroud‘s Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign, and, by extension, Houston’s surprising run to the divisional round of the playoffs. His Pro Bowl acclaim was buttressed by the advanced metrics, as Pro Football Focus considered him the 20th-best OT out of 81 qualifiers in 2023 and the fourth-best pass blocker. His work against the Browns’ Myles Garrett in the Texans’ wildcard round victory over Cleveland was especially telling, as Tunsil yielded no sacks or hits when lined up against Garrett, who earned Defensive Player of the Year honors last year (h/t Wilson).

The successful surgery is not only good news from an on-field standpoint, but from a financial one as well. Tunsil landed a massive three-year extension last March that includes a $25MM average annual value, the highest figure in league history for an offensive tackle. Tunsil, who is entering his age-30 season, is under club control through 2026, though his base salaries from 2024-26 ($18MM, $20.95MM, and $20.95MM) are not unreasonable for a player of his caliber.

On the defensive side of the ball, DeMeco Ryans‘ team has made a number of offseason additions, including a big-money contract for former Vikings standout Danielle Hunter. In terms of pass-rushing presence, Hunter will take the place of Jonathan Greenard, who parlayed his breakout contract-year campaign into a four-year, $76MM deal with (coincidentally) Minnesota. Although Houston was reportedly interested in retaining Greenard, we had heard that the club was concerned about his eventual price tag, and Greenard believes the Texans never extended an official contract offer (via Wilson, who passes along Greenard’s full statement on the matter).

Vikings To Sign OLB Jonathan Greenard

The Vikings had attempted to re-sign Danielle Hunter, but the nine-year Minnesota pass rusher appeared intent on exploring the market. It looks like the Vikings sack ace will be headed elsewhere, as the team is making a big investment at the position.

Jonathan Greenard has a deal in place with the Vikings,’s Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport report. The four-year Texans contributor is coming off his best season — a 12.5-sack campaign — and played a key role in Houston making a surprise run to the divisional round. He will cash in as a result.

Minnesota will give Greenard a four-year, $76MM deal that includes $42MM guaranteed, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets. The Texans were interested in keeping Greenard, but the team seemed a bit leery about where his market would end up. While it did not quite take a $20MM-AAV deal to land Greenard, the Texans will stand down.

PFR’s free agency rankings slotted Greenard one spot higher than Hunter, despite the latter being a more proven pass rusher. Greenard, however, is three years younger than Hunter. The former third-round pick is set to begin his age-27 season in Minnesota. Hunter will turn 30 later this year.

Greenard is coming off a strong contract year, but he had shown flashes — albeit for off-grid Texans teams in the wake of the Deshaun Watson mess — prior to that 2023 breakthrough. Greenard totaled eight sacks in 2021 but ran into injury trouble in 2022. Shifted to defensive end in DeMeco Ryans‘ system, Greenard led the Texans in sacks last season by a wide margin.

While Will Anderson won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, Greenard served as the team’s top sack artist in 2023. Ranking 20th with 33 quarterback pressures, Greenard smashed his career-high with 22 QB hits. He ranked sixth among edge rushers in ESPN’s pass rush win rate metric in 2023. A similar effort will be expected in Minneapolis.

With the Vikings in transition on the edge, they will look to him — in all likelihood — as their No. 1 option next season. The Vikings came into the tampering period with Hunter, Marcus Davenport and D.J. Wonnum unsigned. They exited last season with Davenport and Wonnum on the shelf as well. Brian Flores will soon get to work attempting to mold Greenard into a Pro Bowl-level edge presence.

The youngest player in NFL history to reach 50 sacks, Hunter was a pivotal Vikings defender for much of the Mike Zimmer era and beyond. He used the past two seasons to bounce back, and while the Vikings held onto the former third-rounder at last year’s trade deadline, the sides’ August contract reworking prevented them from using the franchise tag. As it stands, Hunter appears set to depart the Twin Cities after one of the best runs by a pass rusher in the team’s modern history.

LB Azeez Al-Shaair Interested In Joining Texans; Latest On Jonathan Greenard

Two ex-49ers decision-makers moved to the AFC South last year, creating opportunities for unattached San Francisco cogs. Azeez Al-Shaair took one of them, landing with Ran Carthon‘s Titans on a one-year deal. After excelling in 2023, the former 49ers linebacker looks to have a chance at another reunion in the division.

Following a 163-tackle season, Al-Shaair is back on track for free agency. The former Fred WarnerDre Greenlaw sidekick is believed to be interested in rejoining DeMeco Ryans in Houston, according to KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson.

Al-Shaair’s tackle total doubled as the most in a season in Titans history (1999-present). After seeking to be an every-down player, Al-Shaair should see his Tennessee stint generate a better market than he saw in 2023. The Titans nabbed Al-Shaair for just $5MM. With the 49ers extending Greenlaw in 2022, Al-Shaair’s path out of San Francisco seemed clear. But Ryans both coached him during both his seasons as the 49ers’ DC and as San Francisco’s inside linebackers coach in the two years prior.

The Texans used Christian Harris and Blake Cashman as their regular linebackers last season. Whereas Harris was a former third-round pick, Cashman had primarily worked as a special-teamer leading up to last season. The former Jets fifth-rounder enjoyed a productive year under Ryans, totaling 106 tackles, two sacks and an interception. Cashman is expected to generate some interest as a free agent, Wilson adds. Al-Shaair promises to cost more than Cashman in free agency, and the former 49ers UDFA has far more experience under Ryans.

Cash has done a lot of great things for us,” Texans GM Nick Caserio said. “We’ll work through the process. If we have the opportunity to bring him back, I think he’ll have a good role on the team.

With C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson tied to rookie contracts through at least 2025, the Texans have opportunities to bolster their roster. Caserio only has notable payments on the offensive and defensive lines at present, opening the door for payments elsewhere this offseason. Houston holds more than $67MM in cap space, which sits sixth in the NFL as of Thursday.

Jonathan Greenard stands as the Texans’ top free agent, and while both parties are interested in a second contract, the young edge rusher’s expected price tag may impede that. Greenard could draw offers in the $22MM-per-year neighborhood. Teams across the league are monitoring this situation, Wilson adds, noting Greenard’s price — which may well have risen now that the cap has settled at $255.4MM — may override a Texans desire to re-sign him.

Greenard led the team in sacks last season, notching a career-high 12.5. Greenard joins Danielle Hunter and Bryce Huff as top edge players set to be available. The Texans have until 11am CT on March 11, when the legal tampering period begins, to keep him off the market.

Houston also wants to retain kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn, Wilson adds. That contract will not be a particularly expensive one to finalize. The Texans burned through all their IR activations before the regular season ended, using a number of them early. Saving one for Fairbairn, who came off the injured list in December, illustrated the team’s view of its veteran kicker.

The Texans’ kicker since 2017, Fairbairn played out a four-year, $17.65MM deal last season. He made a career-best 96.4% of his field goal tries (27 of 28). Fairbairn’s deal voids on March 13, tagging the Texans with $1.96MM in dead money if they do not re-sign him by then.

Texans, DE Jonathan Greenard Exploring Deal

Although Danielle Hunter might be the top edge rusher headed to free agency, this year’s batch of UFA-to-be defensive ends features some younger options with upside. Though, this crop carries some uncertainty as well.

With the cap spiking to $255.4MM, however, two of the second-contract-seeking DEs — Jonathan Greenard and Bryce Huff — are probably in great shape. That will put their current teams to the test. Regarding Greenard, the Texans may need to prepare an offer worth more than $20MM per year to retain him.

Greenard’s price tag is set to climb past $17MM per year, per KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson, who adds it might take more than $22MM per annum to sign the former third-round pick. Mutual interest exists between the parties, and Wilson indicates the sides are now motivated to hammer out a deal. They are exploring if a new agreement is possible. Considering the Texans’ $67.3MM in cap space (as of Wednesday morning), it is. Of course, it will be on the team to determine if Greenard is worth this price.

Will Anderson won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, but Greenard led the team in sacks by a wide margin. Greenard notched 12.5 sacks and 22 QB hits last season. Greenard’s 32 pressures tied for 20th in the NFL. The former Louisville and Florida pass rusher, who is going into his age-27 season, also tallied eight sacks for a lower-profile Texans team in 2021.

JG did a good job for us,” DeMeco Ryans said. “He was very productive; his play was physical. He did the things we asked him to do. We’ll see where free agency plays out, but we love JG. We loved what he did for us this year.”

It would seem a franchise tag could be in play, though the cap spike leaves that number at $21.3MM. Wilson does not mention the possibility the tag will be used to keep Greenard off the market, but the Texans do have cap space and a uniquely structured payroll presently. Beyond the offensive line and a midlevel Maliek Collins deal, the Texans do not really have much allocated to the other positions on their roster. This opens the door to some interesting possibilities for a team that will build around the rookie contracts of Anderson and C.J. Stroud.

After two lean years and a surprising playoff season, the Texans will enter a new phase of Nick Caserio‘s rebuild. This will mark the first offseason bringing expectations; it will be interesting to see if the team is ready to spend to load up the roster around Stroud. The Greenard decision will be a key component in this upcoming chapter.

2024 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates

A valuable tool for teams to keep top free agents off the market, the franchise tag has been in existence since 1993. This week brought the opening of the 2024 tag window. Clubs have until 3pm CT on March 5 to apply tags. As the Giants’ situation showed last year, most of the tag-related business comes near the close of this window. Teams will continue to work toward re-signing their respective tag candidates, thus preventing a lofty franchise tender from hitting their cap sheet.

The legal tampering period opens March 11, with the new league year (and official free agency) starting March 13. Once a player is tagged, he has until July 15 to sign an extension with his respective team. Absent an extension agreement by that date, the player must play the 2023 season on the tag (or go the Le’Veon Bell/Dan Williams/Sean Gilbert route, passing on guaranteed money and skipping the season).

High-profile free agents remain weeks away from hitting the market. As PFR’s tag recipients list shows, a handful of players are prevented from taking their services to free agency each year. This year looks to present a few more tag candidates compared to 2023. With a handful of teams determining if they will need to use the tag to prevent a free agency path, here are the players who figure to be tagged or at least generate conversations about being franchised ahead of the March 5 deadline:


Josh Allen, OLB (Jaguars)
Tag cost: $24MM

GM Trent Baalke did not leave much suspense when he addressed Allen’s future last month. The veteran exec said the 2019 first-round pick will be a Jaguar in 2024, indicating the team would use its franchise tag if necessary. The Jaguars do have Calvin Ridley as a free agent, but the team would owe the Falcons a 2024 second-round pick if it extended the wide receiver’s contract before the start of the league year. The second pick sent to Atlanta will only be a third-rounder if Jacksonville lets Ridley hit free agency. It makes more sense for Jacksonville to circle back to Ridley after allowing him to test the market. An Allen tag effectively ensures that will happen.

Timing his sack breakthrough well, Allen registered a Jags-record 17.5 during his contract year. The five-year Jaguar has combined for 55 QB hits over the past two seasons and ranks top 10 in pressures over the past three. The tag regularly keeps top edge rushers from hitting free agency, and the 26-year-old pass rusher — while obviously wanting to be paid what he’s worth — expressed a desire to stay in Jacksonville long term.

The Jags have regularly unholstered their tag during the 2020s, cuffing Yannick Ngakoue in 2020 and then keeping Cam Robinson off the 2021 and ’22 markets. The team kept Evan Engram out of free agency last year. Robinson signed an extension in 2022, and the Jags re-upped Engram last July. The Ngakoue situation could be notable, as the edge rusher became disgruntled with the Jags and was eventually traded to the Vikings that summer. No signs of that level of trouble are brewing with Allen yet.

Jaylon Johnson, CB (Bears)
Tag cost: $19.8MM

Johnson is likely to become the first franchise-tagged cornerback since the Rams kept Trumaine Johnson off the 2017 market. The Bears are the most recent team to tag a corner, using the transition tag to cuff Kyle Fuller in 2018. They will almost definitely follow suit with Johnson, who has been rumored to be tagged for several weeks. A Ryan Pace-era draftee, Johnson expressed his desire to stay with the Bears ahead of his contract year. With that platform campaign producing some twists and turns, that price has gone up significantly.

After unsuccessful in-season extension talks, the Bears gave Johnson an 11th-hour opportunity to gauge his trade value. The Bears did not alert teams Johnson, 24, was available until the night before the Oct. 31 deadline. Although the Bills and 49ers engaged in talks about a trade, the Bears held out for a first- or second-round pick. Nothing materialized, which will likely come up during the team’s talks with Johnson. The Bears then extended trade pickup Montez Sweat, leaving Johnson in limbo. But the former second-round pick stuck the landing on an impact season. He is firmly in the Bears’ plans, and the team holds more than $66MM in cap space — plenty to squeeze in a tag onto the payroll.

Pro Football Focus’ top-graded corner in 2023, Johnson displayed a new gear that has made him worthy of a tag. Finishing with four interceptions and allowing just a 50.9 passer rating as the closest defender, the Utah alum soared to second-team All-Pro status. The Bears, who last used the tag on Allen Robinson in 2021, made no secret of their interest in retaining Johnson and will have a few more months to negotiate with him as a result of the tag.

Likely tag recipients

Brian Burns, OLB (Panthers)
Projected tag cost: $24MM

The Panthers hiring a new GM and head coach classifies this as just short of a lock, but familiar faces remain. Carolina promoted assistant general manager Dan Morgan to GM and blocked DC Ejiro Evero from departing. Burns has been viewed as a likely tag recipient since last season, after negotiations broke down. The Panthers have not offered a negotiating masterclass here, as Burns has been extension-eligible since the 2022 offseason. Since-fired GM Scott Fitterer had viewed Burns as a re-up candidate for two offseasons, but multiple rounds of trade talks boosted the 2019 first-rounder’s leverage.

In what looks like a mistake, the Panthers passed on a Rams offer that included two first-rounders and a third for Burns at the 2022 trade deadline. Carolina then kept Burns out of 2023 trade talks with Chicago about the No. 1 pick, ultimately sending D.J. Moore to the Windy City for the Bryce Young draft slot. Carolina also kept Burns at the 2023 deadline, as teams looked into the top pass rusher on the NFL’s worst team. Burns also saw his position’s market change via Nick Bosa‘s record-setting extension ($34MM per year). The 49ers’ landmark accord came to pass after Burns had set a $30MM-AAV price point, complicating Morgan’s upcoming assignment.

Burns, 25, has registered at least 7.5 sacks in each of his five seasons. While he has only topped nine in a season once (2022), the two-time Pro Bowler is one of the league’s better edge rushers. Given the Panthers’ history with Burns, it would be borderline shocking to see the team allow the Florida State alum to leave in exchange for merely a third-round compensatory pick.

Burns has said he wants to stay with the Panthers; he is unlikely to have a choice this year. The Panthers last used the tag to keep right tackle Taylor Moton off the market in 2021; the sides agreed to an extension that offseason.

Tee Higgins, WR (Bengals)
Tag cost: $21.82MM

Seeing their hopes of capitalizing on the final year of Higgins’ rookie contract dashed due to Joe Burrow‘s season-ending injury, the Bengals look to be giving strong consideration to keeping the Burrow-Higgins-Ja’Marr Chase trio together for one last ride of sorts. The Bengals hold $59.4MM in cap space — fifth-most currently — and structured Burrow’s extension in a way that makes a Higgins tag palatable. Burrow’s deal does not spike into historic cap territory until 2025.

While a future in which Chase and Higgins are signed long term is more difficult to foresee, the Bengals still carry one of the AFC’s best rosters. It is likely Burrow’s top two weapons remain in the fold for at least one more year. Higgins, 25, did not come close to posting a third straight 1,000-yard season. Burrow’s injury had plenty to do with that, though the former second-round pick started slowly. A Bengals 2023 extension offer underwhelmed Higgins, but the Bengals kept him out of trades. A tag will give Cincinnati the option to rent him for 2024. A tag-and-trade transaction is viewed as unlikely, as the Bengals load up again.

How the organization proceeds beyond 2024 will be a key storyline, but the Bengals — who kept Jessie Bates in similar fashion in 2022 — are positioned well to run back perhaps the NFL’s best receiving tandem. While director of player personnel Duke Tobin stopped short of guaranteeing Higgins will be a Bengal in 2024, signs point to it.

Justin Madubuike, DL (Ravens)
Tag cost: $22.1MM

Seeing their defensive coordinator depart and once again facing questions at outside linebacker, the Ravens have the option of keeping their top 2023 pass rusher off the market. They are probably going to take that route. Madubuike raised his price considerably during an impact contract year, leading the Ravens with 13 sacks. While Mike Macdonald was able to coax surprising seasons from late additions Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy, Madubuike drove Baltimore’s defensive engine and will likely be guaranteed a high salary by signing his franchise tender.

Perennially interested in hoarding compensatory picks, the Ravens have regularly let breakthrough pass rushers walk in free agency. This dates back to the likes of Paul Kruger and Pernell McPhee and subsequently included Za’Darius Smith and Matt Judon. The Ravens have only been able to replace Judon with stopgap options — from Clowney to Van Noy to Justin Houston — and again must figure out a solution alongside Odafe Oweh on the edge. Madubuike, 26, proved too good to let walk; the former third-round pick will once again be expected to anchor Baltimore’s pass rush in 2024.

Antoine Winfield Jr., S (Buccaneers)
Tag cost: $17.12MM

We mentioned Winfield as the Bucs’ most likely tag recipient around the midseason point, and signs now point to that reality coming to pass. The Bucs want to re-sign Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans. The bounce-back quarterback’s tender price would check in at nearly $36MM, and because Evans was attached to a veteran contract, his tag number would come in well north of Higgins’ — at beyond $28MM. As such, the Bucs cuffing Winfield has always made the most sense, and after the second-generation NFL DB’s dominant contract year, it would be stunning to see the team let him walk.

The Bucs have let their recent top free agents test free agency, only to re-sign Shaquil Barrett (2021), Carlton Davis (2022) and Jamel Dean (2023). Winfield may be on a higher plane, having secured first-team All-Pro acclaim last season. Davis and Dean have never made a Pro Bowl; Winfield’s productive and well-regarded 2023 stands to separate him. Winfield, 25, tallied six sacks and three interceptions while forcing an NFL-leading six fumbles. This included a pivotal strip of DJ Chark in the Bucs’ Week 18 win over the Panthers, which clinched them the NFC South title.

Winfield will undoubtedly be eyeing a top-market safety extension. Derwin James established the current standard, $19MM per year, just before the 2022 season. Last year’s safety market did not feature big-ticket prices, for the most part, but the Falcons made Jessie Bates (four years, $64MM) an exception. If Winfield were to reach free agency, he would be expected to eclipse that.

The Bucs, who have used the tag three times in the 2020s, should not be considered likely to let Winfield follow Davis and Dean’s path by speaking with other teams. Tampa Bay has used the tag three times in the 2020s, cuffing Barrett in 2020 and tagging Chris Godwin twice. The team eventually re-signed both, and while the statuses of Mayfield and Evans (and All-Pro tackle Tristan Wirfs) create a crowded contract queue, the Bucs will certainly be interested in re-upping Winfield.

On tag radar

Saquon Barkley, RB (Giants)
Tag cost: $12MM

Barkley has said he wants to finish his career with the Giants, and the team will meet with the Pro Bowl running back’s camp at the Combine. But a recent report indicated the team is highly unlikely to tag the six-year veteran a second time. The Giants should not be ruled out from reversing course and keeping Barkley, given his importance to an otherwise low-octane offense, but it appears they are prepared to move on if the talented RB does not accept their extension offer this time around. A host of talented backs await in free agency, though Barkley would likely be the top prize were he to reach the market.

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Mutual Interest Between Texans, DE Jonathan Greenard For New Deal

After a successful first season with head coach DeMeco Ryans and quarterback C.J. Stroud, the Texans profile as an attractive destination for outside free agents. The team has a number of important decisions with respect to its own expiring deals, however.

Chief among those is edge rusher Jonathan Greenard. The former third-rounder enjoyed a career year in 2023, posting 12.5 sacks, 52 pressures and 52 tackles (including 15 for loss). Those figures came about in part due to his ability to remain healthy through much of the campaign – his 15 regular season games played also marked a personal high – and his fit within Ryans’ scheme.

Having enjoyed a breakout campaign ahead of his first trip to free agency, Greenard would no doubt generate a considerable market if he were to depart Houston. The 26-year-old has made it clear, however, that his preference would be to remain with the Texans on a second contract. Likewise, the team wishes to retain him.

“I know I definitely want to come back, but as we know, that’s not up to me,” Greenard said, via Aaron Wilson of KPRC2“At this point, I can’t do much more. I feel like I put my portfolio out there and closed that chapter and the rest will take care of itself. If they have me back, I’ll be 10 toes down, but if not, it’s just a game. I’ll definitely appreciate if this was the last time.”

Greenard’s remarks certainly suggest he is willing to explore other offers, but Wilson notes the Texans are “expected to try to retain” him. Doing so could be a pricey undertaking given the nature of the edge market; 18 pass rushers average at least $15MM per year on their current deals. Houston is set to be among the league leaders in cap space this offseason, however, so finding the funds to keep Greenard in the fold should be manageable.

The Florida product could partner with 2023 third overall pick Will Anderson as a foundational member of Houston’s defensive front for years to come if a long-term agreement can be worked out. If that does not turn out to be the case, however, the Texans could experience signficant upheaval along the edge since veterans Derek Barnett and Jerry Hughes are also pending free agents.

Texans Place RB Dameon Pierce On IR

Dameon Pierce‘s season has come to an end. The Texans have placed the rookie running back on injured reserve, reports ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter).

Pierce suffered a high ankle sprain during Houston’s Week 14 loss to the Cowboys, although initial reports indicated that the injury was mild. It was believed that the rookie RB may only have to miss a game or two, which wouldn’t necessitate a move to IR. Instead, the Texans decided to shut down Pierce for the year.

The fourth-round rookie has quickly established himself as an offensive focal point in Houston. He’s started all 13 games for the Texans, and he leads all rookies with 939 rushing yards. In total, the Florida product has contributed 1,104 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns. With Pierce out for the final four games, the Texans will likely turn to Rex Burkhead and Dare Ogunbowale to lead their RB room. Royce Freeman will also be signed to the active roster, according to Aaron Wilson of (on Twitter).

Cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. and defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth are also heading to IR, per Yates. Stingley, the third-overall pick in this year’s draft, hasn’t played since Week 10 while recovering from a hamstring injury. He started each of his nine appearances for the Texans this season, collecting 43 tackles and one interception. After starting the season in Kansas City, Stallworth got into one game for Houston in 2022.

There is some good news on the injury front. According to Wilson (on Twitter), the Texans have also activated defensive lineman Jon Greenard from IR. Greenard had eight sacks in 12 starts last season, and he started each of Houston’s first four games this year before landing on IR. To round out their moves, the Texans signed defensive back Jacobi Francis to the 53-man roster and have promoted defensive back Will Redmond and tight end Mason Schreck from the practice squad.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/7/22

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ellefson came off IR just last week and did not play in the Vikings’ matchup against the Jets. A nagging groin injury will send the third-year tight end back to IR. Although the new IR rules allow for players to be activated twice from IR, Minnesota’s injury-return math may come into play by the time Ellefson’s second activation window opens (Week 18).

In Darden, Browns snagged the NFL’s punt-return yards leader. The 2021 Bucs fourth-rounder has not seen much action on offense, with Tampa Bay oozing experience at the receiver position. But he has been Tampa Bay’s primary punt returner. Darden has totaled 330 punt-return yards this season. A 2021 third-round pick, Schwartz sustained a concussion that has sent him to IR. Ragland has spent the past month on the Raiders’ taxi squad. The Browns are the former second-round pick’s fifth team in four seasons; the ex-Jets draftee was with the Chiefs, Lions and Giants from 2019-21. After losing Anthony Walker and Jacob Phillips earlier this year, the Browns moved Sione Takitaki to IR with an ACL tear this week.

A rotational cog for the Saints, Colts and Chiefs during his five-year career, Stallworth played only 14% of Kansas City’s defensive snaps this season. He committed a third-down roughing-the-passer penalty during a Bengals touchdown drive in Week 13. The Texans had already used one of their injury activations on Dwumfour; the 1-10-1 team has three remaining. Greenard, who led the 2021 Texans with eight sacks, has been on the shelf since going down with a calf injury in an October practice.

Texans Place DE Jonathan Greenard On IR

The Texans will be without one of their top pass rushers for the next month-plus. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that Houston is placing defensive end Jonathan Greenard on the injured reserve.

The defensive end injured his calf this week during practice. The injury is expected to sideline Greenard for four to six weeks. The pass rusher missed Week 5 with an ankle injury but was expected to be back on the field after Houston’s bye week. Instead, while preparing for Week 7, Greenard suffered an injury that will keep him off the field for at least the next four games.

The 2020 third-round pick made a name for himself in 2021. In 12 starts for Houston, Greenard finished with 33 tackles, eight sacks, and a pair of forced fumbles. Through four games this season, he collected 1.5 sacks and five tackles for loss, with Pro Football Focus ranking him 78th among 116 qualifying edge rushers. The 25-year-old graded out much better in the past, ranking 11th in 2021.

When Greenard was out of the lineup in Week 5, Mario Addison made his season debut and ended up playing 64 percent of his team’s defensive snaps. Rasheem Green has also seen his role grow, culminating in him seeing a season-high in defensive snaps in Week 5. The duo will likely fill in for Greenard at defensive end opposite Jerry Hughes, with Demone Harris and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo also there to soak up some snaps.