Kaden Elliss

Falcons To Sign LB Kaden Elliss

The Falcons aren’t done making big moves on defense. This time, the team is adding free agent linebacker Kaden Elliss, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter).

[RELATED: Falcons To Sign S Jessie Bates]

The former seventh-round pick had a breakout season in 2022. Elliss ended up starting 11 of his 17 appearances, finishing with 78 tackles, seven sacks, and a pair of forced fumbles. Pro Football Focus was particularly fond of his performance, ranking him seventh among 81 qualifying linebackers.

The breakout season couldn’t have come at a better time with Elliss hitting free agency this offseason. The Saints surely won’t be happy that the pass-rusher will be heading to a division rival, but Atlanta surely had to pay up for the free agent’s services. Indeed, it’s a three-year, $21.5MM contract, including $11MM guaranteed, per Raport (on Twitter).

Elliss will be relied on to help turn around one of the league’s worst pass-rushing units in 2022. The Falcons finished last season with only 21 sacks, the second-lowest total in the NFL. He’ll be following new Falcons defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen to Atlanta; the coach served as New Orleans’ co-defensive coordinator last year after a long stint as their defensive line coach.

The Falcons have been busy spending on defense today. The front office gave safety Jessie Bates a $64MM contract and handed defensive tackle David Onyemata a $35MM deal.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 12/29/21

Several key players returned to practice Wednesday. Here are the latest COVID-19 updates from around the league:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Activated from practice squad/COVID-19 list: WR Rico Bussey

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Saints’ COVID Surge

Yesterday, the Saints saw 9 players hit the reserve/COVID-19 list including quarterbacks Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian who were expected to handle the duties behind center for the rest of the year with Jameis Winston on IR with a torn ACL. In addition to those two, guard James Carpenter, linebacker Kaden Elliss, defensive back Jeff Heath, defensive end Jalyn Holmes, defensive back Malcolm Jenkins, defensive tackle Christian Ringo, and tackle Jordan Mills all found themselves on the COVID list. Besides the quarterbacks and full-time starter Jenkins, the other six players have a combined 8 starts between them.

With three quarterbacks currently unavailable for Monday Night’s matchup with the Dolphins, the Saints are expected to start the rookie fourth-round pick out of Notre Dame, Ian Book. As we reported earlier this morning, New Orleans also made the move of signing Blake Bortles as a contingency plan behind Book.

Well, despite the addition, the Saints didn’t fair any better today, losing full-time starters Ryan Ramczyk at tackle and Demario Davis at linebacker to the reserve/COVID-19 list, as well as reserves running back Dwayne Washington and safety J.T. Gray.

With the losses, the Saints will continue to operate with a depleted roster, like every other NFL team this year. The Saints’ lineup now lacks the likes of regular starters like Winston, Hill, Jenkins, Ramczyk, Davis, kicker Wil Lutz, tackle Andrus Peat, tight end Adam Trautman, and wide receiver Michael Thomas. Although they look like a shell of the team they could be at full strength, the Saints, along with the rest of the NFL, will continue to work to make the most of a bad situation as they currently sit only two spots outside of the final Wild Card spot with a 7-7 record, losing the tiebreakers to current 7-seed Minnesota and 8-seed Philadelphia.

Saints Place Taysom Hill, Trevor Siemian On Reserve/COVID-19 List

The Saints are the latest team with a virus issue. It may well lead the playoff-contending squad starting a rookie at quarterback Monday night.

New Orleans placed Trevor Siemian on the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier Thursday morning, Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com notes, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds that Taysom Hill will also be moved to the virus list (Twitter link). Rookie Ian Book is the next man up. The Notre Dame product is likely to get the call Monday night.

Book would be New Orleans’ fourth QB starter this season, following Jameis Winston, Siemian and Hill. The Saints selected the ex-Fighting Irish standout in the fourth round. This certainly could stall the Saints’ recent momentum. After nearly falling out of the playoff race during a stretch without Alvin Kamara, the Saints have won two straight — including a 9-0 win in Tampa that doubled as Tom Brady‘s first shutout loss in 15 years.

Sean Payton has not been at the facility this week; the 16th-year head coach remains away from the team after testing positive for COVID last week. The Saints chose Book 133rd overall. He started three seasons at Notre Dame, topping out with a 34-touchdown pass season as a junior in 2019.

Book is also the winningest starting QB in Notre Dame history. He stands to be tasked with helping the Saints stay on the No. 7 seed line in the NFC playoff race. The Saints’ win over the Buccaneers moved them to 7-7; FiveThirtyEight.com gives the team a 44% chance to make the playoffs. New Orleans being forced to give the keys to a Day 3 rookie with zero regular-season snaps will impact those odds.

The Saints also added seven more players to their reserve/COVID-19 list. Malcolm Jenkins is among them. Joining the veteran safety are safety Jeff Heath, guard James Carpenter, offensive lineman Jordan Mills, defensive end Jalyn Holmes, D-tackle Christian Ringo and linebacker Kaden Elliss.

Saints To Sign Stephone Anthony

The Saints are set to sign linebacker Stephone Anthony, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). He’ll take the roster spot of fellow ‘backer Kaden Elliss, who has been placed on injured reserve, Mike Triplett of ESPN.com tweets.

Anthony was a first-round pick of the Saints in 2015, but he didn’t live up to expectations. During the 2017 season, the club shipped him off to the Dolphins, who declined his fifth-year option and allowed him to walk after the 2018 season. This offseason, he signed deals with the Falcons and Jets, who both released him in August.

He hadn’t received any known interest since then, but luckily for him his former team suffered a rash of injuries at linebacker. As Rapoport pointed out in his tweet, Anthony is also reuniting with special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi, who was his special teams coordinator during his time in Miami.

Ellis is dealing with a knee injury, and starting linebacker Alex Anzalone had already been placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Ellis is a seventh-round rookie for Idaho who had only been a depth piece prior to his injury. Anthony started all 16 games as a rookie in 2015, but he started only three the next year and never made a start in Miami as he played mostly on special teams.

Saints Sign Entire Draft Class

That’s a wrap! On Friday, the Saints announced that they have signed their entire draft class:

All players will receive four-year deals. But, naturally, McCoy gets the biggest payout of the bunch. His draft slot at No. 48 overall gives him almost $6.1MM in total, with a signing bonus of nearly $2.5MM.

McCoy spent three years as the Aggies’ starting center, but he also made a pair of starts at guard in 2017. With the Saints, McCoy is expected to compete for the starting center job, though he could theoretically see time at left or right guard.

The Saints had a condensed draft class this year, due in part to the two trades they made to land McCoy and Gardner-Johnson. Last year, Gardner-Johnson made 71 tackles, nine tackles for loss, three sacks, and came away with a team-high four interceptions. He already has a relationship with secondary coach Aaron Glenn and couldn’t be happier to be in New Orleans.

It’s the best all around team from top to bottom, offense and defense,”Gardner-Johnson said recently. “I’m just coming into a system where everything has a standard. I’m just going to come in and live up to that standard so everyone on the team and in the front office upstairs can be proud of me and say these guys are set.”