Kamu Grugier-Hill

Vikings Waiting For 2022 Draft Class To Step Up

2022 was the first draft in Minnesota for general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. While there have been some success stories like fourth-round cornerback Akayleb Evans becoming a starter in Year 2 and fifth-round running back Ty Chandler serving as a decent RB2 in his sophomore campaign, the class has overall been a bit of a disappointment.

We already commented on Kevin Seifert of ESPN’s stance that former first-round safety Lewis Cine could be on the roster bubble, but Seifert didn’t stop there, claiming that the other three picks in the first three rounds could run into similar difficulties this offseason.

This statement expands to the later picks of the draft class, as well, though it obviously doesn’t pertain to Evans and Chandler. Worth mentioning, though, is former sixth-round offensive tackle Vederian Lowe, who was traded to the Patriots for a seventh-round pick and went on to start eight games in New England last year, and fifth-round pass rusher Esezi Otomewo, who was waived after a year with the team.

Of the remaining players in the class, LSU second-round offensive guard Ed Ingram has been the most impactful player. Ingram became an instant, full-time starter as a rookie and has only missed two games in his time with the team. That being said, head coach Kevin O’Connell seemed to indicate recently that both starting guard spots are being fought for in a three-way competition between Ingram, backup tackle Blake Brandel, and Dalton Risner.

The battle could be a result of underwhelming performance from the second-rounder. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Ingram graded out as the 57th-best guard in the league out of 77 graded players his rookie year. Though he improved to the 38th-ranked guard in 2023, his overall score that determines those rankings only rose from 57.0 to 59.5. For reference, the top players at the position graded out in the 80s. Ingram could certainly win one of the two available starting jobs over Brandel and Risner, but the fact that, going into his third year, Ingram’s in danger of losing his job as the incumbent starter points to relative disappointment.

Taken 17 picks before Ingram, former Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth has also failed to play up to his second-round draft stock. Booth was already playing behind the starters, Evans and Byron Murphy, last year, but he is in danger of continuing to tumble down the depth chart as free agent addition Shaquill Griffin comes in with far more starting experience and fourth-round rookie Khyree Jackson could have more goodwill to win a roster spot in his first year with the team.

Third-round linebacker Brian Asamoah has likewise failed to crack the rotation in his first two years out of Oklahoma. He’s not likely to earn any starting time in 2024 as he’s been consistently working behind Ivan Pace and Blake Cashman so far this offseason. The free agent addition of veteran Kamu Grugier-Hill will likely take away any snaps as the primary backup at the position, as well.

Seventh-round pick Nick Muse was maybe not expected to do much as a late-round tight end, but he’s only been on the field for two offensive snaps in his career and missed all but two games last year. He may not see much room for improvement in 2024 as he’s been buried on a depth chart that now includes T.J. Hockenson, Josh Oliver, Robert Tonyan, and Johnny Mundt.

Lastly, sixth-round receiver Jalen Nailor was also mentioned by Seifert but on a slightly more positive note. Seifert claims that the coaching staff really wants to see Nailor make an impact and possibly earn the WR3 role this offseason. That role was vacated as K.J. Osborn departed for New England in free agency, and the Vikings didn’t really do much to replace Osborn after he left. With Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison leading the receiving corps, Nailor has an opportunity to step up into a crucial role.

Nailor’s early career has been hampered by injury. He missed seven games early in the season last year before sitting out the final four contests, as well. But coaches have pegged him as a “slippery target that defenders have trouble tracking” during his limited time in games and practice. While the coaches are hoping that he’ll force their hand, he’ll be competing with Brandon Powell, who was the fourth receiver on the team after coming over from the Rams last year, and Trent Sherfield, who has been an inconsistent contributor over his six years in the league.

So, Adofo-Mensah’s first draft did not produce the desired results in 2022, and while he did a little better by nailing Addison in the first round last year, the rest of the 2023 class has yet to make their impact. He’ll hope to continue hitting on first-rounders with quarterback J.J. McCarthy and pass rusher Dallas Turner this year, and he’ll hope that late-round picks like Jackson and kicker Will Reichard show their impacts, as well. Entering a bit of a rebuild postKirk Cousins, the team’s success will depend partially on how well Adofo-Mensah can build the team moving forward.

Vikings Add DE Jihad Ward, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill

The Vikings have seen their roster transform drastically over the past couple of weeks. Their efforts to continue building on defense have not stopped yet. Today, Minnesota agreed to deals that bring in defensive end Jihad Ward and linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, per Vikings senior editor Craig Peters.

Ward is an eight-year veteran who was drafted to the Raiders in the second round of the 2016 Draft out of Illinois. While he was never truly able to live up to that second-round draft status, Ward found himself in some solid contributing roles over the past eight seasons.

After starting all but three games as a rookie and failing to register his first NFL sack, Ward needed offseason surgery after a workout injury that would limit him to just one start in five game appearances during his sophomore campaign. He was traded to Dallas in exchange for Ryan Switzer the following offseason but would sign with the Colts practice squad after failing to make the Cowboys’ 53-man roster to start the year.

Since then, Ward has played on one-year contracts that have taken him from Indianapolis to Baltimore to Jacksonville to New York. He’s never quite hit his stride as a consistent starter, though his last two seasons with the Giants saw him start 20 of 34 game appearances. Ward is coming off the most productive time of his career. Over his two seasons with the Giants, he achieved career-highs in total tackles (43), sacks (5.0), tackles for loss (7), quarterback hits (13), passes defensed (4), and forced fumbles (2). In Minnesota, Ward will likely compete with recent signee Jerry Tillery for a starting position opposite Jonathan Bullard. He joins Tillery and Jonah Williams as the third defensive line addition in free agency.

Grugier-Hill is from the same draft class as Ward, getting selected four rounds later by the Patriots. After failing to make the initial 53-man roster as a rookie in New England, Grugier-Hill signed with Philadelphia, where he would spend the first four years of his career. Despite starting 16 of 26 game appearances over his last two years with the Eagles, Grugier-Hill didn’t break out until his 2021 season with the Texans. Over 20 starts for Houston in 2021 and 2022, Grugier-Hill totaled 148 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles, four passes defensed, and an interception that he returned for 82 yards.

After leaving Houston, Grugier-Hill took a minor role with the Cardinals before playing the 2023 season with the Panthers. In a rotation role last year, he started five games and finished sixth on the team in tackles with 56. With the Vikings, Grugier-Hill reunites with former Texans teammate Blake Cashman as the two will compete for the starting job next to Ivan Pace.

The transformation in Minnesota continues. With so many key contributors departing and needing to be replaced, the Vikings continue to evaluate and reload. Vikings fans will be learning a lot of new names and faces as they watch a very different-looking Vikings team in 2024.

Panthers Sign LB Kamu Grugier-Hill

Former Eagles and Texans starting linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill will end up in Carolina. The Panthers announced an agreement with the veteran defender Tuesday.

The Panthers have some openings at the position after having released Damien Wilson and let Cory Littleton walk in free agency. The team still has Shaq Thompson and hybrid player Frankie Luvu in place as its linebacker regulars. Grugier-Hill, who is going into his age-29 season, can provide some experience as a depth player and special-teamer.

The Texans cut Grugier-Hill just before last year’s trade deadline, granting the starter a release days before he would have been subject to the waiver process. The former Patriots draftee-turned-Eagles contributor finished out the season with the Cardinals, who used him as a backup in six games. While the Texans deployed Grugier-Hill as a starter, he has spent more games as a backup.

Grugier-Hill started 20 games for the Texans between the 2021-22 seasons, having reunited with Nick Caserio, who was on the Patriots’ staff when the team drafted him seven years ago. Grugier-Hill finished with career-high marks in tackles (108) and sacks (three) in 2021. He was part of the Eagles’ Super Bowl LII-winning team and then started 10 games for Philadelphia’s 2018 edition. The Eagles used the Eastern Illinois alum steadily on special teams, and he resumed that role with the Cardinals, seeing time on 66% of Arizona’s ST snaps during a six-game cameo with the NFC West team.

This will be Grugier-Hill’s sixth team. After the Patriots moved on before the former sixth-rounder’s rookie season began, he moved to Philly, Miami, Houston and Arizona.

Cardinals Sign LB Kamu Grugier-Hill

Kamu Grugier-Hill has found a new home. The linebacker is signing with the Cardinals, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Grugier-Hill asked for and was granted his release by the Texans last week.

During his lone full season in Houston in 2021, Grugier-Hill collected a career-high 108 tackles, three sacks, and a pair of forced fumbles in 14 games. He also set the Texans’ single-game record for tackles with 19. He collected 40 tackles through Houston’s first six games this year, but he graded out as PFF’s second-worst LB at the time of his release. The Texans were planning to increase rookie third-round pick Christian Harris‘s playing time, and Grugier-Hill decided to seek more playing time elsewhere.

However, it’s remains to be seen if he’ll see a significant role in Arizona. Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons soak up many of the linebacker snaps, and the Texans have also Ben Niemann, Tanner Vallejo, Nick Vigil, and Zeke Turner getting looks at the position.

The Cardinals also brought in offensive lineman Rashaad Coward for a workout today, per Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (on Twitter). Coward saw time in 30 games for the Bears through his first three seasons in the NFL, but he was limited to only four appearances with the Steelers in 2021. The 27-year-old spent the preseason with the Cardinals.

Texans LB Kamu Grugier-Hill Granted Release

Kamu Grugier-Hill has been granted his release. The Texans are cutting the veteran linebacker, according to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (via Twitter).

Per Wilson, Grugier-Hill was set to see a reduced role during the second half of the season, leading the player to ask for his release. The Texans acquiesced and have made the 28-year-old a free agent. Grugier-Hill re-signed with the Texans this past offseason and was playing on a one-year deal.

A former sixth-round pick by the Patriots, Grugier-Hill spent four seasons with the Eagles from 2016 through 2019. After a year with the Dolphins in 2020, he joined Houston for the following campaign. During his lone full season in Houston, the linebacker collected a career-high 108 tackles, three sacks, and a pair of forced fumbles in 14 games. He also set the Texans’ single-game record for tackles with 19.

Grugier-Hill has started each of the team’s first six games this season, compiling 40 tackles. However, he’s graded out as the league’s second-worst linebacker, per Pro Football Focus. As a result, the team will increase the playing time of rookie third-round pick Christian Harris, who will play alongside defensive signal-caller Christian Kirksey.

Texans To Re-Sign LB Kamu Grugier-Hill

The Texans are retaining another of their own free agents whose individual 2021 performance outshone that of the team. According to Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson, the team is re-signing linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill on a one-year, $4MM deal (Twitter link).

Grugier-Hill, who will be 28 at the start of next season, came to Houston in 2021 on a similar deal to this one. His time in Houston was preceded by four seasons with the Eagles and one with the Dolphins. In the case of both of his former clubs, he saw heavy playing time on special teams, though in Miami in particular he started to show his coverage skills.

With the Texans, Grugier-Hill saw his stated desire of more consistent playing time come to fruition. He started all 14 games he played in, setting career-highs across the board. The former sixth-round pick totalled a team-leading 108 tackles, adding three sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception. While his numbers in coverage weren’t as impressive as his background in that aspect of the game suggest they could have been, 2021 was nothing short of a breakout year.

The Grugier-Hill re-signing would mark the third notable move the Texans have made with respect to their LB corps. The team has already re-signed Christian Kirksey and added former Lion Jalen Reeves-Maybin this offseason. With the three of them in the fold, the top of the depth chart at the position appears to be set.

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

Texans To Sign Kamu Grugier-Hill

The Texans haven’t made any big splashes, so far opting for some cheaper but still quality options. Shortly after agreeing to terms with return specialist Andre Roberts, Houston has set their sights on a linebacker.

The Texans have agreed to terms with Kamu Grugier-Hill on a one-year deal worth “up to” $3.25MM, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets. It’s a nice low-risk signing for a rebuilding Texans defense as Grugier-Hill is still only 26 and has excelled in coverage recently.

Grugier-Hill was used as a passing downs specialist by the Dolphins, and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets that he was looking for a more consistent role. He should be able to find that on a Texans team that needed linebacking help.

A sixth-round pick of the Patriots in 2016, Grugier-Hill didn’t make New England’s roster as a rookie and was scooped up by the Eagles. He started 10 games for Philly in 2018 and six the following year before signing a one-year deal with Miami for 2020. He played about 20 percent of the defensive snaps for the Dolphins last year.

Contract Details: Nassib, Alonso, Jefferson

Some more contract details from around the league:

  • DE Carl Nassib, Raiders: signed. Three-year, $25MM deal with $17MM guaranteed, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The deal has a max value of $28MM.
  • LB Kiko Alonso, Saints: restructured contract. Base salary reduced from $6.4MM to $1.7MM, $4.7MM available in incentives. Already has $1.45MM roster bonus, meaning he can still hit his previous $7.85MM total via playing-time bonuses. All notes via ESPN’s Mike Triplett on Twitter.
  • DE Quinton Jefferson, Bills: two-year deal. Contract worth $13.5MM total, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano on Twitter.
  • FB Derek Watt, Steelers: signed. Three-year deal worth $9.75MM, according to ESPN’s Brooke Pryor on Twitter.
  • LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, Dolphins: one-year deal. Contract worth $3MM, including $2MM signing bonus, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo on Twitter. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets that there’s up to $500K in playing time incentives.

Dolphins Sign Kamu Grugier-Hill

The Dolphins have agreed to a one-year deal with linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network. Miami continues its offseason spending spree to add some linebacking and special teams depth.

Grugier-Hill has been with the Eagles for his entire career since he was drafted in the sixth round of the 2016 draft. While he made 16 starts at linebacker in over the past two seasons, Grugier-Hill has served as a captain on special teams in Philadelphia for the previous three seasons.

In his career, Grugier-Hill has made 98 tackles, recorded one sack, one interception, 11 tackles for loss, 3 quarterback hits, and 2 forced fumbles.