4:29pm: The veteran quarterback has indeed suffered a torn ACL, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who adds the Falcons will be on the hunt for a new backup quarterback. The team has since announced the unfortunate results of McCarron’s MRI. McCarron has seven years’ experience as a QB2, leaving the Falcons with work to do at an unideal time. However, Ryan’s durability (three missed starts in 13 seasons) will help the franchise on this front.
9:10am: Falcons quarterback A.J. McCarron suffered a serious knee injury during last night’s preseason matchup against the Dolphins. After handing the ball off to running back Qadree Ollison in the second quarter, McCarron grabbed his right knee and tried to walk off the field, though he was initially unable to do so. He ultimately walked gingerly to the locker room, and neither McCarron nor head coach Arthur Smith were encouraged by the prognosis.
“I really feel for [McCarron],” Smith said (via Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com). “Any time something like that happens and it’s non-contact, it’s tough when you know what these guys put into it. I feel for A.J. We’ll obviously get the MRI to confirm but he’s heartbroken.”
Smith did not want to speculate on the specifics until after McCarron gets an MRI, but it certainly sounds as if it will be a season-ender for the former Alabama star. Which means that the Falcons, who signed McCarron to a one-year deal this offseason to serve as Matt Ryan‘s backup, could be in the market for a veteran passer.
The only other QB on the roster, undrafted rookie Feleipe Franks, took over for McCarron and completed four of his nine passes for 46 yards. He also threw an interception and took four sacks, adding three carries for 32 yards.
As one might expect, the current free agent quarterback list is uninspiring and includes the likes of Blake Bortles and Josh Rosen, though new ESPN talent Robert Griffin III could be an option. Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com also speculates that, if the Titans were to cut Logan Woodside, he might become a target for Atlanta (Twitter link). Smith, Tennessee’s former offensive coordinator, is high on Woodside’s talent, and the McCarron situation might compel the Titans to keep Woodside on their roster to avoid having him poached.
Ryan Tannehill missed games due to injury from 2016-18, dealing with multiple ACL tears during this span — one that included a full-season absence in 2017. But the former top-10 pick has re-established himself with the Titans, not missing a game for health reasons since his 2019 trade to Tennessee.
However, the Titans’ soon-to-be 33-year-old starter can still be labeled injury-prone. And Tennessee has an interesting backup situation. Logan Woodside has not seen the field much in three seasons, while DeShone Kizer‘s 2017 run as a starter played a significant role in the Browns completing the NFL’s second 0-16 season. But the Titans appear content with this duo behind Tannehill.
Woodside checked the necessary boxes for the Titans’ staff as Tannehill’s backup last year, according to TennesseeTitans.com’s Jim Wyatt, who adds the former seventh-round pick will have the edge to keep this gig over Kizer. The latter, a Browns 2017 second-rounder who landed on the Titans’ practice squad last November, has shown strides this offseason, Wyatt adds.
A Toledo product, Woodside has appeared in six games in three seasons. He has taken just 21 career snaps, with only three of those being pass plays. The Browns traded Kizer to the Packers after one season. The Notre Dame alum has not attempted a regular-season pass since 2018, when he completed 20 of 42 throws with Green Bay. Kizer led the league with 22 interceptions in 2017. The Raiders claimed him off waivers in September 2019 but cut him from their practice squad for good in September 2020.
Were the Titans to look at a veteran backup, Brett Hundley and Sean Mannion remain in free agency. The Titans carried Trevor Siemian on their practice squad for two months last year, but the Saints poached him from that unit in November. The Titans could look to the trade market, but as long as Tannehill is healthy, the team plans to roll with the Woodside-Kizer duo behind its starter.
While speculation swirls about the Titans and a potential Jadeveon Clowney signing, here’s the latest on the players who are actually on Tennessee’s roster:
Last year, Derrick Henry led the league in both carries (303) and rushing yards (1,540). This year, he’ll likely be looking at a reduced workload. Tennessee’s offense will benefit “if more guys are touching the ball,” Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith says (Twitter link via Michael Giardi of NFL.com). If a significant number of those touches figure to go to third-round rookie Darrynton Evans, Henry’s future earnings could be impacted. Unless the Titansand Derrick Henry come to terms on an extension between now and the July 15 deadline, the running back will be on course for free agency in 2021. It’s worth mentioning that a lighter workload may actually benefit Henry as teams tend to fret about RB odometers.
Corey Davis‘ future with the Titans is also in limbo, but Smith tells the team website that he likes what he’s seen out of the wide receiver thus far. “There were some huge explosive plays (last year) that Corey was the unsung hero to,” Smith said. “He’s a big part of this offense and I think he’ll take another step. I feel very confident in Corey, A.J. and Adam (Humphries) and that group.” The Titans, as expected, turned down Davis’ fifth-year option in May. Through three pro seasons, Davis has just six touchdowns to his credit.
There’s been talk of the Titans adding a veteran backup quarterback, but Smith suggested that the QB2 job will go to either Logan Woodside or Cole McDonald, depending on how the camp competition unfolds.
The Colts clearly made a quarterback upgrade a top priority this offseason. In addition to the research done onPhilip Rivers and Tom Brady, and a Nick Folestrade inquiry with a division rival, the Colts looked into Andy Dalton. The Colts discussed Dalton with the Bengals, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets (video link). It is not clear how far the discussions progressed, but Rapoport suggests Dalton would have needed to agree to reduce his 2020 salary. The veteran quarterback is set to make $17.5MM in base salary. The Colts viewed Rivers as a better option than Foles, Rapoport adds, and may well have felt the same about the prospect of giving up assets for Dalton as opposed to paying Rivers $25MM.
Here is the latest from the AFC South:
Yannick Ngakoue still wants out of Jacksonville. The franchise-tagged defensive end insists he wants a trade from the Jaguars because of issues with the franchise that do not involve money, the disgruntled defensive end tweets. The Jaguars fired executive VP Tom Coughlin late last season. Grievances came the Jags’ way due largely to Coughlin’s actions, and Jalen Ramsey expressed issues with the since-dismissed exec. Ngakoue still harboring ill will toward the franchise suggests he took issue with Jaguars staffers beyond Coughlin. Ngakoue left Jags OTAs last year, skipped minicamp and broke off extension talks with the organization. The Jags were believed to have taken the unusual step of offering Ngakoue a short-term deal. It appears he will be traded this offseason.
Logan Ryan remains a free agent, but it does not seem the door is closed on the veteran cornerback returning to Tennessee. The Titans have maintained talks with Ryan’s representation, Tennessee GM Jon Robinson said Wednesday. The last we heard on Ryan, the longtime starter was holding out hope for a $10MM-per-year offer. That being nearly two weeks ago points to Ryan maybe needing to settle for less.
Robinson expressed similar strategies regarding his team’s backup quarterback and backup running back situations. The Titans are not satisfied with these spots, though they are not ruling out respective promotions for Logan Woodside and Dalyn Dawkins. However, Robinson said the team will keep monitoring the free agent market and look in the draft for potential upgrades. The Titans released Dion Lewis, their complementary back of the past two years, and predictably let Marcus Mariota walk in free agency.
The Titans also will hold a kicking competition. They signed Greg Joseph off the Panthers’ practice squad last year and moved on from Ryan Succop this offseason, but Robinson adds that the team will bring in another kicker to vie for the job with Joseph. Tennessee kickers made a stunning eight field goals last season, going 8-for-18 on the season.
Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four AFC South teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Colts, Jaguars, Texans and Titans are noted below.
Additionally, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads today. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.
Here are Sunday’s AFC South transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.