Maliek Collins

Bills, Texans Interested In Arik Armstead; Houston Submitted Offer To Sheldon Rankins

With the 49ers officially designating Arik Armstead as a post-June 1 release, interest in the nine-year veteran defensive lineman is forming.

The Titans became the first known Armstead suitor, but KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson notes the Texans join them. Like recent Texans pickup Azeez Al-Shaair, Armstead played under DeMeco Ryans in San Francisco. The 30-year-old defender does not have a clear connection to the Bills, but The Athletic’s Matt Barrows mentioned Buffalo as a team to monitor here. Wilson adds the Bills are indeed interested.

Ryans coached Armstead for two seasons as 49ers defensive coordinator but was in San Francisco during six of the D-lineman’s nine years in the Bay Area. The Texans have added Danielle HunterDenico Autry and Folorunso Fatukasi up front but have endured multiple subtractions on their defensive interior. Sheldon Rankins signed with the Bengals hours after the Texans traded Maliek Collins to the 49ers.

Houston looks to have driven up Cincinnati’s price on Rankins, with Wilson adding the AFC South club made a $12MM-per-year offer to the former first-round pick. Rankins joined the Bengals on a two-year, $26MM deal; he will be set to team with B.J. Hill up front in Cincinnati. Rankins posted his best pass-rushing season since 2018, totaling six sacks and ranking seventh in ESPN’s pass rush win rate metric.

As for Collins, Wilson indicates the team made the decision to move on from the three-year contributor over the weekend. That still proved to be an interesting trade, seeing as Collins totaled five sacks after signing a through-2025 extension last year. The Texans attempted to trade Collins for Armstead, per Wilson. Considering the 49ers cut Armstead, it is unclear what led to the talks breaking down. The 49ers offered Armstead a pay cut, but he balked with an intent on testing free agency.

The Bills are keeping DaQuan Jones, but the veteran run stuffer and Armstead have differing skillsets. The former first-round pick has worked as a plus interior pass rusher, teaming with Nick Bosa as the 49ers’ D-line pillars under Ryans and Robert Saleh. Ed Oliver signed an extension last year, but the Bills have some work to do on their defensive interior. Jordan Phillips, Tim Settle, Poona Ford and Linval Joseph are free agents.

Armstead is coming off knee surgery, after a season in which knee and foot trouble kept him out of five late-season games. The 6-foot-7 defensive tackle returned in the playoffs at less than 100% and sacked Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LVIII. Armstead has eight career postseason sacks, notching at least two during the 2019, 2021 and 2022 playoffs. Despite injuries shortening his 2022 and ’23 seasons, Armstead fared well last year. Pass rush win rate slotted the Oregon alum 10th, while Pro Football Focus ranked him 15th among interior D-linemen while assigning a career-best run-stoppage grade. Armstead totaled five sacks and 13 QB hits in 2023.

Additionally, the Texans are meeting with Settle, according to Wilson. Profiling as a cheaper option compared to Armstead, Settle spent the past two seasons in Buffalo on a two-year, $14MM deal. Once part of the first-rounder-laden Washington D-line, Settle has not disproved his five-sack 2018 season was a fluke. He has never registered more than two in any other slate. The Virginia Tech alum started only four games with the Bills, though he is still just 26.

Texans To Trade DT Maliek Collins To 49ers

Maliek Collins signed three Texans contracts in three years; his most recent will be transferred to the 49ers’ payroll. Houston is sending the veteran defensive tackle to San Francisco, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reports.

The 49ers will acquire the former Cowboys, Raiders and Texans interior D-lineman for a seventh-round pick, Schefter adds. Collins, 29 next month, spent the past three seasons in Houston. He is coming off a career-best pass-rushing season. With Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw heading out of town, the 49ers are revamping their DT group alongside Javon Hargrave.

San Francisco will send this year’s No. 232 overall pick to Houston, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweets. The Texans will end up dropping eight spots in the seventh round by trading Collins and acquiring Joe Mixon, who cost only the 224th overall choice.

This should prove to be a scheme fit, considering Collins started in DeMeco Ryans‘ defense last season. After shifting away from their Ryans-Robert Saleh scheme under Steve Wilks, the 49ers scrapped that plan and promoted Nick Sorensen to lead the defense. Collins will remain a 4-3 D-tackle in San Francisco.

Collins totaled five sacks in Ryans’ defense last season, tallying a career-high — by a wide margin — 18 QB hits in his third year with the Texans. ESPN’s pass rush win rate metric ranked Collins 12th among interior D-linemen in 2023.

The team has added Denico Autry and Foley Fatukasi in free agency; those veterans look set to move into Houston’s starting lineup. Collins may not be a lock to start in San Francisco, but his contract ($11.5MM per year) would suggest that is going to happen.

Signing Collins in 2021 to work in Lovie Smith‘s system, the Texans re-signed the ex-Cowboys draftee a year later. Despite changing schemes under Ryans, the team gave Collins a two-year, $23MM extension last summer. Two years remain on that deal, which could certainly provide good value for a 49ers team that did well to grab Charles Omenihu from the Texans in 2021. On a roster that featured low-cost deals just about everywhere but the offensive line, Collins’ deal stood out. It will blend in more on the 49ers’ payroll.

Hargrave is sticking around as the highest-profile Nick Bosa sidekick, but the defending NFC champions are retooling around the two veterans. Leonard Floyd and Yetur Gross-Matos are coming in on midlevel deals to supplement Bosa on the edge, while ex-Browns starter Jordan Elliott will be part of the 49ers’ interior mix alongside Hargrave. Armstead started for nine seasons in San Francisco. The 49ers offered the 6-foot-7 regular a pay cut, but this trade and the Elliott pickup would suggest the team is not planning to have Armstead back at a reduced rate. The Titans are believed to be interested in Armstead, while Kinlaw joined the Jets.

Texans Notes: Green, Perryman, Griffin, Staff

The Texans received updates on two injury situations with the potential to bleed over into training camp, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2. It looks like Houston will see a defender back at full-speed, while an offensive starter may have a bit further to go.

Firstly, Wilson reported that free agent addition Denzel Perryman is nearly back to full-strength after recovering from labrum shoulder surgery. The former Raiders linebacker missed games last year with a dislocated shoulder before ultimately undergoing the procedure. The 30-year-old has graded out as a top-30 linebacker in each of his two years in Las Vegas, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). He’s projected to start beside Christian Kirksey and Christian Harris in 2023.

On the offensive side of the ball, last year’s rookie starter at offensive guard, Kenyon Green, is still making his way back from an arthroscopic knee surgery that he underwent this offseason. New head coach DeMeco Ryans was noncommittal on when Green would return“We’ll see where Kenyon is come training camp,” Ryans told reporters. “For Kenyon, he has to be ready to go, and the work he puts in over the next few weeks will see if he’s ready and ready to go out and compete.”

Here are a few other rumors coming out of H-Town:

  • The Texans were recently able to add free agent cornerback Shaquill Griffin to their secondary. According to another report from Wilson, Houston wasn’t the only team with interest in the veteran corner. Griffin claims that along with his former team in Jacksonville and his new team in Houston, he felt interest from the Vikings and Commanders. He only made one visit, but his trip to Texas was enough to sell him on the team’s scheme and “energy.”
  • Houston was recently able to reach an agreement to extend defensive tackle Maliek Collins to a new two-year, $23MM deal with a reported $20MM of guaranteed money. Recent updates adjust the latter number slightly. Collins was actually guaranteed $20.5MM, consisting of a $10.5MM signing bonus, Collins’s 2023 base salary of $2MM, and his 2024 base salary of $8MM. His contract will also include a per game active bonus of $29,411 for a potential season total of $500k.
  • Lastly, there was a bit of a shakeup in the Texans’ front office last weekend. According to Wilson, former chief of staff Nick Kray is no longer with the organization. Kray came over with Ryans from the same position in San Francisco when Ryans took the head coaching gig in Houston. Since his departure, assistant to the coaches Jake Olson has taken over Kray’s duties. Olson was recently added to the staff after stints as Kent State director of football operations and Yale chief of staff.

Texans, Maliek Collins Agree On Extension

For the second straight offseason, the Texans are giving Maliek Collins a two-year contract. The veteran defensive tackle will now be signed through the 2025 season.

Collins agreed to terms on a two-year, $23MM extension Wednesday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). That deal will include $20MM guaranteed. This marks a nice raise for the ex-Cowboys draftee. His previous contract — a two-year, $17MM pact — contained $8.5MM guaranteed. Only $1MM guaranteed remained on Collins’ 2022 agreement.

Although Collins has only been in Houston since 2021, this marks his third contract with the rebuilding team. Nick Caserio‘s first offseason in the Houston GM chair involved a one-year, $5MM deal. The Texans re-signed Collins as a free agent in 2022 and will now make a bigger bet on the former Cowboys and Raiders starter. It would not be surprising to learn the $20MM number represents the total guarantee, rather than the amount locked in at signing, but this continues to show the franchise’s commitment to the D-line starter. Collins will enter the 2023 season with 96 career starts.

Despite the Texans firing David Culley and Lovie Smith after one season apiece, they are deeming Collins an early fit in a new defensive scheme. DeMeco Ryans is installing his 4-3 alignment, moving Collins to a full-time D-tackle role. He played in a 4-3 look in Dallas and Las Vegas, and with teams generally rushing four from nickel sets, the 3-4/4-3 divide is not nearly as notable as it once was.

Collins, 28, served as one of the more reliable pieces on two bad Texans teams. A 15-game starter in 2021 and 2022, Collins has combined for six sacks and 18 tackles for loss during his Houston run. While Pro Football Focus graded the former third-round pick as a mid-pack interior D-lineman last season, the advanced metrics site slotted him in the top 20 against the pass. While Ryans does not have an Arik Armstead-level piece on his new Texans defense, Collins’ contract points to him being the team’s interior pillar.

The Texans have obviously not come close to replacing J.J. Watt, one of the NFL’s all-time D-line greats, but they do have two veteran starters in place to start Ryans’ run. In addition to extending Collins, the team brought in former first-rounder Sheldon Rankins on a one-year, $9.75MM deal. The Texans also signed ex-49er rotational cog Hassan Ridgeway this offseason. The team’s Collins-led inside corps should be improved in 2023.

Texans To Re-Sign Maliek Collins

The Texans are keeping Maliek Collins. On Tuesday, the defensive tackle agreed to return on a two-year deal worth $17MM (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport).  The pact also includes $8.5MM guaranteed, giving Collins security heading into his seventh pro season.

[RELATED: Falcons Eyeing Texans’ Watson?]

Collins, a three-technique tackle, emerged as a key contributor in Lovie Smith‘s defense last year. The two sides were said to have mutual interest and, as expected, they’ve hashed out a deal in advance of the official start to free agency.

The Texans snagged Collins on a one-year, $5MM deal last year. This time around, they were willing to go significantly higher. At one point in time, Collins seemed like a lost cause. However, he’s clearly bounced back from his iffy Raiders run.

Last year, Collins notched a career-high 29 tackles with nine tackles for loss, seven quarterback hits, and 2.5 sacks.

AFC Notes: Bailey, Steelers, Collins, Weeks

Going into the last year of his contract, Patriots punter Jake Bailey was set to earn a base salary of $925,000 for the 2022 NFL season. Due to a proven performance bonus that was triggered when Bailey was selected to the 2020 Pro Bowl, Bailey is on track to be the NFL’s highest-paid punter with a 2022 salary of $3.98MM, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.

A knee injury limited Bailey in the 2021 season which saw him struggle to live up to his expected salary. It’s now assumed that the Patriots will begin working towards a contract extension to lessen the cap hit Bailey is posed to hold. In a normal situation, the Patriots might want to see another season of success out of Bailey after a down 2021, but Bailey’s raise puts a little pressure on New England to work out a deal sooner rather than later.

Here are a few more notes from around the AFC, starting with a note from the Steel City:

  • In an article for The Athletic, Ed Bouchette poses the question: What does Pittsburgh do about their pass-catchers this offseason? The Steelers have long subscribed to the notion that they don’t need to sign a receiver to a multi-year extension (with the exception of Antonio Brown). They can (and do) always just draft another. Now, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Ray-Ray McCloud are headed towards free agency. They still have Diontae Johnson (heading into a contract year, himself) and Chase Claypool, but both have had their own issues: Johnson with drops and Claypool failing to improve on an impressive rookie-season. Pittsburgh can (and likely will) turn to the second and third round of the draft to address the thin roster, as usual, but do they break protocol to ensure they have at least three receivers they can trust?
  • After a one-year deal brought him to Houston, defensive tackle Maliek Collins has the Texans hooked. The 3-tech tackle played a pivotal role in now-head coach Lovie Smith‘s defense and the Texans are determined to pluck him off the open market and keep him in Houston. Luckily for Lovie, the feeling is reportedly mutual, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. Collins is a strong fit in Houston and embraced his new team and his role on the team. Smith gushed about Collins and his impact, identifying him as the linchpin of their defensive system.
  • We mentioned a couple weeks ago that the Texans were able to re-sign long-time long snapper Jon Weeks on a one-year deal. Details on the contract were provided this week by Aaron Wilson on Twitter. Weeks will stay around the veteran minimum, slightly increasing his base salary from $1.08MM to $1.12MM and slightly increasing his signing bonus from $137,500 to $152,500. Consider it a cost-of-living raise for Weeks who will become the franchise’s longest-tenured player of all time when he reaches his 13th season this fall, passing star wide receiver Andre Johnson for the most seasons in Houston of all time.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 12/31/21

Here are the New Year’s Eve additions and subtractions from teams’ reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

  • Activated from practice squad virus list: T Drew Himmelman, LB Barrington Wade

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

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

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/20/21

A long list of players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. We listed the players who landed on the list today, as well as those who were activated off the list:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New York Giants

New York Jets

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: DE John Franklin-Myers, DB Sharrod Neasman

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Texans To Sign DT Maliek Collins

Maliek Collins will relocate for the second straight offseason. The veteran defensive tackle agreed to terms with the Texans on Monday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

The former Cowboys draftee and 2020 Raiders contributor will sign a one-year contract worth up to $6MM, Schefter adds. This could represent good value for the rebuilding Texans, with Collins having started 66 games in his five-year career.

A third-round Cowboys pick in 2016, Collins became a Dallas regular immediately. He will a Houston D-line that lost J.J. Watt this offseason. Collins, who will turn 26 next month, played 12 games last season (11 starts) but failed to record a sack or a tackle for loss as a Raider.

This represents a “prove it”-type deal for the longtime starter. The Texans will surely add more starters to a defense that has fallen on hard times in recent years.