Marcus Davenport

Vikings Sign DE Marcus Davenport

MARCH 20: This $13MM deal includes $10MM guaranteed, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 tweets. A $4.5MM signing bonus represents part of that guarantee, and Wilson adds the Vikings used void years (2024-27) to further help them against the 2023 cap. Similar to the language in Dalvin Tomlinson‘s deal — one Minnesota restructured to move the void date back — Davenport’s contract will void 23 days before the 2024 league year. If the Vikings do not agree to terms with Davenport on an extension by that February date, they will be tagged with $6.8MM in dead money.

MARCH 13: Soon, the Vikings will have three starter-caliber edge rushers on their roster. They are adding Marcus Davenport on a one-year deal, according to

The former Saints first-round pick signed for $13MM, making this a well-compensated “prove it” deal for the off-and-on pass rusher. Davenport joins Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith on Minnesota’s roster. Smith, however, has requested to be released. Thus far, the Vikings are not indicating they will oblige.

Former Saints co-DC-turned-Falcons DC Ryan Nielsen wanted to bring Davenport to Atlanta, Mike Garafolo of tweets. But a Davenport-David Onyemata package deal will not be in the cards for the Falcons.

On the subject of Smith, Garafolo adds the Vikings are planning to move on. The 2022 Minnesota pickup made an unusual move to say his goodbyes to the Vikings, who previously were not believed to be readying to release him. It is uncertain if Smith will be released or traded, but Davenport pairing with Hunter looks like the direction the team is heading.

If they are planning to make Smith a Minneapolis one-and-done, the Vikings will be entrusting their edge-rushing responsibilities to two injury-prone players. Although Hunter rebounded from a stretch of significant injury trouble from 2020-21, Davenport missed 12 games during that span. He also underwent five surgeries during the 2022 offseason. He missed two games in 2022 and recorded only a half-sack, leading to this “prove it” arrangement.

However, the pass rusher has shown an ability to get after the QB. He had a career-high nine sacks and 16 QB hits during the 2021 season, and he added another 10.5 sacks through his first two seasons in the NFL. While the former first-round pick has dealt with his fair share of injuries, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him return to form during his age-27 season.

2023 Top 50 NFL Free Agents

Super Bowl LVII provided the latest example of the value free agency can bring. The Chiefs revamped their receiving corps on last year’s market, while the Eagles acquired three defensive starters — including sack leader Haason Reddick. The Jaguars also used a March 2022 splurge to ignite their surprising surge to the divisional round.

Beginning with the legal tampering period, which starts at 3pm CT on Monday, and continuing with the official start to free agency (3pm Wednesday), the next several days represent a highlight on the NFL calendar. Which teams will change their 2023 outlooks for the better next week?

While the 2023 free agent class has absorbed its share of body blows and indeed lacks depth at certain spots, a few positions will bring waves of starter-level talent. Right tackle will invite some big-money decisions, and the safety and off-ball linebacker positions feature considerable depth. A few ascending talents and hidden gems appear in this class as well.

This list ranks free agents by earning potential. In terms of accomplishments, Bobby Wagner, Fletcher Cox and Lavonte David would lap most of the players included here. With each defender going into his age-33 season, however, the standouts’ ability to command big contracts is certainly not what it once was.

In terms of possible destinations, not every team is represented equally. Some teams will bring more needs and cap space into this year’s marketplace than others. With some help from Adam La Rose, here is this year’s PFR top 50 free agents list, along with potential landing spots for each player.

1. Orlando Brown Jr., T. Age in Week 1: 27

As the 49ers did two years ago with Trent Williams, the Chiefs will let Brown hit the market. This could end up benefiting the veteran tackle, who was offered a deal with an average annual value north of Williams’ tackle-record $23MM per year before last July’s franchise tag deadline. Citing insufficient guarantees, Brown turned it down. Kansas City’s offer did contain a bloated final year to bump up the AAV to $23.1MM, but will Brown – a quality left tackle but not a top-shelf option at the position – do as well this year? He will soon find out.

Brown has now made four Pro Bowls and carries positional versatility that would intrigue were he open to a return to right tackle, which by all accounts he is not. The 363-pound blocker can struggle against speed-rusher types, but he is set to be the rare accomplished left tackle in his prime to hit the market. The Chiefs sent a package including a first-round pick to the Ravens for Brown, whose bet on himself led to a $16.6MM tag and an open market. The bidding will run high, though it might not reach the places the Williams pursuit did in 2021.

The Chiefs’ exclusive negotiating rights with Brown end March 13; they have had nearly two years to complete a deal. The market will determine if the league views the sixth-year blocker as an elite-level left tackle or merely a good one. Then again, bidding wars drive up the prices for O-linemen on the market. O-line salary records have fallen four times (Williams, Corey Linsley, Joe Thuney, Brandon Scherff) in free agency since 2021. This foray could give Brown the guaranteed money he seeks, and it puts the Chiefs at risk of seeing their two-year left tackle depart. The Ravens also passed on this payment back in 2021, in part because they already had Ronnie Stanley on the payroll.

The defending champions have Brown and right tackle Andrew Wylie eligible for free agency; some of their leftover funds from the Tyreek Hill trade went to Brown’s tag. Although some among the Chiefs were frustrated Brown passed on last year’s offer, the team will be hurting at a premium position if he walks. Given the importance the blindside position carries, fewer teams are in need compared to right tackle. The Titans losing Taylor Lewan and continuing to clear cap space could point to a run at Brown, though the team has a few needs up front. The Jets likely have needs at both tackle spots. Would the Bears relocate Braxton Jones to the right side? Ryan Poles was with the Chiefs when they traded for Brown, and the Bears could outmuscle anyone for cap space.

Best fits: Titans, Chiefs, Commanders

2. Mike McGlinchey, T. Age in Week 1: 28

Teams in need of right tackles will participate in one of the more interesting markets in recent memory. Above-average-to-good offensive linemen do well in free agency annually, and this year will send three experienced right tackles in their prime to the market. A five-year starter in San Francisco and former top-10 pick, McGlinchey has a good case as the best of this lot. The five-year vet’s run-blocking craft eclipses his pass-protection chops exiting Year 5, but he will walk into a competitive market. The former Notre Dame left tackle should have a lucrative deal in place during next week’s legal tampering period.

Although mutual interest existed regarding a second 49ers-McGlinchey agreement, John Lynch acknowledged the only viable path for McGlinchey to stay in San Francisco would be his market underwhelming. That seems unlikely, so right tackle-seeking teams – and there are a handful – will jockey for the sixth-year veteran. McGlinchey turned 28 in January, making this his obvious window to cash in. He rated fifth in ESPN’s run block win rate stat last season, bouncing back from the quadriceps injury that ended his 2021 season.

There is no shortage of Kyle Shanahan– or Sean McVay-influenced schemes around the league. The Bears employ Luke Getsy as their play-caller; Getsy worked for Shanahan/McVay tree branch Matt LaFleur, and the Bears’ cap space dwarfs every other team’s. After fielding a shaky O-line (on a team full of substandard position groups), Chicago needs a better idea of Justin Fields’ trajectory. Outbidding the field for the top right tackle available is a good start. The Patriots want a right tackle – on a line without a big contract presently – and the Raiders might have a say here as well. In need at multiple O-line spots, Las Vegas will have cash as well if it passes on a big QB investment.

Best fits: Bears, Patriots, Raiders

3. Jawann Taylor, T. Age in Week 1: 26

As expected, the Jaguars took Evan Engram off the market via the franchise tag. The tight end tag being $7MM cheaper than the $18.2MM offensive lineman tag always pointed Taylor toward free agency, and after never missing a start in four Duval County seasons, Taylor will be tough for the Jags to retain. They already drafted Walker Little in the 2021 second round, and no team that is currently paying a left tackle top-10 money (Cam Robinson is seventh) has a top-10 right tackle contract on the books. Taylor is expected to land at least a top-10 right tackle deal, with a $17MM-AAV figure being floated. That would place the former Florida Gator in the top five at the position, depending on how McGlinchey fares next week.

Taylor resembles the genre of player that usually populates the top of a position’s free agency market: a dependable performer who checks in below the top tier at his job. Taylor enjoyed his strongest year in his platform campaign. The former second-round pick dropped his hold count from 11 in 2021 to two in 2022. While PFF charged Taylor with five sacks allowed, Football Outsiders measured his blown-block rate at a career-low 1.3%. Offering a disparate skillset compared to McGlinchey, Taylor has fared better as a pass protector than in the run game. PFF slotted him as a top-10 pass protector among right tackles but viewed him as a dismal run-blocker.

The Jags have presumably made Taylor an offer, but other teams will probably top it. The Dolphins gave Terron Armstead a five-year, $75MM deal in 2022 but have needed a right tackle ever since Ja’Wuan James’ 2019 exit. They were forced to start in-season pickup Brandon Shell for much of the year and have cleared more than $45MM in cap space over the past two days. The team just picked up Tua Tagovailoa‘s fifth-year option, and the league’s lone southpaw starting QB needs better blindside protection after a season in which he suffered at least two concussions. Overspending on O-linemen is not the Patriots’ M.O., but they have a need at right tackle and do not have big dollars devoted to quarterback or any position up front. New England is on the hunt for a right tackle upgrade, and the team’s 2021 free agency showed it would spend when it deemed expenditures necessary.

Best fits: Dolphins, Patriots, Jaguars

4. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB. Age in Week 1: 31

The quarterback market cleared up this week, seeing Geno Smith and Daniel Jones extended and Derek Carr’s lengthy street free agency stretch end with $70MM in practical guarantees. Garoppolo’s injury history will affect his value, but teams kind of make it a priority to staff this position. The former Super Bowl starter is in his prime and on the market for the first time. How high this market goes will depend on what the Raiders want and what Aaron Rodgers decides.

The 49ers’ 12-game win streak that included Brock Purdy’s stunning displays began with Garoppolo at the controls. Guiding San Francisco to four straight wins, Garoppolo was at or close to his best when he suffered a broken foot in Week 13. He sported a 7-0 TD-INT ratio during that win streak and closed the season 16th in QBR. He would have walked into a better market had the injury not occurred; the setback came after a string of health issues. He tore an ACL in 2018, missed 10 games in 2020 after an ankle sprain and was significantly limited by the end of the 2021 slate due to a three-injury season. Garoppolo’s March 2022 shoulder surgery hijacked his trade market.

Ideally for Garoppolo, Rodgers returns to Green Bay or retires. While that is looking unlikelier by the day, it would put the Jets in a desperate position following Carr’s decision. The Raiders represent the other wild card. Garoppolo would slide into Josh McDaniels’ system seamlessly, given the parties’ three-plus years together in New England. The Raiders have operated a bit more stealthily compared to the Jets; they have been connected to Rodgers, Garoppolo and rolling with a rookie. Plan C here would be a tough sell given the presences of 30-year-old skill-position players Davante Adams and Darren Waller, but Las Vegas’ plans cloud Garoppolo’s market. If the Raiders pass and Rodgers chooses the Jets, Garoppolo’s earning power could drop.

McDaniels not fancying a Garoppolo reunion opens the door for the Texans, who hired ex-49ers pass-game coordinator Bobby Slowik as OC, and others. Houston’s situation may not appeal to Garoppolo, but Slowik and Nick Caserio being in Houston make this connection too clear to ignore. The Buccaneers and Commanders are in win-now positions but are giving indications they do not want to spend much at QB. The Commanders were deep in talks for the then-49ers QB last year, however. Garoppolo will test those squads, along with the Falcons, who are entering Year 3 of the Terry FontenotArthur Smith regime. The Panthers’ acquisition of the No. 1 pick likely takes them out of the running, and Carolina not being in the mix could also affect how high the Garoppolo price goes.

Bottom line, there should be enough teams interested in staffing their 2023 QB1 spots that the best free agent option should do OK no matter what happens with Rodgers.

Best fits: Raiders, Texans, Commanders

5. Jamel Dean, CB. Age in Week 1: 26

The Buccaneers retained Carlton Davis last year, but their dire cap situation should force a Dean departure. Dean’s age/performance combination should make him this year’s top cornerback available. With corner a position of need for many teams, the former third-round pick stands to do very well. Dean has only been a full-time starter in one season, however, seeing his defensive snap share jump from 67% in 2021 to 90% last season.

Excelling in press coverage, Dean played a major role for the 2020 Super Bowl champion Bucs iteration and overtook fellow free agent Sean Murphy-Bunting last year. Dean did perform better in 2021 compared to 2022, allowing no touchdowns and limiting QBs to a collective 50.0 passer rating; those numbers shot up to four and 86.0 last season. Still, PFF rated Dean as last year’s 10th-best corner. J.C. Jackson did not break into the top five among corners upon hitting the market last year; Dean should not be expected to do so, either. But many teams will be interested.

The Patriots have paid up for a corner previously, in Stephon Gilmore (2017), but Jonathan Jones – forced to primarily play a boundary role in 2022 – wants to re-sign and will be far cheaper than Dean. The Falcons need help opposite AJ Terrell and trail only the Bears in cap space. Although a Terrell payment is coming, it can be tabled to 2024 due to the fifth-year option. The Dolphins are clearing cap space and now have a corner need, with Byron Jones no longer with the team after his missed season.

Best fits: Dolphins, Falcons, Patriots

6. Jessie Bates, S. Age in Week 1: 26

Bates stands to be one of this free agency crop’s safest bets, combining extensive experience – the final two years as a pillar for a championship threat – with a host of prime years remaining. Beginning his career at 21, the Wake Forest product has started 79 games and anchored the Bengals’ secondary for most of his tenure. The Bengals did not tag Bates for a second time, passing on a $15.5MM price. With the team planning to let Bates test the market, it looks like the sixth-year defender will leave Cincinnati.

The Bengals and Bates went through two offseasons of negotiations, ending in the 2022 tag. The Bengals have some big payments to make at higher-profile positions. Safety does not qualify as such, but Bates has been a cornerstone in Lou Anarumo’s defense and will be handsomely rewarded. Bates finished as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 overall safety in 2020 and, after a shakier 2021 in which he admitted his contract situation affected his play, Bates came through with impact plays in the postseason. He graded as a top-25 safety, via PFF, in 2022.

Safety is one of this year’s deeper positions in free agency. Of the top 10 safety contracts, however, only one went to a free agent (Marcus Williams in 2022). Bates should be expected to join the Ravens defender, who signed for $14MM per year. It will be interesting if he can climb into the top five at the position; Justin Simmons’ $15.25MM-AAV accord sits fifth. Bates should be expected to approach or eclipse that, though moving to the Derwin JamesMinkah Fitzpatrick tier will be more difficult. Still, after the Bengals offered Bates less than $17MM guaranteed last summer, he should depart for more guaranteed money.

The Browns are interested in Bates, who will cost more than John Johnson cost Cleveland two years ago (three years, $33.75MM). Clear of the record-setting Matt Ryan dead-money hit, the Falcons have cash to spend and a Terry FontenotArthur Smith regime entering Year 3. The Falcons need to make progress, and they do not have much in the way of talent or costs at safety. The team has not featured much here since the Keanu NealRicardo Allen tandem splintered. Bates would be a way to remedy that.

Team fits: Falcons, Browns, Raiders

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49ers Unlikely To Exercise DT Javon Kinlaw’s Fifth-Year Option

The 49ers are unlikely to exercise DT Javon Kinlaw‘s fifth-year option, as Matt Barrows of The Athletic writes (subscription required). Given that Kinlaw has played in just 10 regular season games over the past two seasons, that should be a fairly easy call for GM John Lynch.

Drafted in 2020 with the No. 14 overall selection — the pick that the 49ers acquired from the Colts in the DeForest Buckner trade — Kinlaw has battled intermittent knee trouble since his college days. He appeared in 14 games (12 starts) in his rookie season, but he played in just four contests in 2021 before undergoing season-ending knee surgery (which was later reported to be an ACL reconstruction).

Kinlaw, 25, opened the 2022 campaign as a starting defensive tackle alongside Arik Armstead, but he played just three games before more knee problems landed him on IR. He returned for the final three games of the regular season and started all three of San Francisco’s playoff contests, though his performance left much to be desired. Pro Football Focus assigned him an abysmal 36.7 run defense grade, and he also failed to replicate the interior pass rush presence that D.J. Jones offered before he signed with the Broncos last offseason. All things considered, then, it makes sense that the club would decline the chance to lock Kinlaw into a fully-guaranteed $10.5MM salary for 2024.

Kinlaw will, at least, get one more chance to rebuild his stock before hitting the open market. 10 of the 14 defensive linemen who played a snap for the Niners in 2022 are currently out of contract, and cutting Kinlaw would not result in any cap relief. Still, the club will probably search for DT reinforcements, as Kinlaw was hardly a world-beater even when he was mostly available as a rookie. Legal issues aside, Lynch could look to re-sign Charles Omenihu, though he may be too expensive to retain — PFF estimates a contract featuring a $9MM AAV — and Barrows says the team may want more of a run-stuffer anyway when it comes to DT options.

Lynch may also be on the hunt for DE upgrades. With Nick Bosa on one side of the line, San Francisco reportedly feels as if it should have a more elite edge rush, so the team could look to move on from Samson Ebukam and target a player like Yannick Ngakoue or Marcus Davenport, or it could consider a trade. Of course, the team is presently without a first- or second-round pick in the 2023 draft and does not have a ton of salary cap space, so it will be difficult to make too many high-end acquisitions. The 49ers will also hope that 2022 second-rounder Drake Jackson, who flashed as a rookie despite being a healthy scratch in five of the last six games of the season, will take a step forward.

NFC South Notes: Panthers, Saints, Matthews

Panthers GM Scott Fitterer provided rare transparency about his team’s first-round decision ahead of last year’s draft, indicating the team was likely down to quarterback or left tackle at No. 6 overall. The pick became Ikem Ekwonu, and the non-Kenny Pickett QB contingent tumbled into the third round. Carolina scooped up one of those arms, Matt Corral, but he missed the season due to injury. With Sam Darnold ticketed for free agency, the Panthers face another offseason of QB questions.

Both Fitterer and assistant GM Dan Morgan spent much of the fall scouting the top four quarterbacks in the 2023 class in person, according Joe Person of The Athletic (subscription required). Some of these passers will be gone by the time the Panthers pick at No. 9. Mel Kiper Jr.’s first 2023 mock draft has Carolina, however, taking the fourth quarterback in this year’s class — Florida’s Anthony Richardson — in Round 1. The scouting missions to see Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Will Levis and the team’s long-running need at the position will connect it to a potential trade-up maneuver. The Bears, who traded up for Justin Fields after the Panthers passed on Stroud’s Ohio State predecessor two years ago, are open for business at No. 1. It remains to be seen which non-QB-needy teams from Nos. 2-8 will join them.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • The Saints are retaining offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael for what will be his 14th season in the role, but Jeff Duncan of notes they moved on from their second-longest-tenured offensive staffer. The Saints parted ways with Dan Roushar after 10 seasons. Roushar, 62, had held a number of key roles on New Orleans’ staff since 2013 — offensive line coach and running backs coach among them — but was working as the team’s run-game coordinator and tight ends coach over the past two seasons. The Saints ranked 18th and 19th on the ground, respectively, over the past two years. A former college OC, Roushar has only coached for the Saints at the NFL level.
  • As more details surface on Michael Thomasrecent restructure, the likelier it appears the Saints will release him. The former All-Pro’s reworked deal includes a $31MM roster bonus due on Day 3 of the 2023 league year, and Nick Underhill of adds Thomas would collect a whopping $30MM if he is active for four games next season (Twitter link). So, if Thomas is on the Saints’ roster absent another restructure, he would collect a cool $61MM. That reality seems … unlikely to commence. If Thomas is designated as a post-June 1 cut, the Saints would only be tagged with $11MM-plus in dead money this year.
  • In more Saints restructure news, the team pushed back the void-year vesting dates for David Onyemata and Marcus Davenport. Both D-linemen’s contracts are now set to void March 14, as opposed to February 17, Field Yates of tweets. That gives the team more time to negotiate extensions with each free agent-to-be, and GM Mickey Loomis said recently (via Underhill) the team is interested in re-signing both. Due to restructuring Davenport’s fifth-year option, the Saints would be tagged with $7.6MM in dead money absent an extension before March 14 — the final day of the 2022 league year. A $10.2MM bill would come if Onyemata is not extended by that date.
  • The Falcons created $4.2MM in 2023 cap space by doing another Jake Matthews restructure. The team accelerated $7MM of the left tackle’s 2023 roster bonus onto its 2022 payroll, Yates tweets. After eating considerable dead money over the past two years — much of it from the Julio Jones, Matt Ryan and Deion Jones trades — the Falcons are set to hold the second-most cap space in the NFL — more than $56MM.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/9/22

Today’s minor moves around the NFL:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

  • Placed on IR: DL Bryce Rodgers

Cleveland Browns

Indianapolis Colts

  • Released via injury settlement: WR John Hurst

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

  • Signed: OL Chris Glaser
  • Released: DE Hamilcar Rashed and OL Parker Ferguson

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

Perry’s interesting post-draft NFL journey continues. Initially slated to join the Eagles as a UDFA, he ended up signing with the Jaguars days later. Then, in July, he was waived (with an injury designation) to make room for Sloter’s addition. Perry has obviously recovered, as the two have now swapped placed once more.

Fenton was one of four Chiefs placed on the PUP list at the start of training camp. That came as little surprise at the time, but his return to practice will be a welcomed sight in Kansas City’s secondary. NFL Network’s James Palmer tweets that Fenton’s preseason availability remains a question mark, but that he is still expected to be fully recovered in time for the regular season.

Jackson was a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft at a position which has been in flux throughout the offseason in New Orleans. The 24-year-old had a highly productive final season in particular at Appalachian State, posting 119 tackles, 20 TFLs and six sacks. He will now have to wait until 2023 to carve out a depth role in the middle of the Saints’ defense.

Saints Activate DE Marcus Davenport

Marcus Davenport has had an eventful offseason with respect to health in 2022, but the Saints defensive end took a significant step towards being available once again. Per a team announcement, he has been activated, and was back on the practice field Tuesday. 

“I want to say this was a good first day,” Davenport said, via Michael Hull of the team’s website“It’s just one of those things on the process… I still have more to push through. At this point, I’m really just in the process of getting back, getting acclimated, seeing whatever comes up from actually playing football.”

It was revealed in June that the 25-year-old underwent a total of five offseason surgeries to fix knee, shoulder and finger issues. Those procedures added to the list of ailments Davenport has dealt with in his relatively brief NFL career; through four seasons in the league, he has played in no more than 13 contests in any one campaign.

Not surprisingly, the former first-rounder opened training camp on the PUP list. His return marks a positive development, though, as he looks to continue the form he showed in 2021. Despite playing only 11 games (and seeing the field for less than two-thirds of the team’s defensive snaps), he set new career-highs in sacks (nine) and tackles (39). Matching or improving upon those numbers would be crucial for the Saints’ defense.

A strong season would also, of course, do wonders for Davenport financially. He restructured his contract to help the Saints get cap compliant, but his future beyond this season is unclear. With 2022 being the final non-void year of his contract, the UTSA alum could play his way into a significant second deal in the event of a productive (but, more importantly, healthy) campaign. Today’s news is an encouraging sign that he will have the opportunity to put one together.

Saints Place WR Michael Thomas, DE Marcus Davenport On PUP

A pair of Saints players have landed on PUP ahead of training camp. According to ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter), the Saints have placed wideout Michael Thomas and defensive end Marcus Davenport on the physically unable to perform list.

Thomas’s placement on PUP seems mostly procedural after he’s been limited to only seven games over the past two seasons. We heard last month that the wideout had progressed to running sprints, and the wideout recently posted a video that showed him running routes. The Saints have expressed optimism that Thomas will be back at some point during training camp, so it doesn’t seem like this delay will end up working its way into the preseason.

The last time the wideout was fully healthy, he was the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year after hauling in 149 receptions for 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns. The receiver’s lengthy absence stems from a high ankle sprain suffered during the Saints’ 2020 season opener. The injury continued to linger, and while the Saints wanted Thomas to immediately go under the knife once the 2020 season ended, the player decided to hold off on surgery until last summer. The subsequent rehab plus a new ankle injury derailed any chance that he’d be able to return for the 2021 campaign.

Davenport’s placement on PUP is equally unsurprising, but it’s uncertain how long the veteran defensive lineman will be sidelined. We heard recently that Davenport had a pair of surgeries on his knee and three surgeries on his left hand just this offseason. Davenport had a stint on IR last season while dealing with a shoulder ailment, so his two surgeries were likely intended to fix that injury. Meanwhile, Davenport said he’s been dealing with a pinkie injury that dates back to college, but the injury has progressively gotten worse and culminated in Davenport having part of the finger amputated.

The 2018 first-round pick has spent his entire career with New Orleans, missing 17 games in four seasons. While he was limited to only 11 games (nine starts) last season, he still finished with career-highs in tackles (39), sacks (nine), and forced fumbles (three). In total, Davenport has 21 sacks in 48 games.

Saints DE Marcus Davenport Had Five Offseason Surgeries

It sounds like Marcus Davenport hasn’t had the easiest offseason from a health perspective. As Katherine Terrell of The Athletic writes, the Saints defensive end had a pair of surgeries on his knee and three surgeries on his left hand.

Davenport had a stint on IR last season while dealing with a shoulder ailment, so his two surgeries were likely intended to fix that injury. Meanwhile, Davenport said he’s been dealing with a pinkie injury that dates back to college, but the injury has progressively gotten worse and culminated in Davenport having part of the finger amputated.

The latest finger surgery has put Davenport’s shoulder rehab on hold, but the veteran admitted that he’s feeling better and is excited to get back on the field. Saints coach Dennis Allen previously hinted that training camp was a reasonable return date for the defensive end.

The 2018 first-round pick has spent his entire career with New Orleans, missing 17 games in four seasons. While he was limited to only 11 games (nine starts) last season, he still finished with career-highs in tackles (39), sacks (nine), and forced fumbles (three). In total, Davenport has 21 sacks in 48 games.

The 25-year-old helped the Saints open up some cap space this offseason by reworking his deal. More than $8MM of Davenport’s 2022 $9.6MM base salary was turned into a signing bonus, helping the team carve out $6MM. Davenport is set to hit free agent following the 2022 campaign.

Saints Restructure Marcus Davenport’s Deal

The Saints’ journey to cap compliance is complete. They have moved under the $208MM cap, restructuring Marcus Davenport‘s deal to do so.

More than $8MM of Davenport’s 2022 $9.6MM base salary is now a signing bonus, per’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). This created more than $6MM of cap space for the Saints, who are perhaps in pole position to add a rather hefty contract to their payroll.

New Orleans and Carolina have been mentioned as the lead suitors for Deshaun Watson, who thus far has only been willing to waive his no-trade clause for these NFC South teams. However, a Browns meeting is also on Watson’s agenda. The Falcons have entered the fray as well. Watson does not sound especially thrilled about a Panthers fit. Fitting Watson’s contract onto their payroll will be tricky, but the Saints have navigated winter cap issues for years. They cleared more than $100MM off their payroll to move under the 2021 cap.

Watson’s contract calls for a $35MM base salary in 2022; that amount is guaranteed. The Saints are clearly confident they can create sufficient space for the embattled quarterback, whose civil cases have yet to be resolved.

New Orleans completed a restructure similar to Davenport’s last year, moving much of Marshon Lattimore‘s fifth-year option salary into a bonus. Lattimore has since signed a long-term extension. Davenport’s deal expires after the 2022 season.

Saints Shuffle Roster, Activate Three Players From IR

The Saints are welcoming back three players for tonight’s game against the Seahawks. Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football reports (via Twitter) that New Orleans is activating linebacker Kwon Alexander, defensive end Marcus Davenport, and wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith from IR. The three players returned to practice last week, and they’ll all be eligible to play tonight.

The Saints also promoted wideout Kevin White from the practice squad. To make room on the roster, the team released center Will Clapp and defensive tackle Albert Huggins (via Underhill on Twitter).

Alexander (elbow) and Davenport (shoulder) were both placed on IR in mid-September, while Smith (hamstring) landed on IR a bit earlier than that. The Saints moved Davenport back into their starting lineup to start this season, and he registered a sack and two QB hits in the Saints’ dominant Week 1 win over the Packers. Alexander worked his way back from a December Achilles tear to be ready in time for the Saints’ opener, but this latest injury continued a rough run of health for the former Buccaneers standout. Smith’s injury dogged him for several weeks, as he tried and failed to come back from it twice. It caused the former third-round pick to miss extensive training camp time.

White joined the Saints back in August, and he later landed on the team’s practice squad. The former first-round pick got into three games with the 49ers in 2020, but he only saw nine snaps on offense. Clapp was a seventh-round pick by the Saints in 2018, and he got into 27 games (four starts) through three-plus seasons with the team. Huggins has bounced around the NFL since going undrafted in 2019. He saw time in four games (one start) for the Saints this season, collecting seven tackles and two QB hits.