Marcus Davenport

Lions To Add Marcus Davenport

Marcus Davenport‘s hope a value-reestablishing season in Minnesota did not work out, with an injury impeding the former first-round pick. He will still land another shot with a familiar coaching presence.

The ex-Saint will rejoin Aaron Glenn in Detroit, per’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo. Glenn was on the Saints’ staff when the team drafted Davenport, though he coached New Orleans’ defensive backs. Nevertheless, Davenport will join fellow ex-Saint defender Alex Anzalone under Glenn in 2024.

Detroit is giving Davenport half of what he made last season in base value, as Rapoport notes this deal is worth $6.5MM. The contract can max out at $10.5MM.

The Vikings gave Davenport a one-year, $13MM deal, setting him up on a high-end “prove it” deal to work alongside Danielle Hunter. This preceded a Za’Darius Smith trade, but the Vikings did not benefit from the move. Davenport posted two sacks and suffered an ankle injury that became a season-ending malady. Davenport, 27, underwent surgery to repair his high ankle sprain and ended up playing only four games in 2023.

Davenport displayed quality rush capabilities in New Orleans, but he could not deliver such form consistently. He needed to settle for a “prove it” deal due to totaling just a half-sack in 15 Saints games in 2022. The ex-Cameron Jordan sidekick did total 15 sacks and 32 QB hits between the 2019 and ’21 seasons, keeping teams interested in his potential.

Despite Aidan Hutchinson leading the NFL in pressures and mounting a sack charge late in the season, the Lions did not have much around him. Their Okwara-based efforts did not pan out in recent years. Hutchinson finished with 11.5 sacks last season; no other Lions edge defender notched more than two. It should not be expected Davenport will be all the Lions do to staff this job, but the six-year veteran is the first piece of the puzzle.

Latest On Vikings’ Edge Rush Situation

With a Kirk Cousins free agency spell looming, the Vikings are among the teams to watch over the coming days and weeks. Minnesota’s defense faces a number of question marks as well, though, particularly in the edge rush department.

Danielle Hunter is also on track for free agency, and he could command a lucrative market. After agreeing to a fully-guaranteed one-year Vikings pact last offseason, Hunter enjoyed a healthy and productive campaign. He set a new career high in sacks with 16.5, earning him a fourth Pro Bowl invite. Minnesota’s direction with respect to retaining Hunter will of course depend in large part on what happens with Cousins, but Minnesota has another pass rusher to consider re-signing.

D.J. Wonnum is set to see his rookie contract expire, but his performances when given a starting role could help his market value. Adam Caplan of Pro Football Network reports Wonnum could be an under-the-radar free agent, and he could be worth watching as an element of Minnesota’s offseason plans. Caplan notes the Vikings should be expected to pursue a new deal with at least one of Hunter or Wonnum.

The latter matched his career high with eight sacks in 2023, having posted the same total when he handled first-team duties in 2021. Wonnum, 26, recorded 62 tackles, 15 QB hits and 21 pressures. The former fourth-rounder is thus in line for a notable raise on his second contract, whether that comes from the Vikings or a team better positioned to make a lucrative long-term commitment.

Fellow edge rusher Marcus Davenport was set to have his contract void today, falling in line with a number of other players around the NFL in that regard. However, the void date on Davenport’s pact has now been moved to March 13 (lining it up with Cousins and Hunter), per ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. Instead of creating a dead money charge for 2024 today, Davenport and the Vikings will now have more time to negotiate a deal.

The former Saints first-rounder came to Minnesota last offseason on a one-year deal worth $10MM guaranteed. Four void years were included in the deal, though, and Davenport is set to carry a $6.8MM cap hit in 2024 even if he departs. An ankle injury limited him to just four games in his debut Vikings season. Whether he is retained alongside one or both of Hunter and Wonnum or replaced with a new group of edge rushers will be an intriguing storyline for the team.

Marcus Davenport Undergoes Ankle Surgery

Winners of five straight, the Vikings are threatening to become the second team this century to move from 0-3 to the playoffs. They will need to continue without their top Danielle Hunter sidekick for a while, however.

Although Marcus Davenport is now eligible to return from IR, no such transaction appears imminent. Davenport ended up undergoing tightrope surgery to repair the high ankle sprain he sustained in October, Kevin O’Connell said. The free agent signing is still in play to return this season, per’s Kevin Seifert, but does not sound like a near-future re-emergence is on tap.

O’Connell indicated Davenport, 27, has a chance to come back before season’s end. Many players who sustain high ankle sprains are ready to come back from IR when first eligible, if an IR stint commences at all, but no two injuries are alike. Tony Pollard suffered a broken leg and a high ankle sprain in last season’s divisional round; the Cowboys running back ended up needing surgery — the tightrope procedure Davenport underwent — for the ankle injury. Cooper Kupp also underwent a tightrope procedure last year. He did not return for the Rams, though they were in the process of sitting their injured stars amid a disastrous Super Bowl title defense.

This injury has effectively doomed Davenport’s effort to vault back into free agency and secure a better contract. An inconsistent Saints tenure led to Davenport accepting a one-year, $13MM deal from the Vikings in March. The Falcons also pursued Davenport, but the $10MM guaranteed the Vikings proposed likely represented the top option available. Davenport signed with Za’Darius Smith still on the roster, but it soon became apparent the Vikings were planning to jettison the latter. They did so via a May trade with the Browns.

A 2018 first-round pick, Davenport posted nine sacks in 2021 and six in 2019 and registered 16 QB hits in both seasons. His even-year production: less good. Davenport’s 2022 contract year featured a half-sack in 15 games, leading to the modest market and the “prove it” deal. As it stands now, another “prove it” pact — this one potentially less lucrative — would be in store for the sixth-year vet. Davenport did tally two sacks in four Vikings games, going down after 17 snaps in Week 4. A late-season comeback would give the edge defender an opportunity to make a late impression, but this will also be the third season in the past four featuring at least five missed games. Davenport also missed Weeks 1 and 3 due to injury.

Hunter has cruised along unfazed, pushing his league-leading sack count to 11 last week. The Vikings will have a decision to make with Hunter, but it will take a big offer to keep the nine-year veteran off the market. Because of a late-summer agreement, the Vikings cannot use their franchise tag on Hunter. The team has seen D.J. Wonnum produce five sacks. A 2020 fourth-round pick, Wonnum is also in a contract year. Minnesota will have many questions to answer at its outside linebacker spot. For now, the team will hope to have Davenport back to help secure a playoff spot.

Vikings Place OLB Marcus Davenport On IR, Activate KR Kene Nwangwu

Minnesota’s Danielle HunterMarcus Davenport edge-rushing partnership hit a snag with a Davenport injury. That will lead to a paused season for the free agency pickup.

The Vikings placed Davenport on IR on Wednesday, shelving the former Saints first-rounder until at least Week 11. Davenport is battling a high ankle sprain. In addition to the Davenport transaction, the Vikings activated running back/kick returner Kene Nwangwu from IR and designated wide receiver Jalen Nailor for return from IR.

While Nwangwu represents Minnesota’s first IR activation this season, Davenport will be on track to join him later. The Vikings gave Davenport a one-year, $13MM deal this offseason, bringing him in to replace Za’Darius Smith. This move led to uncertainty at Minnesota’s edge positions, with Smith remaining on the roster for several weeks ahead of a trade to Cleveland. While Smith is now part of a top-tier Browns defense, the Pro Bowler has yet to record a sack. Davenport, who notched a half-sack despite playing 15 games last season, has two through six Vikes contests.

Davenport, 27, and Hunter are together for now, but the Vikings’ edge situation is not settled from a long-term standpoint. Neither starter is signed beyond 2023, and Hunter profiles as one of this season’s top trade candidates. The ninth-year Viking has eight sacks thus far, pacing the NFL. Davenport’s injury weakens the Vikings’ pass rush and likely prevents them from dealing the 2018 first-rounder. The Vikes did make a seller’s trade involving an edge rusher three years ago, trading Yannick Ngakoue to the Ravens. But Davenport’s injury probably squashes his market, with the trade deadline Oct. 31.

The team considered Hunter trades this offseason, and with Kevin O’Connell‘s squad starting 2-4, it will be interesting to see if the defending NFC North champions consider moving on. But Hunter may still be in Minnesota’s long-term plans. For Davenport, this injury hurts his chances of putting quality production on film for a potential 2024 free agency push. It also hurts Davenport’s hopes of showing he can provide consistency. His up-and-down New Orleans tenure led to a “prove it” deal in March.

Nwangwu returned to practice Oct. 11. The Vikings have not used the third-year back much in the backfield, but the Iowa State alum has been one of the NFL’s best kick returners during his career. Nwangwu is the only NFLer to have tallied three kick-return touchdowns since the start of the 2021 season. Nyheim Hines is the only other player with even two kick-return scores. Nwangwu, 25, will stand to give the Vikings a boost on special teams.

Vikings DE Marcus Davenport Facing Multi-Week Absence

Marcus Davenport‘s Vikings tenure has run into renewed injury trouble. The veteran edge rusher is dealing with a high ankle sprain and is likely facing a four-to-six week absence as a result, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

The news makes Davenport a candidate to be placed on injured reserve, something which would sideline him for at least four weeks. The 27-year-old was limited to just four snaps across Minnesota’s first three games this season, his first with the Vikings. Davenport inked a one-year, $13MM deal including $10MM guaranteed in free agency.

That pact resulted in high expectations for the former Saints first-rounder, who has contributed when healthy in 2023. Davenport posted one sack in each of his two full games, adding four quarterback hits and a pair of tackles for loss in that span. The injury suffered during Minnesota’s Week 6 win over the Bears forced him to be carted off the field, though, and it threatens to cost him signficant time through the middle portion of the campaign.

The Vikings entrusted Davenport with a starting role to help offset the Za’Darius Smith trade and provide a complimentary presence to Danielle Hunter. The latter was mentioned in frequent trade speculation this offseason, but he ultimately signed a revised one-year pact which provided a raise compared to his original 2023 compensation. Both Hunter (who has his own track record of lengthy injury-induced absences) and Davenport are set to hit free agency in March, so an extended stretch without the pair in place could hinder not only the team’s edge rush but also their respective markets come the spring.

Hunter has posted a league-leading eight sacks so far, but Minnesota will need to find a new bookend for at least the short term while Davenport (who was unable to play a full season in any of his five years in New Orleans) recovers. Former fourth-rounder D.J. Wonnum – who ranks tied for second amongst Vikings edge rushers with two sacks – could be in line for an increased workload with Davenport not in the fold. Minnesota also has 2021 third-rounder Patrick Jones and undrafted rookie Andre Carter in place as depth options in the pass-rush department.

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.