Marlon Mack

Latest On Texans’ Running Backs Room

The Texans finished the 2021 NFL season ranked dead-last in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and rushing yards per carry. Houston has made some moves to address the position and the room will look fairly different at camp this summer. 

Last year saw four Texans’ running backs start games. Three of those running backs are no longer on the roster. Mark Ingram returned to New Orleans midway through last season, Phillip Lindsay signed this offseason with the Colts, and David Johnson hit the free agent market and has yet to sign with a new team. While losing three players who started games may sound significant, the three backs combined last year to rush for only 652 yards and 2 touchdowns while averaging only 3.12 yards per carry.

Houston returns their leading rusher last year, Rex Burkhead. Burkhead, who turns 32 next month, racked up the highest rushing total of his career last year in his ninth season, totaling 427 yards on the ground. Burkhead has been a third-down type of running back throughout his career, recording more receiving yards than rushing in tw0 of his nine years. The Texans also return Royce Freeman, who was claimed off waivers in early-November last year.

To address the struggling run-game, Houston made two big moves. The first move they made was to sign free agent running back Marlon Mack in the weeks leading up to the Draft. Mack spent five seasons in Indianapolis, starting as a backup to Frank Gore. Once Gore left in free agency, Mack took the starting job and, despite missing six games in the next two years, was 92 yards away from two-consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons. In 2020, a torn Achilles in Week 1 ended Mack’s season and opened the door for then-rookie Jonathan Taylor to take the reins. Taylor quickly took over, finishing second in Offensive Player of the Year voting last year. In his final year with the Colts, Mack took a backseat to Taylor and Nyheim Hines as he was only active in six games.

The second move Houston made was drafting Florida running back Dameon Pierce in the fourth-round of the Draft. Pierce had the best year of his career in his senior season while splitting carries with Malik Davis and Nay’quan Wright. Pierce only rushed for 574 yards in his final season as a Gator, but his physical playing-style led to him leading the team with 16 touchdowns from scrimmage, 13 of those being on the ground.

So who is taking the lead for Houston next season? According to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, the Texans will have a committee-approach at running back this year. They have built a room that holds quite a few skill sets necessary for a successful position group. Mack is expected to take the lead back role, as he’s the only one with experience and success in that role. Although Mack runs with the same physical, attacking style as Pierce, Pierce’s presence should allow Mack a bit of a reprieve in those short-yardage and goal-line situations. Burkhead should be able to return to his role as a receiving, third-down back. Freeman has experience spelling starters as a reliable backup, and can continue to do so in any role asked of him. Houston also brought in former-Jaguar Dare Ogunbowale who has plenty of experience as a backup, as well. They also roster Darius Anderson, who will likely serve as a camp body this summer.

With Mack, Pierce, and Burkhead, Houston has specialists for three different situations. If they need or want more bodies on the 53-man roster, Freeman, Ogunbowale, and the young Anderson can compete for that fourth slot. The improvements needed for the run-game need to come from several areas: offensive line make-up, success in the passing-game to take pressure off, down-field blocking from receivers and tight ends, etc. The first-step, though, is to have players who can run, and Houston has drastically renovated their running backs room in an attempt to get out of the basement of rushing offenses.

 

Contract Details: Brown, Mack, Woods

Here are some details on deals recently signed around the NFL:

  • Trent Brown, OL (Patriots): two-year, $11.5MM deal. Brown’s deal includes a $750K weight bonus in 2022 and 2023, per ESPN’s Mike Reiss. He’ll earn $150K if he shows up to the first day of offseason program at 385 pounds or less, another $75K if he’s at or under 375 pounds by June 1, another $75K if he’s at or under 365 pounds by July 15, and $25K weekly bonuses if he’s at 365 pounds or less each Thursday during the season.
  • Marlon Mack, RB (Texans): signed. It’s a one-year, $2MM deal, according to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (on Twitter). The deal includes a $250K signing bonus, a $1.25MM base salary, and $29K in per-game roster bonuses.
  • Auden Tate, WR (Falcons): one-year deal. The deal includes a $1.03MM base salary and only counts $930K against the cap, according to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein (on Twitter). Tate can also earn $5K per-game roster bonuses.
  • Xavier Woods, S (Panthers): three-year, $15.75MM deal. Deal includes more than $6MM in guaranteed money, per Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (on Twitter). The deal includes a $5MM signing bonus. Woods can earn $250K for each Pro Bowl he makes. The safety will be owed a $1MM roster bonus on the third day of the 2023 league year.
  • Solomon Thomas, DL (Jets): one-year deal. The deal is worth $2.25MM, including $1.9MM in guaranteed money, tweets ESPN’s Rich Cimini (on Twitter). Thomas can earn another $2.5MM in incentives.
  • Will Hernandez, OL (Cardinals): one-year deal. The deal is worth $1.18MM, with $1.04MM in guaranteed money, according to veteran reporter Howard Balzer. The deal includes a $152K signing bonus. As a veteran qualifying contract, the deal counts $1.04MM against the cap.
  • Jesse Davis, OL (Vikings): one-year, $3MM deal. The deal includes a $1.5MM signing bonus, a $1.25MM fully guaranteed base salary, a $50K workout bonus, and up to $200K in per-game roster bonuses, tweets Ben Goessling of the Star-Tribune.. There’s also a void year in 2023.
  • Randy Bullock, K (Titans): signed. It’s a two-year deal worth $4.68MM, plus additional money for incentives, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter).

Texans To Sign Marlon Mack

After meeting with the team last week, Marlon Mack is set to join the Texans. Houston is signing the veteran tailback, per ESPN’s Sarah Barshop (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: Texans Host Mack]

Mack, 26, was a fourth round pick of the Colts in 2017. While he didn’t start any of the 14 games he played in during his rookie season, he totalled 583 scrimmage yards, setting him up for much larger workloads in the two years to follow. Between 2018 and 2019, Mack received 442 carries, posting 1,999 rushing yards and 18 total touchdowns.

His tenure in Indianapolis went downhill from there, however. After just one game, his 2020 season was ended by a torn Achilles. That – coupled with the emergence of second-round rookie Jonathan Taylor – led many to feel he would be seeking a new home in free agency. However, he stayed put, signing a one-year deal to try and prove he had recovered from the injury.

That plan didn’t come to fruition, however. The South Florida alum played in only six games, rushing for 101 yards. Again, many felt he would be on the move – this time via a trade – but he didn’t generate much of a market for an in-season move. Not surprisingly, the Colts are now moving forward with Taylor as one of the league’s preeminent workhouse backs.

In Houston, Mack will remain in the AFC South while joining a Texans team which should provide him with plenty of touches. After spending most of the season with the likes of David Johnson and Mark Ingram in 2021, those two veterans have hit free agency and been traded, respectively. Alongside Rex Burkhead, Mack should be in line to command a healthy workload on the rebuilding squad.

Texans Meet With RB Marlon Mack

Two-year Texans contributor David Johnson is a free agent, joining 2021 acquisition Phillip Lindsay, who finished last season in Miami. While Houston extended Rex Burkhead and re-signed Royce Freeman, the team is looking into additional veteran help.

Marlon Mack is on the team’s radar. The Texans met with the longtime Colts back Tuesday, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Jonathan Taylor took Mack’s spot in Indianapolis, but an Achilles injury changed the former 1,000-yard rusher’s career.

Indianapolis agreed to work with Mack on a trade last year, but he instead remained on the Colts’ roster as a seldom-used backup. Since his September 2020 Achilles tear, Mack has just 32 carries for 127 yards. That said, he is approaching two years since that injury and was productive for the Colts in the late 2010s. Mack, who just turned 26, topped 900 rushing yards in a 12-game 2018 season and totaled 1,091 on the ground in a 14-game 2019 slate.

The Texans certainly have a need for a younger back, with Burkhead now 31 and Freeman coming off a year in which he was with three teams. But Houston has used veteran-heavy backfields under GM Nick Caserio. Although Mack generated some trade interest last year, he will be available on a low-cost deal despite his pre-injury success.

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

Colts Reached Out To Philip Rivers

The NFL revising its COVID-19 protocols yet again may allow the Colts to dodge a bullet. Carson Wentz is unvaccinated and tested positive Tuesday, but Frank Reich said he would start Sunday if he is asymptomatic, Stephen Holder of The Athletic tweets. Current Colts backup Sam Ehlinger would start if Wentz is experiencing symptoms at that point.

Reich has also remained in contact with the Colts’ 2020 starter, Philip Rivers. The two discussed the current Colts QB bind, Zak Keefer of The Athletic tweets. However, it does not seem like Rivers will come out of retirement to replace Wentz. Reich said nothing is developing on that front.

Rivers, 40, retired after spending last season with the Colts, but the current high school coach has said he would consider a return to join a contender. He was open to joining the Saints once Jameis Winston went down earlier this season. In his one Colts season, Rivers completed 68% of his passes and finished with a 24-to-11 TD-INT ratio. The Colts traded for Wentz not long after Rivers’ retirement.

Had the NFL not revised its protocols for a second time this month, Wentz would be shut down for Week 17 due to his positive test. Previously, unvaccinated players who tested positive were forced into 10-day quarantines. The NFL has reduced that to five, opening the door for Wentz to play Sunday. A sixth-round rookie, Ehlinger took first-team reps for a stretch after Wentz went down with a foot injury during training camp.

The Colts received more good news regarding their COVID-19 situation Wednesday. They activated offensive line starters Quenton Nelson and Mark Glowinski, along with cornerback Rock Ya-Sin and defensive end Kemoko Turay. However, right tackle Braden Smith is now on Indianapolis’ virus list. Smith could rejoin his teammates Sunday, however, regardless of vaccination status. Like Wentz, if Smith is not displaying symptoms, he could return Sunday against the Raiders. Smith was the Colts’ lone O-line starter available by the end of Week 16, but the team will have more of its starters on hand against Las Vegas.

Marlon Mack, cornerback T.J. Carrie, safety Jahleel Addae and linebacker Malik Jefferson join Smith as players now on Indy’s virus list.

Colts Expect To Keep Marlon Mack

Colts head coach Frank Reich says he expects Marlon Mack to stay with the Colts (Twitter link via Zak Keefer of The Athletic). The Colts promised the running back that they’d try to trade him before today’s deadline, but it doesn’t sound like they received any offers to their liking.

Mack could have made sense for a few different clubs, like the Christian McCaffrey-less Panthers. Still, it’s not clear if Carolina called on the veteran or if any other teams were truly in pursuit.

Buried behind Jonathan Taylor this year, Mack has totaled just 101 yards on 28 carries. Taylor, meanwhile, has 649 yards on the year, good for second in the NFL. Of course, that’s a distant second to Derrick Henry‘s league-leading 937 yards, but his lengthy IR stay could give Taylor the rushing title in a matter of weeks.

Mack, still only 25, racked up 1,999 rushing yards between 2018 and ’19. Unfortunately, last year’s Achilles injury capped his season in September. He re-signed with the Colts on a low-cost, one-year deal, so he’ll have to try his luck in free agency next year without much of a platform.

Mack probably won’t be on the move, but defensive lineman Kemoko Turay could be traded if the right offer comes along. If they want to turn Turay into future draft ammo, they’ve got less than an hour to get a deal done.

Latest On Colts, Marlon Mack

Earlier this month, the Colts promised Marlon Mack that they’d try to trade him elsewhere. But, as it stands, it doesn’t sound like teams offered enough for the running back (via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). 

The Colts have received calls with reported interest from the 49ers, Panthers and Saints. However, the Niners aren’t quite as RB-needy as they were just a few weeks ago — JaMycal Hasty has been cleared to play against the Colts tonight while GM John Lynch says he’s bullish on Elijah Mitchell and Trey Sermon. Fellow RB Jeff Wilson could also return in a matter of weeks. Lynch characterized his talks with Indy as casual, given his relationship with GM Chris Ballard, but there’s little doubt that he’ll be paying attention to Mack this evening.

Prior to his Achilles setback, Mack totaled 1,999 rushing yards between 2018 and ’19. Behind Jonathan Taylor this year, Mack has gained 97 yards on 25 carries, good for 3.9 yards per tote. Of course, that’s been in a small sample size, so Mack is hoping to show his stuff elsewhere as a regular.

“I’m definitely young,” Mack said earlier this year. “That’s the thing. In this business as a running back, they say I’m an old man already, but I’m only 25…That’s why it’s like, ‘Man, I’ve got to go out there and get it now.’ Next year teams may be like, ‘Yeah, I don’t want that old running back.’”

Several Teams Looking Into Marlon Mack

The Colts have used Marlon Mack sparingly this season, but the fifth-year running back continues to generate some interest ahead of the Nov. 2 trade deadline. Linked to Mack earlier this month, the Chiefs have some company on this front.

While the Chiefs continue to be connected to the former 1,000-yard rusher, USA Today’s Josina Anderson notes the 49ers, Panthers and Saints have also checked in with the Colts on Mack recently (Twitter link). Mack re-signed with the Colts on a one-year deal but has been on the trade block for a bit now.

Indianapolis has Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines locked in as its long-term duo, with Mack logging just 25 carries thus far this season. Mack suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in Week 1 of last season but has recovered. Taylor gained control of the Colts’ backfield during Mack’s hiatus, and Indy agreed to make an effort at finding Mack a landing spot via trade.

Carolina is without Christian McCaffrey for at least two more games, having placed him on IR with a troublesome hamstring injury last week. Fourth-round rookie Chuba Hubbard leads the Panthers’ backfield, which lost Mike Davis in free agency in March. The Saints released Latavius Murray before Week 1 and are without backup Tony Jones for the time being, while the 49ers have run into a litany of injury issues at running back. San Francisco lost Raheem Mostert for the year, and Kyle Shanahan is targeting November for Jeff Wilson (PUP) to return from his foot injury. The 49ers have also seen promising rookie Elijah Mitchell and veteran JaMycal Hasty run into injury trouble.

Prior to Mack’s Achilles setback, he totaled 1,999 rushing yards between the 2018 and ’19 seasons. Behind Taylor this year, Mack has gained 97 yards on 25 carries. The 25-year-old back is due less than $750K in base salary the rest of the way.

RB Marlon Mack On Chiefs’ Radar

Clyde Edwards-Helaire will miss multiple games for the second straight season, leaving the Chiefs thin in the backfield. While Darrel Williams is in line to fill in while Edwards-Helaire recovers from his latest injury, the two-time reigning AFC champions have been looking into a higher-profile fill-in.

The Chiefs have discussed Marlon Mack as a trade option, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes. The Colts are aiming to accommodate Mack with a trade, and Edwards-Helaire is set to miss at least three games with the MCL sprain he sustained Sunday night.

[RELATED: Mack Discusses Potential Trade]

Kansas City represents the first team connected to Mack, a former 1,000-yard rusher who re-signed with Indianapolis after suffering an Achilles tear in Week 1 of last season. But Mack’s market is cold, per Fowler. A late-round pick would seemingly get a deal done.

A fourth-year UDFA, Williams has served as CEH’s direct backup this season. Free agent pickup Jerick McKinnon has handled just four touches in five games. The Chiefs opted to bring in a well-known weapon last year to back up Edwards-Helaire, signing Le’Veon Bell midseason. That deal did not end up moving the needle much.

Mack, 25, amassed 1,091 rushing yards and eight touchdowns for the Colts two seasons ago, doing so in 14 games. In 12 games in 2018, Mack helped the Colts go from 1-5 to the playoffs by totaling 908 rushing yards and nine TDs in just 12 games. While the former fourth-round pick has not been used much as an aerial weapon, he showed consistent rushing ability — behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines — before his injury. Mack also delivered a bit of a breakthrough effort Monday, rushing for 47 yards on five carries. For the season, Mack has just 85 yards on 20 totes.

The Colts have Jonathan Taylor signed through 2022 and recently gave passing-down back Nyheim Hines an extension. This profiles as Indianapolis’ long-term backfield pairing, with Mack now merely representing short-term depth behind Taylor. Mack’s one-year deal includes less than $800K in remaining base salary.