Max Garcia

OL Notes: Giants, Radunz, Steelers, Brunskill

After fielding another below-average offensive line last season, one that saw key injuries reconfigure it early on in the campaign, the Giants loaded up on blockers this offseason. Newcomers Evan Neal, Mark Glowinski and Jon Feliciano are projected to start at right tackle, right guard and center, respectively. Andrew Thomas is the team’s unquestioned left tackle. That leaves left guard as the top competition area. Holdover Shane Lemieux appears to be the favorite for that job, via NJ.com’s Zack Rosenblatt, who notes the third-year player has been a full participant despite coming off a patellar tendon tear that cost him 16 games last season. Lemieux, who started down the stretch for the 2020 Giants and has received the first reps with the starters thus far, attempted to play through the severe knee injury in Week 1 but ended up missing the season’s remainder.

The Joe SchoenBrian Daboll regime, however, brought in third-round pick Joshua Ezeudu (North Carolina). Although Max Garcia arrived this offseason as well, Rosenblatt adds the Giants view the eighth-year veteran as more of a backup. This sets up a Lemieux-Ezeudu left guard battle, one that will determine if the Giants have three or four new starters up front.

Here is the latest from the NFL’s O-line scene:

  • The Titans lost two starters from their 2021 O-line — left guard Rodger Saffold and stopgap right tackle David Quessenberry — and are aiming to plug in former second-round pick Dillon Radunz. The North Dakota State product, who made just one start as a rookie, is vying for the team’s right tackle gig but also factors into the guard mix, Jim Wyatt of Titans.com offers. Radunz, chosen a year after would-be right tackle Isaiah Wilson became a quick bust, was a full-timer for the Bison from 2018-19 but lost the 2020 season due to the pandemic. The Titans used a third-round pick on Ohio State’s Nicholas Petit-Frere, representing another right tackle option. Third-year UDFA Aaron Brewer and ex-Seahawk Jamarco Jones are on the roster as left guard candidates.
  • Daniel Brunskill has started 35 straight regular-season games for the 49ers, slotting primarily at right guard. The fourth-year veteran has shown an ability to fill in at all five O-line spots, and Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle notes the 49ers would prefer Brunskill as a super-sub rather than as the full-time starter. For this reality to unfold, the team would need a viable replacement. Jaylon Moore, a 2021 fifth-round pick who has moved inside from tackle, represents competition for the 49ers’ right guard position. Given Brunskill’s experience, benching him would be quite the gamble for a team that lost five-year left guard Laken Tomlinson in free agency and looks set to lose center Alex Mack to retirement.
  • Steelers newcomers James Daniels and Mason Cole look set to play right guard and center, respectively, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ray Fittipaldo, leaving a competition between two 2021 starters at left guard. The Steelers following through on the rumored move of center Kendrick Green to guard, his primary college position, has created a competition between he and Kevin Dotson — a 13-game starter through two years. Pro Football Focus graded Dotson well as a rookie, albeit in a small sample size, but an ankle injury doomed his sophomore NFL season. Green started 15 games last year; PFF graded the rookie third-rounder as one of the league’s worst centers. Given a three-year, $15.75MM deal, Cole coming to Pittsburgh has led to Green’s position switch.

OL Max Garcia To Sign With Giants

The Giants are set to add another veteran to their offensive line. The team announced the signing of Max Garcia to a one-year deal. 

Garcia was a fourth-round pick of the Broncos in 2015. He played four years in Denver, starting 41 of 57 games and establishing himself as the team’s top option at left guard. Over the course of his career, the 30-year-old has also played at right guard and center. He has four playoff appearances to his credit, including the run to Super Bowl 50 with Denver.

After his rookie contract expired, he joined the Cardinals in 2019. He played a combined total of just 67 offensive snaps during his first two years there, however. That changed significantly last season, as Garcia registered 11 starts in his 15 appearances. Playing 809 snaps – the third-highest total of his career – he committed four penalties and allowed four sacks. That led to a PFF grade of 56.3, which is closer to his career norms than the 72.2 mark he received in 2016.

Garcia is the latest addition to the Giants’ offensive line this offseason. The team has already added Mark Glowinski, as well as Jon Feliciano following his release from the Bills. Upgrading the unit has been one of the team’s top priorities over the past few weeks.

By signing with the Giants, Garcia essentially completes an indirect swap of veteran interior linemen between them and the Cardinals. Earlier today, Arizona signed Will Hernandez, who had previously spent his entire four-year career in New York.

West Rumors: Broncos, Cards, Hicks, Hawks

The Bears briefly entertained the prospect of trading standout defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, but they reconsidered and brought the former All-Pro back for his sixth season in Chicago. Shortly after free agency began, the Bears gave Hicks permission to find a trade partner. Nothing materialized, but the Chargers were monitoring this situation through the preseason, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (ESPN+ link). Hicks, 31, has a history with Bolts HC Brandon Staley, who was on the Bears’ defensive staff — as outside linebackers coach — under Vic Fangio from 2017-18. The 11th-year veteran’s contract expires at season’s end. Should the Bears falter against a tough October schedule, Hicks could be a name to watch as the Nov. 2 trade deadline approaches. The $7MM-plus left on his 2021 salary would be a difficult accommodation for most teams, but that number will drop closer to $5MM by the deadline. A groin injury sidelined Hicks in Week 5, but he remains on the Bears’ active roster.

Here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • Staying on the trade front, the Broncos received inquiries on their two contract-year corners — Kyle Fuller and Bryce Callahan — along with Ronald Darby. The veteran defenders came up in talks leading up to the season, but new Denver GM George Paton set a fairly high asking price. The Broncos sought a third- or fourth-round pick in a deal for one of their vets, Fowler adds, scuttling talks. The Saints made a strong push for Fuller, which came months after New Orleans’ aggressive pursuit of Denver’s No. 9 overall pick — which was used to take Patrick Surtain II. While Denver has made multiple deadline deals in recent years, involving receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, it would likely take a tumble out of contention for the team to deal from its corner surplus.
  • The Cardinals are likely to be without Chandler Jones as they attempt to move their unbeaten run to 6-0. While vaccinated players who test positive for COVID-19 can return after two negative tests 24 hours apart, Kliff Kingsbury said Jones is experiencing symptoms and that it would be “a stretch” for him to play against the Browns, via SI.com’s Howard Balzer (on Twitter). Jones is vaccinated. News of the veteran pass rusher’s positive test circulated Tuesday, creating a narrow window for him to recover in time.
  • Arizona will also be without center Rodney Hudson. The acclaimed O-lineman is battling a rib injury, and Kingsbury declared him out Wednesday. Seventh-year pro Max Garcia will step in for the Cards’ Pro Bowl snapper.
  • Blake Bortles auditioned for the Seahawks on Tuesday, but Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes they are not expected to sign him (Twitter link). Seattle instead re-signed Danny Etling, who was with the team from August 2020 to August of ’21. Etling is currently on the Seahawks’ practice squad. Bortles has not been able to land a steady gig since the 2019 season, when he backed up Jared Goff with the Rams.
  • Pete Carroll said Tre Flowers did not request to be waived, Condotta adds (via Twitter). The Flowers transaction went through Wednesday, so a claim would surface by Thursday afternoon — if a team is to claim the fourth-year cornerback. The Seahawks have used former second-round pick Sidney Jones in Flowers’ place in the past two games.

Cardinals To Sign Brian Winters

The Cardinals have agreed to sign offensive lineman Brian Winters. Meanwhile, they’ve also re-upped backup lineman Max Garcia

Winters joined the Bills last year after a number of seasons as the Jets’ starting right guard. In Buffalo, he played in all 16 games, including nine starts at RG. Now, he’s ticketed for a competition with incumbent Justin Murray and 2020 third-round pick Josh Jones.

The Cardinals have reshaped their offensive line in recent days by trading for Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson. They’ve also re-upped right tackle Kelvin Beachum in an effort to give Kyler Murray better protection up front. There’s still plenty of time to go between now and the start of the 2021 season, but the Cards’ starting OL currently projects to include D.J. Humphries at left tackle, Justin Pugh at left guard, Hudson at center, Winters at right guard, and Kelvin Beachum at right tackle.

NFC Contract Details: Funchess, Blythe, Redskins, Cardinals

We’ve got a handful of contract details to pass along. We’ll start with the latest NFC notes, all via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle on Twitter:

  • Devin Funchess, WR (Packers): One year, $2.5MM. Includes $3.75MM in receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns incentives.
  • Austin Blythe, OL (Rams): One year. Worth $3.9MM, including $3.5MM guaranteed. $950K signing bonus, $2.95MM salary (of which $2.55MM is guaranteed).
  • Peyton Barber, RB (Redskins): Two year, $3MM. Includes $600K signing bonus. Salaries: $910K (2020), $1.14MM (2021). $150K per-game maximum roster bonus in 2020, $199K+ per-game maximum roster bonus in 2021.
  • Nate Orchard, LB (Redskins): Re-signed. One-year, $1.047MM deal. Includes $137.5K signing bonus, $910K salary.
  • Seth Roberts, WR (Panthers): One year, $3.75MM. Includes $600K signing bonus, $3.1MM salary, $50K workout bonus.
  • Marcus Gilbert, OT (Cardinals): One year, $3.75MM. $1.05MM base salary (of which only $150K is guaranteed). Up to $2.7MM in playing time incentives.
  • Max Garcia, OL (Cardinals): Re-signed. One-year, $1.25MM deal, including $600K guaranteed. Up to $190K per-game maximum roster bonus, up to $1MM in playing time incentives.
  • Cameron Fleming, OL (Giants): Signed. One-year, $3.5MM deal (as opposed to previously-reported one-year, $4MM deal). Includes $2MM guaranteed. Up to $500K per-game roster bonus, up to $500K playing time incentives.
  • Kerry Hyder, DE (49ers): One year. $1.5MM, including $550K guaranteed. Up to $250K in per-game roster bonus.

Cardinals Re-Sign G Max Garcia, S Charles Washington

The Cardinals will bring back two role players from Kliff Kingsbury‘s first season in charge. Guard Max Garcia and safety Charles Washington signed to stay with Arizona.

Garcia has seen his responsibilities gradually reduced as his career has gone along, but the five-year veteran has logged 41 starts and profiles as one of the NFL’s most experienced second-string offensive linemen entering the 2020 season.

The Broncos used Garcia as a rotational guard during their 2015 Super Bowl season and as a 16-game starter in 2016 and ’17, but by 2018, the former fourth-round pick started just four games and saw an injury end his contract-year campaign. He signed with the Cardinals for one year and $2MM last March. This pact will likely be for a similar amount, seeing as Garcia played in seven games and started none in his Arizona debut. The Cards, however, employ injury-prone starting guards in Justin Pugh and J.R. Sweezy, so it makes sense to have an experienced backup.

This will also be Washington’s second Cardinals season. The former UDFA spent two years with the Lions before signing with the Cards in 2019. He did not see any defensive snaps but played on 45% of Arizona’s special teams plays.

Cardinals Activate Max Garcia, Cut Zach Brown

The Cardinals have announced a series of roster moves including the activation of guard Max Garcia from the physically unable to perform list. Arizona has also placed defensive tackle Clinton McDonald on injured reserve and released linebacker Zach Brown.

Garcia, a fourth-round pick of the Broncos in 2015, signed with the Cardinals this offseason while still recovering from an ACL tear. A regular starter during his time with Denver, Garcia is expected to become a reserve for Arizona. Per the club, Garcia will likely act as the Cardinals’ top backup interior lineman on Sunday.

McDonald, 32, is now in the midst of his ninth NFL campaign. The Memphis product spent time with the Bengals, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Broncos, and Raiders before landing with the Cardinals this offseason. McDonald had appeared in every game for Arizona this year, typically playing 20% of the club’s defensive snaps. He’s going on IR with a neck injury.

Arizona had just signed Brown last week to add depth to its linebacker unit, but he’s already out of a job. Brown inked a one-year, $3MM deal with the Eagles in May after being released by the Redskins in March, but was cut after six games in Philadelphia.

NFL Players Returning From IR/PUP

Now that we’re approaching the midway point of the regular season, players on various injury lists are now able to begin to return to practice and, eventually, return to game action. Here’s the list of players coming back to practice this week while on injured reserve or physically unable to perform list, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets:

Players on the PUP list are only required to miss six weeks of the regular season, so every player listed above with the exception of Sternberger could technically be activated this weekend. Sternberger has officially been designated as one of Green Bay’s IR/return players, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Because he was originally placed on IR, Sternberger — a third-round rookie — will be absent for at least two more weeks.

NFC Notes: Elliott, Cards, Redskins, Giants

Adding some additional spice to the Ezekiel ElliottCowboys situation, the running back may be making plans to be unavailable when his team convenes for training camp. While it is still uncertain if Elliott will indeed hold out, a source informed Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk the two-time rushing champion plans to leave the country in the coming days. Extension-eligible since January, Elliott is considering staying away from Cowboys camp due to his contract. The coming days were expected to be key for the Cowboys and Elliott, but the running back’s travel plans may affect these proceedings.

The Cowboys have prioritized extensions for Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, both entering contract years, and have been rumored to be considering a future without an Elliott extension. The 24-year-old star has until August 6 to report to camp in order to accrue a fourth year toward free agency, so any holdout past that date would be quite bold. But withholding services from a team whose offense revolves around him could be a game plan for Elliott, regardless of the free agency-related date.

Here is the latest out of the NFC:

  • The Cardinals will begin camp without some notable veterans. Robert Nkemdiche, Charles Clay, Brooks Reed, Max Garcia and Brandon Williams on their active/PUP list, the team announced. Clay and Nkemdiche have been battling knee injuries, the latter’s stemming from a December torn ACL. A four-year Broncos guard, Garcia tore his ACL last season as well. Hip and back problems currently limit Reed and Williams, respectively. All players placed on the active/PUP list can return at any point in camp.
  • The Redskins tabbed Reuben Foster to be a three-down linebacker for them, but following his ACL tear, the team does not have a surefire full-time linebacker. While J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington notes Mason Foster will reprise his role as a starter, it is not certain if he will play consistently in nickel sets. Pro Football Focus did not grade Foster as a solid coverage ‘backer last season. However, the Redskins may have a nickel answer in third-year man Josh Harvey-Clemons. The team plans to use the former Louisville safety as a passing-downs linebacker, Finlay adds. A former seventh-round pick, Harvey-Clemons played just 196 snaps last season.
  • Despite the minicamp Darius Slayton buzz, Corey Coleman may still have the inside track on the Giants‘ No. 3 wide receiver job. Coleman’s first-round pedigree and his progress as a Giant gives him the edge over the likes of Slayton, Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes. During games, Coleman has not shown much since early in his rookie year. He caught five passes for 71 yards with the 2018 Giants.

Contract Details: Vaccaro, Callahan, Okafor

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently-signed NFL contracts, with all links going to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle’s Twitter account: