Max Scharping

AFC Roster Rumors: Van Roten, Jefferson, Scharping, Reed

As the calendar year ticks away the days, NFL teams are having to start thinking about the difficult decisions they will have to make to eventually get their rosters down to 53 players to start the season. While the teams still have almost two months to make all the necessary cuts, many veterans are entering training camp on roster bubbles.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the players who may find themselves looking for a new team by the time the season begins:

  • The Bills brought in free agent offensive guard Greg Van Roten to solidify their depth on the interior of the offensive line. The 32-year-old veteran has starting experience with the last two clubs he’s spent time with, the Panthers and Jets, but he may not even make it to the final 53-man roster in Buffalo, according to Alaina Getzenberg of ESPN. As the Bills figure out just who will receive their coveted roster spots, the final spot will likely become a battle between Van Roten, Greg Mancz, whose experience at center could give him an edge, and rookie sixth-round pick Luke Tenuta.
  • The Ravens are overloaded with talent at the safety position. With free agent addition Marcus Williams, first-round pick Kyle Hamilton, and incumbent starters from last year Chuck Clark and Brandon Stephens all crowding the depth chart, veteran Tony Jefferson may find himself on the outside looking in, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. Jefferson was released by Baltimore two offseasons ago, following a season mostly lost to a torn ACL, but was brought back last year after starting safety DeShon Elliott went down with a season-ending injury and Baltimore needed another veteran presence in their defensive backfield. Unfortunately, with the influx of new talent combined with the presence of last year’s starters, the Ravens may find that rostering Jefferson is not crucial to their depth at the position.
  • After trading cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. to the Chiefs this offseason, the Texans‘ 2019 draft class is down to two remaining players: first-round tackle Tytus Howard and second-round guard Max Scharping. While Howard has established himself as a starter on the line, Scharping is not a lock for the 53-man roster, according to Sarah Barshop of ESPN. Scharping stepped up as a starter during his rookie season but could not manage to hold onto the spot in his second year. The 2021 season saw Scharping struggle enough that his roster spot is now in question.
  • Over the past three seasons, pass rusher Malik Reed has been a lifesaver for Denver as the Broncos saw stars Von Miller and Bradley Chubb each miss time over the 2019, 2020, and 2021 seasons. Some roster moves by the Broncos, though, seem to be pointing toward some roster danger for Reed, according to ESPN’s Jeff Legwold. Free agent Randy Gregory was brought in on a $70MM contract, Denver drafted rookie Nik Bonitto in the second round this year, and the Broncos moved Baron Browning to outside linebacker after he played his entire rookie season on the inside. That trio will all be under contract until at least 2025, while Reed is in a contract year. This doesn’t necessarily spell doom for the former undrafted free agent, who has done a lot to earn his spot. But, with only one roster spot likely to be available at the position, Reed will potentially be duking it out with 2021 seventh-round pick Jonathon Cooper for the final OLB roster spot.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/10/20

We’ve got a long list of all the minor transactions from the last day or so:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

  • Waived: DL Ron’Dell Carter
  • Promoted: WR DeMichael Harris

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Giants

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Washington Football Team

Latest On Texans’ COVID-19 Situation

The Texans are working remotely Thursday and found out they will be without at least three linebackers this week. Jacob Martin tested positive for COVID-19, per Sarah Barshop of (on Twitter).

Additionally, Whitney Mercilus has been deemed a high-risk close contact and will go on the Texans’ reserve/COVID-19 list. The Texans placed Mercilus and linebacker Dylan Cole on their COVID list, where guard Max Scharping remains.

Romeo Crennel said Martin and Scharping have experienced mild symptoms, per the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson (on Twitter). Obtained in 2019’s Jadeveon Clowney trade, Martin has two sacks for the Texans this season. Given a recent extension, Mercilus is tied for the team lead with three midway through his ninth season in Houston. The Texans are down to two outside linebackers, with Kyle Emanuel in concussion protocol, and three inside ‘backers ahead of their Week 9 game.

The Texans join the Bears, Broncos, Cardinals, Packers, Ravens and 49ers as teams who have dealt with new COVID-19 developments this week. The U.S. documented more than 100,000 cases Wednesday, marking the first time the number entered six-figure territory since the pandemic began. As of 1:30pm CT, the NFL is proceeding with Green Bay’s Thursday game in San Francisco, despite both the Packers and 49ers having position groups decimated by the league’s coronavirus protocols. The Texans’ game in Jacksonville remains scheduled for noon CT Sunday.

Texans Close Facility After COVID-19 Positive

3:35pm: Guard Max Scharping tested positive for the coronavirus, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. The Texans placed him on the reserve/COVID-19 list. A 2019 second-round pick, Scharping worked as a starter for most of last season and in this season’s first three games. He has since played as a backup.

10:15am: The Texans will close their team facility following a player’s positive test for COVID-19, per a club announcement. The Texans are currently on their bye week, but they’ll be closely monitoring test results between now and their Week 9 contest against the Jaguars.

Late last night, we received notice that a Texans player tested positive for COVID-19,” said the Texans in a statement. “In accordance with NFL protocols, the player immediately self-isolated and our Infection Control Officer and other members of the Infection Response Team began working with the NFL to perform contact tracing. Our facility will be closed today to players for deep cleaning. We are in close consultation with the NFL, as well as our team of independent doctors and specialists, and will follow their guidance regarding our scheduled bye week operations. The health and safety of our team, as well as our entire staff, are of highest priority.”

The Texans fell to 1-6 with their loss to the Packers on Sunday in Houston. As of this writing, the Packers have not received word of any positive tests.

Texans’ Tytus Howard To Open At Guard

The Texans deployed one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines last season and are likely to return multiple starters from the group that yielded 62 an NFL-most sacks. But the team looks to be planning on getting a key addition into the lineup in an unexpected fashion.

Tytus Howard is the frontrunner to open the season as Houston’s starting left guard, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes. A first-round tackle out of Alabama State, Howard would replace 2018 starter Senio Kelemete if this plan ends up coming to fruition. Recent signing Matt Kalil is in place as the team’s left tackle, Wilson adds.

Although Howard was viewed as a bit of a reach as a first-rounder, the Texans — despite firing GM Brian Gaine, who oversaw this year’s draft — clearly believe the former high school quarterback has a chance to play immediately. Gaine said after the draft the college tackle could play both guard positions, and Bill O’Brien‘s staff is testing that stance.

Additionally, the Texans are considering second-round guard Max Scharping as a Week 1 starter on the right side. But Wilson adds 2018 starter Zach Fulton is firmly in the mix to keep his job to start this season. Seantrel Henderson, who re-signed after suffering a season-ending injury in Week 1, is expected to start at right tackle.

Deshaun Watson took the most sacks any NFL passer has since Jon Kitna in 2006. The Texans were quiet in free agency on this front, despite entering the marketplace with more than $80MM in cap space. They added the oft-maligned Kalil and used first- and second-round picks on a Division I-FCS tackle (Howard) and mid-major guard (Scharping, out of Northern Illinois). All three additions could be Week 1 starters, doing so after 2018’s batch of newcomers frequently failed to protect Watson.

Texans Notes: Gaine, Caserio, Clowney, Mathieu

Former Texans general manager Brian Gaine‘s firing shouldn’t be attributed to his inability to sign Jadeveon Clowney, writes Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. We heard last week that the former executive had made “zero” progress on an extension for the former number-one pick, and a lack of development may have played a role in his firing.

However, Breer said there wasn’t any organizational disagreement over the handling of Clowney. The team was interested in signing the linebacker on their terms, and they were content opting for the franchise tag. For what it’s worth, we learned earlier today that Clowney is not expected to attend the team’s mandatory minicamp. The three-time Pro Bowler has yet to sign the franchise tender as he continues to push for a multiyear pact.

So what was the main reason for Gaine’s firing? Breer points to a lack of “fit” and “alignment,” as the former general manager didn’t share the same vision as head coach Bill O’Brien. Furthermore, the reporter believes the team’s current pursuit of Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio also played a role in the decision.

Let’s check out some more notes out of Houston, all via Breer…

  • Speaking of Caserio, his relationship with O’Brien and executive vice president of team development Jack Easterby could play a role in him leaving New England. There’s been a perception that Caserio wouldn’t leave the Patriots, but the reporter points out that the executive had been closing to leaving before (he considered taking the Dolphins’ gig in 2014). Breer wonders if the Texans could also look to Patriots college scouting director Monti Ossenfort or former Patriots executive (and current Falcons assistant GM) Scott Pioli for the role.
  • There also wasn’t an organizational disagreement over the handling of Tyrann Mathieu. The team recognized that the Pro Bowl safety had lofty monetary demands, and they never intended to go as far as the three-year, $42MM deal he received from the Chiefs this offseason. Meanwhile, the coaching staff has been happy with Gaine’s replacement for Mathieu, Tashaun Gipson.
  • Following Gaine’s signing of a five-year extension in 2018, the majority of his moves have actually been lauded by the front office and coaching staff. Breer points to the one-year deal for Mathieu, and he also notes the general manager’s ability to add productive rookies (receiver Keke Coutee and safety Justin Reid) in the 2018 draft despite not having a first- or second-rounder. While his inability to add a competent offensive line in front of Deshaun Watson certainly played a role in his firing, Breer opines that the forced trade of Duane Brown wasn’t the GM’s decision.
  • The Texans coaching staff has been happy with second-round offensive tackle Max Scharping and third-round tight end Kahale Warring. They’re also a “big fan” of first-rounder Tytus Howard. However, many pundits believe the Howard selection was a bit of a reach, and Breer wonders if O’Brien and Easterby’s Patriots’ philosophy clashed with Gaine’s eventual decision (as the two would have preferred trading back).

Texans Sign Tytus Howard

The Texans have signed offensive lineman Tytus Howard, their first-round draft choice, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Houston has also agreed to terms with second-round cornerback Lonnie Johnson, second-round offensive tackle Max Scharping, and seventh-round fullback Cullen Gillaspi, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

Houston selected Howard with the 23rd overall pick after the Eagles jumped one spot ahead of the Texans to draft fellow offensive tackle Andre Dillard. Howard has his own strengths, but Dillard was widely viewed as the superior prospect after spending his collegiate career at Washington State. Howard, meanwhile, is coming from the FCS’ Alabama State.

The Texans had a dire need for offensive line reinforcements heading into the draft after ranking dead last in sacks allowed, adjusted sack rate, and pressure rate in 2018. But it’s unclear just how soon Howard or Scharping (a Northern Illinois product) will be able to adjust to the NFL game.

After ranking just 19th in pass defense DVOA a season ago, the Texans have spent the offseason addressing their cornerback crew. Free agent additions Bradley Roby and Briean Boddy-Calhoun are in line for playing time alongside holdovers Johnathan Joseph, Aaron Colvin, and Kayvon Webster, and Johnson becomes the latest defensive back added to the mix.