Nicholas Petit-Frere

Titans Rumors: Ridley, Gardner-Johnson, Dillard

The Titans have yearned for a No. 1 wide receiver since they traded away A.J. Brown. Literally since that exact moment, when they used the draft pick they acquired in that trade to draft Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks in the hopes that he would take over. They had also traded for former Rams wide receiver Robert Woods in hopes that he would return from injury to the form of his best years in Los Angeles.

When neither of those moves worked out quite how the wished, Tennessee signed DeAndre Hopkins. While Hopkins certainly gave them a season worthy of a WR1, it became clear that that was not quite enough, that the team still had to get better around Hopkins. Enter Calvin Ridley.

The list of free agent wide receivers this year is expansive, but it is anything but lucrative. Some of the top options like Gabriel Davis and Darnell Mooney had already signed and other top options like Mike Williams, Michael Thomas, and Odell Beckham Jr. came with their own caveats. According to Dianna Russini of The Athletic, the Titans brass was focused on a singular goal: landing the best wide receiver available.

With the options out there, they set their sights on Ridley and their focus narrowed. The team reportedly put themselves in position to land Ridley starting last night, keeping in constant contact with Ridley and company. Not wanting to allow for anyone else to obtain their treasure, they made their move, offering what they knew would be the best deal that any team might offer the 29-year-old receiver. The rest is history, they landed their man, and he will be donning Titans blue in 2024.

Here are a few other rumors coming out of Nashville:

  • With the Titans looking to add a defensive back to the roster, following the loss of Kevin Byard after his trade midseason, the name C.J. Gardner-Johnson has come up, per Adam Caplan at Pro Football Network. The veteran safety has some familiarity with the staff playing one of the best seasons of his career under new defensive coordinator Dennard Wilson when the two were both in Philadelphia. Gardner-Johnson missed nearly all of the 2023 campaign with a torn pectoral muscle, starting the first two games of the season and making a comeback for the playoffs, so he may even come at a slight discount.
  • While retaining that their plans could change, Caplan also reports that the Titans are currently expected to retain veteran left tackle Andre Dillard, who just finished the first year of his three-year, $29MM contract. Dillard started 10 games last year and was forced to the bench for six others. $6MM of his $9MM base salary for 2024 became fully guaranteed today and he will carry a $10.68MM cap hit for the season. Cutting him now would only save $2.88MM of cap space while leaving $7.79MM of dead money, while designating him a post-June 1 release could clear up $6.47MM of cap space, leaving the team with only $4.2MM of dead money. If he is retained, he would be assumed to start at left tackle, leaving Nicholas Petit-Frere and Jaelyn Duncan to battle for the right tackle job.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/11/23

The NFL’s minor moves, including gameday callups for Sunday of Week 10:

Atlanta Falcons

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Las Vegas Raiders

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Titans OL Nicholas Petit-Frere Likely Done For Season

Nicholas Petit-Frere‘s tough 2023 season has likely come to an end. According to Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky, the Titans lineman suffered a shoulder injury last Thursday that will likely require season-ending surgery.

Petit-Frere was suspended for the first six games of the season after violating the NFL’s gambling policy. He wasn’t immediately inserted into the starting lineup upon his return, with Chris Hubbard rolling as the starter at right tackle. However, Petit-Frere replaced Andre Dillard at left tackle during Week 6, and he proceeded to start the next two games at the position for Tennessee.

With the second-year lineman set to go under the knife, his 2023 campaign will end with only three appearances. This is a tough break following a promising rookie season from the Ohio State product. The third-round pick ended up starting all 16 of his appearances in 2022.

Pro Football Focus hasn’t been all that fond of his performance through two seasons in the NFL. The site graded him as a below-average OT in 2022, crediting him with five sacks allowed, 35 pressures allowed, and eight penalties. The site was even less bullish on the lineman for his limited 2023 snaps, although they did give him some praise for his run-blocking ability.

With Petit-Frere now sidelined, the Titans could turn back to Dillard at LT. Kuharsky notes that the team could instead consider rolling with Dillon Radunz or rookie sixth-round pick Jaelyn Duncan, although one of those options may need to fill in for Hubbard, who’s currently dealing with a concussion.

Titans To Move Nicholas Petit-Frere To Left Tackle, Demote Andre Dillard

The Titans completed an offensive line revamp this offseason, jettisoning fixtures Taylor Lewan and Ben Jones to create cap space and then letting four-year right guard Nate Davis leave in free agency. Nicholas Petit-Frere‘s gambling suspension meant Tennessee started four new blockers in Week 1.

Although Peter Skoronski represented the biggest offseason investment up front, the Titans gave Andre Dillard a three-year, $29MM deal to replace Lewan. Drafted to take over for Jason Peters in Philadelphia, Dillard was never able to do so and ended up a swing tackle. While Dillard still drew interest at past trade deadlines and created a decent market for himself in free agency, the Titans are preparing to demote him in Week 8.

Tennessee is set to move Petit-Frere from right to left tackle, Mike Vrabel said (via’s Turron Davenport). While Dillard has experience as a right tackle, playing the position at points in Philly, Vrabel confirmed he will slide to a swing role. The Titans signed Chris Hubbard this summer, and despite the former Steelers and Browns starter settling in as a backup during his final years in Cleveland, he has manned the right tackle job throughout the season.

The NFL reinstated Petit-Frere earlier than expected, updating its gambling policy in-season. The Titans did not activate the second-year blocker when first eligible, waiting a week, and still started Hubbard at RT in Week 6. Petit-Frere played 32 snaps off the bench. This will be a big step for Petit-Frere, who finished his Ohio State career as the team’s right tackle starter. He beat out Dillon Radunz for the Titans’ RT gig before the 2022 season and started 16 games at the position for the injury-battered team last season, but with Will Levis (feat. Malik Willis) likely to start Sunday, it will be Petit-Frere guard his blind side.

Dillard’s demotion represents an obvious step back for the former first-round pick. Pro Football Focus ranks Dillard outside the top 60 among tackles and has charged him with a whopping seven sacks allowed through six games. Despite Hubbard’s 2020s inactivity coming into this season, PFF ranks him 24th overall among tackles this season. The Titans guaranteed Dillard $10MM. While this demotion would put the four-year Eagle on the 2024 cut radar, the Titans would eat at least $4MM in dead money next year even in a post-June 1 release scenario.

Another intriguing option for Tennessee would be to relocate Skoronski to left tackle, where he starred at Northwestern. Skoronski did some tackle work during the Titans’ offseason program, but Vrabel squashed the notion he would move off guard. The college tackle whom most scouts projected as an NFL guard has been the Titans’ left guard this season.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/2/23

Monday’s minor moves around the league:

Arizona Cardinals

Detroit Lions

Jacksonville Jaguars

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

As part of the new terms regarding the NFL’s gambling policy, players hit with six-game bans for gambling on non-NFL events while at team facilities have seen their suspensions reduced. As a result, Williams and Petit-Frere will be able to return as early as Week 5. Tom Pelissero of NFL Network notes that each player will receive a one-week roster exemption, after which they will need to be activated.

The same holds true of Robinson, who was suspended for the season’s opening month due to a PED violation. That ban cost the 27-year-old over $3.5MM in salary and voided the remaining guarantees in his deal, which runs through 2024. The Jaguars have had an up-and-down start to the season on offense, but the unit has fared well in pass protection so far with only eight sacks allowed. Still, Robinson’s return to the blindside will be welcomed in Jacksonville.

NFL, NFLPA Agree To Revised Gambling Policy

In the wake of an offseason filled with gambling-related punishments across the NFL, changes have come about regarding the policy dictating betting on football and other sports. The league and NFLPA agreed to a revised policy, as first reported by CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones.

Under the new rules, players found to have bet on NFL games not involving their own team will be subject to indefinite suspensions of at least one year. That has been the case on a number of previous occasions, including Calvin Ridley last year and a pair of now ex-ColtsIsaiah Rodgers and Rashod Berry – in 2023. Notably, however, players who bet on games involving their club will be subject to a ban of at least two years.

Keeping in line with the stiffer punishments for football-related betting, the new policy also includes lifetime bans for players found culpable of “actual or attempted match fixing.” One-year suspensions are also in place for players who provide “inside information” for NFL-related bets. The threat of such moves being deemed necessary has become increasingly present in recent years given the league’s about-face on betting, having developed a highly lucrative relationship with gambling partners.

On the other hand, the punishments for gambling on non-NFL events has been lessened. Betting on such sports remains permitted outside of NFL facilities, but players who violate that section of the policy will no longer be subject to six-game bans. Instead, first-time offenders will face two-game suspensions, with the penalty rising to six games for second offenses and year-long bans for third violations. Given these changes, a pair of teams will have notable players return earlier than expected.

Lions wideout Jameson Williams and Titans right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere – both handed six-game bans for placing bets at NFL facilities – will be allowed to return to action in Week 5, Jones notes. Given their status as first offenders, the new, lighter penalties for non-NFL betting will see them in place ahead of their scheduled return date under the previous policy. Both players are expected to take on starting roles when they return to action, though a ramp-up period in practice should be expected before that takes place. Free agent receiver Stanley Berryhill will also be reinstated next week.

The league’s gambling policy is not subject to CBA negotiations, but NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero notes new NFLPA executive director Lloyd Howell spoke to commissioner Roger Goodell about “inconsistencies” in the previous policy. That has resulted in Friday’s news of signficant revisions for players, although no changes are believed to have been made for other team personnel. As a result, the indefinite ban issued to Jets WRs coach Miles Austin in December is not in line to be adjusted, nor are the penalties for NFL and non-NFL gambling slated to be softened for similar violations in the future.

“In recent weeks, we have consulted with many of you and with the NFL Players Association to ensure that out policies are clear, properly communicated, and focused on protecting the integrity of the game,” a memo from Goodell reads in part. “We are working with the [NFLPA] to develop a program to educate players regarding the changes to the policy.”

As was previously the case, gambling violations will be subject to review from Goodell on a case-by-case basis. With these revisions in place moving forward, though, further clarity on all sides will presumably be attained as the league aims to a avoid a repeat of the summer’s slew of punishments being learned of. With further incentives to avoid NFL-related gambling in particular, it will be interesting to see how effective the new policy is in the future.

Titans T Nicholas Petit-Frere Hit With Six-Game Gambling Suspension

Another name in the NFL’s gambling crosshairs has dropped. The league will hand a six-game suspension to Titans tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere for violating the gambling policy, Adam Schefter of reports (on Twitter).

A third-round Titans draftee last year, Petit-Frere became the team’s starting right tackle as a rookie. Petit-Frere said in a statement he did not gamble on NFL games but admitted to violating the betting policy. His betting on non-NFL games from a team facility will induce the six-game ban.

This comes a day after Schefter reported other players, in addition to Colts cornerback Isaiah Rodgers, were targets in the league’s gambling probe. This is the first mention of Petit-Frere, however, in connection with gambling. Rodgers is set to draw a season-long ban for making bets on NFL games. Expanding what is becoming a widespread issue for the NFL, Petit-Frere is the seventh known player popped for a 2023 gambling violation.

This suspension is consistent with the bans handed to Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams and former Detroit wideout Stanley Berryhill. While other since-cut Lions — and Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney — were hit with indefinite suspensions for betting on NFL games, Williams and Berryhill were found to have bet on other sports from team grounds.

Chosen 69th overall out of Ohio State last year, Petit-Frere won the Titans’ starting tackle job in training camp. He started 16 games as a rookie, during a season in which Tennessee’s offensive line endured a rash of injuries. By season’s end, longtime starters Taylor Lewan, Ben Jones and Nate Davis were on IR; Petit-Frere and guard Aaron Brewer were the only first-string blockers left standing. The team has since cut Lewan and Jones; Davis signed with the Bears in free agency. Petit-Frere and Brewer are ticketed to stick as starters, but the Titans will need to make other plans at right tackle to start the season.

Pro Football Focus did not view Petit-Frere’s rookie year fondly, grading the former Big Ten blocker 74th among tackles last season. The Titans have also gone through some issues staffing their right tackle spot in recent years; this adds to a growing list.

Since the team passed on Jack Conklin‘s fifth-year option, it has not enjoyed continuity at the position. After Conklin left for Cleveland in 2020, the Titans drafted Isaiah Wilson in the first round. Wilson became a spectacular bust, playing all of four NFL plays, and lasted one season in Tennessee. The Titans then drafted North Dakota State’s Dillon Radunz in the 2021 second round. Radunz has been unable to win the right tackle job, losing the camp competition to Petit-Frere. Radunz could find himself back in the mix for the role, but the Titans’ offseason retooling effort up front now will include a right tackle change as well.

This move also could affect where the Titans station first-round pick Peter Skoronski. Viewed as a guard by most evaluators, the Northwestern prospect played only tackle while in college. He worked at both tackle and guard during the Titans’ offseason program. Sixth-rounder Jaelyn Duncan and swingman Jamarco Jones also loom a potential stopgap options, in case the Titans view Skoronski as a guard. The team also may look for a veteran. Dennis Kelly, who started for the team in 2020, is unattached. Though, George Fant, a three-year Jets starter, probably represents the top available option. Marcus Cannon, Ja’Wuan James and Chris Hubbard are also available.

Tennessee’s O-line will now roll out four new starters to open the season. Brewer is expected to shift to center to replace Jones, but new pieces will comprise the rest of the group. The Titans signed left tackle Andre Dillard in free agency, with ex-49ers exec-turned-GM Ran Carthon adding former San Francisco guard Daniel Brunskill as well. Another new blocker will now be in line to follow Dillard, Brunskill and Skoronski as a Titans starter — health permitting — in Week 1.

Titans To Start Joshua Dobbs Vs. Cowboys

The Titans are not exactly going into Thursday night’s Cowboys game with a clear intent to win. The injury-plagued team is planning to rest numerous starters, with a Week 18 date against the Jaguars set to determine its playoff fate.

But Tennessee will make an interesting change at quarterback. Rather than give Malik Willis more reps in his rookie season, the Titans are preparing to start recent acquisition Joshua Dobbs, Justin Melo of The Draft Network tweets. Tennessee brought in Dobbs on Dec. 21, with Ryan Tannehill out with an ankle injury. Tannehill is not expected to return this season, though the starter has not shut it down just yet.

A former Tennessee Volunteer, Dobbs has bounced around in the pros. The sixth-year backup has been with three teams just this year, moving from Cleveland to Detroit to Nashville over the past month. The former fourth-round pick has not thrown any regular-season passes this season; his most recent game work came in 2020 with the Steelers. The Browns signed Dobbs this offseason and used him as Jacoby Brissett‘s backup for much of the year, but once Deshaun Watson was eligible to play, Cleveland cut bait. Dobbs landed in Detroit, but Tennessee poached him from the Lions’ practice squad.

Dobbs has seen most of his NFL work come in the preseason, and the Titans’ Week 17 lineup will have the look of an August matchup. Tennessee placed O-line starters Nate Davis and Ben Jones on IR last week, and the team will be without right tackle starter Nicholas Petit-Frere against Dallas. With Taylor Lewan out of the picture, the Titans will deploy basically a second-string O-line tonight. While Willis’ early work points to extensive development being needed, the Titans may be leery of putting the third-round pick behind this set of blockers against a top-tier Cowboys pass rush.

In an arrangement that will surely test Al Michaels’ patience, Titans will also sit Jeffery Simmons, Denico Autry, Amani Hooker, Bud Dupree and Zach Cunningham. Oh, and they are unlikely to deploy Derrick Henry, who is doubtful with a hip injury. This sets up an unusual Week 17 and an odd Week 18 plan. The Titans look like they will be trying to salvage their season in Jacksonville next week on the heels of a six-game losing streak. Even if the Titans drop to 7-9 tonight, the AFC South will be on the line next week.

Willis has shown some promise in the run game but has looked woefully overmatched through the air. The mid-major product has not eclipsed 100 passing yards in any of his three pro starts and has a 0-3 TD-INT ratio on 61 pass attempts. It will be interesting if the Titans turn back to Willis or go with Dobbs (17 career attempts) against the Jaguars, when they reconvene for relevant football, next week.

AFC Rumors: Gilmore, Pryor, Petit-Frere, Wilson, Jaguars

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore is playing with his fourth team after a short stint in Carolina. He started in Buffalo before signing with the Patriots. New England traded the two-time All-Pro midseason for only a sixth-round draft pick in return. Gilmore was injured at the time, but the compensation the Patriots received never made a ton of sense. Recently, though, Gilmore elaborated on the situation that deteriorated in New England, according to Stephen Holder of ESPN.

At the peak of his career, Gilmore suffered a torn quadriceps in the 2020 season. The injury kept him on the Patriots’ reserve/physically unable to perform list to start the 2021 season and, during that time, the relationship between Gilmore and New England “reached a point of no return.”

“I just didn’t like how they handled my situation, my injury,” Gilmore told reporters. “The situation just, I don’t know, wasn’t right for both sides.”

Here are a few more rumors from around the AFC, starting with a couple position battle victories in the AFC South:

  • In a bit of a surprise decision, it appears that veteran offensive tackle Matt Pryor has won the left tackle job in Indianapolis over rookie third-round pick Bernhard Raimann, according to Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star. Pryor has only ever started one game at left tackle in the NFL and many expected the rookie out of Central Michigan to give him a strong run for the job. Erickson goes on to say that, should Pryor not perform up to expectations, there’s a strong chance that the starting job could slip out of his grasp.
  • A third-round rookie who did win the starting job is just across the division in Tennessee. Titans general manager Jon Robinson made it known last weekend that Ohio State rookie Nicholas Petit-Frere will start at right tackle to open the season, according to Kayla Anderson of WKRN News 2. Last year’s rookie offensive lineman Dillon Radunz failed to earn much of a role last season but, reportedly, did everything right this offseason. Still, Petit-Frere has effectively won the starting job and Radunz will continue to come off the bench in Year 2.
  • New Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson received an impressive contract extension this week reported as a five-year, $245MM deal. The new money on the contract extension was originally reported to be $49MM per year. Those original reports failed to take the league’s new 17th-week into account when calculating the new money, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports. Wilson was entitled to two more years under his previous contract and the original new money reports included the Week 17 paychecks that really should’ve been included with the original contract. So, while still an extremely impressive payday for Wilson, his average new money is more like $48.52MM per year than $49MM.
  • The Jaguars are losing a member of their front office, according to Seth Walder of ESPN. Director of strategic research & development Momin Ghaffar is leaving the team for a job outside of football. In fact, the job is “outside of sports.” This isn’t a terrible surprise as the position was one of Jacksonville’s many roles that fuse business analytics with football analytics.

Latest On Titans’ RT, LG Competitions

Second-year pro Dillon Radunz has the chance to win the Titans’ starting right tackle job, per Jim Wyatt of the team’s official website. That jibes with an ESPN report from last month, and it makes plenty of sense given that Radunz was selected in the second round of the 2021 draft with the expectation that he would be a long-term bookend on Tennessee’s O-line.

The possibility of Radunz competing for the team’s other OL vacancy, left guard, was floated earlier this year. HC Mike Vrabel subsequently indicated that the team would be focusing on Radunz as an RT candidate, although he will have to fend off 2022 third-rounder Nicholas Petit-Frere, who presently appears to be the most significant threat to his playing time. In his rookie campaign, Radunz started just one game while learning and developing behind former right tackle David Quessenberry, who signed with the Bills this offseason. According to Wyatt, Radunz has looked more comfortable during OTAs and minicamp, but obviously training camp will be a better gauge of where he stands.

While Radunz and Petit-Frere are battling it out for the right tackle slot, Wyatt confirms that Aaron Brewer and Jamarco Jones are the top candidates for the LG gig, as we heard several weeks ago (and throughout the offseason). Brewer, a 2020 UDFA, has started six games for Tennessee in his first two professional seasons, five of which came last year. Jones, meanwhile, signed a two-year, $5.75MM contract with the Titans in March, and one of his primary selling points was his versatility. Despite dealing with injury problems throughout his brief career, the 2018 fifth-round pick of the Seahawks has seen action all over the O-line.

Both Brewer and Jones received sub-par marks from Pro Football Focus for their 2021 work. This offseason, Jones has managed to stay healthy and has, in Wyatt’s estimation, demonstrated improvement, while Brewer missed time due to injury. Brewer’s familiarity with the offense will help, and Wyatt believes the Texas State product will ultimately win the LG job, but that battle will be one of the most hotly-contested for the Titans this summer. Whichever player emerges as the starter will have big shoes to fill, as Rodger Saffold had become a reliable fixture on the interior and earned his first Pro Bowl bid in 2021. He became a cap casualty in March and signed with Buffalo a week before Quessenberry.

The Titans finished the 2021 regular season with the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC. While Vrabel’s outfit fell to the Bengals in the divisional round of the playoffs, the club still has its eyes set on another deep postseason run. As such, Wyatt confirms that Tennessee will look at the free agent and trade markets if the RT and/or LG competitions are not going well.

Of course, the players who are on the free agent market at this point in the calendar year are generally available for a reason. The top RTs include Bryan Bulaga, Daryl Williams, and Marcus Cannon, all of whom were released by their previous clubs in March and who have not generated any reported interest since. Similarly, the Commanders released LG Ereck Flowers in March, and while our own Ely Allen noted that the former top-10 pick could make plenty of sense for Tennessee, we have not heard of any interest in his services.

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif may be an appealing option for the Titans if Brewer and Jones fail to impress, but LDT may not want to continue his NFL career. Nonetheless, potentially intriguing players could be cut as we get closer to the regular season, and GM Jon Robinson may be able to swing a trade if the FA market does not bear fruit.