Noah Fant

Seahawks TEs Poised For More Prominent Role?

The Seahawks will have a much different look on offense in 2022 in the absence of Russell Wilson. While the team does still have two accomplished pass-catchers on the perimeter, the tight end group could be in line for a more featured role in 2022. 

ESPN’s Brady Henderson cites that unit – rather than any one member of it – as Seattle’s offensive breakout candidate. The team’s TE usage generally ranked mid-pack at best during Wilson’s tenure at the helm, with the exception of Jimmy Graham‘s three-year stint in the Emerald City. With either Drew Lock or Geno Smith under center for at least the immediate future, though, more targets could be funnelled toward the middle of the field.

The primary beneficiary of such an offensive shift would be Noah Fant. Part of the package Seattle received from Denver in the Wilson trade, the 24-year-old has flashed potential during his first three seasons in the NFL, but fallen short of expectations given his draft stock. The No. 20 pick in his class (which, as Henderson notes, took him off the board right before Seattle would have selected him), Fant acknowledged the possibility for greater production after the trade.

“I’m kind of stuck at that high-600 [yards] ceiling, and I’ve got to break through that” he said. “I think I have every opportunity to do that in Seattle, and I’m excited to get to work to do that.”

More attention on the TE position could also see Will Dissly playing a more prominent role. The former fourth-rounder has put up consistent number during his four years with the Seahawks, earning him a three-year, $24MM deal in free agency to remain with the team. His blocking ability will always give him a path to playing time in the team’s run-heavy offense, but even a slight uptick in targets could lead to positive results for the offense. The same could be true of 2020 draftee Colby Parkinson, whom head coach Pete Carroll spoke highly of as part of his general optimism surrounding the group.

“We’ve got a lot of flexibility with these guys, and they’re going to be a big part of what we’re doing,” he said. It remains to be seen how the unit will mesh with a new QB and wideouts Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf, but a large workload could be in store.

2023 NFL Fifth-Year Option Results

Monday marked the deadline for NFL clubs to officially pick up their options on 2019 first-rounders. Fifth-year option seasons are no longer just guaranteed for injury — they’re now fully guaranteed, which makes these decisions a little tougher for teams.

Nineteen players had their options exercised, a tick up from 14 last year. Here’s the full rundown:

1. QB Kyler Murray, Cardinals – Exercised ($29.7MM)
2. DE Nick Bosa, 49ers: Exercised ($17.9MM)
3. DE Quinnen Williams, Jets: Exercised ($11.5MM)
4. DE Clelin Ferrell, Raiders: Declined ($11.5MM)
5. LB Devin White, Buccaneers: Exercised ($11.7MM)
6. QB Daniel Jones, Giants: Declined ($22.4MM)
7. DE Josh Allen, Jaguars: Exercised ($11.5MM)
8. TE T.J. Hockenson, Lions: Exercised ($9.4MM)
9. DT Ed Oliver, Bills: Exercised ($10.8MM)
10. LB Devin Bush, Steelers: Declined ($10.9MM)
11. OT Jonah Williams, Bengals: Exercised ($12.6MM)
12. LB Rashan Gary, Packers: Exercised ($10.9MM)
13. DT Christian Wilkins, Dolphins: Exercised ($10.8MM)
14. G Chris Lindstrom, Falcons: Exercised ($13.2MM)
15. QB Dwayne Haskins:
16. DE Brian Burns, Panthers: Exercised ($16MM)
17. DT Dexter Lawrence, Giants: Exercised ($10.8MM)
18. C Garrett Bradbury, Vikings: Declined ($13.2MM)
19. DT Jeffery Simmons, Titans: Exercised ($10.8MM)
20. TE Noah Fant, Seahawks: Exercised ($6.9MM; originally drafted by Broncos)
21. S Darnell Savage, Packers: Exercised ($7.9MM)
22. OT Andre Dillard, Eagles: Declined ($12.6MM)
23. OT Tytus Howard, Texans: Exercised ($13.2MM)
24. RB Josh Jacobs, Raiders: Declined ($8MM)
25. WR Marquise Brown, Cardinals: ($13.4MM; originally drafted by Ravens)
26. DE Montez Sweat, Commanders: Exercised ($11.5MM)
27. S Johnathan Abram, Raiders: Declined ($7.9MM)
28. DE Jerry Tillery, Chargers: Declined ($11.5MM)
29. DE L.J. Collier, Seahawks: Declined ($11.5MM)
30. CB Deandre Baker — N/A (released by Giants)
31. OT Kaleb McGary, Falcons: Declined ($13.2MM)
32. WR N’Keal Harry, Patriots: Declined ($12.4MM)

Seahawks Pick Up TE Noah Fant’s Fifth-Year Option

Weeks into his Seahawks tenure, Noah Fant saw his contract extended. The Seahawks are picking up Fant’s fifth-year option, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

This will keep Fant on his rookie deal through the 2023 season. Because Fant has not made a Pro Bowl but has logged a participation rate north of 50%, he qualifies for the third-tier option price ($6.85MM). This will give the Seahawks a longer look at the tight end acquired in the Russell Wilson trade.

This marks the first time the Seahawks have exercised a fifth-year option, which has been in place since the 2011 CBA. The team passed on the option for James Carpenter (2011), Bruce Irvin (2012), Germain Ifedi (2016) and Rashaad Penny (2018). Given 2019 first-rounder L.J. Collier‘s usage rate, the defensive end is not an option candidate. The 2020 CBA introduced the tiered option structure, giving teams more to consider due to the options now being fully guaranteed.

Joining Drew Lock and Shelby Harris in coming over from Denver last month, Fant is set to become one of Seattle’s top pass catchers. The Iowa alum did not become a top-flight tight end in Denver, but the Broncos’ longstanding issues at quarterback limited just about all their targets in recent years. Fant caught 68 passes for 670 yards and four touchdowns last season — similar numbers to a 2020 season spent with Lock as his quarterback.

That 2020 season — a 62-catch, 673-yard, three-TD slate — could prove relevant considering Lock’s presence. The Seahawks have repeatedly praised their quarterback acquisition, unsurprisingly, and have not added competition. That could well come in the draft or via a Baker Mayfield trade. For now, however, Lock is in position to have a strong chance at another starting gig.

Having run a 4.50-second 40-yard dash at the 2019 Combine, Fant combined for 18 touchdowns in his final two Iowa seasons. This topped Hawkeyes teammate T.J. Hockenson by a considerable margin. The Lions plan to pick up Hockenson’s option, which will cost slightly more due to his Pro Bowl nod. Fant, 24, played with numerous starting quarterbacks in Denver, which also saw Albert Okwuegbunam eat into his target share when healthy. A case can certainly be made Fant has a higher ceiling to reach with his new team. Fant will join Will Dissly in Seattle. The Seahawks re-signed the injury-prone tight end to a three-year, $24MM deal last month.

Seahawks To Trade Russell Wilson To Broncos

9:57pm: Wilson has signed his no-trade provision and passed his physical, making the deal official on his end, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). The other players involved in the trade still have to take their physical.

12:46pm: The Seahawks have agreed to trade Russell Wilson to the Broncos, as NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweets. The deal will see multiple draft picks go to Seattle, plus quarterback Drew Lock, defensive lineman Shelby Harris, and tight end Noah Fant (Twitter link). 

Details are still emerging, but when all is said and done, the deal will see three players (Lock, Harris, and Fant) go to Seattle along with two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and a fifth-round pick. The Broncos, meanwhile, get Wilson plus a Round 4 choice (Twitter link via Jay Glazer of FOX Sports). Even when accounting for Wilson’s talent and accomplishments, it all adds up to a solid haul for the Seahawks.

The Seahawks have been at odds with their star quarterback for quite some time. Now, after years of speculation, they’ve finally turned the page. The Broncos, meanwhile, have a Hall of Fame worthy quarterback for the first time since Peyton Manning‘s retirement.

Previously, head coach Pete Carroll said that the Seahawks had “no intention” of moving Wilson. Ultimately, however, Wilson wanted a new start. The Seahawks also get an opportunity at something of a clean slate. Wilson’s $35MM-per-year contract wasn’t necessarily outsized, but it was a blocker on their books. Now, Carroll & Co. can reshape the team as they see fit — perhaps with a QB with less gripes about the rest of the roster.

At this time of year, there’s conversations about everybody, and it’s commonplace for us to have conversations with teams about all of the players, particularly marquee players,” Carroll said recently. “That’s not changed. It’s been the same every year. It’s the same…We have no intention of making any move there. But the conversations, [GM] John [Schneider] has to field those, he always has. But nothing specific.”

Wilson has had his eyes on the Broncos for a while, dating back to his four-team list of acceptable trade destinations. Still, in interviews, the 33-year-old tried to slow the rumor mill down.

“I’ve been fortunate to be able to play ten amazing years in Seattle,” Wilson said roughly three weeks ago. “My hope and goal is to be back there and keep winning there. That’s the vision, that’s the goal. That’s always been it, never been anything different.”

Wilson has been connected to a number of teams this year, including the newly-crowned Washington Commanders. They were said to have sent a “strong offer,” though it’s unclear if they approached the Broncos’ mega-package. Wilson, of course, holds a no-trade clause, so it’s possible that the Broncos had the second-best offer en route to the winning bid.

The Broncos also had the cap room to accommodate the deal, unlike some of the other teams tied to Wilson. Heading into today, they had $41.999M in cap space. So, even before factoring in Lock and Harris, Denver had the room necessary to take on the deal.

The Broncos may agree to give Wilson a brand-new deal as a part of the trade. So far, we’ve yet to hear any word on that front. For now, they’ve got the superstar under contract for two more non-guaranteed years.

Denver Emerging As Premier QB Destination

We wrote a bit earlier today on the Broncos being among multiple AFC teams who “have trade compensation lined up with the Packers,” in relation to quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Well, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Denver has emerged as a prime location for many of the league’s veteran quarterbacks looking for a potential change of scenery.

The Broncos recently hired former Packers’ offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to replace Vic Fangio, who failed to accomplish a winning season in three years with the Broncos. The former Green Bay staffer represents an obvious and strong connection for Rodgers. Should Rodgers decide to move on from the Packers, having a play-caller that he’s familiar with could add some allure to the Mile High City. Another intriguing aspect that could bring a star quarterback to Denver is the addition of former Vikings’ offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak as passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach. Kubiak just helped Kirk Cousins turn in one of his best seasons in Minnesota.

Hackett and company inherit an impressive roster posed to perform. The defense is comprised of veterans like outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, safety Justin Simmons, defensive end Shelby Harris, and cornerback Ronald Darby. There are a number of free agents that Denver would like to bring back like cornerbacks Bryce Callahan & Kyle Fuller, defensive back Kareem Jackson, inside linebacker Josey Jewell, and outside linebacker Malik Reed. Even if they fail to bring some of those names back, the Broncos saw impressive seasons last year for youngsters like cornerback Patrick Surtain II, linebacker Baron Browning, defensive end Dre’Mont Jones, and safety Caden Sterns. The list of defensive players above may not overwhelm you with stardom, but, together, the Broncos defense ranked third in the league in points allowed and eighth in the league in yards allowed.

In addition to a brand new offense and stacked defense, Denver boasts a nice array of young offensive weapons. An impressive receiving corps is led by veteran 26-year-old Courtland Sutton, young star Jerry Jeudy, and Tim Patrick, who has broken out a bit over the past two seasons. The Broncos also have two talented, young receiving tight ends in Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam. Any quarterback looking to join in on the fun would potentially have the benefit of a two-headed rushing attack that was 79 yards short of a combined 2,000-yard rushing season. Running back Javonte Williams enjoyed a healthy dose of carries in his rookie season, and there is mutual interest in bringing back Melvin Gordon.

Rodgers is obviously a name to keep an eye on as the decision on his future in Green Bay looms on the horizon. He has said that he will let the Packers know of his intentions before the franchise tag deadline so they can figure out how to deal with free agent wide receiver Davante Adams. In addition to Rodgers, though, keep an eye out for Denver to make moves on other quarterbacks searching for greener pastures. Russell Wilson has long been rumored to be interested in moving on from Seattle, and Deshaun Watson is still searching for a new home.

Whether Rodgers, Wilson, Watson, or some other under-the-radar name, look for the Broncos to make a move for a star quarterback. If they are able to find the right fit, the move could bring them into contention for what could easily turn into the toughest division in football.

Update On Broncos’ Fant, Chubb, Gordon

With a new head coach in place, the Broncos now face a number of key decisions on their roster. In a recent conversation with the team’s website, general manager George Paton outlined his views on a number of players and position groups, including tight end Noah Fant, edge rusher Bradley Chubb and running back Melvin Gordon

The team needs to decide by May whether or not to pick up Fant’s fifth year option. Considering Paton waited until after the draft to make that same decision with Chubb, it may be a while before the former 20th-overall pick learns his fate. When asked about Fant, Paton said, “he probably wasn’t as productive as he would have liked… He needs to work in the run game, and he knows that”, while still acknowledging his pass-catching ability. Fant has put up almost identical numbers the past two seasons, averaging 65 catches for just over 630 yards and seven total touchdowns in that span.

As for Chubb, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, Paton remains optimistic that he can recover from the ankle surgery that cut his 2021 season short. Even though Chubb was held without a sack in seven games, Paton said “I expect great things from him”. More work will be done with the team’s pass rushers, though, as Malik Reed and Stephen Weatherly are pending restricted and unrestricted free agents, respectively. Paton made clear his desire to add a “mismatch-type rusher”, especially given the void left by Von Miller.

Finally, Paton seemed to open the door to Gordon returning. The 28-year-old signed with Denver two years ago, but is now a pending UFA. While he topped 1,100 scrimmage yards in both seasons with the Broncos, the presence of 2021 second round pick Javonte Williams has many feeling the veteran will need to find a new home. Paton said, though, that Gordon “had a heck of a year”, adding ” I like Melvin a lot”.

The decisions made with those three players – and within their respective position groups – will go a long way to shaping the rest of the team’s offseason moves, and in turn, their attempt to return to the postseason.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/10/21

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves, with the list being updated throughout the day:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals 

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

  • Signed: K Lirim Hajrullahu

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Indianapolis Colts

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Broncos Place Noah Fant On Reserve/COVID-19 List

Beset by injuries to their pass-catching group all season, the Broncos appear likely to be without their starting tight end this week. They placed Noah Fant on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday.

If vaccinated, Fant will need to test negative twice two days apart to return to the team. If unvaccinated, the third-year target faces steeper return protocols. Going into the season, the Broncos were one of the leaders on the vaccine front. Fant indeed tested positive, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

This stands to deal another blow to a Broncos team that has seen three of its aerial weapons miss extensive time this season. Jerry Jeudy missed six games because of a high ankle sprain, and K.J. Hamler has missed the past five due to his ACL tear. Fant’s backup, Albert Okwuegbunam, missed three games with a hamstring injury.

A first-round pick in 2019, Fant is a bit off his 2020 pace (62 receptions, 673 yards). But the Iowa product has still been a key part of Denver’s passing attack. Fant has 37 catches for 320 yards and three touchdowns this season. Okuegbunam would be in line to take over as the team’s top tight end against the Cowboys should Fant miss the game. Okwuegbunam returned to action in Week 8.

West Rumors: Broncos, Bell, Rams

Broncos running backs coach Curtis Modkins will not travel with the team to New England for the rescheduled Broncos-Patriots game due to a positive COVID-19 test, the team announced Saturday. Modkins, 49, is in his third season as Denver’s running backs coach. He is not experiencing symptoms from the virus, according to the team, which has performed the customary contact tracing after this positive test. The former Bills and 49ers offensive coordinator is a holdover from the Vance Joseph regime and has been retained despite the Broncos changing OCs the past two offseasons. Modkins has been an NFL assistant since the 2008 season. Modkins’ son, Jett, is a Broncos intern and lives with his father. Jett Modkins will not make the trip either, Troy Renck of Denver7 notes. The Broncos will also be without Melvin Gordon from their backfield mix Sunday.

Here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • Le’Veon Bell‘s Chiefs deal will come with a $1MM base salary, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. The Dolphins were believed to be offering more money and potentially a multiyear deal, but another report indicated Miami did not dangle two years in its Bell proposal. Bell will have around $1MM more available to him through incentives. One of those incentives will be based around Bell’s workload. Bell’s Chiefs contract, to some degree, lessen the Jets’ burden. They owed the former All-Pro back approximately $6MM after releasing him after five games.
  • Another team’s running backs coach will be out of action as well. Rams RBs coach Thomas Brown blew out his Achilles’ tendon during practice Thursday, Sean McVay confirmed. In his first season as an NFL assistant, Brown joined the Rams’ staff this offseason. The 34-year-old position coach will undergo surgery next week.
  • Drew Lock is set to return as the Broncos‘ quarterback Sunday. He will have far from his optimal group of skill-position players. Phillip Lindsay will play; so will Jerry Jeudy. However, Denver will be down Noah Fant and K.J. Hamler. Fant suffered an ankle injury in Denver’s win over the Jets more than two weeks ago; Hamler reinjured the hamstring he pulled during training camp. Lock was able to target Courtland Sutton when he last played (Week 2), but Denver’s No. 1 wide receiver is out for the season with an ACL tear. Lock will have a difficult task against the Patriots, who will have Stephon Gilmore back after his stay on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list.

Injury Updates: Chubb, Looney, Darnold, Fant,

It’s been a bad year for injuries, and unfortunately we’ve already heard reports of significant ones to guys like O.J. Howard and Austin Ekeler this Sunday. Here’s the latest batch of updates as Week 4 winds down:

  • Browns running back Nick Chubb got rolled up on in scary fashion, with his knee twisting under a Cowboys defender. Fortunately it looks like Cleveland dodged a bullet, as a source told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com that the team is “cautiously optimistic” he didn’t suffer a torn ACL. He’ll have an MRI on Monday to tell the full story, but it looks like he isn’t going to be done for the year.
  • Chubb wasn’t the only one to go down with a knee injury in the same game. Cowboys center Joe Looney also hurt his knee and was quickly ruled out, which had Dallas fans holding their breath. Like with Chubb however it appears it could’ve been worse, as Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News tweets that there’s “hope the injury is not of season-ending variety.” Dallas is already banged up on the offensive line, and starting right tackle La’el Collins was just ruled out for the year due to hip surgery, so this would be a big loss. Rookie fourth-round pick Tyler Biadasz filled in after Looney got hurt.
  • Sam Darnold hurt his shoulder early in the Jets’ Thursday Night Football game, and although he was able to return to the loss to the Broncos and keep playing, it appears he isn’t out of the woods yet. Darnold has a sprained AC joint in his shoulder and is in danger of missing New York’s Week 5 game against the Cardinals, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. “We just need to make sure we lay everything out and kind of see where we go from here, what’s best for him, not just next week but long term,” head coach Adam Gase explained. Darnold has struggled mightily in his third season, and considering this is clearly the Jets’ easiest game for the foreseeable future, it would be great if he could play. If he’s unable to go, veteran Joe Flacco would draw the spot start.
  • Broncos tight end Noah Fant also went down on Thursday night, suffering an ankle injury. Although he was carte to the locker room it fortunately isn’t a season-ending broken ankle or anything of the sort. That being said he will be week to week and is expected to miss Denver’s Week 5 game against the Patriots, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). You’re probably well aware of the Broncos’ injury woes this season, as players have been going down left and right. At 1-3 and without practically half of their starting lineup, it’s looking like a lost season for Denver. The 20th overall pick of last year’s draft had been playing well, with 19 catches for 219 yards and two scores through three and a half games before going down.