Pat Elflein

NFC South Notes: Saints, Elflein, Falcons

A potential Alvin Kamara suspension does not appear to be coming to start the 2022 season. The Saints running back’s hearing on charges of conspiracy to commit battery and battery with substantial bodily harm, which was scheduled for this week, has been delayed 60 days, according to KLAS-TV’s David Charns. Kamara, Chiefs cornerback Chris Lammons and two other men face charges in connection with a Feb. 5 assault committed against a man in Las Vegas. The Saints Pro Bowler is bracing for a six-game suspension, but depending on when this hearing ends up taking place, that potential ban may come either during the 2022 season or to start the ’23 campaign.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Tyrann Mathieu is back with the Saints. The offseason addition is making his training camp debut six days late after being excused for a personal matter, Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com notes. Signed to a three-year deal worth $28.3MM, Mathieu is believed to have returned to New Orleans on Tuesday night. The 29-year-old All-Pro joins Marcus Maye as the safeties on track to replace the Marcus WilliamsMalcolm Jenkins tandem.
  • Pat Elflein has played both guard and center for the Panthers, but Matt Rhule said recently the veteran will be working at the latter spot during training camp. Elflein is battling the recently signed Bradley Bozeman for the center gig. Despite Bozeman being one of the team’s offseason additions up front, along with projected starters Austin Corbett and Ikem Ekwonu, The Athletic’s Joe Person noted ahead of camp Elflein had a slight lead for the pivot job (subscription required). A former Vikings center starter, Elflein signed a three-year, $13.5MM deal with the Panthers in 2021. He started nine games with Carolina last season, though Pro Football Focus graded him as one of the league’s worst interior O-linemen.
  • The Panthers made some changes to their scouting department recently. They bumped Rob Hanrahan from assistant director of pro scouting to pro scouting director and gave his old gig to Tyler Ramsey, Person tweets. Hanrahan will replace Matt Allen, whom the team parted ways with in February. Additionally, Robert Haynes will rise from the area-scout level to a national scouting post, and former Lions wide receiver Corey Fuller — brother of Kyle and Kendall Fuller — is moving from the assistant level to west coast area scout (Twitter link).
  • Jahri Evans and Ty Warren are attempting to break into the coaching ranks. Both are interning as Saints staffers at camp, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. A 12-year veteran who made four straight All-Pro teams as a Saints guard, Evans, 38, hung up his cleats after the 2017 season. Warren, 41, spent 10 seasons with the Patriots and Broncos, being a starting defensive lineman for two Pats Super Bowl-bound squads. He retired after the 2012 season.
  • The Falcons also made some staff adjustments. They promoted Sal Conti to pro scout and Rushell Harvey to player personnel coordinator, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Both staffers joined the team last year under GM Terry Fontenot. The team also hired Donavan Ellison, previously a Panthers assistant, to work as a football analyst.

Panthers Restructure OL Pat Elflein’s Contract

While much of the focus in Carolina is on the Panthers’ pursuit of Deshaun Watson, the team continues to open up some additional cap space. ESPN’s Field Yates reports (via Twitter) that the Panthers have restructured offensive lineman Pat Elflein‘s contract.

[RELATED: Panthers Preparing “Aggressive” Offer For Deshaun Watson]

The front office converted $4.86MM of the player’s 2022 compensation into a signing bonus, creating an additional $2.4MM in cap space. Per Yates, the team is now “closing in” on close to $30MM in cap space.

The Panthers added Elflein on the first day of free agency in 2021, with the lineman inking a three-year, $13.5MM deal. He started all nine of his games during his first season with the organization, but he missed a chunk of the season while dealing with a hamstring issue.

The 27-year-old started his career with the Vikings, starting 43 of his 44 games. He split the 2020 season between the Vikings and the Jets.

Panthers Expected To Let Matt Paradis Depart In Free Agency; Latest On FA Plans

As Joseph Person of The Athletic (subscription required) writes, the Panthers are likely to part ways with center Matt Paradis, who is eligible for free agency. Pat Elflein, who opened the 2021 season as Carolina’s left guard but who moved over to center following Paradis’ injury, is likely to continue as the starting pivot despite his struggles in that role.

Paradis, 32, signed a three-year, $27MM contract with the Panthers in March 2019, and he started every game for the club from Week 1 of the 2019 season through Week 9 of the 2021 campaign. Unfortunately, a torn ACL suffered in that Week 9 contest ended his walk year prematurely, and it leaves him in a less-than-desirable position as he hits the open market for the second time in his career (interestingly, when he hooked on with the Panthers in 2019, he was coming off a serious leg injury that he sustained in November 2018, which may have limited his earnings then in the same way that his recent ACL tear will limit his earnings now).

Still, given his track record as a solid starter and the fact that he has been quite durable except when he’s playing out a contract year, he should garner a fair amount of attention from teams in need of a center. The Bengals, Jets, and Jaguars are all rumored to be interested in Bucs center Ryan Jensen, and Tampa Bay wants to retain its four-year starter. The losers of the Jensen sweepstakes could turn to Paradis, and the Ravens, who may be unable to afford a new contract for Bradley Bozeman, could also be in play.

The Panthers, meanwhile, will have plenty of work to do on the O-line. Luckily for them, this year’s college class is deep at the LT position, and Carolina could net a high-quality prospect even if it trades down from its No. 6 overall selection. In a separate piece (subscription required), Person opines that the Panthers will not be in the market for a high-priced free agent like longtime division-rival Terron Armstead, so the draft would be the place to nab a blindside blocker. Person does expect the team to sign a free agent guard, and while Brandon Scherff and Laken Tomlinson may be too pricey, old friend Andrew Norwell or Bears OL James Daniels could be viable targets.

In related news, Person says the Panthers do want edge defender Haason Reddick back, but only if the price is right. We recently heard that Reddick is likely to test the open market for the second year in a row. And while the club has not shut the door on a new contract for CB Stephon Gilmore, Person hears that the team is prioritizing a deal with fellow corner Donte Jackson, who is five years younger than Gilmore (both players are also eligible for free agency). GM Scott Fitterer is also doing his due diligence on available safeties.

Finally, the Panthers reportedly want to re-sign K Zane Gonzalez and may be eyeing P Pat O’Donnell as a replacement for Lachlan Edwards.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 12/29/21

Several key players returned to practice Wednesday. Here are the latest COVID-19 updates from around the league:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Activated from practice squad/COVID-19 list: WR Rico Bussey

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/23/21

We’ve compiled a list of players who were placed or activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list today. In some instances, players activated from the list remain on IR:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Football Team

Panthers Activate OL Pat Elflein

The Panthers will welcome back a key member of their offensive line this weekend. The team has activated guard Pat Elflein off injured reserve, reports Joe Person of The Athletic (via Twitter).

The 27-year-old landed on IR in September after suffering a hamstring injury. Elflein returned to practice back in October, and today was the deadline for the organization to activate him off IR. Per Jonathan M. Alexander of the Charlotte Observer, the lineman was expected to return earlier but suffered a setback.

The former third-round pick spent the beginning of his career with the Vikings, starting 43 of his 44 appearances. He split the 2020 season between the Vikings and the Jets, and he landed in Carolina this offseason on a three-year, $13.5MM deal. He started each of his two games this season, including a Week 1 win where he appeared in 95 percent of his team’s offensive snaps.

It remains to be seen if Elflein will slide back into the starting lineup for this weekend’s game against the Patriots. The Panthers offensive line has improved over the past few weeks, so the organization could end up sticking with backups Michael Jordan and Trenton Scott in the staring lineup.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/13/21

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

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

New England Patriots

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Panthers Place G Pat Elflein On IR

Carolina will be without one of its offensive line starters for a bit. The Panthers are placing left guard Pat Elflein on IR, Jonathan Alexander of the Charlotte Observer notes. The team has since announced the move.

A hamstring injury forced Elflein out of Sunday’s win over the Saints during the first half. Matt Rhule had already ruled Elflein out of Thursday’s game against the Texans, but the veteran interior lineman will now have more time to recover. He will miss at least Carolina’s next three games — against Houston, Dallas and Philadelphia.

Dennis Daley replaced Elflein in Carolina’s lineup Sunday and will be in line to start Thursday. Daley started at right guard to open the season but returned to the bench initially in Week 2, with John Miller back at his post. A 2019 sixth-round pick, Daley made nine starts as a rookie and three last season.

Elflein, 27, is no stranger to injury trouble. A knee issue in Week 1 of the 2020 season led to the Vikings placing him on IR. They eventually waived their former starting center and guard, and the Jets claimed him. The Panthers signed Elflein to a three-year, $13.5MM deal in March.

Panthers To Sign OL Pat Elflein

Pat Elflein is joining up with the Panthers. The former Vikings and Jets offensive lineman has agreed to a three-year, $13.5MM deal with $6MM fully guaranteed at signing, as ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter tweets.

Elflein started 15 games at guard for the Vikings in 2019, and he started the 2020 season opener before suffering a torn thumb ligament. That injury forced him to the injured reserve list. And, shortly after returning to practice, the Vikings released him. That led him to the Jets, who were 0-9 at the time and had the league’s No. 1 waiver priority spot.

The Jaguars, Bears, Dolphins, Ravens, and the Washington Football Team also entered bids for Elflein — it’s not clear if the Panthers were also in that group. Either way, they were keenly interested this time around. Elflein will now be tasked with clearing lanes for Christian McCaffrey and protecting the starting quarterback, who may or may not be Teddy Bridgewater.

AFC East Rumors: Watson, Mariota, Allen

Add veteran NFL reporter Tyler Dunne of GoLongTD.com to the list of writers who have heard that Texans QB Deshaun Watson is not budging on his desire to be traded, and that he continues to ignore every call from Houston brass. Of course, Watson has a no-trade clause that he could use to help dictate where he goes — assuming the Texans give in and deal him, which they have insisted they are not going to do — and we recently heard that the 49ers and Broncos are on his destination list.

Dunne’s source indicates that the Dolphins — who have been considered one of the frontrunners for Watson since trade speculation started to swirl — and the Niners are Watson’s top two preferred clubs. In Dunne’s view, a trade to Miami makes too much sense to not happen, and he believes the ‘Fins and Texans could line up on a deal that sends Watson to South Beach in exchange for the No. 3 and No. 18 overall picks in this year’s draft along with Miami’s 2022 first-rounder.

Now for more rumors from the AFC East:

  • Recent reports have indicated that Raiders QB Marcus Mariota is generating legitimate trade interest, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com believes the Patriots could be in the mix. New England obviously needs a quarterback, and Mariota is attached to a reasonable $10.6MM salary for 2021 and would not cost much to acquire in terms of draft capital. Although he could demand a raise if he is being acquired to serve as a starter, his current salary would not preclude the Pats from continuing to explore other options, like Jimmy Garoppolo — if the the 49ers land a different QB and release Garoppolo — or a collegiate passer.
  • Reiss does not expect the Patriots to make a deal with the division-rival Jets for Gang Green QB Sam Darnold, though what the Jets do with Darnold could certainly have a major impact on New England (for instance, if New York trades Darnold to San Francisco, Garoppolo could become available).
  • The Jets have among the most cap space in the league at just shy of $70MM, and they can easily create even more flexibility, thereby giving them a huge advantage in what could be a buyer’s market given the decreased salary cap. Connor Hughes of The Athletic believes New York will release DE Henry Anderson, which jibes with a report from December. That move will save the club $8.2MM in cap space, and Hughes suggests that guards Greg Van Roten and Alex Lewis might be goners as well (their releases would save $3.4MM and $5.1MM, respectively).
  • Meanwhile the Jets don’t have too many of their own free agents that must be retained. Hughes expects safety Marcus Maye to be re-signed, and he also says OL Pat Elflein — who played well in 2020 after being claimed off waivers from the Vikings — is a logical candidate to return, especially if the team moves on from Van Roten and/or Lewis.
  • Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News does not foresee the Bills laying out major free agent dollars this offseason. Instead, he expects the club to use the majority of its cash on an extension for QB Josh Allen, which means that the Bills will likely allow LB Matt Milano to test the open market — contrary to GM Brandon Beane‘s assertion that a franchise tag could be in play — and will not be in the running for a top pass rusher like Shaquil Barrett or Bud Dupree.