Rashaan Evans

AFC South Rumors: Jordan, Titans, Shenault, Radunz

After allowing tight end Jordan Akins to walk in free agency, the Texans are expected to turn to second-year tight end Brevin Jordan to lead the position-group in 2022, according to ESPN’s Sarah Barshop.

Pharaoh Brown started the most games of any tight end on the roster last year but mostly serves as the team’s primary run-blocking tight end. Jordan, though, has seemingly passed Brown on the depth chart in the passing game as he looks to make a big leap during his second year in Houston.

Last season, Jordan caught 20 passes for 178 yards and three touchdowns, comparable with Brown’s 23 receptions for 171 yards. Jordan will look to improve those numbers in his sophomore season. The former Miami Hurricane is set up nicely to do so as the newly re-signed Antony Auclair and newly drafted Oregon State rookie Teagan Quitoriano are, like Brown, both well-known for their blocking abilities.

Here are a few more rumors from around the AFC South, starting with a rumor out of Nashville:

  • In a report on the future of Titans linebacker David Long Jr., Terry McCormick of Titan Insider made an interesting claim that, after claiming linebacker Zach Cunningham off of waivers from the Texans in December, Tennessee didn’t feel pressed at all to re-sign former first-round pick Rashaan Evans. This may be mainly due to how Tennessee values the inside linebacker position. Evans, now with the Falcons, had started 39 games, only missing one week of football in his first three seasons, when the Titans declined his fifth-year option. Evans’ best season came in 2019 with his stats falling slightly in 2020. An injury-affected 2021 season sealed his fate in Tennessee as they let him walk in free agency.
  • After bringing in wide receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones on big money deals, ESPN’s Michael DiRocco reports that Jacksonville still has wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. in their plans. Shenault has stayed consistent over his first two years in the league catching 58 balls for 600 yards as a rookie and 63 passes for 619 yards in his second season. The big difference was in his touchdown totals as he went from five touchdown catches in 2020 to zero in 2021. The Jaguars also like to use Shenault sparingly in the running game, which might be where Shenault’s role lies in the future: as a dual-threat offensive weapon alongside running back Travis Etienne. If not, he’ll be competing for snaps with Kirk, Jones, and Marvin Jones Jr. in the receiving game.
  • According to Turron Davenport of ESPN, rookie offensive lineman out of North Dakota State Dillon Radunz is expected to earn the starting right tackle job in Tennessee. While the position group still has some question marks, the second-round rookie is set to bookend the line opposite veteran Taylor Lewan. This leaves Jamarco Jones, Ben Jones, Nate Davis, Aaron Brewer, and others to compete over the three inside positions over training camp and the preseason as the Titans look to cement their offensive line.

Falcons, LB Rashaan Evans Agree To Deal

Rashaan Evans‘ Falcons visit produced an accepted contract offer. The former Tennessee linebacker agreed to a one-year deal with Atlanta, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

This move will reunite Evans with Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who formerly worked as the Titans’ DC. Pees and Arthur Smith will deploy a familiar face to address the latest linebacker defection in free agency.

The Falcons lost Foyesade Oluokun last month; the breakout tackler signed with the Jaguars. This came two years after the Falcons let De’Vondre Campbell walk in free agency. Evans should be expected to line up alongside Deion Jones in Atlanta.

A 2018 first-round pick, Evans started 50 games for the Titans. He did not miss a start during the 2019 or ’20 seasons and, after a midseason IR stay last year, returned to help Tennessee secure the AFC’s No. 1 seed. The Titans did not pick up Evans’ fifth-year option in 2021, routing him to free agency.

Evans’ Titans run ended meekly. The Titans made the former Alabama standout a healthy scratch for their divisional-round game and had used him on fewer than 40% of their snaps in Weeks 17 and 18. Evans has a 100-plus-tackle season on his resume (2019); he added 2.5 sacks that year. Evans, 26, intercepted two passes and forced a fumble in his abbreviated 2021 season. This Falcons pact represents an opportunity for the former top prospect to re-establish some momentum in a familiar defensive system.

Falcons Hosting Kemoko Turay, Rashaan Evans

The Falcons could be in line for two notable additions on defense. The team is holding free agent visits with edge rusher Kemoko Turay and linebacker Rashaan Evans 

[RELATED: Falcons Sign WR Tate]

NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported the Turay visit (on Twitter). The 26-year-old was a second round pick of the Colts in 2018. He saw the most playing time in his rookie season, registering his only three starts. It was in 2021, however, that he posted a career-high 5.5 sacks and five tackles for loss. He could at least provide depth behind the likes of Lorenzo Carter and Adetokunbo Ogundeji, while providing a boost to the team’s pass rush.

The Evans visit, meanwhile, was reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). The former first-rounder has played four seasons with the Titans, starting 50 of 59 games. His best year came in 2019, where he totalled 111 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Tennessee declined his fifth-year option, however, leading him to free agency this offseason. Evans met with the Jaguars one week ago.

Either of those two options could help add not only experience, but also, potentially, upside to the Falcons’ defense. That would certainly be welcomed, as the team ranked at or near the bottom in almost every major category on that side of the ball in 2021.

Rashaan Evans Visits Jaguars

The Jaguars could soon be making another addition to their linebacking corps. Rashaan Evans has met with Jacksonville, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: Jaguars To Sign LB Oluokun]

Evans, 26, has spent all four of his NFL seasons with the Titans, becoming a starter almost immediately. His most productive campaign was in 2019, when he totalled 111 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He continued as a starter, but the door was opened to a departure when the Titans declined the former first-rounder’s fifth-year option.

That move saved the Titans cap space for future investments in the position, such as Zach Cunningham, whom the team claimed off waivers this past December. If Evans does depart in free agency, they will have a hole to fill opposite the former Texan in the middle of their defense.

Jacksonville, meanwhile, has already made a sizeable addition at the position. They signed former Falcon – and 2021 NFL tackle leader – Foye Oluokun to a deal averaging $15MM per season. Not surprisingly, that move led to the release of Myles Jack, creating some financial flexibility after the team’s free agent spending spree, but also an opening for another veteran off-ball linebacker.

If Evans does land with the Jaguars, he would of course get the opportunity to play his former team twice per season. It would also represent another move by Jacksonville to upgrade a defensive unit which ranked in the bottom third of the league in almost every major category last year. To that point, the team has also added the likes of defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi and cornerback Darious Williams.

Titans Decline Rashaan Evans’ Option

The Titans have turned down Rashaan Evans‘ fifth-year option, according to agent Drew Rosenhaus (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). The linebacker would have cost the team $9.735MM in 2022.

According to Rosenhaus, the Titans still want to discuss an extension with Evans between now and when his contract expires next year. Evans, the 22nd overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, has started all 16 games for the Titans across the last two seasons. However, his 2019 effort was much stronger than last year.

The Titans tapped Georgia’s Monty Rice on Friday, giving them a younger and cheaper alternative to Evans. They also have 2019 sixth-round pick David Long in the mix, giving them a few inside linebacker options to pair with Jayon Brown.

In 2019, Evans notched 111 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and a fumble return for a touchdown. Last season, he recorded 96 tackles, good for third on the team.

2022 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 3 to officially pick up their options on 2018 first-rounders who are entering the final year of their rookie deals. In a change from years past, fifth-year option seasons are fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement, and specific performance metrics:

  • 2-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • 1-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • 75%+ snaps in two of their first three seasons
    • 75%+ average across all three seasons
    • 50%+ in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will get the average of the 3rd-25th top salaries at their position.

With the deadline looming, we’ll use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

Updated 4-30-21, 4:24pm CT

  1. QB Baker Mayfield, Browns: Exercised ($18.858MM)
  2. RB Saquon Barkley, Giants: Exercised ($7.217MM)
  3. QB Sam Darnold, Panthers (via Jets): Pending ($18.858MM)
  4. CB Denzel Ward, Browns — Exercised ($13.294MM)
  5. LB Bradley Chubb, Broncos — Pending ($12.716MM)
  6. G Quenton Nelson, Colts — Pending ($13.754MM)
  7. QB Josh Allen, Bills: Pending ($23.106MM)
  8. LB Roquan Smith, Bears: Exercised ($9.735MM)
  9. OT Mike McGlinchey, 49ers: Exercised ($10.88MM)
  10. QB Josh Rosen, Cardinals: N/A
  11. S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers (via Dolphins): Exercised ($10.612MM)
  12. DT Vita Vea, Buccaneers: Exercised ($7.638MM)
  13. DT Daron Payne, Washington — Exercised ($8.529MM)
  14. DE Marcus Davenport, Saints: Exercised ($9.553MM)
  15. OT Kolton Miller, Raiders — N/A (extension)
  16. LB Tremaine Edmunds, Bills: Pending ($12.716MM)
  17. S Derwin James, Chargers: Exercised ($9.052MM)
  18. CB Jaire Alexander, Packers: Exercised ($13.294MM)
  19. LB Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys: Pending ($9.145MM)
  20. C Frank Ragnow, Lions: Exercised ($12.657MM)
  21. C Billy Price, Bengals: Declined ($10.413MM)
  22. LB Rashaan Evans, Titans: Pending ($9.735MM)
  23. OT Isaiah Wynn, Patriots: Pending ($10.413 MM)
  24. WR D.J. Moore, Panthers: Exercised ($11.116MM)
  25. TE Hayden Hurst, Falcons (via Ravens): Pending ($5.428MM)
  26. WR Calvin Ridley, Falcons: Pending ($11.116MM)
  27. RB Rashaad Penny, Seahawks: Pending ($4.523MM)
  28. S Terrell Edmunds, Steelers: Pending ($6.753MM)
  29. DT Taven Bryan, Jaguars: Pending ($7.638MM)
  30. CB Mike Hughes, Vikings: Pending ($12.643MM)
  31. RB Sony Michel, Patriots: Pending ($4.523MM)
  32. QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens: Exercised ($23.106MM)

NFL’s Fifth-Year Option Salaries For 2021

The NFL’s 2021 salary cap has been set at $182.5MM, marking the league’s first reduction in a decade. With that, the league has also ironed out the value of this year’s fifth-round option for 2018 first-round picks.

Here’s the full rundown, via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter):

1. Baker Mayfield, Browns, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

2. Saquon Barkley, Giants, RB — $7.217MM (1x Pro Bowl)

3. Sam Darnold, Jets, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

4. Denzel Ward, Browns, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

5. Bradley Chubb, Broncos, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

6. Quenton Nelson, Colts, G — $13.754MM (2x Pro Bowl)

7. Josh Allen, Bills, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

8. Roquan Smith, Bears, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

9. Mike McGlinchey, 49ers, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

10. Josh Rosen, Cardinals, QB*

11. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers, S (drafted by Dolphins) — $10.612MM (2x Pro Bowl)

12. Vita Vea, Buccaneers, DT — $7.638MM

13. Daron Payne, Washington, DT — $8.529MM (playing time)

14. Marcus Davenport, Saints, DE — $9.553MM

15. Kolton Miller, Raiders, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

16. Tremaine Edmunds, Bills, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

17. Derwin James, Chargers, S — $9.052MM (1x Pro Bowl)

18. Jaire Alexander, Packers, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

19. Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys, LB — $9.145MM

20. Frank Ragnow, Lions, C — $12.657MM (1x Pro Bowl)

21. Billy Price, Bengals, C — $10.413MM

22. Rashaan Evans, Titans, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

23. Isaiah Wynn, Patriots, OT — $10.413MM

24. D.J. Moore, Panthers, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

25. Hayden Hurst, Falcons, TE (Drafted by Ravens) — $5.428MM

26. Calvin Ridley, Falcons, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

27. Rashaad Penny, Seahawks, RB — $4.523MM

28., Steelers, S Terrell Edmunds — $6.753MM (playing time)

29. Taven Bryan, Jaguars, DT — $7.638MM

30. Mike Hughes, Vikings, CB — $12.643MM

31. Sony Michel, Patriots, RB — $4.523MM

32. Lamar Jackson, Ravens, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

* Rosen was released from his original contract and, therefore, is not option-eligible 

As a refresher, the fifth-year option year is now fully guaranteed. In the past, it was guaranteed for injury only. The values are also dependent on certain performance metrics:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • One-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • 75%+ snaps in two of their first three seasons
    • 75%+ average across all three seasons
    • 50%+ in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will get the average of the 3rd-25th top salaries at their position.

Injury Notes: Berry, Giants, Titans, Falcons

Some teams will be opening their seasons without key defenders. Here’s the latest from the Week 1 injury front:

  • The nagging heel issue Eric Berry‘s been dealing with will likely keep him out of Week 1. Andy Reid (via Adam Teicher of ESPN.com, on Twitter) does not expect his All-Pro safety to be available when the Chiefs play arguably their toughest AFC West game of the season — a road tilt against the Chargers. Berry’s been held out of practice this week. He missed the Chiefs’ final 15 games of last season with an Achilles tear, his second severe NFL injury. Berry’s right heel’s plagued him in recent weeks, and was also an issue in Kansas City’s 2017 training camp; the ninth-year safety tore his left Achilles’ tendon in Week 1 of last season. He hasn’t practice since August 11. Eric Murray and the recently reacquired Ron Parker are K.C.’s likely safety starters, per Teicher.
  • Suffering a high ankle sprain in practice late last month, Olivier Vernon will not be available for the Giants on Sunday. Vernon will miss New York’s Week 1 game against Jacksonville, Pat Shurmur said (via SNY.tv’s Ralph Vacchiano). This will pose a problem for the Giants’ pass rush, which is now without Jason Pierre-Paul. This could push rookie Lorenzo Carter into Big Blue’s lineup Sunday, per Matt Lombardo of NJ.com, who adds the Georgia-developed edge defender may play plenty regardless of his first-string status.
  • The Titans will be missing some key players but may also have one back sooner than expected. Derrick Morgan‘s meniscus issue hasn’t stopped him from practicing this week, and the ninth-year edge player practiced fully on Thursday to put him in line to start Sunday. However, the Titans will begin their season without Jack Conklin, Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry, Jim Wyatt of Titansonline.com tweets. Evans and Landry were Tennessee’s top two 2018 draft picks.
  • Keanu Neal‘s Week 1 injury (an ACL tear) proved to be the biggest health news thus far on Friday, and the Falcons may not seek an outside replacement. Damontae Kazee is likely the next man up for the Falcons, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets, rather than Atlanta going after former Dan Quinn charge Earl Thomas or UFA Eric Reid.
  • Joey Bosa may miss Week 1 as well, and the Chargers‘ dynamic pass rusher was spotted in a walking boot on Friday, Jack Wang of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Bosa will be out for Sunday’s game, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Bosa missed the preseason with a foot injury, but Wang notes (on Twitter) that ailment healed and that the third-year defensive end is week-to-week because of a different malady on that same foot. While the Bolts have maybe the NFL’s best edge-rushing tandem in Bosa and Melvin Ingram, they aren’t especially deep at that position.
  • Jesse James will start at tight end for the Steelers on Sunday against the Browns. Vance McDonald will miss Pittsburgh’s opener, per Steelers.com’s Missi Matthews (Twitter link). A foot injury shelved McDonald during the preseason, halting the tight end’s offseason momentum as he prepares for his second Steelers season.

South Rumors: Conklin, Colts, Panthers

As expected, the Titans placed Jack Conklin on the PUP list at the outset of training camp. The third-year right tackle tore an ACL in Tennessee’s divisional-round loss to New England in mid-January. Given that barely six months have passed, this could be expected. Mike Vrabel said this was a possibility as his team concluded minicamp, and Conklin confirmed this was a methodical process.

Here’s the latest from the Titans, along with some of their top rivals.

  • Tennessee also placed tight end Phillip Supernaw on the PUP list while also slotting second-round pick Rashaan Evans and free agent wideout addition Michael Campanaro on the non-football illness list. The Titans’ rookies and quarterbacks opened camp Sunday, and each of these players is eligible to be reinstated for full work by the time full practices begin Thursday.
  • Titans linebacker Kevin Dodd wound up on the reserve/did not report list.
  • The Colts added multiple veterans up front this offseason, with Matt Slauson and Austin Howard now in the mix for starting roles as stopgaps. Indianapolis boasts some depth at guard now with Slauson, the recently re-signed Jack Mewhort and No. 6 overall pick Quenton Nelson on the roster. Mewhort’s re-up and the Slauson addition, though, did not deter the Colts from selecting Braden Smith in the second round. The franchise’s goal is for Smith, an Auburn alum, to be the long-term starter at right guard opposite Nelson, Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star notes. Though, Holder cautions his development figures to take longer than Nelson’s. Once entrenched as a Colts guard starter and a candidate for a long-term extension, Mewhort suffered significant injury setbacks in 2016 and ’17 to limit him to a one-year, $1.5MM deal with just $300K guaranteed. Slauson is signed for one year and $2.5MM. One member of this tandem could begin the season in an unfamiliar backup role.
  • It looks like Denico Autry has a path toward either a full-time starting role or a prominent backup job with the Colts. Chris Ballard raved about the defensive end/tackle’s skill set this weekend. “Let me tell you the one you need to watch: It’s Autry,” Ballard said. “Denico Autry is legitimate. He’s long; he’s strong; he’s passionate. I am really excited to watch him play. He’s made up of all the right stuff.” Autry (career-high five sacks last season) served as a rotational player with the Raiders, lining up as an end and a tackle during his four-year run in Oakland.
  • A host of players are vying to replace Andrew Norwell on the Panthers‘ starting line. Amini Silatolu, Taylor Moton and former Viking Jeremiah Sirles are among them, with Jordan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer noting Ron Rivera has expressed optimism about the prospect Silatolu can man the first-string post opposite Trai Turner. Silatolu started 15 Panthers games as a rookie in 2012 but hasn’t been a first-stringer on more than three occasions in a season since 2014. Rodrigue adds that Moton may be the top challenger but may also be used as a tackle and be in line to succeed Daryl Williams in the event he follows Norwell’s path as a UFA defection in 2019.

Titans Sign First-Round LB Rashaan Evans

The Titans have agreed to terms with first-round linebacker Rashaan Evans, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (Twitter link).

Tennessee moved up on draft night in order to land Evans, shipping a fourth-round pick to the Ravens in order to move up three spots (the Titans also acquired a sixth-round selection in the exchange). The Patriots were reportedly also eyeing the Alabama product, forcing the Titans to trade up to pick No. 22 in order to secure Evans.

Evans will likely be a starter from Day 1, and he’s currently penciled in to play inside linebacker alongside veteran Wesley Woodyard. Although Evans excelled as a pass-rusher at Alabama, the Titans are mostly set at outside ‘backer with Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo. It’s conceivable, however, that Evans will be asked to get after opposing quarterbacks, particularly in sub packages.

Like every first-round pick, Evans will sign a four-year deal that contains a fifth-year option. Evans’ pact will be worth roughly $11.578MM and includes a $6.45MM signing bonus, per Over the Cap. Tennessee previously inked rookies and Dane Cruikshank Luke Falk, leaving second-round edge defender Harold Landry as the team’s lone remaining unsigned draft pick.