Rashan Gary

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/9/22

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Minnesota Vikings

San Francisco 49ers

Adams, Dulin, Ellefson, Galeai, Washington and Willis each have until Nov. 30 to be activated from IR. Should they not be activated, they would revert to season-ending IR. The Colts and Vikings are in solid shape regarding activations, having only used one apiece. The Bears, Cardinals, 49ers and Packers have used three such moves apiece. Teams are allotted eight injury activations this season.

The Cowboys dangled Basham in trades before last week’s deadline, but no takers emerged. While the team cut the other D-lineman they were hoping to deal — Trysten Hill, who has since been claimed by the Cardinals — they ended up using one of their injury activations on Basham. A former Colts third-round pick, Basham notched 3.5 sacks during his first Cowboys season last year. He played in one game this season (Week 1) before going down with a quadriceps injury. The Cowboys, who have Tyron Smith and James Washington on their IR-return radar, have used two injury activations this season.

Packers’ Rashan Gary Suffers Torn ACL

The Packers lost their fifth straight game yesterday, but any turnaround of their season will come without one of their top defenders. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported this morning that edge rusher Rashan Gary was feared to have suffered a torn ACL; Ian Rapoport of NFL Network confirms that that is indeed the case, meaning Gary will miss the remainder of the season (Twitter links). An MRI will be conducted to determine if any further damage has been caused.

Gary was one of several Packers who had to leave Sunday’s contest early, leaving the team with a number of question marks from a health perspective. Gary was seen on crutches after the loss to Detroit, joining cornerback Eric Stokes and wideout Romeo Doubs in that regard (Twitter link via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky).

Green Bay will be hard-pressed to replace Gary, 24, for the remainder of the season. He was in the midst of another productive campaign off the edge, recording 6.0 sacks and seven tackles for loss. That marked a continuation of last season, during which he broke out with 9.5 sacks while taking on a full-time starting role. The former first-rounder drew plenty of scrutiny during his first two campaigns, as he showed only flashes of the athleticism he was renowned for coming out of college.

After things turned around in 2021, however, it came as little surprise when the Packers picked up Gary’s fifth-year option this spring. That move will keep him on the books for 2023 at a cost of just under $10.9MM. Given his play last year, and his continued career ascension until yesterday, the Michigan alum was setting himself up as a prime extension candidate this offseason.

That held especially true since the Packers released Za’Darius Smith in a cost-cutting move in March. The veteran ultimately landed with the division rival Vikings as a high-priced free agent. So far, he has enjoyed another productive season, and he ranks second in the NFL with 8.5 sacks. Gary had filled in for Smith (as he did last season, with the latter sidelined through injury), with fellow veteran Preston Smith chipping in with 3.5 sacks on the campaign.

Now, the Packers will need to regroup defensively with the elder Smith leading the way in terms of pass rushers. Green Bay is also rostering Day 3 draftees Kingsley Enagbare and Jonathan Garvin, along with former UDFA Tipa Galeai as potential Gary replacements.

A mentioned, Green Bay lost a number of key players on both sides of the ball yesterday. Joining Gary, Stokes and Doubs are lead running back Aaron Jones (who was seen in a walking boot, per Demovsky) and rookie wideout Christian Watson, who exited to be evaluated for a concussion after suffering one last week. As crushing as the Gary diagnosis is for the team, then, there could very well be more bad news coming today as the Packers continue reeling.

Extension Candidate: Rashan Gary

After being one of the more hotly-debated draft picks in the 2019 draft, Rashan Gary is eligible for his second NFL contract. Considering the progress he has made in each of his three seasons with the Packers, he could be in line for a more substantial raise than many would have thought when he entered the league.

The 24-year-old spent three years at Michigan, after being one of the top recruits in the country. That led to significant expectations, but Gary didn’t put up the production many other top edge rushers were able to in his draft class in particular. His sophomore season was his best, as he totalled 58 tackles, including 11.5 for a loss, and 5.5 sacks. Overall, he recorded less than 10 sacks during his time in Ann Arbor.

That represented a major red flag for many in the build-up to the draft. PFF rated him much lower than many of the other pass rushers in the class, including his Michigan teammate Chase Winovich. Still, Gary represented a rare combination of size (six-foot-five, 280 pounds) and athleticism which kept him on the first-round radar. It didn’t come as a shock, therefore, when the Packers drafted him with the No. 12 pick. 

That made Gary the fourth edge rusher taken off the board, taken behind the likes of Nick Bosa and Josh Allen. He heard his name called earlier than other, more accomplished college sack artists like Brian Burns and Montez Sweat, however, meaning that he was once again entering the next chapter of his football career with significant expectations. The early portion of his NFL tenure didn’t put concerns about his high draft stock at ease.

As a rookie, Gary appeared in all 16 contests, but he didn’t register any starts. Seeing the field for just one-fourth of the team’s defensive snaps, he totalled 21 tackles and a pair of sacks. He saw a larger workload the following season, and responded with a step forward in production, with five sacks. Likewise, his PFF grade rose incrementally, leading to optimism for the 2021 campaign.

With Za’Darius Smith sidelined for all but one game due to injury, Gary took on a full-time starting role this past year. He thrived in it, posting 9.5 sacks and 28 QB hits en route to a top-five edge rush PFF grade of 89. It presented an interesting dichotomy with Winovich, who, after a promising start to his career in New England, failed to record a sack in 2021 and has since been traded to the Browns.

The aforementioned Smith left in free agency this offseason, as Green Bay turned its attention to extending fellow veteran Preston Smith. He and Gary are in line to start once again in 2022, meaning the latter will have the opportunity to repeat his performance from last season. Knowing that, it came as little surprise when the Packers exercised Gary’s fifth-year option, keeping him under contract for the next two campaigns. He will have a cap hit of just over $5MM in 2022, a figure which will jump to $10.9MM the following year.

If he is able to continue his career ascension, Gary will represent one of the better values at the edge rusher position in the league at that cost, as 17 players at that spot currently average at least $15MM per season. Given his relatively late blooming, however, it would be understandable for the Packers to wait at least one more year to begin serious extension talks. The team’s overall financial situation in the near future will also, of course, be an important factor in this situation.

The Packers have more cap space than most teams at this point with respect to 2022, after trading away Davante Adams and restructuring a number of large contracts. However, the outlook is more murky beyond this coming season. Gary will need a new contract no later than 2024, by which point Aaron Jones, David Bakhtiari and Kenny Clark will each be entering the final (non-void) year of their respective deals. How the team handles those pacts will no doubt affect their ability to extend Gary at a significant rate.

Gary is aware of the importance of this season as it relates to his next contract. When speaking on the matter however, he said, via Sports Illustrated’s Bill Huber, “When it comes to money, that’s something I don’t worry about. I’m here to play football and I’m here to be the best player I can for this team.” 

Still, he called a lucrative extension a “dream… But I’ve got to keep my head down and work and not look too far ahead or all this talk is just talk.”

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)

Packers Pick Up Fifth-Year Options On Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage

For the second time in three years, the Packers used two first-round picks to bolster their defense. Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt will join 2019 first-rounders Rashan Gary and Darnell Savage. The Georgia products are in line to join the 2019 draftees for multiple seasons.

The Packers are picking up the fifth-year options on Gary and Savage, per ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler and Rob Demovsky (Twitter links). Despite Gary qualifying for a lower-tier option on the new four-tier hierarchy, his 2023 price tag comes in much higher than Savage’s due to positional value. The former Michigan pass rusher will be tied to a $10.89MM salary next year. A three-year Packers starter eligible for the Tier 3 option price, Savage is now attached to a $7.9MM 2023 salary.

Gary’s increased 2021 playing time did not lead to his option cost climbing, due to the 2019 and ’20 seasons he spent largely as a backup behind Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. The Packers broke up their edge-rushing Smith tandem this offseason, cutting Za’Darius to leave Gary a clear path to a starting role. The 2019 No. 12 overall pick impressed in his first extended run as a starter, registering 9.5 sacks and 28 QB hits. During a season in which Za’Darius Smith missed 16 games, Gary became a key part of Green Bay’s defensive future.

Green Bay traded out of the 2018 first round, allowing New Orleans to select Marcus Davenport. This gave the Packers a 2019 first, which became Savage after the Packers traded up to No. 21 with the Seahawks. Savage became a Day 1 starter in Green Bay. He has started all 46 games he’s played — including 17 last season — to help the Packers to three consecutive playoff byes. While Pro Football Focus viewed Savage’s 2021 as a step back from his 2020 showing, the Maryland alum’s lower option price allowed for a sensible pickup.

Za’Darius Smith Working Towards Return

Packers’ head coach Matt LaFleur announced today that Za’Darius Smith has returned to practice after 17 weeks on IR. He’s been designated to return so this practice begins the window of return before Smith must be placed back on IR. 

The Packers have been working without their Pro Bowl pass rusher for all but 18 snaps of football this year. Smith exited the team’s Week 1 matchup with a back injury that had been nagging him for most of the offseason. Smith underwent back surgery in hopes that he could make a late-season return, and he’s hoping to stand by that expectation.

Smith had seen two straight seasons of double-digit sacks since signing with the Packers as a free agent. Green Bay has been eager to see their top pass rusher paired up again with Preston Smith and an improved Rashan Gary. In his absence, Preston Smith and Gary have combined for 18.5 sacks this season.

This return is timely as the Packers have a first-round bye in the playoffs before they face off against the lowest remaining seed from Super Wild Card Weekend. This means Smith will have two weeks of practice to get back up to game speed and be ready to contribute. Green Bay will be excited to get a boost to their pass rush as they strive for their first Super Bowl appearance since winning Super Bowl XLV as a Wild Card team in the 2010-11 NFL season.

Injury Notes: Gabbert, Gary, Ragnow

We heard earlier today that Buccaneers backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert had dislocated his non-throwing shoulder during last night’s preseason win over the Eagles. Fortunately, it doesn’t sound like the veteran will be out for an extended amount of time. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that it isn’t expected to be a long-term injury.

While Gabbert may not be sidelined for all that long, the team is still eyeing some reinforcement at the position. ESPN’s Jenna Laine tweets that the Buccaneers have looked at signing Vincent Testaverde. The 23-year-old had spent the early parts of camp with Tampa Bay, and his head start on the offensive playbook could give him an edge over other free agent quarterbacks. Besides starter Jameis Winston, the only other healthy quarterback on the roster is undrafted rookie Nick Fitzgerald.

Let’s check out some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Packers linebacker Rashan Gary was carted off the field during Thursday night’s loss to the Raiders. Fortunately, it sounds like the 21-year-old is doing alright. RG Sports Agency tweets that Gary is “fine and doing well.” The rookie had suffered a lower-body injury early in the game, and he was later carted off the field after taking a hit to the head and neck area. The Michigan product was the 12th-overall pick in this past year’s draft.
  • Lions center Frank Ragnow was carted off the field after suffering a right leg injury during last night’s loss to the Bills. If the 2018 first-round pick has to miss time, Detroit’s offensive line situation will be bleak. As Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets, the team currently has journeyman Kenny Wiggins and former fifth-rounder Joe Dahl slotted in at offensive guard. The team was originally counting on Wiggins to be their top backup offensive tackle with Tyrell Crosby out of the lineup.
  • There’s some good injury news! Free agent cornerback Chris Campbell has been cleared from his mild hamstring strain and is now ready to audition for teams, tweets ESPN’s Mike Triplett. The 23-year-old was waived/injured by the Saints early in training camp. Campbell was a 2018 sixth-round pick out of Penn State, but he didn’t make an appearance during his rookie campaign.

Packers Sign Rashan Gary

The Packers officially have both of their first round picks on board. The day after signing 21st overall pick Darnell Savage Jr. to his rookie contract, Green Bay has agreed to terms with Rashan Gary, the team announced in a release.

The Packers drafted the Michigan pass-rusher twelfth overall. Savage was the first of the 2019 first round picks to sign, and the Packers are making quick work of signing their draft picks. The Packers have made a bunch of big moves to upgrade their defense this season, starting in free agency.

They signed pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith away from the Ravens, and safety Adrian Amos from the Bears. Then they drafted Gary and Savage last week, and all four should start next season. It’s safe to say Green Bay’s defense will look radically different in 2019. Gary formed his own agency before the draft, which raised some eyebrows. Clearly it didn’t complicate negotiations at all, as he got his deal done pretty quickly.

Gary is an insane athlete who was widely regarded as one of the top defensive players available in the draft. There was some concern about his lack of statistical production with the Wolverines, but the Packers weren’t bothered. Green Bay reportedly plans to use him at outside linebacker. We won’t know for sure for a while, but so far the first offseason of the Matt LaFleur era seems to be going nicely for the Packers.

Gary’s contract will be a standard four-year pact with a fifth-year option, and he will earn $15.877MM over the first four years of the deal. His signing bonus should be right around $9.567MM.

Draft Notes: Jones, Brown, Bills, Raiders

Beyond Kyler Murray‘s long-rumored Cardinals fit, landing spots for this draft’s other top quarterbacks are difficult to determine. But Daniel Jones, despite not exactly having impressive college statistics, has gained more steam as a first-round pick. One team has the Duke prospect as the top quarterback on its board, according to Yahoo.com’s Charles Robinson (on Twitter). The Giants are believed to be high on him. So are the Patriots. While one scout wondered (via Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com) if the former Blue Devils signal-caller would slip to the third round had he not played under David Cutcliffe, who coached both Manning brothers when they were college passers, another scout and a former GM said (via NBC Sports Washington’s Ben Standig) they each would take Jones over Drew Lock. It certainly looks Jones will land in the first round next week.

Here is the latest from the 2019 draft talent pool:

  • Another first-round hopeful, Marquise Brown, also looks like a lock to hear his name called Thursday. The Oklahoma-honed speedster may be the only guaranteed wideout to go off the board in Round 1, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report notes, after speaking with NFL staffers. Said execs then place Ole Miss alums D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown as possible first-rounders, per Miller. That would stand to make the second round potentially filled with receiver investments. The 49ers have some names in mind.
  • On the subject of the 49ers, they visited with tight end Noah Fant recently, per Sirius XM Radio’s Alex Marvez (on Twitter). This profiles as an interesting use of a visit, with the 49ers closely connected to Nick Bosa at No. 2 and not needing a tight end. But San Francisco did do well with its past Iowa investment at this position, with George Kittle breaking out in a major way in 2018.
  • Despite Rashan Gary‘s past as a top-10 national recruit and his Combine performance, another report has indicated his stock has dipped a bit. After a Thursday report pointed to the Michigan defensive lineman dropping, Miller adds teams are concerned about how little his athleticism translated to production (9.5 sacks in three seasons). Additionally, Miller doubles down on the medical concerns surrounding Gary. Some scouts believe there will be issues on that front, potentially with Gary’s shoulder, which was a trouble spot during his Wolverines run.
  • Ed Oliver‘s stock has risen a bit in the days leading up to the draft, and the Bills are in play for the interior defender at No. 9, Miller writes, adding Buffalo wants to add a bona fide interior pass-rushing presence to complement the space-eating defensive tackles it currently employs.
  • The Raiders ditched their scouting staff going into the draft and are expected to overhaul the department under new GM Mike Mayock. On draft weekend, Oakland’s non-Mayock/Jon Gruden staffers involved in the three-day event will be assistant director of player personnel Trey Scott and director of football administration Tom Delaney, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Delaney has been with the Raiders dating back to the first Gruden era; Scott rose to his current position under Reggie McKenzie‘s watch two years ago.

Draft Rumors: QBs, Gary, Pats, Giants, Lions

Kyler Murray-to-Arizona still looks to be in the cards (no pun intended), but the Nos. 2-4 quarterback landing spots — and the order in which they will be drafted — remain murky. While Dwayne Haskins‘ reported slide has led to some predicting Drew Lock would benefit, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes the Missouri product has a “very real chance” of being the fourth quarterback selected and/or falling out of the first round. Connected to Lock prior to their Joe Flacco trade, the Broncos would be intrigued by the prospect of nabbing Lock in Round 2, per JLC, who tabs Denver as more likely to address a bigger immediate need in the first round. The Broncos visited with Lock during the process, as did several other teams with some degree of a need at quarterback.

Here is the latest from the draft world, continuing with some of this year’s passing prospects:

  • If Lock’s floor may be more open-ended, La Canfora tabs the Redskins being Haskins’. Washington has done work on the Ohio State alum, along with the other high-profile QBs in this draft. The Raiders have also been “super impressed” by the 2018 breakout star, but they have been reported as being unlikely to use one of their three first-round picks on a quarterback.
  • The other quarterback mentioned as a first-round possibility, Daniel Jones has intrigued the Patriots, per JLC. New England holds pick No. 32 but has a draft-high 12 picks (including six in the first three rounds) and has plenty of ammo to move up. The Pats hosted Jones on a visit last week. New England has not taken a first-round quarterback since Drew Bledsoe 26 years ago, but NFL.com’s Gil Brandt would not be surprised if this happened (Twitter link).
  • Both the Giants and Panthers have done plenty of work on Will Grier, La Canfora adds. The West Virginia passer profiles as someone who could be available in Round 2. New York holds pick No. 37, Carolina No. 47. This is the latest we’ve heard on the Panthers’ interest in Grier. Although Carolina brass has reportedly not done more research than usual on quarterbacks in preparing for this draft, Cam Newton has not resumed throwing and is going through extensive shoulder rehab in a second offseason in three years.
  • Linked to safeties for two offseasons now, the Cowboys brought in six for pre-draft visits. Stephen Jones mentioned (via Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams) the position as having the least amount of resources put into it of any on the Cowboys’ roster. After bypassing this need in last year’s draft, Dallas will be a team to monitor on this front.
  • It does not appear the Lions will be making a move up in the first round. Bob Quinn could foresee his team trading down but does not believe (via the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers) he has enough draft capital — one pick in each of the first five rounds — to vault up from No. 8. Detroit has been mentioned as a stealth quarterback seeker, but trading up for one does not appear to be in the cards.
  • Lastly, another member of this year’s stellar defensive line class may not check out medically. Some teams have red flags on Rashan Gary, La Canfora notes. While the Michigan lineman is still expected to go in the first round, he may be available a bit later than expected. Should this report of health concerns related to Gary be accurate, he would join Mississippi State products Montez Sweat (who had a heart issue at the Combine) and Jeffery Simmons (pre-Combine ACL tear) as standout pass rushers who have encountered medical issues.