Steven Means

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/4/21

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Falcons Designate Steven Means For Return

The Falcons have designated defensive end Steven Means for return from injured reserve, per a club announcement. Means will be eligible to practice with the team starting today and return to action anytime in the next 21 days.

Means, 31, originally caught on with the Falcons in September 2018. Since then, he’s re-upped twice and started in 23 of his 32 games for Atlanta. This year, he was first-string at outside linebacker through eight games, up until he suffered a knee injury.

Fortunately, this was a less serious injury than the Achilles tear that cost him all of 2019. Now that he’s healthy, he’ll look to reprise his mostly solid work from 2020, which included 38 total stops and three sacks.

Once Means is back, he should resume his starting job with support from Ade Ogundeji and James Vaughters. He’ll also look to improve on his first half work – through his eight games, Pro Football Focus had him ranked near the bottom of all qualified edge defenders.

To make room for Means, the Falcons have waived cornerback Chris Williamson.

Falcons Activate Dante Fowler From IR

Suddenly in the thick of the NFC playoff race, the Falcons will have their top edge rusher back in uniform going forward. Dante Fowler is back on Atlanta’s active roster.

The veteran edge defender spent three weeks on IR due to a knee injury. While Fowler has not produced for the Falcons the way he did with the Rams, the seventh-year pass rusher still represents a key defender who will be back for the 4-4 team.

Fowler, who signed a three-year deal worth $48MM in 2020, restructured his contract this year. That amounted to a pay cut, and the former top-five pick is now on track for free agency in 2022. That will make the second half of this season pivotal to the 27-year-old sack artist’s future.

After recording just three sacks last season, Fowler registered two sacks and just three quarterback hits in his first five games this year. That total, however, still leads the Falcons, who only have 11 as a team. That ranks 32nd this season.

Additionally, the Falcons placed edge defender Steven Means on IR and promoted tight end Parker Hesse from their practice squad. Means, 31, has started each of Atlanta’s games this season and was a first-stringer in 11 games in 2020.

Falcons Cut Deone Bucannon

The Falcons released former first-round pick Deone Bucannon, per a club announcement. The move frees up a roster spot for the return of defensive end Steven Means, who has been activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list. 

[RELATED: Falcons Cut Laquon Treadwell]

Bucannon, 28, signed with the Falcons after spending 2019 with the Buccaneers and Giants. In 14 total games, he saw limited action on defensive snaps. Bucannon was at his best in 2014, his sophomore season as a pro, when he notched 112 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, three sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception for the Cardinals. But, at this stage of his career, he profiles as a fringe player.

Means, 29, missed all of 2019 season with an Achilles injury. His 2020 camp was interrupted by his placement on the COVID-19 list, but he’ll serve as defensive end depth for the team now that he has the medical greenlight. Technically speaking, Means is one of eleven defensive ends on the Falcons’ roster, though the team is constructed to mix-and-match across the front seven.

Falcons Extend DE Steven Means

In the final days of a one-year Falcons contract, Steven Means landed another. The Falcons will bring back the veteran defensive end for the 2020 season, the team announced Monday.

It’s a one-year deal for the 29-year-old defender. The Falcons gave Means a one-year, $805K deal in February 2019.

With Means coming off a lost season due to an ACL tear during OTAs, this pact also figures to be a league-minimum agreement. The CBA proposal passing would stand to increase Means’ salary by more than $100K.

Means, 29, originally caught on with the Falcons in September 2018, agreeing to terms after being part of the Eagles’ Super Bowl LII-winning roster. He has registered one sack in each of the last three seasons and made four starts for the 2018 Falcons. The former Buccaneers fifth-round pick will be in line to vie for a Falcons backup job again this summer.

The Falcons also waived tackle Lukayus McNeil on Monday.

Falcons’ Steven Means Done For Year

Steven Means‘ season is already over. On Wednesday, the Falcons announced that the defensive end will not be able to play in 2019 due to an Achilles injury. 

It’s a frustrating setback for Means, who joined the Falcons after their season opener last year and went on to appear in eight games with four starts. This offseason, the Falcons inked Means to a one-year extension before he could hit the open market, a sign that they had bigger plans for him in the coming year.

Means entered the league as a fifth-round pick of the Bucs in 2013 and has also spent time with the Ravens, Texans and Eagles over the course of his NFL career. He’ll be out of contract after the season, so he may have to don another jersey in 2020.

The good news is that even without Means, the Falcons have a solid DE rotation, including Takkarist McKinley, Vic Beasley, Adrian Clayborn, and fourth-round pick John Cominsky.

NFC Notes: Manning, Taylor, Falcons

Paul Schwartz of the New York Post examines some of the difficult decisions facing the Giants as the 2019 draft approaches. The Scouting Combine gets underway this week, and when New York GM Dave Gettleman speaks on Wednesday — which will mark the first time he speaks publicly since the end of the 2018 season — Schwartz expects he will formally commit to Eli Manning as the team’s starter for 2019.

After that, though, the picture gets a little fuzzy. Gettleman would of course love to find Manning’s successor in the draft, but he eschewed high-end collegiate QB talent last year, and the quarterbacks in this year’s class are not as heralded. Gettleman has long maintained that he will not grade quarterbacks on a curve just because there is pressure on him to pick one, and the Giants have plenty of other needs to fill, so they will be one of the more interesting teams to follow in the next couple of months.

Let’s take a look at a few more NFC items:

  • In a separate piece, Schwartz looks at three players the Giants will be monitoring closely at the Combine, all of which fill one of their above-referenced needs: QB Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), LB Devin White (LSU), and OT Jonah Williams (Alabama). Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com says the team’s top priority this offseason should be adding defensive playmakers, and he takes a deeper dive into some of the collegiate prospects that Big Blue should thoroughly examine.
  • The 49ers will certainly add a receiver or two to the top of their depth chart this offseason (like Antonio Brown, for instance), but there should still be plenty of opportunities for third-year player Trent Taylor. Taylor underwent back surgery in June, and while he ended up playing 14 games last year — compiling 26 catches for 215 yards and a touchdown — he says he never felt fully healthy. But as Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area writes, Taylor believes he is finally back to normal, and he thinks a regular offseason of work will prime him for a breakout campaign. He is also looking forward to working with his new position coach, Wes Welker, who certainly knows a thing or two about making hay as an undersized wideout.
  • The Falcons recently re-signed linebacker Bruce Carter and defensive end Steven Means to one-year pacts, and D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution passes along the contract details. Carter will earn $930K (making his contract a veteran minimum deal), while Means will earn $895K. The minimum salary for a player with Means’ service time is $805K, but Atlanta gave him a $90K signing bonus. He will carry a $735K cap hit, while Carter’s cap number is $645K.
  • It appears that Cardinals pass rusher Markus Golden will be allowed to hit the open market next month.

Falcons Sign Steven Means To Extension

The Falcons inked defensive end Steven Means to a new one-year extension, according to a team announcement. Means was initially set for free agency in March. 

[RELATED: Falcons Re-Sign LB Bruce Carter]

Means, 29 in September, played in eight games (four starts) for the Falcons in 2018. In that span, he recorded 14 stops, three tackles for a loss, and one sack.

The defensive end has traveled around the league since being selected in the fifth round of the 2013 draft by the Bucs, so this is a welcome bit of stability for him. Before coming to Atlanta, he also spent some time with the Eagles and had stints on the Ravens’ and Texans’ practice squads.

Falcons Place Keanu Neal On IR

The Falcons have placed safety Keanu Neal on injured reserve and signed defensive end Steven Means, the club announced today.

Neal suffered a torn ACL in Atlanta’s season opener on Thursday night and will subsequently miss the entire 2018 campaign. The former first-round pick had started 30 games over his first two NFL seasons, but he’ll now be replaced by 2017 draft pick Damontae Kazee. The Falcons could conceivably target a free agent like Eric Reid, or a trade candidate such as Earl Thomas, but there’s been no indication as of yet that Atlanta will head in that direction.

Means, who turns 28 years old this week, was a preseason star for the Eagles, as he posted three sacks in the club’s final exhibition game. His regular season track record is much more spotty, as he’s appeared in just 26 games since entering the league in 2013. Means, who has spent time with the Buccaneers and Ravens in addition to the Eagles, will boost an Atlanta edge rush that already includes Vic Beasley and Takkarist McKinley, among others.