Steven Means

Ravens Sign DE Steven Means

Just two days after hosting him as a tryout, the Ravens are indeed adding a veteran to their pass-rushing group. The team announced on Friday that they have signed defensive end Steven Means

The 31-year-old spent one season with the Ravens in 2014. He stayed on the team’s practice squad for all but one game, and was waived before the start of the 2015 campaign. That led him to Philadelphia, already the third team in his career after he was drafted by the Buccaneers. He carved out enough of a role with the Eagles to earn an extended stay with the team, but he remained primarily a special teamer with them.

That began to change in Atlanta, his most recent home. He registered the first four starts of his career with the Falcons in 2018, not surprisingly setting a new career-best in tackles along the way. His workload continued to rise in each of the past two seasons; after playing 332 total defensive snaps entering the 2020 campaign, he saw the field for 1,335 plays across 2021 and 2022.

That increased usage came after an Achilles injury cost the former fifth-rounder the entire 2019 campaign. His return to health earned him significant playing time, although he has yet to record more than three sacks in a season. In Baltimore, he will likely take on a rotational role within the team’s edge group which, if Tyus Bowser is unable to start the season, will include a number of much less experienced players.

This deal lessens the chances of the Ravens landing free agent pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul, who visited the team recently, and could affect the future of Justin Houston, on whom the team used the UFA tender. In any event, Baltimore has a familiar face to add to its front seven.

Ravens Host DE Steven Means

The Ravens may be bringing back a familiar face soon. The team has worked out veteran defensive end Steven Means amongst its tryout invites, reports Jeff Zrebiec of the Athletic (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: Ravens Reach Injury Settlement With D. Wolfe]

Means found himself on Baltimore’s practice squad not long after he was released by the Buccaneers, who had drafted him in the fifth round one year earlier. He didn’t see much playing time with the Ravens, however, eventually being signed by the Eagles in 2015.

Despite his limited role the following season, Philadelphia extended Means just before the 2017 campaign began. He still played primarily on special teams that year, though; it wasn’t until he joined the Falcons that he saw the field more often. His playing time shifted further towards defensive snaps starting in 2018, when he registered four starts, 14 tackles and one sack.

That led to optimism for his 2019 season, but an Achilles injury sidelined him until the following year. Over the past two campaigns, he has become a starter, racking up 81 stops, eight QB hits and three sacks (half of his career total) over that span. In an effort to boost their league-worst pass rush, however, the Falcons have turned to a number of younger options in the edge department this offseason.

Means, 31, would represent another veteran along the Ravens’ defensive front. The team already has the likes of Calais Campbell, Michael Pierce and Brent Urban on the d-line, but experience is lacking in their pass-rushing room. Baltimore hosted Jason Pierre-Paul last week, signalling their interest in a veteran at that position. In the absence of Derek Wolfe, Means could represent a less expensive option to fill that void.

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.