Taven Bryan

Browns Not Seeking OL, DL Additions?

At this point in the offseason, teams use the remaining free agent market to address depth needs on their rosters. As a result, some view offensive and defensive line as two positions the Browns could use to make additions between now and training camp. However, May Kay Cabot of cleveland.com observes that the team is confident in its current options in both position groups. 

The Browns cut veteran center J.C. Tretter in March, saving the team significant cap space but creating a hole in the middle of the 0-line. They have signed former Seahawk Ethan Pocic, but the top candidate for Tretter’s vacated role is Nick Harris, who has made one start in each of his first two NFL seasons. If healthy, the team will also be able to return one of the league’s top tandems at both tackle (Jedrick Wills and Jack Conklin) and guard (Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller).

In terms of depth, 2021 fourth-rounder James Hudson is in line to remain the team’s top swingman. He played over 300 snaps as a rookie, making four starts along the way. While he struggled during his initial season, earning a PFF grade of 57.3, Cabot notes how confident the Browns are that he will take a step forward after gaining experience at the NFL level.

The situation is similar on the other side of the ball. The Browns are high on the potential shown in spring practices by Jordan ElliottThe 2020 third-rounder has only made four starts so far in his career, but he took on a significantly larger workload last season, setting himself up to do the same this year. He could be joined as a starter by former first-rounder Taven Bryan, who signed a one-year deal in free agency. Cabot also names rookie Perrion Winfrey as a candidate for at least a significant depth role.

Given their cap situation, the Browns could easily afford another signing along either the offensive or defensive fronts. Aside from any difficulty which could arise from convincing remaining free agents to come on a short-term deal (given the lengthy suspension expected to be handed down to Deshaun Watsonwhich could very well take the team out of 2022 contention), Cleveland already appears content with their in-house depth.

Browns, DT Taven Bryan Agree To Deal

The Browns will take a flier on a former first-round pick. Ex-Jaguars top draft choice Taven Bryan will switch AFC employers, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.

Cleveland is adding the fifth-year defensive tackle on a one-year deal worth up to $5MM. Bryan did not catch on in Jacksonville but will have an opportunity to rebound as a depth piece in Ohio.

Despite housing a host of quality D-linemen in 2018, the Jags drafted Bryan 29th overall. The Florida product managed to start 17 games, mostly during the 2019 and ’20 seasons, but did not see his fifth-year option picked up and was used strictly as a rotational player last season. Bryan registered two sacks and eight QB hits as a backup in 2021.

The Browns have some issues to sort out at defensive tackle. Malik Jackson, who was ahead of Bryan on the 2018 Jags’ depth chart, is a free agent. Malik McDowell, who surprised by moving into the Browns’ starting lineup last season, is not expected back after an offseason arrest. McDowell’s departure is not yet official. The Browns can tender him as an exclusive rights free agent.

AFC Rumors: Chiefs, Sutton, Harry, Jaguars

Following Super Bowl LV’s blocking debacle, the Chiefs moved aggressively to bolster their offensive line. In addition to trading for Orlando Brown Jr. to play left tackle, Kansas City signed Joe Thuney to play left guard, added Kyle Long out of retirement and drafted Trey Smith in the sixth round. Longtime Chiefs right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is also back after his opt-out season, and the team placed an original-round RFA tender on Andrew Wylie and re-signed veteran Mike Remmers.

Though Wylie finished the season as an overmatched right tackle against Shaquil Barrett, he has started 35 games for the Chiefs over the past three years. But the Chiefs’ new guard glut now has the former UDFA on the roster bubble, according to Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. Wylie’s best hope is a backup gig, with Teicher adding that it is Smith who is battling Duvernay-Tardif for the Chiefs’ starting right guard job. A blood clot issue hampered Smith at Tennessee, but he bounced back to earn first-team All-SEC acclaim at guard in 2019 and ’20. Smith’s past medical issue damaged his draft stock, but the Chiefs appear to be considering starting two rookies — Smith and second-round center Creed Humphrey — this season.

Here is the latest from around the AFC:

Jaguars Decline Taven Bryan’s Option

Add another player to the list of 2018 first-round picks not getting their options picked up. The Jaguars have declined the fifth-year option on Taven Bryan, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets.

Had they picked it up, the Jags would’ve owed Bryan a fully guaranteed $7.368MM in 2022. He’ll now be a free agent after this season. The 29th overall pick of the 2018 draft hasn’t done much to stand out in the pros. The defensive tackle has appeared in all 48 games since getting drafted, but has only started 17.

This past season in 16 games and eight starts, he played about 45 percent of the defensive snaps as a run-stuffer. He finished with 18 tackles, three for a loss, and a half sack. In 2019 the Florida product was more productive, with 30 tackles, five for a loss, and two sacks.

The new regime in Jacksonville has no ties to him, and they made upgrading defensive tackle a priority this offseason. The Jags signed Roy Robertson-Harris and traded for Malcolm Brown.

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.

Jaguars Sign Rookie Taven Bryan

The Jaguars agreed to terms with first round defensive tackle Taven Bryan on a four-year deal worth $10.2MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. His deal includes a $5.5MM signing bonus. 

Bryan, the No. 29 overall pick in the draft, was one of a handful of stragglers in the backend of the first round. Reportedly, the contract of Seahawks rookie running back Rashaad Penny held up negotiations for Bryan and others.

While the three players selected at pick Nos. 23-25 (Patriots offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn, Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore, and Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst) each garnered significant fourth season base salary guarantees, Penny — who was chosen with the 27th overall pick — actually saw his fourth season salary guarantee percentage decrease when compared to 2017’s No. 27 selection, Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White.

Interestingly, Bryan actually did better on his fourth-year guarantee than some of the other players around him, according to Rapoport. It appears that Bryan’s hard line on negotiations paid off and talks still managed to wrap before rookies were set to report in Jacksonville.

Bryan, a 6’5″, 293-pound defensive lineman, had career highs in tackles (37), tackles for loss (6), and sacks (4) in his final year at Florida. He’s slated to serve as the Jags’ first defensive tackle off of the bench behind Marcell Dareus and Malik Jackson this year.

Latest On Unsigned First-Round Picks

Only six percent of 2018 NFL draft picks remain unsigned, and 71% (12-of-17) of those contract-less selections are first-rounders. For a certain slice of those unsigned first-round picks, especially those selected near the back end of Day 1, Seahawks rookie running back Rashaad Penny‘s contract is playing a role in negotiations, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk explains.

While the three players selected at pick Nos. 23-25 (Patriots offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn, Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore, and Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst) each garnered significant fourth season base salary guarantees, Penny — who was chosen with the 27th overall pick — actually saw his fourth season salary guarantee percentage decrease when compared to 2017’s No. 27 selection, Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White, per Florio.

The NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement implemented slotted rookie contracts which make negotiations a breeze, but there’s a still a bit of wiggle room. First-rounders selected near the end of the first round won’t often get the entirety of their fourth season base salary guaranteed, but that’s an area where agents can press for a bit extra in talks. Penny’s representatives, clearly, didn’t do so, which could now lead other teams with unsigned first-round picks to withhold guarantees.

Here are the unsigned first-round picks chosen after No. 20 overall:

Overall, the amount of fourth season guarantees shouldn’t stand in the way of getting deals for the above players done, as the dollar amounts in question are in the thousands, not millions. But the lack of signed contracts does speak to the small area of available negotiation still left in rookie pacts, and is something to watch as the offseason progresses.

NFC South Notes: Falcons, Anderson, Saints

The Falcons were interested in trading up during Round 1 for Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne, per Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com. However, the Redskins taking him at No. 13 made the Falcons change their plan. They stood pat and drafted Payne Crimson Tide teammate Calvin Ridley, doing so despite having Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu in the fold. Pauline notes the Falcons passed on Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan — the Jaguars’ pick at No. 29 — because they weren’t particularly enamored with the former Gator’s game. Atlanta has Grady Jarrett and Jack Crawford stationed in the middle of its defensive front, and the team used a third-round pick to help out at this spot in taking South Florida interior defender Deadrin Senat.

Here’s the latest from the NFC South:

  • C.J. Anderson‘s Panthers deal will be worth around $1.7MM this season, with Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer adding that $800K in incentives are available to the longtime Broncos starter. This comes after the Broncos released Anderson well over a month into free agency. The 27-year-old running back would have made $4.5MM in 2018 on his previous contract, one the Dolphins originally designed and one the Broncos shed free of any dead-money charges.
  • While it’s only rookie minicamp, the Falcons had former LSU wide receiver Russell Gage playing cornerback on Day 1, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com tweets. Gage played wide receiver during his final two years at LSU but as a sophomore worked exclusively at cornerback. He did so as a freshman as well but didn’t see much action playing defense in college. He managed to be a sixth-round wide receiver pick despite finishing his college career with just 28 receptions, so the Falcons — who traded up to get Gage — may have a firm plan for the rookie.
  • Sharrod Neasman saw action in 14 games for the Falcons from 2016-17, but he’s working out with the Saints during their rookie camp this weekend, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. A 26-year-old safety and a former UDFA, Neasman drew interest from the Saints in the past. Pelissero notes New Orleans tried to sign him off Atlanta’s practice squad. Neasman worked out for the Chiefs recently as well.

La Canfora On Draft, Raiders, Miller, Patriots

UCLA tackle Kolton Miller could be a target for the Raiders if they trade down from the No. 10 overall pick, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com hears. However, they probably can’t move back all that far if they hope to land him. Evaluators and offensive line coaches that have spoken with JLC believe that Miller – and not Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey – is the best tackle in this year’s class. Plenty of teams in the teens are eyeing the 6’9″ prospect and McGlinchey is more likely to go in the late teens or early 20s, La Canfora hears. The Lions at No. 20 could be Miller’s floor as they would plug him in on the right side.

Here’s more draft buzz from JLC:

  • The Patriots are entertaining the possibility of moving up in the teens if the right quarterback falls, La Canfora writes. The Dolphins and Bills are exploring QBs at Nos. 11 and 12, so the Raiders could potentially find value by trading down from No. 10. Josh Rosen, in JLC’s estimation, appears to be the most likely of the big four QBs to slide. I’d agree with that assessment as the Browns, Giants, and Jets are reportedly not high on the UCLA product.
  • The Broncos say they are open to moving down from No. 5 and JLC believes that linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is very much on their radar. The likely trade scenario, he believes, would see the Bills moving up to get Josh Rosen if Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and Baker Mayfield come off of the board in the top four. The Bills own the Nos. 12 and 22 picks in the draft.
  • The Bengals at No. 21 could be the floor for Arkansas center Frank Ragnow. Ragnow is climbing up boards around the league and has a good chance of going in the first round.
  • The Ravens are looking for a tight end, but they would rather not select one at No. 16. La Canfora hears that the Ravens, ideally, would like to move down 5-7 spots to get South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst. The Ravens can’t go too far, however, with the Saints sitting at No. 27.
  • Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who won’t turn 20 until after the draft, is a lock to go in the top 10, JLC hears. He also wouldn’t be shocked to see him go as high as No. 6 overall, depending on how the first five picks shake out.
  • Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan could go just outside the top 10 and JLC believes his worst case scenario is No. 26.
  • Florida state defensive lineman Josh Sweat could sneak into the late first round and seems very possible for the second round.