Taylor Decker

Lions, LT Taylor Decker Discussing Extension

About to last through three uniform periods as the Lions’ left tackle, Taylor Decker has one season remaining on a contract he signed back in September 2020. The Lions have Penei Sewell on track for a big-ticket extension and have paid center Frank Ragnow, but a third Decker contract is also on Detroit’s radar.

Decker confirmed (via The Athletic’s Colton Pouncy) he and the Lions have begun discussions on another extension. While Decker described these as early-stage talks, the 30-year-old blocker being in play for a new deal is interesting given the other extension priorities on a Lions roster that has improved significantly over the course of the left tackle’s career.

Sewell is now extension-eligible, and while the Lions could keep their All-Pro right tackle on a rookie contract through 2025 via the fifth-year option they will soon exercise, a deal this year may not be out of the question. Jared Goff is also in a contract year, and the veteran quarterback confirmed the long-rumored extension talks have begun. Amon-Ra St. Brown is also in a platform year, and he will command a near-top-level receiver extension. This makes Decker’s spot interesting.

When Decker agreed to his four-year, $59.65MM deal, the tackle market had just seen Laremy Tunsil‘s first $20MM-plus-AAV accord surface. But Decker’s Detroit re-up checked in fifth at the position; it has now fallen to 12th. Decker has never made a Pro Bowl, but the 2016 first-round pick has been one of the NFL’s better left tackles throughout his career. ESPN’s pass block win rate metric placed Decker seventh among tackles last season, and Pro Football Focus slotted him ninth at the position.

Decker has been vital to the Lions forming one of the NFL’s best O-lines, and a nice opportunity could await in free agency come 2025. Only $500K in guaranteed money remains on his current deal.

Recent decisions have shown teams’ openness toward having two highly paid tackles on the payroll. The Broncos, Texans and Eagles all have two tackles earning top-10 money at their respective positions. The Lions could also gain cap room by doing a Decker deal now, as his restructured contract comes in at $19.1MM on their 2024 payroll. Still, it will be interesting to see how far this goes. No right tackle is tied to a deal north of $20MM per year presently; Sewell seems a mortal lock to score a record-setting accord when that time comes.

If Decker were to play out his contract, his 2025 value would be capped to a degree due to age. The Ohio State alum turns 31 later this year. He of 112 career starts, Decker would — as of now — join Garett Bolles, Ronnie Stanley, Cam Robinson, Jedrick Wills and Dan Moore on the 2025 LT market. Left tackles in their primes do not reach free agency often, and fifth-year options will all but certainly remove Christian Darrisaw and Rashawn Slater from any free agency equations. But Decker resides as a key piece here when considering the Lions’ contract situation.

Decker also said (via ESPN.com’s Eric Woodyard) he underwent foot and ankle surgeries earlier this offseason. He missed two games last year and has rebounded from the finger injury that ended his 2021 season after nine games. The Lions are returning four of their five O-line starters, seeing Jonah Jackson‘s price escalate beyond their comfort zone. Kevin Zeitler is set to replace Jackson at left guard.

Latest On Lions’ Secondary Plans

After ranking at or near the bottom across the board defensively last season, the Lions made a number of investments this offseason. Most of them came in the secondary. The team signed three expected starters and drafted a fourth in the second round. Two of those starters will not be available against the Packers tonight.

C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Emmanuel Moseley are out, though the latter is moving closer to debuting for his new team. The former 49ers cornerback will not play against the Pack, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero, but the Lions have a big role in mind for him once he is finally cleared to return.

The Lions are preparing to incorporate Moseley as a regular immediately. Dan Campbell said (via the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers) the free agent pickup is expected to rotate with Jerry Jacobs upon debuting. Jacobs will still have a regular gig and a chance to fend off Moseley, but Detroit prioritized the latter in free agency. GM Brad Holmes said Moseley would have likely been out of the Lions’ price range had he not suffered an ACL tear in October 2022.

I think, more than anything, it will probably be by series,” Campbell said of Detroit’s upcoming CB rotation. “Certainly give [Moseley] a couple in a row where he gets a good feel and I think most of it will be we’ll put a governor on his reps so that we’ll be smart about that as he comes back. Then, really from there, it’s how does he feel?

I think everybody feels pretty good about as he goes out there, he’s going to get his legs back under him pretty quick. Certainly, we’ll see where that goes. The good news is if it’s not quite there yet then we still have Jerry and we’ll battle it out. We’re fortunate to have both those guys.”

Moseley, 27, has undergone two surgeries, the second coming this summer, and Rogers notes he would likely have debuted already were it not for a summer hamstring strain. Moseley started 33 games for the 49ers and added five postseason starts — including Super Bowl LIV. He operated as a boundary corner in San Francisco and, after signing a one-year deal worth $6MM, will be expected to start alongside Cameron Sutton and nickel Brian Branch in Detroit.

This represents a big year for Moseley, who will need to show sufficient form following the knee injury. Moseley signed a lower-level deal (two years, $9.38MM) in 2021 to stay in San Francisco. After his one-year Lions pact, time is running out for the sixth-year defender to score a lucrative payday.

Gardner-Johnson resides in the same boat, though he has a bit more time to cash in. The 25-year-old defender, however, has seen a torn pectoral muscle hijack his Motor City platform season. Although this injury frequently ends players’ seasons, Campbell has not ruled out the possibility of the starting safety returning late in this campaign.

Campbell said during a WXYT radio interview (h/t Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press) Gardner-Johnson is not a lock to be shut down. The Lions will likely hold back one of their eight IR activations for CJGJ. Tracy Walker, who suffered an Achilles tear early last season, started in place of Gardner-Johnson against the Falcons. Walker made for an unusual backup, having signed a three-year, $25MM deal after 34 games from 2019-21.

Gardner-Johnson had aimed to use this Lions season to command a better market than he did in March, when he agreed to a one-year deal worth $6.5MM with the Lions. While it is possible the Lions will have both their one-year DB investments — Gardner-Johnson and Moseley — on the field together later this season, the team has some backups with extensive starter experience holding down the fort.

Additionally, the Lions are on track to have two of their offensive starters — Taylor Decker and David Montgomery — back tonight. The veteran left tackle and UFA running back addition are slated to play, Rogers adds. Decker has missed the past two weeks; Montgomery was sidelined for Week 3.

Lions To Place T Matt Nelson On IR

The Lions’ swing tackle for the past three seasons, Matt Nelson will be sidelined for an extended period due to the ankle injury he suffered in Week 3. This will further deplete a Lions tackle group that required the full depth chart to close out Sunday’s win.

Starting for the injured Taylor Decker, Nelson exited the field on a cart. Dan Campbell said Monday he will be placed on IR and will need surgery. The Lions sustained multiple injuries at tackle Sunday, the team’s second game without Decker available this season.

With the longtime left tackle out, the Lions moved Penei Sewell to the blind side. Nelson started at right tackle but lasted just 18 plays. The Lions moved practice squad elevation Dan Skipper into Nelson’s place, but the recently reacquired blocker also went down. The team finished the game with fifth-round pick Colby Sorsdal playing opposite Sewell.

Nelson, 28, is in his fourth Lions season. He is due for unrestricted free agency in March, and a potential season-ending surgery will obviously hurt his chances of scoring a notable payday. A former UDFA out of Iowa, Nelson stepped in for an injured Decker in 2021; Decker went down with a season-ending hand injury that year. When Decker returned in 2022, he and Sewell stayed healthy to keep Nelson on the sideline after his 11-start ’21 slate. The Lions re-signed Nelson to a one-year, $1.3MM deal in March.

The Lions brought Skipper up to their active roster using a gameday elevation transaction; they can do so again ahead of Thursday’s Packers matchup. A William & Mary alum, Sorsdal arrived as this year’s No. 152 overall pick.

Decker logged an estimated limited practice — a designation used due to the Lions having a Thursday matchup in Week 4 — on Monday. The eighth-year blocker suffered an ankle injury during Detroit’s opener. The Lions also played Sunday’s game without right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who is potentially facing a multiweek absence. A Thursday assignment increases the chances the veteran guard is down for Week 4; Graham Glasgow started in place of Vaitai against the Falcons.

Largest 2023 Cap Hits: Offense

The NFL’s salary cap once again ballooned by more than $10MM, rising from its $208.2MM perch to $224.8MM. Factoring in the pandemic-induced 2021 regression, the NFL’s salary risen has climbed by more than $42MM since 2021.

This has allowed teams more opportunities for roster additions and opened the door for more lucrative player deals — at most positions, at least. However, it does not look like this season will include a $40MM player cap number. The Browns avoided a record-shattering Deshaun Watson $54.9MM hit by restructuring the quarterback’s fully guaranteed contract, calling for monster figures from 2024-26.

Here are the largest cap hits for teams on the offensive side going into training camp:

  1. Patrick Mahomes, QB (Chiefs): $39.69MM
  2. Ryan Tannehill, QB (Titans): $36.6MM
  3. Jared Goff, QB (Lions): $30.98MM
  4. Jake Matthews, T (Falcons): $28.36MM
  5. Trent Williams, T (49ers): $27.18MM
  6. Dak Prescott, QB (Cowboys): $26.83MM
  7. Laremy Tunsil, T (Texans): $26.61MM
  8. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (49ers): $23.8MM
  9. Amari Cooper, WR (Browns): $23.78MM
  10. Mike Evans, WR (Buccaneers): $23.69MM
  11. Ronnie Stanley, T (Ravens): $23.67MM
  12. Joe Thuney, G (Chiefs): $22.12MM
  13. Russell Wilson, QB (Broncos): $22MM
  14. Lamar Jackson, QB (Ravens): $22MM
  15. Daniel Jones, QB (Giants): $21.75MM
  16. David Bakhtiari, T (Packers): $21.29MM
  17. Kirk Cousins, QB (Vikings): $20.25MM
  18. D.J. Moore, WR (Bears): $20.17MM
  19. Matthew Stafford, QB (Rams): $20MM
  20. Brian O’Neill, T (Vikings): $19.66MM
  21. Taylor Decker, T (Lions): $19.35MM
  22. Deshaun Watson, QB (Browns): $19.1MM
  23. Braden Smith, T (Colts): $19MM
  24. Josh Allen, QB (Bills): $18.64MM
  25. Courtland Sutton, WR (Broncos): $18.27MM

As should be expected, quarterbacks dominate this list. Mahomes’ number checks in here despite the Chiefs restructuring his 10-year, $450MM contract in March; the two-time MVP’s cap hit would have set an NFL record had Kansas City not reduced it. The Chiefs did not restructure Mahomes’ deal last year, but if they do not address it — perhaps via a complex reworking — before next season, Mahomes’ $46.93MM number would break an NFL record.

The Titans have not touched Tannehill’s contract this offseason, one that included some trade rumors months ago. This is the final year of Tannehill’s Tennessee extension. Mahomes and Tannehill sat atop this ranking in 2022.

Cousins is also heading into a contract year, after the Vikings opted for a restructure and not an extension this offseason. Cousins does not expect to discuss another Minnesota deal until 2024, when he is due for free agency. Two relatively low cap numbers have started Wilson’s $49MM-per-year extension. The Denver QB’s cap number rises to $35.4MM in 2024 and reaches historic heights ($55.4MM) by ’25. The subject of a Goff extension has come up, and it would bring down the Lions passer’s figure. But Goff remains tied to his Rams-constructed $33.5MM-per-year deal through 2024.

Jackson and Jones’ numbers will rise in the near future, with the latter’s contract calling for a quick spike in 2024. Next year, the Giants QB’s cap hit will be $45MM. Watson’s 2024 hit, as of now, would top that. The Browns signal-caller is on the team’s ’24 payroll at $63.98MM. Long-term consequences aside, the Browns can be expected to once again go to the restructure well with Watson’s outlier contract.

The Raiders did not backload Garoppolo’s three-year contract; it only climbs to $24.25MM on Las Vegas’ 2024 cap sheet. The Bills did backload Allen’s pact. Its team-friendly years are done after 2023; the six-year accord spikes to $47.1MM on Buffalo’s cap next year. The Cowboys have gone to the restructure well with Prescott. Like Watson, the Cowboys quarterback is tied to a seemingly untenable 2024 cap number. The March restructure resulted in Prescott’s 2024 number rising to $59.46MM. Two seasons remain on that $40MM-AAV extension.

Another notable cap hold that should be mentioned is Tom Brady‘s. When the Buccaneers did not sign the again-retired QB to another contract before the 2023 league year, his $35.1MM dead-money figure went onto Tampa Bay’s 2023 cap sheet. The Bucs will absorb that entire amount this year. Brady’s 2022 restructure, after retirement No. 1, led to the $35.1MM figure forming.

Were it not for another O-line-record extension, the Tunsil number would have come in at $35MM this year. Matthews signed an extension last year. Moore would have come in higher on this list were he still on the Panthers, who took on $14.6MM in dead money to move their top wideout for the No. 1 overall pick. Sutton came up regularly in trade rumors, with the Broncos wanting a second-round pick for the sixth-year veteran. The former second-rounder’s high base salary ($14MM) hinders his trade value.

Lions G Halapoulivaati Vaitai Undergoes Back Surgery

When the Lions placed Halapoulivaati Vaitai on IR shortly after finalizing their 53-man roster, the extent of his injury was unknown. Dan Campbell provided more clarity on the matter, which now appears to have the veteran guard facing an extended absence.

Vaitai underwent back surgery this week in Dallas, Justin Rogers of the Detroit News notes. Campbell is not ruling out the seventh-year blocker for the season, but the Lions will be without their right guard starter for an extensive stretch.

This news comes during a week in which the Lions placed Vaitai’s primary backup, Tommy Kraemer, on injured reserve. Kraemer also suffered a back injury, one that caused him to miss the team’s season opener. Third-year guard Logan Stenberg started against the Eagles and is expected to remain in that role in Week 2. Stenberg, a 2020 fourth-round pick, had not started a game through two seasons. He committed two penalties and allowed a sack in his debut.

Although Kraemer (three starts as a rookie last season) did not play in Week 1, the Lions waiting until this week to place him on IR means he cannot return until Week 6. It is uncertain if the former UDFA will be ready by then. Vaitai’s timetable became clouded because of his procedure. He could be staring at his longest absence as a pro.

A former fifth-round Eagles pick, Vaitai signed a five-year, $45MM deal with the Lions in 2020. Detroit’s Bob QuinnMatt Patricia regime authorized that contract. Vaitai has moved from right tackle to right guard during his time with the Lions, who drafted Penei Sewell to play right tackle last year. The high-priced acquisition has started 25 games for the Lions in two seasons, including 15 last season. Vaitai is signed through 2024, though the team can escape the contract with just more than $5MM in dead money in 2023.

The Lions were expected to feature one of the NFL’s top offensive lines this season, but they have suddenly seen that unit depleted early. In addition to Vaitai’s shutdown, center Frank Ragnow and left guard Jonah Jackson missed practice Thursday. Left tackle Taylor Decker is battling a calf injury, leaving Sewell as the only Detroit O-line starter not dealing with an ailment presently. As a result of the injury troubles, the Lions signed guard Kayode Awosika off the Eagles’ practice squad this week.

Lions Rework OT Taylor Decker’s Contract

The Lions have opened up a chunk of cap space. Detroit converted $6MM of Taylor Decker’s base salary into a signing bonus, according to ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter). The move opened up $4.5MM in cap space.

The veteran offensive lineman now has a 2022 cap hit of $14.4MM. His 2023 cap hit has been increased to $19.35MM, and his 2024 cap hit jumped to $19.1MM. Decker also has a void year on his contract for the 2025 campaign.

Decker, a 2016 first-round pick, has spent his entire career in Detroit. He inked a five-year, $70.35MM extension with the Lions in 2020, locking him in through the 2024 season.

The 29-year-old was limited to only nine games in 2021 thanks to a finger injury that sidelined him for a few months. When he was on the field, he was still plenty productive, ranking 27th among 83 qualifying offensive tackles on Pro Football Focus’ ranking of the position. His pass-block grade ranked sixth at the position. Decker has never managed to crack PFF’s top-10 at the tackle position, but he’s consistently graded as an above-average starter throughout his career.

Largest 2022 Cap Hits: Offense

After the COVID-19 pandemic led to the second reduction in NFL salary cap history last year, the 2022 cap made a record jump. This year’s salary ceiling ($208.2MM) checks in $25.7MM north of the 2021 figure.

While quarterbacks’ salaries will continue to lead the way, a handful of blockers and skill-position players carry sizable cap numbers for 2022. A few of the quarterbacks that lead the way this year may not be tied to those numbers once the regular season begins. The 49ers, Browns and Ravens have made efforts to alter these figures via trades or extensions.

Here are the top 2022 salary cap hits on the offensive side of the ball:

  1. Ryan Tannehill, QB (Titans): $38.6MM
  2. Patrick Mahomes, QB (Chiefs): $35.79MM
  3. Kirk Cousins, QB (Vikings): $31.42MM
  4. Jared Goff, QB (Lions): $31.15MM
  5. Aaron Rodgers, QB (Packers): $28.53MM
  6. Carson Wentz, QB (Commanders): $28.29MM
  7. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (49ers): $26.95MM
  8. Russell Wilson, QB (Broncos): $24MM
  9. Lamar Jackson, QB (Ravens): $23.02MM
  10. Kenny Golladay, WR (Giants): $21.2MM
  11. Garett Bolles, T (Broncos): $21MM
  12. Dak Prescott, QB (Cowboys): $19.73MM
  13. Derek Carr, QB (Raiders): $19.38MM
  14. D.J. Humphries, T (Cardinals): $19.33MM
  15. Keenan Allen, WR (Chargers): $19.2MM
  16. Taylor Decker, T (Lions): $18.9MM
  17. Sam Darnold, QB (Panthers): 18.89MM
  18. Baker Mayfield, QB (Browns): $18.89MM
  19. Matt Ryan, QB (Colts): $18.7MM
  20. Ronnie Stanley, T (Ravens): $18.55MM
  21. Donovan Smith, T (Buccaneers): $18.4MM
  22. Ezekiel Elliott, RB (Cowboys): $18.22MM
  23. DeAndre Hopkins, WR (Cardinals): $17.95MM
  24. Cooper Kupp, WR (Rams): $17.8MM
  25. Laremy Tunsil, T (Texans): $17.71MM
  • The Chiefs’ cap sheet looks a bit different this year, with Tyreek Hill and Tyrann Mathieu off the roster. But Mahomes’ cap number rockets from $7.4MM in 2021 to the league’s second-largest figure in 2022. This marks the first time Mahomes’ 10-year contract is set to count more than $10MM toward Kansas City’s cap, with the AFC West champs not yet restructuring the deal this year.
  • Tied to a few lucrative extensions since relocating to Minnesota, Cousins’ third Vikings deal dropped his cap number from $45MM. The fifth-year Vikings QB’s cap number is set to climb past $36MM in 2023.
  • Prior to negotiating his landmark extension in March, Rodgers was set to count more than $46MM on the Packers’ payroll.
  • The 49ers are aiming to move Garoppolo’s nonguaranteed money off their payroll. That figure becomes guaranteed in Week 1, providing a key date for the franchise. San Francisco is prepared to let Garoppolo negotiate contract adjustments with other teams to facilitate a trade.
  • Wilson counts $26MM on the Seahawks’ 2022 payroll, due to the dead money the NFC West franchise incurred by trading its 10-year starter in March.
  • Jackson, Darnold and Mayfield are attached to fifth-year option salaries. Jackson’s is higher due to the former MVP having made two Pro Bowls compared to his 2018 first-round peers’ zero. The 2020 CBA separated fifth-year option values by playing time and accomplishments. The Browns and Panthers have engaged in off-and-on negotiations on divvying up Mayfield’s salary for months, while a Jackson extension remains on the radar.
  • Golladay’s cap number jumped from $4.47MM last year to the highest non-quarterback figure among offensive players. The Giants wideout’s four-year deal calls for $21MM-plus cap hits from 2023-24.
  • Prior to being traded to the Colts, who adjusted their new starter’s contract, Ryan was set to carry an NFL-record $48MM cap hit this year. The Falcons are carrying a league-record $40.5MM dead-money charge after dealing their 14-year starter.
  • The Texans restructured Tunsil’s deal in March, dropping his 2022 cap hit from $26.6MM to its present figure. Because of the adjustment, Tunsil’s 2023 cap number resides at $35.2MM

Contract information courtesy of Over The Cap 

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/8/22

Today’s updates for the reserve/COVID-19 and practice squad/COVID-19 lists:

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Football Team

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/3/22

Here are Monday’s activations from and placements on the reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: OT Mike Remmers (remains on IR)

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: RB Raymond Calais (remains on IR)

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/2/21

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Los Angeles Rams

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Washington Football Team