Taylor Rapp

Bills Bring Back QB Mitchell Trubisky, P Matt Haack; S Taylor Rapp Lands Extension

MARCH 7: Garafolo’s colleague Tom Pelissero reports the Trubisky deal is two years in length and has a base value of $5.25MM. $2.75MM in guaranteed money is in place for 2024, and he can raise the value of the pact to $8.45MM via playing time and win incentives. Trubisky’s deal is thus far more valuable than Kyle Allen’s from last season, and the latter will likely be headed elsewhere.

MARCH 6: After being released from the Steelers over three weeks ago, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is headed back to Buffalo, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. Trubisky left the Bills two years ago in order to compete for the starting job in Pittsburgh, but after falling dramatically on the depth chart since then, Trubisky found himself a free agent. Tim Graham of The Athletic was the first to report progressing talks of a reunion earlier this afternoon.

After leaving for the Steelers, Trubisky successfully won the starting job over then-rookie Kenny Pickett. In a Week 4 loss to the Jets, Trubisky was benched for the rookie out of Pitt and remained on the bench for most of the remainder of the year, except for two games during which Pickett was injured. This season, Trubisky was the first name called upon to start when Pickett got hurt again. He played in three consecutive games before eventually getting benched once again, this time in favor of Mason Rudolph.

During his previous stint in Buffalo, Trubisky signed knowing that he would serve as a backup to Josh Allen, resigning himself to a role learning under the same staff that molded Allen into an MVP candidate. He’ll return to the same role in 2024. Trubisky’s addition likely means the end of Kyle Allen‘s time in Buffalo. Allen made seven garbage-time appearances last year as the primary backup before heading to free agency this offseason. Practice squad reserve Shane Buechele was signed to a futures deal and should play a similar role next season.

The Bills also kept an important name in the secondary, signing safety Taylor Rapp to a three-year extension worth up to $14.5MM, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Rapp, formerly a full-time starter as a second-round pick for the Rams, functioned as a third safety for the Bills in 2023, sitting behind the veteran pair of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. Rapp’s main playing time in Buffalo came as a starter in the four weeks that Hyde and Poyer missed due to injury.

With Hyde headed towards free agency and Poyer being released today, Rapp’s signing may deliver a glimpse of the Bills’ plans at safety moving forward. Some have even linked Buffalo to some of the best safety prospects in the draft like Minnesota’s Tyler Nubin or Miami’s Kamren Kinchens. Since both Hyde and Poyer will be 33 years old heading into the 2024 season, it makes sense that Buffalo is making plans to move on. Rapp represents one possible solution moving forward at 26 years old.

Finally, another reunion is happening in Buffalo, this one on special teams. Veteran punter Matt Haack signed a deal to return to Buffalo this year. Haack’s last full season came in 2022, when he served punting duties for the Colts, but he did play a game for the Browns this past year. The Bills re-signed current punter Sam Martin to a three-year, $6MM deal almost a year ago, so he’s still under contract for two more years.

Martin’s contract does have a potential out this offseason that would allow the team to save $1.25MM of cap space, so given the rest of their actions today, I wouldn’t rule out Haack coming in to replace Martin. For now, though, we’ll assume Haack is coming in to provide some camp competition for Martin this summer.

AFC East Notes: Rapp, Bills, Parker, Amos

After starting 48 games for the Rams over the past four seasons, Taylor Rapp will head into the 2023 season as the Bills‘ third safety behind Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. While the 25-year-old free agent acquisition will provide Buffalo will top-end depth at the position, the team initially targeted Rapp as insurance for one of their starters.

As Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News writes, Bills safeties coach Joe Danna initially reached out to Rapp when the organization was uncertain if they’d be able to retain Poyer. The veteran ended up sticking around Buffalo on a two-year deal, and Rapp inked his one-year pact a few weeks later.

Rapp signed his contract understanding that he’d be a depth piece in Buffalo, but Bills defensive backs coach John Butler indicated that the newcomer’s versatility could afford him additional defensive snaps.

“Obviously, he understands he’s walking into a room with a ton of experience,” Butler told Skurski. “We love guys who have a versatile background. Just in the concept of their ability to play man, their ability to play zone, their ability to tackle, their ability to play the ball. I think he’s been a great addition to us and he’s fit in well, not only from a football player perspective but culturally. From a guy that just kind of is exactly what we want from a football DNA standpoint.”

Meanwhile, Rapp is more than happy to be playing alongside Poyer and Hyde.

“Those two guys, Micah and Jordan, those are the guys. They are very well established,” Rapp said. “Those guys are very special to this team, very special to this defense. Just finding different ways, unique ways to get the best 11 players out on the grass, whether that be different sub packages or different ways that I can get on the field to contribute. That doesn’t take away from getting on special teams. Just any way I can get on the field to contribute and ultimately help this team win a championship, that’s my goal, that’s all that I have in mind.”

More notes out of the AFC East…

  • With Isaiah McKenzie now in Indianapolis, the Bills will be looking for a wideout to step up behind Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis. Khalil Shakir, Deonte Harty, and Trent Sherfield are battling it out for the third spot on the WR depth chart, according to Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic. The writer opines that all three of the wideouts are likely to earn roster spots, with rookie sixth-round pick Justin Shorter likely getting the sixth and final spot on the depth chart.
  • DeVante Parker‘s three-year, $33MM extension with the Patriots created about $2.4MM in cap space, according to ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter). The wideout has fully guaranteed salaries in 2023 and 2024, and he can earn $14.7MM of his $33MM via statistical incentives (plus another $1.2MM in All-Pro incentives). Greg Auman of Fox Sports (on Twitter) ends up simplifying the contract to a three-year, $18MM pact.
  • Adrian Amos‘ one-year, $4MM deal with the Jets includes an $1.25MM guaranteed base salary and a $500K signing bonus, per Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (via Twitter). The safety can earn up to $900K in playing time incentives, $500K in Pro Bowl bonuses, and $850K in playoff incentives.

Bills Sign S Taylor Rapp

APRIL 3: The former Rams safety agreed to a low-cost Bills deal. Rapp signed a one-year, $1.77MM contract, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. This low figure will not lead to Rapp’s contract counting against the compensatory formula. Rapp will have a chance to bolster his value ahead of a potential second run at free agency in 2024.

MARCH 27: Taylor Rapp recently visited the Patriots, but he will be heading elsewhere in the AFC East. The safety is signing a one-year deal with the Bills, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link).

Rapp will bring significant experience to Buffalo after his four-year stint with the Rams to begin his career. The 25-year-old logged 48 starts during his time in Los Angeles, including every game he was available for over the past two campaigns. That will allow him to carve out a role for himself on the Bills’ backend.

A former second-round pick, Rapp made 100 tackles in his rookie season, adding a pair of interceptions. He was limited to nine games the following year, but was able to remain healthy for the following two campaigns. Overall, he has racked up 330 stops, nine interceptions and 23 pass breakups while operating as a mainstay for the Rams’ defense, a unit which has moved on from several 2022 contributors.

Many of the defenders Los Angles has either released or allowed to sign elsewhere in free agency (such as Bobby Wagner and Leonard Floyd) were older veterans, but Rapp’s age led to interest from a number of suitors. That included the Patriots, who hosted the Washington alum earlier this month as one of several free agents they met with, as well as the Bengals, who have lost both Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell.

Instead, Rapp will look to put together another productive year (particularly in run defense, compared to coverage in the passing game) in Buffalo. The Bills will see Micah Hyde return to health in 2023, and they were able re-sign fellow safety starter Jordan Poyer earlier in the offseason. That will give the team options at the position with Rapp now also in the fold as a starting-caliber piece.

Much of the Bills’ safety situation moving forward will also depend on the future of Damar Hamlin. With his recovery still headed in a positive direction, it remains Hamlin’s intention to resume his playing career whenever possible. Assuming he is able to return to the field, Hamlin will give the team plenty of depth behind Hyde, Poyer and Rapp. The latter will aim for a strong campaign in the hopes of boosting his value ahead of next offseason.

Patriots Host Free Agent Visit

Whether bringing them in or watching them walk away, the Patriots have been one of the most active teams this spring in free agency. They saw wide receiver Jakobi Meyers depart and currently still have 11 other players from their 2022 roster on the free agent market. They were able to bring back others who might’ve left like cornerback Jonathan Jones, safety Jabrill Peppers, linebackers Mack Wilson and Raekwon McMillan, defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale, and long snapper Joe Cardona. And they’ve been active bringing in new players like wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, running back James Robinson, linebacker and core special teamer Chris Board, offensive tackles Riley Reiff and Calvin Anderson, and tight end Mike Gesicki.

The team continues to remain active as they hosted a large free agent visit this week, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN. The visit, which resulted in the signing of Board, included former Rams safety Taylor Rapp, former Dolphins linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel, former Dolphins defensive end Trey Flowers, and former Vikings wide receiver Olabisi Johnson.

Flowers is an interesting prospect for New England. The former Patriots fourth-round draft pick priced himself out of New England back in 2019 after three strong seasons that saw him total a combined 21.0 sacks. He signed a free agent deal with the Lions and continued his consistency with a seven-sack season, but his health and production have dropped off in the last three years. Flowers only appeared in four games last season, but if he can get healthy, he can provide a cheaper option as a pass rusher in a familiar system.

The Patriots already have Matt Judon and Josh Uche, who combined for 27.0 sacks in 2022. They also have Deatrich Wise, who totaled 7.5 sacks last season. Wise, though, is set to have an $8.7MM cap hit in 2023, and the Patriots have an out built into his contract that would allow them to release him with only $4.4MM of dead money. The move would free up $4.3MM in cap space this year and $7.2MM of cap space in 2024. A healthy Flowers has the potential to replace Wise’s lost production at a cheaper, more team-friendly rate.

It will be interesting to see how Van Ginkel’s free agency plays out. The fourth-year linebacker out of Wisconsin has had an interesting career in Miami but is coming off a bit of a down year. Despite starting several games in 2020 and 2021, Van Ginkel’s usage last year was much like that of Board’s, playing mostly on special teams and coming off the bench a bit on defense. If that’s where Van Ginkel’s future on the field is, the Patriots already filled that role with Board. Regardless, Van Ginkel shouldn’t have trouble finding a landing spot. According to Jordan Schultz of the Score, shortly after his visit to New England, Van Ginkel flew to Las Vegas for a visit with the Raiders, who have five linebackers from their 2022 roster in free agency and have only brought in one free agent linebacker.

With the retirement of long-time safety Devin McCourty, Rapp is another viable prospect. The former second-round pick out of Washington had some injury trouble early in his career but only missed one game in the past two years. Following a year where he reeled in four interceptions, Rapp had arguably the best season of his career, ranking as the 13th-best safety in the league, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). He’s a strong run defender, having begun his career as a strong safety for the Rams, but excels in coverage, as well. He’ll likely have other suitors, but I imagine he’s a top option to replace McCourty in New England.

The Patriots essentially went one-for-one after replacing Meyers with Smith-Schuster, but the team is also losing Nelson Agholor to free agency. Johnson would be an extremely cost-efficient option towards that end. If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard Bisi’s name in a while, it’s because he has missed each of the past two seasons with two separate ACL tears. Over his first two years in the league, though, Johnson was able to catch 45 passes for 483 yards and three touchdowns. He won’t win any WR1 battles anytime soon, but coming off two separate season-ending injuries, Johnson would be cost-effective and have decent upside.

There’s plenty that will continue to develop over the next few weeks, but the Patriots continue to be one of the more active teams in free agency this offseason. What do you think about any of these players joining New England? Who do you think they should sign? Let us know in the comments below.

Rams S Nick Scott Placed On IR

The long list of Rams’ starters either out or on injured reserve for the team’s season finale grew one player longer today as Los Angeles placed safety Nick Scott on IR to end the season. Scott had started every game of the season up to this point.

Scott suffered a shoulder injury two days ago in practice, separate from the stinger he sustained in the Rams’ loss to their cross-town rivals last week. Head coach Sean McVay was the one who informed the media that the shoulder issue will prevent Scott from completing a fully healthy season.

In Scott’s absence, rookie seventh-round pick Russ Yeast will earn the first start of his career next to Taylor Rapp. Yeast started the season as a core special teamer but earned more and more playing time on defense as the season progressed. His first start will occur in his 15th NFL appearance.

The Rams made two more roster moves in preparation for their season-ending matchup in Seattle. Practice squad tight end Jared Pinkney has been signed to the active roster, taking Scott’s spot in the 53-man group. Los Angeles also promoted defensive back T.J. Carter from the practice squad as their last standard gameday elevation of the year.

Rams LT Andrew Whitworth Out Vs. Bucs

The Rams will be without Andrew Whitworth against the Buccaneers on Sunday. The longtime left tackle will miss his team’s divisional-round game due to the knee injury he suffered Monday.

Whitworth went down on the Rams’ first play against the Cardinals but ended up returning. However, Sean McVay said the swelling in the injured right knee will force an absence Sunday.

Whitworth did play 30 of the Rams’ 60 offensive snaps against the Cards, but Joe Noteboom spelled him on the left side otherwise. A former starter, Noteboom replaced Whitworth in the Rams’ lineup in the two games the 40-year-old blocker missed this season. Noteboom also worked as Whitworth’s replacement during the 2020 season. Whitworth suffered a torn MCL in his left knee last season.

No IR designation has been made for Whitworth, keeping him eligible to play next week — should the Rams notch a second win over the Bucs this season. This will be the third time in the Bucs’ past four playoff games they have faced a team missing its left tackle, with Tampa Bay having gone against the Packers without David Bakhtiari in last year’s NFC championship game and the Chiefs without Eric Fisher in Super Bowl LV. Shaquil Barrett made a major impact in both championship-cementing contests, combining for four sacks and eight quarterback hits.

Safety Taylor Rapp, who remains in concussion protocol after missing the Rams’ wild-card game, will also miss Sunday’s Bucs rematch. Nick Scott and Terrell Burgess are in line to start a second playoff game for the Los Angeles, which used the recently unretired Eric Weddle in 19 snaps against Arizona.

Rams To Promote Eric Weddle

Eric Weddle‘s return to NFL practices this week evidently did not produce a letdown. The recently unretired safety is set to come off the Rams’ practice squad and play against the Cardinals, Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com tweets.

This will be Weddle’s first game action since the 2019 regular-season finale. Suddenly thin at safety, the Rams lured Weddle out of retirement earlier this week. Both starters are out for Monday’s game, with Sean McVay adding that Taylor Rapp will not play against Arizona. The Rams placed Jordan Fuller on IR earlier this week.

Fuller will undergo season-ending ankle surgery, and Rapp will not clear concussion protocol in time to play in Los Angeles’ wild-card matchup. Third-year man Nick Scott has played the third-most snaps at safety for the Rams this season, with practice squad cog Sharrod Neasman having also played more than 200 snaps.

A 13-year veteran, Weddle turned 37 last week. While Weddle was durable during the first leg of his career, having missed just three games from 2010-19, this obviously will be an interesting experiment the Rams are conducting. Weddle made the Pro Bowl in each of his three Ravens campaigns, from 2016-18, and was a 16-game starter for the Rams the following year. It is uncertain if the Rams will count on Weddle to return as a starter, but he will suit up in this unusual circumstance.

Weddle Returns To Rams For Playoff Run

The Beard is returning to the playoffs. Eric Weddle has agreed to a deal returning to the Los Angeles Rams for a playoff run. The two-time All-Pro is coming out of retirement for one more attempt at a Super Bowl ring. 

Weddle announced his retirement shortly after the 2019 NFL season and did not see any time on an NFL field last year. In his lone year on the Rams, Weddle was a team captain and defensive signal-caller.

The new comes shortly after hearing that starting safety Jordan Fuller would require ankle surgery that will hold him out for the remainder of the season. The Rams’ other starter in the defensive backfield, Taylor Rapp, is also in concussion protocol.

Weddle, despite continuing to be a leader on the defense, saw his impact change a bit in his last two years of football. The 37-year old hasn’t forced a turnover in a little over four years, but his last season on the Rams saw him finish second on the team in tackles.

Los Angeles will take whatever version of Weddle they can get as their secondary limps into the playoffs. They face their division rivals Monday night as they host the Cardinals for Super Wild Card Weekend.

Rams Make Handful Of Roster Moves

The Rams made a handful of roster moves Tuesday afternoon. Los Angeles is signing kicker Matt Gay while placing offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, safety Taylor Rapp, and kicker Kai Forbath on IR, the team announced Tuesday.

Obviously with Forbath going on injured reserve, the team needed a new kicker. They started the year with seventh-round rookie Sam Sloman as their kicker, but replaced him with Forbath after he struggled to start the year. Gay was drafted by the Bucs in the fifth-round last year, and spent 2019 as their kicker. He was waived in September following a training camp battle with veteran Ryan Succop that he lost. He then signed with the Colts’ practice squad, which the Rams just poached him off.

Whitworth of course suffered a torn MCL and PCL during Sunday’s win over the Seahawks. The injury was thought to possibly be season-ending, but head coach Sean McVay indicated recently they were hoping to get him back and that it would sideline him only 6-8 weeks. If that’s the case, then the veteran stud left tackle may be able to return and block Jared Goff‘s blindside for a playoff run. 2018 third-round pick Joseph Noteboom will take his place for the time being.

Rapp is a 2019 second-rounder who was a starter as a rookie and had once again been playing a big role on defense this season. He has an MCL sprain which McVay said will likely sideline him between 3-4 weeks. Meanwhile Forbath has a sprained ankle. Gay will apparently compete with Austin MacGinnis, currently on the practice squad, for the kicking job.

Rams Sign Second-Round Pick Taylor Rapp

In recent years, the Rams have been the last team to start signing their incoming rookies. On Friday, they finally put a dent in their draft class by signing second-round safety Taylor Rapp as well as seventh-round picks Nick Scott and Dakota Allen

Rapp, a University of Washington product, notched 59 tackles, six tackles for loss, five sacks, two interceptions, and three fumble recoveries last season. In his first year with the Rams, he’s expected to support starters Eric Weddle and John Johnson.

Rapp profiled as one of the best open-field tackling safeties in this year’s class and has a strong football IQ for a player of his age. After he opened his collegiate career with four interceptions but saw that number tail off with time, it’ll be interesting to see if he has a nose for the ball at the pro level.

With Rapp, Scott, and Allen signed, the Rams are left with five unsigned rookies to go, as shown in PFR’s tracker.