Taylor Rapp

Bills To Sign S Taylor Rapp

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.

NFL Draft Rumors: Brown, Samuel, Ford

The 49ers will host Ole Miss wide receiver A.J. Brown and South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel on Monday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Neither player is in the mix for the Niners at No. 2 overall, but both could be an option further down the line.

Right now, it seems likely that Brown will be a first rounder, making him unlikely to be available when the 49ers pick again at No. 36 overall. Still, crazier things have happened and the Niners could always trade up if they want Brown badly enough. Samuel, meanwhile, seems to be right in range for that pick. After watching Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham head elsewhere this offseason, the Niners are undoubtedly in the hunt for receiver help in the draft.

Here’s the latest draft buzz:

  • Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford will meet with the Panthers on Tuesday, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. This marks Ford’s ninth and final visit, and five of those teams pick between No. 11 and 20. With that in mind, it’s fair to wonder whether Ford will be available for Carolina at No. 16 overall.
  • Washington safety Taylor Rapp – widely pegged as a late-first round or second round prospect, will also visit the Panthers on Tuesday, according to Rapoport. Rapp also recently met with the Seahawks.
  • West Virginia quarterback Will Grier and Ohio State wide receiver Parris Campbell are visiting the Redskins, Rapoport tweets. Grier figures to be available in the middle rounds, but the Redskins will probably have to pounce in the second round if they want Campbell.

Draft Notes: LBs, Cowboys, OL, Pats, Ravens

Two teams who will be visiting with Devin White soon are also set to have this draft’s other high-profile Devin on their pre-draft itineraries. The Bengals met with Devin Bush on Monday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets, adding the Buccaneers are next up on the Michigan-produced linebacker’s schedule. White is expected to go off draft boards a bit sooner, but Bush is viewed as a solid first-round pick as well. Bush finished out the 2018 season with 66 tackles, including 8.5 for a loss, and 4.5 sacks. In 2017, the versatile linebacker posted 95 tackles, 10 for loss, and 5.5 sacks. He is the son of former Falcons, Rams and Browns safety Devin Bush Sr., a 1995 first-round pick who played in back-to-back Super Bowls in the late 1990s. The Bucs hold the No. 5 pick, while the Bengals’ first pick comes at No. 11.

Here’s the latest from the draft world:

  • While Bush may be a solid first-round bet, White has climbed to the point of potentially becoming the first off-ball linebacker to be drafted in the top five since Aaron Curry in 2009. A consensus of White being as good or better than Roquan Smith as a prospect has formed, Albert Breer of SI.com notes, adding that he could be a fit at No. 4 for the Raiders or No. 5 for the Bucs.
  • The Cowboys have made most of their 30 visits known, and some higher-level prospects reside on Dallas’ list — despite the team not holding a first-round pick. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel and safeties Taylor Rapp and Johnathan Abram are set to visit the Cowboys, Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News reports. Four defensive tackles, four safeties, three wideouts and three running backs appear on the Cowboys’ list. The past six Cowboys first-round picks visited the Cowboys pre-draft, Machota notes, though with Dallas not holding a selection until late in the second round (No. 58) could complicate matters. NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah rates Samuel, a South Carolina-honed receiver, as this class’ No. 6 wideout. He rates Abram (Mississippi State) as the class’ top safety.
  • Rapp will be receiving a nice tour of the country this month, with a three-time zone trip on the horizon. The Lions, Rams, Giants and Panthers also booked pre-draft summits with the Washington safety, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com notes. A three-year Huskies contributor, Rapp intercepted seven passes and made at least 50 tackles in each of his college campaigns. Pauline expects Rapp to be a second-round pick.
  • A fellow Washington Huskies product, tackle Kaleb McGary has visits lined up with the Patriots, Rams and Jaguars, per Pauline. The Falcons are also going to work out McGary, who was a three-plus-season starter at right tackle for the Pac-12 program.
  • The top two centers on Jeremiah’s list, N.C. State’s Garrett Bradbury and Texas A&M’s Erik McCoy, will visit the Ravens, The Athletic’s Jeff Zreibec reports (subscription required). Baltimore allowed Ryan Jensen to walk in free agency last year and turned to Matt Skura to replace him in 2018. Skura graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 23 center last season for a Ravens team that became far more reliant on the run once Lamar Jackson entered the equation.