December 15th, 2016 at 4:44pm CST by Zachary Links
Remember Toby Gerhart? He hasn’t played in an NFL game since November of 2015, but he re-emerged today when he worked out for the Broncos (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com).
Gerhart battled injuries in his two years with the Jaguars and never lived up to his sizable free agent contract. In March, Jacksonville dropped Gerhart, prematurely terminating his three-year deal, $10.5MM pact. We haven’t heard his name much in the last nine months and this is the first reported NFL tryout for him all year.
In 21 total games with Jacksonville, Gerhart ran for 370 yards and two scores. In 2015, he carried the ball 20 times for 44 yards. Gerhart has dealt with an injured foot, bruised ribs, and a tender core in recent seasons and his audition today could be a sign that he is finally healthy.
4:54pm: The release is now official, as Tom Pelissero of USA Today Sports tweets.
12:30pm: The Jaguars are expected to release running back Toby Gerhart today, according to Mike DiRocco of ESPN.com. GM David Caldwell has since confirmed the move (Twitter link via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union).
Gerhart has battled injuries during his last two years with the team and has not been able to live up to his sizable free agent contract. As the Jaguars welcome in one high-priced free agent running back in Chris Ivory, they say goodbye to their last major expenditure at the position. The tailback signed a three-year deal worth $10.5MM with the Jaguars two years ago. Had he stayed on the roster, Gerhart would have collected on a $500K roster bonus (due Sunday) and a $3MM salary in 2016. As expected, the Jags decided to cut their losses and let Gerhart walk.
In 21 total games with Jacksonville, Gerhart ran for 370 yards and two scores. Last season, he carried the ball 20 times for 44 yards. DiRocco notes that Gerhart has been injured all over with ailments to his injured foot, tender ribs, and core. Prior to his tenure in Jacksonville, Gerhart was a competent backup for the Vikings behind Adrian Peterson. His best season came in 2011, when he finished with 531 rushing yards and another 190 yards through the air.
THURSDAY, 9:41am: The Jaguars’ deal with Ivory is now official, tweets John Oehser of Jaguars.com.
WEDNESDAY, 7:26am: According to USA Today’s Connor Hughes (Twitter link), Ivory’s five-year deal will be worth $32.5MM ($6.5MM per year), with $10MM guaranteed.
7:04am: Per Rapoport (via Twitter), Ivory’s new deal with the Jaguars will be a five-year contract. Rapoport reiterates that it’s worth “well north” of $6MM annually.
TUESDAY, 8:59pm: The Jaguars have agreed to sign running back Chris Ivory, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Ivory will be able to officially sign with Jacksonville on Wednesday. The deal is worth “well above” $6MM per year, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
Ivory, 28 later this month, has been a popular name since the legal tampering period began on Monday. The former Jets running back has been linked to a number of clubs, as the Texans, Buccaneers, and Raiders have all expressed interest.
Instead, Ivory will head to the Jaguars, not a club that many pegged to land Ivory, or for that matter, any free agent running back. Jacksonville selected T.J. Yeldon in the second round last season, and the rookie was pretty impressive, averaging 4.1 yards per carry and scoring twice in 12 starts. The Jaguars also have Denard Robinson on their depth chart, and he’s shown to be a more than capable backup.
But the Jags will turn to a more proven commodity in Ivory, who last season topped 1,000 yards rushing for the first time in his six-year career. A runner who exhibits terrifying force, Ivory averaged 4.3 yards per carry and reached the endzone seven times last season. He even helped out in the passing game, posting 30 receptions, 12 more than his previous career high.
Ivory was PFR’s No. 4 free agent running back, and he was expected to compete on the open market with the likes of Doug Martin, Lamar Miller, and Matt Forte. None of that trio has yet agreed to sign with another club, though all three have been heavily linked to potential suitors.
The Jaguars, who entered the legal tampering period with more $80MM in cap space, are certainly showing their financial strength. In addition to agreeing to terms with Ivory, Jacksonville has also agreed to sign defensive lineman Malik Jackson to a six-year deal worth more than $15MM annually.
Ivory’s presence on the roster has already affected another Jaguars running back — per Rapoport (Twitter link), Jacksonville will release Toby Gerhart tomorrow.
Speaking today to reporters, including Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com (Twitter link), Jaguars general manager David Caldwell said he doesn’t expect much to come of the NFL’s investigation into the Dante Fowler Jr. video published by TMZ earlier this week. The league confirmed that it is looking into the video, noting that it contained “disturbing images,” but it sounds like the Jags GM doesn’t expect Fowler to be disciplined as a result.
Here are a few more items of interest from Caldwell’s press conference in Indianapolis today:
Caldwell hopes to have a deal done with tight end Marcedes Lewis before the new league year begins on March 9th, per DiRocco (via Twitter). While Lewis has seen his role as a pass catcher reduced in recent years, the Jaguars still need a blocking tight end to complement Julius Thomas, so if Lewis is willing to remain in that role, it makes sense that the two sides should be able to work something out.
There’s a good chance that running back Toby Gerhart will be back with the Jaguars in 2016, according to Caldwell (Twitter link via DiRocco). Gerhart has underwhelmed during his time in Jacksonville so far, but the GM thinks there will be a role for him going forward, and the team certainly has the cap space to afford him.
The Jaguars’ staff is currently evaluating whether or not defensive end Chris Clemons will remain on the team going forward, per DiRocco. According to Caldwell, the plan is to reach out to the veteran defender’s representatives soon. I identified Clemons and Gerhart as possible release candidates when I previewed the Jaguars’ offseason earlier this month.
The 28-year-old certainly hasn’t lived up to the three-year, $10.5MM contract he signed with the Jags in 2014. After having rushed for 326 yards on 101 carries in 2014 (resulting in a career-low 3.2-yards per carry), the veteran has only compiled 49 all-purpose yards in seven games this season. Based on his lack of production, the team will presumably cut the running back following this season, opines O’Halloran.
Prior to his tenure in Jacksonville, Gerhart was a competent backup for the Vikings behind Adrian Peterson. His best season came in 2011, when he finished with 531 rushing yards and another 190 yards through the air.
Lawrence, a rookie out of Northwestern, joined the Jaguars practice squad in early September.
As this week’s games get underway in full force, let’s take a look at some notes from around the league:
Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times, citing ESPN’s Adam Schefter, reports that the Buccaneers put together a contract structure for Greg Hardy that the Cowboys ultimately mirrored, but Tampa Bay’s contract was contingent on the club meeting with Hardy for evaluation. Once it became clear that such a meeting was not possible, the Bucs pulled the offer (Twitterlinks).
Katherine Terrell of The Times-Picayune writes that Saints backup quarterback Luke McCown will get a second opinion on his back injury this week, but Terrell’s source indicates that McCown will likely require season ending surgery. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, the news is fairly significant, as New Orleans has never had to rely on a rookie to back up Drew Brees.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes that free agent wide receiver Wes Welker is still waiting for his phone to ring, and that he has passed both physicals he has taken this year. He wants to play for a contender, and he has instructed his agent to reach out again to the teams on his list to see if there is a fit.
ESPN’s Jane McManus tweets that the NFL’s investigation into Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel‘s recent encounter with police is expected to conclude this week. McManus notes that the police report and various witness testimony have complicated the investigation.
Although there was more league-wide effort to make a deal prior to this year’s trade deadline than in seasons past, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that only one trade was made because the demand from sellers was too great. The Browns and 49ers in particular asked for compensation that rival executives believed was unreasonable.
Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com takes a detailed look at the 2016 wide receiver free agent class and the types of contracts some of the bigger names in the class can expect to land. Fitzgerald says the best player on that list, Alshon Jeffery, is better equipped to handle a franchise tag should the Bears go that route because he is so young and the tag will not impact the way teams view his future as long as he remains healthy.
ESPN’s Adam Caplan tweets that the Jaguars are likely to part ways with Toby Gerhart at season’s end.
Only Cincinnati has drafted more wide receivers than the Packers since 2005, which marked Ted Thompson‘s first year as Green Bay’s GM. Thompson has selected 16 wideouts during that time.
Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com says Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey did not undermine head coach Todd Bowles by proclaiming that Geno Smith would be the team’s starting quarterback, as Gailey was just reiterating what Bowles had said (in a less definitive manner) on prior occasions.
Cimini does note that the Jets are bucking a historic trend by having Smith open the season as their starting signal-caller. Football Outsiders complied a list of 10 quarterbacks over the past 25 years who performed as poorly as Smith has in their first two seasons, and although most of them were named the starter going into their third year in the league, most were also first-round draft choices. Smith, of course, was a second-rounder. Out of the 10 players that Football Outsiders listed, only two, Jake Plummer and Trent Dilfer, experienced any sort of success in the league.
Connor Hamlett, a tight end whom the Jaguars signed as an undrafted free agent earlier this month, indicated back in January that he was not going to pursue a professional football career. But Hamlett, per Ryan O’Halloran of The Florida Times-Union, says, “I just took some time off because I was banged up. I love the game of football, and I wanted to play. The whole [story] kind of got blown out of proportion.” Jacksonville had a “draft-worthy” grade on Hamlett, who has a good chance to make the club. O’Halloran says the Jags could keep as many as five tight ends on the roster.
Roy Cummings of The Tampa Tribune says the Buccaneers, who traded a fifth-round pick to Detroit last month in exchange for George Johnson–after signing Johnson to a three-year, $9MM offer sheet–fell in love with the defensive end while watching film of Lions games in preparation for last year’s matchup with Detroit. Had the Bucs not played the Lions in 2014, Johnson might not have found himself in Tampa Bay in 2015.
We took a look at ESPN’s NFC mailbags earlier this morning. Let’s now check out some notes from the AFC…
If Mike Wells were a member of the Colts front office, he wouldn’t sign Ray Rice to a contract. The writer notes that the running back must be out of shape, and he also notes the difficulties in learning a new scheme.
Michael DiRocco believes the Jaguars biggest offseason needs will be a pass-rusher and a linebacker. As a result, the writer targets Nebraska’s RandyGregory and Missouri’s ShaneRay.
Switching to the offense, DiRocco could see the Jaguars drafting a running back late in the draft. Regardless, he doesn’t think the team should part ways with Toby Gerhart, especially since Denard Robinson hasn’t proven he can be a featured back.
If the Jets move on from RexRyan, the Jets owe it to their fans to pursue 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, opines Rich Cimini.
Meanwhile, Cimini doesn’t believe the Jets will pursue Darrelle Revis this offseason (if the cornerback becomes a free agent). The writer believes a Revis-Rex Ryan reunion is inevitable, but not in New York.
It’s Saturday morning, and that means ESPN’s NFL writers are answering questions from readers. Let’s take a look at some of the notable tidbits from the AFC…
Assuming the Jets get a top-5 pick in next year’s draft, Rich Cimini believes the team should focus on drafting a quarterback, wide receiver or cornerback.
The Jets need to acquire a speed running back after the season to pair with Chris Ivory, opines Cimini. Chris Johnson clearly hasn’t been the answer and Bilal Powell is set to be a free agent.
Adam Teicher rejects a pair of fan-made Chiefs trade proposals. The writer doesn’t think it’d be in the team’s best interest to trade backup quarterback Chase Daniel unless they’re overwhelmed by an offer. Teicher also can’t envision the Chiefs acquiring high-priced receiver Vincent Jackson, especially since they already have plenty of money tied up to Dwayne Bowe.
Bill Williamson writes that Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly would have many suitors if he decided to pursue an NFL job, with the Raiders among them. However, the writer notes that the team would have to “pony up” to secure Kelly’s services. Meanwhile, Williamson believes HueJackson would be interested in returning, but the writer fears that he may have burned too many bridges on his way out.
As Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer writes, “the seal was broken” on extensions for 2011 first-round draft picks–the inaugural group of first-rounders under the new CBA–when Patrick Peterson and Tyson Smith recently signed new long-term, big-money deals. Given the extensions for those high-profile franchise cornerstones, Person wonders when the Panthers will look to extend quarterback Cam Newton.
Of course, Carolina picked up Newton’s option for 2015 back in April, so they have time to get a deal done. The team might also be wise to wait and see how Newton’s surgically-repaired left ankle responds this year. However, if Newton enjoys the same type of success in 2014 that he did in 2013, he will really drive up his price tag, especially since Newton’s supporting cast appears weaker this season.
Former NFL agent Joel Corry does not believe the new deals for Smith and Peterson will “open the floodgates” for their fellow 2011 first-rounders, and he expects the Panthers and Newton to strike an agreement on an extension after the end of the 2014 campaign but before training camp opens in 2015. It remains to be seen what that extension will look like, but an average annual value of $20MM seems to be the new starting point for signal-callers of Newton’s caliber.
Now for some more links from the league’s Big Cat franchises:
Former agent Joel Corry believes that the Lions‘ decision to table contract talks with Ndamukong Suh indicates that Suh’s contract demands are “sky-high” and that he was probably asking to be the highest-paid defensive player in the league, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Corry believes that if Suh’s camp was not asking for that type of contract, the two sides probably would have struck a deal.