Travon Walker

Contract Notes: Hughes, Walker, Boyle

Here are some details on a deal recently reached in Houston:

  • Jerry Hughes, DT (Texans): Two-year, $10MM. The deal , reported by ESPN’s Field Yates, has a guaranteed amount of $4.5MM comprised of a $2.5MM signing bonus and Hughes’s 2022 base salary of $2MM. The contract has two different per game active bonuses for each year. In 2022, Hughes will receive a per game active bonus of $29,411 for a potential season total of $500,000. In 2023, Hughes will receive a per game active bonus of $58,823 for a potential season total of $1MM.

Here’s an interesting detail in the contract of the 2022 NFL Draft’s No. 1 overall pick:

  • Defensive end Travon Walker‘s first NFL contract currently has a detail that no other rookie contract from this year holds: the deal contains no offset language, according to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. Offset language usually pertains to what will happen to a player’s salary if he should be cut in his first four seasons (the duration of each drafted rookie’s contract). Breer reports that it’s currently the only such deal this year. He also points out that it only occurred with two players from last year’s Draft: Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Jaguars running back Travis Etienne. Jacksonville has clearly started a trend of being uniquely generous to their first-round picks.

Here are some details from a contract recently restructured in Baltimore:

  • Nick Boyle, TE (Ravens): Two-year, $13MM. According to Yates, Boyle agreed to rework his contract, lowering his 2022 salary from $5MM to $1.12MM with a signing bonus of $2.63MM and possible incentives of $1.25MM. His 2023 salary was lowered $1MM with that money being converted to a roster bonus for that year. The deal creates $2.57MM of new cap space for the Ravens to work with.

Jaguars Reach Agreement With No. 1 Pick Travon Walker

The top pick in this year’s draft is about to sign his rookie contract. The Jaguars have agreed to terms with Travon Walker, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). 

Walker gained steam throughout the pre-draft process as a member of the class’ deep edge rusher pool. One month before the draft, though, he was named as a candidate for the Jaguars to be selected first overall. Even at that time, many still believed the team would lean towards the more known commodity in Aidan Hutchinson, or look to bolster their offensive line by choosing either Evan Neal or Ikem Ekwonu.

One day before the first round, Jacksonville signed left tackle Cam Robinson to an extension, a move which took the latter two prospects out of consideration. By that point, Walker had become the favorite for the top pick, having been identified as an attractive blend of size and athleticism for general manager Trent Baalke. While there was a reported disagreement between he and owner Shad Khan on the Walker-Hutchinson debate, Baalke ultimately landed his preferred option.

Across three seasons at Georgia, Walker flashed his potential as a disruptive force against both the pass and the run. His final season was his most productive, as he totalled 33 tackles, including 7.5 for a loss, along with six sacks. The contrast between those numbers and those of more accomplished pass rushers like Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux were weighed against Walker’s perceived ceiling and the limitations placed on him in the Bulldogs’ highly-talented defense.

As a result of being the top pick, Walker will earn a fully-guaranteed $37.4MM over four years. The deal also includes a $24.4MM signing bonus. In Jacksonville, he will look to pair with 2019 first-rounder Josh Allen as the focal points of a re-vamped defensive unit.

Jaguars Draft Travon Walker No. 1 Overall

After all the deliberation and lack of consensus, the Jaguars have used the No. 1 overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft to select Georgia edge rusher Travon Walker

In three seasons with the Bulldogs, Walker emerged as a versatile piece along the defensive front. His junior campaign saw a jump in production, as he totaled 33 tackles and 6.0 sacks. Those relatively pedestrian numbers contrast with his size (six-foot-five, 275 pounds) and impressive testing figures to give him a higher upside, according to many, than most or all other prospects in this year’s class.

Walker tested well at the Combine, posting a 4.51-second 40-yard dash despite his 272-pound frame. As a result, Walker found himself bouncing up and down the top-1o of mock drafts leading up to the draft.

Walker unfortunately was in a serious car accident earlier today, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, but, luckily, emerged without injuries. Rapoport added that no citations were issued.

Walker should be fine to walk into the building in Jacksonville ready to get to work and bring the “Sacksonville” moniker back to Duval.

Trade Down, OL Still In Play For Jaguars At No. 1?

Hours away from the start of this year’s draft, pundits and fans alike find themselves surrounded by uncertainty at even the very top of the board. Many expect the decision facing Jacksonville at No. 1 to come down to their preference between Travon Walker and Aidan Hutchinson, but other options may still be in play. 

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reports that “the Jaguars are still hoping that they can find a path out of the top pick”. It has been known for a while that a number of teams set to pick in the top 10 – including the Jaguars – have been willing to move down, given the lack of surefire talent in this class. As Florio adds, however, they “continue to find no takers”.

Last week, it was reported that no one was calling Jacksonville regarding the top selection. This late in the game, the same appears to be true; most talk of movement within the top handful of teams relates to clubs wanting to add picks later on in the draft, rather than targeting specific prospects. Still, if the Jaguars remain split on their preference at No. 1, they would likely be amenable to any last-minute deal.

Meanwhile, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated adds that offensive line might be on the table for the team to consider when they are on the clock. He is “still not ruling out” a linemen (presumably Ikem Ekwonu or Evan Neal) being the team’s eventual choice. Jacksonville has been linked to the former during the run-up to the draft, but the multi-year extension just given to left tackle Cam Robinson further points towards Walker or Hutchinson.

Seven hours from now, the team’s ultimate decision will be known. Until then, speculation is likely to continue regarding the start of a highly intriguing draft year.

AFC Draft Notes: Chiefs, Jaguars, Texans, Steelers

We’re only two days away from the NFL Draft. Let’s take a look at some assorted draft notes out of the AFC:

  • The Chiefs are armed with 12 selections in the upcoming draft, including picks No. 29 and No. 30. According to Albert Breer of SI.com, Kansas City’s front office has started to call teams in the 20s about trading up. Breer opines that a potential deal could precede a second trade up the draft board.. Breer speculates that the Chiefs could be eyeing one of the league’s top receivers, but he also cautions that the front office could make “an aggressive move” for a cornerback or pass-rusher.
  • We can add two more teams to the list of Trevor Penning suitors. According to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com, the Titans and Chiefs are among the teams being mentioned as landing spots for the Northern Iowa left tackle. Kansas City would likely have to trade up in order to acquire the lineman. The Ravens, Titans, and Panthers have previously been linked to Penning.
  • Four prospects are believed to be in play for the Jaguars at No. 1 overall, but ESPN’s Todd McShay is hearing a lot of buzz around Georgia edge rusher Travon Walker. Sources believe the Jaguars prefer Walker’s “upside and traits” over Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson‘s “proven production, motor, and leadership.”
  • The Texans are high on Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson, according to McShay. However, the Texans won’t take the wideout at No. 3, and they’d probably have to trade up from No. 13 in order to select Wilson. If that ends up being an unrealistic path, McShay could also envision the Texans trading out of the No. 13 spot.
  • The first QB off the board could end up going to the Steelers at No. 20, according to McShay. Pittsburgh is apparently eyeing Liberty’s Malik Willis, and the signal-caller could end up falling in their lap. However, the reporter seems to be cautioning that the Steelers may not be able to pull off “a Bill Belichick” (referring to last year’s Mac Jones pick), meaning the front office may have to trade up if they want Willis.

Jaguars’ Shad Khan, Trent Baalke Disagree On No. 1 Pick?

Four prospects are believed to be in play for the Jaguars at No. 1 overall, but it might be a matchup between two defensive ends by the time the top decision-makers huddle up for their final decision this week.

Shad Khan will observe the Trent Baalke– and Doug Pederson-led operation’s deliberations this week, Albert Breer of SI.com notes, and the longtime Jaguars owner said he has an opinion on which way the team should go at No. 1. Khan’s opinion appears to be that Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson is the way to go, per Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com, who adds Baalke is backing Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker.

Despite his college production dwarfing Walker’s, Hutchinson now trails the size-speed freak in pre-draft odds to be the top pick. The Walker-Jaguars connection has persisted for several weeks now. Khan has held roster control in the past, and it would not surprise if the 10th-year Jags owner pulled the trigger on his preferred player. Khan would obviously prefer the room forms a consensus and intimated to Breer that Pederson and Baalke have control over the football operation.

Yeah, I have an opinion,” Khan said, via Breer, of the No. 1 pick. “I do have an opinion. We are supposed to get together on Wednesday, and so I don’t have as firm a decision as I did maybe last year, but I do have it. I think we’ll have to really firm up the draft board, so we have clarity on all the permutations and combinations we’re gonna hit.”

During Pederson’s tenure, the Eagles devoted significant resources to bolstering their offensive line. The new Jags HC may not be opposed to such a strategy this year, despite this draft’s bevy of high-end D-line prospects. The Jags were connected to Ikem Ekwonu early in the pre-draft process, before franchise-tagging Cam Robinson for a second time, and Breer hears Baalke is a fan of the North Carolina State O-lineman. Ekwonu remains in play for the Jags at 1, ESPN.com’s Matt Miller tweets.

The team is rumored to be close on a Robinson extension, and Jawaan Taylor has started at right tackle in Jacksonville for the past three years. Pro Football Focus, which graded Jacksonville’s O-line 24th overall last season, viewed Taylor as the team’s weakest link up front in 2021. Of course, no Jaguar blocker graded particularly well here. Jacksonville added Brandon Scherff but could upgrade at its other guard spot. Ekwonu played tackle and guard in college; some view guard as his better NFL position.

Draft Rumors: Stingley, Jaguars, Alabama, Cine, Burks

According to Matt Miller of ESPN, Derek Stingley, Jr. is the hottest name in the 2022 NFL Draft right now. The LSU cornerback has long been considered one of the top-two cornerback prospects available, along with Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner. Miller claims that Stingley is trending as high as the top-three with the Lions or Texans rumored to be interested in him at No. 2 or 3 overall.

After a stellar freshman season, Stingley was easily viewed as the best cornerback that would be available by the 2022 Draft. But, after a subpar 2020 season and only appearing in three games last year, combined with another stellar season from Gardner, NFL teams have allowed a bit of room for Gardner to challenge as the best corner on the board. The NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah has Gardner ranked as the third-best prospect overall with Stingley at 15th, while Dane Brugler of The Athletic has Gardner at fifth overall with Stingley at 14th. Miller, though, seems to think Stingley won’t make it past the Seahawks at 9th overall on Thursday night.

Here are a few more notes for the upcoming Draft, starting with some speculation down in Duval:

  • Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke let it be known on Friday that Jacksonville is considering four players for their number one overall draft pick this Thursday, according to Charean Williams of NBC Sports. Many mock drafts have them going with Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson or Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker, but they’ve also had their name attached to Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal and NC State offensive lineman Ikem Ekwonu. It’s hard to imagine any other names entering the conversation for Jacksonville’s top pick.
  • On their postseason run last year, college football powerhouse Alabama lost two of their top pass catchers in two of the biggest games of their season. John Metchie tore his ACL in the team’s SEC Championship victory over Georgia on December 4th. A little over a month later, Jameson Williams tore his ACL in the team’s National Championship game loss to Georgia on January 10th. According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, the two are progressing impressively in their recoveries, with that opinion being echoed by the NFL teams who have looked into their medical information. They may both be on track to play in the upcoming season, depending on how conservative of a team they end up with. The important thing, though, is that, while their stock may have been affected a bit by injury, they are both fully expected to hear their names called next week.
  • Georgie safety Lewis Cine visited with the Buccaneers this week, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN. Cine led the Bulldogs in tackles and passes broken up for the season last year en route to being named the defensive MVP of the team’s National Championship victory over Alabama. According to Laine, when asked if signing Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal precluded them from drafting a safety, Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht simply replied, “No.”
  • According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks added two more teams to his list of visits earlier this week. Burks met with the Bears and Cardinals as he continues to trend in the first round. Read more about Burks in his NFL Draft Prospect Profile here.

Georgia DL Travon Walker Meeting With Commanders

As the 2022 NFL Draft draws ever nearer, options are becoming clearer and clearer. That’s why it’s a little odd to see Ben Standig of The Athletic report that the Commanders will travel to meet with Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker

There’s nothing wrong with doing due diligence and making sure you’ve done your research on a prospect, but it’s hard to imagine any scenario where the fourth-best prospect on The Athletic’s Dane Brugler’s prospect rankings falls to Washington’s first-round pick at 11th overall. There’s always a chance the Commanders could trade up to move into a better position to draft the versatile lineman, but it’s likely they’re just preparing for multiple scenarios with high hopes that one of the top prospects slips their way back to them.

Of all the prospects Washington has conducted visits with in the Draft process so far, the highest-ranked are Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton, Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson, and USC wide receiver Drake London. They also plan to meet this week with Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks. It’s extremely likely that one of these five prospects will be available to them at 11, and they may even be able to move back a few picks, to acquire a little extra draft capital, and still be able to get a prospect they covet.

The three receiver prospects make a lot of sense for Washington to look at. After bringing in quarterback Carson Wentz this offseason, the Commanders would love to add a talented pass-catcher to pair up with star receiver Terry McLaurin. With Landon Collins departing in free agency, Washington would be more than content to bring in the versatile Hamilton to pair up with Kamren Curl in the secondary.

Another reason the Walker visit is a little surprising is that the defensive line was a strength for Washington last year and the key pieces are all returning. It could be speculated that Walker would be a nice addition in preparation for the Commanders to eventually lose one of those returning contributors. Jonathan Allen recently signed a four-year deal, but Daron Payne is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Both young ends, Montez Sweat and Chase Young, have impressed in their first few years and are likely looking forward to big contracts in the near-future.

Walker spent most of his time in Athens at defensive end, but bounced all around the line with his large, strong frame. The high draft projections are mostly based on potential, as he didn’t have a ton of production as a Bulldog. In three seasons with the team, Walker started 15 of 36 games and racked up only 9.5 sacks and 13.0 tackles for loss. Despite the lack of output, it’s viewed as extremely unlikely that Walker drops past the third-overall pick, with some even speculating that he could be the first-overall pick in the Draft.

Still, the Commanders have put themselves in an enviable position. At eleventh-overall, Washington has a litany of options available to them to help improve their team.

Travon Walker Gaining Steam As Top Prospect?

Until recent weeks, there was a small number of prospects thought to be in consideration for the top pick in this month’s draft. By virtue of ‘winning’ the pre-draft process, however, Georgia defensive end Travon Walker appears to have joined that group, and now has, in many people’s eyes, a strong chance of being the first to have his name called. 

[RELATED: Jaguars Considering Walker At No. 1]

Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network – who initially wrote that Walker could be the top-rated prospect by Jacksonville last month – reports that they might not be alone in that evaluation. As he wrote recently, “several teams have Walker graded as the top player on their draft board”, meaning that Jacksonville making him the top selection wouldn’t come as nearly the surprise it would have been until very recently.

On that point, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora adds that multiple executives see that exact scenario playing out. One told La Canfora that they are “running [draft] scenarios based off Walker being the first pick”. Other options for the top selection include Heisman finalist Aidan Hutchinson if the team prefers a more statistically accomplished edge rusher, or Ikem Ekwonu if they try to further bolster their offensive line.

In three seasons with the Bulldogs, Walker emerged as a versatile piece along the defensive front. His junior campaign saw a jump in production, as he totalled 33 tackles and six sacks. Those relatively pedestrian numbers contrast with his size (six-foot-five, 275 pounds) and impressive testing figures to give him a higher upside, according to many, than most or all other prospects in this year’s class. La Canfora notes the potential similarities between Walker and Aldon Smithwhom Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke drafted during his time in San Francisco.

Assuming Jacksonville holds on to the No. 1 pick, Walker would represent a noteworthy – but not entirely unexpected – selection. The ripple effect it would have on the rest of the top handful of picks would also add further intrigue to a first round about which very little is still known, despite the proximity of the draft taking place.

Draft Rumors: Ojabo, Jaguars, Jets, Giants

Michigan still might see two of its edge rushers become first-round picks this month. Despite David Ojabo‘s Achilles tear last month, the ex-Wolverine’s talent could well keep him on track to hear his name called on the draft’s first night. Ojabo remains firmly on the Round 1 radar, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. Ojabo is expected to make a full recovery, and a team that uses a first-round pick on him would be positioned to have him contracted for five seasons — via the fifth-year option. Operating opposite Aidan Hutchinson, Ojabo recorded 11 sacks in a breakout 2021. There is recent precedent for pre-draft injuries not keeping talented pass rushers out of the first round (Jeffery Simmons) and for Achilles rehabs going well enough players become factors months after the tears (Terrell Suggs, Michael Crabtree, Cam Akers).

Here is the latest from the draft world:

  • Hutchinson and NC State tackle Ikem Ekwonu met with the Jaguars this week, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes both will head to New York for Giants and Jets visits (Twitter link). Both players are candidates to go first overall, with Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker joining them. The Jets and Giants hold four of the next nine picks — the Jets having Nos. 4 and 10 and the Giants at 5 and 7 — and will be set to add top talent. The Giants have a few needs, but it will be hard to see them exiting Round 1 without a right tackle prospect. They have done extensive homework on Mississippi State’s Charles Cross and would likely pounce if Ekwonu, who is rated ahead of Cross almost universally, fell to 5.
  • After a strong Combine showing, Walker is being projected as a top-five pick. He will visit with each of the teams holding those selections, with Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com noting the Jags, Lions, Texans, Jets and Giants are meeting with the pass rusher. Despite weighing 272 pounds and frequently playing inside with the national championship-winning team, Walker clocked a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the Combine. Viewed as a D-lineman with fewer red flags than Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux, it is unlikely Walker will wait long to hear his name called.
  • Teams will do their due diligence on Thibodeaux, who is set to meet with the non-Jaguars contingent of the top five (Lions, Texans, Jets, Giants). The Eagles (Nos. 15 and 18) and Falcons (No. 9) are also planning “30” visits with Thibodeaux, Wilson notes. Questions about Thibodeaux’s motor and attitude have injected uncertainty into the defensive end’s status. A fall to Philly at 15 might not shock at this point.
  • One season remains on Saquon Barkley‘s contract, and the Giants‘ new regime has fielded trade calls on the previous staff’s top investment. The team is now using a few of its allotted 30 visits on backs. Breece Hall (Iowa State), Brian Robinson (Alabama) and James Cook (Georgia) visited the Giants on Tuesday, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Hall could be available when the Giants’ second-round pick (No. 36) comes. However, the ex-Cyclones standout grades as a first-round talent on Daniel Jeremiah’s NFL.com big board. Cook and Robinson are viewed as later-round prospects.
  • The Commanders are also taking a look at a top back, being set to meet with Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker on Friday, Rapoport adds (on Twitter). Scouts Inc. grades Walker just ahead of Hall as this class’ top back, but views him as a second-round talent. The Wake Forest transfer blew up for 1,636 rushing yards in his only Michigan State slate. Washington also met with Hall this week, John Keim of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Andrew Booth may miss his NFL team’s offseason workouts due to hernia surgery, but that should not deter teams from considering the Clemson cornerback in Round 1. Booth has met with the Bills (No. 25) and Eagles, with Rapoport adding Patriots (No. 21) and Saints (Nos. 16 and 19) meetings are also on Booth’s docket.