Will Hernandez

NFC West Notes: Cardinals, Rams, Nwosu

It has long been expected Kyler Murray will miss time to start the season. The Cardinals have not kept a great secret regarding their rebuilding strategy, and even if the team’s new regime had assembled a team on the contender radar, rushing a dual-threat quarterback in a return from an ACL tear would not be a good idea. Murray addressed this matter recently, and ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss notes the two-time Pro Bowler was not sure he can make it back by Week 1. The fifth-year passer, who is aiming to return by the season’s outset, refused to put a timetable on his recovery.

The Cardinals placed Murray on the active/PUP list, which could be a precursor to his being stashed on the reserve/PUP list. The latter designation requires a four-game absence to start the year. Colt McCoy, who missed time this offseason due to an elbow ailment, sits as the presumptive Week 1 starter if Murray can’t go. McCoy will turn 37 just before the regular season. Though, the team also rosters David Blough and drafted Clayton Tune in Round 5.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • The player Murray advocated for in the first round, Paris Johnson, is working with Arizona’s first-string offensive line to start camp. During their offseason program, the Cardinals had not determined if the No. 6 overall pick would play guard or tackle. For now, the Ohio State product has lined up at tackle. Johnson began camp at right tackle, opposite D.J. Humphries, and has remained there into August, per GOPHNX.com’s Bo Brack and Weinfuss (Twitter links). The Cardinals re-signed Kelvin Beachum, their three-year right tackle starter, to a two-year, $5.15MM deal in March. With Will Hernandez and Elijah Wilkinson working as the team’s first-string guards, it will be interesting to see how the Cards proceed with Beachum and contract-year blocker Josh Jones, who replaced Humphries at left tackle after a midseason injury.
  • Staying on the subject of O-lines, both Joseph Noteboom and Alaric Jackson are back in action after moving past their respective issues (Achilles tear, blood clots), per Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic (subscription required). The two have split time at left tackle in camp. Jackson is battling Joseph Noteboom for the Rams‘ left tackle job. While Noteboom was mentioned as a guard candidate — if he loses out on the blindside gig to Jackson — Rodrigue adds the loser of this battle is likely ticketed for a swing backup role. That would be quite the fall for Noteboom, who signed a three-year deal worth $40MM in 2022. Due to an offseason restructure, Noteboom is not a realistic cut candidate.
  • Uchenna Nwosu‘s three-year, $45MM Seahawks extension will pay out $16.6MM in full guarantees, according to OverTheCap. The deal moved the edge rusher’s 2023 cap hit down, by about $3MM, to $10.1MM. In 2024, Nwosu’s cap hit will drop, checking in at $8.1MM. His 2025 number spikes to $21.5MM. Nwosu’s 2025 base salary checks in at $14.5MM, and ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson notes $6MM of that total is guaranteed for injury at signing (Twitter link). That $6MM shifts to a full guarantee by February 2024, giving Nwosu partial security a year out. An incentive-based escalator (based on Nwosu’s sack totals) is in place for 2026, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson adds, with Henderson noting it could increase the ’26 payout by $6MM (Twitter links)
  • After four seasons in Kliff Kingsbury‘s Air Raid offshoot, the Cardinals look to be prepared to take advantage of their tight end depth under new OC Drew Petzing. The ex-Browns staffer is preparing to lean on two-tight end formations featuring both Zach Ertz and Trey McBride, Adam Caplan of ProFootballNetwork.com notes. Chosen in last year’s second round, McBride caught 29 passes for 265 yards and a touchdown as a rookie. The Colorado State product played 599 offensive snaps as a rookie, but much of that work came after Ertz’s midseason ACL tear. McCoy confirmed (via Weinfuss) the Cards should be expected to line up in 12 personnel more frequently than they did under Kingsbury.

G Will Hernandez To Stay With Cardinals

Bringing in a new head coach-general manager combination, the Cardinals are not yet making big changes up front. Instead, they are re-signing blockers added by the previous regime.

After agreeing to terms with right tackle Kelvin Beachum, the Cards, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, are re-signing guard Will Hernandez (Twitter link). The former Giants second-round pick agreed to a two-year, $9MM accord, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.

Hernandez did not leave New York with much momentum last year, settling for a one-year pact worth the league minimum. Despite missing some time during his first Cardinals season, Hernandez will have a chance to reprise his role as a first-stringer for the rebuilding team.

The Giants used Hernandez as a full-time starter during his first, second and fourth seasons. Despite this early-career seasoning, his market was ice cold last year. This time around, it is clear other teams showed interest. Hernandez, 27, started 13 games for the Cards and ranked seventh in ESPN’s pass block win rate metric among guards. Pro Football Focus slotted the five-year veteran 30th at the position.

Although the Cards lost a few blockers to major injuries last season (D.J. Humphries, Rodney Hudson, Justin Pugh), Hernandez did not need one of the starters to go down to commandeer a first-string gig. He won the job opposite Pugh from the jump. Pugh is unsigned, while Hudson is expected to retire. Humphries remains in the picture, as does Beachum, who is staying on a two-year deal.

PFF ranked Arizona’s O-line as a whole 24th, but the Monti Ossenfort-Jonathan Gannon regime will be expecting a better performance with more games from the starters. Hernandez will represent part of the new regime’s equation up front.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/17/22

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

  • Promoted: C Brock Hoffman

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Commanders

Cardinals Sign QB David Blough, Place WR Rondale Moore On IR

In need of a new quarterback to fill out the depth chart, the Cardinals have quickly made a move. Arizona has signed David Blough off the Vikings’ practice squad, per a team announcement.

The 27-year-old has spent most of his career in Detroit, making seven total appearances with the Lions. That time includes five starts in 2019. He was among the team’s final cuts this season, though, with Nate Sudfeld being their preferred option as Jared Goff‘s backup. They hoped to keep Blough on their taxi squad, but he made an intra-divisional move to Minnesota instead.

Now, another NFC deal is on tap, and it will allow him to see time on Arizona’s active roster; the spot opened up with Kyler Murray being placed on IR following his ACL tear suffered on Monday night. Blough will serve as Colt McCoy‘s backup for the remainder of the season, and audition for a 53-man spot with Arizona or another team in the process.

The Cardinals also announced on Wednesday that wideout Rondale Moore has been placed on IR. The move means that his season is over, and marks a disappointing end to his second NFL campaign. The former second-rounder was injured early in Arizona’s Week 11 loss to San Francisco, and finishes with 41 receptions, 414 yards and one touchdown for the year. The Cardinals’ already shorthanded offense will move forward with the likes of A.J. Green, Robbie Anderson and Greg Dortch serving in rotational receiver roles.

In a more positive development, Arizona has designated Will Hernandez for return from IR. The veteran guard started each of the first nine games of the season, his first with the Cardinals. He has been sidelined ever since due to a pectoral injury, and his return to action will be a welcomed sight given the injuries suffered up front by D.J. Humphries, Rodney Hudson and Justin Pugh this year.

If Hernandez is activated within the next three weeks, the Cardinals will be left with two IR activations. The offense he will be returning to, though, will look much different than the one he last saw.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/9/22

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Minnesota Vikings

San Francisco 49ers

Adams, Dulin, Ellefson, Galeai, Washington and Willis each have until Nov. 30 to be activated from IR. Should they not be activated, they would revert to season-ending IR. The Colts and Vikings are in solid shape regarding activations, having only used one apiece. The Bears, Cardinals, 49ers and Packers have used three such moves apiece. Teams are allotted eight injury activations this season.

The Cowboys dangled Basham in trades before last week’s deadline, but no takers emerged. While the team cut the other D-lineman they were hoping to deal — Trysten Hill, who has since been claimed by the Cardinals — they ended up using one of their injury activations on Basham. A former Colts third-round pick, Basham notched 3.5 sacks during his first Cowboys season last year. He played in one game this season (Week 1) before going down with a quadriceps injury. The Cowboys, who have Tyron Smith and James Washington on their IR-return radar, have used two injury activations this season.

Cardinals S Budda Baker, G Will Hernandez To Miss Time

As they attempt to pick up the pieces from a disappointing first half, the Cardinals must begin doing so without one of their best players. Budda Baker will be forced out of the lineup due to a high ankle sprain, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

The Cardinals are hoping the All-Pro safety can come back in two or three weeks. Arizona’s Week 13 bye could be a factor here. The Cardinals play the Rams, 49ers and Chargers ahead of that week.

Arizona will also be without starting guard Will Hernandez for the time being. While Hernandez does not have a definitive timetable, Kliff Kingsbury did not sound too optimistic about the offseason addition returning soon. Kingsbury said (via AZCardinals.com’s Darren Urban, on Twitter) he is hopeful this is not a season-ending pectoral injury. This will stall a solid bounce-back season from the former Giants starter.

This will be relatively new territory for Baker. The sixth-year defender has missed three games throughout his career. He has been one of the best draft picks of Steve Keim‘s GM tenure, making four Pro Bowls and becoming a two-time first-team All-Pro.

The Cardinals have both Baker and Jalen Thompson signed long term, with the former tied to a four-year, $59MM extension. This certainly stands to limit Arizona’s pass defense — one a subaverage cornerback situation already impacts. Dropping their sixth game of the season, the Cardinals exited Week 9 as the league’s 26th-ranked defense.

Signed to a low-cost deal this offseason, Hernandez became an instant starter opposite Justin Pugh. Despite a limited market, the four-year Giants starter has provided some stability up front for Arizona, which has seen injuries decimate its interior offensive front. Pugh is out for the season, while Max Garcia has missed the past two Arizona games. The eighth-year veteran could return in Week 10, per Kingsbury, and will be an option to replace Hernandez. Kingsbury said center Rodney Hudson is not expected to make his return in Week 10. Hudson, who contemplated retirement this offseason, has not played since Week 4. Billy Price is likely to start at center again against the Rams.

Contract Details: Brown, Mack, Woods

Here are some details on deals recently signed around the NFL:

  • Trent Brown, OL (Patriots): two-year, $11.5MM deal. Brown’s deal includes a $750K weight bonus in 2022 and 2023, per ESPN’s Mike Reiss. He’ll earn $150K if he shows up to the first day of offseason program at 385 pounds or less, another $75K if he’s at or under 375 pounds by June 1, another $75K if he’s at or under 365 pounds by July 15, and $25K weekly bonuses if he’s at 365 pounds or less each Thursday during the season.
  • Marlon Mack, RB (Texans): signed. It’s a one-year, $2MM deal, according to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (on Twitter). The deal includes a $250K signing bonus, a $1.25MM base salary, and $29K in per-game roster bonuses.
  • Auden Tate, WR (Falcons): one-year deal. The deal includes a $1.03MM base salary and only counts $930K against the cap, according to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein (on Twitter). Tate can also earn $5K per-game roster bonuses.
  • Xavier Woods, S (Panthers): three-year, $15.75MM deal. Deal includes more than $6MM in guaranteed money, per Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (on Twitter). The deal includes a $5MM signing bonus. Woods can earn $250K for each Pro Bowl he makes. The safety will be owed a $1MM roster bonus on the third day of the 2023 league year.
  • Solomon Thomas, DL (Jets): one-year deal. The deal is worth $2.25MM, including $1.9MM in guaranteed money, tweets ESPN’s Rich Cimini (on Twitter). Thomas can earn another $2.5MM in incentives.
  • Will Hernandez, OL (Cardinals): one-year deal. The deal is worth $1.18MM, with $1.04MM in guaranteed money, according to veteran reporter Howard Balzer. The deal includes a $152K signing bonus. As a veteran qualifying contract, the deal counts $1.04MM against the cap.
  • Jesse Davis, OL (Vikings): one-year, $3MM deal. The deal includes a $1.5MM signing bonus, a $1.25MM fully guaranteed base salary, a $50K workout bonus, and up to $200K in per-game roster bonuses, tweets Ben Goessling of the Star-Tribune.. There’s also a void year in 2023.
  • Randy Bullock, K (Titans): signed. It’s a two-year deal worth $4.68MM, plus additional money for incentives, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter).

Cardinals To Sign OL Will Hernandez

Will Hernandez has reportedly found his second home in the NFL. According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the guard is signing with the Cardinals (Twitter link). A team announcement has confirmed that it is a one-year contract.

Hernandez, 26, was a second-round pick of the Giants in 2018. He started right away, and remained the team’s top left guard throughout the majority of his time there. Durability generally wasn’t a concern, as he only missed three games, all of which were in 2020.

Hernandez’s performances didn’t live up to his draft stock, however. His 67.9 PFF grade during his rookie season was the highest of his career. Of his 15 total sacks allowed, seven came this season. 2021 also saw him commit six penalties, again the worst mark in a single season during his NFL tenure.

The Giants have made a number of changes to their offensive line this offseason, after the unit continued its recent struggles in 2021. They signed former Colt Mark Glowinski and brought in Jon Feliciano following his release from the Bills. Projected to be starters along the interior of the line, that left Hernandez in need of a new team.

Last week, the Cardinals hosted Hernandez on a free agent visit. Between that, and the reported loss of starting guard Max Garcia to the Giants, this move doesn’t come as a surprise. Hernandez will now look to rebuild his value while joining not only his former positional coach in Sean Kugler, but one of the NFC’s top teams in general.

Cardinals To Host OL Will Hernandez

Will Hernandez could be heading out west. The Cardinals will host the free agent offensive lineman on a visit this weekend, as Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com passes along.

Hernandez has spent his entire career with the Giants, joining the team as a second-round pick in 2018. He earned All-Rookie Team honors in 2018 after starting all 16 games, and he appeared in 100 percent of his team’s offensive snaps through his first two seasons with the organization.

The lineman remained in and out of the starting lineup during the 2020 season, losing his starting spot to Shane Lemieux. Hernandez ended up returning in 2021 and starting all 17 games for the Giants.

The Cardinals could use some offensive line help, as 2021 starter Max Garcia remains unsigned. Hernandez has played both guard positions during his NFL career.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Gregory, Fitzpatrick

Jabrill Peppers‘ torn ACL will keep him sidelined for the rest of the 2021 campaign, and considering his expiring contract, there’s a chance his stint with the Giants has effectively come to an end. However, head coach Joe Judge kept the door open when speaking with reporters on Wednesday.

“Look, this guy is in a contract year, it’s something I’ve talked to him about directly,” Judge said (h/t to Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com). “He’s a guy that I value a lot in this program. I’d love to have this guy going forward, I’ve told him that directly. He’s been a very good leader for us. You can talk about him being local, that the Giants mean something to him. I think that’s very important. He’s a guy that loves football, he loves this organization, he loves this area. Those are things we talk about building as cornerstones and pillars of this program and he’s a very important part of our program.”

The safety started five of his six games this season, compiling 29 tackles and one sack. Considering Peppers’ contract status, his reduced playing time, and continued trade rumblings, there was a chance the veteran would be traded prior to his injury. The ACL injury certainly changed things, and Peppers could pursue a comeback with his current team.

More notes out of the NFC East…

  • With the Giants sitting at 2-5, it wouldn’t be a surprise if several Giants veterans end up hitting the trade block. Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv explored which players could be on the move, with tight end Evan Engram, cornerback James Bradberry, guard Will Hernandez, tight end Kyle Rudolph, and offensive tackle Nate Solder earning spots on the list. Vacchiano even goes as far as to list running back Saquon Barkley as a potential trade candidate, but he can’t envision the Giants receiving a haul that would convince them to bail on the former second-overall pick.
  • Randy Gregory has dealt with his fair share of suspensions, but the former Cowboys second-round pick followed an impressive 2020 campaign with an even better start to the 2021 season. In five games (four starts), Gregory has collected four sacks. The 28-year-old will hit free agency following the 2021 season, but David Moore, Calvin Watkins, and Michael Gehlken of The Dallas Morning News all believe that the defensive end will be back next season. Moore notes that the team wouldn’t have held on to Gregory for all these years if they didn’t plan on a long-term pact, while Watkins cautions that the franchise tag could prove to be a risky move considering Gregory’s limited track record.
  • There was once some hope that Ryan Fitzpatrick would be back by now, but NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport writes that Washington Football Team will have to wait a bit longer. The 38-year-old is still weeks away from returning, with Week 10 being the earliest possible return for the starting quarterback. Fitzpatrick suffered a hip subluxation back in September, forcing Taylor Heinicke into the lineup.