Tajae Sharpe

2019 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $2MM in 2019. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2019 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

Bears: RB Jordan Howard, LB Nick Kwiatkoski

Bengals: LB Nick Vigil

Broncos: G Connor McGovern, S Will Parks, S Justin Simmons

Browns: S Derrick Kindred, LB Joe Schobert

Buccaneers: G Caleb Benenoch, DE Carl Nassib, CB Ryan Smith

Chargers: LB Jatavis Brown

Chiefs: CB Kendall Fuller, WR Tyreek Hill, S Eric Murray, WR Demarcus Robinson

Colts: QB Jacoby Brissett, T Joe Haeg

Cowboys: CB Anthony Brown, DT Maliek Collins, QB Dak Prescott

Dolphins: RB Kenyan Drake

Eagles: CB Jalen Mills, T Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Falcons: LB De’Vondre Campbell, TE Austin Hooper, G Wes Schweitzer

Jaguars: DE Yannick Ngakoue

Jets: LB Jordan Jenkins, CB Rashard Robinson, T Brandon Shell

Lions: C Graham Glasgow

Packers: LB Kyler Fackrell, DE Dean Lowry, LB Blake Martinez, LB Antonio Morrison

Patriots: G Joe Thuney, LB Elandon Roberts

Rams: G Austin Blythe, TE Tyler Higbee

Ravens: DE Matt Judon, OL Alex Lewis, CB Tavon Young

Saints: DT David Onyemata

Steelers: DT Javon Hargrave

Texans: DT D.J. Reader

Titans: S Kevin Byard, WR Tajae Sharpe

OverTheCap.com was essential in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. 

Titans To Place Tajae Sharpe On IR

The Titans’ revamped receiving corps may not include second-year talent Tajae Sharpe. The team will place Sharpe on IR, according to Jason Wolfe of the Tennesseean.

A 10-game starter for the Titans last season, Sharpe suffered a stress fracture in his foot this offseason and underwent surgery. Although he returned to play in two Tennessee preseason games after spending much of the exhibition slate on the PUP list, Sharpe re-aggravated the injury and will spend time on IR.

Because he was placed on injured reserve before initial rosters were set, Sharpe isn’t eligible to return later this year. The 2016 fifth-round pick caught 41 passes for 522 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie but saw the team add Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor and Eric Decker this offseason to make his role uncertain.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Falcons, Saints, Colts, Titans

The Falcons don’t intend to waive recently suspended cornerback Jalen Collins in the very near future, but it appears the club is still assessing its options, as D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. “The disappointment for having a second, repeat offense is stronger,” head coach Dan Quinn said Monday. “This just came through yesterday. Some trust has been broken. We’ll take all the time that we need to make the best decision for the team.” Atlanta now has the secondary depth to withstand a Collins release, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, who identifies C.J. Goodwin and Deji Olatoye as valuable reserve pieces. Collins is suspended through late November, so the Falcons don’t have to make a decision on his status for some time.

Let’s check in on the latest from the NFL’s two South divisions:

  • Chase Daniel will almost assuredly serve as the Saints‘ backup quarterback during the upcoming season, meaning the battle for New Orleans’ third signal-caller job will come down to Garrett Grayson and Ryan Nassib, as Nick Underhill of the Advocate details. Grayson, a third-round pick just two years ago, currently has the upper hand, per Underhill, as Nassib — a free agent addition who spent his first four NFL seasons with the Giants — is considered a “long shot” to earn a roster spot. Of course, the Saints could opt to keep only two quarterbacks, at which the team would likely attempt to sneak Grayson onto their practice squad.
  • Colts wide receiver Chester Rogers has changed representation, hiring Rosenhaus Sports to replace Warren and Simpson, tweets Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal. As a former undrafted free agent, Rogers is eligible to renegotiate his contract after only two seasons (in his case, following the 2017 season). Thus far, Rogers hasn’t done enough to earn an extension, as he managed only 19 receptions for 273 yards during his rookie campaign. However, the 23-year-old Rogers has been working as the Colts’ No. 3 receiver during training camp, ahead of Kamar Aiken and Phillip Dorsett, reports Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star (Twitter link).
  • If the stress fracture in his right foot continues to act up, Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe could begin the season on the physically unable to perform list, which would force him to miss the first six games of the year, Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com writes. Sharpe, a fifth-round selection in 2016, reportedly has a tenuous grasp on a roster spot, but placing him on PUP could give Tennessee more time to make a decision on his fate. Currently being sued after an alleged assault, Sharpe is countersuing his accuser.

Latest On Tajae Sharpe Assault Accusations

Back in May, Titans receiver Tajae Sharpe and offensive guard Sebastian Tretola were accused of assault in a federal civil suit. Now, according to WKRN.com, the duo is countersuing the accuser, stating that he initiated the confrontation and the two players were purely acting in self defense.

Tajae Sharpe (Vertical)The individual, Dante Satterfield, claimed that Sharpe and Tretola had beaten him until he was unconscious outside of a Nashville bar. Sharpe allegedly “took exception” to Satterfield’s comments about recent Titans draft pick Corey Davis, with the accuser reportedly stating that Sharpe’s playing time would now be reduced. After leaving the bar, Sharpe allegedly punched Satterfield in the face while Tretola kept watch. The individual claimed that he suffered from broken bones in his face, a perforated eardrum, and a concussion, leading to him asking for $500K.

In their countersuit, Sharpe and Tretola are saying that an intoxicated Satterfield continued to harass the duo inside the bar. When the duo eventually left, the individual followed them outside, threatening them and claiming to be in a gang. The two players admitted to “roughing up” the accuser, but they were adamant that their actions were in self defense.

The two players are asking for a jury trial and damages. The duo has not been charged, and Metro police recently said that their investigation was wrapping up.

“When my client sued Mr. Sharpe, his agent told the media that Sharpe ‘wasn’t even there at the time [my client] was allegedly beaten up,’” Satterfield’s attorney said in a statement. “In today’s court filing, Sharpe changes his story entirely and says he was there but acted in self-defense. We are confident that an impartial jury will be able to make out what actually happened that night.”

As our own Dallas Robinson wrote back in May, Sharpe could be in danger of not only earning a league-imposed suspension, but losing his roster spot altogether. Roster Resource lists Sharpe as the Titans’ fourth receiver behind Eric Decker, Rishard Matthews, and Davis.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Steelers, Broncos, Titans

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey‘s career could end when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s does, relays Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Pouncey’s still young (he’ll turn 28 in July), but it’s possible the seventh-year man and five-time Pro Bowler would rather hang it up than continue with someone other than Roethlisberger, who mulled retirement after last season and is entering his age-35 campaign. “It will be hard for me to come back if he’s not here,” Pouncey said of Roethlisberger. “Whenever you’re playing with that level of quarterback, to try to switch that up would be a different mojo for everybody on the team. … I’m glad he came back. We need him to win a championship around here.”

More on Pittsburgh and two other AFC clubs:

  • Three Broncos who have gone high in recent drafts, wide receiver Cody Latimer, offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo and tight end Jeff Heuerman, will have to fight for their roster spots in training camp, observes Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post. Latimer, a second-rounder in 2014, hasn’t made much of an impact as a receiver (16 career catches), and he’s not in position to change that with Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Carlos Henderson and Isaiah McKenzie ahead of him on the depth chart. As such, his best hope is to make the Broncos as a special teamer, posits Wolfe, who expects that to happen. Sambrailo, meanwhile, went in the second round a year later and has only totaled 13 appearances and seven starts. Even if he cracks the Broncos’ roster, Sambrailo seems likely to serve as primarily a backup again, as the team spent a first-rounder on tackle Garett Bolles this year after adding fellow bookend Menelik Watson on a three-year, $18.3MM deal in free agency. And then there’s Heuerman, a 2015 third-rounder who missed his entire rookie year with a torn ACL and then caught nine passes in 12 games last season. He’ll have to fend off Henry Krieger-Coble to make the team, notes Wolfe. Denver’s other tight end options include Virgil Green, A.J. Derby and fifth-rounder Jake Butt, a former Michigan standout who’s working back from the torn ACL he suffered in his final college game last December.
  • As a rookie last season, fifth-rounder Tajae Sharpe finished second among Titans wide receivers in catches (41), targets (83) and yards (522) in 2016. Nevertheless, it seems he’ll enter camp with a weak hold on a roster spot, writes Jason Wolf of the Tennesseean. The Titans used two valuable picks on receivers – Corey Davis in the first round and Taywan Taylor in the third – in the spring and then signed established veteran Eric Decker last week. Those additions combined with Sharpe’s questionable health (he recently underwent surgery for a stress fracture in his right foot) and a police investigation over an alleged assault have the 22-year-old in limbo, according to Wolf.
  • The fact that the Steelers have a deep receiving corps means third-year man Sammie Coates will have to battle for a spot in camp, suggests Fowler. Coates was a relatively high selection in 2015, when he went in Round 3 of the draft, but the ex-Auburn star has totaled just 22 receptions in 21 games as a Steeler. A broken finger and a groin injury likely contributed to Coates’ underwhelming output last season (21 catches on 49 targets, two touchdowns), and he indicated that he’s nearing full health with camp approaching. “I’m getting there. It’s a process,” said Coates, who underwent sports hernia surgery over the winter. “That’s what this process is for, to get your body back so you can compete during camp.”

Titans WR Tajae Sharpe Accused Of Assault

Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe has been accused of assault in a federal civil suit, according to Stacey Barchenger of the Tennessean."<strong

Nashville police are investigating Dante Satterfield’s claims that Sharpe beat him until he was rendered unconscious outside a bar on April 27. Sharpe was allegedly upset at the Titans’ first-round selection of fellow wideout Corey Davis, and “took exception” to Satterfield’s comments about the draft choice. After the group left the bar out a back door, Sharpe reportedly punched Satterfield in the face while Titans offensive lineman Sebastian Tretola stood watch.

Satterfield is now dealing with broken bones in his face, a perforated eardrum, and a concussion, and is seeking $500K in damages. Sharpe’s lawyer, for what it’s worth, calls Satterfield’s claims “ridiculous.”

Clearly, given how the situation plays out, Sharpe could be in danger of not only earning a league-imposed suspension, but losing his roster spot altogether. Tretola, too, could face discipline depending on his level of involvement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Impact Rookies: Tennessee Titans

The old adage that defense wins championships may or may not be true, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a title-winning team that didn’t build heavily through the draft. Rookie classes, naturally, are evaluated on the perceived upside of the NFL newcomers, but which rookies are ready to contribute right out of the gate? And, how do they fit in with their new team schematically?

To help us forecast the immediate future of these NFL neophytes, we enlisted the help of draft guru Dave-Te Thomas who has served as a scouting personnel consultant to NFL teams for multiple decades.

Today, we continue PFR’s Impact Rookie series with Dave-Te Thomas’ insight on the Tennessee Titans’ draft class:

First Round – Jack Conklin, OT (Michigan State, No. 8 overall)

It was apparent after last season that the Titans needed to address their lack of depth on defense, but they also had to add speed on offense. Ultimately, Tennessee started the draft by placing a higher priority in protecting their franchise quarterback and opted to build a formidable front line that already featured two first rounders and four starters selected by the team since the 2013 draft phase. Jack Conklin (vertical)

The Titans watched Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil slide down the board, but he wasn’t the tackle that they wanted when they traded up from No. 15 to No. 8. When they owned the first overall pick in the draft, many draft experts expected that Tunsil was a shoe-in, but all along the Titans were eyeing either Conklin or Notre Dame standout Ronnie Stanley.

Being a Top Ten choice does not always spell instant success, at least where offensive tackles are concerned. Among the 179 offensive tackles to ever be drafted in the first round, four never even played in any NFL games and seven others never started any contests during their pro careers. Since the 1970 draft, five other first round offensive tackle selections never reached double-digit starting figures.

Still, Conklin’s future looks bright and his presence is doubly appreciated following Byron Bell‘s season-ending ankle injury. His injury leaves the door open for Conklin to immediately step in as the new starter at right tackle, joining 2013 first round right guard Chance Warmack, 2014 first round left tackle Taylor Lewan, 2015 third round left guard Jeremiah Poutasi, and 2013 fourth round center Brian Schwenke up front.

Second Round – Austin Johnson, DT (Penn State, No. 43 overall)

Dick LeBeau is placing more emphasis on the 3-4 game this season and second round pick Kevin Dodd is currently sidelined with a foot injury, which means that the team could experiment with Jurrell Casey playing on the edge and DaQuan Jones on the opposite side. That would leave Johnson to battle Al Woods for time in the middle of the front wall.

The former journalism major graduated from school early and was eligible to compete at the 2016 Senior Bowl, where he put on quite a performance throughout the week-long practices. Johnson ranked second among interior defensive linemen in the major college ranks and finished third overall on his team with 70 tackles. That was the most tackles for a Penn State defensive lineman since Jimmy Kennedy (87) in 2002. He also recorded 6.5 sacks among his fifteen stops behind the line of scrimmage in 2015.

With his thick-cut frame, Johnson can play either the zero-gap or line up as a traditional under-tackle when the team utilizes the 4-3 scheme. He’s proven last season that he can be very stout at the point of attack and you have to be impressed with his balance and coordination when attacking the rush lanes, along with his great leg drive and core strength to anchor vs. double teams.

Second Round – Derrick Henry, RB (Alabama, No. 45 overall)

DeMarco Murray is a ball-hungry veteran intent on proving that last season’s debacle in Philadelphia was a one-time thing. If Murray looks strong off the bat, it remains to be seen how playing time in the backfield will be divvied up. Murray only had 193 carries (3.6 avg) last season, but he had his best year when he carried the rock for 392 times for Dallas in 2014.

Henry is a one-time starter who needs room to operate and build his acceleration. He will have the benefit of seeing fellow Tide backfield mate, Jalston Fowler, serving as the team’s lead blocker out of the backfield, but he will still have to vie for “scraps” that Murray leaves on the table. Further complicating the touches available for Tennessee players is the fact that Bishop Sankey, David Cobb, Dexter McCluster, Antonio Andrews, and David Fluellen will all be fighting for the two available slots behind Murray on the depth chart, though Sankey could be traded. Only time will tell if Henry can be a successful runner in the NFL and the same goes for his opportunity level in 2016.

Third Round – Kevin Byard, FS (Middle Tennessee State, No. 64 overall)

Kevin Byard (vertical)Ever since LeBeau became a coordinator, he has surrounded himself with smart, instinctive safeties. Last year, the Titans made a great move by securing the services of former Bills strong safety Da’Norris Searcy. Now, in Byard, they believe they have a ball-hawk free safety to pair with to Searcy’s hard-hitting style. Byard has nineteen interceptions to show for those ball-hawking skills at MTSU, but despite his pedigree and fine performances in practice at the 2016 Senior Bowl, he was not invited to this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. The Titans realized what he can offer, as he not only set the school all-time theft mark, but also returned those interceptions for 377 yards and four touchdowns.

Byard’s arrival does not mean he will be the instant starter at free safety, which is where Arizona castoff Rashad Johnson resides. His versatility (he played every secondary position in college) will see him be called upon to play the slot corner spot in passing situations and he could also be utilized as a Cover-2 linebacker vs. the run. All that stands in his way for playing time is a challenge from veteran Marqueston Huff, along with Daimion Stafford and Lamarcus Brutus for the two safety spots on the second unit.

Fifth Round – Tajae Sharpe, WR (UMass, No. 140 overall)

To hear Marcus Mariota and the offensive coaches during mini-camp, you’d think that they’d hit the lottery with this fifth round find. Nagging injuries limited the UMass receiver to eleven games last year, but he still pulled in 111 balls, breaking the school season-record. He also holds the career marks with 271 receptions for 3,348 yards. His addition gives Mariota another big, physical possession-type receiver, one with very reliable hands and excellent route-running ability.

Sharpe’s arrival could take playing time away from 2015 second rounder Dorial Green-Beckham, who will now compete with aging veteran Harry Douglas for outside receiver chores. Kendall Wright should line up outside on the right side, and Sharpe expected to challenge Miami castoff Rishard Matthews for the slot receiver role. The team plans on keeping five receivers, putting Douglas and 2013 second round pick Justin Hunter on the bubble. Ben Roberts, Tre McBride, Reece Horn and Andrew Turzilli all appear to be “warm bodies” for training camp at this position.

Fifth Round – Sebastian Tretola, OG (Arkansas, No. 193 overall)

Bell’s loss also gives Tretotala a great opportunity for playing time. Bell was also projected to serve as the top reserve guard, but that role will likely fall to the former Razorback. What Tretola lacks in athleticism, he makes up for with his high level of aggression, especially in the running game. He should easily steal away playing time from fellow Titans reserve blockers, Josue Matias, Andy Gallik, Quinton Spain, and Nick Ritcher. That quartet holds one distinction: none of them were ever drafted. The Titans also signed Ben Jones away from the Texans, but he was mainly brought in to challenge Schwenke for the center spot.

Dave-Te Thomas owns and operates The NFL Draft Report, a service which has provided insight to league scouting departments for over 40 years. All year round, can read Thomas’ in-depth reviews of both blue chip prospects and diamonds in the rough by visiting the NFL Draft Report blog. 

 

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Cut Damaris Johnson, Add 11 UDFAs

The Titans, one of the last teams in the NFL to formally announce their undrafted free agent class, have done so today, confirming in a press release that they’ve agreed to terms with 11 rookies who weren’t selected in the 2016 draft. The team announced that it has reached deals with six members of its ’16 draft class as well.

In addition to bringing in 11 undrafted free agents and locking up six draftees, the team also announced that it has waived two veteran players — wide receiver Damaris Johnson and cornerback Steven Clarke. A former Vanderbilt CB, Clarke spent last summer with the Dolphins but has never appeared in an NFL regular season game. Johnson, on the other hand, has played in 44 career contests, most notably catching 31 balls for 331 yards and a touchdown during the 2014 season for the Texans.

Here’s the complete list of the Titans’ 11 incoming UDFAs:

And here’s the list of Titans draft picks who have agreed to terms with the team so far:

First-round tackle Jack Conklin and second-round edge defender Kevin Dodd are among the draftees who have yet to finalize contracts with the club.