Tashaun Gipson

Texans Activate J.J. Watt

J.J. Watt is back. Officially.

On Tuesday, the Texans formally activated their star defender, per a club announcement. Watt will return to the field for Wild Card weekend to face the Bills on Saturday.

Watt was double-teamed 30% of the time on his edge rusher snaps this year, more than any other qualifying player in the NFL. He still managed to tally four sacks and 24 tackles in eight games, up until he tore his pectoral muscle. Typically, pec surgery rules players out for three or four months, but Watt beat out the doctor’s prognosis by a wide margin.

Re-injury risk does exist here, but Watt encountering such a scenario would not jeopardize his status for Week 1 of next season. The Texans have been without their future Hall of Fame pass rusher, and their pass rush has suffered. Watt’s 21 QB hits led the league at the time of his injury, and 5.5 of Whitney Mercilus‘ 7.5 sacks came during the seven games in which Watt played from start to finish.

This will obviously increase the Texans’ chances of winning their first playoff game in three years. Houston had Watt for its 2018 wild-card game against Indianapolis but lost. Watt did not play in the Texans’ two 2016 playoff games. He’s the only player in NFL history to record two 20-plus-sack seasons, so this transaction will alter the Bills’ game plan.

To make room for Watt, the Texans placed safety Tashaun Gipson on injured reserve. The veteran had 51 tackles and three interceptions in 14 games this season. Gipson suffered a transverse process fracture in his back, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes. The former Browns and Jaguars starter signed a three-year, $22.5MM deal with the Texans this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Gipson, Quinn, Thomas, Ryan

Texans safety Tashaun Gipson is expected to return to the lineup this week, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Gipson has missed the team’s previous two games after sustaining a back injury in Week 7. Houston has won both games without their starting safety, but set to go up against the Ravens and their dynamic offense, the team hopes to be as close to full strength as possible.

Here’s some more notes from the NFC and AFC South:

  • Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has relinquished defensive play-calling duties, according to Darin Gantt of NBC Sports. It appears that assistant head coach Raheem Morris and linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich are now responsible for sharing the duties. Given Atlanta’s atrocious start to the season defensively, it makes sense that the staff decided to make a change. While the team remains just 2-7 on the season, they are coming off their strongest performance of the season in a dominating 26-9 victory against the Saints.
  • Two AFC South rivals could be welcoming back some depth in the coming weeks. Texans tight end Jordan Thomas and Jaguars linebacker Jake Ryan have both returned to practice for their respective teams, according to Howard Balzer. Both players were placed on the injured reserve with a designation to return earlier this season. They will now be allowed to practice for up to 21 days before they must be added to the 53-man roster or must return to the injured reserve for the remainder of the year.

Texans Notes: Gaine, Caserio, Clowney, Mathieu

Former Texans general manager Brian Gaine‘s firing shouldn’t be attributed to his inability to sign Jadeveon Clowney, writes Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. We heard last week that the former executive had made “zero” progress on an extension for the former number-one pick, and a lack of development may have played a role in his firing.

However, Breer said there wasn’t any organizational disagreement over the handling of Clowney. The team was interested in signing the linebacker on their terms, and they were content opting for the franchise tag. For what it’s worth, we learned earlier today that Clowney is not expected to attend the team’s mandatory minicamp. The three-time Pro Bowler has yet to sign the franchise tender as he continues to push for a multiyear pact.

So what was the main reason for Gaine’s firing? Breer points to a lack of “fit” and “alignment,” as the former general manager didn’t share the same vision as head coach Bill O’Brien. Furthermore, the reporter believes the team’s current pursuit of Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio also played a role in the decision.

Let’s check out some more notes out of Houston, all via Breer…

  • Speaking of Caserio, his relationship with O’Brien and executive vice president of team development Jack Easterby could play a role in him leaving New England. There’s been a perception that Caserio wouldn’t leave the Patriots, but the reporter points out that the executive had been closing to leaving before (he considered taking the Dolphins’ gig in 2014). Breer wonders if the Texans could also look to Patriots college scouting director Monti Ossenfort or former Patriots executive (and current Falcons assistant GM) Scott Pioli for the role.
  • There also wasn’t an organizational disagreement over the handling of Tyrann Mathieu. The team recognized that the Pro Bowl safety had lofty monetary demands, and they never intended to go as far as the three-year, $42MM deal he received from the Chiefs this offseason. Meanwhile, the coaching staff has been happy with Gaine’s replacement for Mathieu, Tashaun Gipson.
  • Following Gaine’s signing of a five-year extension in 2018, the majority of his moves have actually been lauded by the front office and coaching staff. Breer points to the one-year deal for Mathieu, and he also notes the general manager’s ability to add productive rookies (receiver Keke Coutee and safety Justin Reid) in the 2018 draft despite not having a first- or second-rounder. While his inability to add a competent offensive line in front of Deshaun Watson certainly played a role in his firing, Breer opines that the forced trade of Duane Brown wasn’t the GM’s decision.
  • The Texans coaching staff has been happy with second-round offensive tackle Max Scharping and third-round tight end Kahale Warring. They’re also a “big fan” of first-rounder Tytus Howard. However, many pundits believe the Howard selection was a bit of a reach, and Breer wonders if O’Brien and Easterby’s Patriots’ philosophy clashed with Gaine’s eventual decision (as the two would have preferred trading back).

Texans To Sign S Tashaun Gipson

The Texans let Tyrann Mathieu walk, but they moved quickly in bringing in another safety. Houston has agreed to terms with safety Tashaun Gipson, sources told Dianna Russini of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The deal is worth $22MM over three years, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter).

The Texans are stealing Gipson away from their division rival, as Gipson has spent the past three seasons with the Jaguars. Jacksonville released Gipson on Friday. Gipson signed a five-year, $36MM deal with the Jaguars in 2016, but was cut loose with two years still left to go on that deal.

He had been scheduled to make north of $8MM in 2019 before being released, and it’ll be very interesting to see what Houston gave him. An undrafted free agent in 2012, Gipson spent the first four years of his career with the Browns. He’s had some very good seasons, and made the Pro Bowl in 2014.

He received above average marks from Pro Football Focus last year, earning PFF’s 37th-highest grade among all safeties. He’s been very durable, starting all 48 possible games since he joined the Jaguars. His production was down last year, but in 2017 he had four interceptions. Safeties have been flying off the board early in free agency, with Mathieu, Eric Weddle, Adrian Amos, and Landon Collins all inking new deals. Earl Thomas is the last of the huge names on the market, with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Tre Boston still available as well.


Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Won’t Sign Tashaun Gipson

The Packers had talks with safety Tashaun Gipson, but it appears he will be signing elsewhere, a source tells Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel (on Twitter). It’s not clear whether Gipson’s asking price was too high for Green Bay or if he simply preferred another team, but the Packers were interested in meeting with him. 

[RELATED: Packers Might Not Be Match For Dee Ford]

Reading between the lines, this could mean that Gipson is on the verge of signing elsewhere. Released by the Jaguars late last week, Gipson was expected to have a strong market for his services.

Free agency officially begins on Wednesday, but Gipson has an early jump on the competition thanks to his Friday release. That’s excellent news for Gipson, because this year’s free agent safety market is positively stacked.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Release Tashaun Gipson

It’s a bloodbath in Jacksonville. On Friday, the Jaguars released safety Tashaun Gipson, according to ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: Jaguars Release Malik Jackson]

Word of Gipson’s release comes moments after the club dropped defensive tackle Malik Jackson and running back Carlos Hyde. Between the three transactions, the Jags have saved a total of $23.2MM in salary cap space for the coming year.

Heading into Friday, the Jaguars had less than $3MM in breathing room, so the trio of cuts will make a world of difference for the Jags. By the same token, the Jaguars will have to find someone to replace Gipson – a reliable starter – in the secondary.

Gipson was due upwards of $8MM in 2019 but teams still called on him prior to his release, so he figures to find a healthy market in the coming days. The 28-year-old (29 in August) started in every possible game for the Jaguars since joining the squad in 2016. In 2018, he racked up 54 tackles, one interception, and seven passes defensed playing primarily at free safety. For Gipson’s efforts last year, Pro Football Focus ranked him as the No. 37 safety in the NFL, placing him ahead of notables like T.J. McDonaldLandon Collins, and Duron Harmon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Teams Inquiring On Jaguars’ Tashaun Gipson

Teams have called the Jaguars to inquire about safety Tashaun Gipson, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The belief around the league is that he is available, Rapoport adds. 

Gipson is due upwards of $8MM in 2019 and the Jaguars are in a bit of a cap crunch. On the other hand, Gipson has proven to be a reliable starter so the Jags, ideally, would like to keep him.

Gipson, 29 in August, has started in every possible game for the Jaguars since joining the squad in 2016. Last year, he racked up 54 tackles, one interception, and seven passes defensed playing primarily at free safety. In 2018, Pro Football Focus ranked Gipson as the No. 37 safety in the NFL, placing him ahead of notables like T.J. McDonald, Landon Collins, and Duron Harmon.

There are still two years to go on Gipson’s five-year, $36MM contract with cap numbers of $9.05MM and $9.3MM in each of the next two seasons. He’s scheduled to collect on a $500K roster bonus on March 17, so the Jaguars will probably aim to make something happen in the next eleven days or not trade him at all.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Jets, Goodell, Burfict, Prosise

The Jets have no plans to bench Josh McCown in favor of youngster Christian Hackenberg, as NJ.com’s Connor Hughes writes. “This isn’t Triple-A,” quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates said Tuesday. “We’re going to play the best players that give us an opportunity to win at all positions. That’s our philosophy. Josh is our starter.”

Though just 1.5 games behind Buffalo for the AFC’s last wildcard spot, New York is sitting last in the East with a 4-6 record and might be better served seeing what the team has in Hackenberg or Bryce Petty sooner rather than later with McCown, at 38 and on a one-year deal, obviously not the team’s future at the position.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • League spokesman Joe Lockhart says the impetus for signing commissioner Roger Goodell to a new deal despite having 18 months remaining on his current contract were a series on notable events on the horizon, according to ESPN’s Jim Trotter (Twitter link) Those milestones include the new collective bargaining agreement in 2020 and network TV deals in 2021 and 2022. “Sense that getting an extension beyond those dates was in the best interest of (NFL),” Lockhart said.
  • Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict will not be suspended for making contact with a referee in Sunday’s game vs. Tennessee, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. Instead, it will be reviewed using the standard process for a possible fine. Burfict was ejected from the game after picking up a pair of personal-foul penalties on one drive midway through the second quarter.
  • 49ers safety Adrian Colbert could possibly miss the team’s upcoming game with Seattle after breaking his thumb vs. New York, coach Kyle Shanahan tells reporters and ESPN’s Nick Wagoner (Twitter link). The injury, which will require surgery, was sustained early in the first quarter but Colbert managed to play the rest of the way. Should he not be ready for the Seahawks, Antone Exum and Dexter McCoil are potential replacements, according to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco (Twitter link).
  • Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson is happy to have left Cleveland and hopes Jacksonville can “hang 40 on them” when the team’s meet up this weekend, writes ESPN’s Michael DiRocco. The veteran defender spent his first four seasons with the Browns before joining the Jags in 2016 and apparently still harbors some ill feelings to the organization, which he also criticized for not drafting Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson.
  • Seahawks running back C.J. Prosise could return in time for the postseason, head coach Pete Carroll told reporters, including Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times. The coach said the injury will have Prosise sidelined six weeks, but he must sit out eight games after being placed on IR.

Extra Points: Foles, Redskins, Orr

Nick Foles, currently listed as the Rams‘ No. 3 quarterback on the team’s depth chart (per Roster Resource), is a prime trade candidate, and as Vincent Bonsignore of The Los Angeles Daily News tweets, nothing has changed in that regard. Bonsignore notes that, barring a last-second trade, the plan is to bring Foles to training camp and to wait for another club to have a need open up at quarterback as a result of injury or underperformance. At that time, Los Angeles hopes to deal Foles to such a quarterback-needy team. And, because the Rams already paid out Foles’ guaranteed $6MM roster bonus, an acquiring club would only be on the hook for Foles’ $1.75MM base salary, which is certainly a palatable figure for a backup quarterback. Also, since the $6MM roster bonus is already a sunk cost, the Rams could simply cut Foles if they cannot find a trade partner during camp.

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from around the league:

  • The Redskins‘ cornerback competition will be a fascinating one to watch this summer, as Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com writes. Tandler observes that the maximum number of corners Washington can keep without creating a major numbers squeeze elsewhere is five, and Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller, and Quinton Dunbar are all virtual locks to make the club. That means that the team will have to cut a player it would prefer to keep, or else try to sneak such a player onto its practice squad. Dashaun Phillips, Greg Toler, and rookie Lloyd Carrington will all battle for that fifth spot, and Toler is the only member of that trio without practice squad eligibility.
  • Ravens‘ third-year inside linebacker Zach Orr will be under the microscope in training camp, as Clifton Brown of CSNMidAtlantic.com writes. Orr is currently the favorite to start alongside fellow ILB C.J. Mosley, but despite the fact that his playing time increased late in the 2015 season, he is still largely unproven. If he should struggle, the Ravens could turn to Albert McClellan, Arthur Brown, or (more likely) a free agent.
  • After Isaiah Crowell made headlines for all the wrong reasons last week, many Browns fans have clamored for his release. Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, however, confirmed that Cleveland will not cut Crowell at this time. She says the club believes his public apology was sincere and adds that the Browns will give him a chance to be part part of the solution instead of the problem. Crowell will be donating $35K to the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation and will continue doing “other things in the community” to atone for his mistake.
  • Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com continues his ongoing series on each club’s best and worst contracts. In his opinion, Tashaun Gipson‘s five-year, $36MM deal is the most team-friendly contract on the Jaguars‘ books, while Julius Thomas‘ five-year, $46MM contract is the worst.

AFC South Notes: Ferguson, Jaguars, Titans

The Colts did not do much conventionally to add depth to their backfield this offseason, leaving them with no obvious change-of-pace option behind 33-year-old Frank Gore. But the team did place a high priority on signing UDFA Josh Ferguson, a player a source told Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star the Colts eyed as high as the fourth round.

Indianapolis took defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway and linebacker Antonio Morrison with their two fourth-round selections and continued to address issues on both sides of their line in the fifth and seventh rounds. The Colts, though, immediately turned their attention to the versatile Illinois running back by telling Ferguson’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, to “name his price” when it came time to add UDFAs.

Ferguson ended up signing for $35K guaranteed with a $10K signing bonus. Holder adds that the versatile ball-carrier’s compensation package was one of the league’s most lucrative proposals offered to a 2016 undrafted player. He’ll still earn the league minimum at $450K if he makes the team, but given that Indianapolis doesn’t house many deterrents to that occurring, the former crafty Big Ten pass-catcher could well see the latter amount instead of a practice squad salary.

As Roster Resource details, the Colts’ contingent behind Gore consists of Robert Turbin, Jordan Todman, Trey Williams and Tyler Varga, so the shifty Ferguson — who totaled 4,093 yards from scrimmage from 2011-15, including making 168 career receptions for 1,507 yards and eight touchdowns — will have an easier route to a roster spot than most UDFA running backs will this summer.

Here’s the latest on the Colts’ top rivals.

  • In projecting the Jaguars‘ 53-man roster, Jacksonville.com’s Ryan O’Halloran projects Sen’Derrick Marks to lose his starting job and instead tabs Roy Miller to play alongside Malik Jackson at defensive tackle, with Jared Odrick and Dante Fowler Jr. lining up with the first-string ends. Jackson hasn’t played defensive tackle since 2013 with the Broncos, but the highly coveted performer served as a disruptive presence for the AFC champions that year. He’s played three positions in the past three years, shifting to 4-3 end in 2014 and 3-4 end last season. Marks tore his ACL to close the 2014 season and saw knee and triceps injuries limit him to four games in 2015, so the former ascending talent’s star has fallen to some degree.
  • With another big year, Allen Robinson should see a deal that pays north of $25MM in guaranteed money, O’Halloran writes. Considering the Jags paid their second-best Allen pass-catcher $20MM guaranteed when Allen Hurns signed for four years and $40MM earlier this month, $25MM would be an easy floor should Robinson produce a similar season in 2016. Not yet 23, he’s nearly two years younger than Hurns and is coming off a 1,400-yard, 14-touchdown season.
  • Tashaun Gipson didn’t exactly deviate from the norm when he said he was excited to leave the Browns and join the Jaguars because he wanted to play for a winning team. Players often are quick to praise the teams that just agreed to pay them, regardless of their recent accomplishments. But the fifth-year safety explained on a Sirius XM Radio appearance (Facebook link) that while the Jags haven’t been a winning team in many years, their collection of talent has placed the team in a position to win. “A lot of people didn’t understand that. It doesn’t mean that, ‘Hey, I’m coming to the Jaguars, we just came off a Super Bowl.’ But I know what it looks like when you’re changing an organization and you turn this thing around and you’ve got all those pieces in the right part,” Gipson said. “And I think that, when you look at this organization, yeah they were 5-11 last year, but a lot of the things that needed to be addressed were addressed in free agency and the draft, as everybody knows.” Jacksonville hasn’t pieced together a winning season since 2007, when David Garrard quarterbacked them to an 11-5 record and a divisional playoff game.
  • The Titans will look to use their No. 1 position in the waiver hierarchy to add offensive line depth, Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com writes. While Tennessee does have some depth on its interior line given that the loser of the Brian SchwenkeJeremiah Poutasi left guard competition will be a quality backup, not much else in terms of seasoning exists.
  • Despite going into only his second year with the Texans, Cecil Shorts accepted a pay cut on Saturday.