Tavon Wilson

Colts Sign Tavon Wilson

The Colts signed former Lions and Patriots safety Tavon Wilson, per a club announcement. The veteran can also feature at cornerback, giving Indy some additional depth across multiple positions.

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Wilson, who turned 30 this offseason, is coming off of one of the best seasons of his NFL career. In 2019, Wilson started in 13 games and notched 98 stops, five passes defensed, two fumbled recoveries, and one sack. The advanced metrics were also fond of his work, but his market dragged amidst the pandemic. He graded out as the No. 26 ranked qualified safety in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus, with a 71.8 overall score. That figure was his best showing since 2016, his first campaign with the Lions.

Wilson was a good fit for Matt Patricia‘s scheme, but the Lions chose not to bring him back. The Dolphins also gauged his interest in a minimum salary deal. Now, he’ll go to Indianapolis to fill the void after defensive backs Roland Milligan and Marvell Tell opted out of the 2020 season.

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AFC East Rumors: Dolphins, Wilson, Patriots, Jets

After Day 3 of the draft, the Dolphins added some safety depth and special teams help by picking up Kavon Frazier. But, before that, the Dolphins chatted with ex-Patriots safety Tavon Wilson about a minimum salary contract, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (on Twitter) hears. Wilson, who is presumably gunning for a better deal, declined.

With that, Frazier will fight for his place in the Dolphins’ sardine-packed safety group. Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Wilson will look for his next opportunity. Last year, Wilson made 13 starts for Detroit and registered 98 tackles, five passes defensed, two fumble recoveries, and one sack. Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus ranked him as the No. 26 safety in the entire NFL. Still, he hasn’t been able to score an offer to his liking and he hasn’t heard much, if anything, from the incumbent Lions.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • The Jets‘ draft has drawn positive reviews from most in the football world, but ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini isn’t sure if they did enough to strengthen the cornerback position. Jets GM Joe Douglas waited until the fifth round to take a corner and, when they did, they tapped Virginia product Bryce Hall, is coming off of ankle surgery. As Hall heals up, the Jets may look to explore what’s left of the league’s free agent cornerbacks.
  • Did the Patriots reach with third-round tight ends Devin Asiasi (UCLA) and Dalton Keene (Virginia Tech) in the third round? Mel Kiper Jr. and one scout that spoke with ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss say that’s the case, though Reiss notes that they were both near the top of the Pats’ TE board heading into draft weekend. On the whole, this was viewed as a soft TE class, but that was one of the Pats’ biggest needs. Of course, they’d be in a much better spot if Rob Gronkowski opted to make his return with New England. Instead, Gronk will reunite with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay.
  • On draft week, the Bills picked up Tre’Davious White‘s fifth-year option, a no-brainer move that will keep him in the fold through the 2021 season.

Lions’ Tavon Wilson Would Be “Happy” To Return

Lions safety Tavon Wilson would be “happy coming back to Detroit” (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein). Still, he says he’s excited to going through the free agent process and survey his options. 

Wilson, who will celebrate his 30th birthday on March 19, is coming off of one of the best seasons of his NFL career, so he’ll want to hear what other clubs have to offer him. In 2019, Wilson started in 13 games and notched 98 stops, five passes defensed, two fumbled recoveries, and one sack. The advanced metrics were also fond of his work. He graded out as the No. 26 ranked qualified safety in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus, with a 71.8 overall score. That figure was his best showing since 2016, his first campaign with the Lions.

As Rothstein notes, Wilson is a good fit for Matt Patricia‘s scheme, so the Lions would ideally like to hang on to him. Meanwhile, they’ve got other areas of need to address – with mystery surrounding Darius Slay‘s status, the Lions could embark on a cornerback search including players like longtime Broncos star Chris Harris or Cowboys CB Byron Jones.

On the other side of the ball, the Lions recently re-upped veteran receiver Danny Amendola.

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Lions’ Tavon Wilson Takes Pay Cut

Lions cornerback Tavon Wilson has accepted a pay cut to stay on board, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Instead of earning $2.15MM this year, he’ll make just $1MM. 

Last year, the Lions re-signed Wilson to a two-year, $7MM contract. In the first year of his new pact, Wilson was used mostly as a reserve and also saw some time on special teams.

Under the previous terms of his deal, the Lions could have released Wilson to save $2.9MM against $875K in dead money. Instead, Wilson will stay put with increased odds of making the final cut.

In other Lions news, the club met with free agent linebacker Manti Te’o this week.

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North Notes: Packers, Q. Diggs, Conner

We heard last month that the Packers would be going “back to Page 1” of their playbook, but as Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal writes, Green Bay is not going to be making any wholesale changes to its offense. In light of all of the new voices on the offensive side of the ball this year — Joe Philbin is back as OC, Frank Cignetti Jr. is in as quarterbacks coach, and there are several other staff changes besides — it made sense for all involved to thoroughly review the team’s play design and philosophy. But as Philbin said, “It’s been a process of refining, enhancing, tweaking, as opposed to, ‘Yeah we scrubbed it down.’ Yes, we went page by page. (But) we’re not starting from scratch here. These players in that locker room, they’ve done some great things.” 

Philbin, of course, is primarily referring to star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers indicated that verbiage has changed — and Philbin acknowledged that such changes were made in order to streamline the playcalling — and that has created something of a learning curve. But passing game Jim Hostler said that the goal is for the offense to look the same as it always has with Rodgers under center, even if there are some refinements and enhancements here and there.

Now for more from the league’s north divisions:

  • Opposing defenses were already treating Packers WR Davante Adams as the team’s No. 1 wideout last season, so the departure of Jordy Nelson will not represent much of a change in that regard, as Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com writes. But Green Bay has not (yet) signed a veteran wideout to replace Nelson, so Adams will need to take on a more active role in terms of leadership. The Packers drafted three receivers this year — one each in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds — and return 24-year-old Geronimo Allison as the presumed No. 3 WR on the depth chart, so Adams is suddenly the second-oldest player in the wide receiver room. He was not present for the start of OTAs, which caused some concern in light of his concussion history, but neither player nor team seem concerned about his availability. Head coach Mike McCarthy simply said Adams is “battling a couple things,” presumably minor injuries.
  • Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com says Quandre Diggs has a real chance to permanently supplant Tavon Wilson as the Lions‘ starting strong safety in 2018. Diggs, a former sixth-round selection, played well in that role last season, and Rothstein suggests he may even be the favorite to start at this point. Miles Killebrew, a former fourth-round choice, appears to be on the outside looking in and may need to continue to stand out on special teams to retain his roster spot.
  • James Conner, a feel-good story and 2017 third-round choice, is featuring prominently in Steelers‘ OTAs due to Le’Veon Bell‘s continued absence, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes. Conner showed flashes in his rookie campaign, which ended with a Week 15 MCL tear, but if he can cement himself as the team’s No. 2 back behind Bell this season — and he will need to improve in pass protection in order to do so — that could be the first step towards a starting job in 2019, depending on Bell’s contract situation.
  • John Ross is once again a full participant in the Bengals‘ OTAs, as Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer observes. Although Ross dropped a few passes, he also made some difficult grabs and is seeing a lot of passes come his way. Tyler Eifert, meanwhile, is a limited participant, but having both players involved at the beginning of full team work is a beautiful thing for Cincinnati fans.
  • Neil Stratton of InsideTheLeague.com (via Twitter) details a few more changes to the Browns‘ scouting department that were not covered several days ago.

Lions Re-Sign S Tavon Wilson

The Lions re-signed safety Tavon Wilson to a 2-year, $7MM deal, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Wilson was scheduled for free agency, but he’s now under contract with Detroit through the 2019 season. 

Wilson, who turns 28 this month, has appeared in 25 games for the Lions with appearances at both free safety and strong safety. Last year, he totaled 55 tackles, two sacks, and one interception.

The advanced metrics were not high on his play as Pro Football Focus ranked him as one of the ten worst qualified safeties in the NFL. In the year prior, however, he earned a strong 83.8 grade and was also held in high regard for his previous seasons with the Patriots. Old friend Bob Quinn brought him to Detroit after drafting him in New England and their partnership will continue for another two seasons.

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Top 2018 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. After looking at offense on Monday, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2018:

Edge defender:

  1. Julius Peppers
  2. William Hayes
  3. Trent Murphy
  4. Pernell McPhee
  5. Aaron Lynch
  6. Alex Okafor
  7. Adrian Clayborn
  8. Kony Ealy
  9. Connor Barwin
  10. Jeremiah Attaochu
  11. Junior Galette
  12. Derrick Shelby
  13. Barkevious Mingo
  14. Kareem Martin
  15. Erik Walden

As a positional group, pass rushers comprise interesting market on the defensive side of the ball. It’s not often that a list of best available players is topped by a 38-year-old, but Peppers is the top free agent edge defender after the Cowboys and Lions deployed the franchise tag on Demarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah, respectively. As with quarterbacks, NFL clubs are extremely reluctant to allow pass rushers to hit the open market, so top-tier options are rarely ever truly “available.” Peppers, for his part, hasn’t even declared whether he’ll return in 2018, but indications are that he’ll suit up for a 17th campaign after posting 11 sacks last year.

Alongside Peppers, other veterans populate the edge market, and while William Hayes may not be a household name, he’ll be a contributor for whichever team signs him. A stout run defender, Hayes is also capable of generating pressure despite managing only one sack in 2017. The Dolphins used Hayes on only 271 defensive snaps a season ago, and have since replaced him by acquiring fellow defensive end Robert Quinn from the Rams. Now that he’s entering his age-33 season, Hayes should come cheap, but will almost assuredly outplay his contract.

Nearly every other available pass rusher has some sort of flaw which will likely limit his market next week. Trent Murphy is only 27 years old and put up nine sacks in 2016, but he missed the entirety of the 2017 campaign with injury. Pernell McPhee, Alex Okafor, Junior Galette, and Derrick Shelby have also been plagued by health questions in recent seasons. And Adrian Clayborn famously registered the majority of his 2017 sacks (and 20% of his career sack total) in one game against overwhelmed Cowboys backup Chaz Green.

The two names that I keep coming back to are Aaron Lynch (49ers) and Jeremiah Attaochu (Chargers). Yes, Lynch has been suspended for substance abuse, struggled with his weight, and was reportedly in danger of being waived prior to last season. He’s also extremely young (he won’t turn 25 years old until Thursday) and ranked fifth in the league with 34 pass pressures as recently as 2015. Attaochu, a 25-year-old former second-round pick, also has youth on his side, and while he hasn’t quite flashed as much as Lynch, he’s also been buried on LA’s depth chart for much of his career.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Sheldon Richardson
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Muhammad Wilkerson
  4. Star Lotulelei
  5. DaQuan Jones
  6. Beau Allen
  7. Denico Autry
  8. Justin Ellis
  9. Tom Johnson
  10. Bennie Logan
  11. Chris Baker
  12. Kyle Williams
  13. Dominique Easley
  14. Haloti Ngata
  15. Jay Bromley

Interior rushers are getting more respect in today’s NFL, but that still hasn’t translated to them being paid on the level of edge defenders — the 2018 franchise tag for defensive tackles, for example, is roughly $3MM cheaper than the tender for edge rushers. While the 2018 crop of interior defenders boasts some impressive top-end talent, none of the available players figure to earn a double-digit annual salary. Sheldon Richardson may have the best chance to do so, but Seattle determined he wasn’t worth a one-year cost of $13.939MM, so is any other club going to pay him $10MM per year? I’d guess he comes in closer to $9MM annually, which would still place him among the 25 highest-paid defensive tackles.

Dontari Poe will be an intriguing free agent case after setting for a one-year deal last offseason, but the most interesting battle among defensive tackles will take place Star Lotulelei and Muhammad Wilkerson, and I’m curious to see which player earns more on the open market. Both are former first-round picks, and it’s difficult to argue Wilkerson hasn’t been the more productive player — or, at least, reached higher highs — than Lotulelei. Wilkerson also won’t affect his next team’s compensatory pick formula given that he was released, but his off-field issues, which include a reported lack of effort and problems with coaches, could limit his appeal.

While Beau Allen and Denico Autry are potentially candidates to be overpaid based on their youth, there are bargains to be had at defensive tackle. Tom Johnson is 33 but he’s offered consistent pressure from the interior for years — his last contract was for three years and $7MM, so he shouldn’t cost much this time around. Haloti Ngata was injured in 2017 but plans to continue his career, and he can still stop the run. And Dominique Easley was outstanding as a 3-4 end in 2016 before missing last season with a torn ACL, meaning the former first-round pick could be a value play for any number of teams.Read more

Lions S Tavon Wilson Done For Year

Lions safety Tavon Wilson will require shoulder surgery that will end his 2017 season, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links).Tavon Wilson (Vertical)

Wilson, 27, had started nine games and played on three-quarters of Detroit’s defensive snaps so far this season, but he hadn’t been effective, as he graded as a bottom-15 NFL safety, per Pro Football Focus. However, Wilson had been a solid starter as recently as 2016, and it’s fair to wonder if injuries — Wilson has now hurt his shoulder three times this year, per Birkett — have affected his level of performance.

Without Wilson on the active roster, the Lions will turn to 2016 fourth-round pick Miles Killebrew to play safety opposite Glover Quin. Killebrew has played roughly half of Detroit’s snaps in 2017 (and posted better results than Wilson, at least according to PFF’s metrics). With Quin playing at a Pro Bowl level as a deep safety, Killebrew will be asked to play closer to the line of scrimmage.

Wilson, a second-round pick of the Patriots in 2012, is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency next spring when his current two-year contract expires.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Bills, Taylor, Lions, Wilson

Here’s a look around the NFL:

  • Bills coach Sean McDermott says he is not considering a quarterback change, despite comments that made it seem as though he could move away from Tyrod Taylor (Twitter link via Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News). Taylor struggled against Jacksonville on Thursday night, leading some to speculate that rookie Nathan Peterman could step in as the starter. The Bills inked Taylor to a new two-year deal this past offseason, but they’re really only tied to him through 2017. Only $1MM of his $10MM salary in 2018 is guaranteed and he could theoretically be released before he can collect on his $6MM roster bonus early in the 2018 league year.
  • Lions coach Jim Caldwell says safety Tavon Wilson could still face a potential suspension for the civil lawsuit filed against him by his ex-girlfriend. “The league has the information,” Caldwell said (via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press). “They’ll look at, they’ll make a determination. If there’s an issue they’ll let us know. So that’s all we can do.” The woman claims that Wilson and his friends threw her to the ground and broke her nose, but the safety was not charged with any crimes relating to the May 2016 incident.
  • The Colts did not pursue Jeremy Zuttah as hard as the Ravens did, Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star (Twitter links) hears. The Colts also had a need for Zuttah in the wake of Ryan Kelly‘s injury, but their offer apparently didn’t measure up to Baltimore’s.

Tavon Wilson Sued, Accused Of Assault

Lions safety Tavon Wilson is being accused of punching an ex-girlfriend and is being sued for $2.5MM, TMZ reports (confirmed by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press). Alanda Jackson, who is the mother of Wilson’s child, recently filed the suit over the 2016 incident. The report indicated that the 27-year-old allegedly threw Jackson to the ground and punched her in the nose. A second victim is also suing Wilson, claiming that she was stabbed during the accident by the player’s “entourage.”

Tavon Wilson“We are aware of the report regarding Tavon Wilson,” the team said in a statement. “We have spoken to Tavon and we have also notified the league office of this matter. Due to the personal nature of this situation, we will have no additional comment at this time.”

As Justin Rogers of the Detroit News notes (via Twitter), the organization has traditionally had a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence, perhaps putting Wilson’s future in Detroit in doubt.

Following four seasons with the Patriots, Wilson joined the Lions prior to last season. He went on to play in 15 games (14 starts) during the 2016 campaign, collecting a career-high 89 tackles to go with one sack and two interceptions. If Wilson is ultimately cut loose by the team, Miles Killebrew and/or Don Carey would presumably see a more significant role on defense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.