Tavon Young

AFC North Notes: Browns, Burrow, Ravens

The Browns have not honored David Njoku‘s trade request. The former first-round pick enters his fourth season in Cleveland, and while Kevin Stefanski said he had not spoken with Njoku in several weeks, the first-year Browns coach noted he is eager to work with him.

My stance hasn’t changed. The organization’s stance hasn’t changed in that we believe in David, excited to work with him,” Stefanski said, via cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot. “I’ll get to finally be in the same room as him this weekend as he is coming in for physicals and then get out on the field with him Monday.”

Njoku has not lived up to his Round 1 billing yet, leading the Browns to give Austin Hooper a tight end-record contract. While Njoku’s unhappiness was reported to predate the team’s Hooper addition, he tweeted that he “loves Cleveland” while noting the game includes “a lot of complications.” Regardless, Njoku is set to earn $1.76MM this season. The Browns picked up his fifth-year option (worth $6MM) but can cut bait on that cost before the 2021 league year.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Despite the COVID-19 pandemic preventing teams from conducting on-field workouts throughout the offseason, the Browns have not changed their plan at tackle. First-round pick Jedrick Wills will begin his career as Cleveland’s starting left tackle, Stefanski adds. The Alabama product will make the interesting transition from college right tackle to NFL left tackle. Recently signed free agent Jack Conklin, a college left tackle, will continue his NFL right tackle work.
  • The Browns hired former Vikings QBs coach Kevin Rogers as a senior offensive assistant. Rogers was with the Vikings from 2006-10, which doubled as Stefanski’s first five years with the franchise, but has not coached since 2016. Rogers, 68, spent decades at the college level. He worked as the offensive coordinator for Syracuse (1991-98), Notre Dame (1999-2001) and Boston College (2011). His most recent gig was at alma mater William & Mary; that four-year stay ended after the 2016 season.
  • The Ravens will use Jimmy Smith in a matchup-based capacity. They are trying their longtime starting cornerback at safety and in the slot, John Harbaugh said. As of now, there is no plan to permanently move the veteran corner to safety. The Ravens are deep at cornerback, with Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey and slot man Tavon Young back in the fold. Young, however, has missed two of the past three full seasons. Harbaugh said the fifth-year corner is back to 100% after a neck injury last summer.
  • Ravens rookie UDFA tight end Jacob Breeland will miss the 2020 season, Harbaugh confirmed. The Oregon product was one of the top contenders for Baltimore’s No. 3 tight end spot, per The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec (subscription required).
  • As expected, Joe Burrow‘s rookie year will consist of on-the-job training. The Bengals will not give one of their more experienced QBs the first snaps as their starter in training camp. Burrow will take them, Zac Taylor said, per Marisa Contipelli of Bengals.com (on Twitter). Cincinnati returns 2019 draftee Ryan Finley and agreed to terms with fifth-year quarterback Brandon Allen, who worked with Taylor in Los Angeles.

Injury Notes: Ryan, Darnold, Dickson, Doctson

It doesn’t sound like Matt Ryan will be out for long. Falcons coach Dan Quinn said the veteran quarterback will start when the team returns from a bye in Week 10 (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). The coach also said Ryan would likely play this weekend if the team had a game.

Ryan suffered an ankle injury that forced him to miss Sunday’s game, the first time he’s been forced out of the lineup in a decade. The quarterback missed a pair of games during the 2009 season due to turf toe.

With the Falcons sitting at 1-7, it wouldn’t be shocking if the Falcons were a bit cautious with Ryan. On the flip side, the organization gave the quarterback more than $100MM in guaranteed money last year, and the veteran has still been plenty productive this season.

Let’s check out some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • We heard earlier today that Sam Darnold was set to play through his thumb injury, and the Jets quarterback elaborated on the issue. Darnold referred to the ailment as a “pain-tolerance thing … I should be fine,” according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini. Coach Adam Gase previously said that this is an injury Darnold will have to play through for the rest of the season.
  • Seahawks tight end Ed Dickson will practice this week, coach Pete Carroll told reporters (via ESPN’s Brady Henderson). Carroll added that Dickson is unlikely to make his season debut on Sunday The veteran has missed the first half of the season as he’s recovered from a knee injury. With Will Dissly out for the season, the offense will surely welcome back the tight end.
  • Vikings wideout Josh Doctson is set to return from injury this week, he told Darren Wolfson of 5Eyewitness News in Minny (via Twitter). The Redskins released the former first-rounder back in September, and he caught on with the Vikings soon after. The 26-year-old didn’t get into a game with Minnesota before landing on the IR with a hamstring injury.
  • Ravens cornerback Tavon Young underwent neck surgery, according to coach John Harbaugh (via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic on Twitter). Young suffered a neck injury prior to the season and was placed on IR. The 25-year-old signed a three-year, $25.8MM extension with Baltimore back in February. Meanwhile, rookie cornerback Iman Marshall returned to practice on Monday.

Ravens Move Down To 53

The Ravens minced their roster to 53 players, parting ways with UDFA Gerald Willis to get there. Baltimore also placed Tavon Young and Kenneth Dixon on IR.

Young suffered a neck injury recently and will miss a full season for the second time in three years. While Baltimore boasts a deep cornerback corps, losing its slot man again will not help the high-end defense’s cause. Dixon will head back to IR. The Ravens placed him on IR in September 2018 but used an IR-return slot on him. That will not be an option this year, which doubles as the running back’s contract slate.

Character concerns caused Willis, viewed as a high-Day 3-type prospect out of Miami, to go undrafted. He is now on the waiver wire.

Here are Baltimore’s cuts:

Placed on IR:

AFC North Notes: Ravens, Steelers, Browns

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh told reporters last week that slot cornerback Tavon Young could miss the 2019 season after suffering a serious neck injury, but the club hasn’t been given an update on the status of the 25-year-old defensive back. “Nothing definitive,” Harbaugh said, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). “It’s in the opinions of the doctors. I’m sure there are different ways of looking at it, so they’ll probably see how it goes in the next week or two or three, and see what the progress is.” If Young is sidelined for the upcoming campaign, Baltimore will likely deploy Brandon Carr in the slot, while Cyrus Jones is also a candidate to see work inside.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • John Ross will finally make his 2019 practice debut early next week, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor told reporters, including Ben Baby of ESPN.com (Twitter link). A hamstring injury has forced Ross to sit out of practice sessions thus far, but if the former ninth overall pick gets in two weeks of work, Taylor believes he’ll be ready for the season opener against the Seahawks. Cincinnati will already be without A.J. Green for the first few weeks of the season after the veteran pass-catcher suffered an ankle injury in July, so getting Ross on the field would be a boon to the club’s offense. Ross, 24, posted only 21 receptions a year ago but did haul in seven touchdowns.
  • More from Cincinnati, where receiver depth isn’t the only roster issue: Cordy Glenn has been diagnosed with a concussion, meaning the left tackle may not be ready for Week 1, tweets Jay Morrison of The Athletic. As a result, the Bengals — who have already lost rookie left tackle Jonah Williams (shoulder injury) and left guard Clint Boling (retirement), may be forced to use Andre Smith as Andy Dalton‘s blindside protector, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Smith, now in his fourth stint with the Bengals, does have some experience at left tackle, but the overwhelming majority of his NFL time has been spent on the right side.
  • Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton has posted a “tremendous” preseason and could have a significant role on Pittsburgh’s defense, according to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. Sutton has played so well that he could potentially overtake Mike Hilton as the team’s slot corner. At worst, Sutton is likely to serve as the Steelers’ third outside corner behind Joe Haden and Steven Nelson and play as a dime linebacker in six-defensive back looks. Sutton, a third-round pick out of Tennessee in 2017, played 113 defensive snaps during his rookie campaign and 240 last season.
  • The Browns now have three candidates to replace Kevin Zeitler at right guard, as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com writes. Veteran Eric Kush was thought to be leading the competition against 2018 second-round pick Austin Corbett, but rookie sixth-rounder Drew Forbes has also entered the mix. Per head coach Freddie Kitchens, the battle is still wide open. Corbett, though, hasn’t practiced at right guard in weeks, and is instead working as Cleveland’s backup center.

AFC North Notes: Burns, Young, Browns

Steelers CB Artie Burns, a 2016 first-round pick, was widely considered to be on the club’s roster bubble this summer, and even after he earned an $800K roster bonus at the end of July, there was still some chatter that he could be sent packing. But as Mark Kaboly of The Athletic writes, Burns has quieted those rumors with a strong training camp, and he excelled in Pittsburgh’s preseason contest against the Chiefs on Saturday. He is eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2020 since the Steelers declined his fifth-year option, and his contract year has gotten off to a great start. He now has a legitimate chance to be the team’s No. 3 corner.

Now for more from the AFC North:

  • Kaboly notes in a separate piece that the Steelers may be on the lookout for a veteran TE and/or punter on the free agent market.
  • Ravens slot corner Tavon Young may miss the entire 2019 campaign due to a serious neck injury, but Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic says Young is still weighing his options with respect to surgery (Twitter link). Initial reports suggested that Baltimore believes Young should get surgery, which would likely allow him to return at full-strength for the 2020 season, but Young remains undecided. If he doesn’t get surgery and allows the injury to heal on its own, he could potentially return in 2019, but if the injury doesn’t heal, he may miss some of 2020. Either way, he will almost certainly open this season on IR.
  • Ravens guard Marshal Yanda is dealing with an ankle/foot injury and will not play in either of the club’s remaining preseason games, as Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com tweets. However, HC John Harbaugh expects the seven-time Pro Bowler to be ready to go for Week 1.
  • Garrett Gilbert played well in the Browns‘ preseason victory over the Colts on Saturday, but head coach Freddie Kitchens foreclosed any potential chatter of a QB2 battle by declaring that Drew Stanton will be the club’s backup QB (via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com). Still, Cabot writes that Gilbert’s performance likely earned the AAF alumnus a spot on the roster.
  • Jaelen Strong was signed by the Browns in February, and he has played well over the past several weeks. He found the endzone in Saturday’s game, and Tony Grossi of ESPN.com suggests that the former Texans’ third-rounder is closing in on a roster spot (Twitter link).

Ravens CB Tavon Young Could Miss Season

Ravens slot corner Tavon Young could miss the entire 2019 season after suffering a “serious” neck injury in practice, head coach John Harbuagh told reporters, including Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link).

“Tavon has a more serious issue than we thought. He has a neck issue. It’s a disc issue. That’s a serious injury. He could be out for the remainder of the season. We’ll know soon. But it doesn’t look good for Tavon,” Harbaugh said, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

“There is an outside chance that you’d opt to try to see if it’ll heal. But I don’t think we’re recommending that right now. If he gets the procedure done, he’ll be fine and good to go. That’s probably the best thing to do.”

Any neck injury is inherently ominous, and the Ravens obviously view Young’s long-term health as a priority. But it doesn’t sound like the issue is a potential career-ender. Indeed, Harbaugh said that even if Young undergoes the surgery, he should be ready to play in 2020 (Twitter link via Hensley). If Young misses the 2020 campaign, he will have been sidelined in two of his four professional years — a torn ACL during summer workouts ended his 2017 season before it began.

When he has been healthy, however, Young has played like one of the best nickel cornerbacks in the NFL. The 2016 fourth-round pick has seen action on more than 1,400 snaps with the Ravens, managing two interceptions during that time. Among 22 qualifying slot corners, Young in 2018 ranked fifth in Pro Football Focus’ coverage snaps per reception. Meanwhile, the Ravens ranked eighth in DVOA against opposing slot receivers, per Football Outsiders.

Pleased with Young’s production, the Ravens signed him to a three-year, $25.8MM extension that will keep him under contract through 2022. At signing, Young’s pact made him the NFL’s highest-slot corner, although his $8.6MM annual average has since been topped by Justin Coleman, who landed a $9MM yearly salary on a free agent deal with the Lions.

Losing Young will hurt, but Baltimore boasts arguably the league’s best secondary and has the depth to withstand’s Young’s absence. Brandon Carr, who played 242 snaps in the slot in 2018, is probably the most likely candidate to take over inside in a configuration that would allow Marlon Humphrey and Jimmy Smith to play outside corner. Ravens coaches have also been impressed with Cyrus Jones‘ play in the slot, tweets Hensley.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens, Tavon Young Agree To Extension

The Ravens and cornerback Tavon Young have agreed to an extension, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (on Twitter). It’s a three-year, $25.8MM extension with a max value of $29MM, making him the NFL’s highest-paid nickel back, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets

Young was already signed through the 2019 season, but GM Eric DeCosta has made it a priority is to lock up some of the Ravens’ young players before they reach their walk years. Young is a rising star at slot cornerback and inking him to a new deal this week may prevent them from a much larger expenditure before the 2020 season.

The cornerback already had approximately $2MM on the books for 2019, so the “new money” for this deal comes in at $25MM+, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. All in all, that gives him a new money average of $8.6MM per year.

Young played much of last season with a sports hernia injury, but managed to gut it out and appear in 15 of the Ravens’ 16 regular season games. He proved to have a nose for the ball with three fumble recoveries, two of which were taken the other way for touchdowns. He also recorded an interception, giving him three in total for his career.

The former fourth-round pick graded out as the No. 75 cornerback in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus. The advanced metrics weren’t necessarily wild about him, but that ranking did place him above the likes of Morris Claiborne, Marcus Peters, and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Updates: Redskins, Smith, Ravens, Jefferson, Texans, Reid

Alex Smith to recover from the devastating leg injury he suffered midway through the 2018 season, and Redskins team president Bruce Allen recently provided an update, per Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Allen didn’t sound overly confident in Smith’s prospects of being ready for 2019, saying “If anyone can come back, it’s Alex”, but finishing with a “we’ll see.” He also left the door open to drafting a quarterback this April, and sounded as if the team is preparing for being without Smith.

He seemed open to the possibility of Colt McCoy starting, saying “we like Colt a lot.” McCoy initially filled in for Smith but soon went down with his own season ending leg injury. He was then replaced by Josh Johnson who looked a lot better than expected, but Allen didn’t mention Johnson at all in his comments. Smith was recently seen out in public for the first time since his injury, wearing a bulky apparatus on his injured leg.

Here are more injury updates from around the league:

  • Recently extended Ravens coach John Harbaugh spoke to the media today, and provided updates on several injured players, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Harbaugh said guard Alex Lewis, who recently underwent shoulder surgery, should be back by training camp, and that safety Tony Jefferson, linebacker Za’Darius Smith, and cornerback Tavon Young would all be out around 4-6 more weeks, putting them on track for OTA’s.
  • Texans rookie safety Justin Reid had a great rookie season, earning very high marks from Pro Football Focus, and he was playing hurt throughout the year. Reid had been dealing with wrist issues, and he will undergo wrist surgery, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. It’s unclear how long he’ll be sidelined, but it doesn’t sound like anything major and he should be ready in time for offseason work.
  • In case you missed it, the 49ers hope to have Jimmy Garoppolo throwing by OTA’s.

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. 

Tavon Young Suffers Torn ACL

Ravens cornerback Tavon Young suffered a torn ACL in practice on Thursday, costing the team a notable defender well before the start of the season, reports Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com.

Tavon Young

A fourth-round pick last year, Young became a key part of the Ravens as a rookie, appearing in all 16 of their games (11 starts) and finishing fifth among their defenders in snaps (832). The former Temple Owl hardly looked out of place during those snaps, either, ranking an impressive 26th in overall performance among Pro Football Focus’ 111 qualified corners. Young also racked up 50 tackles, two interceptions and eight passes defensed.

The loss of Young is the latest significant change to the Ravens’ secondary in advance of the upcoming season. The team added name-brand newcomers in fellow cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Marlon Humphrey, a first-round pick, as well as big-money safety Tony Jefferson. Those three figured to join Young, among others, as integral pieces of the Ravens’ defensive backfield in 2017, but Young now looks likely to miss most or all of the season. His role as Baltimore’s nickel corner will go to either Lardarius Webb or Maurice Canady, according to Hensley.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.