Taylor Decker

NFC Notes: Pioli, Falcons, Lions, Decker, Giants, Jones, Manning

Falcons front office exec Scott Pioli raised some eyebrows when he suddenly resigned the other day. Pioli had been an assistant GM and top lieutenant to GM Thomas Dimitroff, so it was a pretty significant departure. Pioli was the Chiefs’ general manager for four seasons before being canned, and he joined the Falcons in 2014. Rumors swirled about the circumstances surrounding his departure and whether he was forced out, but Pioli is insisting nothing happened. In an interview with Jeff Schultz of The Athletic, Pioli said “I’m fine. My family is fine. This was my choice and it’s just time. Time for what, I don’t know, yet,” he said somewhat cryptically.

Dimitroff backed up Pioli’s account, and said his resignation wasn’t to take another specific job. Still, it’s interesting timing considering recent reports that Arthur Blank, the Falcons’ owner, is getting restless with the direction of the franchise. Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn are under a lot of pressure to win in 2019, and if they don’t deliver they could be joining Pioli on the open market after the season. With his experience running a team, it’s possible Pioli could be a candidate for future GM openings.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Many members of the 2016 draft class are getting ready to sign extensions. One first round pick from that class who isn’t preparing for that is Lions left tackle Taylor Decker. Decker has battled injuries and inconsistency since Detroit took him with the 16th overall pick a few years ago, and knows he needs to show out the next couple of seasons. “In my mind, I’m going to play two more years before that’s going to happen,” Decker said, referring to a new contract, per Nate Atkins of MLive.com. The Lions recently exercised the fifth-year option on Decker, meaning he’s under team control through the 2020 season. Atkins writes that the team’s current plan is “waiting and seeing” with Decker, and that they aren’t completely sold on him. Decker has been solid but not spectacular during his time on the field, and his development will be very interesting to monitor in 2019.
  •  The conventional wisdom is that the Giants are 100 percent committed to Eli Manning as their starter in 2019, and quite possibly beyond. But in a recent piece, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com argues that Daniel Jones could be given the chance to supplant Manning before the season even begins. That would be in direct contrast with Giants brass’ stated intentions to sit and develop the sixth overall pick, but crazier things have happened. Florio writes that the “team’s hope that this happens could be hiding in plain sight,” referring to the potential for Jones to shine during training camp and the preseason and force them into playing him right away. It’s still very unlikely to happen, but it’s possible Manning’s place atop the depth chart isn’t quite as secure as everyone is assuming.

Lions Pick Up Taylor Decker’s Option

It’s officially official. On Monday, the Lions announced that they have picked up the fifth-year option on Taylor Decker‘s contract. With that, the offensive tackle is now under club control through the 2020 season. 

[RELATED: PFR’s 2020 Fifth-Year Option Tracker]

The fifth-year option enables teams to tack an additional year on to the standard four-year rookie contract for first-round picks. The additional year is guaranteed for injury only, giving the Lions an escape hatch if Decker regresses for non-health reasons.

After missing half of the 2017 season, Decker bounced back to start in all 16 games for the Lions last year. The advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus pegged him as the 36th best tackle in the NFL, giving the Lions enough confidence to extend his pact for another season.

You can keep track of every fifth-year option decision for 2016 first-round picks with PFR’s handy tracker.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Activate OTs Taylor Decker, Corey Robinson

The Lions have activated a pair of lineman today, adding some much-needed reinforcement to the unit. The team announced on Twitter that they’ve activated left tackle Taylor Decker off the PUP and tackle Corey Robinson off the injured reserve. To make room on the roster, the team has waived wideout Jace Billingsley (via Tim Twentyman on Twitter).

Taylor DeckerDecker suffered a shoulder injury way back during OTAs and subsequently underwent surgery on a torn labrum. A 2016 first-round pick, the Ohio State product started all 16 games last season, with Pro Football Focus rating him as one of the top offensive tackles in the game. Decker will surely be a welcome addition to a Lions’ offensive line that has allowed 26 sacks this season. Offseason addition Greg Robinson was brought in to replace the previously-injured Decker, but the lineman struggled during his tenure in Detroit and was waived-injured earlier this week.

“When Deck’s ready, Deck’s going to play,” head coach Jim Caldwell said earlier this week (via ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein). “There’s a reason why he’s here, a reason why we picked him where we picked him. He’ll play when he’s ready.”

Robinson, a 2015 seventh-round pick, appeared in 14 games (three starts) for the Lions last season. The 25-year-old has battled through a foot injury since the end of last year, forcing him to miss the majority of the 2017 campaign. Thanks to his ability to play both tackle spots, Robinson should slide in as a top reserve behind Decker and Ricky Wagner.

Billingsley, a 2016 undrafted free agent out of Eastern Oregon State, has appeared in two career games, compiling a pair of special teams tackles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Tackle Notes: Remmers, Hill, Decker, Staley

The Vikings will be without their starting right tackle when they go to Washington on Sunday. Mike Remmers has started all year long at the position, but will be unable to play because of a concussion he suffered during the team’s game two weeks ago, according to Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune. Backup tackle Rashod Hill will make his first start of his NFL career in the veteran’s place. Hill, 25, has played in 147 snaps, but seems comfortable with his new role given that he’s had a full week of practice to prepare.

“Oh yeah, it helps me a lot, man,” Hill said of practicing at right tackle all week. “Because unfortunately, when we were in London and Mike went down, I had been playing left [tackle] all week. So getting a full week down means getting a better feel for the plays.”

Hill is still in a difficult spot given that Remmers ranks as the 12th best tackle in all of football, according to Pro Football Focus.

  • Lions head coach Jim Caldwell told the media today that left tackle Taylor Decker is “close to returning”, as relayed by the team’s website. The second-year left tackle has been sidelined with a shoulder injury for the entire first half of the season with backup tackle Greg Robinson mainly taking over to protect Matt Stafford’s blindside. However, Detroit just released their backup offensive lineman earlier today, which clears the road for Decker to get back into the starting lineup in short order. Decker’s return will be a huge boost to a Lions team that is currently on the outside of the playoff picture. Decker started all 16 games for the Lions during his rookie campaign.
  • Another prominent offensive tackle looks likely to return from injury. 49ers veteran offensive lineman Joe Staley appears on track to play this Sunday after suffering an orbital fracture two weeks ago vs. the Eagles, according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Gate. Branch notes that Staley was expected to miss at least two weeks with the injury, but is now ahead of schedule with his recovery. The veteran will have to wear a visor in order to protect his injured eye, but seeing the 33 year-old tough out the pain is the reason why he’s been one of the best lineman in football over the past decade. The 49ers will attempt to win their first game of the season when take on the Giants at home this weekend.

Lions’ Taylor Decker Returns To Practice

Lions left tackle Taylor Decker will begin practicing on Wednesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) hears. It’s a big step forward for Decker, who began the season the PUP list. Taylor Decker (vertical)

When Decker takes the practice field, it will trigger a three-week window for the Lions to activate him. If, for some reason, he is not activated within those 21 days, the Lions will be unable to use him for the remainder of the year.

Decker was said to have a four-to-six month timeline when he suffered his shoulder injury in June and he has progressed well in his recovery. The Lions are eager to get the 23-year-old back on the field, particularly given the way fill-in Greg Robinson has performed. Robinson currently ranks as the fourth-worst qualified tackle in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. To make matters worse, both Robinson and reserve Emmett Cleary missed Sunday’s game with ankle injuries and their status is uncertain for Monday night against Green Bay.

As a rookie, Decker was rated as the 23rd-highest tackle out of 78 qualified players, per PFF.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Vikings, Floyd, Lions, Eagles

Given that wide receiver Michael Floyd‘s four-game suspension will conclude this Sunday, the Vikings will need to make a roster move in order to clear space for the veteran pass-catcher, as Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press writes. Clubs are typically given roster exemptions when a player returns from a ban, so Minnesota will likely have until Wednesday or Thursday to make a transaction. The most likely candidates to be removed from the Vikings’ active 53 appear to be rookie wideouts Rodney Adams and Stacy Coley, per Tomasson, as neither has played much during the 2017 campaign. Floyd, 27, inked a one-year, $1.41MM deal with Minnesota that didn’t include any guaranteed money.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • The Lions expect left tackle Taylor Decker to return from a shoulder injury in late October or early November, according to Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. Originally given a four-to-six month timeline when injured in June, Decker has been progressing well in his recovery, and nearly every report on his timetable has been positive. Because he’s on the physically unable to perform list, Decker is required to miss at least six games before returning to action. Detroit has a bye in Week 7, however, so the earliest he can realistically come back is Week 9 against the Steelers, as Meinke details. Trade acquisition Greg Robinson has started in Decker’s stead, but he’s graded as the league’s second-worst tackle, per Pro Football Focus.
  • Linebacker Mychal Kendricks was finally able to play in more than half the Eagles‘ defensive snaps in Week 3 following an injury to fellow defender Jordan Hicks, and Kendricks wasn’t able to stifle his frustration at typically being only a base-package player. “I haven’t been able to play,” Kendricks said, per Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I could have been doing this. … You only have so much time to do this [stuff], man.” Kendricks, who posted seven tackles and two passes defensed last Sunday, has frequently been mentioned in trade rumors but hasn’t been moved.
  • In case you missed it, the NFL suspended Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan two games for his brutal hit on Packers wide receiver Davante Adams on Thursday Night Football.

North Notes: Burfict, Bears, Packers, Decker

Vontaze Burfict‘s Bengals contract calls for a $2MM roster bonus if he’s on the team by March 31 of next year, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. The Bengals protected themselves heavily with the Burfict extension, one that could pay out $33.234MM through 2020, since the deal comes with just $3.3MM guaranteed. Speaking publicly about the extension for the first time, Burfict didn’t elaborate much about his decision to bypass free agency for a largely non-guaranteed deal. Although, he did say he appreciates the Bengals’ support in agreeing to take him on long-term given his suspension history. “I hope so,” Burfict said (via Owczarski) of the feeling of support. “I give my blood, sweat and tears out on the field. It’s vice versa. I appreciate everything they do for me and my family and like I said, let’s go get a win on Sunday. Now we’re in for four more years, so we’re past it now. So now obviously just win some games.”

The Bengals reinstated Burfict on Thursday.

Here’s the latest from the North divisions on a night when their most storied rivalry takes center stage.

  • The BearsTarik Cohen pursuit began when Ryan Pace‘s top southeastern scout declared the then-North Carolina A&T running back was his favorite player to watch, over all of the SEC prospects he observed, and the Chicago GM soon became enamored as well, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link). The Bears selected several small-school talents this year, with second-round tight end Adam Shaheen being the first, but Cohen — a fourth-rounder — has played an impact role from the start.
  • While Cohen will receive his first chance to display the elusiveness that enticed the Bears to a national audience, the Packers will be down several key players. Both starting tackles — David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga — are out, and Mike Daniels will miss the Week 4 tilt as well. The Packers are already down would-be backup options in Don Barclay, Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy — each on IR — so Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com tweets a four-guard lineup could be on tap. Justin McCray, who started at tackle for Bakhtiari in Week 2, and fellow rookie Adam Pankey join second-year player Lucas Patrick in the mix to protect Aaron Rodgers on Thursday. Each of those players entered the league as a UDFA. The Packers played without both starting tackles against the Falcons, with Murphy and McCray receiving the replacement starts.
  • The Bears aren’t judging Mike Glennon in their impending quarterback swap but rather are monitoring Mitch Trubisky to determine when the rookie will be ready to take over, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune writes. Glennon has struggled during his first three starts, and Biggs categorizes the season’s plan — once based around Trubisky redshirting as a rookie — as a week-to-week arrangement.
  • Ka’Deem Carey‘s Bears injury settlement was worth $273,529, Biggs reports. The Bears placed the backup running back on IR just before the season, and the settlement came shortly after.
  • Not known for particularly expansive pressers, Jim Caldwell succinctly assessed Taylor Decker‘s status. The fourth-year Lions coach said Decker is “progressing towards” a midseason return, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. The left tackle was given a four- to six-month timetable upon a labrum tear in June. Midseason would fall in that range. Greg Robinson currently mans the left edge for the Lions.
  • Tests done on Danny Shelton‘s injured calf don’t look to reveal a serious malady, Rapoport tweets. The Browns defensive tackle injured the calf in practice Wednesday. He has not missed a game in his three-year career.

Lions Set 53-Man Roster

The Lions have met the NFL’s 53-man maximum requirement by making the following transactions:





Placed on non-football injury list:

Placed physically unable to perform list:

Lions Notes: Stafford, Quin, Caldwell, Decker

Although “internal optimism” exists regarding the Lions’ extension talks with quarterback Matthew Stafford, the veteran signal-caller says there’s “no timetable” guiding the negotiations, according to Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com (Twitter link). Although Stafford admitted that his agent Tom Condon is currently discussing a deal with Detroit, he told reporters he wasn’t sure if he’d allow negotiations to continue once the regular season gets underway, as Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com reports. Last month, Lions president Rod Wood implied he’d be “comfortable” making Stafford the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback, which would mean agreeing to an annual salary north of $25MM.

Here’s more from the Motor City:

  • Extension discussions are also underway between the Lions and safety Glover Quin, and Quin is confident an agreement will ultimately be hammered out, tweets Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. Quin, 31, is entering the final season of a five-year, $23.5MM pact he signed prior to the 2013 campaign. Next season, he’s scheduled to a $4MM base salary and a $1MM roster bonus while carrying a cap charge of ~$7.828MM. Quin’s annual salary of $4.7MM ranks just 27th among NFL safeties.
  • Lions head coach Jim Caldwell is also entering the final year of his contract, but he’s not worried about serving out the season as a lame-duck head coach, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. “I don’t even worry about it and I think I’ve tried to explain pretty well to you guys that there hasn’t been a time in my life where you operate under certain things,” Caldwell said. “You never know if you have a 15-year contract, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to be fired tomorrow. So you always got to perform.” Through four seasons as Detroit’s head coach, Caldwell has posted a 27-21 regular season record and lead the club to two NFC Wild Card appearances.
  • Injured left tackle Taylor Decker is no longer wearing a sling and is “on track” in his rehab from a torn labrum, as Twentyman reports in a full article. Decker was projected to miss four-to-six months when he was originally injured in early June, meaning he could certainly be sidelined for the early portion of the 2017 season. In response, the Lions acquired former No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson from the Lions and signed ex-Bills offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio.

Taylor Decker Out 4-6 Months

The shoulder injury that Lions left tackle Taylor Decker incurred during organized team activities seems worse than initially feared. The 22-year-old suffered a torn labrum and will sit out four to six months, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Conor Orr of NFL.com). Decker now looks like a candidate to begin 2017 on the physically unable to perform list, which would cost the second-year man at least the first six weeks of the regular season.

Taylor Decker

Decker was the sturdiest member of Detroit’s O-line during his rookie season, starting each of the Lions’ games and joining quarterback Matthew Stafford as their only offensive players to line up for all 1,037 of the unit’s snaps. The first-round pick out of Ohio State was quite effective during that action, as Pro Football Focus assigned his performance the 23rd-highest grade out of 78 qualified tackles.

Not having Decker for the foreseeable future could force the Lions to shift right tackle Ricky Wagner to the left side and/or scour free agency for another viable option. The club did sign Tony Hills on Thursday, but the 32-year-old has just one start on his resume. Before adding Hills, Detroit visited with Cyrus Kouandjio, one of the top bookends on the market, though there’s no word on whether it’s interested in signing him. Other experienced free agents include Ryan Clady, King Dunlap, Austin Pasztor and Will Beatty. On the other hand, if the Lions stay in house to find their starter opposite Wagner, their choices are Hills, Cornelius Lucas and Joe Dahl. Those three have just seven starts among them.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.