Terron Armstead

Saints Rumors: Okafor, Teddy, Armstead

A clause in Alex Okafor‘s Saints contract will allow for the veteran edge defender to gauge his worth again. Okafor signed a two-year deal to stay with the Saints earlier this year, but by registering three sacks this season, he can opt out of his contract and become a free agent, Nick Underhill of The Advocate reports. The starter opposite Cameron Jordan all season, Okafor collected four sacks in New Orleans’ first 15 games. He has until 11am on the final day of the 2018 league year to notify the Saints if he is to opt out of the deal, Underhill adds. Okafor was a free agent in both 2017 and ’18. The Saints drafted Marcus Davenport in the 2018 first round and have Jordan signed through 2020. Okafor would count $4.85MM against the Saints’ 2019 cap.

Were he to opt out, there might be more money awaiting. Okafor has stayed healthy this season and has 8.5 sacks in his two Saints years. With the top-tier free agents-to-be likely not set to leave their current teams, Okafor and second-tier peers will be the next-best options for teams looking to the market to upgrade. Of course, he has not cleared 4.5 sacks since 2014, so expectations for the 27-year-old defender’s next deal should be tempered.

Here’s the latest out of New Orleans:

  • On the subject of Saints who could become UFAs, Teddy Bridgewater is going to make his first start since a 2015 wild-card game. The Saints announced Bridgewater will start for Drew Brees. The Saints have already secured NFC home-field advantage. This game now becomes an interesting audition for a player who could be one of the most attractive free agent quarterbacks in March. Both Mike Zimmer and Bill Parcells, who serves as a mentor to Bridgewater, recommended the passer to Sean Payton, Mike Triplett of ESPN.com notes. The Saints sent a third-round pick to the Jets for Bridgewater, so it would make sense if they tried to keep him as the Brees heir apparent. But with several teams likely in the market for younger starter-level options, the Saints may not be able to afford Bridgewater, especially if he plays well against the Panthers.
  • Against the Steelers, Terron Armstead aggravated the pectoral injury that caused him to miss five games. Unsurprisingly, the Saints’ left tackle starter is out for Sunday’s meaningless regular-season finale. It’s not clear how severe this setback was, but Armstead did not guarantee he would be back in time for New Orleans’ playoff opener in just more than two weeks. The Pro Bowl blocker hopes to return by then, Christopher Dabe of NOLA.com notes. Jermon Bushrod started for Armstead during his initial hiatus.
  • These playoffs will be it for Ben Watson. The tight end playing another season could have made him the first pure tight end to play at age 39, unless Antonio Gates returns in 2019, but Watson will retire after the season — his 15th.

Extra Points: Ravens, Griffin, Texans, Saints

It’s been a long road for Robert Griffin III. After he was released by the Redskins, Griffin wound up in Cleveland as the Browns’ starting quarterback in 2016. He was immediately injured and ended up playing only a few games, and was released after the year. After that he spent the entire 2017 season out of football, and it looked like his career might be coming to an end. But then Griffin inked a deal with the Ravens out of nowhere this past spring, and made the team. While he’s been the third stringer behind Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson and inactive most of the season, Griffin is just happy to be back in the league, and he described his journey in a recent sit down with Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.

“It’s been special because I was not guaranteed a roster spot at the beginning of the year. I had a non-guaranteed contract, a minimal signing bonus and I had to earn it every step of the way”, Griffin said. Griffin was projected to be cut by most analysts because John Harbaugh has very rarely kept three quarterbacks on the active roster, but he had an impressive preseason and earned a spot. Zrebiec writes the Ravens first became interested in the former Heisman Trophy winner in the summer of 2017, but Griffin thought the timing wasn’t right. Griffin also reflected on his experience losing his job in Washington to Kirk Cousins while he was out with an injury, and how it relates to what Flacco is going through right now. The whole conversation is definitely worth a read.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Texans have been very impressive this year, but they still have a bunch of holes on the roster as they look to build around Deshaun Watson. The team could use help on the offensive line and in the secondary, and John McClain of the Houston Chronicle “strongly believe[s]” that the team will “get an offensive tackle and a cornerback in the first two rounds” of next year’s draft. McClain is as plugged in as any beat writer in the game, so he certainly has a feel for what the organization is thinking. The Texans have an extra second round pick thanks to the Duane Brown trade, so they’ll have plenty of ammo to acquire top talent.
  • The Texans have been without an offensive coordinator for a while, but that could change soon. Head coach Bill O’brien has been acting as his own offensive coordinator since he fired George Godsey, and McClain thinks their tight ends coach Tim Kelly will be their next offensive coordinator, saying that he’s “highly thought of” within the building.
  • The Saints will be without starting left tackle Terron Armstead for at least another week, according to Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com (Twitter link). Armstead has now missed the last month of the season with a pectoral injury. Drew Brees‘ pass protection has fallen off without Armstead, and Brees has struggled a bit with the additional pressure in recent weeks.

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Saints’ Terron Armstead To Miss Time

Saints left tackle Terron Armstead is expected to miss three to four weeks with a pectoral injury, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Armstead suffered the injury in Sunday’s one-sided win over the Bengals. 

The Saints turned to veteran Jermon Bushrod after Armstead’s exit, so it stands to reason that he will start in Armstead’s absence. The Saints also have Michael Ola and tackle/guard Chaz Green to support Bushrod and Ryan Ramczyk, so they don’t necessarily have to add a tackle this week.

With an 8-1 record, the Saints are fighting more for playoff positioning than a postseason berth. They have a comfortable, though not insurmountable, lead over the 6-3 Panthers for the NFC South title and they are second only to the 9-1 Rams in the NFC. Clearly, they did not miss a beat after Armstead’s exit on Sunday, so this is unlikely to unravel the Saints’ passing offense in the coming weeks.

Armstead, 27, ranks as the league’s No. 1 overall tackle this year, according to Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Adjust Terron Armstead’s Contract

The Saints are expected to restructure offensive tackle Terron Armstead’s 2018 salary, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The revised deal will turn the rest of Armstead’s $10.2MM base salary into a signing bonus and create room for the addition of Dez Bryant

[RELATED: Saints Sign WR Dez Bryant]

Armstead, 27, is under contract through 2021 thanks to the five-year, $65MM extension he inked back in 2016. He counts for a $13.5MM cap charge this year, a $15MM charge in 2019 and 2020, and a $12.75MM figure in ’21.

Armstead in the midst of another brilliant season and ranks as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 ranked tackle in the NFL. If he keeps it up through the second half of the year, he may finally secure the first Pro Bowl nod of his career.

The Saints, with Bryant in the fold, will look to extend their seven-game winning streak when they face the Bengals on Sunday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Winston, Wilson, Lane, Saints O-Line

We now know that the NFL is investigating an incident regarding Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and an uber driver from last year. The female uber driver claimed that the former number one overall pick groped her during a ride, but Winston has denied those allegations. but adding onto this story, Steve Wyche of NFL.com reports in a Twitter video, that the 23 year-old signal caller will not go on the exempt list because no charges have filed as of yet.

However, it might not be long until the quarterback faces suspension from the league, according to Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders. Cummings says that while Winston may avoid suspension for the rest of the year because the investigation could take some time, but notes that sexual assault allegations have resulted in missed time in the past. The writer points to when Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for four games back when he faced similar charges in 2010.

The story is still unfolding, so while Winston’s playing outlook is in flux given his current injury, this situation adds an unexpected twist to his 2017 season and perhaps even in 2018.

  • Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson shed some light on the jaw injury that he suffered vs. Arizona last Thursday in a session with the media today. The signal caller said that while he wasn’t concussed in the game, his jaw injury forced him to undergo some drastic treatment in the days after, according to Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times.  Condotta relays that Wilson was forced to wear a mouthguard and could not eat solid foods for the three days following the midweek contest. “Basically, the game was on Thursday, so Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, I was pretty sore,” he said. “Tons of ice and treatment and all of that, so I feel good now. … the first two-and-a-half, three days, I couldn’t really eat anything. I was just doing smoothies and all that kind of stuff.” While the injury does sound painful, it looks like Wilson is going to tough it out for Monday night’s game vs. the Falcons.
  • While Wilson will remain in the starting lineup, another team leader in Richard Sherman will miss the rest of the season. With that news finally settling in for Seahawks fans, Condotta also passes along that cornerback Jeremy Lane will replace him in the defensive backfield (Twitter link). Lane was notably rescinded in the Duane Brown trade because he failed the Texans physical, and now finds himself as a key cog to Seattle staying afloat in a competitive NFC playoff picture.
  • The Saints have been one of the hottest teams in football winning their last seven games after dropping their first two at the start of the regular season. A big reason for this has been the emergence of arguably the league’s best 1-2 backfield punch that includes veteran Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara. However, Joel Erickson of the New Orleans Advocate notes that the team has been helped by some notable early returns on their offensive line. Erickson states that three of the team’s starting lineman have returned sooner than expected, including guard Larry Warford, center Max Unger and left tackle Terron Armstead. Warford returned this past Sunday from an abdominal strain, missing only two games, Unger progressed ahead of schedule from offseason Lisfranc surgery and Armstead’s return was premature after suffering a torn labrum. All three lineman have helped the Saints offense change it’s identity to a more ground and pound style, which has been on full display in the past seven weeks.

Saints OT Terron Armstead Avoids PUP List

Lost in the shuffle of Saturday’s roster cutdown madness was left tackle Terron Armstead‘s inclusion on the Saints’ initial 53-man roster. Armstead suffered a torn labrum in June and was facing a four-to-six month recovery timeline, but New Orleans didn’t place him on the physically unable to perform list, which would have required a minimum six-game absence to begin the season.Terron Armstead

Armstead is still expected to miss several games, according to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com, but he clearly won’t be sidelined for as many as six contests (or else New Orleans simply would have kept him on PUP). Head coach Sean Payton hinted last week that Armstead was ahead of schedule, and allowed that the veteran blindside protector might sneak onto the Saints’ active roster.

New Orleans will roll with first-round rookie Ryan Ramczyk at left tackle until Armstead is able to return to the field. Health has never been a strong point for Armstead, who’s missed 14 games over the the past three seasons. But when he’s right, Armstead has consistently ranked as a top-15 NFL left tackle per Pro Football Focus, which gave him an excellent 90.6 overall grade in 2015.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Donald, Brees, Elliott

It’s “probably a safe assumption” the Rams will play their Sept. 10 season opener without defensive tackle Aaron Donald if he doesn’t end his holdout this week, general manager Les Snead told Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com and other reporters Tuesday (Twitter links here). The executive added that the Rams have tried to “come up with creative scenarios” regarding Donald’s contract in their negotiations with the back-to-back first-team All-Pro. Snead otherwise didn’t have much to offer regarding Donald, admitting that he doesn’t know if the 26-year-old will report without having received a new deal. As of now, it appears the Rams will at least go without Donald when they take on the Colts in Week 1.

The latest on a couple other NFC franchises:

  • Saints quarterback Drew Brees said Tuesday that he texted “Wow” to agent Tom Condon after Lions signal-caller Matthew Stafford signed a five-year, $135MM extension Monday (via Mike Triplett of ESPN.com). Stafford’s deal will pay him $27MM per year – a figure the highly accomplished Brees could rival when he signs a new pact in the next eight months or so. Of course, the 38-year-old Brees’ age will prevent him from approaching Stafford’s pact in length or total value. Brees, who’s on the one-year, $24.25MM extension he signed last summer, has indicated that he won’t worry about his next contract until after the season.
  • Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott‘s appeal hearing with the NFL regarding his six-game suspension will last through Thursday, Adam Schefter reports (Twitter links). Final briefs are due Friday, notes the Washington Post’s Mark Maske, who adds that a ruling probably won’t come until next week.
  • Saints cornerback Delvin Breaux is likely to begin the season on injured reserve and come off IR later in the year, Herbie Teope of NOLA.com writes. Breaux, who fractured his fibula in mid-August, won’t be eligible to return until Week 9 if he does head to IR. Teams are allowed to designate two players to return from IR during the season. Meanwhile, it’s possible left tackle Terron Armstead will avoid spending the first six weeks of the season on the reserve/physically unable to perform list because he “might be ready earlier” than that time frame, head coach Sean Payton said Tuesday. Armstead went down with a torn labrum in mid-June and is currently on the active/PUP list.

NFC Notes: Giants, Redskins, Saints, ‘Boys

The Giants’ decision to hand defensive end Devin Taylor a minimum salary benefit deal last month has mostly generated positive reviews around the NFL, with one source calling it a “great signing,” reports Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com. One NFC source took a less enthusiastic tone, however, calling Taylor “just a guy.” But, considering what they’re paying him, the Giants aren’t expecting Taylor to do much more than provide passable depth behind stars Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon. Taylor, who started in all 16 of the Lions’ games last season and piled up a respectable 4.5 sacks (down from seven in 2015), will rotate at defensive end with the Giants and could see time as an interior rusher on passing downs, according to Raanan.

More from the NFC:

  • Late-March free agent signing Brian Quick won’t be long for the Redskins’ roster if he doesn’t impress in training camp, writes Rich Tandler of CSNMidAtlantic.com. Quick didn’t perform well during offseason practices, and the team has a few locks at wide receiver, leaving the 28-year-old on the bubble as camp nears, per Tandler. The 2012 second-round pick spent his first five years as a member of the Rams, with whom he exceeded the 20-catch plateau only twice. To his credit, though, Quick posted a career year in 2016, hauling in personal highs in catches (41), targets (77), yards (564) and touchdowns (three).
  • Saints left tackle Terron Armstead underwent successful surgery for a torn labrum on Monday, reports Herbie Teope of NOLA.com. While that’s a relief for Armstead and the Saints, it’s not going to change his expected recovery timeline. He’s still set to miss between four to six months, which will leave the club without arguably its best offensive lineman until sometime in the fall.
  • Cowboys receiver Brice Butler will head into camp with his roster spot in jeopardy, relays David Moore of the Dallas Morning News. Butler could face a challenge from rookie seventh-round pick Noah Brown, notes Moore, and the Cowboys also have shoo-ins to make the roster in fellow wideouts Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and fourth-rounder Ryan Switzer. Butler was a seventh-rounder himself not long ago, in 2013, and put up his first 16-game campaign last year. All told, he caught 16 passes for 219 yards and a career-high three scores.

Saints LT Terron Armstead Suffers Injury

Bad news for the Saints. Left tackle Terron Armstead has suffered a torn labrum and will require surgery, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The timetable to return is 4-6 months. Terron Armstead

The Saints can be expected to explore out-of-house options now that their starting left tackle will be out for at least the early portion of the season. Ryan Clady is perhaps the best free agent tackle left in free agency. Will Beatty and the versatile Austin Pasztor are also available.

Alternatively, the Saints could promote from within and move first round pick Ryan Ramczyk from the right side to the left. Zach Strief, who was supposed to be the main backup to Armstead and Ramczyk, could slide into the starting role at right tackle. However, in a year where the Saints are hoping to get back into the championship picture with Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson, it stands to reason that they will want some better protection on the O-Line.

Armstead, 27 in August, missed nine games due to injury in 2016. However, he still graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 21 tackle on the year. In 2015, Armstead played in 13 of 16 possible regular season games and earned one of the highest scores of any tackle in the NFL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Rams, Eagles, Cards, Saints

Connor Barwin‘s decision to sign with the Rams last week came thanks in part to the presence of new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the edge rusher told the Associated Press. “Wade did a lot for me in the two years I was with Houston,” said Barwin, who played under Phillips as a Texan from 2011-12. “He taught me so much about being a pro, enjoying being around the game every single day, and he really elevated my game as a pass rusher.” Barwin only hit free agency in the first place because the Eagles released him, which came after he rejected a pay cut. While the 30-year-old said in December he’d be open to reducing his $7.5MM salary for 2017 to remain with the Eagles, their offer was “far below” what he thought he’d get on the market, per the AP. Ultimately, the Rams gave Barwin a one-year deal worth a max of $6.5MM.

More from the NFC:

  • Cardinals general manager Steve Keim likes North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky, according to the Arizona Republic’s Dan Bickley, who writes that the executive is facing a dilemma entering the draft. The Cardinals need a long-term answer under center, meaning choosing Trubisky or another signal-caller with the 13th overall pick is a possibility. However, using a first-rounder on a player who won’t help in 2017 isn’t going to benefit a team whose window could be closing as starting QB Carson Palmer, top wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and head coach Bruce Arians near the end of the line. At the same time, though, Keim doesn’t want to be left without a potential successor to the soon-to-be 38-year-old Palmer if he retires after next season. That might end up being the case if Keim doesn’t grab a quarterback in the early rounds.
  • The Eagles have picked up two established receivers in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith this offseason, but Paul Domowitch of Philly.com could still envision the team selecting a wideout in Round 1 of the draft. Jeffery and Smith might not be Eagles beyond next season, for one, while Jordan Matthews is on track to hit free agency next March. So, while Philadelphia’s receiving corps looks like a strength right now, it lacks long-term certainty.
  • The Saints converted left tackle Terron Armstead‘s $5MM roster bonus to a signing bonus, thereby creating $4MM in cap room for 2017, reports Field Yates of ESPN (Twitter link). The move doesn’t come without a penalty, though, as the Saints will add $1MM in cap charges in each season from from 2018-21 – the final four years of Armstead’s contract.
  • Defensive tackle Jordan Hill‘s contract with the Lions is a minimum salary benefit deal worth $775K, tweets Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com. The pact comes with $45K in guarantees, a $40K signing bonus, and another $40K if he makes the Lions’ 53-man roster.