Tyler Higbee

Injury Roundup: Hilton, Lions, Bolts, Rams

It’s looking like the Colts‘ passing attack will have to operate without its top weapon Sunday. T.Y. Hilton drew a doubtful designation on Indianapolis’ Friday injury report. He did not practice all week. The eighth-year wideout left the Colts’ Week 3 win with a quadriceps injury, and although the Raiders enter Week 4 ranked 30th in pass defense DVOA, the Colts went 0-2 without Hilton last season. They are already down previous starter Devin Funchess, who sits on IR. The Colts also ruled Darius Leonard out for a second straight week. The All-Pro linebacker remains in concussion protocol.

Here is the latest from the Week 4 injury front:

  • Matthew Stafford popped up on the Lions‘ injury report Friday; he’s listed as questionable with a hip malady. While Stafford should be expected to play, given that he’s played through injuries in recent years and holds the league’s third-longest active start streak among QBs with 131, this is a less-than-ideal scenario going into a key inter-conference matchup with the Chiefs. Rookie UDFA David Blough has been Stafford’s backup this season, though Jeff Driskel is now on Detroit’s 53-man roster.
  • That matchup will not include Chiefs starting running back Damien Williams, who will miss a second straight game with a knee ailment. LeSean McCoy put together two full practices this week and will likely team up with Darrel Williams, as he did last week, in Detroit.
  • Good news for the Rams‘ offense. Sean McVay said both Austin Blythe and Tyler Higbee will be available against the Buccaneers on Sunday, per Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Blythe missed Los Angeles’ Week 3 game with a sprained ankle, while Higbee has been sidelined with a lung contusion.
  • Another Chargers game will unfold without their primary kicker option. The Bolts ruled out Michael Badgley for a fourth straight contest. Punter Ty Long‘s multipurpose afternoons will continue. Long made both of his field goal tries last week after missing two in Week 2.
  • Additionally for the Bolts, they will be without Mike Williams. He’s been declared out with a back injury. Travis Benjamin will head to Miami as doubtful to play, meaning Dontrelle Inman and Geremy Davis stand as the Chargers’ only two healthy auxiliary wideouts. This marks Williams’ second injury of the season. A knee problem plagued the third-year target earlier this month but did not force him to miss any time.
  • The Vikings‘ No. 2-ranked rushing attack will be tested in Chicago this week, and right guard starter Josh Kline will not play a part in the NFC North contest. The free agent acquisition will miss Sunday’s game with a concussion that kept him out of practice this week. This will end Kline’s 49-start streak. Veteran Dakota Dozier will start, per Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Dozier has started eight games in his six-season career, which included a Week 2 start in place of Pat Elflein.

Rams, Tyler Higbee Agree To Extension

Another day, another extension for the Rams. On Thursday morning, they reached agreement on a new four-year deal with tight end Tyler Higbee (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). 

[RELATED: Rams, Jared Goff Agree To Extension]

After Tuesday’s massive deal for Jared Goff, the Rams managed to lock up one of the quarterback’s favorite targets. The new pact will keep Higbee’s 2019 agreement in tact while locking him up through the 2023 season.

The 26-year-old is one of the game’s most promising young TEs, and the new deal pays him accordingly – he’s cracked the top ten at the position for average yearly compensation. The deal has a base value of $31.025MM, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter) hears. He’s guaranteed $15.5MM and, with incentives, he could earn up to $36MM.

The fourth-year pro shares L.A’s tight end spotlight with Gerald Everett, though Everett is utilized more as a receiver. Last year, Higbee finished out with 24 catches for 292 yards and two scores.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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. 

Vikings, Rams Discussed TE Tyler Higbee

Kyle Rudolph has been the Vikings’ top tight end for nearly the entire decade, but the team was eyeing a complementary weapon.

The Vikings discussed acquiring Rams tight end Tyler Higbee last year, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (on Twitter). The teams did exchange offers, the Rams wanting a sixth-round pick but the Vikings offering a seventh, per Goessling, adding the talks broke off shortly after.

A three-year Rams supporting-cast cog, Higbee was a 2016 fourth-round pick. He and rookie second-rounder Gerald Everett comprise Los Angeles’ tight end corps, with Everett being used more as a receiver. Higbee finished this regular season with 24 receptions for 292 yards and two touchdowns.

Minnesota has Rudolph signed through the 2019 season, but no guaranteed money (and a $7.25MM base salary) remain on the 29-year-old pass-catcher’s contract. No Vikings backup tight end caught more than 11 passes this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams TE Tyler Higbee Pleads Guilty To Assault

Los Angeles Ram tight end Tyler Higbee has pleaded guilty to an assault charge stemming from a 2016 confrontation, according to the Associated Press. The 24-year-old will be required to perform 250 hours worth of community service and pay the victim an undisclosed amount of money. As a result of him pleading guilty to second-degree “assault under extreme emotional disturbance,” he will avoid jail time.

Tyler Higbee (vertical)Back in 2016, the tight end had pleaded not guilty to the charges, claiming that the other man initiated the fight when he placed his hands on Higbee’s girlfriend. Bowling Green Police say the NFL player punched the victim, Nawaf Alsaleh, causing a concussion.

“We feel like it’s a fair resolution to what was an unfortunate incident,” attorney Brian Lowder told Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.

The confrontation took place shortly before the 2016 draft, but the Rams still selected the Western Kentucky product in the fourth round. Higbee appeared in all 16 games during his rookie campaign, hauling in 11 receptions for 85 yards and one touchdown. The 6-foot-6 weapon also collected a pair of tackles on special teams.

The Rams selected Gerald Everett in the second round of this past year’s draft, meaning Higbee will presumably be competing with Cory Harkey and Temarrick Hemingway for second-team reps.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Sign Entire Draft Class

The Rams announced that they have signed their entire 2016 draft class. It was long expected that the Rams would all sign their rookies on the same day in June, as the team has done in recent years. Rams Helmet (Featured)

This morning, word leaked out that the Rams and No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff had agreed to terms on his contract. Of course, thanks to the rookie slotting in the latest CBA, contract negotiations are, by and large, pretty painless. The only exception to that is in the third round where there is a little more wiggle room between players and teams, but the Rams did not have any third-round picks in this year’s draft thanks to the massive haul of picks they sent to the Titans in order to select Goff.

After Goff, the Rams’ next highest draft pick was Western Kentucky tight end Tyler Higbee. In the weeks leading up to the draft, Higbee made headlines for all the wrong reasons when he was charged with second-degree assault. One scout expressed concern about Higbee shortly after he was selected by L.A.:

“He is a major partier,” said the anonymous scout. “That was his big problem, despite the arrests. He has a lot of maturing to do, and I’m not sure he can mature fast enough.”

The 23-year-old was considered a potential third-round talent, but the charges predictably impacted his stock. Higbee caught 48 passes for 563 yards and eight touchdowns last season but missed five games due to a knee injury. When asked about the injury at his pro day, the WKU product told reporters he was 75-80% recovered.

Here is the complete rundown of the Rams’ entire 2016 draft class:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Freeman’s Latest: Aguayo, Boehringer, Higbee

The Buccaneers didn’t just draft kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round of the draft — they traded up to get him, sacrificing a third- and fourth-round pick to acquire the 59th overall selection from the Chiefs. Not everyone around the league was on board with the move, as one general manager told Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report that Tampa’s choice of Aguayo was “the dumbest pick in the history of the draft.”

While we ponder that bit of hyperbole, let’s take a look at the highlights from the rest of Freeman’s column…

  • Another pick that has garnered mixed reviews is the Vikings‘ selection of German wide receiver Moritz Boehringer in the sixth round, according to Freeman, who writes that one scout described the German league as “not even Division-III football.” The Boehringer pick, per Freeman, is quite divisive, as it seems league personnel are either strongly in favor or strongly against.
  • Even after enduring the Greg Hardy saga, the Panthers used a third-round pick on cornerback Daryl Worley, who faced a battery charge in 2014. As Freeman details, both Panthers GM Dave Gettleman and Worley himself were prepared to answer questions about the incident, and Carolina feels comfortable that its done enough research on the pick.
  • One NFC scout tells Freeman that the best value pick in the draft might’ve Oklahoma defensive end Charles Tapper, whom the Cowboys scooped up at the top of the third round. Some clubs were scared off by Tapper having the sickle cell trait, a condition that many teams consider minor.
  • On the other hand, another scout called new Rams tight end Tyler Higbee — who was charged with second-degree assault before the draft — one of the riskier picks in the draft. “He is a major partier,” said the scout, per Freeman. “That was his big problem, despite the arrests. He has a lot of maturing to do, and I’m not sure he can mature fast enough.”

Pauline’s Latest: Jets, Titans, Conklin, Giants

Most NFL people that Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net (via WalterFootball.com) has spoken with tell him that the Jets could still look to take an offensive tackle in the first round even after trading for Ryan Clady. With that in mind, the Jets are bringing Jason Spriggs of Indiana to Florham Park, New Jersey for an official visit on Thursday.

Many view Spriggs as the best pure left tackle in the draft outside of Ole Miss star Laremy Tunsil. Spriggs has been rising on draft boards around the league and the Hoosiers senior has already visited the Broncos and Saints and worked out for the Titans and Ravens.

Here’s the latest from Pauline:

  • Recently, it was reported that the Titans would consider trading down from No. 1 to select Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley. Pauline hears that Michigan State’s Jack Conklin is also in the conversation if the Titans move down. Pauline previously ID’d Conklin as a possible Top 12 pick in this year’s draft.
  • The Giants continue to show strong interest in Laquon Treadwell, who is in the conversation at No. 10 overall, Pauline hears. Pauline also adds that several teams do not agree with the assertion that Treadwell is only the second-best wide receiver in this year’s class. While some reports would indicate that the Ole Miss product is slipping down draft boards, that might not be the case.
  • Speaking of the Jets, Pauline hears that they are very high on tackle Brent Qvale, a UDFA they added in 2014. However, Pauline gets the sense that the Clady signing means that Gang Green does not see him as being quite yet ready for a starting role. Qvale lined up at both left and right tackle during weekly practice in 2015. Sources tell Pauline that Qvale is likely to replace Breno Giacomini in 2017 if he continues to progress.
  • Western Kentucky tight end George Fant is garnering attention from NFL scouts, Pauline writes. Fant, a former WKU basketball player, has also received consideration at offensive tackle, but scouts believe that he should be a tight end because of his soft hands. If Fant drops some additional weight (currently 296 pounds), the belief is that he can make it work at TE. Fant has (or has had) workouts with a number of teams including the Bengals, Broncos, Cardinals, ChargersSaints, and Seahawks. While Fant is apparently rising up draft boards, fellow Western Kentucky tight end Tyler Higbee is seeing his stock fall due to an off-the-field incident.

Draft Rumors: Higbee, Boehringer, Miller

Western Kentucky tight end Tyler Higbee plead not guilty to charges stemming from his alleged altercation on Sunday, as Peter Schrager of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). Higbee, considered to be one of the top tight ends in this year’s class, contends that the other man involved in the skirmish put his hands on his girlfriend, prompting Higbee to intervene. The other participant in the fight has been booked five times since 2014.

As Schrager notes, Higbee’s court date is on May 5th, days after the draft on April 28th-30th. Prior to the incident, teams were viewing Higbee as a Day 2 or Day 3 player, so they’ll be interested to hear his side of the story.

Here’s the latest NFL Draft news:

  • German wide receiver Moritz Boehringer had team visits with the Chiefs, Packers, and Vikings last week, as Andy Fenelon of NFL.com writes. On Monday and Tuesday, he met with the Rams, on Wednesday he’ll visit the Seahawks, and next week he’ll visit the Saints, Falcons, and Panthers. Boehringer started turning heads in the NFL last month and one scout estimated in March that he could go in the fourth round. Based on the number of teams interested in him, one has to wonder if Boehringer could go even earlier.
  • Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link), Ohio State receiver Braxton Miller said 10 clubs ventured to Columbus to work him out, and while a few have had do drills in the slot (where’s expected to play in the NFL), many had him work outside. The Titans, Bengals, and Ravens are just three of the teams known to have interest in Miller.
  • Like Miller, Michigan State defensive tackle Joel Heath also appeared on SiriusXM (Twitter link), and also discussed his specific NFL position, saying he’d be willing to move to the offensive line if that helped his pro prospects.
  • Washington, on the lookout for possible pass rushing help, is hosting Eastern Kentucky outside linebacker Noah Spence for a pre-draft visit today, according to John Keim of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
  • The Vikings met with McNeese State running back Derrick Milton last week, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN, who adds that Milton impressed Minnesota at their regional combine. Milton began his collegiate career at Mississippi State before transferring prior to the 2014 season.
  • Florida defensive end Alex McCalister met with the Eagles, as McAlister himself reported on Twitter. McCalister posted 12.5 sacks for the Gators over the past two seasons.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

Draft Updates: Higbee, Titans, Byard, Reed

One of the top tight end prospects in this year’s draft, Tyler Higbee was charged with second-degree assault, alcohol intoxication in a public place, and second-degree fleeing or evading police on Sunday, Zach Greenwell of the Bowling Green Daily News reports.

The 23-year-old Western Kentucky product was considered a potential Day 2 pick, but these charges will undoubtedly cloud his draft weekend. Higbee caught 48 passes for 563 yards and eight touchdowns last season but missed five games due to a knee injury that he told reporters at his pro day was 75-80% healed.

Here are a few more Monday draft updates:

  • Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa are among the standout prospects visiting the Titans this week, tweets Jason Wolf of the Tennessean. The Titans are believed to like Bosa, but Tunsil remains the odds-on favorite to come off the board first overall if the club keeps its pick.
  • West Virginia cornerback Daryl Worley has made pre-draft visits to the Eagles and Cardinals, and has private workouts for the Panthers, Lions, and Jaguars, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post.
  • After a busy few days last week, Middle Tennessee State defensive back Kevin Byard will be on the move again this week, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who tweets that Byard will be visiting the Cardinals today and the Rams tomorrow, followed by the Saints and Bengals.
  • In addition to making previously-reported visits to the Panthers, Lions, and Saints this week, Alabama defensive tackle Jarran Reed will also make trips to meet with the Bills and Bears, tweets Rapoport.
  • UCLA wide receiver and return man Devin Fuller has several visits and workouts left on his schedule, tweets Rand Getlin of the NFL Network. Per Getlin, the Dolphins, Packers, and Chargers are among the teams that will get a close look at Fuller.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.