Tytus Howard

Trade Notes: Harris, Texans, Geno, Browns

After trading Yannick Ngakoue, the Vikings appear to be reopening the door to dealing their franchise player. Anthony Harris is again available, per Albert Breer of SI.com. The Vikings discussed at least one tag-and-trade deal involving the 2019 breakout player-turned-tag recipient this offseason but moved forward with Harris as a starter for the third season. The price was believed to be a Day 2 pick at that point. Harris has more than half of his $11.4MM tag salary due. Harris joins safety mate Harrison Smith, tight end Kyle Rudolph and left tackle Riley Reiff as available Viking veterans.

Here is more from the trade market, with five days to go until the deadline:

  • We have heard trade rumors surrounding the bulk of the Texans‘ receiving corps. The Packers, among others, inquired about Will Fuller; Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks have also come up in talks. The Texans are prepared to part with any of their wideouts — for the right offer, of course. Every Texan except Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt, Laremy Tunsil and right tackle Tytus Howard is available, Breer adds. Fuller and Kenny Stills are on expiring contracts; Cobb is signed through 2022; Cooks through ’23.
  • NFL INT leader Xavien Howard has surfaced as a name to watch ahead of the deadline. While the Dolphins have fielded calls on the fifth-year cornerback, they have not received a firm offer, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. The Dolphins also appear dead-set against dealing Howard, with Jackson adding that it would likely take multiple first-round picks (an unrealistic ask) for Miami to consider a deal. Howard is in the first season of a five-year, $75MM contract.
  • The Bengals traded all-time sack leader Carlos Dunlap to the Seahawks, and teams are wondering if the franchise’s No. 2 all-time sacker (Geno Atkins) is available. Teams have contacted the Bengals on the 11th-year defensive tackle but have been told he is not being traded, Breer notes. Atkins is signed through 2022, and although he has voiced frustration about his role, the Bengals will hang onto the perennial Pro Bowler.
  • In the thick of the AFC playoff race at 5-2, the Browns may still be dangling Olivier Vernon. Although the veteran defensive end came off Cleveland’s trade block this summer, the Browns shopped him for a while. They may be doing so again, with Breer indicating the 30-year-old edge rusher is being viewed as available. However, the Browns would move to replace the veteran opposite Myles Garrett. They were in on the first Nkagoue sweepstakes in August but lost out to the Vikings. In the final year of his contract, Vernon does not have a sack this season.
  • Entering their Week 8 game, the Panthers may be straddling the buyer-seller line at 3-4. However, they are still in a rebuilding phase in Matt Rhule‘s first season. Any buyer’s deal Carolina makes would be for a player controllable beyond this season rather than a rental who could help the team secure a wild-card spot, Joe Person of The Athletic writes (subscription required).
  • Prior to signing Mohamed Sanu as injury insurance this year, the 49ers finished second to the Patriots for Sanu at last year’s deadline. The 49ers offered the Falcons a third-round pick for Sanu, Breer notes, but the Pats gave up a second-round pick. San Francisco’s subsequent Emmanuel Sanders addition ended up being more impactful, and Sanu is currently training for his next opportunity.

Texans To Place T Tytus Howard On IR

The Texans will be without their starting right tackle the rest of the way. They are placing first-round pick Tytus Howard on IR, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. A torn meniscus will end Howard’s season, and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes (via Twitter) the rookie will soon undergo surgery.

Howard previously carried a doubtful designation into Sunday night’s game against the Patriots, but the Texans will remove him from their 53-man roster. The small-school lineman will end his season with eight games (all starts). He had previously missed time due to a partially torn MCL.

The only first-round pick in GM Brian Gaine‘s brief Texans tenure, Howard was moved to guard before becoming Houston’s starting right tackle for most of this season. He graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 52 overall tackle. While that is a middle-of-the-pack position, Howard marked an improvement from the embattled tackle situation the Texans featured last season.

Houston has used Roderick Johnson as a fill-in for Howard previously this season. The former Browns draft pick has played in 11 games, with two starts, and has been given 201 snaps. The Texans also have veteran Chris Clark, a journeyman who has filled in at multiple junctures for the team. Clark has started games at both left and right tackles with Houston.

The Texans promoted defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes from their practice squad to take Howard’s roster spot. A former third-round Raiders pick, Vanderdoes caught on with the Texans’ taxi squad late last month.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Updates: Sanders, Cooper, Roby, Howard

The latest injury updates on key players around the league:

  • Emmanuel Sanders left the Broncos’ win over the Titans with a knee injury and was ruled out, but fortunately it isn’t anything longterm. The injury isn’t “at all serious,” James Palmer of NFL Network was told (Twitter link). In a follow-up tweet, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that there’s optimism Sanders will play in just a few days on Thursday Night Football against the Chiefs. Sanders is in the midst of his comeback season from a torn Achilles, so it’s great news that he isn’t seriously hurt.
  • The Cowboys have lost three straight games, including an embarrassing one to the Jets on Sunday, and the news could get even worse soon. Star receiver Amari Cooper left the game and was soon ruled out with a quad injury. Cooper was in “pretty significant pain” after the game, a source told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com (Twitter link). Obviously that’s not an official diagnosis, but it does sound like Cooper could miss some time. That’s the last thing this suddenly struggling Cowboys team needs.
  • The Texans picked up a big win over the Chiefs Sunday, but they couldn’t escape Kansas City unscathed. Starting cornerback Bradley Roby was knocked out of the game with a hamstring injury and will have an MRI tomorrow, according to Palmer (on Twitter). As Palmer points out fellow Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph is already sidelined with a hamstring issue, so this would be a huge blow to their secondary. Roby has been a bright spot on Houston’s defense this year, so this will definitely be one to monitor.
  • Roby wasn’t the only key member of the Texans to get hurt. Rookie first-round pick Tytus Howard had to be carted off with a knee injury, but fortunately it seems like he may have dodged a bullet. It didn’t look good for Houston’s starting right tackle, but Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets the initial diagnosis is that Howard did not tear his ACL. In a separate tweet, Wilson writes that head coach Bill O’Brien said that Howard’s injury “may have looked worse than it really was.” However, O’Brien did add “hopefully we can get him back at some point,” so it sounds like he’s going to miss some significant time. That’s a big blow to Deshaun Watson‘s protection, which has been surprisingly competent this season.

AFC South Rumors: Texans, Colts, Lee, Titans

Drafted to be the Texans‘ hopeful left tackle of the future, Tytus Howard has since been relocated to left guard (with Matt Kalil winning the left-edge job) and has now broken a finger. The rookie blocker suffered the break in Houston’s preseason game against Detroit on Saturday night, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Coming from a Division I-FCS program, and tasked with learning one of the most difficult positions at which to acclimate in the NFL, Howard needs all the reps he can get early on in his career. But this malady is not expected to keep him out of the Texans’ Week 1 game against the Saints, Wilson adds. Howard is in line to be the team’s starting left guard. This injury, in theory, could force the team to adjust those plans.

Here is the latest from the AFC South, shifting to perhaps the division’s most important player:

  • Frank Reich does not want to wait much longer on Andrew Luck‘s recovery. The second-year Colts coach wants to name his Week 1 starter shortly after the team’s third preseason game, and while Luck doing pregame drills before Indianapolis’ second August contest was a positive development, this saga may not wrap up in a week. It’s been the side-to-side movements that have bothered Luck’s ankle and calf injuries most, Mike Wells of ESPN.com notes. But Luck not only did some lateral-movement work before Saturday’s game, Wells adds the 29-year-old passer has done workouts like that in private in recent days. The Colts, who will re-evaluate Luck midweek, are cautiously optimistic he will be available for Week 1.
  • Another AFC South talent is uncertain for Week 1, but Marqise Lee returned to Jaguars practice this week. This obviously increases the sixth-year wideout’s chances for being available come September. Doug Marrone expressed doubt about this recently, but Lee — sidelined throughout 2018 due to ACL damage — returned to work Saturday.
  • The Colts‘ injury situation at receiver has helped one of their incumbents. Once thought to be a bubble player, Chester Rogers is headed back to Indy’s 53-man roster. The former Ryan Grigson-era draft choice is the Colts’ top return man, Reich said (via the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson, on Twitter). Parris Campbell remains sidelined because of a hamstring injury, Erickson tweets.
  • Indianapolis’ revamped receiving corps will not include Reece Fountain. Reich confirmed the 2018 fifth-rounder underwent ankle surgery Friday and will miss the season (Twitter links via CBS4’s Mike Chappell).
  • The Titans are still deciding on their right guard. While veteran utility man Kevin Pamphile would seemingly have the inside track to start opposite Rodger Saffold next month, the team drafted Nate Davis in Round 3 and has 2017 sixth-rounder Corey Levin. Although Pamphile started opposite Saffold on Saturday, each of these players are in the mix. Former Dolphins draftee Jamil Douglas may be in the running as well. Mike Vrabel does not plan to name a starter until after the Titans’ dress-rehearsal preseason game next weekend, Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com notes. Douglas has not played in a game since 2016; Levin suited up for all 16 Titan games last season. An injury limited Pamphile to three 2018 contests (two starts).

Texans’ Tytus Howard To Open At Guard

The Texans deployed one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines last season and are likely to return multiple starters from the group that yielded 62 an NFL-most sacks. But the team looks to be planning on getting a key addition into the lineup in an unexpected fashion.

Tytus Howard is the frontrunner to open the season as Houston’s starting left guard, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes. A first-round tackle out of Alabama State, Howard would replace 2018 starter Senio Kelemete if this plan ends up coming to fruition. Recent signing Matt Kalil is in place as the team’s left tackle, Wilson adds.

Although Howard was viewed as a bit of a reach as a first-rounder, the Texans — despite firing GM Brian Gaine, who oversaw this year’s draft — clearly believe the former high school quarterback has a chance to play immediately. Gaine said after the draft the college tackle could play both guard positions, and Bill O’Brien‘s staff is testing that stance.

Additionally, the Texans are considering second-round guard Max Scharping as a Week 1 starter on the right side. But Wilson adds 2018 starter Zach Fulton is firmly in the mix to keep his job to start this season. Seantrel Henderson, who re-signed after suffering a season-ending injury in Week 1, is expected to start at right tackle.

Deshaun Watson took the most sacks any NFL passer has since Jon Kitna in 2006. The Texans were quiet in free agency on this front, despite entering the marketplace with more than $80MM in cap space. They added the oft-maligned Kalil and used first- and second-round picks on a Division I-FCS tackle (Howard) and mid-major guard (Scharping, out of Northern Illinois). All three additions could be Week 1 starters, doing so after 2018’s batch of newcomers frequently failed to protect Watson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Notes: Gaine, Caserio, Clowney, Mathieu

Former Texans general manager Brian Gaine‘s firing shouldn’t be attributed to his inability to sign Jadeveon Clowney, writes Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. We heard last week that the former executive had made “zero” progress on an extension for the former number-one pick, and a lack of development may have played a role in his firing.

However, Breer said there wasn’t any organizational disagreement over the handling of Clowney. The team was interested in signing the linebacker on their terms, and they were content opting for the franchise tag. For what it’s worth, we learned earlier today that Clowney is not expected to attend the team’s mandatory minicamp. The three-time Pro Bowler has yet to sign the franchise tender as he continues to push for a multiyear pact.

So what was the main reason for Gaine’s firing? Breer points to a lack of “fit” and “alignment,” as the former general manager didn’t share the same vision as head coach Bill O’Brien. Furthermore, the reporter believes the team’s current pursuit of Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio also played a role in the decision.

Let’s check out some more notes out of Houston, all via Breer…

  • Speaking of Caserio, his relationship with O’Brien and executive vice president of team development Jack Easterby could play a role in him leaving New England. There’s been a perception that Caserio wouldn’t leave the Patriots, but the reporter points out that the executive had been closing to leaving before (he considered taking the Dolphins’ gig in 2014). Breer wonders if the Texans could also look to Patriots college scouting director Monti Ossenfort or former Patriots executive (and current Falcons assistant GM) Scott Pioli for the role.
  • There also wasn’t an organizational disagreement over the handling of Tyrann Mathieu. The team recognized that the Pro Bowl safety had lofty monetary demands, and they never intended to go as far as the three-year, $42MM deal he received from the Chiefs this offseason. Meanwhile, the coaching staff has been happy with Gaine’s replacement for Mathieu, Tashaun Gipson.
  • Following Gaine’s signing of a five-year extension in 2018, the majority of his moves have actually been lauded by the front office and coaching staff. Breer points to the one-year deal for Mathieu, and he also notes the general manager’s ability to add productive rookies (receiver Keke Coutee and safety Justin Reid) in the 2018 draft despite not having a first- or second-rounder. While his inability to add a competent offensive line in front of Deshaun Watson certainly played a role in his firing, Breer opines that the forced trade of Duane Brown wasn’t the GM’s decision.
  • The Texans coaching staff has been happy with second-round offensive tackle Max Scharping and third-round tight end Kahale Warring. They’re also a “big fan” of first-rounder Tytus Howard. However, many pundits believe the Howard selection was a bit of a reach, and Breer wonders if O’Brien and Easterby’s Patriots’ philosophy clashed with Gaine’s eventual decision (as the two would have preferred trading back).

Texans Sign Tytus Howard

The Texans have signed offensive lineman Tytus Howard, their first-round draft choice, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Houston has also agreed to terms with second-round cornerback Lonnie Johnson, second-round offensive tackle Max Scharping, and seventh-round fullback Cullen Gillaspi, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

Houston selected Howard with the 23rd overall pick after the Eagles jumped one spot ahead of the Texans to draft fellow offensive tackle Andre Dillard. Howard has his own strengths, but Dillard was widely viewed as the superior prospect after spending his collegiate career at Washington State. Howard, meanwhile, is coming from the FCS’ Alabama State.

The Texans had a dire need for offensive line reinforcements heading into the draft after ranking dead last in sacks allowed, adjusted sack rate, and pressure rate in 2018. But it’s unclear just how soon Howard or Scharping (a Northern Illinois product) will be able to adjust to the NFL game.

After ranking just 19th in pass defense DVOA a season ago, the Texans have spent the offseason addressing their cornerback crew. Free agent additions Bradley Roby and Briean Boddy-Calhoun are in line for playing time alongside holdovers Johnathan Joseph, Aaron Colvin, and Kayvon Webster, and Johnson becomes the latest defensive back added to the mix.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Rumors: Texans, Falcons, Saints

The Texans have received positive health news on two offensive players, as both receiver Will Fuller and left tackle Matt Kalil are expected to be ready for the regular season after sustaining injuries in 2018, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (all Twitter links). Fuller averaged a career-high 15.7 yards per reception in seven games before suffering a torn ACL, but he’s now recovering nicely. Kalil, who inked a one-year deal with Houston after being released by Carolina, missed all of last year while dealing with a knee issue, but general manager Brian Gaine says Kalil is expected to compete with Julien Davenport to start on Deshaun Watson‘s blindside.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two South divisions:

  • Alabama State offensive tackle Tytus Howard is a second-round target of the Falcons, tweets Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.net. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com lauds Howard’s size (6’2′”, 322) and ability to “explode out of his stance,” but notes potential concerns about Howard’s level of competition in the FCS. Atlanta owns the 45th pick, so Howard could certainly be available when the Falcons make their second-round selection. Although Atlanta recently extended incumbent right tackle Ty Sambrailo, his new contract is essentially a one-year deal with multiple team options. Howard has also met with the Jets during the pre-draft process.
  • Defensive tackle Tyeler Davison‘s one-year deal with the Falcons will qualify as a minimum salary benefit contract, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Davison will collect an $895K base salary ($110K guaranteed) and a $90K signing bonus, but he’ll only carry the salary cap charge of a second-year veteran plus his signing bonus — a total of $660K. A fifth-round pick in the 2015 draft, Davison started 48 games over the past four seasons in New Orleans, and will now give Atlanta a run-stuffing option alongside fellow defensive tackle Grady Jarrett.
  • Saints cornerback Ken Crawley is planning to sign his original round restricted free agent tender when New Orleans begins its offseason program on Monday, as Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com writes. As of yet, Crawley has not received any interest from any rival clubs, and isn’t expected to until Friday’s deadline for RFAs to sign offer sheets. Crawley is now scheduled to earn $2.025MM for the 2019 campaign, but none of that total is guaranteed, an important distinction given that Crawley isn’t a lock to make the Saints’ roster after finishing as a bottom-three cornerback last season, per Pro Football Focus.

AFC East Notes: Pats, Kraft, Jets, Bills, Fins

Although prosecutors are planning to release video of Patriots owner Robert Kraft soliciting sexual acts at a Florida spa, Kraft and his legal team are attempting to stop the publication. Kraft filed a motion to block release of the video, and the judge overseeing the case has indicated the state may not disseminate the video until after a hearing occurs, as T.J. Quinn of ESPN tweets. The women who allegedly own the spa in question also filed a motion to stop the release, and a judge will hear their case on April 29, according to the Boston Globe, meaning the video won’t be issued until then at the earliest.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Earlier today, we learned Demaryius Thomas‘ one-year deal with the Patriots contains a $150K signing bonus and a $1.2MM base salary, and now Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link) has provided more details on the veteran receiver’s pact. Thomas can collect a $150K reporting bonus and a total of $1.406MM in per-game roster bonuses. Additionally, Thomas can also earn $750K for reaching each of the following incentives: 60 catches, 800 yards, 1,000 yards, and 1,200 yards. Clearly, Thomas isn’t a lock to make New England’s roster, but he can bring in up to $6MM by posting an excellent campaign.
  • Alabama State offensive tackle Tytus Howard met with the Jets today, reports Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com lauds Howard’s size (6’2′”, 322) and ability to “explode out of his stance,” but notes potential concerns about Howard’s level of competition in the FCS. Howard, who could be available for New York in either the second or third round, would be in contention to displace Jets tackles Kelvin Beachum and/or Brandon Shell, if not immediately than in the long-term.
  • In an engrossing profile, Bills executive Lake Dawson reveals to Tim Graham of The Athletic that he turned down the Dolphins‘ general manager job in 2014 following conversations with team owner Stephen Ross. “In terms of commitment,” Dawson said, “they weren’t going to give me the time, and they weren’t going to allow me to hire some of the people that I wanted to hire. The owner wanted a fast change.” Things have clearly changed in Miami, as the Dolphins are now embarking on a serious rebuild. Dawson, for his part, interviewed for the Panthers’ GM job earlier this year.