Vernon Hargreaves III

Latest On Vernon Hargreaves, Texans

The Texans decision to claim cornerback Vernon Hargreaves off waivers mostly worked out for the organization. However, the team now has an interesting decision to make on the former first-rounder.

As Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle writes, the organization must decide whether they want to pick up the fifth-year option on the 24-year-old. The team could alternatively cut Hargreaves before that option becomes guaranteed (similar to what they did last year with Kevin Johnson), or both sides could work on finding common ground on a new contract. Either way, it sounds like the team is interested in retaining the defensive back.

“Vernon came in here, he works very hard,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “Very hard worker, guy that really showed up to practice every day, learned the system. I don’t think that’s easy to be able to come in, in the middle of a season, and really later than that, and play that nickel position is not easy.

So, I give a lot of credit to Vernon. There’s a lot of things that he’s going to work hard to improve upon. We’re going to help them with that, but I think Vernon stepped into a tough situation and really made the best of it.”

Hargreaves fell out of favor with Bruce Arians and the Buccaneers coaching staff, leading to Tampa Bay’s decision to waive him in November. The cornerback was ultimately claimed by Houston, and he compiled 21 tackles, one tackle for a loss, and two passes defended down the stretch. While he struggled a bit during his team’s playoff loss to the Chiefs, it sounds like the organization is confident he can take another step forward during his second season in Houston.

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Texans Claim Vernon Hargreaves

The Texans claimed former Bucs’ cornerback Vernon Hargreaves on waivers, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Hargreaves was released on Tuesday, which made him subject to the waiver wire, per the league’s rules for players who are cut after the trade deadline. 

The former first round pick did not meet expectations in Tampa, but he profiles as a low-risk, high-reward type for Houston. Hargreaves was the No. 11 overall pick in 2016 for a reason and there could be some good football still left in the tank for the Florida product.

Before the release, Hargreaves was set to play out his rookie deal and 2020 fifth-year option. But, because that $9.9MM option was guaranteed for injury only, the Bucs were easily able to move on. New head coach Bruce Arians sat Hargreaves on the first day of OTAs because he was “not mentally ready to practice.” Apparently, the two were not able to get on the same page between the summer and the fall.

The Bucs sure could have used a healthy and productive Hargreaves on the roster, given that they have the worst pass defense in the NFL. With that in mind, the decision is rather telling of the team’s view of him.

The Texans, meanwhile, also have ample need at the position, but with more confidence in Hargreaves than Arians & Co. did. Even after acquiring cornerback Gareon Conley from the Raiders, there’s still plenty of work to be had for the 24-year-old in Houston.

Hargreaves will be eligible to make his Texans debut on Sunday against the Ravens.

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Buccaneers Cut Vernon Hargreaves

The Buccaneers have cut cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Tampa Bay selected Hargreaves in the first round (No. 11 overall) of the 2016 draft and exercised the fifth-year option of his rookie deal back in May, which would have kept the Florida product under club control through 2020.

However, the fifth-year option would have come with a $9.9MM salary and was guaranteed for injury only, so Hargreaves will not have any impact on the Bucs’ cap in 2020. This move comes on the heels of Hargreaves being benched in the second half of Sunday’s victory over the Cardinals for not hustling, and may have been done to send a message to the rest of the locker room. As Jenna Laine of ESPN.com writes, Hargreaves planned to speak with head coach Bruce Arians to discuss the benching and expressed confidence that he and Arians could resolve any issues they might have, but the fact that his lack of hustle was not an isolated incident could have contributed to his ouster. Laine reminds us that Arians sat Hargreaves on the first day of OTAs because he was “not mentally ready to practice.”

The Bucs’ decision is particularly telling given that they have the worst pass defense in the NFL and now have just three healthy corners on the roster. As Greg Auman of The Athletic notes, Tampa will turn to rookies Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting as its starters (Twitter link). Auman tweets that, given the youth and injuries along the CB depth chart, the club is likely to add a corner from outside the organization to replace Hargreaves.

Hargreaves rarely lived up to his first-round billing during his tenure with the Bucs, struggling both outside the numbers and in the slot. However, given his youth and upside, he will surely garner interest from other clubs in need of secondary help. Now that we are past the trade deadline, Hargreaves is subject to waivers, and while he is due just $980K for the remainder of the 2019 season, a team that claims Hargreaves off waivers would also be putting itself on the hook for the 2020 option year. As such, teams may wait for Hargreaves to clear waivers and then attempt to sign him as a free agent.

GM Jason Licht issued the following statement on the transaction (Twitter links to Auman):

“After thoughtful consideration over the past few weeks, Coach Arians and I came to the conclusion that we needed to make this change. Decisions such as this are always difficult, but we felt it was in the best interest of the team to part ways with Vernon at this time and allow him to explore other opportunities. We are disappointed that it did not work out here for Vernon, and we wish him continued success moving forward.”

Hargreaves, a collegiate standout with the Gators, ends his Bucs tenure with two interceptions — including one pick-six — 19 passes defensed, and 164 total tackles in 35 games (33 starts). Injuries limited him to just 10 games between the 2017-18 seasons.

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Bucs Pick Up Vernon Hargreaves’ Option

Vernon Hargreaves will be sticking around Tampa Bay for at least two more seasons. Rick Stroud TampaBay.com reports (via Twitter) that the Buccaneers have picked up the cornerback’s fifth-year option. Hargreaves will now be tied to a $9MM deal for the 2020 campaign.

The 23-year-old was selected with the 11th-overall pick by the Buccaneers during the 2016 draft. The defensive back proved he was worth his draft spot during his rookie season, as he compiled 76 tackles, nine passes defended, and one pick in 16 games. This performance earned him a spot on the Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie Team.

Since that time, Hargreaves has battled numerous injuries. A hamstring issue limited him to only nine games (eight starts) in 2017, while a shoulder injury forced him to miss all but one game in 2018. Despite the injuries, the Bucs will be relying on Hargreaves once again heading into next season; he’s currently projected to start at cornerback alongside Carlton Davis.

Click here for a full rundown of every fifth-year option decision on 2016 first-round picks.

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Buccaneers Notes: Monken, Koetter, Pierre-Paul, Jackson, Hargreaves

The Buccaneers’ offensive explosion in Week 1 caught pretty much everybody by surprise. The Bucs scored 48 points and won fairly easily on the road in New Orleans. Ryan Fitzpatrick had one of the best games of his career, throwing for 417 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Although it was mostly the same personnel from previous seasons, there was at least one major change. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken was calling plays instead of head coach Dirk Koetter according to Jenna Laine of ESPN. Koetter had always called plays during his time in Tampa Bay, but relinquished the play calling duties to Monken after he excelled in the role during the preseason. If Week 1 is any indication, it doesn’t look like Koetter will be asking for the responsibility back anytime soon.

Here’s more from Tampa:

  • The injuries just keep piling up for the Bucs on defense. Vernon Hargreaves was recently placed on injured reserve, top corner Brent Grimes‘ status is still unclear, and now star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has a knee injury according to Laine (Twitter link). Pierre-Paul told Laine his knee was “jacked up” and that while he hopes to play this Sunday he’s “not really sure” if he’ll be able to.
  • The injuries aren’t only on defense. Receiver DeSean Jackson is in the concussion protocol according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). In addition to the concussion, Jackson is nursing a minor shoulder injury and it’s unclear if he’ll be able to go Sunday against the Eagles, although at this point it looks like he’ll probably play assuming he clears the protocol.
  • It was reported earlier this week that Hargreaves would miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, and now more details are in. The 11th overall pick of the 2016 draft has a torn labrum according to Laine. Although he struggled his first two years in the league, Hargreaves reportedly had a very strong camp to win the starting job, and it’s a huge blow to the Bucs’ already thin secondary.

Buccaneers To Place Vernon Hargreaves On Injured Reserve

The Buccaneers were dealt another blow to their secondary with an injury to Vernon Hargreaves, and it’s serious enough that the team will place him on injured reserve, a source told Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link).

Stroud adds that the shoulder injury is “season ending” so it doesn’t sound like Hargreaves is a candidate for one of the Bucs’ two designated to return spots. It was reported yesterday that the injury was potentially serious, and now we have confirmation. Hargreaves, a starting cornerback, was supposed to be an integral part of the Buccaneers’ defense.

The team was already without number one corner Brent Grimes in Week 1, and the secondary is now extremely thin. It would be pretty surprising if the Bucs don’t bring in some outside help sometime this week. The team met with Bashaud Breeland earlier this week, and adding him to the roster would make a lot of sense.

Hargreaves, the 11th overall pick in the 2016 draft, has had a disappointing career this far. Pro Football Focus graded him as one of the worst cornerbacks in the league through his first two seasons, but Bucs’ coaches and executives were reportedly still high on him and expecting him to make a leap in 2018. He’s still just 23, but it’s a huge blow to his development.

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Vernon Hargreaves Possibly Done For Year?

Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves suffered a “serious” shoulder injury on Sunday, tweets Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, and Adam Schefter and John Keim of ESPN.com add (via Twitter) that the injury may be season-ending. Hargreaves will receive a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday, per Stroud.

Tampa Bay was without veteran cornerback Brent Grimes against the Saints, so Hargreaves acted as the club’s de facto No. 1 corner against Drew Brees until going down with his own injury. The Bucs were reportedly optimistic that Hargreaves’ shoulder issue wasn’t serious, but an MRI may have told the club otherwise.

With Hargreaves possibly out of the picture, the Buccaneers’ problems at cornerback will become even more pronounced. Second-round rookie Carlton Davis‘ is now Tampa’s top corner, while Ryan Smith (a 10-game starter in 2017) will likely hold down the other starting spot. But given that the rest of the depth chart — Javien Elliott, M.J. Stewart, and the recently-signed Marcus Williams — doesn’t offer much NFL experience, the Buccaneers took a look at free agent defender Bashaud Breeland earlier today.

Hargreaves, the 11th overall pick in the 2016 draft, is still only 23 years old, but his career has been a relative disappointment thus far. After starting 16 games as a rookie, Hargreaves missed time with a hamstring injury last year, and wasn’t effective when he was on the field. Pro Football Focus’ grades indicated Hargreaves played like one of the worst corners in the league, and the Florida product finished as a bottom-five cornerback in Football Outsiders’ success rate.

If Hargreaves is out for the year, the Buccaneers will be able to immediately contemplate their now difficult decision on his 2020 fifth-year option. Tampa Bay must decide by May of next year whether it”ll exercise an option that would likely pay Hargreaves around $10MM (the figure was $9.06MM for corners in 2019).

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Extra Points: Bucs, Hargreaves, Seahawks

A video of Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves smoking a cigarette containing an unknown substance surfaced on Instagram this week, as Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times details. Hargreaves, a University of Florida product, has struggled in the first two years of his young career. Last year, the Bucs tried employing Hargreaves as their nickel cornerback before a hamstring injury ended his season after nine games.

The video alone is unlikely to get Hargreaves into trouble with the law or the NFL, but a positive test for a banned substance such as marijuana would violate the league’s substance abuse policy. All in all, it’s simply not a good look for a player who has failed to make good on his first-round status.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • At the owners’ meetings, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (Twitter link) heard Mark Sanchez‘s name “as a possibility” for the Seahawks. Someone like Sanchez could serve as a veteran backup to Russell Wilson now that Trevone Boykin is out of the picture.
  • The “Josh McDaniels rule” which would have allowed assistant coaches to sign on as head coaches elsewhere during the playoffs did not pass at this week’s owners’ meetings. Surprisingly, Colts GM Chris Ballard was not among those in support of the rule. “When you’re a playoff team, you’re trying to eliminate all the distractions that you can. And we’re going to be a playoff team and we’re going to have these issues,” Ballard said (via Stephen Holder of the Indy Star). “It becomes a slippery slope. We have rules in place for a reason. I think they’re good rules. It gives you a chance to interview and then, after the season, whatever happens, happens. In our case, he changed his mind and we moved on.”
  • New Broncos defender Su’a Cravens has the ability to play both safety and linebacker, but the team views him strictly as a safety, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Broncos acquired Cravens from Washington on Wednesday in a deal that will net the Redskins a fifth-round pick plus upgraded picks in the fourth and fifth round and a conditional sixth-round choice in 2020.

Buccaneers Place Vernon Hargreaves On IR

The Buccaneers are placing cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III on injured reserve, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Hargreaves’ hamstring injury has kept him off the field in recent weeks and the team has decided not to chance things in the final two games of the season. Vernon Hargreaves (vertical)

Hargreaves, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2016 draft, appeared in only nine games this year with seven starts. Because of the hamstring issue, we haven’t seen him on the field since the Bucs’ November 12th win over the Jets.

The Bucs are still waiting to see the Florida product fulfill his potential. Hargreaves was healthy for all of last season and recorded 76 tackles, but he surrendered the most targets (127), catches (86), and yards (1,271) in the NFL.

He earned a 44.4 overall score from Pro Football Focus in ’16, placing him among the worst qualified corners in the league. This season, he showed some improvement in that regard, finishing out with a 72.8 score, though that barely places him among the top 70 players at his position.

Hargreaves, 23 in June, is under contract through 2019. He’ll be back in Tampa Bay next year with a $3.866MM cap figure.

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South Notes: Bucs, Aguayo, Winston, Jaguars

Draft evaluations are subjective and tend to vary greatly from team to team. This week, Buccaneers GM Jason Licht reminded us of that fact when he explained that he had first-round grades on three of his rookies this year, including kicker Roberto Aguayo. The Bucs thought enough of the FSU product to trade into the second round for him and apparently it’s a move that the Bucs made with confidence. Along with Aguayo, the GM feels that he snared first-round talents in cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and defensive end Noah Spence. In 2015, Licht says he also hit it big.

We think we got four last year,” Licht told Scott Reynolds of Pewter Report, referring to quarterback Jameis Winston, left tackle Donovan Smith, guard Ali Marpet, and linebacker Kwon Alexander . “That’s the goal – to get multiple first-round draft picks each year. When it’s all said done, to look back and say, ‘We got multiple first-round picks in this draft’ – that was the goal.”

While you ponder Licht’s assessment of his last two drafts (and his evaluation of Aguayo), here’s more out of the South divisions:

  • New Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken admits that he wasn’t a big fan of Winston prior to the 2015 draft. Today, the former Southern Miss head coach isn’t afraid to admit that he has had a change of heart. “It’s who he is, how he’s wired,” Monken said, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “I think that’s one thing that’s a misnomer. I think from the outside you would’ve looked at it with all the things that were publicized in the past about him and who he is. I was dead wrong. He wants to win as much as we do. He’s a competitive joker, man, he’s smart, he’s intelligent…you can win a lot of games with guys like that.”
  • Jeff Linkenbach‘s contract with the Jaguars is for one season and will pay $810K, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. The guard/tackle has 86 appearances and 36 starts on his NFL resume.
  • The Jaguars got some bad news on Thursday when they learned that first-round pick Jalen Ramsey will have to undergo surgery to fix a knee injury. Depending on the second opinion and the treatment option he goes with, Ramsey could reportedly miss 4-6 weeks or 4-6 months. If all goes well, however, he’ll be ready for the start of training camp.