Will Fuller

Trade Notes: Packers, McKinley, Alexander

We heard earlier today that the Packers were eying Texans wideout Will Fuller, but there were reportedly disagreements among high-level Packers officials on whether they should make a play for a receiver. While head coach Matt LaFleur said he was unsure if “anything ever got that serious,” he was sure that he’s on the same page with general manager Brian Gutekunst.

“I have no idea where anything like that would ever come from,” LaFleur said of the reports (via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky). “We’re in constant communication, we’re on the same page and there is no truth to that. I promise you that.”

While receiver Davante Adams expressed confidence in his teammates, he previously acknowledged that he’d welcome some help at the position.

“I wouldn’t say we necessarily need to, because I think we’ve shown what we can do,” Adams said. “When I went down, guys stepped up and did what they had to do. Stepped up big. I wouldn’t say it’s a need. Obviously, I’ve said this before, I don’t think it’s any secret that could help us potentially. I wouldn’t be opposed to it. It could help us. But I definitely got full faith and trust in my guys here to be able to get it done.”

As Demovsky notes, the Packers could be getting some reinforcement at the position, as receiver Allen Lazard could return this weekend. The 24-year-old had eight catches for 146 yards and one score in Week 3, but he’s been sidelined since undergoing core muscle surgery.

Some more trade notes from around the NFL:

  • The Falcons were seeking a fourth-round pick for defensive end Takkarist McKinley, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (via Twitter). We heard last week that the former first-rounder was on the trade block, but the 25-year-old declared last night that he wasn’t going anywhere. McKinley has compiled only eight tackles and one sack in four games this season, and he hasn’t played more than 40-percent of his team’s defensive snaps since Week 1.
  • After acquiring defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in a preseason trade with the Jaguars, the Vikings traded the veteran to the Ravens back in October. ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes that the trade conditions from the conditional fifth-rounder that Minnesota sent Jacksonville still apply. That fifth-rounder will turn into a fourth-rounder if Ngakoue goes to the Pro Bowl (with the Ravens). It’s worth noting that the Vikings received a conditional fifth-rounder in their trade with Baltimore, and there’s a good chance that selection contains many of the same conditions.
  • The pick the Dolphins received in the Isaiah Ford trade with the Patriots is a conditional sixth-rounder, tweets Jeff Howe of The Athletic. Howe adds that the pick could turn into a seventh-rounder if the conditions aren’t met.
  • The conditional fifth-round pick that the Saints sent the 49ers in the Kwon Alexander trade has a bit more intrigue. The MMQB’s Albert Breer tweets that it’s a 2022 pick that’s heading to San Francisco, although that could turn into a 2021 selection based on “play-time markers.”
  • Cowboys receiver Michael Gallup was presumably never on the block, as VP Stephen Jones said last week that the organization wouldn’t be trading the 24-year-old (via The Athletic’s Jon Machota on Twitter). Following a breakout 2019 campaign, Gallup has disappointed a bit in 2020, hauling in 26 receptions for 432 yards and one score through eight games (seven starts).

Packers Split On Trading For Texans’ Will Fuller

There’s disagreement among high-level Packers officials on whether the long-term cost of an elite receiver like Will Fuller would be worthwhile, Dianna Russini of ESPN.com tweets. The Packers have discussed Fuller with the Texans, but it’s far from a given that they’ll complete a trade before the afternoon deadline. 

Fuller, who is playing on a $10.16MM fifth-year option salary, profiles as an interesting rental option for the Packers. Through seven games, he’s been Deshaun Watson‘s favorite target, catching 31 passes for a team-high 490 yards and five touchdowns. Of course, acquiring him would mean giving up significant draft capital, especially since the Texans have insisted that they’re not keen on trading players with potential for 2021.

The Packers could certainly use a weapon like Fuller, given their lack of production at wide receiver. Davante Adams has been leading the charge with 43 catches for 502 yards and seven touchdowns in just five games. Meanwhile, the rest of the group has combined for a mere 38 catches, 622 receiving yards, and four scores.

The Packers passed on their opportunity to nab an elite wide receiver in this year’s draft, and they’re window to trade for one is on the verge of closing. The NFL’s trade deadline — 4pm ET/3pm CT — is just hours away.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Rumors: Thomas, Njoku, Watt, Jets

Saints head coach Sean Payton has said his team has no interest in trading star receiver Michael Thomas, though Thomas’ camp was recently said to be looking for potential deals. There has been no movement towards a Thomas trade, and whether that’s because New Orleans has no interest in dealing him or because the club has not received an offer it likes, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says Thomas will stay put.

With the trade deadline two days away, let’s round up a few more rumors on players who could be on the move:

  • The Browns don’t want to trade tight end David Njoku, but Njoku has renewed his request to be dealt, and Rapoport says Cleveland has been fielding calls on the former first-rounder. It may take at least a fourth-round pick to get a deal done, but with Austin Hooper set to return and with the emergence of rookie Harrison Bryant, the Browns may elect to move Njoku.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that the Texans are at the center of the trade market, with one executive saying Houston could move as many as five players if it wants to. Rapoport expects the Packersinterest in Will Fuller — which dates back to the summer — to ramp up, but it will likely take a high pick to convince the Texans to move Fuller. Fellow WR Kenny Stills has also drawn some interest, though rival clubs see the contracts for Stills and Randall Cobb as prohibitive. DE J.J. Watt may be receptive to a trade, but considering his contract and age, other teams probably don’t value him like the Texans do.
  • The Jets have received calls on LB Avery Williamson, OTs George Fant and Chuma Edoga, and CB Quincy Wilson, per Albert Breer of SI.com. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says the Steelers — who recently lost Devin Bush for the season — could be in the market for Williamson, and Edoga also seems like a good bet to be dealt since he does not look like a fit with the current regime.
  • La Canfora says teams have also called the Jets about WR Breshad Perriman and TE Chris Herndon, though Breer notes that safety Marcus Maye has not drawn much interest.
  • Rapoport names Dolphins RB Jordan Howard and Seahawks TE Jacob Hollister as two other players who could be moved. And though the Bengals are shopping disgruntled wideout John Ross, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com says there hasn’t been interest in Ross (Twitter link).

Packers Inquire On Texans’ Will Fuller

The Packers are among the clubs showing interest in Texans wide receiver Will Fuller, according to Aaron Reiss of The Athletic (on Twitter). Nothing is imminent at the moment, but things could pick up between now and Tuesday’s trade deadline.

[RELATED: Teams Calling Texans On Fuller, Cobb]

Reiss also hears that the Texans are not interested in a full-on fire sale, though many observers are skeptical. Their firing of head coach/GM Bill O’Brien seemed to signal the start of a revamp, and they’re not playing for much this year with a record of 1-6. They’re also in the midst of their bye week, which would give them extra time to acclimate post-trade.

Fuller, who is playing on a $10.16MM fifth-year option salary, profiles as an interesting rental option for contenders. Through seven games, he’s been Deshaun Watson‘s favorite target, catching 31 passes for a team-high 490 yards and five touchdowns. The Texans could parlay Fuller into draft capital, but they seem to be telling teams that they’d rather keep him (and Brandin Cooks) for the long haul. For what it’s worth, interim head coach Romeo Crennel has been telling players not to worry about getting traded.

With this situation, it might be more on their mind this year,” Crennel said when asked if the issue is a potential distraction. “I’ve talked to them and tried to reassure them that I’m not looking to trade guys.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Teams Calling Texans On Fuller, Cobb

Despite trading DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans entered the season with a bloated wide receiver payroll. They are now 1-6 and between GMs, leading teams to inquire about some of their players.

Teams have contacted the Texans about their wide receivers, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, who notes the team has fielded calls on Will Fuller and Randall Cobb (Twitter link).

The trade deadline looms Nov. 3, though teams who would like to deploy their new players in Week 9 would need to make deals this week in order for them to begin practicing ahead of those games. COVID-19 testing protocols require players to pass six tests — each a day apart — before practicing with new teams.

Fuller and Cobb represent half of Houston’s veteran receiving corps, which also includes 2020 trade acquisition Brandin Cooks and 2019 trade get Kenny Stills. Fuller, who is playing on a $10.16MM fifth-year option salary, would bring far more value back to the Texans in a deal than a Cobb swap would. The then-Bill O’Brien-run Texans signed Cobb to a three-year, $27MM deal in March. Shipping out the 30-year-old slot receiver would not bring especially notable compensation, and Wilson adds the Texans are not receiving strong offers for either player as of Wednesday afternoon.

Houston having dealt Hopkins would seemingly make a Fuller trade less likely. He has emerged as Deshaun Watson‘s top target, hauling in 31 passes for a team-high 490 yards and five touchdowns. Although the former first-round pick is a free agent at year’s end and has been unable to stay healthy for most of his career, the Texans do not have any surefire building blocks at this position for Watson moving forward. Cooks would qualify, but the O’Brien acquisition is on his fourth team. Cooks, 27, has also come up in trade talks. While the Texans appear ready to deal one of their veteran wideouts, it is unclear as of now which one will go.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Rumors: Giants, Ryan, Fuller

After dealing Markus Golden to the Cardinals, it appears the 1-6 Giants have officially declared themselves sellers at this year’s trade deadline. Though GM Dave Gettleman may be reluctant to trade away veteran talent that could theoretically help Big Blue win a few games — and perhaps save Gettleman’s job in the process — players like Evan Engram, Kevin Zeitler, and Golden Tate could be available, as Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post writes (though Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says the club is unlikely to deal Engram).

2017 second-round DT Dalvin Tomlinson could also be on the move, per Dunleavy. Tomlinson is playing out the last year of his rookie contract, and while he has expressed interest in staying with the Giants long-term, there has been little progress in contract talks.

As we creep closer to the November 3 deadline, let’s round up a few more trade rumors from around the league:

Will Fuller Undergoes Surgery

A key component in the Texans’ offense, Will Fuller again struggled to stay healthy this season. Houston’s No. 2 wide receiver missed five regular-season games and the team’s first-round playoff contest.

Fuller took a big step toward a full recovery recently, undergoing sports hernia surgery to repair the groin issues he dealt with this season, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets.

The Texans’ top deep threat aggravated the injury in the divisional-round loss to the Chiefs. Fuller has yet to play a full season, coming closest in a 14-game rookie campaign. This will mark another offseason of rehab for the former first-round pick. He spent the 2019 offseason rehabbing an ACL tear he sustained in 2018. Fuller dealt with hamstring and groin injuries this season, with the latter malady shelving him for Houston’s wild-card game.

The Notre Dame alum is going into his fifth-year option season. He’s on the Texans’ books for $10.16MM. The 2020 campaign will be critical for the former first-round pick. He will need to show he can stay healthy in order to command a lucrative extension or a long-term free agent deal as a 2021 free agent.

Deshaun Watson‘s regular-season QBR was more than 15 points higher with Fuller on the field than when he was sidelined. Despite the five-game absence, the 25-year-old wideout totaled a career-high 670 receiving yards. The Texans have Fuller, DeAndre Hopkins and Kenny Stills under contract going into next season. Fuller and Stills, however, are entering contract years. Thanks to the Stills trade and Fuller’s salary spike, the Texans’ receiver trio is set to comprise more than $31MM on the team’s 2020 payroll.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Notes: Fuller, Jackson, Addae, Akins

By now it’s no secret that the Texans offense is a different animal when wide receiver Will Fuller is on the field. Without their deep threat, Houston managed to squeak by the Bills in the Wild Card Round, but going up against the Chiefs on Sunday, the team is very happy to expect Fuller to return from his groin injury, according to James Palmer of the NFL Network. Fuller missed time during the regular season with a hamstring injury and only appeared in 11 of the teams games. In those 11 contests, Fuller amassed 49 receptions for 670 yards and three touchdowns.

Here are a couple other injury notes for Sunday’s games:

  • The Packers have added cornerback Josh Jackson to the injury report with an illness, according to Ian Rapaport of the NFL Network. While it is not expected to prevent Jackson from taking the field, it very well could limit him from playing to the top of his talents.
  • Texans safety Jahleel Addae and tight end Jordan Akins did not travel with the team to Kansas City and will not play Sunday against the Chiefs, according to James Palmer of the NFL Network. Neither Addae nor Akins are massive contributors for Houston, but both have been solid role players for the team. Addae compiled 41 tackles and two interceptions, while Akins started 9 games and caught 36 passes for 418 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Injury Notes: Ingram, 49ers, Thielen, Fuller

With every team booked into divisional-round action having now begun practice, here is the latest from the injury front going into Round 2. We’ll start with a midweek Vikings setback:

  • Stefon Diggs has missed two Vikings practices because of illness this week, but Mike Zimmer expects him to suit up in San Francisco. However, Adam Thielen suffered an ankle injury at practice and was limited on Wednesday as a result. Thielen was not on Minnesota’s Tuesday injury report. The Pro Bowl wideout missed much of this season with a hamstring injury. He caught seven passes for a game-high 129 yards against the Saints.
  • The NFL’s other purple-wearing team will likely go into its second-round game with backfield uncertainty. Previously expected to return for the Ravens‘ playoff opener, Mark Ingram has missed both Ravens practices this week. Ingram experienced a setback with his injured calf last week, leading to the Ravens to shut him down for a bit, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). The Ravens are indicating there is a “realistic chance” Ingram plays. Baltimore backup Gus Edwards‘ 5.2 yards per carry ranked third in the NFL this season.
  • 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander has been cleared for game action, per Rapoport (video link), meaning it’s now Kyle Shanahan‘s call on whether to redeploy the high-priced defender Saturday. The 49ers used their second IR-return spot on Alexander, who is attempting to return from a midseason pectoral tear, but have not activated him yet.
  • Winding down an oft-injured season, Dee Ford is back at 49ers practice and appears ready to return at a key juncture. The veteran defensive end has dealt with a few maladies, his most recent being a hamstring issue that he aggravated in December. Ford’s gone through limited practices the past two days.
  • One of the NFL’s most important No. 2 wideouts, Will Fuller is trending in the right direction for the Texans‘ divisional-round rematch in Kansas City. The Texans expect their deep threat to return against the Chiefs, Rapoport tweets. Fuller was limited Wednesday. Deshaun Watson‘s QBR figure is 16 points higher when Fuller is on the field compared to when he’s not. The injury-prone wideout missed six games this season, the latest because of the groin injury he sustained in December.
  • Among the healthiest of the divisional-round teams, the Packers will have their right tackle back in the mix. Bryan Bulaga suffered a concussion in Week 17 but passed the protocol Wednesday, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes. Kenny Clark, however, missed practice with a back injury. The contract-year defensive lineman played all 16 Packer games this season.

Texans Notes: Fuller, Watt, Anger

The Texans will be without a major offensive weapon when they open the playoffs against the Bills this afternoon. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports (via Twitter) that wideout Will Fuller will not play today as he continues to recover from his groin injury.

Fuller suffered the injury during Houston’s Week 16 victory over the Buccaneers. There was some optimism that the 25-year-old would be ready to return for the playoffs, but the groin injury will sideline him for at least another week. The former first-rounder finished the 2019 regular season with a career-high 49 receptions for 670 yards and three touchdowns.

With Fuller out of the lineup, Wilson suggests that receiver Keke Coutee will be active for today’s game.

Let’s check out some more notes out of Houston…

  • While the Fuller absence will certainly hurt, the Texans can at least look forward to J.J. Watt‘s return to the lineup. The veteran played in the Texans’ first eight games before suffering a torn pectoral muscle. While the risk of re-injury does exist, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport says the team isn’t planning on using the pass rusher situationally (Twitter link). Rather, the team is expected to “unleash him” instead of hold him back.
  • The Texans extended punter Bryan Anger last week, and Wilson has the details on the new deal (Twitter link). The three-year, $7.5MM contract includes $2MM guaranteed and a $1.25MM signing bonus. Anger will have a cap number of $2.312MM in 2020 and $2.812MM in 2021 and 2022. His base salary peaks at $2.5MM.
  • Anger wasn’t the only Texans player to ink an extension last week. In case you missed it, Whitney Mercilus signed a four-year deal with Houston.