The Los Angeles Chargers are waiving former first-round defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, according to multiple reports. The transaction will become official on Friday, which means Tillery can be claimed on waivers on Monday. It gives 31 competing franchises the weekend to debate submitting a waiver claim for Tillery’s services. This weekend’s results (and injuries) may play a factor.
The same report indicates Chargers general manager Tom Telesco engaged in trade discussions surrounding Tillery with multiple teams leading up to the league’s trade deadline (Nov. 1). Tillery is expected to be claimed.
The No. 28 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, Tillery fell out of favor with Brandon Staley’s coaching staff. He’ll look for a fresh start elsewhere. We’ve swiftly identified three teams that may submit claims for Tillery.
The Texans arguably feature the worst group of interior defensive linemen across the league. The likes of Kurt Hinish and Roy Lopez are playing far too many snaps for the Texans to remain competitive. General manager Nick Caserio is building a young roster. It’s worth taking a chance on Tillery.
The Texans own the league’s 32nd-ranked run defense. Lovie Smith’s squad is allowing an astounding 180.6 rushing yards per contest. The second-worst run defense (Detroit Lions) is averaging 31.8 fewer rushing yards allowed per contest (148.8). The Texans are the worst by a long shot. Tillery has never been known for his run-stuffing prowess, but Pro Football Focus has awarded him with a career-best 59/8 run defense grade this season.
Furthermore, Texans offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton spent the 2020 campaign alongside Tillery in Los Angeles. Perhaps he can provide Caserio and Smith with his evaluation. Tillery would upgrade Houston’s horrid situation at the defensive tackle position.
The struggling Colts feature a stout defense. They’re allowing just 306.8 total yards of offense per contest. It ranks them fifth across the league in that department. This is more about adding depth while reuniting Tillery with a former coach.
Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley spent Tillery’s first two professional seasons (2019-20) as his defensive coordinator with the Chargers. Bradley is inherently familiar with Tillery’s abilities. The Colts acquired multiple ex-Bradley players (such as Yannick Ngakoue) this past offseason to fit his scheme. What’s one more?
Defensive tackle Grover Stewart is arguably playing the best football of his pro career, but Stewart will turn 30 years old next season. Stewart is set to earn a base salary north of $9 million while carrying a cap hit of $10.625 million in 2023, per Spotrac. Tillery is set for unrestricted free agency, but the Colts could evaluate his potential to eventually replace, or provide insurance for Stewart down the stretch.
Lions general manager Brad Holmes should be willing to evaluate young players with potential. The Lions are swiftly heading towards another lost campaign. An evaluation period awaits, and Tillery could be a part of Holmes’ solution.
Detroit’s defense is downright abysmal. They’re allowing a league-high 417.3 yards per contest. Holmes should leave no stone unturned in search of improvement. Their situation at defensive tackle isn’t great. Levi Onwuzurike is on IR and has yet to meet his pre-draft expectations. Isaiah Buggs has been catapulted into a larger role as a result of Onwuzurike’s absence and possesses an overall defensive grade of 41.5 from PFF. Tillery could quickly play himself into a starting role across the Lions’ front four.