Raiders Sign Lorenzo Alexander

Two days after he was released by the Cardinals, linebacker and special-teamer Lorenzo Alexander has found a new home. The Raiders announced today in a press release that they’ve signed Alexander, waiving linebacker Horace Miller in a corresponding roster move.

Alexander, 32, spent his first six NFL seasons with Washington, earning a Pro Bowl spot in 2012 for his work on special teams. Alexander joined the Cardinals prior to the 2013 season, and in 2014, he played just 53 defensive snaps, but contributed all season long for the team on kick and punt coverage.

An Oakland native, Alexander played his college ball at Cal, so it’s a homecoming for the eight-year veteran.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/2/15

Here are today’s minor signings, cuts, and other transactions from around the NFL:

  • The Falcons have made a change on offense, signing offensive lineman Eric Lefeld and waiving wide receiver Bernard Reedy, the team announced today in a press release. Reedy, who joined the Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2014, spent last season on the team’s practice squad.
  • After cutting their roster down to 74 players on Tuesday, the Jaguars have filled the lone opening by re-signing tight end Connor Hamlett, per Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union (Twitter links). O’Halloran adds that the club also reached an injury settlement with wide receiver Greg Jenkins, so he has been removed from the injured reserve list.
  • The Giants also left an open spot on their 75-man roster following Tuesday’s cuts, and they’re using that sport to re-sign kicker Chris Boswell, according to ESPN’s Adam Caplan (Twitter link). As Dan Graziano of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter), Josh Brown has been dealing with a leg injury, so Boswell will handle the job in New York’s final preseason game on Thursday night.

Lance Briggs To Retire, Joins CSN Chicago

2:51pm: Briggs clarifies (via Sqor.com) that he has not filed any papers yet to make his retirement official, though he says he’ll make an official decision in “the coming weeks.” Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets that Briggs told him he’d submit the retirement paperwork in the next week or so.

2:26pm: Veteran linebacker Lance Briggs has announced his retirement from the NFL, confirming the decision during today’s Cubs/Reds broadcast on Comcast SportsNet. Briggs, who spent his entire playing career in the Windy City, will be joining CSN Chicago as a studio analyst for the 2015 season, participating in pregame and postgame coverage of the Bears.

“I’m excited to continue my partnership with Comcast SportsNet,” said Briggs, who has co-hosted CSN’s ‘The Lance Briggs Show’ with Pat Boyle since 2010. “I’ve had the good fortune of being a part of this network over the past few years. I credit Pat Boyle who immediately made me feel at home here and I always told him I wanted to be here after my career. It’s just a great atmosphere and I love being surrounded by some really great people. This was the right decision for me.”

Briggs, who turns 35 in November, played in 173 regular season games for the Bears in his 12 NFL seasons, earning seven Pro Bowl appearances and making a case to be considered for the Hall of Fame. The Bears, however, opted to go in a new direction this offseason and in early March they informed him that he wouldn’t be returning for another season.

Briggs, who entered the league as a third-round pick in 2003, was a key piece on the defensive side of the ball for the Bears for more than a decade. Known for being tough and durable throughout his career, Briggs has missed 15 of 32 games across the last two seasons. That’s a stark contrast to the four total contests he missed in his first 10 seasons.

After accumulating more than 1,100 tackles, 16 forced fumbles, and 16 interceptions during his career with the Bears, Briggs drew some interest from the 49ers this offseason, as San Francisco saw its linebacking corps depleted by retirements. However, the Niners never reached an agreement with Briggs, and now the former third-round pick will remain in Chicago as he moves onto the next phase of his career.

South Notes: K. Lewis, Jennings, J. Jones, Jags

The Saints made the cornerback position a priority this offseason when they added former Patriot Brandon Browner and CFLer Delvin Breaux as free agents, but the team’s top corner won’t be available to start the regular season. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), Keenan Lewis underwent hip surgery yesterday and will miss about four to six weeks of action.

Landing on the IR with the designation to return doesn’t appear likely for Lewis, since that would sideline him for the entire first half, but the Saints will have to make do without him for at least the next month.

Let’s check in on a few other items from out of the league’s two South divisions….

  • Speaking to Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Facebook link), free agent cornerback Tim Jennings said a visit with to Tampa Bay “went well,” but he hasn’t made a decision yet on whether he’ll sign with the Buccaneers. “I do want to take this time to see what other opportunities may materialize, if possible,” Jennings said. “Some teams may have some things come up with more roster cuts. Obviously, I also have a strong connection to Tampa too. So we will see.”
  • Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com has the full year-by-year breakdown for Julio Jones‘ extension with the Falcons, which includes a $12MM signing bonus and $35.5MM in fully guaranteed money.
  • Echoing many of the same points made by Jason La Canfora in a recent CBSSports.com column, Bob Kravitz of WTHR Sports writes that Chuck Pagano‘s future as the Colts head coach is uncertain, given his expiring contract and possible tension with GM Ryan Grigson.
  • The Jaguars would “most likely not” let Justin Blackmon out of his NFL contract to pursue a contract in the CFL, writes Alex Marvez of FOX Sports. Of course, Blackmon would also have to be reinstated by the NFL before he could even consider playing in Canada, and that doesn’t appear imminent either.
  • A housekeeping detail on the Steelers‘ acquisition of Josh Scobee, per Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter links): The Jaguars converted $925K of Scobee’s base salary into a signing bonus before completing the deal, meaning they pay that amount, leaving the Steelers with just a $2.5MM tab for 2015.

Panthers Extend Derek Anderson

12:37pm: Anderson’s two-year extension is worth $5MM, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter).

12:12pm: After locking up their starting quarterback, Cam Newton, to a long-term contract earlier in the offseason, the Panthers have extended their No. 2 signal-caller as well. According to a team release, Derek Anderson has added two years to his deal with the Panthers, keeping him under team control through the 2017 season. Anderson’s contract had previously been set to expire after this year.

“Derek adds stability to the quarterback position as the backup, and we have tremendous confidence in him,” head coach Ron Rivera said in a statement. “His experience and veteran leadership has been important in the quarterbacks room and with the coaches. We’re securing a veteran player who has been a big part of what we’re building.”

Anderson, who has been with the Panthers since 2011, saw his first two starts for the team in 2014 when Newton went down, and led the club to victories in both of those games, throwing five touchdowns to no interceptions and completing 67.0% of his passes. It was arguably the best stretch in his career since he earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2007 after winning 10 of 15 starts for the Browns.

Earning a salary of $1.175MM in 2015, Anderson isn’t among the league’s highest-paid backups, though the 32-year-old figures to be in line for at least a small raise on his new deal, which he called a “no-brainer.”

Bears Acquire Khari Lee From Texans

11:45am: The Bears have officially confirmed the deal, announcing (via Twitter) that they’ve waived tight end Blake Annen to make room for Lee on their roster.

10:59am: The Texans and Bears have agreed to a trade, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, who reports (via Twitter) that Houston has sent tight Khari Lee to Chicago. In exchange for Lee, the Texans will receive a 2017 sixth-round draft pick, per McClain.

Lee, 23, was one of 16 undrafted free agents to sign with the Texans right after the draft concluded in May, and the Bowie State product has been one of the more impressive players from that group. The rookie tight end has caught at least one pass in each of Houston’s three preseason games, with five receptions for 71 yards in total.

According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter links), the Bears are excited about Lee, since the club likes his ability as an in-line blocker and the fact that he’s a solid red zone receiver. Wilson adds that the two sides worked out the trade last night, following the cutdown to 75 players.

While Lee isn’t a lock to make the Bears’ 53-man roster, the fact that the team was willing to surrender a sixth-round pick for him suggests he’s in the plans. As such, one or two of Chicago’s other tight ends may be in danger of losing their roster spots. Besides Martellus Bennett, the Bears are also carrying veterans Dante Rosario, Bear Pascoe, and Zach Miller.

Colts’ Arthur Jones Requires Ankle Surgery

After getting multiple opinions on his injured ankle, Colts defensive lineman Arthur Jones will require surgery to repair torn ligaments in the ankle, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links). According to Rapoport, there may also be joint damage, but that won’t be clear until the surgery.

After spending his first four NFL seasons in Baltimore, Jones signed a five-year, $33MM contract in 2014 to join the Colts, but his first year in Indianapolis was derailed by health problems — he played just nine regular season contests for the team, starting three. Now, it appears he’ll play even less in his second year with the Colts.

According to Rapoport, Jones is a candidate for the injured reserve list with the designation to return, which would sideline him for half the season, but that’s a best-case scenario. Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) echoes that sentiment, citing a source who says that Jones will be lucky if he only misses half the 2015 season. In other words, the 29-year-old could also simply be placed on IR without the designation to return, sidelining him for the season.

While the Colts fortified their defensive line in the offseason by signing Kendall Langford, the team may return to the free agent market or the waiver wire this week in search of more help up front, particularly if Jones is done for the year.

For Jones, the procedure on his ankle raises some questions about his long-term future in Indianapolis. In 2016, he’ll count for $5.6MM against the Colts’ cap, with that number jumping up to $7.35MM for 2017 and 2018. If the club isn’t confident he can stay on the field going forward, Jones could be released in ’16 with just $3.3MM in dead money left on Indianapolis’ cap.

East Notes: Cassel, Bills, Giants, Cowboys

After having let go of one veteran offensive player earlier this week, the Bills may part ways with another before the season begins — albeit one that has only been on the roster for several months, rather than several years. According to Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News (Twitter links), there’s an expectation among multiple NFL personnel people that Buffalo will cut quarterback Matt Cassel and go with E.J. Manuel as Tyrod Taylor‘s backup.

As Carucci notes, Cassel is a costly bench player, with a cap hit of nearly $5MM for 2015, and the Bills need all the cap space they can get in order to extend star defensive lineman Marcell Dareus. Fred Jackson‘s cap number likely played a significant part in his Monday release as well.

Speaking of Jackson, we heard this morning that the decision to cut the veteran running back appears to have been made by general manager Doug Whaley, and Carucci points out that Manuel has “strong support” from Whaley. It may be worth keeping an eye on these sorts of roster decisions in Buffalo this year to see how the relationship between Rex Ryan and Whaley evolves, and how much influence each of them has over personnel decisions.

Here’s more from around the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • Adam Caplan of ESPN.com has the details on Stevie Brown‘s new contract with the Giants, tweeting that the safety will earn the minimum salary and will get a $40K bonus if he’s on the team’s Week 1 roster.
  • Given the Giants‘ problems at the safety position this summer, the decision not to re-sign veteran defensive back Antrel Rolle back in March looks especially bad now, writes Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News.
  • With the Cowboys‘ roster now down to 75 players, Bob Sturm of the Dallas Morning News takes a look at some position battles across the roster, predicting which players might hit the waiver wire when the club cuts down to 53.

Fred Jackson: Bills GM “Wasn’t Honest With Me”

Among the first series of roster cuts this week, one of the most surprising moves around the NFL was the Bills’ decision to part ways with running Fred Jackson, who had been a key contributor for the club since 2007. As he tells Bucky Gleason of The Buffalo News, Jackson was shocked by the move, which he called “a tough pill to swallow,” since conversations with GM Doug Whaley had led him to believe he’d have a major role on the team in 2015.

“Doug Whaley was behind it, to my knowledge,” Jackson said. “He wasn’t honest with me the entire time that I’ve known him. I have the utmost respect for the organization. There’s only one person in that organization that I haven’t gotten honesty from, and that was him.”

While head coach Rex Ryan decides who plays on Sundays, making decisions like the one to name Tyrod Taylor the Bills’ starting quarterback, Whaley has the final say on the team’s 53-man roster. And according to Tim Graham of the Buffalo News (via Twitter), the GM “went rogue” when it came to Jackson’s release.

As Graham explains (via Twitter), Whaley spoke with Terry and Kim Pegula before he cut Jackson, and the Bills’ owners were surprised, but supported the GM’s call. However, many key people within the football operations department and on the coaching staff didn’t know the move was coming, tweets Graham. It’s not clear if Ryan was among that group.

While Jackson may not be pleased with how his time in Buffalo ended, it appears he won’t have to wait long to find a new NFL home. He didn’t immediately sign with the Seahawks after visiting the team on Tuesday, but Seattle has interest, and so does Baltimore.

Extra Points: Hunter, Brady, Thomas

Titans wide receiver Justin Hunter‘s case was continued until Sept. 15 because a defense witness did not show up to court today, Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com tweets. Just days ago, Hunter had his charge reduced to a misdemeanor. The 24-year-old was viewed as a potential breakout candidate last year, but battled injuries and complied just 498 yards and three touchdowns on 28 receptions.

Here’s more from around the NFL..

  • Judge Richard Berman will issue his decision and order in the Tom Brady case by the end of the week, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. As it stands, the Patriots QB is set to serve a four-game suspension.
  • Following his doctor’s visit, Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas has decided to have surgery on his injured finger on Wednesday, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Thomas could be out for a month, as previously estimated.
  • Larry Foote was coaching at Cardinals practice today, which is likely a sign that he’s not playing this season, Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com tweets. Foote had to make a decision on his status by 1pm Arizona time, and that deadline has come and gone. The Cardinals added the 35-year-old to their coaching staff earlier in the offseason with the intent of signing him to the roster later in the summer if he decided to continue playing.
  • Rams coach Jeff Fisher made it clear that Case Keenum will be the team’s No. 2 quarterback, Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com tweets. That leaves Austin Davis and Sean Mannion to battle for the No. 3 job (link). Given that Mannion was a third-round pick this year, it seems unlikely that Davis will win that battle.

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