Minor Moves: Seahawks, Steelers, Cowboys

There were tons of housekeeping moves in the NFL yesterday and we’ll keep track of the latest here..

  • Former Steelers wide receiver David Gilreath signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks, agent Sean Stellato tells Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports 1 (on Twitter). Gilreath was cut by the Raiders after a short stint in June. The Seahawks also signed offensive guard C.J. Davis, according to agent Neil Schwartz (on Twitter).
  • The Seahawks cut tight end Chase Dixon and waived-injured offensive lineman Jared Smith, Wilson tweets. Seattle signed Smith to a reserve contract in February and added Dixon as a UDFA in May.
  • The Steelers cut linebacker Kion Wilson, Wilson tweets.
  • The Cowboys cut Tyronne Green with an injury settlement, Wilson tweets. The offensive guard was placed on the reserved/injured list late last month.
  • The Steelers signed defensive back Lew Toler, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter).
  • The Bills waived/injured cornerback Brandon Smith, according to ESPN’s Field Yates (via Mike Rodak of ESPN on Twitter).
  • The Bengals waived punter T.J. Conley, according to Paul Dehner Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter).
  • The Bills claimed center Jared Wheeler off waivers from the Panthers while the Bengals grabbed wide receiver Conner Vernon after he was waived by the Browns, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
  • The Panthers signed linebacker Anthony Morales, according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer (on Twitter). Morales, will fill Edmund Kugbila‘s roster spot after he was waived-injured. Morales played at Weber State and had career totals of 342 tackles, five sacks, and 38 tackles for a loss.
  • The Texans signed nose tackle David Hunter, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). It’s a homecoming for Hunter, who plied his craft at the University of Houston. Hunter will provide depth on the interior of the defensive line with third-round pick Louis Nix on the PUP list.
  • The Buccaneers have been awarded linebacker Brandon Magee off waivers from the Browns, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.
  • The Bengals have signed rookie wide receiver Jeremy Johnson, according to Paul Dehner Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter). The SMU product was recently cut loose by the Patriots.

Extra Points: Saints, Suh, Blackmon

Things got weird between the Saints and tight end Jimmy Graham this offseason but everything has been smoothed over now that Graham has a new deal, writes Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. “Look, one of the best phone calls of the summer was he and I having a chance to visit the day of [the signing] and just touch base and kind of get moving towards this training camp,” said coach Sean Payton. Payton went on to praise Graham and his agent Jimmy Sexton for the way they handled the process, an unusual series of events that included an arbitration hearing to determine whether Graham should be considered a tight end or wide receiver for franchise tag purposes. Here’s more from around the NFL..

  • The Lions are not optimistic about signing Ndamukong Suh to a new contract, tweets Chris Mortensen of ESPN. Suh enters camp counting $22.4MM against the Lions’ salary cap and Detroit had hoped to gain some cap flexibility in a new deal.
  • Marshawn Lynch is holding out for more money from the Seahawks a day after Jamaal Charles reworked his deal with the Chiefs, but it’s hard to compare the two situations, writes Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap. For starters, Charles was quite underpaid while Lynch’s deal put him amongst the top five backs in the league. While its understandable that Lynch is holding out, Fitzgerald concludes that Charles was far more deserving of the raise he received.
  • Jaguars owner Shad Khan says that he won’t be releasing Justin Blackmon after his latest arrest, but Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com says they should take a stand and do it. The wide receiver isn’t being paid and doesn’t count against the salary cap or roster limit, but releasing him would send a message to the rest of the team that his type of behavior will not be accepted.

West Notes: 49ers, Smith, Davis, Burnett

Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News doesn’t blame 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh for trying to put a positive spin on things. “It’s such a positive happening, that first day,” Harbaugh said during his first session in the Levi’s Stadium auditorium. “Imagine you’re kind of in the comfort of the offseason, like being in the comfort of the womb, got plenty to eat in there, it’s warm, very cozy. And then you’re born, kind of, somewhat into the unknown. A lot of people looking at you, a lot of faces looking at you, a lot of excitement … It’s light, it’s bright, it’s noisy, it’s the crazy world of football.” It’s probably a good thing that the Niners have such a positive voice leading the charge given their contractual issues, injuries, and the Aldon Smith situation. Here’s more out of the AFC and NFC West..

  • It has been alleged that Smith, the 49ers most feared pass rusher, was inebriated when he was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport, but he says that he has maintained sobriety since September, writes Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. Smith says he will meet with commissioner Roger Goodell in New York sometime in the “near future” to talk about his future and any possible suspension. Meanwhile, those close to Smith expect him to be suspended, Ed Werder of ESPN.com tweets.
  • 49ers tight end Vernon Davis said that his holdout is something that is “in the past” and added that he’s not worried about his contract, tweets Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. The contract discussions, he says, are between the team and his agent.
  • Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter) is surprised the Raiders didn’t release Kevin Burnett sooner. The linebacker is 31, overpriced to be a backup, and there were concerns about how he’d take to a reserve role. The 31-year-old recorded 83 tackles and 2.5 sacks with an interception and four pass deflections last season.

Offseason In Review: Dallas Cowboys

Notable signings:

Notable losses:

Extensions and restructures:

Trades:

  • Acquired a second-round pick (No. 34) from the Redskins in exchange for a second-round pick (No. 47) and third-round pick (No. 78).
  • Acquired a fifth-round pick (No. 146) from the Lions in exchange for a fifth-round pick (No. 158) and a seventh-round pick (No. 229).
  • Acquired Rolando McClain and a conditional seventh-round pick from the Ravens in exchange for a conditional sixth-round pick. Conditions for the traded picks, which also could turn into a swap of seventh-rounders, can be found within the linked story.

Draft picks:

  • Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame (1.16): Signed
  • Demarcus Lawrence, DE/OLB, Boise State (2.34): Signed
  • Anthony Hitchens, LB, Iowa (4.119): Signed
  • Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh (5.146): Signed
  • Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford (7.231): Signed
  • Will Smith, LB, Texas Tech (7.238): Signed
  • Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor (7.248): Signed
  • Ken Bishop, DT, Northern Illinois (7.251): Signed
  • Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon (7.254): Signed

Other:

AT&T Stadium is an everlasting reminder that Jerry Jones isn’t a fan of the understated. That’s why it was rather surprising to see the Cowboys have a relatively quiet offseason in 2014.

The Cowboys made a major upgrade on their defensive line when they inked tackle Henry Melton. The Bears opted not to extend an offer to the 27-year-old before the start of free agency and had hoped to re-sign him after they figured out how much room they had to work with. Chicago never got the chance as Melton signed on with the Cowboys on a multiyear deal. The deal makes a lot of sense for both sides. Melton can earn nearly $28MM over four seasons if everything works out in 2014 and the Cowboys pick him up for another three seasons. If he struggles to stay on the field, as he did in 2013, the Cowboys can simply decline their club option and move on. Melton, who only played in three games last season, was said to be seeking a one-year, make-good contract, but he came away with the potential for a longer commitment. Even though 2013 didn’t work out as Melton had hoped, he made 14 starts and racked up a career high 31 tackles with six sacks en route to his first Pro Bowl in the season prior. He’ll look to get back to that level this season.NFL: Pro Bowl-NFC Media Day

Melton will be filling the space left by the departure of Jason Hatcher and it’s hard not to like that trade-off for the Cowboys. Despite the time missed in 2013, Melton is younger and probably better suited for Dallas’ defensive scheme. That’s not to say there won’t be challenges for this Cowboys front seven. Hatcher has joined up with the rival Redskins, longtime Dallas mainstay DeMarcus Ware is with the Broncos, and linebacker Sean Lee is done for the season after suffering an injury during OTA’s. On the defensive line, the Cowboys are expected to trot out a front four of George Selvie, Melton, Nick Hayden, and free agent pickup Jeremy Mincey. The Cowboys dropped Ware because of his $16MM cap number for 2014 and Mincey comes in at a much more reasonable $3MM over two years with just $500K guaranteed. Further down the depth chart, the Cowboys added former Texans defensive tackle Terrell McClain on a three-year deal, re-signed pass rusher Anthony Spencer to a one-year deal, and defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, a former No. 10 overall pick.

In the wake of Lee’s injury, the speculation starting coming in fast and furious as to which high-profile linebacker the Cowboys would sign. Would it be former Bears star Brian Urlacher? Would they coax London Fletcher out of retirement? Or how about Jonathan Vilma who was coming off of a 2013 knee injury? The answer: none of the above. Justin Durant will man the middle linebacker position, Kyle Wilber and Bruce Carter will likely be on either side, and rookies DeMarcus Lawrence and Anthony Hitchens will be among those in support.

On the other side of the ball, the conversation is more about who won’t be there in 2014 rather than the additions. New Jersey native Miles Austin, who enjoyed a breakout season with the Cowboys in 2009, has been plagued by a pesky hamstring in recent years and hasn’t been the same player. Not many would have guessed that backup quarterback Kyle Orton would be the center of attention in Dallas throughout the spring and summer, but that’s exactly what happened. After a standoff where Orton intimated that he wouldn’t suit up for the Cowboys and Dallas badly wanted him to play, the Cowboys wound up cutting the bearded QB loose earlier this month. Now, it turns out Orton doesn’t plan on retiring at all and will look to play elsewhere while still enjoying his signing bonus money. it’s a crummy situation for the Cowboys who are without a strong backup behind starter Tony Romo, but on the bright side, they have a little additional cap flexibility this year which could help facilitate extensions for Dez Bryant or Tyron Smith.

The Cowboys didn’t make massive changes this offseason but then again, in a wide open AFC East after an 8-8 season, they didn’t necessarily have to.

Spotrac and Over The Cap were used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Marshawn Lynch To Hold Out

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch will not attend training camp with the Seahawks in an effort to get a new contract, former Seattle teammate Michael Robinson said on the NFL Network, according to Albert Breer (on Twitter). Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times hears that the Seahawks have told Lynch they have no plans to re-do his deal.

There was speculation last month that the running back would skip the Seahawks’ mandatory minicamp, but he wound up attending rather than pay a ~$70K fine. Lynch was planning on showing up and negotiating in good faith at that point, but it appears that he has decided to change course. Lynch is entering the third year of the four-year deal he signed with the Seahawks in 2012 and is set to earn a base salary of $5MM this year and $5.5MM in 2015. However, taking into account the bonus money also included in the pact, the 28-year-old still ranks among the top five backs in the league when it come to average annual value.

The Skittles-loving tailback finished the 2013 season with 1,257 yards, giving him his third straight thousand-yard season. He also registered 14 total touchdowns, a career-high. While Lynch didn’t play a big role in the Seahawks’ Super Bowl romp over the Broncos, he has been an integral part of the team for the past three seasons and change. The 28-year-old has racked up 4,624 yards on the ground to go with 41 rushing touchdowns.

East Notes: Vick, Bills, Dolphins, RGIII

Earlier today, John DeMarzo of the New York Post asked former Texans GM and current NFL analyst Charley Casserly to weigh in on the Jets‘ quarterback situation. “I don’t see it happening in training camp,” Casserly said when asked if Michael Vick will unseat Geno Smith for the starting job. “It’s Geno’s job to lose and he can’t lose it in camp. Vick is coming in to be the backup. [He may start] if Geno disintegrates, but that’s hard to happen…I’m not sure you have a good answer if you have to go to Vick. You ride this thing with Geno and see how he develops.” More out of the AFC and NFC East..

  • A prospective Bills ownership group that includes Jon Bon Jovi has conducted a feasibility study into buying the NFL franchise and building a stadium in Toronto, a person close to the situation tells John Wawrow of the Associated Press. The study identified at least three potential stadium sites, two in Toronto, including one on the waterfront, and another in the suburb of Mississauga. The Bon Jovi group has not said they would relocate the team, but Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says that he has no doubt the group’s intentions are to move the Bills to Toronto.
  • Pro Football Talk recently ranked all 32 teams in the NFL and placed the Dolphins at No. 31. Miami coach Joe Philbin doesn’t quite agree with that, writes Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. “I don’t think he knows the guys in our looker room or the guys that come to work in this building every single day from top to bottom,” Philbin said. Still, the ranking raised enough eyebrows in the Miami front office that owner Stephen Ross called Philbin to discuss it.
  • Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III has take a few shots at former coach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, but he took his biggest dig today, writes Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “You don’t go from the ability to read defenses one year and not have that ability the next, so I don’t believe that one bit,” Griffin said. “And it’s really just a good thing to have two coaches that believe in you. Sean and Jay have done a great job. They’ve given me a lot on my shoulders in that quarterback room and I cherish that. You want to be asked to do more or just to do the bare minimum.”

Chiefs Sign Jamaal Charles To Extension

THURSDAY3:28pm: Only the 2014 season is guaranteed for Charles, a league source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. However, that guarantee is $8.3MM, a nice upgrade from the $3.9MM he was set to earn in 2014.

WEDNESDAY, 10:06pm: The Chiefs tweeted a picture of Charles signing the contract, signifying that the deal is now official.

3:52pm: The Chiefs have agreed to a deal with star running back Jamaal Charles, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that Charles will sign a two-year extension that will only trail Adrian Peterson is terms of value. Fox Sports’ Mike Garafolo reports (via Twitter) that Charles will get $18MM in “new” money, and Rapoport adds on Twitter that they player will get an extra $5MM over the next two seasons.

We heard yesterday that the two sides were discussing a deal, but this morning’s reports indicated that a deal wouldn’t be reached today. Charles originally signed a six-year, $27.97MM in 2010, but his 2014 salary made him vastly underpaid. As PFR’s Zach Links pointed out yesterday, the running back was set to earn $3.9MM in 2014 and $6MM in 2015. The $3.9MM would have ranked him behind players like Donald Brown and Toby Gerhart.

The 27-year-old arguably had his best season in 2013, finishing with 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required) ranked Charles as the second-best running back last season. The running back has mostly stayed healthy throughout his career; except for the 2011 season, Charles has appeared in at least 15 games since his rookie year.

Raiders To Release Kevin Burnett

The Raiders are set to release linebacker Kevin Burnett, according to Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The veteran, who some projected would be a victim of a numbers crunch on the roster anyway, was not cleared medically.

Burnett started all 16 games for the Raiders last season, spending time at both Sam and Will linebacker. However, after the Raiders tabbed Buffalo’s Khalil Mack with the fifth overall pick, Burnett’s role with the club was unclear for 2014. The 31-year-old recorded 83 tackles and 2.5 sacks with an interception and four pass deflections last season. Prior to hooking on with the Raiders, Burnett spent four years with the Cowboys, two seasons with the Chargers, and two years with the Dolphins. Burnett has started a total of 64 NFL games across the last four seasons.

By releasing Burnett, the Raiders will save $3.375MM in cash and cap space.

Extra Points: Texans, Casey, Browns, Chargers

Let’s check in on a few Thursday odds and ends from around the NFL….

  • James Palmer of CSN Houston (Twitter link) continues to hear that talks between Andre Johnson and the Texans are moving in the right direction, though he’s not sure if they’ll be productive enough to ensure that the receiver reports for training camp tomorrow.
  • According to Titans general manager Ruston Webster, negotiations on a contract extension for Jurrell Casey are ongoing, and the GM expects the two sides to reach an agreement (Twitter link via Jonathan Hutton of 104.5 The Zone).
  • Browns head coach Mike Pettine confirmed to Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com that if the Browns had kept the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft, they would have used it to draft Sammy Watkins, which GM Ray Farmer hinted at back in May.
  • Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com (Twitter link) has the breakdown on Danny Woodhead‘s new contract with the Chargers, which is worth $7.25MM, including a $3MM signing bonus.
  • In an interesting piece for CBSSports.com, former agent Joel Corry explains the process of holding out, including the penalties incurred by the player, the leverage in a given situation, and how often a holdout is successful.
  • Bill Barnwell counted down the 50 NFL players with the most trade value in a two-part feature for Grantland. Actually, make that 49 players and one head coach.

Browns To Sign Jamaal Westerman, Edgar Jones

2:28pm: In addition to Westerman, the Browns have also struck an agreement to sign linebacker Edgar Jones, according to agent Marc Lillibridge of Pro Football Syndicate (via Twitter). Although he played 74 defensive snaps last season in Dallas, Jones has played primarily on special teams during his seven-year career with the Ravens, Chiefs, and Cowboys.

1:39pm: Free agent linebacker Jamaal Westerman has agreed to a deal and will sign with the Browns, according to his representatives at Eastern Athletics Agency (Twitter link).

Westerman, 29, spent his first three seasons with the Jets, but has bounced around among several teams in the last two years. The Rutgers product appeared in a handful of games for the Colts and Cardinals in 2012, then played for the Bills and Steelers last season. In 12 contests for Buffalo, Westerman contributed on defense and special teams, logging nine tackles and splitting a sack.

No roster move is necessary to make room for Westerman, since the team already has multiple open roster spots, but the Browns are cutting running back Jourdan Brooks and wideout Kenny Shaw anyway, per Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Twitter link). The series of moves will leave the club with 87 players on its 90-man roster, so more signings figure to follow at some point.