Cowboys Place TE James Hanna On Reserve/Retired List

The Cowboys will place James Hanna on the reserve/retired list, Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets. The tight end’s knee condition has not improved and may end his career. Hanna was not involved in the early part of the team’s offseason program, a sign that his recovery had hit a roadblock.

Due to the injured knee, Hanna has been hampered over the last two seasons. He missed all of 2016 with the malady and was less effective because of it in 2017, despite appearing in all 16 games.

Hanna was never much of a receiving threat, but he carved out a spot in Dallas based off of his blocking ability. Hanna made the roster in 2012 as a sixth-round pick and played in all but two of the Cowboys’ regular season games over the years, save for the lost 2016 season.

With Hanna out of the picture, the Cowboys’ tight end depth chart consists of Jason Witten, Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, and Rico Gathers. With Witten getting up there in years, Dallas may want to give extra consideration to tight ends in next week’s draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

La Canfora On Draft, Raiders, Miller, Patriots

UCLA tackle Kolton Miller could be a target for the Raiders if they trade down from the No. 10 overall pick, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com hears. However, they probably can’t move back all that far if they hope to land him. Evaluators and offensive line coaches that have spoken with JLC believe that Miller – and not Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey – is the best tackle in this year’s class. Plenty of teams in the teens are eyeing the 6’9″ prospect and McGlinchey is more likely to go in the late teens or early 20s, La Canfora hears. The Lions at No. 20 could be Miller’s floor as they would plug him in on the right side.

Here’s more draft buzz from JLC:

  • The Patriots are entertaining the possibility of moving up in the teens if the right quarterback falls, La Canfora writes. The Dolphins and Bills are exploring QBs at Nos. 11 and 12, so the Raiders could potentially find value by trading down from No. 10. Josh Rosen, in JLC’s estimation, appears to be the most likely of the big four QBs to slide. I’d agree with that assessment as the Browns, Giants, and Jets are reportedly not high on the UCLA product.
  • The Broncos say they are open to moving down from No. 5 and JLC believes that linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is very much on their radar. The likely trade scenario, he believes, would see the Bills moving up to get Josh Rosen if Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and Baker Mayfield come off of the board in the top four. The Bills own the Nos. 12 and 22 picks in the draft.
  • The Bengals at No. 21 could be the floor for Arkansas center Frank Ragnow. Ragnow is climbing up boards around the league and has a good chance of going in the first round.
  • The Ravens are looking for a tight end, but they would rather not select one at No. 16. La Canfora hears that the Ravens, ideally, would like to move down 5-7 spots to get South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst. The Ravens can’t go too far, however, with the Saints sitting at No. 27.
  • Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who won’t turn 20 until after the draft, is a lock to go in the top 10, JLC hears. He also wouldn’t be shocked to see him go as high as No. 6 overall, depending on how the first five picks shake out.
  • Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan could go just outside the top 10 and JLC believes his worst case scenario is No. 26.
  • Florida state defensive lineman Josh Sweat could sneak into the late first round and seems very possible for the second round.

Ravens Sign WR Willie Snead To Offer Sheet

Saints restricted free agent wide receiver Willie Snead is signing an offer sheet with the Ravens, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. It’s a two-year, $7MM offer sheet with another $3.4MM in incentives. The deal also includes a $2MM signing bonus. Per league rules, the Saints have five days to match. 

This week, Snead reported to the Saints even though he did not have a deal in place with the team. Some took this as a sign that his market in restricted free agency hadn’t drawn much in the way of interest but, apparently, he did draw a sizable offer sheet from at least one team. Friday marks the deadline for RFAs to sign offer sheets and the Ravens have put the squeeze on the Saints at the buzzer.

Snead was tendered at the lowest level this offseason, giving the Saints the right to match any offer sheet. However, they will not receive any draft compensation in that event. Snead now stands to earn a significant bump over his one-year, $1.907MM placeholder, regardless of what the Saints do over the next five days.

The Saints will probably take their time in making a call on Snead, but it would be a surprise to see them match. After inking another RFA in former Bear Cameron Meredith, New Orleans will probably allow Snead to walk.

Meanwhile, for the Ravens, the move is an indication that they will not be signing Dez Bryant. The Ravens were among the clubs with interest, but they may have sensed that Bryant is on the verge of signing elsewhere.

Snead, 26 in October, was not a major contributor in the Saints™ offense last year. However, he averaged 70 catches for 940 yards and four touchdowns over the previous two seasons. Last year, as an exclusive rights free agent, he pushed for a better deal and didn’€™t get it. Now, based off of past performance and potential, he’ll be moving up a level.

The Ravens have upgraded their wide receiver stable by adding Michael Crabtree and John Brown in March. Neither Chris Moore nor Breshad Perriman did a whole lot last season, so the Ravens are looking to provide Joe Flacco with another weapon. The addition of Snead would give the Ravens a formidable trio at receiver and allow them to focus on other areas in the draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Who Will Be First Non-QB Selected?

Quarterbacks are dominating this year’s draft discussion even more than the NFL’s marquee position’s prospects usually do. With the possibility of four signal-callers going in the top five, it opens the door for a wide variety of scenarios.

But with this many passers projected to go high, teams that either do not need a quarterback (this would include the Browns at No. 4, if they keep their pick) — or franchises on the fence about selecting one in the top five (see: Giants, Broncos) — could find themselves in position to land an impact talent that may not have been available to them in another year.

There doesn’t seem to be a consensus about the top non-QB in this draft, either. Players like Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb and Quenton Nelson are high on draft boards. Denzel Ward may be as well, with Roquan Smith having visited teams holding top-10 picks. So, who goes first?

Chubb and Barkley have made the most noise here, with the latest coming out of the Big Apple aligning the Giants with the Penn State running back. Viewed as a superior talent when compared to recent No. 4 overall choices Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette, Barkley has been connected to the Giants at No. 2 and the Browns at No. 4. Although the Browns are not expected to bypass a quarterback at No. 1, Barkley’s name is the one mentioned as a possibility for Cleveland at No. 1 that isn’t a QB. And there may or may not be an issue with a Barkley-to-Cleveland scenario.

Viable running backs are obviously easier to obtain in later rounds than pass-rushing talent, and Chubb has visited the Giants and drawn praise from Hue Jackson as a possible No. 4 overall selection. James Bettcher doesn’t see a problem fitting the N.C. State defensive end into his 3-4 scheme at outside linebacker, and edge rushers are much more valuable commodities than running backs.

Nelson is reportedly a top-three player on the Giants’ board, and Dave Gettleman has not made it a secret he wants an offensive line metamorphosis to take place under his watch. Nelson’s been tabbed a prospect on the Zack Martin tier. Should a quarterback rush occur ahead of them, the Broncos are also in need of a guard. Buzz about a Broncos/Nelson union has emerged, with Ward — the latest high-end cornerback Ohio State has developed — on that level as of late as well.

The Notre Dame-trained blocker being the first non-passer selected would be a massive change of direction. This century, only one team — the 2015 Redskins — took a guard in the top five. And Brandon Scherff was viewed as a tackle prospect at the time. Ward would also represent a major upset as the first position player taken as well, but former Buckeyes teammate Joey Bosa didn’t receive a ton of buzz to go No. 3 to the Chargers two years ago. And this program has produced some high-caliber corners in recent years, as Bradley Roby and Marshon Lattimore have shown.

Who will even make this pick? The Giants have visited with each of the top quarterbacks and have been mentioned as Sam Darnold fans for a while, so it’s not certain they’ll be making this pick. If the Browns take Josh Allen at No. 1 and trade their No. 4 pick to the Bills, the Broncos could be thrust into this role at No. 5.

So, which one of these prospects will hear his name called first? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Rumors: Raiders, Bradford, Donald

Although the Raiders have signed a slew of veterans in free agency this year, they are still in need of help at linebacker. And they may be hoping a run on quarterbacks helps bring Roquan Smith to them at No. 10. They may not be willing to trade up for the Georgia-honed linebacker, however.

Roquan Smith is the guy. I don’t know that they would be willing to give away additional picks later to go up and get him, but he’s the guy they want,” ESPN’s Todd McShay said, via Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle. “… There’s a lot of love for Roquan Smith in that building.”

While NaVorro Bowman has been connected to the Raiders for months as a re-sign candidate, he remains a free agent. The Silver and Black signed Tahir Whitehead, and he’ll likely start at one of their second-level spots, with Kyle Wilber and Emmanuel Lamur in line to supply depth. But a long-term cog looks to be on the agenda as this draft approaches. The Raiders have not selected a first- or second-round linebacker who plays off the ball during the Reggie McKenzie regime, with Rolando McClain (Round 1, 2010) being the most recent such investment. Of course, McKenzie ceded some power to Jon Gruden this offseason.

However, the 49ers are a possible Smith suitor as well — with Reuben Foster facing possible prison time and Malcolm Smith coming off a season-ending injury — and met with Smith this week. He also visited with the Colts and Bears, each holding top-eight picks, in April.

Here’s the latest from the West divisions:

  • McShay’s also heard Tremaine Edmunds and Vita Vea‘s names linked to the Raiders. With four quarterbacks possibly set to go off the board before the Silver and Black’s selection window opens, they could have their pick of these three prospects.
  • While the Cardinals are going to ease Sam Bradford into action this offseason, Steve Wilks likes the early form the would-be starter is in. “I didn’t see anything (bad) out of his knee. Not one thing,” Wilks said, via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. “Nothing is wrong with his knee. I thought he threw the ball well, ball-handling, he handed the ball off, rolled out, bootleg, all those things. He’s doing everything we ask him to do. We just want to make sure we don’t put too much on him too soon.” Bradford wore a brace on his troublesome left knee early in the week before shifting to a sleeve, per Urban.
  • Sean McVay is encouraged by the early dialogue the Rams are having with Aaron Donald. The team did not expect Donald, a holdout until September last year, to report to the first phase of its offseason program as he seeks a landscape-altering contract. “We feel good about the dialogue that has existed,” McVay said this week. “This is a voluntary offseason program with where we’re at. You know he’s a guy who’s going to work hard on his off-time, and that’s kind of where we’re at.” The Rams sound like they’re on the verge of authorizing a record contract for the reigning defensive player of the year.
  • Maurice Hurst visited the Raiders on Monday, Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. Adding the Raiders are “hell bent” on strengthening their interior pass rush, which has been a trouble spot for a while now, Bair identifies the Michigan defensive tackle as a candidate for Oakland’s Round 1 choice it the team trades down from its No. 10 slot.
  • Foster’s in a world of trouble for an alleged domestic violence incident earlier this year, facing three felony charges, but the 49ers linebacker saw a misdemeanor charge dropped this week. Foster won’t face a charge for the possession of a large-capacity ammunition magazine, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office announced (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle).

New York Notes: Barkley, Darnold, Dez

No running back has gone in the top two of a draft since Reggie Bush 12 years ago, but the Giants may be leaning toward using their top offseason investment on a ball-carrier that’s been labeled as one of the highest-ceiling backs to emerge in many years.

I’ve heard really strongly that there are important people in that building who believe in Saquon Barkley the player, that that’s what they want to be,” ESPN’s Todd McShay said, via Tom Rock of Newsday. “The Giants want to be a run-first, physical football team and Saquon can basically be the face of that franchise moving forward several years. … It just feels to me like it’s inevitable that Saquon Barkley is going to be a New York Giant.”

The Giants brought Barkley in for a visit, and their coaching staff is sold on the Penn State standout. The Giants have been linked to Sam Darnold at No. 2, if he’s there, for a while. But Barkley’s name has come up in recent days as well. While the Alvin Kamara/Kareem Hunt offensive rookie of the year debate showed how top-end backs can be acquired later in the draft, but McShay added Barkley “is different” than the type of back that can be acquired in later rounds. In Dave Gettleman‘s previous draft as a Giants exec, the Giants used their No. 32 overall pick on David Wilson in 2012, and an injury shortened his career to just two seasons. The team’s previous such investment came in 2000, when the then-Ernie Accorsi-led Giants took Ron Dayne at No. 7. Gettleman was in his second year as Big Blue’s pro personnel director at that point.

Here’s the latest from the Big Apple teams:

  • If Josh Allen goes No. 1 overall to the Browns, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News isn’t sold that on the Giants wanting Darnold at No. 2. Instead, he envisions a scenario in which the Giants trade down with the Bills to acquire the No. 12 and No. 22 picks plus one of the Bills’ second rounders (Nos. 53 or 56). There is apparently a split in the front office over the team’s evaluation of Darnold, though it should be noted that GM Gettleman never traded down in the first round while in Carolina. In this scenario, Mehta believes the Jets will select Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield at No. 3 over Josh Rosen.
  • Could the release of Brandon Marshall lead the Giants to Dez Bryant? When asked about the possibility of signing the former Cowboys star, Gettleman didn’t close the door. “I have interest in everybody,” Gettleman said (via Danny Abriano of SNY.tv). “We do our film work. You never know.” The Giants may lead the pack in terms of teams Bryant wants to land with, having made it clear he wants revenge against the Cowboys.
  • While this could go without saying, Newsday’s Calvin Watkins notes CEO Christopher Johnson and other Jets brass are concerned about Robby Anderson‘s behavior. The talented wideout saw a felony charge against him dropped, but the arrest earlier this year — one of many traffic-related issues he’s dealt with over the past several years — still has a misdemeanor charge standing.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

Bears To Sign WR Marlon Brown

While Marlon Brown won’t be as likely to make the Bears’ 53-man roster as the franchise’s other offseason additions at this spot, he reached an agreement to compete for a spot.

The Bears signed the former Ravens supporting-cast wideout on Thursday, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. Brown has not played in an NFL game since the 2015 season. Brown worked out for the Bears on Tuesday.

Brown joins Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Bennie Fowler as newcomer Bears wideouts. Still just 26, the 6-foot-5 receiver was out of football last season, last being affiliated with the Broncos during their 2017 training camp. Brown’s best season came in 2013, when he caught 49 passes for 524 yards and seven touchdowns. The Georgia product has not gotten into the end zone since his rookie season.

After losing RFA Cameron Meredith to the Saints, the Bears’ wide receiver group will look almost entirely new this season. Josh Bellamy and Kevin White remain on the roster, but the latter can’t exactly be counted on given his extensive injury past. Beyond Bellamy, 2017 UDFA Tanner Gentry s three catches last season were the most among the remaining receivers still on the Bears’ roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dwight Freeney Retires From NFL

Dwight Freeney is calling it a career. After 16 seasons in the NFL, Freeney will sign a one-day contract with Indianapolis to retire as a member of the Colts. 

Freeney entered the league as the No. 11 pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. Since then, he has racked up seven Pro Bowl nods, three first-team All-Pro selections, and a Super Bowl ring.

Freeney, 38, will be best remembered for his time in blue and white, where he amassed 107. 5 sacks across eleven seasons. All in all, he has 125.5 career sacks to his credit, tying him for 17th all-time in NFL history.

The Colts averaged 11 wins per year during Freeney’s run with the Colts and had 11 sacks in his 22 playoff games with the team. Many thought the Colts were reaching when they selected Freeney in ’02, but he turned out to be the perfect fit for first-year head coach Tony Dungy.

Bill [Polian] had seen Dwight and thought he was exactly the guy I had been talking about,” Dungy said of Freeney. “We’re sitting at No. 11 in the first round and people looked at his size and thought it was too high to draft him. Bill, to his credit, said, ‘If this is going to be the big piece of the puzzle, let’s not worry about where we take Dwight and what other people think. Let’s get the guy who is going to be the perfect piece.’ Dwight was the straw that stirred the drink.”

The Syracuse product played in three Super Bowls — two with the Colts, one with the Falcons — and started in 19 postseason games. All seven of Freeney’s double-digit sack seasons came with the Colts.

Following his Colts run, which ran through the 2012 season, Freeney played with five more teams. His most notable post-Indianapolis season came with the 2015 Cardinals, for whom he registered eight sacks and helped to the NFC title game despite being an off-the-bench edge rusher. He recorded three sacks in each of the past two seasons, playing in Atlanta, Seattle and Detroit. Prior to Arizona, Freeney spent two seasons in San Diego.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Rumors: Elway, No. 5 Pick, Ray

The Broncos are open for business. In a presser on Thursday, GM John Elway announced that he is willing to trade the No. 5 overall pick for the right price. Elway also noted that Denver is open to all possibilities, which may mean standing pat to take a quarterback, moving back for the QB they want, or even selecting a non-QB.

The Bills, armed with the Nos. 12 and 22 selections in the draft, are expected to be among those with serious interest in moving up to the No. 5 pick.

Here’s more out of Denver:

  • Elway says the team hasn’t made a decision yet on picking up Shane Ray‘s fifth-year option (Twitter link via Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic). Ray had a breakout season in 2016, recording 48 tackles and eight sacks in 664 snaps and placing 45th out of Pro Football Focus’ 110 qualified edge defenders. Unfortunately, Ray’s wrist kept him off the field until late October last year and he was shut down once again in December. As shown on PFR’s 2019 Fifth-Year Option Tracker, seven players have had their options exercised. The Broncos will have to think long and hard about whether to do the same for the former No. 23 overall pick.
  • Elway says the Broncos do not have more than four quarterbacks with first round grades (Twitter link via James Palmer of NFL.com), though he added that there is not a consensus in the building on ranking them.
  • Elway says that the production of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield over ” the last three years” is proof that his height – just over 6’0″ — should not be an issue in the NFL (Twitter link via Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com).

NFL News & NFL Rumors