Minor NFL Transactions: 7/23/19

Buffalo Bills

Jacksonville Jaguars

Miami Dolphins

San Francisco 49ers

  • Waived: K Jonathan Brown

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Workout Notes: Dolphins, Texans, Saints

Here are today’s workouts and auditions:

  • Cornerback Dexter McDonald worked out for the Dolphins, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). McDonald was a seventh-round pick of the Raiders in 2015 and appeared in 27 games (six starts) for Oakland from 2015-17. He spent all of last year on IR with an ankle injury.
  • The Texans worked out running back Johnny Thomas, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Thomas signed with the Bengals this year as a UDFA out of Penn State, where he was primarily a special teams contributor.
  • The Saints worked out safety Jordan Moore, per Wilson (Twitter link). Moore, who played for both TCU and the University of Texas at San Antonio as a collegian, signed with the Falcons as a UDFA in 2017. He was cut in August of that year and later caught on with the Broncos’ taxi squad, but Denver waived/injured him last September.

Falcons Notes: Julio, Neal, Allen, Smith

We learned earlier today that the Falcons may already have a new deal in place for star receiver Julio Jones, but GM Thomas Dimitroff declined to put a timetable on the negotiations. As Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com writes, Dimitroff did express optimism that the two sides would reach an accord.

Dimitroff said, “[w]e have the utmost faith that Julio is coming here and he’s taking care of his business while he’s here, and we’ll keep plugging away with [Jones’ agent] Jimmy [Sexton]. We have a very good working relationship and respect for Jimmy Sexton and CAA, and I’m confident [the deal] will get done.”

Sexton could not be reached for comment, but after getting long-term deals for Grady Jarrett and Deion Jones done this month, it looks like the Falcons will give Julio Jones his new contract in short order.

Now for more from Atlanta:

  • We heard back in May that the Falcons’ starting safety tandem of Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen, who suffered major injuries that ended their 2018 seasons prematurely, were expected to be ready for training camp, and that turned out to be true. As Ledbetter writes, Allen returned to the practice field Monday and went through most of the team drills, and Emmanuel Morgan of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that Neal has participated in drills and has taken reps with the first-team defense. Unfortunately, the club lost backup safety J.J. Wilcox for the season after he tore his ACL on Monday.
  • The Falcons plan to expand RB Ito Smith‘s role this season, as Morgan writes in a separate piece. Smith will serve as the club’s No. 2 back behind Devonta Freeman, and he will look to improve his pass protection and his ability to hit holes at full speed while continuing to refine his abilities as a pass catcher. Running backs coach Matt Brock hinted that the club may only carry three RBs, so the battle for the No. 3 spot behind Freeman and Smith is one that he expects to be highly competitive.
  • Defensive lineman Michael Bennett suffered a broken ankle on Monday, but he could return this season, as D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets.
  • The Falcons signed veteran DL Allen Bailey yesterday.

More On Chiefs, Tyreek Hill

Back in March, we learned that the Chiefs and wide receiver Tyreek Hill were negotiating a contract extension, and Albert Breer of SI.com reports that the team was willing to pay Hill roughly $20MM per season. Then, of course, news of the child abuse scandal that has dominated NFL headlines for months broke, and Hill was indefinitely banned from the team.

Breer says that Kansas City, despite its apparent inclination to give Hill a record-setting contract for a receiver, was proceeding with caution, especially because it knew that Hill had rekindled his historically toxic relationship with Crystal Espinal, the mother of his child. At one point, it seemed inevitable that Hill would be hit with a lengthy suspension, but he managed to avoid league discipline and is now back on track for a long-term deal.

Breer — whose piece also succinctly breaks down the events in this saga over the past few months, in case you should need a refresher — offers two reasons as to why the league opted against suspending Hill. First, he suggests that there has been a push among league owners, including several highly-influential ones, to get out of the “investigation business” and to go back to following law enforcement’s lead. Second, with new CBA negotiations looming, the league may choose to be cautious when it comes to matters like this in order to avoid having those negotiations become contentious like they were in 2011 (of course, the league recently opted to suspend Seahawks defensive lineman Jarran Reed for an incident that did not lead to an arrest or criminal charges, so it’s hard to say just what the NFL is thinking at this point).

But it also sounds as though the league did not get much cooperation from prosecutors in the Hill matter. A.J. Perez of USA Today reports that the Johnson County (Kansas) District Attorney’s office denied the NFL’s request for information relating to Hill’s case, citing an exception to Kansas’ open-records law as the basis for its denial.

As Mike Florio of Pro Football reminds us, the league has no authority to subpoena documents or testimony, so it is often at the mercy of local authorities. Hill is undoubtedly quite grateful for this reality, as he appears likely to end up with his $20MM/year deal (even if it comes with a number of conditions attached).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks’ Jarran Reed Suspended

Seahawks defensive lineman Jarran Reed has been suspended for the first six games of the 2019 season, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The ban stems from a 2017 violation of the personal conduct policy.

As Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes, the Bellevue Police Department recommended that Reed be charged with fourth-degree assault in connection with a domestic violence incident that occurred in April 2017, but the city’s prosecuting office did not believe there was sufficient evidence to prove the crime occurred, so it declined to pursue the matter. As such, Reed was never arrested or charged

According to the police report, Reed and his girlfriend got into an argument at Reed’s home, and Reed allegedly grabbed the woman’s throat and pulled her into the bathroom. Shortly thereafter, the woman claimed that Reed grabbed her by the wrist and dragged her across a bedroom floor and then down several stairs before she broke free.

The NFL did its own investigation and opted to suspend Reed 27 months after the incident. The league also denied Reed an appeal.

Of course, this will lead to obvious questions as to why Reed was suspended — and why it took so long to do it — when the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill escaped league discipline. The NFL did not respond to the Seattle Times’ request for further comment on the matter.

Reed underwent sports hernia surgery in April but was on track to participate in training camp. Now, he’ll have to wait until at least October to see live action.

The Seahawks were banking on a big season from Reed, who is coming off of a season with 10.5 sacks as a starter. He was also an extension candidate, but those plans may now be put on hold.

The Seahawks will have to generate pass pressure from elsewhere, and that won’t be an easy task after the trade of Frank Clark. Poona Ford and first-round pick L.J. Collier will have to carry much of the load, unless the team is able to find help elsewhere.

Rory Parks contributed to this post.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

No Progress In Talks Between Cowboys, Byron Jones

We have written a great deal about the Cowboys top extension candidates — Dak PrescottEzekiel ElliottAmari Cooper, and Byron Jones — this offseason. It does not appear that the club is particularly close to striking a long-term deal with any of those players, and Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News reports today that there has been no progress between the Cowboys and Jones (Twitter link).

Dallas made Jones the No. 27 overall pick of the 2015 draft, and though he spent most of his first three years in the league as a safety, he converted to cornerback full-time last season, and it was a highly-successful transition. Jones rated as one of Pro Football Focus’ best-graded boundary defenders in 2018 en route to a Second Team All-Pro nod, and he has positioned himself nicely for a big payday.

Jones is due roughly $6.2MM in 2019 under the fifth-year option of his rookie contract, but a new deal would give him a considerable raise. The Dolphins made Xavien Howard the highest-paid CB in league history several months ago after signing him to a five-year, $76.5MM extension ($46MM guaranteed), and Jones will be shooting for a similar payout.

Given all of the big-money negotiations that the Cowboys are engaged in, it’s not surprising that they haven’t made much progress with Jones. But if they don’t get something soon, Jones may price himself out of the team’s range.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ricky Jean-Francois Visits Lions

Free agent defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois is visiting the Lions today, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter). Of course, the two parties know each other quite well, as RJF played in all 16 games for Detroit in 2018 after signing a one-year deal with the club last July.

The Lions traded for Damon Harrison last October and also return A’Shawn Robinson, but they are apparently still on the lookout for experienced depth. Jean-Francois provides just that.

The 32-year-old LSU product entered the league as a seventh-round pick of the 49ers in 2009, and he has managed to carve out a career that most seventh-rounders would envy. Although he has started just 48 of the 137 games he has appeared in, he has established himself as a quality part of a defensive line rotation who can at least hold his own when given meaningful snaps.

This marks the first reported visit that Jean-Francois has taken this offseason. He compiled 30 tackles and two sacks for the Lions last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Talks Between Jaguars, Yannick Ngakoue Break Down

Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue skipped minicamp as part of his efforts to land a new contract, and now it appears he will hold out of at least a portion of training camp as well.

A source with knowledge of the situation tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that negotiations between player and team have broken down, and that Ngakoue will likely continue to stay away as a result.

Ngakoue is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and there’s no denying that he is criminally underpaid, given his performance. For now, he’s slated to earn just $2.025MM in 2019 after racking up 29.5 sacks across three seasons.

The Jaguars would, presumably, love to lock down the Maryland product for years to come. However, the continued explosion of the edge rushing market makes this an extremely costly proposition for Jacksonville. The Maryland product, who just turned 24 in March, is undoubtedly looking to meet or exceed the five-year, ~$105MM deals that fellow pass rushers Demarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark signed this year, both of which came with over $60MM in guarantees.

Ngakoue does have to report to camp by August 6 to earn an accrued season towards free agency, so he may choose to not hold out beyond that date.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Sign P Bryan Anger

The Texans have signed veteran punter Bryan Anger, according to a team announcement, and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets that it is a one-year, $1MM pact. In a related move, Houston waived UDFA linebacker Drew Lewis.

The Buccaneers cut Anger in May, thereby saving $3MM against the cap. At the end of the 2016 season, Anger signed an extension with Tampa Bay that would have kept him under club control through 2021, but the Bucs elected to move forward with Bradley Pinion instead.

Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle makes it sound as if Anger was signed merely for camp depth, as he suggests that second-year player Trevor Daniel will remain the starter. However, Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com tweets that Anger and Daniel will compete for the job.

Anger, a former third-round pick of the Jaguars who was selected ahead of players like Russell Wilson and T.Y. Hilton, spent the first four years of his career in Jacksonville before signing with Tampa Bay in March 2016. He has a net average of 40.6 yards per kick for his career.

Packers, Dean Lowry Agree To Extension

The Packers have agreed to a contract extension with DE Dean Lowry, according to a team announcement. Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports that it will be a three-year, $20.325MM extension (Twitter link).

Lowry, a fourth-round pick out of Northwestern in 2016, was heading into the last year of his rookie deal and was scheduled to earn $2.025MM this year. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the $20.325MM (which includes a $6MM signing bonus) will be new money on top of that $2.025MM.

Lowry has quietly put together a very strong start to his professional career, and 2018 was his best season to date, as he recorded 57 tackles (seven for loss), three sacks, three passes defensed, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, two QB hits, and 14 QB pressures in 16 games (eight starts).

He is, at the very least, a solid piece of the club’s D-line, and now that he is in the fold for the foreseeable future, Green Bay may turn its attention to fellow DE Mike Daniels, who is also entering the last year of his current contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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