Minor NFL Transactions: 9/19/17

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Rams

Seattle Seahawks

Texans To Sign CB Johnthan Banks

The Texans are expected to sign free agent cornerback Johnthan Banks, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).Johnthan Banks (vertical)

Banks was one of several corners worked out by Houston today, a list that also included Stanley Jean-BaptisteJosh ThorntonCorey White, and B.W. Webb. The Texans are increasingly thin at defensive back following an MCL sprain to Kevin Johnson that will keep him sidelined for four-to-six weeks. While Houston recently signed Marcus Burley to serve as depth behind starters Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson, the club was still looking for quality options.

It’s not clear that Banks will be able to offer much beyond backup reps, but he does come with the draft pedigree of a former second-round pick. However, Banks — who turns 28 years old in a few weeks — has never lived up to that billing, and he’s acted as a reserve over the past two seasons after starting 30 games for the Buccaneers from 2013-14. Last season, Banks ended up playing for three clubs (Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Chicago), but never saw regular action.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Audition LB Jonathan Freeny

The Texans worked out free agent linebacker Jonathan Freeny on Tuesday, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.Jonathan Freeny

Freeny, a five-year NFL veteran, started his career as a special teams player in Miami, but his most notable time came with the Patriots from 2015-16. During that time, Freeny appeared in 18 games and started 11 contests before going down with a shoulder injury last October.

Despite agreeing to a two-year extension prior to last season, Freeny was released during final cutdowns earlier this month. He’s generated interest around the NFL, however, as the Giants and Bears have also worked out Freeny over the past several weeks.

On the hunt for linebacker depth following Brian Cushing‘s 10-game PED suspension, the Texans also auditioned former Vikings linebacker Audie Cole today. Houston is currently starting Benardrick McKinney and second-round rookie Zach Cunningham at inside linebacker, while Brian Peters and undrafted rookie Dylan Cole are the club’s backups.

The Texans also took at look at linebacker Josh Mauga and cornerbacks Johnthan Banks, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Josh Thornton, Corey White, and B.W. Webb, as Wilson writes in a separate piece.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Acquire LB Stephone Anthony

The Dolphins have acquired linebacker Stephone Anthony from the Saints, Miami announced today. New Orleans will receive a 2018 fifth-round pick from the Dolphins, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.Stephone Anthony (Vertical)

Veteran linebacker Lawrence Timmons was dealt a team suspension earlier today after leaving the Dolphins over the weekend, so the club was on the hunt for help at the second level of its defense. Anthony, who can be controlled through the 2019 season via the fifth-year option, will give Miami reinforcements at linebacker for the remainder of the season and also for the long haul.

Thought to be a candidate for release prior to the regular season, Anthony has been bandied about as a trade candidate for some time. The Saints simply have too many linebackers on their roster, and the club’s starting jobs went to free agent acquisitions Manti Te’o and A.J. Klein and third-round rookie Alex Anzalone. With Craig RobertsonMichael Mauti, and Nathan Stupar also available in reserve, New Orleans had no place for Anthony.

Anthony, 25, was a full-time starter in 2015 after entering the league as a first-round selection out of Clemson. But his playing time dwindled last season, as he started only three games and played on just 133 defensive snaps before a knee injury ended his campaign in December. Anthony, who also played on roughly a quarter of New Orleans’ special teams snaps, managed just 15 tackles after posting 112 stops during his rookie year.

The Dolphins will be on the hook for the remainder of Anthony’s ~$1.1MM base salary (which is fully guaranteed), and will be responsible for a similar, non-guaranteed figure in 2018. Miami will then have until next May to decide on Anthony’s 2019 fifth-year option. The Dolphins won’t need to make a roster move to accommodate Anthony’s arrival, as Timmons no longer counts against the team’s 53-man count.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Not Interested In TE Gary Barnidge

Although they’ll be without tight end Greg Olsen for at least eight weeks, the Panthers are not interested in free agent Gary Barnidge, according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).Gary Barnidge (vertical)

Barnidge is no stranger to Carolina, as he spent the first four seasons of his career as a backup tight end with the Panthers. Set to turn 32 years old this week, Barnidge had been linked to Carolina earlier this offseason after being released by the Browns, but it’s not clear if any meeting was ever actually arranged.

Other clubs — including the Jaguars, Bills, and Broncos — have also been tied to Barnidge this year, but he has yet to land a contract. The Texans, who recently lost three tight ends to concussions, worked out Barnidge a week ago but didn’t offer him a deal. Bardnidge’s lack of a pact is a surprise given that he averaged 67 receptions, 828 yards, and six touchdowns over the past two seasons and graded as the league’s No. 1 pass-blocking tight end in 2016, per Pro Football Focus.

Without Olsen in tow, the Panthers will turn to veteran Ed Dickson — who’s angling to be used in an Olsen-esque manner — as their starting tight end. Chris Manhertz is the only other tight end on the roster, but Carolina promoted fullback Alex Armah (who played some tight end in college) to the active roster today.

Instead of Barnidge, the Panthers auditioned fellow tight ends Jace Amaro, Gavin Escobar, and Kellen Davis today, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.com. Amaro and Escobar are both failed former second-round picks, while Davis isn’t much of a receiver — he’s managed only three receptions over the past three seasons. Still, with Dickson set to take over the starting tight end role, Carolina is likely looking for an addition who excels at blocking.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Waive KR/PR Kalif Raymond

There’s little room for error when you’re a punt returner. The Jets announced on Tuesday that they have released Kalif Raymond after his costly punt return fumble over the weekend.

The Jets got shellacked by the Raiders in Oakland and they’re hanging at least some of the blame on Raymond’s shaky hands. He muffed a punt towards the end of the first half and the Raiders quickly turned his error into a touchdown. Instead of going into the locker room down 14-10 (or perhaps in better shape than that, if the Jets ran an effective two minute drill), the Raiders took a 21-10 advantage. Things only got worse in the second act, of course, as Marshawn Lynch threw a dance party and the Raiders won 45-20.

Raymond was cut loose by Denver on cutdown weekend but was claimed off waivers by the Jets the next day. The Jets had top five waiver priority and it’s possible that other clubs submitted claims on him.

Cowboys Waive LB Jayrone Elliott

It was a short stay in Dallas for Jayrone Elliott. The outside linebacker was waived on Tuesday. The move will create room for the return of defensive end Damontre Moore, who was suspended for the first two games of the season. Jayrone Elliott (vertical)

Elliott was acquired on Sept. 3 via a trade with the Packers. The Cowboys gave up a 2018 conditional seventh-round pick in the swap and, presumably, those conditions were not met. The Cowboys will keep the seventh-round choice in the spring after essentially renting the linebacker for two games. He did not see time in either contest.

The Cowboys are happy to get Moore back in the lineup, particularly as Anthony Hitchens continues to rehab from a tibial plateau fracture in his right knee.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Claim WR Jaelen Strong Off Waivers

The Jaguars have claimed wide receiver Jaelen Strong off waivers from the Texans, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). Strong was released by Houston on Monday. Jaelen Strong (vertical)

Because he is not yet a vested veteran, Strong was subject to the waiver wire. With one of the league’s worst records last year, the Jaguars had higher waiver priority than most.

Jacksonville is hoping that Strong will flash some of the skills that made him a third round pick in 2015 draft. So far, he hasn’t done much in the NFL. In his final game as a member of the Texans, he drew zero targets despite the team being paper thin at receiver.

But, at Arizona State, he had 82 catches for 1,165 yards and ten touchdowns in his final season on campus. He’s a 6’3″ target with the strength to push away defenders, so he can make plays happen even though he doesn’t have tremendous speed.

Strong will provide depth for a WR group that is without Allen Robinson for the remainder of the year and without rookie Dede Westbrook for at least six more games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Suspend LB Lawrence Timmons

The Dolphins announced they have suspended linebacker Lawrence Timmons indefinitely. Timmons went AWOL on the team prior to the Week 2 game against the Chargers. Lawrence Timmons (vertical)

It’s not immediately clear whether the team will work with Timmons to facilitate a return. Per the terms of the CBA, Miami can suspend him for up to four games for conduct detrimental to the team. If that happens, the remaining guarantees in the veteran’s contract will void. That would free the Dolphins from the rest of the two-year, $12MM deal he inked in the offseason.

Timmons apparently skipped town to visit the mother of his child in Pennsylvania. He did not notify the team of his plans beforehand, causing the club to file a missing persons report with police.

Until Sunday, Timmons had not missed a game since 2009. It sounds like he’ll be missing several more, unless he can make good with team brass.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Place WR Corey Coleman On IR

The Browns have officially placed Corey Coleman on injured reserve, the club announced today.Corey Coleman (vertical)

Coleman, a second-year pro, has suffered a broken hand in each of the last two seasons. The injury will likely keep him on the shelf for six-to-eight weeks, so an IR stint was the logical move for Cleveland.

In ten games last year, the former first-round pick had 33 catches for 413 yards and three touchdowns. When he was at his best, Coleman was one of the few bright spots for the Browns during a trying year. The Browns were hoping for a reprise this year, particularly because high-priced free agent Kenny Britt has been struggling.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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