Month: November 2018

East Notes: Patriots, Jets, Murray

The head of the FCC says the agency will consider a petition to ban the Redskins nickname from the public airwaves, Tom Wheeler of The Associated Press writes. Wheeler, who did not offer a timetable for a ruling, has previously said he finds the name “offensive and derogatory,” but that he hoped owner Dan Snyder would change it without any formal action. Here’s more from the AFC and NFC East..

  • The Patriots should have done more this offseason, writes Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. The Pats had space to work with this offseason and while they made some moves, like adding Darrelle Revis, they didn’t address all of their holes. Volin also thinks the Pats should have used a higher pick on a guard or center, especially if they knew they’d be trading Logan Mankins down the line.
  • Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is universally respected, but as a GM, he has come up short, writes Mike Sando of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req’d). Sando notes that the receivers New England has drafted over the past five years have combined to catch 52 passes for 727 yards and four touchdowns in 27 games with the Patriots. No team in the league has gotten fewer games or receptions from the receivers it has drafted since 2010.
  • It’s too early to evaluate the Jets‘ 2014 draft class, but now that four of those 12 picks are no longer on the roster, it does not look good, writes Brian Costello of the New York Post. With two rookies on IR and one on the taxi squad, that leave just five actually playing this season. Of those five only safety Calvin Pryor is starting and he has had little impact so far.
  • Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com (on Twitter) doesn’t envision the Cowboys extending running back DeMarco Murray‘s contract. If Murray finishes the season without injury, he writes, maybe the Cowboys will take care of him, but that’s far from certain. Murray has had an amazing start to the 2014 season be he has yet to play a full season since entering the league.

West Notes: Raiders, Gruden, Harbaugh, Cards

After today’s press conference announcing Tony Sparano as the Raiders‘ new interim coach, owner Mark Davis stuck around for an informal Q&A with reporters, including Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News. When asked if GM Reggie McKenzie will hire the next coach, Davis responded, “Well, we’ll see. We might’ve already hired him.” Meanwhile, Davis dodged questions about McKenzie’s own job security. Here’s more from the AFC and NFC West..

  • Davis has tried to lure Jon Gruden back to the Raiders in the past, tweets Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. The owner has previously offered significant money and power within the organization but it wasn’t enough to reel him in.
  • Amidst speculation that some 49ers players don’t want to play for coach Jim Harbaugh, offensive lineman Jonathan Martin offered up his support, writes Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. “He’s the best coach I’ve ever been around,” said Martin, who also played for Harbaugh at Stanford. “Even though he might be cheesy at times with slogans and sayings, his enthusiasm rubs off on players and his record speaks for itself.”
  • After being released from the Cardinals‘ practice squad, running back Chris Rainey signed with the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
  • Last week, the Seahawks bumped wide receiver Phil Bates‘ practice squad salary from $6,300 to $7,300 per week, according to Brian McIntyre (on Twitter).

Pigskin Links: Jaguars, Allen, Colts

On this date in 1973, San Diego quarterback Johnny Unitas became the first player to top 40,000 yards passing when he connected with Mike Garrett on a 30-yard completion against Cincinnati.

While PFR is dedicated to player movement, Pigskin Links is open to pieces on all areas of the game and we’re looking for interesting reads on all things football from blogs of all sizes. If you would like to suggest your blog post (or someone else’s) for Pigskin Links, send Zach an email with the link and a brief synopsis at PigskinLinks@gmail.com. Here’s this week’s look around the football blogosphere..

 Got a great football blog post that you want to see featured in next week’s Pigskin Links? Email it to Zach or tweet it to him: @ZachLinks.

Workout Notes: Jennings, Clemons, Winston

Earlier today, we learned that the Titans brought in cornerbacks Derek Cox, Brandon Ghee, and Curtis Marsh for auditions. Here’s a look at the latest workouts from around the NFL..

Dolphins Sign LaMichael James

7:07pm: James is headed to the Dolphins’ practice squad, rather than their 53-man roster, according to Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post (via Twitter).

4:37pm: The Dolphins have signed running back LaMichael James, according to his representative at the NOVO Agency, Jeff Sperbeck (on Twitter). James worked out for Miami two weeks ago, at which point the two sides were reportedly discussing a deal.

James, 25 next month, entered the league in 2012 as a second-round pick by the 49ers. Despite his draft pedigree, the Oregon product was never able to produce in San Francisco, and was virtually buried behind Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. James played in just 14 games during his first two seasons, contributing mostly on special teams — he racked up only 41 rush attempts and five receptions during that span.

The Niners added even more running back talent in recent drafts, selecting Marcus Lattimore and Carlos Hyde in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Sensing that his role was about to decrease from small to non-existent, James asked for his release earlier this month, and his request was granted. The team had shopped James during the offseason, so it’s apparent that no other squad offered anything of note for the third-year player.

In Miami, James will join a running back corps currently led by Lamar Miller, who has averaged 4.5 yards per carry so far this season. Knowshon Moreno is expected to return in a few weeks following an elbow injury, but as of now, Miller is backed up by undrafted free agent Damien Williams. James could potentially see some third-down work and aid on special teams, but I’d be surprised if he significantly eats into Miller’s workload. However, James should be familiar with Miami’s offense: Dolphins OC Bill Lazor was the Eagles’ QBs coach under Chip Kelly last season, and James played under Kelly at Oregon from 2009-11.

Practice Squad Updates: Tuesday

Tuesday is often a busy day for practice squad transactions, as teams fill spots vacated by players who were promoted over the weekend, or shuffle their 10-man units around based on injuries to the 53-man roster during Sunday’s games. We’ll keep track of today’s practice squad signings and cuts right here, with the latest moves added to the top of the list throughout the day….

  • The Lions have added running back William Powell to their practice squad, according to Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com (via Twitter). Powell, 26, was cut by the Texans in late August.
  • The Titans have released quarterback Brad Sorensen from their practice squad, reports Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean (Twitter link). Sorensen was a Chargers seventh-round pick in 2013.
  • The Jets have swapped out one cornerback for another, adding LeQuan Lewis to their PS while removing Brandon Smith, per Brian Costello of the New York Post (on Twitter).
  • The Panthers’ practice squad is now full after Carolina signed linebacker Horace Miller and running back Tauren Poole, the team announced on Twitter.
  • The Eagles removed two players from their practice squad, cutting linebacker Brandon Hepburn and offensive tackle Tyler Hoover, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN (Twitter link). Linebacker Jake Knott will return Philly’s PS after serving a four-game PED suspension, says Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).
  • The Rams have re-signed tight end Brad Smelley to their practice squad, tweets Howard Balzer. To clear a roster spot, St. Louis cut defensive end Kourtnei Brown from the PS.

Earlier Updates:

  • The Texans have placed receiver Uzoma Nwachukwu on the practice squad injured list, tweets Palmer. Houston’s PS is now down to eight players.
  • The Dolphins have filled their final taxi squad slot by adding defensive end Emmanuel Dieke, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). Dieke was cut by the Giants last month.
  • Browns long snapper Christian Yount may be looking over his shoulder this week, as the Browns announced they’ve added long snapper Charley Hughlett to their practice squad, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal (via Twitter). Hughlett replaces defensive lineman Calvin Barnett.
  • The Bills have swapped one tight end for another, replacing D.J. Tialavea with Jamie Childers, tweets Mike Rodak of ESPN.com.
  • Kicker Chris Boswell has been removed from the Texans‘ practice squad, per James Palmer of CSNHouston.com (Twitter link).
  • Nose tackle Robert Thomas has replaced fellow defensive lineman Hebron Fangupo on the Redskins‘ practice squad, as Mike Jones of the Washington Post tweets. Thomas went unclaimed on waivers after being cut by Washington on the weekend.
  • The Dolphins have removed cornerback Rod Sweeting from their practice squad, signing tight end Jake Murphy to take his place, according to Chris Perkins of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (via Twitter).
  • Wideout Travis Labhart, who was on the Texans‘ practice squad earlier this season, will rejoin Houston’s unit, a source tells David Nuño of KTRK-TV in Houston (Twitter link). The team currently has no openings, so one of the 10 current players will need to be cut or promoted to clear room for Labhart.

Raiders GM, Owner On Dennis Allen, Future

The Raiders’ top executives spoke with reporters today following the firing of head coach Dennis Allen, and general manager Reggie McKenzie and owner Mark Davis each offered insight on the move and the future in Oakland:

  • The decision to fire Allen was McKenzie’s; the GM took his plans to Davis, who approved the dismissal, according to NFL Network’s Around the League (Twitter link).
  • Despite speculation that he too could lose his job, McKenzie claims he “will hire the next coach,” per ATL (on Twitter).
  • While Davis says he’s never considered firing McKenzie (Twitter link via Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle), Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News notes (via Twitter) that Davis made it apparent that the rest of the season will determine the GM’s fate.
  • The Raiders have reportedly shown interest in bringing back former head coach Jon Gruden, and Davis says he “may reach out to…Gruden and [Gruden] may reach out to [Davis],” according to Tafur (Twitter link). Davis also implied the permanent coach could already be on Oakland’s staff.
  • A close friend of Gruden tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) that “one of these days, [Gruden is] going to accept these offers he gets every year. Maybe it’s this one.”
  • Interim head coach Tony Sparano almost left the team after his contract expired last season, but McKenzie essentially told him that he was next-in-line in the event of Allen being fired, tweets Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune.
  • Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk thinks the fact that Sparano will be judged on 12 games will help guard against any “artificial improvement in performance” that often leads to teams retaining interim coaches, and then regretting the decision.
  • Stanford head coach David Shaw denied any interest in the Raiders position, writes Jon Wilner of InsideBayArea.com. “Everyone knows I’m dedicated (to Stanford), that I love it here,” Shaw told Wilner. It’s great. It’s flattery, and I tell players that’s sign that we’re doing something right here, when they get attention and I get attention. But our work here is unfinished, and I love being here.”

Minor Moves: Tuesday

In addition to making changes to their practice squads, teams around the NFL are also tweaking the backs of their 53-man rosters today. We’ll round up the day’s minor transactions involving active rosters right here:

  • To make room for Winn, the Lions have placed running back Montell Owens on injured reserve, tweets Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com. Owens’ contract expires after this season.
  • After he tore ruptured Achilles last week, running back Joe McKnight has been placed on the Chiefs’ injured reserve list, according to Adam Teicher of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Offensive lineman Donald Stephenson‘s four-game suspension is up, so he takes McKnight’s roster spot, per Howard Balzer (Twitter link).
  • The Bears have waived linebacker Terrell Manning, reports Brian McIntyre (Twitter link). Chicago had promoted Manning from its practice squad just over a week ago.
  • Patriots Brandon Browner and Brian Tyms four-game bans are over, and both have received a roster exemption that lasts until October 6, says Balzer (on Twitter).
  • Cornerback Deion Belue was waived from the Jaguars’ injured reserve with a failure to disclose physical condition designation, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.

Earlier updates:

  • The Lions are promoting running back George Winn from their practice squad to their 53-man roster, according to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (Twitter link). As Garafolo notes, the move could suggest that the team expects Joique Bell to miss this weekend’s game, but Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press points out that Bell isn’t Detroit’s only ailing running back, tweeting that Montell Owens is expected to miss several weeks due to his latest hamstring injury.
  • Linebacker Victor Butler has been dropped by the Cardinals, says Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com (via Twitter). Butler had been added to the roster when John Abraham was sidelined, but didn’t play a snap for the team.
  • The Bears‘ practice squad/53-man roster shuffle continues this week, with the team promoting wideout Chris Williams to take the place of fellow receiver Rashad Ross (Twitter link). Two weeks ago, it was Ross being promoted and Williams being cut.
  • The Steelers have terminated the contract of punter Adam Podlesh, who had been on the team’s reserve/did not report list, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com.

Titans Eyeing Cornerbacks

The Titans brought in several cornerbacks for auditions today, working out Derek Cox, Brandon Ghee, and Curtis Marsh, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link) and Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean (Twitter link). Tennessee didn’t list any CBs on its latest injury report, but Jason McCourty was questionable last week while dealing with a groin ailment, so perhaps the Titans are looking to add depth at the position.

Cox, 28, is probably the most notable name of the three players who tried out. He’s had a busy 2013 — after being cut by the Chargers in March, Cox quickly signed with the Vikings, but was let go in August. He joined the Ravens, and after being the victim of several back-end roster machinations in Baltimore, he was released on September 6. Since becoming a free agent, Cox has had auditions with numerous CB-needy teams, including the Jets, Bears, and Lions. In his five-year career, he has started 56 games, accruing 13 interceptions and 204 tackles.

Like Cox, Ghee is also a former Charger, having signed a two-year deal with San Diego early in the offseason. He never logged game time with the team however, as he was cut August 28 despite being guaranteed $300K. The Wake Forest product was a third-round pick by the Bengals, but played in just 23 games over four seasons in Cincinnati. He’s worked out for the Saints, Jaguars, and Bears since being let go by the Chargers, but has yet to find work.

At 26, Marsh is the youngest of the group; a 2011 third-round pick, the Utah State has played in 26 games over three seasons. He has spent time with both the Eagles and the Bengals. Since being cut by Philadelphia on August 30, Marsh has yet to garner any known interest.

Giants Release Mario Manningham

The Giants have released veteran receiver Mario Manningham, according to Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter). After signing a one-year deal with New York in March, Manningham was placed on injured reserve when the Giants made their final roster cutdowns in August. However, Manningham’s calf injury was not season-ending, meaning he can now explore joining a team with a need at WR.

Manningham, 28, spent his first three NFL seasons with the Giants after being selected in the third round of the 2008 draft. He is perhaps best known for his sideline catch in the 2012 Super Bowl that helped New York overtake the Patriots in the final minutes of the contest. He played with the 49ers from 2012-13, but was active for just 18 total games during those two seasons. For his career, Manningham has caught 211 balls for 2,849 yards and 19 touchdowns.

As our Luke Adams explained last week, players are cut from injured reserve in one of two ways — the team and player agree to an injury settlement that pays the player until he is fully recovered, or the player attains full health while on IR, and the team is forced to release him or add him to the 53-man roster. It’s unclear which avenue the Giants took with Manningham.

Buccaneers rookie Mike Evans is expected to be sidelined for several weeks, so perhaps Tampa Bay would be interested in adding Manningham. Similarly, the Jets (Eric Decker) and Bears (Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery) have been hit by wideout injuries, and could look to bring in Manningham. Additionally, the Patriots, Browns, and Steelers are among the teams who could be on the lookout for upgrades at receiver.