Month: November 2017

AFC Rumors: Broncos, Ray, Jets, Texans

Shane Ray is “right on schedule” to return to the Broncos after his eight-week stay on injured reserve, according to Troy Renck of Denver7 (Twitter link). Currently dealing with a wrist issue, Ray was placed on IR following the formation of Denver’s 53-man roster, meaning he’s eligible to return after eight weeks. Ray will miss three more divisional games — one each against the Chargers, Raiders, and Chiefs — before getting back to action in Week 9. Without Ray in tow, the Broncos rank just 22nd in adjusted sack rate.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • If Colts quarterback Andrew Luck were to somehow become available, the Jets should make a play for the signal-caller, opines Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. Luck, of course, hasn’t played this season as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery, but it’s still incredibly difficult to see Indy general manager Chris Ballard even considering the idea of a Luck trade. New York could secure a top-five selection in the 2018 draft, but the Colts would almost assuredly demand multiple first-round picks — and possibly more — for Luck, who is owed more than $95MM (not counting signing bonus money) through 2021.
  • Johnthan Banksone-year deal with the Texans is for one year at the minimum rate, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). But because the former second-round cornerback after two weeks of the regular season had already passed, he’ll only earn about $683K in base salary. Furthermore, Houston used the minimum salary benefit on Banks, meaning the club will only incur ~$542K for signing the fifth-year pro.
  • In case you missed it, the Chiefs waived/injured veteran kicker Cairo Santos today, meaning his next kick will likely come with another club after three-plus seasons with Kansas City.

NFC Notes: Vikings, Floyd, Lions, Eagles

Given that wide receiver Michael Floyd‘s four-game suspension will conclude this Sunday, the Vikings will need to make a roster move in order to clear space for the veteran pass-catcher, as Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press writes. Clubs are typically given roster exemptions when a player returns from a ban, so Minnesota will likely have until Wednesday or Thursday to make a transaction. The most likely candidates to be removed from the Vikings’ active 53 appear to be rookie wideouts Rodney Adams and Stacy Coley, per Tomasson, as neither has played much during the 2017 campaign. Floyd, 27, inked a one-year, $1.41MM deal with Minnesota that didn’t include any guaranteed money.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • The Lions expect left tackle Taylor Decker to return from a shoulder injury in late October or early November, according to Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. Originally given a four-to-six month timeline when injured in June, Decker has been progressing well in his recovery, and nearly every report on his timetable has been positive. Because he’s on the physically unable to perform list, Decker is required to miss at least six games before returning to action. Detroit has a bye in Week 7, however, so the earliest he can realistically come back is Week 9 against the Steelers, as Meinke details. Trade acquisition Greg Robinson has started in Decker’s stead, but he’s graded as the league’s second-worst tackle, per Pro Football Focus.
  • Linebacker Mychal Kendricks was finally able to play in more than half the Eagles‘ defensive snaps in Week 3 following an injury to fellow defender Jordan Hicks, and Kendricks wasn’t able to stifle his frustration at typically being only a base-package player. “I haven’t been able to play,” Kendricks said, per Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I could have been doing this. … You only have so much time to do this [stuff], man.” Kendricks, who posted seven tackles and two passes defensed last Sunday, has frequently been mentioned in trade rumors but hasn’t been moved.
  • In case you missed it, the NFL suspended Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan two games for his brutal hit on Packers wide receiver Davante Adams on Thursday Night Football.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/30/17

Here are today’s minor moves.

  • The Cardinals officially placed Mike Iupati on IR, sidelining the guard for at least eight weeks, and they filled his spot by promoting offensive lineman Vinston Painter from the practice squad. A 2013 draft pick, Painter’s bounced around. He saw action as a backup/special-teamer for the 2014 Browns and 2016 Redskins. The Cardinals added the swing lineman to their practice squad earlier this season.
  • Linebacker Thurston Armbrister will move from the Lions‘ practice squad back to their 53-man roster, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com reports. Detroit placed offensive lineman Zac Kerin on IR. Kerin joins Joe Dahl among Lions offensive linemen to be IR-bound this week. The Lions also placed tackle Corey Robinson on IR earlier this season. A third-year veteran, Armbrister played in 14 games — starting two — for the Lions last season after seeing action in all 16 games for the 2015 Jaguars.

West Notes: 49ers, Cardinals, Ford

The 49ers have used three first-round picks on defensive linemen since 2015, and each of those figures to be in the starting lineup Sunday. With Tank Carradine on IR, Solomon Thomas will likely start at San Francisco’s strong-side defensive end spot, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee notes. The 49ers have used Thomas as an edge defender, but DC Robert Saleh envisions the No. 2 overall pick as a “premier inside rusher” once he develops. Saleh said Thomas “could be a good edge rusher,” so it’s clear the first-year 49ers coordinator wants to see how the Stanford product functions from a defensive tackle spot.

We do need to find ways to get him inside to rush the passer a little bit more,” Saleh said, via Barrows.

The 49ers, though, used first-round picks on interior defenders Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner the previous two years. Buckner rates as Pro Football Focus’ No. 3 interior defender, behind only J.J. Watt and Ndamukong Suh, through three games. The new-look 49ers defensive staff wanted to decrease Buckner’s workload upon being hired, Saleh calling it “criminal” for Buckner to exceed 1,000 snaps as he did as a rookie, but Barrows observes those stances softening as the season’s begun. At 179 defensive plays, Buckner is on pace for nearly the 1,005 snaps he played last season now. Injuries to Carradine and Ronald Blair, and the release of current Packers cog Quinton Dial, has thinned out a potential 49ers D-line rotation.

Here’s the latest from the Western divisions.

  • The Cardinals are not receiving Jared Veldheer‘s best work thus far this season. The team’s move of the veteran left tackle to the right side has not gone well, and Veldheer might be playing in his final Arizona season. While Veldheer took a day away from the team to consider leaving football earlier this year, Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com notes (on Twitter) the veteran lineman would like to return in 2018. However, Jurecki does not expect him to stay with the Cardinals. Veldheer’s in the fourth season of a five-year, $35MM deal — one that includes a $10.25MM cap hold for 2018. He profiles as a cap casualty at this point.
  • Deone Bucannon will make his season debut after an extensive layoff due to an ankle injury. Bruce Arians confirmed the inside linebacker will be ready to suit up in Week 4. Haason Reddick, the fill-in player here, will likely start Sunday while Bucannon is gradually worked back into the fold, per Arians.
  • The Chiefs, though, will be without a key front-seven piece in their Week 4 game. Dee Ford will miss Kansas City’s Monday-night home game against Washington. With Tamba Hali already being conserved for the stretch run via the PUP list, this will leave the AFC West leaders thin at outside linebacker. Ford’s dealing with a back injury.
  • The gap between Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard remains too wide for the 49ers to consider a quarterback change, Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com writes. Hoyer’s system knowledge giving the embattled 49ers their best chance to win now makes him unlikely to be unseated any time soon, Maiocco notes.

Danny Trevathan Suspended Two Games

The NFL’s review of Danny Trevathan‘s violent hit on Davante Adams resulted in the league suspending the Bears linebacker for two games.

Trevathan was penalized for the hit on Adams, one that sent the Packers wide receiver to the hospital, and he will miss time because of it. This is Trevathan’s first NFL suspension.

The sixth-year linebacker will have a chance to appeal, with the Bears’ next game not coming until next Sunday, and ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano tweets an appeal will be expected within three days. Either Derrick Brooks or James Thrash will hear Trevathan’s appeal, which the linebacker will do, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Thrash reduced Vontaze Burfict‘s suspension from five games to three, leading to the Bengals linebacker being set to debut Sunday.

NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan made the call to suspend Trevathan because of the “excessive” nature of the hit, a helmet-to-helmet blow that came after Adams’ progress was stopped as two other Bears were in on the tackle.

Should an appeal be denied, the 27-year-old inside ‘backer won’t be able to return to the Bears until Monday, Oct. 16. This suspension will leave the Bears without either of their preferred starting inside linebackers, with Jerrell Freeman already on IR. A third linebacker, Nick Kwiatkoski, also suffered an injury early this season, continuing Chicago’s health woes thus far in 2017.

Trevathan, who signed with the Bears last year after starting for John Fox in Denver as well, missed extensive time this offseason with a knee injury. He missed seven games during his first season with the Bears.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Waive Cairo Santos

Cairo Santos sustained a groin injury during his last warmup kick against the Chargers this weekend. It may well end up being his final kick as a Chief.

The Chiefs waived Santos with an injury designation on Saturday, the team announced. He is expected to be healthy later this season, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), so the fourth-year kicker will now be able to land with another team. The Chiefs placed Santos on IR earlier this week, clearing the way for their claim of rookie Harrison Butker off the Panthers’ practice squad.

Santos served as Kansas City’s kicker since the start of the 2014 season, when he beat out Ryan Succop in training camp. A Brazil native, Santos made a career-best 88 percent of his kicks last season (31 of 35) and has kicked in every game since the start of the ’14 campaign.

Butker did not beat out Graham Gano for Carolina’s kicking job out of camp, but the Panthers used a seventh-round pick on the Georgia Tech product. It looks like the Chiefs will be turning to Butker for the time being.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Place LB Jeremy Cash On IR

The Panthers injury woes continue. The team has placed linebacker Jeremy Cash on the injured reserve, reports Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer (via Twitter). The team has promoted defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. from the practice squad to take Cash’s place on the roster.

Jeremy CashCash, a standout at Duke, surprisingly wasn’t selected during the 2016 draft. The former safety ultimately signed with the Panthers, and the team subsequently converted him to linebacker. He played in eight games during his rookie campaign, compiling six tackles (mostly on special teams). He appeared in his team’s season-opening win over the 49ers, but he hasn’t gotten into a game since. The Panthers could be seeking some more linebacker depth down the road, as they’re only rostering a trio of reserves in Ben Jacobs, David Mayo, and Jared Norris.

Cox signed with the Panthers as an undrafted free agent out of Florida following this past year’s draft. After being waived in early September, he caught on with the organization’s practice squad. The son of former Pro Bowler Bryan Cox, the rookie should provide the organization with some depth on the defensive line. Julius Peppers is currently dealing with an injured shoulder, and the team would have only been left with defensive ends Wes Horton and Daeshon Hall on the bench had he missed tomorrow’s game.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Will The Patriots Trade CB Malcolm Butler?

Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler had been the subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason. With the trade deadline rapidly approaching , it begs the question: will New England look to trade their former Super Bowl hero?

Malcolm Butler (vertical)Before we discuss the logic of such a move, let’s review why the Patriots and Butler find themselves in this situation in the first place. The former undrafted free agent has proven himself as one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL over the past two years, earning a Pro Bowl spot in 2015 and a second-team All-Pro nod in 2016. Unsurprisingly, the underpaid cornerback requested a raise prior to last season, although the Patriots predictably made him play on his $600K salary. With the cornerback set to hit restricted free agency, the Patriots slapped a first-round tender on him early in the offseason.

Instead of signing Butler to a lucrative extension, the Patriots decided to ink free agent corner Stephon Gilmore to the most expensive contract for a defensive player in team history. Predictably, Butler was “extremely frustrated” by this move. Subsequent reports indicated that the team was shopping Butler to New Orleans, and the player’s agent was apparently asking front offices for a Gilmore-type contract (around $14MM annually). While there seemed to be some momentum towards a deal with the Saints, talks ultimately died, and Butler eventually signed his tender.

With reports indicating that the cornerback was likely going to leave New England following the season, some assumed that the Patriots would ride out the season with a deadly duo of Butler and Gilmore. However, coach Bill Belichick has never really operated under that logic. Last year, we saw the team trade impending free agents Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins. Previously, the front office dealt Deion Branch and Richard Seymour, who were also set to hit free agency. In all these cases, the trades arguably hurt New England’s on-field product, which only emphasizes why Belichick isn’t afraid to trade a player before he’s set to walk. For what it’s worth, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported back in April that a trade was still possible, although unlikely. Reports also indicated that the team has no interest in franchising the defensive back.

Through the first three games of the season, the cornerback hasn’t done much to boost his free agent stock. After playing nearly all of his team’s snaps in 2016, he found himself on the bench during the beginning of the Patriots’ Week 2 contest. He’s compiled nine tackles and one pass defended this year, and Pro Football Focus ranks him 37th among 109 qualified cornerbacks.

Even if he has taken a slight step back this season, the Patriots could still receive some type of draft-pick compensation for Butler. Sure, he is an impending free agent in pursuit of a huge payday, but any acquiring team would have the leverage of a franchise tag.

So that leads back to the original question: will the Patriots trade Malcolm Butler prior to the trade deadline? Vote below, and let us know what you think in the comment section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Promote DT Justin Hamilton, Waive S Trae Elston

With Fletcher Cox set to miss tomorrow’s game against the Chargers, the Eagles have added some depth on the defensive line. According to ESPN’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter), the team has promoted defensive tackle Justin Hamilton from the practice squad. To make room, the team has waived safety Trae Elston.

Trae Elston (vertical)Hamilton has bounced around the league since going undrafted out of Louisiana–Lafayette in 2015. The 24-year-old has already spent time with the Bills, Packers, and Seahawks during his brief career, although he’s yet to get into an NFL game. The defensive tackle signed a futures contract with Philly back in January, although he was waived in early September. He was subsequently signed to the team’s practice squad, and he’s already been released and re-signed since then. Hamilton is expected to provide the Eagles with some depth at defensive tackle, and he should slot in behind Timmy JerniganBeau AllenElijah Qualls, and Destiny Vaeao on the depth chart.

Elston, a 2016 undrafted rookie out of Mississippi, was claimed off waivers from the Bills earlier this month. The 23-year-old has appeared in three games this season between Buffalo and Philly, compiling a single tackle. The defensive back has also spent time with the Saints, Buccaneers, and Browns. Starting safety Rodney McLeod has been sidelined with a hamstring injury, but the team still has plenty of depth at the position, as they’re also rostering Malcolm Jenkins, Corey GrahamJaylen Watkins, and Chris Maragos.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.