Month: August 2019

West Rumors: Raiders, 49ers, Ansah

Despite the Raiders parting ways with Reggie McKenzie late last year, his twin brother remained a scout through this draft. But Raleigh McKenzie will be one of the scouts sent home pre-draft that will not return. Raleigh McKenzie’s contract is up, and he confirmed to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal he will not be retained. The 56-year-old area scout in charge of the northeast had worked with the Raiders since Reggie McKenzie’s 2012 hire and said he viewed his exit as a “strong possibility” after his brother was let go, per Gehlken. Reggie McKenzie resurfaced in Miami. That would obviously be a logical landing spot for Raleigh.

Here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch regime exited their third draft together, and Matt Miller of Bleacher Report notes the 49ers‘ top two decision-makers may not be in lockstep. Shanahan would prefer to focus on developing players and scheming, but scouting and coaching sources told Miller the third-year HC has grown skeptical of Lynch’s decision-making on the personnel side. When asked about the report Tuesday, Shanahan (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area) called it “complete bulls***.” But if there is more to this situation, Miller writes it would likely be Shanahan staying in place and then looking for a new GM/personnel chief after the departures of Lynch and player personnel VP Adam Peters.
  • Ziggy Ansah visited a fourth team this week, with the suddenly edge rusher-needy Seahawks taking a look at the former Lions sack artist. But as could be expected, a signing will have to wait a week, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes (video link). Teams are not expected to sign the former Pro Bowl defensive end until after May 8, when free agents no longer count against the compensatory pick formula. Ansah joins the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Eric Berry, Michael Crabtree, Jamie Collins, Muhammad Wilkerson and other veterans in this boat. Next week figures to reignite free agency, to a degree, for teams looking to fill specific post-draft needs.
  • The Raiders have added so many new wide receivers they might not all make the team. Slotting Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, Ryan Grant and Dwayne Harris as locks to make the roster, along with Hunter Renfrow‘s probably spot, Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area lists J.J. Nelson as a bubble player. A intriguing deep threat during Bruce Arians‘ run, the diminutive Nelson fell off the grid last season (seven receptions in 14 games). Harris is five years older than Nelson and has been mostly a return-only presence the past three years. He received a one-year, $1.6MM contract with $275K guaranteed; Nelson, 27, signed a one-year, $1MM deal with $75K guaranteed.

Draft Pick Signings: 4/30/19

The first 2019 draft pick signing commenced Tuesday. Only 253 to go.

  • The 49ers signed their fourth-round pick (No. 110 overall), punter Mitch Wishnowsky, to the CBA-mandated four-year contract. Wishnowsky was the first specialist chosen in this year’s draft. Ranking second in Division I-FBS with a 47.7-yard punting average, the Utah alum earned second-team All-America honors last season. However, Wishnowsky broke into football late; this will be the Australia native’s age-27 season.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/30/19

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

Jacksonville Jaguars

New York Giants

Oakland Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles

Washington Redskins

Latest On Dolphins, Josh Rosen

Sent to the Dolphins for second- and fifth-round picks, Josh Rosen apparently did not go on the trade block until minutes before the Cardinals selected Kyler Murray.

Steve Keim texted Rosen’s agent, Ryan Williams, just before the Murray pick to give him permission to join the Cardinals in finding a Rosen trade partner, Robert Klemko of SI.com reports. When Keim asked Williams if the Patriots were interested in making Rosen Tom Brady‘s heir apparent, Williams wondered why this wasn’t worked out weeks ago — when the Murray-to-Arizona rumors started.

The Redskins laughed at the Cardinals’ request for a first-round pick, per Klemko, who adds Keim did have a contingency plan that involved keeping both Murray and Rosen on the roster.

The Dolphins did not enter into the Rosen equation until the draft was 20 minutes old, with the Giants’ and Redskins’ first-round quarterback picks eliminating the other primary Rosen suitors. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wonders if the NFL was responsible for the Cardinals’ 11th-hour approach to dealing their previous starter, with a pre-draft Rosen trade removing the drama surrounding the first overall pick.

When Keim and Chris Grier spoke at the Combine, Rosen’s name did not come up, per Albert Breer of SI.com. Grier called Keim about Rosen 20 minutes into the draft, but Breer adds the GMs did not reconnect on the quarterback until Friday afternoon.

We’d fielded some calls from some people asking if we were willing to move down in the second round,” Grier said, via Breer. “Our goal before the draft was, if we’re able to pick up a first or a second in 2020, that was something we’d consider. But we were more than willing to take a player at (pick No.) 48. There was a player we really liked. And we had a couple calls.

We were ready to pick at 62 (after a trade with the Saints). And I’m telling you, Steve was pushing hard for what he wanted, and so were we. So we were to a point there where I wasn’t sure if it was going to get done or not.”

Miami’s previous front office studied Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen more closely than Rosen as prospects last year, Breer notes, due to the thinking, at the time, those two had a better chance of dropping to the team’s No. 11 overall draft slot in 2018. Because the Dolphins were able to land Rosen at an extreme discount, compared to his No. 10 overall price last year, Grier said the pick will not stop them from looking at first-round-caliber quarterbacks next year.

Every team in the league is looking for that guy that’s going to lead them to championships,” Grier said. “And so for us, we’re in a position where we’re trying to find that guy, like a lot of teams in the league. So yeah, it was an easy decision. And it doesn’t stop us from doing anything in the future. Who knows? If things go well and we feel he’s the guy, who knows? But it doesn’t stop us from doing anything.”

The Dolphins were the first team reported to be playing a 2020 long game at quarterback, having been connected to what is expected to be a Tua Tagovailoa– and Justin Herbert-fronted 2020 class for months. They will enter this season with Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick headlining their quarterback room, likely set to observe the former’s development while studying top college prospects. The Cardinals will go into OTAs with Murray and Brett Hundley as the main cogs in their quarterback room.

I absolutely would have competed if (the Cardinals) kept me, but I would’ve been kind of bummed about it because I knew I wouldn’t get a fair shake,” Rosen said, via Klemko. “A GM’s not going to draft a quarterback and draft another one the next year, higher, and then play the first one. It’s admitting you made two mistakes. It just wouldn’t happen.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins Sign 8 Undrafted Free Agents

Joining some other teams in announcing their UDFA hauls Tuesday, the Redskins added eight priority free agents to their roster. Here is the octet:

After the Rams added Daniel Jones‘ second-leading receiver as a UDFA, the Redskins agreed to terms with Duke’s top target from 2018. Rahming led the Blue Devils in receiving, by considerable margins, from 2016-18. The 5-foot-9 wideout totaled 2,919 yards and 13 touchdowns as a four-year contributor in David Cutcliffe’s offense. He and Sims join Terry McLaurin (Round 3) and Kelvin Harmon (Round 6) as Washington’s wideout pickups this offseason.

Washington added both a guard and a center in the draft, but Bushell-Beatty and Okeke represent the team’s top tackle additions this year. The Redskins signed former first-round tackle Ereck Flowers but plan to convert the thus-far-underwhelming blocker to guard. Swing tackle Ty Nsekhe departed as a free agent. Trent Williams and Morgan Moses remain atop the depth chart, but Washington’s offensive line has been one of the most injury-ravaged units in the league over the past two seasons.

Cowboys Add 13 UDFAs

The Cowboys announced their 13-man UDFA group Tuesday. One familiar-looking name appears on this list. Here is the full contingent:

Allen is indeed the son of Hall of Fame Cowboy Larry Allen. Like his father, Larry Allen Jr. primarily works as a guard. He earned first-team All-Ivy League honors twice. While Clemson’s defensive line received the draft attention, Hyatt was a two-time first-team All-American.

The younger brother of Patriots defensive end Deatrich Wise, Daniel Wise was a two-time first-team All-Big 12 player. Westry stands 6-foot-4, making him a natural fit for Kris Richard‘s scheme. One of three linebackers in this group, Phillips led Oklahoma State in tackles last season. Dowell was among the Big Ten’s 2018 tackle leaders, registering 97 with the Spartans as a senior.

Broncos Sign 17 UDFAs

The Broncos UDFA list is up to 17 players, and it now officially includes quarterback Brett Rypien, whom the club agreed to sign several days ago. Today, Denver waived Garrett Grayson to make room for Rypien. Here’s the updated list (Mike Klis of 9News.com passes along the signing bonuses for all of the players for whom that information is available).

The Broncos have been consistent in identifying UDFA talent during John Elway‘s tenure, with Chris Harris becoming a perennial Pro Bowler and C.J. Anderson and Phillip Lindsay each making the Pro Bowl during their initial years as starters.

Lindsay’s late-season injury may create a chance for Jackson, who rushed for 1,385 yards and 12 touchdowns last season at the Division II school. The 5-foot-7 ball carrier will give the Broncos a two-Devontae running back room, with Devontae Booker entering a contract year.

Denver lost two offensive linemen in free agency and only drafted one, Dalton Risner, pointing to an opportunity for its quartet of UDFA blockers.

Rams Sign 19 Undrafted Free Agents

Two days after the draft’s conclusion, the Rams finalized their undrafted free agent list. Here are the 14 rookies that will comprise the defending NFC champions’ priority free agent contingent:

The Rams did not use a draft choice on a tight end and have the same group they featured last season, one fronted by Tyler Higbee and 2018 second-rounder Gerald Everett. Third-year UDFA Johnny Mundt is also on Los Angeles’ roster at tight end. Neither Blanton nor Brooker exceeded 500 yards in their respective careers. Brown transferred to Texas State from Oklahoma State, and after being a bit part of the Cowboys’ passing attack, his 2018 numbers at the Sun Belt program — 51 receptions, 577 yards, five touchdown catches — were among the best of Division I-FBS tight ends last season.

Lloyd served as one of Daniel Jones’ top Blue Devils targets, going for 604 yards and five touchdown receptions last season. Sumpter led the Division I-FCS team in receiving in each of his final two seasons, posting 610 as a junior in 2017.

Patriots Meet With Jared Veldheer

Not much has emerged surrounding Jared Veldheer this offseason. After the Broncos made their annual right tackle switch, pivoting quickly to Ja’Wuan James, their previous option began an anonymous free agency stay.

Veldheer, however, secured a post-draft meeting with the Patriots and visited the defending Super Bowl champions, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. This is believed to be Veldheer’s first 2019 visit.

New England drafted third-round tackle Yodny Cajuste but lost Trent Brown and LaAdrian Waddle this offseason. They have 2018 first-rounder Isaiah Wynn coming off a season-nullifying torn Achilles, potentially pointing to a depth need.

A nine-year veteran, Veldheer started 12 games in Denver last season. He graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 58-rated tackle during his one-season Broncos stint. Veldheer has more experience playing left tackle, having lined up there with the Raiders and Cardinals for several years. But the Cards switched Veldheer and D.J. Humphries in 2017, beginning his right tackle career. The 31-year-old blocker may be a swing option for the Patriots.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Claim LB Riley Bullough

Shortly after the draft, the Buccaneers waived multiyear contributor Riley Bullough. The Titans will now see what the linebacker can do under their watch.

Tennessee submitted a successful waiver claim on the young linebacker on Tuesday. Bullough will now head to Nashville.

A 2017 UDFA who became a fan favorite on Hard Knocks that summer, Bullough made his way into Tampa Bay’s starting lineup in 2018. He was a first-stringer in three games last season. The Michigan State product started in three games and played in nine as an NFL sophomore. But he’s been mostly a special teams cog, having made just 15 career tackles in 12 games.

The Bucs waived Bullough with an injury designation prior to the 2018 regular season but brought him back in October. After waiving him again this year, they will not have an immediate chance to re-sign him.

The Titans closed their six-player draft with two linebackers — D’Andre Walker and David Long Jr., respectively chosen in the fifth and sixth rounds — but did not sign any veteran free agents at this spot.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.