Month: October 2020

Browns LB Mack Wilson Not Expected To Require Knee Surgery

The Browns received some good news Monday. They may well see Mack Wilson in action early this season.

Wilson is not expected to need surgery to repair his hyperextended knee, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. A four- to six-week timetable represents the current tentative expectation, which would make the start of October a realistic goal for the second-year linebacker.

This injury occurred in practice nearly two weeks ago. Browns doctors and Dr. James Andrews, whom Wilson sought for a second opinion, determined surgery should not be necessary, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes. Wilson’s recovery going smoothly would put him on track to be back early during the Browns’ regular-season slate. The Alabama product was an expected Week 1 starter for Cleveland, which has retooled at linebacker.

Cleveland cut Christian Kirksey and allowed 2019 tackles leader Joe Schobert to walk in free agency. The Browns have 2019 draftee Sione Takitaki, 2020 third-rounder Jacob Phillips and former Giants B.J. Goodson and Tae Davis in the fold on their defensive second level. Following Wilson’s injury, they also added former Seahawks, Raiders and 49ers starter Malcolm Smith.

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Panthers Trade LB Andre Smith To Bills

Rather than the reported cut of Andre Smith, the Panthers found a taker for the young linebacker. They traded him to the Bills on Monday.

Buffalo dipped into its 2023 draft to complete this deal, sending a conditional 2023 seventh-round pick to Carolina for Smith, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

While Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane were not with Carolina when the franchise drafted Smith, he is yet another ex-Panther to join the Bills during the duo’s Buffalo tenure. The Dolphins and Lions have received attention for adding ex-Patriots, but the Bills have submitted a tour de force 2020 in acquiring former Panthers. Prior to the Smith trade, they added Josh Norman, Mario Addison, Vernon ButlerDaryl Williams and A.J. Klein this year.

The Panthers drafted Smith in the 2018 seventh round. He saw action in 16 games last season, working almost exclusively as a special-teamer. The ex-North Carolina Tar Heel played on 65% of the Panthers’ special teams snaps and just 2% of their defensive plays last season. He made five tackles in 2019.

Among their backup linebackers, the Bills have former Steeler Tyler Matakevich and 2019 fifth-round pick Vosean Joseph on their roster. Two years remain on Smith’s rookie deal.

Titans Work Out K Stephen Hauschka

The Titans may be intent on acquiring a more experienced kicker, and he may be named Stephen. Shortly after their Stephen Gostkowski workout, the Titans took a look at Stephen Hauschka, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Gostkowski certainly has the longer track record of success, being named to the 2010s’ All-Decade team and being the Patriots’ all-time scoring leader. But Hauschka is a 12-year veteran who kicked for the Seahawks during both of their most recent Super Bowl seasons.

The Bills released Hauschka last week, giving their kicker job to rookie Tyler Bass. The Titans experienced significant kicking issues last season, going through five players at the position. Only three of those five — Ryan Succop, Cairo Santos and Cody Parkey — attempted field goals; they combined to make just 8 of 18 attempts.

Greg Joseph, acquired late last season, resides as the Titans’ top in-house incumbent. He served as Tennessee’s kicker down the stretch and in the playoffs. A third-year vet, Joseph has kicked in 16 career games. Hauschka has kicked in 16 games in each of the past eight seasons. He made at least 83% of his field goals in each of his six Seattle seasons but came in under 80% in 2018 and ’19 in Buffalo.

Giants Work Out Jon Halapio, Jaron Brown

The door appears to remain open for Jon Halapio to return to the Giants. The team worked out its Week 1 center starter of the past two years on Monday, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com tweets.

Wideouts Jaron Brown, Johnny Holton, and quarterback Jalan McClendon also auditioned for the Giants today. Halapio, however, has the most recent track record as a starter.

After letting Weston Richburg walk in 2018, the Giants turned to Halapio at center. He started two games for the Giants in 2018, but a broken leg ended his season. The former sixth-round Patriots pick then started 15 games last season, but a Week 17 Achilles tear clouded his NFL future. The Giants did not tender him as a restricted free agent this offseason.

Halapio, 29, worked out for the Texans last week. Big Blue has held a Nick GatesSpencer Pulley competition at center during training camp. Joe Judge called this competition “scratch even” last week. Halapio played over both when healthy the past two seasons. The Giants, however, gave Gates an extension earlier this year.

The 49ers signed Brown earlier this month but released him last week. He has played seven NFL seasons — five with the Cardinals, two with the Seahawks. The Giants are fairly set at wide receiver — at least, among their top three — but lost wideout/special-teamer Cody Core to a season-ending injury. Brown, 30, has started 18 career games. The 6-foot-3 target has mostly been a depth player in his career. Last season, he caught 16 passes for 220 yards and two TDs with Seattle.

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Logan Ryan To Sign With Giants

The Giants are adding a big name to their secondary. Logan Ryan agreed to terms on a one-year, $7.5MM deal, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

While the value is not quite what Ryan hoped for earlier this offseason, it represents a nice payday for a player who spent more than five months in free agency. Ryan, who changed agents over the weekend, will also return to his native New Jersey for his eighth NFL season.

Earlier Monday, Ryan was reported to have interest in joining the Giants, who had been monitoring his market for a while. This will take one of the top free agents off the market. Although Ryan will have less than two weeks with his new team before Week 1, he has a history with new Giants head coach Joe Judge and DC Patrick Graham. Both were in New England during Ryan’s four-year Patriots tenure.

Ryan’s fit will be interesting, because the Giants could use help at multiple spots. The former Patriots and Titans slot defender recently marketed himself as a safety, citing his cornerback-most 113 tackles last season as a selling point. The Giants, though, saw Sam Beal opt out and DeAndre Baker land on the commissioner’s exempt list. But second-round pick Xavier McKinney, an expected safety starter, suffered a broken foot. Ryan saw far more time at slot corner than safety in 2019. Regardless, the Rutgers product will be expected to be a full-time player for the Giants this season.

The 29-year-old defender intercepted four passes last season and has 17 career picks; 13 of those came with the Patriots. The Jets were close to a deal with Ryan earlier this year, and the Dolphins expressed interest in adding another ex-Patriot to their roster. The Ravens were also moderately interested, though Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic tweets Baltimore was not prepared to pay $7.5MM. But the Giants won out and will help their needy defense with a player who may play a versatile role in 2020.

The Giants ranked 31st in pass-defense DVOA last season. They have now added Ryan and James Bradberry to their secondary, which could include McKinney during the season’s second half. He looms as an IR-return candidate. While questions remain about Big Blue’s pass rush, their secondary looks to be upgraded.

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Jets, Avery Williamson Agree On Restructure

A trade candidate during the offseason, Avery Williamson saw his place with the Jets became more secure after C.J. Mosley‘s opt-out decision. And he now looks like he’s staying in New York for the 2020 season.

The veteran linebacker agreed to restructure his contract Monday. Williamson is now set to make $3.5MM this season, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The Jets guaranteed Williamson $1MM, and this adjustment can earn the ex-Titans starter up to $5MM.

Williamson cutting his 2020 pay down from $6.5MM creates $3.75MM in cap space for the Jets, who already held more than $30MM in space going into Monday.

This is the third year of the three-year deal Williamson signed in 2018. At signing, that contract was worth $22.5MM. Williamson, 28, is the most experienced member of Gang Green’s linebacking corps, which now includes former Ravens starter Patrick Onwuasor.

Williamson is attempting to return from the ACL tear that shelved him for all of the 2019 season. While the Jets shopped him this offseason, Williamson led the 2018 team in tackles with a career-high 120.

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Prince Amukamara Interested In Giants Reunion

The Raiders released Prince Amukamara earlier on Monday. The veteran cornerback is eyeing a reunion with a team that features a greater need at the position.

Amukamara would like to rejoin the Giants, telling the New York Post’s Steve Serby “it would be awesome” to return to New York and join the team that drafted him. Considering the Giants have changed coaches three times since Amukamara last played for the team, it is not certain the franchise views him returning in a similar light. But the Giants undeniably need help in the secondary.

The Giants have needed cornerback help for a bit now, with DeAndre Baker on the commissioner’s exempt list. The team that carried DVOA’s No. 31 pass defense last year also saw third-year contributor Sam Beal opt out last month. Logan Ryan has surfaced on the Giants’ radar and looks to have interest in signing, though his price tag has been an issue for teams since he entered free agency. At this stage of his career, Amukamara would be a much cheaper option. Ryan has also marketed himself as a safety, whereas Amukamara is a pure corner.

Moving to the Jaguars and Bears following his five-season Giants tenure, the former first-round pick signed a one-year deal for the veteran minimum with the Raiders. The Bears made him a cap casualty in February. The 31-year-old defender has been a full-time starter since 2012 and still views himself as a “top-64 corner” in the league, per Serby.

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Chargers Not Pursuing Earl Thomas

Despite carrying one of the league’s most talented secondaries to training camp, the Chargers are in familiar trouble. Derwin Jamesknee issue will cost him games at the start of a season for the second straight year.

The Bolts have four All-Pros in their secondary but are missing their highest-ceiling talent for the foreseeable future. They are not interested in the All-Pro safety currently in free agency. Anthony Lynn said Monday the team is not planning to pursue Earl Thomas, per The Athletic’s Daniel Popper (on Twitter).

Even without James, Los Angeles’ secondary includes Casey Hayward, Desmond King and free agency addition Chris Harris. King, a 2018 All-Pro cornerback who saw action at safety in college, has been working as a second-string safety in camp. The Bolts also have 2019 second-round pick Nasir Adderley and 2019 substitute starter Rayshawn Jenkins. They drafted Alohi Gilman in this year’s sixth round. It appears Los Angeles will stick with its in-house options to replace James.

The Ravens released Thomas earlier this month. Joining Harris on the 2010s’ All-Decade team, Thomas certainly carries top-flight ability. Even entering his age-31 season, the three-time All-Pro is one of the game’s top safeties. But he suddenly carries some baggage. Teams are clearly doing homework on the former Legion of Boom centerpiece, but as of Monday, his market has not seen much momentum.

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Mutual Interest Between Giants, Logan Ryan

With issues at cornerback, safety and outside linebacker, the Giants are set to again enter Week 1 with major questions about their pass defense. But they may be eyeing 11th-hour help.

The Giants have been eyeing Logan Ryan for months, and Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com notes the free agent defensive back has interest in signing with the NFC’s Big Apple franchise (Twitter link).

Ryan has carried a high price tag this offseason, which has led to his lengthy stay in free agency. Earlier this year, Ryan was reported to be seeking a $10MM-AAV deal. No team appeared willing to pay that price. However, the veteran slot cornerback has recently marketed himself as a safety and changed agents.

The Giants are down cornerback DeAndre Baker (on the commissioner’s exempt list) and rookie safety Xavier McKinney (broken foot). Ryan would help Big Blue’s secondary, potentially in multiple capacities.

Ryan, 29, has a history with both Joe Judge and new Giants DC Patrick Graham. Judge was on New England’s staff throughout Ryan’s four-season tenure, while Graham was there for Ryan’s first three NFL seasons.

Although the Giants hold more than $22MM in cap space, Raanan adds they will not splurge for Ryan. The team handed out some big deals in free agency this year — to James Bradberry and Blake Martinez — but has held firm on further upgrades to its defense. The Giants laid back on the edge rusher market in March and have not expressed interest in Jadeveon Clowney, despite the Pro Bowler’s reported interest in a New York stay.

Ryan has played seven seasons with the Patriots and Titans. He led all corners last season, by a significant margin, with 113 tackles and graded as one of the top slot defenders, per Pro Football Focus. The Giants ranked 31st in pass-defense DVOA last season.

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Vikings’ Riley Reiff Expecting Release?

Riley Reiff‘s Vikings tenure may be capped at three years. The team, which just took on a hefty salary with Yannick Ngakoue‘s reduced franchise tag, is eyeing a pay cut for its veteran left tackle.

Set to make $10.9MM in base salary this season, Reiff does not appear to foresee a solution coming. He has told teammates he expects to be released, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports (on Twitter). Should the Vikings release Reiff, they would gain $8.8MM in cap space. Following their Ngakoue acquisition, the Vikings hold an NFL-low $1.2MM in cap space.

Reiff is not expected to be at practice Monday, according to ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin, who adds that the team has given him a Tuesday deadline to determine if he’ll accept a pay reduction or be cut (Twitter link). The sides failing to compromise would send Reiff back to free agency. He signed with the Vikings in 2017 and has made 43 regular-season starts at left tackle.

Reiff, 31, was a rumored cap casualty earlier this year, but the Vikes kept him around. They then drafted Ezra Cleveland in the second round. Cleveland was seeing time at guard earlier in camp. However, the Boise State product can be viewed as Reiff’s eventual successor. The team, however, does not view Cleveland as ready to play just yet, Florio notes, adding that the more likely post-Reiff O-line configuration would be right tackle Brian O’Neill moving to the left side and Rashod Hill on the right edge.

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