Month: January 2021

Bills Host CB Daryl Worley On Visit

Daryl Worley may have a chance to land on his feet quickly. Shortly after the Cowboys released the veteran cornerback, he made a visit to Buffalo to meet with Bills brass, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

The Cowboys cut Worley on Wednesday, doing so after attempting to trade the fifth-year defender. Had Worley been jettisoned a week later, he would have been subject to waivers. But because Worley was axed before the trade deadline, he moved directly to free agency because of his vested-veteran status.

Considering many other moves the Bills have made this offseason, the Worley-Buffalo connection is obvious. The Panthers drafted Worley and did so when current Bills GM Brandon Beane and HC Sean McDermott were still with Carolina. In this offseason alone, the Bills have signed ex-Panthers Josh Norman, Mario Addison, Daryl Williams, Vernon Butler and A.J. Klein.

A 2016 third-round pick, Worley played two seasons with the Panthers before being waived after a spring 2018 arrest that produced felony charges. After landing briefly with the Eagles, Worley spent the 2018 and ’19 seasons with the Raiders.

Buffalo will play Week 8 without Norman, who began the season on IR. The recently signed veteran is battling a hamstring injury. The Bills activated Levi Wallace off their IR list Saturday, helping to bolster their interestingly suspect pass defense. Buffalo ranks 18th in pass defense DVOA.

Worley made seven appearances (four starts) for the Cowboys this season. Dallas cleaned house on defense this week, releasing Worley and Dontari Poe and trading Everson Griffen. Pro Football Focus slots Worley as its No. 84 corner (out of 119 full-timers) this season. Worley passing six COVID-19 tests would allow him to practice with the Bills next week, should they move to sign him to their active roster or practice squad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/31/20

Here is the league’s avalanche of Halloween minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Bengals Promote G Quinton Spain

The Bengals signed free agent guard Quinton Spain to the practice squad on Friday and are promoting him to their active roster. 

[RELATED: Bengals Not Planning To Trade Atkins]

The signing was anticipated, and Spain is in line to make his Bengals debut. He will beat fellow offensive line newcomer B.J. Finney to that punch, with the latter still in the COVID-19 protocol after changing cities.

Spain started every game for the Bills last season, helping their run game transform from one of the NFL’s worst in 2018 to a top-10 attack. The Bills re-signed him to a three-year, $15MM deal in the offseason, only to cut him in October after he was leapfrogged by other guards. All in all, Spain has started 66 career games, working as a first-stringer for the Titans and Bills since 2015.

The Bengals could be making some more moves between now and Tuesday’s deadline, but they reportedly aren’t planning on trading Geno Atkins. Of course, that possibility can’t be ruled out after they traded all-time sack leader Carlos Dunlap.

To make room on the reserve unit, the Bengals cut defensive end Kendall Futrell. However, with Spain being elevated, the young defensive end may have a path back to Cincinnati’s taxi squad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Activate Coleman, Williams

The 49ers’ backfield is inching closer to full strength. Against Seattle, San Francisco will have Tevin Coleman back after five straight absences.

Injured in the 49ers’ Week 2 bloodbath against the Jets, Coleman will join Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty as available running backs for the visitors in this NFC West matchup Sunday.

San Francisco will also have slot cornerback K’Waun Williams available. Both players returned to practice this week. Jordan Reed did as well, but the 49ers did not choose to activate him ahead of the Saturday deadline. A knee injury sidelined Coleman, while Williams will make a return after just three weeks despite suffering an ACL sprain.

Coleman operated as the 49ers’ starting back at points last season, but he has battled injuries during both of his Bay Area seasons. Coleman averaged 4.0 yards per carry in a 544-yard season but saw Raheem Mostert usurp him as the team’s top back. Mostert, however, is on IR because of a high ankle sprain and is not likely to return in the near future. Coleman is due to be a 2021 free agent.

Williams’ return will be a welcome sight for a 49ers team still missing Richard Sherman. The 49ers have seen a rare run of health from Jason Verrett and now have both Emmanuel Moseley and Ahkello Witherspoon available. Williams has operated as San Francisco’s slot corner for four seasons. This will leave Sherman as the only cog missing from the team’s corner corps.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Activate Justin Coleman, Waive Bo Scarbrough

The Lions may have their full assortment of cornerbacks for the first time this season. They activated slot corner Justin Coleman from IR on Saturday, ending his five-game absence. Detroit made room for Coleman by waiving running back Bo Scarbrough.

A big-ticket free agent in 2019, Coleman went down with a hamstring injury during Detroit’s season-opening loss to Chicago. He will be back for the Lions’ Week 8 tilt against the Colts. This marks the second season of Coleman’s four-year, $36MM deal.

Detroit has been without Coleman, Desmond Trufant and No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah at various points this season. Trufant missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, but the ex-Falcon cover man participated in two limited practices this week. Okudah battled a hamstring injury earlier this year as well and missed Week 1. The Lions rank 14th in pass defense DVOA, creating a somewhat promising outlook for their coverage capabilities with Coleman, Trufant and Okudah playing together.

Scarbrough returned from IR earlier this month but does not factor into Detroit’s backfield like he did down the stretch last year. Despite being a midseason pickup, the Alabama alum started five games for the Lions. With Adrian Peterson, D’Andre Swift and a healthy Kerryon Johnson in the picture now, the Lions do not have as much use for Scarbrough.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots To Place Julian Edelman On IR

The Patriots will not have their top pass catcher or defender available against the Bills. While the team traveled to Buffalo without Stephon Gilmore, Julian Edelman will land on IR Saturday.

Edelman has run into knee trouble and underwent surgery this week. While Edelman will be out for at least three weeks — perhaps longer — Bill Belichick expects him to return this season, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).

New England’s already limited passing attack will be down N’Keal Harry as well, creating one of the thinnest Patriot receiving crews in Belichick’s 21-year tenure. Edelman, who posted a career-high 1,117 receiving yards last season, leads the Pats with 315 this year. However, 179 of those came in Week 2 against what turned out to be a bottom-end Seahawks defense. Harry has 19 receptions for 172 yards. Damiere Byrd — the only non-Edelman Patriot with more than 200 receiving yards this season — and Jakobi Meyers are in line to be Cam Newton‘s top receivers against the Bills.

Gilmore suffered a knee injury in practice this week. Although the reigning defensive player of the year contracted the coronavirus, this will be his first missed game this season. Gilmore has not missed any time since the 2017 season.

This injury comes at an interesting time for the former Bills first-round pick. Gilmore landed in trade rumors during draft time and before training camp, and with the Patriots at 2-4 and not looking like a Super Bowl contender for the first time in over a decade, the 30-year-old stalwart’s name has come up again. The Pats gave Gilmore a raise ahead of this season, but considering where the cornerback market has gone, the premier boundary defender will likely push for a new deal in 2021. For what it’s worth, Gilmore rumors did not point to a pre-deadline trade prior to this injury news surfacing.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks, Others Inquire About Aldon Smith

The Seahawks made a deal to acquire Carlos Dunlap and will almost certainly have him in uniform in Week 9. However, the pass rush-deficient team looked into another edge defender recently.

Aldon Smith came up in a Seahawks-Cowboys conversation, with Mike Garafolo of NFL.com noting Seattle and other teams checked in on the re-emerging edge rusher’s availability (video link). The Cowboys’ decisions to trade Everson Griffen and cut Dontari Poe and Daryl Worley surely prompted teams to reach out to see if Dallas would be willing to part with its offseason find.

However, the Cowboys are not interested in dealing Smith, Garafolo adds. The Cowboys signed the former All-Pro this offseason, doing so despite Smith being out of football for nearly five years. Smith has been one of the few bright spots on Dallas’ embattled defense, registering a team-high four sacks. Griffen was the only other Cowboy with more than two this season.

Dallas signed Smith to a one-year deal worth $2MM, beating out Denver in the process. Another $2MM is available to Smith through sack incentives. The four sacks are the most the frequently suspended talent has registered in a season since 2013. With the Cowboys not interested in trading Smith, it stands to reason they will explore an extension with the oft-suspended defender.

Although the Seahawks rank slightly ahead of the Cowboys in defensive DVOA (27th to 30th), they have surrendered the most yards by any team through seven games in NFL history. Seattle’s nine sacks rank 27th as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Activate Sean Lee, Joe Looney

Ben DiNucci will have more help up front than he did upon being thrust into action last week. In addition to Zack Martin returning from concussion protocol, Joe Looney is back on the Cowboys’ active roster.

The Cowboys activated Looney and Sean Lee from IR Saturday, though ESPN.com’s Todd Archer notes rookie Tyler Biadasz is expected to make another start at center. Looney has missed the past three games because of an MCL injury.

Dallas used Looney as its full-time starter in 2018, when Travis Frederick missed the season, and re-signed him this offseason after Frederick retired. Looney started the team’s first four games before his knee injury. He went down on the first play of the Cowboys’ Week 4 loss to the Browns. Pro Football Focus grades his 2020 work better than Biadasz’s thus far, with the latter ranking near the bottom of the advanced metrics site’s center hierarchy.

Lee will make his 2020 debut. The Cowboys placed the veteran linebacker on IR prior to the season starting, carrying him onto their 53-man roster so they could activate him at some point. Lee underwent pelvis surgery, forcing his latest injury-induced absence. The Cowboys re-signed Lee on a one-year, $4.5MM deal this offseason. This will be as healthy as Dallas’ linebackers have been all season, with Leighton Vander Esch also now back after missing early-season games.

The Cowboys also promoted cornerback Saivion Smith from their practice squad. Smith will help a cornerback corps that will be without Chidobe Awuzie. The Cowboys enter Week 8 ranking 30th in defensive DVOA. They jettisoned three veterans — Everson Griffen, Dontari Poe and Daryl Worley — this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Rule Out Andy Dalton For Week 8

The Cowboys will not have Andy Dalton available in their annual Sunday-night game against the Eagles. They downgraded the veteran passer to out due to the concussion he suffered in Week 7.

Third-stringer Ben DiNucci will start in Philadelphia. Dalton has yet to clear the protocol after taking an illegal hit from Washington linebacker Jon Bostic, and it will result in an unusual starting offense for the team many expected to win the NFC East this season.

Dallas is already down starting tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins for the season. Although Cameron Erving is back from IR at right tackle, DiNucci will represent an obvious change for a team that has not needed to deviate from its quarterback plan in many years. Dak Prescott started 64 straight games from 2016-19. DiNucci being summoned to start reminds of the 2015 season, when Tony Romo‘s injuries resulted in the Cowboys giving starts to Matt Cassel, Brandon Weeden and current OC Kellen Moore.

DiNucci spent the past two seasons as the starter at Division I-FCS James Madison. The former Pitt recruit led the Dukes to the D-I-FCS national championship game, when they lost to North Dakota State and likely 2021 first-round pick Trey Lance. While DiNucci led the FCS level with a 71% completion rate last season and accounted for 35 TDs (six rushing), his forced ascent illustrates how far off course this Cowboys season has drifted. DiNucci completed 2 of 3 passes for 39 yards and took three sacks in Dallas’ 25-3 loss to Washington.

The Cowboys have Garrett Gilbert in place as DiNucci’s backup. Despite being drafted in the 2014 sixth round, Gilbert has only played in six games and thrown six passes as a pro.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Activate WR Michael Pittman Jr.

The Colts will receive a boost to their passing game this weekend. The team announced this morning that they’ve activated wideout Michael Pittman Jr. from injured reserve. To make room, the team has waived receiver Daurice Fountain.

Following a standout career at USC that saw him earn a pair of first team All-Pac-12 honors, Pittman was selected in the second round (No. 34) of this past year’s draft. He appeared in each of Indy’s first three games (including one start), hauling in nine receptions for 73 yards. He also led all Colts receivers in snaps during their Week 2 win over the Vikings.

The 23-year-old was placed on IR in early October after being diagnosed with compartment syndrome in his calf. The rookie should slide back into a depth chart that’s currently led by T.Y. Hilton and Zach Pascal.

Fountain was a fifth-round pick by the Colts back in 2018. He was limited to only a single game during his first two years in the NFL, but he’s seen time in four games this season, hauling in a pair of catches for 23 yards.