49ers Sign CB B.W. Webb

B.W. Webb is heading to San Francisco. The veteran cornerback is signing with the 49ers, reports ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter).

[RELATED: 49ers To Work Out Dre Kirkpatrick]

The 2013 fourth-round pick has earned journeyman status after spending time with nine teams in eight years. Webb actually had two of his better NFL seasons in 2018 and 2019, collecting 82 tackles, 13 passes defended, and two interceptions in 31 games (25 starts) split between the Giants and Bengals. In total, the 31-year-old has seen time in 80 career games, and he got into a single playoff game with the Steelers in 2014.

Webb signed a one-year contract with the Cardinals last August, but he ended up getting cut less than a week later. The veteran didn’t sign with a club for the rest of the 2020 campaign.

The 49ers could temporarily use some extra bodies at cornerback. Emmanuel Moseley is on the reserve/COVID-19 list, Tim Harris Jr. is sidelined with a hamstring injury, and Dontae Johnson is dealing with a foot injury. Webb still has an uphill battle to make San Francisco’s roster, but he’ll get a chance at an extended look over (at least) the next few practices.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Add Three Tight Ends

Why sign one tight end when you can sign all the tight ends? The Dolphins have added a handful of players at that position over the past 24 hours, including Sal Cannella, Gabe Holmes, and Kalif Jackson.

The trio’s stint with the Dolphins could be short lived, as the team made the additions only after placing three other tight ends (Mike Gesicki, Adam Shaheen, and Cethan Carter) on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Still, the three players will presumably have a fair shot at showing what they’ve got, but they’ll have to overcome the likes of Carson Meier and Chris Myarick if they want to stick around.

Holmes is the only one of the three additions with any NFL experience, as the 30-year-old appeared in 10 games (four starts) for the Cardinals between the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The Purdue product has also spent time with the Colts, Ravens, Seahawks, and Raiders.

Following his collegiate career at Auburn, Cannella has participated in the Spring League over the past two years. He had tryouts with the Colts and Bears this offseason, but neither audition resulted in a deal. Jackson started his college career at Florida before transferring to Grambling. The former wideout is list at 6-5 and 245 pounds, so it sounds like he’s added the bulk to compete at tight end.

QB Philip Rivers Would Consider Late-Season Return

We may not have seen the last of Philip Rivers. Sam Farmer of the LA Times reports (via Twitter) that the quarterback “isn’t closing the door” on returning to the NFL. While the 39-year-old is currently focused on his gig as a high school coach, he’d consider joining a QB-needy squad late in the season.

The 17-year veteran announced his retirement back in January, but that came after a month or so of mulling his decision. At the time, Rivers cited his “growing desire to coach high school football” as reasoning for hanging up his cleats. The 39-year-old still sounds committed to that cause, but Rivers could return to the NFL once the high school season concludes.

Of course, a potential return would be dependent on a job opening. Presumably, Rivers would only be interested in joining a contender, which means a top QB would have to succumb to injury. Plus, these teams might prefer to stick with their in-house options, so Rivers’ list of suitors will probably be limited. Still, these hypothetical suitors could do a whole lot worse; Rivers guided the Colts to an 11-5 record last season while completing 68-percent of his passes for 4,169 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.

That performance was a big reason why the Colts were interested in a reunion. Indy could use someone of Rivers’ caliber right now while Carson Wentz is sidelined. However, the current starter is expected to miss anywhere from five to 12 weeks; even if Wentz returns on the late side of that timeline, it would still only be late October. If Rivers is truly only focused on a late-season return, the Colts probably won’t be a fit.

Rivers spent 16 years with the Chargers before spending the 2020 campaign in Indianapolis. In total, the former fourth-overall pick threw for 63,440 yards and 421 touchdowns while earning nine Pro Bowl nods during his career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Sign LB Kwon Alexander

Kwon Alexander is heading back to New Orleans after all. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the free agent linebacker has agreed to a one-year deal with the Saints. The deal is worth up to $3MM.

The veteran was released by the Saints back in March, but the move was mostly financially motivated. By cutting Alexander, the organization saved $13MM at the time. Considering the discount they got on the latest pact, this was clearly a wise move by the organization. Back in March, some suspected that the team may have also been wary of the player’s Achilles injury, which ended his season early. However, we learned last month that Alexander had already been cleared to resume football activities.

Alexander was shipped from San Francisco to New Orleans in November, and he ultimately collected 27 stops, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries in seven games with his new squad. A torn ACL and a torn pectoral muscle limited Alexander to only 14 games between the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and he only appeared in 12 total games last season. It’s been five seasons since Alexander appeared in all 16 games, and it’s been four seasons since he made a Pro Bowl. Still, he’ll only be 27 by the start of next season, and the Saints were apparently more than happy to take a shot at the player’s upside.

The 27-year-old will still have to battle for reps, of course. The Saints are pretty deep at linebacker; behind projected starters Zack Baun, Demario Davis, and Pete Werner, the team is rostering the likes of Kaden Elliss, Wynton McManis, Andrew Dowell, Chase Hansen, Shaq Smith, and Sutton Smith.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Waive S J.T. Ibe Following “Unacceptable” Hit At Practice

Safety J.T. Ibe was waived by the Panthers today after landing “an illegal hit to the head” of teammate Keith Kirkwood, reports ESPN’s David Newton. The hit took place during the team’s first padded practice.

Matt Rhule immediately kicked Ibe out of practice, with Joe Person of The Athletic describing the head coach as “incensed.”

“It’s completely unacceptable, something like that,” Rhule later said (via Person). “There’s things, bang-bang plays that happen, and guys will hit the ground. But you can’t tee off on somebody. So that’s not what we’ll do. It’s undisciplined by us, so it can’t happen.”

The team ultimately decided to move on from the Rice/South Carolina product, who joined the team as an undrafted free agent back in April. The 25-year-old was quick to apologize for his actions (while also making it clear that he’s not a dirty player).

“I feel terrible for the play,” Ibe wrote in a statement (via Person on Twitter). “I’m glad Keith is doing fine, but as a teammate, I’m supposed to protect my brothers during practice, and I didn’t do that today, and I let the team and coaches down.”

Following the hit, Kirkwood was sent to the hospital via ambulance. The wideout was later released to team physicians and diagnosed with a concussion. The 26-year-old spent most of the 2020 season on the Panthers injured reserve.

Raiders’ Sam Young Retires

Sam Young has retired, per an announcement from the Raiders. The offensive tackle re-signed with the team just a month ago, but he’s opted to hang ’em up instead. 

Young was expected to slot into the Raiders’ offensive tackle rotation, behind left tackle Kolton Miller and unexpected first-round pick Alex Leatherwood. Young would have been one of the first tackles off of the bench and an insurance policy for Leatherwood, if he proved to be too green. But, based on the reviews Leatherwood has been getting out of practice, there might not have been much playing time left for Young anyway.

Young was never an elite tackle, but he did enjoy a lengthy pro career. On the whole, he’s got 103 appearances to his credit across eleven pro seasons. That includes eleven games (seven starts) for the Raiders in 2020. We here at PFR wish Young the best in retirement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Cut Jeff Gladney

The Vikings have released 2020 first-round pick Jeff Gladney, per a club announcement. This comes after the cornerback’s Tuesday morning indictment on a felony domestic violence charge.

[RELATED: Vikings’ O. Johnson Tears ACL]

Following our review of today’s indictment against Jeff Gladney, we have decided to release Jeff immediately,” the Vikings said in a statement. “As we have previously said, we take these matters very seriously and condemn all forms of domestic violence. Due to the ongoing legal nature of this matter, we are unable to provide further comment.”

Gladney’s girlfriend alleges the 24-year-old corner struck her with closed fists during an argument in April. The accuser told police that Gladney punched her in her stomach, ribs and back. She also alleges that Gladney strangled her and dragged her across the ground.

The Vikings selected Gladney at No. 31 overall in 2020. He started in 15 games last year, notching 81 tackles and forced a fumble. He was not a participant in this year’s offseason program, however.

Per league rules, Gladney will be available on the waiver wire, though he’s not expected to be claimed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top QB Quinn Ewers To Skip Senior Year, Join Ohio State

Quarterback Quinn Ewers, ranked as the No. 1 or No. 2 prospect in his class, has decided to forego his senior year of high school to enroll early at Ohio State (Twitter link). Ewers is now set to enroll at Ohio State this fall, accelerating his potential timeframe for the NFL Draft by a year. For now, he’ll vie with C.J. Stroud, Jack Miller, and Kyle McCord for playing time.

I’ve taken time to think about what lies ahead of me, both in the short- and long-term,” said the Texas high school standout. “It’s unfortunate I’ve found myself in this situation, as my preference would have been to complete my senior season at Southlake Carroll along with the teammates and friends I’ve taken the field alongside for the past three years. However, following conversations with my family and those I know have my best interests in mind, I’ve decided it’s time for me to enroll at Ohio State and begin my career as a Buckeye.

To be eligible for the NFL draft, players must be at least three years removed from high school. Of course, nothing is guaranteed for any 18-year-old prospect — no matter how good they are — but the 6’3″ signal caller is already on the radar for pro scouts. Previously, he would have been on track for the 2025 NFL Draft, at the earliest. Now, he could go pro as soon as 2024.

As a high school athlete, Ewers cannot profit off of his name. However, thanks to the NCAA’s revised rules, he’ll be able to earn money for his name, likeness, and image. According to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, that could net Ewers as much as $1MM in 2022. Beyond Ewers, it’s a potential game changer for college and pro prospects on the whole. Now, there’s extra incentive to enroll early, enjoy the fruits of college fame, and, by extension, enter the NFL sooner.

Texans Practice Without Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson was not present at the Texans’ Tuesday practice, their first padded scrimmage of training camp. When asked by reporters, Texans head coach David Culley didn’t offer up much of an explanation. 

[RELATED: Texans Set High Asking Price For Watson]

We make decisions every day based on what’s best for our football team,” Culley said (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). “Nothing new today on that.”

Watson still wants out of Houston, even in the midst of 20+ lawsuits. The Texans are willing to make that happen, though they’re asking for a lot in return. Texans GM Nick Caserio reportedly wants a combination of five high draft picks plus quality players in exchange for the embattled quarterback.

For his part, Caserio doesn’t seem to be in any rush. The Texans would have to pay Watson to not play if he’s placed on team or the Commissioner’s Exempt list. Still, his $10.54MM salary isn’t necessarily a backbreaker, and Caserio would prefer to wait it out. This way, he’ll have a chance at a better haul next year rather than accepting pennies on the dollar.

Up until today, Watson was at training camp and successfully avoiding $50K in daily fines. Even then, his participation was light with no team drills.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Surgery For Colts’ Quenton Nelson

The Colts got a double dose of bad news this week. In addition to quarterback Carson Wentz, star guard Quenton Nelson will also miss a portion of the season (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). 

[RELATED: Carson Wentz To Have Surgery, Out 5-12 Weeks]

Like Wentz, Nelson also needs repair on a bone issue in his foot. Schefter hears that Nelson is looking at a similar timeline — that means the three-time All-Pro will be out for the next 5-12 weeks, likely preventing him from playing in the Colts’ season opener.

You can’t make this stuff up,” head coach Frank Reich told reporters today, adding that Wentz’s surgery went as well as it could have.

The Colts opted to keep Nelson at his left guard post, despite the retirement of longtime left tackle Anthony Castonzo. That’s where he’ll be once he’s ready to return to action, but they’ll be dealing with lots of holes up front in the interim. Center Ryan Kelly is still nursing an elbow injury that’s keeping him off the practice field while new LT Eric Fisher is still returning from an Achilles tear. For now, they’ll try to get by with more from backups like Chris Reed and Sam Tevi.

Nelson, the No. 6 overall pick of the 2018 draft, has earned First Team All-Pro honors in each of his three professional seasons. The Colts have him under contract through 2022 (at a rate of $14MM) thanks to his fifth-year option.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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