The Vikings claimed former Lions running back Ameer Abdullah off waivers, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The move gives the former second-round pick a shot at a fresh start and even an opportunity for revenge when the Vikings face the Lions in Week 16.
Abdullah entered the league with tons of hype in 2015, but injuries prevented him from doing much of anything after his rookie season. With the Lions this year, Abdullah was mostly inactive behind rookie star Kerryon Johnson, LeGarrette Blount, and pass-catching specialist Theo Riddick.
Technically speaking, Abdullah ranks no higher than third on the Vikings’ depth chart behind Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray, but Cook’s hamstring issues could reappear at any time. Cook looked strong in Week 9 as he rattled off a 70-yard run, but one wrong step could jeopardize his season. The Vikings also have UDFAs Michael Boone and Roc Thomas on the 53-man roster, but one of those players will probably be forced out to make room for the Nebraska product.
The Vikings own the 12th best record in the NFL, meaning more than half of the league passed on the opportunity to add Abdullah. Still, it’s a low-risk move for Minnesota since Abdullah’s contract will expire at the end of the season.
November 6th, 2018 at 6:54pm CST by Dallas Robinson
The Lions finally cut ties with running back Ameer Abdullah earlier today, ending a three-plus-year run that included numerous rumors of trades that never came to fruition. Abdullah hasn’t accrued four NFL seasons, so he’ll hit the waiver wire (and would have done so anyway given that every NFL player who is cut after the trade deadline goes on waivers).
Abdullah hasn’t had much pro success since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2015. He’s topped 150 carries just twice, failing to top 4.2 yards per carry in either of those seasons. This year, Detroit has stopped using Abdullah altogether, as he’s only appeared in three games and made one rushing attempt. But for clubs in need of running back/returner help, Abdullah could make for a worthwhile add, especially given that he’s only due ~$413K for the remainder of the 2018 campaign.
So what teams could be interested in making a waiver claim on Abdullah? Let’s run through the options:
New England Patriots
The Patriots are always on the hunt for interesting players, but Abdullah may have made more sense for New England a few weeks ago when fellow running back Sony Michel initially went down with injury. James White has filled in admirably, but Abdullah could have given the Pats another option in their backfield. However, Michel is now likely to return for New England’s Sunday night contest against the Titans (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com), so there may not be room for another runner on the Patriots’ roster. Abdullah’s prowess on kick and punt returns would also be nullified in New England, as the Patriots already boast arguably the league’s best returner in Cordarrelle Patterson.
After reportedly being in the hunt to acquire a running back via trade at the deadline, the Eagles instead opted to pursue wide receiver help by picking up pass-catcher Golden Tate from the Lions. But the Philadelphia roster could still use another runner after losing Jay Ajayi for the season, so Abdullah could be a candidate to land with the Eagles. If the Eagles did claim Abdullah, however, they’d likely be forced to waive promising undrafted free agent Josh Adams, something I’m not sure they’d consider doing in order to make room for Abdullah.
The Steelers are all set at running back with James Conner, and if Le’Veon Bell returns before his deadline next week, Abdullah clearly won’t be in consideration for Pittsburgh. But the Steelers have dangerously little depth behind Conner, as the club has only journeyman Stevan Ridley and rookie Jaylen Samuels behind its workhorse. Abdullah could add another dimension to the Steelers’ backfield in the event Conner went down, and — in the more immediate future — give Pittsburgh a boost on kick returns, where they currently rank 31st in Football Outsiders’ special teams metrics.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
While the Buccaneers are barely on the fringes of contention (just a six percent chance to earn a postseason berth, per FiveThirtyEight.com), they need to do something about their running game. Deploying a combination of Peyton Barber, Jacquizz Rodgers, and rookie Ronald Jones (who is now injured), Tampa Bay ranks 24th in rushing DVOA, 29th in yards per carry, and 30th in yards per game. Given the success of their Air Raid passing offense, the Buccaneers don’t necessarily need to be effective running the ball, but adding Abdullah couldn’t hurt.
There’s no hiding the fact that Dion Lewis is no the Titans’ No. 1 running back. As Adam Levitan of Fantasy Labs pointed out on Twitter today, Lewis’ snap count has increased from 32 to 45 to 59 over the past three games, while Henry has seen his snap count dwindle from 12 to 24 to 14 over the same stretch. Chris Mortensen of ESPN even reported earlier this week that Tennessee attempted to trade Henry prior to last week’s deadline but couldn’t find a taker. It seems unlikely the Titans will simply cut Henry, but if they do, they’ll need another back on their roster, and Abdullah could fit the bill.
The Redskins don’t need anyone to usurp Adrian Peterson, but they could use another pass-catching back given that Chris Thompson just can’t seem to stay healthy. Thompson, who’s managed to play a full 16-games slate just once during his six-year career, has been dealing with rib and knee injuries all season, and missed Sunday’s contest against the Saints. If Washington doesn’t think it can rely on Thompson to stay on the field, Abdullah could make for an advisable addition.
So what do you think? Will one of these teams — or a club not listed here — claim Abdullah? Or will he pass through waivers and become a free agent? Vote below, and leave your thoughts in the comment section! (Link for app users).
Abdullah entered the league with lots of hype as a second-round pick in 2015, but injuries prevented him from doing much of anything after his rookie season. This year, Abdullah has been mostly inactive behind rookie star Kerryon Johnson, LeGarrette Blount, and pass-catching specialist Theo Riddick. Rapoport notes that the Lions had trade talks about the Nebraska product before the deadline, but the team was unable to find a deal. Now, he’ll have an opportunity to start fresh somewhere else.
Ellington spent most of the 2018 season on Houston’s injured reserve as he dealt with a hamstring injury, but the 27-year-old was recently cleared by doctors to play. While it was once assumed that the Texans would activate the receiver, their acquisition of Demaryius Thomas (and quick recovery of KekeCoutee) changed things. Ellington ultimately got released off of IR late last month.
The 2014 fourth-round pick signed with Houston back in 2017, and finished that campaign with 29 receptions for 330 yards and two touchdowns. He was underwhelming through Houston’s first three games in 2018, as he only hauled in eight receptions for 92 yards and one score. But, Ellington can contribute on special teams for Detroit and could carve out a role for himself at receiver in the wake of the Golden Tate trade.
Paxton Lynch joins the likes of Ameer Abdullah, Breshad Perriman, Stephone Anthony and Mike Gillislee on a roster bubble, per ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter), and the Broncos may choose to cut ties with their disappointing 2016 first-rounder. Lynch would prefer to stay in Denver, Mike Klis of 9News tweets, despite his rocky tenure there to date. A fresh start might be best for the former Memphis prodigy, but the Broncos may elect to keep him as their No. 3 quarterback. Chad Kelly‘s performance in Denver’s Thursday-night finale could determine Lynch’s fate, with Troy Renck of Denver7 writing that a strong showing from the 2017 seventh-rounder may convince the Broncos he’s ready to be Case Keenum‘s regular-season backup rather than forcing the Broncos to acquire a veteran to serve in that role. That would seemingly free up a roster spot for Lynch as the third-stringer. It would cost the Broncos $4.9MM to cut Lynch. They already absorbed a $5.5MM dead-money hit upon releasing Menelik Watson.
Here’s the latest from the AFC West, shifting to another quarterback battle.
The Chargers are likely to keep just two quarterbacks, which makes sense given Philip Rivers‘ historic durability. Los Angeles’ starter has taken first-string snaps in every game since succeeding Drew Brees in 2006. As a result, Yates adds that either Cardale Jones or Geno Smith is a cut candidate. The Bolts, though, aren’t certain which one will be given his walking papers. Smith is a vested veteran and would head into free agency if released, while Jones would be subject to waivers. Neither is attached to a contract worth more than $1MM.
Su’a Cravens will make his Broncos debut Thursday night after missing most of August due to a knee injury, Renck notes. The former Redskins safety/linebacker has a clearer path to the Broncos’ roster, despite missing most of training camp, due to Jamal Carter‘s season-ending injury.
Although he returned a punt for a touchdown in the preseason, Isaiah McKenzie probably won’t make the Broncos, per Polumbus. The diminutive return man has fumbled several kicks in his short Broncos stay, losing another one during preseason play. Lindsay and the recent addition of Adam Jones look to have forced the second-year player off the roster.
The Raiders will likely waive DeAndre Washington and allow recent camp pickup Chris Warren to take his place, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com notes. Washington recently underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and is an IR candidate, per Gutierrez, who has the Raiders keeping four running backs — Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, Jalen Richard and Warren. Washington and Richard served as backups for Lynch and Latavius Murray the past two years. Washington averaged 5.4 yards per carry as a rookie but struggled last season (2.7 YPC).
The Aaron Donald saga may finally be nearing a conclusion. Rams GM Les Snead indicated earlier this week that team and player were progressing towards a new deal, and head coach Sean McVay echoed those sentiments last night. Per Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic (Twitter link), McVay said, “there’s increased dialogue. There’s more…we feel positive about the direction that these things are going. I think there’s a level of urgency that’s being displayed from us.” That probably sounds like music to the ears of Rams fans, who have legitimate championship dreams this season.
Now let’s take a quick look at a few more notes from the NFC:
Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com tweets that Giants quarterback Kyle Lauletta is getting reps with the second team today, which is the first time Dunleavy can recall that happening. 2017 third-rounder Davis Webb was said to have a big lead on Lauletta for Big Blue’s backup job coming out of minicamp, but this could be a sign that Lauletta, a 2018 fourth-round pick, is closing the gap. Webb, of course, was selected by New York’s prior regime, while Lauletta has the benefit of being chosen by the team’s new crop of decision-makers.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (via Twitter) that Cardinals LB Jeremy Cash sustained a knee injury during last night’s preseason game that is believed to be season-ending. That is a tough blow for the Duke product, who has bounced around a few different teams since entering the league but who had a real chance of cracking Arizona’s 53-man roster this season. The Cardinals claimed him off waivers in March.
Good news for 49ers fans, as right guard Joshua Garnett has returned to practice after missing two weeks to deal with his right knee issue, per Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group (via Twitter). Matt Barrows of The Athletic tweets that Garnett’s primary competitor for San Francisco’s right guard job, Jonathan Cooper,is also on hand, so perhaps the competition can finally begin in earnest. This comes just a week after a report that the 49ers were growing increasingly concerned about Garnett’s knee problems.
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press offers his take on the prospects of a few different Lions after the team’s first preseason game several nights ago. He says it is only a matter of time before rookie Kerryon Johnson becomes Detroit’s starting tailback, though Ameer Abdullahalso looked good and was the first man up on kick and punt returns. Birkett adds that Jake Rudock‘s rough night, combined with Matt Cassel‘s ties to head coach Matt Patricia, have increased Cassel’s chances of opening the season as the club’s backup QB.
Twentyman thinks the three on the bubble will be fighting it out for just one spot on the team. As of now he seems to think that Abdullah has the edge. The team can save $1MM in cap space by cutting Abdullah. Abdullah has been a disappointment since entering the league with a lot of hype as a second round pick back in 2015. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, even if he does make the roster this fall, 2018 should be his last season in Detroit. Washington and Zenner have both been hanging around the bottom of the Lions’ roster the past couple of years, and it looks like it could be the end of the road for them.
Here’s more from the league’s northern divisions:
The Browns are very high on rookie Denzel Ward, reports Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland. The number four overall pick in this year’s draft, Ward has drawn rave reviews from defensive coordinator Gregg Williams this spring. “He is one of the best press guys that I have seen” Williams said, adding that Ward “passed with flying colors” during offseason workouts. It sounds like Ward could start right away and that he could help solve the Browns’ long-lasting issues at cornerback.
The Packers battle between Tramon Williams and rookie Josh Jackson for a starting cornerback spot will be one of the most interesting competitions to keep an eye on, writes Nick Shook of NFL.com. Shook points out that Williams is 35, and that the Packers might be eager to usher in a “new era” at cornerback with Jackson. Williams could hang on as a starter for one final year, but it won’t be long until the Packers’ younger cornerbacks take over.
Golden Tate isn’t concerned with his contract, he told Sirius XM NFL Radio (Twitter link). Tate said he wasn’t worried about heading into the final year of his deal, and doesn’t appear to be pressuring the Lions for a new one. He did say teams shouldn’t hold his age against him, because he hasn’t “shown any decline.”
Despite starting 11 games last season, Lions running back AmeerAbdullah only compiled 552 rushing yards on 165 carries. After three seasons in the league, the former second-rounder was hoping for a larger role, and he acknowledged that he was frustrated with his workload during an appearance on Michael Rapaport’s podcast.
“It’s frustrating, especially coming from Nebraska where I was the guy, I knew I was going to get the ball at least 20 times a game,” Abdullah said (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). “For me, it’s not necessarily getting a certain number of touches. It’s getting meaningful touches and getting into a rhythm. That’s where it gets kind of frustrating.”
The 24-year-old might not get his wish in 2018. Detroit did hire a new head coach in MattPatricia, but Jim Bob Cooter stuck around as offensive coordinator. The Lions also signed veteran running back LeGarretteBlount, and they used a second-round pick on Kerryon Johnson.
Let’s take a look at some other notes from around the NFC…
We learned last week that Giants offensive lineman Ereck Flowers was upset that the team signed free agent lineman NateSolder. Giants head coach PatShurmur told Zach Braziller of the New York Post that he’s been in contact with the 2015 first-rounder, although he wouldn’t say when the lineman was expected to attend offseason workouts (Twitter link). The Giants signed Solder to a landmark deal this offseason and gave him Flowers’ position, and the team subsequently tried to shop their now-disgruntled lineman.
Buccaneers rookie linebacker Jack Cichy is already practicing with his new squad, writes Greg Auman of TampaBay.com. The sixth-round pick is nine months removed from surgery on a torn ACL in his right knee, an injury that caused him to miss the 2017 season (and, vicariously, caused his draft stock to fall). “It was fun to be back out here. Everything felt good,” said Cichy, who wore a brace on his right knee. “It felt crisp and felt good just to get back in the flow of things and get acclimated here.”
When eying undrafted rookies who could contribute to the Packers this season, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky says we should “follow the money.” Last season, five members of Green Bay’s undrafted class finished the season on the active roster, and four of those players had received the highest-possible signing bonus. This year, the Packers gave $6K signing bonuses (the top possible amount) to five of their 16 undrafted signings: offensive lineman Jacob Alsadek, quarterback Tim Boyle, center AustinDavis, defensive tackle Tyler Lancaster, and defensive end Conor Sheehy.
Viewed as a versatile defender coming out of college, Jones played cornerback as a rookie in 2015 and a safety the past two seasons. New defensive backs coach Kris Richard preferred him at the former.
“I think it will be a good move for me and the team. I’m always open to making position changes, as long as I’m in the best position to succeed. If [Richard] believes my best position is corner, then I’m down.”
Richard knows a thing or two about getting the best from bigger cornerbacks. With the Seahawks, Richard oversaw Richard Sherman’s ascent to one of the premier corners in the league. What remains to be seen is if the team prefers him on the boundary or in the slot. In 2017, rookies Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis showed plenty of promise on the outside.
Here’s more from around the NFL:
In a press conference on Monday, Rams defensive lineman Michael Brockers told reporters he tore his MCL in the team’s playoff loss to the Falcons in January, ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. During that game, the sixth-year defender sat out the second half. The good news for Los Angeles is that Brockers took part in team activities on Monday, but they’re not in pads until training camp.
If any Lions players are moved in draft-day deals, some of the names that make sense include Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Jake Rudock, ESPN’s Michael Rothstein writes. Those names all come to mind after the team added veterans in LeGarrette Blount and Matt Cassel in the offseason.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to be deposed in the next two weeks in Colin Kaeperncik‘s collusion case against the league, USA Today’s A.J. Perez writes. Seahawks general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll are also on the docket to be deposed.
Two starting running backs received some unfortunate news Monday, with Dalvin Cook having suffered a confirmed ACL tear and Chris Carsonsuffering multiple lower-leg injuries that will shelve him for an extended time period — if not the rest of his season. These setbacks stand to weaken Vikings and Seahawks’ rushing attacks, although both teams have veteran insurance. However, prior to these rookies’ arrivals, each team struggled to gain ground yards last season. Latavius Murray and Eddie Lacy — two fifth-year backs who relocated this offseason, one that featured a slow market for running backs — figure to play more prominent roles with their new teams now.
Here’s the latest from NFL backfields, continuing to another player who spent extensive time in free agency this year.
A bruised knee limited Jamaal Charles to just one series in the second half of the Broncos‘ Week 4 win over the Raiders, Mike Klis of 9 News tweets. That’s a bit scary given Charles’ injury history, but the good news is that it is not serious. It also helps that the Broncos are on bye and will not play again until Oct. 15.
Lions running back Ameer Abdullah rolled his ankle early in the fourth quarter on Sunday, but he says he feels “good” and has been cleared by doctors (link via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press). Abdullah, who missed the majority of the 2016 season with a foot injury, finished the day against Minnesota with a career-high 94 yards on 20 carries. If not for the ankle, he might have become the first Lion to have a 100-yard rushing game since Reggie Bush. The Lions have now gone 58 games since Bush gained 117 yards in a Thanksgiving win over Green Bay in 2013.
Alex Collins broke off two long runs on Sunday, but the new Ravens starter is already on a short leash because of ball-security issues. Collins has now fumbled twice since debuting with the Ravens in Week 2. “He won’t get any more opportunities [if the fumbling continues] — the leash isn’t going to be long on that,” John Harbaugh said, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. “When you come in here and drop the ball however many times he has dropped, I’m not going to tolerate it. I like him. He’s a good kid, and he makes plays, but he has to hold onto the football.” Collins fumbled twice as a rookie last season in limited Seahawks action and 17 times while at Arkansas.
Running back Matt Jones, who’s not in the Redskins’ plans, would like the team to trade or cut him, reports John Keim of ESPN.com. For now, the Redskins have no plans to cut the two-year veteran, according to Keim, though he notes that teams around the NFL ultimately expect that to happen. Although he averaged an impressive 4.6 yards per carry on 99 attempts last season, the fumble-prone Jones is now at the bottom of Washington’s backfield depth chart.
More from two other NFC cities:
Bears wide receiver Cameron Meredith suffered a thumb ligament injury Thursday that will keep him out until training camp, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He’s the second OTA casualty for Chicago, joining quarterback Mark Sanchez, who suffered a knee injury earlier this week. Meredith is clearly the more important player for the Bears, having posted 66 receptions, 888 yards and four touchdowns as a second-year man in 2016.
The Lions are done deploying a fullback, head coach Jim Caldwell revealed Wednesday (via Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press). Caldwell’s announcement came a day after the Lions waived fullback Michael Burton, who only played 95 offensive snaps last season. “The reason why Burton’s no longer here is because that position as you’d call it (designated as a) fullback, is not part of how we function,” Caldwell said. “We find a way to get done with other positions, tight end and things of that nature.”
As a guest on “The Carriker Chronicles” podcast, Lions starting running back Ameer Abdullah opened up about the foot injury that ended his season in Week 2 last year. “I ended up tearing my Lisfranc the second game of the season against the Tennessee Titans, separating my foot, so that was a bummer for me,” Abdullah told former NFLer Adam Carriker (per Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com). “But I’m shaking back good now. It’s helped me understand my body more, so I’m a lot more penciled in on what I need to do as far as recovery, make sure I’m [doing all the] right things for my body to make sure I’m ready for this 2017 season.”