- The Cardinals have signed their second-round selection, former Washington safety Budda Baker, leaving first-round linebacker Haason Reddick as the only member of their seven-pick class without a contract. Baker, whom Arizona drafted after trading up from No. 45 overall to No. 36 in a deal with the Bears, closed out his college career last year with an All-America season, piling up 70 tackles (9.5 for loss), three sacks and two interceptions. He should emerge as the Cardinals’ long-term answer at strong safety, potentially giving the team an enviable tandem with Baker and free safety Tyrann Mathieu.
Edge rusher David Irving is facing a four-game ban and the Cowboys might replace him with a player who knows all too well about suspensions. The team is doing its homework on recently released linebacker Daryl Washington, according to a team source who spoke with Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (on Twitter).
Washington was suspended indefinitely in 2014 for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and has not played since Week 17 of the ’13 campaign. The linebacker was reinstated by the league in late April, but the Cardinals were not interested in keeping him – at least, not at the salary that was dictated by his contract.
The linebacker was a Pro Bowler in 2012 after recording an eye-popping 134 total tackles with 9.0 sacks. He was productive again in 2013, but he has now been out of the game for three straight NFL seasons. The Cowboys may see Washington as a low-risk, high-reward type of player since he’ll be hard pressed to find a big money deal at this juncture.
For his part, Washington claims that he is a changed man who will not run afoul of the league’s rules.
“Obviously, from a standpoint I’ve grown and matured over the years of being able to kind of really appreciate life and appreciate the game that I took for granted at one point,” Washington said recently. “When you feel like you’re on top of the world. When you’re on that pedestal, you feel like everything is easy and nothing would happen. But once it’s taken away from you, you really feel that much more grateful for the opportunity to just say, you know what, I really took these things for granted so when I get back now it’s time to go even harder. At this point in my life, I feel much better mentally, physically, spiritually and I’m in that right mind frame.”
The Cowboys are first known team to consider Washington since he was released roughly one month ago.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- Regarding his decision to accept a pay cut earlier this offseason, Cardinals cornerback and special teams standout Justin Bethel told Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic, “It’s called betting on yourself.” Bethel agreed to a reworked contract that hacked $2MM off his base salary for this season and erased the final year of his deal, 2018, which will give him an opportunity to hit free agency next March. In order to cash in, though, Bethel will need to be more of a defensive factor than he was last season, when he only saw action in 25 percent of snaps. Along the way, head coach Bruce Arians called Bethel a “failure in progress.” But Arians acknowledged last month that a broken foot may have held Bethel back, and the defender agrees. “Before I broke my foot, I thought I was going to come into the season and earn the starting job,” Bethel said. “I still had high hopes that I would be healthy by training camp. That wasn’t the case. I was just trying to make it through (the season). I knew I wasn’t healthy enough to play corner all the time.” Bethel and Arians are now “on good terms,” according to Bethel, who will get a chance to start opposite Patrick Peterson in 2017. With free agency looming, the upcoming campaign will be a make-or-break season for Bethel, opines Bickley.
- The Cardinals have signed fourth-round guard Dorian Johnson, the 115th pick. Johnson was a dominant guard at Pittsburgh, starting in 39 straight games and capping off his Panthers career in 2016 with first-team All-America honors. Arizona already has an established starter at Johnson’s college position, left guard, in Mike Iupati, but it’s not nearly as well off on the right. As of now, 2016 fifth-rounder Cole Toner is penciled in as the starter.
- The Cardinals have announced the signing of third-round receiver Chad Williams, a former Grambling State standout. The 6-foot-1, 204-pound Williams went 98th overall to Arizona, whose non-Larry Fitzgerald receivers didn’t offer much production in 2016. Moreover, the 2017 campaign could be Fitzgerald’s last, while John Brown will be a free agent next offseason. Therefore, it was imperative for the Cardinals to invest a relatively high pick in a wideout.
- The Bills have hired Malik Boyd as their new director of pro personnel, the club announced today. General manager Brandon Beane has worked quickly to revamp Buffalo’s front office, as he’s hired former Texans executive Brian Gaine and former Dolphins staffer Joe Schoen this week. Boyd, meanwhile, has worked for the Cardinals for the past 12 years, and spent the past three season as Arizona’s assistant director of pro scouting. He’s also spent time with the Colts, had a three-year career as an NFL defensive back.
- In addition to carrying the sickle cell trait, Cardinals wide receiver John Brown was also dealing with a cyst on his spine in 2016, according to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. Brown has since had the cyst drained, and now says he feels “normal” again, per Weinfuss. Brown, 27, posted the worst season of his three-year career in 2016, as he managed only 39 receptions for 517 yards and two touchdowns. With Floyd now out of the picture, Brown figures to slide into Arizona’s starting lineup full-time, and with his health concerns hopefully behind him, could come closer to his 2015 production (1,000+ yards receiving and seven scores). Brown is slated to earn $1.797MM in 2017 before becoming an unrestricted free agent next spring.
Today’s minor moves:
- Signed: LB Mikey Bart
- Waived: DT Collin Bevins
- Signed: OL Cornelius Edison
- Signed: G Dan Skipper
Los Angeles Chargers
- Waived: DT Toby Johnson
The Eagles have signed running back LeGarrette Blount, according to a team announcement. It’s a one-year deal with a maximum value of $2.8MM, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The pact calls for $1.25MM in base pay with up to $1.55MM in incentives, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets.
Last week, the Patriots used a May 9 tender on free agent running back, a little-known clause that could now impact the 2018 compensatory pick formula for the Eagles and Pats. However, it was said that teams with interest in Blount were looking into ways to circumvent the formula, so it’s possible that the Eagles will not give up much in that area.
The last compensatory pick is currently tied to a $2.05MM annual salary, so the Eagles will only sacrifice a 2018 comp selection if Blount earns more than that total. With $1.55MM of Blount’s deal is tied to performance, the Eagles could come away from this deal without hurting next year’s draft.
The Giants and Lions were known to have interest in Blount for a while, but the Eagles swooped in to sign the power back. As we explained earlier this month, the Eagles were a logical landing spot for Blount since Ryan Mathews could be let go this summer. Indeed, on Wednesday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported that Mathews is expected to be released once he’s fully healthy. By cutting him, the Eagles will save $4MM in 2017 while carrying just $1MM in dead money. With Mathews gone, Blount and Darren Sproles will get most of the carries while Wendell Smallwood assumes the role of No. 3 RB.
The seven-year veteran is coming off one of the most productive seasons of his career, having amassed career highs in carries (299), yards (1,161) and touchdowns (an NFL-leading 18). Still, the Patriots would only go so far to re-sign Blount this offseason. They’re losing the bruising back, but they now have an impressive bunch at RB with offseason additions Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead joining holdovers James White, Dion Lewis, Brandon Bolden, and D.J. Foster.
The Cardinals and Giants both made offers to Blount before he signed with Philly, according to Rapoport.
Photo via Pro Football Rumors on Instagram.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told reporters today that linebacker Deone Bucannon recently had ankle surgery (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). Bucannon is a PUP candidate as a result, but the team hopes that he will be back by early September.
Bucannon, 25 in August, played primarily at linebacker in 2016 after trying his hand at strong safety in the previous two campaigns. All in all, he registered 89 total tackles, two pass deflections, and one fumble recovery in 13 games before his troublesome ankle shut him down in December. The former first-round pick was ranked as the No. 34 linebacker in the NFL by Pro Football Focus at the time of his injury, a score that was boosted a his exceptional 86.1 coverage score.
If the Cardinals are without Bucannon for an extended period of time, they may want to look into adding an experienced inside linebacker. Free agent pickup Karlos Dansby will hold down one ILB spot, but the only other true ILBs on the roster are journeyman Zaviar Gooden and former University of Arizona standout Scooby Wright. Alternatively, if the Cardinals want to fill from within, they could try first round pick Haason Reddick at inside linebacker, though he might be better suited on the outside on passing downs.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- The Cardinals are following through with their idea to flip their starting tackles. Jared Veldheer will move to right tackle, while third-year man D.J. Humphries‘ future will be on the left side. Veldheer initially voiced opposition to the move, one broached by OC Harold Goodwin, immediately after the 2016 season concluded, Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com notes. But the career left tackle is on board now. Humphries played left tackle at Florida and parlayed that performance into a first-round Cardinals draft selection in 2015.