Bene Benwikere

Extra Points: Bryant, Bell, Cards, ASJ, Harris

Perhaps a “stop us if you’ve heard this before” tagline is appropriate, but Dez Bryant said he intends to sign with a team soon. The former Cowboys wide receiver tweeted “soon” in response to a question about when he planned to end his stay in free agency. This is obviously not the first, second or third time Bryant has discussed his employment plans or hopes, but it’s the latest. Sunday will mark the fourth set of games elapsed without Bryant on a roster. He will turn 30 this season and will be tasked with learning a new offense quickly. It’s not a great situation for the Pro Bowler as October approaches.

Week 4 Sunday is nearly upon us. Here’s what’s going on around the league leading up to it:

  • Another year’s bringing uncertainty opposite Patrick Peterson in Arizona. The Cardinals have struggled for several seasons to fill their No. 2 cornerback job, and the player they acquired to be the latest solution is now in a competition with Bene Benwikere. The Cards benched Jamar Taylor in Week 3 and now have he and Benwikere competing for the other starting job, Bob McManamon of the Arizona Republic notes. These two follow the likes of Brandon Williams and Justin Bethel in the Cardinals’ continuous search to find a reliable starter opposite Peterson. While both players will still play against the Seahawks, per Steve Wilks, this being a competition again is notable given the team’s recent history here.
  • The Jets offered Austin Seferian-Jenkins $8MM over two years, but he chose to depart for Jacksonville for a two-year, $10MM agreement. Nevertheless, Todd Bowles doesn’t begrudge his former tight end for departing for a bit more cash. “Nothing personal,” Bowles said, via John Rowe of NorthJersey.com. “The timing wasn’t right. He got away and that’s just part of free agency every year. We lose some and we keep some. But the guys have done a good job filling in right now.” Eric Tomlinson leads Jets tight ends with three receptions for 45 yards. Seferian-Jenkins’ 50-reception season was the most among Gang Green tight ends since Dustin Keller caught 65 passes for 815 yards in 2011. ASJ, though, only turned his 50 grabs into 357 yards. The new Jags pass-catcher has nine receptions for 66 yards entering Week 4.
  • Gang Green resides as a possible landing spot for Le’Veon Bell, in the view of ESPN’s Josina Anderson (Instagram link). She lists the Jets, Eagles and Packers as being possible fits for the disgruntled running back. The Jets lead this trio with $16MM-plus in cap space. The Eagles hold less than $5MM. Bell is attached to a $10MM-plus prorated version of his franchise tag salary.
  • The Broncos have not found a replacement for Aqib Talib, and Bradley Roby is struggling going into a key game against the Chiefs. This has left Denver’s once-vaunted secondary in trouble, and it continues to force Chris Harris — arguably this decade’s premier slot defender — to play the slot on passing downs. “I like being on the outside because that’s where I can get more picks,’’ Harris said, via 9News’ Mike Klis. “I can read the quarterback more; I can use my coverage skills a lot more. I just think I can make more plays. In the slot, I’m always with my back to the quarterback; I’m man to man most of the time; I can’t see where the ball’s going. So, it’s hard to make those plays.” Late last season, the All-Pro corner expressed a desire to be used on the outside in more than just base sets, but that hasn’t come to pass this season. Denver, which has vacillated between using Adam Jones and Tramaine Brock as its No. 3 corner, ranks 21st against the pass through three games. The team hasn’t finished outside the top five in aerial deterrence in five seasons.

Cardinals Sign CB Bene Benwikere To 1-Year Deal

The Cardinals added a bit of depth to their secondary Friday by signing cornerback Bene Benwikere to a one-year deal, per the team’s official website. Benwikere is familiar with new Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks. The Panthers selected him in the fifth round of the 2014 draft and he spent the first three seasons of his career in Carolina. 

Benwikere, 26, appeared in 12 games for the Cowboys last season. He also spent time on the practice squads for the Bengals, Dolphins and Packers after the Panthers released him early in the 2016 season.

The Cardinals have plenty of holes to fill in their secondary this offseason, with Tramon Williams and Tyrann Mathieu off the roster and Tyvon Branch and Justin Bethel still unsigned as unrestricted free agents. The team also still has interest in free-agent cornerback Marcus Cooper, according to Mike Jurecki of Arizona Sports Station 98.7 FM (on Twitter). Cooper played with the Cardinals in 2016 and was cut by the Bears last week.

In three seasons with the Panthers, Benwikere appeared in 27 games and made 14 starts, along with two starts in the 2014 postseason. The Panthers cut ties with Benwikere after Julio Jones collected 300 receiving yards in a game against the Panthers in October 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Cowboys, Benwikere, Vikings

A quick look around the NFL:

Bengals Trade Bene Benwikere To Cowboys

Bene Benwikere will find himself on a fifth team in the past 11 months after the Bengals and Cowboys agreed to a trade. Dallas will acquire the fourth-year cornerback for a late-round pick, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

The Bengals signed Benwikere on a league-minimum deal in February. The former Panthers contributor hasn’t played in a game since Carolina cut him after a rough outing against the Falcons early last season.

Benwikere spent time as a UFA after stints with the Dolphins and Packers last season. The former Carolina starter received interest when on waivers last season, but the Cowboys were not one of the teams who put in a claim for the corner. Benwikere started 14 games with the Panthers from 2014-16 but was not part of their Super Bowl 50 effort, suffering an injury late in the 2015 season.

The Cowboys drafted three corners — Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis and Marquez White — and signed Nolan Carroll. Benwikere could provide some experience as a reserve to a Dallas roster that lost Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne in free agency.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Bengals, Smith, Ravens, Vikes

With Cincinnati’s offensive line facing offseason uncertainty, a reunion with former Bengal/current Viking right tackle Andre Smith could make sense for both parties, as Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer opines (Twitter links). Smith, whom the Bengals made the sixth overall pick in 2009, played seven seasons in the Queen City before inking a one-year deal with Minnesota last year. If he did rejoin Cincinnati, Smith would slot back in at right tackle, where 2015 first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi recently struggled. One problem with such a scenario, per Dehner, would be forcing 2015 second-round pick Jake Fisher — who played well at right tackle last year — to guard, a position he hasn’t played much of in the NFL.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • Although Kyle Juszczyk would view a return to the Ravens as “phenomenal,” the veteran fullback would consider other any offers that might be proposed this spring, he tells SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link). The 25-year-old Juszczyk led all NFL fullbacks in both offensive snaps (465) and receptions (37) in 2016, although the lack of fullback usage in the league figures to drive down his market. In terms of positional spending, the Chiefs’ Anthony Sherman currently leads all fullbacks with a $2.1MM annual salary. Juszczyk, a former fourth-round pick out of Harvard, will join a free agent fullback class that includes Patrick DiMarco (Falcons), Marcel Reece (Seahawks), and Jerome Felton (Bills).
  • Former Vikings quarterbacks coach Scott Turner has joined the University of Michigan as an offensive analyst, tweets Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. Turner’s father, Norv, resigned as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator midway through last season, and while Scott was retained to finish out the campaign, he was fired by the Vikings last month. Although Turner had coached in the NFL since 2011, he didn’t have many options around the league if he wanted to continue leading quarterback rooms — the only QB coaching job still available is in Kansas City, per Dan Hatman of The Scouting Academy (Twitter link).
  • Cornerback Bene Benwikere‘s one-year deal with the Bengals is worth $690K, the minimum for a player with three years experience, according to Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Still only 25 years old, Benwikere took visits with four other clubs (including the Jets) before signing with Cincinnati. He’ll compete for a spot in the Bengals’ secondary that includes Adam Jones, Darqueze Dennard, William Jackson III, Josh Shaw, and pending free agent Dre Kirkpatrick.

Bengals To Sign Bene Benwikere

Try saying this five times fast: the Bengals have agreed to sign cornerback Bene Benwikere. The deal was first reported by Tom Pelissero of USA Today (on Twitter). It’s a one-year pact, agent Bardia Ghahremani tells ESPN.com’s Katherine Terrell (on Twitter). Bene Benwikere (Vertical)

Before signing with Cincinnati, the corner visited with four other teams, according to Pelissero. As previously reported, the Jets also showed interest in Benwikere and hosted him on a visit in early February.

Still only 25 (26 in September), Big Play Bene is hoping to put a trying 2016 in the rear view mirror. Benwikere was released by Carolina early in the 2016 season after one particularly bad game against the Falcons. In that contest, Julio Jones hauled in 12 catches for 300 yards and a touchdown with the majority of the damage coming against the San Jose State product. After the game, Benwikere admitted that he was gassed and that apparently didn’t sit right with Carolina brass.

After Benwikere was cut, the Dolphins claimed him on waivers, beating out the Titans and Redskins thanks to their higher priority. After finishing the regular season on Miami’s taxi squad, he joined the Packers’ p-squad during the playoffs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

CB Bene Benwikere Visits Jets

Free agent cornerback Bene Benwikere met with the Jets today, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link), who adds that Benwikere is presumably a candidate for a reserve/futures contract with New York.Bene Benwikere (vertical)

[RELATED: Jets Rework Ryan Clady’s Contract]

Projected to act as Carolina’s No. 1 corner during the 2016 campaign, Benwikere was torched by the Falcons’ Julio Jones in Week 4 and was subsequently waived. Both the Titans and Redskins put in claims, but the 25-year-old Benwikere landed with the Dolphins, who had the higher waiver priority. After ending the season on Miami’s practice squad, Benwikere signed with the Packers’ taxi squad during Green Bay’s playoff run.

The Jets’ cornerback depth chart is currently comprised of Darrelle Revis, Buster Skrine, Marcus Williams, Juston Burris, Darryl Roberts, Nick Marshall, and others. Revis, of course, could be cut or moved to safety this offseason, while Skrine is also a potential cap casualty. Benwikere, then, could serve as depth on a New York roster that possesses next to none.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Texans, Dolphins, Jets, Broncos

After the Texans parted ways with offensive coordinator George Godsey yesterday, some in league circles believe head coach Bill O’Brien may simply assign himself play-calling duties, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. O’Brien was already leading the Texans’ offense at various points during the season, so a move of this nature wouldn’t be a complete surprise. In such a scenario, Houston would likely reshuffle its offensive staff, including shifting wide receivers coach Sean Ryan to quarterbacks coach, per Wilson.

Here’s more out of the AFC:

  • The Dolphins offered cornerback Bene Benwikere a futures deal that would have kept him in the club’s plans throughout the offseason, but Benwikere instead opted to sign on with Green Bay’s practice squad, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Benwikere was somewhat surprisingly waived by Carolina in early October, and though the Titans and Redskins both put in claims on him, he landed with Miami (who subsequently waived him and signed him to their taxi squad). In Green Bay, Benwikere will offer depth for the rest of the postseason.
  • Although a previous report indicated that Bears outside linebackers coach Clint Hurtt had agreed to take the same position with the Jets, there is “no indication” that such a move will take place, reports Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. New York did inquire as to Hurtt’s availability, but never actually agreed to hire him. Hurtt reportedly turned down a contract extension from Chicago.
  • The Jets began extension talks with guard Brian Winters before he suffered a torn rotator cuff last December, per Darryl Slater of NJ.com. Winters, who yesterday agreed to a four-year, $29MM contract that includes $15MM in guarantees, is now signed through the 2020 campaign. Per Slater, New York used the contracts of fellow interior lineman J.R. Sweezy and Jeff Allen as comps during negotiations.
  • Chiefs assistant teams coach Brock Olivo will become the seventh candidate to interview for the Broncos‘ ST coordinator vacancy, as Mike Klis of 9NEWS tweets. Olivo, 40, has spent the past three seasons working under highly-respected Kansas City special teams coach Dave Toub.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/17/17

Today’s minor moves:

Promotion

Atlanta Falcons

Practice Squad

Green Bay Packers

Reserve/Futures Contracts

Atlanta Falcons

Dallas Cowboys

  • TE Rico Gathers
  • WR Andy Jones

Kansas City Chiefs

New Orleans Saints

  • WR Rashad Lawrence

Dolphins Sign Bene Benwikere To Practice Squad

One day after being waived by the Dolphins, Bene Benwikere is back with the organization. According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today (via Twitter), the cornerback has cleared waivers and will join the Dolphins’ practice squad.

Bene Benwikere (Vertical)The former fifth-round pick was projected to be the Panthers’ top cornerback entering the season, but the 25-year-old was lit up by Falcons receiver Julio Jones in early October. The wideout hauled in 12 catches for 300 yards and a touchdown during the Week 4 matchup, and Benwikere was waived by the Panthers days later. The defensive back was subsequently claimed by the Dolphins, but he never saw the field in any of his three games with the team.

As our own Zach Links noted yesterday, both the Redskins and Titans put in a claim on the cornerback back in October. However, it seems like his few suitors showed little interest this time around. Of course, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as Pro Football Focus ranks Benwikere 96th among 117 cornerback candidates.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.