Bene Benwikere

Vikings Cut CB Bene Benwikere

The Vikings have released cornerback Bene Benwikere and wide receiver Jordan Taylor, according to a team announcement. By releasing both players, the club has made at least a little headway in advance of Saturday’s 53-man deadline. 

Benwikere exits just as cornerback Mike Hughes returns from the PUP list. Previously, the former Panther had at least some shot of making the final cut.

Taylor, meanwhile, leaves after roughly five months with the Vikings. Prior to that, he spent four years with the Broncos. Taylor didn’t make as much noise as he wanted to this preseason – his exhibition stat line will cease after three receptions for 24 yards.

Even without Taylor, it’s still a crowded field for receivers looking to make the cut behind top targets Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Chad BeebeLaquon Treadwell, Dillon Mitchell, Olabisi Johnson, Brandon Zylstra, Jeff Badet, Davion Davis, and Alexander Hollins are all fighting for two – or perhaps three – places on the Week 1 roster.

NFC Notes: Bosa, 49ers, Cowboys, Vikings

49ers fans will have to wait a bit until they see Nick Bosa in game action. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the rookie defensive end was diagnosed with an ankle sprain. The second-overall pick had an MRI after leaving practice earlier today.

Fortunately, it doesn’t sound like the injury will linger into the regular season. Rapoport notes that Bosa might sit out the preseason as the team proceeds cautiously, but it doesn’t sound like his status for Week 1 is in doubt. The 49ers will be counting on the Ohio State product to be an every-down player from the get-go.

Meanwhile, Rapoport also reports (via Twitter) that 49ers cornerback Jason Verrett was diagnosed with a minor ankle sprain following a MRI. The veteran is likely day-to-day.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC…

  • The Cowboys are eyeing some tight end depth. ESPN’s Todd Archer tweets that the organization auditioned Marcus Lucas today. The 27-year-old has bounced around the NFL since going undrafted out of Missouri in 2014. Dallas cut Rico Gathers last week, but the team could be looking for a fresh body in an attempt to give Jason Witten days off.
  • Cornerback Bene Benwikere‘s one-year, $1MM contract with the Vikings has an $805K base salary, tweets the Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling. The deal also includes a $90K roster bonus and up to $105K in per-game bonuses, although none of the contract is guaranteed.
  • Running back Corey Grant‘s one-year deal with the Packers is worth $895K, tweets ESPN’s Rob Demovsky and Jim Owczarski of the Journal Sentinel. The only guaranteed money comes via a $60K signing bonus, while Grant will have to earn an $805K base salary and ~$30K per-game roster bonuses. His cap charge is around $714K.

Vikings Sign CB Bene Benwikere

One of the league’s most well-traveled players has found a new home. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo tweets that the Vikings have signed cornerback Bene Benwikere.

The 27-year-old has bounced around the NFL since being selected in the fifth round of the 2014 draft. The San Jose State product has had stints with the Panthers, Dolphins, Packers, Bengals, Cowboys, Cardinals, and Raiders. Many fans remember his 2016 showing against the Falcons when he allowed Julio Jones to go off for 300 receiving yards.

The 27-year-old split the 2018 campaign between Oakland and Arizona, compiling 54 tackles, 0.5 sacks, four passes defended, and one interception. His best season came in 2015, when he finished with 59 tackles and nine passes defended.

The Vikings could use some additional depth at cornerback. Holton Hill was slapped with a pair of four-game suspensions this offseason, meaning he’ll likely sit out half the season. Meanwhile, Mike Hughes is still recovering from a torn ACL suffered last year, and it’s uncertain if the 2018 first-rounder will be ready to go for the start of the regular season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/4/18

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Carolina Panthers

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Oakland Raiders

San Francisco 49ers

NFL Workout Updates: 12/4/18

Here is the latest from the workout circuit. All links to NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account, unless otherwise noted.

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

Oakland Raiders

Pittsburgh Steelers

Washington Redskins

NFL Workout Updates: 12/3/18

Here is the latest from the workout circuit. All links to NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account, unless otherwise noted.

Buffalo Bills

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

  • G Salesi Uhatafe (link)

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Oakland Raiders

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Redskins

Cardinals Cut Andre Smith, Bene Benwikere

The Cardinals made a host of moves Monday afternoon. Another of Patrick Peterson‘s top sidekicks is now out of the picture, with Arizona making the decision to waive cornerback Bene Benwikere.

Additionally, the Cards are cutting veteran tackle Andre Smith. They also placed Phil Dawson and linebacker Josh Bynes on IR and are elevating kicker Zane Gonzalez from the practice squad. The team announced the moves.

Smith’s inconsistency will end his Arizona tenure, per Steve Wilks (via ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss, on Twitter). He started eight games at right tackle for the Cardinals, including Sunday’s 45-10 loss to the Chargers, but has not played to the level he displayed during his earlier Bengals days. The 31-year-old edge blocker will head to the waiver wire, joining the less experienced Benwikere.

The Cards already parted ways with Jamar Taylor, acquired in hopes he could fill the Peterson-sidekick role the team has long had issues with, after Benwikere beat him out for that job. The young journeyman started eight Arizona games this season, intercepting one pass and making 51 tackles. Benwikere’s eight starts represent a career high in his five-season NFL run.

Dawson’s been dealing with a hip injury this season. It forced the 43-year-old kicker to miss a game earlier this month. The Cardinals’ kicker over the past two seasons, the 20-year veteran is a free agent after this season. He’s attempted a career-low eight field goals, making five. This will end Dawson’s least accurate season.

Previously going with rookie Matthew McCrane to fill in for Dawson, the Cardinals will now turn to Gonzalez. The Browns waived Gonzalez after a rough Week 2. The 2017 seventh-round pick has not kicked in a game since.

Despite being retained on a low-level deal, Bynes was playing ahead of both Deone Bucannon and Haason Reddick this season. He made 75 tackles, registered two sacks and returned a fumble for a touchdown in a standout season. Bynes is signed through the 2020 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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: