Bennie Fowler

NFC South Rumors: Arians, Saints, Okung

Having battled three different types of cancer and being set to turn 68 in October, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians falls into the higher-risk category for potential coronavirus complications. But Arians will coach this season, and he is not planning to do so from the press box. The second-year Bucs HC will coach from the sideline while wearing a mask and a face shield, he said recently.

As far as on the field, I’ll maintain a mask and probably a shield just for personal use and coach like I’ve always coached,” Arians said. “I’m very confident. Like I said, the protocols that are in place are extremely safe.”

Arians has had cancerous tumors to be removed from his prostate, skin and kidney. He enters the season as NFL’s third-oldest head coach, behind Pete Carroll, who are both 68. Two head coaches — Sean Payton and Doug Pederson — have tested positive for COVID-19 thus far. The Eagles HC tested positive earlier this week. Players and coaches are currently being tested daily. This arrangement will continue for two weeks before the league reassesses.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Russell Okung dealt with a health scare last year but did not opt out of the 2020 season. However, the Panthers‘ recently acquired left tackle is considering retirement. But Okung will wait on a decision for now. The 11th-year veteran will keep his options open as he goes further into camp, advisor J.I. Halsell told NFL reporter Josina Anderson (Twitter link). It’s possible the 31-year-old blocker wants to learn more about what this season’s COVID-19-defined environment will bring. Okung has a $13MM salary awaiting him this season but has already made a considerable amount of money in his career.
  • Emmanuel Sanders made the initial contact between he and the Saints in free agency, the 11th-year wide receiver said, per The Athletic’s Katherine Terrell (on Twitter). The former Steelers, Broncos and 49ers wideout wanted to play with Drew Brees in New Orleans, and that helped lead to the two-year, $16MM deal he signed in March. Sanders also assisted the Saints with another free agent receiver, with a Brees-Sanders-Bennie Fowler workout in Denver leading to the latter’s signing this week (Twitter link via Terrell).
  • The Falcons plan to use recently signed cornerback Darqueze Dennard as a slot and boundary cornerback in training camp, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes. Dennard mostly worked as a slot defender in Cincinnati. Atlanta signed Dennard earlier last week. He will join a cornerback crew that features third-year player Isaiah Oliver and first-round rookie A.J. Terrell.
  • Given Brees’ year-to-year status, the Saints are obviously not eyeing a contract-year trade of Alvin Kamara. But no known extension talks have taken place between the Saints and their standout back. However, a deal that pays the three-down back just less than what Christian McCaffrey and Ezekiel Elliott make ($16MM and $15MM AAV, respectively) is a solution The Athletic’s Larry Holder envisions (subscription required). Kamara, one of several running back starters in contract years, has said he wants to stay in New Orleans.

Saints Sign WR Bennie Fowler

Bennie Fowler has found a new home. SiriusXM’s Adam Caplan reports (via Twitter) that the veteran wideout has signed with the Saints.

The Michigan State product spent the first four seasons of his career with the Broncos, and while he averaged 15 games per season between 2015 and 2017, he didn’t put up big numbers. His best season came in 2017, when he hauled in 29 receptions for 350 receiving yards and three scores.

The 29-year-old has bounced around the NFL a bit since that time. He signed with the Bears prior to the 2018 campaign, but he was cut at the end of the preseason. His subsequent stint with the Patriots lasted less than a week, but Fowler eventually found a new home with the Giants. In two-ish seasons with New York, the wideout averaged 19.5 receptions and 196 receiving yards per years.

Fowler is now joining one of the NFL’s top offenses in New Orleans. While the top of the Saints depth chart is highlighted by Michael Thomas and newcomer Emmanuel Sanders, Fowler could emerge from a grouping that includes the likes of Tre’Quan Smith, Deonte Harris, Austin Carr, and Lil’Jordan Humphrey.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/27/19

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Detroit Lions

New York Giants

Oakland Raiders

San Francisco 49ers

Washington

Giants Waive WR Bennie Fowler

The Giants will make an adjustment to their wide receiver group. Despite Golden Tate now residing in concussion protocol, the Giants waived Bennie Fowler.

This marks the second time this season the Giants have cut the seventh-year veteran. They did so in October, when Tate’s suspension ended. While Fowler was released then, due to being a vested veteran, he will hit the waiver wire now. No team signed him immediately upon his October release, however, so he may well head back to free agency.

Fowler had been with Big Blue for two seasons, playing in 18 games and operating as an auxiliary target for Eli Manning and Daniel Jones. The former Broncos UDFA, who worked with wideouts coach Tyke Tolbert in both Denver and New York, caught 39 passes for 392 yards and a touchdown as a Giant.

Fowler, however, was not active for Sunday’s game against the Bears. He is probably best known for catching Peyton Manning‘s final NFL pass — a two-point conversion in Super Bowl 50. Fowler has joined fellow ex-Bronco Cody Latimer on the Giants the past two seasons, with each re-signing with New York this offseason.

Giants To Re-Sign Bennie Fowler

Bennie and the Giants. On Monday, the G-Men re-signed wide receiver Bennie Fowler, bringing him back to the Meadowlands after a short hiatus (Twitter link via Pat Leonard of the Daily News). To make room, the Giants dropped linebacker Nathan Stupar

Fowler was dropped recently after posting 12 catches for 99 yards through four games. The move helped them clear a spot for the return of Golden Tate, but they need Fowler back in their lives as receiver Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram remain banged up.

The Giants are familiar with Fowler – he spent the 2018 season with the club, though he had just 16 grabs for 199 yards and one touchdown through ten games, mostly as a role player. Before that, Fowler spent four years in Denver.

The Giants fell to the Patriots on Thursday night, dropping them to 2-4 on the season. They’ll look to get things back on track this Sunday, when they face the Cardinals at Metlife Stadium.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Workout Notes: 10/8/19

Here are today’s workout updates. There are a number of notable names on this list, so pay attention!

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

Oakland Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Redskins

Vikings Work Out WRs Bennie Fowler, Ryan Grant

While the Vikings reportedly won’t be trading any of their receiver depth, that didn’t stop the coaching staff from auditioning some wideouts yesterday. ESPN’s Courtney Cronin reports (via Twitter) that Minnesota worked out several wide receivers on Friday, including Bennie Fowler, T.J. Jones, and Ryan Grant.

The Giants let go of both Fowler and Jones earlier this week after the duo had combined for only 15 receptions through four games. Most of those catches came via the 28-year-old Fowler, who had spent the past year-plus with the Giants. This is the first reported workout for Fowler. Jones, 27, was a sixth-round pick by the Lions back in 2014. After being cut by the Giants at the end of the preseason, he re-signed with the team in mid-September. Jones has 67 career receptions in 45 games, and he also has some experience returning kicks and punts.

The Raiders released Grant in late September, and he’s since had one workout with the Patriots. The 28-year-old caught four passes for just 14 yards with Oakland this season, although he did snag 35 passes for 334 yards with the Colts in 2018.

This week’s drama out of Minnesota was focused on receiver Stefon Diggs, who is reportedly at odds with the organization. While Minnesota reportedly doesn’t have any plans to trade the star wideout, Diggs said the other day that there was “truth to all rumors.” Diggs might not be the only frustrated wide receiver in Minnesota; Adam Thielen recently complained about the one-dimensional nature of the Vikings offense, prompting quarterback Kirk Cousins to apologize.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Activate Golden Tate

Finally, the Giants will get to utilize Golden Tate. On Tuesday, the Giants announced roster moves to make way for the wide receiver as he returns from suspension. 

[RELATED: Giants’ Ryan Connelly Done For Year]

To clear spots for Tate, and new linebacker Josiah Tauaefa, the G-Men have released wide receivers Bennie Fowler and T.J. Jones. The adjustment leaves the Giants with five active WRs – Tate, Sterling Shepard, Cody Latimer, Darius Slayton, and Cody Core – rather than six.

Tate inked a four-year, $37MM deal with the Giants this offseason as they moved on from superstar Odell Beckham Jr. The hope for GM Dave Gettleman & Co. is that Tate will provide the Giants with the locker room stability and veteran guidance that they were perhaps not getting from OBJ, even though Tate cannot realistically match his production.

Tate’s big debut was stalled in the offseason when he was suspended four games for PEDs. The veteran claims that his positive test was the result of fertility drugs he was taking in an effort to grow his family. Unfortunately for him, he was unable to get the suspension overturned, delaying his 2019 season by a full four weeks.

When Tate joined up with the Giants, he probably assumed that he would be catching passes from Eli Manning. Instead, Manning has been given the hook in favor of No. 6 overall pick Daniel Jones. If they can sync up on Sunday, and if the Giants’ defense can handle the Vikings as well as the Bears just did, the G-Men could advance to 3-2 behind a three-game winning streak.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Belichick, Patriots, Jets, Giants

Patriots coach Bill Belichick is known for finding diamonds in the rough. He’s turned MAC quarterback Julian Edelman into a star receiver, and made numerous other brilliant discoveries. The draft apparently isn’t the only place he looks for these unheralded gems, as Zach Cox of NESN.com pointed out in a recent interesting piece. The Patriots are holding joint practices with the Lions right now, and Cox points out that Belichick always uses these joint practices to scout the opposing team’s players for guys he might want to pick up when they’re later cut.

“From 2012 to 2017, New England participated in 11 rounds of joint practices with seven different opponents. In all 11 cases, at least one member of the opposing team went on to sign with the Patriots,” Cox writes. That’s a pretty incredible streak, and it shows that the Patriots are paying extremely close attention during these joint sessions. It’ll be interesting to see which current member of the Lions ends up signing with New England later this year.

Here’s more from the league’s eastern divisions:

  • We’ve got the full details on Ryan Kalil‘s contract with the Jets, courtesy of Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The one-year, $8.4MM pact includes a $3MM signing bonus, 2.4MM in base non-guaranteed salary, and a $3.4MM roster bonus. The total guarantee is just the $3MM signing bonus. Kalil recently came out of retirement, and the veteran center’s presence should be a huge boost to the rest of the offensive line and Sam Darnold‘s protection. Even though the majority of his money is non-guaranteed, it would take something truly shocking for him not to end up collecting it all.
  • The Giants have had a brutal stretch of luck with their receivers. Just in the past few weeks, Corey Coleman tore his ACL, Sterling Shepard suffered a broken thumb, and Golden Tate was suspended for the first four games of the season. Shepard will likely be back for Week 1, but the options after him aren’t too appealing. As of right now it looks like Cody Latimer will be the second receiver to open the season, while Bennie Fowler will be the third, according to Matt Lombardo of NJ.com. Latimer is a former second-round pick of the Broncos who is looking to reinvent himself with the Giants. He spent last year in New York, catching 11 passes for 190 yards in only six games. Fowler is also a former Bronco who caught 16 balls for 199 yards in his first season with the Giants last year. Eli Manning (or Daniel Jones) won’t be in an easy situation when the season opens.
  • In case you missed it, the Dolphins signed former Cardinals first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche

Giants Re-Sign WR Bennie Fowler

The Giants have re-signed wide receiver Bennie Fowler, according to a press release. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it’s likely an inexpensive short-term deal. 

[RELATED – Giants GM: “We Were Not Actively Shopping” OBJ]

Fowler, a Michigan State product, joined the Giants in October after fellow receiver Cody Latimer was placed on IR. After that point, Fowler appeared in ten games and caught 16 passes for 199 yards, including a touchdown against Washington on Dec. 9. Before joining the Giants, Fowler had 56 receptions and five touchdowns in three seasons with the Broncos. He also spent time with the Bears and Patriots last year, but did not appear in games for either club.

Fowler is a part of the Giants’ new Odell Beckham-less depth chart at WR, which also includes Golden TateSterling Shepard, Corey Coleman, and Latimer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.