Blessuan Austin

Seahawks Sign Bless Austin

The Seahawks have signed cornerback Blessuan Austin (Twitter link via Dave Wyman of KCPQ). Austin will serve as a depth option for the ‘Hawks as they prepare to face the Colts on Sunday.

The Jets shopped Austin towards the end of the summer but couldn’t find a taker for him. Last week, they cut him loose in order to pick up linebacker Quincy Williams, the brother of defensive lineman Quinnen Williams.

Austin appeared in eleven games with ten starts last year, registering 63 stops, four passes defensed, one forced fumble, and three tackles for loss. Between his two Jets seasons, Austin registered 88 tackles and two forced fumbles across 18 games.

The 25-year-old Rutgers product now gets to reunite with old pal Jamal Adams while he supports the Seahawks’ CB group. For now, that leaves the Seahawks with six CBs in total — Sidney Jones, D.J. Reed, Tre Flowers, Tre Brown, and Nigel Warrior.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wednesday NFL Transactions: AFC East

Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These BillsDolphinsJets and Patriots moves are noted below.

Here are Wednesday’s AFC East transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.

Buffalo Bills

Signed:

Placed on IR: 

Signed to practice squad:

Miami Dolphins

Claimed:

Waived: 

Signed to practice squad:

New England Patriots

Claimed:

Waived: 

Signed to practice squad:

New York Jets

Claimed:

Re-signed:

Waived:

Placed on IR:

Jets Cut Bless Austin

The Jets have released cornerback Blessuan Austin (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo). Meanwhile, they’ve claimed linebacker Quincy Williams off waivers from the Jaguars, putting him in the same locker room as his brother, Quinnen Williams.

The Jets shopped Austin in recent days but, apparently, they couldn’t find a taker. Austin appeared in eleven games with ten starts last year, registering 63 stops, four passes defensed, one forced fumble, and three tackles for loss along the way. The Rutgers product is still only 25 years of age, but the Jets are moving to even younger options — rookies Brandin Echols, Isaiah Dunn, Jason Pinnock, and Michael Carter III remain on the CB depth chart along with Bryce Hall and Javelin Guidry.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the Jets dropped quarterbacks Josh Johnson and James Morgan. That leaves Mike White as the team’s QB2 behind rookie Zach Wilson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/12/20

Here is Saturday’s usual barrage of minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: LB Jachai Polite; Polite tested positive for the coronavirus, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (via Twitter)

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

AFC Notes: Jets, Chargers, Ekeler, Bengals, Waynes

Another week, more drama with the Jets. While tanking is often talked about in the NFL in terms of roster construction and letting young guys play, it’s very rare for a team to be accused of actively trying to lose games. But that’s exactly what’s happening in New York, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News writes. The latest dustup surrounds starting cornerback Bless Austin, and a neck injury that just landed him on injured reserve. Head coach Adam Gase had previously expressed optimism that Austin would play this past Sunday, then suddenly pivoted and said the team’s doctors told him Austin didn’t feel good.

Mehta writes that Jets employees “vehemently disagreed with the head coach’s characterization of the situation.” He reports that Austin told teammates the neck issue would only require a couple of days of rest, and that the medical staff shared that opinion. After that, “people at all levels of the organization have started to wonder whether Jets brass actually care about winning any of their remaining games.” Mehta says some within the building have concluded “the powers that be want to tank for Trevor Lawrence.” The Jets just cut starting cornerback Pierre Desir and placed fellow corner Brian Poole on injured reserve, making Austin’s absence all the more significant in their now extremely young secondary. It’s not unusual for a team to strip down its roster of veterans, but it would be unusual for a team to purposely sideline a healthy player in order to field a less competitive product. This will be an interesting situation to keep an eye on as the season winds down.

Here’s more from a couple of the AFC’s other divisions:

  • The Chargers are in the midst of yet another injury-plagued season, but reinforcements may be on the way. The team will designate star running back Austin Ekeler to return from injured reserve and he’ll practice this week, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets. Pelissero adds that it’s not clear yet if he’ll be able to be active for this weekend’s game against the Bills, but either way it sounds like he’ll be back on the field very soon. He’s been one of the league’s most productive running backs the past two years, both as a runner and receiver. Ekeler hasn’t played since Week 4 due to a serious hamstring injury he suffered against the Buccaneers. He was averaging over five yards per carry with 17 receptions through only a little over three games.
  • While Ekeler will be back any week now, things are a lot less certain for Bengals cornerback Trae Waynes. Waynes signed a three-year, $42MM deal with Cincy this offseason, but hasn’t played in a game yet after tearing a pec in August. Waynes finally popped up on the rehab field at a Bengals practice this past week, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic writes, but a return this season is still in question. “Still unsure at this point, honestly,” Waynes said. “I’m trying to work as hard and as fast and as smart as I can to get back out there without risk of jeopardizing my body to another injury. Unfortunately, it’s not up to me to decide if I can get cleared. So, I’m just doing my part to make that happen as soon as possible.” Waynes expressed frustration with what looks like a lost year, adding that the COVID-19 restrictions have made it hard for him to get acclimated to his new team without being able to practice or play. “Very frustrating, boring,” the former first-round pick of the Vikings said. “I’m not used to it. It’s my first major injury through college and the NFL. I’m not used to just sitting out the whole season and doing absolutely nothing but rehabbing.”
  • In case you missed it, crucial Titans linebacker Jayon Brown is out for the season.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Jets, Austin

The Patriots have carried at least one undrafted rookie in Week 1 for the past 15 seasons, which brings intrigue to their UDFA class, as Nick Underhill of The Athletic writes.

A quick look at the guaranteed money given to this year’s undrafted rookies would indicate that tight end Andrew Beck ($115K), linebacker Terez Hall ($85K), safety Malik Gant ($85K), wide receiver Jakobi Meyers ($70K), offensive lineman Tyler Gauthier ($70K), and wide receiver Ryan Davis ($70K) have the best odds of making the final cut, but that’s not necessarily the case – UDFA cornerbacks Jonathan Jones ($35K) and Malcolm Butler ($30K) made the Patriots’ 53-man roster with smaller guarantees in the past.

Taking a deeper dive, Underhill writes that only three of last year’s six highest-paid UDFAs made the roster of their respective teams. Bucs safety Godwin Igwebuike ($125K), Vikings corner Holton Hill ($75K) and Jets safety Brandon Bryant ($70,000) made it, but Saints tight end Deon Yelder ($90K), Patriots running back Ralph Webb ($70K), and 49ers corner Tarvarus McFadden ($90K) did not earn a spot on the Week 1 roster.

Moral of the story: Follow the money, but not too closely.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • The status of Jets rookie cornerback Blessuan Austin is up in the air after he underwent two ACL surgeries on the same knee in back-to-back years, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. For now, he’ll begin training camp on the PUP list. The Jets are hoping that the Rutgers product will be able to see the field sooner rather than later and, if he does, he could prove to be a strong value as a sixth-round choice.
  • The Bills are giving former Auburn wide receiver Duke Williams an opportunity to get his career back on track, as John Wawrow of The Associated Press writes. Williams, a 27-year-old rookie, was on track to be a potential first-round pick in 2016, but went undrafted thanks to a brawl that left his teammate with a broken jaw. After that, he took his talents north of the border and, in 2018, Williams led the CFL with 1,579 yards receiving. Wawrow hears that he has a legitimate chance of making the final cut, despite the offseason additions of Cole Beasley and speedster John Brown in free agency.
  • On Sunday afternoon, the Dolphins elected to give running back Mark Walton another chance by signing him to a low-cost deal.