Blidi Wreh-Wilson

NFC South Notes: Hill, Brate, Walker

The Saints expect Taysom Hill to take over for Drew Brees when Brees calls it a career, and to that end, they placed a first-round RFA tender on the BYU product earlier this month. Teddy Bridgewater had served as the backup to Brees over the past couple of seasons while Hill’s role as a gadget player grew, but head coach Sean Payton confirmed that Hill will be the QB2 in 2020. “He’s earned that opportunity,” Payton said (Twitter link via Jeff Duncan of The Athletic).

However, the team still expects to use Hill as a rusher and receiver next season, so Payton said New Orleans will add another QB that will be active on game days (Twitter link via Duncan). The Saints are expected to explore a long-term contract for Hill in the near future.

Now for more from the NFC South:

  • Cameron Brate‘s recent restructure with the Buccaneers is better classified as a pay cut. Per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Brate accepted a decrease in his 2020 salary from $6MM to $4.25MM (Twitter link). The move will keep Brate, a quality red zone target, in the fold for Tom Brady while buying the team a little more cap space.
  • Several days ago, the Panthers beat out several clubs for the services of XFL signal-caller P.J. Walker. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle says Walker’s pact with Carolina is a two-year deal worth $1.565MM, a pretty nice haul for an XFLer who has yet to crack an active roster in the NFL (Twitter link).
  • CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson‘s new one-year deal with the Falcons includes a base salary of $1.05MM and a singing bonus of $137.5K, as Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com tweets.

Falcons Sign OL Justin McCray, CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson

The Falcons will bring in an offensive line swing man and re-sign one of their backup cornerbacks of recent years. Atlanta signed Justin McCray and Blidi Wreh-Wilson on Sunday.

McCray, who played with the Browns last season and has seen action with three teams since 2014, agreed to a one-year deal, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com tweets. Wilson has been with the Falcons since 2016; he signed a one-year deal to stay in Atlanta in February 2019.

A former UDFA out of Central Florida, McCray started four games with the Browns last season. He started 13 with the Packers from 2017-18. The Packers traded McCray to the Browns last August, and the 27-year-old blocker saw action at guard and tackle. Largely because of his work in pass protection, McCray graded as one of Pro Football Focus’ worst tackles in 2019.

McCray will join Jamon Brown, James Carpenter, John Wetzel and fourth-year blocker Sean Harlow as players vying for roles among Atlanta’s O-line group.

Wilson, 30, has started three games since coming to Georgia nearly four years ago. He saw his biggest workload in 2019, playing 335 defensive snaps. Wilson finished with seven passes defensed and 25 tackles last season. Having released Desmond Trufant, the Falcons are retooling at cornerback. They will have more moves to make at this position going forward this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Sign Blidi Wreh-Wilson To Extension

The Falcons and Blidi Wreh-Wilson have agreed to an extension, according to a team announcement. The new deal is for one year and will keep the cornerback in the fold through the 2019 season. 

“Blidi has been a very versatile player for us over the last three years,” coach Dan Quinn said in a release. “He has experience in our system and adds depth for both the defense and special teams units.”

Wreh-Wilson was initially set to hit the open market in mid-March. The new deal doesn’t give him much in long-term security, but it probably included enough in the way of guaranteed money for him to punt on free agency. This marks the third straight year in which the 29-year-old has signed a one-year deal with Atlanta.

For the Falcons, the deal gives them some semblance of consistency in the secondary. Earlier this offseason, the club cut The Falcons released starting cornerback Robert Alford and elected against tendering slot corner Brian Poole.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Bennett, Bouye, Branch

Let’s take a look at the details of some recently-signed free agent contracts:

  • Martellus Bennett, TE (Packers): Three years, $20.25MM. $6.3MM guaranteed. Base salaries of $900K, $3.6MM, $5.65MM. $2MM roster bonus due on first day of 2018 league year. $600K in annual per-game roster bonuses. $$250K annual workout bonus (link via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk).
  • A.J. Bouye, CB (Jaguars): Five years, $65MM. $26MM guaranteed. $10MM signing bonus. Base salaries of $3MM, $13MM, $13MM, $13MM, $13MM. $500K annual workout bonus (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle).
  • Alan Branch, DT (Patriots): Two years, $8.45MM. $3MM guaranteed. $2MM signing bonus. Annual $400K workout and weight bonus of $400K each. $3.55MM available via not-likely-to-be-earned incentives (link via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com).
  • Ted Ginn, WR (Saints): Three years, $11MM. $3MM guaranteed. $3MM signing bonus. Base salaries of $2MM, $3MM, $2.5MM. 2018 $500K roster bonus. $500,000 aviailve vie playtime, catches incentives (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Tanner Purdum, LS (Jets): One year, $980K. $400K guaranteed (Twitter link via Dennis Waszak Jr. of the Associated Press).
  • Brandon Williams, DT (Ravens): Five years, $52.5MM. $27.5MM guaranteed. $12.5MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Jeff Zriebec of the Baltimore Sun).
  • Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB (Falcons): One year, $775K (minimum salary) (Twitter link via Wilson).

Falcons Re-Sign CB Blidi-Wreh Wilson

The Falcons are re-signing cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson to a one-year deal, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. The former third-round pick initially joined the Falcons Blidi-Wreh Wilson (vertical)in late November.

Wreh-Wilson only appeared in a single game in 2016 after being released by the Titans in August. However, from 2013 through 2015, the 27-year-old appeared in 34 games (14 starts) with Tennessee. His best season came in 2014, when he compiled 57 tackles, 10 passes defended, and one interception.

The veteran may have an opportunity to carve out a role behind Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen. He’ll be competing with Sharrod Neasman and Akeem King for snaps in the Atlanta secondary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/13/16

Today’s minor moves:

  • The Seahawks have made a series of roster moves, announcing that they’ve signed running back Kelvin Taylor and cornerback Ronald Powell to their 53-man roster while placing running back Troymaine Pope and fullback Will Tukuafu on IR. Tay is the son of former NFL great Fred Taylor.
  • The Bears have signed tight end MyCole Pruitt off the Vikings‘ practice squad, tweets Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispacth, while Chicago announced that it has cleared a roster spot by waiving defensive back De’Vante Bausby. Pruitt, a 2015 fifth-round pick, has played in 18 games over the past two years.
  • The Packers will sign linebacker Jordan Tripp, a source tells Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Tripp, primarily a special teamer, was recently waived off Seattle’s IR.
  • John Hughes won’t be staying home alone any longer, as the Buccaneers announced that they’ve re-signed the veteran defensive tackle. Hughes, 28, has already played in three games for Tampa this season.
  • The Ravens announced that they’ve placed running back Lorenzo Taliaferro on injured reserve and signed linebacker Lamar Louis to the active roster. Taliaferro, a 2014 fourth-round, hasn’t been able to get on the field in Baltimore, as he’s managed only 14 carries over the past two seasons. The Ravens are also promoting WR Michael Campanaro, tweets Jeff Zriebec of the Baltimore Sun.
  • The Rams have signed cornerback Troy Hill from the practice squad and placed tight end Cory Harkey on injured reserve, the team announced today. Hill had been waived following a DUI arrest, but has now earned a second chance on the roster.
  • The Bills signed safety Shamiel Gary and offensive lineman Michael Ola to the active roster, per a club announcement. Linebacker Bryson Albright has been waived in a corresponding transaction.
  • The Redskins announced that they’ve promoted linebacker Nick Moody from the practice squad to the active roster and placed defensive end Anthony Lanier on injured reserve. Lanier, 26, has 25 games of NFL experience under his belt since entering the league as a San Francisco draft pick in 2013.
  • The Cardinals have swapped out punters once again, announcing that they’ve waived Drew Butler in favor of Matt Wile, who was promoted from the practice squad. Arizona also signed quarterback Zac Dysert off the taxi squad.
  • The Falcons have re-signed cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson, the team announced today. BWW had just been waived last week in order to clear a spot for wide receiver depth.
  • The Browns announced that they’ve promoted DL Gabe Wright from the practice squad to active roster. Wright, a former Detroit draft pick, was claimed by Cleveland earlier this year.

Falcons Promote WR Nick Williams

The Falcons have promoted wide receiver Nick Williams from the practice squad to the active roster and waived cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson, the club announced today. Atlanta has already ruled out pass-catcher Mohamed Sanu for Sunday’s game against the Rams, and the team announced today that All Pro wide receiver Julio Jones is questionable for Week 14 and is a game-time decision after not practicing all week.Nick Williams WR (Vertical)

[RELATED: Falcons Extend CB Robert Alford]

“Sunday, we’ll go out and let [Jones] run some full speed routes, go through the process,” said head coach Dan Quinn. “It’s not the catching, we just want to see the full speed routes. That’s what the plan is – his intent is right to go and play. We are anticipating that, but we’ll see where it goes on Sunday morning.”

Jones, of course, is the key piece of a Falcons offense that has ridden its No. 1 DVOA offense to a 7-5 record. Once leading the NFC South by a wide margin, Atlanta is now tied with Tampa Bay for first place in the division, so every game counts as the club closes out the campaign. According to Brian Burke of ESPN.com‘s Playoff Leverage, a win on Sunday would give the Falcons approximately a 90% chance of making the playoffs, while a loss would drop those odds to less than 75%.

If both Sanu and Jones are sidelined on Sunday, Atlanta would use a receiving corps made up of Taylor Gabriel, Aldrick Robinson, Justin Hardy, Eric Weems, and Williams, along with tight ends Austin Hooper and Levine Toilolo.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Desmond Trufant Done For Season

Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant will require surgery for a torn pectoral and will miss the rest of the season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. On Tuesday, Atlanta made it all official, announcing that Trufant is headed to IR. In related moves, the Falcons have signed center Trevor Robinson and cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson to the active roster. Punter Matt Wile has been waived.

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Trufant sustained the injury during Atlanta’s Week 9 matchup against the Buccaneers and consequently missed the team’s Week 10 contest against the Eagles. The Falcons then had their bye in Week 11, and Trufant practiced on a limited basis this week in the hopes of suiting up against the Cardinals today.

Needless to say, this is a major blow for the Falcons, as Trufant is the club’s best cover corner. He ranks as the 32nd-best corner in the NFL out of 119 qualified players, according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required), which is a big deal for a team that ranks among the bottom third of the league in pass defense (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric). He also notched an interception and two sacks this season.

The 6-4 Falcons sit atop the NFC South, just one game ahead of Tampa Bay. Luckily for Atlanta, the remainder of the team’s schedule is not littered with opponents that boast high-flying passing offenses, with the Week 17 matchup against the Saints looking like the only exception.

Trufant, the Falcons’ first-round draft pick in 2013, is scheduled to make $8MM in his fifth-year option season next year. Players like Brian Poole and C.J. Goodwin will need to step up in his absence.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Workout Notes: Pack, Vikes, Chiefs, Giants

In addition to the previously reported Joique Bell, the running back-needy Packers worked out fellow rushers James Wilder Jr. and Brandon Wegher on Tuesday, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Defensive end Arthur Miley and defensive back Brandon Dixon also tried out.

More of the latest workouts (courtesy of Howard Balzer, unless otherwise noted):