Branden Oliver

Colts To Release RB Branden Oliver

The Colts’ running back room will not feature Branden Oliver. Despite the team bringing in the former Chargers backup this offseason, Oliver will not be a part of its 53-man roster, Stephen Holder of The Athletic tweets.

Indianapolis may or may not have projected starter Marlon Mack for Week 1 because of a hamstring injury but appears to be going with a much younger running back contingent nonetheless.

Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines joined the Colts as rookies, and the team has Christine Michael as well. Robert Turbin is also a factor, although he’s suspended for four games.

Oliver hasn’t surpassed 100 rushing yards in a season since his 2014 rookie year, when the Chargers called upon him to start seven games.

 

Colts Sign RB Branden Oliver

The Colts have signed running back Branden Oliver, the team announced today (Twitter link). The team waived receiver Dres Anderson to make room on the roster.

Oliver was one of several veteran running backs left on the market, and his addition likely has something to do with the injury to Marlon Mack. It was reported yesterday that the Colts were looking to bring in a veteran back. Mack is expected to miss a few weeks with a hamstring strain.

Earlier this summer, it was reported that the Bills were interested in bringing in Oliver, but nothing ever materialized. Oliver came into the league as an undrafted free agent in 2014, and spent the last four seasons as a Charger.His biggest role came as a rookie, when he started seven games and carried the ball 160 times for 582 yards and three touchdowns. His role decreased significantly to being strictly a backup after that, and he missed the entire 2016 season due to injury.

The Colts let Frank Gore walk to Miami earlier this spring, and were left with a very young running back room. Oliver should provide a steady veteran presence, but isn’t a lock to make the 53-man roster. The group currently consists of Mack, rookie Nyheim Hines, Christine Michael, Robert Turbin, and Jordan Wilkins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Which UFA RB Should Redskins Target?

Washington’s backfield corps absorbed a major blow Friday when news of Derrius Guice‘s ACL tear surfaced. The second-round pick had impressed during camp and was set to be a key part of the Redskins’ 2018 backfield.

Now, the Redskins are vulnerable here. Chris Thompson admitted he’s not fully recovered from the broken leg he suffered last season, leaving Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine as the team’s top two healthy running backs. Under the circumstances, it would seemingly behoove the Redskins to examine free agent options. Should they?

Washington holds $13MM-plus in cap space, so funding won’t be an issue here given the timing of this injury and the host of proven backs on the market. Of the players available, Orleans Darkwa has generated the most interest this offseason. The Giants’ 2017 rushing leader met with the Patriots in April, before undergoing surgery, and since recovering has met with the Bills, Jets and Colts. Each team passed, but Darkwa has just 276 carries on his NFL odometer. And he averaged 4.4 yards per tote despite running behind an injury-ravaged Giants offensive front.

Alfred Morris led the Redskins in rushing for four straight seasons, and he averaged 4.8 yards per handoff last season as the Cowboys’ primary starter during Ezekiel Elliott‘s suspension. The former sixth-round Washington find is 29 and hasn’t generated much interest since his Cowboys contract expired, although he did visit the Jets recently.

Eddie Lacy‘s also fairly young, at 28, but he’s coming off a brutal Seahawks season. After providing per-carry averages north of 4.0 in each of his four Packers seasons, Lacy averaged just 2.6 yards per run for the Seahawks. Branden Oliver has not been as successful on a per-rush basis, holding a career average of 3.4, but he totaled 853 yards from scrimmage as a seven-game starter as a rookie in 2014. Oliver also drew interest from the Bills this summer.

What about the market’s old guard? Adrian Peterson is obviously the first name that comes to mind, and the future Hall of Famer maintains he would like to play a 12th season. Peterson said he’s now healthy and has recovered from the neck injury that ended his 2017 season. While the three-time rushing champion’s best days are behind him, he amassed two 130-plus-yard games with the Cardinals, doing so despite being a midseason acquisition.

Jamaal Charles, 31, made it through last season healthy after extensive knee trouble plagued him in 2015 and 2016, but the Broncos took him out of their rotation. Nevertheless, the two-time All-Pro led Denver backs by averaging 4.3 yards per carry (albeit on just 69 handoffs). DeMarco Murray retired, but he made it clear shortly before that announcement he was interested in playing this season. Could this situation lure the 2014 offensive player of the year out of retirement?

However, the Redskins also have former Broncos backup Kapri Bibbs and third-year UDFA Byron Marshall. Should they bypass the market and go with a cast fronted by Kelley and Perine?

Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this situation in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Interested In RB Branden Oliver

The Bills have shown interest in setting up a workout with former Chargers running backs Branden Oliver, a source tells Mike Rodak of ESPN.com (on Twitter). However, no workout has been scheduled yet. 

Oddly enough, the Bills’ interest in Oliver actually predates this week’s incident involving LeSean McCoy‘s ex-girlfriend. But, with Delicia Cordon alleging that McCoy had a role in the assault, the Bills would be wise to ramp up their search for free agent running backs.

A deal would mark a homecoming of sorts for Oliver, who was raised in Florida but played his college football at the University at Buffalo. Oliver was not drafted after his time in Western New York, but he hooked on with the Chargers in 2014 and quickly made a name for himself with his bruising rushing style. Since then, however, injuries have held him back.

In addition to McCoy, the Bills also have running backs Chris IvoryTravaris CadetTaiwan JonesMarcus Murphy, and Keith Ford under contract. If McCoy is taken out of the equation and they do not sign Oliver, one can’t help but wonder if they’ll also consider the likes of DeMarco Murray and Adrian Peterson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Jets, Chargers, Ivory, Maclin

A video emerged on Twitter this weekend allegedly showing Jets linebacker Darron Lee in an apparent altercation with a woman at the Governors Ball Music Festival on Randall’s Island. The video shows a man shouting at a woman, and the Twitter user claimed the individual proceeded to “manhandle her’’ and “call her names.’’

Jets defensive end Leonard Williams can also be seen in the video physically restraining his teammate, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. Williams’ Instagram account showed that quarterback Bryce Petty was also at the festival.

We are aware of the reports,” a Jets spokesman said (via Schwartz). “We are taking them seriously, and we are looking into the specifics of the situation. We will have no further comment at this time.”

Lee, a 2016 first-round pick, appeared in 13 games (nine starts) with the Jets last season, compiling 73 tackles and one sack.

Let’s take a look at other notes from around the AFC…

  • Danny Woodhead signed with the Ravens this offseason, so ESPN.com’s Eric D. Williams took a look at current Chargers who could replace the departed running back’s production. The writer points to Branden Oliver and Kenjon Barner as players who could serve as the pass-catching back behind starter Melvin Gordon.
  • We learned yesterday that running back LeSean McCoy was recruiting former teammate Jeremy Maclin to join the Bills. Now it looks like quarterback Tyrod Taylor is also looking to touch base with the free agent receiver. “Today was the first day I seen Shady,” Taylor told Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News. “We texted about it, but [I] want to get Maclin’s number and try to reach out to him. Just to see what his thoughts, what is he thinking moving forward and try to get him here.”
  • After a season that saw him compile only 439 rushing yards, Jaguars running back Chris Ivory wants to prove that he’s still capable of starting in the NFL. Unfortunately, despite his experience, the veteran has fourth-overall pick Leonard Fournette breathing down his neck. While the odds seem to be against the 29-year-old, he’s still confident that his 2016 woes are a thing of the past. “One thing about it, people and everybody are going to have their opinions,’’ Ivory told John Reid of the Florida Times-Union. “Mainly, the people that know nothing about football. They don’t know the things we go through to get to this point. What we actually face before we come out for those games…Most of the stuff the people on the outside see are the mistakes and the bad things you do. It’s not always going to go the way you want. I think a lot of people that like to see guys get a 1,000 yards each year, but it just don’t work that way.’’

Chargers To Re-Sign RB Branden Oliver

The Chargers have agreed to re-sign running back Branden Oliver to a one-year deal, as Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. Exact terms of the deal are not yet known, but it’s quite possible that he has no guaranteed cash, so his roster spot is not a certainty. Branden Oliver (Featured)

Oliver was non-tendered by the Bolts earlier this month, allowing him to explore free agency unencumbered. We did not hear any rumblings of free agent visits or outside interest, so it’s possible that Oliver didn’t find much of a market for his services. He’ll now return to the Bolts, presumably at a lower price than the one-year, $1.797MM original round tender.

Oliver became a focal part of the Chargers’ rushing game in 2014 amidst injuries in the backfield. In 2015, an injury of his own landed him on IR midway through the season. Then, last summer, he suffered an Achilles tear in August and never returned to action. Oliver has not seen the field since November 1, 2015.

The Chargers added running back Kenjon Barner to the fold this week and they now have five RBs in total.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/9/17

Unrestricted free agent news will obviously dominate the day, but several clubs also had to make decisions on whether to offer tenders to restricted and exclusive rights free agents. All RFA tenders listed are original round/right of first refusal (worth $1.797MM), and all links go to Twitter:

RFAs:

Tendered:

Non-Tendered: 

ERFAs:

Tendered:

Non-Tendered: 

Chargers Get Roster Exemption For Joey Bosa

The Chargers announced that they’ve received a roster exemption for the recently-signed Joey Bosa, so while they technically have 76 players under contract, they are in compliance with the league’s roster requirements.

Waived

Waived/Injured:

Placed on injured reserve:

Chargers RB Branden Oliver Tears Achilles

3:25pm: Chargers head coach Mike McCoy confimed to reporters, including Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter links), that Oliver does have a torn Achilles and will miss the year.

2:59pm: The Chargers announced that running back Branden Oliver left today’s preseason game with an Achilles injury, and following initial tests, it appears that Oliver did indeed tear his Achilles, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). While Rapoport cautions that Oliver will undergo more tests, Oliver would clearly miss the 2016 season if the Achilles is torn.Branden Oliver (Featured)

[RELATED — Chargers Owner: Joey Bosa’s Holdout Is “Absolutely Asinine”]

Oliver, who also ended the 2015 campaign on injured reserve, was set to return as San Diego’s third running back behind Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead. Serving in that role last season, Oliver rushed 31 times for 108 yards, and added 112 yards via 13 receptions. Additionally, Oliver was once again scheduled to act as the Chargers’ primary kick returner — he averaged 24.6 yards per return last year.

Oliver’s injury would seem to solidify a roster spot for 2015 undrafted free agent Dreamius Smith, who spent most of last season on the Chargers’ practice squad but did see one game of regular season action. Kenneth Farrow, the only other running back on San Diego’s squad, could now see an opening to make the club, while the Chargers also boast two fullbacks — Derek Watt and Chris Swain.

San Diego could look to claim a back off waivers in the coming days as other clubs trim their rosters, or it could venture into the free agent market. Joique Bell, Ahmad Bradshaw, Zac Stacy, Pierre Thomas, and former Charger Donald Brown are all available, as is Karlos Williams, whom I recently listed as a fit for the Chargers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers Announce Series Of Roster Moves

The Chargers have announced a series of moves, the most notable of which was previously reported, with wide receiver Keenan Allen landing on the injured reserve list. Another key offensive contributor, running back Branden Oliver, will also head to IR, according to a team release.

Here’s the club’s full list of roster moves:

Signed:

Placed on injured reserve: