Brandon Tate

Saints Cut WR Brandon Tate

The Saints have cut veteran wide receiver/kick returner Brandon Tate, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. As a vested veteran, Tate will be free to sign with any club of his choosing once the transaction is official.

Tate did not make the Saints’ initial 53-man roster out of training camp, but he was re-signed last week to take over for the injured Tommylee Lewis as the club’s return man. Now, just days before his 31st birthday, Tate is once again out of work.

Tate returned three punts for the Saints on Sunday, but amassed just 15 yards in total. The Saints could be focused on finding a better return solution, but the move may be geared towards creating space for the activation of running back Mark Ingram.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints To Bring Back Brandon Tate

Brandon Tate could not make the Saints’ initial 53-man roster out of training camp, but he’ll be back to try and solidify a spot nearly a month later.

The Saints are re-signing the 10th-year veteran, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com tweets.

Tate worked out for the Patriots, one of his former employers, recently but did not land a deal. He’ll return to the Saints, who placed wide receiver/return man Tommylee Lewis on IR last week.

The soon-to-be 31-year-old has worked as a full-time return specialist in every season this decade and has not been limited to one-role duty on those units, either. After being only the 2010 Pats’ kick-return man, he’s been his team’s kick- and punt-return specialist in each of the past seven seasons.

He served as the Bills’ return man the past two years. Lewis played this role to start the season for New Orleans, which used Alvin Kamara on punt returns and Taysom Hill as the kickoff returner in Week 3.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Audition RBs Orleans Darkwa, Charles Sims

The Patriots worked out free agent running backs Orleans Darkwa and Charles Sims, as well as receiver/returner Brandon Tate, on Tuesday, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

New England placed running back Jeremy Hill on injured reserve earlier today, but they also signed Kenjon Barner, so it’s unclear if the club is still interested in adding another runner. Barner is more a returner than a true back, so it’s possible the Patriots want to bring in another back to complement Rex Burkhead, James White, and Sony Michel, the latter of whom was inactive on Sunday.

Playing for the Giants in 2017, Darkwa posted the best campaign of his NFL tenure in by setting career-highs in starts (11), rushes (171), yards (751), and touchdowns (five). Football Outsiders ranked Darkwa as a top-25 running back in both DYAR and DVOA (meaning he was both effective overall and efficient on a per-play basis), while Pro Football Focus noted his ability to create his own yardage. Darkwa previously met with the Patriots back in April.

Sims, meanwhile, has shown flashes of ability during his run in the NFL, especially during a 2015 campaign in which he caught 51 passes for the Buccaneers. While he’s never been much of a ball-carrier (he handled a career-high 107 carries in that 2015 season), Sims is a viable pass-catcher, but he doesn’t contribute on special teams.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Work Out Tony Lippett, Kevin Minter

The Giants worked out cornerback Tony Lippett, linebacker Kevin Minter, and a host of other free agents on Tuesday, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Lippett, who transformed from a collegiate wideout to an NFL corner, was a 13-game starter for the Dolphins in 2016, but didn’t make it through final cutdowns earlier this week after missing the entire 2017 campaign with a torn Achilles. Provided he’s now healthy, Lippett could give New York’s secondary a boost, as the only experienced players on the Giants cornerback depth chart are starters Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple. The Giants know they have a problem in the defensive backfield, as they claimed three cornerbacks off waivers on Sunday.

Minter, 27, was cut by the Jets earlier this week after inking a one-year deal during the offseason. After starting 32 games for the Cardinals from 2015-16, Minter has struggled to find playing time (or even a job) in recent seasons. While he could conceivably offer depth behind starters Alec Ogletree and B.J. Goodson (and has familiarity with Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher, formerly of Arizona), Minter hasn’t played special teams since his rookie season. That’s a problem for a backup linebacker, and could be why New York signed ST standout Nate Stupar — also a part of today’s cattle call — instead.

Here’s the full list of players who auditioned for the Giants on Tuesday:

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Saints Announce Roster Moves

The Saints have made the following transactions as they move their roster to 53 players:

Waived:

Waived/injured:

Released:

Placed on injured reserve:

Placed on suspended list:

Saints Cut WR Michael Floyd, Others

Michael Floyd and Brandon Tate both signed with the Saints late in the offseason. Each received notice of a Friday release.

The Saints cut Floyd, along with offensive linemen Don Barclay and Andrew Tiller and former second-round linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha (all Twitter links via Nick Underhill of The Advocate). They are also parting ways with edge defender Jayrone Elliott, per Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com (on Twitter).

Floyd has not been able to recapture his Cardinals form. After three straight 800-plus-yard receiving seasons, he’s combined for barely 100 away from Arizona. He caught 10 passes for 78 yards with the 2017 Vikings.

Tiller started 14 games for the 49ers from 2016-17, and Barclay joined him in signing with the Saints this offseason. Both players came into the league in 2012, Barclay being a former Packers starter.

The longest-tenured Saints linebacker going into Friday, Kikaha came off the 2015 draft board at No. 44 but saw the team revamp its linebacker room via free agency over the past few years. They signed Demario Davis this offseason. The Saints, who deployed Kikaha as an 11-game starter in 2015, have now parted ways with two of their top three 2015 picks — Stephone Anthony and Kikaha. New Orleans picked up 2015 first-rounder Andrus Peat‘s fifth-year option earlier this year.

 

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Saints To Release WR Brandon Tate

Brandon Tate‘s bid for a 10th NFL season may have to commence elsewhere after the Saints made the decision to release him Friday, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com tweets.

The former Patriots third-round pick established a niche for himself as a backup and special-teamer with the Bengals and Bills over the past several seasons, but the Saints did not view the 30-year-old performer as vital enough to retain — at least not at the moment.

Tate signed with the Saints late in the offseason, joining Michael Floyd in that regard. The Saints drafted Tre’Quan Smith in the third round and added Cameron Meredith and Tanner McEvoy, making room in their receiver room scarce. They cut ties with Brandon Coleman earlier this offseason as well.

Serving primarily as a return specialist, Tate’s logged 126 NFL games. He served as Buffalo’s primary kick- and punt-return specialist for the past two seasons.

Saints Sign WR Brandon Tate

The Saints have added another wideout. After signing Michael Floyd earlier tonight, the team has also added receiver Brandon Tate, reports Nick Underhill of The New Orleans Advocate (via Twitter). Josh Katzenstein The Times-Picayune tweets that the Saints have also placed wideout Travin Dural on the injured reserve.

The 30-year-old Tate spent the past two seasons with the Bills, including a 2017 campaign where he hauled in 6 receptions for 81 yards and one touchdown. In recent years, he’s primarily played a role on special teams, serving as both a kick and punt returner. The former third-rounder has averaged 23.8 yards per kick return and 9.5 yards per punt return throughout his career.

Tate could slide into a special teams role in New Orleans. The Saints are reportedly looking to reduce running back Alvin Kamara‘s role in the return game, and while the team is still rostering Tommylee Lewis and Ted Ginn Jr., both players are accompanied by their own question marks (lack of production for Lewis, fumbles for Ginn). Saints coach Sean Payton recently admitted that the team’s return game is up in the air (via Joel A. Erickson of The Advocate.)

“Our return game, it’s kind of like ‘The Bachelor’ right now,” Payton said. “We’ve got about 12 contestants, all with roses. We don’t know who our returner’s going to be, and if she doesn’t like any of them, we’re bringing in more.”

Tate’s only had two seasons with more than 200 receiving yards, so it’s unlikely he’ll establish a role in a crowded receivers depth chart. Even with his special teams prowess, he’ll still have to compete for a roster spot with the likes of Lewis, Floyd, and Austin Carr.

Dural, a former LSU standout, joined the Saints as an undrafted free agent last offseason. He spent last season on New Orleans’ practice squad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Re-Sign KR/PR Brandon Tate

The Bills re-signed kick returner/punt returner Brandon Tate, the team announced. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Brandon Tate (vertical)

Tate, 30 in October, returned 26 punts for 301 yards last season, good for an 11.6 yards per attempt average. He also returned 29 kicks for 662 yards. He had only eight catches (12 targets) as a receiver and he’ll probably do most of his work on special teams once again in 2017. On our most recent edition of the free agent rankings, we had Tate as the No. 14 ranked available wide receiver.

In other Bills news, the rival Dolphins are hosting linebacker Zach Brown on a visit. Also, over the weekend, the Bills signed wide receiver Andre Holmes. Meanwhile, former Bills head coach Rex Ryan will be in the booth instead of on the sidelines in 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 3.0: Offense

The initial wave of NFL free agency is now complete, and while many of the league’s top available players are now off the board, there are still plenty of quality options still on the open market.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:

Quarterback:

  1. Jay Cutler
  2. Chase Daniel
  3. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  4. Colin Kaepernick
  5. Josh McCown
  6. Robert Griffin III
  7. Case Keenum
  8. Matt McGloin
  9. Mark Sanchez
  10. Christian Ponder
  11. Blaine Gabbert
  12. Ryan Nassib
  13. Shaun Hill
  14. Kellen Moore
  15. Austin Davis

Tony Romo is not a free agent…at least not yet. If the Cowboys do not find a suitable trade and release him, you’ll find him at the top of this list.

Laugh if you must, but Cutler is far and away the best quarterback available on the open market. While most of this year’s QB-needy teams are done with their free agent shopping, the Jets are still searching for their 2017 starter and no one would make more sense for them than Cutler. He’s not all that far removed from playing solid football and he’s a logical transitional option for the Jets until they can isolate a better, younger option for 2018. Jay Cutler (Vertical)

Kaepernick’s reps wisely told the press that he will be standing for the National Anthem this year. Still, Kaepernick is an outspoken guy who wants to use his platform to discuss hot button issues, so there’s no guarantee that the media circus around him will cease. Jets owner Woody Johnson loves seeing his team on the back pages of the New York tabloids, but even he has to have more sense than to entertain Kaepernick. McCown, who has been contact with the team, would be an okay choice if they can’t get something done with Cutler. Chase Daniel could be an option too, but there isn’t much game film on him.

Needless to say, the No. 3 ranked player on this list isn’t an option in New York.

Running back:

  1. Adrian Peterson
  2. LeGarrette Blount
  3. Jamaal Charles
  4. Rashad Jennings
  5. Tim Hightower
  6. DeAngelo Williams
  7. Chris Johnson
  8. Christine Michael
  9. Benny Cunningham
  10. Bobby Rainey
  11. Brandon Bolden
  12. Denard Robinson
  13. James Starks
  14. Matt Asiata
  15. Kenjon Barner

Honorable mention: DuJuan Harris, Antonio AndrewsKhiry Robinson

Adrian Peterson (vertical)The Vikings have moved on and Peterson will not be back in Minnesota. Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess. When Peterson’s option was declined by the Vikings earlier this month, there were tons of stories (likely sourced by Peterson’s camp) about interest from a litany of contenders. Since then, each team – through anonymous sources – has denied being in the mix for the veteran. It would be easy to doubt Peterson at this juncture, but he has come back from serious injuries multiple times in his career and he is only one year removed from his stellar 2015 campaign. He gets the top spot over the bruising Blount as well as Charles, who hasn’t been healthy in a long while.

Jennings was brought to New York with the idea that he would be the team’s workhorse. Unfortunately, two of his three seasons with the G-Men were marred by injury. Jennings is currently putting his agility to good use on Dancing With The Stars and it remains to be seen how committed he is to football. After that, we have a trio of vets (Hightower, Williams, CJ2K) who could still advance the ball in limited spurts.

In case you’re wondering – Mike Gillislee is not listed here because he is a restricted free agent.

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