Brice Butler

Cowboys To Sign WR Brice Butler

The Cowboys have reunited with wide receiver Brice Butler. Saad Yousuf of The Athletic was the first to report the news on Monday (Twitter link). 

Butler, 28, began his career with the Raiders but spent the 2014-17 seasons with the Cowboys. He was never a focal point of the club’s offense, as he averaged just 16 receptions, 269 yards, and two touchdowns during those four campaigns, but he offers familiarity with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan‘s scheme. Butler inked a two-year deal with the Cardinals this offseason but failed to make it through final cutdowns.

Dallas currently fields one of the league’s worst receiving units, as its depth chart is filled with complementary options such as Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, Terrance Williams, Deonte Thompson, and rookie Michael Gallup. Through two games, Beasley leads the club in receptions (nine) and yards (86), while Austin is the only Cowboys receiver to catch a touchdown pass.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Workout Notes: Giants, Jets, Raiders, Colts

As Week 1 practices are underway, here’s the latest from the workout circuit:

  • The Giants appear to envy the Raiders’ roster depth. After adding Mario Edwards and cornerback Antonio Hamilton, Big Blue will work out Raiders 2017 fourth-round tackle David Sharpe, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tweets. Sharpe’s shed 30 pounds this offseason, per Gehlken. He played in five games and started two as a rookie. The Giants will also audition former Broncos cornerback Michael Hunter, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). These workouts will take place Tuesday.
  • Hunter was part of a four-cornerback contingent that auditioned for the Texans on Labor Day, with veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer tweeting Hunter, Breon Borders, Chris Campbell and Jalen Myrick took part in the Monday showcase. Of this quartet, only Myrick has NFL experience. He played five games as a Texan last season.
  • Dan Bailey appears to have a good chance to be the Jets‘ next kicker, but in the event the team doesn’t sign him, an insurance option is coming to the Big Apple for a workout. Matt McCrane will kick for Jets brass on Wednesday, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweets. The Cardinals cut McCrane last week. Jason Myers currently sits as Gang Green’s kicker, but he may not have a good grip on the job.
  • Prior to the Raiders signing Brandon LaFell, they worked out one of their former wideouts. Brice Butler trekked back to Oakland for a Monday workout, Vic Tafur of The Athletic tweets. Although most of Reggie McKenzie‘s draft picks aren’t too popular with Jon Gruden right now, Butler joined the Raiders as a 2013 seventh-round and played sparingly in 2013 and ’14. The Raiders traded him to the Cowboys prior to the 2015 season. Butler did not impress the Cardinals in camp, despite signing a two-year deal this spring.
  • The Patriots worked out tight end Stephen Anderson, tackle Eric Smith and wide receiver Jace Billingsley on Monday, Balzer tweets. New England will sign Smith to its practice squad.
  • Thinner at wide receiver after losing Marqise Lee, the Jaguars will work out former Giants wideout Kalif Raymond on Tuesday, Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com tweets. The former UDFA mostly served as a Giants return man last season.
  • Multiyear Steelers backup Fitzgerald Toussaint visited the Colts on Monday, per Pro Football Talk (on Twitter). The Steelers cut the 28-year-old running back last week after what ended up being a three-year stay.
  • Linebacker Jonathan Celestin will work out for the Browns on Tuesday, per NFL Draft Diamonds (Twitter link). The Falcons axed Celestin after the preseason.
  • Lastly, the Chiefs auditioned tackle Pace Murphy on Monday, per Balzer.

Cardinals Cut Brice Butler, Others

The Cardinals have moved their roster to 53 players by making the following transactions:

Cut:

Placed on injured reserve:

Waived from injured reserve:

Additionally, the Cardinals activated both tight end Jermaine Gresham and linebacker Marcus Golden off the physically unable to perform list.

West Rumors: Bryant, Butler, Broncos

Somewhat recently, Dez Bryant connected himself to the 49ers as he scanned the landscape in hopes of latching on with a second NFL franchise. Now, others may be pointing in that direction as well. The 49ers have been the team to which Bryant’s been most connected, Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report writes. The 29-year-old wide receiver turned down an offer from the Ravens, and they moved on to Willie Snead. Now, Bryant is not expected to sign with a team before training camp. The 49ers made a concerted effort to avoid high-profile wideouts in free agency. However, Bryant’s price tag will not be what Sammy Watkins or Allen Robinson — two players the 49ers made a point to steer clear of — commanded, perhaps inducing the Niners to make an exception. San Francisco holds more than $46MM in cap space; that’s the third-most in the league. And without a proven tight end or much size at the receiver spot (none of the current cast expected to make the team is over 6-foot), they could be in need of a red zone threat like Bryant.

This will focus on wide receiver situations out west. Here’s the latest:

  • Although Brice Butler signed with the Cardinals a few months ago, he’s experienced a shaky offseason in the desert. He may not be a lock for their 53-man roster, Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com writes. The Cards have a void opposite Larry Fitzgerald after losing multiple contributors, but they still have JJ Nelson and 2017 third-rounder Chad Williams, and drafted Christian Kirk. And the Cards just signed Greg Little as well, perhaps indicating they’re not happy with their receiver situation at present. Butler chose Arizona over a host of other suitors.
  • The Broncos added two receivers in the draft this year, and both Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton are locks to make the roster. This could leave a player the team was once high on out of a job. Carlos Henderson did not see the field as a rookie, spending all year on IR with a thumb injury. The 2017 third-round pick is now dealing with a hamstring malady, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic notes (subscription required). “(The injury) started in Phase 2 and hasn’t gotten better,” Vance Joseph said, via Jhabvala. “He’s got to get back on the field if he wants to make this football team.” Denver also has Jordan Taylor and Isaiah McKenzie vying for roster spots, with one of those two likely sticking around as the primary return man. Henderson produced eye-popping numbers at Louisiana Tech, and it would be a tad early for a team to give up on a third-rounder, but the slot target could be in danger of being cut by his first NFL team without having played in a regular-season game.
  • Speaking of injuries affecting camp battles, Brandon Marshall also had toe surgery this offseason, per Brady Henderson of ESPN.com. The Seahawks already shelved the 13th-year pass-catcher in minicamp because of a hamstring issue, and it appears Marshall — who missed most of 2017 due to ankle surgery — may have a tough time on multiple fronts in making the team. Beyond Doug Baldwin, the Seahawks have Tyler Lockett and now Jaron Brown. They drafted Amara Darboh in the third round last year, and Henderson notes they are high on 2017 seventh-rounder David Moore.

NFC West Notes: Butler, Cardinals, Rams

Former Cowboys wide receiver Brice Butler says he signed with the Cardinals in part because of the presence of new quarterback Sam Bradford.

Yeah it was part of it,” Butler told 105.3 FM The Fan. “Sam is a top quarterback in the league when he’s healthy. The whole thing for me in free agency was I had a few teams I thought would be a good fit for me to land if I didn’t stay in Dallas. Arizona was one of those teams. The biggest thing was who are they going to get at quarterback? When they got Sam I said, ‘OK, asterisk for Arizona. Great place to be.’ When it came down to it a few weeks later, finally got a chance to visit them, finally got in contact with them … So we ran with it.”

Here’s more from the NFC West:

  • Ndamukong Suh‘s deal with the Rams includes a $1MM incentive if he plays 65% of the snaps and the team wins two playoff games, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. If he reaches 65% of the snaps and the Rams make the playoffs, he’ll earn an extra $500K. With 65% of the snaps and one playoff win, Suh will see an additional $750K.
  • Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson is a fit for the 49ers if he slips to No. 9 overall, but he is not the ideal guard for SF, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee opines. The 49ers are after a guard who can move while Nelson, a power blocker, struggled against speedy defenses at times, including a late season loss to Miami. The Bears, picking at No. 8, are believed to be eyeing Nelson, so the Niners probably won’t be faced with a question of whether or not to select him.
  • Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times would be “stunned” if the Seahawks end the 2018 draft with just the eight picks they currently have. He fully expects Seattle to trade down in an effort to fill multiple holes left by this year’s cap crunch.

Brice Butler To Sign With Cardinals

Brice Butler‘s visit with the Cardinals will produce a deal. The UFA wideout agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the Cards, James Jones of the NFL Network reports (on Twitter).

The former NFL wide receiver reports the Cardinals have won the pursuit for Butler. They were one of four teams scheduled to have visits with the former Cowboys and Raiders pass-catcher, with the Jaguars, Seahawks and Bears also in the mix for Butler.

Butler expressed a desire to become a starter with his next team. He’s been a spot starter in Oakland and Dallas but has never commandeered a full-time role. He figures to have a chance to do that with the Cardinals and learn from one of the best wide receivers in NFL history. Larry Fitzgerald is entrenched at one of the Cards’ starting positions, but with John Brown and Jaron Brown having defected in free agency, Fitzgerald’s supporting cast is uncertain beyond J.J. Nelson.

The Cowboys re-signed Terrance Williams in 2017, and he, Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley ensured Butler would remain a rotational presence rather than a first-stringer. Butler, though, showed flashes of being a strong deep threat. The 6-foot-3 target averaged 21.1 yards per catch last season, posting 317 air yards and three touchdowns on just 15 receptions. He averaged 21.5 yards per grab in 2015, his first year in Dallas, while working with various backups while Tony Romo was on the shelf.

While the Cardinals may still be looking at wideouts in the upcoming draft, with Fitzgerald set to play his age-35 season this fall, they’ve secured an intriguing player for the next two seasons. Arizona submitted an offer to Jordan Matthews, who visited in mid-March, but it’s unclear if that proposal is still out there.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cards Have Offer Out To Jordan Matthews?

Jordan Matthews has made visits to teams employing two all-time great quarterbacks, but it’s unclear if any offers came out of summits with the Packers or Patriots. But one appears to have emerged from the Cardinals.

The Cards submitted an offer to the free agent wide receiver, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. It’s unclear if it’s a standing offer, but with Arizona having only added Cobi Hamilton this offseason — and having lost John Brown and Jaron Brown — it would make sense if it’s still out there.

The four-year veteran visited the Packers and Patriots, with the latter summit occurring Monday, but the Cardinals received the first meeting.

Brice Butler is in Arizona on Monday for his visit, per Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. The Cardinals are one of four teams with plans to meet with Butler. Matthews, though, has produced at a higher level during his career, despite a down contract year with the Bills.

Larry Fitzgerald has agreed to return for a 15th season, but he saw free agency decimate his supporting cast. J.J. Nelson remains, but after that, the group is light on experience.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Brice Butler To Meet With Four Teams

Brice Butler‘s market is starting to heat up. In the next two weeks, the Cowboys free agent wide receiver Brice Butler will visit with the Seahawks, Bears, Jaguars, and Cardinals (Twitter link via Jane Slater of NFL.com).

The 28-year-old has been vocal about wanting the opportunity to do more in 2018. Last year, Butler finished out with just 15 catches for 317 yards and three touchdowns. After the season, he opined that he could have outperformed teammate Dez Bryant if he had the same number of targets.

“100 percent,” said Butler. “Because I’m ready. It’s my time, I’ve been there for three years. I feel like me and Dak [Prescott] have a really good relationship. We work on routes. There’s times that we might not have completed a square-out throw in practice, and we’re taking that time out in practice to actually work on it. So I think that’s why when you saw us in the game, he tried to come to me, and most of the times we produced.

Bryant underwhelmed for Dallas last year, but still had 69 receptions for 838 yards and six TDs. For now, Bryant remains part of the Cowboys’ plan with Butler likely moving on following the addition of Allen Hurns.

With Dallas, the situation has to be right for me to go back,” Butler said earlier this year. “I have to be a starter. If I’m not starting, I’m not going back,” Butler said.

Wherever Butler lands, he’ll be in for a pay raise. Butler earned just $1.1MM on a one year deal in 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2018 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they 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 are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market. The same goes for players who have been franchise tagged or transition tagged.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2018:

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Drew Brees
  3. Case Keenum
  4. A.J. McCarron
  5. Sam Bradford
  6. Teddy Bridgewater
  7. Colin Kaepernick
  8. Josh McCown
  9. Mike Glennon
  10. Drew Stanton
  11. Jay Cutler
  12. Chase Daniel
  13. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  14. Brock Osweiler
  15. Tom Savage

There were many difficult calls when putting this list together, but ranking Kirk Cousins as the No. 1 QB available was not among them. Cousins is the best quarterback to reach free agency in recent history and he’ll become the highest-paid player of all-time – at least, for some period of time – in mid-March. Who will make history with Cousins? That’s anyone’s guess right now. The Browns have more cap room than any other team, but a recent report from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com listed the Broncos, Cardinals, Jets, and Vikings as the final suitors for Cousins. Of those four, the Jets have the most money to work with, but they’re concerned about the Vikings winning out and Cousins’ desire to win could point him in another direction. If the Broncos and Cardinals want in on the Cousins sweepstakes, they’ll have to get creative with the books.

Drew Brees is included here, but by his own admission, he’ll be re-signing with the Saints rather than testing the open waters of free agency. Unless the Saints lowball their franchise QB, it’s hard to see him leaving New Orleans.

Case Keenum put together a tremendous season for the Vikings, but he doesn’t have a history of success beyond 2017. There will be plenty of interest in Keenum, but only after QB-needy teams strike out on Cousins. The incumbent Vikings could re-sign Keenum, but right now, it seems like they are intent on exploring the Cousins waters first.

There isn’t a ton of footage on A.J. McCarron, which made his placement on this list awfully tricky. We know this much: McCarron did well in place of Dalton in the home stretch of the 2015 season and his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was salivating at the chance of landing him before the Browns bungled the trade with the Bengals. McCarron’s relative youth is a plus (he won’t turn 28 until September) and his lack of experience can be looked at as a positive. Unlike some of the other names on this list, he hasn’t run up his NFL odometer.

What will NFL teams make of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford this offseason? Not long ago, both seemed like quality starting options. However, there are serious injury questions about both players and any team signing them will either look to backstop them with another decent option or ask them to come onboard as a QB2. With that in mind, one has to wonder if Bradford would consider retirement if asked to hold the clipboard for another signal caller. Bradford has earned upwards of $110MM over the years in the NFL, so it’s safe to say that he has enough money in the bank to call it quits if he wants. For now, he’s intent on playing.

Colin Kaepernick‘s placement on this list is sure to draw some strong reactions from his fans and detractors alike. Looking purely at his football ability, there’s no question that he belongs on someone’s roster. At minimum, Kaepernick profiles as a high-end backup, even after a year out of the game.

Quarterbacks coaches have long believed that Mike Glennon is capable of great things, due in part to his height. At 6’7″, he can see over any defensive line, but he hasn’t done much on the field to prove that he is a quality Week 1 starting option. Josh McCown, who is a decade his senior, edges him here for his surprisingly strong performance in 2017 at the helm of a weak Jets offense.

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Cowboys’ Brice Butler Wants To Start

On the cusp of free agency, wide receiver Brice Butler says he’ll go elsewhere unless he’s given a bigger role with the Cowboys. In interviews with FS1’s “Undisputed” and “The Herd,” Butler made his position crystal clear (transcription via the Dallas Morning News). Brice Butler

With Dallas, the situation has to be right for me to go back. I have to be a starter. If I’m not starting, I’m not going back,” Butler said.

The 27-year-old (28 later this month) also opined that he could have been more productive that teammate Dez Bryant had he been given the same number of targets. Butler finished out with just 15 catches for 317 yards and three touchdowns versus Bryant’s 69 catches for 838 yards and six TDs, so it’s a bold claim on his part.

“100 percent,” said Butler when asked if he could have topped Bryant’s stat line with an equal number of opportunities. “Because I’m ready. It’s my time, I’ve been there for three years. I feel like me and Dak [Prescott] have a really good relationship. We work on routes. There’s times that we might not have completed a square-out throw in practice, and we’re taking that time out in practice to actually work on it. So I think that’s why when you saw us in the game, he tried to come to me, and most of the times we produced.

It remains to be seen whether Butler’s bravado will be appreciated by Jerry Jones & Co. Butler is scheduled to hit the open market in March after the conclusion of his one-year $1.1MM deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.