C.J. Anderson

Panthers Waive RB C.J. Anderson

The Panthers waived running back C.J. Anderson, according to a team announcement. Anderson was signed in May, but he was used far less than anticipated this season.

When we signed C.J. in the spring he saw a bigger role than he has had, and honestly, at the time so did we,” general manager Marty Hurney said in a statement. “But Christian McCaffrey has taken so much of the offense and so much of the plays, we just made the decision that this was the best thing for all parties involved.”

Anderson, 27, was a surprise cut by the Broncos after he ran for more than 1,000 yards in 2017. The 27-year-old wanted to reassert himself in Carolina, but he wound up with just 24 carries in nine games. On the plus side, he was efficient in that limited sample as he averaged 4.3 yards per tote.

Anderson is a vested veteran, but he’ll be subject to waivers now that the trade deadline has passed. With a reasonable $1.75MM cap figure on an expiring deal, it stands to reason that several teams will consider placing a claim on him. If not, he won’t last long as a free agent.

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South Notes: Panthers, Anderson, Titans, Bucs

Free agent signee C.J. Anderson will likely be the Panthers‘ lead “traditional back,” according to Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. Anderson, who inked a one-year deal worth $1.75MM, is coming off a 1,000-yard season with the Broncos, but he struggled as an early-down rusher in 2017. Still, that’s the role he’ll take on in Carolina as 2017 first-round pick Christian McCaffrey performs in a passing game role. McCaffrey should keep up his receiving work after managing 80 receptions during his rookie campaign, but Rodrigue reports McCaffrey was never able to “find a rhythm” in the running game. Whether that can change during the upcoming season is unclear, but McCaffrey will now have limited reps thanks to Anderson’s presence.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two South divisions:

  • The Titans could be setting up a position battle at left guard, as Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com writes. Quinton Spain started 14 games a season ago and is back under contract after inking a second-round restricted free agent tender, but Tennessee also signed Kevin Pamphile and Xavier Su’a-Filo, and either could see snaps on the interior. Spain has a better track record than either player, but a camp battle appears likely, per Wyatt. Pamphile’s versatility could come into play, as his ability to play left tackle could keep the Titans comfortable if incumbent Taylor Lewan continues to hold out.
  • Given that they have vacant roster spots, the Buccaneers might aim to sign a long snapper before training camp opens next week, per Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter links). At present, Tampa Bay only has one long snapper under contract, and that player — Drew Ferris — has never made an NFL appearance. Still, the Buccaneers have yet to contact Garrison Sanborn, a nine-year veteran who snapped for Tampa in 2017.
  • In case you missed it, the Falcons are not open to giving wide receiver Julio Jones a new contract and are instead focusing on extensions for other players.
  • Veteran Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis now hopes to play behind 2018 after previously hinting he could be nearing his final season.

Extra Points: Anderson, Verrett, Steelers

C.J. Anderson seemed surprised he didn’t see better offers after the Broncos released him. The Panthers signed the sixth-year veteran to a one-year, $1.75MM deal that comes with a $500K signing bonus. While Anderson was making much more with the Broncos the past two years, Denver didn’t do him any favors by cutting him so late into free agency. However, Anderson asked for a one-year deal for the purposes of re-entering free agency in 2019.

I should be in my prime. I think I have an opportunity to do something really special here,” Anderson said, via Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer. “I asked for the one-year deal. I want to prove myself that I can still play this game at a high level.”

Anderson will be set for what would be his age-28 season in 2019 and, at the moment, be part of a UFA class that includes Le’Veon Bell, Mark Ingram and Ameer Abdullah. Although, Anderson would be able to test the market immediately once the 2019 league year opens. And several running backs signed for more than $1.75MM per year this March.

Here’s the latest from around the league.

  • Jason Verrett has yet to be cleared for full practices after his latest injury, Eric Williams of ESPN.com reports. The former first-round Chargers pick suffered a knee injury in September of last season, cutting short a third season for the talented cornerback. But that talent’s come with a well-earned injury-prone label, with Verrett having missed 39 of a possible 64 games in his career. The Chargers have him under contract for 2018 due to picking up his fifth-year option last year, and Williams writes Verrett will start opposite Casey Hayward if he’s healthy.
  • The Steelers liked their situation at linebacker enough to avoid reaching for one in the draft, Kevin Colbert said (via the Associated Press). Pittsburgh signed veteran Jon Bostic in free agency, and Colbert said they plan to give 2016 seventh-rounder Tyler Matakevich a look at the spot alongside Vince Williams as well. Additionally, Steelers first-rounder Terrell Edmunds is expected to receive a look there. While it’s uncertain how extensive the Steelers will examine the Virginia Tech talent at this spot, he spent some time in a linebacker role in Hokies sub-packages.
  • As for some veteran safeties, the market’s been unkind. The Steelers signed Morgan Burnett early in free agency, but arguably the other three top safeties available in March — Eric Reid, Tre Boston and Kenny Vaccaro — remain unsigned. While Reid’s situation isn’t hard to figure out based on recent events, Boston and Vaccaro have not landed jobs despite free agent visits. A former defensive coordinator believes teams’ myriad responsibilities for these players — and the lack of reliable statistics — create issues evaluating outside talent. “It’s hard to determine the value of safeties, based on the different ways that teams use them,” the coordinator said, via Bucky Brooks of NFL.com. “You can’t simply look at the stat sheet and figure out how much of an impact a player makes, due to the different roles that they’re playing in today’s game. Some guys are center fielders asked to play in the middle of the field, while others are playing down in the box as run defenders. Throw in the other guys who play as hybrid slot defenders and nickel corners, it’s hard to put them in the right order when it comes to stacking the board.”

NFC South Notes: Falcons, Anderson, Saints

The Falcons were interested in trading up during Round 1 for Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne, per Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com. However, the Redskins taking him at No. 13 made the Falcons change their plan. They stood pat and drafted Payne Crimson Tide teammate Calvin Ridley, doing so despite having Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu in the fold. Pauline notes the Falcons passed on Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan — the Jaguars’ pick at No. 29 — because they weren’t particularly enamored with the former Gator’s game. Atlanta has Grady Jarrett and Jack Crawford stationed in the middle of its defensive front, and the team used a third-round pick to help out at this spot in taking South Florida interior defender Deadrin Senat.

Here’s the latest from the NFC South:

  • C.J. Anderson‘s Panthers deal will be worth around $1.7MM this season, with Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer adding that $800K in incentives are available to the longtime Broncos starter. This comes after the Broncos released Anderson well over a month into free agency. The 27-year-old running back would have made $4.5MM in 2018 on his previous contract, one the Dolphins originally designed and one the Broncos shed free of any dead-money charges.
  • While it’s only rookie minicamp, the Falcons had former LSU wide receiver Russell Gage playing cornerback on Day 1, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com tweets. Gage played wide receiver during his final two years at LSU but as a sophomore worked exclusively at cornerback. He did so as a freshman as well but didn’t see much action playing defense in college. He managed to be a sixth-round wide receiver pick despite finishing his college career with just 28 receptions, so the Falcons — who traded up to get Gage — may have a firm plan for the rookie.
  • Sharrod Neasman saw action in 14 games for the Falcons from 2016-17, but he’s working out with the Saints during their rookie camp this weekend, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. A 26-year-old safety and a former UDFA, Neasman drew interest from the Saints in the past. Pelissero notes New Orleans tried to sign him off Atlanta’s practice squad. Neasman worked out for the Chiefs recently as well.

Panthers Sign RB C.J. Anderson

The Panthers have agreed to sign running back C.J. Anderson, according to Mike Florio of PFT (on Twitter). It’s a one-year deal, Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer (on Twitter) adds. 

Anderson turned in his first career 1,000-yard season in 2017 after tearing a meniscus in 2016. However, with no guaranteed money remaining on his deal, the Broncos released him this offseason in order to save $4.5MM against the cap.

Anderson reportedly drew interest from eight clubs after hitting the open market in mid-April. The Dolphins showed interest in trading for Anderson before the Broncos cut him and, depending on who you ask, the two sides may have been close to a deal that would have sent right tackle Ju’Wuan James to Denver.

In Carolina, Anderson will serve as a depth piece behind rising sophomore Christian McCaffrey. His arrival could lead to the displacement of backup Cameron Artis-Payne or Fozzy Whittaker. The Panthers did not add a running back in the draft, but the addition of Anderson should fortify their RB group in a major way.

Latest On RB C.J. Anderson

Former Bronco C.J. Anderson has drawn interest from eight teams, a source close to the running back tells Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). However, it’s not clear when he will sign with a club. 

It seems probable that Anderson will have to wait until after the draft to sign with a team. Former Cowboys star Dez Bryant finds himself in the same boat as teams will have to reassess their needs after the weekend is through.

Anderson turned in his first career 1,000-yard season in 2017 after tearing a meniscus in 2016. However, with no guaranteed money remaining on his deal, the Broncos opted to save $4.5MM and go in a different direction.

We don’t know the identity of these eight teams yet, but one has to imagine that the Dolphins are among the clubs in the mix. Miami discussed a swap of right tackle Ja’Wuan James for Anderson earlier this offseason and he could give the Fins a formidable three-headed rushing attack if the price is right. It’s hard to see the Dolphins getting into a bidding war for Anderson, however, given that they already have Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore under contract and little cap room remaining.

Speculatively, teams like the Patriots, Texans, Giants, Redskins, Lions, Panthers, and Seahawks could also have interest in the 27-year-old.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Broncos, Cards, Mayfield, Bolts

Multiple clubs have already reached out to free agent running back C.J. Anderson, whom the Broncos released on Monday, according to Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). Anderson, 27, appeared in all 16 games for the first time in his career in 2017, rushing for 1,007 yards and three scores. However, Anderson has managed only four yards per carry over the past two seasons, and — as Warren Sharp of SharpFootballStats.com detailed in an excellent Twitter thread — struggled with early-down work a year ago. Speculatively, teams that could be eyeing a running back addition include the Dolphins (who have expressed recent interest in Anderson in the past), Patriots, Texans, Giants, Redskins, Lions, Panthers, and Seahawks.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • The Cardinals hosted Oklahoma quarterback prospect Baker Mayfield on Wednesday, per Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). Mayfield is widely expected to be a top-10 selection, and has been heavily linked to the Jets at No. 3, so Arizona — which currently holds the 15th overall pick — likely won’t have a shot at the ex-Sooner unless it trades up. But the Cardinals certainly need an infusion of talent under center, as neither Sam Bradford nor Mike Glennon are long-term options in the desert. Bradford inked a one-year, $20MM deal with Arizona earlier this year, while Glennon signed a two-year pact. Mayfield, if selected by the Cardinals, likely wouldn’t play immediately given the presence of Bradford, but he would set the club up for years to come.
  • Punter Riley Dixon did not report to Broncos‘ workouts on Monday and has been advised by his agent to stay away until Denver informs him of his status with the club, tweets Klis. The Broncos signed former Raiders punter Marquette King to a three-year deal earlier this month, so they’re clearly not going to keep Dixon around in 2018. Denver had been expected to shop Dixon, but it’s unclear if any other team is willing to sacrifice anything of note for a specialist with a spotty track record. Dixon, 24, has been the Broncos’ punter in each of the past two seasons after entering the league as a seventh-round pick in 2016. In 2017, Dixon ranked 22nd in net punting average, while Denver as a whole finished 26th in Football Outsiders‘ punt points metric.
  • Not only is Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget suspended for the first quarter of the 2018 campaign, but he’s also accepted to a hefty pay reduction. Liuget’s base salary has been cut from $8.05MM to just $935K, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The former first-round pick will still earn $2.585MM in bonuses and can collect more cash via incentives, but his 2018 cap charge has been slashed from $9.5MM to $5.02MM. Liuget, 28, appeared in 12 games in 2017, posting 15 tackles and 1.5 sacks while grading as the NFL’s No. 32 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus 

Broncos To Release RB C.J. Anderson

The Broncos are releasing running back C.J. Anderson, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. Denver tried to trade Anderson this offseason, but they were unable to find a suitable deal for him. 

The Broncos aren’t exactly stacked in the backfield, but they do have third-year player Devontae Booker and intriguing second-year rusher De’Angelo Henderson. Apparently, the Broncos will look to bolster that unit in the draft rather than retain Anderson at a high cost.

Anderson enjoyed his first 1,000-yard season in 2017 after tearing a meniscus in 2016. However, with no guaranteed money remaining on his deal, the Broncos have opted to save $4.5MM.

The veteran should find a decent market for his services, though he will not be able to match his old contract at this stage of the offseason.The Dolphins showed interest in Anderson recently and, depending on who you ask, the two sides may have been close to a deal that would have sent Anderson to Miami in exchange for right tackle Ju’Wuan James. Even though the Dolphins already have Kenyan Drake and veteran Frank Gore atop the depth chart, they could circle back to Anderson to give themselves a powerful three-headed monster in the backfield.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Rumors: Dolphins, Bills, Incognito

On Monday, it was reported that the Broncos and Dolphins agreed to a deal sending running back C.J. Anderson to Miami in exchange for right tackle Ja’Wuan James trade before Miami 86’d the deal. However, Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald (on Twitter) hears that the Dolphins did not want to make that deal and there was no such agreement in place. In any case, James remains on board as the Dolphins’ starting right tackle and the Broncos have since acquired Jared Veldheer from the Cardinals via trade.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Bills guard Richie Incognito says that he is done playing football, but LeSean McCoy badly wants him to stay on board. On Instagram, the Buffalo running back offered up a $300K check if Incognito stays with the team and helps him reach 1,500 yards. It would be highly unorthodox – and possibly a violation of league rules – if Incognito were to take McCoy up on his offer. However, McCoy’s pitch illustrates Incognito’s importance to the team. The Bills may be compelled to offer Incognito a better deal to continue playing, though the guard’s latest comments indicate that he cannot be talked out of retirement.
  • The Bills are entitled to recover $2.15MM from Incognito if he really is done playing, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) notes. That sum represents the $1.15MM 2018 signing bonus proration from his 2016 deal and the $1MM signing bonus in his recently renegotiated contract.
  • The Jets now have a whopping 17 wide receivers on the roster. Calvin Watkins of Newsday ran down every WR in the mix with a quick evaluation of each player’s chances of making the final cut.

Dolphins Nixed James-For-Anderson Trade?

The Dolphins dangled right tackle Ja’Wuan James in trades before pulling back and seeing his fifth-year option vest. During one of those in discussions, the Broncos reportedly offered a familiar name to Dolphins brass.

Troy Renck of Denver7 reports the Broncos and Dolphins had a verbal agreement on a C.J. Anderson-for-James trade, but Miami nixed the deal. This would be an interesting exchange considering the Dolphins designed Anderson’s contract by creating a four-year, $18MM offer sheet the Broncos matched in 2016. Miami was reportedly interested in Anderson if Denver made him a free agent.

Two years and no guaranteed money remain on Anderson’s deal, and the sixth-year player has manageable $4.5MM cap numbers the next two seasons. Adam Gase and Eric Studesville coached Anderson in Denver, with Studesville now Miami’s running backs coach after a long run with the Broncos. Denver determined in March it wasn’t going to release its longtime starter, but it may still be open for business on an Anderson deal. Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson are the Broncos’ other backs.

The Broncos landed another right tackle via trade when they acquired Jared Veldheer from the Cardinals for a sixth-round pick. As of now, Veldheer has one year and $6.9MM left on his deal. James will make $9.341MM on the Year 5 option this season and has fared much better than Veldheer at right tackle, although each has struggled with injuries in recent years.

James, 25, has started for four seasons with the Dolphins, while the Broncos have had a different right tackle starter in Week 1 in each of the past five seasons. Veldheer may well extend that streak to six. The Dolphins moved to add Frank Gore at a cheaper rate — $1.1MM — and he will join Kenyan Drake in their backfield.

The Broncos’ primary ball-carrier since the 2014 season, Anderson is coming off his first 1,000-yard campaign. The 26-year-old running back successfully bounced back from a meniscus tear by playing 16 games last season. Renck writes a trade could still occur and wonders if the Broncos would augment their backfield through the draft in that event. Denver brought San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny in for a visit last week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.