C.J. Anderson

NFC Notes: Wilson, Foles, Newton, Rams

We heard in early January that the Seahawks would begin contract negotiations with star QB Russell Wilson “soon,” but Adam Schefter of ESPN.com writes that the two sides have yet to have a single contract discussion. Wilson is under club control through the 2019 season and is set to earn $17MM next year, and he has previously stated he would be willing to play out the final year of his deal and perhaps go year-to-year under the franchise tag. But as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times observes, the fact that Wilson and the Seahawks have not talked contract yet does not mean much (Twitter link). He says the team will get through other team-building matters first and then start exploring extensions, just as it did when it came time to explore a new deal with Wilson in 2015.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • We know that the Eagles want to trade Nick Foles, and yesterday we explored (again) how such a trade is likely to come about. While player and club would like to work “in concert” in determining Foles’ next team, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen (via Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP) says the Eagles are going to try to keep Foles out of the NFC East — the Redskins and Giants could be in the market — and would prefer to deal him to an AFC team. Meanwhile, Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic believes it only make sense for the Eagles to franchise Foles if they already have a trade in place, and that the recent chatter concerning the franchise tag is merely a bluff at this point.
  • Schefter confirms a report from earlier this week that Panthers QB Cam Newton, who underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery last week, is expected to be ready in time for training camp and certainly will be good to go when the regular season rolls around.
  • Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says that the Rams, who signed running back C.J. Anderson in December, “absolutely” want to re-sign Anderson this offseason. That makes sense considering how good Anderson has been in his brief tenure with the club, and considering Todd Gurley‘s history of knee problems. Anderson, though, could be in line for a bigger role or salary than what Los Angeles is prepared to give. Anderson is expected to get plenty of work in tonight’s Super Bowl.
  • Rams QB coach Zac Taylor will be formally announced as the Bengals’ next head coach tomorrow, and Rapoport tweets that LA may move senior offensive assistant Jedd Fisch to QB coach. The club could also give current TE coach/passing game coordinator Shane Waldron the passing game coordinator title without requiring him to coach a position and bring in Wes Phillips to coach the tight ends.
  • As expected, the Buccaneers will transition to a 3-4, one-gap defense under new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, per Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Laine looks at how the Bucs could deploy their current personnel to mirror Wade Phillips‘ success in transitioning two 4-3 defenses to 3-4 schemes.

Todd Gurley Could Miss Week 17

While Todd Gurley‘s knee injury has been described as “day-to-day,” but it still sounds like the Rams running back might not suit up for this weekend’s game against the 49ers. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports that the team may show similar caution this weekend by keeping Gurley on the sideline (via NFL.com’s Kevin Patra). According to Rapoport, the team is operating under the logic that “nothing is more important than the playoffs.”

Of course, the Rams aren’t planning on punting next weekend’s contest. The team could still secure a first-round bye with a victory. If the Rams lose and the Bears win, Los Angeles would find themselves playing in the first-round of the playoffs. There’s obvious incentive to win, which provides some optimism that Gurley could end up seeing the field.

After missing practice all of last week, Gurley ended up missing the Rams’ win over the Cardinals yesterday. The running back started experiencing knee inflammation during a loss to the Eagles earlier this month, although there was some optimism that he wouldn’t be forced to miss any games. The 24-year-old is having another standout season in 2018, compiling 1,251 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on 256 carries. He has also added another 59 receptions for 580 yards and four scores.

Fortunately for the Rams, the running game didn’t skip a beat yesterday. Recently-signed veteran C.J. Anderson finished the contest with 167 rushing yards and one touchdown on 20 carries. The Rams are also rostering former undrafted free agent Justin Davis and sixth-round rookie John Kelly, and the trio should be fine going against a 49ers defense that is allowing 110 rushing yards per game.

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Rams To Sign C.J. Anderson

C.J. Anderson will soon be part of a fourth team this year. The longtime Broncos starter will land with the Rams, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).

Rams starter Todd Gurley is day-to-day with knee inflammation, and Anderson — who surpassed 1,000 yards in 2017 but has not been able to stick with a team this year — would provide far more experience than Los Angeles’ current cadre of backups does.

With top Gurley backup Malcolm Brown out for the season, only sixth-round rookie John Kelly and former UDFA Justin Davis resided on L.A.’s roster. They have five career carries between them.

A four-year starter in Denver, Anderson played a key role for the franchise’s past two playoff-qualifying teams and stayed healthy throughout the 2017 season to gain 1,007 yards on the ground on an otherwise poor offense. But the Broncos released him in April, and Anderson’s subsequent Panthers affiliation did not last long. Carolina cut Anderson in November, and the Raiders employed him for merely a week.

This Rams stay may be short, too, or, considering the lack of experience behind Gurley, the team may eye the 27-year-old back as a stretch-run No. 2 behind its All-Pro.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Waive C.J. Anderson

C.J. Anderson‘s stay back in the AFC West did not last long. The Raiders made the decision to waive the veteran running back on Tuesday, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

The Bay Area native signed with Oakland a week ago but did not play in the Raiders’ upset win over the Steelers on Sunday. This marks the third time Anderson has been cut in 2018.

This comes on the heels of an Anderson 1,000-yard season in ’17. While the Broncos possessed one of the NFL’s worst offenses last year, Anderson had a strong season. However, Denver waited until April to release Anderson and went with rookies as its primary backs this season. Carolina cut bait on Anderson midway through this season, with Christian McCaffrey becoming a usage dynamo in his second year to leave little room for a complementary back.

Doug Martin showing he was healthy led to this move, per Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area (on Twitter). The Chiefs showed interest in Anderson earlier this month but reunited with longtime backup Charcandrick West instead.

Raiders Sign RB C.J. Anderson

C.J. Anderson has found a new gig, and it isn’t in Kansas City. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the Raiders have signed the veteran running back.

After spending the first five seasons of his career with the Broncos, the 27-year-old joined the Panthers during the offseason. The running back ended up playing sparingly for his new team, compiling 104 rushing yards on only 24 carries. He was waived by the Panthers last month, and he had subsequent workouts with the Lions and Chiefs.

The Raiders have needed some reinforcement at running back, especially following the season-ending injury to Marshawn Lynch. Anderson still managed to rush for 1,000 yards last season, so he could easily overtake Doug Martin and pass-catcher Jalen Richard atop the Raiders’ depth chart. At the very least, the organization has an opportunity to evaluate the veteran before the offseason. The move also presents a homecoming for Anderson, who grew up in Vallejo, California.

Following his workout with Kansas City, it was reported that the Chiefs brought in the running back ”with the intent of signing him to a contract if he passes” a physical. This made plenty of sense after the team waived Kareem Hunt, as the Chiefs’ backfield was left with Spencer Ware, Damien Williams, and Darrel Williams. The team ended up opting for former player Charcandrick West, presumably taking them out of the running for Anderson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

C.J. Anderson Visiting Chiefs, Likely To Sign

The Chiefs are wasting no time bringing in running back help in the wake of the waiving Kareem Hunt, as C.J. Anderson will visit the team this week, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com

Florio adds that the Chiefs are bringing him in”with the intent of signing him to a contract if he passes” a physical. Former Chiefs running back Charcandrick West will also be brought in for a workout, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network noted in a follow-up tweet. Without Hunt, the Chiefs are very thin in the backfield. New started Spencer Ware struggled today against the Raiders, one of the worst rushing defenses in the league, gaining only 47 yards on 14 carries, so it makes sense why they’re looking for help. Anderson was waived by the Panthers a few weeks ago because he wasn’t happy with his reduced role.

He also recently worked out for the Lions in the wake of Kerryon Johnson‘s injury, but his market has been pretty quiet other than that. Before this season, Anderson had spent the first five years of his career with the Broncos. Anderson has done quite well for an undrafted free agent, averaging 4.4 yards per carry on 717 carries for his career.

He rushed for 1,007 yards with Denver last year, but was met with a very quiet free agent marked this past offseason. He had to settle for a one year deal from Carolina, and although he had a decent role at the beginning of the season, he quickly became a distant second option behind Christian McCaffrey. That being said, he should immediately get playing time if he signs with Kansas City, and could push Ware for the starting job. It’s a nice addition for this time of year, and Anderson is still only 27.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Work Out RB C.J. Anderson

Operating as the Broncos’ starter for a fourth straight season in 2017, C.J. Anderson exceeded 1,000 rushing yards for the first time. But he’s been released twice this year.

The Panthers cut the sixth-year running back earlier this season, but the Lions are looking into him, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio tweets. Anderson worked out for the Lions on Tuesday.

Christian McCaffrey‘s played on 97 percent of the Panthers’ offensive snaps this season, leaving little time for Anderson. The 27-year-old back envisioned a chance to hit the 2019 free agency market after a productive season. With 24 carries for 104 yards, the UDFA success story has not contributed much in 2018.

The Broncos cut Anderson in April, putting the running back in a similar position to Dez Bryant — only at a position on which teams don’t spend as much money. He rushed for 1,007 yards in 2017 and was key to Denver’s 2015 Super Bowl march, amassing 234 yards in the three Bronco playoff games that year. The Broncos matched a four-year, $18MM Dolphins offer sheet in 2016 and deployed Anderson as their starter the following two seasons before cutting bait and going with younger backs this year.

Detroit has been without Kerryon Johnson, going with LeGarrette Blount, Zach Zenner and pass-catching back Theo Riddick in that time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.”