C.J. Ham

NFC North Notes: Bears, Vikings, Flowers

The Bears have made some splashy trades since Ryan Pace replaced Phil Emery as GM in 2015. Deals that brought Khalil Mack and Mitch Trubisky to Chicago required major assets to complete. Fourth-year starter Cody Whitehair and second-round tight end Adam Shaheen also forced the Bears to surrender multiple mid-round picks. In a detailed piece by The Athletic’s Adam Jahns (subscription required), Pace summarized his aggressiveness on these fronts.

I think if you sit on your hands and you say, ‘Oh, this player is definitely going to get to us,’ and he goes right before you and you had conviction on him — not just you but the scouts and the coaches – and you wait on it, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Pace said. “If you have a guy or a group of guys, be aggressive and make it happen.

I don’t want to undervalue any of these mid-round picks. We’ve shown a lot examples of us hitting on those players. But I know if we’re ever in a situation where, ‘Hey, we’re doing a little too much here,’ we can police ourselves on that. But as long as it’s a fair deal and we’re getting a player that we all have conviction on, then we’ll do it.”

As teams break for camp, here is more from the NFC North:

  • A knee injury Ha Ha Clinton-Dix suffered during Chicago’s offseason program resulted in the recently signed safety beginning his first Bears camp on the active/PUP list. The former Packers and Redskins defender has not missed a game since the 2014 season.
  • However, the Bears received good news on Trey Burton. The team’s second-year tight end starter has been cleared for camp work. The “Philly Special” quarterback underwent sports hernia surgery this offseason.
  • Although Alexander Mattison is the assumed next man up if Dalvin Cook again goes down with an injury, Mike Zimmer cautioned about anointing the third-round pick too soon. The sixth-year Vikings coach (via the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling) singled out third-year UDFA C.J. Ham as a player who stands to play more on passing downs, in front of Mattison, due to pass-protection skills. Backs often begin their NFL careers limited at this skill, so the 26-year-old Ham (31 touches in two seasons, when Latavius Murray played behind Cook) may function as a stopgap while Mattison is groomed.
  • The Lions‘ top offseason expense, Trey Flowers will not begin camp with the bulk of his teammates. The four-year Patriots pass rusher will start his first Lions camp on their active/PUP list. Flowers underwent shoulder surgery before signing with the Lions, but Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes the $18MM-per-year defensive end is expected to be ready by Week 1.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/5/19

Here are today’s restricted free agent and exclusive-rights free agent tender decisions:

ERFAs

Tendered:

RFAs

Tendered at original-round level:

Non-tendered:

NFC Rumors: Freeman, Giants, Eagles, Vikings

The Falcons are set to begin training camp this week, but Thomas Dimitroff said he’ll be focused on working out a contract with running back Devonta Freeman. The general manager told ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure that he’d like to have a deal finalized by Thursday at the latest (Twitter link).

We’ve heard reports throughout the offseason that the two sides would ultimately agree on a new deal, with owner Arthur Blank recently stating that an extension was coming “fairly soon.” Meanwhile, while Freeman is obviously seeking a new contract, he’s more than willing to wait for a deal that is reflective of his talent. Over the past two years, the running back has collected at least 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns per season, and he’s averaged 63 receptions during that same span.

Last week, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com wondered if the extension delay could be attributed to uneasy negotiations. Earlier today, former agent Joel Corry tweeted that Freeman’s camp should “insist” that the recently-rejected contract offer to Le’Veon Bell “reflects the top” of the running back market.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFC…

  • Giants wide receiver Roger Lewis is no longer facing charge of operating a vehicle while impaired, as Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com writes. Of course, the 23-year-old could still face punishment from the NFL even though he is legally in the clear. Last year, Lewis appeared in 13 games for the G-Men and finished with seven catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
  • It sounds like Eagles fifth round pick Shelton Gibson may be a longshot to make the Eagles’ 53-man roster. The wide receiver is “by no means where he wants to be or where we want him to be,” said head coach Doug Pederson (Twitter link via Brandon Lee Gowton of SB Nation).
  • Meanwhile, Pederson discussed the Eagles‘ decision to move on from receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, who was waived earlier this month. “With the additions of some of the young guys picked up this spring, we just felt like it was in his interest and our best interest to let him find another suitor and keep developing our younger guys in that role,” Pederson said (via Zach Berman of Philly.com). The former second-round pick was traded to the Eagles last offseason, and he finished his lone season in Philly with 36 receptions for 392 yards and two touchdowns.
  • With Dalvin Cook, Latavius Murray, and Jerick McKinnon ahead of him on the Vikings‘ depth chart, C.J. Ham knows that playing fullback gives him the best chance at making the 53-man roster, Mark Craig of the Star Tribune writes. Although he is still listed as a running back, the Vikings have been transitioning him to fullback since the middle of OTAs. The Vikings are unsure as to whether they’ll carry a true fullback or if they’ll just rely on reserve tight ends to do some lead blocking. “That’s part of the [evaluation]; Do we keep a fullback on the roster or do we add more tight ends,” said head coach Mike Zimmer. “That should all shake out here in this preseason. If a guy is going to play say 10 plays a game, he’s also got to be really good on special teams to make the squad.”

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Vikings Promote C.J. Ham

The Vikings promoted running back C.J. Ham off of the practice squad in advance of Saturday’s game against the Packers. To make room, the Vikings placed cornerback Mackensie Alexander on injured reserve. C.J. Ham (vertical)

This may not be a great sign for Adrian Peterson, who hasn’t practiced in recent days. Peterson returned from meniscus surgery to help the Vikings make a playoff push. Now that the Vikings are 7-7 with a 3% chance of qualifying for the postseason, the veteran doesn’t have much incentive to press his luck and take the field. We should know more about Peterson’s availability later on today.

A product of Division II Augustana College in South Dakota, Ham helped his team reach the postseason in his final year and led the Northern Sun Conference in rushing yards and touchdowns. In May of 2016, he signed with the Vikings as a free agent after competing in the rookie camp on a tryout basis. He did not make the team’s final 53-man cut in September, but he was brought on to the practice squad. After months of waiting, he may finally be making his NFL debut.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sunday NFL Transactions: NFC North

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four NFC North teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Bears, Lions, Packers, and Vikings are noted below.

Additionally, as of 12:00pm CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s NFC North transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day. All links go to Twitter unless otherwise noted:

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Minnesota Vikings

Vikings’ Roster Stands At 53

The Vikings have trimmed their roster down to 53 by making the following moves:

Placed on IR:

Placed On NFI:

  • QB Taylor Heinicke

Moore, who turns 26 next week, appeared in eight games for the Pats in 2014 after being taken with a sixth-round pick. In 2015, he found his way to Minnesota where he appeared in one regular season contest.

Boehringer, a native of Germany, became the first international player to go straight from a European league to the NFL when the Vikings chose him in the sixth round. He ultimately failed to earn a roster spot, though he could land on the Vikings’ practice squad, per Rapoport.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/9/16

Today’s minor moves:

  • The Jets announced that they have claimed tight end Jerome Cunningham and waived running back/kick returner Dri Archer. Cunningham played in nine games for New Jersey’s other team in 2015, catching the first eight passes of his NFL career. Cunningham, a three-year starter at Southern Connecticut State, has managed to stay local since entering the NFL in 2014.
  • The Jets also signed cornerback Bryson Keeton and waived tight end Adrien Robinson (link). Keeton, a 6’2” defensive back, played two seasons at Montana State and defended a total of 21 passes over the last two years.
  • The Chiefs claimed guard Jordan Devey off waivers from the 49ers, as Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. Devey unexpectedly made his way into the Niners’ starting lineup to open the 2015 season. Although he was replaced down the stretch, the 28-year-old made nine starts and played nearly 400 offensive snaps for San Francisco in 2015.
  • The Buccaneers signed three tryout players (link): Texas Tech linebacker Micah Awe, Kansas State defensive tackle Travis Britz, and Louisville tackle Kelby Johnson. The team also welcomed back wide receiver Andre Davis. To make room, UDFAs tight end Tim Brown (West Chester), linebacker Tyson Coleman (Oregon), and defensive tackle Jontavius Morris (Western Kentucky).
  • Kutztown wide receiver Anthony Kelly, signed last week by Buccaneers as undrafted free agent, is no longer with team due to an issue with his knee, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.
  • The Vikings (Twitter link) announced the signing of cornerback Tre Roberson and wide receiver Troy Stoudermire. Kentucky State cornerback Eric Rawls, announced as a UDFA signee last week, did not end up inking his deal, per Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press (on Twitter). The team’s roster is now at 90.
  • The Cardinals signed running back Elijhaa Penny (Idaho) and wide receiver Chris Hubert (Fayetteville St.) while cutting running back Jared Baker and outside linebacker Mike Reilly (Twitter link via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com).
  • Washington released safety Tevin Carter (link).
  • The Texans signed former New Mexico outside linebacker Ryan Langford following a successful tryout, Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • The Packers cut former Rice wide receiver Dennis Parks, Wilson tweets.
  • The Chiefs cut offensive lineman Mike Liedtke, according to freelance reporter Jenna Laine (on Twitter).
  • The Vikings signed running back C.J. Ham out of Augustana University, Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press tweets. The deal should become finalized on Tuesday.
  • The Packers signed tight end Casey Pierce, defensive tackle Demetris Anderson, running back Brandon Burks, fullback Alstevis Squirewell, and guard Cory Tucker and released defensive tackle Josh Boyd, defensive tackle William Campbell, tight end David Grinnage, and tackle Jeremy Vujnovich.