Canadian Football League

CFL Reinstates “NFL Window”

Previously, Canadian Football League players had to sign a minimum two-year contract to join a team, and the league didn’t provide an out for those looking to jump to the NFL. Well, it sounds like the CFL has softened its stance, as TSN’s David William Naylor reports that the league has voted to reinstate their “NFL window.” The league had voted against this change earlier this year.

As Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com explains, this would allow “certain players to work out for NFL teams and sign contracts that would become effective at the end of a given CFL season.” That way, instead of being obligated to the CFL for two seasons, players would have the ability to sign with an NFL team after only one season in Canada.

However, as Florio points out, the rule would only apply to players who ink contracts after August 20th of this year. That means players like quarterback Johnny Manziel, who signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats back in May, won’t be able to join the NFL until their contracts expire. The rule change also wouldn’t apply to running back Dexter McCluster, who recently signed with the Toronto Argonauts. On the flip side, if a player signs after August 20th, they’d have the ability to return to the NFL next year.

Florio wonders if the CFL may have been pressured by the developing spring football leagues, which will presumably provide players with the ability to return to the NFL. Ultimately, Florio believes this change could eventually lead to the CFL allowing one-year contracts or a clear NFL-out clause. As Naylor observes, the rule also came about due to Toronto Argonauts running back James Wilder‘s threats to sit out the entire CFL season due to his inability to join an NFL team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Johnny Manziel Offered CFL Contract

Former NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel has been offered a contract by the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats, as the club announced today.Johnny Manziel (vertical)

The CFL announced in late December that a Manziel contract would be approved for the 2018 season, opening a 10-day window during which the Tiger-Cats — the club which has controlled Manziel’s contractual rights for some time — could ink the former Browns signal-caller. Now that Hamilton has indeed offered a deal to Manziel, it’s up to the ex-first-round pick to decide if he wants to head north of the border.

There’s every indication that Manziel does indeed want to join the CFL, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reported last September that Manziel “very much wants” to sign with the Tiger-Cats or another CFL club. Manziel, whose original workout with Hamtilton reportedly didn’t go well, has evidently met the conditions set by the CFL in order to be approved for a contract. Those parameters included an in-person interview, a legal review, and an independent assessment of past off-field accusations against Manziel.

Manziel is still only 25 years old, but he hasn’t played in the NFL since the 2015 campaign. In eight career starts for the Browns, the former Heisman trophy winner completed 57% of his passes for 1,675 yards, seven touchdowns, and seven interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/17/16

Here are today’s minor transactions from around the NFL:

  • The Steelers have brought back tight end David Johnson, who was with Pittsburgh from 2009-13 after it took him in the seventh round of the ’09 draft (Twitter link via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). Johnson, who has 24 career receptions, spent the previous two seasons in San Diego. To make room for Johnson, the Steelers cut fellow tight end David Reeves, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Reeves, an undrafted free agent from Duke, signed with the Steelers last month.
  • Just days after signing with the Titans as an undrafted free agent, cornerback/kick returner Morgan Burns has retired, writes The Associated Press. Burns, a former Kansas State speedster, was the Big 12 special teams player of the year in 2015.
  • The Panthers have claimed tight end Marcus Lucas off waivers from the Bears, David Newton of ESPN reports. Lucas is familiar with Carolina, having spent the 2014 season on its practice squad. The former undrafted free agent from Missouri has yet to appear in an NFL game.
  • The Jaguars signed offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach and cut kicker Jaden Oberkrom, according to ESPN’s Mike DiRocco. Linkenbach has 86 appearances and 36 starts to his name. Ten of those appearances came when Linkenbach was a member of both the Dolphins and Chargers last year. Oberkrom had a brief stint in Jacksonville, which signed the ex-TCU standout as an undrafted free agent earlier this month.

Earlier updates:

  • The Eagles announced that they have signed tight end M.J. McFarland and linebacker Ty Powell while waiving quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson and offensive lineman Brett Boyko, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. The addition of Powell means that the Eagles now have four players from the Buffalo’s 2014 defense on their roster. Jim Schwartz, of course, served as the defensive coordinator of that team.
  • The Buccaneers announced that they have signed A.J. Francis, as Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com writes. The defensive tackle now joins his fourth team after beginning his career in Miami and later seeing time in Seattle and New England. To make room, second-year defensive tackle Davon Coleman has been waived.
  • Former Texans first-round pick Amobi Okoye has signed with the Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League, as Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle writes. The defensive tackle was stricken with a rare illness, which seemingly ended his career in 2012. He hooked on with the Cowboys last season, but he was released before he could take the field.
  • Washington has signed tryout cornerback Mariel Cooper, Tarik El-Bashir of CSNWashington.com tweets.
  • The Ravens announced that cornerback Sheldon Price, an ERFA, has agreed to his one-year contract with the team. Price, who went undrafted out of UCLA in 2013, previously spent time on the Colts’ taxi squad.

NFC Notes: Brees, Goff, Pettigrew, Giants

For most of the offseason, NFL observers have assumed that the Saints and Drew Brees will negotiate an extension that locks up the quarterback beyond the 2016 season and frees up some cap room for the team. However, agent Tom Condon said during an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show that the Saints seem to be satisfied with Brees at his current cap number, per Joel A. Erickson of The Advocate.

According to Over the Cap’s data, New Orleans currently has less than $2MM in cap room, and that appears to be without factoring in the team’s draft picks. There are ways that the Saints could lock up all their picks and get through the 2016 season without reworking Brees’ deal, but it would almost certainly require adjusting another contract or two.

Brees, who is entering the final year of his deal, currently has a $30MM cap charge, with only one other player on the Saints’ books for a number larger than $6.35MM in 2016 — Jairus Byrd has a $10.9MM cap hit, which could be reduced via a restructure, if necessary.

As we wait to see whether New Orleans is serious about standing pat on Brees, here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Defensive lineman David Onyemata has been drafted for the second time in two weeks, writes Christopher Dabe of NOLA.com. After being selected in the fourth round of the NFL draft by the Saints, Onyemata came off the board in the fourth round of the CFL draft as well, snatched by the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Of course, Onyemata went 120th overall in the NFL draft, as opposed to 35th in the CFL draft, and he would have gone higher in the CFL draft had the Saints not selected him last month — he was viewed as the No. 1 Canadian prospect for 2016, but the Roughriders won’t get him as he long as he remains with New Orleans.
  • The Rams don’t want to rush No. 1 pick Jared Goff into anything, but as Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com writes, there’s a good chance the former Cal quarterback will be under center for the team sooner rather than later — perhaps even by Week 1.
  • Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who suffered a torn ACL near the end of the 2015 season, said on Tuesday night that he expects to be ready to go for the start of training camp in July, tweets Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com.
  • When the Giants waived wide receiver Ben Edwards earlier this week, the team did so with an injury designation. As Jordan Raanan of NJ.com explains, the injury Edwards suffered was a torn ACL. Since the wideout went unclaimed he’ll revert to IR — Big Blue can either keep him there for the 2016 season, or negotiate an injury settlement if he has a chance to return before the end of the year.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/7/16

Here are Thursday’s minor moves from across the NFL:

  • Falcons right tackle Ryan Schraeder has signed his restricted free agent tender, according to ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure. It’s a one-year pact that will pay him $2.553MM. Schraeder was one of the few RFAs who may have drawn interest from rival teams despite receiving a second-round tender, but it appears no clubs were willing to make a serious play for him.
  • The Colts announced a series of roster moves today, officially confirming that they signed wide receivers Josh Boyce and Brian Tyms and waived guard Ben Heenan. Boyce and Tyms both have NFL experience in New England, while Heenan was a former CFL standout who has decided to retire (Twitter link via Sportscentre).
  • About a month after cutting veteran long snapper Aaron Brewer, the Broncos have signed a potential replacement. Per Mike Klis of 9NEWS (Twitter links), Denver worked out Air Force Academy long snapper Harrison Elliott, who has another year of military commitment, but ultimately signed former Iowa long snapper Casey Kreiter.
  • Ravens wide receiver Chris Matthews has signed his exclusive rights free agent tender, the club announced today (via Twitter). The signing ensures that Matthews remains under contract with Baltimore on a one-year, minimum salary deal.
  • Safety Brandon King, a key special-teamer for the Patriots in 2015, has signed his ERFA tender to remain in New England, tweets Mike Reiss of ESPN.com.

Minor NFL Transactions: 2/19/16

Here are Friday’s minor signings, cuts, and other transactions from around the NFL, plus a pair of notable moves from the CFL wire:

  • CFL pass rusher Tristan Okpalaugo has signed with the Cardinals, according to his agent Brett Kessler (Twitter link). Okpalaugo, who recorded 23 sacks during the past two seasons with the Toronto Argonauts, also received an offer from the Jets and visited Seahawks before choosing Arizona.
  • In addition to confirming their previously-reported deal with wide receiver A.J. Cruz, the Dolphins announced today (via Twitter) that they’ve signed cornerback Chimdi Chekwa to a contract. Chekwa, who appeared in 32 games for the Raiders from 2011 to 2014, was cut from the club’s injured reserve list last September, and didn’t see any regular-season action in 2015.
  • Offensive tackle Tavon Rooks, who suffered a heart attack last September in practice, was officially waived today by the Chiefs, tweets Evan Woodbery of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle adds (via Twitter) that Rooks received the non-football illness designation.
  • The CFL’s Edminton Eskimos announced today in a press release that they’ve signed former NFL players Jacoby Ford (WR) and Joe McKnight (RB). Ford, a former fourth-round pick, caught 57 balls and had four kickoff return TDs for the Raiders between 2010 and 2013, while McKnight compiled 746 yards from scrimmage in 41 total games with the Jets and Chiefs from 2010 to 2014.

Minor NFL Transactions: 2/12/16

Here are Friday’s minor signings, cuts, and other moves from across the NFL:

  • The Steelers have re-signed long snapper Greg Warren to another one-year deal, tweets Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Warren, who typically inks one-year contracts with the maximum allowable signing bonus for a minimum salary benefit player, has served as the Steelers’ long snapper since 2005, appearing in 164 regular-season games during that time.
  • The Jaguars have signed Josh Johnson to a free agent contract, PR rep Tad Dickman announced today (via Twitter). This Josh Johnson isn’t the former Buccaneers and Bengals quarterback, but rather a cornerback from the CFL. Johnson played for the B.C. Lions last season, recording 56 tackles, an interception, and a sack, before trying out for the Jags in December.

Minor NFL Transactions: 2/3/16

Here are Wednesday’s minor transactions from around the NFL:

  • The Bengals have signed tight end John Peters to a reserve/futures deal, the team announced today (on Twitter). Peters spent time with Cincinnati last summer after being signed as an undrafted free agent, but was waived by the club before the regular season began.

Earlier updates:

  • After striking gold a year ago with Delvin Breaux, who was New Orleans’ most reliable cornerback in his first season with the club, the Saints have signed another defender from the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Linebacker Erik Harris has inked a contract with the Saints, according to Drew Edwards and Justin Dunk of 3DownNation.com. Harris, who played with Breaux in 2014, recorded 43 tackles and a pair of interceptions this past season.
  • The Bills have signed cornerback Javier Arenas to a reserve/futures contract, the team announced today (via Twitter). A former second-round pick, Arenas has logged a total of 69 career regular season games, including 12 starts, during stints with the Chiefs, Cardinals, and Falcons. However, he didn’t play for an NFL team in 2015 after being cut by the Jets last August.

NFC Notes: Hawley, Lions, Cassel, Saints

Buccaneers center Joe Hawley feels like he got a raw deal from his former team, the Falcons. On a conference call, D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked Hawley if he felt that he was given enough time coming back from the injuries to win the starting job.

“Uh, honestly, no. I think they kind of used it as an excuse,” Hawley said. “When I got here I wasn’t 100 percent yet. But they gave me a chance. Now, I’m feeling like the knee is back to new. But it just took four or five more weeks that I thought it would. Yeah, I think they kind of cut me short of that.”

The Bucs (5-6) are set to host the Falcons (6-5) on Sunday.

  • With Matt Prater battling an illness, the Lions tried out free agent kickers Kyle Brindza, Billy Cundiff, and Garrett Hartley, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links). However, Prater will be able to play tonight against the Packers after all, so the team didn’t sign anyone.
  • If Matt Cassel plays the final five games of the Cowboys‘ season, that extra playing time could earn him $1.2MM in incentives, as Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com explains. Cassel’s deal includes incentives for playing a certain percentage of the team’s snaps, and he’s projected to play over 55% ($1.2MM), but not up to 65% ($1.6MM).
  • The performance of certain players over the course of the Saints‘ final five games this year could help dictate some of the salary cap decisions the club makes in the offseason, writes Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. I examined the Saints’ cap outlook for 2016 earlier this fall.
  • Edge defender Willie Jefferson, a former Texan who spent the last two seasons with the CFL’s Edmonto Eskimos, will work out for two NFC teams next month, and is drawing a lot of interest, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post (Twitter link). Jefferson had six sacks this season for the Grey Cup champions.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

East Notes: Wayne, Brown, Tebow

Bill Belichick and Reggie Wayne agreed to mutually part company when the Patriots officially released the wide receiver they employed for not even two weeks, according to Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com.

Another reason for Wayne’s abrupt departure amid the Patriots’ injury struggles at the position could stem from the wideout’s lack of enjoyment in the Pats’ environment, per team radio analyst, Scott Zolak (on Twitter).

A source told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk the the Patriots like to bring in veterans and let them learn the system to a degree, so even in the event they are cut, they could potentially fill a need later in the season if help is needed. Florio offers that Wayne might not be willing to follow in this path.

Two months shy of 37, Wayne’s beginning to sound like he’s on the way out, with a source telling Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link) the potential Hall of Fame wideout is willing to return but only in the right situation. But then again, not many veterans this far into their careers like to join up with losing franchises, so Wayne not jumping at just any chance to play makes sense.

Here are some other notes from the Eastern divisions as cut day closes.

  • Chip Kelly told Tim Tebow to hone his craft in Canada when the third-year Eagles coach cut the polarizing quarterback today, reports Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer (on Twitter). Tebow has previously rebuffed such opportunities, but Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com notes (on Twitter) the Toronto Argonauts hold Tebow’s CFL rights, have spoken with him before and happen to be on a bye week presently.
  • The Bills may not be done reshuffling their backfield. They’ve had discussions of trading Bryce Brown, Albert Breer of NFL.com tweets. Buffalo GM Doug Whaley surrendered a fourth-round pick for Brown last season. The backup to the recently relocated Fred Jackson and the less-recently relocated C.J. Spiller last season, Brown, 24, didn’t receive many opportunities in his debut Bills slate. Now a two-time LeSean McCoy understudy, Brown appears to have fallen out of favor in Buffalo. He still sits behind Anthony Dixon and potentially fifth-rounder Karlos Williams. Dixon accrued 105 carries to Brown’s 36 last season despite Brown’s 5.1 yards per tote eclipsing Dixon’s tally by a full yard.