Chad Wheeler

East Notes: Flowers, Gordon, V. Davis

The Giants have made the decision to bench embattled right tackle Ereck Flowers, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Rapoport notes that New York has been preparing Chad Wheeler all week, and that Wheeler will start in Flowers’ place.

Of course, Big Blue’s offensive line was a major source of concern this offseason — even though the team handed a hefty free agent contract to former Patriots LT Nate Solder — and Flowers’ track record of underperformance was a big reason for that. But the Giants do not just give up on first-round picks, so they shifted Flowers from left tackle to right tackle and gave him the bulk of the first-team reps. The team, however, is 0-2, and Flowers has not fared any better on the right side of the line than he did on the left. Although Flowers is the only reserve tackle on the roster, which means he will still be active on game days, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes that this move almost guarantees that Flowers will not be back with the team in 2019 (which was largely a foregone conclusion anyway).

Now for more from the league’s east divisions:

  • Although the Browns were certainly upset about the hamstring injury that new Patriots receiver Josh Gordon suffered while filming a promotional video and the circumstances surrounding that video, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com says the real reason for Cleveland’s decision to ship Gordon to New England is that the Browns felt Gordon was still struggling to stay sober and that they had done all they could for him. Plus, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report notes that Gordon missed and/or was late to several team meetings (Twitter link). However, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sport tweets that Gordon has made a strong first impression with Patriots coaches and could make a real contribution for the team against the Lions tonight (although Gordon’s hamstring could prevent him from playing).
  • Former Patriot and current NBC analyst Rodney Harrison (via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com) believes that Gordon will succeed with the Patriots because of the stability and climate that New England can offer. However, if Gordon cannot make it in New England, Harrison thinks that his NFL career is probably over. It is certainly difficult to argue with that assessment.
  • The Bills are expected to go after the majority of Vontae Davis‘ $1.5MM signing bonus, per Rapoport. Buffalo may argue that, since Davis retired mid-game last week, he is entitled to only 1/17, instead of 2/17, of the bonus, and if the team does go that route, Davis may walk away with less than $700K from a 2018 contract that could have paid him up to $5MM. After all, the remainder of his $2.25MM salary voided when he was placed on the reserve/left squad list, and he earned only a small portion of his per-game roster bonuses. Nonetheless, he did earn more than $35MM during his career, so he might not care too much.
  • Some members of the Cowboys‘ front office would like to resume Earl Thomas trade talks, but Dallas is currently seen as a longshot to land the Seahawks’ star safety.
  • We learned earlier today that the Patriots nearly traded Rob Gronkowski  to the Lions this offseason.

East Notes: Beal, Wake, Giants

Sam Beal is widely considered to be the best prospect in this year’s supplemental draft, and most NFL talent evaluators think he will fall somewhere in the first three rounds of the draft. A tall corner who has the fluidity and speed of a smaller DB, some believe Beal has first-round talent, so he has generated plenty of discussion since he declared for the supplemental draft last month. Gil Brandt of SiriusXM says the Bills, who have an extra fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft, could be a fit for Beal (Twitter link). Meanwhile, John Keim of ESPN.com says the Redskins have interest in Beal as well as fellow supplemental draft prospects Adonis Alexander and Brandon Bryant, but Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says the Patriots are unlikely to select one of those players even though they have the 2019 draft capital to do so.

Now let’s round up a few more notes from the league’s east divisions:

  • Reiss believes that the Patriots, who selected OL Isaiah Wynn with their No. 23 overall selection in this year’s draft, also considered Alabama WR Calvin Ridley in that spot. Although New England’s need for a quality offensive lineman may have swung the pendulum in Wynn’s favor, Reiss also believes the team is more comfortable projecting an offensive lineman to the NFL than a receiver, which made Wynn an easier choice.
  • Though he is 36 years old, Dolphins DE Cameron Wake is still a highly-productive pass rusher, having posted 10.5 sacks last season. Despite that, and despite the fact that he is entering a contract year, Wake has no issues with the team’s decision to use a rotation that it hopes will keep him fresh in 2018. Per Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post, Wake said, “I want to do whatever is going to help the entirety of the team, the entirety of the defense. So, if it means me being a third-down guy, let’s do it. If it means I have to start and play every down, I’ll take that role on, too.”
  • Matt Lombardo of NJ.com does not think the Giants will be players in the supplemental draft, and he says that, while UDFA wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo has looked good in spring practices, even a strong training camp and preseason will likely only get him another chance on Big Blue’s taxi squad, where he finished the 2017 campaign. Of course, a good showing could get the former Maryland and Syracuse product a shot on a different club.
  • Many expected Chad Wheeler to push Ereck Flowers for the Giants‘ starting right tackle job this year, but as Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com writes, Flowers has gotten all of the first-team reps at RT thus far. Dunleavy says Wheeler’s job as the team’s swing tackle is safe, but barring injury, it looks like Flowers will be the right tackle in 2018. However, Flowers is entering a contract year, so Wheeler may get a chance to start in 2019 if he performs well in the swing tackle role.
  • Earlier today, we heard that Redskins HC Jay Gruden may be looking for a new job in 2019 if his club turns in another so-so performance in 2018.

Giants Shopped Ereck Flowers During Draft

Ereck Flowers remains on the Giants’ roster, but the team’s interest in moving him accelerated during draft weekend. But the Giants did not find a taker.

New York was seeking a mid-round pick for its 2015 first-round selection, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com reports, adding one team considered that price “significantly” too steep for its liking.

The Giants’ left tackle starter for the past three seasons, Flowers is currently in line to compete for the team’s right tackle job. Raanan adds the Giants are not expected to pick up the ex-Miami standout’s fifth-year option. That would make 2018 a contract year, should Flowers even be part of the Giants this season.

Flowers has not shown up for Giants workouts yet, opting instead to train in Miami. Raanan notes the Giants are reluctant to cut him at this point because of league-wide issues teams are having locating tackle help. A 2017 UDFA, Chad Wheeler as of now looms as Flowers’ primary competition, with Raanan adding 2017 sixth-round pick Adam Bisnowaty could factor into this mix potentially. It would place some dead money on the Giants’ balance sheet if they waive Flowers, but the team would save $2.2MM if it parted ways with him prior to this season.

Some Giants offensive linemen didn’t hold Flowers in high regard last season, one that ended with a controversial DNP in Week 17. Raanan didn’t rule out the Giants pursuing a free agent option. While it’s a rather grim market, Austin Howard remains available after taking multiple visits this spring.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Rumors: Falcons, Freeman, Seahawks

Here’s a look at the NFC:

  • The Falcons are confident that a deal is close for Devonta Freeman, but Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) says that it will be a hard deal to do. For starters, Freeman is one of the league’s most explosive running backs and he is only 25 years old, so he can command a whooper of a contract. But, if Le’Veon Bell re-sets the market in July with the Steelers before Freeman signs, it may get even tougher for Atlanta to get a deal done.
  • Austin Davis will receive a $30K bonus if he is on the Seahawks‘ roster for the first game of the regular season, a league source tells Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The quarterback’s one-year deal is worth $855K overall with $50K guaranteed in the form of a signing bonus. It’s a minimum salary benefit deal, meaning the cap charge for 2017 is just $695K. Davis was signed earlier this summer to duke it out with Trevone Boykin for the role of Russell Wilson‘s primary backup.
  • The Giants historically have gotten big performances out of undrafted free agents like Victor Cruz, Mark Herzlich, Romeo Okwara, and Will Tye, so James Kratch of NJ.com surveyed the current roster to find the next diamonds in the rough. Cornerback DaShaun Amos, he opines, is the most likely UDFA to make the final cut this year. The Giants presently have two cornerbacks spots up in the air and Valentino Blake is the only one in the fringe group with real NFL experience, so Amos seems to have a good chance. Linebacker Calvin Munson, tackle Chad Wheeler, wide receiver Travis Rudolph, and cornerback Nigel Tribune round out Kratch’s top five Big Blue UDFAs.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/13/17

Today’s minor moves:

  • The Steelers have waived running back Dreamius Smith, the club announced on Friday. Smith, 24, originally entered the league as a Chargers undrafted free agent in 2015, and spent most of his rookie campaign on San Diego’s practice squad before being promoted for one contest near the end of that year. He’d signed a futures deal with Pittsburgh in January, but the Steelers didn’t have an opening at running back after drafting James Conner in the third round.
  • The Giants have swapped out three roster spots at the back end of their roster, signing running back Khalid Abdullah, cornerback SaQwan Edwards, and safety Trey Robinson while waiving cornerback Nigel Tribune, wide receiver Rob Wheelwright, and running back Daryl Virgies, tweets James Kratch of NJ.com. New York also formally announced the signing of undrafted free agent offensive lineman Chad Wheeler, who reportedly landed a $20K bonus.
  • The Rams have waived guard Alex Kozan and cornerback Ishmael Adams, according to Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Both players were signed as undrafted college free agents earlier this month, but didn’t make it to Los Angeles’ rookie minicamp.

NFC East: Giants, Rosas, Cowboys, Eagles

The fact that Aldrick Rosas is the only kicker on the Giants roster is an indication that the organization is willing to roll with the 22-year-old next season. Despite the former undrafted free agent having no NFL experience, special teams coordinator Tom Quinn is confident that his kicker will be prepared.

“We will try and simulate (games for) him and then you have the preseason to go with that,” Quinn told Ralph Vacchiano SNY.tv. “We’ve had a couple of nice young kickers in here with (Chris) Boswell (in 2015) and Brandon McManus (in 2014). They’ve gone on to do well. It’s not always perfect with the young guys. Sometimes there’s going to be a little bit of hiccups. We’ll see where we go with that.”

As Vacchiano points out, the Giants could easily sign a veteran free agent kicker to compete with Rosas. The team also has Travis Coons participating at the rookie minicamp this weekend. Quinn noted that with “no more two-a-days and limited practice,” the team would struggle to find “kicks” for multiple players.

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

  • The Giants gave undrafted offensive lineman Chad Wheeler a $20,000 signing bonus, the highest among the team’s undrafted rookies. The Giants also have a need for an offensive tackle, which is why Dan Duggan of NJ.com believes Wheeler has a shot of making the team. The writer also lists defensive tackle Jarron Jones, offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker, wideout Travis Rudolph, linebacker Calvin Munson, cornerback Nigel Tribune, fullback Shane Smith, and safety Jadar Johnson among undrafted rooks who might have a shot at making the final roster.
  • Cowboys tight end Rico Gathers earned an incredible $499,990 to play on the team’s practice squad last season. With Jason Witten‘s career winding down, the former sixth-round pick will have an opportunity to play a significant role in the team’s offense this season. “It’s night and day for [Gathers] in a good way from last year,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan told Matthew Martinez of the Star-Telegram. “When you know what you’re doing and you’ve got your body in football shape, it’s amazing what you can do, and that’s the biggest difference from where he was a year ago until now.”
  • We learned yesterday that the Eagles agreed to pay second-round cornerback Sidney Jones his full 2017 base salary even if he spends the season on the NFI list.