Chad Wheeler

Giants Cut Kyle Lauletta; Reach 53

The Giants waived quarterback Kyle Lauletta as a part of their moves to reach the 53-man roster limit. The move leaves Alex Tanney as the No. 3 QB behind starter Eli Manning and first-round pick Daniel Jones.

Between an October arrest and a poor professional debut, Lauletta dug himself into a bit of a hole. Although the 2018 fourth-round pick is just 24 and had enough upside to merit a mid-round selection, the 31-year-old Tanney edged him out in practice. This, perhaps, isn’t a huge surprise after the G-Men signed him to a two-year, $2.1MM contract with $775K guaranteed.

Besides Lauletta, here’s how the Giants got to the limit.

Released:

Waived/injured:

Waived off the commissioner’s exempt list:

Placed on IR:

NFC East Notes: Redskins, Guice, Giants

The Redskins’ backfield situation didn’t go as planned last year. The team drafted Derrius Guice in the second round to be their starter, but then Guice tore his ACL in the preseason. They ended up signing Adrian Peterson at the last minute, and he unexpectedly became the team’s workhorse. Peterson played well all things considered, but noticeably wore down toward the end of the year and won’t be expected to handle the same workload in 2019. Guice had some complications while recovering from his injury, but is expected to be fully recovered soon.

Guice is the much younger player who would appear to have more upside, but don’t count out Peterson yet. Speaking after a recent minicamp practice, Redskins running backs coach Randy Jordan said he envisions a 50-50 or 60-40 split between the two backs this season, per Kareem Copeland of the Washington Post. Washington was depleted by injuries last year, and getting Guice back is a great step in the right direction. Assuming they end up starting Dwayne Haskins at quarterbackthey’ll need a strong running game to help take some of the load off, and a Guice/Peterson partnership has the potential to be one of the league’s better backfields.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • With Haskins and Guice now in the fold, the Redskins’ offense is going to look a lot different next year. They won’t be the changes, as second-year receiver Trey Quinn is coming back from an injury of his own. A seventh round pick out of SMU last year, injuries limited Quinn to just three games as a rookie. He’s reportedly been a standout this offseason though, and the team is very high on him. Speaking to the media recently, Redskins coach Jay Gruden declared him a starter. “Trey Quinn has taken over the inside slot role,” Gruden said, per JP Finlay of NBC Sports. Quinn must’ve been really impressive in practices for the coaching staff to have this much confidence in him. After Jamison Crowder left in free agency the Redskins were left with a hole in the slot, and they’re apparently comfortable with Quinn filling it.
  • Mike Remmers signed with the Giants last month, and is widely expected to be their starting right tackle in 2019. The offseason back surgery he underwent was initially deemed minor, but Remmers didn’t participate at all during OTAs or minicamp, according to Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com. Remmers apparently isn’t fully healthy, and Dunleavy thinks there’s a chance Chad Wheeler will take advantage of the opportunity to keep the starting job. Wheeler, a 2017 UDFA, was the starter for most of last season, but played poorly. Remmers is still the favorite, but if he can’t get back soon he might end up losing the job.
  • In the same piece, Dunleavy also breaks down the Giants’ situation at receiver beyond Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate. Shepard and Tate are locked in as the top two options, but there’s not much clarity after that. Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler both operated as the third receiver last season, but Dunleavy thinks Corey Coleman is the favorite for that role in 2019. Dunleavy writes that Coleman showed well in recent practices, as “Latimer started the offseason with the upper hand and Coleman finished with the edge.” A 2016 first round pick of the Browns, Coleman has had a bumpy road in the pros. The Browns, Patriots, and Bills have all given up on the Baylor product, but it looks like he could make a home for himself in New York.

NFC East Rumors: Redskins, Cowboys, Giants

Jay Gruden studied this year’s quarterback class extensively, watching every throw each of the high- and mid-tier prospects made. The sixth-year Redskins coach said he did more work on this year’s QB class than he had in any draft since 2011, when the Bengals, Gruden’s employer at the time, selected Andy Dalton. In addition to Dwayne Haskins‘ arm strength, Gruden said the one-year Ohio State starter’s presence reminded him of Cam Newton.

They’re all pretty confident kids, bright-eyed. I was impressed with the entire class,” Gruden said, via Albert Breer of SI.com. “But (Haskins) has a demeanor and aura about him, kind of similar to Cam Newton coming out, just an aura of confidence. There’s something about him. When you’re around him, you feel like he’s got it, everything’s going to be OK — that he’s going to be successful, because he believes it.”

Haskins and Case Keenum will split the Redskins’ first-team reps, with Colt McCoy still out because of his fractured fibula injury. However, McCoy is expected to participate partially in Washington’s minicamp and be ready for training camp, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). While Gruden said Haskins is no lock to play this year, nearly every recent first-round passer chosen becoming a first-season starter points to the newcomer taking the reins early.

Here is the latest from the NFC East, shifting to news out of Dallas:

  • The Cowboys will not have Taco Charlton in action for a bit. The former first-round pick underwent ankle surgery recently, Calvin Watkins of The Athletic tweets. While Watkins describes this as a minor procedure, Charlton will likely miss Dallas’ offseason activities. He is expected to be ready for camp. This marks the second operation Charlton has undergone this offseason. Shortly after the Cowboys’ 2018 season concluded, the 24-year-old defensive end had shoulder surgery.
  • One of Charlton’s defensive line mates may have to face the prospect of missing regular-season time. Tyrone Crawford was popped with a misdemeanor charge of unlawful assembly related to the March incident at a Florida bar, Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com writes. An affidavit indicates Crawford, after being removed from the bar, threw punches at multiple security officers and hit at least one of them. This seems likely to produce a suspension for the veteran defensive lineman.
  • Cowboys seventh-round running back Mike Weber injured his knee over the weekend, but it appears he avoided a serious setback. Weber went through an MRI but was back on the practice field Sunday, per Breer. Weber is expected to compete for time behind Ezekiel Elliott and fourth-round pick Tony Pollard, with Weber profiling as more of a traditional back compared to the versatile Pollard. The Cowboys lost previous Elliott backup Rod Smith to the Giants in free agency.
  • Mike Remmers will not have a free pass to the Giants’ starting lineup. Offensive line coach Hal Hunter named incumbent Chad Wheeler the first-string right tackle last week, but that was before Remmers was signed. “It is up to (Wheeler) to hold that position,” Hunter said, via Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com. “It is up to everyone else to beat him out.” Remmers’ contract (one year, $2.5MM), history (64 starts) and connections to Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur would point to him having the upper hand. Wheeler took over for Ereck Flowers early last season and graded as Pro Football Focus’ third-worst full-time tackle. The Giants were connected to multiple free agent right tackles this offseason.

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.