Curtis Riley

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/16/20

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Arizona Cardinals

  • Signed: S Curtis Riley (off Steelers‘ practice squad)

Cleveland Browns

  • Promoted: LB Montrel Meander

Indianapolis Colts

Las Vegas Raiders

New England Patriots

San Francisco 49ers

Tennessee Titans

Steelers Sign Devlin Hodges To P-Squad

Devlin Hodges wasn’t gone for long. After waiving the quarterback over the weekend, the Steelers inked him to a practice squad deal on Monday, per a club announcement. With Duck under contract, and running back Wendell Smallwood on the way, the Steelers have their initial taxi squad in place. Here’s the full rundown: 

The Steelers were set to roll with Hodges as their QB3, up until they claimed Josh Dobbs off waivers from the Jaguars. Last year, Hodges went from an unheralded UDFA on the practice squad to a fill-in starter after Ben Roethlisberger went down. He wasn’t able to keep his momentum after a hot start, but coaches still like him as an emergency option.

Smallwood was one of the Eagles’ main running backs in 2018, but didn’t much action with Washington in 2019. In 15 games, he registered 22 carries for 81 yards, good for a 3.7 yards per tote average.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers To Sign S Curtis Riley

The Steelers will add to their secondary. They are signing former Giants starter Curtis Riley, Ian Rapoport of tweets.

Riley spent 2019 with the Raiders, starting three games, but his most notable NFL work came with the Giants. He started 16 games for Big Blue in 2018. Riley, 28, began his career with the Titans in 2016.

This addition is likely for depth purposes. The Steelers return starters Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds. They also have 2018 fifth-round pick Marcus Allen on their roster and drafted Antoine Brooks in this year’s sixth round.

A Fresno State product, Riley played in 16 Raider games last season. Pro Football Focus tabbed 2019 as Riley’s best work, though he played only 275 defensive snaps. Teams will be eyeing increased veteran depth for what will be an unusual season, making Riley a sensible addition. He will become the most experienced member of Pittsburgh’s safety group.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders To Sign Curtis Riley

The Raiders have signed Curtis Riley, according to a tweet from the safety himself. Riley, formerly of the Giants, also visited the Packers and Bengals before joining up with Oakland. 

Riley started in all 16 of the Giants’ games last year and reeled in four interceptions. It was a rough year for the Giants on the whole, but Riley had a strong individual showing.

Riley started his career with the Titans, but he truly put himself on the map last year with the aforementioned picks, plus 75 tackles and five passes defended. However, for what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus only ranked him 79th among 93 eligible safeties.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Bengals, Steelers, Packers

With former Giants defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo now in place in the Bengals‘ defensive coordinator, Cincinnati is attempting to corner the market on ex-New York defenders. Having already signed cornerback B.W. Webb and met with defensive end Kerry Wynn, the Bengals sat down with former Giants safety Curtis Riley on Thursday, according to Field Yates of (Twitter link). A former undrafted free agent and special teamer with the Titans, Riley was forced into a premier role with New York in 2018 and ended up starting all 16 games. He looked overmatched, however, and graded as just the No. 79 safety among 93 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. Cincinnati is already set at safety with Jessie Bates and Shawn Williams as 2019 starters, so Riley would likely revert to a special teams role if signed.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • Justin Houston didn’t appear to be on the Steelers‘ radar before signing with the Colts earlier today, tweets Jeremy Fowler of Indianapolis gave Houston $24MM over a two-year term, and that $12MM annual average was likely to pricey for Pittsburgh, which only has about $7MM in available cap space. While Houston would have been a solid addition for the Steelers, they don’t necessarily need any pass-rush help. Pittsburgh tied for first in sacks (52) in 2018 and ranked first in adjusted sack rate, and will bring back T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, and Anthony Chickillo next season.
  • The Packers monitored the free agent slot receiver market when free agency opened but opted to spend in other areas, reports Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). Green Bay allowed Randall Cobb to leave for a one-year, $5MM deal with the Cowboys earlier this week, but the club could search for a veteran slot receiver in the coming weeks, with Dontrelle Inman, Jermaine Kearse, and Rishard Matthews profiling as options. However, the Packers might be tighter on cap space than is publicly believed: while most assessments peg Green Bay with roughly $13.5MM in funds, Tom Silverstein of MJS says the Packers may only have ~$5MM in space (Twitter link).
  • In case you missed it, the Ravens re-signed backup quarterback Robert Griffin III to a two-year deal.

Raiders To Meet With George Iloka

The Raiders are hosting former Vikings safety George Iloka on a visit, as Ian Rapoport of tweets. Former Giants safety Curtis Riley is also en route to Oakland, Michael Gehlken of the Review-Journal (on Twitter) hears.

The Raiders already invested heavily in the secondary by signing safety Lamarcus Joyner to a four-year, $42MM deal, but they’re expected to deploy him mostly at nickel corner. That leaves a serious need at safety, and Iloka and/or Riley could help fill the gap.

Iloka, a former Bengal, has history with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, and that same connection led to a deal between the Raiders and linebacker Vontaze Burfict earlier this week. Iloka can play free or strong safety, which could be a big plus for the Raiders’ secondary. Iloka was a starter for the bulk of his career with the Bengals, but played mostly in a reserve role with the Vikings last year. In past years, however, Iloka looked the part of an elite safety.

Riley, 27 this summer, had a breakout campaign during his first season with the Giants. After appearing in eleven games with the Titans between 2016 and 2017, the defensive back started all 16 contests last year. Riley recorded 75 tackles, five passes defended, and four interceptions, though Pro Football Focus only ranked him 79th among 93 eligible safeties. Riley visited the Packers on Monday, but left Green Bay without a deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

S Curtis Riley Visits Packers

Safety Curtis Riley met with the Packers today, reports ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter). However, the free agent left Green Bay without a contract, and Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets that the two sides aren’t negotiating a deal.

The 26-year-old had a breakout campaign during his first season in New York. After appearing in 11 total games between 2016 and 2017, the defensive back ultimately started all 16 games last year. He ended up finishing the campaign with 75 tackles, five passes defended, and four interceptions. Despite his solid counting stats, Pro Football Focus only ranked him 79th among 93 eligible safeties.

Riley previously played cornerback, and he’s shown particular talent in coverage (while his tackling has earned the ire of some pundits). As Silverstein tweets, this is what the Packers traditionally look for in their “deep” safeties, but the team will apparently be searching elsewhere to fill that role.

The Packers have already added one safety this offseason in Adrian Amos. The team’s safety corps also includes Tramon Williams, Josh Jones, and Natrell Jamerson, among others.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

New York Notes: Darnold, Breeland, OBJ, Apple

In the wake of Elijah McGuire‘s broken foot, the Jets signed RB George Atkinson III earlier today. However, Ian Rapoport of tweets that the team’s first choice was Alfred Morris, who obviously comes with considerably more experience than Atkinson (Gang Green brought Morris in for a visit yesterday). Rapoport says the two sides could not come together on contract terms, so Morris remains a free agent and Atkinson is now a Jet.

Now for more notes from the two clubs who call the Meadowlands home:

  • The Jets still have interest in free agent CB Bashaud Breeland, per ESPN’s Josina Anderson (via Twitter). There’s still no word on whether Breeland will visit with Gang Green, but a number of clubs are interested in his services. Breeland remains undecided for the time being.
  • Just yesterday, we heard that offset language was no longer the issue holding up contract negotiations between the Jets and rookie QB Sam Darnold. Instead, the latest reports suggested that how and when the guarantees in Darnold’s contract could void is the real sticking point. But Rich Cimini of says offset language and the guaranteed money issue are still matters that need to be resolved. Cimini does not think that the holdout will get as bad as the infamous Joey Bosa/Chargers standoff several years ago, but Darnold is in a different situation because he is a quarterback, not a defensive lineman. Every practice he misses is critical, and while there are not enough details to know which party is in the “right” in this case — though Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News opines that Darnold’s agent’s stance with respect to the offset language is ridiculous and selfish — this is fast becoming a lose-lose situation for player and team.
  • Odell Beckham Jr. has excelled in Giants training camp thus far, and he looks committed and healthy, per Jordan Raanan of (via Twitter). Raanan ends his tweet with an emphatic, “pay the man.”
  • Though it’s obviously still early in training camp, the Giants‘ offensive line has left much to be desired in summer practices thus far, as Ryan Dunleavy of writes. Dunleavy lists a few OL free agents that Big Blue might consider bringing in, and he also names Denzelle Good, who is currently fighting for a starting job with the Colts, as an interesting trade candidate.
  • After two seasons as a backup cornerback with the Titans, Curtis Riley saw an opportunity to start at free safety with the Giants, which encouraged him to sign with Big Blue in March. Thus far, his conversion to safety is going swimmingly, and Greg Joyce of the New York Post writes that Riley has a legitimate chance to win the starting FS job.
  • Giants CB Eli Apple‘s maturity issues and lack of effort have gotten him into plenty of hot water with his teammates and coaches during his first two seasons in the pros, but new head coach Pat Shurmur is impressed with Apple’s attitude and his play thus far. Shurmur said, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, “I’m seeing a guy that’s all about his business. He’s very businesslike. And he’s covering really well, a really good attribute for a corner. I like the way he’s working. He’s out there challenging, but he’s also being smart. And I like the way he’s functioning in the building. Very attentive in meetings. In my mind, and based on what I’ve seen, he’s acting like a pro.”

Giants Notes: Beckham, Webb, Hill, Riley

The next several weeks could be crucial in the Giants/Odell Beckham Jr. relationship. The superstar wideout said he intends to show up to camp on time, but this may not be a full-on pledge. Instead, it could be contingent on how extension talks — currently not going well — proceed. In an expansive piece attempting to gauge this situation,’s Bill Barnwell writes the presence of Dave Gettleman could make a significant difference in this process.

Famously known as a hard-line negotiator, alienating Steve Smith and rescinding Josh Norman‘s franchise tag in Carolina, Gettleman has repeatedly said he wants the Giants to be geared around their ground game more than they have been in the past. He authorized the highest running back draft pick since Reggie Bush and could have four new starting offensive linemen come Week 1. Barnwell suggests the Giants could use this season to see how Saquon Barkley impacts their offense rather than authorizing a wide receiver-record contract for Beckham before the season. This strategy certainly wouldn’t go over well with Beckham, and it could run the risk of a lengthy holdout, but the Giants would also have the franchise tag as a short-term option in 2019.

Here’s the latest on Big Blue coming out of minicamp.

  • After minicamp, Davis Webb has a big lead on Kyle Lauletta for the backup job, Ryan Dunleavy of notes. This would mark the 2017 third-rounder’s first time as the backup, with Geno Smith having held that job last season (save for Big Blue’s rough PR week in early December). However, Lauletta has impressed new OC Mike Shula. “He has a nice calmness about him,” Shula said of the rookie fourth-rounder. “If things don’t go exactly how they are drawn out on the board, his mind works pretty fast, so far, and he finds the next guy, gets through his progressions. He has a good feel for anticipation and touch, so I think he’s off to a good start.”
  • While Barkley and second-round pick Will Hernandez have moved into the Giants’ starting lineup, third-round pick B.J. Hill may be ready to join them. The rookie lined up alongside Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson in the Giants’ new 3-4 scheme at minicamp, according to Dan Duggan of The Athletic (subscription required). The Giants don’t have a surefire competitor that would deprive the N.C. State-developed rookie of a viable path to a Week 1 start, so this will be an interesting situation once training camp begins.
  • Another surprise starter could come in New York’s secondary. The Giants are preparing to give Eli Apple another chance at cornerback opposite Janoris Jenkins and aren’t as talented at this spot as they were with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie also in the picture last season, but Duggan writes Landon Collins could have an interesting sidekick as well. Low-level UFA addition (and converted corner) Curtis Riley has a legitimate shot to start alongside Collins, per Duggan, after working extensively with the first unit in the offseason. Darian Thompson and Michael Thomas are among the others vying for that job with Riley, who played 11 games (no starts) with the Titans the past two seasons after entering the league as a UDFA in 2016.

Minor NFL Transactions: 3/15/18

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Arizona Cardinals

Houston Texans

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers