Dan Williams (DT)

Giants Work Out Dan Williams, John Greco

The Giants worked out defensive tackle Dan Williams, offensive lineman John Greco, and linebacker Akeem Ayers on Tuesday, a source tells Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). New York also took a look at former Lions linebacker Antwione Williams, tweets Dan Duggan of NJ.com.Dan Williams

[RELATED: Giants Work Out LB Jonathan Freeny]

New York already boasts perhaps the league’s best nose tackle in Damon Harrison, so Williams — if signed — would serve as a backup, as he isn’t a three-technique. Williams hasn’t drawn a lick of interest since being released by the Raiders, and that’s probably a reflection of the declining need for 330-pound defensive tackles and Williams’ age (30). However, Pro Football Focus was a fan of Williams’ work in 2016, ranking him a solid 44th among 127 qualified interior defensive linemen.

The Giants could use help along the offensive line, but that’s mostly at tackle, as the club is presumably set at guard/center with Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, and John Jerry. Greco could perhaps unseat Jerry at right guard, but he doesn’t play offensive tackle, which is where New York is truly below-average. Released by the Browns last week, Greco has dealt with injuries in each of the past two seasons (six total missed games) but has performed well when on the field.

Ayers, 28, signed with the Colts just before the 2016 season got underway, and ultimately spent the entire season with the club. He appeared in all 16 games and posted two sacks. Williams, a 2016 fifth-round pick, played 203 defensive snaps for Detroit a season ago, and also saw plenty of special teams action (196 snaps). The 24-year-old wasn’t claimed on waivers over the weekend, and he’d be a youthful reserve option for New York.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Release Dan Williams

The Raiders have released defensive tackle Dan Williams, according to a team announcement. In moving on from Williams, the Raiders have saved $4.5MM, which would have been his entire cap hit for 2017.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos

Williams, whom the Cardinals chose in the first round of the 2010 draft, spent the first five years of his career in Arizona before signing with the Raiders as a free agent in advance of the 2015 season. The 330-pounder ended up playing out half of the four-year, $25MM contract the Raiders gave him, also collecting $15.2MM in guarantees.

As was the case in Arizona, Williams played a prominent role while with Oakland. He appeared in all 32 of the team’s regular-season contests during his stint and started 26 of those games. Williams’ starts dipped from 15 in 2015 to 11 last year, though, and he tallied a career-low 17 tackles. Nevertheless, the 29-year-old impressed Pro Football Focus, which ranked Williams a solid 44th among 127 qualified interior defensive linemen and, even though he had just half a sack, awarded him a strong pass-rushing grade.

With Williams out of the picture, the Raiders are down to Jihad Ward, Justin Ellis and Darius Latham as their D-tackles. Of course, with the draft coming up, they could add more bodies to the mix in the coming weeks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Eagles, Raiders, 49ers, Colts

Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis spoke Sunday on the statuses of two of the team’s injured linebackers, Kiko Alonso and DeMeco Ryans.

Regarding Alonso, who suffered a concussion Tuesday and has missed four practices: “Kiko’s fine,” said Davis, according to Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I’ve been coaching linebackers my whole career. It’s just part of that position, when it sneaks up on you nowadays, we have great protocol. It’s not an issue. Kiko’s doing great. He won’t miss a beat.”

Davis was more guarded when discussing Ryans, who is recovering from a ruptured right Achilles tendon for the second time in his nine-year career.

 “DeMeco is a pro all the way through and is taking strides ahead of where most people would be, but he still has a little ways to go,” Davis said.
Ryans has participated in all seven of the Eagles’ training camp practices, but next Sunday’s preseason opener against the Colts will be a much bigger litmus test.
“Any time you’re coming back from injury, you have to get in the game to see where you are,” said Ryans, who got hurt last November. “Go to the ground, tackle somebody, stand up, make sure everything is still intact. And mentally, I think that’s the last hurdle, going out and getting back in a game.”
More on Philly and the rest of the NFL:
  • The Eagles’ right guard situation could take some time to sort out, writes Jeff McLane of the Inquirer. The team has a vacancy there after cutting three-time Pro Bowl left guard Evan Mathis and replacing him with former RG Allen Barbre. John Moffitt, Matt Tobin, Andrew Gardner and Julian Vandervelde are competing for the job.
  • 49ers defensive coordinator Eric Mangini is using his linebackers’ flexibility to his advantage as he tries to find a way to fill the void left by Aldon Smith, whom the team cut earlier this week because of off-field issues. “A guy like Aldon is not a guy that you just can replace,” Mangini said, per ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez. “He’s got a unique skill set. But one of the things that we focused on defensively is building flexibility, in terms of what we can play, and then building flexibility with who’s going to play there.” The lion’s share of reps at Smith’s former spot have gone to Corey Lemonier and Eli Harold, writes Gutierrez.
  • The Raiders could have the biggest interior defensive line in the NFL when Dan Williams and Justin Ellis, who combine to weigh 665 pounds, line up side by side. The two have been paired together often in camp, writes Jerry McDonald of InsideBayArea.com. “To be able to have those guys in the front, we feel like you shouldn’t run the ball on us,” safety Charles Woodson said. “If they put those guys up there, we should be a very stout defense. That’s what we’re counting on.”
  • Colts head coach Chuck Pagano is bullish about the team’s secondary, which helped the defense finish a respectable 12th overall against the pass in 2014. “I think we have an excellent group. We got playmakers and smart guys that communicate well and play well together. I’m excited for that group,” Pagano said, according to USA Today.

AFC Mailbags: Jets, Steelers, Bengals, Colts, Jags

It’s Saturday mailbag time, and as free agency is coming to crawl, ESPN.com’s NFL writers are opening their mailbags and answering questions from readers. Here are some notes from the AFC:

  • While the Jets have been linked to Marcus Mariota at six, Rich Cimini would be stunned if the team tried to trade up to get him.
  • The Steelers released Hines Ward ago despite his legendary status in Pittsburgh, but are willing to wait for Troy Polamalu to decide for himself whether it is time to retire. The difference being this time around the team does not have any pressing salary cap issues that are being held up by the decision, according to Scott Brown.
  • The Bengals signed Pat Sims, and fans want to know if the team will still add to their defensive line. Coley Harvey doesn’t think they will go that route early in the draft, writing that the signing likely indicates they will look to fill holes elsewhere in rounds one through three.
  • The Colts have had one of the more miserable running back situations in the league over the past few seasons, due to injury, poor performance, and Trent Richardson. They will have a chance to put more assets toward the position in the draft, although Mike Wells hesitates to say which round the team will find a back deserving a draft pick.
  • The Jaguars need to have an impactful draft class, and Michael DiRocco answers a number of questions in his mailbag regarding draft prospects. He writes that the he thinks the team would take Leonard Williams over Dante Fowler Jr. if both were available, that he would be surprised of Todd Gurley was available for them in round two, and that Randy Gregory’s positive marijuana test should scare them.
  • The Texans were plagued for most of their existence with the inability to find a second receiver to complement Andre Johnson. In 2015, Johnson won’t be there anymore, and the team will now try to find a player to complement DeAndre Hopkins. The coaching staff values versatility, writes Tania Ganguli, and that could leave an “outside receiver” like DeVier Posey the odd man out.
  • The Raiders made a choice to sign Dan Williams over Terrance Knighton, and Bill Williamson answers the simple question, why? Williamson writes the team saw Williams as a more reliable long-term option, with Knighton’s weight issues.
  • The Chiefs signed Jeremy Maclin to add some firepower to a position group that failed to register a single touchdown catch in 2014. Still, the situation was desolate enough that Chiefs’ fans are still wondering if the team will target a wideout high in the draft. Adam Teicher writes that they could be interested in Davante Parker if he is available at No. 18, but the chances of taking Dorial Green-Beckham are diminished with Maclin in the fold.

Raiders Sign Dan Williams, Curtis Lofton

MARCH 13: Lofton’s deal is for three years and carries a total value of $18MM ($10MM in guarantees), according to ESPN’s Bill Williamson (via Twitter). Tom Pelissero of USA Today tweeted earlier Friday that Williams’ contract is worth $25MM over four years. It includes $15.5MM in guarantees.

MARCH 11: The Raiders missed out on a few of their top targets in the early wave of free agency over the weekend, but the team is poised to add two solid defenders to its roster, Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com reports. According to Wright (Twitter link), the Raiders are signing defensive tackle Dan Williams and linebacker Curtis Lofton. The terms of the deals are not yet known.

Lofton, 28, was one of the most dependable and durable pieces on the Saints’ defense in recent years, starting all 48 regular season contests for the team since arriving in New Orleans in 2012. In 2014, he racked up 145 tackles to go along with a forced fumble. However, while his stats looked solid on the surface, Pro Football Focus (subscription required) graded him as a bottom-five inside linebacker, out of 60 qualified players. Money was tight for New Orleans and Lofton no longer looked like he was worth his salary, so the Saints cut him loose earlier this week.

The Raiders were heavily connected to Terrance Knighton, one of the top defensive tackles on the open market this offseason, but they turned their attention to Williams once their appetite for Pot Roast had waned. We learned Tuesday afternoon that Williams had a deal in place with a team, and we now know that his home will be with the Raiders. Williams was also linked to the Lions, Giants, and Washington at different points in recent days. The 27-year-old Williams, who ranked as the No. 33 free agent on PFR’s Top 50 list, has started 40 games in his five-year career, all with the Cardinals, who selected him in the first round of the 2010 draft.

Contract Details: Orakpo, D. Williams, Allen

Here are some key details on some of the notable contracts agreed to or signed by free agents this week:

  • Brian Orakpo, OLB (Titans): Four years, $31MM base value. $8.5MM fully guaranteeed. $5MM signing bonus (Twitter links via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun).
  • Dan Williams, DT (Raiders): Four years, $25MM base value. $15.2MM guaranteed. $4MM roster bonus in 2015 (Twitter links via Wilson and Tom Pelissero of USA Today).
  • Nate Allen, S (Raiders): Four years, $23MM base value. $6.9MM fully guaranteed (Twitter links via Wilson)
  • Lance Kendricks, TE (Rams): Four years, $18.5MM base value. $6.75MM fully guaranteed. $4MM roster bonus in 2015 (Twitter links via Wilson).
  • Malcolm Smith, LB (Raiders): Two years, $7MM base value. $3.75MM fully guaranteed. $2MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Blaine Gabbert, QB (49ers): Two years, $4MM base value. $500K signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Henry Melton, DT (Buccaneers): One year, $3.75MM base value. $3.25MM fully guaranteed. $1.25MM available in incentives (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Adrian Clayborn, DE (Falcons): One year, $3MM base value. $750K signing bonus. $1.25MM available in incentives (Twitter links via Wilson).

Raiders Sign Lee Smith

WEDNESDAY, 4:36pm: The Raiders officially announced (via Twitter) the signing of Smith. Smith will get $3.1MM guaranteed in the deal, Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun tweets.

TUESDAY, 3:47pm: The Raiders have agreed to terms with free agent tight end Lee Smith, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). It’s a three-year, $9MM pact, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN. The 27-year-old blocking specialist has the spent the entirety of his four-year career with Buffalo.

Per Schefter, Oakland will also visit with tight end Jermaine Gresham today. Vic Tafur of the Oakland Tribune adds more (via Twitter), saying that while nothing is yet official, most expect the Raiders to sign Gresham and defensive tackle Terrance Knighton today. Knighton was said to be close to a deal with Oakland earlier today, though the Colts are also in the running.

The Raiders will host several other free agents, including defensive tackle Dan Williams and linebacker Curtis Lofton, today, tweets John Middlekauf of 95.7 The Game. Oakland could be choosing between Williams and Knighton, per Tafur (Twitter link).

Raiders Notes: Murray, Knighton, Williams

The latest out of Oakland…

  • The Raiders are in on running back DeMarco Murray, according to John Middlekauf of 95.7 The Game (Twitter link).
  • Despite reports that the two sides were nearing a deal, Oakland is no longer pursuing Terrance Knighton, tweets Dianna Marie Russini of NBC 4, who adds (via Twitter) that the Broncos are also out on Knighton.
  • Oakland’s interest in Knighton had waned, per ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson (via Twitter), who says the club is now focused on Dan Williams.

Dan Williams Has Deal In Place

Free agent defensive tackle Dan Williams has an agreed to sign with a unknown club, according to Aaron Leming of BearReport.com (Twitter link). Per Leming, William has informed the Bears that he will be signing elsewhere.

Williams has been linked to the Raiders, Washington, Lions, and Giants, but the latter club is reportedly no longer in the mix for him. The 27-year-old Williams, who ranked as the No. 33 free agent on PFR’s Top 50 list, has started 40 games in his five-year career, all with the Cardinals, who selected him in the first round of the 2010 draft.

Williams has spent the majority of his career as a nose tackle, so Washington, which plays a 3-4 defense, makes sense as a possible destination. The Lions, however, are looking to replace Ndamukong Suh, and Williams is capable of playing in a 4-3, so Detroit isn’t out of the question, either. Williams is expected to garner between $5-6MM per year. With Suh, Jared Odrick, Terrance Knighton, and Stephen Paea all nearing deals with other clubs, Williams and Nick Fairley sit atop the available crop of free agent interior lineman.

Extra Points: Spiller, Moore, Morgan

The latest from around the NFL..

  • There was speculation about it at one point, but the Dolphins will not be chasing running back C.J. Spiller at this time, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald tweets.
  • The Dolphins have been doing due diligence on finding a cheap backup defensive tackle in free agency, Salguero tweets. If they find one, that could spell the end of Randy Starks in Miami.
  • Some connected Rahim Moore to the Raiders since Jack Del Rio was his defensive coordinator last year, but Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter) hears that the Raiders won’t be in the mix for him.
  • The Buccaneers lost out on defensive end Trent Cole, but they’re still in the mix for Jabaal Sheard and Derrick Morgan, Roy Cummings of The Tampa Tribune tweets. They’re also still in the running for Parker.
  • The Titans still talking with Morgan, along with three other teams, Jim Wyatt of The Tennesseean tweets.
  • The Chiefs still have some interest in re-signing tackle Ryan Harris, but there’s nothing imminent on that front, Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press tweets.
  • Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com (on Twitter) heard that the Giants were closing in on free agent defensive tackle Dan Williams, but things quickly turned and Big Blue is no longer in the mix (link).