Daniel Kilgore

Dolphins Sign C Wesley Johnson

The Dolphins have signed free agent center Wesley Johnson and placed fellow pivot Daniel Kilgore on injured reserve, the club announced today. Miami also promoted defensive tackle Cameron Malveaux and confirmed the previously-reported release of defensive tackle Jordan Phillips.

Johnson, 27, has appeared in 31 games (23 starts) with the Jets over the past two seasons. The 2014 fifth-round pick out of Vanderbilt joined the Lions earlier this offseason, but he was released by the team at the end of the preseason. Since then, Johnson has worked out with the Vikings and Ravens. He auditioned for the Dolphins earlier today, and he’ll know slide in behind Travis Swanson on Miami’s center depth chart.

Kilgore, meanwhile, suffered a torn pectoral in Week 4, so he’d been fully expected to land on injured reserve. While Kilgore is technically eligible to return later this season, the nature of his injury likely means he’s done for the year. Kilgore signed an extension with the 49ers earlier this year, but San Francisco shipped him to Miami after landing free agent center Weston Richburg. He’s signed through the 2020 season, but the Dolphins could opt to release him with no dead money hitting their salary cap.

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Dolphins’ McCain, Kilgore Suffer Injuries

Sunday’s loss to the Patriots was rough, and this Monday isn’t looking any brighter for the Dolphins. The club has learned that cornerback Bobby McCain and center Daniel Kilgore both suffered injuries in Sunday’s 38-7 drumming, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (on Twitter). McCain is dealing with a knee injury while Kilgore has a torn triceps. 

There is no timetable for Kilgore, but a torn triceps is a serious injury with a high risk for a repeat tear if the player is not given enough time to heal properly. Logic dictates that Kilgore is a candidate to go on injured reserve with a chance to return later this year, but we’ll have to wait for more info on that front.

McCain, meanwhile, is expected to miss two or three weeks. The slot specialist is an integral part of Miami’s defense – as evidenced by his four-year, $27MM extension – so the Dolphins are hoping to get him back on the field as soon as possible. At minimum, he’ll miss contests against the Bengals and Bears.

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AFC East Rumors: Gronk, Dolphins, Jets

Rob Gronkowski‘s contract has come up in several news cycles in recent years, the all-world tight end still being attached to a deal he signed back in 2012. But the future Hall of Fame Patriots pass-catcher said he wasn’t agonizing over the team adjusting his deal, which it did for the second straight year via incentive package. Gronk did sit out the voluntary portion of New England’s offseason program and considered retirement, but he says the drama’s in the past as he prepares for his ninth NFL season.

It didn’t weigh on me at all,” Gronkowski said of his near-offseason-long negotiations with the Pats (via NESN.com). “Everything’s always in the works. Nothing’s just going to happen in a day, something like that. It’s in the past now. It happened last week, so it’s go time now.”

Gronkowski also said had he not been satisfied with his situation, he would have followed Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack‘s footsteps.

I’m super satisfied with my situation,” Gronkowski said. “If I wasn’t, I would try to pull a move like they did. It works out. You get rewarded for holding out. But I’m not frustrated at all or anything. I’m super satisfied and just ready to go.”

The Patriots will need Gronkowski plenty while Julian Edelman sits and a thin receiving corps attempts to become a reliable source for Tom Brady targets. Here’s the latest from the Pats’ rivals:

  • The Dolphins submitted an unsuccessful waiver claim for a Bills cut, linebacker Tanner Vallejo, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. Vallejo ended up in Cleveland because of the Browns’ top waiver priority position, one they’ve used frequently over the past week. Miami also wanted to keep two of their own cuts — running back Buddy Howell and tackle Eric Smith — but saw the former land with the Texans via waiver claim and the latter end up choosing to sign with the Patriots’ practice squad instead of the Dolphins’.
  • Dolphins skepticism is rampant around the NFL-following world going into this season, with Miami sitting as one of Las Vegas’ longest-odds Super Bowl propositions, but one reason the team believes it will improve from a disappointing 2017 is its offensive line. The Dolphins believe Laremy Tunsil is set for a “monster” season and that Daniel Kilgore has filled in nicely for Mike Pouncey — as both a leader and a player, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald notes. Kilgore and Josh Sitton are now in place on a Miami front that’s endured questions about its interior line — be it Pouncey’s health or guards’ underwhelming performance — for years.
  • Shifting back to practice squad gets, the Jets paid a premium for two of their 10 taxi-squadders. Defensive end Bronson Kaufusi and running back De’Angelo Henderson will make four times as much as league-minimum practice squad players will, with NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero reporting (via Twitter) Kaufusi will earn $32K per week and Henderson will receive $30K per week. The practice squad minimum for 2018 is just less than $8K weekly. The Broncos liked what they saw from Henderson in the 2017 preseason, but the 2017 sixth-round pick did not see much game action behind C.J. Anderson, Jamaal Charles and Devontae Booker. Additions of Royce Freeman and UDFA Phillip Lindsay routed Henderson out of Denver this year.
  • The Jets have one of the league’s least established tight end situations, but the team is high on rookie Chris Herndon, Albert Breer of SI.com writes. A fourth-round pick, Herndon’s caught the Jets’ eye as both a receiver and blocker and is a player the team believes will be a long-term cog. Jordan Leggett, a 2017 fifth-rounder, resides as the Jets’ other primary tight end candidate after Austin Seferian-Jenkins‘ defection to the Jaguars.

49ers Trade C Daniel Kilgore To Dolphins

The 49ers announced they’ve traded center Daniel Kilgore to the Dolphins. Kilgore will take the place of Mike Pouncey, who will be released

In the swap, the Niners will send a seventh-round pick to Miami and receive a seventh-round pick in return, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. In the deal, Miami will assume both Kilgore’s contract and bonus.

Kilgore inked an extension with San Francisco just one month ago, but the signing of Weston Richburg has displaced him. There was some thought to Richburg playing guard for the Niners, but we now know that he’ll be lining up at his native position.

Kilgore will cost the Dolphins $5.3MM in 2018, including a $2.3MM roster bonus that comes due on Thursday. After that, he has cap hits of $2.7MM in 2019 and $3.6MM in 2020. Those numbers are significantly cheaper than the contract of Pouncey, who would have carried cap hits of $9MM, $8.2MM, and $9MM over the next three seasons.

Last summer, Kilgore projected as a reserve for San Francisco. However, after the Niners waived Jeremy Zuttah, he beat out free agent pickup Tim Barnes for the starting job. The advanced metrics weren’t keen on him, but the Niners felt he had considerable value. That is, until Richburg became available this week.

[RELATED: Dolphins Depth Chart]

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NFC Notes: Panthers, Rams, 49ers, Cowboys

Hedge fund manager and Steelers minority owner David Tepper is a name to watch in the Panthers‘ sale, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (video link). Tepper, based in Miami, reportedly has a net worth of $11.4 billion, so he certainly has the capital to pull off a purchase of the Carolina franchise. A minority owner of the Steelers since 2009, Tepper boasts 5% of the Pittsburgh club. He’s the third candidate to be linked to the Panthers ownership, joining South Carolina businessman Ben Navarro and former UFC owner Frank Fertitta.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Wideout Tavon Austin is widely expected to be released by the Rams this offseason, and Los Angeles could end up seeing a bit of financial relief if Austin is signed by another club. Austin’s contract contains offsets, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, meaning the Rams will save money if and when Austin lands a new contract. Austin, 26, will earn a fully guaranteed $5MM roster bonus whether he’s on LA’s roster or not, but the Rams will have to pay the 5’8″ pass-catcher another $3MM if he’s still around on March 16. A former first-round pick, Austin managed only 13 receptions for 47 yards in 2017.
  • Buccaneers cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah was medically cleared on Tuesday after missing the entire 2017 campaign with a knee injury, tweets Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. The 25-year-old Adjei-Barimah appeared in 23 games with Tampa Bay from 2015-16 and averaged 53% playtime on defense. Adjei-Barimiah was also a key contributor on special teams, as he played on roughly a third of the Buccaneers’ ST snaps during those two seasons. He’s now scheduled to become an restricted free agent this offseason, but it’s unclear if Tampa will tender him a contract, per Auman.
  • Daniel Kilgore‘s new three-year deal with the 49ers is worth nearly $11.78MM and and contains $4.825MM fully guaranteed, according to Adam Caplan of SiriusXM (Twitter link). The 30-year-old Kilgore was a backup or injured for much of the first five years of his career, but he’s started 29 games for the 49ers over the past two seasons. For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus ranked Kilgore as just the 23rd-best center in the league in 2017, but San Francisco is clearly higher on him than that finish would indicate.
  • The Cowboys have hired Ken Amato as a defensive assistant, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Amato, who spent nine years with the Titans as a long snapper, worked with Dallas as a special teams assistant in 2017.

West Notes: Rams, 49ers, Broncos, Raiders

Two Rams defenders — linebacker Mark Barron and Kayvon Webster — recently underwent shoulder surgery, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). While Barron’s operation will allow him to be ready for training camp, Webster might not be available due to the torn Achilles which ended his 2017 campaign. Indeed, Webster had his shoulder procedure now so that he can rehabilitate both injuries at the same time, per Rapoport. Los Angeles will be counting on the 27-year-old Webster next season, as No. 1 cornerback Trumaine Johnson is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency and won’t be franchise-tagged for a third consecutive campaign. Webster, who followed Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips from Denver last offseason, is entering his contract year.

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

  • Daniel Kilgore‘s new three-year deal with the 49ers is worth nearly $12MM and and contains $7MM in guarantees, tweets Rapoport. Kilgore, who was roughly a month away from becoming a free agent, said he accepted a team-friendly contract so San Francisco can ink quality free agents this offseason, per Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). The 30-year-old Kilgore was a backup or injured for much of the first five years of his career, but he’s started 29 games for the 49ers over the past two seasons. For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus ranked Kilgore as just the 23rd-best center in the league in 2017, but San Francisco is clearly higher on him than that finish would indicate.
  • The Broncos and the Seahawks are two teams who could dictate the 2018 offseason, as Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com writes. While one recent report indicated Denver wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are likely to stick on the club’s 2018 roster, other general mangers believe one or both will be available on the trade market. The Broncos are also trying to land a franchise quarterback and deal cornerback Aqib Talib, meaning they’ll be heavily involved in transactional machinations over the next few weeks. Seattle, meanwhile, is facing change at multiple areas along its vaunted defense, as injuries to Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor could cloud the team’s plans.
  • Free agent linebacker Michael Scherer recently worked out for the Raiders, reports veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (Twitter link). Scherer, a Missouri product, appeared in 26 games for the Tigers from 2014-15 before a knee injury ended his senior season after seven contests in 2016. He’s yet to land an NFL contract, but he did audition for the Bears and Giants last year.

49ers, C Daniel Kilgore Agree To Extension

The 49ers announced they have signed center Daniel Kilgore to a three-year contract extension. The new deal will take him through the 2020 season. Daniel Kilgore (Vertical)

[RELATED: 49ers Likely To Re-Sign Brock Coyle]

Initially, it appeared that Kilgore would be riding the pine in San Francisco for the 2017 season. However, the Niners waived Jeremy Zuttah over the summer and Kilgore beat out free agent pickup Tim Barnes, allowing him to start all 16 games in the middle. The advanced metrics weren’t big on the 30-year-old (he ranked as just the 23rd-best center in the league, per Pro Football Focus), but the Niners were very high on his work.

Financial details of Kilgore’s deal are not yet known. If Kilgore’s contract is somewhere in the middle of the league’s centers, he could see an average annual value of around $4MM. Ben Jones is the 14th highest paid center in the NFL based on AAV and he earns $4.375MM/season on the four-year deal he signed with the Titans in 2016.

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NFC Notes: Griffin, Stafford, Forbath, 49ers

The Seahawks defense continues to take hits on the injury front as the team has now learned that starting cornerback Shaquill Griffin has been ruled out for Sunday’s game vs. the 49ers with a concussion, according to Gregg Bell of The News Tribune (Twitter link). Bell adds that lineman Oday Aboushi will miss the matchup with a shoulder injury as well, so Seattle will once again have to expose backups to expansive playing time.

It would seem that cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane will get the starts on the outside, with either rookie Ethan Pocic or third-year lineman Mark Glowinski filling in for Aboushi at right guard.

Seattle’s roster looks a whole lot different without the likes of Griffin, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor in the starting lineup, which has contributed greatly to the Seahawks up-and-down sort of season. The team still has an outstanding defensive line and is right in the thick of the playoff race, but is currently facing a lot of adversity as it continues to lose quality players as the season wears on.

  • In what was a tremendous show of resiliency on Thanksgiving, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford actually finished the game after he suffered what looked to be a serious leg injury. However, even though the talented QB was able to return, you can clearly see that he is not 100% in a video posted to Instagram by Davie Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, depicting Stafford hobbling away after his postgame press conference. It remains to be seen whether Stafford can continue to play in the weeks to come, but we should learn more about the overall severity of the injury next week.
  • Vikings kicker Kai Forbath apparently cut his foot on the nullified block field goal, but should not miss any time moving forward, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). Forbath had been one of the best kickers in the league up until the last few weeks when he missed two field goals against the Rams and suffered the aforementioned blocked kick yesterday.
  • The 49ers are as expected not in playoff contention this year, but still await some key decisions on potential free agents at season’s end. Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, looked at six impending free agents who could be on the way out after the 2017 season is over. Branch noted running back Carlos Hyde, safety Eric Reid, center Daniel Kilgore, defensive end Aaron Lynch, defensive lineman Tank Carradine and cornerback Dontae Johnson as all guys that seemed primed to test the open market. There are a variety of factors that go into these decisions, but it’s interesting to see how the team may approach these players in the final six weeks of the season given their impending free agency.

10 Centers The Saints Could Pursue

Saints center Max Unger went under the knife to help fix an issue with his foot, and that surgery will cause him to miss the start of the season. With no exact timetable in place for his return, the Saints will likely consider out-of-house options to help fill the void.

With some help from PFR’s Dallas Robinson, here are centers that New Orleans could look into acquiring:

  • Nick Mangold (free agent): Mangold remains on the open market and he stands as the most obvious choice for the Saints to consider. The Saints would be hard-pressed to find anyone with a resume as impressive as Mangold’s and the seven-time Pro Bowler probably wouldn’t cost all that much at this stage of the offseason. At the same time, there’s a reason why he is still available here in May and word of clubs asking him to change positions isn’t exactly encouraging. "<strong
  • Jason Kelce (Eagles): Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com was quick to connect the dots on Monday morning after word of Unger’s injury broke. The Eagles reportedly have had Kelce on the trading block for some time now and the Saints would now be a logical landing spot for him. The Eagles beat writer suggests that a Kelce deal could see running back Mark Ingram going to Philly, but I personally have a hard time seeing that happen. If the Saints are unable to meet the Eagles’ asking price for Kelce, however, they might be able to swing a deal for another interesting option on their roster.
  • Stefen Wisniewski (Eagles): If the Eagles were to trade Kelce, Wisniewski or guard Isaac Seumalo would be the top candidates to step into the starting role. However, Wisniewski himself would make lots of sense as a stopgap for the Saints. Wisniewski was a starter for five straight years with the Raiders and Jaguars before landing with the Eagles as a reserve. In addition to that starting experience, he also offers experience at guard, so he could be used at multiple spots once Unger returns to action. Pro Football Focus ranked him 39th among 72 eligible guards last season with strong marks for his pass blocking skills.
  • Joe Hawley (Buccaneers): The Buccaneers are moving Ali Marpet to center and he could very well wind up as the starter. There’s also Evan Dietrich-Smith and guard/tackle Ken Pamphile to consider for the No. 1 job and that could make Hawley expendable. The 28-year-old (29 in October) has been the Bucs’ primary center for the last two years, but he could be on the outside looking in after camp concludes. This offseason, he re-signed with the team on a two-year, $5.5MM deal with just $1MM guaranteed. It’s an affordable deal that the Saints could easily wiggle out of next year, if need be. Alternatively, the Bucs may want to dangle Dietrich-Smith in New Orleans’ direction.
  • Tim Barnes (49ers): Barnes just showed up in San Francisco, but indications are that the Niners will use Jeremy Zuttah as their starting center in 2o17. Before getting cut this offseason, Barnes spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons as the Rams’ starter. Another Niner, Daniel Kilgore, could have appeal for the Saints.
  • Cameron Erving (Browns): The Browns are planning to move Erving to right tackle now that J.C. Tretter is in town, but perhaps the Saints would be interested in seeing what he can do in the middle. Then again, he was shifted to right tackle last year after performing poorly in 12 games at center.
  • Matt Slauson (Chargers): Slauson isn’t guaranteed to start this year thanks to the presence of Max Tuerk, Forrest Lamp, and Dan Feeney. All three players are rookies (Tuerk didn’t play in 2016 thanks to his knee injury) but the team is high on each of them. In theory, Slauson could be shifted over to guard with Tuerk starting in the middle, but it’s also possible that Feeney starts at right guard over him. Slauson would be a valuable swing reserve for Los Angeles, but the Bolts might also be willing to trade him thanks to their glut of O-Line options.
  • Joe Berger (Vikings): Vikings coach Mike Zimmer sees third round rookie Pat Elflein as a center, and that could potentially make Berger expendable. Berger, 35 later this month, has started 68 games over the course of his career. He graded out as the 12th best guard in the entire NFL last season, according to PFF. He earned an even stronger overall score in 2015 when he primarily played in the middle. Berger still has plenty in the tank, so it would be harder to pry him away than some of the other names on this list.

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49ers Place Center Daniel Kilgore On IR

The 49ers announced today that they’ve placed starting center Daniel Kilgore on injured reserve with a knee injury and promoted offensive lineman Alex Balducci from the practice squad.Daniel Kilgore (Vertical)

[RELATED: 49ers Place Vance McDonald On IR]

Kilgore, who turns 29 years old this week, had been in the midst of his first season as a full-time starter along the San Francisco offensive line, and though he’d played more than 90% of the club’s offensive snaps, he hadn’t been all that effective, grading as just the league’s No. 30 center, according to Pro Football Focus. Under the terms of extension signed in 2014, Kilgore is signed through the 2017 season, and is set to count for just over $1.5MM on the Niners’ cap next year.

Balducci, meanwhile, will join Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner as fellow Oregon defensive linemen (that’s right, defensive linemen) on the San Francisco roster under former Ducks head coach Chip Kelly. After playing on the defensive side of the ball during his collegiate days, who has been transitioning to offense while on the Niners’ practice squad this year, as Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee details.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.