Danny McCray

Bills Work Out Jeron Johnson, James Ihedigbo

The Bills auditioned a group of safeties on this week, including Jeron JohnsonJames Ihedigbo, and Danny McCray, as Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. The Bills already signed Sergio Brown out of that workout, so it doesn’t sound like Johnson et al will be signing with Buffalo at this time. Jeron Johnson (vertical)

After serving as a reserve defensive back and a special-teamer for several years with the Seahawks, Johnson signed with the Redskins last year with the hope of getting more playing time. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the kind of burn he was hoping for. This yea, Johnson had a quiet offseason before hooking on with the Chiefs in August. They dropped him in September, leaving him to roam the workout circuit. Since then, Johnson has shown his stuff for the Giants, Ravens, and Bills but has not found a home.

After starting 21 games for the Lions over the past two seasons, safety Ihedigbo has been unable to find work this season and he hasn’t had much in the way of auditions either. His late October tryout for the Dolphins was his first known workout of the season and the Bills visit marks his second. Last year, the 32-year-old was ranked as Pro Football Focus’ No. 64 safety out of 69 qualifiers. However, 2014 was arguably his best season ever.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Transactions: McCray, Swaim, Baggs

The Cowboys signed safety Danny McCray to a one-year deal, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com writes. McCray spent the first four years of his career with the Cowboys before joining the Bears last year to follow special teams coach Joe DeCamillis. The former Cowboys UDFA signing played in 15 games last season and had 10 special teams tackles. Here’s a look at the rest of the moves the Cowboys made today..

  • The Cowboys signed seventh-round draft pick Geoff Swaim to a four-year deal, as Rainer Sabin of The Dallas Morning News writes. Swaim’s maximum allowable cap figure in 2015 will be $448K. According to Sabin, the University of Texas product is expected to serve as a blocking tight end. The 6’4″ tight end played in 26 career games for UT, including 22 starts, after transferring from Butte College in California.
  • More from Sabin, who writes that the Cowboys also signed UDFA linebacker Donnie Baggs. Baggs, from Texas A&M, was a tryout player last weekend during the team’s rookie minicamp.
  • To make room for McCray and Baggs, the Cowboys waived linebackers Keith Smith and Will Smith. Keith Smith appeared in ten games last season while Will Smith had several stints on the practice squad.

Biggs On Bears: Clausen, McCray, McManis

One of the heartiest post-game reads around is the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs’ “10 thoughts,” and this morning’s wrap-up of the Bears’ loss in Seattle is full of tid-bits:

  • Technically teams have until 3 p.m. Tuesday to cut down from 90 to 75, but Biggs expects an announcement before Monday. “That’s because the Bears (and other teams) don’t want to go back to the practice field to prepare for the exhibition finale and have a player slated for the first wave of cuts suffer an injury. In that scenario, the team could be on the hook for several hundred thousand dollars if the injury is bad enough.”
  • Jimmy Clausen should be Jay Cutler‘s backup, in Biggs’ opinion. While the preseason numbers for Clausen and Jordan Palmer are similar, Clausen has looked more decisive and experienced.
  • “All signs point” to Danny McCray starting at safety in Week 1. “At this point, McCray might be about the only choice the Bears have at free safety,” says Biggs.
  • Austen Lane and Trevor Scott have shown well enough to wonder if the Bears will keep five defensive ends. David Bass, who was part of the rotation last season, looks like the odd man out.
  • Eben Britton‘s injury has opened the door for Michael Ola, who has played well and shown desirable versatility, increasing the chance he earns one of the team’s reserve lineman spots. Marc Trestman values his sixth lineman, as he used Britton for 235 snaps last season, primarily as an eligible tackle. “In a perfect world, coach Marc Trestman has a player that wears an eligible number to handle that role this season as an in-line blocker, extra tight end or even a presence in the backfield,” says Biggs, which is why tight end Matthew Mulligan looks like a “good bet” to secure a roster spot.
  • In “I’m not saying, I’m just saying” fashion, Biggs highlights the play of Sherrick McManis, a 26-year-old cornerback whose value to this point in his career has been as a core special-teams player. However, the Bears No. 4 and No. 5 cornerback spots are up for grabs, and Biggs notes “Since training camp has opened, McManis is at the tops of a chart in the defensive backs room for takeaways. He’s not only practiced well, he’s played well in preseason and has seven tackles on defense, one interception, one tackle for loss two passes deflected and two stops on special teams.” Biggs intimates McManis’ situation could have the Bears front office flashing back to that of Corey Graham, whom the team undervalued. Graham went on to earn a two-year deal in Baltimore where he played well enough on defense to get $8.1MM guaranteed from the Bills this March.

Bears To Sign Craig Steltz, Danny McCray

The Bears have agreed to terms on one-year contracts with safeties Craig Steltz and Danny McCray, the team announced today (via Twitter). It’s a return to the team for Steltz, while McCray will head to Chicago from the Cowboys.

Steltz saw limited action on defense, playing 88 of his 123 total snaps in Week 13 against the Vikings, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). However, the 27-year-old was a core piece of the special teams unit, recording 12 tackles on kick and punt returns.

McCray, 26, played a similar role in Dallas, only seeing nine total snaps on defense, but logging seven special teams tackles. The LSU alum played a larger role in 2012, starting 10 games at strong safety, but figures to assume a reserve role in Chicago.

NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Giants, Hall

While Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said yesterday that a decision needs to be made on DeMarcus Ware, he took it a bit further on today’s SportsCenter. As Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News writes, Jones is certainly not guaranteeing that Ware will return:

“There’s no question when you are where we are on the cap… and you have a defensive player that’s your highest paid defensive player, and he hasn’t been on the field much the last two years, that has to be considered,” Jones said. “You can’t have it all.”

As the Cowboys figure out what to do with Ware and his huge cap hit, let’s see what else is happening around the NFC East…