Dede Westbrook

Extra Points: Broncos, Talib, Jaguars, Lee

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib wants to finish his career with the Broncos, but he also knows that a return might not be in the cards.

If I wasn’t [returning], it wouldn’t be the most surprising thing in the world,” Talib said on Denver’s Altitude 950 (transcription via Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post). “You have three corners making big money and that’s rare to have. I had conversations with our staff during our exit meetings and stuff, so it’s kind of up in the air. But I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m still here. Just put it like this: I had good conversations with [head coach] Vance [Joseph], with [defensive coordinator] Joe Woods. I mean, things change. But there’s a chance I will be back.”

Talib, 31, has two years left on the five-year deal he signed with the Broncos in 2014. He’s slated to carry a cap hit of $12MM in 2018, but the team can release him and carry just $1MM in dead money. If Talib wants to stay in Denver, he’ll probably have to take a pay cut to make it happen. The Broncos can’t afford to squander any of their cap room, particularly with Bradley Roby’s salary increasing from ~$1MM to $8.5MM next season.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee did not practice on Wednesday and may not practice this week. However, the belief is that he will be able to take the field against the Bills this weekend, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Lee had the most receptions of any Jags receiver this year (56) and finished second in receiving yards (702). If Lee cannot go, Jacksonville will have to lean a bit more heavily on Allen Hurns, Dede Westbrook, and Keelan Cole.
  • Meanwhile, Titans running back DeMarco Murray has been ruled out of Saturday’s Wild Card game against the Chiefs (Twitter link via Rapoport). As a result, Derrick Henry will see a larger share of carries.
  • The Giants‘ interview with Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is scheduled for Friday, Rapoport tweets.
  • The Cardinals will have their interview with Patricia on Saturday, Rapoport hears. Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores is set to interview on the same day.
  • The Lions will get to talk with Patricia over the weekend, according to Rapoport.

Jaguars Activate WR Dede Westbrook

Wide receiver Dede Westbrook is finally set to make his NFL debut. The Jaguars activated the rookie wideout from the reserve/injured list this morning, the team announced. The organization also activated defensive back Calvin Pryor from the reserve/injured list and promoted receiver Larry Pinkard from the practice squad. To make room on the roster, the team placed wideout Arrelious Benn on the injured reserve and waived defensive tackle Sheldon Day and receive Jaelen Strong.

Dede Westbrook (vertical)We learned in late October that the Jaguars had designated Westbrook for return. The fourth-rounder was initially placed on the injured reserve with a core injury prior to the start of the regular season. A former Oklahoma standout, Westbrook collected 80 receptions for 1,524 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, making him a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Considering the fact that Allen Robinson was already out for the season and the team let go of two wideouts today, Westbrook could easily slide behind Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns on the depth chart.

Pryor was claimed off waivers from the Browns in September, although he was placed on the injured reserve shortly thereafter. As our own Dallas Robinson noted, Pryor will be stuck in a reserve role behind Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson, who both rank among the NFL’s top defensive backs, according to Pro Football Focus. Of course, the 25-year-old still has plenty in the tank, as he finished the 2016 campaign with 62 tackles and six passes defended in 15 games for the Jets.

Benn, a 2010 second-round pick, has been stuck towards the bottom of the depth chart during his two-year tenure in Jacksonville. After having hauled in 55 receptions during his first two seasons in the league, Benn only has six receptions for 128 yards and one touchdown in two seasons with the Jaguars (24 games). The 29-year-old was productive on special teams, however, compiling eight tackles over the past two years. Strong, a 2015 third-round pick, joined the Jaguars in mid-September after being waived by the Texans. He ultimately didn’t see the field for the Jaguars. Pinkard, a former undrafted free agent out of Old Dominion, has yet to get in an NFL game. Day, a 2016 fourth-round pick, was buried on the depth chart for the Jaguars, as the 23-year-old had only compiled three tackles and one sack in six games this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Koetter, Colts, Jaguars

Preseason playoff projection darlings, the Buccaneers are floundering and reside alone in last place in the NFC South. They are likely going to miss postseason play for the 10th straight year, and second-year coach Dirk Koetter could be on the hot seat. The team’s former OC made an interesting comment about one of the components that could be behind the Bucs’ five-game losing streak.

What happens when a team loses is sometimes (the players) are not confident in the coach, or the scheme, or the other side of the ball or their teammates,’’ Koetter said, via Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders. “That’s human nature. That happens in every aspect of life. Do I think there is possibly some of that going on (here)? Yeah, there probably is. The easiest way to fix it is (to) play good team football and get a win.’’

The Bucs will now be playing without Jameis Winston for multiple games and will attempt to snap their skid Sunday without Mike Evans as well.

Here’s the latest from the South divisions in advance of the Week 10 Sunday slate.

  • Andrew Luck is seeking possible non-traditional medical treatments in Europe, but the Colts quarterback’s background in Germany — where he spent much of his childhood — may make him more amenable to these techniques, sports injury expert Will Carroll tweets. The Indianapolis Star’s Stephen Holder also doesn’t view the 28-year-old quarterback’s decision as an alarming development regarding his progress (Twitter link), assessing it as “incremental” in Luck’s rehab process. The goal regarding Luck’s overseas trip is to not only reduce the pain he’s experiencing but to address muscular function as well, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).
  • Clayton Geathers joined Luck in being sidelined for the Colts’ first nine games, but the third-year safety looks set to return after a scary neck injury soon. Stashed on the PUP list, Geathers has looked “tremendous,” per Chuck Pagano (via Holder, on Twitter). Indianapolis hopes to deploy Geathers coming out of its Week 11 bye. He started in nine games last season but has missed over a year of action due to the neck injury he suffered last season. Geathers underwent surgery in March.
  • The Jaguars aren’t ready to activate Dede Westbrook. The rookie wideout won’t play in Jacksonville’s Week 10 game against the Chargers on Sunday, Mike Kaye of First Coast News tweets. The Jags designated Westbrook to return from IR in late October but have just more than a week to decide if he will play for them this season or spend all year on IR.

Jaguars Designate Dede Westbrook For Return

The Jaguars have officially designated wide receiver Dede Westbrook for return. The team now has 21 days to activate him to the 53-man roster or otherwise shut him down for the season. Dede Westbrook (vertical)

[RELATED: Jaguars Interested In Calvin Johnson?]

Westbrook was placed on IR with a core injury prior to the team’s Week 1 game. The hope from the get-go was that he would be able to return midway through the season and it appears that he is on schedule.

Per league rules, each team can designate to two players to return from IR each season. If an IR-DTR player is not placed on the roster within the three week window, the bullet is still used. So, if Westbrook is not activated to the 53-man roster within 21 days for some reason, the Jaguars will have only one IR-DTR opportunity remaining.

The Jaguars could use some extra oomph on offense – they’re even said to be interested in trading for Calvin Johnson, if he’s willing to play again – so they’ll be happy to have Westbrook in the mix.

Westbrook, an Oklahoma product, was selected with a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft. He had 80 grabs for 1,524 yards and 17 scores last year, catapulting him to fourth place in Heisman voting.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Chargers, Cutler, Thomas

The LA Chargers experiment has come under fire from some for their small stadium, high prices and noticeable attendance from the road fanbases over the first six weeks of the NFL season. However, a Chargers team representative reportedly defended the move during last week’s owners meetings, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. La Canfora points out that the team does have a few years to get things right before they move into the new Inglewood stadium that will be shared with their Hollywood rival Rams. Although, there’s still concern about the lack of a Plan B if things continue to sputter for the newly relocated franchise. In addition to facing the challenge of capturing attention of the fanbase from the now 5-2 Rams, the Chargers are set in a smaller stadium and less certainty off the gridiron as well, even though it would seem that the team’s ownership group is not backing down from the problems that have stemmed from their controversial move from San Diego.

  • Jay Cutler will soon undergo X-Rays on his ribs due to an injury he suffered in today’s game vs. the Jets, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter Link). Rapoport adds that team officials fear he has suffered cracked ribs, but will “check it all”. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com adds that he is now hearing Cutler may be out for the next 2-3 weeks. The injury adds to what has been a pedestrian season for the once retired 34 year-old. Through six games, he’s accumulated a QBR in the 30s, throwing almost as many picks as touchdowns (7 TD-5 INT). For the time being, Miami will turn to backup Matt Moore who led the team to a second half comeback in today’s win over New York.
  • In another injury news, All-Pro Browns tackle Joe Thomas had his consecutive snaps streak broken after exiting with an apparent left arm injury. The injury represents another blow to what has been another gloomy season in Cleveland. The veteran lineman sent out a personal tweet after today’s game confirming that he will undergo an MRI tomorrow. Thomas has been a staple on the Browns offensive line since he was drafted by the team third overall in 2006. He played an incredible 10,363 offensive snaps until he exited today, which truly shows that grit and toughness of arguably best offensive lineman in the league for the past decade.
  • Patriots highly-paid cornerback Stephon Gilmore sat out last week after suffering a concussion when he collided with the Bucs Mike Evans in Week 5. However, even with Gilmore and fellow corner Eric Rowe sidelined, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com opines that the team is more likely to promote a player for the practice squad than sign a veteran free agent like Leon Hall. Without Gilmore, the Pats will be relying Malcolm Butler, Johnson Bademosi and Jonathan Jones in the short-term.
  • Jags rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook is eligible to come off the IR after week 8 and he could be a welcomed deep ball threat for an offense that lost Allen Robinson early in the season, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. DiRocco cautioned that the team’s 2017 fourth round pick hasn’t played an NFL snap, but could operate as the Jags third wideout behind Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns because of his speed and big play ability. Jacksonville had struggled passing the ball through the first six weeks of the season, but found their rhythm today, albeit against a struggling Colts defense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Place WR Dede Westbrook On IR

The Jaguars are placing rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook on injured reserve and releasing offensive lineman Earl Watford, according to Mike Kaye of First Coast News (Twitter link).Dede Westbrook (Vertical)

Westbrook, the Jaguars’ fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, had moved ahead of veteran Allen Hurns on the club’s depth chart, and had been set to open the season as Jacksonville’s slot receiver behind starters Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee. However, a “core” injury has now landed Westbrook on injured reserve, although he could return to action later this season. If the Jaguars opt to designate him as a return player, Westbrook could begin practicing in six weeks and play in eight.

Watford, meanwhile, signed a two-year, $5MM deal with the Jaguars this spring that contained $1MM in guarantees. He’d been expected to serve as depth along the offensive line, and while he’s a free agent for now, it’s entirely possible he could be re-signed after Week 1. That would enable Jacksonville to be free from guaranteeing Watford’s 2017 base salary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Sign Rookie WR Dede Westbrook

Dede Westbrook has formally signed his rookie deal, according to an announcement from the Jaguars. Per the terms of his slot, the former Oklahoma wide receiver will earn $3.1MM over four years with a $676K+ signing bonus. Dede Westbrook (vertical)

Westbrook probably would have gone earlier in the draft if not for two domestic violence arrests in his past. Some teams removed him from the draft board completely, but the Jaguars apparently felt that the potential reward with Westbrook was worth the risk and PR backlash. Before the draft, one AFC area scout told Albert Breer of The MMQB that the receiver is a “degenerate” and someone that he would not consider worthy of a roster spot.

The youngster has also been knocked for his lack of size, but some see shades of DeSean Jackson in his game. The speedster undeniably impressed in his final year at OU with 80 catches for 1,524 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Westbrook is now the third member of the Jaguars’ 2017 draft class to sign. Seventh round cornerback Jalen Myrick (Minnesota) and seventh round fullback Marquez Williams (Miami) both inked their contracts earlier this month. The team still has running back Leonard Fournette, tackle Cam Robinson, defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot, and linebacker Blair Brown on the agenda. For a full rundown of which picks have signed and have not signed for all 32 teams, check out PFR’s running list.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Fallout: Kizer, Abdullah, Butt, Jags

The Browns were the club most frequently connected to new Bears’ QB Mitch Trubisky prior to the draft, but Chicago made the surprising decision to trade up to the No. 2 overall pick and nab the former UNC signal-caller, and then Patrick Mahomes came off the board before Cleveland could nab him with the No. 12 overall selection. So the Browns dealt that pick and waited until the the second round to get a quarterback, selecting Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, whose stock slipped over the last few months but who certainly has first-round ability.

As Tony Grossi of ESPN.com writes, the Browns are open to having Kizer start right away. Head coach Hue Jackson said, “If he can handle [starting], great. We are not going to say, ‘No, you can’t play,’ if he is ready to play.”

Now for more fallout from the 2017 draft:

  • The Lions did not select a running back in this year’s draft, and as Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com writes, GM Bob Quinn stated afterwards that Ameer Abdullah, who missed almost all of 2016 with a foot injury, will be the team’s starting back going into 2017.
  • The Packers drafted three running backs over the past several days, but head coach Mike McCarthy said that converted wideout Ty Montgomery will “absolutely” be the team’s starting back (via Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal).
  • The Cardinals landed guard Dorian Johnson in the fourth round of this year’s draft, even though his talent level should have made him a Day 2 selection. Johnson has a liver condition that made a number of clubs wary of making him a second- or third-round choice, and Johnson’s agent, Joe Panos, took exception to his client’s slide, saying, “I had GMs tell me they couldn’t risk a 2nd or 3rd on Dorian due to the recent discovery of a liver condition he’s had since birth, even though his heptalogist said his condition will in no way affect his ability to play. Teams couldn’t risk a high pick on him. Yet every year I see teams risk high picks on guys with serious character issues. Bad guys. They’ll take risks on those guys because his coaches ‘vouched’ for him. [A coach’s] word is gold. But Dorian’s heptalogist, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about?” (all links go to Twitter via ESPN’s Adam Caplan).
  • New Broncos tight end Jake Butt slipped to the top of the fifth round of this year’s draft due to an ACL injury he suffered in his final collegiate game (prior to the injury, he was projected to be picked at the top of the second round). But before the 2016 college season, Butt purchased a loss-of-value policy that partially compensated him for the money he lost due to his draft slide, as Darren Rovell of ESPN.com writes. Had Butt been selected at the top of the second round, he would have earned $4MM guaranteed, but as an early fifth-rounder, he is guaranteed only $380K. The insurance policy paid out roughly $900K (pre-tax), so the injury ended up costing Butt a little shy of $2.8MM. These loss-of-value policies have become increasingly popular over the last few years, and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Jaylon Smith are two of the more notable recent beneficiaries of such policies.
  • The Jaguars acquired Branden Albert earlier this offseason, but GM Dave Caldwell said second-round draft pick Cam Robinson will compete with Albert for the starting left tackle job (via Hays Carlyon of 1010XL). Albert has been absent from voluntary workouts as he seeks a new contract, though if he proves to be the best man for the job, Caldwell did indicate that Robinson could move, at least temporarily, to guard.
  • The Jaguars selected Oklahoma wideout Dede Westbrook in the fourth round yesterday despite his two domestic violence arrests that caused some teams to remove him from their boards completely. As Albert Breer of TheMMQB tweets, one AFC area scout said of Westbrook, “No thoughts. It is what it is. He’s a degenerate.”

La Canfora’s Latest: Conley, Cowboys, Tabor

Ohio State’s Gareon Conley is now being considered the safest cornerback prospect in the draft, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Fellow Buckeye Marshon Lattimore may have chronic hamstring issues that are scaring NFL teams, while Florida’s Teez Tabor posted poor measurables and reportedly isn’t fairing well during the predraft interview process. Conley, however, is viewed as a “super-clean” player, per La Canfora, and could be the top corner off the board later this month.

Here’s more from on the draft, all courtesy of La Canfora:

  • The Cowboys will likely look into Conley and the rest of the defensive back class after losing their top two corners — and two of their top three safeties — in free agency, writes La Canfora. Dallas has used an ample portion of its predraft visit allotment on cornerbacks, and may look to add a back-end defender at pick No. 28. A trade up to draft an “impact” corner isn’t out the question, says La Canfora.
  • Jarrad Davis (Florida) is expected to be the second off-ball linebacker selected in the draft, following Alabama’s Reuben Foster, reports La Canfora. Davis’ Pro Day, during which he posted a 4.56 40-yard dash and 38.5 inch vertical jump, impressed pro clubs, per La Canfora, and Davis is viewed as a leader who could immediately step into an NFL defense. Lance Zeirlein of NFL.com compares Davis to the Panthers’ Shaq Thompson, noting Davis’ “plus acceleration” and “closing burst.”
  • NFL teams have been “turned off” by Oklahoma receiver Dede Westbrook, according to La Canfora, who notes Westrbook’s combine interviews left a negative impression. Westbrook, who has a history of off-field trouble, is reportedly deemed “undraftable” by some clubs, as Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com indicated last month. Based on his on-field production, Westbrook is a projected fourth-round pick, per Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com, who compares Westrbook to Houston’s Will Fuller.
  • Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard could be the sixth quarterback off the board following Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, DeShone Kizer, and Davis Webb, says La Canfora. NFL teams like Beathard because he comes from a pro-style system, and La Canfora would be surprised if Beathard isn’t drafted by the conclusion of Round 4. In his senior season, Beathard completed 56.5% of his passes for 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

NFL Draft Rumors: Lattimore, Westbrook, TEs

The Jets might not be nearing a consensus that ends with Marshon Lattimore joining Gang Green. Picking sixth, the Jets could be worried about the Ohio State cornerback’s history of hamstring injuries. A Jets source fears Lattimore will be hampered by those recurring maladies, per DraftAnalyst.com’s Tony Pauline, a fear that may have received some reinforcement on Monday. Said source mentioned since-released Dee Milliner‘s name when discussing the worries about Lattimore.

Lattimore suffered another hamstring injury today at the Combine, sources tell ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter. However, the prized corner prospect denied the report (Twitter link), saying that it was actually a hip flexor issue and that he’ll be “good.” He also texted Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) to tell him he’ll be ready for his pro day, where he’ll do all his position work. Before the injury, Lattimore ran a 4.36-second 40-yard dash and had a vertical jump of 38.5 inches.

Here’s more from the 2017 prospect pool.

  • Heisman Trophy finalist Dede Westbook has generated concerns among evaluators, per Pauline. The former Oklahoma wide receiver’s decision to skip the Senior Bowl and not work out at the Combine, along with a history of off-the-field trouble, serve as red flags for some teams. Pauline notes a number of franchises have stamped Westbrook as undraftable. During interviews, Westbrook appeared “guarded” and “seemed untruthful” to some who spoke to Pauline regarding the sessions. Oklahoma’s pro day figures to be well-attended on Wednesday, with Joe Mixon set to perform for scouts for the first time, and it looks like it will be key for Westbrook as well. Pauline estimates the “Day 2 talent” will be a Day 3 pick.
  • First-round prospect Solomon Thomas has a frame that concerns some NFL personnel, Pauline notes. At not quite 6-foot-3 and at 275 pounds, the Stanford edge player might not have much growth potential, per Pauline. Thomas is still expected to go during the first half of the first round.
  • The rookie tight end class profiles as one of the best in recent memory may see at multiple Division II products be drafted. One such player is Ashland’s Adam Shaheen, whom Pauline hears from scouts will be a third-round pick. The 6-foot-6 Shaheen is coming off a dominant season at the D-II program. He caught 57 passes for 867 yards and 16 touchdowns, this coming off a 10-touchdown junior slate. Although Shaheen barely ran under 4.8 in the 40, scouts believe he’s “sneaky-fast,” view him as a potential seam-stretching target and love his pass-catching prowess.
  • Toledo defensive tackle Treyvon Hester missed the East-West Shrine Game and the Combine due to undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in December, but the prospect will be ready to audition for scouts sometime in April, Pauline reports. Hester is expected to be 100 percent by training camp.