Dee Milliner

Panthers Work Out Dee Milliner, Earl Wolff

With their secondary in need of a boost, the Panthers worked out cornerback Dee Milliner and safety Earl Wolff on Wednesday, reports Adam Caplan of ESPN (Twitter link). There’s no word on whether the team is interested in signing either.

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Milliner is the more notable of the two, having gone ninth overall to the Jets in the 2013 draft. The former Alabama star battled injuries and performance issues in New York, though, and tallied just 21 appearances and 14 starts in three years before the club released him from IR on Sept. 28. Between then and his tryout with the Panthers, Milliner hadn’t logged any reported auditions with other teams.

Wolff, a North Carolina native and former NC State standout, hasn’t seen action since 2014 as a member of the Eagles. He spent the offseason with the Jaguars, who removed him from IR with an injury settlement Sept. 7, and worked out for the Chiefs last week. The 26-year-old has 18 starts and seven appearances, all with the Eagles from 2013-14, on his resume.

While it might not come in the form of either Milliner or Wolff, the disappointing Panthers could clearly use defensive backfield upgrades. The team ranks just 19th in DVOA against the pass, 21st in quarterback rating against (94.8) and 25th in yards per attempt allowed (7.8). Things could get worse, too, as 3-6 Carolina will face a slew of talented quarterbacks to conclude the season. Matchups against Drew Brees (Saints), Derek Carr (Raiders), Russell Wilson (Seahawks), Kirk Cousins (Redskins), Matt Ryan (Falcons) and Jameis Winston (Buccaneers) loom for the defending NFC champions, whose playoff hopes are slipping away.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Release Dee Milliner From IR

Dee Milliner‘s tenure with the Jets ended Wednesday after the team released the former first-round cornerback from its IR list, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Milliner is now a free agent.

Just before the season, the Jets waived Milliner with an injury designation, and he resided on the team’s IR in the meantime. He spent three seasons on the team’s active roster, making this the shortest tenure by a Jets first-round pick with the team (of those who have seen appropriate service time) since Vernon Gholston‘s three-year stay from 2008-10. Of course, a previous Jets regime brought in Milliner, making his status with the team less stable.

Like Gholston, Milliner was a top-10 pick, going off the 2013 board at No. 9 to the Jets. He did not stand out and saw Todd Bowles sign three corners — Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Buster Skrine — in 2015, relegating Milliner to deep-backup status. He played in just five games last season after an Achilles injury limited the former Alabama corner to three in 2014.

New York declined to pick up Milliner’s fifth-year option in May, but he’ll now get an earlier look at unrestricted free agency. The team attempted to trade him this summer but could not find a taker.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Waive Dee Milliner

2:25pm: Milliner was waived with an injury designation, so if he clears waivers, he’ll revert to the Jets’ IR list, tweets Daryl Slater of NJ.com. Of course, New York could then release him with an injury settlement.

1:51pm: With the Jets looking to trim their roster to 53 players, the front office has dropped a high draft pick from the old regime. After unsuccessfully trying to trade former first-rounder Dee Milliner, the Jets have opted to simply waive him, as Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. Dee Milliner (vertical)

The cornerback’s future in New York was already cloudy, as the Jets had declined to pick up his 2017 option. Furthermore, the team already had a crowded depth chart at cornerback, as Milliner was sitting behind Darrelle Revis and Buster Skrine. In three seasons with the team, Milliner has appeared in 21 games. The 24-year-old has compiled 63 tackles and three interceptions (all during his rookie campaign) throughout his career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Albert Breer of MMQB.com (via Twitter) first reported that the Jets were working to trade Milliner.

Jets Cut Jace Amaro, Others

The Jets are working their way down to 53. Here are the cuts so far: Todd Bowles

Reilly, a seventh-round pick in 2014, played in 29 games for the Jets over the past two seasons. He finished the 2015 campaign with 16 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble. As Slater notes on Twitter, the linebacker was waived with an injury designation. The 28-year-old could land on the injured reserve, but the reporter doesn’t believe the injury to be that serious.

There was a chance that Morris could carve out a role among the Jets’ defensive backs. However, the three-year veteran couldn’t do enough to beat out Dexter McDougle or Kevin Short. Meanwhile, there was some optimism that former CFL linebacker Freddie Bishop could establish himself, but the team’s linebacker depth proved to be too much to overcome.

On the offensive side of the ball, Sudfeld’s tenure in New York appears to be over. The 27-year-old collected only ten catches for 148 yards over the past two seasons.

In related news, the Jets may be making an addition to the roster before the weekend is through. Former San Francisco guard Ian Silberman worked out for the Jets on Friday, as Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets.

(Sheldon Richardson does not currently count against the 53-man roster due to his season-opening suspension)

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Rumors: Rolle, Tunsil, Jets, Cousins

Safety Antrel Rolle is on the open market and he tells SiriusXM (audio link) that he would like to return to the Giants.

I’ve never hidden it. New York is where the heart is. New York is where I feel comfortable,” Rolle said (transcript via PFT). “New York is a place where I would love to play. You know, there’s a difference playing for an organization, you know, you’re there to play and to win, and you’re there because that’s where your contract is. And there’s a difference in playing where your heart is. I would absolutely be open to the situation if it presents itself. Obviously it would have to make sense for both [sides]. The New York Giants, I think it would definitely make sense for both myself and the team. But let’s see what happens.”

The Giants added third-round pick Darian Thompson to the safety mix, but there is no slam-dunk starter at the free safety position. Still, as Jordan Raanan of NJ.com writes, a reunion between Rolle and Big Blue seems unlikely.

Here’s more from around the NFL’s East divisions:

  • Despite the gas-mask/bong video that surfaced on draft night, Dolphins first-round choice Laremy Tunsil will avoid entering Stage 1 of the NFL’s substance-abuse program, a source tells James Walker of ESPN.com.
  • While many speculated that Tunsil’s stepfather was behind the shocking draft day leak, Tunsil’s attorney, Steve Farese, says that’s not the case. “Initially, that would be the low-hanging fruit,” Farese said on SiriusXM (audio link; transcription via PFT). “Now I’ve drifted away from those thoughts and don’t believe he had anything to do with it.” The Dolphins believe Tunsil’s former financial advisor was responsible for the leak, according to a source who spoke with Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post (on Twitter).
  • Jets GM Mike Maccagnan “all but confirmed” that he explored trading up for Tunsil last Thursday, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. Per Cimini, Maccagnan also didn’t rule out the possibility of keeping cornerback Dee Milliner on the roster beyond 2016 if he plays well this year, even after turning down his 2017 option today.
  • Before the Titans shipped the No. 1 overall pick to the Rams, the Jets inquired about trading up for the No. 1 pick in order to draft Jared Goff, according to Manish Mehta of the Daily News (on Twitter). It was previously reported that the Jets explored trading up to the top two, but it wasn’t clear which QB they were targeting.
  • Kirk Cousins believes “there’s a chance” that a long-term deal could be hammered out with Washington between now and the July 15th deadline, but he tells 106.7 The Fan that he’s also comfortable with playing the year out. “If they feel like they have enough information and want to make that call right now, then great,” Cousins said. “But I think the ball’s in their court and I will react accordingly to whatever decision they make… I am totally comfortable playing more football, and frankly if I don’t play well next season, I don’t deserve to be back. I don’t deserve a long-term deal. So I want to go out and earn it, and prove myself, and if I need to prove myself again, that’s fine. I’ll go see if I can do that.”

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Jets Exercise 2017 Option On Sheldon Richardson

MAY 2: The Jets have officially exercised their 2017 option on Richardson, per Mehta (Twitter link). However, as Brian Costello of the New York Post tweets, the club won’t be picking up cornerback Dee Milliner‘s option, so he’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agency next year.

APRIL 18: The Jets will exercise their fifth-year option on defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson in advance of next month’s deadline, writes Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. The decision comes as no surprise, since Richardson has been one of the Jets’ best defensive players since entering the NFL in 2013, and his option salary won’t be fully guaranteed right away.Sheldon Richardson (vertical)

[RELATED: No agreement expected before draft for Jets, Ryan Fitzpatrick]

As Joel Corry of CBSSports.com tweets, Richardson’s fifth-year option for 2017 will be worth $8.069MM. That figure is guaranteed for injury only until the first day of the 2017 league year next March, at which point it becomes fully guaranteed as long as Richardson remains under contract.

Richardson, who served a four-game suspension at the start of the 2015 season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, was his usual effective self upon returning, picking up five sacks and forcing a couple fumbles. Pro Football Focus, which classified him as an edge defender, ranked him 30th out of 110 qualified players in the group.

Despite the fact that the Jets used their franchise tag on Muhammad Wilkerson this offseason, the team is believed to prefer Richardson in the long term, as long as he can stay out of trouble off the field. The Wilkerson situation will be interesting to monitor — if he’s traded or even just doesn’t sign a multiyear deal with the Jets, it probably increases the chances of the club eventually working out a long-term deal with Richardson instead.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Activate Dee Milliner; Willie Colon To IR

The Jets announced today that one of their starting offensive linemen will be sidelined for the rest of the season, confirming in a press release that right guard Willie Colon has been placed on injured reserve. With the newly-opened roster spot, the team activated cornerback Dee Milliner from IR-DTR.

Colon, who started all 32 of the Jets’ regular season games at right guard in 2013 and 2014, made six starts this year, but is currently on the shelf with a knee injury. It didn’t initially appear as though the injury was significant enough to be a season-ender, but by placing Colon on IR, the club made the decision to move on to backup Brian Winters for the second half.

Having signed a one-year deal with the Jets in March, Colon will now be eligible for free agency again this winter. That doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t be back with the team though — the veteran lineman has now played on three consecutive one-year contracts with New York.

As for Milliner, the former first-round pick returns to the Jets’ active roster after having recovered from a wrist injury. Even with Antonio Cromartie banged up and questionable to play Thursday, Milliner isn’t expected to receive a ton of playing time upon his return, with Buster Skrine or Marcus Williams likely to start opposite Darrelle Revis at cornerback.

AFC Notes: Colts, Harvin, Jets, Browns

The 3-5 Colts, losers of three straight games and one of the NFL’s most disappointing teams, are a strong bet to drop their fourth consecutive contest this Sunday when they match up with the 7-0 Broncos. Their season has also gone poorly away from the field, as speculation regarding the statuses of beleaguered general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano has abounded and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton lost his job earlier this week.

Indy’s players – specifically team leaders Robert Mathis and D’Qwell Jackson – are cognizant of the organization’s off-field turmoil and called a meeting among themselves last week in an effort to galvanize each other. At the meeting, the players encouraged one another to ignore distractions coming from the front office and coaching staff, Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star reports. One issue players are unhappy with centers on the front office – not the coaching staff – making certain lineup decisions, a dysfunctional action that takes a significant amount of power from Pagano & Co.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Bills receiver Percy Harvin could end up on injured reserve with a knee injury, general manager Doug Whaley told The Buffalo News’ Vic Carucci (Twitter link). Harvin’s knee “flared up,” Whaley said (via Twitter). The seventh-year man has 19 catches on 30 targets this year. He has been out of the Bills’ lineup with injuries since mid-October.
  • Jets cornerback Dee Milliner is back to full health after undergoing wrist surgery during the summer, but the team is unlikely to activate him from short-term injured reserve for this weekend’s game against the Jaguars, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini (Twitter link). On why Milliner won’t be in the lineup, head coach Todd Bowles said (via Howie Kussoy of the New York Post), “It’s just a numbers thing.” If the Jets don’t activate Milliner by Tuesday, they’ll have to place him on season-ending IR.
  • Browns head coach Mike Pettine said cornerback Charles Gaines, who had been on short-term IR because of a hamstring injury, is likely to start playing soon (Twitter link via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal). Gaines, a sixth-round rookie out of Louisville, hasn’t appeared in an NFL game yet.
  • The Jets worked out two free agent receivers – LaRon Byrd and Damarr Aultman – on Friday, according to Cimini (Twitter link). Byrd is the only of the two who has seen action in the league, though it was for just four games back in 2012. He has one career catch.

Update On IR-DTR Players

We’re now through eight weeks of the NFL season, which means we’re approaching the year’s halfway point. It also means that players who were placed on the injured reserve list with the designation to return prior to the regular season are eligible to be activated and play in their respective teams’ next games.

Players placed on IR with the designation to return are eligible to begin practicing after six weeks, and can return to game action after eight weeks, so there are some IR-DTR players who have begun practicing already, and some of them could be activated for Week 9. Not every player will be healthy enough to return immediately now that they’ve become eligible to do so, but we should see at least a handful of the 10 players who have been on IR-DTR all year be activated to 53-man rosters in the coming days.

Here’s a breakdown of the 10 IR-DTR players eligible to be activated for Week 9:

  • Jay Ajayi, RB (Dolphins): Ajayi recently said that he’s back to full health, though the Dolphins may have a decision to make in their backfield if they decide to activate the rookie runner.
  • Alex Carter, CB (Lions): Carter is on track to begin practicing after the Lions’ Week 9 bye, and likely won’t be activated right away.
  • David Cobb, RB (Titans): Cobb is expected to be activated this week, and at least one Titans beat reporter believes the rookie is capable of earning a high percentage of the team’s carries.
  • Demar Dotson, T (Buccaneers): When he began practicing, Dotson admitted his injured knee wasn’t where he wanted it to be, but it sounds like he’s made enough progress to be activated this week.
  • Charles Gaines, CB (Browns): Gaines returned to practice when he was eligible to do so, and sounds like he’s eager to get back on Cleveland’s roster. If the Browns want him active for Week 9, they’ll have to make a move soon, since the team plays on Thursday this week.
  • Dee Milliner, CB (Jets): Head coach Todd Bowles said last week that he believes Milliner will be ready to play as soon as he becomes eligible, though he cautioned that the team will need to find room on the active roster.
  • Maurkice Pouncey, C (Steelers): There has been some speculation that Pouncey could be sidelined for the entire season, but head coach Mike Tomlin still expects his veteran center back this year. That likely won’t happen for a few more weeks though, since the initial diagnosis put Pouncey on track to be out until at least Week 12.
  • Bryan Stork, C (Patriots): The Patriots’ offensive line has been hit hard by injuries this season, so having to decide between Stork and David Andrews at center will be a welcome problem for the team. Stork appears on track to return in Week 9.
  • John Sullivan, C (Vikings): After suffering a setback and undergoing another surgical procedure, Sullivan won’t be back anytime soon, and may not play at all this season.
  • Brent Urban, DE (Ravens): Asked two weeks ago about Urban, head coach John Harbaugh said that the defensive end wasn’t practicing, adding that his recovery would probably take “a few more weeks.”

While these 10 players are the only ones on IR-DTR eligible to return in Week 9, there are 12 more who will gain eligibility in the coming weeks. The full list can be found right here.

Among those 12 other IR-DTR players, the most notable name is Tony Romo, who can’t play until Week 11. The Cowboys quarterback is eligible to begin practicing this week, but Rand Getlin of the NFL Network (Twitter link) hears that won’t happen quite yet. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), Romo is still on track to return to the field when he’s eligible for game action, but it makes sense to keep getting Matt Cassel first-team practice reps in the meantime.

PUP, NFI Players Soon Eligible To Practice

Week 6 of the NFL season will come to an end after Monday night’s game between the Giants and Eagles, and when teams begin preparing for Week 7, many clubs could be welcoming injured players back to practice. Six weeks into the NFL season, players who were placed on the physically unable to perform list or the non-football injury list prior to Week 1’s games will be eligible to return to the practice field.

Of course, just because those players are able to return to practice doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be healthy enough to do so. Players on the PUP list have a five-week window to begin practicing. Once they return to practice, they have three weeks to be added to their respective teams’ active rosters. In other words, a player currently on the PUP list could return to the field for his team’s Week 7 game, or could return as late as for his team’s Week 15 contest.

The rules for NFI players are similar to those for PUP players. If a player on either reserve list doesn’t return to practice or game action in time, his 2015 season will officially be over.

Here are the players currently on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list who can begin practicing as soon as this Tuesday:

And here are the players currently on their teams’ non-football injury or illness lists, who are also eligible to begin practicing this Tuesday:

  • Arizona Cardinals: WR Damond Powell
  • Buffalo Bills: CB Leodis McKelvin
  • Cincinnati Bengals: T Cedric Ogbuehi
  • Cleveland Browns: DB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, TE Randall Telfer, RB Glenn Winston
  • Dallas Cowboys: LB Mark Nzeocha
  • Houston Texans: T David Quessenberry
  • Kansas City Chiefs: QB Tyler Bray
  • San Francisco 49ers: WR DeAndre Smelter
  • Seattle Seahawks: DT Jesse Williams

In addition to monitoring players on the PUP and NFI lists, it’s worth keeping an eye on players who have been placed on the injured reserve list with the designation to return. Teams can use this IR-DTR spot on one player per season, placing him on the injured reserve list without necessarily ruling him out for the season. As we explained in an earlier post, players given this designation can begin practicing after six weeks and can return after eight weeks.

That means that a player who was placed on IR-DTR prior to Week 1 can begin practicing on Tuesday, though he won’t be eligible to return to game action until Week 9. A player who was placed on IR-DTR after Week 1 will have to wait until next Tuesday – October 27 – to return to practice, while other IR-DTR players will have to wait until November to practice.

Here’s the list of players currently on IR-DTR who can begin practicing as soon as Tuesday: