Dekoda Watson

49ers Release QB Tom Savage

The 49ers are cutting quarterback Tom Savage, according to a team announcement. In related moves, the Niners have activated safety Marcell Harris (story) and linebacker Dekoda Watson from injured reserve. They also promoted cornerback Emmanuel Moseley to the active roster.

The release of Savage is a sign C.J. Beathard will probably be active for Thursday night’s game against the Raiders. However, he will not start for San Francisco. Because of a wrist injury that is hurting his ability to properly grip the football, Nick Mullens will throw his first NFL pass and get his first NFL start against Oakland, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Savage, like all players released after the NFL trade deadline, will be subject to waivers. If he is not claimed by Friday afternoon, he will be free to join any team.

49ers LB Dekoda Watson To Return From IR

The 49ers have designated linebacker Dekoda Watson to return from injured reserve, according to Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Watson was placed on injured reserve in September after initially being carried through to the 49ers’ initial 53-man roster. NFL rules stipulate that any player who returns from IR must have been on his club’s original 53-man roster, and also mandates a minimum eight-week absence. Watson returned to practice today, opening a three-week window during which San Francisco must decide whether to activate the veteran ‘backer or leave him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.

Watson, 30, has bounced around the league since being selected in the seventh round of the 2010 draft, spending time with the Buccaneers, Jaguars, Cowboys, Patriots, and Broncos before joining the 49ers on a three-year, $10MM contract prior to the 2017 campaign. Last season, Watson played only 88 snaps on defense but was a key asset on special teams, where he saw 72% playtime and managed four tackles.

If he does return this year, it’s difficult to see Watson getting much action on defense, where Reuben Foster and Fred Warner play the majority of snaps for San Francisco. But he could join Malcolm Smith, Mark Nzeocha, and Elijah Lee as reserves while contributing on special teams, where the 49ers currently rank as a bottom-three unit in DVOA.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/8/18

Here are Saturday’s minor moves.

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

49ers Decline Elvis Dumervil’s Option

The 49ers announced that they will not pick up defensive end/linebacker Elvis Dumervil’s contract option for 2018. Meanwhile, they are exercising the option of linebacker Dekoda Watson and have tendered a one-year contract to exclusive rights free agent running back Raheem Mostert.

The Niners have a good amount of cap space, but Dumervil’s $4.25MM cap hit (and $500K option bonus) was still too high for the Niners’ liking. Dumervil led the Niners’ D with 6.5 sacks in 2017, but the team is intent on moving forward with younger options including Eli Harold, Cassius Marsh, and Pita Taumoepenu. No other SF player had more than three sacks last year.

Dumervil is on the backend of his career at the age of 34, but he still has plenty to offer teams. He offers a wealth of experience as an edge rusher, not to mention 105.5 career sacks across eleven seasons with the Broncos, Ravens, and Niners.

Watson appeared in 14 games for the 49ers last season, primarily as a special teamer. He’s now slated to count against the cap for $1.633MM in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Chargers, Rams, Lamp, 49ers

While the Chargers could conceivably use another interior offensive lineman, the club is expected to eschew free agent veterans such as Nick Mangold in favor of younger players such as Max Tuerk and Spencer Pulley, as Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com writes. Tuerk, a 2016 third-round pick, didn’t see a single snap during his rookie campaign as he recovered from ACL surgery, but he could earn a starting role in 2017. Incumbent center Matt Slauson also has experience at guard, meaning Los Angeles has the option of deploying its interior lineman — a group that also includes veteran Chris Hairston — in numerous ways.

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

  • The Rams will put Western Kentucky offensive lineman Forrest Lamp through a workout, tweets Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Lamp, a collegiate tackle who projects as a pro guard, has met with a multitude of clubs in recent weeks, and is now expected to be drafted somewhere in the 20s. NFL teams are apparently high on Lamp’s versatility, given that he should be able to play inside and out, and could even slide to center in a pinch. At present, the Rams’ projected starters on the inside are guards Rodger Saffold and Cody Wichmann and center Demetrius Rhaney. Los Angeles attempted to lure restricted free agent Ryan Groy earlier this offseason, but failed when the Bills matched its offer sheet.
  • Linebacker Dekoda Watson‘s three-year deal with the 49ers is worth $5MM, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter links). The 2018 and 2019 seasons are team options, however, which would allow San Francisco to reap a compensatory pick if the options are declined. Watson will receive a $1MM signing bonus, and can earn $200K annually in per-game roster bonuses. Watson, 29, will likely stick to a special teams role with the 49ers.
  • Although free agent linebacker Rey Maualuga recently took a visit with the Chiefs, no deal is imminent between the two parties. Maualuga, 30, was released by the Bengals last month after eight seasons in Cincinnati.
  • In case you missed it, the 49ers agreed to a one-year deal with veteran running back Tim Hightower, who will serve as a backup to Carlos Hyde in 2017.

49ers Sign Dekoda Watson

The 49ers have signed free agent linebacker Dekoda Watson, his agent, Peter Schaffer, announced on Instagram. It’s a three-year, $6MM deal, tweets Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

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San Francisco is the sixth NFL team for the 29-year-old Watson, who originally went to the Buccaneers in the seventh round of the 2010 draft. Since then, Watson has appeared in 89 games, made seven starts and picked up four sacks. As a member of the Broncos in 2016, he played a 16-game slate for the second time in his career and worked almost exclusively as a special teamer. While Watson only played 3.8 percent of the Broncos’ defensive snaps, he saw action in 84 percent of their special teams plays.

Denver had hoped to retain Watson, who instead joins newly signed Rams cornerback Kayvon Webster as the second key special teamer to leave the Mile High City this week. Watson also drew interest from one of the 49ers’ NFC West rivals, the Seahawks, and visited the Raiders while in the Bay Area on Friday, according to ESPN’s Adam Caplan (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

FA Rumors: Butler, Poe, Z. Brown, Raiders

Restricted free agent cornerback Malcolm Butler didn’t emerge from his Saints visit on Thursday with a deal, but the meeting “went well,” a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). As of now, there remains motivation on both sides to hammer out an agreement, Rapoport adds. PFR’s Zach Links laid out a few potential scenarios earlier this week involving Butler, who would surely net the Patriots a quality return in a trade.

More free agency-related news:

  • The offer that defensive tackle Dontari Poe accepted from the Falcons on Thursday was worth less than the Jaguars’ proposal, reports ESPN’s Josina Anderson (Twitter link). Before taking a one-year, $8MM deal (plus incentives) with the reigning NFC champions, Poe turned down the Jags’ fully guaranteed $9MM (and incentives). Head coach Dan Quinn was key in talking Poe into joining the Falcons, relays Anderson.
  • It doesn’t appear that linebacker Zach Brown‘s powwow with the Raiders will lead to a deal, as a source told ESPN’s Adam Caplan that it “looks like a no-go right now” (Twitter link). Although Brown had a stellar 2016 with Buffalo and currently ranks as PFR’s top available linebacker, the market for his services has been tepid.
  • Wide receiver Andre Holmes met with the Bills on Thursday, one day after there were reports that he had signed with them, per Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (via Twitter). It turns out the Bills offered Holmes a three-year, $4.5MM accord, which the NFLPA accidentally documented as a done deal.
  • Linebacker Dekoda Watson visited the Seahawks on Thursday, tweets ESPN’s Field Yates. The 29-year-old Watson is a journeyman who has played for five teams, including the Broncos last season. He served as an integral special teams cog in Denver, which would like to re-sign him.

Extra Points: Ravens, Mangold, Bucs, Watson

The Ravens traded center Jeremy Zuttah earlier today, but they haven’t made contact with free agent pivot Nick Mangold as of yet, tweets Jeff Zriebec of the Baltimore Sun. Instead, Baltimore is likely to turn over center to internal option John Urschel, or look for another free agent on the open market. While contending clubs were expected to pursue Mangold, he hasn’t drawn any known interest so far this offseason. Teams are reportedly asking the 33-year-old if he’s willing to shift to guard.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Interior offensive lineman Evan Smith received a $1MM roster bonus on Wednesday, a clear indication that he’ll be a member of the Buccaneers‘ 2017 roster, as Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times details. Smith has only started seven games over the past two seasons, and will likely remain the Bucs’ top reserve at the pivot and both guard spots after center Joe Hawley re-signed earlier today. As Auman writes, Tampa Bay’s front five is currently in flux, and a number of line combinations could be in play next year. Smith, 30, will earn a base salary of $3.5MM in 2017 while carrying a cap charge of $4.5MM.
  • Although one report indicated Buccaneers offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus retired yesterday, the veteran lineman has not formally decided to hang up his cleats, as Auman tweets. However, Cherilus is not seeking a new contract and won’t participate in the free agent process. This could be a “soft retirement” for Cherlius, could simply be a matter of semantics. Cherilus, 32, has played nine NFL seasons.
  • Free agent linebacker Dekoda Watson is visiting a team tonight and has another meeting scheduled for Thursday, though it’s not clear at present exactly which clubs are involved, as Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post tweets. The 28-year-old Watson appeared in all 16 games for the Broncos in 2016, playing on 84% of the team’s special teams snaps. Denver is reportedly interested in retaining him.

Broncos Notes: Romo, Webster, Peko, OL

Connected to a high-profile quarterback acquisition for the second straight offseason, Broncos GM John Elway didn’t identify the team’s Tony Romo circumstances as being all that different from the ones that had Denver close to adding Colin Kaepernick last year.

Yeah [it’s a similar situation], because we feel good where we are. There are so many things … everything gets ratcheted. I will just tell you this: There’s been a lot of things out there that are not true as far as what’s going with our quarterbacks. So that’s what happens. Everything gets frothed up,” Elway said, via Troy Renck of Denver7.

Renck adds that the latest coming out of Dallas is Romo is growing restless with the Cowboys’ tactics, with the franchise having backtracked on its intention to release him in order to pivot back to trying to trade the 15th-year quarterback. The Broncos remain unlikely to trade for Romo, per Renck, even after the Texans’ cap space-clearing trade of Brock Osweiler. It would be a “major upset” if the Cowboys found a taker for Romo’s contract in a trade, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.

The Broncos nearly traded for Kaepernick last year, but the sides couldn’t agree on a restructured deal. Denver then selected Paxton Lynch in the first round but turned the reins over to Trevor Siemian for most of 2016. That competition would continue for a second straight year if the franchise doesn’t acquire Romo. Vance Joseph said the franchise is in good shape with Siemian and Lynch for “the next four or five years,” per James Palmer of NFL.com (Twitter link). Lynch is under Broncos control for four more years, with Siemian’s rookie deal running through 2018.

Here’s more from the Mile High City.

  • Meanwhile, Elway said his understanding is Kayvon Webster wants to play more (Twitter link via Cameron Wolfe of The Denver Post). Webster has been public about his desire to have a larger defensive role and he won’t get that opportunity in Denver, being blocked on the cornerback depth chart. Webster, who made our list of this year’s Top 50 Free Agents, has long been expected to leave. The fifth-year corner has served as one of the Broncos’ top special-teamers, but after a rookie season in which fewer obstacles resided in between Webster and a defensive role, the Broncos’ 2014 additions of Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby effectively buried him on the depth chart for the ensuing three seasons. Now employing his previous defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips, the Rams are hosting Webster on a visit today.
  • Domata Peko also received interest from the Bengals, Vikings and Eagles prior to signing his two-year Broncos accord, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post tweets. Peko had obvious connections to the Bengals and the Mike Zimmer-coached Vikings but chose to join the Broncos.
  • Elway said the team’s starting left tackle might not be on the roster presently, per Renck, but noted recent right tackle signings Menelik Watson and Donald Stephenson are options there. Watson served as an emergency left tackle after injuries ravaged the Raiders’ tackle corps at a point last season, but Oakland primarily utilized him on the right edge. Stephenson began the 2015 season as the Chiefs’ starting left tackle, when he took Eric Fisher‘s spot, but Andy Reid reversed course and placed Fisher back there. Stephenson didn’t get a starting job back and signed with Denver, where he struggled as the team’s primary right tackle starter.
  • Denver still has interest in re-signing backup outside linebacker Dekoda Watson, according to 9News’ Mike Klis, who confirms the team’s interest in bringing back Vance Walker (Twitter link).
  • Newly signed Kasim Edebali will likely compete for work behind Von Miller and Shane Ray at outside linebacker, Wolfe writes. He played defensive end in the Saints’ 4-3 scheme and 58.7 percent of New Orleans’ special teams snaps in 2016. The Broncos also have Shaquil Barrett as their top backup at outside ‘backer.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/16/16

Today’s minor moves:

Earlier Updates:

  • The Broncos have signed linebacker Dekoda Watson to a one-year deal, Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com tweets. Watson appeared in three games for the Patriots last year as he was yo-yo’d on and off of the team’s roster.
  • Eagles guard/tackle Matt Tobin has signed a two-year deal with the team, a source tells Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Tobin was previously set to play out this year on his one-year restricted free agent tender. Now, his new deal will lower his base salary for this season.
  • Washington waived linebacker Reggie Northrup, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Interestingly, Northrup is represented by rapper Lil Wayne.
  • More Washington signings via the team’s website: tackle Al Bond, guard Nila Kasitati, linebacker Mike Wakefield and running back Kelsey Young. Guard Dominick Jackson was waived.
  • The Seahawks have waived/injured linebacker Christian French and signed fellow linebacker Khairi Fortt to take his place on the 90-man roster, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times tweets.
  • The Bengals are set to sign former University of Buffalo quarterback Joe Licata, as Tyler Dunne of The Buffalo News tweets. To make room, rookie quarterback Matt Johnson has been waived.
  • The Browns signed defensive back Eric Patterson, Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets. The 23-year-old entered the NFL last year as a UDFA with New England. The Ball State product appeared in two games for Indianapolis and one with St. Louis.
  • The Bears announced they have signed Donovan Williams, an offensive lineman from Louisiana-Lafayette (Twitter link via Brad Biggs of The Chicago Tribune). The Bears have also released center Dan Buchholz, wide receiver/tight end Marcus Lucas, and wide receiver Nathan Palmer (link).
  • The Bears waived defensive end Bruce Gaston, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com writes. Demovsky suggests that Gaston, who made Green Bay’s opening day roster last season, could get another look from the Packers.
  • The Chargers have signed former Arizona State guard Vi Teofilo to a three-year deal, a source tells Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego. The 6’3″, 205-pound lineman will look to compete for a practice squad spot. The Chargers waived guard Sebastian Johansson, an undrafted rookie guard from Marshall, in a corresponding move. They also waived-injured linebacker Brock Hekking.
  • The Saints waived safety Michael Caputo and quarterback Griffin Neal after this weekend’s rookie minicamp, Evan Woodbery of The Times-Picayune tweets. According to Wilson (on Twitter), the team has also cut receiver Shane Wynn.
  • In a related move, the Saints inked linebacker Tony Steward (Twitter link via Woodbery). Steward played at Clemson and was a fifth-round pick of Buffalo in 2015.
  • The Saints signed Jake Lampman, Wilson tweets. The Ferris State product caught 52 passes for 731 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

Ben Levine contributed to this post.