- Many members of the 2016 draft class are getting ready to sign extensions. One first round pick from that class who isn’t preparing for that is Lions left tackle Taylor Decker. Decker has battled injuries and inconsistency since Detroit took him with the 16th overall pick a few years ago, and knows he needs to show out the next couple of seasons. “In my mind, I’m going to play two more years before that’s going to happen,” Decker said, referring to a new contract, per Nate Atkins of MLive.com. The Lions recently exercised the fifth-year option on Decker, meaning he’s under team control through the 2020 season. Atkins writes that the team’s current plan is “waiting and seeing” with Decker, and that they aren’t completely sold on him. Decker has been solid but not spectacular during his time on the field, and his development will be very interesting to monitor in 2019.
The Jets have their eyes on Eagles executive Joe Douglas for their GM vacancy, and head coach/interim GM Adam Gase is reportedly staring in his direction as well. But, the Jets will also consider other candidates, including Bears assistant director of personnel Champ Kelly and Lions director of player personnel Lance Newmark (Twitter link via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com).
Whoever the new GM is, he’ll report directly to owner/CEO Christopher Johnson. Meanwhile, Gase will maintain control over the 53-man roster, which could prove to be a sticking point for top candidates. The Jets are loaded with young talent thanks to multiple losing seasons, but any exec that takes the job will have to wrestle with Gase when it comes to player acquisitions. After Gase toppled Maccagnan and ran him out of New York, it’s hard to see an established front office man jumping at Gang Green’s vacancy.
oday’s minor moves:
- Waived: LB Ejuan Price
- Waived: WR Brandon Reilly
Green Bay Packers
- Waived: WR Matt Eaton
Kansas City Chiefs
- Claimed off waivers: G Zack Golditch
Los Angeles Rams
- Waived/injured: C Connor Hilliard, S Rob Rolle
San Francisco 49ers
- Waived: S Cameron Glenn
- Signed: WR Joe Parker
- Waived: TE Elkanah Dillon
Here are the latest players to agree to terms on their rookie deals:
- The Chiefs signed the latter of their two second-round picks, safety Juan Thornhill, on Tuesday. Thornhill, who arrived in Kansas City as the No. 63 overall pick out of Virginia, will attempt to move into the starting lineup alongside Tyrann Mathieu as a rookie. Thornhill intercepted 13 passes over his final three seasons with the Cavaliers. The only member of their six-man class left unsigned is third-rounder Khalen Saunders; third-rounders’ deals can be tricky with the current CBA.
- Four more Seahawks draftees signed their four-year deals Tuesday. Wide receivers Gary Jennings (Round 4) and John Ursua (Round 7) signed. So did sixth-round picks Demarcus Christmas, a defensive tackle out of Florida State, and Travis Homer, Miami-produced running back. Jennings and Ursua, out of West Virginia and Hawaii, respectively, have better odds at contributing this season after Doug Baldwin‘s retirement. Jennings caught 13 touchdown passes last season, while Ursua snagged 16. D.K. Metcalf remains unsigned.
- Two of the Broncos‘ Day 3 picks — fifth-round outside linebacker Justin Hollins and sixth-round wide receiver Juwann Winfree — became the team’s first 2019 draftees to sign. Hollins, an Oregon product who combined for 11 sacks across his junior and senior seasons, will likely be in good position to see time behind Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. The Broncos lost Shaquil Barrett in free agency and are unlikely to bring back Shane Ray. Winfree will join a young Denver receiving corps, which will likely have four first- or second-year cogs.
- Only one Lions draft choice remains unsigned after sixth-rounder Travis Fulgham agreed to terms. The Old Dominion-produced wideout will vie for a reserve role behind Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola. Third-round safety Will Harris has yet to sign.
Here’s the latest round of minor moves from around the NFL (for this morning’s minor moves, click here):
- Waived: TE Thomas Duarte
Green Bay Packers
- Claimed off waivers: DB Mike Tyson (from Texans)
New England Patriots
New York Giants
- Signed: DL Freedom Akinmoladun
- Signed: QB Devlin Hodges, DT Greg Gilmore, WR Johnny Holton, DE Henry Mondeaux, OL Damian Prince, LB Tuzar Skipper
- Released: LB Keion Adams, DE Jay Hayes, DT Chris Nelson, OL R.J. Prince, QB Brogan Roback, WR Ka’Raun White
New Orleans Saints
- Signed: FB Michael Burton, DL Geneo Grissom, OL Marcus Henry, OL Ulrick John, LB Colton Jumper, RB A.J. Ouellette, CB David Simmons Jr., WR Micah Wright
- Released: RB Darnell Holland, DT Tomasi Laulile, CB Darius Williams
- Signed: DB Kareem Orr, WR Joe Parker, DB D’Andre Payne, DB LaDarius Riley
- Waived: DB Jonathan Crawford, DB Taj-Amir Torres, WR Isaac Zito
- Waived-injured: DB Hamp Cheevers
We’ll keep track of today’s lower round draft pick signings here:
- The Lions inked fourth-round defensive end Austin Bryant, sixth-round running back Ty Johnson, seventh-round tight end Isaac Nauta, and seventh-round defensive tackle P.J. Johnson. Bryant, a Clemson product, is a pass rush specialist who routinely used his length to get to the quarterback. He put himself on the map with 8.5 sacks as a junior and followed that up with another eight sacks as a senior. There are questions about whether his pass-rush ability is enough to offset his deficiencies against the run, but the Lions were more than happy to take a chance on him in the fourth round.
- The Colts signed fourth-round safety Khari Willis and fifth-round defensive back Marvell Tell III. Willis was one of Michigan’s top high school players as a running back, but found his calling in the secondary at Michigan State. Tell, meanwhile, made three interceptions as USC’s starting free safety last year.
- The Giants signed a pair of fifth-round picks: wide receiver Darius Slayton and linebacker Ryan Connelly. The Giants still have a lot of work ahead for them in signing their draft class, including first-round picks Daniel Jones and Dexter Lawrence.
Former Chiefs head coach and longtime NFL assistant Gunther Cunningham has died at the age of 72. Cunningham, who most recently served as a senior coaching assistant with the Lions, was beloved around the league.
“Gunther Cunningham will forever be remembered as one of the great men of our game,” the Lions said in a statement. “He left a lasting impact on every person who was fortunate enough to work alongside him during his more than 47 years as a coach – including 34 years in the National Football League, the final eight of which were spent here in Detroit. Our organization is truly honored and proud to have been included in his distinguished coaching legacy. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to his wife, René, and their entire family.”
Cunningham began his coaching career at the University of Oregon in 1969 and moved to the pro ranks in 1982 with the Lions. In 1995, he got his big break when the Chiefs appointed him as their defensive coordinator. Four years later, he was elevated to the head coaching position, where he went .500 over two years before being fired. Along the way, he also had stops with the Colts, Titans, Chargers, and Raiders.
Years later, Cunningham would return as the Chiefs’ DC and took on the same job with the Lions between 2009-2013.
We here at PFR extend our condolences to Cunningham’s loved ones.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Here’s the latest round of minor moves from around the NFL (For this morning’s minor moves, click here.):
- Signed: S Tyler Sigler
- Signed: TE Moral Stephens
New Orleans Saints
- Signed: WR Cyril Grayson
Here are today’s minor moves:
- Signed: TE Charles Jones, CB Jocquez Kalili, TE Michael Colubiale
- Waived: TE Carson Meier, CB Marquez Sanford, WR Papi White
- Waived/injured: S Cody Brown, DT Roderick Young
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Signed: S D’Cota Dixon
Kennedy is an interesting story, as he was taken in the third round of last year’s Major League Lacrosse Draft by the Boston Cannons, per Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com. He appeared in six games for the Cannons while also suiting up at wide receiver for Bryant University. Despite only playing two years of football at Bryant, Kennedy is eighth in school history in catches and receiving yards, and he posted 57 receptions for 888 yards and nine touchdowns in 2017. He missed four games due to injury in 2018, but he still finished with 33 catches for 410 yards and a touchdown.
Despite ceding his post as Ravens GM to longtime lieutenant Eric DeCosta, Ozzie Newsome remains a central presence in Baltimore’s front office. He played a key role in the Ravens adding Earl Thomas, despite not having an official title. He does now. Amid a staff shakeup, the Ravens revealed (via Pennlive.com) Newsome will serve as their executive vice president. The Hall of Fame tight end and Super Bowl-winning executive will continue to advise DeCosta. This should help a Ravens team in a bit of a transition, considering Terrell Suggs, Joe Flacco and C.J. Mosley are no longer with the franchise. Newsome, 63, sticking around will provide vital continuity.
Here is the latest on some front office situations around the league, staying first with more from the Ravens’ new-look staff:
- The Ravens will now have co-directors of player personnel, moving former college scouting director Joe Horwitz and previous senior personnel assistant George Kokinis into the position. The Ravens brought in Kokinis in 2010, following a short stay as the Browns’ general manager. The Ravens promoted Mark Azevedo from his northeast area scout post to player personnel coordinator and made Chad Alexander their assistant director of pro and college personnel. Vincent Newsome will move from director of pro personnel into a senior player personnel executive position, and Nick Matteo will now oversee the Ravens’ salary cap. Matteo spent 10 years as an NFL management council exec.
- While their staff changes were not as sweeping as the Ravens’, the Panthers have some key figures in new positions. A 22nd-year Panthers exec, Jeff Morrow will take over as Carolina’s player personnel director after heading the franchise’s college scouting department. Fourth-year Panthers staffer Eric Stokes will move into Morrow’s former role. Former Panthers wide receiver Mark Carrier, a ninth-year member of the team’s front office, will become executive director of the Panthers’ football staff.
- Lastly, the Lions reshuffled a few roles. Dave Sears will rise from Detroit’s assistant director of college scouting to leading that department. Rob Lohman will make the same move on the pro side. Both Sears and Lohman have been with the Lions for 13 years.