Dexter McCluster

CFL Reinstates “NFL Window”

Previously, Canadian Football League players had to sign a minimum two-year contract to join a team, and the league didn’t provide an out for those looking to jump to the NFL. Well, it sounds like the CFL has softened its stance, as TSN’s David William Naylor reports that the league has voted to reinstate their “NFL window.” The league had voted against this change earlier this year.

As Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com explains, this would allow “certain players to work out for NFL teams and sign contracts that would become effective at the end of a given CFL season.” That way, instead of being obligated to the CFL for two seasons, players would have the ability to sign with an NFL team after only one season in Canada.

However, as Florio points out, the rule would only apply to players who ink contracts after August 20th of this year. That means players like quarterback Johnny Manziel, who signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats back in May, won’t be able to join the NFL until their contracts expire. The rule change also wouldn’t apply to running back Dexter McCluster, who recently signed with the Toronto Argonauts. On the flip side, if a player signs after August 20th, they’d have the ability to return to the NFL next year.

Florio wonders if the CFL may have been pressured by the developing spring football leagues, which will presumably provide players with the ability to return to the NFL. Ultimately, Florio believes this change could eventually lead to the CFL allowing one-year contracts or a clear NFL-out clause. As Naylor observes, the rule also came about due to Toronto Argonauts running back James Wilder‘s threats to sit out the entire CFL season due to his inability to join an NFL team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Cardinals, Cooks, Gregory, Manhertz, McCluster

Larry Fitzgerald will be back for a 15th season in Arizona, and the long-time Cardinals wideout is set to hit free agency next offseason. Of course, the future Hall of Famer can’t envision himself playing elsewhere, as he essentially told Jace Frederick of TwinCities.com that he’d hang up his cleats if he wasn’t retained by Arizona.

“If I’m not playing in Arizona, I won’t be playing anywhere,” he said. “I’ve built a good life for myself down there. Playing in the same place for 15 years is a true blessing.”

Fitzgerald is one of only two players (along with Antonio Brown) to compile 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards over the past three seasons. Despite turning 35 years old this fall, Fitzgerald says he isn’t slowing down.

“It doesn’t really matter about the age, it’s about what you put into it and your mind-set,” he said. “Everybody kind of takes numbers and assumes this is when it’s supposed to end. As an athlete, fortunately, you write your own script. If you still produce and you play at a high level, you kind of determine how long you want to play. If I can stay at a high level, I still keep destiny in my own hands.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • We learned earlier today that wideout Brandin Cooks had inked a five-year, $80MM extension with the Rams. NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora tweets that the new deal contains $20.5MM in guaranteed money and a $50.5MM injury guarantee. NFL.com’s Albert Breer clarifies (via Twitter) that the deal will actually total $81MM, with the $16.2MM average annual value trailing only Brown, Mike Evans and DeAndre Hopkins.
  • Cardinals general manager Steve Keim pleaded guilty today to extreme DUI, and the Cardinals subsequently fined and suspended the executive. Kent Somers of AZCentral tweets that there won’t be an interim general manager during Keim’s absence, as the team will ultimately divide his responsibilities. Terry McDonough will likely handle the “evaluation side,” while Mike Disner will focus on contracts and the cap. Somer adds that Keim won’t face further discipline from the NFL.
  • Meanwhile, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo tweets that Keim’s suspension “doesn’t preclude” the Cardinals from working out a long-term deal with running back David Johnson, echoing that Disner would likely negotiate the contract. The Pro Bowler skipped mandatory minicamp last month as he looks for a raise on his $1.8MM base salary.
  • Panthers tight end Chris Manhertz will start training camp on the physically unable to perform list, reports Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. The 26-year-old underwent offseason surgery after suffering a Jones fracture in his left foot. The team is hopeful that Greg Olsen‘s primary backup will be ready for the start of the regular season. As Person points out, Manhertz’s absence will provide fourth-rounder Ian Thomas with an opportunity to contribute during training camp.
  • Earlier today, the NFL reinstated Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory on a conditional basis. Naturally, after appearing in only two games over the past two seasons, the 25-year-old is excited about the prospect of returning to the NFL. “I’m very excited,” Gregory said (via the Dallas News’ Jon Machota on Twitter). “Thanks to the ones who supported me and stood by me. It’s a lot more to the story than it seems and it took me a lot to get to this point. Now I’m ready to make some plays.”
  • Former NFL running back Dexter McCluster has caught on with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL (via CFL.ca). The 29-year-old played in six games with the Chargers during the 2016 season. During his four years with the Chiefs, McCluster compiled 662 rush yards, 1,500 receiving yards, and more than 2,000 return yards.

NFL Workout Updates: 10/17/17

Today’s workout updates, with all links going to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account unless otherwise noted:

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions 

Houston Texans

  • QB Taylor Heinicke (link via Caplan)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Washington Redskins

Jets Working Out Bobby Rainey, Dexter McCluster

The Jets are continuing to look at free agent offensive players, as running back Bobby Rainey and RB/WR Dexter McCluster are working out for New York during the club’s minicamp session, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post (Twitter link). Rainey and McCluster will join Denard Robinson and Kenbrell Thompkins as notable Jets tryout players this week.Bobby Rainey (Vertical)

Rainey, 29, spent the 2016 campaign with the Giants, managing 17 carries and 20 receptions in a reserve role. He also played a role on special teams, averaging 6.5 yards per punt return and 25.5 yards per kick return. A five-year NFL veteran, Rainey’s most notable pro seasons came with the Buccaneers in 2013 and 2014, as he rushed for more than 400 yards in each year.

McCluster, meanwhile, signed with the Chargers last September after the club lost fellow back Danny Woodhead for the season. The 27-year-old McCluster appeared in six games before he went down with his own injury, a broken arm suffered during an in-home accident. McCluster didn’t contribute much to the Chargers’ offense, but did post 17 total returns during his short time with the team.

Clearly, the Jets are attempting to upgrade their special teams unit which ranked 31st in DVOA last season. Rainey, McCluster, Robinson, Thompkins, and recent signee Jordan Todman all have experience in the return game. Jalin Marshall, one of New York’s primary return men in 2016, is suspended for the first four games of the 2017 campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dexter McCluster Breaks Arm During In-Home Accident

The Chargers’ injury woes are now no longer confined to playing surfaces, with in-season signing Dexter McCluster suffering one at his home.

One of the Bolts’ backup running backs, McCluster broke his forearm while moving luggage at his house, Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. He will miss the rest of the season as a result.

McCluster suffered the injury Friday night, and an X-ray this morning revealed a broken arm. The Chargers placed the scatback on the non-football injury list and promoted wideout Isaiah Burse from the practice squad.

San Diego signed McCluster because of Danny Woodhead‘s torn ACL injury and deployed him for the team’s subsequent game. After losing Woodhead, Branden Oliver and now McCluster, the Bolts are now down to Melvin Gordon and Kenneth Farrow as their only healthy ball-carriers. They do have Andre Williams on their practice squad but have yet to activate the former Giants occasional starter.

The Chargers have endured a rough run of injuries the past two seasons and are without several key pieces of their offense this season, with Keenan Allen and Woodhead being the biggest losses.

A former Chiefs second-round pick in 2010, McCluster has played in all six of the Bolts’ games since signing in late September. He caught seven passes for 36 yards in his seventh season. It looks to be the first slate where the diminutive back won’t haul in at least 20 receptions. The 28-year-old back twice recorded 50-plus-catch seasons with the Chiefs in 2012-13 en route to signing with the Titans, who cut him prior to the start of this season.

However, the Chargers have used their in-season signing on both kick and punt returns, where he replaced Travis Benjamin, so this wounds the embattled team more on special teams than it might offensively. Farrow, though, has no receptions this season, leaving Gordon as the only reliable pass-catcher out of the backfield.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers Sign Dexter McCluster

In need of help at running back, the Chargers will sign free agent Dexter McCluster, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. San Diego has been evaluating its options after losing Danny Woodhead for the season. Dexter McCluster (vertical)

McCluster was let go by the Titans on Sept. 2 as they trimmed down to a 53-man roster. He was one of several surprising cuts in Tennessee as the new regime cleaned house by cutting a number of high-profile names. McCluster averaged 4.5 yards per carry last season in Tennessee and averaged 8.4 yards per reception, but the Titans saw a better use for his roster spot.

The Chargers, meanwhile, need a pass-catching threat to partner up with sophomore Melvin Gordon and they see McCluster as a viable fill-in. . The 28-year-old logged 31 receptions last season and has finished with no fewer than 21 catches in any of his six NFL campaigns. As a special teamer, McCluster took back 24 punts in 2015 and finished 13th in the league in yards per return (9.0), so he can also offer help in the third facet of the game, if needed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dobson, McCluster Worked Out For Jets

A pair of free agents – wide receiver Aaron Dobson and running back/returner Dexter McCluster – auditioned for the Jets on Friday, reports Field Yates of ESPN (Twitter links). Both players have been available since the Patriots and Titans, respectively, cut them last weekend.

Aaron Dobson (Vertical)

Dobson, 25, went in the second round of the 2013 draft, but he failed to live up to that selection in New England. In three seasons with the club, the Marshall product posted just 53 receptions and totaled fewer than 700 yards. Most of Dobson’s output came in his rookie season, during which he put up career highs in appearances (12), catches (37), targets (74), yards (519) and touchdowns (four). Dobson then participated in a combined 12 games over the previous two years and saw his production decline significantly.

Aside from starters Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, the Jets don’t have any established options at wideout, so Dobson could have a chance to make an impact if the club signs him.

With Matt Forte and Bilal Powell, the top of the Jets’ depth chart at running back appears set, which would make it difficult for McCluster to leave his mark on offense. The 28-year-old is fresh off a decent season, though, having registered an impressive 4.5 yards per carry during a 55-attempt, 11-game campaign. McCluster also logged 31 receptions, meaning the 5-foot-9, 165-pounder has finished with no fewer than 21 catches in any of his six NFL seasons. As a special teamer, McCluster took back 24 punts in 2015 and finished 13th in the league in yards per return (9.0).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Cut Justin Hunter, Bishop Sankey

4:00pm: The Titans have made more cuts this afternoon, including another big name. Running back/wide receiver Dexter McCluster has been let go. McCluster averaged 4.5 yards per carry last season in Tennessee and averaged 8.4 yards per reception, but the Titans saw a better use for his roster spot. McCluster already pocketed a $350k roster bonus earlier this year, but the Titans will save $2.275MM in cash by cutting him.

Here is the full, updated list of Titans cuts so far:

11:07am: The Titans have jettisoned a pair of notable players from the old front office regime. Wide receiver Justin Hunter and running back Bishop Sankey have both been cut, as Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com reports (Twitter links). "<strong

Hunter, an exceptionally talented receiver, was drafted 34th overall in 2013. Since then, the Titans have been frustrated with Hunter and there have been rumblings that his work ethic was not up to par. Days ago, the Titans shipped out another talented wide receiver with perceived motivation problems when they traded Dorial Green-Beckham to the Eagles.

“It is still going to be hard (to make the team) because we have a lot of talented receivers in the group. We are fighting for spots, and you have to keep up and progress at the same time,” said the 25-year-old Hunter last month, acknowledging that his spot on the roster was not guaranteed.

Hunter has an uninspiring 68 receptions and eight touchdowns in 35 career games (13 starts). While Hunter has averaged an impressive 16.8 yards per catch, that number dropped to a career-worst 12.0 on 22 grabs last season. The 2015 campaign was a short one for Hunter, who only appeared in nine games as a result of a mid-November fractured ankle.

Sankey was once viewed as the Titans’ best running back and was expected to break out as a rookie in 2014. Sankey, 24 later this month, appeared in all 16 games for the Titans as a rookie but amassed only 569 yards off of 152 carries. Last season, Sankey’s role was reduced even further has he had only 47 rushing attempts for 193 yards in 13 games.

The surprising cuts didn’t stop there. The Titans are going to waive guard Jeremiah Poutasi, a source tells Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Poutasi was an early third-round pick of the Titans last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Place Derrick Morgan On IR

THURSDAY, 4:32pm: The team placed Morgan on injured reserve, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets.

MONDAY, 3:42pm: Titans defensive end Derrick Morgan will have shoulder surgery and miss the remainder of the year, according to Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com (on Twitter). Ditto for Dexter McCluster, who will undergo season-ending surgery on his wrist (link).

Back in March, the Titans re-signed Morgan to a four-year, $27MM deal with $10.5MM of that fully guaranteed. Morgan’s return to Tennessee was a little surprising, since he was widely considered a better fit as a 4-3 defensive end, and has never really lived up to his first-round billing in five seasons with the Titans. However, despite modest sack totals (his 6.5 in 2014 matched a career high), Morgan graded as a top-10 outside linebacker according to PFF, which ranked him eighth in 2014 and credited him with 49 total quarterback pressures. Morgan paid visits to the Falcons and Buccaneers in the spring and was reportedly scheduled to hit Dallas for a meeting with the Cowboys. Instead, he circled back to Tennessee.

In 10 games (9 starts) in 2015, Morgan has amassed 24 tackles and 4.5 sacks with two pass deflections and one forced fumble. The versatile McCluster, meanwhile, has tallied 507 catching and receiving yards for the Titans in 2015.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/16/15

Let’s round up Wednesday’s minor 53-man roster moves from around the NFL:

  • To make room for Mostert (see below), the Browns waived wideout Darius Jennings, tweets Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. The writer expects Jennings to return to the team’s practice squad.
  • After having claimed Davis (see below), the Colts released linebacker Edwin Jackson, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter).
  • Following a busy day of transactions, the Patriots signed defensive lineman Ishmaa’ily Kitchen (via Wilson on Twitter).

Earlier updates:

  • The Colts have filled the 53rd spot on their roster by claiming safety and special-teamer Akeem Davis off waivers from the Seahawks (Twitter link via Kevin Bowen of Colts.com).
  • The Dolphins have elevated quarterback Logan Thomas from their practice squad to their active roster, cutting veteran offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach to accommodate the move, the team announced today (via Twitter). Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), the move was motivated by a desire to protect Thomas from the Bengals, who attempted to sign him off Miami’s practice squad.
  • The Bengals have officially announced a move that was reported yesterday, confirming (via Twitter) that they’ve promoted quarterback Keith Wenning from their practice squad. Wenning will provide some insurance at the position while Andy Dalton remains on the shelf.
  • Former Colts cornerback Tony Carter is signing with the Saints, tweets Rand Getlin of the NFL Network. Meanwhile, Kristian Garic of WWL 870AM reports (via Twitter) that running back and kick returner Marcus Murphy will be placed on IR by New Orleans due to an ankle injury, so that may be the corresponding move for Carter’s signing.
  • A day after he was cut by the Ravens, RB/KR Raheem Mostert has been claimed off waivers by the division-rival Browns, according to agent Brett Tessler (via Twitter). It’s been an eventful season for Mostert, who was signed by the Dolphins off the Eagles’ practice squad, then claimed off waivers from Miami by Baltimore.
  • The Titans have officially placed injured running back Dexter McCluster on IR, using the open roster spot to sign safety Josh Aubrey from their practice squad, tweets Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com.
  • The Chargers have filled their two open roster spots by bringing back a pair of familiar faces, re-signing safety Adrian Phillips and quarterback Brad Sorensen, according to a team release.