Duke Williams

Cowboys To Audition QB Ryan Nassib

The Cowboys are auditioning four players today, including former Giants quarterback Ryan Nassib, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets. Safeties Jeron Johnson and Duke Williams and wide receiver Lance Lenoir are also working out for the team. Ryan Nassib (vertical)

To date, Nassib has spent his professional career as a clipboard holder for Eli Manning. Since being selected in the fourth round of the 2013 draft, the Syracuse product hasn’t made a single start for the Giants. Nassib received praise from Giants coaches for his work in practice, but the team didn’t make much of an effort to retain him this offseason.

Nassib’s workout will be key for the Cowboys since they only have have preseason games and the occasional regular season cameo on film to evaluate him on. If signed, Nassib could compete for the No. 3 QB role behind Dak Prescott and Kellen Moore. Recently, the Cowboys claimed Zac Dysert off waivers from the Cardinals and he is also hoping to make the cut.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Move Jack Mewhort, Clayton Geathers To IR

The Colts will finish their season without the services of two starters after placing left guard Jack Mewhort and free safety Clayton Geathers on IR.

A left knee injury will sideline Mewhort, per the Associated Press, with Geathers being unable to overcome a neck malady that sidelined him for the past two games.

To fill the duo’s roster spots, Indianapolis promoted wide receiver Devin Street from the practice squad and signed safety Duke Williams.

Thought to potentially be out for the entire season with a torn ACL sustained during preseason play, Mewhort returned in time for Week 1 and started for the Colts in each of the 10 games for which he was active. Mewhort has rated as a top-25 guard in each of the past two seasons in the opinion of Pro Football Focus, coming in as the No. 22 player at the interior-line spot after finishing 2015 as the site’s ninth-highest-graded guard.

The former second-round pick has started each of the 40 games he’s played and will be entering a contract year in 2017.

A fourth-rounder last year, Geathers rated as a top-10 run-defending safety, per PFF, but played in just nine games in this his second season. Geathers finished with 58 tackles, five pass deflections and a forced fumble during his first season as a full-time starter, a status he will likely return to in 2017 assuming he overcomes this neck setback.

The 6-7 Colts now have eight players on IR, also placing backup linebacker Curt Maggitt on the season-ending list.

The Bills cut Williams earlier this year after the former fourth-round pick in 2013 made 10 starts for Buffalo from 2014-16.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks Sign Jeron Johnson

The Seahawks have officially placed safety Earl Thomas on injured reserve, and filled his roster spot by signing fellow safety Jeron Johnson, the club announced today. Seattle also confirmed the previously-reported signing of fullback Marcel Reece, and announced that it has waived running back George Farmer to create a roster spot.Jeron Johnson (Vertical)

[RELATED: Seattle Seahawks Depth Chart]

Johnson, 28, is a familiar face in Seattle, as he spent the 2011-14 campaigns serving as a reserve defensive back and a special-teamer for the Seahawks. He signed with the Redskins last year with the hope of getting more playing time, but was ultimately released just one season into a two-year deal. After briefly hooking on with the Chiefs in August, Johnson was cut and had been roaming the workout circuit, meeting with the Giants, Ravens, and Bills.

Steven Terrell figures to take most of Thomas’ vacated snaps at free safety, meaning Johnson is likely to return to his special teams role for the Hawks. Johnson wasn’t the only safety Seattle worked out today, as Adam Caplan of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link) that the Seahawks also took a look at veterans Duke Williams and Rahim Moore.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Workout Notes: Bucs, Jags, Colts, Chargers

Before signing defensive back Major Wright earlier today, the Buccaneers also worked out fellow safeties Jeron Johnson and Duke Williams, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Johnson, a career special-teamer, signed a two-year deal to become a starter for the Redskins prior to the 2015 campaign, but flamed out after only one season. He signed on with the Chiefs but was cut this summer, and has been on the workout circuit ever since. Williams, meanwhile, had started 10 games over the past four years for Buffalo, but was waived to make room for Percy Harvin earlier this month.

Here’s more on today’s NFL auditions:

  • The Jaguars tried out three wide receivers on Monday, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union tweets. DeAndre Carter (Sacramento State), Cayleb Jones (Arizona), and Mekale McKay (Cincinnati) all auditioned for Jacksonville. Jaguars receiver Allen Hurns left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury and didn’t return, so Jacksonville could be looking to add a bit of depth in the meantime.
  • Linebacker Beniquez Brown, cornerback Trae Elston, tight end Gabe Hughes, and quarterback Keith Wenning worked out for the Colts today, reports Howard Balzer of BalzerFootball.com (Twitter link). Indianapolis has been hit with injuries all over its roster, and Wenning, in particular, could be a safety net in case Andrew Luck suffers a setback in his recovery from a concussion.
  • The Chargers auditioned defensive backs Randall Evans and Solomon Means, tweets Balzer. San Diego is currently missing cornerback Brandon Flowers (concussion), while safety Jahleel Addae just returned on Sunday after recovering from a broken collarbone.
  • The Packers tried out offensive tackle Ryker Matthews today, per Balzer (Twitter link).

Bills Sign James Ihedigbo

Finally, James Ihedigbo has found work in 2016. The veteran defensive back has signed with the Bills, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). James Ihedigbo (Vertical)

Ihedigbo comes to Buffalo roughly two weeks after safety Aaron Williams was placed on injured reserve. Williams’ neck injury left the Bills with a less-than-stellar group of safeties to draw from, leading the Bills to add a proven veteran in Ihedigbo. Although Ihedigbo did not play well in 2015, he is not far removed from his career-best season in 2014.

The veteran, who has history with Rex Ryan when they were both with the Jets, finished out 2015 as Pro Football Focus’ No. 64 ranked safety out of 69 qualifiers. The year before that, Ihedigbo was strong as he saw time at both strong safety and free safety. The Dolphins passed on him as a depth option last month, but he could be in store for a feature role in the Bills’ banged up secondary.

To make room, Duke Williams has been cut by Buffalo. The former fourth-round pick took to Twitter to thank Bills fans for their support on Tuesday afternoon. The safety appeared in every regular season game for the Bills last season but has not seen the field in 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/10/16

Today’s minor moves:

  • Fullback Toben Opurum was claimed by the Broncos after he was waived by the Saints, Evan Woodbery of The Times-Picayune writes. Opurum, 25, has been with the Saints since the end of the 2014 season. In a related move, the Broncos have waived tight end Anthony Norris, Troy Renck of The Denver Post tweets.
  • The Bills have claimed running back Dri Archer off waivers from the Jets, as Mike Rodak of ESPN.com writes. Rodak notes that Archer owns the second-fastest 40-yard dash time (4.26 seconds) in NFL history. Bills wide receiver Marquise Goodwin holds the third-fastest time.
  • The Colts have claimed quarterback Josh Woodrum off waivers from the Giants, as Mike Wells of ESPN.com tweets. In a related move, the Colts waived-injured tight end Mike McFarland. McFarland will go on the Colts’ IR if he clears waivers. As for Woodrum, he becomes the team’s fourth QB on the depth chart after Andrew Luck, Scott Tolzien, and Stephen Morris.
  • The Rams released wide receiver Isiah Ferguson, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). To replace him, the Rams have inked wide receiver J.J. Worton (link).
  • The Vikings announced that they have waived safety Johnny Lowdermilk. The arrival of Lowdermilk will make room for the addition of running back C.J. Ham, whose signing was reported on Monday. Ham, a Duluth native, rushed for 1,097 yards and 16 touchdowns in his final season at Augustana University.
  • The Texans waived outside linebacker Eric Lee, who had signed as undrafted free agent from South Florida, John McClain of The Houston Chronicle tweets. Lee was making the transition to outside linebacker from college defensive end, as Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle notes (on Twitter).
  • The Packers announced the signing of safety Marwin Evans. Evans, 23, finished his collegiate career at Utah State. The Milwaukee native started 13 of 27 games played for the Aggies, recording 83 tackles (36 solo), 10 tackles for a loss, two sacks, an interception he returned 90 yards for a touchdown, three forced fumbles and five pass breakups.
  • The Giants‘ signing of Matt Smalley will wait until the Lafayette cornerback is done with his finals, according to Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily News (on Twitter). That will give Big Blue time before they have to release someone from the 90-man roster.
  • The Giants released linebacker Uani Unga (Twitter link via SiriusXM).
  • The Rams signed former Auburn wide receiver Duke Williams after his recent tryout, Vincent Bonsignore of the Daily News tweets.

AFC Notes: Pryor, Hill, Bills

The Raiders will cut Terrelle Pryor if they can’t find a trade partner by Monday, reports Fox Sports’ Alex Marvez (via Twitter). The news portends an inevitable conclusion to Pryor’s time in Oakland, as the writing has been on the wall since the team traded for Matt Schaub and declared confidence in Matt McGloin as the backup.

Here’s a handful more AFC notes:

  • The Broncos are nearing decision time on Von Miller, who is eligible for a fifth-year option, and ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold details the figures, options and factors involved. Even if the team decides against the fifth-year option in the short-term, franchising Miller next year is a realistic possibility assuming he returns healthy from his ACL injury and gets back to his impact form (30 sacks between 2011 and 2012).
  • In a mailbag, ESPNNewYork.com’s Jane McManus shares her opinion that, in theory, the Jets “have already moved on” from 2012 second-rounder Stephen Hill, who has been a bust through two seasons.
  • The Bills are set at one safety spot with Aaron Williams, who is locked up until 2018. However, despite an uninspiring trio of competitors for the other starting position (Da’Norris Searcy, Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks), the team does not seem motivated to pluck one of the top-rated safety prospects, writes Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. Rodak speculates the Bills likely won’t address safety in the draft until the middle or late rounds if at all, saying, “They could also wait another year, see what they have in those two second-year players, and re-assess the position after this season.”

Byrd Notes: Falcons, Browns, Jets, Bills

The deadline for teams to apply their franchise and transition tags has come and gone, and the Bills announced earlier today they would not tag three-time Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd.

Now it’s time for beat writers from safety-needy teams to look at whether the former Oregon product who played the 2013 season on a franchise tender would be worth his hefty price tag.

When D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta-Journal Constitution ranked his five free agent targets for the Falcons, he ranked Byrd No. 1. Atlanta will be $26.7MM beneath the salary cap once Tony Gonzalez‘s $7MM slot is removed, and Ledbetter cites the potential upgrade Byrd would present over incumbent free safety Thomas DeCoud, whom the Falcons are expected to release, as justification.

But, there’s only so much money you can invest in one position, as ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter Vaughn McClure points out. Strong safety William Moore enters year two of a five-year, $29.51M contract, and Byrd figures to command a substantially larger deal.

Other Byrd notes from around the league…

  • When the Browns placed the transition tag on center Alex Mack earlier today, they gave up their exclusive rights of T.J. Ward, another top-tier safety hitting free agency. ESPN Browns reporter Pat McManamon looks at the potential for a Byrd/Ward swap of sorts, reuniting Byrd with Cleveland head coach and former Buffalo defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
  • The Jets haven’t paid top dollar for a safety since Kerry Rhodes‘ $33.5MM deal in 2008, ESPNNewYork.com reporter Rich Cimini notes, but Byrd is worth investigating. Cimini’s gut tells him the team will likely look again to Dawan Landry and Antonio Allen in 2014, but with 22 interceptions since 2009 and six against the Jets, Byrd should draw the organization’s eye.
  • Aaron Williams, a second-round pick in 2011, tops the list of likely replacements for Byrd in Buffalo, with younger players Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks and Jujuan Harley as long shots, per ESPN Bills reporter Mike Rodak.