Earl Watford

Browns To Sign OL Earl Watford

The Browns have signed offensive lineman Earl Watford, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). Watford was released by the Bears earlier this week, making him a free agent. 

The former fourth-round Cardinals pick signed with the Bears in April and was expected to have a shot at the starting lineup. Unfortunately, things did not pan out that way for him, despite Kyle Long‘s injury history and the departure of Josh Sitton.

Watford started nine games for the Cards last season and eleven in 2016. Pro Football Focus has graded Watford as one of the worst full-time blockers in the game over the past two seasons, but the 28-year-old has made 22 starts over the past three years in spite his so-so performance.

The Browns’ need for depth on the offensive line has been well documented, especially in light of Spencer Drango‘s preseason struggles. Watford can also fill in for rookie Austin Corbett if he struggles to adapt to the pro game.

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Bears To Release OL Earl Watford

The Bears are releasing offensive lineman Earl Watford, who was reportedly the subject of trade talks, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link). 

The former fourth-round Cardinals pick signed with the Bears in April and was expected to have a shot at the starting lineup. Unfortunately, things did not pan out that way for him, despite Kyle Long‘s injury history and the departure of Josh Sitton.

Watford started nine games for the Cards last season and eleven in 2016. Pro Football Focus has graded Watford as one of the worst full-time blockers in the game over the past two seasons, however, but the 28-year-old has made 22 starts over the past three years in spite of that.

The Bears project to start Charles Leno, James Daniels, Cody Whitehair, Long, and Bobby Massie on the front line in Week 1.

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Bears Expected To Sign Earl Watford

Earl Watford visited the Bears on Monday, and that that summit is expected to lead to a contract agreement. The Bears are expected to sign the UFA offensive lineman, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports.

A Watford signing would reunite him with former Cardinals line mates Bobby Massie and Bradley Sowell, while supplying depth to the Bears’ offensive front.

With the Bears having released Josh Sitton earlier this offseason, and Kyle Long enduring more three more surgical procedures this offseason (story via Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com), there’s a route to the starting lineup for Watford. The former fourth-round Cardinals pick started nine games for the Cards last season and 11 in 2016. The Jaguars initially signed Watford last March but released him later in the year, and he wound up back in Arizona.

Chicago does not have an obvious replacement for Sitton on its current roster, and Watford would bring the most experience among the candidates to start at left guard opposite Long. Eric Kush and 2017 fifth-rounder Jordan Morgan are also expected to be in that mix, per Biggs, adding that Watford could be a candidate for a swing role if he’s beaten out for a starting spot. Both Kush and Morgan underwent surgery in recent months, and Long will not participate in OTAs, per Biggs.

Pro Football Focus has graded Watford as one of the worst full-time blockers in the game over the past two seasons, however, but the 27-year-old James Madison product has made 22 starts over the past three years.

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Cardinals Place Jared Veldheer On IR

Left tackle Jared Veldheer is headed to the injured reserve list with a fractured ankle, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told reporters on Monday morning (Twitter link via Darren Urban of the team website). Meanwhile, right guard Earl Watford is likely to miss time with high ankle sprain. Jared Veldheer (vertical)

The Cardinals have been dealing with offensive line injuries all year long. Starting guard Mike Iupati landed on IR with an elbow injury in Week 4 and season-ending maladies later sidelined offensive linemen D.J. Humphries and Daniel Munyer. Without starters Veldheer and Watford, the Cardinals will have to dig even deeper.

Fifth-round rookie Will Holden figures to move into the starting lineup while center Evan Boehm may be asked to fill-in at right guard. Interior lineman Max Tuerk, who was recently plucked from the Chargers’ taxi squad, could be in line for significant reps. The Cardinals will also likely add an offensive lineman or two to hold them over for the final stretch.

The Cardinals have Veldheer under contract for one more season at a $10.24MM cap number, but they can release him with just $3.25MM in dead money this offseason. Watford is scheduled to hit the open market in March.

The Cardinals advanced to 6-7 on the year with a win over the Titans on Sunday. They’ll wrap up the regular season with games against the Redskins, Giants, and Seahawks in the final three weeks. Even if they run the table, odds are they will not qualify for the playoffs.

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Cardinals To Promote LB Scooby Wright

In the wake of Markus Golden‘s ACL tear, the Cardinals are calling up fellow edge rusher Scooby Wright from the practice squad, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). In related moves, the Cardinals have signed guard/tackle Earl Watford, released guard/tackle Vinston Painter, and released wide receiver Aaron Dobson, linebacker Alani Fua, and defensive end Ed Stinson from IR. Scooby Wright (vertical)

[RELATED: Markus Golden Done For Year]

Wright, 23, missed the Cardinals’ final cut in September but signed on with the practice squad the following day. Since then, he has been cycled through the NFL’s usual process for fringe players (promoted, cut, re-signed to practice squad, repeat). Through four weeks, he has dressed for three games.

Wright has yet to make a major impact at the NFL level, but he is well known in the area for his work at the University of Arizona. In 2014, Wright tallied an eye-popping 163 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, and six forced fumbles. Unfortunately, he was slowed by injuries in 2015 and his draft stock suffered as a result. The Browns took him with one of the final picks in the draft, but he found his way to the Cardinals late last year.

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East Notes: Eagles, Dolphins, Timmons, Pats

Now that Darren Sproles is out for the rest of the season with a broken arm/torn ACL, the Eagles will add another running back in the coming days, head coach Doug Pederson told reporters, including Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com (Twitter link). Byron Marshall, who’s spent most of the past year-plus on Philadelphia’s practice squad, is presumably one option to join an Eagles backfield that currently consists of LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, and Corey Clement. If Philadelphia wants to scour the free agent market, the club will find options such as Shaun Draughn, C.J. Spiller, Travaris Cadet, and former Eagle Kenjon Barner, all of whom could help replace the pass-catching prowess of Sproles.

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

  • Lawrence Timmons is now in limbo after going AWOL and being suspended by the Dolphins, but his agent Drew Rosenhaus is “cautiously optimistic” the veteran linebacker will be able to return to Miami, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Dolphins head coach Adam Gase seemingly opened the window for Timmons last week, indicating that his situation could be forgiven. Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reported Sunday that Timmons visited his former club — the Steelers — during Miami’s Week 1 bye and expressed regret for signing with the Dolphins this spring.
  • The Patriots worked out offensive linemen Gino Gradkowski, Nate Theaker, and Earl Watford, plus defensive back Harold Jones-Quartey, on Monday, tweets Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. The auditions of Gradkowski and Watford are particularly notable, as both offer plenty of experience and would given New England depth on the offensive line interior. The Patriots only listed tackle Marcus Cannon on last week’s injury report, however, so instead of searching for injury replacements, New England was likely just updating its emergency list of free agents.
  • In case you missed it, the Redskins worked out free agent safety Shamarko Thomas today. Thomas, who has spent his entire career with the Steelers, has 48 games of experience under his belt.

NFL Workout Updates: 9/13/17

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

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Tennessee Titans

Washington Redskins

Jaguars Place WR Dede Westbrook On IR

The Jaguars are placing rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook on injured reserve and releasing offensive lineman Earl Watford, according to Mike Kaye of First Coast News (Twitter link).Dede Westbrook (Vertical)

Westbrook, the Jaguars’ fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, had moved ahead of veteran Allen Hurns on the club’s depth chart, and had been set to open the season as Jacksonville’s slot receiver behind starters Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee. However, a “core” injury has now landed Westbrook on injured reserve, although he could return to action later this season. If the Jaguars opt to designate him as a return player, Westbrook could begin practicing in six weeks and play in eight.

Watford, meanwhile, signed a two-year, $5MM deal with the Jaguars this spring that contained $1MM in guarantees. He’d been expected to serve as depth along the offensive line, and while he’s a free agent for now, it’s entirely possible he could be re-signed after Week 1. That would enable Jacksonville to be free from guaranteeing Watford’s 2017 base salary.

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Jaguars To Sign Earl Watford

The Jaguars have agreed to a two-year, $6MM deal with offensive lineman Earl Watford, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.Earl Watford (Vertical)

Watford, 26, has the ability to play all along the offensive line, as he saw time at both right guard and right tackle for the Cardinals in 2016. That quality alone makes him valuable to the Jaguars, who sorely needed to added front five depth this offseason. In Jacksonville, Watford will likely act as a reserve to tackles Branden Albert and Jermey Parnell and guards Patrick Omameh and A.J. Cann, although he could conceivably compete with Omameh to start at left guard.

A former fourth-round pick, Watford picked up 11 of his 13 career starts during the 2016 campaign. Pro Football Focus wasn’t very fond of his play, however, ranking him as the fourth-worst offensive tackle in the league last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: Seahawks, 49ers, Davis

Jahri Evans‘ contract suggests he’ll have to compete for a spot with the Seahawks, Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com writes. With just $80K guaranteed on his ~$1MM deal, it’s a low-risk move for Seattle and they know that they can press the escape button with minimal consequences if he does not resume his old form. If Evans does look strong in practice, then he could possibly earn a starting job and bump rookie Germain Ifedi from right guard to right tackle. If he doesn’t provide much of an upgrade, then he won’t be on the 53-man roster.

Here’s more from the NFC West: