George Iloka

NFC East Notes: Eagles, Foles, Manning

For a minute there, the Eagles considered tagging quarterback Nick Foles. This week, owner Jeff Lurie confirmed what had been widely rumored – the tag was considered only to stop Foles from potentially leaving for the rival Giants or Redskins (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of NFL.com). However, when it became apparent to the Redskins that Foles would be leaving the conference altogether by signing with the Jaguars, the Eagles opted against the move.

Foles was beloved in Philadelphia, but holding on to him as Carson Wentz‘s backup would have been an expensive proposition. Instead, the Eagles allowed him to fly away while putting their limited cap space into other areas.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • As the Giants evaluate their future at the quarterback position, they have not ruled out the possibility that Eli Manning could be their QB in 2020, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY hears. If the Giants do not draft a QB at No. 6 or No. 17 overall or trade for Cardinals QB Josh Rosen, this could be the most likely outcome. From there, the Giants would kick the can down the road into 2020, when they would (finally) select Manning’s heir.
  • The Cowboys‘ one-year deal with safety George Iloka is a minimum salary benefit contract that will count for just $735K against the cap, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets. He’ll earn a $930K base salary with just $210K of that amount being guaranteed. The longtime Bengals starter is just the latest one-year addition in Dallas, joining fellow vets Randall Cobb, Kerry Hyder, Christian Covington, Cameron Fleming, Tavon Austin, and Jason Witten on deals that expire after the 2019 season.
  • The Redskins will move former Giants first-round pick Ereck Flowers from tackle to guard, as John Keim of ESPN.com tweets. They don’t expect there to be much of a learning curve, however. “With his strength and his size and his ability to move I think it will be a natural easy fit,” head coach Jay Gruden said. “[When] we drafted Brandon I remember they came out in the same class and rated right next to each other. Ereck was more a tackle and Brandon projected more of a guard. Both are athletic big and can move. It will be an easy transition.”

Cowboys To Sign George Iloka

The Cowboys have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent safety George Iloka, ESPN’s Todd Archer reports [Twitter link]. 

Expected to be in on the Earl Thomas sweepstakes, the Cowboys instead opted for the versatile Iloka, who is capable of playing both safety spots. Iloka marked the third safety to visit with the team this offseason, after Clayton Geathers, who rejoined the Colts, and former Chiefs All-Pro Eric Berry.

Archer mentions the Cowboys are concerned about their depth at the position, which Iloka’s ability to play both positions will greatly impact. It remains to be seen if Iloka will wrestle a starting spot away from either Jeff Heath or Xavier Woods. Iloka also caught the Cowboys’ attention this past offseason before he decided to sign with the Vikings after beginning his career with the Bengals.

A longtime starter in Cincinnati after being tabbed with a fifth-round pick in 2012, Iloka transitioned into a reserve role in 2018 with the Vikings, where he registered 16 tackles and a forced fumble. During his run with the Bengals, the Boise State product registered nine interceptions and made 446 tackles in six seasons.

One-year deals are the theme of the offseason for the Cowboys, who have now added Iloka to Randall Cobb, Kerry Hyder, Christian Covington, Cameron Fleming, Tavon Austin and Jason Witten among players who have taken a one-year offers.

Iloka continues the Cowboys recent fixation with Boise State products. He joins defensive linemen Tyrone Crawford and Demarcus Lawrence, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to play for the Broncos.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

George Iloka Unlikely To Return To Vikings

George Iloka has been relatively busy as a free agent, but it sounds like he won’t be returning to Minnesota. Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News in Minnesota reports (via Twitter) that while the two sides met at the combine, it’s unlikely the safety returns to the Vikings.

Iloka has met with the Cowboys and Raiders this offseason, with his ability to play both free and strong safety making him a commodity. David Moore of the Dallas Morning News writes that the 28-year-old ultimately left Dallas without a deal, and we can assume the same about his previous visit with Oakland.

Iloka was a starter for the bulk of his career with the Bengals, but played mostly in a reserve role for the Vikings last year. In 16 games (three starts), the defensive back compiled 16 tackles and one forced fumble. However, he’s only one year removed from an 80-tackle campaign.

Wolfson also notes that the Vikings have not extended an offer to free agent wideout Aldrick Robinson, and the team is looking for other options at receiver. Robinson finished last season with 17 receptions for 231 yards and five scores.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys To Meet With George Iloka

George Iloka‘s free agent tour continues. After meeting with the Raiders on Wednesday, he’ll travel to visit the Cowboys on Friday, according to ESPN.com’s Todd Archer (on Twitter). 

Iloka, who played for the Vikings last year, previously had a six-year run with the Bengals. Meanwhile, he’s the third safety to meet with the Cowboys since the start of free agency. Earlier, Dallas huddled up with Clayton Geathers (who has since re-signed with the Colts) and Eric Berry.

In the safety hierarchy, Iloka is closer to Geathers than Berry. He has nine interceptions for his career and 79 starts to his credit, but has never been named to a Pro Bowl. Still, Iloka could be a low-cost upgrade to a secondary that could use the extra support.

Iloka can play free or strong safety and wouldn’t be a costly addition for the Cowboys. Last summer, he settled for a one-year, minimum salary agreement with the Vikings and started in only three games, so it’s hard to see him commanding a significant pay bump.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders To Meet With George Iloka

The Raiders are hosting former Vikings safety George Iloka on a visit, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Former Giants safety Curtis Riley is also en route to Oakland, Michael Gehlken of the Review-Journal (on Twitter) hears.

The Raiders already invested heavily in the secondary by signing safety Lamarcus Joyner to a four-year, $42MM deal, but they’re expected to deploy him mostly at nickel corner. That leaves a serious need at safety, and Iloka and/or Riley could help fill the gap.

Iloka, a former Bengal, has history with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, and that same connection led to a deal between the Raiders and linebacker Vontaze Burfict earlier this week. Iloka can play free or strong safety, which could be a big plus for the Raiders’ secondary. Iloka was a starter for the bulk of his career with the Bengals, but played mostly in a reserve role with the Vikings last year. In past years, however, Iloka looked the part of an elite safety.

Riley, 27 this summer, had a breakout campaign during his first season with the Giants. After appearing in eleven games with the Titans between 2016 and 2017, the defensive back started all 16 contests last year. Riley recorded 75 tackles, five passes defended, and four interceptions, though Pro Football Focus only ranked him 79th among 93 eligible safeties. Riley visited the Packers on Monday, but left Green Bay without a deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Notes: Collins, Jones, Swaim, WRs

The Cowboys boast more defensive line depth than they have in the recent past, and they are expecting to have one of their starters back in time for the regular season. Executive VP Stephen Jones expects Maliek Collins to be ready to go by Week 1. Jones indicated during a Saturday radio interview with 105.3 KRLD-FM (via the Dallas Morning News) that Collins, who suffered another foot injury this offseason but was activated from the PUP list last week, may well be on a pitch count upon returning. He may no longer be a starter, however, with Tyrone Crawford having moved to defensive tackle. Crawford and Antwaun Woods are currently Dallas’ inside starters. Collins has started 30 of the 32 games he’s played since arriving as a third-round pick, so this would create some depth — something Jones said isn’t as prevalent at defensive tackle as it is at end — inside.

Here’s the latest out of Dallas:

  • Stephen Jones dismissed the prospect of Byron Jones returning to safety due to the team’s situation there. Byron Jones is now a cornerback, with new secondary coach Kris Richard preferring taller corners who can press, and Stephen Jones has praised the development the former first-round safety’s made at his new position.
  • Kavon Frazier is now working as Dallas’ starting strong safety, replacing the injured Xavier Woods for the time being, and that’s resulted in Jeff Heath moving to free safety, Calvin Watkins of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The Cowboys do not view the recently signed Jeron Johnson as a starter but instead more of a depth piece behind the current first-stringers. Watkins writes the Cowboys discussed George Iloka, who opted for the Vikings on a league-minimum agreement, but liked Johnson because of his positional flexibility. Stephen Jones hinted at (Twitter link, via the Morning News’ Jon Machota) another safety potentially being added after preseason cuts commence.
  • While the Cowboys discussed Earl Thomas with the Seahawks, they did not replace Jason Witten with a high- or medium-profile player. Geoff Swaim, a 2015 seventh-round pick with nine career catches, will replace the future Hall of Famer in the starting lineup, per Watkins, who adds 2017 UDFA Blake Jarwin is the No. 2 tight end. Rico Gathers may not have a way onto the roster, with Watkins expecting Dallas to carry three tight ends. The Cowboys drafted Dalton Schultz in the fourth round, and he almost certainly will be the No. 3 player here.
  • Stephen Jones dropped an interesting hint about what the Cowboys may be planning with their reconfigured wide receiver corps. The team may choose to carry more than six at this spot. “Traditionally we’ve kept five or six receivers. But if I’m a betting man, I think that ends up being more than five or six,” Jones said (Twitter link, via Machota) of how the Cowboys plan to handle their Week 1 roster. Watkins views Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, Tavon Austin, Terrance Williams and third-round rookie Michael Gallup as locks. UFA addition Deonte Thompson and second-year man Noah Brown are currently dealing with injuries, but it doesn’t look like they’re out of the running as a result.

George Iloka Signed For League Minimum

George Iloka‘s one-year deal with the Vikings is worth the league minimum for his experience level ($790K), according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Iloka signed a minimum salary benefit contract with Minnesota, meaning the club will take advantage of the veteran safety’s deal on their salary cap. While Iloka will actually collect $880K ($790K in base salary plus a $90K signing bonus), the Vikings will see only $630K — the league minimum for a player with two years experience — on their cap.

It’s a incredible bargain for a starting-caliber safety, even one that was released at this stage of the year. Stagnant safety market aside, Iloka likely could have found a better price elsewhere, but Schefter reports Iloka wanted to play for his former Bengals defensive coordinator and current Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer.

Iloka figures to supplant Andrew Sendejo and start opposite Harrison Smith in the Vikings’ base defense, but all three safeties could conceivably see the field in sub packages.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Sign S George Iloka

It’s a done deal. On Wednesday, the Vikings announced the signing of safety George Iloka

Iloka was released by the Bengals earlier this week, a move that seemingly came out of nowhere. While Cincinnati preferred to go with younger players in the secondary, plenty of other clubs expressed interest in the hard-hitting veteran. The Cowboys and Raiders both discussed signing Iloka, but he was ultimately drawn to Minnesota in order to reunite with coach Mike Zimmer.

Zimmer was Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator for Iloka’s first two seasons before Zimmer went to Minnesota in 2014. When Iloka became a starter in 2013 under Zimmer, the Bengals’ D ranked third in yards allowed per game (305.5) and tied for fifth in points allowed per game (19.1). His relationship with Zimmer nearly led him to sign with the Vikings as a free agent in 2016.

If I was going there, I was going because of Zim,” Iloka told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press back in ’16. “I know what type of locker room he has there just by the type of coach he is.’’

The Vikings missed out on Iloka, but they did manage to re-sign strong safety Andrew Sendejo to a reasonably priced four-year, $16MM deal. Now, Iloka may take Sendejo’s place in the starting lineup.

This has been a tremendous offseason for the Vikings’ defense, and the team as a whole. In the last six moths, the club has signed quarterback Kirk Cousins, defensive lineman Sheldon Richardon, and now Iloka. They’ve also managed to extend key players such as defensive end Danielle Hunter, linebacker Eric Kendricks, and wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The last major item on the agenda is an extension with linebacker Anthony Barr, who says he badly wants to stay with the Vikings beyond the final year of his current deal.

Iloka has 76 career starts to his credit with nine career interceptions and two forced fumbles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings To Meet With George Iloka

The Vikings will meet with free agent safety George Iloka on Wednesday, according to Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). They also hear that a deal is likely to happen, which would make one of the league’s best defenses even better. 

Iloka and head coach Mike Zimmer have a relationship dating back to their days with the Bengals. If signed, Iloka may move from free safety to strong safety and supplant Andrew Sendejo in the starting lineup. With a starting safety tandem of Harrison Smith and Iloka and cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mike Hughes, the Vikings’ secondary would be especially tough for opposing quarterbacks.

Iloka, a 2012 fifth-round choice out of Boise State, was a fixture in the Bengals’ starting lineup for years. He has been quite durable as well, as he has played in 76 of a possible 80 regular season games and all three of the team’s playoff contests since 2013. Iloka isn’t an interception magnet, but he is a hard-hitting safety who can cover well in the middle of the field.

Last year, Iloka finished out with 79 total tackles and one interception. That was his second season at free safety after spending 2013-2015 at the strong safety position.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Bengals, Iloka, Kaepernick

The Bengals surprised many with their release of safety George Iloka, but it has been in discussion ever since the drafting of Jessie Bates III in the second round, according to Kat Terrell of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Despite Iloka’s past performance, the Bengals are ready to move ahead with the rookie and give him the playing time he needs to develop. The Bengals were also wary of using a roster spot on a veteran who doesn’t fit on special teams.

Iloka wasn’t a fit for the 2018 Bengals, but there are plenty of other teams who are interested in his services. He’s already on the radar of the Raiders and Cowboys, and it stands to reason that other teams will get on the horn with him in the coming days.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Broncos GM John Elway violated the gag order issued in Colin Kaepernick‘s collusion case when he spoke about the quarterback last week, his agent alleges. “Mr. Elway, clearly he violated the protective order that the NFL has been wielding like a club at me,” attorney Mark Geragos said on his podcast (via Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports). “And he’s apparently suffering from some real brain trauma.”
  • It was widely reported that Jon Gruden‘s deal with the Raiders will pay him a guaranteed $100MM over ten years, but Gruden says that’s not true (via Mike Florio of PFT). The truth may be somewhere in between. It’s believed that Gruden’s $100MM is not fully guaranteed, Florio hears. The structure of the contract is believed to be more along the lines of $25MM over the first five years, and $75MM over the final five years. If that’s the setup of the deal, then it’s possible that the final five years are not fully guaranteed or even largely guaranteed.
  • Former Texans offensive tackle Derek Newton filed a grievance seeking payment of a $500K roster bonus, according Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Newton was officially released in April 12 with a failed physical designation, but his roster bonus was due April 1. The Texans held Newton on the roster past the bonus date, but he didn’t pass the physical. Therefore, Newton is seeking $200K from the team. For now, that number is held against the Texans’ cap.