Grant Haley

Extra Points: Murray, Njoku, Contracts

Before he was the first overall pick of the Cardinals in the 2019 NFL Draft, Kyler Murray was the ninth overall pick of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Oakland A’s. Then he went on to win the Heisman Trophy, causing him to rocket up NFL draft boards. Even after winning the Heisman Murray initially was reported to be pursuing baseball over football, but obviously that changed when it became clear just how high he’d be drafted. We haven’t heard a ton about his baseball passions since, but he made it clear he isn’t over the game in interviews this past week. “I would love to” play baseball again one day Murray said on The Pat McAfee Show, via Jeremy Cluff of the Arizona Republic. “I think it’s still there because I’ve been doing it my whole life. It wasn’t like I have to turn this off to be elite at football.”

When asked if he could see himself playing football and baseball at the same time one day soon, Murray said “I hope so. I hope so. I mean, I would love to. I think that would be good for everybody … I think it is tough because I play quarterback.” He also added that walking away from Oakland was “definitely the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.” The Cardinals likely aren’t as enthused about the possibility, and it’s specifically in his contract that he’s not allowed to play baseball. Maybe when it comes time for Murray to get a contract extension from Arizona, he’ll look to negotiate a clause that allows him to try his hand at baseball? It’s certainly fun to think about, and I think every fan would be hoping he can become the next Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders.

Here’s more from around the league as we officially turn our attention toward the offseason:

  • David Njoku had a rocky season with the Browns, even as the team had their most success in decades. The drafting of Harrison Bryant and signing of Austin Hooper reduced his role on offense, and Njoku demanded to be traded this past summer, then changed his mind on that demand, then apparently changed his mind once again and wanted to be traded in October. Obviously Cleveland didn’t want to deal him, and it looked like everything had more or less been worked out, but Njoku fanned the flames again this past week. “That’s a good question,” Njoku said recently on the Jim Rome Show when asked if he’s in the right spot, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. “I’m not going to answer that right now. I have no comment towards that at this moment,” Njoku said cryptically. The 29th overall pick of the 2017 draft added that everything would work itself out in the “near future.” Thanks to his fifth-year option the tight end is under contract for 2021 at a hair over $6MM, although that’s not guaranteed. If they choose to keep him at that number, it sounds like another trade request could be in the cards.
  • Reserve/futures deals are non-guaranteed pacts to keep unheralded players a part of a team’s offseason 90-man roster, so they usually don’t come with any bonuses or guaranteed money. When they do, that makes them a lot more notable, and Field Yates of ESPN.com recently tweeted out this cycle’s biggest. Cornerback Grant Haley got $35.7K from the Saints, safety Marqui Christian and cornerback Xavier Crawford got $35K and $31.3K respectively from the Bears, long snapper Dan Godsil got $27.4K from the Bengals, and tight end Tyree Jackson got $25.2K from the Eagles while punter Arryn Siposs got $25K from Philly. All these guys would seem to have a better than normal chance of cracking next year’s 53. Haley saw a lot of run his first two years in the league with the Giants, and was up and down from New Orleans’ practice squad in 2020. If Cincy is giving a reserve/futures long snapper $25K, you’ve gotta figure they think there’s a good chance he’s their guy next year. Jackson is a notable name since he’s the former University of Buffalo star quarterback who has since transitioned to tight end.
  • Speaking of relatively minor contracts, Yates also tweeted the details for the recent extensions for Raiders quarterback Nathan Peterman and 49ers long snapper Taybor Pepper. Peterman got a guaranteed $1MM base salary on his one-year deal, a $25K workout bonus, and a max value of $2.775MM with incentives. Pepper got two-years, $2.08MM with an $80K signing bonus and $220K of his $920K salary for 2021 guaranteed. It’s pretty eyebrow-raising to see Peterman get his $1MM guaranteed considering he’s thrown all of five passes the past two seasons, but Jon Gruden clearly loves the guy. This would suggest he’s got a good shot to hold the clipboard for Derek Carr, or whoever is the Raiders’ starter next year.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/21/21

Today’s reserve/futures deals:

Arizona Cardinals

New Orleans Saints

Tennessee Titans

  • WR Mason Kinsey

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/2/21

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

  • Signed off Jets’ practice squad: G Blake Hance
  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: S Karl Joseph
  • Promoted: G Cordell Iwuagwu, LB Montrel Meander, T Alex Taylor

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Promoted: DB John Brannon

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Saints Activate DT Sheldon Rankins

One of the NFL’s best defenses will feature more defensive line talent than it has in recent weeks. The Saints activated Sheldon Rankins from IR on Saturday.

An MCL injury sidelined the contract-year defensive tackle since Week 8. While Rankins’ role has changed since his Achilles tear in the 2018 playoffs, he still represents a key depth piece for the Super Bowl-contending Saints. New Orleans has won eight straight games and now leads the league in total defense.

The Saints have used Rankins as a backup behind David Onyemata and Malcom Brown this season, but the former first-round pick was a full-time starter prior in the two seasons prior to his Achilles malady. Rankins has seen various injuries, including a 2019 ankle setback, affect his NFL status. But he will have a chance to make a final push for a reasonable free agency deal in the weeks ahead.

New Orleans placed wide receiver Marquez Callaway on IR to make room for Rankins. The team also promoted offensive lineman Will Clapp, cornerback Grant Haley, wideouts Juwan Johnson and Tommylee Lewis and defensive lineman Anthony Zettel from its practice squad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/19/20

Recent practice squad notes from around the league:

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

  • Signed: WR Hakeem Butler
  • Released: S T.J. Green, T Aaron Monteiro

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Signed: OL Brandon Walton

Of course, the big news here surrounds Callaway. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports (via Twitter) that the wideout has earned an additional four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. This means he’ll be eligible to return to the field in Week 8.

Callaway will continue to sit on the Dolphins’ practice squad suspended list, per Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com. The 23-year-old will still be allowed to attend meetings, but he can’t practice with the squad until his suspension ends.

The talented wideout out of Florida fell to the Browns in the fourth round of the 2018 draft thanks in part to a 2016 four-game suspension from former head coach Jim McElwain. Callaway immediately contributed in Cleveland, hauling in 43 receptions for 586 and five scores during his rookie campaign. However, the receiver was suspended for the first four games of the 2019 season after violating the substance-abuse policy, and he underwhelmed in the four games following his return (eight receptions, 89 yards).

He was slapped with a 10-game ban late last year, and the suspension was supposed to last through the third week of the 2020 season. Thanks to the latest suspension, Callaway won’t see the field through the first seven weeks of the season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Cut Jon Halapio, Slash Roster To 53

The Giants revealed the moves they made to pare their roster down to 53 players. Here are the cuts Big Blue made Saturday:

Waived:

Waived/injured:

The two quarterback cuts will leave Daniel Jones and Colt McCoy as the Giants’ only two quarterbacks to start their post-Eli Manning era, though Rush certainly would profile as a practice squad candidate. He played for new OC Jason Garrett in Dallas for three seasons.
Connelly’s cut is somewhat surprising, given the linebacker’s three starts last season. But an injury cut short his rookie season. The Giants can place 16 players on their practice squad this season. If Connelly clears waivers, it is likely he will be part of that group.
The Giants re-signed Halapio days ago. He has been Big Blue’s starting center in each of their past two Week 1 games, and the former Patriots draft pick started 15 games in 2019. The Giants did not tender Halapio as an RFA this offseason and kept Nick Gates, whom they extended this year, and Spencer Pulley on the roster over him.

Giants Place Cody Latimer On IR

The Giants made a slew of roster moves on Tuesday morning. The club signed wide receiver Bennie Fowler and promoted linebacker Ukeme Eligwe and cornerback Grant Haley from the practice squad. Spots were opened for them after the Giants placed wide receiver Cody Latimer (hamstring) and linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong (concussion) on IR and waived cornerback Donte Deayon

As Latimer exits, another former Bronco takes his place. Fowler now has a chance to become the fourth player to catch passes from both Peyton and Eli Manning, following Latimer who achieved that milestone on Sept. 16. Fowler has 56 receptions for 598 yards and five touchdowns for his NFL career. He’s perhaps best known for the two-point conversion catch he had in the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 victory. That play also went down as Peyton Manning’s final career pass attempt.

The Giants, who are desperate for a spark, will look to improve upon their 1-5 record when they face the Falcons on Monday night.

Sunday NFL Transactions: NFC East

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four NFC East teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, and Redskins are noted below.

Additionally, as of 12:00pm CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s NFC East transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day:

Dallas Cowboys

Claimed:

Cut:

Practice squad:

New York Giants

Claimed:

Cut:

Practice squad:

Philadelphia Eagles

Claimed:

Cut:

Practice squad:

Washington Redskins

Practice squad:

Giants Lock In 53-Man Roster

The Giants will head into the 2018 season without one of their longest-tenured players and one of their 2017 starting safeties, with both Mark Herzlich and Darian Thompson failing to make the team.

A 2017 fifth-round pick, edge defender Avery Moss missed out as well. As did Roger Lewis, a wideout who became needed when the Giants became decimated at receiver last season.

The Giants also released recently signed cornerback Leonard Johnson, who was trying to make a fifth NFL franchise’s 53-man roster. The former Buccaneer, Patriot, Panther and Bill started seven games with Buffalo last season.

Here’s the full list of Giants cuts:

Released:

Waived:

Waived with an injury designation

Placed on IR:

Placed on Reserve/NFI list:

  • DL R.J. McIntosh

Suspended:

East Notes: Beckham, S. Jones, Patriots

The Giants and star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. are far apart in extension talks, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk believes Beckham should stage a holdout. After all, if Beckham reports for training camp — as he said he will do — but does not get the deal he’s looking for, then he would essentially be foreclosed from holding out. As Florio notes, a player who reports and then leaves subjects himself to a “five-day letter,” in which a team advises such player that, if he does not return within five days, he will be put on the reserve/left squad list, thereby tolling his contract for a full year. And, if Beckham reports but does not practice with the team until he gets a new deal, he could be subject to fines and suspension for conduct detrimental to the team.

As such, Florio believes Beckham’s only chance to get the contract he deserves this year is to hold out and put a little pressure on the Giants, which none of his other alternatives would do. Beckham, though, appears to be sensitive to the stigma associated with holdouts, so this will remain a fascinating case to monitor.

Now for more from the league’s east divisions:

  • Matt Lombardo of NJ.com names the secondary as perhaps the biggest weakness on the Giants‘ roster, though he says UDFA cornerback Grant Haley — who reportedly received a whopping $100K in guaranteed money from Big Blue — could be a solid slot corner in his rookie season. Lombardo also says the team could reunite with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, which grows more likely the longer DRC lingers on the open market.
  • Eagles cornerback Sidney Jones had a strong offseason, but as Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com observes, Jones spent the last three practices of the spring on the sideline with soreness in his lower body. Philadelphia has said that soreness is wholly unrelated to the Achilles injury that forced Jones to miss almost all of his rookie season, but Shorr-Parks says the fact that the Washington product was forced to miss the most important practices of the spring with a vague injury is noteworthy. The team needs Jones to live up to his collegiate potential, which would have a positive trickle-down effect on the rest of a secondary that needs to replace Patrick Robinson (as of now, Shorr-Parks says, Jalen Mills is the favorite to serve as the Eagles’ nickel corner, a role that Robinson filled so admirably last year).
  • Free agent WR Eric Decker indicated earlier this week that the Patriots would be a good fit for him, and while no team — including the Patriots – has publicly expressed interest in Decker in nearly three months, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says New England could be interested once it has had the opportunity to fully evaluate its receiving corps in training camp.
  • One potentially key member of the Patriots‘ receiving corps, Malcolm Mitchell, is unsure if he will be ready for the start of training camp. Per Stephen Hewitt of the Boston Herald, Mitchell — who missed all of the 2017 campaign with a knee injury after a promising rookie season — simply said “we’ll see” when asked if he would be ready to go when camp opens next month. New England would love to have a healthy Mitchell, especially in light of Julian Edelman‘s impending four-game suspension.
  • Reiss says that Patriots‘ UDFA punter Corey Bojorquez is a legitimate threat to incumbent Ryan Allen.