Following a spree of cost-cutting or cost-reorganizing moves to get under the cap, the Saints made a depth signing Monday.
They will retain offensive lineman James Hurst, the team announced. Hurst will make $9MM over three years on his latest Saints accord, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets.
The Saints initially added Hurst last year and used him as a swing backup and spot starter. The veteran offensive lineman has the ability to contribute at tackle and guard. This represents nice money for a second-string-type option.
A longtime Ravens blocker, Hurst started five games for the Saints last season. While it is unknown if he will block for Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston in 2021 (perhaps both?), he will be back with the Saints.
The Saints made some notable cuts on their defensive line, dropping Edwards and Hunt. The former played with New Orleans last season, while the latter was an offseason addition. The Colts cut Hunt earlier this year, doing so after previously extending him. However, New Orleans does have Malcom Brown back and re-signed David Onyemata in March. The Saints are pursuing Jadeveon Clowney as well.
Alonso suffered a torn ACL in the playoffs last year. He will miss at least six games. The Saints signed Fowler over the summer. The former Broncos auxiliary receiver worked out with Drew Brees and Emmanuel Sanders during the pandemic-induced NFL hiatus.
Stevens, like most of the players cut Saturday, profiles as a practice squad candidate. The Saints became involved in a strange controversy over the seventh-round pick, whom the Panthers coveted. It will be interesting to see if Carolina submits a waiver claim on Stevens.
The Ravens released Hurst in March, wiping his $5.25MM cap hit off of the books for 2020. In February, Hurst was hit with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Before the ban, Hurst was already on the roster bubble. After the suspension came down from the league office, his fate was pretty much sealed.
The suspension means that Hurst won’t be available for his new team in September. But, come October, Hurst could be a worthwhile reserve, one that offers starting experience at both tackle and guard. In six seasons with the Ravens, Hurst was first-string for 44 of his 90 games. He was mostly a reserve last year, but he started in all of his games between 2017 and 2018.
The Ravens have released offensive tackle James Hurst, as ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley tweets. Hurst was suspended for the first four games of the 2020 season. Now, he’ll try to hook on elsewhere.
Hurst appeared in all 16 games for the Ravens in 2019 and made a pair of starts. In February, he went from on-the-bubble to a likely goner when the league handed him a one-month ban for performance-enhancing substances.
Hurst was set to count for a $5.25MM cap hit in 2020. Instead, the Ravens will shed his deal to save $2.75MM against $2.5MM in dead money.
The 28-year-old former UDFA has been with the Ravens since 2014. He appeared in 90 games over that span and started all of his games in 2017 and 2018.
February 14th, 2020 at 2:01pm CST by Zachary Links
Ravens offensive tackle James Hurst has been suspended by the NFL, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. He’ll miss the first four games of the 2020 season after violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Hurst appeared in all 16 games for the Ravens last year and started twice. But, even before the ban, he was on shaky ground. He’s slated to carry a $5.25MM cap figure this year; the Ravens could save $2.75MM by cutting him, leaving $2.5MM in dead money.
With cheaper backups coming available in free agency, and much cheaper offensive line to be had in the late stages of the draft, it seems likely that this will seal Hurst’s fate. The 28-year-old former UDFA has been with the Ravens since 2014 with 90 appearances in that span. Hurst started in 44 of those contests and was first-string for all of his games in 2017 and 2018.
The Bengals are widely expected to take LSU QB Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, but there may be a bit of intrigue in that regard, per Albert Breer of SI.com. Burrow will work with former Bengal Jordan Palmer, the little brother of franchise icon Carson Palmer, for his pre-draft training. And the elder Palmer recently had some critical comments for Cincinnati, saying that the club was never really dedicated to chasing a Super Bowl.
Burrow subsequently said the following: “[y]ou want to go No. 1. But you also want to go to a great organization that is committed to winning. Committed to winning Super Bowls.” That may just be a coincidence, and Burrow’s father recently downplayed any notion that Burrow doesn’t want to be picked by the Bengals (Twitter link via Jeremy Rauch of FOX 19), but Breer believes Bengals Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin may need to sell Burrow on the team just a bit.
Now for more from the AFC North:
As expected, the Bengals have promoted Dan Pitcher to quarterbacks coach after Alex Van Pelt left for Cleveland’s OC job, the team announced. Pitcher will have a significant role in Burrow’s development, assuming Cincy selects the LSU signal-caller.
We passed along some remarks from new Browns GM Andrew Berryearlier today, and new Cleveland HC Kevin Stefanski also took to the podium. Scott Patsko of Cleveland.com passes along the entire transcript, which is worth a read for Browns fans, but much of it was fairly non-committal coach-speak, which Stefanski has already mastered. Stefanski, though, made it a point to note that he will be heavily involved in making personnel decisions with Berry, and he said he does not know who will be calling offensive plays this year.
Though the Ravens have more cap flexibility this year than in past seasons, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic does not expect a spending spree. He predicts perhaps one big-ticket item and a few modest signings, and much will depend on what the club decides to do with pass rusher Matt Judon — a situation that is still fluid — and whether RG Marshal Yanda retires. He also names OL James Hurst as a potential release candidate.
November 28th, 2018 at 9:48pm CST by Dallas Robinson
It’s still unclear if Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will be available to face the Giants on Sunday, but Chicago is confident Trubisky’s shoulder injury won’t turn into a long-term issue, as Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com tweets. Trubisky missed the Bears’ Thanksgiving Day matchup against the Lions, but Chicago was still able to manage a victory with backup Chase Daniel under center. The Bears have a 98% chance of earning a postseason berth and an 83% chance to win the NFC North, so they may not want to risk Trubisky’s health in what could be another easy win against New York. Trubisky did practice on Wednesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), although it was in a limited fashion.
Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:
While Trubisky might be healthy enough to play on Sunday, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco almost certainly won’t be ready for Week 13. Flacco, who is still dealing with a hip issue that has cost him two games, didn’t practice on Wednesday and appears likely to sit out Sunday, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). First-round rookie Lamar Jackson, who has led Baltimore to two victories in his first two starts, figures to be under center again when the Ravens take on the Falcons. Meanwhile, offensive lineman James Hurst returned to practice on Wednesday after being sidelined since mid-October, reports Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link).
Matt Nagy will lead the Bears against the Giants on Sunday, but New York never showed any interest in hiring him as a head coach during the offseason, as he told reporters — including Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com (Twitter link) — on Wednesday. That’s in line with PFR’s 2018 Head Coaching Search Tracker, which shows Nagy only interviewed with the Colts and Bears. The Giants, meanwhile, met with Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia, Steve Wilks, Eric Studesville, and Steve Spagnuolo before hiring Pat Shurmur. Nagy, for his part, could take home Coach of the Year depending on how Chicago’s season ends.
Speaking of current Bears coaches, Chicago is worried it could lose defensive coordinator Vic Fangio this offseason, as Jay Glazer of The Athletic writes. Fangio has interviewed for two head positions in the past, but both have been with clubs that already employed him (Bears in 2018, 49ers in 2015). While he didn’t land either of those gigs, Fangio could be in line to move into a head coaching role after that’s currently ranked first in DVOA by a relatively wide margin. As Glazer writes, however, Fangio’s age (60) could work against him as many clubs are searching for younger coaches.
By going over the 100-catch mark on Sunday, Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen triggered an escalator in his contract, tweets Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Thielen, who inked an incredibly team-friendly extension last spring, will now see his 2019 base salary increase from $3.85MM to $5.85MM. If he tops 90 receptions in 2019, Thielen will boost his 2020 salary from $5.35MM to $7.35MM.
Josh Gordon‘s present designation with the Browns is on the reserve/did not report list. The Browns likely could not have placed the 27-year-old pass-catcher on the non-football illness list, since he would have had to fail a physical for that to occur. While Gordon does not currently count toward Cleveland’s 90-man roster, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk cautions the wideout’s road back to the team may not be a matter of him merely returning to Berea, Ohio. Gordon may have to have Roger Goodell approve his request for Browns reinstatement, Florio reports. The reasoning behind this is Goodell OK’d a Gordon return last year under the terms of a treatment plan, with Florio adding that possible Goodell approval would center around whether or not the embattled receiver has violated the terms of that plan. Gordon’s believed to be at a Gainesville, Fla., treatment facility. He spent 90 days in a Gainesville rehab center last fall. While Florio doesn’t expect Goodell to stand in the way of a Gordon return, he would have the right to suspend Gordon for another year under the substance-abuse policy.
Jimmy Haslam did not comment when asked Saturday if the NFL needed to approve Gordon’s Browns reinstatement, and Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes the league has not provided clarity on this situation yet. Haslam added he does not have a timetable for Gordon’s return.
Here’s the latest from the AFC North, shifting to a potentially troublesome situation in Pittsburgh:
Ramon Foster has played more Steelers snaps than anyone since the 2009 season (h/t Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com), but he was carted off the practice field Saturday. During a full-contact workout, Stephon Tuitt rolled into Foster’s right leg, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport and ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (Twitterlinks). Mike Tomlin did not elaborate on the issue, only saying that the 10th-year guard is being evaluated for a “lower-body” injury, per CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (via Twitter). A Foster loss would represent a major setback for the Steelers. Foster’s a seven-season full-time starter and is in the final year of his deal. Ben Roethlisberger consoled the 32-year-old guard as he was carted away.
Roethlisberger has shown up to camp in noticeably better shape, with La Canfora noting the Steelers expected their quarterback to show up prepared to earn one final blockbuster extension. Although a report surfaced about the Steelers and Roethlisberger were planning to discuss a re-up this offseason, the 15th-year quarterback said he didn’t want to do a deal before this season. But he’ll be set for a contract year in 2019.
While the Steelers do, however, have a Chris Boswell extension slotted as a preseason priority, JLC adds the team shouldn’t be expected to make a Joe Haden-style addition before the season. Pittsburgh added the longtime Cleveland cornerback on a $9MM-per-year deal late last summer but holds barely $5MM in cap space presently. Boswell is entering a contract year.
Greg Robinson resides in the Browns‘ concussion protocol, Hue Jackson said Saturday (via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, on Twitter). The Browns brought the former No. 2 overall pick this offseason. He has a clearer path to the 53-man roster now that Donald Stephenson has retired, but Robinson has not proven reliable during his four-year career.
Only Ronnie Stanley and Marshal Yanda are locks to be Ravens offensive line starters, with Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic noting (subscription required) the team used numerous O-line combinations Saturday. Expected to vie for Baltimore’s right tackle job, James Hurst is working primarily at right guard while Alex Lewis — whom Zreibec projects as the left guard starter — has worked plenty at center. The Ravens’ right guard starter, Yanda remains on the PUP list. Zreibec still contends Hurst will settle at right tackle, with rookie Orlando Brown in the mix at that spot as well.
Let’s take a look at the details from the latest contracts signed in the NFL, with all links going to Twitter unless otherwise noted:
Drew Brees, QB (Saints): Two years, $50MM. $10.5MM signing bonus. $10.2MM 2018 base salary. $3.3MM available via incentives in 2018. $24MM cap charge in 2018. $33.5MM cap charge in 2019 (Twitterlinks via Field Yates of ESPN.com).
Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter) opines that the money in Hurst’s deal signals that the Ravens plan on transitioning him into a starting role. He also speculates as to what the deal could mean for right tackle Austin Howard, who the Ravens signed to a three-year deal last offseason and started all 16 games this past year.
Hurst, 26, has served in mostly a backup role during his first four seasons with the Ravens but started all 16 games last season at left guard due to injuries on the team’s line. Zrebiec wonders whether the team will opt to keep Hurst at left tackle and shift former fourth-round pick Alex Lewis, who missed all of his sophomore season due to a shoulder injury, to right tackle rather than starting Howard.
The Ravens signed Hurst as an undrafted free agent in 2014 out of North Carolina. They’re set with Ronnie Stanley at left tackle and Marshal Yanda at right guard but have several other question marks remaining in regards to how their line will shake out.
Hurst, Lewis and Howard are all under contract but center Ryan Jensen and backup Luke Bowanko are both due to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason. The Ravens also have Nico Siragusa back at guard after taking him in the fourth round last year and missing the entire season with a torn ACL.