James Wilder Jr.

CFL Reinstates “NFL Window”

Previously, Canadian Football League players had to sign a minimum two-year contract to join a team, and the league didn’t provide an out for those looking to jump to the NFL. Well, it sounds like the CFL has softened its stance, as TSN’s David William Naylor reports that the league has voted to reinstate their “NFL window.” The league had voted against this change earlier this year.

As Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com explains, this would allow “certain players to work out for NFL teams and sign contracts that would become effective at the end of a given CFL season.” That way, instead of being obligated to the CFL for two seasons, players would have the ability to sign with an NFL team after only one season in Canada.

However, as Florio points out, the rule would only apply to players who ink contracts after August 20th of this year. That means players like quarterback Johnny Manziel, who signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats back in May, won’t be able to join the NFL until their contracts expire. The rule change also wouldn’t apply to running back Dexter McCluster, who recently signed with the Toronto Argonauts. On the flip side, if a player signs after August 20th, they’d have the ability to return to the NFL next year.

Florio wonders if the CFL may have been pressured by the developing spring football leagues, which will presumably provide players with the ability to return to the NFL. Ultimately, Florio believes this change could eventually lead to the CFL allowing one-year contracts or a clear NFL-out clause. As Naylor observes, the rule also came about due to Toronto Argonauts running back James Wilder‘s threats to sit out the entire CFL season due to his inability to join an NFL team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Workout Notes: Pack, Vikes, Chiefs, Giants

In addition to the previously reported Joique Bell, the running back-needy Packers worked out fellow rushers James Wilder Jr. and Brandon Wegher on Tuesday, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Defensive end Arthur Miley and defensive back Brandon Dixon also tried out.

More of the latest workouts (courtesy of Howard Balzer, unless otherwise noted):

Bills Trim Roster To 53

The Bills announced that they’ve moved their roster to 53 players by cutting 21 players. That list of cuts includes notable names like fullback Jerome Felton, linebacker Manny Lawson, versatile cornerback Sterling Moore, and linebacker Randell Johnson."<strong

The Bills will save $2.35MM against the cap by releasing Lawson and $1.55MM by cutting Felton. By freeing up that cash, the Bills will have a little more room to work with as they negotiate a new deal with cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

Felton was signed as a free agent last offseason to a four-year pact worth $9.2MM, with $4MM guaranteed. Considering how the fullback position has been phased out by many NFL teams, that was a steep price to pay for the former Viking. With Minnesota, Felton acted as the lead blocker for Adrian Peterson‘s 2012 MVP campaign, paving the way for Peterson to nearly break the all-time rushing record. Felton himself went to the Pro Bowl that season, and was named second-team All Pro. The team is saving money by dropping the 30-year-old, but his release is also a sign of their confidence in Glenn Gronkowski.

Over the last three seasons, Lawson has appeared in all but one regular season game for the Bills. In 2015, Lawson appeared in every contest and started 14 games, racking up 45 tackles, 1 sack, and 5 pass deflections. Lawson is facing a one-game ban as a result of a domestic violence incident and that was thought to be a big blow in the season opener considering that the team will also be without top rookies Reggie Ragland and Shaq Lawson plus reserve linebacker IK Enemkpali. For one reason or another, the Bills have decided that they are better off without him.

Moore, 26, came over from Tampa Bay during the offseason, and has also spent time with the Patriots, Cowboys, and Raiders. Johnson, meanwhile, has been with Buffalo for the past two seasons, starting one game during that time.

Here is the complete list of cuts:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/20/16

Here are today’s reserve/futures contract signings from around the NFL:

Buffalo Bills

Dallas Cowboys

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

  • Josh Shirley, DE (Twitter link via Jenna Laine of Sports Talk 1040 The Team)

Sunday NFL Transactions: AFC North

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four AFC North 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 Ravens, Bengals, Browns, and Steelers are noted below.

Additionally, as of 11:00am today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. For the 2014 and 2015 seasons, changes were made to practice squad rules that allow teams to carry eight players instead of 10, and the eligibility requirements for those extra two spots were also loosened. 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 AFC North transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day:

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

(press release)

  • Removed from IR list:
    • WR Onterio McCalebb
  • Signed to practice squad:
    • T Dan France
    • CB Troy Hill
    • G Trey Hopkins
    • WR Jake Kumerow
    • TE Matt Lengel
    • LB Trevor Roach
    • RB Terrell Watson
    • QB Keith Wenning
    • RB James Wilder Jr.
    • DT DeShawn Williams

Cleveland Browns

Pittsburgh Steelers

(press release)

  • Signed:
    • RB Jordan Todman
  • Claimed off waivers:
    • DT Caushaud Lyons
  • Cut:
    • LB Anthony Chickillo
    • CB Doran Grant
  • Signed to practice squad:
    • RB Dominique Brown
    • DB Jordan Dangerfield
    • OL Reese Dismukes
    • LB L.J. Fort
    • LB Shayon Green
    • DE Ethan Hemer
    • OL Antonio Johnson
    • WR Shakim Phillips
    • TE Harold Spears
    • WR Jarrod West
    • OL Matt Feiler (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson)

Bengals Reduce Roster To 53 Players

After having waived defensive tackle Devon Still earlier today, the Bengals have trimmed their roster down to 53 players. The team announced the corresponding moves via Twitter.

Waived:

Released:

Waived/injured:

Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform:

Burfict is the most notable of the moves, as the former Pro Bowler will leave a hole in the Bengals’ defense. The former undrafted free agent played only five games last heason, compiling 29 tackles and one forced fumble.

Minor Moves: Ford, Gates, Hill

Today’s minor moves..

  • The Titans signed wide receivers Jacoby Ford and Clyde Gates to futures contracts, according to Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Ford, a former fourth round choice, spent 2010-2013 with the Raiders. Gates, a former member of the Jets, worked out for the Raiders in December.
  • The Panthers announced (on Twitter) that they have signed wide receiver Stephen Hill to a futures deal. The Panthers’ other nine taxi squad players officially signed on Tuesday. Hill, the former second-round pick of the Jets, has yet to produce at the NFL level. Gang Green released Hill in 2014 despite having a thin receiving corps.
  • The Broncos will sign safety Ross Madison to a futures contract, according to Troy E. Renck of The Denver Post. Madison, 6-foot, 205 pounds, is a former Toledo standout. He went to camp with Washington last summer before landing in the Fall Experimental Football League.
  • The Bengals announced on Twitter that they have signed running back James Wilder Jr. to a futures deal.

Bengals Cut Danieal Manning, Down To 53

After parting ways with veteran running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis yesterday, the Bengals listed another familiar name among their final wave of cuts today, with safety Danieal Manning receiving his release. Per a series of tweets from the team, here’s the complete list of transactions that got the roster count down to 53 players:

Released:

Waived:

Placed on injured reserve:

  • Trey Hopkins, G

Placed on reserve/non-football injury list:

  • A.J. McCarron, QB

Waived from injured reserve:

  • Lavelle Westbrooks, CB

AFC North Links: Ravens, Bengals, Browns, Steelers

When Anquan Boldin left the Ravens last offseason, it looked like former undrafted rookie Deonte Thompson could potentially step up and fill the void. However, the former Florida Gator struggled during his sophomore season. The wideout missed the first three games with a foot injury and was reportedly arrested in February (the case was dropped).

As a result, Thompson is trying to make up for lost time. With the odds stacked against him, the 25-year-old is hoping for a breakout season. Via Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com

It’s a big year,” Thompson said. “I’m motivated, man. I’m so motivated. You can’t take anything for granted out here. You have to give it your all.

“It’s going to be a great competition, man. No doubt. The cream always rises to the top, so the best will definitely stick out.”

Thompson also touched on his disappointing 2013 season…

Everything was going good and I felt like the sky was going to be the limit, then bam, I get hurt.

“When I got back, just catching back up and trying to get back in, the season’s already rolling and guys are plugged in. That really set me back.”

Thompson certainly has some competition for a roster spot. Besides shoo-ins Torrey Smith, Steve Smith, Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones, he’ll also have to compete with Jeremy Butler, Michael Campanaro and LaQuan Williams.

Let’s check out some more news from the AFC North…

AFC North Notes: Shazier, Smith, Hunt, Wilder

Steelers first-rounder Ryan Shazier looks like the “real deal,” according to Mike Prisuta of Steelers.com: “The Steelers knew Shazier was fast when they drafted him No. 1 from The Ohio State University. But since arriving on the South Side of Pittsburgh Shazier has gotten Maurkice Pouncey‘s attention with physicality in practice, stunned Bruce Gradkowski with leaping ability on the way to an interception and impressed Ben Roethlisberger as a potential defensive signal-caller someday. Shazier also has been running with the first-team defense since snap one of OTAs. He’ll still have to do it in pads this summer, but he created a consistent buzz this spring.”

Here’s a few more AFC North notes:

  • Ravens head coach John Harbaugh says veteran inside linebacker Daryl Smith, who re-signed for four years and $16MM, played at a high level last season, writes Garrett Downing on BaltimoreRavens.com. That means first-rounder C.J. Mosley and 2013 second-rounder Arthur Brown will compete for playing time next to Smith.
  • The Bengals have high expectations for 27-year-old, second-year Estonian defensive end Margus Hunt, writes Geoff Hobson on Bengals.com. A 2013 second-round project, Hunt is a “freakish,” 6-8, 291-pounder who might be ready to contribute at left end.
  • Bengals running back James Wilder Jr., an undrafted free agent out of Florida State, claims he broke a team conditioning record, but he’s on the outside looking in for now, says ESPN’s Coley Harvey.
  • Browns All-Pro Joe Haden is the latest to (delicately) express concern over Johnny Manziel’s partying ways (radio interview with 850 AM here), but says nothing Manziel is doing away from the team facility is negatively affecting his work. Haden merely suggests, “Just try to have fun without the whole world knowing.”