James Winchester

Chiefs, James Winchester Restructure Deal

The Chiefs carved out a chunk of cap room this morning. ESPN’s Field Yates tweets
that the team has restructured the contract of James Winchester, converting his James Winchester$500K roster bonus into a signing bonus. This saves the team around $400K in cap space.

This might not seem like a lot of money in the whole scheme of things, but the move will provide the cash-strapped organization with some breathing room. The Chiefs were estimated to have between $4MM and $2MM in cap space as they headed into free agency.

After entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2013, Winchester has caught on with Kansas City over the past two seasons. The 27-year-old has played all 32 games during this span, collecting a fumble. The organization re-signed the long snapper earlier this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Steelers, Hawks, Giants, Chiefs

The oldest defensive player in the NFL, linebacker James Harrison, is reportedly planning to return for his age-39 season in 2017, and the Steelers are interested in bringing back the pending free agent. “Obviously, we need to have a contract. But I think we’re definitely open to it,” team president Art Rooney II told Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Tuesday. “And, from what I understand, at least he’s open to it.” Despite his advanced age, Harrison led the Steelers in sacks (five) in his 14th NFL season and became the franchise’s all-time leader in that category (79.5).

Regardless of whether Harrison’s career continues with the Steelers, they’ll prioritize upgrading their pass rush this offseason, Rooney indicated. “That’s a piece of the puzzle that I think we can identify we want to improve on,” said Rooney, whose club finished ninth in sacks and 15th in quarterback hurries in 2016.

Elsewhere around the league…

  • The Seahawks made a contract offer to pending free agent tight end Luke Willson, but it wasn’t “extremely serious” and he “didn’t really respond to it,” the 27-year-old told KJR-AM 950 (via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times). Willson also revealed that, although his preference is to re-sign with the Seahawks, he’s “excited” about the chance to test the open market. While Willson hasn’t put up gaudy numbers in his four-year Seattle career (74 catches, 976 yards and seven touchdowns in 56 games), he could have a case for a significant payday. As Condotta notes, Willson has similar numbers to San Francisco’s Vance McDonald (64 receptions, 866 yards, seven TDs in 48 games), who landed an extension featuring $16MM in guarantees in December. The Seahawks already have one expensive tight end in Jimmy Graham, who’s due a $7.9MM salary next season.
  • A subpar season – not to mention the $2.5MM in cap savings that would accompany his release – could cost running back Rashad Jennings his place on the Giants’ roster, but he expects to return in 2017. “I’ve got one more year on my contract, and I’ve got a lot to prove. I look forward to doing it in New York again,” the soon-to-be 32-year-old told James Kratch of NJ Advance Media. Jennings, who averaged a paltry 3.3 yards per rush on 181 carries in 2016, added that he and head coach Ben McAdoo had a “very upbeat” exit meeting.
  • Chiefs long snapper James Winchester‘s contract extension is a five-year, $4.45MM pact featuring $500K in guarantees and a $500K roster bonus for 2017, reports Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star. Winchester can also earn $10K in workout bonuses for every year of the deal.
  • Free agent linebacker Justin Tuggle worked out for the Raiders, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. The son of longtime NFL linebacker Jessie Tuggle spent 2013-15 in Houston, where he appeared in 42 games and started 11, but didn’t play this season after he was unable to survive the Browns’ final cuts in early September.

Chiefs Re-Sign LS James Winchester

For the second time today, a long snapper has inked an extension. According to Terez A. Paylor of KansasCity.com, the Chiefs have signed special teamer James Winchester to a new contract. Details are unknown, but we shouldn’t expect a giant raise for the 27-year-old. Winchester’s 2016 base salary was $525K, per OverTheCap.com.

James WinchesterThe long snapper caught on with the Eagles after going undrafted out of Oklahoma in 2013. After spending much of that season on the practice squad, Winchester found himself out of the NFL in 2014. Chiefs long-time long snapper Thomas Gafford left the team following the 2014 season, and the organization subsequently inked Winchester. The special teamer proceeded to appear in every game over the past two seasons.

Winchester has contributed positively to the Chiefs impressive special teams unit in 2015 and 2016. The long snapper had a key fumble recovery during his team’s overtime victory over the Broncos earlier this season.

Winchester’s father, Michael, was a punter at Oklahoma during the 1980s. Michael was tragically killed in a shooting at Will Rogers World Airport this past November.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Cut 11 Players

We learned yesterday that the Chiefs had cut guard Marcus Reed, tight end Adam Schiltz, and cornerback Kenneth Penny. Adam Teicher of ESPN.com tweets that the team has also cut the following eight players, bringing their roster down to 79. Kansas City must be down to 75 players by Tuesday afternoon:

  • WR Kenny Cook
  • T Anthony Dima
  • LS Andrew East
  • CB Aaron Hester
  • DE Vaughn Martin
  • WR Jeret Smith
  • OL Charles Tuaau
  • WR L’Damian Washington

As Teicher adds in a separate tweet, East’s release indicates that the team has settled (for now, at least) on James Winchester as its long snapper. Winchester has never served as a long snapper in a regular season game.

Extra Points: Mariota, Richardson, Culliver

The Jets have scheduled a pre-draft visit with Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post (on Twitter). Mariota says he’ll be meeting with the Bucs, Eagles and Titans at his pro day, Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com (on Twitter) adds. Mariota’s pro day performance was underwhelming, Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean tweets, though as we saw last year with Teddy Bridgewater, we shouldn’t necessarily put a ton of stock into that. More from around the NFL..

  • After being officially waived by the Colts earlier, Trent Richardson gave an explanation for why it didn’t work out in Indianapolis, according to Mike Wells of ESPN (via Twitter). “Me and the GM didn’t see eye to eye,” said Richardson. “My next step, I’ll be the starter. Indy didn’t fit me.” The embattled halfback also confirmed that he was continually fined by the organization for being overweight (via Twitter). Richardson had told head coach Chuck Pagano he would have flown himself to New England for the AFC Championship game, but was told he would inactive regardless (via Twitter).
  • Long snapper James Winchester joined the Chiefs despite three other teams competing to sign him, writes Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter). The Chiefs now have three long snappers on the roster.
  • Washington is bringing in cornerback Chris Culliver for a visit, writes Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (via Twitter). However, La Canfora warns that a return to the 49ers for Culliver should not be ruled out, and that his value is rising with fewer top cornerbacks left on the market (via Twitter).
  • While both Shelley Smith and Stefen Wisniewski visited with the Seahawks, neither offensive lineman is expected to sign today, reports Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (via Twitter).
  • The 49ers have not closed the door on bringing Stevie Johnson back, a source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (on Twitter). San Francisco released Johnson earlier this week after signing Torrey Smith, but it sounds like they might consider bringing him back at a cheaper rate.

Minor Moves: Thursday

Today’s minor moves…

  • The Giants have agreed to terms with cornerback Chykie Brown, writes Jordan Raanan of NJ.com. Brown was picked up by the Giants midway through last season after being waived by the Ravens. Brown played 375 snaps for the Giants after joining the team in early November, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
  • The Dolphins signed defensive back T.J. Heath, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post (via Twitter).
  • The Patriots signed linebacker Jonathan Freeny, who had been with the Dolphins since going undrafted out of Rutgers in 2011, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald (on Twitter).
  • Long snapper James Winchester signed with the Chiefs today, according to agent Ken Sarnoff (on Twitter).
  • Panthers free agent cornerback James Dockery is set to sign with the Raiders, according to Bill Williamson of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Dockery took to Instagram not long ago to thank his fans in the Charlotte area.
  • The Broncos (via Twitter) have signed rookie punter Karl Schmitz to a contract. He handled punts and kickoffs for Jacksonville University in 2008 before transferring to University of Missouri-St. Louis and graduating in 2011.
  • Long snapper Tanner Purdum has signed a new two-year deal with the Jets, according to agent Robert Roche (via Twitter). Purdum, who became an unrestricted free agent Tuesday, has been close to perfect in his five seasons as the Jets’ snapper, as Randy Lange of NewYorkJets.com writes. He’s made every one of the punt and placement snaps in that time, 783 snaps over 83 regular- and postseason games, without a single fumble, wild snap or penalty.