Jason Avant

Free Agent Rumors: Schwartz, Boykin, Falcons

Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz has a decent chance of returning to the Browns, Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer tweets. Schwartz’s deal could fall in the neighborhood of $7.5MM, she adds. Meanwhile, Michael Silver of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears that Schwartz likely won’t return to the Browns.

While we wait to see how Schwartz’s free agency plays out, check out this roundup of the latest free agent rumors:

  • There’s not much momentum between the Steelers and Brandon Boykin, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. The Falcons, however, are among the teams with interest in the cornerback.
  • Defensive end Chris Clemons is on his way to visit the Seahawks, Albert Breer of NFL.com tweets. If things go well, he could sign and make his return to Seattle.
  • Defensive end William Hayes is in play for the Dolphins, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald tweets. Hayes, along with new acquisition Mario Williams, would boost the defensive line if Olivier Vernon leaves in free agency as expected.
  • Chiefs free agent wide receiver Jason Avant says that he isn’t done yet and wants to continue his career, as Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star writes. Avant caught 15 passes for 119 yards during the regular season. In the Chiefs’ 27-20 AFC divisional-round loss to the Patriots, Avant caught four passes for 69 yards.
  • Left tackle Donald Penn has talked with the Seahawks, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times tweets.
  • The Cowboys and Seahawks are among the teams interested in defensive lineman Cedric Thornton, Rand Getlin of NFL.com tweets.
  • Mike Harris is now considering a one-year deal with the Vikings, Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press tweets. Harris could battle with Brandon Fusco at right guard, Tomasson adds.

Chiefs Re-Sign Jason Avant, Two Others

The Chiefs have re-signed three players who finished the 2014 season with the team, according to a press release. The club announced that wide receiver Jason Avant, tight end Richard Gordon, and safety Kelcie McCray will all be returning to Kansas City.

Avant, who turns 32 next month, joined the Chiefs late last season after being cut by the Panthers, and grabbed 13 balls for 152 yards in his five games with the club. He’ll reunite with Jeremy Maclin, his old Eagles teammate, under Andy Reid in Kansas City this season.

Gordon also joined the Chiefs late in the season, playing 17 offensive snaps for the team over the last two weeks of the year. He also saw a little time on special teams, though not nearly as much as McCray, who logged nine tackles in kick and punt coverage for the Chiefs.

Minor Moves: Saturday

Here are today’s minor transactions. We’ll update the list throughout the day, with the most recent moves added to the top…

Earlier Updates

Chiefs Sign Jason Avant, Place Jenkins On IR

6:57pm: In addition to confirming the signing of Avant, the Chiefs announced that they have placed fellow receiver A.J. Jenkins, who had just nine receptions for 93 yards this season, on injured reserve.

3:38pm: Three days after he was waived by the Panthers and one day after their receivers were quiet again in a loss to the Raiders, the Chiefs brought in Jason Avant for a workout and will sign him to a contract, reports Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links).

Avant, 31, signed with Carolina in the offseason as a free agent, and grabbed 21 balls for 201 yards and a touchdown during his time with the club. The Panthers cut him earlier this week after he questioned the team’s play-calling in Sunday’s loss to the Falcons, though head coach Ron Rivera insisted the move was unrelated to Avant’s comments, and reflected the team’s desire to give its younger wideouts more playing time.

By signing with the Chiefs, Avant will join perhaps the least productive receiving corps in all of football in 2014. Improbably, no Kansas City wide receivers have caught a touchdown this season — Alex Smith has tossed 13 TD passes, but all of them have been caught by a tight end or a running back.

The Chiefs don’t currently have an opening on their 53-man roster, so a corresponding move will be necessary to accommodate the addition of Avant.

LeGarrette Blount Clears Waivers

While Ben Tate was snatched off waivers today by the Vikings, fellow discarded running back LeGarrette Blount passed through the waiver system unclaimed, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). That means Blount is now a free agent, able to sign with any NFL team.

Blount, 27, signed with the Steelers in March and entered the 2014 season expecting to share the workload in Pittsburgh with Le’Veon Bell. However, Bell has emerged as one of the top backs in the NFL this year and relegated Blount to backup duty — the former Buccaneer and Patriot carried the ball just 65 times for 266 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and on Monday night left the field early during Pittsburgh’s game against the Titans, leading to his release.

I asked PFR readers this morning whether Tate or Blount was the more attractive option available among running backs who were waived yesterday, and only 16% opted for Blount, with the majority choosing Tate or suggesting that neither player was worth picking up. It seems NFL teams agreed with that response — now we’ll have to wait and see whether Blount draws any interest in free agency.

Another notable veteran cut yesterday, former Panthers wideout Jason Avant, also went unclaimed on waivers, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter).

Panthers Release Jason Avant

11:33am: Speaking to reporters about Avant’s release, head coach Ron Rivera said the decision was about creating more opportunities for young wideouts like Brenton Bersin and Philly Brown (Twitter link via Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer). Rivera added that he knew nothing about Avant’s comments questioning Sunday’s play-calling, insisting this was a football move (Twitter links).

The Panthers have promoted receiver De’Andre Presley from their practice squad to replace Avant.

11:28am: The Panthers are releasing wide receiver Jason Avant, according to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (via Twitter). As is the case for all players – even vested veterans – after the trade deadline, Avant will be subject to waivers, so he’ll either be claimed by another team or hit the open market.

Agent Doug Hendrickson first indicated that his client had been cut by the Panthers during the team’s bye week, tweeting, “Much better things ahead and role for Jason Avant. Definitely deserves better.” Hendrickson’s comment suggests that perhaps he and Avant weren’t happy with the way things were handled by the front office in Carolina. The wideout’s release comes on the heels of slightly critical comments he made about the team’s conservative playcalling after Sunday’s loss to the Falcons.

“I’ve been in the league a long time. I know two things. You never want to give a team a chance to win a game, with how much time was left on the clock,” Avant said on Sunday, referring to the game’s fourth quarter. “And asking a kicker to make a 50-yard field goal with the game on the line is rough sledding.”

In 11 games with Carolina this season, Avant grabbed 21 balls for 201 yards and a touchdown. After cutting him, the Panthers will have an open spot on their 53-man roster, so a corresponding move will likely be announced soon.

NFC Links: Avant, Palmer, Brooks

Panthers wide receiver Jason Avant is looking forward to returning to Philadelphia this weekend, but the veteran is also looking back on his time with the Eagles. The 30-year-old was asked about his departure from Philly, and the wideout understood that he was on the outside looking in. Via the Philly Mag’s Tim McManus

“You have an emerging [Jeremy] Maclin, you have a receiver draft that is high on talent that year and then you just paid Riley Cooper, so you kind of put the pieces together. Me and DeSean or me and Mac, we knew two of us would be gone,” he said. “We didn’t know which one it would be but you kind of [understand] situations over the years.

“I saw my role and what they had me doing and it just didn’t make sense for them financially to keep me to do some of the things I was doing. That’s no slight at Chip [Kelly] or anyone, it’s just a good business decision. Man, if I was in the business decision I would have looked at it and said: Look, to catch bubbles and to block, we can get a rookie to do that for a lesser price. That’s just a smart move by Howie Roseman and Chip.”

“Every player wants to play in one city for their whole career, but I understood the business side of it,” he said. “I love the organization, I love [Kelly and Roseman], I don’t have any hard feelings. I’ll be giving [Kelly] a big hug when I see him. I respect him and I respect what he is doing. They’re having a great season so far and I am really, really excited for a lot of the guys there, and I still talk to a lot of people. I’m happy they’re doing well — I just hope they don’t do well this week. That’s it.”

Let’s check out some more notes from the NFC…

  • The Packers will evaluate the availability of guards Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang today, and they could decide to activate lineman Josh Walker from the practice squad, writes Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel.
  • The Cardinals made the correct move in signing Carson Palmer, says ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss. The 34-year-old’s performance since returning in mid-October has proven to the writer that the veteran was deserving of a three-year extension.
  • 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh would not comment on rumors that the team was shopping linebacker Ahmad Brooks“No, no, I don’t have any comment on that,” Harbaugh said (via ESPN.com’s Paul Gutierrez). “As always, no comment on those things. It would be second-hand, and I don’t have the specific knowledge.”

NFC East Links: Avant, Cowboys, Redskins

Earlier today, we rounded up a few items out of the NFC West. Now, let’s head to the other coast and check in on the NFC’s East division….

  • DeSean Jackson certainly drew more headlines this offseason, but Jason Avant was another wideout who only lasted one season in Philadelphia under Chip Kelly, and as he tells Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer, he didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye with the Eagles‘ head coach. “When it came to certain things, we butted heads sometimes – route running and route technique. So I knew I didn’t fit his system,” Avant said, adding that he knew “maybe four games into last season” that he’d eventually be released.
  • One former Cowboy great believes Dez Bryant has earned a long-term extension from the team, as Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith tells Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News that he believes the wideout has matured and is “very passionate about football.”
  • Cowboys linebacker Justin Durant isn’t satisfied with what he has accomplished in Dallas or in his NFL career so far, but he could have a great opportunity to produce in 2014, with Sean Lee sidelined for the year, writes Machota. Durant will be eligible for unrestricted free agency after the season, so it’d be a nice boost to his stock if he earned the team’s starting job at middle linebacker.
  • Tarik El-Bashir of CSNWashington.com takes a closer look at the Redskins‘ nose tackle position, evaluating which players are likely to make the roster behind probable starter Barry Cofield.

NFC Notes: Davis, Graham, 49ers, Redskins

Vernon Davis seems to be keeping a close eye on the outcome of Jimmy Graham’s positional designation hearing, but the Graham decision shouldn’t have a real impact on the 49ers’ contract talks with their tight end, says Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. As Maiocco points out, Graham has a much stronger case to be considered a wide receiver, since he lined up in the slot or split out wide on two-thirds of his snaps, while Davis did so on only about 30% of his snaps.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • With no decision on Graham yet from arbitrator Stephen Burbank, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wonders if the process may extend beyond July 15, the deadline for Graham and the Saints to reach a multiyear agreement. Even if Burbank’s ruling comes this week, it won’t be final until the losing side has the chance to appeal the decision. If New Orleans doesn’t sign Graham to a long-term deal by July 15, the star pass-catcher can only ink a one-year contract for 2014.
  • The 49ers‘ draft was almost universally lauded, and Bill Williamson of ESPN.com looks at what San Francisco hopes each pick will contribute in 2014. Second-rounder Carlos Hyde was thought to be a “steal” at pick No. 57, and is expected to receive opportunities at running back right away. Third-round center Marcus Martin has a chance to win the starting job, and fourth-round linebacker Chris Borland could earn playing time in the absence of the injured NaVorro Bowman.
  • Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap provides his take on the Redskins‘ best and worst contracts, identifying one of this year’s free agent signees – Jason Hatcher – as the player with the least team-friendly deal.
  • Jason Avant is expected to provide a veteran presence among the Panthers’ young receiving corps, but leadership alone wasn’t enough to keep him with the Eagles, where the 31-year-old quickly realized he wasn’t a fit in Chip Kelly’s scheme. “When they stop calling your number and guys start running some of the routes that you run,” Avant told Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer, “I knew from the beginning that I didn’t fit his style of offense, in that I’m a crafty guy that gets open in an atypical way.”
  • In the view of Falcons head coach Mike Smith, a player’s salary should be “nobody’s business,” but quarterback Matt Ryan says he isn’t feeling increased pressure now that he’s on a $100MM+ deal, writes Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

Panthers Notes: Newton, Webb, Receivers

After Panthers minicamp wrapped up on Thursday, the Charlotte Observer’s Joe Person compiled his 20 observations from the team’s OTA. Let’s take a look at some of those notes…

  • Cam Newton made an unexpected appearance at camp on Thursday, throwing in three seven-on-seven drills. The quarterback had a rough start, missing on seven of his first ten throws. Person notes how important it is for Newton to be ready for training camp so he can “develop timing” with all of his new receivers.
  • Two of the team’s offseason signings at wideout, Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant, are very similar and the writer can’t see the players playing together in two-receiver sets.
  • Receiver Kealoha Pilares is “almost a lock” to make the roster because of his receiving skills.
  • Quarterback Joe Webb looked good on some runs, but he failed to show the consistency demonstrated by likely number-two quarterback Derek Anderson. Still, Webb’s experience at receiver makes him an “intriguing candidate” for a final roster spot.
  • The team is going to have some difficult decisions to make when choosing the backups for tight end Greg Olsen. Veteran Ed Dickson had some success with the Ravens and Brandon Williams has shown improvement in training camp. The team also has blocking tight ends Mike McNeill and D.C. Jefferson.