Jay Feely

Steelers Sign Garrett Hartley

A day after learning that kicker Shaun Suisham suffered a torn ACL, the Steelers have found their new kicker. According to agent Erik Burkhardt (via Twitter), Pittsburgh has signed veteran free agent Garrett Hartley to a contract.

Hartley was one of a handful of kickers who were reportedly set to audition for the Steelers today, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Rapoport named former Eagles kicker Alex Henery and journeyman free agent Jay Feely as other candidates expected to get a look from Pittsburgh.

Hartley, 29, served as the Saints’ kicker for parts of five seasons between 2008 and 2013, making a total of 82 field goals in 101 attempts (81.2%). He struggled in his last year with the club in 2013, making just 73.3% of his 30 attempts, and missing four field goals from inside 40 yards. Hartley’s last NFL stint came in 2014 with the Browns.

A source tells Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link) that Hartley’s deal is for one year, so he’ll be a stopgap solution while Suisham recovers. I would expect Hartley’s contract features little to no guaranteed money, so the Steelers would have the option of finding a replacement if he struggles.

Bears Sign Jay Feely, Waive Chris Williams

In advance of tomorrow night’s game against the Cowboys, the Bears have tweaked their special teams unit, signing free agent kicker Jay Feely and waiving wide receiver and kick returner Chris Williams with an injured designation, the team announced today (Twitter link).

Feely, 38, was the Cardinals’ regular kicker from 2010 to 2013, but has remained on the open market this season, despite working out for several teams. Most recently, Feely had an impressive audition for the Broncos, making 14 of his 15 field goal tries, including a 60-yarder. However, Denver opted to sign the younger Connor Barth instead. By signing with the Bears, Feely will have an opportunity to assume kicking duties tomorrow if Robbie Gould, who is suffering from a sore quad, is unable to play.

Williams, meanwhile, returned kicks for the Bears for a good chunk of the season, but has been slowed by a hamstring injury as of late, and has been replaced by Marc Mariani in the return game.

Broncos Sign Connor Barth

4:47pm: Klis clarifies (via Twitter) that Barth is signed for two more years after the 2014 season.

4:40pm: It’s a multiyear contract for Barth, according to Klis (via Twitter). The Denver Post report indicates that it’s a “two-year contract that last through 2016,” which seems to be conflicting info — a deal through the 2016 season would be for three years, including the current season. In any case, it appears the Broncos view Barth as a potential long-term option, which may be one reason the team signed him instead of Feely, who is 10 years older.

2:32pm: The Broncos are replacing kicker Brandon McManus, according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, who reports that the team is signing veteran free agent Connor Barth. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com confirms (via Twitter) that McManus has been waived as the corresponding move to accommodate the team’s new kicker.

Barth, 28, started his NFL career in 2008 with the Chiefs and moved on to Tampa Bay, where he was the Buccaneers’ kicker for four seasons. After missing the 2013 season with a torn Achilles, Barth was beaten out for Tampa Bay’s kicking job by Patrick Murray this past summer, leading to his release. The North Carolina product, who has made 84.2% of 120 career field goal attempts – including 12 of 19 from 50+ yards – also auditioned for the Lions last month before landing with the Broncos.

McManus was acquired by the Broncos at the end of the preseason from the Giants after Matt Prater received a four-game suspension. Denver ultimately elected to keep the rookie over the veteran, cutting Prater when his suspension ended, but McManus was inconsistent, making just nine of 13 field goal tries, and missing a 33-yarder against the Dolphins this past Sunday.

We first heard yesterday that the Broncos were considering a change at kicker, with Barth and fellow veteran Jay Feely coming in to try out for the team. Per Schefter (via Twitter), Feely also impressed during his workout, making 14 of 15 attempts, including a 60-yarder.

Broncos Considering Kicker Change

4:36pm: There could be others joining Feely and Barth at tomorrow’s audition, tweets Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.

3:32pm: It will be Connor Barth auditioning alongside Jay Feely on Tuesday, according to Mike Klis of The Denver Post.

2:30pm: Broncos coach John Fox denies that he’s looking for a new leg, tweets Lindsay Jones of USA Today. “Contrary to whatever Adam Schefter is reporting, there is no ‘search’ for a kicker,” Fox said. Regardless of how Fox wants to frame it, the Broncos are still having kickers in for tryouts (link).

2:23pm: The Broncos will bring Jay Feely in for a workout on Tuesday, two NFL sources tell Mike Klis of The Denver Post. Feely, 38, has kicked in 13 NFL seasons for five teams, most recently last season with the Cardinals.

Klis adds that Denver will also audition a second veteran kicker, though it’s not known who that might be. Among the veterans available are Alex Henery, Garrett Hartley, Connor Barth, John Potter, and Nate Kaeding.

2:22pm: The Broncos are considering a kicking change and they’re planning to work out kickers this week, sources tell Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Brandon McManus has missed four field goal attempts this season, including a 33-yard attempt in the third quarter of Sunday’s game against Miami.

The Broncos could go on to win 39-36, but McManus’ struggles understandably have Denver concerned. Looking ahead to the final five games of the season and the postseason, Denver could be compelled to move on to their third kicker in 2014. Matt Prater, of course, was set to be the Broncos’ kicker this season before a four-game suspension threw a wrench into those plans. McManus was originally brought aboard as a stopgap but General Manager John Elway wound up keeping him and releasing Prater. Prater connected on 25-of-26 field goal tries in 2013, including a 64-yard kick that broke a 43-year-old record.

Lions To Sign Matt Prater

7:16pm: Prater is indeed signing a one-year deal with the Lions, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

6:19pm: The Lions are expecting to sign ex-Broncos place kicker Matt Prater over Jay Feely, according to Ed Werder of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Connor Barth was also among those in consideration but it sounds like he’ll continue to seek employment.

Not long ago, Josh Katzenstein of The Detroit News tweeted that Prater’s tryout had yet to get underway and it was increasingly likely that the Lions would wait until tomorrow morning to make a call. Last season Prater was rock solid for the Broncos, nailing 25 of his 26 field goal tries, including a record 64 yard three-pointer against the Titans in December. During his time in Denver, Prater converted 82.9% of field goals. The kicker was suspended for the first four games of 2014 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and by the time he was eligible to return, his job was given to Brandon McManus.

The Lions are desperate for a reliable foot after watching Nate Freese and Alex Henery combine for a 33% field goal percentage. For what it’s worth, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter) spoke with Feely, who says that he hasn’t heard one way or another on the Lions job.

Earlier this week, our own Dallas Robinson looked at Prater’s market and noted Detroit as an obvious fit.

NFC Notes: Lions, Harbaugh, Cards, Eagles

After cutting Alex Henery, the Lions are in the market for a new kicker (again) and there aren’t a ton of options out there outside of Jay Feely and Matt Prater, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Other available names include Giorgio Tavecchio, Derek Dimke, and 38-year-old Neil Rackers, while Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter link) mentions veterans Connor Barth, Rian Lindell, and Garrett Hartley as other possibilities.

With Feely, Prater, and Barth all set to audition for Detroit on Tuesday, let’s round up a few more notes on the Lions’ kicking options, as well as other updates from around the NFC:

  • As Feely prepares to try out for the Lions, he’s helped by the fact that punter Sam Martin handles kickoffs for Detroit, tweets Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. Martin is one of a few punters to handle kickoff duty in the NFL and that means Feely will only be needed for his strength: Nailing field goals.
  • Some Lions fans have wondered aloud if Jason Hanson would entertain the idea of coming out of retirement, but Hanson’s agent tells Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (on Twitter) that his client is done playing football.
  • As reports of tension between 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and his players continue to pile up, many in the locker room came to his defense after yesterday’s 22-17 win over the Chiefs, writes Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “There’s really been no drama. It’s all been created by you guys (media), something to talk about. We seriously don’t think about that, talk about that, give that any thought. . . . We don’t care,” said left tackle Joe Staley. Kicker Phil Dawson and quarterback Colin Kaepernick also showed their support for Harbaugh.
  • 49ers CEO Jed York issued yet another denial of reports that Harbaugh will be out of a job even if the team wins the Super Bowl this year. “It’s categorically not true,” York told DIRECTV’s Rich Eisen, according to Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. York acknowledged that Harbaugh can sometimes rub people the wrong way, but also said that the coach and GM Trent Baalke “work fairly well together.”
  • Cardinals general manager Steve Keim says that he won’t be adding another quarterback yet, writes Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. In theory, both Drew Stanton and Carson Palmer could be ready for the Redskins this week. The team will determine the status of both in the next day or two and go from there.
  • The Eagles emphasized upgrading special teams in the offseason and yesterday was proof they accomplished that, writes Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Eagles’ first score on Sunday came on a blocked punt and they have four special-teams touchdowns this season, including one in each of the last three games.

Lions Release Alex Henery

12:15pm: Connor Barth will be a part of the auditions tomorrow too, according to Birkett (via Twitter).

12:06pm: Former Broncos kicker Matt Prater will join Feely for the workout, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

11:53am: Jay Feely is on his way to Detroit to work out for the Lions tomorrow, a source tells Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (on Twitter).

11:25am: That didn’t take long. Lions coach Jim Caldwell told reporters, including Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter), that the team has cut kicker Alex Henery. The Lions have not signed his replacement yet, but that should be coming rather soon.

Henery missed all three of his field goal attempts yesterday, including a 50-yard attempt that would have given Detroit a 17-14 win. Instead, it was the Bills and kicker Dan Carpenter who got the field goal opportunity and the win by the same score. Henery missed a 52-yarder but made a 51-yard field goal try against the Jets, giving him a 1-5 completion percentage over his two weeks for Detroit.

The Lions will now move on to their third kicker in the 2014 season. Nate Freese, who won the preseason battle over Giorgio Tavecchio for the job, was axed after he missed a costly field goal against the Packers in Week 3.

Caldwell said experience will be a factor in the selection of their next kicker, tweets Birkett.

AFC Links: Jaguars, Jets, Patriots, Browns

Let’s round up some news from the AFC…

  • The Jaguars worked out a trio of kickers today, according to Field Yates of ESPN (Twitter link). Jay Feely, Alex Henery, and Derek Dimke all tried out for Jacksonville, which is likely updating its emergency list of kickers as incumbent Josh Scobee deals with a quadriceps injury.
  • Yates also notes that the Jets worked out linebacker Steve Beauharnais, who spent 2013 with the Patriots. Beauharnais, a Rutgers product, had a workout with the Giants on Tuesday.
  • In his latest piece for ESPN.com, Adam Schefter points out that while Golden Tate and Brandon LaFell have eerily similar statistics since both entered the league in 2010, Tate was guaranteed $10.5MM by the Lions over the offseason, while LaFell’s contract with the Patriots guarantees him just $3MM. While the pair’s traditional numbers are comparable, Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required) strongly favored Tate, grading him as the 18th-best receiver in 2013 — LaFell, meanwhile, was ranked at No. 94 among WRs.
  • Without Josh Gordon in the fold, the Browns’ receiver corps seems to lack not only talent, but size — as Tom Reed of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer writes, the Browns’ average receiver stands 5’11”, 191.4 pounds. But general manager Ray Farmer isn’t second-guessing his decision to not add more WR depth, or to release veterans like Nate Burleson or Anthony Armstrong. “There’s no reason to waver,” Farmer said. “Talent is talent. I think that question everyone wants to know is ‘How come I don’t know him? How come I’ve never heard of that guy?’ I can’t answer that question. I don’t know the answer to it. I know that our scouts do a really good job of hitting the streets and figuring out who’s who on which roster and when we can pick up a guy and who’s out there to make our team better.”

Free Agent Notes: Patterson, Bailey, Kafka, Painter

It was a busy day in the NFL, and plenty of free agents are now looking for a new home. Let’s see where some of them could be heading…

  • The Texans have already expressed interest in former Jets cornerback Dimitri Patterson, tweets ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
  • The Saints don’t have a kicker on their roster, but they shouldn’t be worried. Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole tweets that there are plenty of options in free agency, including Ryan Succop, Connor Barth and Jay Feely.
  • NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport spoke to Champ Bailey‘s agent, Jack Reale, who indicated that the veteran “definitely” still wants to play and is completely healthy. He had a plantar problem which is resolved. He just missed too much time for the coach’s evaluation to be complete,” Reale said (via Rapoport’s Twitter).
  • The Buccaneers will look to bring back quarterback Mike Kafka to their practice squad, tweets the Tampa Tribune’s Roy Cummings.
  • Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com wonders if the 49ers could have interest in offensive lineman Vinston Painter. Florio refers to the 49ers attempt to sign Painter away from the Broncos prior to the conference championship games.
  • If Joe Banyard clears waivers, he will end up on the Vikings practice squad, tweets Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
  • The Bills aren’t expected to add another quarterback, tweets ESPN’s Adam Caplan.

Titans Make Cuts, Will Work Out Feely

The Titans have made four transactions in order to reduce their roster count from 79 players to 75, per Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Here are the four players no longer on the team’s active roster:

In addition to making that series of roster moves, the Titans are also eyeing kicker Jay Feely, who was recently released by the Cardinals, tweets Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. Feely, who joined the Cards in 2010, kicked for the team for the last three years of Ken Whisenhunt’s tenure in Arizona, so the current Titans head coach is familiar with the veteran. According to Wyatt, the club will host Feely for a workout.

The Titans also may be ramping up extension talks for defensive lineman Jurrell Casey. As Wyatt writes, agent Drew Rosenhaus is in Nashville today to discuss a new deal for his client, so while an agreement may not be imminent, a face-to-face meeting seems to be a step in the right direction. Per Wyatt, the two sides have been in contact about an extension for Casey since first broaching the topic earlier in the summer.