Jaylen Watkins

Chargers Place Jaylen Watkins On IR

The Chargers announced that they’ve placed safety Jaylen Watkins on injured reserve after he suffered a torn ACL in Saturday night’s preseason games, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Watkins, 26, wasn’t expected to start for Los Angeles in 2017, as the club will deploy first-round pick Derwin James and Jahleel Addae at safety. But the former fourth-round pick could have offered valuable depth, as Watkins appeared in 36 games during a four-year run with the Eagles. Philadelphia opted not to tender Watkins as a restricted free agent this offseason, and he subsequently met with the 49ers before landing with the Chargers.

Even with Watkins sidelined, Los Angeles has enough safety depth to get by in 2018. James and Addae project to be backed up by Rayshawn Jenkins and Adrian Phillips, while A.J. Hendy could be kept on the the Chargers’ practice squad. Fourth-round rookie Kyzir White, drafted nominally as a safety, is expected to play a sub-package linebacker role in LA.

To replace Watkins on their roster, the Chargers announced that they’ve claimed defensive back Micah Hannemann off waivers from the Browns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Donald, Raiders, Carter

There are a couple of critical dates coming up in the Aaron Donald saga this week, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk points out. If Donald does not report to the Rams by August 7, he will not earn a year of credit towards free agency, which means that he would be eligible for restricted free agency next offseason, but not unrestricted free agency. However, Florio says that is not a major deterrent for Donald’s camp, as the Rams would either use the franchise tag on Donald — which, of course, they could also do if he became an unrestricted free agent — or apply a first-round restricted free agent tender. If Los Angeles went with the latter option, there would be any number of teams willing to extend a massive offer sheet to Donald and to surrender a first-round pick to the Rams if the Rams elected to not match the offer sheet, so Florio suggests LA would use the franchise tag regardless of whether Donald becomes a UFA or RFA.

The more important date, then, could be August 9, when the Rams play their first preseason game. As we have written previously, Donald could be fined a game check for each preseason game he misses, and between those penalties and the penalties for missing training camp, Donald could be looking at over $3.2MM in fines if he does not show up until the eve of the regular season opener. That reality could make him rethink his holdout, but given a recent report that the standoff could easily drag into September, it appears Donald’s reps are confident that the Rams will waive any penalties when the two sides do finally come to terms (or else that Donald’s contract will be so massive that the lost money won’t really matter).

Now let’s round up a few more notes from the league’s west divisions:

  • Raiders head coach Jon Gruden says his team’s kicking competition is not over, and that either rookie Eddy Pineiro or recent veteran acquisition Mike Nugent could win the job. But Scott Bair of NBCSports.com says Pineiro remains the heavy favorite, and Bair suggests it would be a major surprise if the rookie did not open the season as the team’s kicker.
  • We have not heard anything about a potential suspension for new Raiders receiver Martavis Bryant since June, which is obviously good news for Bryant and the team, but Gruden does not seem impressed with Bryant’s on-field performance thus far. Vic Tafur of The Athletic tweets that Bryant needs to step up his game and get more out of his reps, and Gruden said that the former Steeler needs to “master the offense and be more versatile.” Bryant is eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2019 — assuming he’s not suspended, of course — and even though he is battling for the team’s No. 3 receiver job, his talent suggests he could excel in Oakland’s offense and earn himself a nice payday next year.
  • Broncos safety Jamal Carter, a 2017 UDFA, has been very impressive in this year’s training camp, as Mike Klis of 9News.com writes. Carter appeared in all 16 of the team’s games last season, primarily as a special teams contributor, but he could get more defensive snaps in 2018, especially in sub-packages.
  • The Chargers‘ starting free safety job remains up for grabs, as Eric Williams of ESPN.com tweets. Jahleel Addae, Desmond King, and Jaylen Watkins have all seen action with the starters at that position.
  • We learned earlier today that veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had to cancel his scheduled workout with the Seahawks due to a family matter. There is not yet any word on whether the visit will be rescheduled.
  • The 49ers are growing increasingly concerned about guard Joshua Garnett‘s right knee injury.

Chargers To Sign DB Jaylen Watkins

Former Eagles defensive back Jaylen Watkins is signing with the Chargers, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com tweets. It’s a one-year deal for the versatile defender.

Watkins has the ability to play both cornerback and safety, but he’s likely to play safety for the Bolts, JLC hears. He’ll be a bench piece for the Chargers, but it’s not clear who he’ll be backing up at free safety. Last year’s starter Tre Boston is floating in free agent limbo and it doesn’t sound like the Chargers have much interest in retaining him.

Watkins has been a regular contributor for Philadelphia over the last two years with 28 regular season games and 51 total tackles in that span. In 2017, he saw most of his playing time on special teams while playing on only 170 defensive snaps. He was not a star for the Eagles, but teammates recognized his value as a jack of all trades.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Meet With Jaylen Watkins

Eagles free agent defensive back Jaylen Watkins is visiting the 49ers tomorrow, a source tells Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). This marks the first “of a few visits” lined up for the cornerback/safety. 

The Eagles opted against tendering Watkins, which may have had more to do with their cap situation than their evaluation of him as a player. The Florida product has been a regular contributor for Philadelphia over the last two seasons with 28 regular season games and 51 total tackles to his credit over that time.

This past season, Watkins saw most of his playing time on special teams while playing on only 170 defensive snaps. He was not a star for the Eagles, but he still played a vital role.

He’s Mr. Do-It-All,” Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills said of Watkins earlier this year (via the News-Press). “Whatever spot, if anybody happens to bust a shoelace, equipment issue, you can plug him in, and you know he’s going to go out there and do the job.”

In San Francisco, Watkins would also provide some much-needed depth in the secondary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Won’t Tender Jaylen Watkins

The Eagles do not plan to tender defensive back Jaylen Watkins as a restricted free agent, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. Watkins was a candidate for the original round tender, but instead it sounds like he’lll be allowed to explore the open market in March. Jaylen Watkins (vertical)

Watkins first joined the Eagles a fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft. The Florida product didn’t see a ton of time on the field in his first two seasons, but he got his chance to be a regular contributor starting in 2016. Watkins has appeared in 28 regular season games over the last two years and recorded 51 total tackles.

This past season, Watkins saw most of his playing time on special teams with only 170 defensive snaps to his credit. He was not a star for the defending champs, but he still played a vital role.

He’s Mr. Do-It-All,” Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills recently said of Watkins (via the News-Press). “Whatever spot, if anybody happens to bust a shoelace, equipment issue, you can plug him in, and you know he’s going to go out there and do the job.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 3/4/17

Here are today’s minor moves:

  • Former Utah quarterback Travis Wilson signed with the Rams, Howard Balzer of BalzerFootball.com reports (on Twitter). The 23-year-old Wilson, though, will switch positions upon going to Los Angeles. The Rams added the four-year Utes contributor as a tight end.
  • The Bears have re-signed quarterback Connor Shaw as well as long snapper Patrick Scales, as Patrick Finley and Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times write. Shaw was doing quite well in preseason last year before suffering a broken left leg in the team’s third exhibition contest. Recently, GM Ryan Pace said Shaw is doing “very well” in his rehab.
  • The Eagles announced they’ve agreed to terms on a one-year deal with safety Jaylen Watkins.

Eagles Sign Jaylen Watkins; Nolan Carroll To IR

Today is Jaylen Watkins‘ 23rd birthday, and he’s on the receiving end of a generous gift from his old club — the Eagles are bringing him back. As first reported by Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com (Twitter link) and confirmed by the club (via Twitter), the Eagles have signed Watkins off the Bills’ practice squad, placing Nolan Carroll on injured reserve in a corresponding move.

Watkins, who was selected in the fourth round of the 2014 draft by the Eagles, played just four games for the team last year before being cut and finding his way to the Bills’ practice squad. It made sense for Watkins to land in Buffalo, where his brother Sammy Watkins plays, but given the opportunity to return to a 53-man roster, the young cornerback will head back to Philadelphia.

That opportunity in Philadelphia opened up when Carroll left Thursday’s game against the Lions with an injury that the team later confirmed was a broken ankle. As he heads to injured reserve, Carroll may have played his last game for the Eagles, who signed him to a two-year deal prior to the 2014 season. The 28-year-old figures to reach the open market this March.

Sunday NFL Transactions: AFC East

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four AFC East 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 Bills, Dolphins, Patriots, and Jets 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 East transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day:

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

  • Claimed off waivers:
  • Cut:
  • Signed to practice squad:

New York Jets

  • Signed:
  • Claimed off waivers:
  • Cut:
  • Signed to practice squad (press release):
    • LB Deion Barnes
    • FB Julian Howsare
    • LB Taiwan Jones
    • CB Keon Lyn
    • WR Walter Powell
    • TE Wes Saxton
    • T Wesley Johnson (Twitter link via Adam Caplan)
    • DL Jordan Williams

Eagles Reduce Roster To 52 Players

Their decision to cut Tim Tebow will make the biggest headlines today, but the Eagles have made many more roster moves, and have not only reduced their roster to the maximum 53 — they’ve gone one further, getting down to 52 players.

As Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets, there’s a good chance that 53rd spot will be filled in the coming days with a quarterback. After having cut Tebow and traded Matt Barkley, the club is carrying just two signal-callers, and wouldn’t mind adding some insurance for the oft-injured Sam Bradford.

Here are the rest of the Eagles’ cuts, per a press release:

  • WR Rasheed Bailey
  • G Brett Boyko
  • G Malcolm Bunche
  • CB Randall Evans
  • TE Andrew Gleichert
  • LB Najee Goode
  • WR Jeff Maehl
  • WR Freddie Martino
  • DE Brian Mihalik
  • G John Moffitt
  • RB Raheem Mostert
  • WR Quron Pratt
  • S Chris Prosinski
  • DE Travis Raciti
  • S Ed Reynolds
  • LB Deontae Skinner
  • P Kip Smith
  • TE Eric Tomlinson
  • C/G Julian Vandervelde
  • LB Diaheem Watkins
  • CB Jaylen Watkins

Extra Points: Brady, Orton, Seahawks

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady issued a Facebook statement Friday in response to Judge Richard Berman’s decision on Thursday to overturn the four-game suspension the NFL handed him for his role in DeflateGate. Here are a couple snippets from the full statement, which can be found here (courtesy of ESPN’s Josina Anderson):

“While I am pleased to be eligible to play, I am sorry our league had to endure this. I don’t think it has been good for our sport – to a large degree, we have all lost.”

“I love the NFL. It is a privilege to be a member of the NFL community and I will always try to do my best in representing my team and the league in a way that would make all members of this community proud.”

More from around the league as Saturday’s 53-man roster deadline draws closer:

  • Multiple teams – including the Jets – reached out to retired quarterback Kyle Orton this summer about a possible comeback, but he spurned their advances. Orton told Chris Trapasso of NFL.com that retirement had been on his mind for the past couple seasons, so he finally walked away from the game for good (Twitter link). Buffalo coaxed Orton out of a brief retirement last year and he proceeded to throw 18 touchdowns against 10 interceptions, giving him 101 and 69, respectively, for his career. The former fourth-round pick played for five different franchises after entering the NFL in 2005.
  • With Marshawn Lynch, the newly added Fred Jackson and Robert Turbin on the Seahawks’ running back depth chart, Christine Michael could be the odd man out. The team is exploring trade options for him, reports Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link).
  • The Eagles are shopping second-year cornerback Jaylen Watkins, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.
  • The Texans are mulling signing another quarterback after third-stringer Tom Savage suffered a severely sprained throwing shoulder Thursday, Wilson writes. “It’s a discussion that we’re having, whether to go out and possibly get a third quarterback or maybe have a quarterback on the practice squad, something like that,” head coach Bill O’Brien said. “We haven’t made a final decision on that.”