Jayron Kearse

NFC North Notes: Vikings, Long, Bears

The Vikings outbid multiple suitors to sign Kyle Sloter to their practice squad, and the move ended up seeing the former college wide receiver promoted to the active roster in advance of Week 2. In addition to the Broncos, the Vikings presented a better offer than the Redskins or Bills in order to land Sloter, Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com reports. A wide receiver at Southern Miss before a transfer to Division I-FCS Northern Colorado put him loosely on the quarterback radar come UDFA signing time, Sloter played extensively for the Broncos during the preseason. John Elway hoped the Broncos could pass him through waivers to Denver’s practice squad, but the GM preferred more experience to start the season. This led to the Broncos’ decision to reunite with Brock Osweiler for the time being.

Sloter’s active-roster contract won’t pay him much more than his practice squad agreement, since the latter deal is on the higher end of such accords, and the pact is nonguaranteed, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. He did not receive a signing bonus.

Despite the insurance addition, Sam Bradford is still expected to start against the Steelers. Case Keenum resides as his backup. Here’s more from the NFC North.

  • The Bears will be without Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long for a second straight game to start the season. The team announced Long did not travel to Tampa Bay for the Bears’ Week 2 game. Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune notes (on Twitter) the Bears are hoping Long returns in Week 3. Long has not played since November of last season. A right ankle injury ended Long’s season, and the subsequent recovery process has now reached the 10-month mark. Prior to Long’s ankle injury, he’d missed one game out of a possible 56. Tom Compton started at left guard last week against the Falcons.
  • Michael Floyd‘s activation after a four-game suspension could make for an interesting roster decision, with Tomasson noting (Twitter link) the Vikings would prefer to keep wideout Rodney Adams on the roster. A rookie fifth-round pick out of South Florida would seemingly be vying with a player of a similar profile to stay on the roster after Floyd returns. Seventh-round rookie Stacy Coley, out of Miami, serves as Minnesota’s other other newcomer wideout. Coley, though, played in Minnesota’s Week 1 game while Adams was a healthy scratch. Jarius Wright and 2016 first-rounder Laquon Treadwell are the second-stringers.
  • The Vikings’ preference for Jayron Kearse and Anthony Harris led to Antone Exum being the odd man out when it came time to clear a spot for Sloter, Tomasson tweets.
  • Second-round Lions pick Teez Tabor is making progress, but the former Florida cornerback might not be in line to see much action for a while.
  • A 15-game starter for the Packers last season, Ladarius Gunter is now employed by another team. The Panthers claimed the third-year UDFA on waivers.

Vikings Reach Deals With Four Draft Picks

The Vikings have been the most active team so far when it comes to locking up their draft picks. After officially announcing the signing of German wideout Moritz Boehringer earlier this week, the team has now reached agreements with four other draftees, including second-round cornerback Mackensie Alexander, writes Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.Mackensie Alexander (Vertical)

In addition to Alexander, the Vikings have agreed to terms with sixth-round tight end David Morgan, seventh-round linebacker Stephen Weatherly, and seventh-round safety Jayron Kearse. All four players are expected to formally sign their rookie contracts on Thursday. Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News first reported word of Morgan’s agreement (via Twitter), while Tomasson had the rest.

Contract negotiations with rookie draftees are easy than they used to be, since the total value of a rookie contract, along with the signing bonus, is essentially predetermined by where a player is drafted. For the Vikings, Alexander will get a signing bonus worth about $1.4MM on his four-year contract. Morgan, Weatherly, and Kearse are in line for bonuses of about $135K, $81K, and $64K, respectively, per Over the Cap.

With five members of their eight-man draft class having agreed to terms, the Vikes will just have to get first-round wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, fourth-round offensive lineman Willie Beavers, and fifth-round linebacker Kentrell Brothers under contract. That’s expected to happen very soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Nelson, Raiders, Chiefs, Bowers

Vic Tafur of The San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter) expects the Raiders to get a deal done with free agent safety Reggie Nelson, who is in Oakland tonight to meet with team brass and will continue his visit with the team on Tuesday. After Nelson is wined and dined and briefed on the team’s plans for him, Tafur is expecting the Raiders to ink the veteran defender, who stands as one of the best available free agents still on the board.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • The Chiefs worked out defensive end Da’Quan Bowers and cornerback Phillip Adams yesterday, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Bowers, a former second-round pick of the Buccaneers, returned to Tampa Bay late last season. Adams has been with six NFL teams and could be on his way to joining his seventh.
  • Linebacker Myles Jack is among the players visiting the Jaguars today, as Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com tweets. The 6’1”, 225-pounder saw time at both inside and outside linebacker, safety, nickel corner, and running back, and even returned the occasional kick for UCLA. He’s widely regarded as one of the best players in this year’s class.
  • Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle has the details on Darryl Morris‘ one-year deal with the Jets, tweeting that the cornerback signed a minimum salary contract with a $75K signing bonus.
  • Jarvis Jenkins‘ two-year contract with the Jets calls for him to earn $6MM with $3MM ($1.5MM signing bonus + $1.5MM base) guaranteed, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. Jenkins will carry a cap charge of $2.25MM in year one and $3.75MM in year two of the deal.
  • Oregon State defensive tackle Kyle Peko is visiting with the Chiefs today, according to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter).
  • Clemson safety Jayron Kearse is visiting the Jaguars today, Getlin tweets.

Draft Rumors: Prescott, Miller, Kearse

Here’s the latest from the next wave of prospects set to enter the league, starting with a dual-threat quarterback.

  • Dak Prescott will work out for the Broncos and other teams in early April, according to Chase Goodbread of NFL.com. The former Mississippi State standout rushed for more than 800 yards in both his sophomore and junior campaigns. Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson and Cardinals QBs boss Freddie Kitchens trekked to Starkville, Miss., to work out Prescott this week as well. Following his Broncos workout, Prescott will visit the Bills and Eagles, Goodbread reports.
  • From one current dual-threat quarterback to a former standout hybrid signal-caller, Braxton Miller worked out for the Texans today, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller tweets. The former Ohio State standout and two-time Big Ten offensive player of the year at quarterback is working out as a slot receiver after being supplanted last season under center.
  • The Browns, Buccaneeers, Lions and Saints are gracing Ohio State safety Vonn Bell‘s itinerary for workouts and/or meetings, Rand Getlin of NFL.com tweets. The early-entry Buckeyes safety already met with Tennessee.
  • Clemson safety Jayron Kearse will has summits and/or workouts with the Panthers, Saints and Titans on his spring docket, Getlin tweets. The 6-foot-5 safety registered 6.5 tackles for loss as a junior last season.
  • The Titans, Seahawks, Raiders and Falcons appear on Florida defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard‘s schedule, Getlin reports (on Twitter). Bullard’s 6.5 sacks as a senior last season tied for a Gators-best mark, and his 18 tackles for loss were easily the best on the team.
  • Minnesota linebacker De’Vondre Campbell will meet with the Cardinals, Falcons, Chiefs and Vikings soon, Goodbread tweets.
  • The Texans and Patriots ventured to Minneapolis recently to look at some of the Gophers’ NFL prospects, Ryan Burns of scout.com tweets. The Texans’ contingent looked at the Gophers’ prospects last week, with the Patriots’ bevy of personnel making the trip earlier this week, per Burns. Cornerbacks Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun are also among Minnesota’s top draft-eligible players. According to Darren Wolfson of KTSP (on Twitter), the teams were scouting Murry, Boddy-Calhoun and Campbell.
  • Arizona safety William Parks will visit the Seahawks and Browns after showing well in his workout, Tony Pauline of Draftinsider.net reports. Wildcats offensive lineman Lene Maiava has visits scheduled with the Chargers and Seahawks, Pauline reports.
  • Tennessee wide receiver Marquez North worked out for the Cowboys, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle/National Football Post reports. North tore his labrum in 2014 and saw injuries limit him to six catches last season but decided to enter the draft as a junior anyway.

Draft Rumors: 49ers, Jets, Colts, Bears

Here’s a rundown of the latest news on the 2016 NFL Draft:

  • Missouri defensive back Kenya Dennis met with the 49ers yesterday and met with the Jets this afternoon, according to Tony Pauline for WalterFootball.com. Dennis struggled somewhat in 2015 after a terrific junior campaign, but Pauline writes that teams see him either as a safety or cornerback in dime packages.
  • Illinois State running back/wide receiver Marshaun Coprich interviewed with the Colts and Bears, per Pauline. The Colts in particular are high on his skill set.
  • The Jets, Lions, and Bengals all sent position coaches to watch North Carolina Central corner Ryan Smith work out, Pauline writes. Smith also interviewed with the Jets prior to his pro day.
  • In total, Smith has six workouts and five visits on his docket, Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post writes. In addition to the clubs listed above, Smith has private workouts with the Cardinals, Jets, Panthers, Patriots, and Ravens. On top of that, he has visits lined up with the Raiders, Steelers, Buccaneers, Dolphins, and Vikings. At the combine, Smith turned heads when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds.
  • Portland State Long Snapper Kameron Canaday has had private workouts with the Cardinals and Broncos, as Rand Getlin of NFL.com tweets.
  • Texas Tech wide receiver/kick returner Jakeem Grant had a private workout with the Colts, Getlin tweets. He also has a workout set with the Jets and a team visit coming up with the Cowboys.
  • Vernon Hargreaves has a meeting with the Jaguars on April 5th, per Jenna Laine of Sports Talk 1040 (on Twitter). He’ll also be meeting with the Buccaneers on April 7th or 8th.
  • Former Clemson safety Jayron Kearse has met with, or is set to visit and/or workout with the Lions, Steelers, Jaguars, and Jets, Getlin tweets.

Draft Rumors: Jack, Lawson, Kearse, Alexander

This week being veteran-centric, let’s look at the latest occurring at some of the draft prospects who will soon take over the NFL news cycle.

  • Myles Jack received full clearance during a visit with a UCLA surgeon, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Rapoport adds that Jack, a projected top-10 pick, is ready to ramp up training following this positive diagnosis.
  • Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson met with the Jets, Titans and Saints on Wednesday and told Dan Hope of OrangeandWhite.com (on Twitter) he’s visiting the Browns next.
  • Lawson also has a private workout with the Falcons upcoming, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. Lawson told Ledbetter he speaks with Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox, illuminating a connection between the defensive end-needy Falcons and the Clemson pass-rusher.
  • During Clemson’s pro day today, safety Jayron Kearse told media (including Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, via Twitter) he’s scheduled visits with the Buccaneers, Jaguars, Lions, Saints and Steelers.
  • NFL personnel are “gushing” over Clemson corner Mackensie Alexander‘s workout at the Tigers’ pro day, while scouts weren’t as taken with Kearse’s positional-drills work, per Tony Pauline of WalterFootball.com. One source told Pauline that Kearse would be better off “gaining 20 pounds and moving to linebacker.”

Draft Rumors: Hogan, Conklin, Robinson, Ragland

Around this time of year, teams start to get a sense of which quarterbacks can vault up the draft boards, Tony Pauline writes for PhiladelphiaEagles.com. Right now, the scouting community believes that guy is Stanford’s Kevin Hogan. Hogan has impressed with his arm strength and pass velocity and Pauline hears that teams might be pleasantly surprised by his improved wind-up at the Combine.

While we wait to see where Hogan might land, let’s take a look at some more of Pauline’s draft buzz:

  • Tackle Jack Conklin is universally graded as a first-round pick, but not everyone in the league is certain he can handle the left tackle position at the next level. Still, the Michigan State product is expected to interview well and he could find himself in the top half of the first round.
  • The stock of Florida wide receiver Demarcus Robinson will hinge greatly on his interviews, Pauline writes. Talent-wise, Robinson looks like a top-15 prospect, but his checkered past is giving teams pause. If he can make a strong impression on teams, however, he can be a second-day pick.
  • Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland, who tipped the scales at 259 pounds at the Senior Bowl, is expected to be much lighter at the Combine.
  • Several league decision-makers rate teammate T.J. Green as the top safety from the Clemson program rather than Jayron Kearse. Green is a solid athlete who lined up at safety, wide receiver and also played special teams for the Tigers.

Draft Updates: Alexander, Kearse, Dodd

Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander has confirmed that he’ll leave school early and enter the 2016 NFL draft, tweets Joe Schad of ESPN. While Alexander’s team may have fallen short in this week’s national championship game against Alabama, the young defensive back appears poised to do very well this spring.

Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (video link) recently ranked Alexander as the seventh-best overall prospect on his big board, while CBSSports.com places the Clemson defensive back 10th overall, behind only Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey among cornerbacks. Several teams picking in that neighborhood could use help on defense, so Alexander will be an interesting name to watch leading up to the draft.

Here are a few more draft updates:

  • Alexander is hardly the only Clemson player declaring his intent to enter the draft. Safety Jayron Kearse announced today (via Instagram) that he’ll be leaving the Tigers for the NFL, and defensive end Kevin Dodd did the same (link via David Hood of TigerNet.com).
  • Oregon State center Isaac Seumalo is entering the 2016 draft, according to Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net (Twitter link). While Seumalo has plenty of talent, potential suitors will have to consider his injury history when deciding whether to draft him.
  • Delaware Blue Hens punter Eric Enderson will forego his senior season and enter the draft, as Craig Haley of Stats FCS tweets.
  • Following the NFL’s Wild Card weekend, the draft order for 2016 became set through No. 24, as Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com writes. Washington picks at No. 21, the Texans at No. 22, the Vikings at No. 23, and the Bengals at No. 24. The top 20 was set at the end of the regular season, while the remaining postseason games will determine the order of the final eight.
  • The NFL’s scouting combine is expected to remain in Indianapolis through 2020, with a new deal potentially in place sometime this week, writes Mike Chappell of CBS4Indy.com.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Extra Points: Rams, Pettine, Flacco, Raiders, Draft

A look around the NFL as Tuesday wraps up:

  • Free agent cornerback Cary Williams, whom Seattle released Monday, is drawing interest from several teams around the league, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports (via Twitter). One of those teams is the Rams, tweets Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  • The Browns officially named Johnny Manziel their starting quarterback today, but it doesn’t sound as if head coach Mike Pettine is 100% committed to the decision. Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link) suggests that the move back to Manziel from Austin Davis was motivated in part by Pettine trying to save his job.
  • Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had surgery Tuesday to repair his torn ACL. The procedure went well, per ESPN’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter). He’s expected to make a full recovery and should be back in six to nine months, adds CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (Twitter link).
  • The Raiders extended the contract of fullback Jamize Olawale on Tuesday, and ESPN’s Bill Williamson points to offensive tackle Donald Penn and receiver Michael Crabtree as players the club could look to lock up next (Twitter link). Penn has started 28 straight games since joining the Raiders in 2014, while Crabtree leads the team in receptions (66), targets (115) and touchdowns (seven) this year. Both are scheduled to hit free agency during the upcoming offseason.
  • Clemson safety Jayron Kearse and Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee are leaning toward entering the 2016 draft, according to Rand Getlin of NFL.com (Twitter links: 1; 2). If they do, Michigan tight end Jake Butt won’t be joining them. He announced that he’ll return to school for his senior season (Twitter link via Getlin).

Luke Adams contributed to this post.