Jeff Driskel

North Notes: Bengals, Matthews, Bears

Now that quarterback A.J. McCarron has been granted unrestricted free agent status, there’s essentially no chance the Bengals will seek to re-sign him for the 2018 season. Cincinnati will likely collect a compensatory draft pick in 2019 as a result of losing McCarron, but the Bengals need to solidify their backup quarterback position in the near-term, as Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. With starter Andy Dalton locked up through the 2020 campaign, the Bengals could add a developmental signal-caller — as they did when selecting McCarron in the fifth round of the 2014 draft — or ink a veteran backup.

At present, 2016 sixth-rounder Jeff Driskel is Cincinnati’s No. 2 quarterback, but it’s unclear if the Bengals will trust Driskel to serve as Dalton’s backup next year. Per Owczarski, the Bengals asked Driskel to take practice reps at wide receiver heading into their 2017 regular-season finale. Driskel did so, but broke his left arm making a leaping, one-handed catch. He’s undergone surgery, and should be ready for offseason workouts in April.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • While veteran defender Clay Matthews has been viewed as a potential candidate for release, the Packers and new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine could see enough value in Matthews to stave off a parting of ways, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “When you can move guys around and trade jobs, not just within game but week to week, because a big part of offense is identifying who the rushers are and what positions they’re playing,” said Pettine in discussing Matthews’ ability to play inside and outside linebacker. “When you have guys like that, the creative part, you can do a lot more with those players.” Matthews ranked as the league’s No. 27 edge defender in 2017, per Pro Football Focus, which assigned the 31-year-old his highest grade since 2012. The Packers could clear the entirety of Matthews’ ~$11.369MM cap charge by cutting him this offseason.
  • A number of key Bears players have roster bonuses and guarantees due on March 16, reports Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. While defensive end Akiem Hicks ($3MM bonus), guard Kyle Long ($5MM bonus), and tackle Bobby Massie ($1MM bonus) are likely to be retained, the same can’t be said for several other veterans. Tight end Dion Sims, cornerback Marcus Cooper, linebacker Willie Young, safety Quintin Demps, and quarterback Mike Glennon will be due guarantees or bonuses in mid-March, meaning Chicago will have to make decisions on their respective fates. The Bears currently rank 11th in 2018 salary cap space with more than $41MM available, but the club could increase that figure to greater than $70MM by releasing Sims et al.
  • Don’t expect the Browns to shift left guard Joel Bitonio to left tackle if Joe Thomas does indeed retire this offseason, according to Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland (Twitter link). Bitonio started all 16 games at left guard for the Browns last season. He does have experience at left tackle, though. Bitonio played left tackle at Nevada before being taken by the Browns with the 35th overall pick of the 2014 draft. Thomas is still undecided on if he’ll return in 2018 after missing the first nine games of his 11-year career last season.
  • In case you missed it, the Vikings recently hired former Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing as a senior offensive assistant. Downing, 37, is a Minnesota native, and will be joining ex-Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo as new additions to the Vikings’ offensive staff.

Ryan Posner contributed to this report.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/12/17

Today’s minor moves:

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Designated to return from injured reserve: QB Jeff Driskel

Cleveland Browns

Los Angeles Chargers

New York Giants

  • Signed off Chiefs‘ practice squad: OL Damien Mama

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Promoted to active roster: LB Riley Bullough
  • Waived: CB Deji Olatoye

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/4/17

Here are today’s minor moves.

  • The Browns claimed offensive lineman Zach Banner off waivers from the Colts, who cut him despite drafting him in the fourth round this year. Cleveland made room for Banner by placing offensive lineman Rod Johnson on IR. Additionally, the Browns continued their busy offseason regarding secondary turnover by releasing former safety starter Ed Reynolds from IR.
  • The Steelers re-signed linebacker Steven Johnson and waived safety Jordan Dangerfield with an injury designation. Johnson initially saw his name appear on Pittsburgh’s cut list Saturday, but the backup will return. Pittsburgh also placed cornerback Cameron Sutton, a rookie third-rounder, on IR.
  • Jacquies Smith will move from the PUP list back to the Buccaneers‘ 53-man roster. The team reinstated the defensive end on Monday. A fourth-year player, Smith is expected to be a rotational player in Tampa Bay this season.
  • The Dolphins re-signed tackle Sam Young. Miami cut the offensive lineman on Saturday but will keep him around for now. Miami guaranteed Young’s salary, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets, signing Young this week instead of next because an unspecified team wanted him. This will mark Young’s eighth NFL season. The Dolphins signed him to an extension in December.
  • Quarterback Jeff Driskel will land on the Bengals‘ IR list. The former 49ers sixth-rounder has yet to play in a game.
  • A starter in three games last season, linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin landed on the Jets‘ IR Monday. To replace the third-year player, Gang Green re-signed linebacker Bruce Carter. Now a seventh-year veteran, Carter played a depth role with the Jets last season.
  • Wide receiver Chris Matthews re-signed with the Ravens, who made room on their 53-man roster by placing cornerback Maurice Canady on IR.
  • The Falcons released defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman, who resides on the Commissioner’s Exempt list as a result of misdemeanor charges from 2016. While Hageman is on that list, the Falcons will not have to pay Hageman.
  • The Chargers claimed linebacker Hayes Pullard off waivers from the Jaguars. A former Browns seventh-rounder in 2015, Pullard started two games for the 2015 Jags and played in all 16 Jacksonville contests last season.
  • Jelani Jenkins was expected to start for the Raiders, but the former Dolphins linebacker found himself on the team’s cut list Saturday. The Raiders, though, reached an injury settlement with the fifth-year linebacker, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports (on Twitter). Jenkins suffered a groin injury during the preseason. Oakland also reached an injury settlement with Jaydon Mickens, per Gehlken, who adds Mickens suffered an ankle injury.
  • The Seahawks waived cornerback Demetrius McCray with an injury settlement, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets.
  • The Redskins reached an injury settlement with center Ronald Patrick, waiving the interior blocker from IR as a result.

Bengals QB A.J. McCarron Wouldn’t Oppose Trade

A.J. McCarron‘s tenure with the Bengals could be coming to an end. The backup quarterback told Jim Owczarski of Cincinnati.com that he wouldn’t be surprised or disappointed if he was traded this offseason.

AJ McCarron“Now, it’s nothing I can do,” McCarron said. “I try not to worry about it. You’re always gonna think about it. I’d be lyin’; whoever told you that I wouldn’t, or if they were going through the same situation, you’re going to think about it. Because you want to play as a competitor. I’ll let my agent handle everything and go with whatever he says.”

Despite having been in the organization for the past three years, the signal-caller indicated that he wouldn’t be upset if he was dealt elsewhere.

“No,” he said. “I definitely wouldn’t be distraught at all. Like I told Marvin (Lewis) and all my coaches in my exit meetings, I appreciate everybody in this organization. I really do. From the bottom of my heart. They gave me a chance when a lot of people wouldn’t.”

McCarron joined the organization as a fifth-round pick in the 2014 draft. The former Alabama standout had to sit out his entire rookie campaign as he recovered from a shoulder ailment, but he got several opportunities in 2015 when starter Andy Dalton went down with an injury. In the final four games of that campaign, McCarron threw for 832 yards, six touchdowns, and only two interceptions. The quarterback also got a playoff start that season, throwing for 212 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a Bengals’ loss to the Steelers.

The team got 16 games out of Dalton this season, and McCarron didn’t see the field as a result. Dalton inked a pricey six-year extension with the franchise in 2014. Since the red-head will be starting for the Bengals for the foreseeable future, it’s no surprise that McCarron would want an opportunity to start elsewhere.

Furthermore, McCarron could be an attractive trade target for teams that aren’t looking to invest big money in a quarterback. The 26-year-old will be entering the final year of his contract next season and is only owed $735K.

Owczarski believes the team’s claiming of rookie quarterback Jeff Driskel could be an indication that they’ll shop McCarron this offseason. The third-year pro also recognized that the transaction was a sign that he could be shopped.

“As a quarterback, you understand something might be happening and they’re trying to find somebody they’re possibly comfortable with. But you never know,” McCarron said. “Especially during the season, I don’t ever think about those things. I just don’t put my mind on it.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Acquire Rod Streater, Trim Roster To 53

12:25pm: Maiocco tweets that McCray is likely to be placed on waivers following the failed trade.

MONDAY, 9:40am: McCray reportedly failed his physical, and NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo indicates (via Twitter) that the deal is off. The safety was originally traded to the Seahawks for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2018.

The safety is set to go back to the 49ers for the time being. Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle notes (via Twitter) that McCray is recovering from a torn ACL and is likely to be released.

SUNDAY, 5:30pm: The wideout announced that he’s officially been dealt to the 49ers, while CSNBayArea.com’s Matt Maiocco tweets that Streater presumably passed his physical.

SATURDAY, 4:14pm: The 49ers announced they they’ve acquired wide receiver Rod Streater from the Chiefs. Streater had spent his career in Oakland before signing with Kansas City, and now he’ll head back to the Bay Area with a chance to make an impact in a depleted WR corps.

San Francisco also announced that they’ve traded safety L.J. McCray to the Seahawks. The compensation involved in both deals has not been announced.

Cut:

Lemonier was the 49ers’ third-round pick in 2013, but he never made much of an impact in San Francisco. In 42 games (two starts), Lemonier picked up 37 tackles and a sack.

Sunday NFL Transactions: AFC North

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four AFC North 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 Ravens, Bengals, Browns, and Steelers are noted below.

Additionally, as of 12:00pm CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. 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 North transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day. All links go to Twitter unless otherwise noted:

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Pittsburgh Steelers

NFC West Notes: Rams, Baldwin, Driskel, 49ers

While the Rams could still be in the market for a veteran safety, the club likes what it’s seen from defensive backs Maurice Alexander, Cody Davis, and Christian Bryant, according to Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter link). LA has been on the lookout for secondary help since losing safety Rodney McLeod during free agency, and the team has met with Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson over the past several months. Both safeties reportedly remain “in play” for the Rams, but for now, it sounds as though the team is happy where they are.

Here’s more out of the NFC West…

  • Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin says his contract situation “will take care of itself,” as Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times writes. Baldwin is entering the final season of a three-year deal he inked prior to the 2014 season. Now, after tying for the NFL lead with 14 receiving touchdowns in 2015, Baldwin could be in line for $10MM/year or more. Baldwin should be helped by the four-year, $40MM extension the Jaguars recently gave to Allen Hurns, though Hurns is three years younger than the Seattles standout.
  • The 49ers are high on rookie quarterback Jeff Driskel, as Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com writes. “I think he’s done a really nice job,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said. “He’s really intelligent. (He) picked things up conceptually very quickly. (He) was exposed to a couple of systems because he was at Florida and then Louisiana Tech. I think he’s already been exposed to multiple systems at the college level, so we’ve been impressed with him. He’s very athletic. I think he was the fastest quarterback at the combine. He’s big. He’s got a good arm.” Driskel, a sixth-round pick out of Louisiana Tech, could get involved in special teams packages and give San Francisco some trick play options. Driskel currently sits as the team’s No. 4 QB behind Blaine Gabbert, Colin Kaepernick, and Thaddeus Lewis. It’s conceivable that Driskel could leapfrog Lewis to become the team’s No. 3 signal caller, or he could become the club’s No. 3 signal-caller if Kaepernick is traded or released.
  • Jermaine Gresham apparently had more lucrative offers from other clubs — such as the Bears and Jets — but he chose to take less money to remain with the Cardinals.
  • Yesterday, we learned that the Cardinals are unlikely to reach an extension with defensive back Tyrann Mathieu before the start of training camp.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

NFC Draft Pick Signings: Seahawks, Lions, 49ers

The Seahawks and second-round pick Jarran Reed have agreed to terms on a contract, his representatives tell Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The defensive tackle is scheduled to earn $4.889MM ($1.756MM signing bonus) over the life of his four-year rookie deal. Seattle is hoping that Reed will help to beef up the defensive line in the absence of Brandon Mebane.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks have also agreed to terms with guard Rees Odhiambo, as Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports tweets. The third-round pick will have a shot to win a starting job right out of the gate in Seattle.

Here are more of the latest draft pick signings from around the NFC:

  • Lions sixth-round pick Jimmy Landes, who is a strong candidate to take over the team’s long snapper job in 2016, is signing his rookie contract today, tweets Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Landes will receive a signing bonus just north of $100K.
  • Washington has begun securing its 2016 draft class by agreeing to a deal with seventh-round pick Steven Daniels, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. The former Boston College linebacker will be in line for a four-year contract worth about $2.581MM, including a signing bonus of $77K.
  • Former Florida running back Kelvin Taylor, one of three players drafted in the sixth round last Saturday by the 49ers, has signed his four-year deal with San Francisco, per Rand Getlin of the NFL Network (Twitter link). Taylor, the son of longtime Jaguars running back Fred Taylor, isn’t the only draftee locked up by San Francisco — the team also reached an agreement with sixth-round quarterback Jeff Driskel, per Aaron Wilson (Twitter link).
  • The Packers have completed their deal with fifth-round wide receiver Trevor Davis, a source tells Rob Demovksy of ESPN.com. Davis will be competing for a spot on a crowded receiving corps in Green Bay this summer.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

AFC Draft Updates: Ravens, Lynch, Texans

The final visit for Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch will take place in Baltimore, according to agent Leigh Steinberg, who tweets that Lynch will meet with the Ravens on Wednesday. Holding the No. 6 overall pick, the Ravens seem like an improbable first-round suitor for Lynch, so perhaps the team is just doing its due diligence in case it trades down in the first round or Lynch slips to round two.

Here are more draft updates from out of the AFC:

  • The Texans hosted Louisiana Tech quarterback Jeff Driskel for a visit this week, and are also hosting Eastern Michigan running back Darius Jackson today, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Houston fortified its offensive backfield by signing Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller in free agency, but could still be eyeing additional depth.
  • We heard yesterday that Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller had a Monday visit with the Jets and a Wednesday visit in Carolina this week. Aaron Wilson fills in the gap in Fuller’s schedule, tweeting that the young corner is meeting today with the Titans.
  • The schedule for Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah includes a pre-draft visit with the Chargers this Wednesday, writes Aaron Wilson in a piece for the Chronicle. Wilson reported yesterday that Ogbah was also visiting Carolina and Atlanta this week, though he doesn’t include the Panthers in his list of Ogbah’s visits in his latest piece.
  • Texas A&M cornerback Brandon Williams has been busy during the pre-draft visit, making five visits and taking part in 14 private workouts, according to Aaron Wilson, who tweets that Williams is meeting with the Steelers today. Utah running back Devontae Booker and Michigan safety Jarrod Wilson are also in Pittsburgh to visit the Steelers, Wilson adds (via Twitter).

Extra Points: Manziel, Laurinaitis, Draft

2:25pm: Dallas PD could conclude its Manziel investigation by next week, the Associated Press reports.

12:03pm: The Dallas Police Department issued an update Saturday regarding its investigation of domestic violence claims against Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel. The Dallas PD’s statement comes courtesy of Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter link):

“On February 5, 2016, Dallas Police Department detectives began investigating a complaint of a domestic violence assault that occurred in Dallas on January 30, 2016, in which Jonathan Manziel was the listed suspect. Up to this point in the investigation, detectives have continued communicating with the complainant, interviewed witnesses, received medical records from the complainant, and obtained video from surveillance cameras. Detectives are continuing with their efforts to fully investigate the facts of this case. As this remains an on-going investigation, no details of the investigation will be released at this time. We would like to finish the investigation as soon as possible, but detectives work around the victim’s and witnesses’ schedules which can sometimes delay the process. As of today, there has been no determination as to what type of charge, if any, will be filed against Mr. Manziel. Updates to this case will be made as information comes available.”

The surveillance video mentioned in the statement is from the Hotel ZaZa, where Collen Crowley claims Manziel’s assault on her began, reports Pat McManamon of ESPN.com. As McManamon writes, Crowley stated in an affidavit that she told a hotel valet that she was scared for her life, and Manziel subsequently threw her in the passenger seat of his car. The Dallas PD has the video of Crowley’s encounter with the valet along with other surveillance, per McManamon.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Linebacker James Laurinaitis, whom the Rams cut Friday after he started 112 straight games for the club, was taken aback by his release. “I didn’t see this one coming,” he told Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I thought maybe at worst, a pay cut. I still felt like I was producing.” The 29-year-old is fresh off his seventh consecutive 100-tackle season since entering the league in 2009 and, more impressively, has never missed a game. However, Pro Football Focus (subscription required) rated his 2015-16 performance an ugly 83rd out of 97 qualifying LBs.
  • Although Terron Beckham – cousin of Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. – didn’t play college football, the 23-year-old is hoping to catch on in the NFL as a running back. The 5-foot-11, 230-pounder will have a chance to impress scouts on Feb. 25 at a “shadow combine” in Indianapolis, reports Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post. The event is for draft hopefuls who aren’t invited to next week’s national scouting combine or any regional combines. Terron Beckham, who’s a trainer and fitness model, says he’s “Marshawn Lynch and [Adrian Peterson] transformed into one person.” Despite that glowing self-assessment, he’s “an extreme long shot” to end up in the league, a personnel executive told Hubbuch. Further, it’s unknown if Beckham is even eligible for the draft, per Hubboch, as neither he nor his agent have called the league office to find out.
  • Speaking of the draft, teams are concerned about Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook‘s leadership abilities, Albert Breer of NFL.com tweets. Cook can, however, allay those fears at the combine, Breer adds. MSU tightly restricts scouts at practice, per Breer (Twitter link), which means they haven’t been able to watch Cook interact with teammates.
  • The stock of Louisiana Tech QB Jeff Driskel is rising, perhaps as high as the second round, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle writes. “I like Driskel,” an AFC scouting director told Wilson. “He can still use more polish, but he’s got a big arm and can move and seems very coachable. I could see him being drafted higher than most people think. He helped himself a lot.”