John Greco

Giants Sign LB Akeem Ayers, G John Greco

The Giants announced that they have signed linebacker Akeem Ayers and guard John Greco. They also placed linebacker Keenan Robinson (quad) on injured reserve and elevated wide receiver Kalif Raymond from the practice squad. To make room, they cut defensive end Devin Taylor and waived wide receiver Ed EaganAkeem Ayers (vertical)

Ayers auditioned for the Giants in September and again on Nov. 8. In the most recent workout, he apparently made a good impression on coaches. Ayers finished out last season with 18 tackles, two sacks, and one interception for the Colts. He graded out as the No. 54 edge defender in the NFL out of 110 qualified players, per Pro Football Focus’ metrics. He didn’t exactly set the world on fire last season, but he does offer experience as a starter from his time with the Titans (2011-2013) and Rams (2015). In 2014, he won a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots.

Greco, 32, joined the Saints in early October but was released without having played a down. Injuries forced him to miss six total games from 2015-16 for the Browns, but he was effective while healthy. Last year, he graded as the league’s No. 18 guard among 75 qualifiers last season, per PFF. All told, Greco offers 111 games — and 70 starts — worth of experience.

The Giants aren’t playing for much at this point, but they are curious to see if Ayers, Greco, and Raymond can be worthwhile players for 2018.

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Minor NFL Transactions: 11/8/17

Today’s minor moves:

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Houston Texans

New Orleans Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Saints To Sign OL John Greco

The Saints have reached agreement with free agent offensive lineman John Greco, a source tells Joel Erickson of the Advocate (Twitter link).John Greco (vertical)

Greco, at first glance, appears to be a depth signing for New Orleans, who already boast Larry Warford and Andrus Peat as its starting guards. Veteran right tackle Zach Strief will be sidelined for at least eight weeks after being placed on injured reserve earlier today, but Greco doesn’t play tackle, and first-round pick Ryan Ramczyk is expected to take over on the right side when left tackle Terron Armstead presumably returns to the field following the Saints’ Week 5 bye.

If Armstead doesn’t come back in the next few weeks (he’s recovering from a torn labrum), the Saints could hypothetically reshuffle their front five with Greco now in tow. Peat, the club’s left guard, also plays tackle, and could conceivably shift to right tackle to create space for Greco at guard. That’s entirely speculation, however, and all reports have indicated Armstead is progressing quickly.

Greco, 32, was released by the Browns earlier this year after injuries forced him to miss six total games from 2015-16. When he’s been healthy, however, Greco has been a solid starter, and he graded as the league’s No. 18 guard among 75 qualifiers last season, per Pro Football Focus. All told, Greco offers 111 games — and 70 starts — worth of experience.

Before signing with the Saints, Greco also auditioned for the Giants, Bills, and Lions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Workout Updates: 9/27/17

Today’s workout updates, with all links going to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Detroit Lions

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

  • LSs Andrew East and Anthony Kukwa (link)

Washington Redskins

Bills Work Out John Greco

The Bills worked out a handful of notable names as they gear up for Week 2. Their audition included guards John Greco and Tim Lelito, cornerback B.W. Webb, and wide receivers James Wright and Stephen Hill, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter links). John Greco (vertical)

Greco’s six-year tenure with the Browns came to an end prior to this year’s 53-man deadline. After entering the league as a third-round pick of the Rams in 2008, he became a regular for Cleveland in 2011. He started in 66 of 85 appearances with the Browns and finished out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 18 ranked guard last year. Unfortunately, he was not on the field for the Browns’ sole win of 2016 – he was shut down in November due to injury.

Lelito graded out as the No. 49 guard in the league last season for his work with the Saints, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF gave him a solid mark for his pass blocking with a less impressive score on running plays. He hooked on with the Titans in March, but he was let go after a disappointing preseason.

Hill, 26, was a bust for the Jets after being selected in the second round of the 2012 draft. He has not seen live action since the 2013 season.

Giants Work Out Dan Williams, John Greco

The Giants worked out defensive tackle Dan Williams, offensive lineman John Greco, and linebacker Akeem Ayers on Tuesday, a source tells Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). New York also took a look at former Lions linebacker Antwione Williams, tweets Dan Duggan of NJ.com.Dan Williams

[RELATED: Giants Work Out LB Jonathan Freeny]

New York already boasts perhaps the league’s best nose tackle in Damon Harrison, so Williams — if signed — would serve as a backup, as he isn’t a three-technique. Williams hasn’t drawn a lick of interest since being released by the Raiders, and that’s probably a reflection of the declining need for 330-pound defensive tackles and Williams’ age (30). However, Pro Football Focus was a fan of Williams’ work in 2016, ranking him a solid 44th among 127 qualified interior defensive linemen.

The Giants could use help along the offensive line, but that’s mostly at tackle, as the club is presumably set at guard/center with Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, and John Jerry. Greco could perhaps unseat Jerry at right guard, but he doesn’t play offensive tackle, which is where New York is truly below-average. Released by the Browns last week, Greco has dealt with injuries in each of the past two seasons (six total missed games) but has performed well when on the field.

Ayers, 28, signed with the Colts just before the 2016 season got underway, and ultimately spent the entire season with the club. He appeared in all 16 games and posted two sacks. Williams, a 2016 fifth-round pick, played 203 defensive snaps for Detroit a season ago, and also saw plenty of special teams action (196 snaps). The 24-year-old wasn’t claimed on waivers over the weekend, and he’d be a youthful reserve option for New York.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Release John Greco

The Browns have released guard John Greco, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com.

The release of Greco concludes a long tenure in Cleveland for the 32-year-old, who was a starter for the team over the previous six seasons. Greco, who entered the NFL as a third-round pick of the Rams in 2008, joined the Browns prior to the 2011 campaign and ultimately started in 66 of 85 appearances with the club. He started in all 12 of his games during an injury-shortened 2016 and ranked an impressive 18th in performance among Pro Football Focus’ 75 qualified guards.

Greco became expendable to the Browns thanks in part to the signings of guard Kevin Zeitler and center J.C. Tretter in free agency. In cutting Greco, the Browns saved his entire $3.075MM cap hit for 2017.

AFC Notes: Siemian, Bolts, Browns, Cushing

After his second missed start this season, Trevor Siemian is expected to return on Sunday for the Broncos-Titans game, a player source informs Mike Klis of 9News. The first-year starter has missed 2 1/2 games now, with the two Paxton Lynch starts showing perhaps the rookie is not ready for regular duty.

Klis points out the mid-foot sprain Denver’s starter suffered is usually an injury that shelves players for multiple games, using Ronnie Hillman‘s six missed contests during the 2014 season as an example. Lynch completed 12-of-24 passes for 104 yards against the Jaguars last week, picking up his first win as a starter but doing so in less-than-optimal fashion.

Siemian is coming off his best game as a pro — a 368-yard, three-touchdown effort in an overtime loss to the Chiefs — but now needs to distance himself from another setback to avoid an injury-prone label after already missing time with a shoulder malady. For the Broncos, they likely need the second-year success story to return to make a last-ditch run at the AFC West title or possibly just to make the playoffs. Siemian (15 touchdown passes, seven INTs, 2,396 air yards) continuing to play reasonably well would continue to muddy the waters for the franchise in the future, though, with the first-round investment in Lynch still putting him in line as the quarterback of the future.

Here’s more from the AFC, continuing with more out of the West.

  • A substantial amount of money being tied to players on IR contributed to the Chargers‘ decisions about their replacements and extension decisions, Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. In losing players like Stevie Johnson, Keenan Allen, Jason Verrett and Danny Woodhead, the Bolts have a 17-man IR contingent and that represents $29.3MM of the team’s cap space. This helped influence what kind of experience the Chargers ($1.3MM in cap room) could target as replacements for these players since longer-tenured veterans naturally cost more. Additionally, this matter partially impacted extension talks for Melvin Ingram or Woodhead, Gehlken reports, adding the Joey Bosa cash-flow uncertainty affected these talks as well. Both are impending UFAs, with Ingram set to be an in-demand commodity if he reaches the market.
  • Placed on IR recently, John Greco suspects he suffered the same mid-foot Lisfranc injury Joel Bitonio did, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal reports. The Browns‘ starting right guard, Greco would likely undergo surgery just as Bitonio, Cleveland’s left guard starter, did in October. The 31-year-old Greco’s been a Browns starter since 2012 and is optimistic about a 2017 return, just like Bitonio. He will visit Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, N.C., next week to determine the next course of action. Despite entering what would be his 10th NFL season, Greco is under contract for just $975K in 2017.
  • Jamar Taylor and the Browns agreed to a three-year deal worth $15MM, and Joel Corry of CBSSports.com argues (on Twitter) this is a team-friendly pact despite the former Dolphins corner finishing the 2015 season as a healthy scratch for his former employer. This salary rests $2MM per year less than displaced starter Tramon Williams is making, leading Corry to believe Williams won’t be around next season (Twitter link) after Taylor supplanted him in the lineup. Williams will turn 34 in March and, as part of a three-year deal worth $21MM, would stand to make $7.5MM in 2017 — all but $500K of which is nonguaranteed, pointing to a cap-casualty future for the former Packers cog.
  • Brian Cushing‘s been playing with multiple broken bones in his back in his eighth Texans season, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. “There’s two fractures in my back, but those are things you have to push through,” Cushing said. “Obviously, it’s painful, and I’m not able to get as many reps as I want in practice right now, but I’ll be out there Sunday with my team. I’ve missed a number of games with season-ending injuries, and I don’t want to miss any more time, so as long as I can walk, I’ll be out there.” The 29-year-old Cushing played at least 14 games in 2014-15 but saw his ’12 and ’13 slates end early because of ailments.

Browns Place John Greco On Injured Reserve

John Greco‘s season is over. The Browns announced that they are putting the offensive lineman on injured reserve with a foot injury. John Greco (vertical)

Greco injured his foot during the third quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Giants. The 31-year-old was spotted leaving the game with crutches and a protective boot, so today’s news doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Without Greco, the Browns are down yet another key offensive lineman. Cleveland is already without guard Joel Bitonio and center Austin Reiter and interior lineman Cameron Erving also missed significant time this year. Now at 0-12, the Browns’ bid to avoid a winless season just got even harder.

In a trying year, Greco has been a bright spot for the Browns. The right guard ranks as Pro Football Focus’ 19th ranked guard with roughly even grades for his run blocking and pass blocking. His overall grade puts him ahead of guys like Allen Barbre, Jack Mewhort, and Alex Boone.

The Browns are on their bye this week. Next up for Cleveland is a Dec. 11 date against the Bengals.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Notes: Greco, RG3, McCown

Browns right guard John Greco injured his foot during the third quarter of today’s loss to the Giants. The 31-year-old was taken to the locker room and didn’t return to the contest. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com tweets that Greco was spotted leaving the stadium accompanied by crutches and a right boot.

If Greco is forced to miss time, it’d be another hit to an injury-riddled Browns offensive line. The team is already without guard Joel Bitonio and center Austin Reiter, while Cameron Erving has also missed time with an injury.

Let’s take a look at some other notes out of Cleveland…

  • The Browns want to see what they have in Robert Griffin III. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport noted on NFL GameDay Morning that the organization wants to see several more starts from the signal-caller (via Conor Orr of NFL.com). Of course, that all depends on whether rookie quarterback Cody Kessler is unable to return from his concussion. Griffin was placed on the injured reserve following the Browns’ season-opener, and the quarterback ended up returning to practice earlier this week.
  • ESPN.com’s Tony Grossi wonders if quarterback Josh McCown may have made his final start with the Browns today. The 37-year-old is now 1-10 as a starter over the past two seasons, including today’s loss to the Giants. The veteran is owed $3.625MM next season, and he’s due a $750K roster bonus in March.
  • If the Patriots were willing to part with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, Cabot believes he’d be a great addition to the Browns. Of course, that wouldn’t necessarily prevent the organization from taking a quarterback in the draft. Cabot says the team could still target North Carolina signal-caller Mitch Trubisky regardless of whether they acquire a quarterback via trade or free agency.