John Greco

Extra Points: Gordon, Pats, Lee, Giants, Lions

In a development that’s sure to prompt thousands of early phone alarms Sunday morning, Melvin Gordon has been downgraded to questionable. The Chargers‘ top threat is now a true game-time decision to play against the Titans in London, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Considering this is an 8:30am CT game, this will obviously test the commitment of Gordon’s North American-based fantasy owners while putting the Bolts down one of their best players. Gordon was a limited participant in Friday’s practice, but as ESPN’s Eric Williams notes (on Twitter), wasn’t listed on the injury report until Saturday. A hamstring malady places Gordon’s availability for Week 7 in question. The Chargers took precautions against a Gordon absence by promoting Detrez Newsome from their practice squad. Since finishing his first two NFL seasons on IR, Gordon has played in 22 straight games and emerged as one of the league’s best backs.

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • The Cowboys will have the services of Sean Lee on Sunday against the Redskins. Lee is not on Dallas’ injury report for its game against Washington. He missed the past three games because of a hamstring strain, opening the door for first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch to log plenty of playing time. Vander Esch responded and enters Week 7 as Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 overall linebacker. Lee, Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith will split time in Dallas’ nickel package, Todd Archer of ESPN.com notes.
  • A disastrous Giants start will result in more changes to their maligned offensive line. Big Blue will bench free agent guard pickup Patrick Omameh and move center John Greco to guard on Monday night, Dan Duggan of The Athletic reports (subscription required). Former Chargers starting center Spencer Pulley will move into the role of Giants first-string snapper, Duggan adds. Omameh suffered a knee injury in practice this week, but Duggan notes this decision was made prior to that occurring. PFF slots the former Jaguars starter as its No. 67 guard (out of 73 full-time players at this position). He’s signed to a three-year, $15MM deal. Pulley, who started all 16 games for the Chargers last season, landed in New York via post-preseason waiver claim. Pulley will join Greco and right tackle Chad Wheeler as replacement starters for this year’s Giants front.
  • Despite logging three limited practices this week, Ziggy Ansah will not return for the Lions on Sunday. Detroit declared its top pass rusher out for a fifth straight game. The franchise-tagged defensive end said (via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press) like he felt like he could play, but the Lions will continue to soldier on without him. He’s been trying to surmount a shoulder injury since exiting in Week 1 because of it.
  • T.J. Lang, however, will return to the Lions’ lineup. The veteran guard missed two games because of a concussion and sought medical advice from several doctors, per Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. While Lang’s return will be a welcome sight for Lions fans, Meinke does not expect Detroit to keep him around in 2019. The final year of Lang’s Lions deal comes with an $11.7MM cap hit. It would save the Lions $9MM if they cut Lang, for whom they authorized a $9.5MM-AAV deal in 2017.
  • Rob Gronkowski is almost certainly going to miss the Patriots-Bears game, with ankle and back trouble keeping the all-world tight end home after his team departed for Chicago. But the Patriots will also be without backup Jacob Hollister, the team announced. This leaves Dwayne Allen as the only healthy tight end available. The former Colt has one catch this season. The Pats still haven’t declared Gronk out, which would make for an interesting sequence of events were he to play without boarding the team plane.

Extra Points: Sherman, 49ers, Talib, 49ers, Bucs, Greco

Richard Sherman has taken some flack for his one-year deal with the 49ers, but he has no regrets about acting as his own agent.

I don’t think any agent in the business could have done a better job of negotiating this contract,” Sherman told Peter King of The MMQB. “As long as I’m content with what I’m making, nothing else matters to me. Once I make a Pro Bowl, $8MM the next year is guaranteed for me. It gives me the ability to control my destiny. The 49ers have skin in the game. I have skin in the game. In my former contract, no matter what I did this year, nothing would be guaranteed to me next year. I couldn’t feel secure in my contract. Now, if I play the way I know I’m capable of playing, I know I’m going to get paid.”

Sherman’s deal is a three-year, $39MM pact, but a deeper look shows that the real base value is just $21.15MM with another $18MM coming in the form of bonuses. In order to earn the full $39MM, Sherman must play in every regular season game, be on the field for 90% of snaps, and earn Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors in each season. In other words, it’s unlikely that Sherman will actually see the full value of the deal. Still, Sherman is content with how things played out and intimated that he wanted the opportunity to face his old team twice per year.

  • Mike Klis of 9News in Denver (on Twitter) had more on the 49ers’ proposed trade for cornerback Aqib Talib from the Broncos, which Talib rejected. The 49ers were going to send a fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft in exchange for the services of the five-time Pro Bowler. In the end, the Broncos traded Talib to the Rams for a fifth-round pick in the 2018 draft.
  • The Buccanneers looked to shore up their kicking woes of late by attempting to land former Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins before he re-signed with the Redskins, according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine. The Bucs cut former second-round pick Roberto Aguayo prior to last season and Nick Folk was cut last month after missing a majority of last season on injured reserve with a minor-injury designation. Free-agent addition Patrick Murray hit 82.6% of his kicks with Tampa Bay last year in 23 attempts, with a long of 50 yards.
  • The Giants and offensive lineman John Greco agreed to a one-year deal last month and Ralph Vacchiano of SNY (on Twitter) that his salary for 2018 will be $1.02MM. Greco appeared in six games for the Giants last season after spending the previous six seasons as a mainstay within the interior of the Browns’ offensive line.

Giants Re-Sign G John Greco

The Giants have re-signed guard John Greco, according to a team announcement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. John Greco (vertical)

You can expect to see a fair amount of roster turnover under Dave Gettleman‘s watch, but Greco was apparently a player worth keeping for the new GM. Historically, Gettleman has placed importance on big linemen – he calls them “hog mollies” – and the 6’4″, 315-pound Greco fits the bill.

Tom Coughlin made a great statement to me fairly early when he came in [as Giants coach]: big men allow you to compete,” Gettleman said in 2016 (via Greg Bedard of SI.com). “And the more you look at it, the more you watch film—I was a pro [personnel] guy for 15 years, all I did was watch film—and it’s true. If you’re not strong on either side of the line with the big guys, it’s going to bite you. It’s going to cost you. That was the one thing I knew we had to do.”

Greco, 33 in March, joined the Giants midway through the season and appeared in six games. For his career, Greco has 85 appearances and 66 starts to his credit over ten years with the Browns, Rams, and Giants. Greco’s 105 snaps were not enough to qualify for Pro Football Focus’ rankings, but his 77.6 grade would have placed him in the top 20 at his position.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.