Jonathan Williams

NFC Notes: Cowboys, Jones, 49ers

Jerry Jones will not forced out as the owner of the Cowboys, the owner of one team and others familiar with the situation tell Mark Maske of The Washington Post.

I don’t know where this is coming from about stripping him of his franchise,” the anonymous owner said. “That’s ridiculous. That’s not going to happen.”

Two others with knowledge of the NFL’s inner workings told Maske the same thing. However, the aforementioned owner did note that Jones could be subject to a fine if he files a lawsuit. He also would face the prospect of paying attorney fees for both sides. That could be in reference to a “prevailing party” clause which stipulates that the losing side picks up everyone’s bill.

Here’s a look at the NFC:

  • The 49ers say there’s no rush to get newly-acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on the field. “We know what we like about Jimmy Garoppolo. And that’s only been strengthened by the time that’s he’s been here,” GM John Lynch said (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area). “We’re just going to let these things play out. That’s in Kyle’s hands. People have had all these ideas about why we got Jimmy. We got Jimmy because we think he has big-time ability at the quarterback position. And we believe so much – to get where we need to get – you have to have a franchise quarterback. We think he’s got that ability. Whether that happens, when that happens, we’ll see. But we certainly like his future with the 49ers. … They’re going to work hard during this week to get him up to speed. But right now, we don’t need him. C.J. [Beathard] just played a great game and his teammates really believe in him. We think it’s nothing but a good situation.”
  • To incentivize running back Jonathan Williams to sign to their active roster, the Saints gave him a $50K signing bonus, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Recently, Williams left the Broncos’ practice squad to join up with the Saints on a two-year deal. He also turned down a similar opportunity with the Falcons. It’s also worth mentioning that the second year of his deal also includes a $25K workout bonus (Twitter link via Nick Underhill of The Advocate).
  • This week, the Redskins were forced to place running back Rob Kelley on IR.

NFC Notes: Panthers, Cards, Lions, Falcons

Although rookie wideout Curtis Samuel is done for the season after suffering an ankle injury, the Panthers have not made contact with old friend Corey Brown, according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). Brown has enjoyed two separate stints with the Bills this season, but he’s yet to actually see the field. The 25-year-old spent the 2014-16 campaigns in Carolina, averaging 26 receptions, 340 yards, and two touchdowns during that time. However, Person suggested on Monday that the Panthers will fill their wide receiver vacancy from within.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Cardinals defensive tackle Corey Peters has a high ankle sprain and will be sidelined for “awhile,” head coach Bruce Arians told reporters, including Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic (Twitter link). High ankle sprains are typically four-to-six weeks injuries, which means Peters will be a candidate for injured reserve, especially since Arizona isn’t in the playoff hunt. Peters, 29, has played the second-most snaps among Cardinals defensive lineman this season, so his absence will certainly be felt. Backups Robert Nkemdiche, Rodney Gunter, Olsen Pierre, and Xavier Williams could now be line for more action.
  • The Lions are now paying practice squad tight end Hakeem Valles at the active roster rate ($32K per week), reports Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). That’s because the Cardinals recently attempted to poach Valles when they lost fellow tight end Ifeanyi Momah for the remainder of the season, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Valles, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Monmouth in 2016, spent the 2016 campaign with Arizona, appearing in 11 games (one start) for the club). Detroit, meanwhile, currently has three tight ends on its 53-man roster: Eric Ebron, Darren Fells, and Michael Roberts.
  • Before he decided to sign with the Saints, running back Jonathan Williams was also offered a contract by the Falcons, New Orleans head coach Sean Payton told reporters, including Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune (Twitter link). Williams had been earning $30K weekly (nearly an active roster rate) while on the Broncos’ practice squad, but he jumped at the chance to be placed on the Saints’ 53-man squad. Atlanta needed another running back while Devonta Freeman deals with a concussion, and it ultimately signed Terrence Magee of the Browns’ taxi squad.
  • New Saints special teams assistant Mike Westhoff wasn’t looking to get back into coaching, but New Orleans presented him with an appealing opportunity. “I don’t want to regret something I didn’t try,” he told Brian Costello of the New York Post (Twitter link). Westhoff added his new role isn’t a long-term gig, and he’ll only coach for this season. The Saints have struggled on special teams for the past two-plus years, a track record that forced the club to hire a new ST coach (Brad Banta) this offseason. However, New Orleans ranks 27th in special teams DVOA through 10 weeks.

Saints Sign RB Jonathan Williams

The Saints are signing running back Jonathan Williams to a two-year deal off the Broncos’ practice squad, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Williams will take the place of Daniel Lasco, who has been ruled out for the year with a bulging disc.Jonathan Williams (vertical)

[RELATED: Saints RB Daniel Lasco Done For Year]

Williams was expected to serve as LeSean McCoy‘s top backup in Buffalo this year. Instead, the Bills made him a surprise cut in early September. He had a fair amount of buzz coming out of Arkansas in 2016, but the new regime in Buffalo might have been upset about some of his off-the-field behavior.

Soon after he was cut, the Broncos made Williams an abnormally high offer to join the practice squad, allowing them to beat out at least three other teams for his services. Williams did not get called up to the Broncos’ varsity team this year, but he may get his chance to see the field with New Orleans.

Williams will likely slot in as the Saints’ No. 4 running back behind Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara, and Trey Edmunds.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Outbid Three Teams To Sign Jonathan Williams

The Broncos will pay Jonathan Williams a massive practice squad salary, but they had to outbid at least three teams for the right to add the running back to that unit.

Williams joined the Broncos on a $510K salary — $30K weekly, well north of the practice squad minimum — but Mike Klis of 9News reports (on Twitter) the Chiefs, Jets and Vikings also pursued Williams for their respective practice squads.

The Bills cut Williams after the preseason and will supplement LeSean McCoy with a new cadre of backs after also allowing Mike Gillislee to depart as an RFA. No team claimed Williams, a 2016 fifth-round pick, on waivers.

The Chiefs made for an understandable fit after the loss of Spencer Ware, an event that caused the team to explore trades, Tom Pelissero of USA Today tweets. Instead Kansas City entered its season opener with just two running backs — Kareem Hunt and Charcandrick Westafter cutting C.J. Spiller. Kansas City added rookie back Devine Redding to its taxi squad.

Minnesota employs Jerick McKinnon as its third-stringer and re-signed Bronson Hill to its practice squad. Behind Matt Forte and Bilal Powell, the Jets have sixth-round rookie Elijah McGuire. Running back/return man Marcus Murphy now resides on Gang Green’s practice squad.

Williams will sit as the Broncos’ fifth running back — behind C.J. Anderson, Jamaal Charles, Devontae Booker and rookie De’Angelo Henderson — but do so on a team that’s seen each of its top three backs suffer major injuries within the past year. Booker is currently recovering from a wrist injury.

Broncos Add Jonathan Williams To P-Squad

The Broncos have signed running back Jonathan Williams to the practice squad, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. He’s receiving a sizable salary that equals out to $510K over the course of the season, which indicates that there was a healthy market for him after the Bills cut him loose. The minimum practice squad salary is just over $7K per week. Jonathan Williams (vertical)

Early on this offseason, Williams seemed poised to step into Mike Gillislee‘s role as LeSean McCoy‘s top backup. He lost ground in that competition, however, and the Bills decided to cut him loose rather than pay out the full value of his contract. The Broncos and 30 other teams declined to pick him up off of waivers, thereby picking up his deal and giving him a roster spot, but multiple teams wanted him on the taxi squad. The Broncos won out over the competition.

The Broncos will roll into the season with C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker, Jamaal Charles, and De’Angelo Henderson at running back. Booker’s status is up in the air to start the season, so there’s already a potential roster opening for Williams if that injury lingers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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 BillsDolphinsPatriots, and Jets 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 East transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day:

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Bills Cut RB Jonathan Williams

The Bills have released running back Jonathan Williams, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The move was unexpected, particularly since Williams was in line to be LeSean McCoy‘s primary backup.

Jonathan Williams (vertical)

Last year, Mike Gillislee thrived as McCoy’s top understudy. Williams could have been poised for a similar leap this year, but the team apparently feels comfortable moving forward with free agent additions Mike Tolbert, Joe Banyard, and Taiwan Jones.

In 2016, his rookie campaign, Williams had only 27 carries in eleven games, but the former fifth-round pick out of Arkansas appeared to have a fair amount of promise. Of course, Williams was selected by the prior regime in Buffalo, so it could be that Brandon Beane and company simply were not as high on the ex-Razorback as their predecessors.

Nonetheless, it is a curious move, as Tolbert, Banyard, and Jones are veterans with limited upside, and Williams’ youth would have seemed attractive to a Bills team that is clearly in some form of rebuilding/retooling mode. It makes one wonder whether there were additional factors in Buffalo’s decision. Last summer, Williams was accused of driving while intoxicated, but he was found not guilty of that charge and he was not suspended by the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills’ Jonathan Williams Avoids Suspension

Good news for the Bills and Jonathan Williams. The running back will not be disciplined under the league’s substance abuse policy, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Jonathan Williams (vertical)

Williams was accused of driving while intoxicated last summer in Arkansas, just months after the Bills selected him in the fifth round. He was found not guilty of the charge earlier this month, but the NFL has been known to suspend players even in situations where they are acquitted by a court. The Bills were bracing for the possibility of not having Williams at the start of the season, but they now know that they will have him on the roster for Week 1 as LeSean McCoy‘s backup.

Last year, Mike Gillislee made a name for himself as McCoy’s primary understudy and Williams could make a similar leap this year. In 2016, Williams had only 27 carries in eleven games, but he should be used a lot more this year. Free agents Mike Tolbert and Joe Banyard are also in the fold in Buffalo, along with fullback Patrick DiMarco.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Steelers, Fins, Ravens, Bills

The Steelers would like to sign contract-year defensive end Stephon Tuitt to an extension before the start of the regular season, reports Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The 24-year-old is clearly open to a new deal with the Steelers, telling Fittipaldo: “I would love it here. It’s a blessing if they see me being here for the long term. I love the organization.” Locking up Tuitt could cost the Steelers $8MM to $9MM per year, and it probably won’t become a priority until later in the summer, writes Fittipaldo. Tuitt, a second-round pick in 2014, started 14 games in each of the past two seasons and combined for 10.5 sacks in those 28 contests. He also impressed Pro Football Focus last season, receiving its 19th-best grade among 127 qualified interior defensive linemen.

More from the AFC:

  • With the Dolphins having exercised his fifth-year option for 2018, right tackle Ja’Wuan James said Wednesday that “it’s good to know that I’m secure in the aspect of being here.” However, as Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald points out, the $9.431MM option is only guaranteed for injury, meaning James isn’t a lock to be on the team in 2018. James is actually at risk of ending up on the chopping block next offseason if he doesn’t rebound from what the team believes was a “frustratingly unspectacular” 2016, according to Salguero. James has started all 39 of his appearances since going 19th overall in 2014, and is coming off a 16-game season in which he graded as PFF‘s 32nd-best bookend. But the Dolphins are going to want more out of him if he’s going to stick around in 2018 at a high cost, per Salguero.
  • The Ravens will have to revise wide receiver Eric Decker‘s contract if their trade talks with the Jets lead to a deal, notes Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). Decker has two years and nearly $15MM left on his contract, including an $8.75MM cap hit for 2017. The Ravens only have $5MM-plus in spending room at the moment.
  • Thanks to the injury waiver he previously signed, tight end Dennis Pitta will receive no additional compensation following his release from the Ravens, Mike Florio of PFT writes. Typically, when a player gets injured during offseason practices, he gets paid until healthy or receives his entire salary if he’s out for the year. However, Pitta’s waiver cleared the Ravens of financial responsibility in the event of another hip injury. The tight end has dislocated his hip multiple times in recent years.
  • Bills running back Jonathan Williams was arrested in Arkansas last July on a DUI charge, but the 23-year-old was found not guilty on Thursday, according to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. Assuming Williams dodges a suspension from the league, he’ll be in line to open the season as the Bills’ backup to LeSean McCoy. Mike Gillislee thrived in that role last season, but Buffalo lost him to the AFC East rival Patriots as a restricted free agent.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

AFC East Notes: Bills, Pats, Brady, Jets, Fins

Bills rookie running back Jonathan Williams was arrested in Arkansas on Thursday morning and charged with driving while intoxicated, ArkansasMatters.com reported today. Williams, selected in the fifth round of the draft earlier this year, will almost certainly face a league-imposed suspension, which is not exactly the best way to begin one’s NFL career. It hasn’t been a banner offseason for Buffalo’s running back corps as a whole, as starter LeSean McCoy was involved in an altercation in February, while Karlos Williams showed up to camp overweight last month.

Here’s more out of the AFC East:

  • Although he likely wouldn’t say it publicly, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick might privately want Tom Brady to accept his four-game suspension and move on, opines Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. If Brady simply missed the first four games of the season, New England would have the entire summer to prepare the club for backup Jimmy Garoppolo to take over. But if Brady is granted a stay and is then re-suspended in the middle of the year, the Pats could be thrown into a frenzy as their quarterback sits on the bench for the next quarter-season. Nevertheless, Brady is expected to take his case to the Supreme Court.
  • General manager Mike Maccagnan and the Jets were “shocked” when defensive lineman Leonard Williams fell to them at the sixth overall selection in last year’s draft, and the former USC pass rusher has proven critical to the club’s future, as Brian Costello of the New York Post details. Not only did Williams post a solid rookie season in 2015, but he gives New York more leverage as they continue to negotiate with franchise player Muhammad Wilkerson. With Williams and Sheldon Richardson in tow, Gang Green can’t be backed into a corner by Wilkerson and his camp.
  • Given that he was chosen in the sixth round, wide receiver Jakeem Grant doesn’t have a Dolphins roster spot locked down, but his easiest path to making the final 53 is likely via special teams duty, as James Walker of ESPN.com writes. Grant returned four kickoffs for scores while at Texas Tech, and according to Walker, he’s the favorite to take over that role for Miami. He’ll need to carve out a space somewhere, because Grant is unlikely to earn playing time behind pass-catching options that include Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, and Leonte Carroo.