Jordan Howard

Practice Notes: Eagles, Jets, Cardinals

The Eagles got positive news on the injury front regarding three of their biggest weapons Wednesday, according to Ian Rapoport. Wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (ankle) and Nelson Agholor (knee) are full participants in practice today and running back Jordan Howard (shoulder), while not yet back to practice, is “trending the right way.”

All three players missed Sunday’s game against the Seahawks, Jeffery and Howard have not played since November 3rd. Philadelphia’s offense has struggled mightily in recent weeks. Most of the blame has fallen on the shoulders of quarterback Carson Wentz, but it would surely help their signalcaller to have some more weapons.

Here’s some more notes on practice status around the league:

  • Jets head coach Adam Gase told reporters he expects cornerback Darryl Roberts is expected to return after missing two games with a calf injury, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN. Right tackle Chuma Edoga will not practice today and left tackle Kelvin Beachum will be limited as well. The Jets are in the midst of a three-game win streak in hopes to rebound from what looked like a lost season.
  • While Cardinals offensive tackle Jordan Mills was designated for return from the injured reserve earlier today, cornerback Robert Alford, though, will not be joining his teammate, according to Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. Alford, a six-year veteran, fractured his tibia prior to the season and was placed on injured reserve with the possibility to return. However, per Urban, that possibility is no longer an option.

NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Giants, Eagles

As the Cowboys prepare to take on the Giants this Monday at MetLife Stadium, the team will most likely be without defensive tackle Trysten Hill, who is expected to be inactive after falling asleep in a team meeting, according to Michael Gehlken of Dallasnews.com.

Hill’s issues began on October 24th during a team meeting with NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas before everyone departed for the bye. Hill fell asleep while Thomas was talking and was called out by the two-time NBA champion, who asked someone to wake him up. On Tuesday, Hill didn’t practice, and Jason Garrett sent him and a teammate home for tardiness.

Hill spoke publicly Saturday for the first time since the incidents.

“My teammates know I wasn’t asleep in the meeting,” Hill said. “The media is going to take it and run with it no matter what. I don’t even like to speak on things like that because that’s just creating a bigger target for myself. It’s the press. It’s the media. I know it for what it is. I was the first pick for the Dallas Cowboys. I understand that comes with the territory.”

When questioned by reporters, Garrett would go on to say: “Trysten’s a young player who needs to continue to learn to grow and understand how to be a professional. We’ve had a lot of players like that in the past. Part of our job is to help them grow that way.”

The 58th overall pick out of Central Florida has mostly been a disappointment this year for the Cowboys, playing in just four games and registering only one tackle.

Here are some more notes regarding the Cowboys and the rest of the NFC East:

  • The Cowboys are also expected to be without linebacker Leighton Vander Esch when they take on the Giants tomorrow night, despite being officially listed as questionable with a neck injury, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer. He suffered the injury against the Eagles and the hope was the bye week would give him time to recover, but he continues to have soreness and range of motion issues. The former first-round pick, who has played well this season, went through three limited practices during the week but did not take any team snaps.
  • Sterling Shepard is back in concussion protocol and will not play against the Cowboys tomorrow night, according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan. Shepard had been cleared from the concussion protocol on Friday, but after reporting to the team on Saturday night that he wasn’t feeling well and still not feeling well on Sunday morning, he was placed back in the protocol. Shepard suffered his current concussion against the Vikings on October 6th and has missed the Giants‘ past three games. This is Shepard’s second concussion of the season, with the first being suffered after the Giants’ Week 1 loss to the Cowboys. Shepard, 26, was the Giants’ leading receiver before the injury, with 25 catches for 267 yards and a touchdown, and signed a four-year, $41MM contract extension with the team this past offseason, with $21.3MM in guarantees.
  • When questioned by reporters leading up to today’s tilt against the Bears, impending free agent Jordan Howard said he’s starting to see Philadelphia as a place he could stay for the long haul, relays Daniel Gallen of Pennlive.com. “I would love to be back,” Howard said. “I’m loving Philly, so I’d definitely love to be back. I’m loving my teammates and just the city, so I’d definitely love to be back.” Through eight games, the former Bear leads the Eagles with 100 carries for 443 yards and five touchdowns.

 

Extra Points: Eagles, Gordon, Mahomes

Running back Jordan Howard had somewhat of a breakout game last week during the Eagles’ win over the Bills, and now he’ll have a chance at revenge when he takes on the Bears on Sunday. Chicago, of course, shipped him off to Philly back in March. Howard got less and less productive toward the end of his time in Chicago, and he’s clearly enjoyed the change of scenery. Speaking to the media recently, the fourth-year back and impending free agent said he knows exactly where he wants to sign in the offseason. “I would love to be back,” Howard said, per Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports. “I’m loving Philly. So I would definitely love to be back. I’m loving my teammates and the city. I would definitely love to be back.” Howard turned 25 today (happy birthday Jordan), and has formed a solid one-two punch with rookie Miles Sanders. The Eagles’ running game has been a weakness the past couple of years, but it seems like things could finally be turning a corner.

Here’s more from around the league as we await kickoff:

  • The Seahawks were awarded Josh Gordon off waivers earlier this week, and some were surprised he lasted that long. Seattle was the only team willing to take the plunge though, as Ian Rapoport of NFL Network passed along in a tweet that the Seahawks were the only team to submit a claim. They were 28th in the order, so that isn’t too shocking. Gordon won’t play this weekend, but with Tyler Lockett and promising rookie D.K. Metcalf also in the fold, the Seahawks quietly have one of the league’s more talented receiving corps.
  • While the Seahawks were the only team to try and claim Gordon off waivers, they would’ve faced significant competition had he hit the open market. Nine teams wanted to bring Gordon in for a workout and a physical, his agent told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. Florio points out that teams might’ve thought they could get Gordon for cheaper than his $2MM salary if they waited until after he cleared waivers. The fact that so many teams wanted to see him workout before adding him also suggests there might be some lingering concern about his knee injury that cause him to go on injured reserve in the first place.
  • For a while it’s been assumed that the Chiefs aren’t going to rush Patrick Mahomes back and play him on Sunday against the Vikings, but that’s apparently not set in stone. There is still a chance Mahomes will suit up, sources told Ed Werder of ESPN (Twitter link). It would still be pretty surprising, and for now it’s safe to assume Matt Moore will be under center for the second consecutive week. In other Kansas City news, Werder writes that stud defensive tackle Chris Jones is expected to be active, and that the team is “hopeful” on star pass-rusher Frank Clark. Obviously Mahomes is the biggest name, but those would be two huge get-backs for their defense for this suddenly pivotal game. The Chiefs have lost three of their last four and now sit at just 5-3.

Bears Trade RB Jordan Howard To Eagles

There were rumors earlier this month about the Bears exploring a trade of running back Jordan Howard. On Thursday, those rumblings were proven true as the Eagles are acquiring the back for a 2020 draft pick, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets

According to Schefter, the pick is a sixth-round selection that could become a fifth-round pick.

In early March, it was reported “multiple teams” approached Chicago about a potential deal for the 24-year-old back and that discussions were ongoing. With less than a month to go until the NFL Draft, the Bears found a taker in the Eagles, who would appear to be out of the running to reunite with Jay Ajayi.

Howard is entering the final year of his contract and will make about $2MM this season. Linked to running backs early in many mock drafts, the Eagles could still land a back in the middle rounds and let him develop under Howard. Like he did in Chicago, Howard is expected to fill first- and second-round duties with Philadelphia, while a collection of Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams vie for third-down responsibilities. Obviously, this could change if the team looks to add another back in the draft.

With the Bears, Howard burst on the scene in 2016, finishing second in the league in rushing yards with 1,313 yards and earning a Pro Bowl nod. He again topped the 1,000-yard mark in Year No. 2, tallying 1,122 yards and nine touchdowns. Though trade rumors swirled last season about this time, Howard returned to the team and amassed 935 yards and nine touchdowns on 250 carries, averaging just 3.7 yards a tote.

With the move, the Bears appear to be confident in the one-two punch of Tarik Cohen and the newly signed Mike Davis. Cohen broke out in 2018, tallying 1,169 yards from scrimmage and eight total offensive touchdowns. Davis impressed in limited work with Seattle in 2018, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and tallying 34 receptions.

 

Bears Discussing Jordan Howard Trade

It sounds like Jordan Howard‘s time in Chicago could be coming to an end. The Bears are having trade discussions surrounding the young running back, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Schefter writes that “multiple teams” approached the Bears at the combine about trading for Howard, and that discussions are “ongoing.” There was trade speculation about Howard around this time last year, but the Bears ultimately shot down those rumors and said they were going to make Howard the “main guy” in their backfield. After another disappointing season, they’ve apparently changed their tune.

We heard last week that the Bears were shopping Howard, and it sounds like they’ve got some serious interest. Howard matched his career high with nine rushing touchdowns last season, but he wasn’t very efficient. He averaged just 3.7 yards per carry, down from 4.1 the year before. Neither number was anywhere near as good as his rookie season, when he averaged 5.2 yards per tote.

Howard was a fifth round pick in 2016, and immediately burst onto the scene as a rookie. He finished second in the NFL in rushing that year, and made the Pro Bowl. But he’s steadily declined since, and the Bears are looking to move in a different direction. Howard is heading into the final year of his rookie deal, and the team wants to get something back while they still can. Tarik Cohen, who has split time with Howard the past couple of seasons, isn’t really an every down back, so the Bears will certainly add some running back help at some point if they do trade Howard.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC North Notes: Howard, Vikings, Packers

Although Jordan Howard matched his career high with nine rushing touchdowns last season, his overall and per-carry yardage numbers continued to decline. The Bears‘ starting running back failed to eclipse 1,000 yards for the first time and averaged 3.7 per tote, as Tarik Cohen gained a bigger foothold in Matt Nagy‘s offense. Howard did not make progress as a receiving back, either, in his third year. The Bears are indeed shopping Howard at the Combine, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. One season remains on the former fifth-round pick’s rookie contract.

Here is the latest from the NFC North:

  • Also being dangled for a trade, per JLC: Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes. One of three first-round picks in Minnesota’s corner corps, Waynes has been a two-year starter. But he is going into his fifth-year option season, which will cost the Vikings just more than $9MM. With Kirk Cousins‘ fully guaranteed contract on their books, along with several recently extended homegrown talents, the Vikings are up against the cap, holding barely $7MM.
  • One place the Vikings may need funding for is their offensive line. Guard starter Nick Easton missed all of last season, hurting an already embattled unit, and is slated for unrestricted free agency. Rick Spielman said (via the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Andrew Krammer) Easton should be medically cleared to resume his career soon. Easton underwent surgery to address a herniated disk in his neck. Easton also fractured his ankle in December 2017, so he may have to settle for a one-year deal somewhere.
  • Brian Gutekunst confirmed what we heard recently: Jimmy Graham will have a second chance to make an impact with the Packers. A possible cap casualty, Graham is in line to come back, per Gutekunst (via ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky). When asked Wednesday about Graham, Matt LaFleur was not yet sure the 32-year-old is the type of tight end that can create matchup problems at this point in his career, adding the caveat of not being in Green Bay last year to observe the physical issues with which Graham dealt.
  • Gutekunst was non-committal about Nick Perry‘s future with the team. Indicating the veteran outside linebacker has been productive when on the field, the second-year Packers GM said a decision has not been made on this front. “Nick’s struggled through some injuries,” Gutekunst said. “It’s been unfortunate. When he’s been out there, he’s been a good player for us. We’ll make those decisions as they come.” It would not be financially advantageous for the Packers to cut Perry. The cap savings would barely exceed $3MM, while the dead-money figure would surpass $11MM. Three years remain on the contract Perry signed in 2017. Perry played in nine games last season and 12 in 2017. He registered just 1.5 sacks last season.

2019 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $2MM in 2019. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2019 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

Bears: RB Jordan Howard, LB Nick Kwiatkoski

Bengals: LB Nick Vigil

Broncos: G Connor McGovern, S Will Parks, S Justin Simmons

Browns: S Derrick Kindred, LB Joe Schobert

Buccaneers: G Caleb Benenoch, DE Carl Nassib, CB Ryan Smith

Chargers: LB Jatavis Brown

Chiefs: CB Kendall Fuller, WR Tyreek Hill, S Eric Murray, WR Demarcus Robinson

Colts: QB Jacoby Brissett, T Joe Haeg

Cowboys: CB Anthony Brown, DT Maliek Collins, QB Dak Prescott

Dolphins: RB Kenyan Drake

Eagles: CB Jalen Mills, T Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Falcons: LB De’Vondre Campbell, TE Austin Hooper, G Wes Schweitzer

Jaguars: DE Yannick Ngakoue

Jets: LB Jordan Jenkins, CB Rashard Robinson, T Brandon Shell

Lions: C Graham Glasgow

Packers: LB Kyler Fackrell, DE Dean Lowry, LB Blake Martinez, LB Antonio Morrison

Patriots: G Joe Thuney, LB Elandon Roberts

Rams: G Austin Blythe, TE Tyler Higbee

Ravens: DE Matt Judon, OL Alex Lewis, CB Tavon Young

Saints: DT David Onyemata

Steelers: DT Javon Hargrave

Texans: DT D.J. Reader

Titans: S Kevin Byard, WR Tajae Sharpe

OverTheCap.com was essential in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. 

Bears Notes: Nagy, Howard, Long

The Bears and Ravens will square off in the Hall of Fame Game on August 2, so they are the only two teams whose training camps are already underway. Bears camp officially opened on Friday, so let’s take a look at a few notes out of Chicago:

  • Bears fans are excited about the innovations that new head coach Matt Nagy will bring to the offensive side of the football, and Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times believes that excitement is well-founded. Nagy has a great deal of young talent at his disposal, and while much of that talent is unproven, the club certainly has the chance to turn some heads this year. Nagy’s offense is expected to blend Andy Reid‘s West Coast offense with the run-pass options that offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich learned under Chip Kelly at Oregon, and it will certainly include creative formations and shifts. Nagy is also open to innovating and experimenting throughout the course of the season as he adjusts to life as an NFL head coach.
  • One key component of the offense, running back Jordan Howard, is making a concerted effort to improve his hands so that he can become a reliable contributor in the passing game, as Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune details. Indeed, Nagy’s offense frequently utilizes running backs as pass catchers, so Howard, who has not offered much as a receiver in his first two years in the league, needs to refine his abilities. For what it’s worth, Nagy believes that Howard can be a true three-down back. Nagy said, “There’s this notion that [Howard] is just a first-and second-down back, and I don’t believe that. Jordan can play all three downs. We’re going to do that. We’re going to use him, and we’re going to use other guys on first and second down when we need to.”
  • In a separate piece, Campbell describes the importance of offensive lineman Kyle Long — who suddenly finds himself as the offense’s second-oldest player — to the Bears’ rebuild. There are a lot of intriguing new and relatively new offensive pieces at the skill positions, but those pieces cannot come together to reach their collective potential without a strong offensive line in place. Long, whose career started out with three consecutive Pro Bowl nods, has finished each of the last two seasons on injured reserve. However, Campbell reports that Long is as close to full health as he has been in two years, and that is critical not just for the Bears’ chances in 2018, but for both player and team from a contractual standpoint. After this season, Chicago could cut Long and save $5.5MM against the cap, so the next few months will go a long way towards determining Long’s future in the Windy City.
  • Kevin White, who entered the league as a 2015 top-10 pick with a ton of promise, has seen the first three years of his professional career ravaged by injury. The Bears declined his fifth-year option earlier this offseason, so he will enter the last year of his rookie contract with a lot to prove. As Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, White has a good chance of making the team’s roster out of training camp, but given the talent that Chicago has added over the past several seasons, he will need to perform very well in camp and in the preseason to earn significant playing time. Finley reports that White looks as good as ever from a physical standpoint, and the fact that he can line up anywhere on the field in Nagy’s offense will only help his cause.

Bears’ Jordan Howard To Be “Main Guy”

Earlier this year, Bears running back Jordan Howard was the subject of trade speculation. Based on what Howard has been hearing, there should be no more questions about his place on the team. 

[RELATED: Former Bears LB Shea McClellin Leaning Towards Retirement]

[New head coach Matt Nagy] already said I’m going to be the main guy,” Howard said (via Adam L. Jahns of the Sun Times).

Nagy has also indicated that Howard is in for a big workload, though he cautioned that his offense doesn’t require a bell-cow back in every game. With Howard penciled in for a significant number of carries, it seems unlikely that he’ll be shipped out, which jibes with what the team told him in April.

Howard, a fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft, has easily topped 1,000 rushing yards in each of his two NFL seasons. Given that Howard as a firm grip on the top RB spot over backups Tarik Cohen, Benny Cunningham, and Taquan Mizzell, he could have another highly productive year on the horizon.

Howard is one of the better running backs in the league and also one of the very best values at the position. He is under contract for another two years with modest cap hits of $692K in 2018 and $782K in 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Won’t Trade Jordan Howard

Despite some rumblings this offseason of a potential Jordan Howard deal, the running back has been assured that he is staying put. When asked about the speculation on Tuesday, Howard told reporters that Bears executives told his agent that they have “no plans” to trade him (Twitter link via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune). 

Howard’s own reaction to the trade speculation this offseason only fueled the buzz. At one point, Howard removed all of his Bears-related photos from his Instagram page. Howard dismissed a question regarding that as well, saying there was “nothing to it.”

Howard, a fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft, has been solid for Chicago over the last two seasons. He boasts a career average of 4.6 yards per carry and last year he topped 1,100 yards with nine touchdowns. He also hauled in 23 catches for 125 yards in 2017.

If the Bears ever did entertain a trade for Howard, they probably set the asking price pretty high. Not only is Howard productive, but he’s also one of the league’s best values at running back. He is under contract for another two seasons with modest charges of $692K in 2018 and $782K in 2019.

The Bears have yet to make any changes to their running back group this offseason. Reserve Benny Cunningham was the only free agent of note at the position and he was re-signed in early April after meeting with the Saints and Bucs. The Bears may look to add a supporting running back in the draft, but Howard remains their top option.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.