Jordan Howard

Injury Notes: Eagles, Jacobs, Steelers, Hawks

Afflicted with injuries to their receiving corps for most of the season, the Eagles will be severely shorthanded on this front in their win-and-in game Sunday. In addition to Nelson Agholor missing another game, Zach Ertz is not ready to return. Carson Wentz‘s top target will miss Week 17 due to back and ribs injuries. Ertz left the Eagles’ Week 16 win, leaving second-year tight end Dallas Goedert as Wentz’s most proven target.

Here is the latest from Philadelphia and other contending teams’ injury situations going into the regular season’s final Sunday:

  • While the Eagles are stripped of their top three wide receivers and their premier tight end, Jordan Howard will return. The fourth-year running back missed Philadelphia’s past six games due to a shoulder injury. The Eagles’ leading rusher when the injury surfaced at the midseason point, Howard will rejoin a backfield that’s seen more from Miles Sanders and some contributions from Boston Scott.
  • Moving to another playoff hopeful’s running back situation, the Raiders will be without Josh Jacobs on Sunday in Denver. The team declared Jacobs out, meaning he will miss a third game in his past four. Their offensive rookie of the year candidate is battling a shoulder malady and a skin condition, the latter prompting him to undergo a minor surgery this week. Jacobs missed Week 14 and Week 16 due to a shoulder injury. Free agent-to-be DeAndre Washington has filled in well for Jacobs, amassing 202 scrimmage yards in those two games. The Raiders need to win and receive another Sunday of good fortune to make the playoffs.
  • One of the teams the Raiders need to lose Sunday will be shorthanded on the ground as well. James Conner will miss the Steelers‘ regular-season finale, joining Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey in that regard. After missing a chunk of Pittsburgh’s season with a shoulder injury, Conner is now dealing with a quad problem. Pouncey is down due to a knee ailment.
  • Most of the non-Marshawn Lynch Seahawks news this week centers around the players who will not be available Sunday night, but the team will have some key players back in uniform. Jadeveon Clowney and Shaquill Griffin missed Seattle’s past two games but will be on the field in Sunday’s de facto NFC West championship game against San Francisco. Clowney is still battling the core issue that he initially played through but one that’s caused him to miss time.
  • The 49ers placed another defensive lineman on IR. Defensive tackle Jullian Taylor will end his season on the injured list because of an ACL tear sustained in practice this week, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. A 2018 seventh-round pick, Taylor played in six 49ers games this season. Defensive linemen Taylor, Ronald Blair, D.J. Jones and Damontre Moore reside on San Francisco’s IR list.

NFC East Notes: Dak, Howard, Giants

Dak Prescott bet on himself and will finish with statistical benchmarks in several categories this season — including touchdown passes (26) and passing yards (4,599). The fourth-year Cowboys quarterback has a good chance of eclipsing his previous single-season passing high by over 1,000 yards. Despite Dallas’ disappointing season, team brass remain bullish on a long-term Dak re-up. Prescott and the Cowboys have been negotiating for months.

I’m just not surprised,” Prescott said, via Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams, of the lack of a new contract. “… It’s the business. It’s my first time going through it. Not surprised by anything that comes from it — from the league, from the team, from whatever. Learning as I go.”

With March 10 being the deadline for franchise tenders to be applied, the Cowboys not reaching an extension with their quarterback opens the door to the prospect of tagging Prescott and letting Amari Cooper hit free agency. As of now, with no CBA in place, teams would be permitted to use both their franchise and transition tags come March. Just as they were throughout this past summer, the Cowboys’ negotiations will be a key component of the upcoming offseason.

One of two divisions still up for grabs, the NFC East features the Eagles and Cowboys vying for the division’s 50th championship. Here is the latest from the two contending teams, along with the Giants and Redskins.

  • With the Eagles cutting Jay Ajayi, the expectation was they’d have Jordan Howard back in the fold for Week 17. But that’s not necessarily the case. The fourth-year back met with doctors on Thursday, per Mike Garafolo of NFL.com, who adds Howard has not yet been cleared for contact (Twitter link). Howard has not played since Week 9 due to a shoulder injury. The Eagles are using Miles Sanders and Boston Scott as their primary backs, but Howard was the team’s rushing leader before going down.
  • The Redskins have already seen several starters’ seasons end early; they may see their breakout wide receiver miss the season finale as well. Terry McLaurin is in Washington’s concussion protocol, John Keim of ESPN.com tweets. McLaurin (919 receiving yards) is just seven yards away from Gary Clark‘s 34-year-old franchise record for most by a rookie. A loss to Dallas would lock Washington in the No. 2 draft slot, which could well be Ohio State edge-rushing dynamo Chase Young.
  • Markus Golden‘s value-reestablishing Giants season included another positive development for the contract-year pass rusher. A stat correction turned a Golden half-sack into a full sack, giving him 10 for the season and a $1MM incentive bonus, per Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com. The Giants gave Golden a one-year, $3.75MM deal this offseason. After two lost seasons, due largely to a 2017 ACL tear, Golden has his second 10-plus-sack campaign. He profiles as a Giants extension candidate and an intriguing UFA pass rusher, should he hit the market.

Eagles To Waive Jay Ajayi

Jordan Howard is due to return for the Eagles’ Week 17 game. As a result, the NFC East leaders are waiving Jay Ajayi, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter).

Ajayi caught on with his former team recently, doing so because of Howard’s late-season injury issues. Out of football since his rookie contract expired after the 2018 season, Ajayi was used sparingly behind Miles Sanders. The fifth-year veteran gained 30 yards on 10 carries in his latest Eagles stint.

A torn ACL suffered midway through last season sidetracked Ajayi’s career. Instead of a free agency payday, the former Dolphins draft pick-turned-Eagles Super Bowl cog spent months rehabbing his knee. The 26-year-old back would seemingly be on track to attract interest in 2020, being healthier than he was this year. But Ajayi’s stock certainly is not where it was before the injury.

Howard missed Philadelphia’s past six games with a shoulder stinger, but the contract-year back will stand to help the Eagles clinch their third straight playoff berth. The offseason acquisition has gained 528 yards on 119 totes, bouncing back after a down 2018 season with the Bears. The Eagles can clinch the NFC East title with a road win over the Giants on Sunday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.