Josh Adams

NFC Notes: Peterson, Eagles, Thomas, Lions

Long regarded as one of this era’s best cornerbacks, Patrick Peterson has not been challenged to the degree of some of his peers in recent years. The Cardinals‘ top defender has just six interceptions over the past three seasons, and this has likely had some impact on his All-Pro status. Despite being viewed as a top-tier corner and having never missed a game, Peterson has made just one of the past three All-Pro first teams. The soon-to-be 28-year-old defender, though, sounds encouraged to be in the defensive system Steve Wilks and Al Holcomb have installed.

Very excited, ’cause I’m gonna be doing a lot of new things that I haven’t done in my career – in my NFL career,” Peterson said, via Katherine Fitzgerald of the Arizona Republic. “I’m just looking forward to getting back to my play-making ways because I believe over the last two and a half, three years, I’ve been kind of handcuffed in doing that, because obviously teams try to stay away from me. But now, coach Holcomb and coach Wilks are going do a great job of finding ways to install me into the game.”

Peterson still expects to follow receivers in the new scheme, but the Cardinals continue to feature a sizable talent gap between their No. 1 corner and his sidekicks. They traded for Jamar Taylor, who is now the favorite to start opposite Peterson, and employ third-year man Brandon Williams and former Panthers cog Bene Benwikere. But this cast might not be enough to deter quarterbacks from continuing to largely avoid Peterson.

Here’s the latest from the NFC:

  • Apparently, Earl ThomasCowboys fandom did not stop once he joined the Seahawks. The east Texas native has been connected to the Cowboys via trade throughout the offseason, and he seemed to light that fuse after the Seahawks’ Week 16 win in Dallas last season. Cliff Avril observed Thomas discuss watching Cowboys games as a fan while with the Seahawks, but it’s not like the since-released defensive end saw that affect the three-time All-Pro’s game. “Everyone in (the Seahawks’) locker room knows Earl loves the Cowboys,” Avril said during a Sirius XM Radio interview (Twitter link). “He’d leave immediately after work just to catch them play Monday Night Football. We didn’t take it too serious. Whatever team he dresses up for he’s gonna do his thing.” Thomas and the Seahawks remain at an impasse as the last remaining Legion of Boom bastion continues his holdout.
  • The Eagles will almost certainly waive seventh-round pick/rugby convert Jordan Mailata, Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com notes, before attempting to develop him on their practice squad. This figures to be a lengthy process attempting to convert the mammoth prospect into someone worthy of seeing time on Sundays.
  • Two of Mailata’s rookie peers have less certainty. Although Josh Sweat has looked the part of a future contributor, Shorr-Parks wonders if the Eagles’ depth at defensive end will induce a wink-wink IR stay that will allow the fourth-round pick to develop while off the 53-man roster. UDFA running back Josh Adams received one of the largest signing bonuses of any undrafted player this year at $25K, but he missed all of OTAs and minicamp with a foot injury and looks like a long shot to make the roster. Shorr-Parks expects an IR stay for Adams.
  • The additions of LeGarrette Blount and Kerryon Johnson will force either Zach Zenner or Dwayne Washington off the Lions‘ roster, barring an injury to a higher-regarded back, but Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com expects neither to be on the team come Week 1. Rothstein, though, views Ameer Abdullah as possible trade bait that would give either Zenner or Washington a way back onto the roster.

Extra Points: Packers, UDFAs, Panthers, T.O.

After having been fired as the Browns head coach back in 2016, Mike Pettine is back in the NFL as the Packers defensive coordinator. While the 51-year-old acknowledged that he’ll appreciate the brief break prior to training camp, he also admitted that he’ll soon be itching to return to the field.

“That will last about a week, and then I’ll start thinking about football,” Pettine told Jason Wilde of SouthernMinn.com. “I have my own list of things to do, but I’ll be smart with it. I’ll do a little bit at a time. But it’s hard to completely detach from it. [But] that’s what’s great about that time — you can get around friends and families and take you away from it. But it’s always there, and by 10-12 days into July, I’ll be ready to start camp.”

Pettine’s defenses have generally been productive, as the coach has had previous success with the Ravens, Jets, and Bills. The Packers are hoping he can turn around a defense that finished 26th in points allowed last season.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • NFL.com’s Gil Brandt observes (on Twitter) that there were 32 undrafted rookies to make bonuses of $15K or more. The top earners were Eagles running back Josh Adams, Giants cornerback Grant Haley, and Raiders kicker Eddy Pineiro, with the trio each making $25K. Generally, it’s assumed that the highest-paid undrafted free agents have the best shot of making the regular season roster.
  • The Panthers will not renew the contract of senior executive scout Don Gregory, reports Joe Person (via Twitter). Gregory had previously served as the organization’s college scouting director for more than a decade, but he served in more of a consulting role between Marty Hurney‘s two stints with the team.
  • Terrell Owens, who is set to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, believes he can still play football. Well, the 44-year-old could have his chance…in the Canadian Football League. David William Naylor of TSN tweets that the Edmonton Eskimos have added the receiver to their negotiation list. Teams are allowed to claim exclusive rights on players by placing them on the list, but players can easily be removed at anytime. It’s unlikely that Owens will stay on the list for very long, as the wideout hasn’t played professionally since 2012 (and he hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since 2010).
  • Speaking of the CFL, former NFL Ricky Stanzi has been released by the Calgary Stampeders (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). The 30-year-old had a standout performance during the 2017 Spring League, and he ended up earning a contract with the Canadian team. The 2011 fifth-round pick had stints with the Chiefs, Jaguars, Texans, Giants, and Lions during his NFL career, although he never managed to take the field for a regular season game.

Eagles Sign 15 UDFAs

One of the last teams to reveal their UDFA class, the Eagles announced 15 players comprise this group that will try to earn roster spots this year. Here’s the full rundown:

Representing a sizable portion of this class, four safeties will join the Eagles’ other three backup safeties — two 2017 UDFAs and veteran special-teamer Chris Maragos — in competing for roles behind Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. However, Neal, Roberts and Reaves played cornerback as well. Roberts manned the slot at South Alabama, while Reaves earned Sun Belt defensive player of the year acclaim last season. Sanders, however, logged the most experience in being a Georgia starter for four years. He finished with 16 career interceptions. Brown also spent time at both safety and cornerback, despite being listed as a linebacker.

The Eagles also turned to smaller schools extensively here, with mid-major Division I-FBS or non-Division I programs producing eight of these 15 players. Rumors connected the Eagles to running backs in this draft. Instead, the team re-signed Darren Sproles and is bringing in a player who is coming off a 1,430-yard, nine-touchdown season with the Fighting Irish. The 213-pound Adams averaged 6.9 yards per carry as well as a true junior in 2017.

Hector received the highest base salary guarantee of this group, with the team giving him $55K guaranteed along with a $5K signing bonus. Adams received a $30K base guarantee and $25K to sign, and Sullivan a $35K base guarantee and $16K to sign (Twitter link via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe). Volin adds will see a $20K base guarantee and a $10K signing bonus. Ostman will also see $20K guaranteed, per Volin (on Twitter).