Justin Simmons

Broncos To Place Justin Simmons On IR

Justin Simmons‘ season is over. The Broncos are placing the safety on the injured reserve list with an ankle injury (Twitter link via Mike Klis of 9News). Justin Simmons (vertical)

Simmons injured himself while celebrating with teammate Brandon Marshall on Sunday. After Marshall sacked and stripped the ball from Josh McCown in the first quarter, Simmons gave him the linebacker a mid-air bump. Unfortunately, Simmons landed on Marshall’s foot and his ankle turned the wrong way.

It’s an early conclusion to what has been a breakout season for Simmons. Heading into this season, the second-year pro was slated to come off of the bench. However, the Broncos were so impressed by Simmons that they released former Pro Bowler T.J. Ward in order to give him more playing time.

Simmons started in all 13 of his games this year, compiling 63 tackles, two interceptions, a defensive touchdown, and 1.5 sacks. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 34 ranked safety, slotting him ahead of veterans like Bradley McDougald, Eric Weddle, and Tony Jefferson.

The Broncos, now 4-9 after drumming the Jets, will finish out the season against the Colts, Redskins, and Chiefs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Ward, Donald, Hawks, Schofield

John Elway spoke with T.J. Ward‘s agent earlier this summer and informed him the team did not intend to sign the veteran safety to an extension, with the GM telling media (including Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post) a Ward re-up was not in the team’s plans “at that point of time.” The Broncos made Ward one of the highest-profile cuts of the roster-slashing weekend, but Jhabvala reports the team did not come to a decision on Ward until last week. The rise of second-year safeties Justin Simmons and Will Parks, along with Ward’s injury history, played a role in the departure.

Citing a lack of clarity during the process, Ward on Monday called the Broncos “completely unprofessional” regarding the separation. The divorce came with one season remaining on the 30-year-old defender’s four-year contract. The eighth-year safety will earn up to $5MM with the Buccaneers this season. Ward missed all of Denver’s preseason games with a hamstring injury and missed six games due to injury in three Broncos campaigns — two of which producing Pro Bowls. Mike Klis of 9News described the process as Simmons — a 2016 third-round pick who served as Denver’s third safety last season — Wally Pipp’ing Ward (Twitter link). Klis notes Elway gave Ward “every chance” to make this year’s team.

Here’s the latest from the West divisions, shifting to Seattle, which just made the biggest trade in a week full of them.

  • The injury to rookie Malik McDowell prompted the Seahawks to trade for Sheldon Richardson, Pete Carroll said, via the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta (on Twitter). Currently on the NFI list, McDowell does not have a timetable for a return, Condotta adds (via Twitter). Carroll said the team could still look to add another defensive tackle (Twitter link, via Condotta).
  • Richardson will play the three-technique position in the Seahawks’ 4-3 scheme, the fifth-year defensive lineman said Monday (via Condotta, on Twitter). He will line up inside of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, giving the Seahawks one of the most talented defensive fronts in football. Richardson primarily played 3-4 defensive end with the Jets but also saw time at outside linebacker. He played 4-3 defensive tackle at the University of Missouri, though.
  • Aaron Donald remains a holdout as the Rams begin their Week 1 preparations, but Sean McVay won’t impose a deadline on how late the All-Pro defensive lineman can report to the team and still play Sunday, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com reports. Rams reps flew to Atlanta to meet with Donald, but the sides reportedly aren’t close to a deal. Gonzalez adds McVay nonetheless remains “optimistic” about a solution.
  • A two-position starter for the Broncos during the past two seasons, Michael Schofield attracted widespread interest on the waiver wire. The Chargers won out due to their position in the waiver hierarchy, but the Lions, Redskins, Vikings and Saints also put in claims on the fourth-year guard/tackle, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. A 2014 third-rounder, Schofield started for the Broncos at right tackle during their Super Bowl season and lined up at right guard throughout 2016. While Denver didn’t sport particularly effective O-lines during those seasons, Schofield clearly has believers out there.
  • Speaking of waivers, the Seahawks hoped they’d have a chance to stash wide receiver Kasen Williams on their practice squad, Carroll said (via Condotta, on Twitter), but the Browns swooped in with a claim. The Seahawks will move on without Williams and Jermaine Kearse, traded to the Jets in the Richardson deal. Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett are now Seattle’s top complementary wideouts, and Lockett (per Condotta, on Twitter) is expected to play in Week 1 after breaking his fibula late last season.

Extra Points: Broncos, Ward, Dorsett

The Broncos did not discuss a pay cut with safety T.J. Ward before releasing him on Saturday, Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post tweets. “It was a football decision,” a team source tells her, adding that the motivation was to give more playing time to Justin Simmons and Will Parks. Meanwhile, Broncos players are upset about losing Ward and his locker room presence, James Palmer of NFL.com tweets.

While Ward searches for a new home, here’s more from around the NFL:

  • The Colts had offers for Phillip Dorsett from other teams, but those proposed swaps involved draft choices instead of netting a young player at a positional need, Mike Lombardi of The Ringer tweets. Lombardi doesn’t name teams, but Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link) says the 49ers, Jets and Cardinals were among the teams that showed preliminary interest in him.
  • The Jets are expected to be interested in running back Travaris Cadet now that he has been released by New Orleans, Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets. The Jets showed interest in Cadet during free agency but ultimately lost out.
  • T.J. McDonald‘s new deal with the Dolphins has built in protections for the team that will override his guarantees if he has another suspension issue, Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald tweets. The pact includes $10MM in “guarantees,” but McDonald can’t slip up if he wants to collect on all of it.
  • Wide receiver Victor Cruz says that he got a “clean bill of health” on his MRI this week, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets. He’s now a free agent after being released by Chicago.
  • Chiefs GM Brett Veach says veteran running back C.J. Spiller could still end up on the Chiefs’ roster (Twitter link via BJ Kissel of Chiefs.com). Spiller was among the Chiefs’ mass cuts on Saturday as they trimmed down to 53.

AFC Rumors: Browns, Te’o, Jags, Jets, Simmons

The Browns endured an agonizing defeat for the second straight week, and their new kicker hovered at the center of the loss to the Dolphins. Cody Parkey missed three field goals, including what would have been a game-winning 46-yarder at the end of regulation. But the new Cleveland kicker was reportedly not the preferred choice of Browns special teams coach Chris Tabor.

Instead, the sixth-year Browns ST boss wanted the team to sign Robbie Gould, whom the Bears recently released, but he was overruled by Browns management, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports. The Browns signed Parkey on Saturday morning after top kicker Patrick Murray sustained an injury Friday. Cleveland’s decision-makers decided Gould, a 12th-year veteran, was too expensive for them. This led to the decision to bring in third-year man Parkey, per Salguero.

Gould made $3.6MM with the Bears last season and remains a free agent. Parkey, per OverTheCap, is set to make $529K upon signing with the Browns, who possess just more than $48MM in cap space.

Here’s more from the AFC as Week 3’s night-game schedule continues.

  •  The Chargers fear starting inside linebacker Manti Te’o tore his Achilles’ tendon, Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (on Twitter). He will undergo testing on Monday to determine the severity of the injury that forced him out of the Chargers’ Week 3 loss to the Colts, Gehlken tweets. One of the Bolts’ captains, Te’o was beginning a contract year that would lose steam if he’s no longer able to play this season. The 2013 second-round pick has made 34 starts for the Chargers since his rookie season. An injury to the former Notre Dame standout would likely thrust rookie fifth-rounder Jatavis Brown into the lineup.
  • Broncos third-round safety Justin Simmons missed today’s game because of a broken bone in his left wrist, Mike Klis of 9News reports. Simmons operates as Denver’s third safety, but the team saw backups Will Parks and Shiloh Keo record turnovers. The defending champions released Keo earlier this week after his two-game suspension ended but re-signed him shortly after, likely due to Simmons’ status.
  • Jaguars owner Shad Khan has given Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley a long leash, but the team that received a fair amount of hype based on its offseason is now 0-3. The Jags are set to make their annual London trip next weekend, and with the bye looming, an 0-4 return from England will bring about a change of some sort, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union writes. After today’s 19-17 loss to the Ravens, the Jaguars — who will now occupy the No. 1 slot in the waiver order as the pecking order shifts to reflect this season’s records instead of 2015’s — are 12-39 under Bradley. That’s by far the worst mark in franchise history for a coach in his first four years. Both Tom Coughlin and Jack Del Rio went 9-7 in their second seasons. A coach has been fired after a Week 4 London loss the past two seasons. The Raiders jettisoned Dennis Allen after his team fell to 0-4 in a Wembley Stadium defeat to the Dolphins, who a year later canned Joe Philbin after his team lost its Week 4 England tilt.
  • The Jets‘ four-quarterback setup deprives the team of a fullback, and Todd Bowles doesn’t see the team making a move at that spot. “We’re good,” Bowles said, via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, when asked about a fullback-less roster. As Cimini notes, only 17 teams have fullbacks. The Jets cut Julian Howsare earlier this week and promoted tight end Braedon Bowman.

Draft Pick Signings: Jags, Texans, Jets, Bills

The 2016 NFL draft wrapped up less than two weeks ago, and already nearly 70% of the players selected in the draft have signed their rookie contracts. We have a few more draftees to add to that list, so let’s dive in and round up the latest updates on draft pick signings…

  • No. 36 overall pick Myles Jack has formally signed his rookie contract with the Jaguars, the team announced today. Jack, who was initially viewed as a potential top-10 pick, will be in line for a rookie deal worth $6.334MM, with a $2.807MM signing bonus, according to Over the Cap.
  • The Texans have wrapped up their deal with second-round center Nick Martin, tweets John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. Martin figures to step in for former center Ben Jones, who departed Houston for the division-rival Titans in free agency.
  • The Jets announced today that they’ve officially signed third-round outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, as Randy Lange of NewYorkJets.com details. That leaves first-round linebacker Darron Lee as the only Gang Green draft pick who remains unsigned.
  • The Bills continue to work backwards through their draftees — after signing their two sixth-round picks, the Bills have now locked up fifth-round running back Jonathan Williams, according to the team’s website.
  • The Broncos now have two more draft picks under contract, signing third-round safety Justin Simmons and fourth-round running back Devontae Booker to their four-year rookie deals, per Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Twitter link).

East Notes: Cowboys, Ramsey, Giants, Jets

The blockbuster trade that saw the Rams snag the Titans’ first overall pick in this year’s draft will have a significant impact on several other clubs around the NFL, and one of those teams is the Cowboys, who hold the No. 4 pick. If Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, and Laremy Tunsil are the top three picks in some order, it would give Dallas the opportunity to select any defensive prospect available, including Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey.

We’ve heard that the Cowboys like Ramsey, and Tom Pelissero of USA Today tweets that Dallas is one of four teams the ex-Seminole has visited since his pro day — Ramsey also made trips to Tennessee, Jacksonville, and Baltimore. While he no longer seems likely to land with the Titans, Ramsey could very well be snatched up by one of those other three teams, and the Cowboys would get the first chance of the three.

Here are a few more notes from around the NFL’s East divisions:

  • The Giants are taking a close look at plenty of safety prospects in this draft, according to Jordan Raanan of NJ.com, who writes that the team worked out Ohio State’s Tyvis Powell and has been “sniffing around” Boston College’s Justin Simmons for months.
  • Within his latest Jets mailbag, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News fields questions on the asking price in a Muhammad Wilkerson trade, the possibility of Ryan Fitzpatrick deciding to retire, and the chances of the Jets drafting a cornerback early.
  • Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle provides the details on the Bills‘ new one-year deal with safety Colt Anderson, tweeting that the minimum salary benefit contract features $580K in guarantees, including an $80K signing bonus.
  • Cal tight end Stephen Anderson has a visit scheduled with the Dolphins next week, Rand Getlin of NFL.com tweets. In total, Anderson has now logged ten workouts and/or visits with 10 different teams.
  • James Walker of ESPN.com examines four key Dolphins defenders who are entering contract years, and whom Miami will face decisions on within the next 11 months or so.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

AFC Rumors: Steelers, Patriots, Easley, Texans

The Steelers have used the majority of their pre-draft visits within the last week, and announced several more today. As Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes, the following players were in Pittsburgh today to meet with the club: Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones, West Virginia safety Karl Joseph, South Carolina wide receiver Pharoh Cooper, Virginia Tech linebacker Dadi Nicolas, Colorado cornerback Ken Crawley, Maryland safety Sean Davis, and Boston College safety Justin Simmons.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams is visiting with the Patriots at Gillette Stadium today, sources tell Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald (on Twitter). The Pats previously met with the tailback at the combine. Williams, 22, missed the 2015 regular season after undergoing foot surgery. In 2014, he racked up 1,190 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground despite splitting carries.
  • Patriots defensive lineman Dominique Easley has hired agents Drew Rosenhaus and Michael Katz of Rosenhaus Sports for representation, as Rand Getlin of NFL.com tweets. Easley, 23, has been plagued by injuries since being selected by the Patriots in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft. In December of last season, he was placed on IR with a leg injury. In his injury-shortened sophomore year, Easley totaled 15 tackles and two sacks as a part-time player.
  • Texas Tech’s Jakeem Grant is visiting the Texans, as Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle writes. The wide receiver/kick returner has also worked out for the Dolphins, Colts, and Jets. Grant returned four kicks for touchdowns over the course of his collegiate career with the Red Raiders and caught 90 passes for 1,268 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Draft Notes: Hargreaves, Prescott, Cowboys

Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves has visits lined up with eight clubs, including the Jaguars, Ravens, Cowboys, and Buccaneers, reports Rand Getlin of NFL.com (Twitter link). Hargreaves, considered one of the best defensive backs available in the draft, will probably garner interest from any team picking in the top 15.

Let’s take a look at some more draft news and notes…

  • The Cowboys have scheduled a private workout with Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. Wilson says the meeting will take place today, while Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link) says the workout will occur on Monday, but regardless of the specifics, Prescott could make sense as a mid-round pick for the Cowboys. Prescott, who was arrested for DUI last week, has also met with the Panthers, Steelers, and Browns, per Wilson.
  • Prescott isn’t the only Mississippi State prospect to workout for the Cowboys, as Wilson reports (via Twitter) that receiver Robert Johnson will also audition for the club on Monday.
  • The Texans are doing their due diligence prior to the draft, as Wilson details in a story for the Houston Chronicle, reporting that the club worked out Maryland edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue.
  • Cal tight end Stephen Anderson has visits and/or workouts set up with the Patriots, Titans, Falcons, and Texans, tweets Getlin.
  • The Saints will work out Boston College safety Justin Simmons this week, a source tells Katherine Terrell of NOLA.com. Simmons has also drawn interest from the Lions.