Keith Smith

Raiders To Sign FB Keith Smith

Jon Gruden vowed to restore the importance of the fullback position and he took a major step towards that endeavor on Thursday. The Raiders and fullback Keith Smith have agreed to terms on a two-year worth $4.2MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets

Smith, 26 in April, was non-tendered by the Cowboys this week. He quickly drew interest on the open market, not just from the Raiders, but the Falcons as well.

Smith is undoubtedly happy about the way things turned out. Had he been tendered by Dallas, he would have made just $1.908MM in 2018.

The Cowboys only used Smith on 12% of their snaps last season, but he could be in for an uptick in playing time with the Raiders, particularly since former Dallas special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia is in Oakland.

It remains to be seen exactly who he’ll be doing the lead blocking for, however. The Raiders inked Doug Martin to a one-year deal on Thursday and Marshawn Lynch‘s status remains murky.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Won’t Tender RFA FB Keith Smith; Falcons Have Interest

The Cowboys will not tender an offer to restricted free agent fullback Keith Smith, but they are open to re-signing him on a multi-year extension, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. However, the Falcons also have interest in signing Smith to a free agent deal, reports D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.Keith Smith (Vertical)

An original round RFA tender — which wouldn’t have netted Dallas any draft pick compensation had Smith inked an offer sheet with another club — is expected to be worth $1.908MM. Smith only played on 12% of the Cowboys’ offensive snaps in 2017, so that figure was untenable. But a multi-year deal could offer Smith financial guarantees (which the RFA tender does not) and keep his 2018 cap charge to a minimum, aiding Dallas’ books.

As Archer details, the Cowboys have used a similar strategy with restricted free agents in the recent past. In 2016, Dallas tendered safety Jeff Heath at the original round level, but subsequently replaced that one-year salary with a four-year, $7.671MM extension. The year prior, punter Chris Jones had already signed his RFA tender when Dallas worked out a three-year, $4.2MM deal.

Smith, for his part, appeared in all 16 games for the second consecutive season, but wasn’t a large part of the Cowboys offense, as he totaled only five total touches (all receptions). However, the 25-year-old Smith was a key factor on Dallas’ special teams unit: he finished sixth in Cowboys special teams snaps, and ranked second on the club with 10 ST tackles.

The Falcons, meanwhile, have ranked among the top-five NFL teams in fullback usage in each of the past two seasons. Patrick DiMarco played 31% of Atlanta’s offensive snaps in 2016 before signing with the Bills the following offseason, while Derrick Coleman saw time on roughly 22% of the team’s plays last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Jets, Fins, Jones, Cowboys, Cousins

Until Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets can come to terms, Geno Smith is the most experienced quarterback on the roster. But Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News doesn’t view Mike Maccagnan‘s repeated endorsements of the underwhelming 2013 second-rounder as comments to be taken at face value.

While the Jets and Fitzpatrick play hardball, other executives around the league are wondering what exactly the team is planning at quarterback. Should Fitzpatrick sign to play a second season in New York, Maccagnan has tossed around the idea of carrying four quarterbacks, with Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty residing in the developmental wing of the meeting room.

The Jets as an organization have discussed using the 2000 Patriots as a model for the four-QB setup. The Pats that year housed starter Drew Bledsoe, veteran backup John Friesz and developmental prospects Tom Brady and Michael Bishop. Hackenberg or Petty would theoretically be cast as Brady in the Jets’ scenario.

One NFL executive told Mehta the Jets considering carrying four passers “doesn’t make sense.” Smith and Petty would seemingly be jostling for a roster spot if the Jets were planning to employ the usual three. Mehta writes the Patriots’ thinking in 2000 was an aberration and merely hanging onto an extra signal-caller one season — at the expense of a key backup elsewhere — doesn’t equate to a franchise passer emerging from the group.

Here’s the latest from the Eastern divisions on rookie minicamp Saturday.

  • New Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph guesses Cameron Wake will be ready to play come Week 1, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports. Wake is recovering from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon and entering his age-34 season. The four-time Pro Bowler registered seven sacks in seven games last season before going down with the Achilles injury in October.
  • Identifying second-rounder Xavien Howard as a “six-foot guy with 5-10 corner movement skills,” Joseph said the rookie corner will vie for a Dolphins starting job with Byron Maxwell and Tony Lippett, per Salguero.
  • Rex Ryan categorized Cardale Jones as a player with “a long way to go,” per an Associated Press report. “He’s got the physical gifts you look for, there’s no question about that,” Ryan said of the former Ohio State starter. “But you also notice that he’s just going through everything like, it’s spinning right now. He’s throwing behind guys. He doesn’t know where he’s going right now with it.” The Bills have Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel venturing into their contract seasons in 2016, leaving the franchise’s future unsettled. Jones was considered a potential first-round pick thanks to the tools he showed as a sophomore in the inaugural College Football Playoff, but being benched as a junior damaged his stock and relegated him into the fourth round.
  • The Cowboys are relocating Keith Smith and Rod Smith to fullback from their respective linebacker and running back positions to provide the them a better chance at making the 53-man roster, Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes. Dallas’ fullback from 2013-15, Tyler Clutts remains a free agent. Keith Smith has played in 15 games the past two seasons as mostly a special teams cog, and Rod Smith joined the Cowboys last season after the Seahawks cut him.
  • Washington may be somewhat reluctant to invest long-term, franchise quarterback-level money in Kirk Cousins after he’d shown to be a proficient passer in just one season. But given the team’s recent deals for 2015 breakout players Josh Norman and Jordan Reed, Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com notes Cousins’ career arc doesn’t differentiate itself much from the now-extremely well-compensated cornerback and tight end. Cousins is currently attached to the $19.953MM non-exclusive franchise tag, which he’s signed.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/4/16

Now that the 2015 regular season is in the books, teams can begin signing players to reserve/futures contracts, adding those players to their 90-man offseason rosters. Generally, these players finished the season on a team’s practice squad, though some were free agents at season’s end.

Here are today’s reserve/futures deals:

Atlanta Falcons signed four players (Twitter link via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com)

Baltimore Ravens signed seven players (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun):

  • Brennen Beyer, LB
  • Leon Brown, G
  • Nordly Capi, DE
  • Blaine Clausell, T
  • Chuck Jacobs, WR
  • Nick Perry, S
  • Harold Spears, TE

Buffalo Bills signed seven players (Twitter link via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com)

Chicago Bears signed nine players (Twitter link via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune):

Cleveland Browns signed six players (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle)

Dallas Cowboys signed eight players (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle)

Denver Broncos signed four players (Twitter link via Mike Klis of 9NEWS)

Detroit Lions signed five players (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle)

Jacksonville Jaguars signed nine players (Twitter link via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union):

Miami Dolphins signed one player (link)

  • Tyler Davis, WR

New Orleans Saints signed five players (link via Evan Woodbery of the Times-Picayune):

New York Giants signed six players (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle)

Philadelphia Eagles signed seven players (Twitter link via team):

San Diego Chargers signed six players (Twitter link via Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego)

Seattle Seahawks signed three players (Twitter link via Wilson)

  • Andrew East, LS
  • Ronnie Shields, TE
  • Phillip Sims, QB

Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed nine players (link via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times):

  • Josh Allen, G
  • Andre Davis, WR
  • Antoine Everett, G
  • Ben Gottschalk, C
  • Gerod Holliman, S
  • Martin Ifedi, DE
  • Derrick Lott, DT
  • C.J. Roberts, CB
  • Joel Ross, CB

Tennessee Titans signed five players (Twitter link via Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com):

  • David Fluellen, RB
  • Kevin Greene, TE
  • Nick Harwell, WR
  • Josue Matias, G
  • Will Poehls, T

Washington signs three players (link via team):

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 11/18/15

Here are Wednesday’s practice squad signings and cuts, with any additional moves added to the list throughout the day:

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

  • Signed: CB Terrance Mitchell (Twitter link via Rich Campbell of ESPN.com)

Dallas Cowboys

New England Patriots

New York Giants

  • Signed: WR Ben Edwards, C Shane McDermott (link via Jordan Raanan of NJ.com)

San Diego Chargers

Seattle Seahawks

St. Louis Rams

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/14/15

Here are Saturday’s minor transactions from around the NFL:

  • The Patriots promoted offensive lineman Chris Barker, reports ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss (via Twitter), and safety Dewey McDonald re-signed to the Pats’ practice squad. With Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon and Tre’ Jackson all missing practice on Friday, the team was clearly seeking some reinforcement. Barker’s played in five games in two years. The Pats, who have rotated offensive linemen frequently this year, will dress six Sunday against the Giants, per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (on Twitter).
  • The Lions promoted rookie safety Isaiah Johnson to their 53-man contingent and cut linebacker James-Michael Johnson to make room, Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com reports. Johnson’s promotion coincides with backup safety Isa Abdul-Quddus‘ questionable status for this week with a foot injury.
  • In a move that will help shore up a struggling secondary, the Raiders activated Nate Allen from IR-DTR and cut return man Marcus Thigpen, according to the Raiders’ website. After signing a lucrative deal as a free agent, Allen tore his MCL in Week 1, forcing the already-thin Raiders secondary into undesirable options alongside Charles Woodson. The 29-year-old Thigpen, a former undrafted free agent from Indiana, has played for six teams, with the Bills also employing him in 2015.
  • The Raiders also put safety Tevin McDonald back on their practice squad, per their website. McDonald’s been one of the more frequent rovers between the taxi squad and the active roster, being promoted and demoted several times this season.
  • The Seahawks placed Ricardo Lockette on injured reserve and activated Paul Richardson from the PUP list, according to a report on the team’s website. Lockette suffered a frightening neck injury in Week 8 against the Cowboys. Richardson hasn’t played since tearing an ACL in Seattle’s divisional-round victory over Carolina. The 23-year-old Richardson, a second-year player, caught 29 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown as a rookie.
  • To make room for inside linebacker Mike Hull, the Dolphins cut defensive lineman A.J. Francis, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Francis has played in just one game since the Dolphins picked him up on waivers in 2013. The 24-year-old Hull was one of Miami’s final preseason roster cuts.
  • The Raiders have promoted tight end Gabe Holmes from the practice squad, reports Scott Bair of CSNCalifornia.com (via Twitter). Holmes will presumably be filling the hole left by previously-waived Tevin McDonald, meaning the team will have to make another move to accommodate the returning Nate Allen.
  • The Cowboys have promoted linebacker Keith Smith from the practice squad, tweets David Moore of the Dallas Morning News. The former San Jose State standout has appeared in 14 career games, compiling seven tackles and one forced fumble.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/5/15

Today’s minor NFL signings, cuts, and other moves..

  • The Colts announced that they have signed free agent cornerback Shaun Prater. Prater will take the roster spot vacated by quarterback Josh Johnson. Prater was originally signed by the Colts as a free agent on September 29, 2015 and was waived on October 2. He has played in 19 career NFL games (three starts) and registered six tackles, seven passes defensed, one interception and five special teams tackles
  • The Cowboys waived linebacker Keith Smith and defensive tackle Ken Bishop, Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets. With Lance Dunbar sidelined with a knee injury, the Cowboys will use two of their three open roster spots for the returns of Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain.
  • The Buccaneers waived wide receiver Adam Humphries, according to Pat Yasinskas of WalterFootball.com (on Twitter). In a related move, wide receiver Donteea Dye has been promoted to the 53-man roster, as Jenna Laine of FOX Sports 1 tweets.
  • Washington announced the signing of defensive end Frank Kearse and the release of linebacker Terrance Plummer.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/31/15

Here are Friday’s minor transactions from around the NFL:

  • Ravens: Signed former Army quarterback Trent Steelman, who tried out as a receiver this week, and cut rookie QB Jerry Lovelocke (Twitter links via Aaron Wilson). 
  • Bears: Signed G Tyler Moore (Twitter link via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune).
  • Cardinals: Signed CB Shaquille Richardson (Twitter link via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com).
  • Chiefs: Signed DT Hebron Fangupo and RB LaVance Taylor; waived RB Keshawn Hill (Twitter links). Taylor was signed after tweeting his highlight reel to the team.
  • Cowboys: Re-signed LB Keith Smith (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of USA Today). Smith, who played 10 games for the Cowboys last season, was cut by the team in May.
  • Giants: Waived WR Ben Edwards and T Troy Kropog (Twitter links via Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. Both players received a failed physical designation.
  • Seahawks: Signed S Tyrequek Zimmerman (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Titans: Signed WR Tebucky Jones, waived T Terren Jones, and placed TE Dorin Dickerson on injured reserve (Twitter link via Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com; link via AP).

Cowboys Notes: S. Jackson, Tryouts, Dez

Notable free agent running backs like Ray Rice and Chris Johnson have been linked to the Cowboys in recent weeks, but it appears those rumors are coming from the players’ side rather than from the team, as executive VP Stephen Jones said yesterday that the club has no plans to add a veteran back.

That didn’t stop another veteran free agent, Steven Jackson, from publicly lobbying the team for an opportunity though. As Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk details, Jackson made use of Photoshop and Twitter in trying to get the Cowboys’ attention.

It’s no surprise that Dallas looks like a desirable destination for free agent running backs, considering the team has one of the league’s best offensive lines and no clear-cut candidate to carry the workload now that DeMarco Murray is an Eagle. But for now at least, it appears the Cowboys want to get a good look at the backs on their roster in training camp before they make any changes at the position.

Here’s more out of Dallas:

  • With Keith Rivers having retired and Rolando McClain not available for the start of the season, the Cowboys are perusing the free agent market for linebackers. According to Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com (via Twitter), the club is bringing in Keith Smith, Lawrence Wilson, and Ashlee Palmer for workouts. Tight end Gator Hoskins is also auditioning for Dallas, notes Archer.
  • Dez Bryant‘s new $70MM contract isn’t going to change the way he plays, as Archer writes in a piece for ESPN.com. “It’s no pressure. That deal don’t make me,” Bryant said. “I play this game because I love this game. I don’t give a damn about none of that. It’s not going to change the way I play. It’s not going to change the way I act.”
  • Over two weeks ago, we heard that Greg Hardy would make a decision “any time now” on whether or not to take the NFL to court over his suspension. Based on how quiet it’s been on the Hardy front, it seems increasingly likely that the defensive end will simply accept his four-game ban, and Cowboys radio analyst Babe Laufenberg thinks the team would be in favor of that decision (link via Dallas Morning News).

Cowboys Transactions: McCray, Swaim, Baggs

The Cowboys signed safety Danny McCray to a one-year deal, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com writes. McCray spent the first four years of his career with the Cowboys before joining the Bears last year to follow special teams coach Joe DeCamillis. The former Cowboys UDFA signing played in 15 games last season and had 10 special teams tackles. Here’s a look at the rest of the moves the Cowboys made today..

  • The Cowboys signed seventh-round draft pick Geoff Swaim to a four-year deal, as Rainer Sabin of The Dallas Morning News writes. Swaim’s maximum allowable cap figure in 2015 will be $448K. According to Sabin, the University of Texas product is expected to serve as a blocking tight end. The 6’4″ tight end played in 26 career games for UT, including 22 starts, after transferring from Butte College in California.
  • More from Sabin, who writes that the Cowboys also signed UDFA linebacker Donnie Baggs. Baggs, from Texas A&M, was a tryout player last weekend during the team’s rookie minicamp.
  • To make room for McCray and Baggs, the Cowboys waived linebackers Keith Smith and Will Smith. Keith Smith appeared in ten games last season while Will Smith had several stints on the practice squad.