Kenny Wiggins

NFC North Notes: Diggs, Lions, Packers

There’s been a lot of drama with the Vikings this season, as their offense has once again been a disappointment. Minnesota bounced back with a big win over the Giants in Week 5, but it’s unclear if that will be enough to smooth things over. Adam Thielen publicly called out Kirk Cousins, and Stefon Diggs has made it clear he hasn’t been happy with his role. There’s been plenty of trade speculation surrounding Diggs, but it appears it’s little more than just speculation. Speaking recently on a WEEI radio appearance, Peter King of NBC Sports said he’s been told it’s “highly unlikely,” that Diggs gets dealt.

Just earlier today we heard that the Patriots were hoping to pry Diggs away, but it sounds like they’ll have to look elsewhere for receiver help. Diggs is still only 25, under contract through the 2023 season, and the Vikings don’t have any clear replacement for him on the roster, so it makes sense why they’re insistent on keeping him. Minnesota is attempting to establish a run-first identity in 2019, and Diggs has grown frustrated with his usage. The Maryland product has only topped three catches once this season, and he only has put up more than 50 yards on one occasion as well.

Here’s more from around the NFC North:

  • The Lions have been doing something pretty unusual with their offensive line this year. Instead of sticking with their five-man unit at all times for chemistry purposes, Detroit has been rotating three guards in all of their games. Graham Glasgow has been starting at right guard, Joe Dahl has been starting at left guard, and Kenny Wiggins has been mixing in for series’ here and there at both positions. The system was the idea of offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “There came a time, obviously in that first week (of the season that) I’m sitting here trying to agonize over who’s winning the starting job and all that stuff there,” Davidson said. “To me, it was clear who owned the starting jobs, but I also believed that Kenny Wiggins earned the right to be on the field and it’s just a way to be able to get that done also.” As Birkett points out both Glasgow and Dahl have received strong marks from Pro Football Focus, but the team doesn’t plan on changing things anytime soon. The Lions have gotten off to a better start than just about anybody expected, so it’s understandable why.
  • The Packers will be playing Detroit on Monday Night Football in a pivotal divisional game, and they’ll be a little shorthanded. We already know they’ll be without top receiver Davante Adams, but they also just ruled out starting safety Darnell Savage, who picked up an ankle injury in their win over the Cowboys. The rookie first-round pick from Maryland has been an every-down player for Green Bay, so it’s a big loss. Fortunately for them, starting center Corey Linsley has cleared the concussion protocol and will play here after leaving the Dallas game early.
  • Speaking of Monday Night Football injuries, Lions defensive tackle Mike Daniels will have to wait a bit longer for his revenge. The longtime Packer was released in July and signed with Detroit shortly after, but he’s going to miss his second straight game with a foot injury. Daniels signed a one-year, $9.1MM deal with the Lions just two days after getting cut.

NFC North Notes: Packers, Lions, Vikings

Legendary Packers quarterback Bart Starr sadly passed away earlier this morning. Not long after the news broke, fellow legendary Packers quarterback Brett Favre posted a touching tribute to Twitter. “Bart Starr was the most kind, thoughtful and classiest person you could ever know. I consider myself extremely lucky to have called him friend and to have been mentioned in the same breath. Deanna and I are praying for Cherry and the Starr family,” his tweet read. Both Starr and Favre started in Green Bay for 16 seasons, and each etched their names in the record books. Current Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers also shared a photo of Starr on his Instagram account. From everyone at PFR, all of our thoughts are with the Starr family.

Here’s the latest from the NFC North:

  • The Lions were dealt a pretty big blow when starting guard T.J. Lang retired earlier this offseason. Lang only started six games this past season because of injury, but he was usually one of the league’s better guards when healthy. The Lions are looking to replace him next to left tackle Taylor Decker, and they have few options. While it’ll still be a competition, Tim Twentyman of the team’s official site thinks it’s Kenny Wiggins‘ “job to lose,” noting that Wiggins was taking the first-team reps during the first batch of OTAs. Wiggins started all 16 games for the Chargers in 2017, but was signed by Detroit initially to be a backup last year. He took over the starting gig once Lang went down, and it looks like he’s the favorite to retain the job on a full-time basis. He received poor grades from Pro Football Focus last season, grading out as their 59th-best guard, so it wouldn’t be surprising if someone pushes him in camp.
  • Anthony Barr is back in Minnesota, and he won’t be changing positions either. Barr famously agreed to a contract with the Jets back in March, before spurning them and returning to the Vikings. There was talk that he’d be moved to defensive end for the 2019 season, but Vikings coach Mike Zimmer declared “he’ll be a linebacker” when addressing the media recently, per Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune. Hartman writes there was some buzz about moving him to end in order to turn him into more of a pass-rusher, but it turned out not to be the case. Barr doesn’t usually get after the passer all that much, although he did have three sacks last season. If the Vikings really want their outside rush bolstered, they’ll need a strong return campaign from Everson Griffen, who had his 2018 season derailed by a bizarre off-field incident.
  • In case you missed it the Bears are doing some shuffling around of players, including moving James Daniels from guard to center, and Cody Whitehair from center to guard. Both players were starters last season.

North Rumors: Bengals, Lions, Packers

Some more clarity regarding Tyler Eifert‘s incentive-laden Bengals contract emerged. The tight end’s deal contains some interesting benchmarks for financial rewards, ones that would seemingly be within reach should Eifert stay healthy. The sixth-year tight end has $3MM in possible performance incentives included in his one-year agreement. Additionally, $62.5K will come Eifert’s way for every game he plays.

As for the performance thresholds, Eifert will collect $250K for catching 50 passes in 2018. The former first-round pick getting to 55 receptions would bring another $250K his way, with the 60- and 65-catch barriers representing $250K triggers as well. Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports these catch incentives max out at $1MM, adding the yardage bonuses do as well. The 500-yard mark represents the first $250K trigger, with the next $250K bonus benchmarks coming at 550, 600 and 650 yards, per Owczarski. As for touchdown receptions, Eifert snaring five would bring him $250K. Each additional touchdown would bring him $250K apiece as well, and this incentive category also maxes out at $1MM.

Eifert scored a tight ends-best 13 TDs in 2015 but only has five since. He only exceeded 500 yards once (in ’15, with 615 yards) and caught a career-high 52 passes that year. He didn’t come close to 50 catches in a season in any other year, so describing these as “likely to be earned” incentives is pushing it.

Here’s the latest from some North-division franchises, continuing with news from the Cincinnati offensive front:

  • Cedric Ogbuehi may be shuttled back to right tackle, a position at which he previously said he wasn’t comfortable. The former first-round pick will compete with both Cordy Glenn and Jake Fisher for the starting tackle jobs, per Marvin Lewis (via Owczarski), but the 16th-year coach said the team expects Glenn to start on the left side. Ogbuehi has started 25 games over the past two years but has dealt with injuries in both, and each season involved him being in a rotation rather than being a full-time player throughout each campaign. Owczarski notes it’s unlikely the Bengals pick up his fifth-year option, which is expected to be for nearly $10MM.
  • Speaking of northern line movement, the Lions plan to try Graham Glasgow at center instead of guard, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reportsWesley Johnson could be set for a backup job. Birkett writes free agent Kenny Wiggins and 2016 fifth-rounder Joe Dahl will compete for at the guard spot opposite T.J. Lang. Wiggins started 16 games for the Chargers at right guard last season. However, Glasgow — who rated as Pro Football Focus’ No. 20 guard last season — may stay at guard if the Lions deem Johnson solid enough to start at center. Johnson is only making $880K this season, which would gibe with backup status.
  • Both Ziggy Ansah and wideout T.J. Jones underwent offseason surgeries, per Birkett, who describes Ansah’s as a “minor cleanup” on his knee. Jones had a shoulder operation. Birkett adds Kerry Hyder‘s return goal is training camp. The defensive lineman tore his Achilles’ tendon last season.
  • Ansah remains in Ghana for family reasons, but Justin Rogers of the Detroit News tweets the franchise-tagged defensive end has kept Matt Patricia and the organization in the loop and is expected to return to the team shortly. Birkett writes Ansah could sign his franchise tender as early as the spring rather than having this drag into July. The Lions are not expected to pursue a long-term extension with their top pass rusher at this point.
  • The Packers shook up their offensive coaching staff this offseason, and it sounds like their playbook will reflect that. While refusing to divulge specifics, Mike McCarthy said recently (via Pete Daugherty of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) the team will “go back to Page 1” of the playbook. Joe Philbin, Jim Hostler and Frank Cignetti are now key offensive assistants, so their input may well be reflected in these changes.

Contract Details: Lotulelei, Bradham, Lewis

Let’s take a look at the details from the latest contracts signed in the NFL:

Lions Sign G Kenny Wiggins

The Lions have signed offensive lineman Kenny Wiggins. Wiggins is listed as a guard in the press release, which is undoubtedly to the delight of the former Charger. 

Wiggins, who has experience at all five offensive line positions, was vocal about his desire to play solely at guard.

I’ve always said the more you can do, the less you get paid,” Wiggins said in January. “It’s the truth. You’ve got to be able to play in one spot and play it well. If you can play a bunch of spots but you play them mediocre, then you’re not going to get paid. Me playing every game at guard and locking down the spot, and being able to show people that I can be an everyday starter — go out there, stay healthy and be a contributor on our line — I think that speaks volumes.”

Wiggins wound up starting at right guard last season for the Chargers due to injuries. He played played 999 snaps, good for second-highest on the Bolts’ offensive line. As a whole, the Chargers’ offensive line performed well, allowing a league-low 18 sacks as Melvin Gordon topped 1,100 rushing yards.

For what it’s worth, the advanced numbers weren’t fond of Wiggins’ play. Pro Football Focus rated him as just the 74th ranked guard in the league out of 82 qualified players.

As shown on Roster Resource, there could be an opening for Wiggins to start at one guard spot with T.J. Lang at the other. However, if the Lions wind up signing Matt Slauson after his visit, Wiggins may wind up either as a reserve.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers’ Kenny Wiggins Wants To Play Guard

Kenny Wiggins has been lauded for his versatility throughout his career. Now on the verge of free agency, the Chargers offensive lineman says that he is solely focused on playing guard. Kenny Wiggins (vertical)

I’ve always said the more you can do, the less you get paid,” Wiggins said. “It’s the truth. You’ve got to be able to play in one spot and play it well. If you can play a bunch of spots but you play them mediocre, then you’re not going to get paid. Me playing every game at guard and locking down the spot, and being able to show people that I can be an everyday starter — go out there, stay healthy and be a contributor on our line — I think that speaks volumes.”

Wiggins has the ability to play at all five O-Line spots, but he wound up as the team’s starting right guard this past season due to injuries. On the whole, the Chargers’ O-Line performed well and Wiggins is looking to capitalize on that this spring. Wiggins started all 16 games at RG and played in 999 snaps, good for second-highest on the line. The unit as a whole, meanwhile, allowed a league-low 18 sacks and opened holes for Melvin Gordon as he eclipsed 1,100 rushing yards.

It should be noted that the advanced numbers weren’t fond of Wiggins’ play. Pro Football Focus rated him as just the 74th ranked guard in the league out of 82 qualified players. Still, his durability coupled with the overall success of the offensive line should allow him to secure a pay raise this offseason, whether it’s in L.A. or elsewhere.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 3/17/17

The latest minor moves:

  • The Bills have signed three free agents – cornerback Leonard Johnson, running back Joe Banyard and wide receiver Corey Washington. Johnson easily possesses the most experience of the trio, having appeared in 62 games and started 20 with the Buccaneers, Patriots and Panthers since entering the NFL in 2012. He also has five career interceptions, though none since 2014, and connections to the Bills’ coaching staff. Johnson played under defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier in Tampa Bay in 2014 and head coach Sean McDermott in Carolina last season. Banyard, a five-year veteran of the Vikings and Jaguars, has collected 23 career rushes – 21 of which came in 2014. Washington, meanwhile, hasn’t played in a game since 2014, when the then-Giant totaled the only 14 appearances and five catches of his career. He had a brief stint on the Bills’ practice squad last year.
  • The Chargers have re-signed reserve offensive lineman Kenny Wiggins to a one-year deal, per Michael Gehlken (Twitter link). Wiggins, who had stints with the Ravens and 49ers from 2011-13, is now in line to play a fourth year with the Bolts. He debuted in 2014 and has since racked up 29 appearances and nine starts. Wiggins totaled a career-high eight starts in 2015, while the other came last year.
  • The Bengals have re-signed restricted free agent center T.J. Johnson, tweets James Palmer of NFL Network. The three-year veteran is coming off his first 16-game season, in which he logged the lone start of his career.

Minor NFL Transactions: 3/10/16

Today’s minor moves from around the NFL:

  • The Cardinals have re-signed tight end Ifeanyi Momah, tweets Howard Balzer of The SportsXchange. Momah survived Arizona’s preseason roster cuts in 2015, but suffered a torn meniscus before Week 1, ending his season. Momah received an ERFA tender from the Cards last week.
  • Corey Fuller signed his exclusive-rights tender with the Lions, Wilson tweets. Fuller caught four passes for 76 yards last season after posting 212 yards on 14 receptions in 2014.
  • A Saints cog from 2012-14, tackle Bryce Harris re-signed with the Falcons, his 2015 employer, according to Evan Woodberry of NOLA.com (on Twitter). The former UDFA played in two games for the Falcons last season.
  • The Cardinals cut wide receiver Damond Powell with a non-football injury designation, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets.

Earlier updates:

  • The Cowboys have re-signed cornerback Josh Thomas to a one-year contract, says Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Thomas, originally selected in the fifth round of the 2011 draft by the Cowboys, rejoined the team at the end of last season. In between his two stints in Dallas, he played 51 regular-season contests for the Panthers, Lions, Colts, Jets, and Seahawks.
  • Tight end Zach Sudfeld has re-signed with the Jets, agent Jason Bernstein tweets. Manish Mehta of the Daily News (on Twitter) adds that it is a one-year deal. Sudfeld was a restricted free agent, so his new deal will presumably be for less than the low-round tender of $1.671MM.
  • The Chiefs announced (on Twitter) that they have signed defensive lineman David King and linebacker Efe Obada.
  • The Dolphins have re-signed linebacker James-Michael Johnson, per Howard Balzer of USA Today Sports (on Twitter).
  • The Chargers re-signed ERFA guard Kenny Wiggins, Balzer tweets.
  • The Jets will not tender an offer to punter Ryan Quigley, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets.

ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/9/16

Unrestricted free agent news will obviously dominate the day, but several clubs also had to make decisions on whether to offer tenders to exclusive-rights free agents. We’ll round up those decisions here:

Tendered

Non-Tendered

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/15/15

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

  • The Jets waived Oday Aboushi, as Brian Costello of the New York Post tweets. Aboushi was suspended without pay for the first game of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
  • The Bears cut quarterback David Fales, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter).
  • The Patriots cut undrafted rookie wide receiver Chris Harper, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald (on Twitter).
  • The Chargers signed offensive lineman Kenny Wiggins and dropped tight end Kyle Miller, Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego tweets.
  • The Eagles placed center David Molk on IR, according to the team transactions page.
  • The Cowboys officially signed Charles Brown and waived Darrion Weems, ESPN.com’s Todd Archer writes. Brown went to training camp with the Jets and was a former second round pick of the Saints.
  • The Buccaneers announced today that they have waived (injured) linebacker James-Michael Johnson.
  • The Texans placed tight end Ryan Griffin on IR-DTR with a sprained medial collateral ligament, sources tell Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter).
  • The Titans reached injury settlements with Zaviar Gooden and Yawin Smallwood, Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com tweets.
  • The Colts signed Josh McNary to the active roster, Mike Wells of ESPN.com writes.
  • The Raiders will release tight end Gabe Holmes but they’ll try to re-sign him to the taxi squad, Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports tweets.