Kony Ealy

Extra Points: XFL, Giants, Vikings

The AAF may have imploded in spectacular fashion, but that doesn’t mean people are done taking cracks at spring football leagues. Vince McMahon’s XFL is gearing up to start play early next year, and they’ve already made some big hires. They’re now moving on to filling out the rosters, and some recognizable names are resurfacing. We heard a couple days ago that Landry Jones, Aaron Ripkowski, and Christine Michael would be auditioning, and now we have even more names to report. Trevone Boykin, Lance Dunbar, Kony Ealy, and Ahmad Dixon were at a showcase yesterday as well as a handful of other ex-NFLers, per Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link).

According to a tweet from Optimum Scouting’s Erik Galko, former Seahawks receiver Kasen Williams will also be among those trying out. Finally, a tweet posted by the XFL Houston account shows that NFL veterans Will Hill and Robert Meachem also participated in a camp. Meachem is 34 and last played in the NFL with the Saints back in 2014, so this would be quite the comeback. While the XFL will still be facing an uphill battle, they do appear to be in better position than the AAF. McMahon seems fully invested in the league, and the TV deal the league has is far superior. It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out.

Here’s more from around the football universe:

  • Speaking of the XFL, one of their big hires was when they named Daryl “Moose” Johnston the director of player personnel for their Dallas franchise. Johnston was the GM of the AAF’s San Antonio Commanders, so he has experience in this type of league. Most players in the AAF and XFL were looking to get back to the NFL, and it’s no different for coaches and execs. Johnston wants to be an NFL GM one day, per Machota. Johnston spent all 11 years of his pro career with the Cowboys as a fullback, winning three Super Bowls with the team. He made the Pro Bowl twice and has done a lot of broadcasting work for FOX since retiring.
  • Evan Engram missed the Giants’ recent minicamp, which raised some eyebrows. But thankfully he’s not dealing with anything serious, as Engram said today at Landon Collins‘ charity softball game that the Giants were just being “cautious” by holding him out, per Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com (Twitter link). He also writes there’s “nothing lingering from last season.” Engram had a breakout rookie season in 2017, but took a step back last year while dealing with injuries. Hamstring and knee injuries limited Engram to just 11 games last year, but he finished strong down the stretch. In each of his last four games he finished with at least 75 yards, so he should be poised for a bounce back 2019 campaign.
  • 2018 first round pick Mike Hughes got off to a solid start last year. The Vikings cornerback had a pick-six in the first game of his career, but his rookie season ended in devastating fashion. The UCF product had his season ended by a torn ACL after just six games, and has been rehabbing ever since. Things appear to be going well, but the team is being cautious with him. To that end, Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer recently said that he wouldn’t get any practice in until training camp at the earliest, per Andrew Kramer of the Star Tribune. We heard recently the Vikings were listening to trade offers for both Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes, which would seem to indicate they’re optimistic about Hughes’ recovery.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/4/18

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Carolina Panthers

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Oakland Raiders

San Francisco 49ers

Raiders Waive DE Kony Ealy

Kony Ealy‘s Oakland stay did not last long. Signed to start last week, the veteran defensive end is now off the team after the Raiders made the decision to waive him Tuesday, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

Ealy was a healthy scratch against the Chargers. Unlike when the Cowboys cut him earlier this year, he’ll head to waivers. The former Panthers second-round pick played in at least 15 games in each of his first four seasons; he’s yet to see action in 2018.

The Raiders have signed numerous outside free agents this season. Many have not worked out. The team has, however, given significant playing time to rookies P.J. Hall, Arden Key and Maurice Hurst, which makes sense in what quickly became a rebuilding year. Ealy, though, joined Johnathan Hankins and Clinton McDonald as in-season D-line additions.

Ealy spent three seasons with the Panthers and last year with the Jets. But over the past 15 months, the Patriots, Cowboys and now Raiders have cut him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Workout Updates: 11/5/18

Here’s the latest from the workout circuit. All links go to Sirius XM Radio’s Adam Caplan Twitter account, unless otherwise noted.

Cleveland Browns

Cincinnati Bengals

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Oakland Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles

Raiders To Sign Kony Ealy

The Raiders are expected to sign free agent defensive end Kony Ealy to a one-year deal, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Ealy, 27 in December, has been out of work since being released by the Cowboys on Labor Day weekend. The Raiders also signed defensive end Jacquies Smith, per a club announcement.

Ealy hooked on with the Jets last year after being cut by the Patriots and proved to be a quality addition. While he didn’t light up the stat sheet in New York, he graded out as the No. 61 edge defender in the league. The Chargers, Dolphins, Falcons, and Bengals all looked at him in the fall, but he left each audition without a contract.

Smith had a combined 13.5 sacks over his first two NFL seasons with the Buccaneers in 2014 and 2015. Unfortunately, a torn ACL in 2016 has kept him off the field for much of the last three seasons.

Predictably, the Raiders’ pass rush has struggled since the Khalil Mack trade. The arrival of Ealy and Smith will not fill that void, nor will it address the Raiders’ issues in every other facet of the game.

After getting blown out by the Nick Mullens-led 49ers, the Raiders will face the rival Chargers on Sunday. If active, Ealy and Smith will provide support behind Frostee Rucker, Arden Key, and Fadol Brown.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Workout Updates: 10/31/18

Today’s workout updates, all courtesy of veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer:

Cincinnati Bengals

Green Bay Packers

Kansas City Chiefs

Oakland Raiders

Falcons To Sign Michael Bennett

The Falcons are signing former Jaguars defensive tackle Michael Bennett, sources tell Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). Bennett, a former sixth-round draft pick out of Ohio State in 2015, played in 13 games for the Jaguars in 2015 and one game in 2017.

The Falcons needed some interior depth after Grady Jarrett suffered a sprained ankle on Sunday. So, the Falcons are turning to Bennett, who has talent, but has also been dealing with calf and pectoral injuries over the last two seasons.

In addition to signing Bennett, the Falcons also worked out defensive ends Robert Ayers and Kony Ealy on Tuesday, Pelissero hears. A deal could still come together for one of those players, but interior depth was the priority for Atlanta.

Dolphins Work Out Robert Ayers, Kony Ealy

The Dolphins’ deep defensive end corps took two big hits on Sunday. William Hayes suffered a season-ending knee injury in Miami’s win over Oakland, and Andre Branch will also miss time.

Miami intends to sign a defensive end, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes, adding that both Robert Ayers and Kony Ealy worked out for the Dolphins on Tuesday. These two were among several defensive ends that auditioned for the Dolphins today, according to Jackson.

Ealy could not make the Cowboys’ 53-man roster after spending the 2017 season with the Jets. The former Panthers second-round pick played three years in Carolina before being traded to New England, which did not work out. The Dolphins would be Ealy’s third AFC East employer, in the event they went in this direction.

Ayers has been one of this era’s better run-stopping defensive ends. He started 20 games for the Buccaneers between the 2016 and ’17 seasons. The Bucs cut him this offseason. So did the Lions, who only employed Ayers for one day.

This is Ayers’ first known workout since that preseason cut. As a nine-year veteran, Ayers would add more experience to a D-line chock full of it. Branch, Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn reside on the Fins’ front, with second-year man Charles Harris in the equation, too.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers Work Out DE Kony Ealy

The Chargers are looking for defensive line help. On Wednesday, the club auditioned defensive end Kony Ealy plus defensive linemen Xavier Cooper and Anthony Lanier

Ealy hooked on with the Jets last year after being cut by the Patriots and proved to be a quality addition. While he didn’t light up the stat sheet in New York, he graded out as the No. 61 edge defender in the league. This year, he tried to make the Cowboys’ roster, but he was let go on cut weekend.

Cooper, a 2015 third-round pick of the Browns, missed the Jets’ cut earlier this month. He appeared in eight games for Gang Green and five contests for the Niners last year. Lanier, meanwhile, worked out for the Texans on Tuesday but left without a deal.

It seems likely that the Chargers will sign at least one player from this trio as they look to bolster their edge rush.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Announce Roster Cuts

In addition to releasing veteran kicker Dan Bailey, the Cowboys have made several other moves in order to move their roster to 53 players:

Cut:

Green, a former third-round pick, has struggled mightily in his effort to become Dallas’ third offensive tackle. Ward, for his part, was acquired in exchange for wide receiver Ryan Switzer earlier this year.