Marcus Hardison

Lions Audition Jaye Howard, Garrett Grayson

The Lions have hosted workouts for defensive lineman Jaye Howard and quarterback Garrett Grayson, according to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (all Twitter links).Jaye Howard (vertical)

Howard, 28, was released by the Bears during final cutdowns after having a signed a one-year pact in May. A longtime Chief, Howard only suited up eight times and made five starts last year, as a hip injury ended his season in November. During his limited action in 2016, Howard added 23 tackles and a sack, and ranked 55th in performance among Pro Football Focus‘ 127 qualified interior defensive linemen.

Detroit needs all the help it can get in the front seven, as the club’s defensive line has been decimated by injuries and suspensions. Kerry Hyder and Jordan Hill have both been placed on injured reserve, while Armonty Bryant and Khyri Thornton won’t return until Weeks 4 and 6, respectively, after being hit with league-imposed bans.

Quarterback is a less-pressing need for the Lions, as Matthew Stafford and Jake Rudock comprise the team’s top two options under center. Seventh-round pick Brad Kaaya was lost via waivers earlier this month, and Detroit doesn’t currently have a signal-caller on its practice squad. Grayson, a former third-round selection of the Saints, has never attempted an NFL pass.

Howard and Grayson weren’t the only free agents on display in the Motor City. Per Balzer, the Lions also took a look at quarterback Mitch Leidner; wide receivers C.J. Board, Montay Crockett, Anthony Dable, Cyril Grayson, Bug Howard, and Jordan Payton; defensive tackles Jeremy Faulk, Marcus Hardison, and Louis Trinca-Pasat; defensive end Patrick Gamble; LB Nicholas Grigsby; and S Jack Tocho.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Workout Notes: Patriots, Jets, Bills

The Patriots auditioned some players of note this week, including linebacker Akeem Ayers, quarterback Thad Lewis, and wide receiver Jeremy Ross (Twitter link via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com).

Ayers has some history with New England after playing on their 2014 Super Bowl championship team. Last year, Ayers appeared in all 16 games for Indianapolis and recorded two sacks.

Linebackers Nicholas Grigsby and Antwione Williams also showed their stuff for the Pats.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s other workouts from around the NFL:

Bengals Reach 53-Man Limit

The Bengals officially made 30 moves on Saturday in order to reach the 53-man max. The full rundown is below.

Waived:

Released:

Reserve/Suspended:

The team also freed up a roster spot on Saturday by trading cornerback Bene Benwikere to Dallas for a conditional sixth-round draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Bring Roster To 53

The Bengals are now in roster compliance, having brought their roster to 53. The following players have been cut:

Additionally, DT Marcus Hardison was placed on injured reserve and WR Mario Alford was waived with an injury settlement, tweets Owcazrski.

Kumerow had been fighting for a reserve wide receiver spot on a Cincinnati club that lost several of its pass-catchers over the offseason. And though he offers special teams value, Kumerow wasn’t able to beat out the likes of Cody Core and Alex Erickson to join a depth chart that includes A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, and Brandon LaFell.

On Friday, the Bengals released safety Jimmy Wilson.

Bengals Sign Second-Rounder Jake Fisher

The Bengals have become the latest team to lock up one of their top draft picks, announcing today (via Twitter) that they’ve signed offensive lineman Jake Fisher to his rookie contract. Fisher was the 53rd overall pick in this year’s draft.

Having considered Fisher in the first round, the Bengals opted for Texas A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi instead, and were pleasantly surprised to see Fisher still on the board when their second-round pick came around. While Ogbuehi continues to recover from a torn ACL, Fisher should be ready to go immediately, though it’s not clear yet if he’ll start right away.

Fisher’s new deal should pay him about $4.26MM over four years, including a $1.358MM signing bonus up front, according to Over The Cap. Now that the lineman is under contract, only Ogbuehi and third-round tight end Tyler Kroft remain unsigned among the Bengals’ draftees. The team locked up third-round linebacker Paul Dawson, fourth-round defensive back Josh Shaw, and fourth-round defensive tackle Marcus Hardison earlier this week (Twitter link).

AFC East Notes: Mariota, Gurley, Patriots

There has been a lot of talk about the Jets making a move to go up at get Marcus Mariota, but Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Daily News gives one big reason why the team shouldn’t trade up for the Heisman-trophy winner.

New general manager Mike Maccagnan was hired because of his track record as an evaluator who will build through the draft, and Cannizzaro wants him to trust his abilities and not give up future picks to move up in the draft. If Mariota should fall that would be different, but believes Maccagnan should give himself as many chances as possible to draft players and worry about the franchise quarterback another time without mortgaging multiple picks for one player.

Here are some more notes from around the AFC East:

  • The Dolphins seem to be very high on Todd Gurley, but that doesn’t mean they are planning on targeting the Georgia running back in the first-round, writes James Walker of ESPN.com. The Dolphins got a great season out of Lamar Miller in 2014, and Gurley’s injury history is a red flag that high in the draft for a team with so many needs.
  • The Patriots could go a number of ways in the draft, returning a solid roster from their Super Bowl team despite losing a few big names on the defensive side of the ball. Judy Cohen of WEEI.com picks out a player who could come in and help on that side in Arizona State defensive tackle Marcus Hardison. Hardison could be a day two pick, and could even fall to round four it the Patriots wait on him.
  • Another player Cohen takes a close look at is offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo. He could be a great pick as a swing tackle for the Patriots, with the physical tools to handle either side of the line. He played quarterback and tight end in the eighth grade and high school before moving to the defensive and offensive lines. Sambrailo is expected to be a day two pick.

Draft Visits: Jets, Jags, Steelers, Lions

Draft day is only a week and a half away, but teams are still bringing in prospects for visits and working them out, as they try to compile as much information as possible on this year’s draft class. Here are a few Monday updates on the latest visits and workouts:

  • Leonard Williams, DL (USC); Dante Fowler Jr., DE/OLB (Florida): Making their previously-reported visits to the Jets this week, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).
  • Denzel Perryman, LB (Miami): Visiting the Jaguars today, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post.
  • Darryl Roberts, CB (Marshall); Bryce Callahan, CB (Rice); Steven Nelson, CB (Oregon State): All visiting the Steelers today, according to Wilson (Twitter link).
  • Jamison Crowder, WR (Duke): Has had private workouts with Panthers, Buccaneers, and Texans, per Wilson.
  • Carl Davis, DT (Iowa): Visiting the Lions today, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter).
  • David Johnson, RB (Northern Iowa): Visiting the Falcons today, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • Marcus Hardison, DL (Arizona State): Visiting the Bengals today and generating a lot of interest around the league, per Gil Brandt of NFL.com (Twitter link).
  • Bud Sasser, WR (Missouri): Visiting the Broncos today, according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post.

Lions Notes: Parker, Hardison, Johnson

Despite the fact that Calvin Johnson missed some time due to injury in 2014, he and Golden Tate combined to grab 170 balls for the Lions. However, no other Detroit wide receiver exceeded Jeremy Ross‘ 24 receptions, so the team appears to be at least considering the possibility of taking a wideout early in the draft.

Today, according to Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com, the club hosted Louisville’s DeVante Parker, who is viewed by many as the third-best receiver in this year’s class, behind only Kevin White and Amari Cooper. While we wait to see exactly how serious the Lions are about upgrading their receiving corps, let’s check in on a few more items out of Detroit…

  • Per Twentyman, the Lions also hosted Arizona State defensive tackle Marcus Hardison for a pre-draft visit today.
  • Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press explains why he doesn’t think it makes sense for the Lions to match George Johnson‘s three-year, $9MM offer sheet from the Buccaneers. As Birkett points out, if the Lions had really wanted to retain Johnson at that sort of price, they could’ve assigned him a second-round tender ($2.356MM) rather than a low-end tender ($1.542MM) last month, which would’ve limited the defensive end’s market and virtually guaranteed his return.
  • Birkett also passes along a note on the Lions’ draft plans, tweeting that several people he has spoken to believe the team will select an offensive lineman with its first-round pick.
  • Linebacker Brandon Copeland, who signed with the Lions following the veterans’ combine, received a $25K bonus from the team, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).