Mark Nzeocha

49ers Re-Sign LB Mark Nzeocha

The 49ers have re-signed linebacker Mark Nzeocha to a one-year deal, the club announced today.Mark Nzeocha (Vertical)

Nzeocha had been scheduled to become a restricted free agent this offseason, and given his lack of playing time, San Francisco likely would have been secure in tendering Nzeocha at the original round level. Such a tender would have been non-guaranteed and cost roughly $1.908MM, so it’s fair to assume Nzeocha accepted less than that total on his new contract. In exchange, it’s possible Nzeocha was able to garner a small guarantee as part of his 2018 salary.

The 28-year-old Nzeocha spent two seasons in Dallas before joining the 49ers during the 2017 campaign. While he appeared in 10 games, he rarely played on defense (only nine snaps). Instead, Nzeocha saw most of his action on special teams, where he managed 38.7% playtime on a unit that ranked 11th in DVOA. He’ll likely return to that role next season, although there’s always a chance he could see more time on a young San Francisco defense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/25/17

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Green Bay Packers

  • Signed: LS Taybor Pepper
  • Signed off Cardinals‘ practice squad: OL Ulrick John
  • Placed on IR: LS Brett Goode

Indianapolis Colts

San Francisco 49ers

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/5/17

Today’s practice squad transactions:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

  • Signed: CB Tony McRae, C Matt Skura

Buffalo Bills

  • Signed: LB Eric Lee
  • Released: S B.T. Sanders, CB Marcus Sayles

Carolina Panthers

  • Signed: FB Alex Armah

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Houston Texans

  • Signed: LB LaTroy Lewis

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Signed: CB Raysean Pringle

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

  • Signed: TE Johnny Mundt, CB Kevin Peterson
  • Released: OL Michael Dunn, DL Louis Trinca-Pasat

New England Patriots

New York Giants

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Tennessee Titans

  • Signed: CB Kenneth Durden

Sunday NFL Transactions: NFC East

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four NFC East teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, and Redskins are noted below.

Additionally, as of 12:00pm CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s NFC East transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day:

Dallas Cowboys

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Washington Redskins

How The Cowboys Could Replace Rolando McClain

For the second consecutive season, Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain will serve a suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse. In 2015, Dallas only had to survive without McClain for a quarter of the season, but given that McClain is facing a 10-game ban for 2016, the Cowboys will need to more seriously consider how they’re going to make up for the loss of their middle linebacker.

We’ve examined how Dallas might go about finding a replacement for McClain, looking at players already on the Cowboys’ roster, free agents sitting on the open market, and veterans who could be on the roster bubble with their respective clubs. Let’s dive in…

Internal options:

The primary name being floated to replace McClain in the middle is third-year linebacker Anthony Hitchens, whom the Cowboys selected in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. Thing is, Hitchens was already a starter — he played on the inside in Anthony Hitchens (Vertical)McClain’s absence last year, and then moved to the outside, ultimately seeing action on about half of Dallas’ defensive snaps. So if Hitchens is being counted on to man the middle full-time, including in sub packages, the Cowboys would need to find a replacement at strong-side linebacker, meaning Kyle Wilber and/or Andrew Gachkar could see meaningful snaps after spending most of their respective careers as special teams players.

[RELATED: Updated Dallas Cowboys depth chart]

Gachkar, meanwhile, is another option to fill in at middle linebacker, and he has experience at the position. If chosen, Gachkar would likely be a two-down player, as Pro Football Focus’ grades have shown him to be effective against the run but a liability in pass coverage. The 27-year-old has never been a major defensive contributor — he was forced to step into the starting lineup when the Chargers suffered a variety of injuries at the linebacker position in 2014, but even then, he only played on 36.5% of San Diego’s defensive snaps.

The “wild card” in this race is second-year player Mark Nzeocha, according to Bryan Broaddus of the Cowboys’ website. A seventh-round pick in last year’s draft, Nzeocha only appeared in two games during his rookie season, managing 14 snaps, all of which came on special teams. Extremely athletic, Nzeocha was all over the field at Wyoming, playing safety and all three linebacker positions. His learning curve might be steep, but he clearly has all the physical tools to play the position.

A source tells PFR that the Cowboys are, for the most part, satisfied with the current state of their linebacker room, and are looking forward to have their young players compete for playing time while McClain is suspended. Dallas, says the source, hasn’t shown a lot of interest in scouring the free agent market for substitutes, so one of Hitchens, Gachkar, or Nzeocha might be the favorite to earn significant snaps this fall.

Free agents:

Donald Butler — After selecting Denzel Perryman in 2015 and Joshua Perry in this year’s draft, the Chargers parted ways with Butler, who had spent the past five seasons with the club. At age-27, Butler is the youngest free agent option on this list, but he’s coming off the worst season of his career, having posted just 40 tackles during the 2016 campaign. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune accused Butler of “losing interest” after receiving a massive extension prior to the 2014 season, so perhaps some other clubs have made that same assessment.Justin Durant (vertical)

Justin Durant — Durant started 12 games for the Falcons last year, but prior to his time in Atlanta he spent two seasons with the Cowboys, so at the very least he’d offer some familiarity with Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli‘s playbook. Versatility is another point in Durant’s favor, as he played mostly inside linebacker with Atlanta and Detroit, roamed the middle during his Jacksonville tenure, and moved between both positions with the Cowboys.

A.J. Hawk — The Bengals signed Hawk to a two-year deal before the 2015 campaign, but despite injuries limiting fellow linebacker Vontaze Burfict to just 10 games, Hawk rarely saw the field, playing on roughly a quarter of Cincinnati’s defensive snaps. Hawk recently told Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer that although he’s aware a club might not express interest until late in camp (or perhaps after the season begins), he’s staying in shape in the hopes of receiving a phone call.

David Hawthorne — Like Durant, Hawthorne offers positional versatility, having seen action at both inside and outside linebacker. In 2015, Hawthorne was shifted to the weak side in favor of rookie Stephone Anthony, but was then benched, declared inactive, and ultimately released after an unproductive season. Still, he’s got 83 career starts under his belt, and would presumably feel comfortable in the middle of the Dallas defense.

Keep reading for more external options that could be on the Cowboys’ radar…

Read more

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/18/15

Let’s check in on the latest minor signings, cuts, and other transactions from around the NFL….

  • The Broncos claimed center Sam Brenner off waivers from the Dolphins, according to Troy Renck of The Denver Post (on Twitter). To make room, Shelley Smith has been waived (link).

Earlier Updates:

  • The Cowboys, armed with several open spots on their 53-man roster, activated linebacker Mark Nzeocha from the non-football injury list and promoted cornerback Deji Olatoye from their practice squad, per David Helman of DallasCowboys.com (Twitter link). Even after adding Nzeocha, Olatoye, and running back Robert Turbin, Dallas has one opening left on its roster.
  • The Lions officially placed Josh Wilson on injured reserve today due to a right knee injury, signing cornerback Bill Bentley to take Wilson’s spot on the roster, according to a press release. Bentley, a Lions’ third-round pick in 2012, will help provide depth at a position that his been hit hard by injuries.
  • The Buccaneers filled one of the two openings on their 53-man roster today by signing defensive end Lawrence Sidbury, the team announced in a press release. It’s the second time during the 2015 regular season that Sidbury has been added to Tampa Bay’s active roster.
  • The Giants have elevated safety Cooper Taylor from their practice squad to their active roster, the team announced today (via Twitter). Taylor started the year on the team’s injured reserve list, but was removed from IR and eventually rejoined the club.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/11/15

Here are today’s minor signings, cuts, and other transactions from around the NFL, with any additional moves listed at the top of the page throughout the day:

Earlier updates:

  • The Vikings have activated cornerback Josh Robinson from the physically unable to perform list, waiving tight end Chase Ford in a corresponding roster move, writes Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. As Tomasson writes, Ford – who has been with Minnesota since 2012 – took the news well, pointing out that it’s “part of the game” and it’s not his first time being cut.
  • Having cut quarterback Kellen Moore, the Cowboys added linebacker Mark Nzeocha to their active roster, per Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link). Nzeocha, who began the season on the non-football injury list, will help add depth to a group of linebackers that has been affected by injuries.
  • The Cardinals have waived-injured cornerback Cariel Brooks, elevating cornerback Robert Nelson from their practice squad to fill the empty roster spot, according to Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com (Twitter link). Brooks, who is dealing with an ankle issue, played exclusively on special teams during his limited action this season, so Nelson isn’t expected to have a major role either.
  • After placing him on the injured reserve list last weekend, Washington has now removed outside linebacker Jackson Jeffcoat from the roster entirely with an injury settlement, tweets Zac Boyer of the Washington Times.

PUP, NFI Players Soon Eligible To Practice

Week 6 of the NFL season will come to an end after Monday night’s game between the Giants and Eagles, and when teams begin preparing for Week 7, many clubs could be welcoming injured players back to practice. Six weeks into the NFL season, players who were placed on the physically unable to perform list or the non-football injury list prior to Week 1’s games will be eligible to return to the practice field.

Of course, just because those players are able to return to practice doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be healthy enough to do so. Players on the PUP list have a five-week window to begin practicing. Once they return to practice, they have three weeks to be added to their respective teams’ active rosters. In other words, a player currently on the PUP list could return to the field for his team’s Week 7 game, or could return as late as for his team’s Week 15 contest.

The rules for NFI players are similar to those for PUP players. If a player on either reserve list doesn’t return to practice or game action in time, his 2015 season will officially be over.

Here are the players currently on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list who can begin practicing as soon as this Tuesday:

And here are the players currently on their teams’ non-football injury or illness lists, who are also eligible to begin practicing this Tuesday:

  • Arizona Cardinals: WR Damond Powell
  • Buffalo Bills: CB Leodis McKelvin
  • Cincinnati Bengals: T Cedric Ogbuehi
  • Cleveland Browns: DB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, TE Randall Telfer, RB Glenn Winston
  • Dallas Cowboys: LB Mark Nzeocha
  • Houston Texans: T David Quessenberry
  • Kansas City Chiefs: QB Tyler Bray
  • San Francisco 49ers: WR DeAndre Smelter
  • Seattle Seahawks: DT Jesse Williams

In addition to monitoring players on the PUP and NFI lists, it’s worth keeping an eye on players who have been placed on the injured reserve list with the designation to return. Teams can use this IR-DTR spot on one player per season, placing him on the injured reserve list without necessarily ruling him out for the season. As we explained in an earlier post, players given this designation can begin practicing after six weeks and can return after eight weeks.

That means that a player who was placed on IR-DTR prior to Week 1 can begin practicing on Tuesday, though he won’t be eligible to return to game action until Week 9. A player who was placed on IR-DTR after Week 1 will have to wait until next Tuesday – October 27 – to return to practice, while other IR-DTR players will have to wait until November to practice.

Here’s the list of players currently on IR-DTR who can begin practicing as soon as Tuesday:

Cowboys Down To 75-Man Roster

The Cowboys made a number of moves on Tuesday afternoon to get down to a 75-man roster. The full list is presented below, courtesy of DallasCowboys.com’s David Helman (Twitter links):

Waived:

  • Brandon Barden, TE
  • Jonathan Brown, LB
  • Antwan Goodley, WR
  • David Porter, WR

Waived/Injured:

  • Ken Boatright, DE
  • R.J Dill, OT
  • Michael Hill, RB

Placed on IR:

  • Orlando Scandrick, CB

NFI List:

  • Mark Nzeocha, LB

Scandrick tore his ACL in late August, ruling him out for the 2015 season. It was a big loss for Dallas as he ranked as the 10th-best cornerback in the NFL in 2014 out of 108 qualified players, according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required). According to PFF’s data, quarterbacks completed 74.3% of their passes into Scandrick’s coverage, but those completions averaged just 9.9 yards, and the Cowboys’ corner didn’t allow a touchdown in his 14 games. For the year, he recorded 63 tackles and grabbed a pair of interceptions.

 

Draft Signings: Falcons, Cowboys, Ravens

Here are some of the signings of players selected between the third and seventh round of the draft that took place today.

  • Third-round pick Carl Davis agreed to a contract with the Ravens, Wilson reports. The defensive tackle’s deal is for four years and worth $2.95MM with a 625K signing bonus. First-rounder Breshad Perriman is the team’s only unsigned player from this year’s class.
  • The Cowboys inked linebacker Mark Nzeocha and defensive end Ryan Russell to deals, reports ESPN.com’s Todd Archer. A fifth-round selection, Russell will receive a signing bonus of nearly $203K. Nzeocha, taken in the seventh round, claimed a $64K bonus.
  • The Falcons have signed fifth-round defensive tackle Grady Jarrett to his four-year rookie deal, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. As Over the Cap’s data shows, Jarrett’s contract will be worth about $2.528MM in total, including a $248K signing bonus.
  • Washington continues to agree to terms with its rookies, reaching a deal with sixth-round safety Kyshoen Jarrett today, according to John Keim of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jarrett will formally sign his contract when he gets into town on Sunday.
  • The Steelers have started locking up their draft picks, signing sixth-round defensive tackle L.T. Walton to his rookie contract, the club announced today (Twitter link). The first of two players drafted in the sixth round by the Steelers, Walton is in line for a signing bonus worth nearly $117K.