Mark Walton

Bengals Waive RB Mark Walton

After being arrested for the third time in three months, running back Mark Walton has been let go by the Bengals. The team announced that they’ve waived the 2018 fourth-round pick.

“It’s important for our team to get off to a fresh start as we begin the 2019 season,” said new head coach Zac Taylor. “For that reason, we felt it best if we move forward without Mark Walton. We hope his situation gets resolved, but we don’t want to take anything away from the good work that so many other players have already begun to demonstrate.”

Earlier this week, Walton was cuffed on felony charges of carrying a concealed firearm, resisting an officer without violence, possession of marijuana, and reckless driving in connection with a high-speed chase in March. ESPN’s Katherine Terrell tweets that Walton surrendered to police yesterday. This comes on the heels of two other incidents – Walton was charged with misdemeanor battery after a February skirmish, and he was also arrested for marijuana possession in January.

As our own Zach Links pointed out, Walton seems very likely to face NFL discipline for his off-the-field incidents. This would presumably limit his ability to catch on with another team, at least for the time being.

Despite injuries, Walton showed some serious promise during his collegiate career, including a sophomore season in which he scored 14 touchdowns. However, during his rookie season in Cincy, he had just 14 carries for 34 yards as he played behind Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard.

Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes (on Twitter) that the team could now be searching for some depth at the position, especially considering the fact that Bernard is set to hit free agency after next season. The reporter points to Texas A&M running back Trayveon Williams as an option. Williams had previous success with Jim Turner, who is now the Bengals’ offensive line coach. The running back is expected to be a Day 2 selection.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals RB Mark Walton Arrested

Bengals running back Mark Walton has been arrested for the third time in three months, according to Miami-Dade court records. The former University of Miami standout was cuffed on felony charges of carrying a concealed firearm, resisting an officer without violence, possession of marijuana, and reckless driving in connection with a high-speed chase in March. 

Walton, authorities say, was weaving in and out of traffic in his rented car. Eventually, Walton pulled over in the front yard of a home and initially complied with orders to fall to the ground. However, he quickly sprang up and took off running. Cops used a stun gun to try and subdue Walton, but he took off the prongs and fled the scene. When officers searched Walton’s car, they found 14 grams of marijuana, a 9 mm carbine rifle and several fully loaded clips.

This comes on the heels of two other incidents – Walton was charged with misdemeanor battery after a February skirmish with a neighbor was also arrested for marijuana possession in January. The 2018 fourth-round pick seems very likely to face NFL discipline for his off-the-field incidents and his future with the Bengals could be in jeopardy.

Despite injuries, showed serious promise with the Hurricanes, including a sophomore season in which he topped 1,100 yards on the ground and scored 14 touchdowns. Last year, however, he had just 14 carries for 34 yards as he played behind Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Sign Three Draft Picks

The Bengals signed four draft picks yesterday, and they’ve inked three more rookies today. Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (via Twitter) that Cincy has signed three players: second-round safety Jessie Bates, fourth-round running back Mark Walton, and fifth-round cornerback Darius Phillips.

Bates, who was taken with the 54th pick, is the most notable name on the list. The Wake Forest product finished his sophomore season with 77 tackles, six tackles for loss, and one interception. During the 2016 campaign, the safety had 100 tackles and five interceptions. The Bengals had been eyeing a cover safety, and Bates’ versatiltiy should help him get on the field. The 21-year-old is projected to play behind starters Shawn Williams and George Iloka to begin the year.

Following a 1,000-yard, 14-touchdown season in 2016, Walton’s 2017 campaign was cut short due to an ankle injury. The Miami product ultimately compiled 428 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 56 carries in only five games. Walton has also shown some talent catching the ball, hauling in 56 receptions during his three seasons. He’ll likely serve as the Bengals’ third running back behind Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard.

During his time at Western Michigan, Phillips set the FBS record with 12 return touchdowns. He’s a candidate to return kicks and punts in Cincinnati, and he’ll serve as a depth cornerback piece (alongside fellow fifth-round rookie Darius Phillips).

The Bengals have now signed seven of their 11 draft picks. That leaves first-round center Billy Price, third-round defensive end Sam Hubbard, third-round linebacker Malik Jefferson, and seventh-round receiver Auden Tate unsigned.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Rumors: Mayfield, Dolphins, Eagles

While multiple reports have indicated the Jets‘ goal for their No. 3 pick was Sam Darnold, their new heir apparent, Baker Mayfield‘s agent said the team was effusive in its praise for his client when he visited Gang Green headquarters in April.

When he visited the Jets, they pretty much said ‘You’re our guy if you’re there,'” Mayfield’s agent Jack Mills said on “The Business of Sport with Andrew Brandt” podcast (via Newsday). “(The Browns) didn’t say you’re our guy. I don’t know what they said. They liked him and (John) Dorsey never contacted us.”

It’s since come out the Browns had several executives independently declare Mayfield was the draft’s top quarterback, but for weeks, the Jets/Mayfield noise increased. However, this may well have been contingent on Darnold not getting past Cleveland.

Here’s the latest from the East divisions, continuing with a Dolphins draft what-if.

  • Here’s a nice chain reaction from the fourth round: the Ravens appear to have sought Miami running back Mark Walton with their fourth-round pick, but the Bengals took him at No. 112. This led to Baltimore selecting Alabama cornerback Anthony Averett at No. 118. This, in turn, depressed some in the Dolphins‘ war room. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hears the Dolphins sought Averett with their fourth-rounder (No. 122), but they ended up drafting Notre Dame tight end Durham Smythe. This came after Miami already took Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki in Round 2.
  • The Dolphins have T.J. McDonald signed through 2020, but they may be considering moving him to linebacker, per Jackson. Miami extended McDonald last September and deployed him as a starting safety in eight games after his eight-game suspension ended. He graded as a middle-of-the-pack safety in the view of Pro Football Focus, but the analytics site rated McDonald as an upper-echelon run defender. Set to have Kiko Alonso and Raekwon McMillan start at two of their three linebacker spots, the Dolphins may have an interest in stationing McDonald at one of their outside positions. Although, they did draft former McMillan Ohio State teammate Jerome Baker in the third round.
  • Darren Sproles will make $1.015MM in base salary this season with the Eagles, per Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com. It’s uncertain what bonuses and incentives are in the 34-year-old running back’s contract, but Sproles is already on the books for this salary.
  • The Eagles are highly unlikely to pick up Nick Foles‘ mutual option in 2019, Parks notes. That figure is worth $20.6MM as a result of the renegotiated deal the Eagles and Foles agreed upon earlier this year. Foles faced a somewhat similar circumstance in 2016, when the Chiefs did not pick up an eight-figure option and sent him back into free agency. Shorr-Parks writes the Eagles understandably would be more willing to work out a long-term deal with their backup quarterback than have him stick around on that price.

Extra Points: Pack, Ravens, Saints, Conley

Brian Gutekunst remains confident the Packers will sign Aaron Rodgers to an extension this offseason, telling Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk he expects an agreement “soon.” The first-year GM said both sides continue to work on a pact. Although, the negotiations likely just saw the price rise since Matt Ryan‘s five-year, $150MM extension raised the ceiling for quarterback contracts. However, Gutekunst told Florio before Ryan’s Falcons agreement was finalized that both the Packers and Rodgers may be waiting to see if any other quarterback deals are completed this offseason. With Kirk Cousins signed and Ryan now locked up through 2023, Rodgers’ deal is likely next on the QB docket. Although, it’s still possible the Patriots and Tom Brady revise the reigning MVP’s contract. With two years remaining on Rodgers’ deal, Florio estimates the final result will be a contract closer to Ryan’s through-2023 deal than Cousins’ three-year accord. He also expects Rodgers’ new deal to further raise the quarterback ceiling, one that’s climbed considerably since Derek Carr became the league’s first $25MM-AAV player less than a year ago.

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • Two rookies the Ravens may well have hoped to land went to AFC North rivals. Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun notes the Ravens were eyeing Miami running back Mark Walton with their fourth-round pick, but the Bengals ended up selecting him six spots before Baltimore’s next pick — one that went to Alabama cornerback Anthony Averett. The other player they may well have wanted ended up in Pittsburgh. Zreibec adds the Ravens most likely sought James Washington, who went to the Steelers late in the second round. Eric DeCosta said a few times during this draft he became “angrier than usual” because of a player going off the board just prior to a Ravens selection window, and Zreibec assumes the Oklahoma State wide receiver was the source of one of these agitation bouts.
  • Brandon Coleman‘s Saints contract is worth a maximum of $1MM, Larry Holder of NOLA.com reports. Coleman re-signed with New Orleans after not being tendered as a restricted free agent. Had the Saints applied the low-end tender to Coleman, he would have made $1.9MM this season. After the Saints selected Tre’Quan Smith in the third round, Coleman and return specialist Tommylee Lewis could be battling for a roster spot, Nick Underhill of The Advocate writes.
  • On the subject of Saints position battles, Underhill notes the Saints are high enough on Taysom Hill that they might be ready to cut Tom Savage and carry just two quarterbacks if Hill beats him out for the backup job. They also brought in J.T. Barrett this month. Hill served as the Saints’ third-string quarterback last season behind Drew Brees and Chase Daniel. It would cost the Saints just $100K if they released Savage.
  • Gareon Conley has yet to receive full clearance to return to Raiders workouts, but Jon Gruden said that appears imminent, per Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area. Conley underwent shin surgery last year after missing almost his entire rookie season. Gruden indicated the 2017 first-round pick is running with teammates and participating in walkthroughs but hasn’t been given a full green light yet.
  • Both of Eric Berry‘s twin younger brothers are with teams this weekend. One will have a chance to join the All-Pro safety with the Chiefs. Elliott Berry is in Kansas City working as a tryout player, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Meanwhile, Evan Berry signed with the Browns as a UDFA on Friday. Both of twins played at Tennessee, as Eric did.