Matt Longacre

Extra Points: Gurley, Longacre, CBA

In his first day on the field at Rams training camp, Todd Gurley looked like vintage Gurley, The Athletic’s Vincent Bonsignore writes.

The All-Pro back looked like his old self early, showing an ability put plenty of weight on his knee and cut without any apparent issue. That knee, of course, underwent reconstructive surgery in college and gave him issues down the stretch in 2018, leading to C.J. Anderson‘s breakout stint in the playoffs.

As Bonsignore writes, that he looked good doesn’t mean much at this point. It’s all about getting him on the field and keeping him there over the course of a 16-game season. The Rams will be sure to take it easy with Gurley, but this is a great first step for one of the league’s most dynamic playmakers.

A healthy Gurley, who led the league in rushing touchdowns for a second consecutive season in 2018, would make the reigning NFC champions the conference’s favorites once again thanks to its loaded offense and talent-rich defense.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Buccaneers safety Orion Stewart was carted off the field on Sunday with an apparent serious right knee injury, Eduardo Encina of the Tampa Bay Times writes. The safety was covering Cameron Brate when their legs tangled, leading Stewart to come down awkwardly. A free agent acquisition in 2019, Stewart was working with the Bucs’ second unit.
  • Colts defensive end Jabaal Sheard suffered a knee injury in training camp and is expected to “miss some time,” Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes. Just how long that “some time” is remains unclear, but the defensive end didn’t return to practice on Friday due to swelling and soreness. Colts head coach Frank Reich said the injury isn’t season-ending.
  • Just four days after the Cardinals signed linebacker Matt Longacre, the team released him on Sunday, Florio writes. The move comes just a day after the team activated Brooks Reed from the physically unable to perform list. In 2018, Longacre appeared in 13 games with the Rams, recording one sack and 17 tackles.
  • Lions defensive lineman Mike Daniels said he received interest from 13 teams but decided to join Detroit because he wanted to play for head coach Matt Patricia, Florio writes. Though the pair have never worked together before, Daniels called the coach “a genius.”
  • Originally, a meeting was to be held on Monday to discuss the Collective Bargaining Agreement between owners and the NFLPA. That will no longer take place, as the meeting has been rescheduled for early August, Florio writes.

Cardinals Sign OLB Matt Longacre

Matt Longacre‘s stay in free agency ended Wednesday, with the Cardinals reaching an agreement to sign the former Rams edge defender. The team announced the deal.

The latest veteran edge player to sign with the Cards this offseason, Longacre will head to the desert after news of another one of those acquisitions — Brooks Reed — beginning camp on the active/PUP list. Reed has battled a hip injury this offseason. Longacre, who is four years younger than Reed, figures to compete for a depth spot behind Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs.

The Rams used Longacre, 27, as both a starter and a reserve. The former Division II star started one game in his first three seasons but seven in 2018, after the Rams went with a lower-profile edge corps to start the season. After a 5.5-sack 2017, Longacre registered one last season. He did play in each of the Rams’ playoff games and visited the Ravens this offseason; Baltimore opted for Shane Ray and Pernell McPhee.

Reed signed for $1.6MM, helping his case to stick on Arizona’s 53-man roster. Longacre joins a cast of aspiring backups, including Vontarrius Dora, Cameron Malveaux and Pita Taumoepenu. Dora played for the Broncos under new Cardinals DC Vance Joseph.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens To Meet With Matt Longacre

The Ravens will meet with edge rusher Matt Longacre on Monday, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). This marks the first known visit of the offseason for the 27-year-old. 

[RELATED: Ravens DT Michael Pierce Signs RFA Tender]

To date, Longacre has spent his entire four-year career with the Rams. On the verge of his age-28 season, he could be on the verge of changing conferences.

Last year, Longacre appeared in 13 games and made seven starts in the Rams’ star-studded front seven. He finished out with 17 tackles, one sack, and six QB hits.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams’ Mark Barron, Matt Longacre Accept Pay Cuts

Two Rams defenders — linebacker Mark Barron and edge rusher Matt Longacre accepted pay cuts prior to the beginning of the regular season, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). In total, the dual moves saved Los Angeles more than $2MM on its salary cap.

Barron, 28, didn’t sacrifice all that much money, as he took a pay reduction of just $500,001, per Pelissero. His base salary should now come in around $6.5MM, and that total is now fully guaranteed (just $2MM had previously been guaranteed). Barron, who underwent shoulder surgery during the offseason, didn’t play in Week 1 while recovering from an ankle issue. The safety-turned-linebacker is signed through the 2020 campaign, but doesn’t have any guaranteed money left on his deal after this current year.

It’s unclear how much Longacre gave up financially, but he had been scheduled to earn a base salary of $1.907MM after signing an original round restricted free agent tender in April. In 2017, Longacre played more defensive snaps than he had in the previous two seasons combined, and came through with 5.5 sacks and 15.5 pressures.

Prior to reworking Barron and Longacre’s contracts, the Rams were dead last with just $535K in available funds, per Over the Cap. They’ll still be in the bottom-three even after picking up an extra $2MM, but the club now has a bit more financial breathing room.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Carson, Falcons, Barr, Rams

The Seahawks have struggled not just to replace offensive linemen from the Marshawn Lynch era but to replace Lynch himself. Last season, they went through several running backs but saw none emerge as a surefire answer. Five backs — Eddie Lacy, Mike Davis, Thomas Rawls, Chris Carson, J.D. McKissic — received more than 45 carries, but none surpassed 70 in a strange season. Now, the team is hoping one of these players in particular will be the leader in 2018. Carson’s been the clear No. 1 back throughout the offseason, and Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times expects him to be the starter in Week 1, should he stay healthy. Carson averaged 4.2 yards per carry prior to breaking his ankle early in the season. The Seahawks also added Rashaad Penny in the draft, but at this point, Carson is running ahead of the San Diego State alumnus few expected to be a first-round pick. Condotta also expects Prosise and McKissic to vie for the third-down back role, mentioning Prosise — should he stay healthy after an injury-prone career thus far — as a threat to factor into the starter conversation.

Here’s the latest from the NFC, pivoting to one of the Seahawks’ top rivals.

  • Although the Rams drafted three linebackers and have emerging backup Matt Longacre due back from injury, the team that devoted substantial offseason resources to restocking its defensive line and secondary doesn’t have much in the way of certainty on its second level. The Rams traded Robert Quinn and Alec Ogletree, shedding salary but creating lineup vacancies. The team is counting on Longacre, 2017 fourth-rounder Samson Ebukam and third-year UDFA Cory Littleton to be first-string presences, Joe Curley of USA Today notes. Los Angeles drafted edges Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Trevon Young in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively, and brought in ILB Micah Kiser with a fifth-round pick. However, Curley adds that ex-Chief inside ‘backer Ramik Wilson could be called upon as a possible starter as well in this still-muddled situation.
  • Desmond Trufant may have a new sidekick at some point this season. The Falcons used second-round pick Isaiah Oliver at right cornerback throughout the offseason, and D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution notes Dan Quinn would like to have a bigger presence at that position (Robert Alford is 5-foot-10; Oliver is 6-1). While predicting Oliver will begin his career as a special-teamer, Ledbetter writes that Alford would be an option as the Falcons’ slot corner if Oliver moves into the starting lineup. The Falcons extended Alford in 2016 and are set to pay him over $9MM in each of the next three seasons, though they can get out of that contract relatively easily after 2018.
  • Anthony Barr‘s effort level may be one of the factors involved in the Vikings‘ line of thinking regarding an extension for the fifth-year linebacker, Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. A Barr extension would probably require for him to either top or come quite close to exceeding Jamie Collins‘ OLB-high $12.5MM-AAV contract, and the Vikings already have a host of recently constructed extensions on their books. Barr’s been one of the best 4-3 outside ‘backers in the game for several years, but Mike Zimmer has questioned his effort in the past. The Vikings, who have already extended Eric Kendricks and Danielle Hunter this year, have begun re-up conversations with Barr.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/16/2018

Here are today’s minor moves:

Denver Broncos

  • Re-signed: LB Zaire Anderson
  • Re-signed: DE Shelby Harris
  • Re-signed: LB Joseph Jones
  • Re-signed: WR Jordan Taylor
  • Re-signed: OT Elijah Wilkinson

Houston Texans

  • Signed original round RFA tender: OL Greg Mancz

Los Angeles Rams

  • Signed original round RFA tender: LB Matt Longacre

Washington Redskins

  • Re-signed: OT Tony Bergstrom

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/14/18

Here are today’s restricted free agent and exclusive-rights free agent tender decisions, with the list being updated throughout the day. All links go to Twitter unless otherwise noted:

RFAs

Tendered at the second-round level ($2.914MM):

Tendered at original round level ($1.907MM):

Non-tendered:

ERFAs

Tendered:

Non-tendered:

Rams Place LB Matt Longacre On IR

Rams linebacker Matt Longacre will miss the rest of the season after the team decided to place the pass-rush specialist on injured reserve with a back injury, Dan Greenspan of the Associated Press reports. Matt Longacre (vertical)

The third-year product out of Northwest Missouri State ranks third on the team with 5 1/2 sacks, behind only Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn. After not recording a sack in his first two seasons, Longacre thrived in new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ pass-rushing scheme.

First-year head coach Sean McVay commented on the loss, saying, “it’s unfortunate that we’re not going to have him because of what he’s meant to our team.”

The Rams rank fourth in the NFL with 48 sacks heading into the season finale, behind only the Jaguars (52), Steelers (50) and Panthers (49). With the team gearing up for the postseason, it will turn to Donald, Quinn and veteran edge rusher Connor Barwin to fill the void left by Longacre. Not signed beyond this season, Longacre is sure to garner some attention on the free-agent market after his breakout campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/10/17

The latest minor moves from around the NFL:

  • Broncos linebacker Todd Davis has signed his restricted free agent tender, reports Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post (Twitter link). The Broncos applied a second-rounder tender to Davis, meaning it would have been quite costly for anyone to sign him away from Denver. The 24-year-old Davis set career highs in starts (15) and tackles (97) last season, when his performance ranked a decent 43rd among Pro Football Focus’ 87 qualified linebackers.
  • Patriots offensive lineman Cameron Fleming has signed his RFA tender, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Pats applied an original-round tender last month to Fleming, who was a fourth-round pick in 2014. Fleming has started in 14 of 35 appearances in three seasons, and is coming off his first 16-game campaign.
  • The Rams are keeping defensive end Ethan Westbrooks, who signed his original-round RFA tender, relays Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com. Westbrooks, undrafted in 2014, was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence last month, but the Sacramento County District Attorney chose not to file charges. Los Angeles is also retaining exclusive rights free agents Matt Longacre (DE) and Louis Trinca-Pasat (DT). Meanwhile, the team has officially waived wide receiver Stedman Bailey, whose career likely ended when he survived two gunshot wounds to the head in 2015.
  • Nose tackle Mike Purcell and linebacker Carl Bradford have signed their ERFA tenders with the 49ers, tweets Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area. Purcell, the more experienced of the two, logged career-best totals in appearances (15), starts (five) and tackles (26) in 2016.
  • The Raiders have waived defensive lineman Demetrius Cherry, according to James Palmer of NFL.com (Twitter link). Cherry signed with the 49ers last spring as an undrafted free agent from Arizona State. After the 49ers cut him prior to the season, he caught on with Oakland’s practice squad.
  • The Falcons have signed former University of Georgia track and field athlete Garrett Scantling, who will try and make the team as a receiver (Instagram link). Scantling has not played football since his senior year of high school. However, he performed well when partaking in Jacksonville University’s pro day last month.
  • LSU’s Cyril Grayson, who also has a background in track, has signed with the Seahawks, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The seven-time All-American hasn’t played football since 2011, but he did run a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at LSU’s pro day last week, writes Christopher Dabe of NOLA.com.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/6/15

Here are Friday’s minor signings, cuts, and other transactions from around the NFL, as teams prepare for Week 9 action….

  • The Falcons have waived cornerback Dezmen Southward, replacing him on their 53-man roster by promoting defensive back Akeem King from their practice squad, the team announced today (via Twitter). Southward, the 68th overall pick in the 2014 draft, becomes the second third-round pick from last year to be cut by his team this week – along with former Steelers RB/KR Dri Archer – and is now the fourth member of Atlanta’s 2014 draft class no longer with the club.
  • With a few defensive lineman banged up, the Rams have elevated defensive end Matt Longacre from their practice squad to the active roster, tweets Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis had an opening on its 53-man roster after moving running back Trey Watts to the reserve/suspended list due to his indefinite suspension.