Matthew Wright

Patriots Work Out Five Kickers

The Patriots are in need of a new kicker after placing Stephen Gostkowski on injured reserve earlier today, and they worked out five free agents on Wednesday. New England took a look at Kai Forbath, Elliott Fry, Mike Nugent, Blair Walsh, and Matthew Wright today, tweets Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com.

New England will need another kicker for Sunday’s contest against the Redskins, but the club doesn’t seem to be acting with any sense of urgency. The Patriots are not expected to sign a kicker today and may bring in more free agents on Thursday, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The Chargers also held kicker auditions today, which created travel issues for several free agents, per RapSheet.

Nugent by far the most experienced of the kickers that tried out for the Patriots, having attempted more than 300 field goals during his career, but both Walsh and Forbath have each attempted more than 100 kicks each. Fry lost the Bears’ kicking competition over the summer, while Wright is an undrafted rookie free agent.

Meanwhile, Kaare Vedvik — who was traded from the Ravens to the Vikings this offseason before briefly landing with the Jets — declined to work out for the Patriots, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link), who adds Vedvik is focusing on punting and kickoffs rather than field goals.

Steelers Cut Eli Rogers; Reach 53

The Steelers got down to the 53-man max by releasing wide receiver Eli Rogers and a host of other players. Among other notables released 2019 draft picks Sutton Smith (linebacker, sixth round) and Derwin Grey (offensive lineman, seventh round), as well as Marcus Allen, a fifth-round defensive back from the 2018 class.

Rogers came out of nowhere and had a breakout season in 2016, catching 48 passes for 594 yards and three touchdowns in just 13 games. It was a promising debut, but he took a pretty big step backwards the next season when he had just 149 yards and 18 catches. Then in the playoffs, he suffered a torn ACL. The ACL took a long time to recover from, and Rogers didn’t end up making it back until Week 15 of last year.

The rest of the rundown is below.

Offensive players released:

Defensive players released:

Special teams cuts:

North Notes: RGIII, Duke, Vikings

Ravens backup QB Robert Griffin III will miss four to eight weeks after suffering a hairline fracture in his right thumb Saturday night, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Baltimore is optimistic that RGIII will be ready for Week 1, but if he cannot return on the early side of his recovery timeline, he will miss at least some regular season time. The Ravens will surely sign a free agent signal-caller in short order, as the only other QB on the roster behind starter Lamar Jackson is sixth-round rookie Trace McSorley. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic says Josh Johnson, who has been on Baltimore’s preseason roster before, makes the most sense (Twitter link).

Now for more from the league’s north divisions:

  • Browns RB Duke Johnson suffered a hamstring injury Saturday, and ESPN’s Josina Anderson reports that the ailment could force Johnson to miss some time (Twitter link). That will not help the fifth-year back in his quest to get traded out of Cleveland.
  • The way that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin ran his field-goal drill Saturday — having incumbent Chris Boswell and challenger Matthew Wright alternate kicks rather than having Boswell take all of his tries before resetting the drill — is a departure from the way he has done things in the past, which suggests that Pittsburgh really is open to moving on from Boswell. Mark Kaboly of The Athletic still believes it’s more likely than not that Boswell will be kicking for the Steelers in 2019, but the pressure is definitely on.
  • Darren Wolfson of KSTP.com says that the Vikings have some interest in running back Theo Riddick, who was released by the Lions on Saturday (Twitter link). Minnesota does not have a visit set up at this time, though Riddick will meet with at least one other team in addition to his summit with the Saints.
  • Orlando Scandrick visited with the Vikings last week before signing with the Eagles, and Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets that Minnesota did not extend a contract offer to Scandrick. The Vikes have worked out several CBs recently, and when asked whether the club would ultimately sign one, head coach Mike Zimmer said that’s ultimately up to GM Rick Spielman. Zimmer said, “we’re always looking for players. We’ll keep pounding the pavement” (Twitter link via Tomasson).

Steelers Sign 10 UDFAs

Now that the NFL draft is over, teams are beginning to sign undrafted free agents. As teams officially announce their entire UDFA classes, we’ll be posting them. The Steelers became the first team to make such an announcement, inking a crop of ten players:

The Steelers didn’t sign any of the biggest names available, but a few of the signings are notable. McMillan spent the first three years of his career at Virginia Tech before transferring to Colorado, and he had a very productive senior season. Last year he carried the ball 201 times for 1,009 yards and seven touchdowns. The last Colorado running back to sign as an undrafted free agent was Phillip Lindsay, and he ended up making the Pro Bowl. McMillan will be competing for a backup spot behind James Conner.

Wright is the all-time career points leader at UCF. The Steelers signing a kicker is notable because Chris Boswell struggled mightily last season. Boswell had been widely regarded as one of the league’s best kickers, but he collapsed last year. There was talk of the Steelers replacing Boswell mid-season during the 2018 campaign, and Wright should have a legitimate shot at unseating him in training camp.