Maxx Williams

NFC West Notes: Kendricks, Williams, 49ers

Mychal Kendricks‘ sentencing date keeps getting postponed, and the Seahawks keep reaping the rewards. Per Brady Henderson of ESPN.com, Kendricks is now due to be sentenced for insider trading — which he pleaded guilty to in September 2018 — in February 2020 (Twitter link). The date has been pushed back five times now, and instead of losing Kendricks on November 21 (the most recent date), Seattle will have their starting weakside ‘backer for its playoff run.

Now for more from the NFC West:

  • The Cardinals signed tight end Maxx Williams to a modest one-year, $805K pact this offseason, but they have been impressed enough with his performance — especially as a pass blocker — to sign him to an extension several days ago. And he will get a sizable raise, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says the two-year pact, which keeps Williams in the desert through 2021, is worth $7MM (Twitter link).
  • 49ers CB Jason Verrett and DL Kentavius Street are both getting healthier and are candidates to come off of IR at some point this season, as Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area (citing head coach Kyle Shanahan) tweets. Both players have had difficult injury luck in their careers, so this is encouraging news, and San Francisco would surely love to have Verrett and Street as depth for the stretch run.
  • The news is not as good for 49ers rookie WR Jalen Hurd, as Shanahan says it’s unlikely Hurd will be ready to come off of IR this year (Twitter link via Maiocco).
  • The 49ers are also planning on being without DE Dee Ford for a couple of weeks, per Maiocco (via Twitter). Injuries have limited Ford during his first year in San Francisco, though he has managed to post 6.5 sacks. Ford is currently dealing with a hamstring injury.

Cardinals Sign Maxx Williams To Extension

Kliff Kingsbury‘s offense does not feature too much from the tight end position, statistically speaking, but the Cardinals have been pleased with Maxx Williams‘ contributions. The parties agreed on a new contract Saturday.

The team announced Williams signed a two-year extension that will tie him to the Cardinals through the 2021 season. Williams signed a one-year, $805K deal this offseason.

Williams has made 11 receptions for 139 yards. While the 12.6 yards per catch represents a career-high figure, the fifth-year player has not been targeted more than three times in a game this season. The former Ravens second-round pick has caught more than one pass in a game just once all year. He leads Cards tight ends with 277 snaps, edging fellow first-year Cardinal Charles Clay‘s 248.

Pro Football Focus has given Williams a middle-of-the-road run-blocking assessment but views him as one of the best pass-blocking tight ends this season. While Arizona has used its tight ends sparingly in an offense that features plenty of four-wideout, one-running back looks, the team will keep one of its role players around for at least another year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Maxx Williams To Sign With Cardinals

Free agent tight end Maxx Williams has agreed to sign with the Cardinals, as Williams himself tweeted. He will have a chance to rejuvenate his career in Arizona, whose tight end depth chart is not particularly imposing.

Williams, whom the Ravens selected in the second round of the 2015 draft, entered the league with plenty of promise. Baltimore actually traded up to land the Minnesota product, and the club had visions of him catching deep passes down the seam and creating mismatches with linebackers in the passing game.

And while Williams showed flashes of that ability, injuries have hampered him throughout his professional career, and after the Ravens selected Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews in the 2018 draft and re-signed Nick Boyle this offseason, it was clear that Williams’ time in Baltimore could be coming to an end.

But while he never blossomed into the receiver the Ravens hoped he could be, he has become a solid blocker, and he is just 25, so he may yet realize some of his former potential as a pass catcher. The Cardinals signed Charles Clay this offseason and made UCLA product Caleb Johnson this year’s Mr. Irrelevant with the final pick of last week’s draft, and the club is also rostering Ricky Seals-Jones, but none of those players are going to prevent Williams from getting an extended look.

Williams follows former Ravens teammate Terrell Suggs to the desert.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Broncos, Douglas, Osweiler

Broncos QB Paxton Lynch did not play particularly well in last night’s preseason contest against the 49ers. He completed 9-of-13 passes for just 39 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions, which culminated in a 72.3 quarterback rating. He also rushed three times for 27 yards. While he showed some promise, he also displayed difficulties reading and reacting to defenses, and he was thoroughly outplayed by Trevor Siemian, leading Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post to believe that Denver’s quarterback competition may be over and that Siemian may have won it for the second straight year. Head coach Vance Joseph said it would be ideal to name a winner prior to next week’s third preseason game, but he added, “The timeframe is not important. What’s important is we get it right, so it could be this week, it could be next week. But we’re going to go back and watch the tape and see where we are.” 

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from the AFC:

  • Chiefs running back Charcandrick West is one of the most popular players in the Kansas City clubhouse, but thanks to the emergence of rookie Kareem Hunt and the revival of C.J. Spiller, his roster spot is in jeopardy, as Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star writes. The Chiefs could keep four running backs, but Paylor suggests that is somewhat unlikely unless the team is confident West or Spiller could also line up as a slot receiver if necessary.
  • Titans wideout Harry Douglas managed just 15 catches for 210 yards and no touchdowns last year, and he accepted a $2MM paycut this offseason, which, combined with Tennessee’s revitalization of its WR corps, suggests that Douglas’ days in Nashville could be numbered. But as Jason Wolf of the Tennessean writes, head coach Mike Mularkey considers Douglas “invaluable,” and the coaching staff prizes his vocal and veteran presence, consistent route-running, and capable blocking. As such, Wolf believes Douglas may actually be a lock to make the roster, though his playing time will again be limited.
  • Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says the game still looks a little too fast for DeShone Kizer, so she believes Brock Osweiler has the inside track to open the season as the Browns‘ starting quarterback, which is consistent with reports we have been hearing over the past several weeks.
  • In a piece discussing Maxx Williams‘ promising performance during the Ravens‘ preseason victory over the Dolphins Thursday night, Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun wrote that Williams is competing with Larry Donnell and Vince Mayle for Baltimore’s No. 3 TE job (behind Ben Watson and Nick Boyle). Williams, a 2015 second-round selection, underwent unique and serious knee surgery last year, but he easily has the most promise of any tight end on the roster. Even if he is technically competing for the No. 3 job at the moment, more performances like the one he had on Thursday could catapult him up the depth chart.
  • Former Ravens LB Zach Orr, who recently announced he was hanging up his cleats for good, could be rejoining Baltimore in another capacity. Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com says head coach John Harbaugh is interested in bringing Orr back as a scout or coach.

Extra Points: Saints, Fins, Cowboys, Ravens

The Saints have too many linebackers and not enough spots, which could lead to the ouster of either Manti Te’o or Stephone Anthony, writes Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. Te’o hasn’t even played a down yet for the Saints, who signed him in May, but his two-year, $5MM deal includes just $600K in guarantees. With that in mind, the former Charger will be easy to jettison if he doesn’t impress Saints coaches in the coming weeks. Anthony’s contract, on the other hand, isn’t so team friendly. Cutting him wouldn’t save the Saints any money this year, yet it would leave them with $2.1MM-plus in dead money. While the 24-year-old was a first-round pick of the Saints not long ago, in 2015, he’s coming off a subpar second season that ended after 10 games on account of a knee injury.

More from around the NFL:

  • As of late June, the expectation was that Dolphins center Mike Pouncey would be ready for Week 1. That remains the case, it seems, as Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that Pouncey hasn’t had any setbacks during his recovery from the hip injury that kept him out of 11 games last year. As a result, both Pouncey and the Dolphins are “confident” a forthcoming hip exam will yield positive results. Still, for precautionary reasons, the Dolphins will limit Pouncey in practice throughout the year in hopes of having him for all 16 regular-season games (and potential playoff contests), relays Salguero.
  • Cowboys defensive end David Irving was a no-show for the team’s first day of camp on Friday, per Todd Archer of ESPN.com. It’s unclear why Irving was absent, but he’s now subject to a $40K fine for missing reporting day. Irving’s already set to serve a four-game suspension for a violation of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
  • With training camp approaching, Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun projects the Ravens’ season-opening roster. Veterans whose roster spots are in danger include tight end Maxx Williams, fullback Lorenzo Taliaferro, defensive ends Brent Urban and Za’Darius Smith, and cornerback Brandon Boykin, writes Zrebiec. Urban is the only member of the group who appeared in every Ravens game last season, when he picked up two sacks on 150 snaps. Smith, a participant in over 47 percent of Baltimore’s defensive snaps and a starter in 13 appearances, played the biggest role of the five in 2016. But Smith only made a marginal impact statistically (20 tackles, sack, forced fumble), and his performance ranked a less-than-stellar 92nd among Pro Football Focus’ 106 qualified edge defenders.
  • Bears center Hroniss Grasu missed all of last season after tearing his ACL in August, and now it’s up in the air whether he’ll play another down for the team, suggests JJ Stankevitz of CSN Chicago. Grasu’s old starting job now belongs to Cody Whitehair, who more than held his own as a rookie after shifting from guard to center in the wake of Grasu’s injury. So, if the Bears only keep eight offensive lineman this year, it may lead to Grasu’s demise. The 25-year-old was a third-round pick in 2015, when he started in all of his appearances, though a neck injury limited him to eight games that season.

Ravens Place Maxx Williams On IR

The Ravens announced that they have placed tight end Maxx Williams on injured reserve. Williams has been dealing with a knee injury that will likely require surgery. Maxx Williams (vertical)

Under the new IR rules, players can return to action after eight weeks on the list. However, this is probably a season-ender for Williams since its sounds like he is going under the knife. The team has yet to make a corresponding move, but they could activate tight end Darren Waller to the 53-man roster, according to the team website. Waller is set to return from a four-game suspension this week. The team also recently brought up tight end Daniel Brown, so they may not opt for another player at that position.

Williams’ knee injury was manageable until he aggravated it in Sunday’s contest against the Raiders. A second-round pick in 2015, Williams set franchise rookie tight end records last year with 32 receptions for 268 yards and one touchdown. Now, Baltimore will have to wait until next year to see him on the field again.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens, Maxx Williams Agree To Deal

The Ravens have reached a deal with second-round tight end Maxx Williams, a source tells Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. Williams is the second Baltimore draftee known to have struck an agreement with the club, following fourth-round cornerback Tray Walker.

Williams, the 55th overall pick last Friday, could become an immediate contributor in Baltimore given the uncertain health status of veteran tight end Dennis Pitta and the offseason departure of last year’s starter, Owen Daniels. The Ravens felt strongly enough about Williams to give up a fifth-round pick to move up three spots in the second round to make sure they landed him.

Per Over the Cap’s draft pool figures, Williams will make just over $4MM on his four-year deal with Baltimore, including a signing bonus of about $1.21MM

AFC Quotes: Belichick, Newsome, Telesco

Following the second day of the draft, the league’s coaches and general managers took time to explain their logic to reporters. We already took a look at some of the notable soundbites out of the NFC, so let’s now shift our focus to the other conference…

Patriots coach Bill Belichick on the team’s selection of safety Jordan Richards in the second round (via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com):

“[Richard is a]strong tackler, a pretty instinctive guy, and certainly able to play on the punt team, kickoff return, kickoff coverage and punt return — could be a matchup guy outside or maybe a hold-up guy in the box. I’m sure he’ll be able to contribute in the kicking game.”

Belichick on his team’s trade with the Browns:

“At the start of the day, we had a little bit of spacing there [with our picks] — top of the fourth, bottom of the fourth, no fifth, but top of the sixth, top of the seventh, bottom of the seventh. Now we have three picks in the fourth round, and we’ve kind of filled in that fifth round.”

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome on the team’s decision to move up and select tight end Maxx Williams (via ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley):

“We get to a point where we feel it’s time to go get a player, we wait through three or four picks and then I get a little antsy. When you’ve got ammunition, you just go and get the player. It wouldn’t have mattered who was picking at that spot for us to move up and get the guy.”

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco on his team’s draft philosophy (via Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com):

“Jim Irsay, the owner for the Colts, almost every year of the draft used to always say, ‘You don’t control the draft. The draft controls you.’ And that’s a lot of times what happens. There may be a certain way you want to go. But if there’s not a player you have evaluated in that spot, there’s nothing you can do about it. So you’ve got to stick with your board… These players fit the characteristics we’re looking for. I think they make us a better football team, and we’re happy to have these guys. They’re going to have pretty good careers here.”

AFC Notes: Steelers, Ravens, Chargers

Before drafting Mississippi cornerback Senquez Golson with the 56th overall pick, the Steelers tried to move up and take Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams, tweets Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh-Tribune Review. The Steelers were unable to pull it off, however, and Williams ended up going 55th to the AFC North rival Ravens, who traded up to get ahead of Pittsburgh. Not surprisingly, that displeased the Steelers, according to Kaboly.

While the Steelers may not have been happy to see their division rivals land Williams, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link) doesn’t think they were going to take the tight end themselves in that spot — according to La Canfora, Pittsburgh was “locked in” on Golson at No. 56.

Here are a few more draft-related leftovers from day two, from around the AFC…

  • Speaking of the Ravens, they’re eyeing some of the draft’s remaining cornerbacks, per Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter).
  • The Chargers had discussions with multiple teams about moving down in the second round, but they decided to stay put because they wanted Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman, Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. The Bolts took Perryman 48th overall.
  • Broncos general manager John Elway didn’t consider taking a quarterback in the third round, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The Broncos instead used the 92nd overall pick on Ohio State tight end Jeff Heuerman.
  • Discussing the teams’ day two draft picks, Texans GM Rick Smith said linebacker Benardrick McKinney was the highest-rated player on the club’s board when the second round began, and added that Jaelen Strong‘s injured wrist was medically cleared by the Texans’ staff prior to the draft (Twitter links via Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle).
  • Josh Cribbs became expendable for the Colts when the team drafted Phillip Dorsett in the first round, and Indianapolis released Cribbs earlier today. According to GM Ryan Grigson, the club wanted to give the veteran returner a chance to find “greener pastures,” tweets Mike Chappell of RTV6.

Ravens Acquire 55th Pick From Cardinals

The Ravens have acquired the 55th pick from the Cardinals, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, and Andy Slater of 940-AM WINZ reports (Twitter) they will select Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams. The Cards will receive a second-round pick (No. 58) and fifth-rounder (No. 158), according to the NFL’s official Twitter account.