Michael Burton

COVID-19 Latest: Titans, Pats, Newton

After three blissfully uneventful weeks in the NFL — at least as far as COVID-19 is concerned — the virus has begun to rear its ugly head. Let’s get you up to date with all the pandemic-related happenings in the league:

  • One more Titans player and one more Tennessee personnel member tested positive, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets, bringing the total to 20 positive tests (10 players and 10 personnel). Since the Titans have now had positive tests on six straight days, the soonest they could reopen their facilities would be Wednesday, October 7 (Twitter link via Schefter). Tennessee is scheduled to play the Bills next Sunday, October 11.
  • Schefter says in a full-length piece that the league and union are investigating whether the Titans violated COVID-19 protocols, and the team has been asked to turn over multiple videotapes of team activities. At least one source believes Tennessee failed to follow the protocols, and if that turns out to be true, the club could face punishment in the form of fines or draft pick forfeiture. Another source thinks that the league will ultimately look to make an example out of the Titans.
  • Luckily, no other team had a positive test from yesterday’s round of testing, as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network observes (via Twitter). That includes the Patriots and Chiefs, both of whom recently had a player test positive (starting QB Cam Newton of New England, and practice squad QB Jordan Ta’amu of Kansas City). But as Schefter cautions, the virus has an incubation period, and Newton was in the huddle all week with teammates (Twitter link). There will be another round of testing today, but if the tests come back negative, the plan is to have the Pats and Chiefs play each other on Monday night, per Dianna Russini of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Newton, of course, will miss that game, and his availability for Week 5 is also in doubt.
  • There was a scare last night when ProFootballTalk reported (via Twitter) that a Saints player had tested positive. Subsequent reports indicated that the player was fullback Michael Burton, but as Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football tweeted, Burton’s retest came back negative, so the Saints’ game against the Lions will go on today as scheduled.
  • Hopefully the league will be able to recover from these scares, but Mark Maske of the Washington Post says the NFL is looking into the possibility of adding a Week 18 to the regular season schedule to accommodate postponed games (Twitter link). ProFootballTalk adds that multiple coaches have discussed the possibility of temporarily suspending the season, reconfiguring the schedule to allow for 12 total games, and then putting teams in hotels for the nine games that would remain (Twitter link).
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that the league will hold a mandatory phone call for coaches, GMs, and owners tomorrow to discuss penalties for violating COVID-19 protocols. La Canfora says in a separate piece that the league is also considering playoff bubbles.

Minor NFL Transactions: 3/20/20

Today’s running list of minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

  • Released: P Ryan Allen (this is only a procedural move and Allen is expected to be re-signed shortly, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets.)

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

Chicago Bears

Houston Texans

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL Workout Updates: 10/16/19

Here is the latest from the workout circuit:

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Redskins

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/15/19

Here’s a rundown of early-week minor NFL moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

  • Signed: T Dan Skipper (from Patriots’ practice squad)

Indianapolis Colts

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Signed: DE L.T. Walton

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Redskins

NFL Workout Updates: 10/9/19

Here are Wednesday’s updates from the workout circuit. Unless otherwise noted, all links go to the Twitter account of the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson.

Arizona Cardinals

Cleveland Browns

Kansas City Chiefs

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Saints Reach 53-Man Max

Good news for Saints fans, and fans of lists in general. The Saints have reached the 53-man max – here’s the full rundown.

Released:

Waived:

Placed on IR:

More Minor NFL Transactions: 5/13/19

Here’s the latest round of minor moves from around the NFL (for this morning’s minor moves, click here):

Carolina Panthers

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

  • Claimed off waivers: DB Mike Tyson (from Texans)

New England Patriots

New York Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers

New Orleans Saints

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Redskins

Saints To Work Out Sam Young, Ulrick John

Although the Saints only had one pick in the first three rounds of last week’s draft, they used it on an offensive lineman, Erik McCoy. The team is still exploring veteran front-five depth, however.

The Saints will audition both Sam Young and Ulrick John, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk report (Twitter links). John’s workout is slated for May 10, when New Orleans will hold its rookie minicamp.

While Derek Newton is the most experienced Saints backup offensive lineman, he has played in one game since October 2016 due to the two patellar tendon tears he suffered in his Texans finale. Michael Ola also resides on New Orleans’ roster.

Young, 31, served as a swing option for the Dolphins the past three years. The 6-foot-8 tackle started eight games in that span and was a nine-game starter in Jacksonville between the 2014 and ’15 seasons. Also a tackle, John has not played since the 2017 season and has not seen action with the same franchise in consecutive years. His most relevant NFL work came in three starts for the 2016 Cardinals.

Additionally, the Saints will work out former Lions and Bears fullback Michael Burton, Herbie Teope of NFL.com tweets. That audition will also take place at next weekend’s rookie camp. Like Young and John, Burton is a former Day 3 pick. He played four seasons combined with the NFC North franchises. Burton played just 49 snaps last season in Chicago but graded out well, per Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Patriots, Jets

Having ended their veteran quarterback search with a Ryan Fitzpatrick agreement, after pursuing Teddy Bridgewater and Tyrod Taylor, the Dolphins continue to embark on a rebuilding track. In fact, the word “tanking” came up during one of the team’s head coach interviews, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald notes. Chris Grier, as could be expected, denied the team will use 2019 to tank.

Often one of the most active teams during free agency, the Dolphins this year have parted ways with starters Ryan Tannehill, Josh Sitton, Ted Larsen, Andre Branch and Danny Amendola. They let Ja’Wuan James and Cameron Wake walk. This leads Salguero to the notion the Dolphins are indeed tanking with the prospect of being in best position to land a high 2020 draft pick and have cap space when that league year begins. As of now, early projections have the Dolphins at $107MM in 2020 cap space — second in the league behind the Cowboys. And with Dallas set to extend several young talents, Miami looks poised to lead that pack. Fitzpatrick has made at least eight starts in a season nine times; his teams finished with a winning record in one of those seasons. Sunday’s move lends further credence the Dolphins are targeting the 2020 quarterback class.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Rob Gronkowski has not given the Patriots his decision on if he will continue his career in 2019, but if the future Hall of Famer wants an extension, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes this cannot happen until August 30 — a year after his previous contract adjustment, per an NFL rule. Long dissatisfied with a contract he agreed to in 2012, Gronkowski would be entering the final year of that deal if he returned for 2019. The Patriots could approach Gronk about a pay cut, however, at any point this offseason, per Volin. Gronkowski is due a $10MM salary and to count $11.86MM on the Patriots’ cap. The latest word on Gronk’s status is a return for a 10th season is more likely than a retirement.
  • Conversely, a Tom Brady extension can happen at any point this offseason. Since the Patriots did not adjust their quarterback’s cap number via the unmet incentives last year, Volin notes they can extend his contract before the 12-month mark from when the team included those incentives. Brady’s deal appears likely to be adjusted, with the 41-year-old passer’s contract-year cap figure sitting at $27MM.
  • Dialogue about the trade that moved the Jets up to last year’s No. 3 overall pick began at the 2018 Senior Bowl, with Jets VP of player personnel Brian Heimerdinger approaching Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds that January about a possible trade, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. Christopher Johnson emphasized the Jets focus on quarterback scouting in 2017, primarily Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen. The Jets targeted No. 3 overall because their sources indicated to them the Giants were zeroing in on Saquon Barkley, Cimini adds. Gang Green put its plan B into action a year ago today after Kirk Cousins spurned them.
  • The Dolphins are interested in acquiring a fullback, which marks a change from recent years. Specifically, they are exploring the addition of Michael Burton, per Salguero. Burton was Pro Football Focus’ No. 2-rated fullback last season but only played 49 snaps, not enough to qualify for full-time status. Only five fullbacks did meet those standards, illustrating this position’s scarcity on most teams. If not Burton, a four-year veteran who has played in Detroit and Chicago, Miami may target another UFA blocking back.
  • Prior to LaAdrian Waddle signing with the Bills, the Patriots conveyed interest in bringing him back, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes. The Pats kept an open dialogue with their swing tackle but were not willing to match the Bills’ offer, Reiss adds.

Bears Claim FB Michael Burton Off Waivers

Michael Burton will remain employed by an NFC North franchise after the Bears claimed him on waivers, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The Lions waived Burton on Tuesday to make room for Matt Asiata.

This NFC North carousel concludes with two running backs changing teams within the division. Burton will join a Bears team that has a fullback vacancy after the team made the decision to waive Paul Lasike earlier this month.

Burton started seven games for the Lions as a rookie in 2015, but once Jim Bob Cooter took over the offensive reins midway through that season, a fullback was no longer a necessity. Burton played only 95 snaps last season and did not touch the ball on offense. The Bears figure to use him on special teams as well. They didn’t feature much work from an official fullback themselves in 2016.

The 25-year-old Rutgers product is under team control for two more years, per the terms of his rookie contract that the Bears are picking up.