The Rams are leaning towards addressing the Sammy Watkins void internally, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com tweets. Without last year’s No. 1 wide receiver, the Rams are eyeing bigger roles for Josh Reynolds and Mike Thomas. However, they’ll continue to monitor the market.
Often times, the second wave of free agency leads to veteran bargains for teams. The Rams are comfortable with what they have, but they’ll be keeping a watchful eye on players who encounter underwhelming markets. Some of the top names still on the market include Jordy Nelson, Terrelle Pryor, Eric Decker and Mike Wallace.
Along with losing Watkins in free agency, the Rams also parted ways with Tavon Austin. They’ll have Cooper Kupp and Pharoh Cooper as well to return with incumbent starter Robert Woods. Kupp led all of the team’s wide receivers last year with 62 catches for 869 yards receiving. Watkins led the team’s receivers with eight touchdown catches.
Reynolds and Thomas played in limited roles last season, combining to catch 16 passes. Reynolds was the only of the two to haul in a touchdown pass. Reynolds was a fourth-round pick in last year’s draft and Thomas was a sixth-round selection by the Rams in 2016. Kupp led the team in targets last year (94) and Woods was targeted 85 times compared to 70 for Watkins, despite playing in three fewer games.
It’s clear the Rams placed a higher priority on addressing their secondary this offseason while trusting in a group of in-house young wide receivers to work with Jared Goff, along with running back Todd Gurley. They’ve already traded for Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib and placed their franchise tag on Lamarcus Joyner rather than Watkins.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Alexander, 26, started 14 games for Los Angeles in 2016 and had started four games for the club this season. The former fourth-round pick wasn’t playing all that well, however, as Pro Football Focus had graded Alexander as a bottom-10 safety in 2016. Alexander’s release is simply performance-based, according to Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com, who reports the Rams want to see more from young players Josh Johnson, Cody Davis, Blake Countess, Marqui Christian, and Isaiah Johnson.
Thomas, a sixth-round pick in the 2016 draft, was suspended four games for violating the league’s PED policy. A favorite of many in the draft community, Thomas managed only three receptions in 15 games during his rookie campaign, but also contributed on special teams. He joins a wide receiver group that also includes Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Tavon Austin.
Chiefs starting guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif exited Monday night’s game in the first quarter with an apparent knee injury. Tests on Tuesday morning will determine the extent of the injury and the team is hopeful that it is an MCL injury and not an ACL tear, Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star tweets.
The Chiefs and Duvernay-Tardif agreed to a five-year, $41.25MM extension in the offseason, making him one of the league’s highest-paid interior linemen. Losing him for a lengthy period of time would be a setback for KC.
Here’s more from the West divisions:
- 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan says he not given any consideration to a quarterback change, as Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee writes. For now, the Niners are sticking with Brian Hoyer, but it sounds like Shanahan will not hesitate to yank him if he feels it would benefit the team. “I think he needs to play better,” Shanahan said of Hoyer. “And I think we can play better around him. … When you have the time and you have guys open, you need to hit them. I thought he struggled with that at times (Sunday). I know he can do better. But I also know when he did make throws, guys weren’t great at catching them for him, either.” If Hoyer gets the hook, rookie C.J. Beathard will get a chance to show what he can do.
- The Rams will add Mike Thomas to the roster and go to seven wide receivers when he returns from suspension this week, coach Sean McVay said (Twitter link via Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com). Thomas was hit with the ban in July for PED use.
- Cardinals tackle D.J. Humphries is still out with an MCL injury and coach Bruce Arians doesn’t expect to see him back until two weeks from now, Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com tweets.
Rams rookie wide receiver Mike Thomas has been suspended for the first four games of the season, per a club announcement. Thomas’ ban stems from a violation of the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances.
The Rams selected Thomas with their final pick in the 2016 draft, a sixth-round selection at No. 206 overall. Thomas’ roster spot was anything but guaranteed and today’s news puts him in real jeopardy of not making the cut. The Rams have at least four locks to make the team at wide receiver in Robert Woods, Tavon Austin, third round pick Cooper Kupp, and fourth round pick Josh Reynolds. Pharoah Cooper and a host of other WRs are also vying to stick on the 53-man roster.
Last year, Thomas appeared in 15 games as a special teamer. He returned nine kicks for 180 yards, good for an average of 20 yards per return. His longest kick return was a 41-yard effort against the Falcons in December.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
This morning, word leaked out that the Rams and No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff had agreed to terms on his contract. Of course, thanks to the rookie slotting in the latest CBA, contract negotiations are, by and large, pretty painless. The only exception to that is in the third round where there is a little more wiggle room between players and teams, but the Rams did not have any third-round picks in this year’s draft thanks to the massive haul of picks they sent to the Titans in order to select Goff.
After Goff, the Rams’ next highest draft pick was Western Kentucky tight end Tyler Higbee. In the weeks leading up to the draft, Higbee made headlines for all the wrong reasons when he was charged with second-degree assault. One scout expressed concern about Higbee shortly after he was selected by L.A.:
“He is a major partier,” said the anonymous scout. “That was his big problem, despite the arrests. He has a lot of maturing to do, and I’m not sure he can mature fast enough.”
The 23-year-old was considered a potential third-round talent, but the charges predictably impacted his stock. Higbee caught 48 passes for 563 yards and eight touchdowns last season but missed five games due to a knee injury. When asked about the injury at his pro day, the WKU product told reporters he was 75-80% recovered.
Here is the complete rundown of the Rams’ entire 2016 draft class:
- 1-1: Jared Goff, QB (California)
- 4-110: Tyler Higbee, TE (Western Kentucky)
- 4-117: Pharoh Cooper, WR (South Carolina)
- 6-177: Temarrick Hemingway, TE (South Carolina State)
- 6-190: Josh Forrest, LB (Kentucky)
- 6-206: Mike Thomas, WR (Southern Mississippi)
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Defensive end Joey Bosa is headed to the Browns for a pre-draft visit today, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Tennessee, who owns the No. 1 pick, looked at Bosa and his teammates on Wednesday.
Here’s the latest draft news out of the AFC:
- Duke wide receiver Max McCaffrey – Christian McCaffrey‘s brother and Ed McCaffrey’s son – has a pre-draft workout set up next month with the Broncos, his dad’s old team, tweets Tom Pelissero of USA Today.
- Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg went to dinner with the Cowboys on Tuesday and worked out for them on Wednesday, Albert Breer of NFL.com tweets. The signal caller also spent time with the Bills after the pro day, Breer adds.
- Hackenberg is scheduled to visit the Jets on April 10th, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (on Twitter). GM Mike Maccagnan also attended Hackenberg’s pro day.
- Southern Mississippi wide receiver Mike Thomas met with the Browns on Thursday, per Luke Easterling of Bleacher Report (on Twitter).
- MTSU defensive back Kevin Byard is meeting with the Browns on Thursday night, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Byard ran a 4.46 40-yard-dash at his pro day and jumped 38 inches on his vertical.
- The Bills will host Florida inside linebacker Antonio Morrison on a pre-draft visit, according to Joe Buscaglia of WKBW (on Twitter).
- Georgia pass rusher Leonard Floyd will take a pre-draft visit to the Ravens, Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun tweets.
Today’s minor moves..
- The Buccaneers have signed safety Derrick Wells, according to Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com (on Twitter). The Lehigh, Florida native was one of the players in attendance for the team’s rookie mini-camp.
- The Cowboys welcomed back fullback Tyler Clutts on a one-year deal and cut Jed Collins, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets. Clutts joined the Cowboys late in 2013 and played in every game last season, helping DeMarco Murray to an NFL-high 1,845 yards.
- The Giants removed Thomas Gordon from their injured reserve with an injury settlement, Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun tweets.
- The Patriots have said goodbye to Cameron Gordon and Devin Gardner, Wilson tweets. Gardner was a former quarterback at Michigan and was looking to transition to wide receiver in the NFL.
- Washington signed linebacker Alonzo Highsmith while waiving Brey Cook, James Gayle, LaKendrick Ross, wide receiver Tyler Rutenbeck, and quarterback Connor Halliday, as John Keim of ESPN.com tweets. Halliday’s release was just formality after he abruptly announced his retirement from football.
- The Saints announced the signings of linebacker Henry Coley, kicker Zach Hocker, offensive lineman Antonio Johnson, wide receiver Josh Morgan, and wide receiver Kyle Prater, as Larry Holder of The Times-Picayune tweets. To make room, offensive lineman Doniel Gambrell, guard Andrew Miller, and linebacker Stephon Sanders were shown the door while New Orleans waived/injured receiver Malcolme Kennedy (link).
- The Titans announced (on Twitter) that they have agreed to terms with tight end Tevin Westbrook and outside linebacker Dezmond Johnson. Running back Lache Seastrunk and outside linebacker Dontay Moch were waived.
- The Toronto Argonauts signed former NFL linebacker Brian Rolle, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Rolle, 27 in November, was drafted by the Eagles in the sixth round of the 2011 draft. His last NFL gig was with the Steelers, who signed him on a futures/reserve contract in 2013. Meanwhile, the Argos said goodbye to wide receiver Mike Thomas and safety David Sims, who both have had multiple stops in the NFL (link).
- Wide receiver/kick returner DeShon Foxx has agreed to terms with the Seahawks, accoridng to Wilson (on Twitter).
- The 49ers signed Mylan Hicks and Justin Renfrow, according to Wilson (on Twitter).
- The Seahawks signed Earnest Pettway and Charles Tuauu, according to Wilson (on Twitter).
- The Chiefs cut Curtis Feigt with a non-football injury designation, Wilson tweets.
Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four AFC South teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions are noted below.
Additionally, as of 11:00am CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. For the 2014 and 2015 seasons, changes were made to practice squad rules that allow teams to carry eight players instead of 10, and the eligibility requirements for those extra two spots were also loosened. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.
Here are Sunday’s AFC South transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day:
- Acquired via trade: Ryan Mallett, QB (link)
- Signed: Danieal Manning, S (link)
- Claimed off waivers: Jeff Adams, T (via Mike Garafolo on Twitter), Damaris Johnson, WR (via Les Bowen on Twitter); Darryl Morris, CB (via Ian Rapoport on Twitter)
- Cut (officially announced): Chris Clemons, S (link); Case Keenum, QB (via Tania Ganguli on Twitter); Anthony McClung, WR (released with injury settlement, via Aaron Wilson on Twitter); Mike Thomas, WR (via Rapoport on Twitter); Josh Victorian, CB (via Wilson on Twitter)
- Placed on injured reserve: Will Yeatman (via James Palmer on Twitter)
- Signed to practice squad: Travis Labhart, WR (via David Nuno on Twitter); Keith Browner, DE; Max Bullough, ILB; Anthony Denham, TE; Matt Feiler, OT; James Ferentz, C; Alex Kupper OG; EZ Nwachukwu, WR; Toben Opurum, FB; Marcus Williams, CB.
- Claimed off waivers: A.Q. Shipley, C (via Adam Caplan on Twitter)
- Cut: Thomas Austin, C (via Caplan on Twitter)
- Signed to practice squad (officially announced): Tyler Hoover, T; Andrew Jackson, ILB; Ryan Lankford, WR; Josh Lenz, WR; Jeff Mathews, QB; Dewey McDonald, S; Nnamdi Obukwelu, DT; Sheldon Price, CB; Erik Swoope, TE; Josh Walker, G
- Claimed off waivers: Mickey Shuler, TE (via Ryan O’Halloran on Twitter)
- Cut: Marcel Jensen, TE (via Aaron Wilson on Twitter)
- Signed to practice squad (officially announced): Cody Booth, T; DeAndre Coleman, DT; Henry Josey, RB (via Adam Caplan on Twitter); Craig Loston, S; Stephen Morris, QB; Kerry Taylor, WR; Tony Washington, WR; Marcus Whitfield, LB. The team has also added cornerback Peyton Thompson, reports Michael DiRocco (via Twitter), although the team has not officially announced the signing.
- Claimed off waivers: Kris Durham, WR (via team release); T.J. Graham, WR (via Adam Caplan on Twitter); Brandon Harris, CB (via team release)
- Cut: Michael Preston, WR (via Jim Wyatt on Twitter); Steve Vallos, C (via team release); Khalid Wooten, DB (via team release); Patrick Bailey, LB (via Jim Wyatt on Twitter)
- Signed to practice squad (officially announced): Antonio Andrews, RB (via John Glennon on Twitter); Chigbo Anunoby, DL (via team release); Brandon Copeland, LB (via Wyatt on Twitter); Justin McCray, OL (via team release); Will Poehls, T (via Wyatt on Twitter); Rico Richardson, WR (via Wyatt on Twitter); Ri’Shard Anderson, CB (via Wyatt on Twitter); Dontay Moch, LB; Orson Charles, TE (via Wyatt on Twitter).
Despite owning 10 selections in the 2014 NFL Draft — including No. 3 overall — Jaguars second-year GM David Caldwell cites a robust class of eligible draftees as a reason to trade down and stockpile picks.
“We have 10 picks already and when we did the Eugene Monroe trade, we felt it would be a deep draft,” Caldwell said at his NFL Scouting Combine interview, according to John Oehser of Gaguars.com. “We feel really good about having an extra four and an extra five.”
In addition to its regularly allotted picks in Rounds 1-7, Jacksonville acquired a fifth-round pick with the trade of receiver Mike Thomas to the Lions, along with the aforementioned fourth- and fifth-round picks from the Ravens in the Monroe trade.
With NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock calling this draft class the deepest in the last 10 years, and Steelers GM Kevin Colbert saying it’s the deepest he’s ever seen, one would be hard-pressed to argue with Caldwell’s philosophy, especially with a lineup devoid of blue-chip talent.
More notes from the AFC and NFC South….
- Titans safety Michael Griffin and receiver Nate Washington are due to make $6.2MM and $4.8MM in 2014, respectively, but it “sounds like they’re going to be OK,” according to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean (Twitter link).
- However, Wyatt doesn’t feel so optimistic about right tackle David Stewart, who is scheduled to earn $6.4MM next season. The Titans would not endure a cap hit of any kind if they release Stewart, who is in the final year of a six-year deal and has missed four games in each of the past two seasons due to injury.
- Saints GM Mickey Loomis said he plans on filling as many needs as possible in free agency, then finding the best players available in the draft, writes John DeShazier of NewOrleansSaints.com. The New Orleans staff has all the reports written on the 2014 NFL draft class, said Loomis, and that it is now in the “fine-tuning” stage of the evaluation process.
- DeShazier notes that the BPA strategy has paid dividends with Loomis at GM, unearthing gems like Jahri Evans and Marques Colston in the fourth and seventh rounds of 2006, along with Pierre Thomas and Junior Galette as undrafted free agents in 2007 and 2010.