Nate Freese

NFC Notes: Washington, Floyd, Palmer, Saints

Kyshoen Jarrett has visited several specialists this offseason in hopes of reaching a conclusion regarding the nerve damage the Washington safety suffered in Week 17 of his rookie season. The second-year player hasn’t done any work with the team this offseason, and Jay Gruden remains uncertain on Jarrett’s timetable, John Keim of reports.

It remains a possibility that Jarrett misses his entire second season, Mike Jones of the Washington Post reports (on Twitter).

A sixth-round pick last year, the now-23-year-old Jarrett forced a fumble and made 38 tackles as a rookie. The Virginia Tech product started five games for Washington and played in all 16 before going down against the Cowboys in what turned out to be a meaningless contest.

Washington has converted DeAngelo Hall into a safety, signed David Bruton and drafted linebacker/safety Su’a Cravens to help its back line.

Here’s some more on Washington, along with the latest coming out of the NFC.

  • Although Cravens is listed on Washington’s roster as a safety, the former USC talent worked exclusively at inside linebacker during the team’s minicamp, Jones tweets. Cravens lined up at outside ‘backer and at safety with the Trojans, but his professional employer prefers he first acclimate to the inside spot before branching out to nickel and safety assimilation, per Jones.
  • The size disparity between Leonard Floyd and the Bears‘ other primary outside linebackers will be significant this season. DC Vic Fangio expects the team’s top rookie to weigh between 230 and 235 pounds this season, Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune reports. Contrast that with Pernell McPhee and Lamarr Houston, who are both over 270, and it’s a rather notable chasm between players who play the same position. Fangio said multiple times during an interview with Chicago-area media Saturday he wasn’t concerned about the ex-Georgia edge player’s weight. “I’m sure there’s going to be a play or two every game where you’re going to say, ‘Jeez, he’s not heavy enough,’ or, ‘He’s too light,’” Fangio said. “Hopefully there’ll be a few plays every game, too, that we say, ‘Well, jeez, we didn’t have anybody who could have done that in the past.’ He is what he is.”
  • Carson Palmer‘s work with Cardinals consultant Brett Fischer last year helped strengthen his throwing arm, with wideouts and defensive backs noticing quickly he was throwing harder than he had in 2014, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports. Fischer worked with pitchers Randy Johnson and Max Scherzer before aiding Palmer.
  • Kickers Connor Barth and Nate Freese tried out for the Saints today during a workout that consisted of 44 tryout players, Evan Woodberry of reports. Freese was a seventh-round Lions draft choice in 2014. The Saints have Kai Forbath and Josh Scobee on their roster. New Orleans also worked out former Packers seventh-round defensive lineman C.J. Wilson, who played with the Packers from 2010-13, saw short stints with the Raiders and Lions the past two seasons. Entering what would be his age-29 season, Wilson has made 19 career starts and 6.5 sacks.

Extra Points: Forte, Raji, Cowboys, Bears, Bucs

Soon-to-be ex-Bears running back Matt Forte will be “lucky” to get more than $4MM annually on his next contract, sources tell Jeremy Fowler of (Twitter link). Forte, 30, was informed earlier today that he won’t be re-signed by Chicago, so he’ll be looking for a new club when free agency begins month.

That new club could be in New York, writes Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, as either the Jets or Giants could show interest in Forte. The Jets have far less cap space (as Seth Walder of the New York Daily News noted earlier today), but more of a need at running back, as Chris Ivory is expected to move on. The Giants, meanwhile, possess a great deal of cap room, but aren’t as good a fit for Forte.

Let’s take a look at more from around the league:

  • Packers defensive lineman B.J. Raji called the new three-year deal signed by teammate Letroy Guion “well-deserved,” but admitted he’s not sure if – or how – it affects his potential future with the team, writes Ryan Wood of Green Bay has not yet initiated contract talks for Raji, the free-agent-to-be tells Wood.
  • The Cowboys‘ extensive search for Jerome Henderson‘s replacement continues, as Alex Marvez of FOX Sports tweets that Dallas interviewed Buccaneers cornerbacks coach Gill Byrd for the team’s defensive backs coach position. Byrd joins Mike Gillhamer, Steve Brown, Joe Baker, Tim Lewis, and Mike Nolan as candidates who have spoken to the Cowboys about the secondary coach job.
  • Former Rutgers offensive coordinator Ben McDaniels is headed back to the NFL, as he’ll join the Bears‘ offensive staff, per Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated (no word on McDaniels’ official title). McDaniels, the brother of Patriots play-caller Josh McDaniels, had previously worked with both the Buccaneers and the Broncos.
  • The Buccaneers seem intent on bringing in competition for kicker Connor Barth, as Tampa worked out Josh Scobee, Nate Freese, Mike Meyer, and Cameron Starke today, tweets Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. Barth converted 23-of-28 field goal attempts in 2015, with two of those misses coming from beyond 50 yards.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

AFC Links: Jaguars, Ravens, Clowney, Browns

Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts will be a free agent at the end of the season, but the four-year veteran claims he’s only focused on his team’s final three games. However, when asked about the future, the 26-year-old gave some hints about where he’d like to play next year (via Ryan O’Halloran of The Florida Times-Union):

“Do I want to be here? Yeah. We’ll deal with that when the off-season comes. But right now, we have three games left so I’m trying to focus on Baltimore.

“I really like what’s going on here. I like how [general manager] Dave [Caldwell] is building the team, I like what [owner] Shad [Khan] is putting into the team and I’m a huge fan of [coach] Gus [Bradley] and the coaching staff. This is a team I feel is going in the right direction and I would feel terrible if I end up somewhere else and this team [goes], ‘Boom [and gets better],’ because I’ve been through the rough times.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes from the AFC…

  • Ravens linebacker Daryl Smith, who has spent the last two seasons in Baltimore, briefly reflected on his time with the Jaguars, where he spent the first nine seasons of his career. “I had a good nine years down there, and I’m in Baltimore now,” Smith said (via Wilson). “I’m definitely thankful I got an opportunity and I love being here. I’m happy here. At the end of the day, we’re here to win games. I’m just happy to have these games mean something at this time of the year.”
  • Ravens president Dick Cass clarified his initial statement to Ray Rice following the early reports of domestic abuse. “I never suggested to Ray that he soften or tone down his description of what happened,” Cass said (via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun on Twitter). The president added that he told Rice to do three things: “tell the truth… don’t sugarcoat it…assume the league saw all the video.”
  • Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole says there is “grave concern” within the Texans organization regarding rookie Jadeveon Clowney‘s injury. Cole estimates that the first-overall pick could be a productive defensive end for four to six years, but a long career at the position is “highly unlikely.”
  • Browns defensive end John Hughes returned to practice today, but Wilson tweets that he hasn’t been activated from the injured reserve-designated to return list.
  • The Saints weren’t the only team working out a trio of kickers today. According to Howard Balzer on Twitter, the Browns worked out Garrett Hartley, Zach Hocker and Nate Freese.

Giants Worked Out Felix Jones, 14 Others

4:31pm: The Giants worked out 15 players in total, according to Jordan Raanan of, who provides the full list of participants. Here are the 11 new names:

12:00pm: After losing back-to-back divisional matchups against the NFC-leading Cowboys and Eagles, the Giants are entering their bye week, and are taking the opportunity to look at a handful of free agents. According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (Twitter link), running backs Felix Jones and Alex Green are working out for the team.

Green, a former third-round pick who started his career with the Packers, was cut by the Jets in August and has auditioned for the Lions and Panthers since then. As for Jones, there haven’t been many reports on the former Cowboy this year, which is somewhat surprising — while he didn’t do much in limited action for the Steelers last season, he had recorded over 100 carries in each of his previous four seasons in Dallas, and is still just 27 years old.

The fact that the Giants are working out running backs shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as a sign that Rashad Jennings‘ recovery is moving slowly, or that the team is looking to add a player at the position. It’s more likely that New York is simply gauging the options in the market at several spots in case the club needs to dip into free agency later in the season.

In fact, Josina Anderson of ESPN reports (via Twitter) that quarterback Terrelle Pryor is also visiting the club today, while Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post adds tight end Tony Moeaki to the list of players auditioning. The Giants’ workout group this work is expected to be large, as Jordan Raanan of tweets, so several more participants will likely be reported soon.

Lions Sign Alex Henery

11:23am: Speaking to reporters, including Birkett (Twitter link), head coach Jim Caldwell acknowledged today that the Lions have signed Henery and waived Freese.

10:27am: After using one of their eight draft picks this spring on a kicker, the Lions have decided to move on from that player – Nate Freese – after just three regular-season games. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter), the team plans to sign former Eagles kicker Alex Henery later today.

While Birkett doesn’t specifically say that Freese will be waived, that seems like the only logical corresponding move for the signing of Henery. Freese, a rookie out of Boston College, has struggled early in the NFL career, missing at least one field goal in each of the Lions’ games so far, including a 41-yarder yesterday against Green Bay. Detroit auditioned Henery and other free agent kickers last week to prepare for the possibility of replacing Freese, who has converted just three of his seven attempts this season.

Henery had struggles of his own during the preseason with the Eagles, ultimately losing out on the job in Philadelphia to rookie Cody Parkey. However, the 27-year-old was fairly effective in three previous seasons with the club. From 2011 to 2013, Henery made 86.0% of his field goal tries and all but one of 117 extra-point attempts.

NFC Notes: Abraham, Hardy, Lawson, Lions

As we heard when John Abraham left the Cardinals last week, Arizona’s roster exemption means the veteran defender has five days to rejoin the team or else he won’t be eligible to play this season. So it makes sense that GM Steve Keim said this morning that the club expects a decision from Abraham within “the next 24 hours,” as Darren Urban of details. If Abraham does decide to retire due to health problems, it may prompt the Cards to explore the free agent market, or perhaps promote a player from their practice squad, for pass-rushing help.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • While the Panthers are under scrutiny about how to handle defensive end Greg Hardy in the wake of his domestic violence incident, head coach Ron Rivera said today that the club hasn’t considered releasing him, according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer (via Twitter).
  • The Lions may be sending yet another cornerback to the injured reserve list, according to head coach Jim Caldwell, who indicated to reporters that he wouldn’t expect Nevin Lawson to return this season (link via Michael Rothstein of Lawson, who suffered discloated toes in his left foot yesterday, could be replaced by an outside free agent or practice-squad player Mohammed Seisay, says Caldwell.
  • Caldwell also confirmed in his conversation with reporters, including Tim Twentyman of (Twitter link), that while he thinks Nate Freese is going to be a good NFL kicker, the Lions are considering all their options at kicker after some early-season misses by the rookie.
  • Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap takes a look at some players whose contract values increased or decreased based on this weekend’s games. In Fitzgerald’s view, DeMarco Murray and Ryan Kerrigan were among the players whose stock improved, while Robert Griffin III‘s potential for a big contract extension was diminished by his latest injury.

NFC North Notes: Wilson, Lyerla, Lions

Bears second-year receiver Marquess Wilson will be sidelined indefinitely after he suffered a fractured clavicle on Monday. A second-year pro, Wilson had the inside track on the Bears’ No. 3 receiver job prior to going down. Josh Bellamy was listed behind Wilson on the Bears’ unofficial preseason depth chart, but the team is expected to sign another receiver in Wilson’s absence.

Here’s a few more NFC North news and notes:

  • There’s a legitimate chance 34-year-old safety Adrian Wilson doesn’t make the Bears if he’s not a starter, says Chicago Sun-Times writer Adam Jahns, who lists five Bears with something to prove.
  • Packers rookie tight end Colt Lyerla suffered a knee injury which will keep him out for ‘weeks,’ according to head coach Mike McCarthy (Twitter link). Milwaukee Journal Sentinel beat writer Tyler Dunne spoke with Lyerla’s agent, who said surgery doesn’t look necessary (Twitter link). While the injury throws cold water on one of the more interesting story lines in Packers camp, it could be a blessing in disguise if the team is able to stash the talented undrafted free agent on IR.
  • Adding Jonathan Baldwin to the mix is a low-risk, high-reward move for the Lions, opines ESPN’s Michael Rothstein: “The Lions are always on the search for tall wide receivers, hoping the work ethic and professionalism Calvin Johnson provides can potentially rub off on one of them.”
  • The Lions drafted Nate Freese with the thinking he would take over the team’s kicking duties, but he has not impressed, according to Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press. Meanwhile, Italian-born Giorgio Tavecchio is pushing hard for the job, and Justin Rogers of says Freese’s status as a draft pick will not preclude the team does not guarantee anything.
  • “The Vikings are being built the right way, a model that could lead to sustained success if — and this should be written in bold capital letters because it looms over everything else — rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater can develop into their franchise quarterback,” writes Chip Scroggins in the Star Tribune. Scroggins adds the team has 17 “core players,” excluding rookies.

NFC North Links: Cutler, Fales, Lions, House

Bears‘ quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh is impressed with Jay Cutler going into year two in head coach Marc Trestman’s offense, writes Chris Boden of“I’ve seen incredible progress,” said Cavanaugh. “He’s taken every suggestion we’ve given and he’s embraced it. From how he holds the ball to how he lines up in the`Gun’ pre-snap to how he drops back, to his throwing base to his follow-through. Every little fundamental we’ve talked to him about, he’s embraced, and it’s like night & day.”

Here are some other notes from around the NFC North:

  • Although the Bears signed veterans Jimmy Clausen and Jordan Palmer to compete to be Cutler’s backup, the team still is invested in rookie sixth-round pick David Fales, writes Boden“He had a real good understanding of defenses, coverages, where to go with the ball, based on what the coverage was. He has a good understanding of protections — he’s figuring out ours right now,” said Cavanaugh. “But I thought just a real good core understanding of offense and defense. If you have that, you can learn the language and be productive.”
  • With some time before training camp opens, the Lions still have a number of questions that need to be answered, writes Lindsay Selengowski of Selengowski examines how an injury to rookie receiver T.J. Jones will effect the team’s depth chart, and which second-year players are looking to contribute in 2014.
  • The Lions have an ongoing kicking battle between Nate Freese and Giorgio Tavecchio for a roster spot, writes Josh Katzenstein of Freese, a seventh-round pick this year, has the slight edge over Tavecchio at the moment, although both struggled so far.
  • Packers‘ cornerback Davon House has found himself in a tough depth chart situation, behind starters Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, and Casey Hayward, writes Weston Hodkiewicz of House, who played 16 games last year for the first time in his career, was relegated mostly to special teams towards the end of last year, but played well in the playoffs against the 49ers after Shields left the game with an injury.

Draft Signings: Lions, Packers, Ravens, Vikes

Several dozen of this year’s draftees have already signed their contracts, and many more will do so today. Here’s the latest round of signings for mid-to-late-round draft picks:

  • The Lions have locked up a pair of draftees, signing fourth-round defensive end Larry Webster and seventh-round kicker Nate Freese, tweets Tim Twentyman of Webster should receive a signing bonus worth a little over $300K, while Freese’ bonus will amount to about $59K, per Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap.
  • Fourth-round linebacker Carl Bradford has signed his four-year deal with the Packers, the team announced today in a press release. Green Bay now has four of nine draft picks under contract.
  • The Ravens have agreed to terms with fourth-round running back Lorenzo Taliaferro, a source tells Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. Having come off the board just two picks after the Lions selected Webster, Taliaferro should be in line for an identical bonus of about $300K.
  • Fifth-round offensive lineman David Yankey has signed his contract with the Vikings, according to agent Mike McCartney (via Twitter). Yankey becomes the first of 10 Minnesota draft picks to ink his rookie deal.

Martin Mayhew On Lions’ Draft

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew spoke to the media after the NFL Draft to talk about the team’s draft strategy. He explained that his reason for not drafting a safety, thought to be a position of need, was a combination of being comfortable with the players they have already and the way the board fell, according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN (via Twitter). Mayhew noted that the pick would have had to be an “impactful guy.”

Here are some other notes from the Lions’ draft class:

  • Mayhew said fourth-round pick Nevin Lawson’s “play speed” is better than he timed at the combine, according to Rothstein (via Twitter).
  • The team’s other fourth-round pick Larry Webster will line up at defensive end, writes Rothstein (via Twitter). Mayhew called him a raw player.
  • The Lions’ fifth-round pick, T.J. Jones, will most likely project as a slot receiver, meaning he will be competing with Ryan Broyles for playing time, reports Rothstein (via Twitter). Mayhew called the Notre Dame pass catcher a “clutch” guy.
  • Mayhew noted that the team considered drafting the kicker, Nate Freese, in the sixth round, and was happy to be able to get him in the seventh, according to Rothstein (via Twitter). In Mayhew’s view, after spending his college career kicking outside in the elements at Boston College, Freese will be great in the NFC North, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter).