Niles Paul

Jaguars To Waive S Barry Church

The Jaguars will waive safety Barry Church, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). In related moves, the Jags also waived tight end Niles Paul from the NFI list and activated offensive lineman Josh Wells from injured reserve. 

[RELATED: Jaguars’ Malik Jackson Expects To Be Cut]

Church, 30, joined the Jaguars prior to the 2017 offseason on a four-year, $21.6MM deal. His guarantees have already been paid out, so the move will have no impact on the Jaguars’ 2019 cap. Church’s release will free up $6.25MM in 2019 and its expected that there will be more cap-clearing cuts in the coming months.

The veteran was a healthy scratch last week, but the move to release him before the end of the season is a tad surprising. In any case, Church will hit the waiver wire, giving teams 24 hours to claim him.

In theory, a team could be on board with paying him game checks of $368K for the rest of the year before releasing him from his deal in the offseason. However, the more likely scenario is that Church will go unclaimed and then sign with a contender for the rest of the way.

In eleven games this year (all starts), Church has tallied 38 tackles, one sack, and one interception. However, he has been generally poor in coverage and ranks as Pro Football Focus’ No. 79 safety out of 83 qualified players. He was far sharper in 2016, his final year with the Cowboys, and 2017, his first with the Jags.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Place TE Niles Paul On IR

The Jaguars are placing tight end Niles Paul on injured reserve with a sprained MCL, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The injury is not a season-ender, but he will have to miss at least eight weeks while on IR, per league rules.

The Jaguars have now lost their two best pass-catching tight ends to injury this season. Just one week ago, the club was forced to place Austin Seferian-Jenkins on IR. The silver lining here is that ASJ is also eligible to return, and can suit up one week before Paul.

Paul, 29, had seven catches for 65 yards after taking over for Seferian-Jenkins in Week 5. It was his best performance since September of 2014, when he made some noise as a member of the Redskins.

To take Paul’s place on the roster, the Jags signed free agent tight end Blake Bell. Bell has 22 catches for 290 yards over three seasons with the Niners and Vikings. That’s far from ASJ’s best work, and nowhere near what Paul can do at his best, but beggars can’t be choosers. For the foreseeable future, the Jags will be working with a core of David Grinnage, James O’Shaughnessy, and Bell at tight end.

Jaguars To Sign TE Niles Paul

Niles Paul is leaving the Redskins. The Jaguars are set to sign the free agent tight end, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union (on Twitter). It’s a two-year deal, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter).

Paul, 29 in August, hasn’t been high on the NFL’s radar since catching 39 passes for 507 yards and one touchdown in 2014. After missing the 2015 season, he saw time in only eight games in ’16 and had a marginal role on the Redskins last year. Over the last two seasons, he has just 15 catches for 121 yards to his credit.

The Jaguars declined their option on Mychal Rivera in February, opening up a spot on the TE depth chart for Paul. However, Jacksonville exercised an option for fellow tight end Marcedes Lewis, while free agent Austin Seferian-Jenkins is scheduled to visit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2018 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account. Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market. The same goes for players who have been franchise tagged or transition tagged.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2018:

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Drew Brees
  3. Case Keenum
  4. A.J. McCarron
  5. Sam Bradford
  6. Teddy Bridgewater
  7. Colin Kaepernick
  8. Josh McCown
  9. Mike Glennon
  10. Drew Stanton
  11. Jay Cutler
  12. Chase Daniel
  13. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  14. Brock Osweiler
  15. Tom Savage

There were many difficult calls when putting this list together, but ranking Kirk Cousins as the No. 1 QB available was not among them. Cousins is the best quarterback to reach free agency in recent history and he’ll become the highest-paid player of all-time – at least, for some period of time – in mid-March. Who will make history with Cousins? That’s anyone’s guess right now. The Browns have more cap room than any other team, but a recent report from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com listed the Broncos, Cardinals, Jets, and Vikings as the final suitors for Cousins. Of those four, the Jets have the most money to work with, but they’re concerned about the Vikings winning out and Cousins’ desire to win could point him in another direction. If the Broncos and Cardinals want in on the Cousins sweepstakes, they’ll have to get creative with the books.

Drew Brees is included here, but by his own admission, he’ll be re-signing with the Saints rather than testing the open waters of free agency. Unless the Saints lowball their franchise QB, it’s hard to see him leaving New Orleans.

Case Keenum put together a tremendous season for the Vikings, but he doesn’t have a history of success beyond 2017. There will be plenty of interest in Keenum, but only after QB-needy teams strike out on Cousins. The incumbent Vikings could re-sign Keenum, but right now, it seems like they are intent on exploring the Cousins waters first.

There isn’t a ton of footage on A.J. McCarron, which made his placement on this list awfully tricky. We know this much: McCarron did well in place of Dalton in the home stretch of the 2015 season and his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was salivating at the chance of landing him before the Browns bungled the trade with the Bengals. McCarron’s relative youth is a plus (he won’t turn 28 until September) and his lack of experience can be looked at as a positive. Unlike some of the other names on this list, he hasn’t run up his NFL odometer.

What will NFL teams make of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford this offseason? Not long ago, both seemed like quality starting options. However, there are serious injury questions about both players and any team signing them will either look to backstop them with another decent option or ask them to come onboard as a QB2. With that in mind, one has to wonder if Bradford would consider retirement if asked to hold the clipboard for another signal caller. Bradford has earned upwards of $110MM over the years in the NFL, so it’s safe to say that he has enough money in the bank to call it quits if he wants. For now, he’s intent on playing.

Colin Kaepernick‘s placement on this list is sure to draw some strong reactions from his fans and detractors alike. Looking purely at his football ability, there’s no question that he belongs on someone’s roster. At minimum, Kaepernick profiles as a high-end backup, even after a year out of the game.

Quarterbacks coaches have long believed that Mike Glennon is capable of great things, due in part to his height. At 6’7″, he can see over any defensive line, but he hasn’t done much on the field to prove that he is a quality Week 1 starting option. Josh McCown, who is a decade his senior, edges him here for his surprisingly strong performance in 2017 at the helm of a weak Jets offense.

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NFC Notes: Seahawks, Redskins, Rush

During Friday’s preseason game, Austin Davis outplayed Trevone Boykin as the pair of Seahawks quarterbacks battled for the backup gig behind Russell Wilson. While Davis finished with a perfect quarterback rating, Boykin went 0-for-6 while tossing an interception. Despite the clear disparity in their performance, coach Pete Carroll was adamant that the organization won’t be basing their final decision on one game.

“I really think that we were just out of sync so much for the first 10, 12 plays there that Boykin just couldn’t get rolling,” Carroll said (via Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times). “It just felt like we were out of whack for a bit. Austin came right in we kind of fit together very nicely.

“Trevone has had a really good preseason so far. I don’t think five to six passes he threw in this game should be in the final decision. I think he’s done very well.”

Of course, the team could decide to hang on to three quarterbacks, and Carroll seemingly left that possibility open.

“It’s a good idea if you can do it,” Carroll said. “They’re so important. It just depends on the rest of the roster.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFC…
  • The Redskins could potentially trade a tight end before the regular season gets underway, opines John Keim of ESPN.com. Rookie fifth-round pick Jeremy Sprinkle looks poised to serve as Washington’s third tight end behind Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis, meaning the club’s final slot at the position will be filled by either Derek Carrier or Niles Paul. The one who doesn’t earn a roster spot could be dealt for either a reserve offensive lineman or a draft choice, per Keim, who adds that both Carrier and Paul would “hold value” to other NFL teams.
  • Cooper Rush will earn a place on the Cowboys‘ roster as a backup quarterback, as owner Jerry Jones says Dallas will not try to sneak Rush through waivers in order to stash him on the practice squad (link via Rob Phillips of DallasCowboys.com). Rush, an undrafted rookie out of Central Michigan, is still in contention for the Cowboys’ No. 2 quarterback job behind Dak Prescott, although he’s competing with veteran Kellen Moore for that role. While Rush has completed 75% of his preseason passes for six touchdowns and no interceptions, Moore has posted a 54% completion rate, one touchdown, and one pick.
  • Just months after being selected in the fifth round of the draft, running back Jeremy McNichols is not a roster lock for the Buccaneers, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com“He’s gonna get one final chance to show what he can do,” said head coach Dirk Koetter, referring to Tampa Bay’s final preseason game on Thursday. McNichols, who’s been shown having a hard time grasping the Buccaneers’ offense on Hard Knocks, only saw two plays on Saturday (including a failed blitz pickup) before being yanked, per Laine. While Doug Martin will miss the first three games of the season while on suspension, Tampa Bay has other backs to replace him, including Jacquizz RodgersCharles Sims, and Peyton Barber.
  • 49ers defensive end Tank Carradine has played sparingly since being selected in the second-round of the 2013 draft. With only 36 games and 57 tackles over four seasons, some wondered whether Carradine could be looking for a new gig following the preseason. However, based on an evaluation from defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, it sounds like the 28-year-old is a lock to make the roster. “With Tank, when I say ‘elite,’ I’m talking as a run-down, six-technique, someone who just can really dominate his edge and own the line of scrimmage,” Saleh said on NBC Sports Bay Area (via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com).

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

Redskins Place TE Niles Paul On IR

The Redskins have placed tight end Niles Paul on injured reserve with an torn labrum, head coach Jay Gruden announced to the media today. In a corresponding move, Washington announced that it has signed offensive tackle Blaine Clausell off the Ravens’ practice squad."<strong

[RELATED: Washington Redskins Depth Chart]

Paul, 27, had played on less than 20% of the Redskins’ offensive snaps, and had garnered only two targets while playing behind Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. Known more for his run-blocking aptitude than his receiving prowess, Paul had also been a key special teams player, having seen action on nearly two-thirds of Washington’s ST plays. Paul is currently signed through the 2017 campaign as part of a three-year extension he agreed to in 2015.

Speaking to reporters, Gruden indicated that the Redskins would consider adding an outsider to fill Paul’s role, but the team also has an internal candidate to take his place. Derek Carrier, who began the season on the PUP list, began practicing again today, opening a three-week window during which Washington can choose to activate him. The Redskins also boast tight end Wes Saxton on their practice squad.

Clausell, 24, was an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi State in 2015. He’ll slot in behind Ty Nsehke, Morgan Moses, and Vinston Painter at offensive tackle while Trent Williams serves his four-game suspension.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Paul, 49ers, Texans, Playoffs

Here’s the latest from around the league.

  • Niles Paul relayed some information from a recent medical visit, noting Dr. Robert Anderson told the Washington tight end his ankle injury that caused him to miss the entire 2015 season was “the worst he’d ever seen,” via Tarik El-Bashir of CSNMidAtlantic.com. Although Paul said he’s only scheduled to see Andrews one more time, Jay Gruden said the backup tight end could be held out until training camp to be safe. The statuses of Paul and Derek Carrier, the latter of whom could miss regular-season time due to a knee injury suffered late last season, likely led Washington to sign Vernon Davis. Paul signed a three-year, $6MM deal to stay in Washington last March but has recovered. There is $666K worth of dead money left on the deal, making the sixth-year veteran easy to move on from in the event he can’t sufficiently recover.
  • The 49ers plan to work out Myles Jack this weekend, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The UCLA linebacker visited the Jaguars, Falcons and Ravens this week. San Francisco plans to observe a Mackensie Alexander workout today as well.
  • Former Colts and Patriots receiver Austin Collie told the CFL team he played for last season, the British Columbia Lions, he intends to retire, the Salt Lake Tribune’s Jay Drew reports. The 30-year-old receiver joined the Western Canada-stationed franchise last year and caught 43 passes for 439 yards. He finished with 1,908 yards and 16 touchdowns in five NFL seasons from 2009-13. The concussion-plagued receiver plans to work with a Provo, Utah-based company that focuses on concussion research and rehabilitation.
  • Authorities searched defensive end prospect Shawn Oakman‘s home in connection with a sexual assault investigation, USA Today’s A.J. Perez reports. A projected middle-round pick after setting Baylor’s single-season sack record as a junior in 2014, Oakman is cooperating with the investigation. This allegation could further damage Oakman’s stock after his senior season began with a suspension and didn’t end with the kind of numbers — at least from a sack standpoint, with Oakman only collecting 4.5 in 2015 — that his prior campaign produced.
  • The NFL hasn’t contacted the NFLPA regarding a potential expansion of the playoffs, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. “Until there’s a written proposal from the league that’s when we know they’re at least serious about it and then we can start bargaining over that working-condition change,” NFLPA boss Eric Winston told Florio. “That’s a working-condition change that has to be bargained. It’s not something that the owners can unilaterally implement.” The NFL expanded its playoff brackets twice in a 12-year span, moving from four to five teams per conference in 1978 and five to six in 1990, but has thus far held on off moving to the anticipated seven-team fields.
  • Rice wideout Dennis Parks, Houston offensive tackle Damien Parris and defensive lineman Melvin Holland, and Midwestern State defensive back Marqui Christian attended the Texans‘ local prospect showcase today (Twitter links via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle).

Washington Rumors: Goldson, Thomas, Paul

On Wednesday morning, Washington coach Jay Gruden addressed reporters at the owners’ meetings. Here’s everything you need to know:

  • Gruden said the door has not been shut on Dashon Goldson returning and he says it was a financial decision to release the safety, Tarik El-Bashir of CSNMidAtlantic.com tweets. He added that there have been talks with the veteran since his release (Twitter link via Master Tesfatsion of The Washington Post). Goldson was set to carry an $8MM cap figure in 2016 and while Washington wanted to keep him, they did not want to keep him at that rate. The veteran started 15 games for Washington last season, playing on more than 90% of the team’s defensive snaps. Goldson posted 70 tackles and one interception, grading as the No. 70 safety among 88 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.
  • Gruden says that running back Pierre Thomas is still a possibility for Washington, El-Bashir tweets. Thomas, 31, spent the first eight seasons of his NFL career with the Saints, but saw his 2014 campaign derailed by injuries. In 2015, he had a cup of coffee with the 49ers before landing with Washington in December. In four games with Washington, Thomas carried the ball 11 times for 52 yards. He also added nine receptions for 84 yards.
  • Washington plans to use tight end Niles Paul at fullback on some occasions when he’s healthy even though it’s a position that they hardly used last year (Twitter links via Tesfatsion).
  • Washington will try out Will Blackmon and Deshazor Everett at safety, Tesfatsion tweets. “We’re thin in the secondary,” Gruden said.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/16/15

Here are Sunday’s minor signings, cuts, and other moves from around the NFL:

  • The Saints have released tight end Alex Smith, per Kristian Garic of WWL 870am (Twitter link). Smith, who signed with the Saints earlier this month, hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since 2013. He caught 163 passes and 13 touchdowns from 2005-13 as a member of four different teams.
  • The Dolphins have signed offensive lineman Bryant Browning, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Browning was previously a member of five other organizations since going undrafted out of Ohio State in 2011. He was last with the Steelers and has only suited up for one game – a 2011 contest with Carolina.
  • The Saints have waived long snapper Chris Highland, tweets Evan Woodbery of NOLA.com.

Earlier updates

  • The Cowboys cut receiver George Farmer and signed fellow wideout David Porter, according to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth-Star Telegram (Twitter link). Farmer signed with the Cowboys in May as an undrafted free agent out of USC. Porter, formerly of TCU, also went undrafted this year. He previously spent time with Denver.
  • After a rash of injuries at the position, Washington has signed a new tight end in Ernst Brun, the club announced. Brun, an undraftd free agent out of Iowa State, tried out for the team earlier today. Washington also officially placed tight ends Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen on injured reserve, and waived/injured running back Silas Redd.
  • The Falcons have signed RB Evan Royster, CB Travis Howard, and LB Terrell Manning, tweets Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. The team has also cut OL DeMarcus Love.
  • The Browns have signed CB Aaron Ross and LB Everette Brown, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. The team waived OL Joe Madsen and DL Christian Tupou to make room for Ross and Brown. Ross, 32, was a key member of the Giants’ secondary when Big Blue captured Super Bowl titles in 2007 and 2011.
  • Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets that the Dolphins have cut offensive tackle Chris Martin.

Niles Paul Out For Season With Ankle Injury

10:13pm: Paul fractured and dislocated his ankle, and will be out for the entire 2015 season, Washington head coach Jay Gruden confirmed tonight (Twitter links via Mike Jones of the Washington Post).

8:18pm: Washington tight end Niles Paul dislocated his ankle during the team’s preseason game tonight, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). According to Rapoport, Paul will undergo an MRI to see if the ligaments are still intact.

Paul, who turned 26 on Sunday, had a breakout season for Washington in 2014, catching 39 balls for 507 yards, after having recorded just 14 receptions in his first three seasons. He had appeared poised to play a role in the offense once again this season, but his ankle injury figures to sideline him for at least part of the year.

In 2014, Paul’s teammate Robert Griffin III suffered a dislocated ankle and returned to the field seven weeks later. However, if Paul sustained significant ligament damage in addition to dislocating the ankle, it seems likely that he’d be on the shelf for longer than that.

Paul is the second Washington tight end whose season has been placed in jeopardy this week, as Logan Paulsen may require toe surgery that would sideline him for most or all of the year. Jordan Reed is also nursing a hamstring injury, though it’s not believed to be as serious.

Former Washington tight end Chris Cooley recently expressed interest in rejoining his old team, but John Keim of ESPN.com (Twitter link) says he’s been told a few times that Cooley isn’t an option for the club. Keim wonders if that stance will change at all, given Washington’s injury woes at the position.