Noah Brown

NFC Rumors: Kaepernick, 49ers, Panthers

The only team connected to Colin Kaepernick since his 49ers run ended, the Seahawks had a representative in Atlanta for the free agent quarterback’s workout Saturday. However, they were one of the many teams who opted not to trek from the Falcons’ Flowery Branch, Ga., facility to Riverdale. Roughly an hour separates these Atlanta-area locales, and 18 teams on hand for the would-be showcase at the NFL facility did not travel to the high school where the workout ended up occurring.

Disappointed,” Pete Carroll said of the Seahawks missing the workout, via Curtis Crabtree of Sports Radio 950 KJR (via Pro Football Talk). “We had planned to be at that workout. It got changed around, and we couldn’t hang with it. Unfortunately, we sent somebody, but we couldn’t stay with the changes that happened. We missed it. We were real curious. I was real curious to see how the workout went. Just competing as always, you know.”

While Carroll said he has seen some of the workout, no team has yet expressed interest in the 32-year-old passer. Kaepernick’s agent is not optimistic a deal will materialize. The Seahawks met with Kaepernick in 2017 but cancelled a 2018 summit.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • In a state-of-the-union-style address, Panthers owner David Tepper asked that no Ron Rivera– or Marty Hurney-related questions be asked. The second-year owner said multiple times this week he will not accept mediocrity, via Joseph Person of The Athletic (subscription required). Carolina made the playoffs four times from 2013-17 but is 12-14 since. Tepper overhauled the Panthers’ business operations since taking over and considered making major football-ops changes after last season. Rivera is signed through the 2020 season. With Hurney also rehired as GMbefore Tepper took over, it is safe to assume both decision-makers’ jobs will be on the line over the season’s final six weeks.
  • Tepper did discuss Cam Newton‘s status, indicating the quarterback’s foot injury would be factored into the overall evaluation of the team and that no decision will be made on Newton until he is healthy again. With that potentially being months away, teams interested in trading for the former MVP may have to adjust their offseason blueprints. Tepper added that ideally Newton would be back and lead the Panthers to another Super Bowl but did not guarantee the 30-year-old passer would return.
  • The 49ers‘ retooled roster has restored the franchise as an NFC contender after five years off the radar. The team should not be expected to be a major player in 2020 free agency, per Matt Barrows of The Athletic (subscription required). However, the one exception would be at receiver, Barrows adds. Kyle Shanahan opted against adding a big-ticket receiver in 2018 or ’19, after 2017’s failed Pierre Garcon move. But the team traded for Emmanuel Sanders this year to address a key need. Sanders is a free agent at season’s end. The 2020 UFA receiver class as of now includes Amari Cooper, A.J. Green, Robby Anderson and Josh Gordon. But with Cooper and Green candidates to stay in their respective cities, this receiver class could be thin.
  • On the subject of NFC receiver situations, Cowboys wideout Noah Brown will not play this season. Stashed on Dallas’ PUP list after a June knee surgery, Brown recently underwent another procedure, Todd Archer of ESPN.com notes. The 2017 seventh-round pick played in 21 Cowboys games between 2017-18. He is expected to be ready for the team’s offseason program.

Cowboys Get Down To 53

The Cowboys have made their cuts to get down to 53 players. Nothing too surprising on this list, although there is at least one interesting takeaway. The Cowboys cut three running backs, leaving Alfred Morris and Tony Pollard as the only two currently with the team. That’s a strong indicator that the team is expecting Ezekiel Elliott back before Week 1.

Receiver Devin Smith also made the roster as their final receiver, which is a nice feel-good story. Drafted by the Jets 37th overall back in 2015, multiple ACL tears derailed his promising career. Smith has had brutal injury luck and hasn’t appeared in a game since 2016, so this is nice to see.

Waived:

OL Jake Campos

CB Donovan Olumba

LB Kyle Quiero

LS Drew Scott

Waived/InjuredL

TE Codey McElroy

CB Tyvis Powell

S Jameill Showers

Reserve/PUP:

Reserve/Injured

DE Jalen Jelks

WR Jon’Vea Johnson

Cowboys Notes: Elliott, Garrett, Lawrence

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett says he has stayed in contact with Ezekiel Elliott during his holdout (Twitter link via Jon Machota of The Athletic). He went on to say that the conversations have been “all very positive,” though there’s still no word on when Elliott will show up for work.

Publicly, both sides are attempting to paint a fairly rosy picture of what’s taking place. Last week, a story likely leaked from Elliott’s camp indicated that he is in shape and ready to go for the upcoming season, despite his absence from practice. Meanwhile, Garrett was quick to tell reporters that he is on good terms with his star running back.

While we wait for movement on the Elliott front, here’s more from Dallas:

  • The Cowboys are set to activate defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford from the PUP list, a source tells ESPN.com’s Todd Archer (on Twitter). Lawrence had shoulder surgery soon after signing his five-year, $101MM contract in April and has been out of action for the last few months. Crawford, meanwhile, is working through a hip issue that kept him out of the offseason program. Unfortunately, safety Byron Jones (hip) and receiver Noah Brown (knee) remain on PUP.
  • This week, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones acknowledged that a new deal for Dak Prescott would put him in the top tier of compensation for NFL quarterbacks.

Injury Notes: Brown, Luck, Gore, Watt, Jones, Lawrence

Here’s the latest on all the injuries to big names as training camps get underway across the league:

  • There was a brief uproar earlier when it was mysteriously announced that Antonio Brown would start camp on the Raiders’ non-football injury list. However, the as of now undisclosed issue that caused Brown to be placed on the NFI was described to Field Yates of ESPN as “very minor” (Twitter link). Further, Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune tweets that the Raiders have known of the injury for two weeks, and that Brown will probably only miss a week of camp time. Despite the initial panic, it doesn’t sound like this is anything you need to monitor going forward.
  • Andrew Luck was sidelined by a calf injury during the Colts’ offseason program, which sparked some concerns about his Achilles. However, Luck told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network today “my Achilles is not at extra risk of anything. It’s fine” (Twitter link). In a separate tweet, Pelissero notes Luck participated in team drills today, and that his limited workload has only been precautionary.
  • Speaking of the NFI, Bills GM Brandon Beane said that running back Frank Gore has been removed from it, per longtime Bills beat reporter Joe Buscaglia (Twitter link). Gore had been dealing with a minor injury, but has passed his physical and is cleared to practice. Gore will be competing for carries in a crowded Buffalo backfield that also features LeSean McCoy and rookie Devin Singletary.
  • J.J. Watt started camp on the Texans’ PUP list, but he’s now been removed and cleared to practice, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Watt was limited to just eight combined games in 2016 and 2017 due to injuries, but he played a full 16-game slate last year. Watt wasn’t the only Texan to get cleared, as James Palmer of NFL Network tweets that DeAndre Hopkins was also cleared and activated from PUP.
  • Byron Jones, DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford and Noah Brown will start camp on the PUP list for the Cowboys, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Fortunately, Dallas is expecting all of them to be ready for the start of the season. Lawrence had offseason shoulder surgery, Jones had surgery on his hip, and Crawford is also dealing with a hip injury. Last we heard, there had been no progress in extension talks between the team and Jones.

Cowboys To Cut Thompson, Activate Brown

Deonte Thompson‘s eight-game Cowboys run will come to an end. The team will cut the veteran wide receiver and return man in order to make room on the 53-man roster for fellow wideout Noah Brown‘s activation, Calvin Watkins of The Athletic tweets.

The Cowboys also cut defensive back Treston Decoud, Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News tweets.

Dallas designated Brown — a 2017 seventh-round pick — as an IR-return player last week. An Ohio State product, Brown caught four passes for 33 yards last season.

Thompson signed a one-year, $1.8MM contract with the Cowboys after drawing interest from other teams in free agency. He’ll head to the waiver wire. A 2017 fifth-round Texans pick, Decoud played in one game with the Cowboys.

The Cowboys deployed Thompson as a backup wide receiver and used him on kick returns this season. The former Ravens, Bears and Bills pass-catcher snared 14 passes for 124 yards this season. Thompson initially didn’t make Dallas’ roster but was re-signed shortly after that post-preseason release, setting up what may well turn out to be a brief run with the Cowboys.

Cowboys Sign Seven Draft Picks

The Cowboys have agreed to pacts with seven draft picks, leaving third-round cornerback Jourdan Lewis as the only member of their nine-rookie class without a contract, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Dallas, which reached a deal with first-round defensive end Taco Charlton on Thursday afternoon, signed this group in the evening:

Chidobe Awuzie

Awuzie was reportedly gaining momentum as a potential first-rounder in the weeks leading up to the draft, but he ultimately come off the board late in the second. The four-year starter at Colorado had his most productive seasons from 2015-16, combining for 150 tackles, eight sacks and three interceptions, and should see plenty of playing time as a rookie in Dallas. The Cowboys, who ranked a mediocre-at-best 18th in DVOA against the pass last year, lost cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne to free agency. The club will try to make up for the veterans’ departures with a corner group consisting of Orlando Scandrick, Anthony Brown, Awuzie and Nolan Carroll, among others.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Stafford, Boldin, Tice, McCoy

As the Dolphins and Steelers do battle, let’s take a look at some notes from around the league:

  • Lions quarterback Matt Stafford will not need surgery on his injured right middle finger, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. Stafford was excellent for much of the season, but he completed just 58.6% of his passes for four touchdowns and five interceptions after the injury, and he could get nothing going in a frustrating season-ending loss to Seattle last night.
  • Lions WR Anquan Boldin had a nice first season in Detroit, and the 36-year-old wideout, who posted 67 catches for 584 yards and a team-leading eight touchdowns, plans to return for his 15th season in the league in 2017, according to Nate Atkins of MLive.com.
  • The contract for Raiders O-line coach Mike Tice is up, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, but Oakland has prioritized bringing him back. That makes sense, as the team is sending three offensive linemen to the Pro Bowl this year.
  • Former Chargers head coach Mike McCoy will apparently not be unemployed for long. Rapoport tweets that McCoy is largely considered the top offensive coordinator available and has been mentioned as many teams’ offensive coordinator of choice.
  • Even if the Dolphins were to pull off the upset in Pittsburgh this afternoon, the team is not counting on Ryan Tannehill to return next week, according to Rapoport (via Twitter). Tannehill was, at least, able to practice on Friday.
  • Ohio State WR Noah Brown will enter the NFL draft, according to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (via Twitter). The 6-2, 218-pound wideout had a breakout year for the Buckeyes, and is currently projected to be selected in the second or third round of the draft.
  • In a series of articles, OverTheCap.com offers a preview of the strongest and weakest offensive positions in this year’s free agent class, examines which linebackers could become cap casualties, and projects the 2017 compensatory picks.