Obi Melifonwu

East Notes: Dolphins, Patriots, Obi, Eagles

Although Ryan Tannehill won’t be available when the Dolphins face the Packers this weekend, he’s expected to return to action after Miami’s Week 11 bye, head coach Adam Gase told reporters today (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). Tannehill hasn’t played since Week 5, as a shoulder injury has forced the Dolphins to turn to backup Brock Osweiler, who’s posted a 2-2 record with Tannehill on the shelf. Miami has been reticent to release any sort of timeline on Tannehill’s recovery to this point, so the mere fact that the club has highlighted a possible return date is seemingly good news.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • When the Patriots signed defensive back Obi Melifonwu earlier this week, they actually inked him to a two-year deal through 2019, reports Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. While Melifonwu will only earn minimum base salaries over the next two seasons, he did receive $100K guaranteed in 2019. Given his experience level, Melifonwu would have been an exclusive rights free agent next spring, meaning New England could have kept him at little cost. But as Volin notes, the fact that the Patriots added guarantees to Melifonwu’s deal indicates they had competition for the ex-Raider (the Cowboys, Chiefs, and Saints also worked out the former second-rounder). Melifonwu can collect a $25K workout bonus, a $30K Week 1 roster bonus, and $125K in per-game roster bonuses next season.
  • The XFL has hired former Bills general manager Doug Whaley as its senior vice president of football operations, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Whaley led Buffalo’s front office from 2013-17, but never the club never made a postseason appearance under his leadership. After interviewing for both the Browns and Packers general manager positions earlier this year, Whaley took on a gig as the director of scouting for the NFLPA’s Collegiate Bowl. For what it’s worth, the XFL isn’t scheduled to get under way until 2020, so Whaley could conceivably return to the NFL before then.
  • While the Eagles ultimately made only one trade (swinging a deal for Lions receiver Golden Tate), it sounds like the Birds may have targeted other positions before last week’s deadline. “You try to see if there’s a [defensive back] out there,” Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson said today, per Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). “You maybe see if there’s another pass rusher out there and then what are you giving up as a team?” The Eagles recently lost 2017 first-round pick Derek Barnett for the rest of the year, so adding another edge defender certainly wouldn’t have been out of the question.

Patriots Sign S Obi Melifonwu

The Patriots have signed safety Obi Melifonwu, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Melifonwu, a 2017 second-round pick of the Raiders, was waived/injured by Oakland in August. Recently, the Raiders reached an injury settlement with the UConn product, allowing him to sign with another club. 

The 24-year-old Melifonwu played sparingly during his rookie campaign, compiling seven tackles in five games (one start). He was placed on IR twice during his first season and didn’t do a whole lot while on the field. Melifonwu also worked out for the Cowboys, Chiefs, and Saints, but he’ll join up with the Patriots instead.

Melifonwu is known for his freakish athleticism and could be a real asset down the stretch if he stays healthy. After Eric Rowe landed on IR with a groin injury, the Patriots could use the additional depth and special teams help that Melifonwu can provide.

Coming off of a 31-17 win over the Packers, the Patriots are now 7-2. On Sunday, they’ll be a heavy favorite when they travel to Nashville to face the Titans.

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Chiefs Work Out Obi Melifonwu

The Chiefs worked out safety Obi Melifonwu and linebacker Marquis Flowers on Wednesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Melifonwu hasn’t done much at the pro level, but he offers potential as a second-round pick of the 2017 draft.

The 24-year-old Melifonwu played sparingly during his rookie campaign, compiling seven tackles in five games (one start). He was placed on IR twice during his first season, and he was waived/injured by the Raiders back in August. After clearing waivers, he landed on the team’s injured reserve. Earlier this month, the Raiders reached an injury settlement with him, making him a full fledged free agent. He worked out for the Cowboys, Patriots, and Saints, but did not sign with any of those clubs.

Flowers mostly played special teams for the Bengals in 2016, but he saw time on 361 snaps for the Patriots in 2017. The 26-year-old finished out the regular season with 30 tackles and 3.5 sacks and even started in two games. In the playoffs, he added another six tackles and one sack. This year, he missed the Pats’ final cut and had a brief regular season stint with the Lions.

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NFL Workout Updates: 10/30/18

Here’s the latest from the workout circuit. All links to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account, unless otherwise specified.

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Patriots Meet With Obi Melifonwu

The Patriots will meet with former Raiders second-round pick Obi Melifonwu on Friday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The safety could be a depth signing for the Patriots with the potential to become more down the line. 

Melifonwu hasn’t done much at the pro level, but he was a second-round pick for a reason. The combine darling’s athleticism is still there and the hip injury that slowed him in the summer appears to be better, at least for now.

The 24-year-old UConn product played sparingly during his rookie campaign, compiling seven tackles in five games (one start). Melifonwu was placed on the IR twice during his first season, and he was waived/injured by the Raiders back in August. After clearing waivers, he landed on the team’s injured reserve. This week, the Raiders reached an injury settlement with him, making him a full fledged free agent.

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Cowboys Meet With Obi Melifonwu

Former Raiders cornerback Obi Melifonwu will meet with the Cowboys on Thursday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. And, in addition to Melifonwu, the Cowboys will also meet with veteran defensive back Teddy Williams, according to ESPN.com’s Todd Archer (on Twitter). 

If Melifonwu signs, he’ll rejoin former Raiders teammate Amari Cooper, as well as former UConn teammate Byron Jones. He’ll also enter the building with lower expectations than last year when he entered the league as a second-round pick of the Raiders.

As a rookie, a hip issue kept Melifonwu off of the field. This summer, he was stuck in the trainer’s room again, and Jon Gruden lost patience with his recovery. Melifonwu had a great career at UConn and showed serious athleticism in pre-draft workouts, so the potential is still there for him to do big things at the NFL level.

Williams signed his first NFL contract with the Cowboys in 2010. Back then, Williams was an raw track athlete who was only starting to put his full focus on football. Years later, he has proven himself as a quality special teams player. If signed, Williams can handle special teams duties and take C.J. Goodwin‘s spot on the cornerback depth chart.

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Raiders Waive Obi Melifonwu From IR

Obi Melifonwu‘s tenure with the Raiders has come to an end. ESPN’s Field Yates reports (via Twitter) that the organization has waived the defensive back off of the injured reserve. The team has also promoted wideout Marcell Ateman and offensive lineman Denver Kirkland from the practice squad (via Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Twitter).

Melifonwu was selected in the second round of the 2017 draft following a standout career at Connecticut. The 24-year-old safety played sparingly during his rookie campaign, compiling seven tackles in five games (one start). Melifonwu was placed on the IR twice during his first season, and he was waived/injured by the Raiders back in August. After clearing waivers, he landed on the team’s injured reserve.

Ateman was a seventh-round pick by the organization in this past year’s draft. The Oklahoma State product was waived at the end of the preseason, and he subsequently caught on with the team’s practice squad. Kirkland has been with the organization for several seasons after going undrafted out of Arkansas during the 2016 draft. The 24-year-old started four of his six games back in 2016.

Earlier today, the Raiders made a switch at kicker. The team signed Daniel Carlson and waived Matt McCrane.

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Obi Melifonwu Goes Unclaimed On Waivers

The Raiders did not find a team willing to take Obi Melifonwu‘s guaranteed salary off their hands. The 2017 second-round pick went unclaimed on waivers, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), tagging the Raiders with $1.73MM in dead money.

Melifonwu reverts to the Raiders’ IR list with his guaranteed money, but with Jon Gruden having essentially given up on the second-year safety, an injury settlement could be coming. The Connecticut alum had an opportunity to impress with the Raiders’ first team earlier this month, due to injuries, but a setback related to his rookie-year hip ailment sidelined him. And he remains out as a result.

The 6-foot-4 defensive back believes he can play this season, per Rapoport. Melifonwu turned heads during his workout tour last year, impressing several teams at the Combine and in private auditions. Teams worked Melifonwu out as a safety and cornerback. He just didn’t pan out in Oakland, but it’s likely another team will extend an opportunity.

Despite Gruden making wholesale changes this offseason Oakland is still slated to use the same starting safety tandem it did in 2016 and ’17 — Reggie Nelson and Karl Joseph. Melifonwu was viewed as a possible hybrid contributor, but he only played in five games in an injury-shortened rookie season.

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Bay Area Notes: Melifonwu, Mack, Harold

Obi Melifonwu did not do much to draw praise from Jon Gruden this offseason, and the new Raiders coach cut bait on Reggie McKenzie‘s 2017 second-round pick. The Combine phenom out of UConn struggled to recover from his 2017 hip injury this offseason, and he recently suffered a setback that Vic Tafur of The Athletic notes (subscription required) was related to his hip problem. Melifonwu recently went to see a specialist, and Tafur adds he hasn’t been at the Raiders’ facility in more than a week. If no team claims Melifonwu, officially waived with an injury designation, the Raiders will take a $1.73MM dead-money hit, Tafur tweets. If not, the 6-foot-4 defensive back revert to Oakland’s IR. That is, unless an injury settlement is reached. He adds that neither last year’s Raiders staff nor this year’s were convinced Melifonwu was fully committed to football, believing that was going to result in Gruden cutting ties with him. Melifonwu, though, received first-team reps earlier this month before that setback. Another team could take a chance on him because of the athleticism he showed during his pre-draft workouts.

Here’s the latest out of northern California.

  • Khalil Mack remains at odds with the Raiders, and SI.com’s Albert Breer does not expect this situation to be resolved by Week 1. Although the Raiders provided hard no’s to teams inquiring about the former defensive player of the year’s trade availability, Breer notes there’s still no progress between the team and Mack. Guarantee structure strikes Breer as an issue, with cash flow serving as a potential problem for the Raiders. Derek Carr‘s landmark extension was heavily backloaded toward the Las Vegas years. Perhaps Mark Davis is trying to do the same with Mack.
  • Eli Harold lined up with the 49ers‘ starters throughout the offseason, but the now-Lions linebacker didn’t stay on the field during nickel sets and wasn’t a quality special-teamer, per Matt Barrows of The Athletic. Kyle Shanahan and his staff realized Harold wasn’t going to make the team, Barrows notes. Traded for a conditional 2020 seventh-rounder, Harold started for most of the past two seasons. However, his departure leaves just 12 49ers left from the Trent Baalke years. Fellow 2015 draftee Mark Nzeocha took Harold’s place with the starters at San Francisco practice Thursday, Barrows notes. A former Cowboys seventh-round pick, Nzeocha played in 10 games for the 49ers last season but has yet to start an NFL contest.
  • One of the Baalke-era 49ers, though, returned to the team this week. The 49ers re-signed defensive lineman Chris Jones after Cedric Thornton decided to retire. Jones will see reps at both defensive tackle spots while spending time at San Francisco’s “big end” position as well, DC Robert Saleh said (via Barrows, on Twitter). Jones last played in 2016 for the 49ers, but he started all six contests in which he participated.

Raiders Release S Obi Melifonwu

The Raiders have waived/injured safety Obi Melifonwu, according to a press release from the team. The move will help create room for the signing of cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Per league procedure, Melifonwu will be placed on injured reserve if he clears waivers on Friday. Given Melifonwu’s inability to stay healthy, that may be the likely outcome. After that, the Raiders will probably work out an injury settlement to terminate his deal, making him a free agent.

Melifonwu was looking to carve out a role on Jon Gruden‘s team this year, but he has so far been unable to bounce back from hip surgery. Earlier this offseason, Gruden indicated that he wasn’t very optimistic about the UConn product’s outlook

It doesn’t look close at all,” the head coach said of the 2017 second-round pick. “I’ll leave it at that. He doesn’t look close, to me, at all...I haven’t seen much of Obi except in the training room.”

The good news is that the Raiders have plenty of other options at safety, including Karl JosephReggie Nelson, and Marcus Gilchrist. It’s also possible that DRC will be asked to contribute in the middle of the field.

Melifonwu appeared in just five games last year and finished out with just seven total tackles. That’s a far cry from his 118 tackles as a college senior.

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