Paul Richardson

NFC East Notes: Elliott, Eagles, Redskins

The Cowboys‘ strategy of prioritizing extension for Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper over Ezekiel Elliott have seemingly influenced the two-time rushing champion to consider a holdout. While Elliott is signed through the 2020 season and can be controlled on a 2021 franchise tag, a path the Cowboys appear to be pondering, Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap tweets the team’s best move would be to extend Elliott now in order to have the remaining $12.9MM on his contract become part of the extension’s guarantee structure. The Cowboys should structure a deal that would enable them to cut bait after the first year of the extension, which if done now would be 2021, Fitzgerald adds (on Twitter). That would be unlikely to happen if Elliott heads into 2020 without an extension. Having not yet met the service-time requirements for free agency, Elliott must report to the Cowboys by Aug. 6. This gives the team considerable leverage against a 2019 holdout. A 2020 holdout would become more complicated.

With the NFC East teams wrapping up their offseasons, here is the latest out of this division:

  • Several Redskins players missed out on some cash this offseason. By either not showing up, in Trent Williams‘ case, to the offseason program (or failing to be there for 90% of it), Williams, Josh Norman, Landon Collins, Paul Richardson, Quinton Dunbar and Vernon Davis missed out on some bonus cash, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Norman led the way on this front, seeing $200K docked from his 2019 salary. Collins was docked $175K, with Williams and Richardson down $150K.
  • Staying with Washington, their free safety job still figures to be Montae Nicholson‘s to lose, J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington notes. This comes despite the Redskins suspending him in December, for an off-field arrest that resulted in dropped charges, and Jay Gruden expressing annoyance Nicholson missed the early portion of Redskins OTAs. Washington did not draft a safety, and Pro Football Focus graded Nicholson as its fifth-worst back-line defender last season. Still, Finlay expects the third-year player to have a major say in who starts alongside Collins.
  • Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders and Corey Clement will be on the Eagles‘ 53-man roster, leaving recent draft picks Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams and Donnel Pumphrey in danger of the waiver wire. Despite the Eagles investing in each of these players out of college, Saints 2018 sixth-round pick Boston Scott looks like the early favorite to be the Eagles’ fourth running back, Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia writes. Possessing a Darren Sproles-type physique at 5-foot-6 and 203 pounds, Scott has yet to take a regular-season handoff. But his experience as a punt returner may give him the edge, per Zangaro. Adams (511 yards) and Smallwood (364) were Philadelphia’s two leading rushers last season.
  • The Giants will join the Eagles in having a project offensive lineman in camp. After Philly drafted tackle Jordan Mailata in last year’s seventh round, the Giants signed college shot putter Austin Droogsma. The Giants signed Droogsma, who last played football as a high-schooler 2012, in May and will try the 6-4, 345-pound track convert as a guard, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com notes. While at Florida State, Droogsma won the 2018 ACC indoor and outdoor titles and finished both seasons as an All-American. Mailata, a rugby standout, spent most of last season on the Eagles’ practice squad; the Giants’ P-squad would seem like the best-case scenario for Droogsma in 2019.

Redskins Lose Scherff, Lauvao, Richardson

The Redskins suffered a major blow this week. In addition to losing 38-14 to the Falcons, the Redskins are also down three key players. Guard Brandon Scherff (torn pectoral), guard Shawn Lauvao (torn ACL), and WR Paul Richardson Jr. (AC joint) will all undergo surgery, ruling them out for the remainder of the season.

Losing Scherff and Lauvao is particularly tough as the club is already without tackle Trent Williams as he rehabs from a thumb injury. As they fight to keep their place atop the NFC East, the Redskins will have to move forward without 60% of their starting line.

Scherff, the former No. 5 overall pick in the 2015 draft, earned Pro Bowl nods in each of the last two seasons. He’s continued his strong play into 2018 and is a big reason for Adrian Peterson‘s surprising resurgence in D.C. Behind the Redskins’ offensive line, Peterson has averaged 4.4 yards per game, topped 100 yards in two games, and flirted with the century mark a couple of other times. But, behind a depleted front five on Sunday, Peterson had just 17 yards off of nine carries.

At the midway point of the season, Scherff ranks as Pro Football Focus’ No. 11 ranked guard in the NFL. Lauvao, who mans the opposite side, is near the back of the Top 60.

The Redskins gave Richardson a five-year, $40MM deal in the offseason to defect from the Seahawks, but shoulder trouble has dogged him as of late. The 26-year-old receiver flashed early in the year, but has been held to just four catches over the past two games. His first year in D.C. will end with just 20 catches for 262 yards and two touchdowns in seven games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Updates: Patriots, Colts, Lions, Redskins

The final injury reports for Week 7 came out earlier today, and there was a lot of news. Lots of key players will be missing their team’s games, while others will be returning after extended absence. One notable rule-out was the Patriots declaring that starting right tackle Marcus Cannon would miss their game against the Bears. It’s a big loss for New England, especially in a week where they have to go up against Khalil Mack. Mack will now be lining up across from a backup tackle, and could end up making life miserable for Tom Brady.

Here are more injury updates from around the league:

  • The Colts have been the most injured team in recent memory the past few weeks, but are finally getting some good news. Star receiver T.Y. Hilton has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, but is ready to make his return this week. Unfortunately for Indianapolis, they’ll still be without tight end Jack Doyle and receiver Ryan Grant as well as several key contributors on defense like safety Clayton Geathers and defensive tackle Denico Autry.
  • The Lions will be without running back Theo Riddick, who went down during the team’s win over the Packers. Riddick has been operating as the Lions’ third down back, and rookie Kerryon Johnson should get more run with him out of the way. On the bright side, the team looks like it could be getting back pass-rusher Ezekiel Ansah, who hasn’t played since Detroit’s Week 1 loss. Ansah is listed as questionable but practiced all three days this week.
  • The Redskins will be thin on pass-catchers, as Jamison Crowder has been ruled out for the team’s game against the Cowboys while Paul Richardson is listed as doubtful. Washington promoted Jehu Chesson from the practice squad yesterday, signaling they weren’t expecting Richardson to play. Tight end Jordan Reed should see a ton of looks as the Redskins’ receiving corp is completely depleted.

For a rundown of every team’s injury situation, you can view all 32 injury reports over at ProFootballTalk.com.

Redskins To Sign WR Paul Richardson

The Redskins are expected to sign wide receiver Paul Richardson to a five-year, $40MM deal, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). The deal includes $20MM in guarantees. Adam Caplan of SiriusXM (on Twitter) first reported that a deal could be on the horizon.

Richardson has reportedly been on the Redskins’ radar for a whileThe Redskins were also targeting Allen Robinson, but this year’s top free agent wide receiver has agreed to terms with the Bears. There aren’t a ton of quality WRs available in this year’s crop, but Richardson is among the best.

Richardson stepped into a larger role last year after the Seahawks shipped Jermaine Kearse to the Jets. Richardson, who doesn’t turn 26 until April, averaged 16 yards per grab for Seattle.

The Redskins have been looking for a speedy complement to Josh Doctson and Richardson would fit the bill. With Richardson in the fold, it seems unlikely that they will roll the dice on Terrelle Pryor for another season.

Free agency doesn’t technically begin until Wednesday, but things are already off to a rollicking start for this year’s available wide receivers.

Sammy Watkins has agreed to a three-year, $48MM deal with the Chiefs, and the Bears have agreed to a three-year, $42MM deal with Allen Robinson. Richardson, who was ranked as our sixth-best wide receiver heading into free agency, has matched the $8MM average annual value of Kenny Britt‘s free agent deal from last offseason while adding another year and nearly doubling his guarantees.

This is a nice haul for Richardson, who had not put together much of relevance until his contract year. Having torn an ACL in the playoffs as a rookie, Richardson then played in just one game in 2015. After serving as a lower-level supporting-cast cog in 2016, the former second-round pick broke out last year in averaging 16.0 yards per catch and gaining 703 air yards. He scored six touchdowns in what turned out to be a critical year in his career.

Richardson will be a key piece of a revamped Redskins offense, joining Alex Smith. Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed will again be expected to play big roles, with Chris Thompson doing so as well, assuming he returns from his season-ending injury.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: 49ers, Raiders, Richardson

Richard Sherman‘s 49ers tour began with a dinner with Kyle Shanahan on Friday night, and the sides took more formal steps on Saturday. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports Sherman took a physical with the 49ers today and met with more team officials. After undergoing Achilles surgery in November, Sherman underwent a procedure to remove a bone spur in his other heel last month. Barrows notes the soon-to-be 30-year-old cornerback plans to be running at full speed again at some point in April. Sherman plans to be ready to participate in training camp. Sherman may or may not have a Lions visit scheduled.

Here’s the latest from the West divisions as the legal tampering period looms in less than 48 hours.

  • Despite the 49ers pursuing Sherman, Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com does not expect the team to go after Trumaine Johnson. He doesn’t expect the 28-year-old defender, and one who will command big money next week, to fit into the 49ers’ model of aiming for sustained success. San Francisco, though, has more than $70MM in cap space and has a need at corner. Maiocco, though, notes the 49ers are “extremely excited” about 2017 third-rounder Ahkello Witherspoon‘s development. Witherspoon graded as a top-50 Pro Football Focus corner last season in 660 snaps. It looks like he could be one of San Francisco’s starters next season opposite a UFA acquisition.
  • One player Witherspoon may not be guarding twice next year is Paul Richardson. The UFA wide receiver sent out a tweet that certainly makes it look like he won’t be playing for the Seahawks next season. A 2014 second-round pick who didn’t impress much until his contract year, Richardson caught 44 passes for 703 yards and six touchdowns last season and is expected to have a competitive market. And the Seahawks still have Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett under contract. However, this wouldn’t be the first time a Seahawks wideout indicated he was likely headed out the door only to return to Seattle. Jermaine Kearse was more declarative about departing the Pacific Northwest in 2016 before re-signing to stay in his home state shortly after.
  • Tom Cable would prefer the Raiders retain Marshawn Lynch for a second season, Scott Bair of CSN Bay Area reports. Oakland’s new offensive line coach, of course, worked with the running back during his peak years. Nothing has been decided on Lynch yet. The soon-to-be 32-year-old back is due a $4MM base salary in 2018 if he remains on the Raiders’ roster. He’s due a $1MM roster bonus on March 18.

PFR’s Top 50 NFL Free Agents For 2018 1.0

There will be tons of free agents available in March, but only a some of them can be real difference makers for your favorite team. To help separate the wheat from the chaff, we’ve assembled our early list of the Top 50 NFL Free Agents for 2018.

Our early version of the NFL’s top 50 free agents may include players who will be re-signed between now and March 14. When we update this list next week, a few of the big names will be spoken for while new high-profile names will join the fray as veterans become cap casualties.

Recently, we broke down the top free agents by position on both offense and defense, but our rankings below may not have each player listed in the same order. Those position lists took the short-term value of a player into account more heavily, meaning many players in their 30s received prominent placement. Our overall top 50 list favors longer-term value, and is more about forecasting which players will be in highest demand when it comes to years and dollars.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s dive in! Here are Pro Football Rumors’ top 50 NFL free agents for 2018:

1. Kirk Cousins, QB (Redskins): At long last, Kirk Cousins is headed towards unrestricted free agency. You may or may not regard Cousins as a star, but he is the best quarterback in recent history to reach the open market and QB-needy teams will be rolling out the red carpet for him. The Jets, Vikings, Broncos, and Cardinals have been named as the top suitors for his services, but the NFL is full of surprises this time of year and we would not be surprised to see other teams get involved. The cash-flush Browns are reportedly keen on signing a lower-cost vet and drafting a QB early, but who’s to say they won’t change course and get in on the Cousins sweepstakes? The Bills, Giants, Dolphins, Bucs, and Colts could also consider kicking the tires here, but there are obstacles in that bunch ranging from established starters already in place (Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston, and Andrew Luck) to financial constraints. No matter where he goes, it’s almost certain that Cousins will become the league’s highest-paid player of all-time. That is, until another top-tier QB signs a contract extension soon after.

2. Drew Brees (Saints): There are multiple possibilities for Cousins but it’s hard to see a scenario in which Brees actually leaves the Saints. Brees has already said that he does not plan on testing free agency, so he’ll likely put pen to paper before things begin on March 14. As far as we can tell, the only way Brees will think about leaving is if he is lowballed to an extreme degree by the Saints, but that seems improbable based on his history with the team

3. Case Keenum (Vikings): One year ago, no one ever would have expected Keenum to be one of 2018’s most sought-after free agents. The Vikings signed the former Rams signal caller to a one-year, $2MM deal in March with the idea that he would back up Sam Bradford and, eventually slide down to third on the depth chart when/if Teddy Bridgewater returned to full health. When Bradford went down in September, Keenum exceeded all expectations and put together the best season of his career. The 30-year-old graded out as Pro Football Focus’ ninth-ranked QB in 2017, putting him above the likes of Jimmy Garoppolo, Aaron Rodgers, Marcus Mariota, Matthew Stafford, and Tyrod Taylor. With Keenum at the helm, the Vikings earned a first-round bye and beat the Saints in a playoff thriller before succumbing to the Eagles in the NFC championship game. Of course, after four seasons of mediocrity, teams are wondering whether this was an aberration or a real sign of things to come. Teams know that Keenum is not a lock, but he’s also the best Plan B for any team that loses out on Cousins or doesn’t have the means to sign him.

4. Andrew Norwell, G (Panthers): There was a time when tackles were the only offensive linemen to really cash in on the open market. That’s no longer the case, as evidenced by the contracts of Kevin Zeitler (five years, $60MM) and Kelechi Osemele (five years, $58.5MM). Osemele inked his free agent deal with the Raiders in 2016 and Zeitler signed his in the 2017 offseason. Given the cap increase and the natural progression of the market, Norwell figures to reset the market for interior linemen. Keenum figures to gross no less than $20MM/year on his next contract, so he’s slotted behind him, but an average annual value of $13-14MM is not out of the question for the former undrafted free agent.

5. Nate Solder, OT (Patriots): Solder isn’t coming off of his best season and he might be the least sexy name in the top ten. Still, there’s a dearth of tackles league-wide and Solder has been among the league’s best at his position for quite some time. The Patriots are bracing for Solder to leave as they fear he’ll garner offers of $12MM/year. No other tackle in this year’s free agent crop is even close to him in terms of ability, so we’re also buying into the hype. Injuries contributed to Solder’s up-and-down season, particularly early on, so teams will take that into account when evaluating him.

6. Allen Robinson, WR (Jaguars): The Jaguars opted against using the franchise tag on Robinson, which is understandable since they have limited cap space. Robinson missed almost all of 2017 with an ACL tear, but his 2015 season (and even his so-so 2016 campaign) gives teams reason to believe that he can be a quality WR1. Robinson is one of only two such players on the unrestricted market, so expect him to get paid. Robinson probably couldn’t do worse than Kenny Britt‘s four-year, $32MM deal with the Browns from last season (and he should do a whole lot better), but if he is underwhelmed by the multi-year offers he receives, he could always go the Alshon Jeffery route. Jeffery inked a one-year, $9.5MM prove-it deal with the Eagles and that turned out to be a smashing success for both parties. Jeffery was rewarded with a four-year, $52MM extension in December, so Robinson’s camp will surely be open to a pillow contract if necessary. 

7. Sammy Watkins, WR (Rams): Some may view Robinson and Watkins as 1A and 1B in this year’s wide receiver class, particularly since Robinson missed all of 2017 and Watkins, despite his own injury history, played in all but one of the Rams’ games. Unfortunately, Watkins did not have the platform year he was hoping for as he caught just 39 passes for 593 yards. If we strike Robinson’s lost year and Watkins’ down year from the record, the breakdown favors the Jags receiver – Robinson averaged 77 receptions for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns per 16 games in that set versus Watkins’ 66 grabs for 1,063 yards and seven scores. These two should come pretty close in average annual value, but we give the edge to Robinson.

8. Trumaine Johnson, CB (Rams): Players often bemoan the franchise tag, but Johnson can’t really complain after receiving two consecutive tags from the Rams and earning more than $30MM between 2016 and 2017. The Rams, rightfully, did not consider a third consecutive tag for Johnson at a cost of ~$20MM and they already have his replacement in Marcus Peters. That’s one suitor down, but plenty of other teams will be eager to speak with Johnson, who profiles as the best cornerback in a deep class.

9. Sheldon Richardson, DT (Seahawks): Richardson gave the Jets lots of headaches, but he also gave them high-end production. He didn’t quite match that production in Seattle, but Richardson is positioned for a massive payday anyway since impactful defensive linemen are at a premium. Our own Dallas Robinson estimates that Richardson will garner about $9MM/year, but I would say that is his floor. The top-end of free agency rarely yields team-friendly deals, so Richardson could easily creep into eight figures in AAV, particularly since he does not turn 28 until November.

10. Dontari Poe, DT (Falcons): Poe thought he was in for a monster contract last offseason, but concerns about his lingering back issues forced him to take a one-year, $8MM deal with Atlanta. Teams may still worry about his back being a ticking time bomb, but perhaps they’ll view him in a different light now that he has played back-to-back 16 game seasons and has only missed two regular season contests over the course of his career.

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Redskins Eyeing WR Allen Robinson, Paul Richardson

If Allen Robinson is not franchise tagged by the Jaguars today, the Redskins will be among the teams ready to pounce on him, according to John Keim of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Keim adds that Seahawks free agent Paul Richardson is also among the receivers who are of interest to the Redskins. 

[RELATED: Top 2018 Offensive Free Agents, By Position]

Robinson stands as my top ranked free agent wide receiver this year, edging Sammy Watkins. Beyond those two, there are no surefire WR1 types to be had, but Richardson (ranked sixth) does offer promise.

Last year, the Redskins tried to fortify their receiver group by signing Terrelle Pryor and Brian Quick in free agency. Neither signing really panned out as Quick barely played and Pryor hardly produced. But, with at least one of those receivers likely to move on, there is room for the team to reload and try its hand at finding weapons through free agency once more.

Signing both Robinson and Richardson in a seller’s WR market could be hard to pull off, even with $47.7MM of cap space at the Redskins’ disposal. However, the Redskins realistically only need one impact receiver with Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder already under contract. Alternatively, Washington could sign one top WR and potentially re-sign Pryor at a cheaper rate once he explores the open market.

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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Seahawks Place Paul Richardson On IR

A promising start to Paul Richardson‘s career has again been obscured by an injury. The Seahawks placed their 2014 second-round pick on injured reserve after he’s been unable to shake a hamstring malady, Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk reports.

The Seahawks promoted ex-Packers running back DuJuan Harris from their practice squad to fill Richardson’s roster spot.

Richardson caught 29 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown in 15 games (and six starts) as a rookie but missed Super Bowl XLIX after tearing an ACL in Seattle’s divisional playoff win against the Panthers.

The 23-year-old Colorado product snared a 40-yard reception in his first game back after coming off IR-DTR in Week 10 but suffered the hamstring ailment soon after and hasn’t practiced since.

Considered a candidate to contribute this week against the Vikings, Richardson won’t face as daunting of a rehab process as he did this year. But his status in Seattle’s obviously in decline as a result of this scant availability. “His hamstring just isn’t coming back,” Pete Carroll told media regarding Richardson’s Week 13 status. “We’re just disappointed that he wasn’t able to continue to get back and it’s just lingered a little bit.”

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/14/15

Here are Saturday’s minor transactions from around the NFL:

  • The Patriots promoted offensive lineman Chris Barker, reports ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss (via Twitter), and safety Dewey McDonald re-signed to the Pats’ practice squad. With Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon and Tre’ Jackson all missing practice on Friday, the team was clearly seeking some reinforcement. Barker’s played in five games in two years. The Pats, who have rotated offensive linemen frequently this year, will dress six Sunday against the Giants, per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (on Twitter).
  • The Lions promoted rookie safety Isaiah Johnson to their 53-man contingent and cut linebacker James-Michael Johnson to make room, Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com reports. Johnson’s promotion coincides with backup safety Isa Abdul-Quddus‘ questionable status for this week with a foot injury.
  • In a move that will help shore up a struggling secondary, the Raiders activated Nate Allen from IR-DTR and cut return man Marcus Thigpen, according to the Raiders’ website. After signing a lucrative deal as a free agent, Allen tore his MCL in Week 1, forcing the already-thin Raiders secondary into undesirable options alongside Charles Woodson. The 29-year-old Thigpen, a former undrafted free agent from Indiana, has played for six teams, with the Bills also employing him in 2015.
  • The Raiders also put safety Tevin McDonald back on their practice squad, per their website. McDonald’s been one of the more frequent rovers between the taxi squad and the active roster, being promoted and demoted several times this season.
  • The Seahawks placed Ricardo Lockette on injured reserve and activated Paul Richardson from the PUP list, according to a report on the team’s website. Lockette suffered a frightening neck injury in Week 8 against the Cowboys. Richardson hasn’t played since tearing an ACL in Seattle’s divisional-round victory over Carolina. The 23-year-old Richardson, a second-year player, caught 29 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown as a rookie.
  • To make room for inside linebacker Mike Hull, the Dolphins cut defensive lineman A.J. Francis, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Francis has played in just one game since the Dolphins picked him up on waivers in 2013. The 24-year-old Hull was one of Miami’s final preseason roster cuts.
  • The Raiders have promoted tight end Gabe Holmes from the practice squad, reports Scott Bair of CSNCalifornia.com (via Twitter). Holmes will presumably be filling the hole left by previously-waived Tevin McDonald, meaning the team will have to make another move to accommodate the returning Nate Allen.
  • The Cowboys have promoted linebacker Keith Smith from the practice squad, tweets David Moore of the Dallas Morning News. The former San Jose State standout has appeared in 14 career games, compiling seven tackles and one forced fumble.