- Joe Douglas probably remains the favorite for the Jets‘ GM job, but SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano cautions that a surprise hire is not out of the question. Adding to the Scott Fitterer buzz that formed this week, Vacchiano writes Douglas is not a “slam dunk” to land this job. Additionally, the follow-up phone conversations the Jets had with each of the four candidates centered around salary, staffing and the interviewees’ interest level in the position. A report Wednesday indicated some of the candidates were concerned about the team’s unusual ownership situation.
- Nearly six months removed from the wrist injury that ended his season in Week 16, Phillip Lindsay remains limited in Broncos workouts. However, the expectation is the Pro Bowl running back will be full-go by training camp, per Vic Fangio (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, on Twitter). Lindsay, who underwent surgery in December, was supposed to have a three- or four-month recovery timetable. But the second-year back has resumed catching passes — seemingly a sign he will be ready to go when Broncos camp begins July 17.
- The Raiders’ Dwayne Joseph hire forced the Eagles to reorganize their pro scouting department. Previous Joseph deputy Brandon Brown will replace Joseph as the team’s pro scouting director, Zach Berman of Philly.com tweets. The Eagles hired Max Gruder to fill Brown’s former job, assistant director of pro scouting. Gruder previously served as a Dolphins scout.
- Throughout this CBA’s now-nine-year duration, third-round picks have been slower to agree to their deals than most of their fellow draftees. Nineteen remain unsigned as of Thursday night. The CBA’s vague language applies to the second, third and fourth years of third-rounders’ contracts, Albert Breer of SI.com notes, adding that the amount teams and agents haggle over is usually between $3-$4K over the deal’s life. That’s quality minutia.
Denver added outside linebacker Aaron Wallace and cornerback Horace Richardson to take their roster spots. Neither player was on the Broncos’ practice squad previously. Richardson will come to Denver from the Chiefs’ practice squad, while Wallace previously resided on the Bengals’ taxi squad.
Lindsay became the first UDFA offensive player to make the Pro Bowl as a rookie and will conclude his first NFL season as the Broncos’ first rookie 1,000-yard back since Clinton Portis in 2002. Lindsay is signed through the 2020 season; because of his UDFA status, the Denver native’s contract can be renegotiated after next season.
Royce Freeman and Devontae Booker will take handoffs for the Broncos against the Chargers, and the tandem may well be the Denver OTA ball-carriers. Lindsay is expected to need as many as four months to recover from the wrist surgery he is scheduled to undergo Friday, per Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter).
Claimed off waivers just after Emmanuel Sanders tore one of his Achilles’ tendons, Holmes caught one pass during his Broncos tenure. He is under contract through 2019, but that deal has no additional guaranteed money left on it.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
It was already expected that Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay would miss the team’s season finale with a wrist injury suffered against the Raiders. The team now knows the injury will require surgery and is expected to keep the Pro Bowl selection out for three to four months, Broncos head coach Vance Joseph told reporters and ESPN’s Jeff Legwold on Monday.
Assuming he receives the surgery in the coming days, the undrafted gem out of Colorado should be ready by the time OTAs roll around after the draft.
t’s a big blow for Lindsay, who became the first undrafted rookie offensive player to be selected to the Pro Bowl after rushing for 1,037 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018. After splitting carries as a change-of-pace back early in the season, the Colorado product moved into a prominent role with his first start in Week 8 and held the role through Week 16. He finished the season with three 100-yard rushing efforts and touchdown runs in six of his final nine games.
With Lindsay sidelined, the team will get extended looks at fellow rookie Royce Freeman and third-year back Devontae Booker in their final contest of the season against the Chargers. In Lindsay’s absence against the Raiders, Freeman saw seven carries and Booker had three, with both producing 21 yards.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Barring a second opinion that differs from the original diagnosis, the injury Phillip Lindsay sustained on Monday night will end up requiring surgery, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. The Broncos’ breakthrough rookie running back is likely set for a lengthy rehab timeline, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (via Twitter). This could put the UDFA gem’s OTA participation in jeopardy. In addition to the ligament damage Lindsay is believed to have suffered, Rapoport adds the Pro Bowl back may be dealing with a scaphoid fracture in his wrist. The Broncos revamped their backfield this offseason, adding Lindsay and Royce Freeman. The latter figures to see more time Sunday, and Devontae Booker‘s rookie contract runs through 2019. So, Freeman and Booker may be working as the top Denver backs come OTAs.
Here is the latest from Denver on Christmas Day:
- Although Matt Paradis has yet to make a Pro Bowl roster, he has anchored the Broncos’ offensive line for the past four seasons. A perennially well-regarded blocker by Pro Football Focus, Paradis will be a free agent at season’s end. The Broncos may have to shell out center-record money to keep him, and Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post writes that if Paradis wants top-dollar coming off of his season-ending broken leg, the Broncos might not be the team to authorize such a pact. Ryan Jensen‘s $10.5MM-per-year deal serves as the top center contract currently, and Paradis has submitted a longer sample of upper-echelon play during his career. The Broncos have one veteran offensive line cap figure — Ronald Leary‘s, at $9.2MM — on their 2019 books but can escape it with minimal charges if they wanted to create more money to prioritize Paradis.
- Elsewhere along Denver’s line, right tackle Jared Veldheer is playing on an expiring deal. He is one of just two Bronco starting linemen to be playing the same position as he did when the season started, joining left tackle Garett Bolles in that regard. But the Broncos may not be inclined to bring him back. They see right tackle potential in converted guard Elijah Wilkinson, per O’Halloran. Veldheer will be 32 next season and has missed time due to injuries in each of the past three years.
- For years, the Broncos possessed the NFL’s top cornerback trio. But Denver traded Aqib Talib this offseason and has Bradley Roby months from free agency. The Broncos may not be eyeing a long-term pact for Roby, who has been inconsistent in his contract year. No known negotiations have occurred, and O’Halloran notes a Roby reunion may take his market getting to a place where Denver extends a one-year offer. Denver still has All-Pro Chris Harris signed to a team-friendly deal through 2019, but if Roby departs, the team may need to explore another Harris extension. The Broncos’ corner investments over the past few years, be it veteran pickups or recent third-round draft picks, have shown much.
- Despite the Ravens showing a renewed commitment to John Harbaugh, Broncos are still hoping to interview him this offseason.
Broncos rookie running back Phillip Lindsay‘s season came to an end on Monday, as tests revealed he suffered ligament damage in his injured wrist vs. the Raiders, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets. In addition to missing the season finale, Lindsay will also likely be sidelined for the Pro Bowl.
The damage to the ligaments are described as significant, and he will receive a second opinion on a possible scaphoid fracture according to 9News’ Mike Klis (Twitter link). The duration for his recovery has not been outlined but is expected to be a lengthy one, as surgery is likely.
“I was just going through a play and it got hit and it just got numb a little bit,” Lindsay said. “They took precaution and felt that I should stay out … they decided it was probably smart for me to sit out.”
It’s a crushing blow for Lindsay, who became the first undrafted rookie offensive player to be selected to the Pro Bowl after rushing for 1,037 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018. After splitting carries as a change-of-pace back early in the season, the Colorado product moved into a prominent role with his first start in Week 8 and held the role through Week 16. He finished the season with three 100-yard rushing efforts and touchdown runs in six of his final nine games.
One of the league’s best bargains, Lindsay is signed through the 2020 season at a total remaining salary of $1.2MM.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Prior to the Browns waiving kicker Zane Gonzalez, Hue Jackson did not know the second-year specialist was dealing with a groin injury. The third-year Browns HC (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk) said he knew “nothing about an injury whatsoever” and that no one from the Browns’ medical department told him Gonzalez was hurt, which could set up for an interesting situation as Cleveland pivots to another kicker. It hasn’t been reported that Gonzalez was waived with an injury designation, and Florio posits an injury grievance from Gonzalez could be in the cards. Gonzalez’s groin malady required an MRI, but he still attempted a 52-yard field goal in the final seconds Sunday. This information also doesn’t put Jackson in an especially positive light, given Gonzalez’s struggles on Sunday — ones that led directly to Cleveland’s 21-18 loss.
Shifting from a player the Browns just cut to one they opted not to draft, here’s the latest from the AFC North:
- Sam Darnold did his best to not offer much regarding his draft-night mindset, but he did say he expected the Browns to take him at No. 1 due to the amount of time John Dorsey and Co. spent with him leading into the draft, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes. The Browns spent time with all four of the top quarterback prospects before narrowing their decision to Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen. “We spent time with (Darnold) and his family, and obviously, every quarterback. We feel very comfortable with the guy that we selected in Baker, and I’m sure they do with him,” Jackson said. “He’s a fine prospect and is going to be a fine player. I think they got a good one, but we feel we have a really good one, too.”
- The Ravens are not counting on having C.J. Mosley available for their Week 3 game against the Broncos, David Ginsburg of the Associated Press notes. The three-time Pro Bowl linebacker suffered a bruised left knee in Baltimore’s loss in Cincinnati. Rookie Kenny Young and Patrick Onwuasor were called to action in place of Mosley, who’s only missed two games (both in 2016) in his career. A fourth-round pick, Young looks like the Sunday starter, per Ginsburg.
- Broncos rookie UDFA Phillip Lindsay sits third among the league’s rushing leaders going into Week 3’s Baltimore trip, and Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets the Colorado product narrowed his post-draft choices to the Broncos and Ravens. Lindsay (178 rushing yards on 6.1 per carry) is part of a two-rookie backfield in Denver. The Ravens opted to retain their status quo at running back, with Alex Collins, Kenneth Dixon and Javorius Allen back.
- Allen is now on IR, though the Ravens would’ve preferred to keep both he and cornerback Maurice Canady on their active roster rather than shelve them for at least two months, Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic notes. Neither’s injury is a season-ending setback, and Dixon is a candidate to return from IR later in the season.
- Le’Veon Bell‘s agent, Adisa Bakari, attended the Steelers‘ season-opening tie in Cleveland, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes the vibe between he and Steelers brass wasn’t particularly uncomfortable. Bakari also represents Tyrod Taylor. Nothing on the Bell front’s transpired in several days, and Pittsburgh’s bracing for a long absence.
- Mike Tomlin expressed frustration with punter Jordan Berry, per The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly (on Twitter), and he may be on the verge of losing his job. The Steelers brought in free agent punters Jeff Locke and Justin Vogel for workouts today, Kaboly tweets. Berry’s been Pittsburgh’s punter since 2015, and the Steelers signed him to an extension in February.
- With Joe Mixon out for a bit, the Bengals brought in a host of running backs for Tuesday workouts. Thomas Rawls, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Troymaine Pope and Matthew Dayes trekked to Cincinnati for auditions, Sirius XM’s Adam Caplan tweets.
Chargers running back Melvin Gordon will not be eligible for unrestricted free agency until after the 2019 season, as the Bolts picked up his fifth-year option for 2019 back in May. He cracked the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career last season, and he continues to be a force as a receiver out of the backfield. Nonetheless, as Jack Wang of the Orange County Register writes, Gordon still has a long way to go before he can command the type of contract that fellow 2015 first-rounder Todd Gurley recently pulled down (Gordon, after all, has yet to average four yards per carry in his three seasons in the league).
But while Gordon is not focused on his next contract at the moment, he fully expects to be in Gurley territory when that time comes. He said, “[Gurley] definitely changed the market for us…When that time comes for us backs to get paid, I’m sure it’ll be around the same number.” Gordon did play a full 16-game season for the first time in his career in 2017, and there are plenty of reasons to think his YPC average might look a little better in 2018, which could add up to a lucrative extension in another year or so.
Now let’s round up a few more notes from the league’s west divisions:
- Broncos head coach Vance Joseph was noncommittal when asked after last night’s preseason loss to the Bears if the team would pursue a veteran to back up starting QB Case Keenum. Per Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com (Twitter link), Joseph said, “Right now (Chad Kelly) is our guy. I can’t speak for two weeks down the road here. But right now he’s our backup quarterback.” Troy Renck of Denver 7 ABC says Kelly has been impressive in the preseason, but he would still be surprised if the Broncos do not add a veteran signal-caller (Twitter link).
- In a separate tweet, Renck passes along Joseph’s statement that the Broncos‘ running back competition is still open. Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post, however, reports (unsurprisingly) that rookie Royce Freeman appears to be the winner of the competition, as Denver clearly wants him to be the team’s lead back. Kiszla also points out that UDFA Phillip Lindsay has been sensational in the Broncos’ first two preseason games, and given Lindsay’s abilities on special teams, both Kiszla and Legwold (Twitter link) believe he has a real chance of making the roster.
- Alfred Morris‘ new contract with the 49ers is for the veteran minimum of $790K, per ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter). As expected, Morris will need to play his way onto San Francisco’s Week 1 roster. He will count for $630K against the team’s cap.
- Rams rookie Joseph Noteboom, a third-round choice in this year’s draft — and the Rams’ first draft pick in 2018 — has a chance to see immediate playing time along the team’s offensive line this season. And, given the age and contract situation of Los Angeles’ current starting O-linemen, Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic writes that Noteboom — an ice hockey standout in high school — could become a fixture at guard or tackle in the very near future. The team has been very impressed with the TCU product thus far, and he acquitted himself nicely during last night’s preseason game, when he played both tackle positions and left guard.
- The Chiefs signed veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick earlier today.
Knee trouble has impacted Justin Houston for lengthy stretches during his career. Although the Chiefs‘ top pass rusher played 15 games last season, he admitted he wasn’t at full strength. Houston missed 11 games in 2016 and five in 2015 due to a troublesome knee, one that required surgery during the 2016 offseason. But Houston’s participated throughout Kansas City’s offseason program this year and will be counted on to supply consistent edge pressure.
“When you have the surgery I had on my knee, it takes time to get your pop back and get where you want to be,” Houston said, via Nate Taylor of The Athletic (subscription required). “I’m beyond there right now. It just feels great to be back in that feeling.”
These knee problems have limited Houston since he signed that six-year, $101MM contract at the 2015 franchise tag deadline. He has not recorded double-digit sacks in a season since his NFL record-threatening 22 in 2014.
After examining the latest on the Raiders, here’s what’s new from the rest of the AFC West:
- In addition to the season-ending injuries sustained by Hunter Henry and Jason Verrett, the Chargers‘ recent spree of misfortune affected another tight end Sunday. Rookie UDFA Austin Roberts suffered a torn ACL and will miss the season, Anthony Lynn said (via Eric Williams of ESPN.com, on Twitter). Roberts was one of Josh Rosen‘s options at UCLA the past two seasons. The Bolts remain in discussions regarding an Antonio Gates reunion.
- The Broncos drafted two running backs and have two young holdovers in Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson, but rookie UDFA Phillip Lindsay is turning heads early in camp. The 5-foot-7 speedster out of Colorado has Von Miller and Brandon Marshall expecting him to play a key role this season. “We’re definitely going to have some things planned for Phillip,” Miller said, via Jon Heath of Broncos Wire. “Guys like that in the league, you just can’t cover them. They’re just assets to the offense. You have to have a back like that and we definitely have one.” Marshall expects Lindsay, whom Mike Klis of 9News observes battling Henderson and seventh-round pick David Williams for a role behind Booker and Royce Freeman, to be Denver’s third-down back. Lindsay posted 1,700-plus yards from scrimmage in his final two college seasons. UDFAs like Chris Harris, C.J. Anderson and Shaquil Barrett have made impacts in Denver, but the franchise hasn’t deployed much of an outlet threat since Knowshon Moreno.
- Cameron Erving is in the mix to win the Chiefs‘ left guard job, per Taylor, who adds Mitch Morse looks to have reasserted himself as the center starter. Erving served as a Chiefs backup last season, but with K.C. having lost Zach Fulton in free agency, a spot is open for the former Browns first-round pick. Erving’s last full-time role came when he started 13 games with Cleveland in 2016. The Chiefs declined Erving’s fifth-year option, making this season particularly pivotal for the former Florida State standout.
An Anthony Castonzo stay on the PUP list due to a midsummer hamstring tweak was among the Colts‘ late-offseason concerns, but that won’t end up taking place. The Colts did not end up placing their top left tackle on the PUP list, per Mike Chappell of CBS 4 (Twitter link). However, Chappell notes (via Twitter) Indianapolis did follow through with placing safeties Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers on the PUP. Both were expected to land there, with Hooker (torn ACL, MCL in October) being a bit further away from a return.
Here’s the latest from the AFC on the final offseason Sunday for most teams.
- August extensions have been one of the Steelers‘ traditions over the years, and an unlikely candidate for a significant pay bump’s emerged. Chris Boswell joined the Steelers midway through the 2015 season, but his production last year (35-for-38 on field goals, four game-winning makes en route to the Pro Bowl) and contract-year status make him a prime preseason-extension candidate, Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. The Steelers applied a second-round RFA tender (2.9MM) to Boswell this year, and Rutter believes it will take a guarantee in the $9MM-plus range to keep Boswell in Pittsburgh. Only two kickers — Stephen Gostkowski and Justin Tucker — received eight-figure guarantees, with the Bears’ Cody Parkey guarantee sitting in third.
- Despite a light investment at linebacker to replace Ryan Shazier, don’t automatically look for the Steelers to deploy Terrell Edmunds as a hybrid safety just yet, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic writes (subscription required). Kaboly expects the first-round pick to play in the William Gay role as a dime contributor as a rookie, with UFA linebacker add Jon Bostic or second-year man Tyler Matakevich replacing Shazier.
- In what is Breshad Perriman‘s last chance to make an impact with the Ravens, he may be on the outside looking in to make the team, Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic notes. In addition to being behind new additions Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown, Zreibec notes the 2015 first-round pick is “certainly” trailing Chris Moore and Tim White as well. (Moore is a career backup, and White is a former UDFA who has yet to play in an NFL game.) Considering rookies Jaleel Scott (Round 4) and Jordan Lasley (Round 5) also may be ahead of Perriman, this is a bind for the one-time highly regarded prospect. Ravens officials, however, wonder how much different the Central Florida product’s career would be had he been able to be on the field during the team’s past training camps rather than missing most of those sessions due to injuries, per Zreibec. Perriman looked on the verge of a promising season after shining in the 2017 offseason program, but a hamstring tear put the kibosh on those hopes. Baltimore picked up an option bonus of $649K earlier this week, but that will merely buy the fourth-year pass-catcher this preseason to try and make one final impression.
- Phillip Lindsay now serves as a wild card in the Broncos‘ running back room. The Colorado product who blazed to a 4.39-second 40-yard dash clocking at his pro day received interest from several other teams before opting to stay in Denver, Mike Klis of 9News notes. The Denver native’s $15K signing bonus marked the third-highest in John Elway‘s eight-year tenure at the helm. Klis writes Vance Joseph plans to evaluate the 5-foot-7 speedster for a Darren Sproles-type role as a third-down back and return man. The Broncos have struggled on returns since parting ways with Trindon Holliday after the 2013 season. Primary 2017 return man Isaiah McKenzie fumbled six times as a rookie. The Broncos added two rookies — third-rounder Royce Freeman and seventh-rounder David Williams — to a backfield mix that includes veterans Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson.
The Broncos have become the latest team to bring in post-draft players, as they’ve announced the signing of the following eight undrafted college free agents:
- John Diarse, WR (TCU)
- Jeff Holland, LB (Auburn)
- Leon Johnson, T (Temple)
- Lowell Lotulelei, DT (Utah)
- Phillip Lindsay, RB (Colorado)
- Trey Marshall, S (Florida State)
- Austin Schlottmann, G (TCU)
- Jimmy Williams, WR (East Carolina)
Holland and Lindsay were Denver’s big gets, according to Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link), as each received a signing bonus of $15K. Holland, who won’t turn 21 years old until September, put up 12.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks during his final season with the tigers. Lindsay, meanwhile, topped 1,000 yards rushing in each of the last two campaigns, and will get an opportunity as a returner, per Klis.