A.J. Klein

Bills Claim LB A.J. Klein

The Bills added a familiar face off waivers today. The team announced (via Twitter) that they’ve claimed linebacker A.J. Klein off waivers from the Bears. The veteran was waived by Chicago yesterday. To make room on the roster, Buffalo placed wideout Jake Kumerow on injured reserve.

Klein spent two seasons with the Bills between 2020 and 2021. He had a career year during his first season in Buffalo, finishing with a career-high 75 tackles, five sacks, and two forced fumbles in 16 games (11 starts). He saw a reduced role in 2021, starting only four of his 15 appearances, but he still finished with 35 tackles. Klein also got into five playoff games during his first stint with the organization, collecting another seven tackles.

The 31-year-old has bounced around a bit since getting released by the Bills back in March. He joined the Giants practice squad in October before getting signed to Baltimore’s active roster. He was later sent to Chicago in the Roquan Smith trade before getting waived a few weeks later. He’s totaled five tackles in four games (one start) this year.

Kumerow has seen time in six games for the Bills this season, hauling in four catches for 64 yards while also playing a role on special teams. The veteran suffered an ankle injury during Buffalo’s Week 10 loss to the Vikings, and now he’ll be sidelined for at least the next four games.

Bears Sign DE Taco Charlton, Cut LB A.J. Klein

The Bears acquired some depth on the defensive line today, signing former first-round pick Taco Charlton from the Saints practice squad, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Additionally, the Bears activated linebacker Matthew Adams from injured reserve.

Charlton has had a rollercoaster of a career through six seasons. He’s coming off of a down season in Pittsburgh where the Steelers barely used him. As a rotational pass rusher, Charlton only played more than half of the team’s defensive snaps twice in the season. In his lone start, he earned his only half-sack and a quarterback hit. In the only other game that saw him play more than half the Steelers’ snaps, he recorded his only other quarterback hit of the season.

Charlton hasn’t played a full season since his rookie year for the Cowboys in 2017. Since then, injuries and inactive periods for other non-disclosed reasons have kept him off the field for weeks at a time. He signed with the Saints early in the offseason but was cut and signed to the practice squad at the roster cut deadline.

Adams is a reserve linebacker and core special teamer for the Bears. He was placed on IR after suffering a calf injury in the team’s Week 5 loss to the Vikings. His return adds some depth to the linebacking position behind starters Jack Sanborn, Joe Thomas, and Nicholas Morrow.

To make room for Charlton on the active roster, Chicago released linebacker A.J. Klein with a non-injury settlement agreement, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. Klein was acquired in the trade that sent star linebacker Roquan Smith to Baltimore. Klein appeared in each of the Bears’ last two games, playing sparsely on special teams. His departure is quickly remedied by the return of Adams.

Ravens To Acquire Roquan Smith From Bears

3:43pm: The Bears will follow the Quinn formula with Smith’s contract. They will eat $4.8MM of the remaining $5.4MM on Smith’s deal, Schefter tweets. The Ravens’ cap situation made the Bears taking on some salary mandatory, but Chicago’s willingness to pay almost all of the money undoubtedly boosted the compensation value. Baltimore only owes Smith $575K the rest of the way.

2:29pm: Days after trading Robert Quinn to the Eagles, the Bears are making another seller move. They are sending contract-year linebacker Roquan Smith to the Ravens, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).

Smith staged a hold-in effort during training camp but returned to the team and has played well. But the Bears had stripped away most of their front-seven pieces this offseason. Quinn’s departure followed, and Smith will complete a full-on overhaul. This move also comes not long after after a report indicated the Bears would likely hang onto Smith through the deadline. The Ravens stepped up since, and the Bears will collect an interesting haul for the Ryan Pace-era draftee.

The Ravens are sending second- and fifth-round picks for Smith, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Both picks are in 2023, Schefter tweets. Chicago will receive the higher of Baltimore’s 2023 fifths, Albert Breer of SI.com notes (on Twitter). The Ravens have their own 2023 fifth and the Patriots’. The Bears will also acquire veteran linebacker A.J. Klein in the swap, Rapoport adds (via Twitter). Klein signed with the Ravens earlier this offseason. The former Saints and Bills starter stands to provide a stopgap veteran presence for the Bears, who have dealt away considerable experience on defense this year.

This represents a nice return for a linebacker that would have been difficult for the Bears to cuff via the franchise tag. Because on- and off-ball linebackers are grouped together under the tag formula, Smith would require and edge rusher-level tag sum. The team will move on, and it has now added two second-rounders, along with fourth-, fifth- and sixth-round picks in deals involving Smith, Quinn and Khalil Mack this year.

The Smith move differs from the Quinn decision, as the former is a player squarely in his prime. The Ravens will acquire a fifth-year starter who is only in his age-25 season. Smith’s 30 tackles for loss between the 2020 and ’21 seasons ranked behind only T.J. Watt. This season, Smith leads the NFL with 83 tackles. During a brief run in Matt Eberflus‘ defense, the Georgia product has added 2.5 sacks. Pro Football Focus rates Smith behind Patrick Queen, Josh Bynes and Malik Harrison for 2022, but Baltimore’s trade certainly points to the organization not putting much stock in that placement. It will bet on the former No. 8 overall pick.

Smith is playing on a $9.74MM fifth-year option. The Bears ate most of Quinn’s salary to up the price tag from the Eagles; it will be interesting to see if the rebuilding team is doing the same with Smith. Otherwise, the Ravens will be responsible for more than $5MM of Smith’s Year 5 salary. Baltimore entered Monday with less than $3MM in cap space, so a salary arrangement — or a Ravens cap adjustment — will be necessary for the team to acquire Smith.

The Ravens have Queen signed through 2023, with a fifth-year option on the table to keep him on his rookie deal through 2024. Will Queen be playing alongside a big-ticket Smith extension next year? The Ravens making this move now would suggest they are prepared to extend Smith.

Baltimore made Bobby Wagner a competitive offer this year, signaling a willingness to pay up at the position, and attempted to keep C.J. Mosley from defecting to the Jets in 2019, but a record-smashing contract nixed those hopes. The Ravens have not spent big at this position in the years since, with Queen being their top 2020s investment at the position. Smith could change that, having been seeking a deal that eclipses Shaquille Leonard‘s $19.7MM-per-year contract. Seeing the Ravens go to such a place would be interesting, but the other Raven currently on a fifth-year option complicates their Smith path.

Lamar Jackson‘s status also makes Smith an interesting Ravens trade piece. Unless the Ravens and their superstar quarterback agree to terms on an extension before the March franchise tag deadline, the former MVP will be tagged. That takes a key option away from the team re: Smith, who is scheduled to hit free agency when the 2023 tampering period opens. Like Jackson, Smith does not have an agent.

For now, however, the Ravens are giving first-year defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald a major piece to upgrade a defense that ranks 24th in yards allowed and 20th in scoring. Smith will return to a 3-4 defense in Baltimore, after playing in 3-4 schemes for Vic Fangio, Chuck Pagano and Sean Desai. It will be interesting to see how the three-down linebacker looks with the Ravens, who will lead the AFC North regardless of the Bengals’ result Monday night.

The Bears drafted starting safety Jaquan Brisker with the second-round pick obtained for Mack, who joined Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman and Danny Trevathan in being replaced by a new Bears regime this offseason. The Bears entered Week 8 coming off an upset blowout of the Patriots, but they were routed in Dallas on Sunday. GM Ryan Poles has not let early-season wins over the Patriots and 49ers cloud a long-term plan, and he will have more to work with in the 2023 draft because of this seller’s approach.

Ravens Sign A.J. Klein Off Giants’ P-Squad

A.J. Klein will go from being out of the NFL for the season’s first month to being part of two teams this week. The Ravens signed Klein off the Giants’ practice squad Thursday.

A veteran linebacker who had spent time with the Panthers, Saints and Bills, Klein joined the Giants’ P-squad on Monday. The Giants continued their busy acquisition stretch at inside linebacker today, however, reuniting with Landon Collins. Despite Collins playing safety during his first tour of duty in New York, the current regime prefers him at linebacker.

Klein, 31, instead will head to Baltimore to earn a chance on the Ravens’ 53-man roster. The former fifth-round pick will fill in behind starters Patrick Queen and Josh Bynes. The Ravens have shifted Malik Harrison to an outside ‘backer role, due to injury issues, leaving an opening for an experienced second-level defender to work as a second-stringer.

After working as a primary starter in place of the injured Matt Milano extensively in 2020, Klein slid back to a bench role last year in Buffalo. The Bills released Klein in March. Still, the one-time Luke Kuechly backup has made 80 career starts. Fifteen of those came in Buffalo, where Klein also contributed as a pass rusher. He led the AFC’s second-seeded Bills squad that season with a career-high five sacks, both highlighting Klein’s versatility and the Bills’ need to augment their 2020s pass-rushing situation.

An Iowa State product, Klein also crossed the 75% defensive snap threshold for two Saints playoff-bound teams (2017 and ’19) after signing a four-year, $24MM deal with New Orleans in 2017. After the Saints made Klein a cap casualty in 2020, he landed a three-year, $18MM deal with a Buffalo regime known to be rather high on ex-Panthers draft choices.

Despite Klein’s quick New York exit, the Giants have still added Collins and Jaylon Smith as veteran options to work alongside Tae Crowder at inside linebacker. Smith played 31 snaps in his 2022 Giants debut Sunday.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 10/3/22

Here’s the practice squad moves from around the league today:

Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills

Cleveland Browns

Kansas City Chiefs

Miami Dolphins

  • Signed: QB Reid Sinnett

New England Patriots

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Bills Release LB A.J. Klein

A.J. Klein‘s two-year run with the Bills ended Tuesday. The Bills released the veteran linebacker, creating some cap space in the process.

The Bills, who used Klein as a first- and second-string ‘backer during his tenure, will save just more than $5MM. This bumps Buffalo toward cap compliance, though more moves will be made to ensure the AFC East champions have a bit more breathing room.

One of many ex-Panthers to find a home in Buffalo in under Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane, Klein rejoined McDermott after three seasons in New Orleans. The Panthers selected Klein in the 2013 fifth round, with both McDermott and Beane still in Carolina, and he has managed a nine-year career thus far.

The team has Matt Milano tied to a long-term deal and Tremaine Edmunds heading into his fifth-year option season. Klein started 11 games in 2020 but only four last season, a healthier Milano campaign. Klein delivered a versatile season in 2020, tallying 78 tackles and adding five sacks to help a limited Bills pass rush. He is going into his age-31 season, should another team make a move for the role player.

Minor NFL Transactions:  12/15/21

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: LB A.J. Klein

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Bills Place LB A.J. Klein On Reserve/COVID-19 List

The Bills will be without a key piece for tonight’s game against the Patriots. Buffalo has placed A.J. Klein on the reserve/COVID-19 list, reports ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter).

Klein signed a three-year pact with the Bills back in 2020, and he started 11 of his 16 games during his first season in Buffalo, finishing with career-highs in tackles (75), sacks (five), and QB hits (nine). He also started one of his three playoff appearances. The 30-year-old has only started three of his 11 games this season, collecting 30 tackles.

The linebacker has been completed phased out of the defense in six appearances this year, but he’s seen significant roles in his other five appearances. As Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic tweets, tonight could have been one of those games where Klein saw time on defense, as the Bills could have relied on a three-linebacker look against the Patriots’ “fullback heavy approach.”

The Bills also promoted two players from the practice squad for tonight’s game (via Aaron Wilson on Twitter): nose tackle Eli Ankou and linebacker Joe Giles-Harris. Ankou has seen time in 29 career games, including an appearance with Buffalo in Week 12. Giles-Harris got into 14 games with the Jaguars between 2019 and 2020, and he’s spent the majority of the 2021 campaign on Buffalo’s practice squad.

Contract Details: JPP, Boston, Waynes

A new batch of contract details to pass along, all via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter):

  • LB Jason Pierre-Paul, Buccaneers: two year extension. $25MM, including $20MM guaranteed. Salaries: $6.5MM, guaranteed (2020), $12.5MM, with $7.5MM guaranteed for injury (2021).
  • Tre Boston, Panthers: three years, $18MM. $8MM signing bonus. Salaries: $1.16MM (2020), $2.25MM (2021), $3.69MM (2022). $1MM third day 2020 roster bonus, $1MM third day 2022 roster bonus.
  • CB Trae Waynes, Bengals: three years, $42MM. $15MM signing bonus. Salaries: $5MM (2020), $8.4MM (2021), $10.4MM (2022).
  • DT Linval Joseph, Chargers: two years, $17MM. $8MM signing bonus. Salaries: $1.5MM (2020), $5.5MM (2021). $1MM annual playtime, sacks, Pro Bowl incentive.
  • OL Wes Schweitzer, Redskins: three years, $13.5MM. $4MM guaranteed, $3MM signing bonus. Salaries: $1MM guaranteed (2020), $3.49MM (2021), $4.49MM (2022).
  • LB A.J. Klein, Bills: three years, $18MM. $9.7MM guaranteed, $1.2MM signing bonus. Salaries: $2.2MM guaranteed (2020), $4.1MM, with $3.2MM guaranteed (2021), $4.2MM (2022).
  • OL Tyler Shatley, Jaguars: signed. One-year, $1.511MM deal with $600K guaranteed. $1.375MM salary for 2020.

Bills Sign LB A.J. Klein

A.J. Klein is heading to Buffalo. The former Saints linebacker is inking a three-year, $18MM deal with the Bills, according to SiriusXM’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter). The deal contains $9.7MM in guaranteed money.

Klein spent the first four seasons of his career with the Panthers, where he worked under current Bills head coach Sean McDermott (who was serving as defensive coordinator at the time). Klein signed a three-year deal with the Saints prior to the 2017 season, and he evolved into a full-time starter during his stint in New Orleans.

The 28-year-old continued to produce during his three seasons with the Saints, including a 2019 campaign where he compiled 69 tackles, 2.5 sacks, one interceptions,and one forced fumble.

Earlier today, Caplan had tweeted that the Bills continued to look for a starting linebacker to pair with Matt Milano. The team apparently found their target in Klein, meaning they won’t have to dedicate valuable draft assets towards the position.