Abram Smith

NFL Workout Rumors: Basham, Dobbs, Raiders, Beckham

Veteran defensive end Tarell Basham is quickly back to work in trying to secure his spot on an NFL roster, spending the day with the Titans on a free agent visit, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. He’s been available for three days and has clearly been busy attempting to find his fourth NFL home.

This display of resiliency is nothing new for the 28-year-old. After disappointing as a third-round pick in Indianapolis, Basham was waived partway through only his sophomore season in the league. He was claimed the next day by the Jets but failed to produce much more in the next season and a half. In his final year in New York, Basham decided to have a career year starting nine games for the Jets and recording career highs in sacks (3.5), tackles for loss (5.0), and quarterback hits (13).

He capitalized on that performance, signing a two-year, $5.5MM contract to join the Cowboys. Basham rewarded Dallas with a season much like his last in New York matching his sack total and racking up three tackles for loss and 11 quarterback hits. His second year with the team hit a bit of a snag, though. A thigh injury in the fourth quarter of the team’s season-opening loss to the Buccaneers landed Basham on injured reserve. He would eventually return to the active roster, after sitting out seven weeks, but would only play eight more snaps as a Cowboy before being released earlier this week.

The Titans could certainly use the depth in a season that currently shows them with fifteen players on IR, tops in the NFL. Basham likely wouldn’t start for Tennessee if signed to the team but he could certainly provide some strong depth behind starting defensive ends Jeffery Simmons and DeMarcus Walker.

Here are few other workout rumors from around the NFL, starting with a former AFC North quarterback looking for a new home:

  • Former Browns backup quarterback Joshua Dobbs worked out for the Broncos today, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC2. The sixth-year quarterback out of Tennessee is looking to join the fourth NFL team of his career after being waived in order to make room for newly available Browns starting quarterback Deshaun Watson following Watson’s 11-game suspension. Also involved in the workout were wide receivers Javon McKinley, Malik Taylor, and Connor Wedington.
  • The Raiders also hosted a large workout today, according to Wilson, with the most notable names being former Baylor running back Abram Smith and former Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate. Smith had a breakout senior year for the Bears that saw him rush for 1,601 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Smith originally signed as an undrafted free agent with the Saints, getting cut before the final roster deadlines. He’s auditioned for the Texans and Browns since then and was recently the No. 1 overall pick in the recent 2023 XFL Draft. Tate spent his rookie in 2020 attempting to convert from quarterback to wide receiver for the Eagles before eventually getting waived just prior to his sophomore season. He had offseason stints with two separate teams in the Canadian Football League this summer but did not appear in any games. Other participants in the workout were quarterback Nathan Rourke, wide receiver Jerreth Sterns, and defensive backs Daniel Isom and Nate Meadors.
  • Free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. made the first in a tour of several visits today, according to Wilson. The visit with the Giants reportedly lasted two days involving a medical check early in the day and dinner with some players and coaches later on, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN. His next stop is expected to be in Buffalo before eventually heading to Dallas. As we reported recently, it is not uncommon that Beckham didn’t actually work out for New York. His visits with the Bills and Cowboys are expected to follow a similar itinerary of medical examination and sales pitch.

Browns Host Large Workout Including WR Kenny Stills, QB Ben DiNucci

Cleveland hosted one of the larger groups we’ve seen this season for tryouts today, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. The group consisted of ten players: six skill position players, one offensive lineman, and three defensive tackles.

The Browns’ quarterback position was one of the most talked about stories of the offseason. As it currently stands, presumed starter Deshaun Watson still has seven games remaining on his suspension, interim starter Jacoby Brissett has led the team to a 2-2 start (good for first place in the AFC North), and backups Joshua Dobbs and Kellen Mond have yet to be seen. Still, the team felt the need to offer an audition to former Cowboys quarterback Ben DiNucci. DiNucci has some experience helping out in a tough spot from his time in Dallas two years ago when both starting quarterback Dak Prescott and backup Andy Dalton were injured. He got one opportunity to start against the Eagles before being benched for the winner of a Cooper RushGarrett Gilbert battle. DiNucci recently tried out for a quarterback practice squad spot in Miami that was awarded to Reid Sinnett.

Similarly, the Browns seem set at running back, utilizing a three-man backfield of Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, and D’Ernest Johnson. Yet the team auditioned, two running backs today in undrafted rookie Abram Smith and former Ravens practice squad back Nate McCrary. Smith had signed with the Saints out of college but was waived days before the roster cut deadline. During his lone productive season at Baylor, Smith broke the school’s single-season rushing record with 1,601 yards, adding 12 touchdowns to his resume. McCrary came out of Saginaw Valley State last year, signing in Baltimore as an undrafted free agent. He was the Ravens’ leading rusher in the preseason that year, likely due to the litany of injuries at the position that removed carries from J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill.

Cleveland brought in three wide receivers today including the biggest name of the day, Kenny Stills. The veteran Stills has long seen his most productive years pass by but could still remain an effective deep-threat if needed. Through his first seven years in the league, Stills never averaged less than 14.0 yards per reception and was always good for a few touchdowns. His stats and usage have plummeted in the past two years but, in the right system, Stills could still have some use left in the tank. The team also brought in Jequez Ezzard and Brandon Lewis to audition. Ezzard is a smaller return-specialist who signed with the Commanders after going undrafted out of Sam Houston State this year. Lewis is another smaller receiver who initially signed with Tennessee out of college after going undrafted. Being from the Air Force offense, Lewis never blew up the stat sheet with receiving yards but has a unique skillset to add to an offense as a gadget player who has lots of rushing experience in the Falcons offense.

Another position the Browns brought three players in to audition at was defensive tackle. Cleveland invited Tyler Clark, Prince Emili, and Jordan Williams to work out today. Clark came out of Georgia undrafted two years ago spending time with the Bengals, Chiefs, and Commanders since then but never making an active roster. Emili joined the Bills as an undrafted free agent this year and was even called up to appear in two games on Buffalo’s defense, appearing most recently in the Bills’ win over the Ravens, in which he racked up three tackles and a pass deflection. Williams originally signed with the Dolphins after going undrafted out of Virginia Tech but was waived in mid-August.

Lastly, the Browns worked out undrafted Arkansas offensive tackle Myron Cunningham who initially signed with the Texans but was also waived in mid-August. None of the auditions have resulted in a roster spot yet, practice squad or otherwise, but seeing a group of this size come in for a workout is something to keep an eye on moving forward.

AFC Workouts: Texans, Nsekhe, Blankenship

The Texans are bringing in a pair of running backs for workouts Thursday, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. With starting rookie Dameon Pierce dealing with a hip injury this week, Houston invited Abram Smith and Ty’Son Williams in for workouts.

Smith is an undrafted rookie out of Baylor who converted from linebacker to running back in 2020. The Texans got a look at him some weeks ago when he played against them as a member of the Saints in the preseason. He led the Saints that day with 30 rushing yards on seven carries. Smith also worked out for the Seahawks yesterday, likely a result of Seattle placing running back Travis Homer on injured reserve.

Williams is a former Raven who came into the league after going undrafted in 2020. He spent much of his time on the practice squad but got the opportunity to start for Baltimore when injuries landed J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill all on injured reserve. He eventually was supplanted by free agent additions such as Le’Veon Bell and Latavius Murray.

The hope for Texans fans is that the workouts are solely precautionary measures that don’t speak to the injury status of Pierce, who had a strong outing last week.

Here are a few other workouts from around the league:

  • The Ravens reportedly worked out offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe yesterday, according to Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus. Nsekhe has been a long-time backup tackle in the league, spending time with St. Louis, Washington, Buffalo, and Dallas since going undrafted back in 2009. The 36-year-old tackle has appeared in 93 games over his career and started 17. He has never served as a full-time starter and all but one of his starts came in Washington. The Ravens are getting desperate at tackle, once again. Star blindside blocker Ronnie Stanley still has not returned from an injury sustained in November 2020. The player meant to fill in until his return, Ja’Wuan James, had their season ended with a torn Achilles in the season opener. They replaced James with their sixth-man of the offensive line, utility lineman Patrick Mekari, but he left last week’s game against the Patriots with a low ankle sprain. Mekari may be able to recover quickly, but, in the meantime, the Ravens have two healthy tackles on the depth chart: free agent addition Morgan Moses and rookie fourth-round pick Daniel Faalele. If Nsekhe can earn a contract, he’ll be a much needed depth addition at tackle.
  • Former Colts kicker Rodrigo Blankenship worked out with a team yesterday for the first time since he was waived by Indianapolis, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. He and veteran kicker Sam Ficken worked out for the Jaguars, who currently roster second-year kicker Riley Patterson. After two full seasons with the Colts that turned out middling results, Blankenship was waived after he kicked two kickoffs out of bounds and missed a potential game-winner in overtime of the team’s season-opening tie. Patterson, on the other hand, hasn’t given Jacksonville any reason to search for his replacement yet. In three games with the team, Patterson has converted seven of eight field goal attempts, including a 52-yarder, and all seven extra point attempts. He’s showing continued success from his rookie season, in which he played seven games for the Lions and made 13 of his 14 field goal attempts and all 16 extra points.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/28/22

We will keep track of today’s minor moves right here:

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Green Bay Packers

Las Vegas Raiders:

New Orleans Saints

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Commanders

Summers is a 2019 seventh-round pick who has just one career start but who has established himself as a key contributor on Green Bay’s special teams unit over his first three seasons in the league. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com expects the TCU product to generate interest on the waiver wire (Twitter link). Indeed, Packers HC Matt LaFleur said that the team made the decision to part ways with Summers now in order to give him a chance to hook on with a new club before the wave of impending cuts that will soon flood the market (Twitter link via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com).

The Seahawks’ decision to move Brown to the PUP list means that he will be sidelined for at least the first four games of the season. That marks a disappointing start to his second NFL campaign; the fourth-rounder had two separate IR stints last year. That limited him to just five games (three starts), during which he registered 10 tackles and one pass deflection. Seattle has seen plenty of roster turnover at the CB position this offseason, leaving Brown in line for at least a rotational role. In his absence, the team will rely even more on starters Sidney Jones and Artie Burns, with rookies Coby Bryant likely to play in the slot.

Saints Announce 17 Undrafted Free Agent Signings

The Saints are one of the first teams after the 2022 NFL Draft to officially announce their undrafted free agent class. Here’s New Orleans’ full list:

New Orleans only had five draft picks after having to forfeit a sixth-round pick due to COVID-19 violations, so their UDFA class was going to be important for adding depth.

After seeing Marcus Williams depart for Baltimore in free agency, the Saints were seeking some depth at safety. After failing to address the position in the Draft, the team has reportedly picked up its pursuit of free agent Tyrann Mathieu. They also signed some UDFAs with safety potential for some cheaper depth options.

They were able to nab some quality names like Monday and Pryor and managed to bring in some camp competition for kicker Wil Lutz and punter Blake Gillikin.