Brian De La Puente

Washington Activates C Kory Lichtensteiger

Washington’s decision to use the designation to return when it placed center Kory Lichtensteiger on injured reserve earlier this year has paid off. The team announced today that it has activated Lichtensteiger from IR-DTR, waiving center Brian De La Puente in a corresponding move.Kory Lichtensteiger

Nearly two months ago, Washington placed Lichtensteiger, Washington’s regular starting center since 2014, on IR with the designation to return due to a neck injury. The move meant that he wouldn’t be eligible to return until after Week 17, and at that point in the season, Jay Gruden‘s club trailed the Giants by a game and a half in the NFC East, so it seemed like a long shot that Lichtensteiger would get the opportunity to play in the postseason.

Assuming he returns to the starting lineup for Washington’s Wild Card game, Lichtensteiger will reclaim the starting center job from Josh LeRibeus, who has played there for the team’s last 11 games. If the club prefers not to change what has worked in the second half, Lichtensteiger would step into De La Puente’s old role, providing veteran depth on the interior offensive line.

To make room for cornerback Cary Williams, whose deal was previously reported, the club also placed defensive back Kyshoen Jarrett on IR.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Washington Signs Brian De La Puente

Washington has made a roster change on its offensive line, announcing today in a press release that the team has signed veteran center Brian De La Puente, placing center Kory Lichtensteiger on injured reserve with the designation to return.

Lichtensteiger, Washington’s regular starting center since 2014, has missed the team’s past three games due to a neck injury, and the club apparently felt he wasn’t close to returning. Josh LeRibeus has started the last three games for Washington, so we’ll have to see whether he continues to hold that role, or whether De La Puente gets a shot at the job. De La Puente, 30, hasn’t played at all in 2015, but started a total of 50 regular season games for the Saints and Bears between 2011 to 2014.

As for Lichtensteiger, the team’s decision to use its IR-DTR slot on him looks a little odd on the surface — because the short-term IR forces players to sit out eight weeks, the 30-year-old wouldn’t be eligible to return to action until after Week 17, meaning Washington would have to make the postseason for him to play again in 2015. While that doesn’t appear unlikely, the team is only a game and a half back of the Giants in the NFC East, and there’s no harm in using the IR-DTR spot, just in case.

There are now just seven NFL teams that have failed to use their IR-DTR designation this season, as our tracker shows.

Minor Moves: Wednesday

In addition to tracking Wednesday’s practice squad signings and cuts, we’ll also be keeping tabs on minor transactions involving teams’ 53-man rosters. Here’s the latest:

  • The Saints have promoted defensive tackle Lawrence Virgil to the 53-man roster in the wake of Brodrick Bunkley‘s injury, according to Ramon Antonio Vargas of The Advocate (via Twitter).
  • A day after being cut by the Buccaneers, wide receiver and kick returner Marcus Thigpen has been claimed off waivers by the Bills, says Mike Rodak of, adding that Buffalo has released defensive end Bryan Johnson in the corresponding move (Twitter links). Presumably the Bills are eyeing Thigpen as a return specialist, despite the fact that he muffed a couple punts in recent weeks for the Bucs.
  • After injuring his foot more than a month ago, tight end David Ausberry has finally been moved to the injured reserve list by the Raiders, with the team promoting defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin from the practice squad to take Ausberry’s place on the roster. Oakland announced the pair of transactions today in a press release.

Earlier updates:

  • The Bears have placed veteran offensive lineman Brian De La Puente on their injured reserve list due to an ankle injury, the team announced today (Twitter link). The former Saint played both center and guard for Chicago this season, earning more than 500 overall snaps. He’ll be replaced on the 53-man roster by defensive tackle Brandon Dunn, who was promoted from the practice squad.
  • Calvin Watkins of (Twitter link) confirms that the Cowboys have indeed placed Jack Crawford on season-ending IR, as was speculated below.
  • The Titans have plucked a player from their head coach’s old team, signing outside linebacker Kaelin Burnett from off the Cardinals‘ practice squad, the club announced today (via Twitter). Tight end Richard Gordon has been cut from Tennessee’s active roster to make room for Burnett.
  • In advance of tomorrow’s game against the Eagles, the Cowboys will call up linebacker Keith Smith from their practice squad to the 53-man roster, tweets Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. Archer doesn’t have the corresponding move for us yet, but speculates that defensive end Jack Crawford could be placed on injured reserve due to a broken thumb.
  • Defensive lineman Nick Williams has signed with the Chiefs, taking the active roster spot vacated by Eric Berry, who is on the non-football illness list.

Extra Points: Rice, Bills Ownership, Injuries

The NFL has informed teams that any contract with Ray Rice will not be approved until further direction is provided from Roger Goodell, tweets ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Additionally, Rice will not be eligible to play north of the border, either, as the CFL will honor the NFL’s suspension, according to Sportsnet’s Arash Madani (via Twitter).

Here’s some more miscellaneous news and notes:

  • Bids to buy the Bills are in from Terry Pegula, Donald Trump and Jon Bon Jovi’s Toronto-based group, reports the Buffalo News’ Tim Graham (via Twitter). He adds multiple sources believe the process could be wrapped up as soon as Wednesday. As of yesterday, Pegula, who also owns the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, appears to be the favorite to land the winning bid.
  • Titans linebacker Zach Brown will miss the rest of the season because of a torn pectoral, reports Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. Zaviar Gooden, another athletic linebacker, is expected to replace Brown in the starting lineup.
  • Bears center Roberto Garza sustained a high ankle sprain yesterday, reports Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). With Garza sidelined for an undetermined period of time, the Bears will turn to free-agent acquisition Brian De La Puente at center.
  • Redskins defensive tackle Barry Cofield will also be sidelined by a high ankle sprain, says Ian Rapoport (via Twitter).
  • The Patriots worked out running back Daniel Thomas, quarterback Brock Jensen and tight ends Evan Wilson and Brian Wozniak, according to ESPN’s Field Yates (Twitter link).
  • Yates also reports a couple more running back tryouts: Chris Rainey (Cardinals) and Lache Seastrunk (Packers).
  • Jason Fitzgerald at identifies players entering crucial stages of their contract who helped or hurt their stock on Sunday. Fitzgerald highlights Broncos tight end Julian Thomas, who recorded 7-103-3 in a win over the Colts, noting Thomas or teammate and free agent-to-be Demaryius Thomas “should be able to jump into a new offer” since the team can only franchise one of their pass-catching stars. At the other end of the spectrum, Fitzgerald says Redskins pass rusher Brian Orakpo was “non-existent “on Sunday. Furthermore, Orakpo’s reputation as someone who disappears in games could prevent him from getting the type of mega deal he seeks in free agency.

NFC Notes: Falcons, Bears, Schilling, Riddick

The Falcons’ training-camp position battle at running back will have the attention of ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, who says soon-to-be 31-year-old veteran Steven Jackson probably has one good season left in him, but fourth-rounder Devonta Freeman was drafted with “thoughts of grooming him as the three-down back of the future.” Meanwhile, the battle for the third-down role will be between Antone Smith and Jacquizz Rodgers, whose special-teams impact might be reduced by the presence of Devin Hester.

Here’s a few more NFC Notes for your late-night or early-morning perusal:

    • The Bears want second-year man Marquess Wilson to win the No. 3 receiver job, writes ESPN’s Michael C. Wright: “unless Wilson falters significantly in camp and in the preseason, the job appears to be his to lose.
    • The Bears project to bring back nine of the 10 offensive linemen who finished last season with the team, in addition to free-agent acquisition Brian De La Puente. Consequently, someone like James Brown or Taylor Boggs could be cut in training camp, asserts ESPN’s Michael C. Wright.
    • After Stephen Schilling was let go by the Chargers, the Seahawks were the first team to express interest and offer a contract, writes Bob Condotta in the Seattle Times. Schilling, a Washington state native, jumped on the opportunity, and he thinks he could latch on with the Seahawks because their zone-blocking scheme better suits his skill set.
    • Lions running back Theo Riddick has had a strong offseason, even catching the eye of head coach Jim Caldwell, and the second-year pro out of Notre Dame should benefit from coaching staff and new scheme, says Tim Twentyman on the team website.
    • Giants cornerbacks coach Peter Giunta tells’s Conor Orr he has the deepest position group of his career thanks to “10 quality corners.”

NFC Notes: Eagles, Giants, Packers, Saints

In an attempt to narrow down the wide range of players the Eagles could select at No. 22,’s Jeff McLane focuses on 11 prospects who could pique the team’s interest and be available. Three receivers top the list.

In other NFC news and notes. . .

  • We know the Giants are “livid” at Will Hill over his most recent transgression, but in a mailbag piece,’s Dan Graziano writes the team doesn’t know whether Hill will be suspended (because he can appeal), doesn’t know how long the suspension will be or if he’ll be released. “As for a replacement,” writes Graziano, Stevie Brown was slated to be a starting safety for the Giants this time last year, and assuming he’s fully recovered from his ACL surgery in time for the season, they’d just make him the starter opposite Antrel Rolle.”
  • “The most important Giants player on the defensive side of the ball is Jason Pierre-Paul,” opines Paul Schwartz in the New York Post. “And no one is a close second.” After a breakout season in 2011 with 16.5 sacks, Pierre-Paul “got derailed by physical issues and, perhaps, motivational lapses.” The 25-year-old pass rusher is making his optimism for the upcoming season known, however, saying he’s healthy, in better shape (reportedly a lean 270) and ready for a leadership role. Perhaps most important, he’s motivated entering the final year of his rookie deal knowing he stands to make a fortune if he shows improved production, consistency, durability and stability.
  • Free agent defensive linemen Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly, who started 16 and eight games, respectively, for the Packers last season, remain on the team’s radar. However, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky describes their situation as a “holding pattern,” saying the Packers “will wait to see what comes of the draft and then reassess their needs.”
  • “The last time the Saints promoted two less-experienced starters into their starting o-line (Zach Strief and Brian De La Puente in 2011), they wound up setting the NFL record for yards gained in a season,” writes ESPN’s Mike Triplett. Three years later, the team is preparing for another pair of second-year players to step into starting roles: left tackle Terron Armstead and center Tim Lelito.
  • The 49ers have done their homework on San Jose State quarterback prospect David Fales, seeing him live during the season and working him out at the team’s pro day for local prospects. Head coach Jim Harbaugh thinks Fales is a top-five QB in the draft, according to ESPN’s Bill Williamson.

Contract Details: Avant, Wilson, Lowery, Jean

Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun and the National Football Post has passed along this several contract details on deals signed within the last few days. While most contracts being signed these days are minimum salary pacts, that’s not the case for all of them, and even some of those minimum deals include bonuses of varying amounts. Let’s turn to Wilson for a few of the latest updates (all links go to Twitter)….

  • Jason Avant‘s one-year deal with the Panthers includes a minimum base salary of $855K, but doesn’t qualify as a minimum salary benefit contract because his bonuses exceed $65K — Avant got $150K for signing, and will also be eligible for a $45K workout bonus, bringing the total value to $1.05MM.
  • The Falcons signed a pair of defensive backs yesterday, and both players received minimum salary benefit deals. Cornerback Josh Wilson got a $65K signing bonus on his minimum contract, while safety Dwight Lowery received a $30K bonus on his one-year pact, meaning their respective cap hits are $635K and $600K.
  • Lestar Jean‘s one-year, minimum-salary deal with the Vikings has the usual minimum salary benefit cap number of $635K, but took a different route to get there. In addition to his $570K base salary, Jean receives a $10K signing bonus and is eligible for a $55K roster bonus, meaning his contract doesn’t technically qualify as a minimum salary benefit deal, even though the cap hit is identical.
  • Finally, one last contract update comes courtesy of Jason Fitzgerald of, who notes that Brian De La Puente is actually receiving one dollar more than a minimum salary deal would be worth. Because he’s not technically a minimum salary player, De La Puente is eligible to re-up with the Bears before free agency begins next season for a salary worth more than the minimum.

NFC Notes: Bell, Wilson, Vaughn

Cardinals safety Yeremiah Bell is likely to retire despite the team offering him a one-year contract, reports Mike Jurecki of Fox Sports 910 in Phoenix (via Twitter). A Dolphins sixth-round pick in 2004, Bell, 36, spent eight years in Miami before joining the Jets in 2012 and the Cardinals in 2013. He played all 16 games in each of the last six seasons, starting all but one contest. Pro Football Talk provides additional perspective on a remarkable career which began when Bell decided to walk on at Eastern Kentucky.

Bell’s retirement would leave the Cardinals with Tyrann Mathieu at free safety and Tony Jefferson or Rashad Johnson at strong safety. However, the secondary has struggled to handle tight ends in coverage, and it would not be a surprise if the team added a bigger, more athletic, more physical safety in the draft.

In other NFC news and notes…

  • David Wilson would be an ideal No. 2 back for the Giants, but he’s coming off career-threatening neck surgery and his availability is unknown, writes Ralph Vacchiano in the New York Daily News.
  • Meanwhile, the Giants still have questions at three of five spots on their offensive line, in the opinion of’s Dan Graziano.
  • Losing starting center Brian De La Puente to the Bears didn’t surprise the Saints, as they seemingly chose to go another direction, writes’s Mike Triplett, who details De La Puente’s replacement options.
  • The Lions have agreed to a one-year deal with cornerback Cassius Vaughn, reports Aaron Wilson of National Football Post (via Twitter). Vaughn, 26, played all 16 games (four starts) last season for the Colts, recording 30 tackles, six passes defended, three interceptions and a forced fumble.
  • Oregon running back/receiver/returner De’Anthony Thomas (otherwise known as “Black Mamba”) will visit the Bears tomorrow, per Ross Jones of Fox Sports (via Twitter). Thomas displayed speed, quickness and playmaking ability in Oregon’s prolific spread attack, but concerns about his size, durability and work ethic could push him into the middle rounds. Thomas’ skill set seems to fit with the Bears, who are in need of a speedy compliment to their large receivers, as well as a replacement for Devin Hester.

Bears Sign Brian De La Puente

The Bears have signed center Brian De La Puente, reports Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). Biggs adds that the contract is a one-year deal for the minimum salary benefit, with a $65K signing bonus and $100K in base salary guaranteed. The team has officially announced the transaction (Twitter link).

The 28-year-old De La Puente is a veteran of six NFL seasons, and spent the last four years as a member of the Saints, becoming a starter during the 2011 season. He will reunite with former Saints offensive line coach Aaron Kromer, who is now the offensive coordinator in Chicago.

De La Puente graded out well in 2013 per Pro Football Focus, earning a +4.0 grade, which ranked him 16th among centers; he especially excelled in pass-blocking. However, despite taking a visit with the Redskins and mulling a potential return to the Saints, he appears to be settling for a backup job, as the Bears already have Roberto Garza entrenched at the center position.

De La Puente adds quality depth to a Bears offensive line that mostly succeeded last season. Pro Football Focus ranked the unit 18th (up from 30th last season), while Football Outsiders graded the Bears O-line as excellent in pass protection.

FA Rumors: Fitzpatrick, Ihedigbo, Underwood

When the Titans released Ryan Fitzpatrick last week, there was an expectation that it wouldn’t take long for the veteran quarterback to find work. Fitzpatrick remains on the market, but at least one potential suitor has emerged. According to Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston (Twitter link), Tennessee’s division rivals, the Texans, are hosting Fitzpatrick for a visit today.

Let’s round up a few more Thursday odds and ends related to the free agents still available….

  • According to Mike Triplett of (via Twitter), center Brian De La Puente finished his visit in Washington and is still considering multiple options, including the Redskins and Saints.
  • Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports (via Twitter) that safety James Ihedigbo, repped by a new agent, has at least two other teams in the mix for him besides the Lions, who seemed to be close to signing him earlier this week. The Ravens appear to be one of those two, as Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun notes (via Twitter).
  • Wide receiver Tiquan Underwood is visiting the Panthers today, says Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). The receiver-thin Panthers already signed Jerricho Cotchery today, and it “looks promising” that they could add Underwood as well.
  • Richie Incognito, who is aiming to return to the NFL in 2014, believes the Raiders make “a lot of sense” as a possible destination, writes Michael Silver of
  • Free agent defensive back Chris Owens had a visit this week with the Steelers, tweets Aaron Wilson.
  • Wilson also reports (via Twitter) that the Broncos tried out free agent safety Jordan Pugh.
  • The Bengals have confirmed (via Twitter) that Louis Murphy visited the club today, which means the wide receiver left the meeting without a deal in place.