Connor Williams

AFC Rumors: Jaguars, Williams, Van Roten, Leonard, Browns, Griffin III

After the Jaguars fired former head coach Urban Meyer, it became public that Jacksonville had no intentions of paying Meyer the remaining money on his contract, as he was being fired for cause. There was speculation at the time that the parties may follow existing precedents and negotiate a settlement in order to avoid a legal situation.

According to Jarrett Bell of USA Today, an anonymous source with knowledge of the situation informed the columnist that, to date, the two sides have been unable to strike a settlement agreement.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC, starting with a rumor out of South Beach:

  • The Dolphins should have plenty of options for their offensive line configuration, but it most likely hinges on what they do with interior offensive lineman Connor Williams. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Miami isn’t quite sure what to do with Williams, working him at center and left guard over the past three weeks. The good news, is that it gives them plenty of options. With Terron Armstead solidified at left tackle and Robert Hunt solidly at right guard, Williams could fit at either position. If you put Williams at left guard, the team would likely have Michael Deiter start at center and leave Liam Eichenberg and Austin Jackson to compete for the starting right tackle job. If you start Williams at center, Eichenberg can slide in to the left guard job and Jackson can man the right tackle position.
  • The Jets recently released guard Greg Van Roten. According to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, head coach Robert Saleh claimed that they released Van Roten because they believe he has the potential to start for other teams in the league. His release is meant to allow him to find those teams that would provide him a starting opportunity. Saleh was quoted saying they’d “love to have him back,” if he fails to find such opportunities.
  • Colts linebacker Darius Leonard had ankle surgery in June last year before the season. The surgery helped him to get healthy for the season, where he played every game but one and was named a first-team All-Pro for the third time in his career. While the ankle is still ailing him, Joel A. Erickson of the Indy Star reported that Leonard says the ankle is better now than it was at this point last year. This is an encouraging sign for Leonard and a scary message for the other teams in the AFC South. Leonard has been named to an All-Pro team every year of his career while being nagged by his ankle ailment. A healthy Leonard is a dangerous weapon for opposing teams to have to game-plan against.
  • With the return of free agent wide receiver Jarvis Landry seeming less and less likely, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com believes the Browns will be able to push a bit harder now for free agent pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney to return. Cabot points out that drafting UAB pass rusher Alex Wright makes the need to sign Clowney a little less urgent, but also mentions that fellow pass rusher Myles Garrett wants Clowney back, which could help his case. Cabot claims that, if the two parties can’t agree to a new deal, Cleveland will consider former Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes instead.
  • We’ve all seen Rich Eisen of NFL Network run the 40-yard dash for charity. Well, this year, former NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III, currently an analyst for ESPN, participated and reportedly was clocked at 4.48 seconds. Mike Florio of NBC Sports reports that on Eisen’s show, Griffin made the claim that some teams took notice of his impressive run and reached out to him. This doesn’t necessarily mean that any teams have offered to bring him back to the NFL, but Griffin has publicly stated his desire to return to football in the past, even claiming that his contract with ESPN would allow him to sign with an NFL team if the opportunity presents itself. Griffin last spent time in the league as Lamar Jackson‘s back up on the Ravens. He filled in multiple times leading many to wonder if he still had the ability to lead an NFL offense based on his brief appearances.

Dolphins To Sign Connor Williams

The Dolphins have agreed to sign Connor Williams (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). The former Cowboys offensive lineman will take his talents to South Beach on a two-year, $14MM deal with $7.5MM fully guaranteed. 

[RELATED: Dolphins To Re-Sign P. Williams]

This year’s guard market was headlined by the likes of Brandon Scherff, Laken Tomlinson, Alex Cappa, and Mark Glowinski. Scherff (Jaguars, $16.5MM/year) and Tomlinson (Jets, $13.3MM/year) found huge paydays earlier this week, clearing the way for the next tier of interior lineman like Williams.

Williams emerged as a key piece of the Cowboys’ front five as a rookie in 2018. All together, he’s started in 51 of his 57 games, improving steadily from 2018 through 2020. Last year, however, he got a little bit sloppy as he drew 15 flags on the year. The Cowboys shuffled him in and out of the lineup at times, an indication that they’d look to upgrade at guard.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins have welcomed back one of their own Williams-es on Tuesday. Wide receiver Preston Williams, who has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career, agreed to a one-year deal that could pay ~$2MM.

Cowboys Re-Sign WR Michael Gallup

The Cowboys will avoid letting wide receiver Michael Gallup hit the free agent market after to a five-year, $57.5MM deal, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (on Twitter). After trading away Amari Cooper earlier this week, this moves cements that Dallas’s other three top pass catchers will be returning for the 2022 NFL season.

Gallup, 26, will collect $23MM in guarantees, with Pelissero noting this contract will max out at $62.5MM. A nice payday for Cooper’s former sidekick, whom the Cowboys have chosen over their four-year WR1.

A third-round pick out of Colorado State in 2018, Gallup broke out for 1,107 yards in 2019 alongside Cooper. The arrival of CeeDee Lamb in 2020 limited his production to a still impressive 843 yards as a number three receiver. Even in an injury-plagued 2021 season, Gallup enjoyed glimpses of success.

This news has been in the works for a while now with estimates that the Cowboys were aiming for a five-year pact with an annual average value around $10MM, but that Gallup’s camp may possibly having been pushing for a shorter commitment. Either the rumors about Gallup’s camp have been proven untrue or an annual average value of nearly $12MM was too enticing to turn down.

Regardless, the long-term, decently priced deal is a strong commitment to Gallup after he only played in nine games of his contract year due to a Week 1 calf injury and a season-ending ACL tear in Week 16. The contract seems to indicate that the Cowboys are confident in the medical information they are receiving on Gallup’s recovery.

With decisions made on Cooper and Gallup, and the franchise tag placed on Dalton Schultz, Dallas can focus its attention on the litany of other impact players set to hit the free agent market this week like Randy Gregory, Connor Williams, Leighton Vander Esch and Cedrick Wilson.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/25/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Arizona Cardinals 

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

  • Released from IR via injury settlement: LB Nate Hall

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Signed: LB Nate Evans
  • Waived: DL Frederick Smith Jr.

Los Angeles Rams

  • Waived: LS Steven Wirtel

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

  • Released from IR via injury settlement: WR Marvin Hall

New York Giants

San Francisco 49ers

Tennessee Titans

Cowboys Not Targeting Centers?

Don’t expect the Cowboys to find their replacement for Travis Frederick in the draft. Coach Mike McCarthy told reporters that he’s optimistic about his current options at center, including Joe LooneyConnor McGovern, and Connor Williams.

“I think Travis is a player that’s had a great career,” McCarthy said (via Michael Gehlken of DallasNews.com). “Obviously, he’s to be commended on that. But when we look at our current depth with the offensive line, you start off with Joe Looney and the two Connors. I think we’ve got great competition, great depth. We’ve got Marcus Henry there, also Adam Redmond.

“We have some really good flexibility, some really good numbers. So the fact that we’re able to get started and just start going through the language and how we’re going to call things, I think the fact that we have that much experience with the veteran group that we have here, I feel very good about moving forward.”

That probably takes the Cowboys out of the running for Michigan’s Cesar Ruiz, although the team could shift their focus to LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry, Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz and Temple’s Matt Hennessy. After the 17th-overall selection, the Cowboys won’t be picking again until No. 51.

After seven years with the organization, Frederick announced his retirement last month.

Connor Williams Suffers ACL Tear

DEC. 1: The Cowboys will place Williams on IR and will sign free agent OL Caleb Benenoch, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com writes.

NOV. 29: The Cowboys will need a new left guard for the rest of this season. The injury Connor Williams suffered during Dallas’ Thanksgiving game is a torn ACL, according to ESPN.com’s Todd Archer. Jason Garrett subsequently confirmed the injury.

A 2018 second-round pick, Williams serves as the lone rookie-contract blocker on Dallas’ veteran-laden offensive line. He has started 11 games opposite right guard Zack Martin this season, grading as Pro Football Focus’ No. 37 overall guard.

Dallas subbed in Xavier Su’a-Filo after Williams’ injury. Although the veteran had his hands full with Bills first-rounder Ed Oliver on Thursday, Su’a-Filo has 50 games’ worth of starting experience. The former Texans second-round pick signed with the Cowboys in 2018 and started eight games last season and one this year. Su’a-Filo becomes the likely rest-of-season starter. Rookie Connor McGovern is not expected to play this season after being placed on IR in early September, Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News tweets.

The Cowboys refused to deal their 2018 second-round pick to the Seahawks for Earl Thomas, who likely wanted that pick and then some. The No. 50 overall selection became Williams. He is certainly the lowest-profile Cowboys O-line starter, given that the unit houses three of this decade’s top blockers, but has started 21 games in his career.

Cowboys LG Connor Williams To Undergo Surgery

Cowboys starting left guard, Connor Williams, will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery, according to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. The injury is not expected to result in his placement on injured reserve and he could be back in as soon as a few weeks. Xavier Su’a-Filo is expected to play left guard in his absence.

Dallas’ recent run of success has been guided by a strong investment in the team’s offensive line. The organization continued the trend last year, selecting Williams in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Texas. Williams almost immediately slotted into the Cowboys starting lineup and fit in along one of the strongest units in the league.

Su’a-Filo was a second round pick of his own back in 2014 by the Texans, but has not developed into the player many thought he would. While he received ample playing time in Houston, his struggles in pass protection ultimately led them to move on from him at the end of the 2017 season. He has since served as a primary backup in Dallas.

The Cowboys are currently tied atop the NFC East with the Eagles, making the coming weeks games very important for their playoff hopes.

Extra Points: Collins, Peppers, Raiders

Dealing with several young talents’ contract situations, the Cowboys certainly may have to let a couple of their contract-year starters walk. One of those the team may be ready to stomach departing: La’el Collins. Dallas’ starting right tackle is already on his second NFL contract, and it expires after the season. The Cowboys are expected to let Collins depart after 2019, Calvin Watkins of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Joining Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Jaylon Smith and Byron Jones as key Cowboys in walk years, Collins would stand to be a key presence on the 2020 free agent market. While Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones mentioned him as a player the team would like to retain, Watkins adds the team does not want to shell out a big contract to keep him — which obviously means not going near the prices Trent Brown and Ja’Wuan James received in March. This would make sense, with the Cowboys already having three well-paid offensive linemen — Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick — on their roster.

The Cowboys drafted Connor McGovern in the third round and have 2018 second-rounder Connor Williams set to compete with him and Xavier Su’a-Filo for the left guard position this season. Williams may be in the mix to take over at right tackle next season, should McGovern or Su’a-Filo win this year’s left guard job, per Watkins.

Here is the latest from around the NFL:

  • Julius Peppers wrapped up one of the most successful careers in edge rusher history but will not be leaving the Panthers. The recently retired defensive end will take a job with the Panthers, his title being “special assistant, business operations,” the team announced. It does not sound like the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer will be contributing to the front office’s efforts, but perhaps that type of role could be in his future.
  • Speaking of former players landing on staffs, former Redskins safety Kyshoen Jarrett will break into full-time coaching. Jarrett is now a Redskins defensive quality control coach, per NBC Sports Washington. Suffering a career-ending injury as a rookie, Jarrett worked as a Washington coaching intern last season.
  • In addition to hiring former Cowboys scout Jim Abrams as their new college scouting director, the Raiders added Dwayne Joseph as their pro scouting director, Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. Joseph spent the past four years in the same role with the Eagles and was a Bears staffer prior to that. With Mike Mayock retooling Oakland’s scouting department, more hires are on the way.
  • The Broncos will no longer have a Kubiak on their staff. After Gary and Klint Kubiak left for the Vikings, one of Gary’s other sons — Klein Kubiak — will not be part of the Broncos’ staff going forward. Klein Kubiak worked as the team’s southeast area scout, but his contract was not renewed, per Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (on Twitter). Frantzy Jourdain will fill the position. Jordan spent the past three years with Houston, serving as first an area scout and then a national scout, and the previous 13 in New England. The Texans parted ways with Jourdain last month.

Extra Points: Packers, Martin, Draft, Raiders

Bashaud Breeland‘s workout parade concluded in Green Bay, but his Packers contract is nearly its expiration. The veteran cornerback would re-enter the market in a better position, doing so a year after a golf cart-related injury harpooned his value. But Breeland, who said many teams would not medically clear him after his foot injury, would be interested if the Packers approached him about staying before he hit the market. Although, he said the Packers have not discussed an extension with him yet.

If I have the opportunity, I would,” Breeland said, via Ryan Wood of Packersnews.com, of a possible extension or offseason Packers re-signing. “At this point in time, the Green Bay Packers have first dibs because I’m here. They can make it happen at any moment.”

The Packers are not known as extravagant spenders but are keen on locking up their own talent. Breeland has only played in four Packers games, but on Sunday, the former Redskins starter recovered a fumble and returned an interception for a score. Both Tramon Williams and Davon House‘s contacts expire at season’s end as well, but the Packers still have recent high draft picks Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson and Kevin King locked up long-term. Next year’s cornerback market may include the likes of Darqueze Dennard, Ronald Darby, Bradley Roby and Bryce Callahan while also housing veterans Morris Claiborne, Kareem Jackson and Brent Grimes.

Here is the latest from around the league as Week 14 winds down.

  • Zack Martin re-aggravated his MCL sprain during the fourth quarter of the Cowboys‘ overtime win over the Eagles on Sunday, and Todd Archer of ESPN.com notes the All-Pro guard will likely be limited in practice this week. Martin has never missed a start in his five-year career, but MCL sprains are often multi-week injuries. The possibility Martin misses multiple games in order to right himself for an expected playoff game is on the table, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. If Martin does sit against the Colts, Connor Williams would start at right guard, per Archer.
  • So far, the prevailing word surrounding possible top-five pick Justin Herbert is another year in Eugene, Ore. But longtime evaluator Gil Brandt, now with NFL.com, tweets he would make substantial bet that the Oregon quarterback declares for the 2019 draft and becomes a top-five selection. Teams like the Giants, Jaguars and Buccaneers would likely be interested if Herbert left early.
  • Texas Tech wide receiver Antoine Wesley will depart school early. Responsible for 1,410 yards this season — third-most in Red Raiders history behind Michael Crabtree and Keke Coutee — Wesley announced Monday (on Twitter) he will leave Lubbock and head to the NFL.
  • Scot McCloughan could be a name to watch in the Raiders‘ GM or de facto GM search, Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes (subscription required). The former Redskins and 49ers GM interviewed with the Raiders for a position under Reggie McKenzie after the 2014 season, but Tafur notes McCloughan wanted personnel control. He then took Washington’s GM job before an ugly divorce. Jon Gruden and McCloughan’s tenures in Green Bay briefly overlapped in the mid-1990s, and Tafur notes McCloughan got along well with Jay Gruden in Washington.
  • The Broncos worked out 15 players on Monday. Defensive linemen Winston Craig, Jon Cunningham, Marcus Hardison and Christian Lacouture took part in the group audition, per Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). Defensive backs Jude Adjei-Barimah, Sojourn Shelton and Henre’ Toliver joined linebacker Greer Martini in working out in Denver, per Klis.

Injury Notes: Gronk, Mack, Pack, Eagles

A third Rob Gronkowski injury absence appears to be in the cards. The Patriots will not deploy their All-Pro tight end to play Sunday against the Titans, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. While Gronkowski is traveling with the team to Nashville, per ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss (on Twitter), he’s expected to be held out. Gronk missed games against the Bears and Packers but played in Buffalo on the Monday night in between those tilts. He’s been dealing with back and ankle trouble. While the Patriots have been able to win without their top pass-catcher, these repeated absences are obviously a concern for the future Hall of Famer’s availability for New England’s stretch run and potentially his post-2018 NFL future. It’s likely the Pats are attempting to rest Gronk now to hopefully see him healthy for key late-season games and the playoffs, but that can’t be considered a lock given his extensive injury history. Gronkowski hitting his incentive targets may now be unrealistic as well.

Here’s the latest from the Week 10 injury front.

  • Better news for the Bears. They’re in line to have both Khalil Mack and Allen Robinson back on Sunday when they face the Lions, per the Associated Press. Mack is no longer on the injury report after missing the past two Chicago games because of an ankle malady. His defensive player of the year chances took a hit because of this hiatus and Aaron Donald continuing another all-world season but Mack figures to still be in the running and can help a team attempting reach the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
  • The Lions‘ Robinson coverage options will be limited. Darius Slay is out for Week 10, joining guard T.J. Lang in that regard. Slay’s played in each of Detroit’s previous eight games and hasn’t missed time since 2016 but is battling a knee injury. A neck ailment will sideline Lang, who also missed time because of a concussion this season.
  • A tough injury night against the Patriots will have after-effects for the Packers. Kevin King will not play Sunday against the Dolphins because of a hamstring injury. Bashaud Breeland, whom ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky notes appeared to impress the Packers in his Green Bay debut, figures to see more time.
  • Both Sidney Jones and Jalen Mills are going to miss Sunday night’s Eagles-Cowboys game, but Corey Graham will return after missing four games, per Sirius XM Radio’s Adam Caplan (on Twitter). After claiming Cre’Von LeBlanc off waivers earlier this week, surely due to injuries affecting the aforementioned duo, the Eagles have seven corners on their roster.
  • Taco Charlton and Connor Williams aren’t playing for the Cowboys on Sunday. Xavier Su’a-Filo appears to be the choice to replace Williams at left guard for Dallas, per executive VP Stephen Jones (Twitter link). A full-time Texans starter the past two seasons, Su’a-Filo has not played this season. Williams is down with a knee injury.