September 8th, 2016 at 8:50pm CST by Zachary Links
Second-year man Ameer Abdullah is atop the Lions’ depth chart at running back, but they won’t rely on him as a workhorse, according to head coach Jim Caldwell (via Kyle Meinke of MLive.com). “Do I think that he’s durable enough to do it? Absolutely,” Caldwell said. “Do I think he’s strong enough to do it? Absolutely. I just don’t think that’s his cup of tea.” Abdullah, a second-round pick last year, averaged 4.2 yards per carry on 143 attempts as a rookie, but he didn’t eclipse the 16-rush mark in any of his 16 appearances. He’s also coming off shoulder surgery that limited him throughout the offseason, as Meinke notes. Pass-catching specialist Theo Riddick and another second-year player, Zach Zenner, are among the Lions’ other backfield options.
More from around the NFL on opening night of the 2016 season:
Saints head coach Sean Payton says that he preferred cornerback Sterling Moore to Cortland Finnegan because he’s better in man coverage and a younger player, as Ed Werder of ESPN.com tweets. The Saints signed the 26-year-old Moore on Tuesday after releasing Finnegan, 32. Payton isn’t sure how much Moore will help in Week 1 against Oakland, but the coach likes his versatility, intelligence and short-area quickness (Twitter link via Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com).
Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson has changed representation, hiring agents Jonathan Perzley and Brian Mackler of Sportstars NYC, Rand Getlin of NFL.com tweets.
A pair of free agents – defensive end Rufus Johnson and outside linebacker/DE Sadat Sulleyman – worked out for the Chiefs on Thursday (Twitterlinks via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle). Johnson, whom New Orleans took in the sixth round of the 2013 draft, made his first career appearance last season as a member of the Patriots. Sulleyman, undrafted this year from Portland State, didn’t survive the Broncos’ final cuts. He worked out for the Bengals on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old Finnegan announced his retirement in March 2015, but he returned to football in November when he signed with the Panthers. Finnegan wound up playing in five regular-season games and all three of the NFC champions’ playoff contests, including Super Bowl 50. The veteran, who recorded 18 tackles, failed to add to his career interception total (18) for the second straight year.
The Saints are slated to start Delvin Breaux and P.J. Williams at cornerback, as shown on Roster Resource. Finnegan was expected to provide depth behind both players this offseason, but he apparently didn’t do enough over the last month to make the Week 1 roster.
Finnegan’s deal with the Saints called for him to earn a $985K base salary with a $50K signing bonus and a $650K cap hit due to the minimum salary benefit. New Orleans is now only on the hook for the $50K bonus.
August 18th, 2016 at 8:59pm CST by Connor J. Byrne
49ers head coach Chip Kelly provided an update Thursday on quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has been sidelined lately with a sore right shoulder.
“From what we understand, it’s not a long-term thing,” Kelly said of Kaepernick’s injury. “Talking to him, he says he feels really good about it. But we don’t want to throw him back out there and have a setback right now,”
The 28-year-old threw 47 passes on the side while the 49ers practiced with the Broncos on Thursday, per Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group). The 49ers face Denver in a preseason game Saturday, but Kaepernick won’t play in that.
San Francisco is currently hoping Kaepernick will be ready for its Aug. 26 home tilt with Green Bay. Kaepernick hasn’t thrown in team drills in over a week, which has precluded him from competing with Blaine Gabbert for the 49ers’ starting job. Gabbert went 4 of 10 for 63 yards and a touchdown in the Niners’ preseason opener versus Houston last Sunday.
Here’s more frm the NFC:
Giants kicker Josh Brown was arrested in May 2015 on a fourth-degree misdemeanor charge as a result of an incident with his now-former wife, but the NFL didn’t discipline him until Wednesday. When asked what took so long to punish Brown, who received a one-game suspension, vice president of communications Brian McCarthy told James Kratch of NJ.com, “It was a comprehensive investigation with multiple interviews, analyzing a tremendous amount of documents. Also, the player appealed.” Given that Brown appealed, it’s no surprise that he doesn’t agree with the punishment (via Kratch). Brown’s reasoning is that the state of Washington, where the dispute occurred, dropped the charge against him five days after his arrest. “While I’m not OK with the decision, I have to respect it,” he conceded.
Could the Vikings keep four tight ends? It’s a possibility as sixth-round rookie David Morgan continues to prove that he can do more than block, Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press writes. “He’s got good hands,” head coach Mike Zimmer said, adding that he doesn’t have reservations about keeping four TEs. “He runs good routes, he gets open, he’s got a little sliver to him. That part I didn’t know about.” At tight end, starter Kyle Rudolph, MyCole Pruitt, and Rhett Ellison (expected to be taken off PUP for opener) are considered locks to make the team. If the Vikings do keep four tight ends, that might be a bad sign for All-Pro fullback Zach Line because Ellison could fill his role.
August 12th, 2016 at 5:27pm CST by Connor J. Byrne
The Saints have signed cornerback Cortland Finnegan to an undisclosed contract, reports Sean Fazende of FOX 8 (Twitter link). New Orleans was expected to add Finnegan after he visited with the team Friday, as Rand Getlin of NFL.com tweeted.
The 32-year-old Finnegan announced his retirement in March 2015, but his hiatus from football was fleeting. The veteran signed with the Panthers in November and wound up playing in five regular-season games and all three of the NFC champions’ playoff contests, including Super Bowl 50. Finnegan, who recorded 18 tackles, failed to add to his career interception total (18) for the second straight year.
Finnegan spent 2014 with the Dolphins and appeared in 12 games; his performance that year earned him a 74th-place ranking among 108 qualified corners from Pro Football Focus. Finnegan’s unsuccessful stint in Miami came after a six-year run in Tennessee, where he was a standout, and two seasons in St. Louis. In 2013 with the Rams, PFF ranked Finnegan next to last in output among 110 qualified corners.
Finnegan, 32, announced his retirement in March of 2015, but his hiatus from football did not last long. In November, the veteran signed on with the Panthers and wound up playing in five regular season games and three playoff games.
In 2013 with the Rams, Finnegan was one of the league’s worst cornerbacks, according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. PFF ranked Finnegan 109th out of 110 qualified corners, with a grade of -19.7 in just seven games. He was a little better for the Dolphins in 2014, but still placed just 74th out of 108 corners, with a -4.4 grade in 2014.
The most high-profile free agent signings occurred more than two months ago, but as we near June there are still talented NFL free agents available on the open market. Most of these players (with a few exceptions) won’t command much guaranteed money, and given that we’ve passed the May 12 deadline, none will factor into the compensatory draft pick formula. After examining the offensive side of the ball yesterday, let’s take a look at the defensive players who will try to find a home as training camp approaches…
1. Donte Whitner, S: Despite being released by the Browns last month, Whitner is still an excellent player, having graded as the league’s No. 24 safety among 89 qualifiers in 2015, per Pro Football Focus. Remarkably durable (he’s missed only three games in the past six years), Whitner visited with the Rams in early April, and is reportedly still on Los Angeles’ radar. Elsewhere, both the Chargers and the Cowboys could make sense as potential landing spots if San Diego and Dallas want to upgrade on Jahleel Addae and Barry Church, respectively.
2. Leon Hall, CB: Hall hasn’t lacked suitors this offseason, as the Cowboys, Cardinals, Giants, and Falcons have all shown varying levels of interest in the 31-year-old cornerback over the past several months. He’s not the boundary defender that he used to be, but Hall is a productive slot corner, which essentially makes him a starter in today’s NFL. Health questions have nagged Hall throughout his entire career, and an offseason back procedure won’t quiet those concerns, but the former Bengal figures to find a new home sooner rather than later.
3. Greg Hardy, DE: Clearly the best defender on this list in terms of pure talent, Hardy’s off-the-field issues don’t need to be rehashed here. The 27-year-old edge rusher and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, are apparently lobbying NFL clubs for an opportunity, detailing the steps Hardy has taken to correct his pattern of behavior. However, it doesn’t appear as though many teams are convinced Hardy has changed his tune, as sources told Ed Werder of ESPN.com that no one is interested in Hardy, with executives calling him — at best — a “hard sell” to ownership and — at worst — “toxic.”
4. Dwight Freeney, LB/DE: Freeney spent roughly a third of the 2015 season at home, waiting until the Cardinals called in October to get back on an NFL field. Now 36 years old, Freeney has become something of a cause célèbre of mine, as I think he’s a far more valuable player than the league apparently does. I outlined Freeney’s tools in April of last year, and much of what I wrote at the time still holds — any number of clubs could benefit from allowing Freeney to get after the quarterback 20-25 times per game. A reunion with Arizona isn’t out of the question, and the Ravens, Bengals, Panthers, Jets, Patriots, Lions, Chiefs, and Bills could all use an extra edge rusher.
5. Brandon Boykin, CB: At age 25, Boykin surprisingly had to settle for a minimum salary benefit contract to join the Panthers in March — he lasted less than two months on the roster, as he was released by Carolina earlier this week. That series of events, coupled with Boykin’s relative lack of playing time after being dealt to the Steelers last year, is hard to figure, as Boykin is considered one of the premier slot corners in the game. With teams lining up in sub packages more than 60% of the time, Boykin is capable of playing a substantial role, and shouldn’t stay on the street for long.
6. Mike Neal, LB: Neal started a career-high 15 games last season, and has posted at least four sacks in each of the past four years. He’s met with both the Lions and the Seahawks this offseason, but has yet to sign a contract, and would seemingly only be in line for a one-year pact at this point. The Packers selected fellow linebacker Kyler Fackrell in the third round of last month’s draft, so Green Bay probably isn’t an option (though Neal is open to returning). It’s possible that the 2015 Al Jazeera report that linked Neal to PEDs is hindering his market, a sentiment with which Neal agrees.
7. Chris Culliver, CB: It’s been a trying 12 months or so for Culliver, whose 2015 one-game suspension voided his 2016 $8MM guarantee, making it much easier for Washington to release him — which they did earlier this month. Culliver, 27, also tore his ACL in November, meaning his availability for the start of the season could be in doubt. But Culliver is the one true outside cornerback on this list, and he has also has youth on his side. A smart team might sign Culliver to a two-year deal with limited or no guarantees for the 2017 season, let him rehab for the first half of 2016, and then evaluate him over the course of November and December.
8. Antrel Rolle, S: Rolle isn’t going to get the same kind of offers that fellow safety Whitner will — not only is he more than three years older, but Rolle ranked a little lower among safeties than did Whitner, coming in at No. 39 in the NFL according to PFF. Rolle has expressed an interest in reuniting with the Giants, with whom he spent the 2010-14 seasons, and on paper, it’s a match that makes a lot of sense, as New York needs a rangy free safety opposite Landon Collins. The Rams, Falcons, and Buccaneers could have interest in the veteran defensive back, as could the Colts if they plan to move 2016 second-rounder T.J. Green to cornerback, as has been rumored.
9. O’Brien Schofield, LB: Schofield and the Falcons were said to be working on a deal as far back as early March, but no signing ever came to fruition. At the time, the Cowboys, Bears, and Titans were reported to have interest in Schofield, and while he’s expressed his preference to return to Atlanta, he remains a free agent. Head coach Dan Quinn has stated he hopes that Schofield is re-signed, and the Falcons have in fact made an offer. Primarily a nickel linebacker, Schofield agreed to a two-year deal with the Giants in 2014 only to see it fall apart due to medical concerns — it’s unclear whether his current disagreement with Atlanta is due to injury questions or financial disparities.
10. Jeremy Mincey, DE: At 32 years old, Mincey isn’t going to suddenly blossom into a star, but he’s more than capable of being thrown into a defensive end rotation on a team that runs a 4-3 scheme. Mincey didn’t post any sacks last season, but he registered six quarterback takedowns in 2014, which led to him holding out for an extra $500K the following offseason. The Cowboys reportedly aren’t interested in a reunion, but Mincey did generate some level of trade interest last November, so it’s likely that there are clubs who’d be willing to offer a one-year deal.
Less than nine months after he announced his retirement, cornerback Cortland Finnegan has returned to the NFL. The Panthers announced today in a press release that they’ve signed Finnegan to a contract. The veteran free agent fills the roster spot vacated by long snapper Danny Aiken, who was cut on Friday.
Despite the fact that Finnegan said he was retiring back in March, the former seventh-round pick hired agent Drew Rosenhaus in the summer, and suggested he was open to an NFL return. At the time, Rosenhaus said that he was “working on teams” for Finnegan, who indicated a willingness to play either cornerback or safety. The 31-year-old has since auditioned for the Patriots and earned a look from the Panthers last week, along with free agents Bradley Fletcher and Robert McClain.
Carolina had been in the market for secondary depth after having played the last two games without cornerback Charles Tillman, who is expected to miss more time. It’s not clear if Finnegan will get a shot to play right away, but he’ll provide some veteran depth at a position where the undefeated Panthers have been a little short-handed.
Of course, for Finnegan to provide positive value, he’ll have to play better than he did in 2013, when he was one of the league’s worst cornerbacks, according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. PFF ranked Finnegan 109th out of 110 qualified corners, with a grade of -19.7 in just seven games.
The former Ram was a little better for the Dolphins in 2014, but still placed just 74th out of 108 corners, with a -4.4 grade in 2014, per PFF. Miami released Finnegan before free agency began this year, and the Samford product entered his brief retirement about a week later.
With Charles Tillman out of action for the last two games, the Panthers have been a little short-handed in the secondary, and are searching for some potential help for their slot cornerback spot. A day after a Thanksgiving win over the Cowboys, Carolina brought in several free agent corners, including Cortland Finnegan, as Bill Voth of the Black and Blue Review details.
Despite the fact that Finnegan announced his retirement in March, the former seventh-round pick hired agent Drew Rosenhaus in the summer, and suggested he was open to an NFL return. At the time, Rosenhaus said that he was “working on teams” for Finnegan, who indicated a willingness to play either cornerback or safety. The 31-year-old has since auditioned for the Patriots.
Fletcher, who appeared in 71 games (54 starts) over six seasons for the Rams and Eagles, started the 2015 season in New England, but was released by the Patriots in October. McClain was also a Patriot before becoming a free agent, having been let go by Bill Belichick and company at the end of the preseason.
With no reports of signings yet, it appears the Panthers may just be getting the lay of the land for now, with an eye toward identifying the veteran cornerbacks they like in case it becomes necessary to add one.
Just over seven months after he announced his retirement from the NFL, cornerback Cortland Finnegan had a workout today with the Patriots, according to Rand Getlin of the NFL Network (Twitterlinks). New England didn’t sign Finnegan today, but the veteran defensive back remains open to opportunities and is worth monitoring, says Getlin.
Despite the fact that Finnegan announced his retirement in March, the former seventh-round pick hired Drew Rosenhaus in the summer, and suggested he was open to an NFL return. At the time, Rosenhaus said that he was “working on teams” for Finnegan, who indicated a willingness to play either cornerback or safety.
Finnegan, 31, was one of the league’s worst cornerbacks in 2013, according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. PFF ranked Finnegan 109th out of 110 qualified corners, with a grade of -19.7 in just seven games. As such, it came as a bit of a surprise when Miami inked the former Ram to a two-year, $11MM deal in 2014.
Finnegan was a little better for the Dolphins in 2014, but still placed just 74th out of 108 corners, with a -4.4 grade in 2014, per PFF. Miami released Finnegan before free agency began this year, and the former seventh-round pick retired about a week later.
Any team interested in taking a shot on Finnegan this year would probably have to overlook his 2013 and 2014 numbers, though the veteran defensive back would certainly come cheaper this time around than he has on his last couple contracts.
Veteran NFL cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who announced his retirement in March, is attempting a comeback, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Rapoport reports that Finnegan, who has hired Drew Rosenhaus as his agent, would be open to playing either corner or safety.
Finnegan, 31, was one of the league’s worst cornerbacks in 2013, according to Pro Football Focus advanced metrics (subscription required). PFF ranked Finnegan 109th out of 110 qualified corners, with a grade of -19.7 in just seven games. So it came as a bit of a surprise when Miami inked the former Ram to a two-year, $11MM deal in 2014.
Finnegan was a little better for the Dolphins last year, but still placed just 74th out of 108 corners, with a -4.4 grade in 2014, per PFF. Miami released Finnegan before free agency began this year, and the former seventh-round pick retired about a week later.
Any team interested in taking a shot on Finnegan this year will probably have to overlook his 2013 and 2014 numbers, though the veteran defensive back should come cheaper this time around than he has on his last couple contracts. A club that finds itself shorthanded in the secondary due to injuries – perhaps the Giants, for example – might decide to take a flier on Finnegan.
For his part, Rosenhaus isn’t willing to identify any potential suitors yet, telling Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal (Twitter link) that he’s “working on teams for [Finnegan] right now.”