Damontae Kazee

Steelers Sign S Damontae Kazee

The Steelers have signed free agent safety Damontae Kazee to a one-year deal, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (via Twitter). After re-signing Karl Joseph in March and reuniting with Terrell Edmunds at the end of April, it would seem that Pittsburgh’s safety contingent, led by two-time First Team All-Pro Minkah Fitzpatrick, is largely set.

Kazee brings plenty of starting experience to the table, with 49 starts in 69 regular season appearances. After four seasons with the Falcons, who made him a fifth-round draft choice in 2017, Kazee signed a one-year contract with the Cowboys last offseason. The San Diego State product appeared in nearly 80% of Dallas’ defensive snaps in 2021, recording 52 tackles, two forced fumbles, and a pair of interceptions.

Pro Football Focus assigned him a middling overall grade of 60.9, but given his experience and playmaking upside — 12 career picks, including a league-best seven in 2018 — he can be a useful part of the Steelers’ DB rotation. He also offers some positional versatility, as he is capable of playing corner as well as safety.

Kazee, who will turn 29 in June, also visited with the Seahawks in April. Given that Seattle’s safety depth chart is topped by Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs, Kazee perhaps saw a better opportunity in Pittsburgh, despite the presence of Fitzpatrick.

The Steelers had been linked to free agent safety Tyrann Mathieu, but the transactions the club has made at the safety position in recent weeks suggest that Mathieu will be looking elsewhere for his next home. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, may be exploring a monster extension for Fitzpatrick, who is entering the final year of his contract.

Seahawks Host S Damontae Kazee

On the lookout for additions in the secondary, the Seahawks are hosting one of the top safeties still on the market today. Damontae Kazee is visiting Seattle, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (Twitter link). 

Kazee, 28, began his career with the Falcons in 2017. After a quiet rookie season, he established himself as a starter in his second year. The 2018 campaign saw him record a league-leading seven interceptions, along with 10 pass breakups and 82 tackles. His tenure with the Falcons ended with an Achilles tear in 2020, however.

Last offseason, the former fifth-rounder signed with the Cowboys. He started 15 of 17 contests in Dallas, making 52 tackles and notching a pair of interceptions. His 60.9 PFF grade is notably less than the one he earned in his career-best 2018 season, but is more in line with his normal ratings.

If he were to sign in Seattle, Kazee would face stiff competition for a starting role. The Seahawks have Jamal Adams under contract until 2026, and re-signed Quandre Diggs earlier this offseason. That pair constitutes an experienced (not to mention expensive) tandem, but the team lacks established depth behind them. Last month, Kazee was named as an option for the Steelers, who have yet to fill their vacancy at the position.

Latest On Steelers’ Safety Search

The 2021 offseason has seen the Steelers make number of changes, most notably at the quarterback position. Another area of the roster which has become a priority, though, is safety. As ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports, the team has a number of options at the position. 

Fowler notes the connection some have made between the Steelers and the top remaining option at safety, Tyrann Mathieu. Given his pedigree and versatility – not to mention the unusually-large amount of financial flexibility Pittsburgh has this offseason – a deal between the two sides would make a good deal of sense. However, Fowler cautions that he is unsure how “real” that connection actually is.

That could lead the Steelers to a familiar face at the position. Fowler states that “a reunion is not off the table” between the team and Terrell Edmunds. The 25-year-old started 60 of his 64 games with Pittsburgh, racking up 340 tackles and five interceptions. With fellow safety Minkah Fitzpatrick only under contract for one more year, bringing back Edmunds on a short-term deal would at least provide continuity at the position for 2022.

Lastly, Fowler names Damontae Kazee as another noteworthy option. The 28-year-old spent last season in Dallas after four in Atlanta. For his career, he has totalled 12 interceptions (including a league-leading seven in 2018) and 7 pass deflections. Fowler reports that the Steelers “have him on their radar”.

Pittsburgh currently has just under $16MM in cap space; fitting in any of the three players named above should be relatively straightforward, then. Whether the team decides to add one of them, or go in another direction, could go a long way to helping their defense rebound from an overall disappointing performance in 2021.

Cowboys S Damontae Kazee Arrested Tuesday Morning

Damontae Kazee was arrested Tuesday morning near Dallas and was charged with driving while under the influence, reports Michael Gehlken of the Dallas News.

Kazee was pulled over shortly before 3:00 a.m. in a suburb of Dallas. The 28-year-old admitted to drinking and failed a field sobriety test. He posted bond and was released from jail this afternoon.

A Cowboys spokesperson declined comment, per Gehlken. The arrest would fall under the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy, which could lead to punishment for the veteran safety. The Cowboys are off this week, so we might not get an immediate resolution.

The former fifth-round pick spent the first four seasons of his career with the Falcons, starting 34 games. He was limited to only four games in 2020 before suffering an Achilles injury, and he had to settle for a one-year deal with Dallas this past offseason. The move reunited him with his former head coach (and current defensive coordinator) Dan Quinn, and Kazee has clearly earned the trust of his coaching staff. He’s started all six games this season, collecting 17 tackles, one interception, and one forced fumble.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/2/21

Here are Thursday’s minor moves, with the list being updated throughout the day:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

  • Placed on IR: WR Aaron Parker

Cincinnati Bengals

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Las Vegas Raiders

  • Released from IR with injury settlement: LB Asmar Bial

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Released from IR with injury settlement: DT Chris Okoye, OL Tyree St. Louis

Los Angeles Rams

New England Patriots

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

  • Released from IR with injury settlement: RB Brian Hill

Washington Football Team

  • Released from IR with injury settlement: OT Rick Leonard

Cowboys Place DT Neville Gallimore, CB Kelvin Joseph On IR

Two young Cowboys contributors will miss at least the team’s September portion of the season. Both defensive tackle Neville Gallimore and rookie cornerback Kelvin Joseph will begin their seasons on IR.

Gallimore is recovering from a dislocated elbow, while Joseph suffered a groin injury during Dallas’ preseason finale last week. While each is expected to return this season, neither can do so before Week 4. Gallimore’s timeline lines up with that return date.

The Cowboys made Joseph one of their top additions this offseason, one in which numerous resources went to a defensive repair effort. Dallas selected Joseph 44th overall. The 20-year-old defender who played at LSU and Kentucky was unlikely to begin the season in the Cowboys’ starting lineup, but this represents a setback to start his pro career.

Dallas also placed tackle Josh Ball, wide receiver Malik Turner and tight end Sean McKeon on IR. This batch of moves will free up roster spots for a few players coming off the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list. CeeDee Lamb, safety Damontae Kazee and defensive tackle Carlos Watkins are coming off the coronavirus list Thursday.

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

DB Notes: Hughes, Surtain, Bears, Cowboys

The Vikings punted on Mike Hughes‘ contract year, sending the former first-round cornerback to the Chiefs in a pick-swap trade involving late-round selections. They felt comfortable doing so because of their additions at the position this offseason.

Mike is a terrific kid; he’s been injured an awful lot,” Mike Zimmer said, via ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin (Twitter links). “With the way that everything is now, we were fortunate to get a couple corners last year in the draft, we signed Patrick Peterson in free agency, so I think that gave us the opportunity to make the trade.”

Minnesota signed Peterson to a one-year, $10MM deal and reunited with former second-round pick Mackensie Alexander on a one-year pact. The Vikings drafted two corners high last year — first-rounder Jeff Gladney and third-rounder Cameron Dantzler — but a Gladney arrest earlier this year could affect his NFL future. Taken 30th overall in 2018, Hughes has only played 24 regular-season games during his career. The Chiefs have now taken fliers on two recent first-round corners — Hughes and DeAndre Baker — at low-cost rates.

Here is the latest news surrounding NFL secondaries:

  • Despite Justin Fields remaining on the board, the Broncos selected Patrick Surtain II at No. 9 overall. After seeing the last of their Super Bowl-winning No Fly Zone cogs depart in 2020 (Chris Harris) and Bryce Callahan encounter another injury, the Broncos moved aggressively at corner this offseason. Surtain, Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller now join Callahan. With the three veterans perhaps in line to be Denver’s top corners in Week 1, Surtain may be eased in gradually. However, he is viewed as an impact prospect who should be expected to help in 2021. Vic Fangio said the Broncos will train the 6-foot-2 cover man on the outside and in the slot, via Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post.
  • Formerly possessing a high-end cornerback contingent, the Bears have seen two of those cogs — Callahan and Fuller — rejoin Fangio in Colorado. The Bears cut Fuller this year after releasing slot man Buster Skrine. They signed Desmond Trufant, but the former Falcons Pro Bowler has missed 17 games over the past two years. Chicago has Jaylon Johnson locked in as a starter but did not draft a corner until Round 6 this year (Thomas Graham Jr.). Nevertheless, new Bears DC Sean Desai does not believe the team needs outside help here. “We’ve got enough depth where we’ll be able to solve that problem,” Desai said, via Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. Desai mentioned 2020 fifth-rounder Kindle Vildor, who played 135 defensive snaps last season, as a player who could be elevated into regular duty — either outside or in the slot. The Bears have, however, checked in on Steven Nelson, joining several other teams in doing so.
  • Although the Cowboys signed former first-round safety Keanu Neal, they are planning a hybrid role for the standout tackler. At safety, the team may well be set to turn to the other ex-Falcon cover man they signed this offseason. Damontae Kazee and Donovan Wilson look like the favorites to start at safety, per Jon Machota of The Athletic (subscription required). A 2019 sixth-round pick, Wilson started 10 Cowboys games last season. Kazee replaced Neal as a full-time starter in 2018 and ’19, when Neal suffered early-season injuries. But the former fifth-round pick is coming off an Achilles tear himself, which could impact his path to the starting lineup.

NFC East Notes: Rudolph, Eagles, Cowboys

Kyle Rudolph is expected to undergo foot surgery soon, and he may be in for extensive rehab. The new Giants tight end is believed to be dealing with a Lisfranc injury, Dan Duggan of The Athletic tweets. The troublesome foot malady can be difficult to shake, but Rudolph expects to be ready for Week 1. This injury is similar to what Evan Engram dealt with in 2019. Engram underwent surgery to address his Lisfranc issue in December 2019 and was ready for training camp last year. Rudolph’s timetable is considerably more condensed, which likely led to the delay in the veteran tight end signing his Giants contract. Engram and Rudolph would give the Giants one of the NFL’s top tight end tandems, but the former’s injury history and the latter’s current issue cloud that situation to some degree.

Here is more from the NFC East:

  • GM Howie Roseman and Eagles scouts had differing opinions on which players to select with the team’s top two draft choices last year. The veteran GM and Eagles coaches’ preference for Jalen Reagor won out over the consensus scouts’ preference: Justin Jefferson. Roseman also veered from his scouts’ recommendation in Round 2, tabbing Jalen Hurts over safety Jeremy Chinn, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes. The Eagles will bank on the latter move this season, having since traded Carson Wentz and seemingly signed Joe Flacco to back up Hurts. Chinn went to the Panthers at No. 64 — 11 picks after Hurts — and finished second in the Defensive Rookie of the Year voting. Going to the Vikings one pick after Reagor, Jefferson finished second in the Offensive Rookie of the Year voting.
  • Frank Reich‘s future took a major turn in 2018, when Josh McDaniels‘ backtracking on his Colts commitment ended up re-routing the Eagles OC to Indianapolis. This came shortly after Reich played a key role in the Eagles’ first Super Bowl championship. Reich nearly saw his status change in 2017, however. A front office push for Reich’s firing existed, according to McLane, who adds Doug Pederson managed to save Reich’s job. In Wentz’s first season — a 7-9 Eagles campaign, which was also Reich’s first as Eagles OC — the team ranked 22nd in total offense. They rose to seventh in 2017, with Wentz finishing first in QBR. The Eagles, who promoted Mike Groh to replace Reich and then fired Groh after the 2019 season, have since hired Reich’s top Colts protégé (Nick Sirianni) as head coach.
  • Brandon Graham agreed to restructure his deal to provide the Eagles with additional cap space last month. Graham’s adjusted contract can be classified as a one-year extension, with Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweeting the new deal is worth nearly $20MM over two years. The Eagles converted Graham’s salaries into prorated bonuses, with the 11-year veteran set to earn barely $1MM in base salary in each of the next three seasons. The team tacked on three void years to the contract, per OverTheCap, which indicates each of Graham’s cap numbers over the life of this through-2023 contract are south of $10MM.
  • After hiring Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator, the Cowboys brought both Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee over from Atlanta. The latter’s deal will be worth the veteran minimum, according to ESPN.com’s Todd Archer (on Twitter). Kazee will count just $988K against the Cowboys’ cap. Attempting to return from an Achilles tear, Kazee will collect $250K guaranteed.

Cowboys Sign Damontae Kazee

The Cowboys have agreed to terms with free agent safety Damontae Kazee, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (via Twitter). Veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson says it will be a one-year deal (Twitter link).

Kazee visited with Dallas yesterday, and even though he followed through on his plan to visit the Lions today, it didn’t take him long to strike an accord with the Cowboys. Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Cowboys’ medical staff was satisfied with Kazee’s recovery from the Achilles tear he suffered in October, and once he passed that test, Dallas was quick to extend a contract offer.

Dallas has been looking for a true free safety for a long time, and it hopes it has found what it’s looking for in the 27-year-old Kazee, whose 10 interceptions from 2018-19 were tied for the most in the NFL. The fit was a good one, as the Cowboys’ new defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn, was Kazee’s head coach for the first four years of his career in Atlanta, and secondary coach/pass game coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. was his position coach in 2020.

Kazee follows longtime Falcons teammate Keanu Neal from Atlanta to Dallas, so Quinn will have several familiar faces at his disposal. Interestingly, Kazee got his first real chance to start at safety due to Neal’s season-ending injury in early 2018, but Neal is expected to play some linebacker in Dallas, and Kazee clearly feels he will have enough snaps to re-establish himself as a ball-hawking playmaker in the defensive backfield.

In addition to Kazee, the Cowboys auditioned Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker yesterday. The club ended up signing Kearse, and with Kazee now in the fold as well, Hooker will probably need to look elsewhere for his next opportunity.

On a related note, Ed Werder of ESPN.com says that Neal’s double-duty role as an LB/S hybrid could eat into linebacker Jaylon Smith‘s snaps, but that Smith’s roster spot is not in jeopardy (Twitter link). That jibes with a report that was published late last month.