Dan Feeney

OL Notes: Smith, Texans, Rams, Bears

The Cowboys are going with a “best five” configuration up front, shifting course months after Jerry Jones discussed a plan of keeping Tyler Smith at tackle. Smith is back at guard, but he may not be a lock to start the season on time. The second-year blocker suffered a hamstring strain, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Jones expects Smith to play in Week 1; the 2022 first-round pick did not miss a game last season. Dallas has lost its starting left guard in free agency in each of the past two offseasons, seeing Connor Williams and Connor McGovern defect to the AFC East.

One of the backup options, Josh Ball, is on IR. Ball is battling hip and groin pain, and the Morning News’ Michael Gehlken notes he is expected to miss around two months. A 2021 fourth-rounder, Ball is not expected to need surgery. The Cowboys kept eight O-linemen, with rookies Asim Richards and T.J. Bass joining Chuma Edoga as backups.

Here is the latest from NFL O-lines:

  • Texans right tackle Tytus Howard returned to practice earlier this week, working out with a cast on his injured left hand. While the fifth-year lineman is on the verge of returning, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson notes George Fant is expected to play in place of Howard in Week 1. Howard, who signed a Texans extension in July, underwent surgery to repair a broken hand in early August. Fant worked as a regular Jets starter — at left and right tackle — throughout the 2020 and ’21 seasons; injuries limited him to seven games last year.
  • Josh Jones filled in for D.J. Humphries as the Cardinals’ left tackle last season, but the recently traded blocker is back at guard. The Texans have Jones in place as their starting left guard going into the season, Wilson tweets. Jones is replacing 2022 first-rounder Kenyon Green, who is on season-ending IR. Jones spent the 2021 season as a primary Cardinals starting guard. The Texans will also be without center Juice Scruggs to start the season; the second-rounder is on short-term IR with a hamstring injury.
  • The Rams gave Joseph Noteboom a three-year, $40MM deal to replace Andrew Whitworth in 2022, but after another season-ending injury, Whitworth’s would-be heir apparent lost his job. The Rams are going with Alaric Jackson at left tackle, per The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue, who adds Noteboom is back at guard (subscription required). Noteboom worked at guard early in his career and was mentioned as a guard option this offseason, but he had played on the outside since becoming Los Angeles’ swing tackle in 2020. The Rams also added Kevin Dotson from the Steelers, and while Dotson has started 30 career games (including 17 last year), Rodrigue adds the team views him as a depth piece. A former UDFA, Jackson started six games last season before becoming one of the many Ram blockers forced off the field due to health issues. Blood clots ended Jackson’s 2022 slate.
  • Previously set to shift back to center, Cody Whitehair is at guard to start his eighth Bears season. Teven Jenkins‘ injury will shift Whitehair to left guard and Lucas Patrick to center, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune notes. Recent trade acquisition Dan Feeney is in place as Chicago’s backup center. Jenkins is on IR to start the season. Whitehair spent the past four seasons at guard but began his career with three slates at center. Patrick has played both guard and center. The 2022 free agency addition was ticketed to start at center last season, but injuries limited the ex-Packer to seven games.

Dolphins To Trade OL Dan Feeney To Bears

Dan Feeney is on the move again. The former third-round pick, who signed with the Dolphins this offseason, will not be part of their 53-man roster. Instead, the Bears will acquire him via trade.

The Dolphins and Bears agreed on the deal Monday night, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Dolphins Wire’s Jason Sarney initially reported Biggs was Windy City-bound. This will be Feeney’s fourth NFL team. He played out his rookie deal with the Chargers and spent the past two seasons with the Jets.

Despite the Dolphins guaranteeing Feeney $3.13MM this offseason, they will use him to acquire an asset. Miami will pick up a sixth-rounder from Chicago in this swap, Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Miami has Robert Hunt, Liam Eichenberg and Isaiah Wynn stationed at guard and Connor Williams at center. Although the team lost Michael Deiter in free agency and dealt with rampant injury trouble along its O-line last season, Feeney will still be shipped out. Feeney had not made a serious push for a starting job, the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson tweets.

In Chicago, Feeney will have a better opportunity for playing time. Left guard Teven Jenkins is set to miss early-season time due to a leg injury. At full strength, the Bears have Jenkins set to team with Cody Whitehair and Nate Davis. Whitehair is moving back to center this season, with the Bears having signed Davis. While Lucas Patrick looms as a possible Jenkins replacement, Lieser notes the Bears have slid Whitehair back to guard to fill in for Jenkins. Feeney, 29, brings considerable experience at guard as well, and Patrick and Davis have each missed some time recently due to injury.

The Chargers used Feeney as a guard starter for most of his Los Angeles run. The Indiana alum displayed durability with the Bolts, starting 16 games in each season from 2018-20. The Chargers moved on in 2021, signing Matt Feiler. The Jets did not use Feeney as a regular starter. While Feeney continued his run of good health in New York, missing only one game, he only started seven. Still, Feeney will bring plenty of experience to a Bears team that has seen its revamped O-line take an early hit.

This will be a homecoming for Feeney, who is a Chicago-area native. The Bears came into Monday night with just more than $12MM in cap space. After showing potential as a guard last season, Jenkins will not be able to mount an immediate follow-up. The injury he sustained could sideline him for around six weeks. Chicago cut Alex Leatherwood, after claiming him just after cutdown day last year, but still rosters 2022 seventh-round pick Ja’Tyre Carter as a backup option inside.

Dolphins, OL Dan Feeney Agree To Deal

After two seasons with the Jets, Dan Feeney has agreed to a deal that will keep him in the AFC East. Rather than reach a third agreement with the Jets, Feeney is signing with the Dolphins.

Miami will bring in the veteran offensive lineman on a one-year deal, Peter Schrager of Fox Sports tweets. The former third-round pick has 64 starts on his resume and stands to give the Dolphins some options along their interior O-line.

This agreement will give Feeney an opportunity to play a seventh NFL season. The former Chargers starting center and guard did not earn the same opportunity with the Jets, starting seven games in two seasons. His Bolts tenure also did not overlap with Dolphins OC Frank Smith, who spent the 2021 season with the team. But Feeney has proven durable and will supply depth, at the very least, for Mike McDaniel’s team.

Feeney, 28, went three straight seasons as a Chargers starter — at either guard or center — and did not miss a game in that span, finishing out Philip Rivers‘ tenure and snapping to Justin Herbert in 2020. Pro Football Focus has never been especially fond of the Indiana alum’s work, save for a positive review as a Jets swingman in 2021, but the Dolphins probably are not planning for this agreement to lead to a surefire first-string gig.

The Dolphins have Connor Williams in place as their starting center, along with Robert Hunt and Liam Eichenberg at guard. Those positions did not plague Miami as much as its tackle spots did in 2022. But Eichenberg, who has moved between guard and tackle, did miss seven games last season. Former third-round pick Michael Deiter, a starter-turned-backup in Miami, played out his rookie contract last season.

The Dolphins aren’t done adding linemen. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets that Miami is re-signing Geron Christian. The offensive lineman will be inking a new one-year pact, per Jackson. Christian started 16 games for Washington and Houston between 2019 and 2021. He appeared in 10 games for the Chiefs last season before getting waived. He was scooped up by the Dolphins and was on their roster for the season finale and Miami’s lone playoff game.

Jets To Re-Sign Dan Feeney

The Jets have agreed to re-sign offensive lineman Dan Feeney (Twitter link via Brian Costello of the New York Post). Financial terms are not yet known, but it’ll be a one-year deal for the Indiana product. 

Feeney was a was a third-round pick of the Chargers back in 2017. The Jets signed him last spring as their Plan B for missing out on guard Joe Thuney.

Feeney started nine games as a rookie with the Bolts, followed by a full 16 in each of the next three years. The Jets made him a first-stringer just five times last year, but he still suited up in 16 games, missing only one contest in the NFL’s newly-expanded season.

Feeney signed a one-year deal with the team last year after spending three seasons as a starter with the Chargers. He appeared in 16 games, but only made five starts for the AFC East club.

The Jets will ask Feeney to serve as a backup once again, after adding guard Laken Tomlinson and re-upping Conor McDermott last week.

Jets To Sign Dan Feeney

The Jets are staying active, and just moments after we heard they’d be signing Keelan Cole they’re now adding an offensive lineman. New York has agreed to terms with interior lineman Dan Feeney, a source told Adam Caplan of Sirius XM NFL Radio (Twitter link). It’s a one-year deal worth $3.5MM, although the deal could peak at $4.25MM, per Brian Costello of the New York Post (via Twitter).

It’s the first offensive line addition for the Jets this offseason, and a fallback move after they struck out on fellow guard Joe Thuney. Feeney was a third-round pick of the Chargers back in 2017. The Indiana product started nine games as a rookie, and then all 16 in each of the past three years.

That’s a lot of starting experience, although to be sure the Chargers’ offensive line was never a particularly strong unit during those years. There’s a reason the Chargers just opted to sign Matt Feiler to help replace him.

That being said, it’s a presumably cheap signing that can’t hurt the Jets too much. Feeney likely won’t be counted on to be a starter, and will slot in as a versatile reserve who can play both center and guard. They can take as many O-line flyers as they need as they look to set up solid protection for Sam Darnold or whoever their next quarterback of the future is.

Chargers’ Matt Slauson Out For Season

The Chargers already lost one starting offensive lineman when rookie Forrest Lamp suffered a torn ACL before the season even started, now they can add another name to that list. According to the Chargers official Twitter account, offensive lineman Matt Slauson will miss the remainder of the season with a biceps injury. The tweet was a direct quote from head coach Anthony Lynn, confirming the news.

Matt Slauson

Slauson, 31, started at left guard in each of the Chargers first seven games. The veteran lineman originally signed with the team after the 2015-16 season for two years, $4 MM. Slauson was the starter at center last year before shifting over to guard for the 2017-18 season.

The news is a bit of downer for the Chargers considering that the team has won three games in a row after an 0-4 start. Los Angeles will now have to turn to rookie third round pick Dan Feeney to start in place of the nine-year veteran. The Chargers team may also decide to add another offensive lineman to the active roster with now only three backup lineman on the depth chart.

Chargers Sign Third-Round OL Dan Feeney

The Chargers have agreed to terms with third-round guard Dan Feeney, meaning the club has now locked up every member of its 2017 draft class.Dan Feeney (Vertical)

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Feeney, an Indiana product, was the second guard chosen by Los Angeles in last month’s draft, following second-round Western Kentucky alum Forrest Lamp. Clearly, the Chargers are attempting to revamp an offensive line that ranked in the bottom-third of NFL clubs in both adjusted sack rate and adjusted line yards, per Football Outsiders. Veteran guard Orlando Franklin was released two weeks ago, meaning both Feeney and Lamp are likely to have starting jobs come Week 1.

Here’s an overview of the Chargers’ 2017 rookie class:

Extra Points: Bolts, Bills, Lechler, Seahawks

After parting ways with Orlando Franklin with three years remaining on his deal, the Chargers are going to have a revamped offensive line in 2017. But they will be doing some rearranging on their own as well. Matt Slauson functioned at center for the 2016 Bolts, but the former Jets and Bears guard looks like he’s going to be moving back to his original position. The second-year Charger worked at left guard during the team’s voluntary minicamp last month, Dan Woike of the San Diego Union-Tribune notes. Franklin lined up at left guard the past two years for the Bolts. Slauson played center, and graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 18 player there last season, but he was a left guard starter for his first five-plus seasons in the league. Slauson moved to center with the 2015 Bears due to a Hroniss Grasu injury. New Bolts HC Anthony Lynn was the Jets’ running backs coach throughout Slauson’s time with Gang Green.

Woike adds that Forrest Lamp has begun working at right guard, where D.J. Fluker played in 2015-16, and Indiana Dan Feeney took early reps at center. That would be a way to get both Day 2 picks in the lineup, along with Slauson. A 2016 third-round pick, Max Tuerk could also factor into the equation at center.

Here’s more from around the league.

  • In moving from the Texans to the Bills, Brian Gaine made a lateral move in Brandon Beane‘s eyes. As Bills VP of player personnel, Gaine will oversee the Bills’ pro and college scouting departments while reporting directly to Beane, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com reports. Beane, of course, beat out Gaine for the Buffalo GM job. But the New York native saw enough in the Bills’ offer to move over from a similar job with what’s been a more successful franchise to the franchise with the longest active postseason drought among American major pro sports teams.
  • Speaking of the Texans, Shane Lechler‘s 2017 deal will contain a $500K signing bonus, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. The 40-year-old punter re-signed with Houston for $2MM this year and doesn’t sound like retirement is especially close. This will be his 18th season. Despite being regarded as one of the greatest punters in NFL history, Lechler at this point is a middle-of-the-pack player in terms of salary. He’ll be making $200K more than last season.
  • The Seahawks don’t plan to play Malik McDowell as a defensive tackle, but rather as an interior player on passing downs, Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com notes, adding that Pete Carroll wants him to operate in a Michael Bennett-like capacity. That means McDowell may be a second-stringer as a rookie but play multiple positions. While Carroll said the second-round pick would see time at the three-technique spot in Seattle’s 4-3 scheme, he doesn’t view the Michigan State product as a pure tackle. “We’ll play him a little more at defensive end,” Carroll said, per Kapadia. “He played inside a lot. He was over the center a lot, and he doesn’t look like that kind of player in our system to us.” The Seahawks still have 2016 second-rounder Jarran Reed and Ahtyba Rubin at defensive tackle, along with third-round rookie Nazair Jones.
  • The Eagles did not sign safety Weston Steelhammer after inviting the Air Force alum to their rookie minicamp. One of three Air Force products to receive a tryout over the weekend, Steelhammer sits in limbo after the Department of Defense reversed its more lenient ruling just before the draft. If nothing changes, Steelhammer and more prominent Air Force prospect Jalen Robinette must serve for two years before beginning an NFL career. “Things didn’t work out how we thought or how we hoped, but everything happens for a reason,” Steelhammer said, via Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com. “I’ll just try to make the most of it.”

AFC Rumors: Patriots, Johnson, Browns

An interesting what-if scenario emerged after the Patriots signed center David Andrews to a three-year extension. The UDFA success story, though, may have seen his Patriots path unfold differently if the team’s most recent draft had gone in another direction. Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports the Pats came close to drafting Indiana interior lineman Dan Feeney in the third round, but the Chargers stepped in and made the decision to bring the ex-Hoosiers blocker to Los Angeles with the No. 71 overall pick. New England, which held the No. 72 choice, then traded down and ended up selecting Youngstown State defensive end Derek Rivers at No. 83. Reiss notes Andrews’ three-year extension may not have come to fruition if Feeney was in the fold.

Here’s more from the AFC.

  • More from the defending champions: their recent extension for Super Bowl hero James White comes with some incentives that may be difficult to reach. White’s three-year, $12MM extension can max out at $15MM via playing-time and accomplishment bumps. White can earn $250K extra per season by playing in 50 percent of the Pats’ offensive snaps, with another $250K available to him if he suits up for 60 percent of their plays, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports. Should White gain 1,000 total yards in a season, he would earn a $250K bonus. Another $250K would come his way if he gains 1,200 yards in a campaign. However, the 25-year-old Wisconsin product amassed a career-high 717 yards from scrimmage last season — one that mostly didn’t feature a healthy Dion Lewis. Plus, the Pats brought in Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead this offseason and could still have LeGarrette Blount in the fold after being the first team in 17 years to use the May 9 tender. White has maxed out at 38 percent of the Pats’ plays, so eclipsing 50 or 60 percent will be difficult going forward.
  • A training camp return remains the goal for 13th-year Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson. The inside ‘backer said Sunday from a NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway, per Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star, he’s still on track to be ready by camp. “I’ll go back Texas after we break OTAs, get my body right,” the 34-year-old Johnson said. “That’s the plan. Be ready for camp.” Johnson has now suffered two severe Achilles injuries in a three-season period. The Chiefs did not draft a linebacker until Round 5 (Ukeme Eligwe out of Georgia Southern), and although Johnson accepted a paycut this offseason, the Chiefs are still counting on him to return to his post on their starting defense.
  • Jabrill Peppers missed the first day of Browns rookie minicamp by not signing a participation waiver, which lets rookies practice without having signed their contract. The rookie safety could not be drug tested until he did. However, the Michigan product did sign it and joined his first-year peers on Saturday and said the delay did not stem from any attempt to avoid a drug test. “I don’t know why you think of me like that, but everyone is entitled to an opinion,” Peppers said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Peppers will enter Stage 1 of the NFL’s drug program after a diluted sample resulted in a failed drug test at the Combine.

Draft Rumors: Mahomes, Texans, Humphrey

Texans head coach Bill O’Brien “absolutely loves” Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes, according to one report, but Houston’s interest could be a smokescreen, writes Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com. Pauline spoke to sources close to the organization who pointed out that the Texans are in win-now mode, meaning they’re more likely to use their first-round pick (No. 25) on a player who can make an immediate impact than select a project like Mahomes. There’s also a sense that current starting signal-caller Tom Savage‘s familiarity with O’Brien’s system will enable him to successfully transition from a backup to a No. 1. As such, there’s a stronger probability of the Texans taking an offensive tackle or a cornerback than a QB with their initial pick, per the sources.

More draft-related news and rumblings:

  • “Several” clubs have concerns regarding Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey, notes Pauline. Specifically, they fear that Humphrey is too much of a straight-line defender and someone who’s only capable of playing in limited schemes. Those teams liken him to ex-Crimson Tide corner Dee Milliner, who, despite going ninth overall to the Jets in 2013, is no longer in the NFL.
  • Kansas State edge defender Jordan Willis was among the Ravens’ pre-draft visitors Tuesday, and Houston’s Tyus Bowser will meet with the team Wednesday, relays Albert Breer of The MMQB (Twitter links). Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com ranks Willis as the 49th-best prospect in the 2017 class – right in the vicinity of the Ravens’ second-rounder (No. 47) – and rates Bowser an even better 36th.
  • Missouri defensive end Charles Harris stock has risen so much that he could come off the board before Tennessee DE Derek Barnett, per Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jeremiah places Harris 21st in his rankings and Barnett 13th, and PFR’s Dallas Robinson currently has the former going 26th overall and the latter ninth. Harris recently worked out for the Falcons, as he tells Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com.
  • Indiana offensive lineman Dan Feeney could be a late first-rounder or an early second-rounder, according to Pauline, who reports he has visited the Vikings, Bears and Colts. Feeney also has meetings with the 49ers and Rams on tap. The Dolphins have also worked out Feeney, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, who adds Miami has also spent “considerable time” with Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp.