DeShawn Williams

West Notes: 49ers, Hudson, Raiders, Broncos

The 49ers may go into the NFC championship game without Elijah Mitchell. The team’s Week 1 starter, who has become a key off-the-bench contributor behind Christian McCaffrey since the team acquired the high-priced back from the Panthers, is battling a groin injury and did not practice this week. Mitchell is listed as questionable to face the Eagles, but this is the latest in a long run of injuries for a second-year player. Mitchell went on IR twice because of separate MCL sprains this season and battled shoulder, knee and finger injuries as a rookie. Jordan Mason worked as McCaffrey’s primary backup during Mitchell’s second stint on IR, while the team also has rookie Tyrion Davis-Price and Tevin Coleman (practice squad) available. Coleman has logged 12 carries for 26 yards this season; Davis-Price has 34 for 99 as a rookie.

Here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • Rodney Hudson made it through just four games in his second Cardinals season, spending much of it on IR. The 33-year-old center signed an extension — three years, $30MM — with the Cards upon being acquired via trade in 2021, but a recent restructure points him out of town. Hudson agreed to drop his 2023 base salary from $8.25MM to $2.05MM, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. This lends to the notion a new Cardinals regime will release Hudson, with OverTheCap’s Jason Fitzgerald noting the $2.05MM figure doubles as the max amount a player can receive in 2023 via the CBA’s injury protection benefit (Twitter link). Hudson, a three-time Pro Bowler with the Raiders, considered retirement this past offseason and may be headed out the door in 2023. The Cards would be hit with $5MM-plus in dead money by cutting Hudson without a post-June 1 designation.
  • Shifting to the AFC West, the Raiders will spend the next several weeks being connected to quarterbacks. They are expected to trade or release Derek Carr before his $40.4MM guarantee vests Feb. 15, and Josh McDaniels reuniting with Tom Brady or Jimmy Garoppolo is already coming up. Raiders GM Dave Ziegler was also impressed with Florida QB Anthony Richardson when he scouted him against Tennessee this past season, Vic Tafur of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock has Richardson going off the board at No. 9 — as the fourth QB selected — but the ex-Gator talent is fairly raw and will have more development to complete once in the pros. If the Raiders were to sign Brady, drafting a QB at No. 7 would obviously cut into their offseason resources to build around him. But Brady also would not solve the Silver and Black’s long-term need at the position.
  • Davante Adams was set to appear in court this week, in connection to the shoving incident at Arrowhead Stadium, but Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes the appearance will be delayed until June 26. Adams faces a suspension for the postgame shove of a photographer, a 20-year-old Missouri-Kansas City student, in October.
  • DeShawn Williams started a career-high 15 games for the Broncos this season, playing a career-most 597 defensive snaps. The 30-year-old defensive tackle, who is on track for free agency in March, said he wants to re-sign with the Broncos, via Denver7’s Troy Renck (Twitter link). Denver will prioritize a new deal with D-lineman Dre’Mont Jones, who sounded like he wanted to test the market, and has D.J. Jones signed through 2024. Williams, though, would not be especially expensive. Contributing regularly to a top-10 defense, Williams totaled 4.5 sacks this season.

Minor NFL Transactions:  3/18/22

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals 

  • Re-Signed: LB Ezekiel Turner

Buffalo Bills

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/16/22

Here’s a look at the latest tender decisions from around the NFL:

RFAs

Tendered:

Non-tendered:

ERFAs

Tendered:

Broncos Place DT DeShawn Williams On IR

DeShawn Williams is out for the season. The Broncos have placed their starting defensive tackle on injured reserve. Williams’ elbow injury will knock him out of the lineup for Denver’s final two games of the season.

[RELATED: Updated 2022 NFL Draft Order]

Williams was an undrafted free agent out of Clemson in 2015, but he’s found a home in Denver over the past two years. After starting 11 games for the Broncos in 2020, he’s started eight of his 15 contests in 2021. The 28-year-old has compiled 39 tackles, one sack, five QB hits, and one tackle for loss. Williams saw a season-high 35 defensive snaps during Denver’s loss to the Raiders on Sunday.

To help fill the void (and for extra insurance in case of COVID protocols for Mike Purcell), the Broncos signed Justin Hamilton off the Cowboys practice squad. The defensive tackle has spent most of the past two seasons with the Cowboys, getting into 19 games. He’s appeared in nine games this season, collecting 10 tackles and two QB hits.

The Broncos made a handful of additional moves today, signing guard Tristen Hoge, defensive end Deyon Sizer, and defensive tackle Akeem Spence to the practice squad.

Broncos Sign 15 To Practice Squad

The Broncos will feature one of the more traditional practice squads, at least to start the season. No big-name veterans appear on Denver’s initial practice squad. Instead, a host of developmental players populate the unit.

However, veteran cornerback De’Vante Bausby — who was one of Denver’s final cuts Saturday — will stick with the team as part of this 15-man practice squad. The Broncos acquired Bausby after his stint in the Alliance of American Football in 2019. He played in five Broncos games last season, after previously seeing spot work with the Bears and Eagles in 2016 and ’18, but wound up on IR for much of the slate.

Joining the four-year veteran will be ex-UDFA Brett Rypien, who resided on Denver’s practice squad last season. Here is the Broncos’ full list:

Broncos Move Roster To 53

The Broncos parted ways with 24 players to trim their roster to the 53-man regular-season limit. Here are the players the team cut to get to 53.

Waived:

Released:

Placed on IR:

The Rypien cut will leave the Broncos with two active-roster QBs — Drew Lock and Jeff Driskel — while the Fumagalli and Fort decisions mean Jake Butt made Denver’s active roster. Viewed as a long shot to do so after the team made multiple tight end additions this offseason, Butt made it through camp healthy to start his contract year. The former Michigan standout has suffered three ACL tears in his career.

Denver drafting three wideouts made matters difficult for their lesser-known holdovers, but Winfree — a 2019 sixth-rounder — profiles as a practice squad candidate. The Broncos will carry rookie seventh-rounder Tyrie Cleveland onto their active roster.

Bausby has bounced around the league for several years now, and the former Division II standout joined Mike Purcell in vaulting from the Alliance of American Football to a Broncos role last year. But the team kept UDFA Essang Bassey over Bausby this year.

Broncos Notes: Sanders, Harris, Patrick

A year after trading the other half of their Super Bowl 50 starting receiver tandem, the Broncos dealt Emmanuel Sanders to the 49ers. The interest in Sanders had escalated to the point five teams were in on him, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic notes (subscription required). John Elway hinted at a Sanders-related event occurring between the Titans and Chiefs games, with Jhabvala adding it didn’t sit well with the GM. Sanders also wanted to be traded, per Jhabvala, and expressed that desire in a meeting with Elway and Vic Fangio last week.

This Broncos return — third- and fourth-round picks — is considerably better than the one they fetched for Demaryius Thomas, whom the Texans acquired for a fourth-rounder last October. Sanders had grown into Denver’s top wideout last season and rehabbed an Achilles tear to the point he was a key factor in this Broncos offense. But over the past three games, the 32-year-old took a backseat to Courtland Sutton and had caught just seven passes for 69 yards. The Broncos now have seven picks in the first four rounds of the 2020 draft.

Here is the latest from the Broncos, who may not be done selling.

  • Interest has naturally developed for Chris Harris, but the teams that were interested added other corners in recent days, per Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). The Texans pursued Harris but instead acquired Gareon Conley from the Raiders for a third-rounder, pointing to the Broncos setting a higher asking price for their four-time Pro Bowler. With Wade Phillips running the Rams’ defense, it’s likely they were interested in reuniting Harris and Aqib Talib. They bet bigger on Jalen Ramsey instead. Harris will obviously be a name to watch before the Oct. 29 trade deadline.
  • The contract-year corner is expected to test the market next year, after he and the Broncos could not come to terms on an extension this offseason. But Harris said he has not approached Elway about a deal now and still wants to finish his career with the Broncos, per Jhabvala (Twitter links). The Broncos do not have an obvious replacement for Harris like they did with Sanders (DaeSean Hamilton), so a trade there would stand to limit the 2019 team more.
  • An interesting piece of the Broncos’ IR equation will take shape as a result of the Sanders trade. Elway said Tim Patrick will be one of the team’s IR-return players. Patrick, an auxiliary wideout for last season’s Denver team, cannot return until Week 11. With Drew Lock having returned to practice, this points to the Broncos’ two spots being spoken for. That would leave Theo Riddick and Jake Butt in line to miss the season. The Broncos signed Riddick for one year and $2.5MM.
  • Being without safety starter Will Parks, the Broncos auditioned veterans Marcus Gilchrist and Kentrell Brice, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Gilchrist spent last season with the Raiders and was a Charger from 2011-14. Brice started 10 games for the Packers last season and spent time with the Buccaneers earlier this year. Denver also worked out defensive linemen DeShawn Williams and Joel Heath.

Broncos Trim Roster To 53

The Denver Broncos made a slew of moves today to get down to 53 players. Notably, the team will place rookie second-round quarterback Drew Lock on injured reserve, meaning he’ll have to miss at least the first eight games of the season as he recovers from his thumb injury. The team cut journeyman Kevin Hogan and UDFA Brett Rypien, leaving them without a quarterback behind Joe Flacco. GM John Elway has said they’ll sign a veteran to backup Flacco for now, and we’ve already heard they’re interested in Brian Hoyer.

There weren’t too many surprises that we didn’t already know of. Brendan Langley, a 2017 third-round pick, failed to make the team. He was drafted as a cornerback, but switched to receiver earlier this offseason after he didn’t pan out on defense.

Here’s the full list of other moves:

Waived:

FB George Aston

T Quinn Bailey

WR Trinity Benson

LB Keishawn Bierria

OL Adam Bisnowaty

OL Jake Brendel

WR Fred Brown

LB Jamal Carter

CB Rashard Causey

WR Steven Dunbar Jr.

OLB Ahmad Gooden

CB Alijah Holder

RB Devontae Jackson

CB Trey Johnson

G/C Sam Jones

OL Tyler Jones

T John Leglue

WR Kelvin McKnight

RB Khalfani Muhammad

DL Deyon Sizer

CB Linden Stephens

TE Moral Stephens

RB David Williams

DE DeShawn Williams

Waived/injured:

C Ryan Crozier

LB Joe Dineen

OLB Dadi Nicolas

S Dymonte Thomas

Released:

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/13/19

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

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

  • Signed: S Abraham Wallace, OL Garrett McGhin, DT Quindarius Thagard
  • Released: TE Jake Fisher, RB Keith Ford

Chicago Bears

  • Bears Signed: WR Jesper Horsted
  • Waived: G Tommy Doles

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Tennessee Titans