Duke Williams (WR)

Bills Place Dawson Knox On Reserve/COVID-19 List

The Bills have run into COVID-19 trouble. They are placing Dawson Knox on their reserve/COVID-19 list. The second-year tight end tested positive for the coronavirus, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The Bills confirmed the positive test.

Fellow Buffalo tight ends Tommy Sweeney, Lee Smith and Nate Becker (practice squad) have been identified as close contacts and will also miss Sunday’s game against the Jets. Sweeney was already on Buffalo’s PUP list.

The game remains on for noon CT Sunday, however. Tyler Kroft and Reggie Gilliam are the other tight ends on the Bills’ roster. Buffalo promoted four players from its practice squad — guard Jordan Devey, linebacker Andre Smith, cornerback Dane Jackson and wide receiver Duke Williams — but has not made any other moves at tight end.

This game becomes the latest to monitor as one that could cause a schedule change. The timing is similar to Cam Newton‘s positive test weeks ago, and with the league’s beefed-up protocols in the wake of Newton’s positive and the Titans’ outbreak, the Bills will be extremely shorthanded at tight end. A rookie UDFA, Gilliam was already on Buffalo’s active roster along with Knox, Smith and Kroft. The Bills have Kroft and Gilliam available at the position ahead of Sunday’s Jets rematch. The latter has yet to play in a game.

Kroft’s wife going into labor and delivering the couple’s baby Friday morning led to the veteran tight end being spared from this chain reaction, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Kroft attended Bills practice Friday, but Schefter notes his missing position meetings allowed him to avoid getting caught up in this potential outbreak. A former Bengals draftee, Kroft signed with the Bills last year. Knox and Kroft each have six catches this season — most among Bills tight ends; the latter has scored two touchdowns.

Bills Cut WR Duke Williams

As the Bills shed down to 53 they’ve made a difficult cut, letting receiver Duke Williams go, according to Dan Fetes of ABC 13 WHAM (Twitter link).

Williams originally entered the league as an UDFA with the Rams back in 2016. After being waived by them he latched on with the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL, spending the next couple of seasons in Canada. He signed with Buffalo early in 2019, impressing in camp but getting released at final cuts.

He was brought back on the practice squad and then promoted, playing three games before suffering a shoulder injury. He came back in Week 17 with the team resting starters, catching six passes for 108 yards. A camp and preseason star, many Bills fans grew fond of the Auburn product. He should resurface soon, quite likely on Buffalo’s practice squad if no other team scoops him up first.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Jets, Austin

The Patriots have carried at least one undrafted rookie in Week 1 for the past 15 seasons, which brings intrigue to their UDFA class, as Nick Underhill of The Athletic writes.

A quick look at the guaranteed money given to this year’s undrafted rookies would indicate that tight end Andrew Beck ($115K), linebacker Terez Hall ($85K), safety Malik Gant ($85K), wide receiver Jakobi Meyers ($70K), offensive lineman Tyler Gauthier ($70K), and wide receiver Ryan Davis ($70K) have the best odds of making the final cut, but that’s not necessarily the case – UDFA cornerbacks Jonathan Jones ($35K) and Malcolm Butler ($30K) made the Patriots’ 53-man roster with smaller guarantees in the past.

Taking a deeper dive, Underhill writes that only three of last year’s six highest-paid UDFAs made the roster of their respective teams. Bucs safety Godwin Igwebuike ($125K), Vikings corner Holton Hill ($75K) and Jets safety Brandon Bryant ($70,000) made it, but Saints tight end Deon Yelder ($90K), Patriots running back Ralph Webb ($70K), and 49ers corner Tarvarus McFadden ($90K) did not earn a spot on the Week 1 roster.

Moral of the story: Follow the money, but not too closely.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • The status of Jets rookie cornerback Blessuan Austin is up in the air after he underwent two ACL surgeries on the same knee in back-to-back years, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. For now, he’ll begin training camp on the PUP list. The Jets are hoping that the Rutgers product will be able to see the field sooner rather than later and, if he does, he could prove to be a strong value as a sixth-round choice.
  • The Bills are giving former Auburn wide receiver Duke Williams an opportunity to get his career back on track, as John Wawrow of The Associated Press writes. Williams, a 27-year-old rookie, was on track to be a potential first-round pick in 2016, but went undrafted thanks to a brawl that left his teammate with a broken jaw. After that, he took his talents north of the border and, in 2018, Williams led the CFL with 1,579 yards receiving. Wawrow hears that he has a legitimate chance of making the final cut, despite the offseason additions of Cole Beasley and speedster John Brown in free agency.
  • On Sunday afternoon, the Dolphins elected to give running back Mark Walton another chance by signing him to a low-cost deal.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/8/19

Here are the latest reserve/futures contract signings from around the NFL. These deals will go into effect on the first day of the 2019 league year, with players joining their respective clubs’ offseason 90-man rosters:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

  • WR Duke Williams

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Miami Dolphins

  • LB Sam Eguavoen

New England Patriots

  • C Jake Eldrenkamp

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Houston Texans

Philadelphia Eagles

  • LB Alex Singleton

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • K Matt McCrane

Seattle Seahawks

Rams Cut Several Players

The Rams have begun cutting players prior to Saturday’s 53-man roster deadline. Unless otherwise specified, names come courtesy of Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Here’s the list:

The longest-tenured pro of the group is Cunningham, who had been with the Rams organization since 2013. He made just three appearances with the club, though, and his only career reception came with the Colts. Notably, Seau is the nephew of Pro Football Hall of Famer Junior Seau. Ian Seau signed with the Rams this year as an undrafted free agent from Nevada.