Ellis Lankster

Kellen Winslow, Ben Tate Join Spring League

The Spring League kicks off in April and it will feature some notable names looking to resurrect their football careers. Defensive end Greg Hardy, tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., cornerback Brandon Browner, and running back Ben Tate are among the players who have been confirmed as participants, according to a press release. Greg Hardy (vertical)

Winslow has not played in an NFL game since the 2013 season and we haven’t heard much from him since he worked out for the Packers last August. Tate, a former second-round pick, showed lots of promise in Houston but could not capitalize on a starting opportunity with the Browns in 2014. Hardy and Browner first committed to the league in early March.

The Spring League consists of four teams comprised of veteran free agents. The league will conduct practices and play six games from April 5 through April 26. Players who are currently on NFL rosters will not be eligible to participate.

The league has secured five quarterbacks thus far, including Chiefs 2011 fifth-round pick Ricky Stanzi and NFL practice squad journeyman McLeod Bethel-Thompson. At wide receiver, there’s former Ram Brandon Gibson, Jets 2014 fourth-round pick Jalen Saunders, and one-time Bills WR2 David Nelson. Former Jets defensive back Ellis Lankster and Texans 2013 third-round defensive tackle Sam Montgomery will also be suiting up for The Spring League next month.

The full list of players can be found below. In addition to those listed here, Pro Football Rumors has learned that another 30 players are expected to join prior to the start of training camp.


  • Hutson Mason
  • Ricky Stanzi
  • McLeod Bethel-Thompson
  • Zach Kline
  • Jeremy Cannon

Running backs

Wide receivers

  • Jalen Saunders
  • David Nelson
  • Kenzel Doe
  • Brandon Gibson
  • Daje’ Johnson
  • Gavin Lutman
  • Tyler McDonald
  • J.D. Woods
  • Sed Cunningham
  • Lawrence Smith
  • Terrance Lewis
  • Rashon Ceaser
  • Kendrick Wiggins

Read more

Bills Release Fred Jackson, 11 Others

9:58am: In addition to Jackson and the three other players noted below, eight other players have been cut by the Bills, getting the team’s roster count down to 77 players. Here are today’s other cuts in Buffalo, per a team release:

  • Michael Buchanan, DE
  • Justin Hamilton, DT
  • Ellis Lankster, CB
  • Kenny Ladler, S
  • Wes Miller, S
  • D.J. Morrell, G
  • Cedric Reed, DE
  • Ricky Seale, RB

9:15am: The Bills’ first series of roster cuts this week includes a bit of a shocker, according to Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News, who reports (via Twitter) that the club has released veteran running back Fred Jackson. While Buffalo had a crowded depth chart at the position, it was expected to be a younger back, rather than Jackson, who became a casualty of the roster crunch.Dec 14, 2014; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson (22) runs the ball during the second half against the Green Bay Packers at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills beat the Packers 21-13. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson, who debuted with the Bills in 2007 and had been with the team since then, is the league’s oldest running back, at age 34. Despite his age, Jackson doesn’t have a ton of mileage on his legs, since he started his career late and has split carries with other backs throughout his tenure with the Bills. Over the course of his eight-year career, Jackson has compiled 5,646 rushing yards and 80 rushing touchdowns on 1,279 carries. He’s also a capable receiver out of the backfield, setting a career high in 2014 with 90 targets.

While Jackson was slowed by a hamstring injury earlier in the training camp this year, he looked good in his preseason debut this weekend, carrying the ball five times for 48 yards. But rather than playing out the final year of his contract with the Bills, Jackson will be looking for a new team. Had he remained on Buffalo’s roster, he would have been due a base salary of $2.35MM, so the team saves a little money by releasing him. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), Jackson wasn’t asked to take a pay cut before he was released.

Following the Bills’ acquisition of LeSean McCoy in March, multiple reports indicated that Jackson would remain on the roster, but it seems the team had a change of heart after assessing its options this summer. With Jackson no longer in the picture, McCoy will be backed up by Karlos Williams, Boobie Dixon, and Bryce Brown.

Jackson won’t have to pass through waivers before becoming a free agent, so he’ll have the chance to sign with a new team immediately. He figures to draw some interest from teams in need of a veteran back around the NFL — the Browns come to mind as one logical suitor.

The Bills figure to announce their full list of cuts down to 75 players either today or tomorrow, but some other names have started to trickle out as well. Agent Brett Tessler tweets that edge defender Andrew Hudson has been cut by the Bills, while Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets that the team has also waived offensive lineman Terren Jones. Last year’s fourth-round pick, cornerback Ross Cockrell, has been waived too, tweets Mike Rodak of ESPN.com.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Sign Ellis Lankster

Another player who spent time with Rex Ryan‘s Jets has made the move to Buffalo to join Ryan’s Bills. The Bills announced today (via Twitter) that they have signed cornerback Ellis Lankster, waiving cornerback Lavelle Westbrooks to clear a spot on the roster.

Lankster, 28, spent parts of four seasons with the Jets after initially being drafted by the Bills in 2009. From 2011 to 2014, the veteran corner appeared in 39 games for New York, recording 51 tackles, grabbing a pair of interceptions, and forcing two fumbles.

Lankster’s stint last season with the Jets was brief — he was released once during preseason roster cutdowns, then again later in September after being re-signed a week into the season. I’d expect him to have an outside shot to earn a roster spot with the Bills this year, particularly if the team has injury problems in the secondary. But for now he just looks like preseason depth.

Westbrooks, a seventh-round pick by the Bengals in the 2014 draft, has yet to play in a regular season contest. He spent less than a week with the Bills, having been signed last Tuesday.

Workout Notes: Colts, Jaguars, Browns, Broncos

In our roundup of several AFC East and NFC East items this morning, we passed along word on a handful of free agents who recently worked out for East teams. Across the rest of the league, several more auditions took place, so we’ll take a look at all those updates right here. All links are from Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, and go to Twitter:

  • The Colts brought in a few notable free agents for tryouts, taking a look at running back Mikel Leshoure, ex-Jets cornerback Ellis Lankster, and former LSU wideout Kadron Boone. Of the three players, Leshoure is the most interesting name, considering Indianapolis is believed to be considering adding running back depth.
  • Linebacker A.J. Edds ultimately signed with the Jaguars, joining the team’s active roster yesterday, but Edds also worked out for the Bengals earlier in the week. Additionally, Jacksonville auditioned veteran linebacker Victor Butler before deciding on Edds.
  • Browns kicker Billy Cundiff has had his ups and downs this season, missing six field goals, including three from less than 40 yards. While I don’t expect Cleveland to replace him, the team did take a look at a couple other kickers this week, bringing in Michael Barnard and Zach Hocker.
  • The Broncos worked out an extensive list of players this week, and Wilson has all the previously-unreported names: Rodney Barnes (S), Deion Belue (CB), Kenny Horsley (DE), M.D. Jennings (S), Vernon Kearney (CB), Keon Lyn (CB), Leon Mackey (DL), Ross Madison (S), and Danny Mason (LB).
  • In addition to trying out wideout Jace Davis, who signed with their practice squad, the Texans auditioned quarterback Brad Sorensen and several other receivers, including Rashad Ross, Willie Snead, and former Niner Kyle Williams.
  • Former Cardinals defensive end Ronald Talley worked out for the Chiefs. Talley spent some time with the Buccaneers earlier this year, but was removed from the roster prior to the regular season.
  • The Packers tried out cornerback Lavelle Westbrooks, a 2014 seventh-round pick waived by the Bengals during the preseason.
  • Tight end Xavier Grimble, who hit the open market once again last week after a brief stint with the Patriots’ practice squad, worked out for the Panthers.

Extra Points: Chiefs, Sam, Ravens

The football world is abuzz over Jay Gruden‘s decision to bench Robert Griffin III, but the quarterback is taking a diplomatic approach to the situation. “Coach’s decision,” Griffin said when asked about the move, according to John Keim of ESPN.com. “I’m here to help this team win.” This is a lost season for Washington, but the decision to go with Colt McCoy raises all sorts of questions about their future. More from around the NFL..

  • The Chiefs worked out defensive backs Ellis Lankster, DeMarcus Van Dyke, and Johnny Patrick, a league source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (via Twitter). Both Lankster and Patrick are former Jets. Lankster, 27, has 47 NFL games to his credit between 2009-2013. He auditioned for the Lions and Panthers this fall but he has yet to find an NFL home since his release from the Jets in September.
  • Montreal Alouettes GM Jim Popp said that Michael Sam was close to joining the team with three weeks to go in the CFL season, tweets David William Naylor of TSN. Maggie Hendricks of USA Today identified the Bears and Lions as a couple of clubs that might have interest in the linebacker earlier this month, but no one has signed him since he was dropped from the Cowboys’ practice squad.
  • The Ravens were smart to listen to Kirk Ferentz when they took a chance and drafted offensive guard Marshal Yanda, writes Childs Walker of The Baltimore Sun. In fact, Walker argues that Yanda is quietly becoming one of the greatest players in Ravens history. “He’s definitely one of the best linemen in the league,” said Steve Palazzolo, a senior analyst for Pro Football Focus. “He can play the power game and maul people but then you see some of the reach blocks he makes, and he moves awfully quickly over a short space.”

South Notes: Panthers, Griffin, Titans, Bucs

Plenty of Panthers players were caught off guard by the team’s release of veteran defensive back Charles Godfrey, according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer, who says words like “shocking” and “surprising” were used to describe the move.

“With a guy of his stature who’s been here for as long as he had, and all of a sudden you wake up and he’s not here, it’s definitely got to be a shock. It’s shocking to me,” said fellow defensive back Roman Harper. “But it’s a job. We’ve got to take it seriously and understand that nobody’s job is safe from top to bottom. They’ll always fire you before you get them fired. That’s just what I’ve always been taught.”

As the Panthers’ defense adjusts to life without Godfrey and one of the newest additions to the free agent market looks for work, let’s check out a few more items from around the NFL’s two South divisions….

  • We heard yesterday that the Titans had been entertaining trade discussions involving wide receiver Nate Washington, and it sounds like he’s not the only veteran the team is mulling moving. In addition to confirming the Washington report, Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com says he has heard defensive back Michael Griffin may be on the block as well (Twitter link). The Titans, who announced last night that Zach Mettenberger will start at quarterback this weekend, seem to be “embracing” a rebuild, notes McCormick.
  • Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link) adds several new names to the list of players to audition for the Panthers this week. According to Wilson, the club took a look at cornerbacks Trevin Wade, Robert Steeples, Ellis Lankster, and Josh Victorian, as well as offensive linemen Ryan Miller and Matt Patchan.
  • Besides the players they signed to their 53-man roster or practice squad, the Buccaneers also worked out linebackers Erin Henderson and Lawrence Wilson this week, tweets Wilson. Per Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (via Twitter), Henderson had a tryout with the Titans too.
  • Cornerback Deveron Carr auditioned for the Jaguars this week, according to Wilson (via Twitter).

Lankster, Marsh Working Out For Lions

There’s a good chance the Lions will have a new kicker on the roster by the end of the day, having scheduled auditions for veterans Matt Prater, Jay Feely, and Connor Barth. However, that’s not the only position at which the team is considering free agent options. According to Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (via Twitter), cornerback Ellis Lankster is working out for the Lions today, while Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post reports that the club is also taking a look at cornerback Curtis Marsh.

Lankster, who spent three seasons with the Jets from 2011 to 2013, saw a little action for New York this season, but has been cut twice by the team since the start of September. A free agent for the last couple weeks, Lankster now seems to be out actively seeking another job rather than waiting to see if the Jets require his services again.

As for Marsh, the 26-year-old was selected in the third round of the 2011 draft by the Eagles and has spent most of his career since then in Philadelphia. Since being waived by the Eagles during roster cutdowns at the end of August, Marsh has also worked out for the Titans.

The Lions have tried out several veteran defensive backs during the first few weeks of the 2014 season – including Champ Bailey and Chris Clemons – but so far have mostly relied on internal options and younger, under-the-radar free agent pickups. So far, the secondary has held up fairly well — through the season’s first four weeks, Football Outsiders had the Detroit defense ranked second in DVOA, including fourth against the pass.

Jets Release Lankster, Promote Lewis

WEDNESDAY, 2:53pm: The Jets are promoting LeQuan Lewis from the practice squad to their active roster, a source tells Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun (on Twitter).

TUESDAY, 6:53pm: The Jets clarified their previous release and announced that Smith is joining the practice squad, tweets Brian Costello of the New York Post. The Jets still have an open spot on their 53-man roster.

6:22pm: The Jets announced that they have signed cornerback Brandon Smith to take Lankster’s place, according to Manish Mehta of the Daily News (on Twitter). An earlier report indicated that Smith was headed to the Jets’ practice squad but it sounds like he’ll join the active roster.

Smith, a converted receiver, first came into the NFL with the Panthers in 2011 as an undrafted free agent.

4:54pm: The Jets have released cornerback Ellis Lankster, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Gang Green released Lankster on September 1st but re-signed him on September 12th. The 27-year-old struggled a bit in training camp this summer, but he was called back as the Jets secondary struggled thanks in part to injuries. Lankster appeared in 37 games for the Jets across the last three seasons and has even seen a bit of time at safety. Over the last two seasons, Lankster has recorded 40 tackles, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles.

Now, he’ll move on in search of his next opportunity, though it wouldn’t be a shock to see him join the Jets’ practice squad given how the last month has unfolded.

Jets Sign Ellis Lankster

What’s old is new again. A day after cutting cornerback Leon McFadden, the Jets announced that they have welcomed back fellow corner Ellis Lankster, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post (on Twitter).

The Jets cut Lankster on September 1st when they added linebacker A.J. Edds. The 27-year-old Lankster may not have impressed in training camp this summer, but he has appeared in 37 games for the Jets across the last three seasons and has even seen a bit of time at safety. Over the last two seasons, Lankster has recorded 40 tackles, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles.

Minor Moves: Monday

We’ll keep track of today’s minor transactions here, with any updates being added to the top of the post:

  • After cutting one linebacker earlier today, the Jets have signed another, adding A.J. Edds, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). Edds, 26, was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 draft by the Patriots. To clear a roster spot, New York released cornerback Ellis Lankster.

Earlier Updates:

  • The Seahawks have swapped out a pair of receivers by signing Bryan Walters while waiving Phil Bates, per Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (Twitter link). Walters, 26, had been waived Saturday as Seattle trimmed their roster to 53, but he’s now back with the team.
  • The Cowboys officially announced the signing of linebacker Korey Toomer, and in order to clear a roster spot, waived safety Jemea Thomas, tweets Brian McIntyre. Dallas claimed Thomas, a 2014 sixth-round pick, off waivers from New England just five days ago.
  • Receiver Kyle Williams was released from the Chiefs’ injured reserve list with an injury settlement, according to Adam Teicher of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Williams, whose most notable playing time came with the 49ers, suffered a shoulder injury in Kansas City’s final preseason game.
  • The Jets claimed receiver Walter Powell off waivers from the Cardinals, tweets Symmetry Reps, his agency. To make room for Powell, the Jets cut Jeremiah George, per Brian Costello of the New York Post (on Twitter).
  • The Patriots were awarded safety Don Jones off waivers from the Dolphins, reports Field Yates of ESPN (Twitter link). Jones was in the news during the offseason after making inflammatory comments about Michael Sam. New England waived guard Chris Barker to clear a roster spot.
  • The Raiders have placed linebacker Kaelin Burnett on injured reserve, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN; the 24-year-old Nevada product had been dealing with a knee injury.
  • The following players were released from their teams’ respective IR lists with injury settlements, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (series of Twitter links): offensive tackle Matt Patchan (Buccaneers); cornerback Justin Green, defensive tackle Zach Minter, and defensive back Johnny Thomas (Cowboys); linebacker Tim Fugger (Jets); defensive tackle Michael Brooks and linebacker Horace Miller (Seahawks).