Nelson has a bit more NFL experience than your typical reserve/futures signee. A fifth-round pick of the Cardinals in 2015, Nelson made some real noise with Arizona for a while. A speedy deep-threat who has averaged a whopping 17.4 yards per reception on his 85 career catches, he had 568 yards and six touchdowns in 2016. He topped 500 yards again in 2017, but quickly fell out of favor and wasn’t re-signed after his rookie deal ran out.
He signed with the Raiders in 2019 but was released after catching only four passes, and then was in camp with the 49ers this past August before getting hurt and then cut. He signed to the Bills practice squad a month ago, but lasted only a few days in Buffalo. Still only 28, it wouldn’t be shocking if he manages to crack a roster again as a field-stretcher.
In a tight spot at quarterback, the Bears are reaching out to a former starter-turned-multiyear backup for potential help. They are hosting DeShone Kizer for a workout, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.
Nick Foles suffered a hip injury Monday, and with Mitchell Trubisky already out, the Bears turned to the seldom-used Tyler Bray on a last-ditch drive. That march did not materialize, leading to Chicago losing a fourth straight game. The Bears have a bye in Week 11.
The Raiders cut Kizer in May but brought him back on their practice squad. A former second-round pick out of Notre Dame, Kizer started 15 games for the Browns’ 0-16 squad in 2017. The Raiders carried him as one of their backups in 2019, doing so after the Browns traded Kizer to the Packers in 2018. Kizer worked out for the Lions and Titans earlier this year.
It is not certain Foles will miss Chicago’s Week 12 game, but Tribisky appears unlikely to dress for it. That would make insurance important. Despite being an NFL quarterback since 2013, Bray entered Monday night having thrown just one regular-season pass. He does have extensive experience in the system Matt Nagy uses, having worked with him for multiple seasons in both Kansas City and Chicago.
Wideout J.J. Nelson also participated in the Kizer workout, according to the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs (on Twitter). A teammate of Kizer’s in Oakland, Nelson played four seasons with the Cardinals and one with the Raiders.
Here are Sunday’s minor moves. The players who landed on injured reserve are eligible to come off teams’ respective lists after three weeks. For 2020, teams can also activate an unlimited number of IR players — as opposed to the two-man max of 2019.
The 49ers have signed wide receivers Tavon Austin and J.J. Nelson, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Both players will look to make the final cut as insurance for Deebo Samuel. Terms of the deals are not yet known, but they’re likely for the veteran minimum with little in the way of guarantees.
Austin was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2013, but he has yet to justify his draft status. At the age of 30, it seems unlikely to happen now. Still, coaches continue to be tantalized by his speed. Austin, in theory, could contribute as a receiver, rusher, and returner.
Over seven injury-laden years in the NFL, Austin has caught 215 passes while averaging less than yards per catch. He did average more than 15 yards per grab over the last two seasons with the Cowboys, but that was in a super small sample size of 21 receptions. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan could get creative with Austin – as Sean McVay did in L.A. – and try him in a variety of spots.
Nelson posted back-to-back 500-yard seasons with the Cardinals in 2016 and 2017, but his offensive role has dwindled since then. In 2019, he had four grabs in 15 games for the Raiders.
Moncrief was once a budding star in Indianapolis, and while he’s still only 27 years old, his stock has fallen considerably over the past few years. He inked a two-year deal with the Steelers in advance of the 2019 campaign, but was released midway through the season after posting just four catches. Moncrief latched on with the Panthers for three games, but didn’t record any statistics.
Nelson, meanwhile, put up consecutive 500+-yard seasons with the Cardinals in 2016-17, but his offensive role has dwindled since then. In 2019, the former fifth-round selection appeared in 15 games for the Raiders but managed only four receptions.
The Buccaneers were busy this afternoon, as SiriusXM’s Adam Caplan reports (via Twitter) that the team worked out eight players. Among that grouping was a trio of offensive weapons: wide receiver MauriceHarris, wide receiver J.J. Nelson, and running back SpencerWare.
The Buccaneers receiver depth chart is topped by MikeEvans and ChrisGodwin, but the team could be looking for a veteran to fill out the squad. The coaching staff could also be hunting for a return man, as they’ve had to use punt returner T.J. Logan in double duty following the release of BoboWilson.
Neither Harris nor Nelson have much experience in the return game, but the two have plenty of experience on offense. Nelson, 27, was a 500-yard receiver as recently as 2017, but he’s fallen off over the past two seasons. He hauled in four catches in two games for the Raiders before getting released in early October. Harris, 26, had his first productive NFL season in 2018, but he hasn’t had a gig since getting cut by the Patriots back in August.
Similar to the Bucs’ receivers, the team’s running backs corps are pretty much set. In fact, earlier this week, coach BruceAriansrevealed that RonaldJones had secured the starting running back gig, with PeytonBarber, T.J.Logan and DareOgunbowale also contributing to the running game. Ware would provide a veteran option, although the soon-to-be 28-year-old hasn’t seen the field in 2019. He had ankle surgery back in August, so it’s encouraging that he’s already working out for teams. The veteran had 470 yards on offense in 13 games for the Chiefs last season.