Recently released by the 49ers, Niles Paul will no longer pursue a ninth NFL season. The free agent tight end announced his retirement on Tuesday via Instagram.
Paul signed with the 49ers in July but was quickly cut. Citing the toll football has taken on his body, the 29-year-old pass catcher will move on from the league.
“I was quickly reminded how taxing this game can be after only spending a week in camp,” Paul wrote. “Now it’s time to start listening to my body. There is no doubt in my mind that I’m still able to compete and make a 53 man roster somewhere but I’m not sure my body can handle it anymore.”
Mostly known for his lengthy run with the Redskins, Paul finished his career with 78 receptions for 954 yards and two touchdowns. The former Nebraska wide receiver spent seven seasons in Washington, being converted to tight end early in his career. He ended up playing more games (82) as a Redskins tight end than anyone this decade.
By far Paul’s best season came in 2014, when he caught 39 passes for 507 yards. That earned him a three-year Redskins deal. However, injuries followed in the years to come. Paul missed all of 2015 and returned to Washington’s IR list in November 2016. While Paul spent all of 2017 on the Redskins’ active roster, he suffered a concussion that season. The Jaguars placed Paul on IR in 2018 before releasing him.
August 2nd, 2019 at 4:14pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
Niles Paul‘s stint with the 49ers didn’t last long. The veteran tight end is being released by San Francisco, a source told Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
In a corresponding roster move, the team claimed tight end Daniel Helm off waivers from the Chargers. Paul had just been signed last week. The former Redskins and Jaguars tight end had a connection to head coach Kyle Shanahan from their time in Washington together, but the team clearly didn’t like what they saw from the Nebraska product during his brief time in camp.
Helm is the latest they’ll be taking a look at, a rookie undrafted free agent from Duke. He was never a huge receiving threat for the Blue Devils, gaining between 235 and 271 yards in each of his final three college seasons.
The 49ers are making a late veteran free agent add. San Francisco is signing tight end Niles Paul, a source told Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link).
Terms of the deal weren’t immediately disclosed, although it’s safe to assume it’s a cheap short-term deal. This will be Paul’s ninth year in the league after he originally entered the NFL as a fifth-round pick of the Redskins back in 2011. He spent the next seven seasons in Washington before signing with the Jaguars last year. Paul has never played a huge role on offense, but he is capable of catching passes in a pinch.
By far his best season as a receiver came in 2014, when he had 39 receptions for 507 yards and a touchdown. He signed a two-year deal with Jacksonville last offseason, but was placed on injured reserve in October and then released in December. In six games with the Jaguars, he had ten catches for 98 yards.
Tight end Garrett Celek seems likely to miss some regular season time after undergoing back surgery, and it’s apparently possible he won’t be able to continue his career. As such, it makes sense why the 49ers were looking for some depth behind George Kittle. Paul played under 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan in Washington, so there’s some familiarity here.
December 14th, 2018 at 2:48pm CST by Zachary Links
The Jaguars will waive safety Barry Church, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). In related moves, the Jags also waived tight end Niles Paul from the NFI list and activated offensive lineman Josh Wells from injured reserve.
Church, 30, joined the Jaguars prior to the 2017 offseason on a four-year, $21.6MM deal. His guarantees have already been paid out, so the move will have no impact on the Jaguars’ 2019 cap. Church’s release will free up $6.25MM in 2019 and its expected that there will be more cap-clearing cuts in the coming months.
The veteran was a healthy scratch last week, but the move to release him before the end of the season is a tad surprising. In any case, Church will hit the waiver wire, giving teams 24 hours to claim him.
In theory, a team could be on board with paying him game checks of $368K for the rest of the year before releasing him from his deal in the offseason. However, the more likely scenario is that Church will go unclaimed and then sign with a contender for the rest of the way.
In eleven games this year (all starts), Church has tallied 38 tackles, one sack, and one interception. However, he has been generally poor in coverage and ranks as Pro Football Focus’ No. 79 safety out of 83 qualified players. He was far sharper in 2016, his final year with the Cowboys, and 2017, his first with the Jags.
October 16th, 2018 at 10:57am CST by Zachary Links
The Jaguars are placing tight end Niles Paul on injured reserve with a sprained MCL, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The injury is not a season-ender, but he will have to miss at least eight weeks while on IR, per league rules.
The Jaguars have now lost their two best pass-catching tight ends to injury this season. Just one week ago, the club was forced to placeAustin Seferian-Jenkins on IR. The silver lining here is that ASJ is also eligible to return, and can suit up one week before Paul.
Paul, 29, had seven catches for 65 yards after taking over for Seferian-Jenkins in Week 5. It was his best performance since September of 2014, when he made some noise as a member of the Redskins.
To take Paul’s place on the roster, the Jags signed free agent tight end Blake Bell. Bell has 22 catches for 290 yards over three seasons with the Niners and Vikings. That’s far from ASJ’s best work, and nowhere near what Paul can do at his best, but beggars can’t be choosers. For the foreseeable future, the Jags will be working with a core of David Grinnage, James O’Shaughnessy, and Bell at tight end.
Niles Paul is leaving the Redskins. The Jaguars are set to sign the free agent tight end, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union (on Twitter). It’s a two-year deal, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter).
Paul, 29 in August, hasn’t been high on the NFL’s radar since catching 39 passes for 507 yards and one touchdown in 2014. After missing the 2015 season, he saw time in only eight games in ’16 and had a marginal role on the Redskins last year. Over the last two seasons, he has just 15 catches for 121 yards to his credit.
NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.
Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account. Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market. The same goes for players who have been franchise tagged or transition tagged.
We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.
Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2018:
Drew Brees is included here, but by his own admission, he’ll be re-signing with the Saints rather than testing the open waters of free agency. Unless the Saints lowball their franchise QB, it’s hard to see him leaving New Orleans.
Case Keenum put together a tremendous season for the Vikings, but he doesn’t have a history of success beyond 2017. There will be plenty of interest in Keenum, but only after QB-needy teams strike out on Cousins. The incumbent Vikings could re-sign Keenum, but right now, it seems like they are intent on exploring the Cousins waters first.
There isn’t a ton of footage on A.J. McCarron, which made his placement on this list awfully tricky. We know this much: McCarron did well in place of Dalton in the home stretch of the 2015 season and his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was salivating at the chance of landing him before the Browns bungled the trade with the Bengals. McCarron’s relative youth is a plus (he won’t turn 28 until September) and his lack of experience can be looked at as a positive. Unlike some of the other names on this list, he hasn’t run up his NFL odometer.
What will NFL teams make of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford this offseason? Not long ago, both seemed like quality starting options. However, there are serious injury questions about both players and any team signing them will either look to backstop them with another decent option or ask them to come onboard as a QB2. With that in mind, one has to wonder if Bradford would consider retirement if asked to hold the clipboard for another signal caller. Bradford has earned upwards of $110MM over the years in the NFL, so it’s safe to say that he has enough money in the bank to call it quits if he wants. For now, he’s intent on playing.
Colin Kaepernick‘s placement on this list is sure to draw some strong reactions from his fans and detractors alike. Looking purely at his football ability, there’s no question that he belongs on someone’s roster. At minimum, Kaepernick profiles as a high-end backup, even after a year out of the game.
Quarterbacks coaches have long believed that Mike Glennon is capable of great things, due in part to his height. At 6’7″, he can see over any defensive line, but he hasn’t done much on the field to prove that he is a quality Week 1 starting option. Josh McCown, who is a decade his senior, edges him here for his surprisingly strong performance in 2017 at the helm of a weak Jets offense.
Carlos Hyde didn’t have the kind of platform year he was hoping for, but he’s still just 26 and could headline a running back by committee group.
Jerick McKinnon‘s placement on this list figures to be controversial, but his athleticism and pass-catching ability can blow a game wide open. No one will bank on McKinnon to carry the ball 20 times per game, but he can be a real difference maker for a team out there.
Can Frank Gore outrun father time? History indicates that he can’t and so does his 3.7 yards per carry average in 2017. You have to give credit where credit is due, however. Gore has been ruled out by many for years, but he has not missed a regular season game since the 2010 season. He’s also just one year removed from cracking 1,000 yards and he almost did the same last year.
For most teams, Allen Robinson would be a franchise tag candidate. However, that may be too much of a luxury for the cash-strapped Jaguars. He presents a fascinating free agent case. Robinson missed all but three snaps of the 2017 season after suffering a torn ACL, but he’s the most talented wide receiver on the board in the eyes of many. His 2015 season – 80 catches, 1,400 yards, and a league-leading 14 touchdowns – makes GMs drool. His quieter year in 2016 (73 catches, 883 yards, and six touchdowns) is less worthy of salivation. His 2017 season, of course, was a lost cause. For all the question marks, you can expect Robinson to see more dollars than any other free agent WR this year, particularly since Jarvis Landry has been held back by the tag.
Some in the football world may prefer Sammy Watkins for his big-play ability, but his down contract year amidst a capable offense is cause for concern. His injury history doesn’t do him any favors either. No matter your feelings on Watkins, there’s no debating that this year’s WR market has a top tier comprised of just two players – Watkins and Robinson. With few quality receivers out there, they’ll both get paid.
Marqise Lee represents a much less sexy option (speaking in football terms, of course), but he had the most receptions of any Jaguars receiver in 2017 (56) and finished second in receiving yards (702). Teams looking for a quality WR2 in free agency could do a lot worse than Lee and he’ll be far cheaper than the two-man top tier.
Danny Amendola hauled in 61 receptions for 659 yards and two touchdowns in the regular season and continued his strong play in the playoffs. However, teams will wonder if he can thrive in his age-33 season while playing outside of the Patriots’ offense. It’s also quite possible that he never tests the market as his stated preference is to remain in New England.
After that, you’ll notice a pretty significant drop off. That’s because this year’s WR class isn’t all that deep. Terrelle Pryor had to settle for a one-year prove-it contract last year and, to put it mildly, he did not prove it. Paul Richardson caught 44 passes for 703 yards and six touchdowns in 2017, but that marked his first NFL season of real note.
Trey Burton spent most of the year behind Zach Ertz on the Eagles’ depth chart, but he emerged late in the season and set himself up nicely for free agency. Given his age and potential, there’s no question that he is the belle of the ball at tight end.
The rest of the tight end crop is not nearly as inspiring. Jimmy Graham has enjoyed back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons with the Seahawks, but he’ll turn 32 in November and he’s no longer the monster playmaker that he was in New Orleans. He had ten touchdowns in 2017, but his 9.1 yards per reception average is a career low.
Odds are, you have Tyler Eifert ranked over Austin Seferian-Jenkins given the fact that Eifert has played just ten games over the last two years. ASJ, meanwhile, rebounded from personal issues to post a 50-catch season for the Jets. Personally, I’m picking Eifert based on upside. Hopefully, we can still be friends.
Offensive line play is down across the board and evaluators around the league have been openly complaining about an increasing dearth of tackles coming out of college. That makes for a generally uninspiring lot in free agency.
Nate Solder battled through injuries in 2017 and did not miss a game. He’s no longer a top-flight option, but he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 32 tackle last year, meaning that he’s starter quality at left tackle. You’ll notice that three of the top five tackles on this list are Patriots. There’s little chance that the Pats let all three get away.
Justin Pugh offers the ability to play both guard and right tackle, though he might not do either one particularly well.
Andrew Norwell is the undisputed king of this category after netting an All-Pro selection in 2017. Norwell also earned a career-high 88.8 overall score from Pro Football Focus, which positioned him third in the entire NFL amongst guards. A team with greater means than the Panthers might have used the franchise tag on him. Fortunately for rival teams in need of interior help (such as the Giants), they won’t cuff him with the one-year placeholder.
During Friday’s preseason game, Austin DavisoutplayedTrevone Boykin as the pair of Seahawks quarterbacks battled for the backup gig behind Russell Wilson. While Davis finished with a perfect quarterback rating, Boykin went 0-for-6 while tossing an interception. Despite the clear disparity in their performance, coach Pete Carroll was adamant that the organization won’t be basing their final decision on one game.
“I really think that we were just out of sync so much for the first 10, 12 plays there that Boykin just couldn’t get rolling,” Carroll said (via Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times). “It just felt like we were out of whack for a bit. Austin came right in we kind of fit together very nicely.
“Trevone has had a really good preseason so far. I don’t think five to six passes he threw in this game should be in the final decision. I think he’s done very well.”
Of course, the team could decide to hang on to three quarterbacks, and Carroll seemingly left that possibility open.
“It’s a good idea if you can do it,” Carroll said. “They’re so important. It just depends on the rest of the roster.”
Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFC…
The Redskins could potentially trade a tight end before the regular season gets underway, opines John Keim of ESPN.com. Rookie fifth-round pick Jeremy Sprinkle looks poised to serve as Washington’s third tight end behind Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis, meaning the club’s final slot at the position will be filled by either Derek Carrier or Niles Paul. The one who doesn’t earn a roster spot could be dealt for either a reserve offensive lineman or a draft choice, per Keim, who adds that both Carrier and Paul would “hold value” to other NFL teams.
Cooper Rush will earn a place on the Cowboys‘ roster as a backup quarterback, as owner Jerry Jones says Dallas will not try to sneak Rush through waivers in order to stash him on the practice squad (link via Rob Phillips of DallasCowboys.com). Rush, an undrafted rookie out of Central Michigan, is still in contention for the Cowboys’ No. 2 quarterback job behind Dak Prescott, although he’s competing with veteran Kellen Moore for that role. While Rush has completed 75% of his preseason passes for six touchdowns and no interceptions, Moore has posted a 54% completion rate, one touchdown, and one pick.
Just months after being selected in the fifth round of the draft, running back Jeremy McNichols is not a roster lock for the Buccaneers, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. “He’s gonna get one final chance to show what he can do,” said head coach Dirk Koetter, referring to Tampa Bay’s final preseason game on Thursday. McNichols, who’s been shown having a hard time grasping the Buccaneers’ offense on Hard Knocks, only saw two plays on Saturday (including a failed blitz pickup) before being yanked, per Laine. While Doug Martin will miss the first three games of the season while on suspension, Tampa Bay has other backs to replace him, including Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims, and Peyton Barber.
49ers defensive end Tank Carradine has played sparingly since being selected in the second-round of the 2013 draft. With only 36 games and 57 tackles over four seasons, some wondered whether Carradine could be looking for a new gig following the preseason. However, based on an evaluation from defensive coordinator RobertSaleh, it sounds like the 28-year-old is a lock to make the roster. “With Tank, when I say ‘elite,’ I’m talking as a run-down, six-technique, someone who just can really dominate his edge and own the line of scrimmage,” Saleh said on NBC Sports Bay Area (via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com).
November 7th, 2016 at 5:17pm CST by Dallas Robinson
The Redskins have placed tight end Niles Paul on injured reserve with an torn labrum, head coach Jay Gruden announced to the media today. In a corresponding move, Washington announced that it has signed offensive tackle Blaine Clausell off the Ravens’ practice squad.
Paul, 27, had played on less than 20% of the Redskins’ offensive snaps, and had garnered only two targets while playing behind Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. Known more for his run-blocking aptitude than his receiving prowess, Paul had also been a key special teams player, having seen action on nearly two-thirds of Washington’s ST plays. Paul is currently signed through the 2017 campaign as part of a three-year extension he agreed to in 2015.
Speaking to reporters, Gruden indicated that the Redskins would consider adding an outsider to fill Paul’s role, but the team also has an internal candidate to take his place. Derek Carrier, who began the season on the PUP list, began practicing again today, opening a three-week window during which Washington can choose to activate him. The Redskins also boast tight end Wes Saxton on their practice squad.
Clausell, 24, was an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi State in 2015. He’ll slot in behind Ty Nsehke, Morgan Moses, and Vinston Painter at offensive tackle while Trent Williams serves his four-game suspension.
Niles Paul relayed some information from a recent medical visit, noting Dr. Robert Anderson told the Washington tight end his ankle injury that caused him to miss the entire 2015 season was “the worst he’d ever seen,” via Tarik El-Bashir of CSNMidAtlantic.com. Although Paul said he’s only scheduled to see Andrews one more time, Jay Gruden said the backup tight end could be held out until training camp to be safe. The statuses of Paul and Derek Carrier, the latter of whom could miss regular-season time due to a knee injury suffered late last season, likely led Washington to sign Vernon Davis. Paul signed a three-year, $6MM deal to stay in Washington last March but has recovered. There is $666K worth of dead money left on the deal, making the sixth-year veteran easy to move on from in the event he can’t sufficiently recover.
Former Colts and Patriots receiver Austin Collie told the CFL team he played for last season, the British Columbia Lions, he intends to retire, the Salt Lake Tribune’s Jay Drew reports. The 30-year-old receiver joined the Western Canada-stationed franchise last year and caught 43 passes for 439 yards. He finished with 1,908 yards and 16 touchdowns in five NFL seasons from 2009-13. The concussion-plagued receiver plans to work with a Provo, Utah-based company that focuses on concussion research and rehabilitation.
Authorities searched defensive end prospect Shawn Oakman‘s home in connection with a sexual assault investigation, USA Today’s A.J. Perez reports. A projected middle-round pick after setting Baylor’s single-season sack record as a junior in 2014, Oakman is cooperating with the investigation. This allegation could further damage Oakman’s stock after his senior season began with a suspension and didn’t end with the kind of numbers — at least from a sack standpoint, with Oakman only collecting 4.5 in 2015 — that his prior campaign produced.
The NFL hasn’t contacted the NFLPA regarding a potential expansion of the playoffs, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. “Until there’s a written proposal from the league that’s when we know they’re at least serious about it and then we can start bargaining over that working-condition change,” NFLPA boss Eric Winston told Florio. “That’s a working-condition change that has to be bargained. It’s not something that the owners can unilaterally implement.” The NFL expanded its playoff brackets twice in a 12-year span, moving from four to five teams per conference in 1978 and five to six in 1990, but has thus far held on off moving to the anticipated seven-team fields.