Phillip Hunt

Saints Sign Sheldon Rankins

The Saints have secured three of their 2016 draft picks, including their top two selections, general manager Mickey Loomis formally announced today in a press release. In addition to signing first-round defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, second-round wide receiver Michael Thomas, and seventh-round running back Daniel Lasco, the club parted ways with running back Vick Ballard, defensive end Phillip Hunt, and fullback Toben Opurum.Saints general helmet (Featured)

All three veterans cut today by New Orleans have appeared in regular-season NFL games. Ballard notably ran for 814 yards and a pair of touchdowns during the 2012 season, when he served as the Colts’ primary back for most of the year. Hunt, 30, has been a part-time player for the Eagles and Lions in parts of four seasons since 2011, picking up four career sacks. Opurum, meanwhile, appeared in his first two regular-season games for the Saints in 2015.

As for the Saints’ draft pick signings, Rankins’ deal represents the most significant of the three, of course — it’s worth $12.802MM over four years, with a $7.51MM signing bonus and a fifth-year option for 2020. Thomas will receive a signing bonus of $1.923MM on his four-year rookie pact, while Lasco will get a modest $75K bonus.

No NFL team had a smaller 2016 draft class than the Saints, who selected just five players, so New Orleans has now locked up more than half of its draftees.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/8/16

Here are today’s reserve/futures contract signings from around the league. These deals will go into effect on the first day of the 2016 league year, with players joining their respective clubs’ 90-man rosters.

Baltimore Ravens

Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/15/15

Tuesday’s minor moves from around the NFL:

  • The Dolphins announced (Twitter link) that they have claimed defensive end Damontre Moore off waivers from the Giants. To make room, center/guard Jacques McClendon has been waived.
  • The Bengals are expected to promote practice squad quarterback Keith Wenning to the 53-man roster as a backup to A.J. McCarron, per Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter).
  • The Bears announced (via Twitter) that they have promoted rookie linebacker John Timu from the taxi squad while waiving veteran defensive lineman Ziggy Hood.
  • The Seahawks waived receiver B.J. Daniels and safety Akeem Davis while activating linebacker Brock Coyle from IR, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes.
  • Adrian Phillips will be promoted off of the Chargers‘ practice squad and on to the 53-man roster, Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego writes.
  • The Saints waived veteran defensive end Phillip Hunt on Tuesday, as Evan Woodbery of the Times-Picayune writes.
  • The Raiders have signed long snapper Thomas Gafford, according to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). In a related move, long snapper Jon Condo has been placed on IR.
  • The Bengals (on Twitter) announced that they have waived linebacker Chris Carter.
  • Tight end Chase Coffman has re-signed with the Seahawks, a source tells Rand Getlin of (on Twitter).
  • Washington announced the signing of veteran tight end Alex Smith (not to be confused with the quarterback of the same name). Smith, 33, is an 11-year veteran who has had previous stints in the NFL with the Bucs, Pats, Eagles, Browns, and Saints. In other roster moves Tuesday, the team waived safety Trenton Robinson from IR with an injury settlement.
  • The Cowboys have released cornerback Tyler Patmon, according to a source who spoke with Charean Williams of The Star-Telegram (on Twitter). Terrance Mitchell will now be called up from the taxi squad and given an opportunity to play at nickel.
  • The Rams waived kicker Zach Hocker and signed defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat from the taxi squad, Howard Balzer of USA Today tweets.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/23/15

Monday’s minor transactions from around the NFL:

  • Washington signed TE Je’Ron Hamm off the practice squad and released fellow tight end Anthony McCoy, John Keim of writes. Washington signed McCoy on September 7th and he played in six games while being inactive for the last three. McCoy did not give Washington the kind of blocking that they had hoped for but they’re likely not expecting that out of Hamm, either, since he is more of a receiving tight end.
  • For the second time in 2015, the Buccaneers have claimed linebacker Kourtnei Brown off waivers from the Texans, as Jenna Laine of Sports Talk 1040 tweets. Brown spent three weeks with the Bucs before getting cut and getting signed to Tampa Bay’s taxi squad before joining Houston’s active roster. The 27-year-old played in one game for the Bucs earlier this season.
  • The Saints are going to sign outside linebacker Phillip Hunt, according to Adam Caplan of (on Twitter).
  • To make room, the Saints cut linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, a source tells Nick Underhill of The New Orleans Advocate (on Twitter).
  • The Ravens waived wide receiver Joe Morgan and promoted Chuck Jacobs from the taxi squad, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun (on Twitter).

Workout Notes: Seahawks, Colts, Bears

The Kendall Hunter tour continues. On Tuesday, the Seahawks tried out the running back, as Field Yates of tweets. Hunter, who has seen his NFL career derailed by injuries in recent years, was removed from Sam Francisco’s injured reserve list in September with a settlement, making him a free agent. Last week, he tried out for the Jaguars, but that audition did not immediately lead to a deal.

Here’s a roundup of Tuesday’s notable workouts from around the NFL:

AFC Notes: Colts, Chargers, Ravens, Jets

Let’s round up a few items from around the AFC….

  • The Colts‘ decision to sign return specialist Marcus Thigpen on Monday surprised some people within the organization, according to Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star (via Twitter). Thigpen figures to take over return duties from Griff Whalen, who had a 50-yard return last Thursday for the Colts.
  • Safety Adrian Phillips, who was waived on Monday to make space for the return of Antonio Gates, cleared waivers and is likely to rejoin the Chargers via the taxi squad, Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego tweets.
  • The Ravens worked out defensive end Nordly Capi, defensive end Phillip Hunt, and linebacker J.R. Tavai, according to’s Field Yates (Twitter link).
  • The Jets auditioned outside linebackers Gerald Rivers and Kaelin Burnett on Tuesday, a source tells Brian Costello of the New York Post (on Twitter).

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Lions Sign Ishmaa’ily Kitchen

The Lions have added another piece to their defensive line, signing free agent defensive tackle Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, according to Tim Twentyman of Defensive end Phillip Hunt was cut to make room for the club’s new defender.

Kitchen, 27, earned 279 defensive snaps for the Browns in 2014, making 27 tackles. While his play in the middle was unspectacular, the Kent State product was solid enough in his three years in Cleveland that the team felt comfortable tendering him a one-year contract offer worth $1.542MM when he hit restricted free agency. However, that contract was non-guaranteed, and the Browns waived him prior to the start of the regular season.

While it’s not clear if Kitchen will see the field right away in Detroit, the team needed to add some depth at defensive tackle after Tyrunn Walker suffered a season-ending leg injury this week. With Haloti Ngata‘s Week 5 availability also in doubt due to a calf issue, the Lions have signed Kitchen and veteran Andre Fluellen so far this week.

Kitchen was one of several players to work out for the Lions this week, with ex-Jets defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis also getting a look from the club.

North Notes: Browns, H. Smith, Steelers

The 2015 season will likely be a redshirt year for rookie cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Browns head coach Mike Pettine said on Wednesday, per Mary Kay Cabot of At one point, Ekpre-Olomu, who continues to recover from a serious knee injury, was viewed as a potential first-round pick, but Cleveland snagged him in the seventh round in May following his torn ACL and disclocated knee. The Browns will have to wait until the end of training camp to move the Oregon alum to injured reserve if they want to avoid the risk of losing him on waivers.

Here’s more from around the NFL’s two North divisions:

Minor Moves: Ravens, Lions

There has certainly been no shortage of notable transactions around the NFL today, primarily in the form of cap-clearing cuts. But while those moves dominate the headlines, we also don’t want to led a handful of under-the-radar transactions go unnoticed. Here are Friday’s minor moves, with any additional updates added to the top of the page throughout the evening:

  • The Ravens have agreed to terms on a two-year contract extension with veteran defensive lineman Christo Bilukidi, a league source tells Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). A part-time player for Baltimore last season before being sidelined by an ankle injury, Bilukidi played just 47 defensive snaps after being claimed off waivers from Cincinnati, but the Ravens liked what they saw enough to lock up the 25-year-old for a couple more years. He had been eligible for restricted free agency.
  • Longtime Lions long snapper Don Muhlbach will return to Detroit for the 2015 season, the team announced today in a press release. Muhlbach, a Pro Bowler in 2012, has spent his entire career with the Lions, playing 164 regular season contests for the franchise since 2004. Per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter), Muhlbach’s new deal is one-year, minimum salary benefit contract, with an $80K signing bonus.
  • Former Eagles edge defender Phillip Hunt, who last played a regular season NFL game in 2012, is signing with the Lions, according to Adam Caplan of (via Twitter). Earlier in his playing career, Hunt was a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, leading the CFL with 16 sacks in 2010.

Audition Notes: Friday

Duron Carter is among the busier men in the NFL right now, as the CFL receiver has worked out for a litany of teams over recent weeks in an effort to secure a contract for 2015. According to Ben Goessling of (Twitter link), Carter has is likely finished with the audition circuit after visiting with the Browns earlier today. And despite earlier reports that the Vikings, home to Duron’s father Cris Carter for much of his career, were the favorites to land the young receiver, Goessling reports that Minnesota is the not high bidder for Carter at the moment. Here’s more workout news from around the league…

  • Carter isn’t the only CFL player making the NFL rounds, as defensive back Delvin Breaux met with both the Steelers (Twitter link via Howard Balzer) and the Jaguars (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of ESPN). Per Caplan (on Twitter), Breaux has several more visits lined up, and is scheduled to meet with the Browns, Dolphins, Falcons, and Saints, while the Eagles and Jets also maintain interest.
  • The Panthers brought in quarterback Dominique Davis for a workout, tweets Caplan. Davis, 25, was a reserve for the Falcons from 2012-13, and spent time with the Titans and Colts last season.
  • The Titans, like all teams, are aiming to fill out their offseason roster, and worked out the following players today in that vein, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link): LaVon Brazill, David Fluellen, Jacoby Ford, Clyde Gates, Phillip Hunt, Shawn Lemon, Joe Morgan, Keith Price, and Chase Rettig. Brazill is probably the most notable name among the list, as he was set to play a meaningful role in the Colts’ offense before being suspended and migrating to the CFL.
  • Before signing Mitchell Van Dyk yesterday, the Steelers also worked out fellow punters Tom Hornsey and Richie Leone, in addition to defensive tackle Kheeston Randall, per Wilson (via Twitter).
  • The Bills auditioned offensive lineman Matt Armstrong today, tweets Wilson.