Riley Dixon

NFC West Rumors: Hopkins, Brunskill, Seahawks, Rams

While there was some contention in regards to the six-game suspension handed down to Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the NFLPA considers his case a closed issue, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. There was a sliver of hope that the ban may be reduced from six to four games, and Hopkins still believes there may be, but it seems all but certain that he will be out for all six.

With Hopkins out, Arizona’s receiving room will be led by trade acquisition Marquise Brown, veteran A.J. Green, and second-year player Rondale Moore. The depth gets pretty thin behind those three with Andy Isabella, Antoine Wesley, and Greg Dortch on the roster, among a few others. The Cardinals also shopped Isabella earlier this year.

Here are a few other rumors from around the NFC West, starting with a note out of the Bay Area:

Rams Sign P Riley Dixon

The Rams parted ways with one of the most decorated special-teamers in NFL history this offseason, cutting Johnny Hekker. They have tabbed a replacement for the four-time All-Pro.

Former Broncos and Giants punter Riley Dixon agreed to terms with the Rams on Tuesday, according to a team announcement. It is a one-year deal, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Dixon is a six-year veteran who has not missed a game since entering the NFL as a seventh-round pick in 2016.

Dixon surfaced this offseason as one of the cuts made by the Giants’ new regime. He punted in New York for the past four seasons, signing an extension to stay on with Big Blue. The Giants released Dixon five days before the Rams axed Hekker. The latter has since made his way to the Panthers, while Dixon will receive an opportunity with a third NFL team. The Broncos traded Dixon to the Giants in 2018.

Dixon, 28, averaged just more than 44 yards per punt in his final two Giants seasons. Despite beginning his career with two seasons in Denver’s thin air, Dixon posted his best average in New Jersey’s less friendly punting environment. He notched a 46.1-yard average in 2019. Hekker was attached to a high salary (on the punter spectrum) and finished with a 44.2-yard average last season.

Giants’ Kyle Rudolph, Riley Dixon Rework Deals

The Giants have a little extra spending money, just in time for Christmas. On Tuesday, the G-Men reworked the contacts of tight end Kyle Rudolph and punter Riley Dixon to create ~$350K in cap room (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com).

[RELATED: Giants’ Jones Done For Year]

The Giants won’t be making any marquee signings over the next few weeks — after all, they’re 4-10 on the year after taking their third straight loss on Sunday — but they will need to make a few minor moves like signing players to the practice squad and doling out roster bonuses.

Injuries have piled up for the Giants in recent weeks. Just yesterday, they opted to shut down quarterback Daniel Jones for the rest of the year, allowing him to fully heal from his neck injury. They also lost Sterling Shepard for the year with an Achilles tear — just the latest in an unfortunate string of setbacks for the wide receiver.

Rudolph, 32, has 22 catches for 240 yards and one touchdown so far this year. He remains under contract for 2022, thanks to his two-year, $12MM deal, but it’s not a given that he’ll return. The Giants could theoretically cut the veteran to save $5MM against just $2.25MM in dead money.

Dixon, 29 in August, also has one year to go on his contract with a similar split. His release would save $3.25MM versus $125K in dead money. The Giants’ next GM may prefer to go cheaper, rather than roster the league’s fourth-highest paid punter.

NFL Workouts: Giants, WFT, Foreman

Here’s a look at some of today’s more notable auditions, courtesy of NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link):

  • The Giants worked out punters J.K. Scott, Kaare Vedvik, and Brandon Wright. For now, that job is held by Riley Dixon, though the Giants could just be keeping their emergency list up to date. Dixon, a former draft pick of Denver, is under contract through 2022 thanks to his three-year, $8.7MM deal.
  • The Washington Football Team auditioned running backs D’Onta Foreman and Ryquell Armstead. Foreman, recently released from Atlanta’s practice squad, also showed his stuff for the Raiders earlier this month. Foreman is best known for his rookie year with the Texans but hasn’t been the same since tearing his Achilles midway through that season.
  • The Packers are meeting with defensive ends Taco Charlton and R.J. McIntosh. Charlton, once a highly-touted first-round pick of the Cowboys, flamed out quickly in Dallas. His best work to date came with the Dolphins when he notched five sacks in ten games. Still, he had a decent 2020 with the Chiefs, up until his November leg fracture. In that shortened KC run, Charlton recorded two sacks, four quarterback hits, and a forced fumble.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/18/20

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

  • Activated from IR: OL Phil Haynes
  • Placed on IR: CB Neiko Thorpe

Tennessee Titans

Giants, P Riley Dixon Agree To Extension

The Giants have agreed to a three-year, $8.7MM extension with punter Riley Dixon, as Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com reports (Twitter links). Dixon has averaged 47 yards per punt in 2019 — sixth-best in the NFL and a career-high for Dixon — and he may be the most consistent player on New York’s roster this year.

The Broncos drafted Dixon in the seventh round of the 2016 draft, and he served as Denver’s punter from 2016-17 before New York acquired him for a conditional seventh-rounder in April 2018 (the Broncos had recently signed Marquette King, which made Dixon expendable). Other teams were interested in Dixon, who won the Giants’ punting job in 2018 and who was eligible for unrestricted free agency this offseason.

The $2.9MM average annual value on Dixon’s new deal doesn’t make him the highest-paid punter in the game, but it does put him in the top-five. His extension is one order of business for the Giants to scratch off their list in advance of what should be an intriguing offseason.

Giants Sign P Taylor Symmank

The Giants have signed punter Taylor Symmank, according to a tweet from his agent. Symmank will compete with Riley Dixon for the team’s punting job in 2018. 

Symmank spent the 2017 preseason with the Vikings and he apparently has a fan in former Minnesota offensive coordinator and new Giants head coach Pat Shurmur. In that preseason, the 25-year-old averaged 42.9 yards per punt on nine attempts with one punt traveling 60 yards. Five of those punts were downed inside the 20. The Texas Tech product lost that competition to Ryan Quigley and he has yet to appear in a regular season game.

The Giants acquired Dixon via trade with the Broncos back in April for a conditional 2019 seventh-round pick. Dixon is still probably the favorite to take over for the job previously held by Brad Wing, but he’ll have to earn it this summer.

East Notes: Foles, Giants, Breeland

The Eagles and reigning Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles just agreed to a reworked contract that gives Foles a $2MM raise for 2018, plus a whole host of incentives. The deal also includes a mutual option for 2019, though if Foles were to decline the option, he would have to give back the $2MM he just received.

Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com examines why Philadelphia, which is tight against the cap this year and will be again in 2019, made the move. The reworked deal probably had little to nothing to do with the Eagles’ wanting to reward Foles for his postseason heroics, so Shorr-Parks speculates that Foles and his camp could have put some pressure on the team, and he also suggests the new contract may come with a lower cap hit.

The chances that the Eagles exercise the 2019 option are very slim, as Foles would be owed a $20MM salary under that scenario. But, if the two sides want to continue their relationship beyond 2018, this gesture will certainly buy the Eagles some goodwill when it comes time to negotiate again. It also guarantees that Philadelphia, which already had the best QB insurance policy in the game, will keep that policy perfectly content this season, and even if Carson Wentz cannot stay healthy, the team has given itself a chance to deploy a capable signal-caller for at least the next two years.

Now let’s take a quick swing around a few other east division clubs:

  • Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com says the Giants could look to trade offensive tackle Ereck Flowers during the draft, though that will probably be a difficult trick to pull off. Raanan also says Big Blue has done a lot of pre-draft work on punters this year, and he believes the team could bring in a UDFA punter to compete with Riley Dixon. Dixon was recently acquired from Denver for a conditional seventh-round pick, so if he does not make the club, the Giants will likely not need to surrender the pick.
  • Former Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland was set to sign a three-year, $24MM pact with the Panthers last month, but Carolina scuttled the deal due to a “non-football incident” in which Breeland cut his foot. The foot became infected, and at the time, it was reported that Breeland was a few months away from being able to pass a physical. He will surely garner some interest this summer once he is healed, but JP Finlay of NBCSports.com says Washington is not expected to bring Breeland back into the fold. Indeed, Breeland himself indicated on Instagram that the Redskins never had interest in retaining his services.
  • The Patriots are in the unique position of having three fifth-year options to either exercise or decline before May 3, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says the team will almost certainly exercise those options on defensive tackles Danny Shelton and Malcom Brown (at a little over $7MM apiece). However, the team is unsurprisingly not expected to exercise the $9.387MM option for receiver Phillip Dorsett.
  • The Cowboys are expected to exercise Byron Jones‘ fifth-year option.

Broncos Notes: Keenum, Harris, Draft, Dixon

Mock drafts have gone in numerous directions regarding the Broncos‘ No. 5 overall pick, and it’s possible the team could make yet another big investment at the position. But if they do, Case Keenum will not be ceding the reins anytime soon. John Elway confirmed that if the Broncos do select a quarterback at No. 5 overall the recently signed quarterback would be the unquestioned first-stringer.

Case is our starter,’’ Elway said, via Mike Klis of 9News. “We’ll cross that road when we get there. Every situation for young quarterbacks is different. I think it’s different in today’s world, and the fact that it depends on what kind of football team those guys step onto.”

The 2016 Eagles thrust Carson Wentz into duty from the start because they traded Sam Bradford, whereas the 2017 Bears allowed Mike Glennon four starts before turning to Mitch Trubisky. It can be expected Keenum will have a longer leash, if the Broncos opt to bypass a top-tier non-QB.

Here’s the latest out of Denver:

  • The Broncos have gotten All-Pro work from Chris Harris for No. 2 cornerback money over the past three seasons. They’ve agreed to incentivize the eighth-year corner’s deal, and Klis details what that will entail. Harris was a first-team All-Pro in 2016 and a second-teamer in Denver’s Super Bowl season; should he land on one of those two teams this year, he’ll earn $500K. Harris can collect $200K for a two-interception season, and if he reaches five picks, Klis reports that bumps up to $500K. Harris has intercepted two passes in each of the past three seasons. Interestingly, the Broncos’ win total will impact their top corner as well. Klis reports Harris playing 65 percent of Denver’s snaps and the team winning six games will mean a $300K bonus, with a 75 percent snap season and eight Bronco wins meaning that spikes to $600K. Harris, who has an $8.5MM base salary in 2018, has been a full-time player for the past six seasons. If Denver returns to the playoffs, the soon-to-be 29-year-old DB earns $300K.
  • Prior to their trade earlier tonight, the Broncos and Giants had been circling each other about a deal for Riley Dixon for a bit now, per Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Klis reports (via Twitter) Vance Joseph told the incumbent punter the day the team signed Marquette King he would be moved. Multiple teams were interested in the third-year specialist, per Klis.
  • Elway appears to have evolved on his affinity for cannon-armed QBs. The addition of Keenum, who does not have an upper-echelon arm the way Paxton Lynch does, marked a change of pace for a GM that’s targeted tall passers with strong arms. “I was a lot more six or seven years ago, but then we had Peyton (Manning), right?’’ Elway said, via Klis. “Peyton was more of the cerebral type. I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been doing this job as far as what certain quarterbacks have success with.”
  • However, the GM that traded Tim Tebow after a memorable season doesn’t regard it as a must to have a mobile quarterback. “The bottom line is that I believe the one thing is that you got to be able to win from the pocket,” the eighth-year exec said. “You can win games, but you can’t win championships unless you have the ability to win it from the pocket. Then if you can get out and move around and create, and do those types of things then that’s an added bonus.” While the Broncos have been connected to Baker Mayfield, an earlier report indicated they were high on Josh Rosen — the least mobile of the top four QBs in this class.