Ryan Anderson (LB)

Steelers’ T.J. Watt Will Not Require Surgery

The best-case scenario has been confirmed with respect to T.J. WattThe Steelers’ top defender will not require surgery, and he will begin the rehab process which should keep him sidelined for roughly six weeks, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports (on Twitter). 

Watt suffered a torn pectoral muscle, as was initially feared. However, as Rapoport details, the tendon was not torn, leaving rehab as an alternative to what would have likely been season-ending surgery. By taking the former route, Watt will be able to return at some point relatively soon, as he confirmed (on Twitter) this afternoon.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Watt’s absence will still be felt, of course. Pittsburgh will turn to 2020 third-rounder Alex Highsmith and recent trade acquisition Malik Reed as starters on the edge. Not surprisingly, the team has already taken steps to add depth at the position, though.

The Steelers signed Ryan Anderson to the practice squad, per Rapoport’s colleague Tom Pelissero (Twitter link). A former second-round pick, the 28-year-old never lived up to his draft stock during his four seasons in Washington, with his best career season coming in 2019 (44 tackles, four sacks, five forced fumbles). He initially signed with the Giants last offseason, but was cut in August and did not see any action in 2021.

Anderson could see himself elevated on gamedays; the Steelers are also likely to be active in searching for more depth options on the open market. It remains to be seen if Watt will be placed on IR to open a roster spot, but the fact that he will return around the midway mark of the season is a hugely positive development for the Steelers’ 2022 aspirations.

Giants Cut Ryan Anderson

Ryan Anderson won’t be playing for the Giants in 2021 after all. The outside linebacker signed with New York in the second wave of free agency, but was cut on Monday, the team announced.

Anderson signed a one-year deal worth $1.125MM, only slightly above the $990K minimum for a player with his service time, back in March. The 49th overall pick of Washington back in 2017, Anderson never really lived up to his draft status. The Alabama product was mostly a reserve during his four years in Washington, but he did make a big impact in 2019.

That season he appeared in all 16 games with four starts, finishing with 44 tackles, four sacks, and five forced fumbles. In 2020, he played in only nine games and had just nine total tackles. Anderson “was expected to compete for a role on the edge,” previously, Dan Duggan of The Athletic tweets, while noting that he “missed the first two weeks of camp with a back injury.”

When he gets healthy he should be able to latch on elsewhere. Anderson will turn 27 later this week.

Giants To Sign Ryan Anderson

The Giants have agreed to sign outside linebacker Ryan Anderson to a one-year deal, according to Art Stapleton of The Record (on Twitter). The deal is worth $1.125MM for the veteran’s salary benefit, so it will count for just ~$988K against the 2021 cap. 

[RELATED: Giants To Sign Adoree’ Jackson]

Anderson, 27 in August, came into the league as a second-round pick out of Alabama. He’s spent much of the last four years as a reserve for Washington, but he showed glimpses of his potential in 2019 as he notched 44 stops and four sacks. He looked especially promising in a late-season game against the Eagles that year, when he came away with two sacks and three forced fumbles. In total, Anderson has 86 tackles and six sacks for his career.

The Giants have been especially active in recent days. On Monday, the Giants agreed a three-year, $39MM deal with free agent cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. And, over the weekend, they inked standout wide receiver Kenny Golladay to a four-year, $72MM pact with $40MM guaranteed.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/12/20

Here is Saturday’s usual barrage of minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: LB Jachai Polite; Polite tested positive for the coronavirus, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (via Twitter)

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Trade Rumors: Giants, Ryan, Fuller

After dealing Markus Golden to the Cardinals, it appears the 1-6 Giants have officially declared themselves sellers at this year’s trade deadline. Though GM Dave Gettleman may be reluctant to trade away veteran talent that could theoretically help Big Blue win a few games — and perhaps save Gettleman’s job in the process — players like Evan Engram, Kevin Zeitler, and Golden Tate could be available, as Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post writes (though Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says the club is unlikely to deal Engram).

2017 second-round DT Dalvin Tomlinson could also be on the move, per Dunleavy. Tomlinson is playing out the last year of his rookie contract, and while he has expressed interest in staying with the Giants long-term, there has been little progress in contract talks.

As we creep closer to the November 3 deadline, let’s round up a few more trade rumors from around the league:

Redskins Sign Jonathan Allen

The Redskins have signed first-round pick Jonathan Allen along with eight of their other nine draft picks. The lone holdout, so to speak, is third round cornerback Fabian Moreau. The full list of signed rookies is below: Jonathan Allen (vertical)

Allen, an Alabama product, was regarded by many prognosticators as a top five talent in this year’s class. However, on draft night, he slipped all the way to Washington at No. 17. His slide might have been tied to his medical situation as he is said to have symptoms of arthritis in both of his shoulders. Allen says that the shoulders are not an issue now, but he did concede at the combine that the issue could cause trouble down the road. As a senior, Allen had 69 tackles, including 16 tackles for a loss. He also had 10.5 sacks, nearly matching his 12 sack total from 2015.

Sprinkle made headlines for all the wrong reasons when he shoplifted from a Belk department store days before Arkansas played in the Belk Bowl. Despite the embarrassing incident, teams still viewed the tight end as an NFL talent after he had 33 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns in eleven starts for the Razorbacks. We could see Sprinkle in two tight end sets with top TE Jordan Reed this season.

Draft Rumors: Kelly, Peterman, Jones, Chiefs

In addition to the Bills, Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly has also met with the Seahawks and Chiefs, as Kelly told SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link). In addition, Kelly said he’s had phone calls with several other clubs. Kelly, the nephew of Bills legend Jim Kelly, is considered a Day 3 prospect thanks a multitude of injury concerns and off-field issues. After recovering quickly from a ACL tear, Kelly underwent wrist surgery in early April and won’t be able to throw for three months. Both Seattle and Kansas City are potentially looking for developmental quarterbacks to play behind Russell Wilson and Alex Smith, respectively.

Here’s more on the 2017 NFL draft:

  • Both the Chargers and Cardinals have hosted Pittsburgh quarterback Nathan Peterman on visits, as Peterman himself explained on Pro Football Talk Live. Peterman, who is likely to be selected on Day 2 of the draft, is viewed as a high-floor signal-caller in the vein of an Andy Dalton. Los Angeles and Arizona each employ veteran quarterbacks in Philip Rivers and Carson Palmer and could be looking to find long-term successors under center. The Chargers, notably, have been more open about their desire to land a youthful passer in 2017, and are reportedly putting in “ample work” on the 2017 class.
  • North Carolina State safety Josh Jones embarked on a “last minute” visit with the Raiders earlier this week, tweets Josh Norris of Rotoworld. Oakland already used a first-round pick on defensive back Karl Joseph in 2016, but Jones could be an eventual replacement for 33-year-old Reggie Nelson. Jones is considered a Round 2 prospect, but he’s been hosted by a significant number of NFL clubs during the predraft process, and there’s a chance he could sneak into Day 1. In 2016, Jones put up 109 tackles, three interceptions, and one sack.
  • A Redskins contingent traveled to Alabama on Friday to meet with Crimson Tide edge defender Ryan Anderson, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Anderson, who managed 8.5 sacks in 2016, has also met with Houston, Carolina, and Arizona. Likely a Day 2 prospect, Anderson was compared to San Francisco’s Ahmad Brooks by Lance Zierlein of NFL.com. Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith are penciled as Washington’s starting outside linebackers (Trent Murphy is suspended for the first four games of 2017).
  • Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham took late predraft visits with the Jaguars and Broncos, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Cunningham, a projected Day 2 pick, has also been linked to the Giants and Saints. Earlier this year, a scout told Matt Miller of Bleacher Report that Cunningham “needs to gain strength” and “make more tackles.”

West Notes: Chiefs, Raiders, Broncos, Cards

Virginia Commonwealth’s Mo Alie-Cox isn’t the only collegiate basketball player garnering interest from the Chiefs, as the club also has visits lined up with D.J. Johnson (Kansas State) and Najeal Young (Texas Wesleyan), according to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star. Johnson, meanwhile, has also set up a meeting with the Bears, per Kellis Robinett of the Wichita Eagle. As Paylor notes, Kansas City has used the basketball-to-football strategy before, as tight ends Demetrius Harris and Ross Travis both played hoops in college. Like Alie-Cox, Johnson and Young aren’t eligible for the draft and are allowed to sign NFL contracts immediately.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • The Raiders stand a “good chance” of bypassing one of their biggest needs — linebacker — in favor of defensive back help on Day 1, per Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com. Both the Raiders and Titans have visited with Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, reports Pauline, and both clubs could seriously consider Awuzie in the first round (at picks No. 24 and No. 18, respectively). Oakland could use another player in the secondary next to Sean Smith and David Amerson, while Tennessee released veteran corner Jason McCourty today and are fielding one of the league’s worst corner depth charts. Dallas has also met with Awuzie, who posted one interception and four sacks last year.
  • After ranking 27th in adjusted sack rate in 2016, the Broncos are unsurprisingly expected to target offensive lineman in the draft, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). Utah tackle Garett Bolles, whom I sent to Denver in PFR’s first 2017 mock draft, is of “high interest” to the Broncos, who hold the No. 20 pick in Round 1. But Denver is unlikely to stop on Day 1, as the club will probably select multiple offensive lineman over the course of the draft, per Cole. The Broncos signed free agents Menelik Watson and Ronald Leary last month, but the front five — especially left tackle — still needs a lot of help.
  • Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson has a workout scheduled with the Cardinals, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Arizona currently boasts Chandler Jones, Markus Golden, free agent signee Jarvis Jones, Kareem Martin, and Gabe Martin on the edge, but Anderson would give the club yet another option to get after opposing quarterbacks. Anderson, who managed 8.5 sacks in 2016, has also met with Houston and Carolina. Anderson is a likely Day 2 prospect, and was compared to San Francisco’s Ahmad Brooks by Lance Zierlein of NFL.com.
  • The Raiders had scheduled a meeting with Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, but he won’t be able to attend due to a scheduling conflict, reports Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Still, the proposed visit indicates a level of interest from Oakland, which clearly needs assistance at linebacker. If Foster falls to No. 24, the Raiders would likely run to turn in their card.

Draft Notes: Jets, Howard, Melifonwu, Texans

With the Jets having a number of holes to fill on both sides of the ball, would the organization really select a tight end with the sixth-overall pick? ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini believes the team has more pressing needs, but he could understand why Alabama tight end O.J. Howard is worthy of a top-10 pick.

Unlike former Jets second-rounder Jace Amaro, Howard can excel in both blocking and receiving situations, so he’d be an every-down player. In offensive coordinator John Morton‘s west-coast offense, the tight end would certainly be relied on to move the chains. Furthermore, his lack of injuries and “high floor” makes him a relatively safe pick.

Cimini has talked to several scouts who regard Howard as a “special talent,” with one evaluator saying that “Howard is the first legitimate tight-end prospect we’ve seen in two or three years.”

Lets check out some more draft notes from around the NFL…

  • After visiting with the Browns yesterday, Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu is set to meet with the Redskins today, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Melifonwu, who finished last season with 73 tackles and four interceptions, was listed 46th on Daniel Jeremiah’s list of the top-50 prospects. The defensive back has garnered interest from a number of teams, including the Lions, PanthersSteelers, SeahawksSaints, Cowboys, and Dolphins.
  • Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson had a private workout with the Texans on Friday, tweets Wilson. Jeremiah listed Anderson as the 49th-best prospect in this year’s draft. The senior finished last season with 31 tackles and 8.5 sacks.
  • We learned yesterday that Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon will visit 15 teams prior to the NFL draft.

Draft Rumors: Browns, 49ers, Bears, Pack

The Browns will host Ohio State safety Malik Hooker for a pre-draft visit Friday, reports Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. The club is “very high on” Hooker and is considering taking him in the first round, adds Cabot, who notes that it might not be in position to land him. The Browns are likely to take Texas A&M edge rusher Myles Garrett first overall, and Hooker could be off the board when their second selection (No. 12) arrives. Hooker underwent surgeries to repair a sports hernia and a torn labrum Jan. 31, causing him to miss the combine, but he’s still likely to come off the board in the first 10 picks.

In advance of its meeting with Hooker, Cleveland ran Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson through a private workout on the road Thursday, according to Cabot. Watson may well be the Browns’ pick at No. 12.

More of the latest draft notes:

  • Garrett has upcoming visits with the 49ers and Bears, as Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets. The Niners pick at No. 2 and the Bears are at No. 3, so it’s doubtful either will land Garrett. But it seems the 49ers would jump at the chance of selecting him, as 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday at Garrett’s pro day that he “checks all of the boxes” (via Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area).
  • Add the Packers to the list of teams at least considering drafting Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon. The Pack brought Mixon in for a visit earlier this week, relays Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link). At least two teams – the Patriots and Dolphins – have already ruled out a Mixon selection.
  • The Panthers recently worked out Alabama outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, a source told Matt Zenitz of AL.com (via Twitter). Anderson could be a second-round target for the Panthers, who own the 40th pick.

Zach Links contributed to this post.