Jimmie Ward‘s interesting career with the 49ers looks set for another turn. The fifth-year player’s been shuttled to different positions in each of his four years, with four coaching staffs annually shifting him between safety and cornerback. This year, it doesn’t look like Ward will have a surefire path to remain a starter. Having started 24 games for the past three seasons at either corner or safety, Ward now is set to be a super-sub in Robert Saleh‘s secondary. Second-year safety Adrian Colbert usurped Ward, and once Richard Sherman is ready to play, he’ll take Ward’s place at cornerback alongside Ahkello Witherspoon, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle notes. He may not be in line to start in the slot, either, with K’Waun Williams back.
“It’s not going to be easy for (Ward) to start at any of those five (positons),” Kyle Shanahan said, via Branch, of the 2014 first-rounder who’s set to make $8.52MM this season. “Right now, he’s trying to do it at corner. We’ll reassess this at the end of OTAs and see how it is in training camp. … If Jimmie doesn’t earn a starting role, there’s also a good chance he’s the first backup at every single position: strong safety, free safety, nickel (corner), (outside) corner, because he’s capable of being a starter at all of those positions.”
Here’s the latest from some NFC franchises, continuing with the latest on a player who has a better path to a starting lineup.
- Will Hernandez‘s starting spot will likely come at the expense of John Jerry, per Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com. The second-round pick is expected to make a strong push to move into the Giants‘ lineup, and with Big Blue signing Patrick Omameh earlier this offseason, Jerry may be the odd man out. The team could be keeping the veteran around as insurance, but it would cost the Giants more to cut him than it would yield in cap savings. Jerry’s the longest-tenured Giants offensive line starter, doing so since 2014. Both he and Omameh graded as top-40 guards last season, in the view of Pro Football Focus.
- The Buccaneers‘ UDFA contingent houses some players who received hefty guarantees to sign. Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen received $50K guaranteed to sign, in the form of a $15K signing bonus and a $35K base salary guarantee, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Temple tackle Cole Boozer received $45K to sign ($20K signing bonus, $25K base guarantee) and running back Shaun Wilson (Duke) collected a $10K signing bonus and saw Tampa Bay guarantee $10K of his base salary. Auman adds Western Michigan tight end Donnie Ernsberger received a $15K bonus.
- Former Packers second-round pick Quinten Rollins is back working with his team on a limited basis during OTAs, Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes. Rollins tore an Achilles’ tendon in October and isn’t a lock for the roster, given both the severity of his injury and the Packers having drafted corners with their first two 2018 picks. Green Bay did deal Damarious Randall to Cleveland, however, opening up one spot. But the team also added former starter Tramon Williams in free agency. Cohen reports some in the Packers’ scouting department believe Rollins should be moved to safety, but it’s unclear whether the coaching staff concurs. Brian Gutekunst has said Rollins will try to work his way back into the cornerback contingent.