Spencer Lanning

AFC East Notes: Bills, Dolphins, Patriots

With free agent signee T.J. Yates the favorite to act as the Bills‘ backup quarterback behind Tyrod Taylor, and fifth-round pick Nathan Peterman now in tow, Cardale Jones — a fourth-round selection just a year ago — is not a lock to make the Buffalo roster, as Mike Rodak of ESPN.com writes. The Bills are unlikely to keep four signal-callers in 2017, meaning Jones could be the odd man out. “You kind of sit around all day, try to go in there. You wait on your opportunity all day,” Jones said. “Your number is called, and you kind of didn’t take advantage of it.” Jones, 24, appeared in only one game in 2016 (the season finale), during which he completed six of 11 attempts for 96 yards and one interception. For what it’s worth, Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott said Thursday that Jones is “absolutely in the mix” for a roster spot, tweets Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Searching for versatility in their defensive backfield, the Dolphins haven’t yet decided whether Walt Aikens will play cornerback or safety, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald details. “[Aikens] is a big athlete,” said defensive coordinator Matt Burke. “He’s obviously a huge asset to us on (special) teams. We like having a versatile player in that role on the roster, so Walt has done a good job. Again, we’re trying to put him maybe in a spot that he’s not as comfortable and see how he responds, and he’s done a good job working for us so far.” No matter where the 25-year-old Aikens lands position-wise, he’s likely to act as a reserve, as he saw only 15 defensive snaps in 2016. But as Burke suggested, Aikens is a key special teams player, as he played on nearly 80% of the Dolphins’ ST snaps last year.
  • The Patriots auditioned a number of special teams players last week, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, who reports punters Spencer Lanning and Drew Butler, kicker Adam Griffith, and long snapper Cole Mazza recently worked out for New England. Lanning hasn’t seen an NFL field since 2015, but does offer experience, as he was the Browns’ regular punter from 2013-14. He worked out for the Saints last summer. Butler, meanwhile, appeared in 54 games over four seasons with the Cardinals, but was waived on two separate occasions last year.
  • Former Dolphins executive Dawn Aponte has been hired as the NFL’s chief administrator of football operations, reports Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal (Twitter link). Aponte, who had also spent time with the Browns and Jets, left Miami’s front office in September to work for Dolphins owner Stephen Ross‘ Drone Racing League. Per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk, Aponte will now report to vice president of football operations Troy Vincent in the league office.

Free Agent Rumors: Moore, Williams, Lanning

Here are some PFR-exclusive updates on three veteran free agents:

  • Veteran wide receiver Denarius Moore has worked out for both the Lions and Jaguars this offseason, PFR has learned. Moore was signed by the Bengals prior to the 2015 season, but was cut before the season began and ultimately appeared in five games with the Bills. The 27-year-old was part of a wideout contingent that auditioned for the Saints last month.
  • Three teams have expressed interest in signing cornerback Cary Williams, a source tells PFR. After signing a three-year deal with the Seahawks prior to last season, Williams lasted only 10 games before he was released. He latched on with the Redskins at the tail end of the year, and appeared in Washington’s playoff game. Though he’s now 31 years old and coming off a down stretch in his career, Williams does have 75 starts under his belt, and could serve as a veteran presence in a club’s secondary.
  • Free agent punter Spencer Lanning worked out for the Saints last week, PFR has learned. Lanning, 28, was the Brown’s full-time punter from 2013-2014, but appeared in just one game last season, filling in for the Bears in early October while Pat O’Donnell was injured. The South Carolina product also auditioned for the Jaguars back in January, but is in no rush to sign as training camp approaches.

NFL Workouts/Visits: 1/8/16

As teams look ahead to formulating their offseason rosters, they’ve begun to bring in free agents for both workouts and visits. Let’s look at the latest:


Chargers (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle)

  • Freddie Bishop, DL
  • Euclid Cummings, DE
  • Cleyon Laing, DL

Chiefs (Twitter link via Wilson)

Jaguars (Twitter link via Wilson)

Ravens (Twitter link via Wilson)

Steelers (Twitter link via Wilson)

  • Freddie Bishop, DL
  • Dexter McCoil, LB
  • Eric Rogers, WR
  • Dustin Vaughan, QB

Washington (Twitter link via Wilson)

  • Cleyon Laing, DL
  • Eric Rogers, WR


Cardinals (Twitter link via Wilson)

  • Toby Johnson, DT (prior to signing with Vikings’ practice squad)

Chiefs (Twitter links via Wilson)

Giants (Twitter link via Wilson)

Steelers (Twitter link via Wilson)

NFC West Notes: Lockette, Goff, 49ers

Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette was released from the hospital on Thursday and took to Instagram to share the good news. “Thanks for all the support. I’ve just been released from the hospital and the road to recovery has started!!! God did it,” Lockette wrote. After taking a scary hit on Sunday that knocked him out of the Seahawks’ game against the Cowboys, Lockette underwent surgery to stabilize ligament damage in his neck. Fortunately, Lockette now has some positive news after what could have been a much worse situation.

Here’s more from the NFC West..

  • Cal’s Jared Goff should be the 49ers‘ quarterback of the future, Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group opines. Under general manager Trent Baalke, the 49ers have drafted 48 players since taking Colin Kaepernick in the second round in 2011 and only one – B.J. Daniels, who now plays wide receiver – was a quarterback, but 2016 might change that. Still, there’s no guarantee that Goff, a junior, will go pro. He also operates out of a spread, no-huddle offense and there are questions as to whether he’ll be able to adapt quickly to the NFL.
  • 49ers fans aren’t too optimistic about what Blaine Gabbert can do at quarterback but offensive coordinator Geep Chryst sees some potential in the former first-round overall pick. “When we got Blaine on board here, there were some similarities to what Alex Smith went through,” Chryst said, as Cam Inman of the Mercury News writes. “Alex came here, was very young and played, and had to slug out a lot of tough situations. We felt like Blaine had all this talent, and as a young player, maybe all this change of scenery would be good for him. He’s really applied himself well in the classroom. He’s engaged and active. He’s a really bright guy.”
  • The Cardinals worked out kicker Randy Bullock, kicker Billy Cundiff, punter Brandon Fields, and punter Spencer Lanning during their bye week, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/7/15

Let’s round up Wednesday’s minor transactions from around the league:

  • Will the ninth time be the charm for Andre Fluellen? As Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com details, the Lions have signed the veteran defensive lineman for his ninth different stint with the team. Given all the time he has spent in Detroit, Fluellen obviously knows the Lions’ defensive system, so he’ll help provide depth in the middle with Tyrunn Walker on IR and Haloti Ngata hurting as well.
  • We heard on Monday that tight end Daniel Fells was headed to the Giants‘ injured reserve list due to a staph infection, and the team made that move official today, confirming it in a press release. New York promoted wide receiver Myles White to its active roster from the practice squad to get back up to 53 players.
  • The Bears have elevated defensive back Demontre Hurst to their active roster, the team announced today (via Twitter). Hurst is the second practice squad to get a promotion this week, as the club parted ways with punter Spencer Lanning and linebacker John Timu.
  • The Buccaneers have re-added linebacker Orie Lemon to their 53-man roster, according to a team release. Lemon takes the roster spot vacated by defensive end Josh Martin, who was waived/injured by Tampa Bay.
  • The Texans have reached a three-week injury settlement with linebacker Mike Mohamed, removing him from their IR, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. The agreement allows Mohamed to sign with another team in three weeks, though he can’t return to Houston for nine weeks.

Bears To Sign Spencer Lanning

With Pat O’Donnell battling a knee injury, the Bears are signing a free agent punter, according to Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com, who reports (via Twitter) that Spencer Lanning has agreed to a deal with the team. There hasn’t been an official announcement from the team yet on O’Donnell’s status, but the signing of Lanning doesn’t bode well for the incumbent punter’s availability this weekend.

In 2014, only two punters had more attempts than the 93 punts Lanning made for the Browns. On those 93 attempts, he averaged 44.5 yards, with a net distance of 39.2 yards per punt. Those were middle-of-the-road numbers, and the Browns decided to move on from Lanning back in June, acquiring Andy Lee from the 49ers for a conditional 2017 seventh-round pick.

Lanning, 27, was claimed off waivers by the Buccaneers after being dropped by the Browns, and also spent time with the Broncos this summer, but he didn’t survive Denver’s cutdown to 53 players. Lanning, who also worked out for the Panthers earlier this week, auditioned for the Bears yesterday, along with former Giants punter Steve Weatherford.

North Notes: Perriman, Browns, Bears

Rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman has yet to make his regular season debut for the Ravens, and it sounds like that probably won’t be happening anytime soon. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), Perriman re-injured his PCL over the weekend, and underwent arthroscopic surgery, performed by Dr. James Andrews. Perriman will now be sidelined indefinitely, says Rapoport.

While there were a handful of exciting young receivers selected in the first round of this year’s draft, many of them have yet to make an impact on the field — Perriman and Kevin White are battling significant injuries, and DeVante Parker, Phillip Dorsett, and Nelson Agholor have combined for just 13 overall receptions through three weeks. Among this year’s first-round wideouts, only Amari Cooper, who has 20 catches for 290 yards, is off to a fast start.

Here’s more from out of the league’s two North divisions:

  • The Browns are bringing aboard former Falcons and Texans offensive line coach Paul Dunn, according to Alex Marvez of FOX Sports, who reports (via Twitter) that Dunn is expected to replace Andy Moeller as the club’s main offensive line coach. Per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter link), head coach Mike Pettine stressed that George DeLeone is acting as the Browns’ OL coach for now, so we’ll have to see how the roles play out.
  • Having signed a two-year extension with the Browns, quarterback Austin Davis views the new contract as a sign of the team’s trust in him, as Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal details. Ulrich also notes that the base salaries on Davis’ deal are $1.35MM for 2016 and $1.7MM for 2017.
  • As first reported by Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link), the Bears brought in punters for a tryout today, with Pat O’Donnell having missed Wednesday’s practice. Punters Spencer Lanning and Steve Weatherford, along with long snapper Patrick Scales, participated in the workout, tweets Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com.
  • After the Bears jettisoned multiple defensive players this week, a number of veterans on the team may be wondering if they’re next, writes Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times. One player who spoke to Finley, tight end Martellus Bennett, acknowledged that the possibility of being traded or cut is always present, and it’s just part of the business. Earlier today, I asked whether we’ll continue to see Chicago make more moves in advance of the trade deadline.

Workout Notes: Jets, Brown, Chargers, Lions

The Jets auditioned running back Bryce Brown on Tuesday, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter). Brown has showed flashes of promise in the past, but he was unable to stick with the Bills in 2015. The Bills traded a 2015 fourth-round pick to the Eagles to acquire Brown before the start of last season and that’s a deal that GM Doug Whaley probably wouldn’t make again. In 2014, Brown ran for a grand total of 126 yards off of 36 carries.

Here’s a rundown of other notable workouts from around the NFL..

Broncos Waive 9; Trade Chris Clark To Texans

The Broncos made a whole lot of moves today as they get set to trim their roster down to 75. Among their transactions, Denver traded tackle Chris Clark to the Texans for a seventh-round choice in 2016, as Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com tweets. The sixth-year offensive tackle appeared in 69 games (27 starts) with Denver during the last five seasons. Prior to that, Clark spent two years competing on Minnesota’s practice squad.

The team also announced a litany of transactions on Monday morning. Vested veteran Reggie Walker has been cut loose while nine other players were waived:


  • Reggie Walker, ILB


  • Tevrin Brandon, CB
  • Andre Davis, G
  • Joe Don Duncan, TE/FB
  • Zac Dysert, QB
  • Spencer Lanning, P
  • Ross Madison, S
  • Jake Murphy, TE
  • Jeremy Stewart, RB
  • Chase Vaughn, OLB

Walker, a former special-teams standout for the rival Chargers, was signed in March but unable to win a job amongst a competitive group of inside linebackers. That batch of ILBs includes 2014 draft picks Corey Nelson and Lamin Barrow. In addition to the moves listed above, Denver also placed third-round pick Jeff Heuerman on injured reserve.

Extra Points: McCoy, Rice, Bucs, Broncos

Could this finally be Rueben Randle‘s breakout year? The wide receiver has long been expected to emerge as a star in New York and the Giants have a feeling that 2015 could be his time to shine, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link) says. Randle is entering his contract year and a strong performance could lead him to a sizable payday in the offseason, whether it’s with the Giants or another squad. GM Jerry Reese also believes that the presence of Odell Beckham Jr. and the returning Victor Cruz will open things up for the 24-year-old. Here’s more from around the NFL..

  • Bills running back LeSean McCoy suffered a hamstring injury earlier today and the team ordered an MRI to determine the severity of it. Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) now wonders if Ray Rice‘s best shot for a deal could be in Buffalo. Head coach Rex Ryan and Rice have a shared history thanks to their time together in Baltimore.
  • Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith says the starting right tackle job is up for grabs, though he added that he wouldn’t have signed Gosder Cherilus if they didn’t expect him to help right away, Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com tweets. Tampa Bay signed the veteran to a lucrative two-year deal on Monday.
  • Cherilus says he believes the Bucs would have drafted him if he lasted until pick No. 20 in 2008, Smith tweets. The offensive lineman wound up going 17th to the Lions instead.
  • Last week, the Broncos claimed Spencer Lanning off waivers when the Buccaneers waived him and Troy Renck of The Denver Post (on Twitter) notes that the Broncos put in a claim back when the Browns cut him loose. This means that Lanning has been on the radar for Denver for quite a while and this could be an indication that he has momentum going into the team’s kicking competition.