With Butler being moved from the NFI list to injured reserve, he is out for the season. The former first-rounder signed a futures deal with New York in January, after spending the past campaign on and off the team’s practice squad. He made just one appearance for the Giants in 2022, and will be four years removed from his career-best six-sack season with the Panthers in 2019. Butler, 29, has started 19 of his 77 career regular season games.
The Giants are in the midst of a bit of a midseason slump during a crucial four-game stretch of division games. They are activating pass rusher Azeez Ojulari and safety Tony Jeffersonfrom injured reserve in hopes that they’ll be able to turn things around after losing three of their last four, according to Giants senior writer Michael Elsen.
New York will certainly be glad to see Ojulari return to the field to assist with an aspect of the game they’ve struggled with so far this season: sack production. Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has been able to produce some form of pass rush, much like he did during his time with the Ravens, by getting creative and sending blitzers from every part of the field. While this has resulted in 12 different players contributing to the team’s sack total, the Giants haven’t gotten consistent results out of any one player, besides defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. Lawrence leads the team with five sacks and is the only one of those 12 players with more than two.
Ojulari not only will get to the quarterback, as he showed he could during his rookie season when he led the team with eight sacks, but his presence should help the other defensive lineman provide more of a natural pass rush. With offensive linemen focused on Ojulari, Lawrence, Leonard Williams, and this year’s No. 5 overall pick, Kayvon Thibodeaux, should be freed up with some one-on-one matchups.
Jefferson is a depth piece in the Giants secondary. After two standard gameday elevations, Jefferson was signed to the team’s active roster for their London game against the Packers. Jefferson unfortunately suffered a foot injury in the game and was promptly placed on IR. With starting safety Xavier McKinney ruled out for the fourth-straight game, Jefferson provides a solid option alongside Dane Belton to start opposite the team’s other starting safety, Julian Love.
New York also made an exchange at the tight end position in today’s transactions. The Giants signed veteran tight end Nick Vannett to the active roster from the practice squad, waiving tight end Tanner Hudson to make room. With fourth-round rookie, and expected starter, Daniel Bellinger missing the last four games with an eye injury, the Giants have recently turned to recent addition Lawrence Cager who converted from wide receiver this past offseason. The team is expecting to finally get Bellinger back but will have Cager and Vannett available for backup.
Lastly, New York has promoted defensive tackle Vernon Butler and defensive back Zyon Gilbert as standard gameday elevations from the practice squad for tomorrow’s matchup with the Commanders. If Gilbert enters the game for Big Blue tomorrow, it would be the NFL debut for the undrafted rookie out of Florida Atlantic.
A former top ten draft pick for the Bengals in 2017, Ross is widely considered not to have lived up to his draft stock. After missing the majority of his rookie season with knee and shoulder issues, Ross was still able to salvage some bright spots in his second and third seasons, reaching career highs for touchdowns with seven in 2018 and receiving yards with 506 in 2019. Despite showing some promise, injuries continued to drag the young wide out down. Over the final two years of his contract, Ross missed 21 games, leading him towards free agency. He signed with the Giants last year and appeared in 10 games, catching 11 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown.
Here are a couple of other workouts reported around the league, starting with Brown’s former home in Baltimore:
After losing second-year wide receiver Rashod Bateman to injury for the past two weeks, the Ravens were looking to add some receiving depth recently, as well. This desire resulted in the practice squad addition of veteran DeSean Jackson, but, according to Yates, Baltimore auditioned another veteran wide out in Tavon Austin. The former long-time Ram has spent the last four seasons since leaving Los Angeles with three other teams. Austin has seen quite a down-sized role since his heyday as a starter with the Rams, but showed a big-play ability in Dallas, averaging 15.1 yards per reception as a Cowboy three seasons ago. With Jackson now on the practice squad, Austin will likely have to keep searching for his fifth NFL squad.
The Seahawks worked out a former first round pick in defensive tackle Vernon Butler yesterday, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Butler waited until the final year of his rookie contract with the Panthers to play up to his draft stock, racking up 6.0 sacks, 7.0 tackles for loss, 32 tackles, and three forced fumbles, which all still stand as career highs by quite a bit. Butler signed a two-year contract with the Bills after leaving Carolina but failed to match the production from his best year with the Panthers. He’s available after failing to make the Raiders’ final 53-man roster and looks to add some depth to a minorly banged up Seahawks defensive line.
NFL teams continue to try and piece together their ideal rosters as the regular season approaches. Tight end Dalton Keene is putting out feelers lately, taking visits to San Francisco and Pittsburgh this week, according to two tweets from ESPN’s Field Yates.
Keene faces long odds of getting a job with the 49ers, who currently hold four tight ends on a roster that includes George Kittle, Tyler Kroft, Charlie Woerner, and Ross Dwelley. All three backups behind Kittle had more play and production last year than Keene has had throughout his young career.
Pittsburgh has three tight ends on their roster with Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry, and sixth-round rookie Connor Heyward (brother of Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward). The Steelers’ tight end group is a bit less experienced or proven than San Francisco’s, so Keene has a better chance of getting an opportunity in Pittsburgh, but no deals have been announced in the meantime.
Here are a few other notable workouts from around the NFC, starting with a former All-Pro who hasn’t played since 2020:
The Lions hosted defensive tackleMalcom Brown back in late-August, according to Yates. The former first-round pick failed to make an impression, though. Despite the Lions dedicating 13 roster spots to the defensive line on their initial 53-man roster, Brown remains a free agent in search of his next opportunity.
After coming off the bench for the first 38 games of his career, it looked like Butler may have been evolving into a starter after collecting six sacks in nine starts for the Panthers in 2019. That performance earned the former first-round pick a two-year contract from the Bills, but he never saw more than a situational role during his time in Buffalo, collecting 29 tackles and zero sacks in 24 games.
Robinson also joined the Raiders this offseason after having spent the first six seasons of his career with the Chiefs. The wideout hauled in 14 touchdowns between 2018 and 2021, and he had two seasons where he topped 400 receiving yards. Most recently, Robinson caught 25 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns before adding another four receptions in the postseason.