Xavier Rhodes

Bills Sign CB Xavier Rhodes To Active Roster; CB Christian Benford To IR

The Bills have gotten a nice surprise this season from rookie sixth-round pick Christian Benford, but with Benford headed to injured reserve, veteran cornerback Xavier Rhodes has been signed to the active roster from the practice squad.

Benford stepped up early in the season for Buffalo. In a stacked position room, Benford started in place of an injured Tre’Davious White to begin the year, earning the role over first-round rookie Kaiir Elam and fifth-year cornerback Siran Neal. Elam would eventually work his way into the starting role, but Benford has remained a reliable option, starting the past two games that Elam has missed.

Despite the stacked room led by White, Dane Jackson, and nickel starter Taron Johnson and backed by Elam, Benford, and Neal, injuries have limited the production of the position group. Injury absences from White, Elam, and Benford have made it necessary to have a player like Rhodes available when needed.

Rhodes was called up for his Bills debut last week with White and Elam both on the sideline. The 32-year-old will officially join the active roster as Benford’s oblique injury threatens to keep him out for at least four games. White, who’s making his 2022 debut as he returns from last year’s ACL injury, may be on a limited snap count and, with White’s normal replacements, Elam and Benford, out, the door is open for Rhodes to make an impact in his second game of the season. The Bills will likely trot out White, Jackson, and Johnson as their starting three corners, with Rhodes and Neal close by on the sideline to fill in for White when needed.

As Rhodes leaves the practice squad, the team has added veteran former Bills wide receiver John Brown and undrafted rookie defensive tackle C.J. Brewer to their taxi squad.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/19/22

The league’s minor moves leading up to gameday:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

  • Signed to active roster: TE Nick Muse
  • Promoted from practice squad: CB Tay Gowan
  • Waived: OLB Benton Whitley

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Washington Commanders

Bills Elevate CB Xavier Rhodes, RB Duke Johnson From Practice Squad; No QB Elevated

Two veterans that have been stashed on the Bills practice squad are set to make their season debuts for the team this week. Buffalo has elevated cornerback Xavier Rhodes and running back Duke Johnson for this weekend’s matchup against the Vikings.

The Bills are extremely deep at cornerback, but an injury to first-round rookie Kaiir Elam has him currently listed as doubtful going into Sunday. With Elam out, Dane Jackson would be expected to start opposite Tre’Davious White at cornerback, with Taron Johnson and Siran Neal providing key snaps off the bench. That’s still a reliable amount of depth but adding the veteran Rhodes will provide the Bills with just a bit more security if Elam can’t play.

This has been an interestingly quiet season for Rhodes, who started at least 13 games in every season dating back to his sophomore season before this year. The longtime shutdown cornerback for the Vikings spent two years doing more of the same in Indianapolis before signing to the Bills practice squad in the offseason. After eight years as a fulltime starter, coming in off the practice squad is an unfamiliar role for the 32-year-old.

The Bills traded for another former Colt in running back Nyheim Hines at the deadline in an attempt to bring in a back who can catch passes out of the backfield, something that the team was lacking with Devin Singletary, Zack Moss, and James Cook. The elevation of Johnson from the practice squad may indicate that Hines is not totally comfortable enough with the playbook to take hold of that role yet.

Johnson spent the majority of his career as one of the league’s premier pass-catching running backs. Over his career, Johnson has more receiving yards (2,870) than rushing yards (2,261). He’s an effective weapon, even at 29-years-old, that the Bills have kept stashed on the practice squad all year. Johnson was given an opportunity to start for a depleted Dolphins team last year and rewarded them with two 100-yard rushing performances and three touchdowns in four starts.

Many, including NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, noted that Buffalo was not elevating quarterback Matt Barkley, indicating that the team is confident that starter Josh Allen will be able to play after sustaining an elbow sprain last week. Allen had been limited in practice this week but was able to grip the ball and provide enough for the Bills staff to show that he can start.

Bills Place CB Xavier Rhodes On P-Squad Injured List

The hits keep coming for the Bills’ secondary. Veteran cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who signed with Buffalo just a few days ago, has been placed on the team’s practice squad injured list (Twitter link via ESPN’s Field Yates). Head coach Sean McDermott said that Rhodes sustained a hamstring injury (Twitter link via Chris Brown of OneBillsLive).

Buffalo’s top corner, two-time Pro Bowler Tre’Davious White, began the season on the PUP list and will therefore miss at least one more game as he continues to recover from an ACL tear. Fellow starter Dane Jackson suffered a neck injury in Week 2, and rookie Christian Benford fractured his hand during last Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins. That is not to mention safety Micah Hyde‘s season-ending neck injury or safety Jordan Poyer‘s foot ailment, which kept him out of the Miami contest and which rendered him questionable for the Bills’ Week 4 matchup against the Ravens.

The practice squad injured list operates under the same rules as the injured reserve. In other words, Rhodes will be forced to miss at least the next four games, at which point there may no longer be a roster spot for him. Indeed, Jackson returned to practice this week and is expected to suit up for the Baltimore game, as Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic tweets. The hope is that White will return shortly, and while Benford will miss time, he could nonetheless beat Rhodes back to the field.

Furthermore, even though Rhodes is on the taxi squad injured list, his activation from that list would still count as one of the Bills’ eight “return from IR” designations. It is possible that the team would elect against using such a designation on a player that had minimal practice time and never appeared in a game.

Rhodes, therefore, could be a free agent again in a few weeks and could be of interest to another team in need of secondary depth.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/28/22

Here are the practice squad signings and releases for today:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Green Bay Packers

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

  • Signed: OLB Gerri Green

Bills To Sign CB Xavier Rhodes

9:04pm: Buffalo will move ahead with a signing. The former Vikings and Colts corner agreed to join the team Tuesday night, Garafolo reports (on Twitter). Rhodes will rejoin Frazier and help out a cornerback corps suddenly in dire need. It is a practice squad agreement.

10:09am: With plenty of injuries in their secondary, the Bills could be adding a veteran in the near future. Buffalo is hosting cornerback Xavier Rhodes on a visit, per Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link). 

A first-round pick of the Vikings in 2013, Rhodes spent the first seven seasons of his career in Minnesota. That stretch included three Pro Bowl selections, and the 2017 campaign in which he earned First-Team All-Pro honors. Across 104 games with the Vikings, Rhodes racked up 10 interceptions and 73 pass breakups.

His time there ended on a low note, however. Despite having three years remaining on the five-year extension he had signed, the Florida State product was released in a cost-cutting move in 2020. That led him to the Colts, where he was a full-time starter and registered a pair of interceptions. Given his performance, Indianapolis signed him to another one-year deal last March, though Rhodes saw a lower snap share and took a step back in terms of coverage statistics in 2021.

In Buffalo, he would likely have the opportunity to see plenty of playing time in at least the immediate future. No. 1 corner Tre’Davious White began the season on the PUP list, meaning that he will be out for at least one more game as he continues to recover from an ACL tear. Fellow starter Dane Jackson also suffered a neck injury in Week 2, and rookie Christian Benford fractured his hand during Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins (Twitter link via Garafolo’s colleague Ian Rapoport).

Rhodes could also reunite with Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who was the Vikings’ head coach during his rookie season. Given Buffalo’s current injury situation, a deal could see him take the field right away, and give him the opportunity to boost his free agent stock while stabilizing an important position for one of the AFC’s top contenders.

Colts CB Xavier Rhodes, S Andrew Sendejo In Concussion Protocol

A pair of Colts defensive backs might not be cleared to play this weekend. The team announced that cornerback Xavier Rhodes and safety Andrew Sendejo are in the concussion protocol.

This is a tough break for Rhodes, who missed the first two games of the season with a calf injury. He’s been relatively productive since returning to the lineup, although he was limited to 41 snaps on Monday before exiting with the concussion. The veteran is currently in his second season with Indy. He got into all 16 games in 2020, finishing with 42 tackles, 12 passes defended, and two interceptions.

Sendejo‘s absence further depletes a safety corps that’s already missing Khari Willis. After starting 14 games for the Browns in 2020, Sendejo has started two of his four games in 2021, collecting eight tackles.

If Rhodes and Sendejo are unable to go this weekend against the Texans, the team would have to turn to defensive backs BoPete Keyes, Anthony Chesley, or George Odum to cover the open cornerback and safety spot.

Contract Details: Rhodes, Johnson, Abdullah, Roberts, Moreau

Let’s catch up on the latest batch of financial terms from recent free agent deals:

  • Colts CB Xavier Rhodes: One-year, $4.77MM. $3.75MM fully guaranteed salary, $1.02MM in per game active roster bonuses. $1.75MM in additional playing time, interception, and Pro Bowl incentives, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). This was originally reported as a one-year, $6.5MM pact, but it looks like that’ll only be the case if he hits those incentives.
  • Titans CB Kevin Johnson: One-year, $2.25MM. $2MM guaranteed, with a $1MM salary and $1MM signing bonus. $250K in per game active roster bonuses, via Wilson on Twitter. We didn’t have any word on compensation initially, and it turns out Tennessee got the former first-rounder for a pretty reasonable price.
  • Vikings RB Ameer Abdullah: One-year, $990K. Non-guaranteed. Via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Twitter. Terms of the deal weren’t previously reported, but the Vikings got the former second-rounder back for a non-guaranteed vet minimum contract.
  • Dolphins LB Elandon Roberts: One-year, $1.995MM. $1.345MM salary, $650K signing bonus, plus $750K in incentives available, via Field Yates of ESPN on Twitter. We also didn’t have any terms for Roberts, and he ended up getting some decent money to return to Miami.
  • Falcons CB Fabian Moreau: One-year, $1.127MM. $987.5K guaranteed. $137.5K signing bonus, $990K salary ($850K guaranteed), via Wilson on Twitter. Finishing things up with one more cornerback we were missing terms on. Moreau, a part-time starter for Washington the past few years, got just above the minimum, although it’s almost entirely guaranteed at least.

Colts To Re-Sign CB Xavier Rhodes

Xavier Rhodes will stay in Indianapolis. After catching on with the Colts last year, the former first-round pick agreed to terms to re-sign with the team, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets.

The Colts are giving Rhodes another one-year contract worth $6.5MM, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets, locking in a key piece of their defense for the 2021 season. Last year, the Colts received strong value on the one-year, $3MM accord they agreed to with Rhodes. They will look to keep that going, while Rhodes may have his eye on a bigger payday in 2022.

Jettisoned after a woeful 2019 season in Minnesota, Rhodes bounced back in Matt Eberflus‘ zone-heavy defense. Pro Football Focus tabbed Rhodes as its No. 9 overall corner in 2020. He played a key role in Indianapolis’ defensive improvement, joining fellow new arrival DeForest Buckner in that regard, and will stick with the team for his age-31 season. Quarterbacks completed an astounding 82% of the passes they threw at Rhodes in 2019; he dropped that figure to 52% last season.

Under GM Chris Ballard, Indianapolis has used a measured approach to free agency. That has usually led to the team sitting on extensive cap space, though this year the Colts have cornerstone players Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard eligible for extensions. These prospective re-ups will need to be accounted for, but the Colts came into Saturday with the NFL’s second-most cap space ($35MM-plus). They should have some interesting opportunities to bolster their team in the second wave of free agency. Another T.Y. Hilton contract remains on the team’s radar as well.

Colts’ WR T.Y. Hilton, CB Xavier Rhodes Likely To Hit Open Market

On the eve of the legal tampering period, it appears that two of the Colts’ top free agents will be permitted to speak with other clubs. As Stephen Holder of The Athletic writes, there has been little to no progress in Indianapolis’ contract talks with WR T.Y. Hilton and CB Xavier Rhodes.

With respect to Hilton, this report is not exactly surprising. The lifelong Colt might be third on the team’s all-time receiving yards list, but he is now 31 and has lost a step or two over the past several years. This offseason, owner Jim Irsay and GM Chris Ballard both spoke highly of Hilton while acknowledging that the market would dictate whether or not he would be back in Indy in 2021.

Still, Hilton’s 762 receiving yards in 2020 led the team, despite the fact that he did not get many touches early in the year and was not frequently targeted downfield by quarterback Philip Rivers. Even though there are a number of quality free agent wideouts who did not get the franchise tag, not many of them are clear upgrades over Hilton, and Ballard generally takes a cautious approach to outside FAs anyway. Plus, while the Colts will return promising youngsters Michael Pittman and Zach Pascal, they want to surround new QB Carson Wentz with as much skill position talent as possible.

All of that could point to a Hilton re-up, but it seems that Ballard will not be leading the charge in the bidding. If the decreased salary cap and the number of other FA receivers keep Hilton’s price down, he might be back in Indy. But if another team is willing to spend big, expect Ballard to look elsewhere.

Rhodes, meanwhile, washed out of Minnesota but experienced a rebirth in 2020 after signing a modest one-year, $3MM pact with the Colts last offseason. He yielded a completion percentage of just 51.2% and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ ninth-best CB, but according to Holder, there has been very little communication between Indianapolis and Rhodes’ camp. Ballard was burned the one time he made a major free agent investment at cornerback (Pierre Desir), so he could be on the lookout for another reclamation project like Rhodes.

The Colts are high on 2020 sixth-rounder Isaiah Rodgers and will return Kenny Moore, but it’s a little curious that they have made no real effort to retain Rhodes to this point.