Robert Alford

Cardinals Sign CB Robert Alford

The Cardinals have signed former Falcons cornerback Robert Alford to a three-year contract, the club announced today. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com first reported (via Twitter) that Alford, who was released by Atlanta earlier this week, was working out an agreement with the Cards.

Alford’s thee-year pact has a base value of $22.5MM and could be worth up to $24MM, tweets Rapoport. The ex-Falcons defensive back was earning $9.5MM annually under his Atlanta contract, so Alford will take a pay cut as he heads to the Cardinals. His deal reportedly contains $13MM in guarantees, although those are likely injury guarantees and not full guarantees.

Arizona has previously attempted to fill its No. 2 corner void by making veteran additions, and it’s worked at points, with Antonio Cromartie and Tramon Williams representing success stories opposite top defensive back Patrick Peterson. The Cardinals attempted a similar strategy in 2018 by acquiring Jamar Taylor from the Browns prior to the regular season, but he struggled in the desert and was ultimately released in November.

Career journeyman Bene Benwikere ended up playing the second-most snaps of any Cardinals cornerback last year, but Arizona ranked just 23rd in DVOA against opposing No. 2 wideouts, so they were searching for an upgrade. As a bonus, Alford won’t affect the Cards’ compensatory pick calculations given that he was a street free agent following his release from the Falcons.

Alford, 30, had been one of Atlanta’s longest-tenured players, as he’d been with the club since being selected in the second round of the 2013 draft. An 88-game veteran, Alford started 15 games a season ago but posted arguably the worst campaign of his pro career. Pro Football Focus graded Alford as a bottom-10 cornerback league-wide, while he ranked dead last among 85 qualifiers in Football Outsiders’ yards per pass allowed and success rate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons To Release CB Robert Alford

Robert Alford‘s six-season tenure with the Falcons will come to an end. They are planning to release the veteran cornerback, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).

The 30-year-old defender’s four-year deal already paid out most of its guarantees, and Alford was scheduled to carry a $9.1MM cap figure in 2019. The Falcons will be tagged with just $1.2MM in dead money.

This move will create $7.9MM in cap space for the Falcons, who entered Tuesday with barely $14MM to spend.

Cutting Alford still will sever ties with one of Atlanta’s longest-tenured players. The Southeastern Louisiana success story had been a Falcons starting corner since the 2014 season, a year after the team selected him in the second round of the 2013 draft. Alford went on to start 76 games, five playoff contests — including a Super Bowl LI duel that saw him return a Tom Brady interception 82 yards for a touchdown.

The Falcons drafted Isaiah Oliver in the 2018 second round, and the Colorado product profiles as the player being groomed to start alongside Desmond Trufant. Oliver saw only 240 snaps of action as a rookie, but he graded better than Alford did last season. Pro Football Focus viewed Alford’s sixth season as his worst in years, tabbing him as one of the league’s most ineffective corners. That said, he should still receive another opportunity soon.

In becoming a street free agent, Alford now has a head start on the cornerback market. While teams eyeing the top UFA corners may stay away, others believing a mid-level addition can help would profile as those who stand to be interested.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Notes: Saints, Brees, Alford, Falcons

It’s now 2017 or bust for the Saints‘ power trio of Drew Brees, coach Sean Payton, and GM Mickey Loomis, ESPN.com’s Mike Triplett opines. The Saints have shown gradual improvement over the past two years, but they’re now on pace for their third straight losing season and patience is wearing thin amongst fans. With Drew Brees signed to a one-year extension through 2017 that will really hamper them in ’18, the Saints are poised to go “all-in” next year, but they’ll have to get things right in free agency. In recent years, high-priced additions like safety Jairus Byrd, cornerback Brandon Browner, running back C.J. Spiller, tight end Coby Fleener, and linebacker James Laurinaitis have flopped.

More from the NFC South:

  • Under the terms of Robert Alford‘s four-year extension with the Falcons, the fourth-year cornerback will receive $21MM guaranteed — $12MM of that is fully guaranteed at signing, while the remaining $9MM becomes fully guaranteed on February 10, 2017, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Because Alford is extremely unlikely to be cut before next spring, that $21MM total is “effectively” guaranteed, and would tie Alford for ninth among corners in terms of guaranteed money.
  • Offensive lineman Avery Young‘s practice window has expired, meaning the Saints will not be able to activate him from the non-football injury list for the remainder of the season, reports Nick Underhill of the Advocate (Twitter link). As Underhill tweeted last week, New Orleans has agreed to pay Young $10K per week while he’s on NFI. Technically, clubs are not required to compensate players on NFI, but most teams work out deals to pay sidelined players at a lower rate.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

Falcons, Robert Alford Agree To Extension

The Falcons have signed cornerback Robert Alford to a four-year, $38MM extension, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The deal includes $21MM guaranteed. The team has since confirmed the deal via press release. Robert Alford (vertical)

Alford, a second-round pick in 2013, was slated to hit the open market after the season. Atlanta, unwilling to lose a player who has started in every game he’s appeared in over the last three years, shelled out significant money to keep him locked up instead. This year, he has 47 total tackles with two interceptions, bringing his career total to nine picks. He also has 12 passes defensed on the season, which leads the team.

It should be noted that Alford tends to rack up penalties, and that might have something to do with his ranking as just the 71st best corner in the NFL this season out of 122 qualified players, according to Pro Football Focus. In fact, three other Falcons cornerbacks are ranked higher for their work this year: Jalen Collins (No. 17), Desmond Trufant (No. 30), and Brian Poole (No. 42). So far this year, Alford has committed five pass interference penalties, one holding penalty, one illegal use of hands penalty, and an unnecessary roughness call. His five PI flags rank second to only D.J. Hayden of the Raiders who has six.

The size of this deal is a sign that the Falcons probably value Alford a little more than others outside of the organization do. But, it’s also an indication that this year’s free agent market will be inflated with lots of teams taking advantage of the increased cap.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Combine Pressers: Colts, Bengals, Falcons

The last of today’s head coach and general manager press conferences with the media are in the books, so let’s check in on the highlights for the noteworthy sessions that we haven’t already covered. Here’s the latest, with all links going to Twitter accounts for reporters on the scene in Indianapolis:

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano:

  • The team will take a look at all its options at the safety position, which may be an area of need. Grigson indicated that the Colts would like to re-sign Mike Adams, who “never played like he was long in the tooth.”
  • Both Pagano and Grigson stressed the importance of improving the team’s running game. Asked about the possibility of adding a workhorse back, Pagano said he’d love to have a player like that, but added that the club could get the production it needs with a committee approach.
  • Expect the Colts to always be on the lookout for pass rushers. Grigson said today that even if he had 12 pass rushers, he’d want a 13th.
  • Veteran wideout Reggie Wayne hasn’t yet informed the team if he wants to play in 2015. As Grigson notes, everyone knows what he means to the organization, so if Wayne does continue his career, it will almost certainly happen in Indianapolis — for now, he doesn’t have a contract for next season.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis:

  • According to Lewis, there have been no discussions yet about his contract, which is set to expire after the 2015 season.
  • Lewis didn’t exactly give a ringing endorsement for Jermaine Gresham when he was asked today if there’s a place on the Bengals for the free-agent-to-be going forward. The veteran tight end is considered likely to land elsewhere this offseason.
  • According to Lewis, the Bengals have made a conscious effort to draft high-character plays in recent years. The head coach acknowledged that in some cases he can’t “fix” a player with off-field issues, and he doesn’t want to waste his time dealing with the distractions.
  • Lewis confirmed that he has spoken to veteran defensive back Terence Newman, who wants to continue his playing career. It’s not clear yet if there will be a spot in Cincinnati for Newman, who will turn 37 in September.

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff:

  • We covered Dimitroff’s presser earlier this afternoon, but the GM also spoke to local media off to the side, and addressed a few more topics. Among them: Dimitroff said the Falcons would like to get a deal done quickly with kicker Matt Bryant, who is eligible for free agency.
  • We heard this morning that the Falcons haven’t opened negotiations yet on a contract extension for Julio Jones, but Dimitroff was adamant today the club wants to keep the standout receiver in Atlanta for years to come.
  • Both Dimitroff and Quinn are high on running back Devonta Freeman, whom the GM thinks could be a full-time back in Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme.
  • According to Dimitroff, Quinn’s philosophy is that you don’t have to pay a huge amount for a pass rusher. The GM added that he believes the free agent class has some depth at that spot, and it’s worth noting that Quinn’s defense in Seattle frequently rotated part-time specialists in and out as a way of pressuring the quarterback.
  • Cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford should be scheme fits for the Falcons’ new system, per Quinn.

Minor Moves: Monday

Here are Monday’s minor transactions from around the NFL, including practice squad signings and cuts, with the latest moves added to the top of the list throughout the day:

  • Washington cut Chase Minnifield from injured reserve, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post (via Twitter). Minnifield had been on IR ever since suffering a concussion in November.
  • Tight end Gerell Robinson has received a promotion in Miami, as the Dolphins added him to their 53-man roster from the practice squad (Twitter link). To accommodate the move, tight end Gator Hoskins has been cut.
  • The Rams have filled one of their two practice squad openings by signing defensive lineman Doug Worthington, per Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link).
  • The Colts have promoted cornerback Sheldon Price from their practice squad to their active roster, the team announced today in a press release. To make room for Price, the club waived tackle Andrew McDonald.

Earlier updates:

  • Although it appeared last month that cornerback Robert Alford would return this season after suffering a broken wrist, Falcons head coach Mike Smith confirmed today that Alford will have surgery on that wrist and is being placed on the team’s injured reserve list, tweets D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
  • The Panthers have made a change on their defensive line, parting ways with defensive tackle Micanor Regis and signing fellow defensive tackle Kyle Love to take his place on their 53-man roster, according to the team (Twitter link). Carolina also re-added defensive end Frank Alexander to its roster following his suspension — the club receives a week-long roster exemption for Alexander, so nobody needs to be cut to accommodate him quite yet (Twitter link).
  • As expected, in the wake of Drew Stanton‘s knee injury, the Cardinals have added a quarterback to their practice squad for emergency purposes. According to Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com (via Twitter), the team has added former Cornell signal-caller Jeff Mathews to its taxi squad, cutting linebacker Kion Wilson to create space.

Injury Updates: Monday

We don’t pass along news on every injury here at Pro Football Rumors, but we’ll keep tabs on those injuries that may be serious enough to warrant a player heading to IR, or his team making a roster move in order to make up for his absence. Already today, we’ve learned that the Colts believe Ahmad Bradshaw broke his ankle during last night’s game against the Patriots. Here are a few more updates from around the league:

  • Browns head coach Mike Pettine told reporters today that linebacker Jabaal Sheard may be out for the season with a foot injury (Twitter links via Jeff Schudel and Nate Ulrich). As for Karlos Dansby, whose MCL injury is noted below, he could be sidelined for a month or so.
  • Dolphins linebacker Jonathan Freeny is expected to miss about four weeks with a hamstring injury, sources tell James Walker of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • A successful contract year has come to an abrupt and disappointing end for Falcons running back Antone Smith, according to head coach Mike Smith, who told reporters today that Smith broke his leg and will be placed on IR (Twitter link via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com).

Earlier updates:

  • As first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), Falcons cornerback Robert Alford broke his wrist during yesterday’s win over the Panthers. Smith confirmed that Alford will miss two to four weeks with the injury, tweets McClure.
  • Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians announced today that tight end Troy Niklas has a high ankle sprain and is unlikely to play this week. The team intends to monitor Niklas and is hopeful that the injury won’t end his season (Twitter links via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com).
  • As first reported by CST’s Victor Howell (Twitter link), Saints wide receiver and return man Brandin Cooks broke his thumb yesterday against the Bengals. Agent Jeff Sperbeck (Twitter link) has confirmed that his client had surgery on his thumb and should return in about four to six weeks.. With Robert Meachem also dealing with an ankle issue, New Orleans may consider adding another wideout to the roster at some point this week.
  • The Saints also saw safety Rafael Bush leave yesterday’s game with a leg injury, and Ramon Antonio Vargas of the Advocate reports that Bush has a broken fibula rather than a more serious fractured tibia. Still, a fractured fibula generally requires a few weeks to heal, so we’ll see if New Orleans decides to put Bush on injured reserve — if they do, he’d be the fourth Saints safety to land on IR this year. Ty Zimmerman, Vinnie Sunseri, and notable offseason signee Jairus Byrd are already on IR.
  • The Browns believe starting linebacker Karlos Dansby suffered a sprained MCL against the Texans yesterday, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Dansby is undergoing more tests today to confirm the diagnosis and to determine a timetable for his recovery.