Robert Meachem

Extra Points: XFL, Giants, Vikings

The AAF may have imploded in spectacular fashion, but that doesn’t mean people are done taking cracks at spring football leagues. Vince McMahon’s XFL is gearing up to start play early next year, and they’ve already made some big hires. They’re now moving on to filling out the rosters, and some recognizable names are resurfacing. We heard a couple days ago that Landry Jones, Aaron Ripkowski, and Christine Michael would be auditioning, and now we have even more names to report. Trevone Boykin, Lance Dunbar, Kony Ealy, and Ahmad Dixon were at a showcase yesterday as well as a handful of other ex-NFLers, per Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link).

According to a tweet from Optimum Scouting’s Erik Galko, former Seahawks receiver Kasen Williams will also be among those trying out. Finally, a tweet posted by the XFL Houston account shows that NFL veterans Will Hill and Robert Meachem also participated in a camp. Meachem is 34 and last played in the NFL with the Saints back in 2014, so this would be quite the comeback. While the XFL will still be facing an uphill battle, they do appear to be in better position than the AAF. McMahon seems fully invested in the league, and the TV deal the league has is far superior. It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out.

Here’s more from around the football universe:

  • Speaking of the XFL, one of their big hires was when they named Daryl “Moose” Johnston the director of player personnel for their Dallas franchise. Johnston was the GM of the AAF’s San Antonio Commanders, so he has experience in this type of league. Most players in the AAF and XFL were looking to get back to the NFL, and it’s no different for coaches and execs. Johnston wants to be an NFL GM one day, per Machota. Johnston spent all 11 years of his pro career with the Cowboys as a fullback, winning three Super Bowls with the team. He made the Pro Bowl twice and has done a lot of broadcasting work for FOX since retiring.
  • Evan Engram missed the Giants’ recent minicamp, which raised some eyebrows. But thankfully he’s not dealing with anything serious, as Engram said today at Landon Collins‘ charity softball game that the Giants were just being “cautious” by holding him out, per Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com (Twitter link). He also writes there’s “nothing lingering from last season.” Engram had a breakout rookie season in 2017, but took a step back last year while dealing with injuries. Hamstring and knee injuries limited Engram to just 11 games last year, but he finished strong down the stretch. In each of his last four games he finished with at least 75 yards, so he should be poised for a bounce back 2019 campaign.
  • 2018 first round pick Mike Hughes got off to a solid start last year. The Vikings cornerback had a pick-six in the first game of his career, but his rookie season ended in devastating fashion. The UCF product had his season ended by a torn ACL after just six games, and has been rehabbing ever since. Things appear to be going well, but the team is being cautious with him. To that end, Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer recently said that he wouldn’t get any practice in until training camp at the earliest, per Andrew Kramer of the Star Tribune. We heard recently the Vikings were listening to trade offers for both Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes, which would seem to indicate they’re optimistic about Hughes’ recovery.

Robert Meachem Attempting NFL Comeback

Remember Robert Meachem? The wide receiver has been out of football since 2014, but he is hoping to make a return to the NFL in 2017. Today, he headlines a small group of former Tennessee graduates at the program’s Pro Day, competing alongside this year’s outgoing class. Of course, this is somewhat unprecedented as Meachem is entering his age-33 season. Robert Meachem

We haven’t heard Meachem’s name since June of last year when he auditioned for the Saints. He spent the bulk of his career in New Orleans and his two stints were broken up by just one season spent with the Chargers. However, the Saints passed on signing him. Since then, Meachem’s personal life has taken some unfortunate turns. He spent some time in jail this year after he failed to make child support and alimony payments. An NFL deal would certainly help his financial situation, but it’s not clear if he has much left to offer at this point.

In 2014, his last NFL season, he had just seven catches for 114 yards in eleven games. His last truly productive season came all the way back in 2011 when he had 40 catches for 620 yards and six scores.

Wide receivers Pig Howard and Jonathan Johnson and defensive back LaDarrell McNeil will also be on the field. Defensive tackle Danny O’Brien, who was kicked off the team last October, will also show his stuff.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Audition 3 Notable Veterans

THURSDAY: 11:12am: Meachem is back out on the field today and continuing to audition for the Saints, Evan Woodbery of The Times-Picayune tweets.

WEDNESDAY, 3:54pm: Meachem didn’t practice today because of a foot injury, writes Katherine Terrell of NOLA.com. He remains in the running for a contract.

12:02pm: There’s no sign of Meachem at Saints practice, but the other tryout guys are back today, Christopher Dabe of The Times-Picayune tweets. That could be an indication that Meachem is not in the team’s plans, but we’ll have to wait for further developments.

TUESDAY, 4:58pm: The Saints tried out nearly a dozen players on the first day of their minicamp Tuesday, according to Evan Woodbery of NOLA.com. Notably, receiver Robert Meachem and a pair of veteran defensive ends – Darryl Tapp and Matt Shaughnessy – were among those who auditioned.

Robert Meachem

Meachem previously worked out in April for the Saints, and if he signs with them, it would be his third tenure with the club. New Orleans used its first-round pick (27th overall) in 2007 on Meachem, who went on to catch 141 passes and 23 touchdowns there before signing with the Chargers in 2012. After an uninspiring season in San Diego, Meachem rejoined the Saints, picked up just 23 receptions and two scores in 26 games from 2013-14, and hasn’t played since. The Saints aren’t exactly loaded at wideout beyond Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead and second-rounder Michael Thomas, however, so it seems the soon-to-be 32-year-old Meachem will have a legitimate chance to crack the roster if the team signs him.

Tapp, meanwhile, is a 10-year veteran who spent the previous two campaigns in Detroit and appeared in all 32 of its regular-season games – mostly as a reserve. Tapp logged only one start with the Lions and recorded 2.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. Two of those sacks and a pair of forced fumbles came in 2015 for Tapp, whom Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked 78th out of 110 qualifying edge defenders – placing him ahead of Saints reserve DE Kasim Edebali (91st) but behind Obum Gwacham (58th). Tapp graded out well against the run, which – like everything else – was a major problem for the Saints’ porous defense last season.

Shaughnessy, like Meachem, has drawn past interest from the Saints, who auditioned him in October and last month. He also worked out for Arizona prior to its playoff game against Green Bay in January, but the Cardinals didn’t sign him. Shaughnessy played with the Cardinals from 2013-14 before sitting out last season. In 75 career games (48 starts), the 29-year-old has accumulated 18.5 sacks – a personal-best seven of which came with the Raiders in 2010.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Texans, Jaguars, Saints

The Texans exercised the fifth-year option on receiver DeAndre Hopkins‘ contract last week and ensured he’ll be under their control through at least 2017. Not surprisingly, their focus now is to lock him up for the long haul, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle details. The 23-year-old Hopkins certainly seems open to an extension with Houston, having said in February that, “If I can play my whole career here, I would. I love this place.” No deal is imminent, a source told Wilson, but a new accord for Hopkins would surely make him one of the NFL’s highest-paid wideouts. After racking up 76 catches for 1,210 yards and six touchdowns in 2014, his second season, the 2013 first-rounder from Clemson improved his numbers across the board last year. Hopkins totaled 111 catches, 1,521 yards and 11 scores en route to his first Pro Bowl nod.

Here’s more on the AFC South and one NFC South club:

  • Texans general manager Rick Smith believes he could have ultimately traded Brian Hoyer for a draft pick, but he decided releasing the quarterback last week was the better option for both parties, writes Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com. “There may have been some value there for us organizationally, but we felt like this was the right time,” Smith said.
  • Hays Carlyon of Jacksonville.com came away from the Jaguars’ draft luncheon Friday convinced that UCLA linebacker Myles Jack will be their pick if he’s on the board at No. 5 overall. Jaguars brass, led by GM David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley, loves Jack’s blend of coverage and rush skills, according to Carlyon. Jack is seventh months removed from a torn meniscus, but CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported earlier this week that it shouldn’t hurt his draft stock.
  • Former Saints receiver Robert Meachem, who’s looking to make a comeback after missing all of last season, worked out for the club Friday, reports Nick Underhill of the New Orleans Advocate. The Saints used Friday to test Meachem’s speed and conditioning and will have him back in three weeks for on-field work, tweets Leslie Spoon of WWL-TV. New Orleans took Meachem in the first round of the 2007 draft and he went on to catch 141 passes and 23 touchdowns with the team before signing with the Chargers in 2012. After an unproductive season in San Diego, Meachem rejoined the Saints and amassed just 23 receptions and two scores in 26 games from 2013-14.

North Notes: Heyward, Lions, Bennett

Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward is due for a big-time contract and will likely ink one before training camp opens, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes.

I try to stay out of the process and just focus on what I can control,” Heyward said. “I’d love to get a contract, but I have to just continue to keep my eyes on the prize. I would love for it to happen. I think they want it to happen.”

Last season, Heyward was the first defensive end to lead the Steelers in sacks in a decade as he and Jason Worilds tied with 7.5 a piece. Heyward says he plans on being even more of a force this season and topping that total. Here’s more out of the North divisions..

  • There are a number of Steelers entering their walk years, but Heyward might be the only one to sign a new deal, Bouchette writes. The Steelers may try to sign tackle Kelvin Beachum, but they may not pay him what he’s likely worth on the opening market. Last year, Pro Football Focus rated him as the fifth best left tackle in the game.
  • The Lions hosted a ton of notable veteran free agents on Wednesday but did not sign any of them immediately after the session, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. Wide receivers Brad Smith and Robert Meachem and running backs Ben Tate and Daniel Thomas were among the free agents in Detroit today but none of them have deals – at least not yet. The Lions appear set at running back after drafting Ameer Abdullah in the second round to pair with Joique Bell, but Bell is still recovering from offseason surgeries. Tate and Thomas, in theory, could be called upon if Bell’s recovery takes longer than expected.
  • Bears head coach John Fox is unsure if Martellus Bennett will attend the team’s mandatory minicamp, as Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com writes. The tight end is pushing for a raise from the $4.9MM base he’s scheduled to earn in 2015. The 2014 Pro Bowler has two years left on a four-year, $20.4MM deal he signed in March of 2013.

NFC Notes: Meachem, Lions, Boone

Former Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem will be working out for the Lions on Tuesday, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter). As previously reported, Detroit will also host receiver Brad Smith and running back Ben Tate on Tuesday. Here’s more from the NFC..

  • 49ers lineman Alex Boone, who had not been part of the team’s offseason program to date, will be on hand for the veteran minicamp that runs Tuesday through Thursday, a league source tells Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. The Niners’ starting right guard was away from the team for the entire 2014 offseason while fishing for a better deal. He wound up settling for a two-year pact, a deal that he’s ostensibly trying to upgrade from now. The 49ers lost their other starting guard, Mike Iupati, in free agency and last week learned that starting right tackle Anthony Davis would retire.
  • Cardinals linebacker Larry Foote says the itch to play hasn’t hit him yet and he’s likely to coach this season, Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com tweets. The Cardinals added Foote to their coaching staff earlier in the offseason with the intent of signing him to the roster later in the summer if he decided to continue playing.
  • Todd Archer of ESPN.com wonders if the Cowboys should lock up Tyrone Crawford now or later. Crawford finished with just three sacks but he had 29 quarterback pressures and four tackles for loss as he learned the defensive tackle position on the fly. Set to make just $675K in the final year of his rookie deal, it could make sense for Dallas to lock Crawford down for multiple years beyond 2015. Still, he’s rather unproven as those three sacks are the only sacks of his career.
  • Rainer Sabin of The Dallas Morning News wonders if Darren McFadden can get his second wind with the Cowboys. Dallas has always been enamored with the former Raiders back, but he has lost much of his luster due to injury in recent years. “He was a guy that was interesting to us,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said of McFadden. “Obviously he has some skill sets with his explosiveness and his speed. He can take it to the house if he gets the right seam. He’s an interesting back for us. We think he can bring something to the table here.”

Extra Points: HGH, Thompson, Raiders

Reports today, including one from ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen, have suggested that talks between the NFL and the NFLPA have intensified, as the two sides attempt to implement HGH testing and revamp the league’s current drug policy. However, NFLPA president Eric Winston has issued a statement cautioning that there’s still work to be done.

“Players who have been to any collective bargaining negotiation understand that we never describe them as ‘very close,'” Winston said. “We look at every issue we can to improve the rights and benefits of players. This process takes time, it takes creativity and it is never easy. We want to get a new agreement in place but we understand the responsibility we have to the players and to the game. It is critical that we get this right.”

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), Ted Thompson’s new contract with the Packers should keep him with the team well into his mid-60s. Rapoport reports that the deal, which was signed in July, is a three-year pact that runs through 2018.
  • Meanwhile, Peter King takes an in-depth look at Thompson in a piece for TheMMQB.com, which includes the Packers GM discussing the team’s signing of Julius Peppers.
  • Although a report on Wednesday suggested that the City of Oakland is closing in on an agreement for a new stadium for the Raiders, San Antonio is “still in conversations” to move the Raiders to Texas, city manager Sheryl Sculley tells Josh Baugh and Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News.
  • During the 48-hour window between when the Saints cut him and re-signed him, Robert Meachem received inquiries from other teams, but he says he knew the call from New Orleans was coming, tweets Sean Fazende of FOX 8 Sports.
  • Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com explains why the 49ers saw $8MM in cap space disappear this week, as the cap calculations for the 2014 season started taking into account teams’ full rosters rather than just their top 51 highest-paid players.

Saints Re-Sign Robert Meachem

After releasing several notable players during their cutdown to 53 players, the Saints have now brought a couple of those veterans back into the fold. According to head coach Sean Payton (Twitter link), in addition to re-signing kicker Shayne Graham, the club has also inked wideout Robert Meachem to a new deal. In a corresponding roster move, linebacker Khairi Fortt has been placed on injured reserve with the designation to return.

Meachem, 29, was selected by the Saints in the first round of the 2007 draft and spent five seasons with the team before playing in San Diego during the 2012 season. The Tennessee product returned to the Saints last season in a reduced role — after averaging 43 catches per season in New Orleans from 2009 to 2011, Meachem hauled in just 16 passes last season for 324 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The departure of veterans Darren Sproles and Lance Moore could mean a few more balls to go around for the team’s receivers this season, but second-year wideout Kenny Stills and rookie Brandin Cooks will likely grab a good chunk of those targets, so I’d expect Meachem to see limited action once again in 2014.

Fortt, a fourth-round pick this year, will be eligible to return to practice after Week 6 and can play in games after Week 8.

Saints Cut Champ Bailey, Robert Meachem

Veteran defensive back Champ Bailey has failed to secure a spot on the Saints’ 53-man roster, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, who reports (via Twitter) that New Orleans is cutting Bailey. Per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter), the Saints have also parted ways with wideout Robert Meachem.

In releasing Bailey, the Saints will be stuck with $500K in dead money on their cap, since that portion of the veteran’s one-year contract with the club was guaranteed. There were rumblings during training camp and the preseason that Bailey may not be assured of a roster spot in New Orleans — he’s not a contributor on special teams, so to land a spot on the team’s regular-season roster, he probably would have had to secure a starting spot, or at least a nickel back role. Based on his performance this summer, it seems the Saints weren’t convinced he’d be a positive asset in their secondary.

The two cuts are the latest Saints moves as the team trims its roster to 53 players. We passed along several other cuts made by the team earlier today.

NFC Links: Davis, Bryant, Graham

The 49ers have a lot of players looking for new contracts in the coming years, including Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Colin Kaepernick, Mike Iupati, and Alex Boone. The team has been preparing for life without some of those players, writes Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com.

Here are some other links from around the NFC:

  • When it comes to Davis, Maiocco believes the 49ers will not budge on his contract. He is the third-highest paid player in the league at his position, and is on the wrong side of 30 years old. With extensions for other players coming, Davis may have to play his current contract out.
  • Cowboys‘ Vice President Stephen Jones said an extension for star wide receiver Dez Bryant could come before the season starts, writes Lorenzo Reyes of USAToday.com“As far as from the receiver standpoint, of course I feel like I’m one of the better receivers in this league,” said Bryant. “But like I said, when it comes to that contract, I’m going to sit back and I’m going to wait and see what happens.”
  • Jimmy Graham has yet to sign a long-term deal, but Mike Triplett of ESPN.com does not expect this to drag on through training camp. July 15 is the last day to negotiate a deal for franchised players, and Triplett expects Graham to sign a deal that pays him between $10.5MM and $11MM per year.
  • Robert Meachem returned to the Saints, and maybe more importantly, his old quarterback Drew Brees, writes Christopher Dabe of NOLA.com. Meachem has a one-year deal, but says the offseason has kept him focused and more comfortable, being back in New Orleans.
  • Tanard Jackson has gotten another chance in the NFL with the Redskins, but he might not stick on the roster, writes J.P. Finlay of CSNWashington.com. The team might not have a spot for him at safety, and his minimum salary deal could be easy to release.