Rodney Austin

Brandon Spikes, Other FAs Suspended

Veteran linebacker Brandon Spikes has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 regular season, according to Field Yates of (Twitter link). This news won’t hurt a particular team, since Spikes is currently a free agent, having been cut by the Patriots earlier in the year.

Spikes is serving a year of probation after pleading guilty in a hit-and-run crash. Police determined that the 28-year-old was speeding and driving negligently when he crashed his Maybach sedan into an SUV back in June. After the crash, Spikes fled the scene, a crime which calls for up to two years in jail. However, the free agent linebacker was able to avoid prison time due to the minor nature of the injuries to the three people in the crash.

Spikes wasn’t the only free agent who received a suspension from the NFL. The following players have also been suspended, according to Yates (Twitter link):

  • G Rodney Austin (six weeks)
  • LB Jermaine Cunningham (six weeks)
  • RB Jonathan Dwyer (three weeks)
  • WR Mike Williams (three weeks)

NFC Notes: Reid, 49ers, Lions, Rodgers

Here’s a quick look at the NFC..

  • 49ers safety Eric Reid is getting ready to play this season, but he told Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle that he’s given some thought to leaving the NFL because of the three concussions he’s sustained. “Everybody evaluates their own situation as far as playing this game,” the 23-year-old said. “I’ve evaluated mine and I’ve decided I still want to play.” The former 2013 first-round pick said he might seek more medical advice, but he intends to play in 2015.
  • Former Lions guard Rodney Austin was found guilty today in a North Carolina court of four misdemeanor charges stemming from an April accusation of domestic violence, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. Austin was found guilty of assault on a female, assault on a child under age 12, interference with an emergency communication, and larceny. Mark Magazu, Austin’s agent, said in a statement that Austin “maintains his innocence” but does not plan to appeal the judge’s findings. Austin has been a practice-squad player for most of the last three years with Detroit.
  • With his entire entire starting offense back from last year, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers feels that his team has what it takes to win the Super Bowl this year. “I think the talent is definitely there,” Rodgers said, according to Rob Demovsky of “But just like last year, you’ve got to see how the team comes together.”

Lions To Exercise Reiff’s 2016 Option

Exactly a month after general manager Martin Mayhew suggested the Lions had yet to make a decision on the fifth-year option for offensive tackle Riley Reiff, the GM said today that the team will pick up that 2016 option, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter).

As I noted in March when Mayhew initially expressed some uncertainty about Reiff’s option, it would’ve been a huge surprise if the club had declined the option, considering how well the young lineman has played at left tackle over the last couple seasons. In 2014, Reiff’s Pro Football Focus grade (subscription required) placed him in a tie for 23rd out of 84 qualified offensive tackles.

By exercising Reiff’s fifth-year option, the Lions will extend the 26-year-old’s rookie contract by one year, keeping him locked up through the 2016 season. If the two sides don’t work out a longer-term agreement that adjusts his ’16 cap number, Reiff will be in line for a salary of $8.07MM for that season.

In addition to confirming that his team would pick up Reiff’s option, Mayhew made a number of other notable comments during his conversation with the media this morning. Here are the highlights, via Birkett, Tim Twentyman of, and Michael Rothstein of

  • Mayhew indicated that he has “empathy” for safety James Ihedigbo, who wants a new deal and didn’t report for the Lions’ voluntary offseason program. The GM is looking forward to discussing Ihedigbo’s contract situation “whenever I see him,” which suggests the team may want the safety to report before any negotiations take place (Twitter link).
  • The Lions spoke to Rob Sims‘ agent three weeks ago and made a contract offer, but haven’t heard back from the offensive lineman’s camp since then (Twitter link).
  • According to Mayhew, Detroit has yet to discuss a potential contract extension with Haloti Ngata, but there’s interest on both sides in getting something done eventually (Twitter link). While the GM expressed optimism about getting a veteran defensive tackle locked up, he also praised the depth at the position in this year’s draft, noting that the class is “especially” deep on the defensive line (Twitter link).
  • Although the Lions have had some dialogue about a new contract for linebacker DeAndre Levy, nothing is imminent on that front (Twitter link).
  • The Lions cut offensive lineman Rodney Austin after domestic violence allegations, but Mayhew said the team hasn’t closed the door on bringing him back if and when his legal issues are resolved (Twitter link).

Minor Moves: Tuesday

Today’s minor moves..

  • The Dolphins waived offensive guard Davonte Wallace, according to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald (on Twitter).
  • The Chiefs waived former 2014 Steelers first-round choice Shaquille Richardson, as Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk writes. The cornerback signed with KC in February, but he couldn’t stick with the team through the spring.
  • Ravens backup long snapper Patrick Scales signed his $435K exclusive-rights free agent tender, as Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun writes. Scales was signed last season after two long snappers went down with season-ending injuries in Baltimore.
  • The Chargers cut linebacker Alvin Scioneaux, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post (on Twitter). Scioneaux, 24 in May, spent last season on the Bolts’ IR.
  • The Lions have released guard Rodney Austin, according to Tim Twentyman of (via Twitter). Austin, an Elon University product, was let go after being arrested on two charges of assault, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. For what it’s worth, Austin’s agent says that the issue will soon be behind his client. “I’m very well aware of what happened and that’s why I know this is not going to be an ongoing issue,” said Mark Magazu. The 26-year-old was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Lions after the 2012 draft.
  • Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar and punter Chris Jones signed their restricted free-agent tender offers, as Todd Archer of writes. The Cowboys gave both players the low tender, worth $1.542MM. Still, neither player is a lock to make the team in 2015.

Lions Waive Kellen Davis, Promote Austin

A little over a month after signing with the team, tight end Kellen Davis has been waived by the Lions, tweets Michael Rothstein of Offensive lineman Rodney Austin will take Davis’ spot on the 53-man roster, having been promoted from the practice squad, while linebacker Jerrell Harris joins the taxi squad.

Davis, who turned 29 last month, has grabbed 50 balls for 561 yards and 12 touchdowns during his six-year NFL career. However, he didn’t add to those totals with the Lions — he was targeted just three times during his brief stint with the team, and didn’t record a single reception.

The Lions signed Davis when the team had multiple tight ends ailing. With Eric Ebron, Joseph Fauria, and Brandon Pettigrew all healthy and back in the lineup, the club had a more pressing need for depth on the offensive line, which led to Austin’s promotion.

11 PS Players Earning More Than The Minimum

Players on NFL practice squads are eligible to receive a minimum salary of $6,300 per week, which works out to a 17-week salary of about $107K if a player remains on his team’s practice squad for the entire season. In most cases, teams don’t pay more than the minimum to fill those practice squad spots, since clubs have much more leverage than the players vying for those 320 total openings.

In some cases though, if a team really likes a player, or if he’s drawing interest from several teams for their practice squads, a club will increase that weekly rate. So far this year, with all 32 teams having filled up their 10-man squads, at least 11 players are known to be receiving salaries worth more than the minimum. NFL writer Brian McIntyre rounded up all those players and their salaries for us in a series of tweets, so let’s check out the full list, sorted by weekly salary:

Magee’s practice-squad salary is the most notable on this list — his weekly figure adds up to just below $495K for the full season, which is the minimum salary for a second-year player on an active roster. In other words, if he spends the entire season on the practice squad, Magee could still earn more money than some players on active rosters, which is a sign of how much the Bucs want to keep him around.

Sunday/Monday Transactions: NFC North

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four NFC North teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions are noted below.

Additionally, as of 11:00am CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. For the 2014 and 2015 seasons, changes were made to practice squad rules that allow teams to carry eight players instead of 10, and the eligibility requirements for those extra two spots were also loosened. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s NFC North transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day:

Chicago Bears:

Detroit Lions:

Green Bay Packers:

Minnesota Vikings:

Lions Release Leshoure, Roster To 53

2:50pm: The Lions have announced their remaining cuts, per Tim Twentyman of In addition to the players listed below, the following players have been let go:

1:45pm: The Lions have let go of one of Matthew Stafford‘s favorite targets, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports (via Twitter) that the team has released wideout Kris Durham.

The 26-year-old finished 2013 with career-highs in receptions (38) and yards (490). He also led all of the Lions offensive skill players in snaps, even topping All-Pro Calvin Johnson.

The Lions weren’t done there, as they released an additional six players:

11:40am: The Lions’ starting running back from 2012 is no longer on the roster, as the team informed Mikel Leshoure today that he’s being waived as the 53-man cutdown deadline nears, tweets Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. While the move leaves a little dead money on Detroit’s cap, the team avoids having to pay the running back his non-guaranteed base salary for 2014.

Leshoure wasn’t the only veteran among the Lions’ cuts today. Here’s the complete running list: