Ryan Wendell

East Rumors: Williams, Jets, Giants, Bills

The Jets are in the mix for Trent Williams and are willing to negotiate a new deal with the Redskins’ disgruntled tackle, were they to pull the trigger on a trade, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. Thus far in the latest round of Williams trade rumors, the Jets and Browns have expressed interest. And the Redskins may well be willing to reduce their asking price. Washington is serious about unloading Williams this time, per Vacchiano, who adds that several around the league believe the franchise will not ask for a first-round pick this time around. The Redskins asked for a first-rounder last year, and Williams predictably remained with the team after the deadline. Both the Browns and Jets hold a second-round pick and two thirds this year.

Shifting away from a Williams deal, here is the latest from the East divisions:

  • Quinnen Williams has an upcoming court date, stemming from his Thursday arrest at LaGuardia Airport, but some updates on this situation have emerged. The Jets defensive lineman was not carrying ammunition for his Glock 19 pistol with him, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. Additionally, the weapon was stored in Williams’ checked baggage, not his carry-on, Darryl Slater of NJ.com reports. Williams was arrested because he did not possess a New York permit for the weapon, only an Alabama permit. Had ammunition been present with the gun, Williams would be facing a much stiffer penalty due to New York’s strict gun laws. The 22-year-old defender will be arraigned March 25 in Queens County criminal court.
  • The Giants have not traded down in Round 1 since 2006; Dave Gettleman has somehow never traded down in any round in seven drafts as a GM. The team famously did not discuss moving down from its No. 2 spot in 2018, when it chose Saquon Barkley, and then surprised the football world by taking Daniel Jones at No. 6 last year. Faced with a bevy of needs, however, the Giants will end up trading down this year, Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com predicts (via Twitter). Big Blue features needs at tackle, perhaps every linebacker spot and across the secondary.
  • Eight-year NFL veteran Ryan Wendell is entering his second season on the Bills‘ staff, and the former center received a promotion. He will move from offensive assistant to assistant offensive line coach, the Bills announced. This is the former Patriots starter’s first coaching gig. The Bills also promoted three other assistants this week. They moved Shea Tierney to assistant quarterbacks coach, bumped Marc Lubick up to the assistant wideouts coach role and made Jimmy Salgado their nickel coach. All previously resided at lower-level assistant or quality control level.

Panthers Place Ryan Kalil, Gino Gradkowski On IR

The Panthers announced that they have placed centers Ryan Kalil and Gino Gradkowski on injured reserve. Kalil is being shut down because of a shoulder issue while Gradkowski is being shut down with a knee injury. Ryan Kalil (vertical)

Kalil, a five-time Pro Bowler, was forced to exit the Week 11 game against the Saints. Since then, the team left him home for West Coast games against the Raiders and Seahawks. After thorough evaluation, the Panthers have decided that he will not be able to play again this year. Kalil is tied with the Saints’ Max Unger as the 15th best center in the NFL, according to the advanced numbers at Pro Football Focus. Kalil’s overall grade puts him ahead of notables like Maurkice Pouncey, Nick Mangold, and Ryan Kelly.

Gradkowski, Kalil’s understudy, was forced to leave Sunday’s loss to the Raiders with his own knee injury. Tyler Larsen took over at center when Gradkowski went down and he may continue in that role for the rest of the season.

To fill the two spots on the active roster, the Panthers signed center Ryan Wendell and offensive tackle Dan France, France could see significant playing time this week after right tackle Daryl Williams‘ recent ankle injury.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Workout Updates: 11/22/16

Tuesday is workout day in the NFL, and today was no different. Due to the sheer volume of today’s auditions, we’ll split up the reports by conference:

NFC

AFC

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Best Available NFL Free Agents: Offense

The most high-profile free agent signings occurred more than two months ago, but as we near June there are still talented NFL free agents available on the open market. Most of these players (with a few exceptions) won’t command much guaranteed money, and given that we’ve passed the May 12 deadline, none will factor into the compensatory draft pick formula. Let’s take a look at the players who will try to find a home as training camp approaches:"<strong

1. Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB: The most obvious destination for Fitzpatrick remains the Jets, who don’t intend to play second-round pick Christian Hackenberg immediately but, as of the draft, hadn’t had meaningful talks with Fitz’s camp in awhile. The 33-year-old Fitzpatrick has apparently told people he’d “rather not play football” in 2016 than accept New York’s current offer, though that seems like a negotiating ploy to get the Jets to put more than $7-8MM on the table. Gang Green holds all the leverage in this scenario, as the only other club that might have still been searching for a quarterback — the Broncos — is thought to have ended their hunt for another signal-caller after drafting Paxton Lynch last month.

2. Anquan Boldin, WR: Even as he ages, Boldin continues to post solid production — he’s managed at least 65 receptions in each of the past four years, averaging nearly 1,000 yards and five touchdowns during that time. And while the 49ers have not asked him to return in 2016, Boldin could be an option for a number of wide receiver-needy teams, as the Bengals, Steelers, Colts, Chiefs, and Giants could all make varying levels of sense for the veteran pass-catcher, especially given that he’s indicated he’d prefer to play for a contender. Boldin has taken just one free agent visit this offseason, but that team — Washington — is unlikely to still have interest given that it selected TCU wideout Josh Doctson in the first round of the draft.

3. Arian Foster, RB: There’s no question that Foster offers the highest upside of any free agent on this list, as he’s topped 1,200 yards rushing in every season that he’s remained even remotely healthy. But health, of course, has remained a hindrance throughout Foster’s career — in 2015 alone, Foster was slowed by a groin injury during camp before suffering a torn Achilles in in Week 7. The Dolphins met with Foster earlier this offseason and could still be a landing spot, while the Raiders, Eagles, and Chargers (especially if Melvin Gordon‘s recovery from microfracture surgery doesn’t go well) could be options.

4. Jahri Evans, G: Knee and ankle injuries limited Evans to 11 games in 2015, but like Foster, Evans is a solid contributor when he’s on the field, as he graded as the league’s No. 27 guard among 81 qualifiers last year, per Pro Football Focus. Entering his age-33 season, Evans might have to be willing to engage in a camp battle for a starting role, or even wait until a club suffers an injury along its offensive interior. But a team like the Broncos, who are currently projected to start sixth-round rookie Connor McGovern at right guard, could express interest.

5. Louis Vasquez, G: Vasquez isn’t quite the guard that Evans is, but he offers a vast amount of experience, as he played over 1,000 snaps in 2015 with Denver, and has started 101 games since entering the league in 2009. Not yet 30 years old, Vasquez could help a number of clubs at either guard position — he met with the Titans earlier this offseason, and depending on its assessment of Jeremiah Poutasi, Tennessee may still be interested. The Chiefs, having failed to replace Jeff Allen, could also make sense as a destination."<strong

6. Andre Johnson, WR: After posting the worst full-season results of his career, Johnson was released by the Colts just one season into a three-year pact. Whether interested clubs will determine that Johnson was victimized by a lackluster 2015 Indianapolis (and largely Andrew Luck-less) offense — or instead conclude that Johnson is just about finished at age-34 — is an open question, but the 13-year veteran has indicated that he’d like to continue playing in 2016.

7. Will Beatty, T: Beatty is expected to be fully healthy this summer after missing the entire 2015 season with a torn pectoral muscle, but he reportedly won’t be returning to the Giants. It’s a little surprising that Beatty hasn’t yet found a home for 2016, but he shouldn’t have to wait much longer, as he’s clearly the best tackle available on the open market (his top competition is the likes of Jake Long and Mike Adams). I could see the Bears bringing in Beatty to compete with Charles Leno on the blindside, while the Cardinals could also be a feasible landing spot if they aren’t happy with D.J. Humphries — who didn’t play a single snap as a rookie — at right tackle.

8. James Jones, WR: Another season catching passes from Aaron Rodgers, another successful year for Jones, who returned to Green Bay after a year in Oakland to post 50 receptions for nearly 900 yards an eight touchdowns. Jones, now 32, has indicated that he’d like to play for awhile longer, though the Packers have reportedly moved on. After waiting until July of last year to sign with the Giants (and September to reunite with the Pack), Jones could again have to wait awhile to find a new team, but whoever signs him will be acquiring a big-play threat — in 2015, Jones ranked fourth in the league with 17.8 yards per reception.

9. Ryan Wendell, C/G: Perhaps the least recognizable name on this list, Wendell spent the last seven seasons as a utility interior lineman with the Patriots, and ended up starting 44 contests from 2012-2014. A knee injury prematurely ended Wendell’s 2015 season in November, and a March report stated that Wendell would wait until he returned to full health before signing with a new team. A return to New England can’t be ruled out, but a club like the Cardinals — who are currently projecting A.Q. Shipley to start at center — could also be on Wendell’s radar.

10. Owen Daniels, TE: Daniels has spent all ten of his NFL seasons under the tutelage of Gary Kubiak, following the coach from Houston to Baltimore and, finally, to Denver. That streak of loyalty is now in danger after the Broncos released Daniels earlier this year, though Kubiak did not rule out re-signing the veteran tight end (Denver has since signed fellow TE Garrett Graham, however). Even at age-33, Daniels performed in line with his career averages, posting 48 receptions for more than 500 yards and four touchdowns.

Honorable mention: Tarvaris Jackson, QB; Joique Bell, RB; Bryce Brown, RB; Marques Colston, WR; Brian Hartline, WR; Roddy White, WR; Khaled Holmes, C; Amini Silatolu, G.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Bills, Taylor, Wendell, Branch

The Bills came into the 2016 offseason as one of the NFL’s most cap-strapped teams, and while the team was able to retain its top two free agents – offensive linemen Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito – that lack of cap flexibility resulted in some key losses.

In speaking to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press about defensive lineman Stefan Charles and to Tom Curran of CSNNE.com about wide receiver Chris Hogan, Buffalo general manager Doug Whaley repeated a similar refrain, suggesting that the Bills “can’t pay everybody.” The team non-tendered Charles, who was eligible for restricted free agency, allowing him to sign with the Lions as an unrestricted free agent. As for Hogan, he got an RFA tender from Buffalo, but it was a low-end tender, allowing the Patriots to sign him to an offer sheet that Whaley and the Bills couldn’t match.

“It was (difficult to let him go),” the Bills GM said of Hogan. “He’s done a great job, not only on the field as a third and fourth wide receiver (and) special teams, (but also) what he’s brought to the community. He’s a great asset to the Patriots. We’re sorry we’re gonna lose him. And add the fact that we’re gonna have to deal with him with the other end of that being (Tom) Brady, it’s a tough matchup because he’s a talented person.”

Here’s more from around the AFC East:

  • It appears increasingly likely that Tyrod Taylor will enter the 2016 season without a contract extension in hand, says Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News. According to one of Carucci’s sources, there has been little – if any – progress in contract talks between the Bills and their starting quarterback. The team is more focused on locking up cornerback Stephon Gilmore before the start of the 2016 campaign.
  • Veteran offensive lineman Ryan Wendell remains in a holding pattern when it comes to his free agency, agent Frank Bauer tells Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Wendell’s 2015 season ended after just two games due to a knee injury, and even if and when he returns to full health, it’s not clear whether there will be a spot on the Patriots‘ 2016 roster for him.
  • Defensive end Andre Branch is looking forward to a “new beginning” in Miami that will see him become part of a Dolphins‘ defensive line featuring players like Ndamukong Suh, Mario Williams, and Cameron Wake. As James Walker of ESPN.com details, Branch is expected to fill the hole vacated by Derrick Shelby, who signed with the Falcons.

Patriots Place Ryan Wendell On IR

The Patriots placed veteran interior lineman Ryan Wendell on IR to end his season, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports (on Twitter).

In a corresponding move, the offensive line-needy Patriots activated second-year center Bryan Stork from IR-DTR.

One of the longest-tenured Pats, Wendell started in 44 games from 2012-14 but played in just two this year. The 29-year-old former undrafted free agent began his New England tenure in 2009.

Wendell played 12 snaps for an injured Tre’ Jackson at guard against the Dolphins but was listed as doubtful with a knee ailment on the Pats’ injury report this week.

Stork started 11 contests at center for the Pats as a rookie and would provide some much-needed relief for a line that’s also lost Nate Solder for the season. The second-year man could, however, serve as a guard this season after rookie UDFA David Andrews has played every snap at center this year, Phil Perry of CSNNE.com reports.

Stork hasn’t played guard in the NFL but played at both guard spots while at Florida State.

East Notes: Cowboys, Jets, McAdoo

Less than two weeks ago, the Cowboys were 6-1 and sitting pretty atop the NFC East. Then, late in a Week 8 loss to the Redskins, Tony Romo went down with a back injury that will hinder him for the rest of the season, and Dallas went on to drop last week’s contest to the Cardinals to fall to second place in the division. Although the Cowboys have a good chance to right the ship today against the 1-8 Jaguars, all is apparently not well in Big D.

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that 20 Cowboys players missed curfew on Friday night, and that the club’s coaches and veteran players are “frustrated.” Furthermore, Rapoport notes in a series of tweets that Dallas harbors off-the-field concerns with star receiver Dez Bryant, who is due for a massive contract extension. Rapoport notes that DeSoto City Police have been called to Bryant’s home six times in four years, for a variety of reasons, and that explains why the Cowboys were only willing to guarantee $20MM of the 10-year, $114MM extension they offered to Bryant. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe believes, justifiably, that this “news” regarding the frequent police activity at Bryant’s house is simply an attempt for the Cowboys to gain leverage in negotiations with Bryant. As Volin tweets, “the annual ‘smear Dez Bryant’s reputation’ campaign is here.”

In any event, the Cowboys must find some way to quickly subdue their bubbling inner turmoil lest a once-promising season gives way to another winter nightmare.

Now for some more notes from the league’s east divisions:

  • The Jets, who also find themselves in disarray, recently employed what Rapoport (via Twitter) termed an “egregious example of heavy-handed coaching.” According to Rapoport, before Geno Smith threw one of three interceptions in the team’s Week 8 loss to Buffalo, the Jets coaching staff told Smith to throw the ball to Percy Harvin. Apparently, this was not a way to get the team’s new wideout more involved in the game, it was a way to try and simplify the game for Smith by dictating his reads. Looking for some way to improve Smith’s performance, an increasingly desperate coaching staff tried to play the game for him, and it predictably backfired.
  • Nonetheless, Manish Metha of the New York Daily News believes a bye week coaching change would make very little sense for the Jets and that Rex Ryan has earned the right to fight with his team to the end of the season.
  • There are rumors that this could be Tom Coughlin‘s last year with the Giants, and Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News writes that New York sees a future head coach in current offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.
  • Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com describes how the Patriots caught a break with Akeem Ayers and Ryan Wendell this season.

Pats Notes: Brady, Gronk, O-Line

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes that, although the league’s quarterbacks have seen a general uptick in overall statistical performance through the first three weeks of the 2014 season–standard small sample size disclaimers apply–those numbers are not being driven by the traditionally elite signal-callers. Among the under-performing big names is the Patriots’ Tom Brady, who as Volin notes, has produced “head-scratchingly bad” statistics.

Those stats include a 58.8 completion percentage, 5.5 yards per attempt, and 210.7 passing yards per game. There are, of course, reasons for those numbers: Brady is clearly uncomfortable throwing the ball downfield and has little faith in his receivers and his offensive line. Nonetheless, Brady will, as Volin points out, have to pick up the slack if the team is to make its yearly run to the playoffs, even though the AFC East is shaping up to be just as weak as it always is.

Here are a few more Patriots tidbits to pass along this morning:

  • Speaking of Brady’s struggles, Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald writes that analysts like Trent Dilfer and Matt Hasselbeck point out the flaws in the Patriots’ roster to explain some of Brady’s problems, along with Brady’s increasing penchant to take the safe throw rather than force the issue. Nonetheless, both believe that Brady will be able to overcome his early-season woes and put up solid numbers yet again.
  • One thing that would certainly help a Brady resurgence is the continued good health of Rob Gronkowski. Phil Perry of CSNNewEngland.com observes that Gronkowski should be able to become the middle-of-the-field threat that the team needs him to be sooner rather than later, which would open up the passing game for the rest of the team’s receiving corps.
  • As noted above, the offensive line has been a big problem for New England. Adam Kurkjian of the Boston Herald writes that the Pats will go into Monday’s game against Kansas City with Nate Solder at left tackle, Bryan Stork at center, Dan Connolly at right guard and Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle. Kurkjian notes that left guard remains unsettled, with Marcus Cannon and Ryan Wendell as possibilities. Perry has the same suggestion in a video post.

AFC Links: Gordon, Patriots, Moreno, Bortles

If Josh Gordon is allowed to play this season (as expected), he will then only be under contract through 2015, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal (Twitter link). Had Gordon’s suspension been upheld, and he had been forced to sit out the entire year, his contract would have tolled, meaning the Browns would have controlled his rights through the 2016 season. Instead, Gordon will earn $1.068MM in 2015 and then hit free agency unless an extension is worked out. If his 2014 ban is reduced to ten games as reported, he will earn 7/17 of that salary (~$440K) in base salary this season. Here’s more from around the AFC.

  • Defensive lineman Kona Schwenke, who was waived from the Chiefs’ practice squad on Thursday, worked out for the Patriots today, reports Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (via Twitter). At 6’4″, 303 pounds, the 22-year-old Schweneke has the size required to play in New England’s multiple defensive fronts.
  • Patriots offensive lineman Ryan Wendell has $200K in gameday active roster bonuses included in his contract — he’s already been ruled out for tomorrow’s game, meaning he will miss out on $12,500K, per Reiss (on Twitter).
  • In a piece for Athlon Sports, Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News examines 10 offseason moves that look regrettable following Week 1. Atop the scribe’s list is the Broncos’ decision to let Knowshon Moreno defect to the Dolphins. Moreno reportedly didn’t receive interest from any other team besides Miami, so it’s hard to quibble with Denver’s lack of interest in retaining the veteran running back. Still, Moreno did perform well on Sunday, rushing for 134 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots.
  • Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union wonders when the Jaguars should transition to rookie quarterback Blake Bortles, arguing that it should be after Jacksonville wins it first game, so that the pressure on Bortles isn’t as extreme.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Bills, Jets

Ryan Mallett hasn’t had much of an opportunity to prove himself as a starting-caliber quarterback since joining the league in 2011. Tom Brady‘s backup is entering the final season of his contract and there have been rumblings that team’s could be interested in trading for the former Razorback. If the Pats did decide to pull the trigger and trade Mallett, they aren’t likely to get much back, writes Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com. Reiss actually has little faith that the team would get anything of use in return, and thinks Mallett is more valuable even as an expiring-contract backup than as a trade asset.

Let’s take a look at some more rumblings from around the AFC East…

  • In the same article, Reiss discusses his confidence that Devin McCourty will sign an extension with the Patriots. Reiss expects to see a new contract as early as this offseason.
  • Reiss also addresses Ryan Wendell‘s new contract with the Patriots, stating that the new deal doesn’t guarantee that Wendell will be starting this season. Reiss sees the offensive lineman as more of a backup and believes that the team will continue to look at upgrading the position.
  • The Bills announced that Mary Wilson, wife of the team’s late founder and owner, will now be the controlling owner, according to a post on BuffaloBills.com. Meanwhile, a source tells Tim Graham of The Buffalo News that the team won’t “ease” into the sale process and that a deal could come as soon as October.
  • Wide receiver Brandin Cooks has scheduled a pre-draft visit with the Jets, reports Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter).