Spencer Ware

Colts Sign RB Spencer Ware

The Colts have signed running back Spencer Ware, according to a team announcement. Ware, the former Chiefs tailback, will give the Colts support at the position after they declined to address it in the draft. 

Ware, 28 in November, first made noise in 2015 when he ran for 403 yards with the Chiefs and averaged 5.6 yards per carry in a limited sample. In 2016, he was the Chiefs’ starter and amassed 921 yards with a 4.3 yards-per-tote average. His usage fluctuated over the course of three healthy years in KC, but his career 4.6 YPC shows promise.

The veteran joins former Chiefs teammate Justin Houston in Indianapolis and will push to be a top reserve behind Marlon Mack. 2018 draft picks Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines are also under contract, so he’ll have his work cut out for him.

In related moves, the Colts released safety Isaiah Johnson, defensive tackle DeShawn Williams, and wide receiver James Wright (with an injury designation).

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Jets Meet With Ware, Montgomery

The Jets met with running back Spencer Ware on Wednesday, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Then, on Thursday, the club will host fellow free agent running back Ty Montgomery, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets

Ware previously met with the Colts and Lions, but left town without signing with either club. Ware first made noise in 2015 when he ran for 403 yards with the Chiefs and averaged 5.6 yards per carry in a limited sample. In 2016, he was the Chiefs’ starter and amassed 921 yards with a 4.3 yards-per-tote average. His usage fluctuated over the course of three healthy years in KC, but the 27-year-old’s career 4.7 YPC shows promise.

Ware could be a solid backup for Le’Veon Bell and the same goes for Montgomery, who came out of nowhere in 2016 to average 5.9 yards per carry for the Packers. Montgomery’s production, understandably, dropped after that, and the Packers dropped him from the roster with an October trade last year after his late game fumble cost them a chance at beating the Rams.

Either veteran could back up Bell, but the Jets could also find supporting RBs in this month’s draft.

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Colts Host Spencer Ware

The Colts hosted free agent running back Spencer Ware, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Indianapolis has a young and talented RB tandem, with Marlon Mack and 2018 fourth-rounder Nyheim Hines — an excellent receiver out of the backfield — at the top of the depth chart.

Jordan Wilkins, another 2018 draft choice, averaged 5.6 yards per carry on 60 totes in his rookie campaign, so the Colts do not really need to add a free agent back. But Ware would provide a solid veteran presence in the rotation if the clubs elects to carry four RBs, and he could theoretically push Wilkins for playing time while serving as insurance should one of the top backs get hurt.

Ware first made noise in 2015 when he ran for 403 yards with the Chiefs and averaged 5.6 yards per carry in a limited sample. In 2016, he was the Chiefs’ starter and amassed 921 yards with a 4.3 yards-per-tote average. His usage fluctuated over the course of three healthy years in KC, but the 27-year-old’s career 4.7 YPC shows promise.

He appeared to be primed for stardom after that ’16 season, but a torn PCL cost him the 2017 campaign. Last year, he had an opportunity to shine again after Kareem Hunt was cut, but a hamstring injury took him out of the running for the final stretch. He returned for the AFC title game, but didn’t have a major role in the loss to the Pats.

Ware visited the Lions last month.

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Lions To Meet With Spencer Ware

Former Chiefs running back Spencer Ware will visit the Lions on Monday, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). The Lions already have Kerryon Johnson as their primary back and Theo Riddick as their pass-catching specialist, but Ware could provide the club with additional depth. 

Ware first made noise in 2015 when he ran for 403 yards with the Chiefs and averaged 5.6 yards per carry in a limited sample. In 2016, he was the Chiefs’ starter and amassed 921 yards with a 4.3 yards per tote average. His usage fluctuated over the course of three healthy years in KC, but the 27-year-old’s 4.7 ypc shows promise.

Ware appeared to be primed for stardom after that ’16 season, but a torn PCL cost him the 2017 campaign. Last year, he had an opportunity to shine again after Kareem Hunt was cut, but a hamstring injury took him out of the running for the final stretch. He returned for the AFC title game, but didn’t have a major role in the loss to the Pats.

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AFC Notes: Titans, Roman, Kingsbury

Matt LaFleur‘s defection to Green Bay leaves Tennessee without an offensive coordinator. They have not conducted any known interviews and are operating deliberately. GM Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel have met several times this week discussing what the best course of action should be, so interviews are likely coming soon. Whichever way the Titans go, they will be asking Marcus Mariota to learn a fourth offensive system in his five-year career. Ken Whisenhunt ran the Titans’ offense in 2015, before being fired, then Mike Mularkey took over before giving way to LaFleur. Robinson appears to want to retain some of LaFleur’s concepts, however.

I think if that can happen so that there is some carry-over, some familiarity there, so that not just Marcus but all of our players on offense, the less that we have to put on their plate to learn the different terminology, the different concepts, if there’s carry-over, then I think they can build upon what they’ve kind of gone through the last year,” Robinson said, via Eric Bacharach of The Tennesseean. “So we’ll do our best to try to keep as much continuity as possible carrying over into the offseason and certainly into next season.”

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Eric Berry, Spencer Ware and Malik Hooker are out for today’s ChiefsColts divisional-round game. Berry is still dealing with the heel trouble that has sidetracked his career, and Ware is out with a hamstring malady. Hooker started against the Texans but missed practice this week with a foot ailment.
  • The Ravens’ Greg Roman promotion partially stemmed from ensuring he would not accept another OC role in the AFC East. The Dolphins sought the former Bills offensive coordinator for their OC role, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. HC frontrunner Brian Flores had Roman on his staff list. Another name to pop up on Flores’ early list: Kliff Kingsbury. The now-Cardinals HC appears to have had a path to Miami as Flores’ play-caller, Breer adds (on Twitter). But despite his sub-.500 Texas Tech record, Kingsbury received a much bigger promotion than the Dolphins had in mind.
  • Jets staffer Tyler Tettleton will join the Browns as an offensive quality control coach, per Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports (on Twitter). Tettleton was a graduate assistant at Oklahoma for two years during Baker Mayfield‘s tenure in Norman.

Chiefs’ Eric Berry To Play Vs. Chargers

Finally, Eric Berry is ready to take the field. The Chiefs’ three-time All-Pro safety will play on Thursday night vs. the Chargers, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). 

[RELATED: NFL Doesn’t Plan To Make Changes After Kareem Hunt Incident]

Berry has not seen the field since Week 1 of the 2017 season when he ruptured his left Achilles. Then, this year, he developed a heel problem on his right foot. Berry was diagnosed with Haglund’s deformity, an issue that causes pain in the Achilles area. In late November, Berry was finally cleared to practice with his teammates for the first time since training camp. On Wednesday, he got the long-awaited go-ahead to play.

The Chiefs have enjoyed a phenomenal year, even without their star safety. The 11-2 squad will be only stronger with Berry back out on the field and could push the defense closer to the unreal production of the offensive unit.

The Chiefs’ defense has allowed the third most total yards of any team in the NFL (5,325) while surrendering the most passing yards (3,663). Berry, who has three All-Pro nods and five Pro Bowl selections to his credit, could go a long way towards tamping down those numbers.

Unfortunately for the Chiefs, they still won’t be at full strength for their big game against the Chargers. Running back Spencer Ware is doubtful, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter), and wide receiver Sammy Watkins has been officially ruled out. Running back Damien Williams is in line to start in place of Ware and the Chiefs will once again rely heavily on Tyreek Hill to pick up the slack at wide receiver.

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Chiefs RB Spencer Ware Restructures Deal

Chiefs running back Spencer Ware has agreed to restructure his deal. Ware will see $725K of his $1.45M base salary converted into incentives, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). However, the incentives are largely obtainable, so he still has a real chance at earning the full $1.45MM for 2018.

[RELATED: Chiefs Rumors: Mahomes, Rogers, Ford, OL]

Ware was believed to be in line for the Chiefs’ backup job, but it’s possible that Charcandrick West could leapfrog him for the No. 2 RB role. Last year, West scored four touchdowns as Kareem Hunt‘s backup. Ware, meanwhile, missed the entire season with a torn PCL and a damaged LCL.

Ware was solid as the Chiefs’ starter in 2016 as he averaged 4.3 yards per carry and caught 33 passes for 447 yards and two touchdowns. He’ll look to pick up where he left off in 2018, before reaching free agency next March.

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Chiefs Rumors: Mahomes, Rogers, Ford, OL

Being a first-year starting quarterback, Patrick Mahomes will bring some risk to the Chiefs‘ outlook Alex Smith did not. But the potential reward looks to be much greater. Andy Reid acknowledges the 2017 first-round pick will experience the usual issues adjusting to NFL starter life, but the sixth-year Chiefs coach made it clear he doesn’t want to deprive Mahomes of playmaking opportunities his skill set could create.

You surely don’t want to stifle that at all. One thing that he is blessed with is he has good vision, so you don’t ever want to stifle that and put him in a box with that. Allow him to see,” Reid said from Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph, Mo. “Is there going to be a hiccup here or there? Yeah there’s going to be a hiccup here or there, but you don’t want to stifle that at all.”

Reid added that Mahomes, viewed as a raw but potentially special arm talent out of Texas Tech as a prospect last year, is farther along this year compared to where Smith was in 2013. With the addition of Sammy Watkins, the Chiefs have also outfitted Mahomes with a better collection of skill-position talent than Smith (or possibly any previous Kansas City quarterback) received.

Here’s the latest out of western Missouri:

  • While the Chiefs’ offense looks capable of being one of the NFL’s best units, Kansas City’s defense has plenty of questions. A key one will be the status of their injury-prone edge rushers. Justin Houston enters camp healthy and is signed long-term, but Dee Ford may only be back because an injury left him unable to pass a March physical. His $8.718MM fifth-year option vested, but Ford realizes he’s under pressure to perform this season after a career that’s seen just one productive year (2016, when he had a Chiefs-most 10 sacks). The Chiefs also drafted edge defenders in each of the past two second rounds, in Tanoh Kpassagnon and Breeland Speaks (the latter of whom K.C. traded up to acquire). “Everyone’s seen flashes of what I can do. This is the opportunity to really (show it) for 16 games,” Ford said, via Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. “In order to be a great player you have to be consistent. You can’t just be good (like 2016 in) those first 10 games or so before I got hurt. Everybody was like, ‘That’s the guy we expected,’ and then I got hurt. … This is the time to put it all together.”
  • Eli Rogers left his Chiefs visit Monday without a deal, Field Yates of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Rogers will now meet with the Browns, who have his three-year OC on staff in Todd Haley. The Raiders have also scheduled a summit with the slot receiver. Behind Watkins and Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs employ Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, Jehu Chesson and the recently re-signed De’Anthony Thomas.
  • Despite a 2016 ACL tear hijacking both of Parker Ehinger‘s first two NFL seasons, he still might be the frontrunner to work as the Chiefs’ starting left guard, Nate Taylor of The Athletic writes (subscription required). A fourth-round pick out of Cincinnati two years ago, Ehinger opened his rookie year as a starter but missed all but one game last season. Bryan Witzmann and Jordan Devey represent his primary competitors, per Taylor, who adds that Cameron Erving could linger here as well if he cannot unseat fourth-year center Mitch Morse.
  • Like Ford, Spencer Ware‘s been cleared to begin training camp without a PUP list stay, but the 2016 starter won’t automatically be given the backup job, per Taylor. Charcandrick West remains a factor and scored four touchdowns as Kareem Hunt‘s backup last season. West and Ware will battle for the backup role, just as they did in 2015 when they vied for time behind a then-healthy Jamaal Charles.

AFC West Notes: Raiders, Mack, Chiefs

Tony Sparano changed the Raiders‘ culture during his time in Oakland, Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes. Sparano, who died unexpectedly over the weekend, didn’t win when he was at the helm of the Raiders, but he earned the respect of his players through his hard work and love of the game.

He is up close and personal and blunt,” defensive end Justin Tuck once said. “He treats like you a man. I like his coaching style. … He is honest. There is no B.S. with Coach Sparano.”

Sparano worked for nine NFL teams in 19 seasons and he touched innumerable lives during his years on the sidelines. Success is largely measured by wins and losses in football, but Sparano achieved a great deal even when the record of his team did not show it.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • There’s reason to believe that Khalil Mack could take an aggressive approach towards his negotiations with the Raiders, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com tweets. Corry notes that Mack is represented by Joel Segal, who represented running back Chris Johnson‘s during his holdout with the Titans in 2011. If Mack has the same resolve as Johnson, the Raiders may not see him until he gets a new deal. For reference, Johnson’s holdout in 2011 was not resolved until early September.
  • Good news for the Chiefs. Center Mitch Morse, linebacker Dee Ford, and running back Spencer Ware are expected to practice with the team and will not go on the PUP list to start camp (via the Associated Press). “All those guys, everybody else is good,” head coach Andy Reid said. “Again I just want to see on the field and we’ll kind of monitor as it goes but, yeah, they all should be ready to go.”
  • Broncos linebacker Shane Ray received some unexpected good news this week. He won’t have to undergo another wrist surgery and the team believes that he is not in danger of missing games.
  • Earl Thomas to the Chargers? Don’t bet on it.

AFC Notes: Brock, Ware, Bell, Raiders, Colts

The odds of the Browns releasing quarterback Brock Osweiler and eating his fully guaranteed $16MM salary have seemingly increased in recent days, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk contends. Cleveland saved $15.25MM – nearly the sum of Osweiler’s salary – by releasing defensive lineman Desmond Bryant and cornerback Joe Haden in the past week-plus, which could make it easier to part with the QB now that he won’t be its starter, Florio posits. Osweiler is unlikely to garner any trade interest, so cutting the 26-year-old would enable the Browns to recoup a bit of his salary ($775K) if he signs elsewhere for the league minimum.

More from around the AFC:

  • Chiefs running back Spencer Ware did indeed suffer a torn PCL and LCL in the team’s preseason game against the Seahawks last week, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com confirms (on Twitter). Ware will undergo surgery and miss the entire season, leaving him in line for an “intense rehab,” Rapoport notes.
  • Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell will end his holdout Friday specifically to avoid landing on the roster exempt list, Florio reports. If Bell were to show up after cuts occur Saturday, the Steelers would be able to place the franchise-tagged star on the list for up to two weeks and pay him a lesser salary than his $711K game check during that period. It’s unlikely Pittsburgh would’ve done that, per Florio, but Bell will remove the possibility by showing up before cutdown day.
  • The Raiders may attempt to acquire a linebacker via trade or waiver claim in the coming days, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. As Gehlken writes, the club didn’t invest much in the position in the offseason – it signed Jelani Jenkins for $1MM and used a fifth-round pick on Marquel Lee – and Cory James is now dealing with an undisclosed injury.
  • The Colts have worked out fullback Jody Webb, Alex Marvez of Sporting News tweets. Webb went undrafted out of Youngstown State in the spring and hasn’t signed with a team since then.