T.J. Jones

North Notes: McCarthy, Lions, Tuitt, Ravens

Mike McCarthy‘s enjoyed the benefit of coaching two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, and the Packers have qualified for nine playoff brackets in the coach’s 12 previous seasons. But with the team in danger of missing the NFC bracket for the second straight season, McCarthy appears to be firmly on the hot seat. The 13th-year Green Bay coach’s job status is “pretty clearly” uncertain regarding 2019, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). McCarthy signed a one-year extension to take him through the ’19 season, so the team isn’t committed long-term here. He’s now reporting to team president Mark Murphy under the post-Ted Thompson power structure, and with Brian Gutekunst now GM, different voices will have a say if McCarthy will be brought back.

That’s the job. That’s the way this business has gone,” McCarthy said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, when asked about his status. “I’m not going to get into comparables, but at the end of the day that’s part of the job responsibility of the head coachWe set a standard here the past 12 years and it’s our responsibility to play to that standard.”

The Packers are venturing near must-win territory if they want to secure their ninth playoff berth in 10 seasons. They face the Vikings in Minnesota next week.

Here’s the latest from the North divisions:

  • The post-Megatron Lions relied on the Marvin JonesGolden Tate tandem. For the first time since Calvin Johnson retired, neither will suit up for Detroit. Jones is out for Sunday’s game against the Panthers after missing practice this week, and ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein reports the veteran Lions wideout is seeking a second opinion on his injured right knee. Initial tests revealed no damage to Jones’ ACL or MCL, and Jones was diagnosed with a bone bruise. He’ll miss only his second game as a Lion. T.J. Jones would likely be the starter in Marvin Jones‘ place.
  • T.J. Lang‘s Lions tenure hasn’t gone as smoothly from a health standpoint. The former Pro Bowl guard landed on IR this week because of a neck injury, but that setback is not believed to be career-threatening, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports. Lang also suffered a concussion that forced him to miss time earlier this season. He only played in six games this season after missing three in 2017. Set for his age-32 season next year, Lang — with an $11.1MM cap number — will be a release candidate in the offseason. The Lions could save more than $8MM by releasing the acclaimed blocker. Lang is due a $500K roster bonus on the fourth day of the upcoming league year.
  • Darius Slay, however, will be back for the Lions after missing Week 10. Bears wideout Allen Robinson gouged the Lions in Slay’s absence, but the All-Pro cornerback was not on the injury report as of Friday and will return Sunday.
  • While the 2018 Jaguars haven’t been the kind of impediment the 2017 version was, the Steelers will be without a key starter in their attempt to beat a team that went 2-0 against them last season. Stephon Tuitt will miss Sunday’s game with an elbow injury he sustained against the Panthers. Tyson Alualu will start in Tuitt’s place up front, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Although Robert Griffin III has been mentioned as a possible Ravens starter Sunday, the expectation remains Lamar Jackson will take the reins, Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Jackson’s hospital trip Thursday, coupled with Joe Flacco‘s hip injury, left Griffin as the Ravens’ lone practice quarterback that day. But Jackson returned to practice Friday.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/9/18

Here are today’s minor moves.

Detroit Lions

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Oakland Raiders

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Signed: OL Joseph Cheek
  • Signed: OL Larson Graham
  • Signed: OL Parker Collins

Tennessee Titans

Washington Redskins

North Rumors: Bengals, Lions, Packers

Some more clarity regarding Tyler Eifert‘s incentive-laden Bengals contract emerged. The tight end’s deal contains some interesting benchmarks for financial rewards, ones that would seemingly be within reach should Eifert stay healthy. The sixth-year tight end has $3MM in possible performance incentives included in his one-year agreement. Additionally, $62.5K will come Eifert’s way for every game he plays.

As for the performance thresholds, Eifert will collect $250K for catching 50 passes in 2018. The former first-round pick getting to 55 receptions would bring another $250K his way, with the 60- and 65-catch barriers representing $250K triggers as well. Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports these catch incentives max out at $1MM, adding the yardage bonuses do as well. The 500-yard mark represents the first $250K trigger, with the next $250K bonus benchmarks coming at 550, 600 and 650 yards, per Owczarski. As for touchdown receptions, Eifert snaring five would bring him $250K. Each additional touchdown would bring him $250K apiece as well, and this incentive category also maxes out at $1MM.

Eifert scored a tight ends-best 13 TDs in 2015 but only has five since. He only exceeded 500 yards once (in ’15, with 615 yards) and caught a career-high 52 passes that year. He didn’t come close to 50 catches in a season in any other year, so describing these as “likely to be earned” incentives is pushing it.

Here’s the latest from some North-division franchises, continuing with news from the Cincinnati offensive front:

  • Cedric Ogbuehi may be shuttled back to right tackle, a position at which he previously said he wasn’t comfortable. The former first-round pick will compete with both Cordy Glenn and Jake Fisher for the starting tackle jobs, per Marvin Lewis (via Owczarski), but the 16th-year coach said the team expects Glenn to start on the left side. Ogbuehi has started 25 games over the past two years but has dealt with injuries in both, and each season involved him being in a rotation rather than being a full-time player throughout each campaign. Owczarski notes it’s unlikely the Bengals pick up his fifth-year option, which is expected to be for nearly $10MM.
  • Speaking of northern line movement, the Lions plan to try Graham Glasgow at center instead of guard, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reportsWesley Johnson could be set for a backup job. Birkett writes free agent Kenny Wiggins and 2016 fifth-rounder Joe Dahl will compete for at the guard spot opposite T.J. Lang. Wiggins started 16 games for the Chargers at right guard last season. However, Glasgow — who rated as Pro Football Focus’ No. 20 guard last season — may stay at guard if the Lions deem Johnson solid enough to start at center. Johnson is only making $880K this season, which would gibe with backup status.
  • Both Ziggy Ansah and wideout T.J. Jones underwent offseason surgeries, per Birkett, who describes Ansah’s as a “minor cleanup” on his knee. Jones had a shoulder operation. Birkett adds Kerry Hyder‘s return goal is training camp. The defensive lineman tore his Achilles’ tendon last season.
  • Ansah remains in Ghana for family reasons, but Justin Rogers of the Detroit News tweets the franchise-tagged defensive end has kept Matt Patricia and the organization in the loop and is expected to return to the team shortly. Birkett writes Ansah could sign his franchise tender as early as the spring rather than having this drag into July. The Lions are not expected to pursue a long-term extension with their top pass rusher at this point.
  • The Packers shook up their offensive coaching staff this offseason, and it sounds like their playbook will reflect that. While refusing to divulge specifics, Mike McCarthy said recently (via Pete Daugherty of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) the team will “go back to Page 1” of the playbook. Joe Philbin, Jim Hostler and Frank Cignetti are now key offensive assistants, so their input may well be reflected in these changes.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/14/18

Here are today’s restricted free agent and exclusive-rights free agent tender decisions, with the list being updated throughout the day. All links go to Twitter unless otherwise noted:

RFAs

Tendered at the second-round level ($2.914MM):

Tendered at original round level ($1.907MM):

Non-tendered:

ERFAs

Tendered:

Non-tendered:

Lions Won’t Tender WR T.J. Jones

The Lions don’t plan to tender restricted free agent T.J. Jones, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter). However, it’s possible that the team will bring Jones back on a lesser deal. T.J. Jones (vertical)

Jones, 26 in July, first joined the Lions as a sixth round pick in the 2014 draft. He had his best year to date in 2017, catching 30 passes for 399 yards and one touchdown.

The first round tender ($4.1MM+) and second round tender (~$2.9MM) are obviously too pricey for Jones, but it might have made sense to explore the original round tender ($2MM) for him. Per the terms of the original tender, if another team were to sign Jones away, the Lions would collect a sixth-round draft pick to match the round Jones was selected in. Apparently, the Lions are unwilling to commit $2MM to Jones, but they might bring him back for a lesser sum.

The Lions have roughly $27MM of cap space to work with, putting them roughly in the middle of the pack league-wide.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Place WR T.J. Jones On IR

The Lions will have to make their playoff push without the services of their No. 4 wide receiver. On Tuesday, the Lions placed T.J. Jones on injured reserve. To take his place on the roster, the Lions signed wide receiver Andy Jones (no relation). T.J. Jones (vertical)

T.J. Jones exited Saturday’s win over the Bears with a shoulder injury. His season ends with 30 catches for 399 yards. Without him, recent pickup Bradley Marquez will move up a spot on the depth chart in support of Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, and third-round pick Kenny Golladay.

Andy Jones, 23, has spent time with the Cowboys, Texans, and Lions since breaking into the league as a UDFA in 2016. After nearly three months on Detroit’s practice squad, he hopes to record his first career reception.

Heading into a Christmas Eve showdown with the Bengals, the Lions have a 13% chance of reaching the postseason, according to the NY Times’ playoff odds calculator. If they lose, they will effectively be out of the running for an NFC Wild Card spot.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/17/17

The latest minor moves…

  • Raiders defensive end Denico Autry has signed his RFA tender, reports ESPN’s Adam Caplan (Twitter link). The Raiders gave the 2014 undrafted free agent an original-round tender, leading to speculation that he could draw interest from elsewhere. Instead, Autry will return to the Raiders on the heels of back-to-back three-sack seasons. ERFAs Seth Roberts (WR) and Denver Kirkland (G) are also back in the fold, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (on Twitter).
  • The Seahawks have re-signed linebacker Kache Palacio, writes Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Palacio, a former fullback who went undrafted out of Washington State last year, spent most of 2016 on Seattle’s practice squad.
  • Lions ERFAs Brandon Copeland (DE), Kerry Hyder (DT) and T.J. Jones (WR) have signed their tenders, tweets Birkett. Dolphins ERFAs Mike Hull (LB) and Anthony Steen (C) did the same earlier Monday, per Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).

Earlier updates:

  • The Panthers have re-upped restricted free agent guard Andrew Norwell and a pair of exclusive rights free agents – center Tyler Larsen and punter Michael Palardy – writes Bryan Strickland of their website. Carolina used a second-round tender on Norwell, who will earn $2.746MM in 2017. Norwell combined for 29 starts over the previous two seasons and ranked 11th in performance among Pro Football Focus’ 72 qualified guards last year.
  • Steelers RFA cornerback Ross Cockrell has inked his original-round tender, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). Cockrell went in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, so the Steelers would have been entitled to a fourth-rounder had Cockrell signed elsewhere and they elected against matching the offer. The 25-year-old caught on with the Steelers in 2015 and has since totaled 31 appearances, 23 starts and two interceptions. Cockrell started in every Steelers game last year, and his performance ranked an improve 28th among 111 qualified corners at PFF.
  • Chiefs RFA kicker Cairo Santos has signed his tender, per Schefter (on Twitter). Santos, undrafted in 2014, received a low tender; as such, Kansas City wouldn’t have been entitled to compensation had he gone elsewhere. The three-year veteran has connected on 84.3 percent of field goal attempts, including 88.6 percent last season (good for fifth in the league).
  • Lions offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas has signed his RFA tender, tweets Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The Lions assigned Lucas an original-rounder tender last month, so they wouldn’t have gotten a pick had the 2014 undrafted free agent signed elsewhere and they chose not to match. Lucas is now slated to make $1.797MM this year in Detroit, where he has started in six of 35 career appearances.
  • The Buccaneers have re-signed quarterback Ryan Griffin, cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah, tight end Cameron Brate, linebacker Adarius Glanton, and wide receivers Adam Humphries and Freddie Martino, per Scott Smith of the team’s website. As a restricted free agent, Griffin is the only one of the bunch who could have potentially gone elsewhere (the rest were exclusive rights free agents). The Bucs tendered the 2013 undrafted free agent at an original-round level last month, and he’ll now try to win the No. 2 role behind Jameis Winston. Tampa Bay’s previous second-stringer, Mike Glennon, is now the Bears’ starter.
  • RFA defensive back Marcus Burley and ERFA running back George Atkinson III are returning to the Browns, per a team announcement. Burley, undrafted in 2013, received an original-round tender. The former Seahawk is coming off his first year in Cleveland, where he appeared in 12 games and played just under 40 percent of the Browns’ special teams snaps.
  • Fullback Tommy Bohanon and receiver Larry Pinkard have signed with the Jaguars, tweets the team’s account. Bohanon is the only with NFL experience, having logged 36 appearances and 14 starts as a Jet from 2013-15.
  • Speaking of the Jets, they have re-signed linebacker Julian Stanford (via Randy Lange of the team’s site). The Jets could Stanford on Friday, but both sides knew that was only a procedural move. Last season was the first as a Jet for the 26-year-old Stanford, who appeared in nine games (two starts) and played about a quarter of their defensive snaps and a third of their special teams snaps.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/8/17

Unrestricted free agent news will obviously dominate the day, but several clubs also had to make decisions on whether to offer tenders to restricted and exclusive rights free agents. All RFA tenders listed are original round/right of first refusal (worth $1.797MM), and all links go to Twitter:

RFAs:

Tendered:

Non-Tendered: 

ERFAs:

Tendered:

Lions Cut Justin Forsett, Activate Armonty Bryant

Justin Forsett‘s tenure with the Lions looks to be over after the team did not keep the veteran on its roster upon making multiple moves Saturday. The Lions cut Forsett and cornerback Johnthan Banks to make room for the activation of defensive end Armonty Bryant and wide receiver T.J. Jones, James Palmer of NFL.com reports (Twitter links).

This will send the 31-year-old Forsett to the waiver wire, where the ninth-year veteran could be viewed as a depth option for teams in need of ball-carriers. Prior to the trade deadline, Forsett’s vested-veteran status applied and he did not have to pass through waivers upon being released from the Ravens.

Forsett had not played in a game since October and has just 136 rushing yards (on 3.1 per carry) this season. This move doesn’t necessarily point to an Ameer Abdullah return, though, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter). Abdullah remains on IR, with Theo Riddick being the top backfield option.

The Lions claimed Banks on waivers from the Buccaneers last month and used the cornerback in two games. However, the former Bucs starter who saw his star fall in Tampa Bay could not make enough of a case to stay on the team. He, too, will be subject to the waiver process.

This marks Bryant’s second activation of the season — both by the Lions — with this latest transaction coming as a result of a three-game suspension the defensive end served. He served a four-game ban while a member of the Browns before Cleveland cut him, re-routing him to Detroit via waiver claim. Bryant has three sacks this season in four games as an off-the-bench cog for the first-place Lions.

T.J. Jones‘ promotion coincides with Marvin Jones‘ potential unavailability for Sunday’s game against the Saints. A thigh injury limited the Lions’ leading receiver in practice this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sunday NFL 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 for the Bears, Lions, Packers, and Vikings are noted below.

Additionally, as of 12:00pm CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. 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. All links go to Twitter unless otherwise noted:

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Minnesota Vikings