Theo Riddick

AFC West Notes: Mahomes, Broncos, Raiders

Everyone has known for a while now that when Patrick Mahomes signs his first contract extension, it’s going to involve some eye-popping numbers. The Chiefs are expected to pursue an extension sometime after the draft, and there has been a lot of chatter about Mahomes becoming the first player to eclipse $40MM in annual salary. While he wouldn’t get into specifics about negotiations, Mahomes made it clear in a recent interview with Terez Paylor of Yahoo Sports that he’s in Kansas City for the long haul. “I want to make sure I do it the smart way and do it the right way, and so I don’t know exactly which way that is, yet. I know that my people and the Chiefs’ people will talk about it, and will do it at the right time and for the betterment for the team. But I’m excited to be a Kansas City Chief for a very long time, and I know that’s going to be handled the right way because of the people the Kansas City Chiefs have in their organization,” he explained.

There has been some speculation the Chiefs will try to get him on somewhat of a team-friendly deal in order to spread their cap resources around, similarly to what the Patriots have done with Tom Brady. Mahomes is going to get paid big-time either way, but he did seem to indicate that keeping their core together is a priority for him. “Whichever way possible, we’re going to do it and we’re gonna try to keep as many people on this team as we possibly can that won the Super Bowl this year so we can run it back again next year,” he said.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • Speaking of the Chiefs, they made a couple of assistant coaching moves today. Quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka has been given the additional title of passing game coordinator, and the team hired Andy Hill as a special teams assistant. The Eagles were interested in Kafka for their offensive coordinator vacancy, but Kansas City was ultimately able to retain him. All the way back in October we heard that Kafka was well-respected in the league and considered by some to be a future head coach. The former backup quarterback is the latest in a long line of Andy Reid assistants to get buzz.
  • The Broncos have a crowded backfield, but it’s about to get a little thinner. Both Devontae Booker and Theo Riddick will be allowed to walk in free agency, sources told Mike Klis of Denver 9 News (Twitter link). Booker was drafted by Denver in the fourth-round back in 2016, and had an up and down career with the team. He was the team’s starter for some of his rookie season, and he often played a big role on passing downs. At the same time, he was often relegated to the bench for extended stretches. 27 now, it’ll be interesting to see how his market develops. Riddick is another passing-downs specialist who signed with Denver this past summer after a productive six-year run with the Lions. He ended up missing the entire season with a shoulder injury, although Klis notes that he is healthy now and has been medically cleared. He’s 28 now, and will likely have a tough time finding much guaranteed money coming off the injury.
  • The Raiders are believed to be interested in signing linebacker Nick Vigil, sources told Adam Caplan of Sirius XM NFL Radio and Insidethebirds.com. Vigil, an impending free agent, spent the first four years of his career with the Bengals. He started all 16 games for Cincy this past season, racking up 111 tackles and five passes defended. Vigil will likely be seeking a decent-sized contract, and he should have a relatively strong market. Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther coached Vigil in Cincinnati, so there’s a lot of familiarity between the two sides.

Drew Lock To Return To Broncos Practice

Despite Joe Flacco enduring a rough Thursday night against the Chiefs, the Broncos as of now do not have a viable alternative at quarterback. Their depth chart, however, could return to full strength soon.

Drew Lock will practice next week, Vic Fangio said (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, on Twitter). The second-round rookie has been out since midway through Denver’s preseason slate with a sprained right thumb. He can come off IR in Week 9.

Interestingly, two other players on the Broncos’ IR list — Theo Riddick and wideout Tim Patrick — will join Lock in returning to practice. IR rules stipulate the Broncos can only activate one of them, so either Riddick or Patrick will end up on season-ending IR soon.

Flacco lost his Ravens job to a rookie last season, with Lamar Jackson usurping him while the longtime Baltimore starter was out with injury. Flacco fared poorly in the Broncos’ latest nationally televised spot, pointing to another benching at some point in this season’s second half.

It would stand to reason the 2-5 Broncos will want to give Lock time down the stretch. While the University of Missouri product did not have a strong preseason, the Broncos’ worst start in two decades points them toward evaluation mode. Determining if Lock is a realistic future starter will be key for a team that could still consider taking another quarterback in the 2020 draft.

Since Patrick landed on IR after the Broncos’ Week 1 game, he cannot return to action until Week 9. Patrick showed some promise as a rookie, catching 23 passes for 315 yards and a touchdown. This season’s Broncos offense has not featured much in the passing game beyond Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders, with DaeSean Hamilton playing a more limited role.

Riddick chose the Broncos over interest from the Saints and other teams but went down during Denver’s preseason slate. A shoulder fracture shelved Riddick, but the longtime Lions passing-down back will have a chance to begin his age-28 season soon.

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Broncos Place Lock, Butt, Riddick On IR

The Broncos have placed quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Jake Butt, and running back Theo Riddick on injured reserve, per a team announcement. All three will be eligible to return to game action after eight weeks, but the Broncos can only activate up to two players from IR, not the whole trio.

The moves will clear the way for three signings: linebackers Keishawn Bierria and Corey Nelson and cornerback Davontae Harris. Bierria and Nelson (see story here) will receive one-year deals while Harris gets a two-year pact.

If all three players return to full health, and Joe Flacco plays well, Butt and Riddick could be the leaders in the clubhouse for the Broncos’ IR-DTR spots.

Broncos RB Theo Riddick Out 6-8 Weeks

New Broncos RB Theo Riddick suffered a slight shoulder fracture during the team’s preseason game against the Seahawks on Thursday, as Mike Klis of 9News.com reports. Riddick will be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

Luckily, the injury will not require surgery, and Riddick should return no later than Week 5. There was some chatter recently that Devontae Booker could become a trade candidate in the wake of the Riddick signing, but given Riddick’s injury, Denver will almost certainly hang on to Booker, an experienced third-down back.

The injuries are starting to pile up a bit for the Broncos. We learned Friday that fullback Andy Janovich will also miss the next six to eight weeks, and special teams standout Joe Jones will be sidelined for a while as well.

Riddick, who is best-known for his receiving ability out of the backfield, was expected to serve as a strong complement to starter Phillip Lindsay. He may still play an important role for the Broncos this year, but the team will have to rely more heavily on Booker and Royce Freeman for the first several weeks of the season.

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West Rumors: 49ers, Seahawks, Broncos

It’s been a long offseason for the 49ers, who have seen numerous key players deal with injuries throughout the spring and summer. Add more to the list of San Francisco talents set to miss the preseason. Jerick McKinnon and Weston Richburg are both unlikely to play until Week 1. Given $18MM guaranteed, McKinnon is still dealing with knee trouble after missing all of last season with an ACL tear. The sixth-year running back received a platelet-rich plasma injection on his knee and is expected to miss the 49ers’ August slate, Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com notes. The team activated him from the PUP list Tuesday, but Kyle Shanahan said his prized 2018 offseason signing experienced significant soreness after going through individual drills the past two days. Richburg, who remains on the active/PUP list after a January knee surgery, is being targeted a Week 1 return. So are Nick Bosa and Jason Verrett. The 49ers hope Dee Ford, who received a PRP injection on his injured knee, can play by the team’s dress-rehearsal preseason game.

Here’s the latest West news from outside of San Francisco:

  • With the Seahawks in desperate need of available pass rushers come Week 1, more blitz opportunities may be on tap. Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks (should he be on the field) are in position to be used more as rushers. “If we can play really good D, it’s going to be because of Bobby and K.J. and Mychal and the guys in the linebacker spot. We’re going to utilize them as much as we can to be a factor in all aspects, run and pass [defense],” Pete Carroll said, via ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson. “Those guys are really good pass defenders, and they love coming off the edge too. We’ll plan on using those guys a lot.” After Frank Clark‘s departure, the Seahawks have Ziggy Ansah and L.J. Collier injured. Jarran Reed incurred a six-game suspension. Wright has not collected a sack since 2016, when he had four. Wagner had 4.5 that year but recorded 2.5 since.
  • Theo Riddick will earn a $2MM 2019 base salary with the Broncos, and $750K of it is fully guaranteed, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. Another $250K will be available in per-game roster bonuses. Overall, Riddick signed for $2.5MM with $1MM guaranteed. This makes it a near-certainty Riddick will appear on the Broncos’ 53-man roster in September.
  • The Broncos are already down Todd Davis for multiple weeks; they will be without one of his top backups for longer than that. Joe Jones suffered a triceps injury this week, and a second opinion delivered more clarity on the inside linebacker’s timeline. Jones will be out between six and eight weeks, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets. But he will not need surgery, which could increase his chances of making the Broncos. If Jones hits IR before the Broncos finalize their 53-man unit, the special-teamer will be ineligible to return for them this season.
  • Returning 2018 fifth-round pick Johnny Townsend would seemingly be in line to keep his job as the Raiders‘ punter, but Jon Gruden said rookie UDFA A.J. Cole has put himself in the conversation to unseat the incumbent, per Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (on Twitter). Cole would be an option to handle Raiders kickoffs as well.

West Notes: Seahawks, Broncos, Breida

Although the Seahawks traded Frank Clark, have L.J. Collier sidelined for a while and Ziggy Ansah still yet to fully participate in training camp, they feature an additional pass rusher in Barkevious Mingo. The former first-round pick is now a full-time defensive end, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. The 28-year-old defender worked as an outside linebacker in Seattle’s 4-3 scheme last season but came into the league as a 3-4 edge. That has never translated to sack production (10 in six seasons), but it looks like the Seahawks will attempt to see if Mingo’s first NFL work as a full-time lineman can.

That’s what I came into this league to do,’’ said Mingo, who played 545 snaps last season with Seattle. “I came into this league to rush the passer. And teams I’ve been on before, they’ve had a different idea of what they wanted me to do. And that’s OK. … But looking back at it, I’m happy I get to go back and do it (rush the passer now). I wish it would have been a little earlier in my career. But still, I’m just excited for the opportunity to go out there and just help the team.”

Moving first to some backfield situations, here is the latest from some of the NFL’s Mountain and Pacific Time Zone teams.

  • While Pete Carroll said 2018 first-rounder Rashaad Penny had a “great” offseason, the Seahawks still appear to be leaning toward keeping 2017 seventh-rounder Chris Carson as their starting running back. Penny is not playing on the same level Carson is during camp, per The Athletic’s Michael-Shawn Dugar (subscription required). Penny, though, will be a bigger part of Seattle’s offense than he was as a rookie. Mike Davis‘ Chicago relocation will ensure the San Diego State alum sees more time.
  • Theo Riddick visited the Broncos and Saints before deciding on Denver, but the six-year Lions back said (via Mike Klis of 9News) 10 teams reached out after Detroit released him. Riddick, 28, signed a one-year, $2.5MM deal to join Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman in the Broncos’ backfield equation. The longtime pass-catching back took reps with the Broncos’ first-string offense in his initial practice with the team.
  • As for where that leaves Devontae Booker: Klis notes there is a chance the team keeps four halfbacks and fullback Andy Janovich. However, Booker may now be a trade candidate. The Broncos used former California high school sprint champion Khalfani Muhammad in all four quarters of Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game.
  • Matt Breida may join Booker on the trade block, though that is not certain yet. The 49ers have one of the NFL’s deepest backfields, with Breida joining Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon. It’s been posited the 49ers will not have room for all three on game days, considering Raheem Mostert was re-signed for his special teams ability. A way Breida (5.3 yards per carry last season) could see time will be as a kick returner, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. Breida has only returned five NFL kicks, all coming in his 2017 rookie year.
  • Seahawks recently waived tight ends Justin Johnson and Tyrone Swoopes cleared waivers and will revert to the team’s IR list, Condotta tweets.

AFC West Notes: Brown, Broncos, Chiefs

Antonio Brown has not done much in Raiders training camp, beginning it on their active/NFI list and having missed almost all of his new team’s sessions thus far. An offseason foot problem, one recently labeled “very minor” has shelved the 31-year-old superstar. Brown is now set to visit a foot specialist on Saturday, Vic Tafur of The Athletic tweets. Jon Gruden said Friday he’s disappointed Brown has not been able to do much in camp, and while The Athletic’s Lindsay Jones tweets Brown is only dealing with foot blisters, a specialist visit is not a great sign to start Brown’s Oakland tenure. Frustration is mounting on both sides, but this is still being viewed a minor malady, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Michael Gehlken (Twitter links). Brown has missed six of seven Raider camp workouts and has not participated in a full session yet.

Here is the latest from the AFC West, shifting first to the Broncos’ most recent skill-position addition:

  • Theo Riddick ended up choosing the Broncos as his second NFL team. In an era that has seen running back value plunge considerably, Riddick did relatively well. His Broncos deal is for one year and $2.5MM, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. With a $1MM guarantee, it’s a good bet Riddick will join Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman in Denver’s Week 1 backfield. Incentives being met would spike this pact’s value to $3.3MM, Klis adds. The Broncos were fairly well-stocked at running back, though injuries have sidelined both Lindsay and Freeman for stretches to start their careers. Riddick would also stand to help the Broncos in the slot.
  • Continuing on the subject of Broncos roles, it is Bradley Chubb, not Von Miller, who is stationed in the Khalil Mack outside linebacker position in Vic Fangio‘s defense, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com tweets. While likely to be viewed as Denver’s No. 2 pass rusher throughout Miller’s prime, Chubb is coming off a 12-sack rookie season.
  • The Chiefs are moving cornerback Tremon Smith to running back, as B.J. Kissel of the team’s official website tweets. Smith only played 82 defensive snaps as a rookie, serving primarily as a kick returner. The 2018 sixth-round pick joins Damien Williams, Carlos Hyde, 2018 UDFA Darrel Williams and 2019 sixth-rounder Darwin Thompson. Given Smith’s work as a return man, he seems a fairly safe bet to make his way back to Kansas City’s 53-man roster.

Broncos To Sign Theo Riddick

Running back Theo Riddick will sign a free agent deal with the Broncos later this week, a source tells Mike Klis of 9 News (on Twitter). The Saints and other teams were also in on Riddick, but he’ll join up with Denver and Joe Flacco instead. 

The Broncos already have a No. 1 running back in Phillip Lindsay, but Riddick’s soft hands could make him a strong No. 2 companion. Last year, Lindsay caught 35 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown out of the backfield. Riddick, meanwhile, has averaged a 62/474/2.5 stat line over the last four years, including a showing of 80/697/3 in 2015.

Riddick generated immediate interest, despite being a running back going into his seventh season. Despite the constantly depressed market, Riddick’s pass-catching ability stood out – his 285 catches since his 2013 slate is the third-highest of any RB in that span. Meanwhile, his 2,238 receiving yards is No. 4 among backs.

The Broncos now have some extra firepower in their artillery, while the Saints may or may not continue their search for backfield help. In the last week, they’ve lost out on both Riddick and Alfred Morris, who signed with the Cowboys.

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Theo Riddick Down To Broncos, Saints?

Theo Riddick generated some interest after the Lions ended his six-year tenure last week, and the seventh-year pass-catching back looks to be deciding between the two teams he visited. It appears to be a Broncos-or-Saints decision for the veteran back, per Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter).

This is interesting because of a previous report. Riddick was tabbed, per NOLA.com’s Herbie Teope (Twitter link), as hoping to take his time before choosing his next team. More visits were potentially on the agenda, though Teope did not indicate a third team was definitively in the mix. He now hears that it’s indeed Denver or New Orleans for the 28-year-old back (Twitter link).

Offensive assistants for both teams likely have played roles in this recruitment. Riddick played under Broncos running backs coach Curtis Modkins from 2013-15, with Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi also in Detroit during that time — as Lions OC from 2014-15.

It’s interesting in an era of running back marginalization that Riddick has generated immediate interest going into his seventh season, but he has shown a defined skill set that fits well in the modern game. Riddick has 285 receptions since his 2013 rookie slate; that’s third in the NFL among running backs over that span. His 2,238 receiving yards are fourth among backs.

Both the Broncos and Saints have solidified first- and second-string backs, with Phillip Lindsay and Alvin Kamara starting and Royce Freeman and Latavius Murray in place as respective complementary pieces. The Broncos have fourth-year back Devontae Booker in place behind Lindsay and Freeman, but Riddick has shown much more as a receiver.

The Saints also lost out on potential target Alfred Morris, who agreed to terms with the Cowboys minutes ago. While Morris and Riddick do not have similar skill sets, the Saints are showing urgency to bring in some help behind their top two backs. Buck Allen has not suited up for camp yet, leaving former Riddick Detroit teammate Dwayne Washington among those seeing time in his absence. While Booker would seemingly stay on as Denver’s third-string back if Riddick opts for New Orleans, Larry Holder of The Athletic writes (subscription required) the Saints’ No. 3 job is wide open.

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Broncos To Meet With Theo Riddick

Former Lions running back Theo Riddick is scheduled to visit the Broncos, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). This marks the second visit on Riddick’s free agency tour after he huddled up with the Saints on Sunday. 

The pass-catching specialist had some excellent years in Detroit, but the rise of Kerryon Johnson lessened his importance with the Lions. When the club signed C.J. Anderson this offseason, it was yet another indication that they could move on from the 28-year-old.

The Broncos already have a No. 1 running back in Phillip Lindsay, but Riddick’s soft hands could make him a strong No. 2 companion. Last year, Lindsay caught 35 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown out of the backfield. Riddick, meanwhile, has averaged a 62/474/2.5 stat line over the last four years, including a showing of 80/697/3 in 2015.

In addition to the Broncos and Saints, the Vikings are said to have some level of interest in the veteran.

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