Tommy Stevens

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 11/16/20

We’ll keep track of today’s practice squad moves here:

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

  • Signed: LS Rex Sunahara

New England Patriots

New York Giants

Washington Football Team

The Panthers were going to land Stevens as an UDFA back in April before the Saints snagged him in the seventh-round. He was recently cut from New Orleans’ practice squad last week. Stevens is a diverse athlete who played a Taysom Hill-esque role at Penn State before transferring to Mississippi State for the 2019 college season. His signing could be an indication the Panthers are worried about Teddy Bridgewater‘s status for Sunday, but since they had previous reported interest in Stevens it could be completely unrelated.

Saints Sign Anthony Chickillo, Margus Hunt To Practice Squad

Two of the Saints’ most notable Saturday cuts will stay with the team. Both Anthony Chickillo and Margus Hunt opted to stay with New Orleans, joining the practice squad Sunday.

The Saints signed Chickillo, a five-year Steelers linebacker, and Hunt — a former first-round defensive lineman whom the Colts cut earlier this year — earlier this year. Each will represent a veteran slot on the Saints’ P-squad.

Teams are permitted, thanks to the COVID-19-altered rules, to carry six veterans of unlimited service time on their taxi squads this year. Here is New Orleans’ full squad:

Saints Cut Margus Hunt, Drop Roster To 53

Here is how the Saints moved their roster down to 53 players Saturday:

Waived:

Released:

Waived/injured:

  • RB Saquan Hamilton

Placed on reserve/PUP:

Placed on IR:

Placed on reserve/suspended list:

The Saints made some notable cuts on their defensive line, dropping Edwards and Hunt. The former played with New Orleans last season, while the latter was an offseason addition. The Colts cut Hunt earlier this year, doing so after previously extending him. However, New Orleans does have Malcom Brown back and re-signed David Onyemata in March. The Saints are pursuing Jadeveon Clowney as well.
Alonso suffered a torn ACL in the playoffs last year. He will miss at least six games. The Saints signed Fowler over the summer. The former Broncos auxiliary receiver worked out with Drew Brees and Emmanuel Sanders during the pandemic-induced NFL hiatus.
Stevens, like most of the players cut Saturday, profiles as a practice squad candidate. The Saints became involved in a strange controversy over the seventh-round pick, whom the Panthers coveted. It will be interesting to see if Carolina submits a waiver claim on Stevens.

Panthers Deny Wrongdoing In Tommy Stevens Pursuit

Last month, seventh-round pick Tommy Stevens found himself in the headlines after a strange tug-of-war between the Saints and Panthers. The Saints, after trading away their entire Day 3 haul, hoped to sign the Mississippi State quarterback as an undrafted free agent. The Saints and Panthers reportedly wound up in a bidding war for him before the conclusion of the draft, prompting Sean Payton to trade back into the draft to nab Stevens at No. 240 overall

It seems that both teams violated league rules which allow for teams to chat with potential UDFAs before the draft is over, but forbid actual negotiations. For his part, Panthers GM Marty Hurney says he did not do anything “out of bounds”.

That’s not — what we did is we did have several conversations with Tommy before the draft. He had history with [offensive coordinator] Joe Brady (at Penn State). We thought that if we didn’t have a chance to draft him that he was one of the guys on our list. But it didn’t go any further than that,” Hurney said (via Joe Person of The Athletic).

The league may or may not agree after completing an investigation into the matter. If the Saints and/or Panthers are found to have violated league rules, they could be penalized with fines or the forfeiture of future draft picks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints, Panthers To Be Sanctioned for Tommy Stevens Pursuit?

Two division rivals were engaged in an interesting game of tug-of-war at the tail end of the 2020 draft, with the prize being Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens. On Day 2 of the draft, New Orleans traded pick nos. 130, 169, 203, and 244 to the Vikings for the right to move up to no. 105 and select Dayton tight end Adam Trautman. That left the team with no Day 3 selections, so as Jeff Duncan of The Athletic writes, the Saints spent much of that day planning for the UDFA signing period.

One of New Orleans’ top UDFA targets was Stevens, who may ultimately fill the same QB2/gadget role that Taysom Hill presently occupies. But the Saints learned that the Panthers were interested in Stevens as well and were prepared to offer him a $15K signing bonus and guarantee $30K of his salary if he signed with Carolina as a UDFA. The Saints swooped in and offered a massive $144K in guaranteed salary if he would agree to sign with New Orleans, but then Stevens’ camp stopped answering the Saints’ calls.

Perhaps the Panthers topped the Saints’ offer, or perhaps Stevens viewed Carolina as a better long-term fit. But Saints head coach Sean Payton coveted the 6-5, 235-pound signal-caller, so he helped engineer a trade back into the seventh round of the draft to grab him, leaving the Panthers stunned.

This makes for an interesting story, one that may ultimately have no significance if Stevens, like most seventh-round picks, doesn’t pan out. The problem, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk observes, is that both the Saints and the Panthers flagrantly violated league rules. Once the draft begins, teams are at liberty to let prospects know that they are interested in them if they go undrafted, but they cannot discuss financial details. The NFL drove that point home in a league-wide memo this year, perhaps because the UDFA signing period was expected to be even more frenzied than usual.

As Florio notes in a separate piece, the league has yet to comment on the matter, though the Panthers have said that their actions were in compliance with league rules. And these particular rules are surely violated all the time, probably by every team in the league. The casualness with which the Saints brass discussed the situation suggests as much. Nonetheless, a league source expects both teams to be punished, though it remains to be seen what that punishment will entail.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Trade Up For QB Tommy Stevens

As the draft comes to a close, the Saints are making an interesting selection. New Orleans traded back up into the seventh-round to take Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens with the 240th pick.

The Saints gave the Texans a sixth-rounder in the 2021 draft to get the pick. The Saints are reportedly planning on having Taysom Hill take over for Drew Brees, and Stevens could take over for Hill. He’s a similar type of swiss army knife player who reportedly impressed scouts in workouts earlier this offseason. Stevens entered Penn State as a highly-recruited passer, but got blocked on the depth chart behind Trace McSorely.

While serving as McSorely’s backup he also played a large role on offense, as Penn State had a package of plays where he’d line up in the backfield or as a receiver. In the 2017 season, he had 250 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns. Before last season he transferred to MSU, and initially became their starting quarterback.

He struggled with injuries and was benched at times, finishing the season with 1,155 yards and 11 touchdowns with five interceptions. It’ll be interesting to see if he can carve out a Hill-like role in the pros.