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Buccaneers Sign Justin Trattou

The Buccaneers have signed defensive end Justin Trattou and waived/injured fellow DE Evan Panfil, tweets Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times.

NFL: Preseason-Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys

The 28-year-old Trattou joins the Bucs after spending the first six seasons of his career with the Giants and Vikings. Since going undrafted out of Florida in 2011, Trattou has totaled 37 appearances but hasn’t yet started a game. His most productive campaign came with Minnesota in 2015, when he improbably logged more interceptions than tackles (two to one) across five games. He then posted his first 16-game season in 2016, but only 10 of his 280 snaps came on defense. Trattou was third on the Vikings in special teams snaps (270) and is now moving from an ST unit that finished ninth in DVOA last year to one that placed 21st.

Panfil, formerly with Purdue, signed with Tampa Bay as an undrafted free agent in May.

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Cardnals Sign Philip Wheeler

The Cardinals have signed linebacker Philip Wheeler to a one-year contract, according to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Arizona is the sixth NFL team for the 32-year-old Wheeler, who entered the league as a third-round pick of the Colts back in 2008. Wheeler has since racked up 133 appearances and 66 starts, including 16 and four in those categories with the NFC-winning Falcons last season. The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder amassed 27 tackles on 339 defensive snaps along the way, and after posting those modest totals, he didn’t generate any known offseason interest prior to signing with the Cardinals.

While a healthy Cards team should be fairly deep at linebacker, they’re in need of bodies there now with Deone Bucannon and Jarvis Jones dealing with injuries. For the time being, Wheeler will provide some extra help at the position, though he’s clearly not a lock to crack their season-opening roster.

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Minor NFL Transactions: 7/27/17

Thursday’s minor moves:

  • The Texans have claimed wide receiver Devin Street off waivers from the Jets. Houston’s already the fourth team this year for Street, who had brief stints with the Patriots and Jets after the Colts cut him in May. The three-year veteran has just 10 catches in 35 games.
  • While the Jets lost Street to waivers Thursday, they claimed running back Marcus Murphy from the Saints. Two years after New Orleans used a seventh-round pick on Murphy, the club cut him Wednesday. Murphy made no offensive impact with the Saints (one carry, one reception in 16 games), but he did return 34 kicks – one of which he ran back for a touchdown – and 19 punts. To make room for Murphy, the Jets waived running back Brandon Wilds, who totaled 12 touches (10 rushes, two catches) with the team as an undrafted rookie last year.
  • The Redskins have signed tight end E.J. Bibbs and waived linebacker Houston Bates. Bibbs’ only action to this point came as an undrafted rookie with the Browns in 2015, when he appeared in seven games and picked up one reception. Bates is more experienced, having collected 24 appearances with the Redskins from 2015-16. Although he didn’t make a dent on defense during that time, Bates did lead the Redskins in special teams snaps (293) last season.
  • The Rams made four additions on Thursday, per Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com, signing offensive lineman Parker Collins, running back De’Mard Llorens, and linebackers Andy Mulumba and Folarin Orimolade. Mulumba is the most notable member of the group, having played 22 games with the Packers and started three from 2013-15. He
  • As part of a series of moves, the Cardinals signed tight end Gerald Christian to a one-year deal and cut fellow TE Steve Wroblewski, an undrafted rookie. They also also reached injury settlements with cornerback Jumel Rolle and linebacker Tevin Floyd. Christian came into the league in 2015 as a seventh-round pick of the Cardinals, but his only game time came with Buffalo last season. He caught one pass in three contests as a Bill.
  • The Patriots have signed receiver Tony Washington, who’s joining his third team since hooking on with the Colts as an undrafted free agent from Appalachian State in 2014. Washington logged six appearances with the Jaguars over the previous two seasons and caught one pass.
  • The Falcons have added offensive lineman Larson Graham, an undrafted rookie from Duquesne.
  • The Broncos have waived undrafted rookie O-lineman Chris Muller, tweets Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. Muller signed with the team last month.

Broncos To Sign Stevan Ridley

The Broncos have agreed to a deal with running back Stevan Ridley, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Ridley worked out for the club on Thursday and did enough to earn a one-year contract, tweets Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post.

Stevan Ridley (vertical)

The addition of Ridley comes in response to the wrist injury fellow running back Devontae Booker suffered. With Booker set to miss six to eight weeks, Denver wanted a replacement to slot in behind C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles in its backfield.

The 28-year-old Ridley joins Charles as the Broncos’ second back with at least one 1,000-yard season under his belt, though the former hasn’t been particularly effective overall. Since a strong 2011-13 showing in New England that included a 1,263-yard, 12-touchdown season, Ridley’s output has declined substantially. He wasn’t much of a factor in 2014, his final season with the Patriots, and combined for just 10 appearances, 39 carries and 97 yards with the Jets and Falcons over the previous two years.

Thanks to his recent downturn in production, Ridley didn’t generate much offseason interest prior to reaching an agreement with the Broncos. He worked out with one of his ex-teams, the Jets, back in May, but it was radio silence otherwise.

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Saints Sign OL Orlando Franklin

Orlando Franklin is now a member of the Saints. The former Chargers offensive lineman has inked a one-year deal with New Orleans, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). "<strong

Franklin, 29, came to the Chargers as a free agent prior to the 2015 season, but he did not live up to his five-year, $35.5MM contract. He played in all 16 games last season – something he didn’t do in the previous year – but he also graded out as one of the seven worst qualified guards in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. In May, the Bolts cut him loose.

With a number of injuries on the offensive line – including starters Terron Armstead and Max Unger – adding depth was a major priority for the Saints. They’ve now added a veteran in Franklin, an interior lineman who also experience playing tackle from his days with the Broncos.

Franklin also met with the Jets on Tuesday, but it’s not clear whether the Jets made him an offer before his trip to New Orleans.

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Steelers, Villanueva Agree To Extension

Alejandro Villanueva has himself a new deal. The Steelers offensive tackle has agreed to a fresh four-year deal with the Steelers, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Alejandro Villanueva (Vertical)

The four-year deal is worth $24MM, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), with $14MM over the first two years. It’s a big step up considering that he was slated for a $615K salary this year as an exclusive rights free agent, but it’s still a team-friendly deal on the whole when considering Villanueva’s talent level. The top ten tackles in the league are making five figures per year and Villanueva effectively added three seasons at an average of $7.8MM. Villanueva may not be a top ten talent at the position, but he’s not far off and he’s just entering his prime years. The tackle turns 29 in September.

Villanueva waited to sign his ERFA tender this offseason in hopes that he could hammer out a long-term extension with Pittsburgh instead. Even though he wasn’t eligible to reach the open market until 2018, the Steelers opted to do right by one of its most important offensive linemen while also securing him for years to come.

Since debuting in 2015, Villanueva has appeared in 32 straight games, including 26 starts. He started every Steelers game last year and was the only member of its offense to play on all 1,083 of the unit’s snaps.

Last year, he was the 24th best offensive tackle in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus.

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Titans To Sign Erik Walden

The Titans are signing linebacker Erik Walden, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Walden spent the previous four seasons with the rival Colts. "<strong

Walden had 11.0 sacks last year and it’s surprising that he was on the market for this long. The 31-year-old (32 in August) has plenty of motivation to excel this year and make the rest of the league pass on signing him.

Walden met with the Titans in the spring after the Colts informed him that he wouldn’t be back. After four months of little activity – save for conversations with the Jets in June – he has circled back to Tennessee. The advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus might help to explain the lack of interest Walden has generated this offseason. Despite his 11 quarterback takedowns last year, he still graded out as one of the six worst edge defenders in the league.

The Titans will use Walden as a reserve outside linebacker behind starters Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo – assuming he makes the team. Kevin Dodd, Aaron Wallace, free agent addition Daren Bates, and rookies Jayon Brown and Josh Carraway are also pushing for playing time at OLB.

Walden fired agent Todd France at the tail end of March when he wasn’t getting enough bites and is now represented by Michael and Jason Katz of CSE Talent.

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Ravens’ John Urschel Retires From NFL

It’s not uncommon for players to announce their retirement as training camp gets underway. It is, however, unusual for a 26-year-old to do it. Ravens center John Urschel says he’s walking away from football. John Urschel (vertical)

This morning John Urschel informed me of his decision to retire from football,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said in a statement. “We respect John and respect his decision. We appreciate his efforts over the past three years and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Urschel participated in all of the Ravens’ offseason camps, but it seems that he is opting to pursue a career in mathematics instead. He’s a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at MIT and is said to be a straight-A student, so there should be no shortage of options for him after football.

Meanwhile, his surprise retirement leaves the Ravens with a definite void in the middle of the offensive line. Urschel was slated to be the Ravens’ starting center and now that Jeremy Zuttah is no longer in the picture, the Ravens are without a clear cut plan B.

Now that the Ravens are in the market for a center, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them circle back to former Jets standout Nick Mangold.

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Cowboys To Sign RB Ronnie Hillman

The Cowboys are signing veteran running back Ronnie Hillman, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Hillman auditioned for the Cowboys earlier this week, along with ex-Jaguars running back Denard Robinson.Ronnie Hillman

[RELATED: Zac Dysert Likely To Miss Season]

Dallas already has Ezekiel ElliottAlfred Morris, and Darren McFadden on the depth chart, but they’re reportedly still looking for someone to fill Lance Dunbar‘s shoes in the RB4 role. Hillman could be the man for the job and that could spell bad news for undrafted running back Jahad Thomas and fullback Keith Smith.

Hillman was once a key part of the Broncos’ offense, but he has not been the same player since his surprising release from Denver before last season. Hillman appeared in eight games with the Chargers and Vikings, compiling only 131 yards on 41 carries (3.2 yards per carry). In 2015, however, he posted career highs in yards (863) and yards per carry (4.2).

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Chargers Acquire Cardale Jones

The Bills announced that they have traded quarterback Cardale Jones to the Chargers for a conditional draft pick. It’s a seventh-rounder in either 2018 or ’19, reports Albert Breer of The MMQB (on Twitter).

Cardale Jones (Vertical)

The Chargers had been in the market to acquire another quarterback to compete for a spot behind starter Philip Rivers, having worked out veteran Robert Griffin III on Tuesday. While the Bolts’ meeting with RG3 went well, they’ve elected to go with Jones, who’s only a year removed from joining the Bills as a fourth-round pick. As a rookie, the former Ohio State star worked with Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, who was the Bills’ offensive coordinator last year. On the heels of Rex Ryan‘s firing, Lynn served as the Bills’ interim head coach in Week 17 – a 30-10 loss to the Jets in which Jones saw his first pro action. The 24-year-old completed 6 of 11 passes for 96 yards and an interception.

The offseason regime change in Buffalo clearly helped lead to Jones’ demise with the club. The general manager who selected Jones, Doug Whaley, lost his job after the draft this year. Before that, the Bills, led by new head coach Sean McDermott, used a fifth-round pick on ex-Pitt standout Nathan Peterman. With Tyrod Taylor entrenched as the starter and veteran T.J. Yates also in the fold, there was no longer room for Jones in Buffalo. He’ll now push for a place behind Rivers, whose primary backup is Kellen Clemens. The Chargers also have developmental QBs Mike Bercovici and Eli Jenkins on hand.

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