Wendell Smallwood

Four Teams Wanted Wendell Smallwood

Of all the players to hit the waiver wire over the weekend, Wendell Smallwood was the most popular. Before the former Eagles running back was ultimately grabbed by the Redskins, the Colts, Jaguars, and Bengals all placed claims on him, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter).

The Redskins quietly boast a deep running back group with redshirt rookie Derrius Guice, future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson, pass-catching specialist Chris Thompson, Byron Marshall, and Smallwood. Fun fact: No Eagles RB had more rushing yards over the last three years than Smallwood.

He would have been a logical fit for the Colts, Jags, and Bengals as well. For the Bengals, Smallwood would have provided depth behind Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard in the wake of Rodney Anderson’s season-ending torn ACL. The Colts, meanwhile, only just got Jordan Wilkins back on the practice field and they still await Jonathan Williams‘ return. And the Jaguars, who just had to place Alfred Blue on IR, likely preferred Smallwood to Tyler Ervin and Devine Ozigbo, the two RBs they picked up on Sunday.

Sunday NFL Transactions: NFC East

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four NFC East 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 Cowboys, EaglesGiants, and Redskins are noted below.

Additionally, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads today. 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 East transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Washington Redskins

Eagles Reach 53-Man Limit

The Eagles have gotten down to 53, making some notable cuts to get there. The team released guard/center Stefen Wisniewski, who they re-signed to a $1.5MM deal back in May. He had gotten $150K guaranteed, so Philly will eat that. Wisniewski had started at least six games in each of the past three seasons for the Eagles.

To help thin out their crowded running backs room, they got rid of a few well-known names. They waived Josh Adams, who rushed for 511 yards for them last year, as well as 2017 fourth-round pick Donnel Pumphrey, who has battled injuries ever since entering the league. They also cut Wendell Smallwood, who had 364 yards rushing and three touchdowns and another 230 yards and two touchdowns through the air last year.

Offensive tackle Brett Toth also failed to make the team. Toth only recently got permission from the Army to join the NFL, and he signed with the Eagles only a couple weeks ago. He seems like a prime candidate for a practice squad spot.

Aside from that, and other announced moves, the Eagles made the following roster moves over the weekend to reach the 53-player limit:

Waived:

T Riley Mayfield

G Sua Opeta

TE Joshua Perkins

RB Boston Scott

DT Aziz Shittu (injured)

QB Clayton Thorson

WR Greg Ward

Released the following players:

Reserve/PUP

CB Jalen Mills

NFC East Notes: Redskins, Eagles, Ealy, Ward

Adrian Peterson spent several months in free agency before landing with Washington recently. Although the Redskins did not fare especially well in a loss to the Broncos on Friday night, their 33-year-old running back showed he still has something left. Peterson is now a “stone-cold lock” to make the Redskins’ roster, Rich Tandler of NBC Sports Washington writes. While the future Hall of Fame back was brought in because of injuries to Derrius Guice, Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall, Tandler views Peterson as having usurped Marshall for a spot on Washington’s 53-man roster. Peterson amassed 56 yards on 11 carries in his Redskins debut. Tandler expects Washington to retain four running backs but doesn’t rule out the prospect of five surviving the post-preseason cuts.

Here’s more out of the nation’s capital and the latest from some of the Redskins’ rivals.

  • Thanks to Jonathan Allen‘s return and the arrival of his former Alabama teammate, Da’Ron Payne, Washington is deeper on the defensive line than it was last season. But Tandler expects one of the Redskins’ cogs up front to begin the season on the PUP list. Stacy McGee underwent groin surgery earlier this summer and was not expected to be ready for Week 1. A spot on the Reserve/PUP list will shelve McGee for six regular-season weeks.
  • Former Redskins starter Matt Jones looks to have played himself out of consideration for an Eagles backup job, with Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com handicapping the race for Philadelphia’s No. 4 running back job as a head-to-head battle between third-year player Wendell Smallwood and rookie UDFA Josh Adams. Shorr-Parks views Donnel Pumphrey, a 2017 fourth-rounder who missed all of last season, as third behind Smallwood — whom the Eagles are still intrigued by — and Adams in this race for work behind Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles and Corey Clement. An Adams cut will likely result in another team claiming him, since the Eagles had to give him one of the largest UDFA guarantees any team authorized in this year’s post-draft signing period.
  • The Cowboys‘ move of Kony Ealy to defensive tackle may not be enough to save his roster spot. Dallas is deeper up front this year, and although Ealy was a 2018 UFA signing, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has the former Panthers second-round pick off the 53-man roster. Former Dallas waiver claim Brian Price resides in front of Ealy, in Hill’s view, for a roster spot. Ealy signed a one-year, $1.25MM contract, with a $200K signing bonus, in April. Also lost in the shuffle here is recent Cowboys trade acquisition Jihad Ward, who Hill doesn’t see making the roster. Both of these former second-round picks will at least need to show well in Dallas’ final two preseason games to have a shot.
  • One of the Eagles‘ 2018 UDFAs, safety Stephen Roberts, did not last until the final cut. Philly waived the Auburn product earlier Saturday, and this came after the defending Super Bowl champions guaranteed $52K of his base salary, per ESPN.com’s Field Yates (Twitter link). That amount was one of the highest guarantees allotted to any UDFA this year, so it’s possible Roberts will generate some waiver-wire attention.

NFC East Notes: Redskins, Beckham, Eagles

Derrius Guice‘s injury delivers a considerable setback to the Redskins‘ running back corps, to the point they may have to consider adding a veteran to the mix. But Jay Gruden did not confirm the team will go in this direction, pointing to the second-round Guice selection being a best-player-available move rather than a need pick.

We have guys here that can play,” Gruden said Saturday. “We drafted Derrius because he was the best player, we thought, at the time of the draft … not because we weren’t satisfied with the backs we have.”

The primary Redskins starters the past two years, Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine, remain on the team and are now set to be the team’s early-down backs. Passing-down specialist Chris Thompson, though he’s not yet fully recovered from the broken leg he suffered midway through last season, will reprise his role in 2018. Neither Kelley nor Perine surpassed 3.5 yards per carry last season, but Washington’s offensive line became significantly limited by injuries as the season progressed. Kelley fared much better in 2016.

Here’s the latest from the rest of the NFC East:

  • A day after Guice’s injury severity became known, the Redskins are concerned about 2017 sixth-round pick Robert Davis. The team fears its second-year wide receiver suffered a torn ACL, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. Davis will head in for an MRI later today, per Garafolo. The Georgia State alum was expected to play a bigger role in Year 2 after playing in just one game as a rookie.
  • The Giants‘ reasoning behind sitting Odell Beckham Jr. in the preseason opener stemmed from his injury recovery, not his contract situation, per Pat Shurmur. “I want to be smart with his recovery coming back [from ankle surgery],” Shurmur said, via Tom Rock of Newsday. “I never intended to play him in this game. I didn’t reveal that to [the public], but I never intended to.” Beckham has not experienced a known setback in his recovery from last season’s ankle injury. He encountered ankle trouble during the preseason against the Browns last year, spraining his left ankle barely a month prior to fracturing it.
  • The subject of Rasul Douglas moving to safety surfaced at Eagles practice, but the coaching staff shot that down, Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Philly lost Patrick Robinson and has Ronald Darby going into a contract year, so it would make sense Douglas stays at corner. Philadelphia’s staff still believes Douglas can have a quality career as a corner, although Kapadia adds he has not progressed like the team was hoping going into his second season.
  • Donnel Pumphrey may be in his final days as an Eagle, with Kapadia pointing out the “lower body” injury he suffered in the defending Super Bowl champions’ preseason opener may put him too far behind the other combatants in a hotly contested race to make the 53-man roster as the No. 4 running back. Wendell Smallwood, Matt Jones and rookie UDFA Josh Adams comprise the rest of that race, and Kapadia adds that Jones may be behind the other two after the Eagles’ first preseason game. The Eagles gave Adams a sizable guarantee to sign after the draft.

NFC Notes: Rodgers, Eagles, Johnson

It was reported by Mike Garafolo of NFL Network on Thursday that Aaron Rodgers was looking to have more control over his future, perhaps in the form of an out clause in his next contract with the Packers. Now more information has been revealed by Garafolo and his colleague Ian Rapoport (Twitter links).

Garafolo followed up his original report by saying there won’t be an “automatic trigger” to void years of the contract like some had speculated, but that Rodgers was “looking for more player control over his deal than the average NFL contract.”

Rapoport added that he was hearing “A proposed contract would include a series of player options.” As Rapoport notes, it’s a fascinating situation. After Kirk Cousins became the first quarterback to ever get a multi-year fully guaranteed deal, it isn’t surprising that more of the league’s top signal-callers will be looking for unconventional contracts. For years, contracts in the NFL more or less all followed the same rigid process that was very much controlled by the teams and owners, a dynamic that appears to now finally be shifting. Whatever contract extension Rodgers does end up signing, it’ll likely make him the NFL’s highest paid player.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood is a “long-shot” to make the 53-man roster, according to Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com. Smallwood played a big role as a rookie in 2016, carrying the ball 77 times for 312 yards, but saw his role greatly diminished last season. Now Shorr-Parks thinks the Eagles’ suddenly crowded running backs room will end up pushing Smallwood off the team altogether, saying “At this point Smallwood is facing a steep uphill battle to make the roster.”
  • Shorr-Parks also thinks cornerback Ronald Darby may not be on the team much longer. He writes that the Eagles have been impressed with fourth-year undrafted cornerback De’Vante Bausby, who’s been running with the first-team during OTAs. Shorr-Parks says “The Eagles won’t cut Darby, but a strong training camp from Bausby could put Darby on the trade block.”
  • The Lions have apparently been impressed with second-round running back Kerryon Johnson, and envision him playing a big role as a rookie. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the Lions see Johnson as a three-down back. If Johnson is playing the majority of snaps, with recently signed LeGarrette Blount in the fold, it could mean the end of the Ameer Abdullah era in Detroit. Abdullah has been mentioned as a possible cut-candidate by Lions reporters all offseason, and Johnson’s emergence could seal his fate.

 

Eagles Make Several Pre-Week 15 Moves

The Eagles’ running back corps continues to take hits and will be without one of its members for the rest of the season. Among a host of Monday moves, Philadelphia placed rookie Wendell Smallwood on IR.

Tackle Matt Tobin will also venture to the team’s IR list, where he’ll join long snapper Jon Dorenbos, whom the Eagles placed on the season-ending list after he was declared out for the season earlier today.

To begin filling this trio’s roster spots, the team signed former Jaguars cornerback Dwayne Gratz and long snapper Rick Lovato. Gratz’s deal is for two years, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Both the Jaguars and Rams cut Gratz this season. The former third-round pick played in three games for both teams this season, recording five tackles. He started in 17 games for the Jags in 2014 and ’15 but did not show enough to stick around through what began as his contract year.

A knee injury will close Smallwood’s initial NFL campaign. The fifth-round pick rushed 77 times for 312 yards, receiving multiple carries in 11 of the Eagles’ 13 games. This news comes after it became known Darren Sproles is in the concussion protocol, leaving the Eagles with Ryan Mathews, who returned last week from his latest injury to rush for 60 yards, and Kenjon Barner as healthy backfield options.

Tobin, a fourth-year ex-UDFA, started one game this season after breaking with the first unit in 20 games in ’14 and ’15. He played 31 snaps against Washington on Sunday but will miss the season’s remainder with a knee injury.

Lovato has been something of a snapper-on-call during his two-year career, with the Old Dominion product catching on with the Packers to close last season and joining the Redskins for a two-game stint in November. He’ll likely snap for the Eagles in their final three games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Sign Five Rookies

The Eagles announced that they have agreed to terms with five members of their draft class. Running back Wendell Smallwood (fifth round; pick No. 153), defensive back Blake Countess (sixth-round, pick No. 196), defensive back Jalen Mills (seventh-round; pick No. 233), defensive end Alex McCalister (seventh-round; pick No. 240), and linebacker Joe Walker (seventh-round; pick No. 251) are now officially members of the Eagles after inking four-year pacts. Wendell Smallwood (vertical)

[RELATED: Eagles Likely To Hire Joe Douglas As Personnel Chief]

Smallwood, a West Virginia product, declared early for the draft after enjoying his best season to date. In 2015, Smallwood ran for 1,519 yards off of 238 carries with nine touchdowns. The 5’11”, 201-pound tailback also added 26 catches for 160 yards. In 2014, Smallwood was arrested after allegedly intimidating a witness in a murder case implicating his longtime friend, as Les Bowen of The Inquirer details. Since then, the tailback says that he has grown as a person and the Eagles ostensibly agree.

I was just in a wrong situation,” Smallwood said. “I was young, hanging out with the wrong people. I was never around whatever happened. I wasn’t involved. There was no evidence, no witness against me. “I’ve just been learning from it and letting everybody know the truth. I’ve been completely honest with the guys here and the guys at every team I spoke to. They were well aware of it . . . I think they have confidence in me, that that’s not me, and that was a one-time thing, and it won’t happen again.”

With five rookies signed, the Eagles have only three players from this class left to take care of: quarterback Carson Wentz, guard Isaac Seumalo, and tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Earlier today, new Falcons safety Keanu Neal became the first-round pick to ink his a rookie deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: M. Lewis, Flacco, Smallwood, L.A.

Marcedes Lewis is eligible for free agency this winter, but the Jaguars tight end is hopeful he won’t reach the open market, preferring to work out a new deal that keeps him in Jacksonville, as Mike DiRocco of ESPN.com details.

“You rarely see players play 10 years for one team, let alone finish their career [with the same team], so it’s something that I want to be able to do,” Lewis said. “Hopefully we can get it done before all the other stuff even starts, if it’s possible. … I know where I want to be.”

As Lewis notes, he has spent the last decade with the Jaguars, catching 331 balls for the club during that stretch. Still, it’s not yet clear how serious the team will be about keeping him around going forward, now that Julius Thomas is in the mix. The 31-year-old hasn’t caught more than 25 passes since the 2012 season, and his 16 receptions in 2015 represented his lowest total since his rookie year, way back in 2006.

Here are more Thursday odds and ends from around the NFL:

  • Speaking this morning to Glenn Clark of PressBox (link via Justin Silberman of PressBoxOnline.com), Joe Linta – the agent for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco – was cagey about his client’s contract situation. Flacco is projected to have one of the league’s highest cap numbers, at $28.55MM, but Linta said there are no negotiations ongoing with the Ravens at this point, adding that the veteran QB isn’t in any rush to rework his deal. “I mean, that’s the price of these types of quarterbacks,” Linta said. “Every deal that’s going to be done is going to be in that realm.” Earlier today, GM Ozzie Newsome acknowledged that the Ravens would like to reduce Flacco’s 2016 cap hit, but said the team has a plan to work around it if it remains at $28MM+.
  • Big 12 rushing leader Wendell Smallwood changed his mind about staying at West Virginia, and has now decided to enter the 2016 NFL draft, as Allan Taylor of the West Virginia MetroNews writes. Zac Jackson of Pro Football Talk notes that Smallwood will join teammate Daryl Worley in heading to the NFL, despite the fact that the cornerback doesn’t project as a top pick.
  • During Wednesday’s team owner meetings in New York, Panthers owner – and Carson supporter – Jerry Richardson was “silent all meeting,” according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter link), who wonders if Richardson may be backing down from the joint RaidersChargers plan.
  • Cornerback Josh Norman is one of the most noteworthy players eligible for free agency this winter – he ranked third in PFR’s most recent free agent power rankings – but he says he won’t think about a new deal until the Panthers are eliminated from the playoffs or win the Super Bowl (link via ESPN’s David Newton). Meanwhile, GM Dave Gettleman admits it’s a “headache” trying to figure out how to keep Norman and all the other potential free agents the Panthers don’t want to lose, but he’s optimistic that the club will figure it out (link via Newton).