Will Johnson (FB)

FB Will Johnson Visited Falcons, Jets

Free agent fullback Will Johnson recently met with the Falcons and Jets, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com.Will Johnson (vertical)

Johnson, 27, was released by the Giants earlier this month, although he suggested he could end up re-signing with Big Blue on a cheaper deal. After spending four seasons in Pittsburgh (and appearing in 63 games during that period), Johnson missed the entirety of the 2016 campaign after suffering nerve damage in his deltoid muscle.

Atlanta signed two fullbacks — including veteran Derrick Coleman — earlier this week, but that shouldn’t stop the club from taking a look at Johnson. Last season, the Falcons deployed a fullback with regularity, as Patrick DiMarco played 324 offensive snaps, third among all NFL fullbacks. DiMarco has since signed with the Bills, leaving a void in Atlanta’s offense.

The Jets were on the other end of the spectrum in terms of fullback use: Julian Howsare lead all Gang Green fullbacks with a whopping three offensive snaps. Former offensive coordinator Chan Gailey didn’t utilize the fullback in his scheme, but new play-caller John Morton may want to, as the Saints (Morton’s former employer) used a fullback on roughly a quarter of their plays. New York doesn’t currently have a fullback on its roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants To Release Will Johnson

The Giants are releasing Will Johnson, the fullback told Dan Duggan of NJ.com. However, the 28-year-old said he could return to the organization on a minimum-salary deal. Johnson had one-year remaining on the two-year, $2.3MM deal he signed last offseason. As Duggan notes, the move will save the Giants about $1MM. Will Johnson (vertical)

Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (Twitter link) confirmed the news, adding that a return is possible but he will first explore the market. The move will save $610K against the cap.

The team inked tight end/fullback Rhett Ellison earlier this week, and it was apparent that the team would likely move on from Johnson, who would theoretically play a similar role in the G-Men offense. The fullback didn’t take the field in 2016 as he recovered from “slight nerve damage to the deltoid muscle.” Prior to that, Johnson played four seasons with the Steelers, where he only missed a single game.

Johnson has eight career carries for 14 yards and one touchdown. He’s hauled in another 31 receptions for 235 yards and two scores.

“I’d like to come back, but I know they just signed a guy who basically does the same thing I do, so I don’t know if they even want me back,” Johnson said. “They’re aware that I can sign elsewhere. I plan to shop around. There’s not much of a market for me coming off (injured reserve) for a season. So, we’ll see how things turn out.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Down To 53

The Giants started their cuts early this morning by cutting a handful of big wide receivers and went from there. French wide receiver Anthony Dable and Cal product Darius Powe are among those who have been shown the door.

Dable played professionally in Grenoble, France and also spent the last two seasons in Germany. With his German Football League team, Dable caught 145 passes for just under 2,500 yards and 32 touchdowns over the last two campaigns. Although he did not grow up in a football-heavy atmosphere, he learned the game by watching others from afar.

I learned football by watching videos of the receivers I like on YouTube, and I like guys that are the same size as me, like Brandon Marshall,” Dable said. “I think I play like Brandon Marshall. I like how he moves after the catch, with his size.”

Powe, a 6’3″ receiver, saved his best season for last at Cal. As a senior, Powe hauled in 47 catches for 560 yards and 8 touchdowns.

We’ll keep a running list of the Giants’ moves here. All of these moves have been confirmed via team press release.

Placed on IR:

  • TE Will Johnson

Cut:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Nelson, W. Johnson, Larsen

Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle has several details on a handful of the latest contracts to be agreed upon or signed from around the NFL. Let’s dive in and check out the specifics….

  • Reggie Nelson, S (Raiders): Two years, $8.5MM. $4MM guaranteed. $2MM roster bonus due next Friday. Salaries of $2MM (guaranteed) and $2.75MM. $1.25MM roster bonus due on third day of 2017 league year (becomes guaranteed if Nelson plays 65% of Raiders’ defensive snaps in 2016). Annual $250K workout bonus. Up to $1.75MM annually in incentives for INTs, playing time, and Pro Bowl (Twitter links).
  • Will Johnson, FB (Giants): Two years, $2.3MM. $400K signing bonus. $100K of $800K 2016 salary is guaranteed. $100K roster bonus due on third day of 2017 league year. Up to $600K in incentives for playing time, receptions, and Pro Bowl (Twitter links).
  • Ted Larsen, OL (Bears): One year, $1.65MM. $350K signing bonus. Up to $200K in per-game roster bonuses. $50K workout bonus. Up to $750K in playing time incentives (Twitter link).
  • Stevan Ridley, RB (Lions): One year, minimum salary benefit. $50K signing bonus. $30K workout bonus. $200K of $760K base salary is guaranteed (Twitter link).
  • Sterling Moore, CB (Bills): One year, minimum salary benefit. $80K signing bonus (Twitter link).

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/4/16

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league:

  • The Giants have agreed to sign offensive lineman Ryan Seymour, as Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily News tweets. Seymour, a veteran of five NFL teams over three seasons, was non-tendered by New Orleans in March.


Earlier Updates:

  • The Lions have agreed to sign former Cincinnati defensive end Wallace Gilberry, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The one-year deal is worth up to $1.75MM.
  • The Cowboys will re-sign defensive lineman Jack Crawford, as David Moore of the Dallas Morning News tweets. It’s a one-year deal, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com writes.
  • The Jaguars announced that they have claimed tackle Tanner Hawkinson off waivers from the Eagles. Hawkinson, a 2013 fifth-round pick of Cincinnati, did any snaps last year for Philadelphia despite being active for two contests.
  • The 49ers announced on Monday that offensive lineman Jordan Devey has signed a one-year exclusive rights tender. The Niners acquired Devey from New England in August of last year and he went on to appear in 15 games with nine starts.
  • The Panthers have signed punter Michael Palardy, Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • Former Pittsburgh H-back Will Johnson has agreed to sign with the Giants on a two-year deal, ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler writes. Johnson can line up as a tight end, fullback, or running back and is also a special teams contributor. Johnson was reportedly looking to sign with a team that would give him more carries, so it’s possible that he will be a bigger part of the offense in New York than he was in Pittsburgh.
  • The Lions have signed veteran tight end Matthew Mulligan, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

AFC Free Agent Rumors: Hogan, Pats, Steelers

The latest free agent rumors out of the AFC:

  • Bills restricted free agent Chris Hogan is visiting the Patriots today, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Pats could sign the wide receiver/special-teamer to an offer sheet that the Bills would have five days to match. Pats head coach Bill Belichick has done serious research on Hogan and he likes the fact that he could serve as a backup punter, Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News tweets.
  • Steelers H-back Will Johnson has talked with the Jets, Bears, Chargers, and Titans since the opening of free agency, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes. Johnson is a versatile blocker and special teamer, but Fowler adds that he could be looking for more carries, too.
  • The Chiefs weren’t close to matching the Raiders‘ offer for cornerback Sean Smith, per Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter).
  • The Bengals are trying to close on re-signing linebacker Vincent Rey today, as Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com tweets.

AFC Notes: Dolphins, Steelers, Jaguars

The Dolphins will watch the playoffs from their couches for the seventh straight season largely because they’ve cycled through various underwhelming choices at head coach and quarterback during that span. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald offers a solution for each spot: Sean Payton and Drew Brees.

Both Payton and Brees are still under contract in New Orleans beyond this season (Payton for two years, Brees for one), but there are rumblings that Payton will search for another job during the offseason. Thus, he could end up in Miami – which isn’t expected to promote interim head coach Dan Campbell. Should Payton attempt to take a position elsewhere, the Saints will expect compensation for him. If the Dolphins ends up as Payton’s next team, Salguero believes they should be willing to package as much as a first-round pick in 2016, a first-rounder in ’17, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill to ensure that the Saints put Brees in the deal with Payton.

Salguero’s proposal would make sense for the Saints, who are in cap jail and nowhere near contention. They’d get Tannehill – who has shown potential, is nine years younger than Brees (37 in January), and under team control through 2020 – and a couple of valuable draft choices to aid in a rebuild. The Dolphins would be surrendering a boatload in hopes of ending their playoff drought, but Salguero thinks owner Stephen Ross would be a proponent of such a move because Ross has tried something similar in the past. As Salguero details, Ross attempted to hire then-Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh in 2011 and wanted Harbaugh to convince his QB, Andrew Luck, to enter the draft. It didn’t work then, but Salguero sees his idea as a win-win for both Ross’ Dolphins and the Saints.

In the event Salguero’s suggestion becomes a reality, it would mean Brees finally ends up in a Dolphins uniform – something that nearly happened almost a decade ago. Instead the team traded for Daunte Culpepper, whose time in Miami was a failure. On the other hand, Brees became a Super Bowl winner and a Hall of Fame lock in New Orleans.

More from the AFC:

  • The 8-5 Steelers are currently on the outside of the AFC playoff picture, but they might end up as the conference’s scariest team if they get into the postseason, Bob McManaman of the AZCentral.com opines. The Steelers are getting hot at the right time, having averaged 35 points per game and nearly 500 yards per contest over their last five, and this year’s AFC powers have looked vulnerable of late. New England has come back to earth somewhat thanks to injury issues, while Cincinnati may have lost star quarterback Andy Dalton for the season and Denver doesn’t appear to have a solution under center. All of that could open the door for the Steelers to ultimately make their first Super Bowl appearance since 2010-11.
  • The concussion protocol the NFL established in 2013 is garnering positive reviews from the Steelers, who say it protects them from themselves, Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. “If you leave it up to us, there’s never nothing wrong with us,” cornerback William Gay stated, implying that he and his fellow players will always look for an excuse to stay in a game. With the concussion protocol in place, though, that can’t happen anymore. Said fullback Will Johnson, “I have trust in their concussion protocol and that they are going to make sure that I am completely safe before they let me go out and participate. I’ve always felt comfortable. I know it is a hot topic of conversation right now, but I have never had a problem.”
  • Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley‘s decision in 2013 to retain receivers coach Jerry Sullivan, a holdover from the prior staff, is paying off, according to Ryan O’Halloran of Jacksonville.com. Sullivan deserves at least some credit for helping turn a pair of second-year wideouts – Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns – into big-time threats, especially given that neither was a first-round pick. Robinson was a second-rounder, and Hurns somehow went undrafted. The two have combined for 127 catches, 1,900-plus yards and 20 touchdowns this season. “On Sundays, he’s like the voice in my head,” Robinson said of Sullivan.

AFC Notes: Bills, P. Thomas, Browns, Ajayi

Addressing a report that suggested he left several members of the Bills‘ front office and coaching staff out of the loop when he decided to cut Fred Jackson, general manager Doug Whaley said on Thursday night that he consulted several others before making the move official, writes Tyler Dunne of The Buffalo News. According to Whaley, head coach Rex Ryan was with him when he informed Jackson of the decision.

“So he was in there with me when we told him together,” Whaley said. “Talked to the running backs coach (Anthony Lynn). So it wasn’t just me waking up one day and deciding, ‘Hey, I want to do this.'”

Whaley added multiple times that he informed Bills ownership of the move, which the original report didn’t dispute. For his part, Jackson suggested Whaley was behind the decision, adding that the GM “wasn’t honest with me the entire time that I’ve known him.”

Here’s more from across the AFC:

  • Having turned down a minimum-salary offer from the Texans last month, veteran running back Pierre Thomas is seeking a salary around $1.3MM or $1.4MM, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. It appears the Texans have moved on from Thomas, though perhaps Houston or another club could revisit the free agent back after Week 1.
  • According to Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap and ESPN’s Field Yates (Twitter links), the Browns won’t be on the hook for Phil Taylor‘s full $5.477MM salary after all, after releasing the defensive tackle. When he asked for his release, Taylor accepted a three-week injury settlement, which works out to a $966,529 payment.
  • As the Dolphins prepare to cut down their roster to 53 players, an injury to Jay Ajayi could complicate the team’s plans, according to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, who says the rookie running back cracked a rib on Thursday. Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post writes that Ajayi is expected to remain on Miami’s active roster.
  • Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wonders if the Steelers might part ways with one – or all – of the three players who received restricted free agent tenders from the club earlier this year — Pittsburgh could clear about $3.3MM in cap space by cutting fullback Will Johnson, cornerback Antwon Blake, and safety Robert Golden.

Minor Moves: Monday

Here are today’s minor transactions from across the NFL, with the latest moves added to the top of the page throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening:

  • Howard Balzer of the SportsXchange (all Twitter links) passes along word on a number of exclusive rights and restricted free agents who officially signed their contract tenders today. According to Balzer, the following players are now under contract for the 2015 season: Browns linebacker Craig Robertson (second-round RFA), Browns safety Johnson Bademosi (low-end RFA), Steelers fullback Will Johnson (low-end RFA), Giants cornerback Chandler Fenner (ERFA), Ravens cornerback Tramain Jacobs (ERFA), and Chiefs wide receivers Frankie Hammond and Junior Hemingway (ERFAs).
  • The Seahawks have re-signed free agent center Lemuel Jeanpierre, according to Balzer (via Twitter). Jeanpierre, who turns 28 next month, started three games at center for Seattle near the end of the 2014 regular season.

Earlier updates:

  • The Titans have reached an agreement on a one-year contract with linebacker Kaelin Burnett, the club announced today (Twitter link). Burnett, who started his career with the Raiders, has played in 22 total NFL games, including five last year for the Titans, primarily as a special teamer.
  • Wide receiver Kamar Aiken signed his exclusive rights free agent tender with the Ravens today, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. The move was a mere formality, allowing Aiken to participate in the club’s offseason program.
  • Lions wide receiver and kick returner Jeremy Ross also signed his ERFA tender today, per Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com (Twitter link). Like Aiken, Ross was technically a free agent but wasn’t able to negotiate with any team besides Detroit.

Minor Moves: Monday

Today’s minor moves around the NFL:

  • The Packers have informed running back DuJuan Harris they will not extend him an exclusive rights tender, Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel tweets.
  • The Ravens are expected to assign an exclusive-rights free agent tender to running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun tweets.
  • The Steelers have offered one-year deals to restricted free agents Antwon Blake, Will Johnson, and Robert Golden, Scott Brown of ESPN tweets. All three will get the lower tender, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (on Twitter).
  • The Cardinals announced they’ve re-signed Alameda Ta’amu to a one-year contract, as Mike Jurecki of FOX Sports tweets. The Cards decided not to tender him but they have retained him at a lower salary.
  • The 49ers will restructure their deal with safety Craig Dahl, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). It’s now a one-year, $1.3MM deal with a $200K signing bonus, a $175K roster bonus, and a $50K workout bonus.
  • The Buccaneers announced that they have re-signed defensive ends Larry English and Lawrence Sidbury, tight end Luke Stocker and linebacker Jason Williams.
  • The Ravens have assigned a $510K exclusive rights tender to offensive lineman Ryan Jensen, a source tells Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). Wilson (link) also hears that the Ravens have given wide receiver Kamar Aiken a $585K exclusive rights tender.
  • The Ravens gave cornerback Tramain Jacobs a $510K tender, per Wilson (link).

Earlier updates:

  • The Bills announced that they have extended the contract of kicker Jordan Gay, according to ESPN.com’s Mike Rodak (via Twitter).
  • The Browns announced that they have tendered qualifying offers to four of their restricted free agents: free safety Tashaun Gipson, defensive back Johnson Bademosi, defensive lineman Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, and linebacker Craig Robertson, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal tweets. It’s a second-round tender for Robertson, according to Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer (on Twitter). Gipson also gets the second-round tender, according to Ulrich (link).
  • The Ravens have sent a second-round restricted tender $2.356MM to Pro Bowl kicker Justin Tucker, a source tells Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun (on Twitter).
  • The Steelers announced that they have agreed to terms with veteran tight end Matt Spaeth on a two-year deal. The 31-year-old appeared in 15 regular-season games in 2014 (eight starts) and caught three passes for 46 yards and a touchdown, and also started the Steelers’ playoff game against Baltimore.
  • The Buccaneers are not expected to tender an offer to fullback Jorvorskie Lane, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. They could bring Lane, an ERFA, back on a different deal later, however. Lane had a tough year in 2014. He was hit with a two-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances in October and his season ended in November after he underwent surgery on his injured right leg.
  • The Broncos have placed the low-level contract tender on restricted free agent defensive back Tony Carter, extending him a one-year offer worth $1.542MM, per Mike Klis of the Denver Post. The move gives Denver the right to match any offer sheet Carter signs with another team, and according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), there may be strong outside interest.
  • The Cowboys have placed one-year tenders of $1.542MM each on restricted free agent punter Chris Jones and restricted free agent running back Lance Dunbar, sources tell Brandon George of The Dallas Morning News. Dunbar is the Cowboys’ third running back and tendering him gives Dallas some insurance if DeMarco Murray signs with another team in free agency. He also gives them a reserve back in the event that they have to cut ties with Joseph Randle.
  • The Browns announced that they have re-signed offensive lineman Ryan Seymour. Seymour, 25, appeared in 11 games during the 2014 season, starting three at center. Nick McDonald was originally the team’s choice at center after Alex Mack went down with a broken leg, but Seymour eventually got his chance at the job.
  • The Panthers have re-signed wide receiver/kick returner Brenton Bersin to a one-year deal, a source tells Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer (via Twitter). Bersin was an exclusive rights free agent.
  • The Panthers announced that they re-signed Fozzy Whittaker on a two-year deal, according to Person (on Twitter). The tailback had 32 carries for 145 yards last season and also contributed on kick returns. Linebacker Ben Jacobs and center Brian Folkerts got one-year deals to remain in Carolina (link). Tackle Kevin Hughes is the only Panthers ERFA who wasn’t tendered an offer (link).