The Panthers added a pair of wideouts to their practice squad today. Carolina signed Devin Smith(per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Twitter) and Willie Snead (per ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter).
Smith, a second-round pick by the Jets in 2015, proved to be a disappointment during his time in New York, as he collected only 10 receptions for 135 yards and one touchdown in 14 games (three starts) through two years with the team. To be fair, a torn ACL derailed his rookie campaign, and another ACL tear in 2017 forced him to miss the entire season. The receiver was ultimately waived by the team in 2018 and ended up sitting out that entire season, as well.
He got another chance in 2019 with the Cowboys, finishing with five receptions for 113 yards and one touchdown in four games (two starts). He was released by Dallas prior to last season, and he spent most of the 2020 campaign on the Texans and Patriots practice squad. New England held on to him for much of the 2021 offseason, and he later caught on with the Jaguars before getting released earlier this month.
Snead logged only 8% of the Raiders offensive snaps through seven games, and he asked for and was granted his release yesterday. The 29-year-old was still a usable player as recently as 2020, when he finished with 432 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in 13 games (eight starts) with the Ravens. Prior to this three-year stint in Baltimore, Snead spent the first three seasons of his career with the Saints, including 2015 and 2016 campaigns where he averaged 939.5 receiving yards per season.
Per Aaron Wilson (on Twitter), the Panthers also added defensive end Austin Larkin to their practice squad. The former undrafted free agent spent much of the 2020 season and 2021 preseason with Carolina.
The Raiders are moving on from Willie Snead. The veteran wide receiver requested his release, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter, and the team will grant it (Twitter link).
Snead has played a lesser role in Las Vegas compared to his jobs in New Orleans and Baltimore, and the Raiders — like they did with John Brown just before the season started — agreed to release a veteran wideout. The seventh-year slot receiver had only caught three passes for 32 yards as a Raider.
Because Snead is being cut ahead of the trade deadline, he will go straight to free agency. Had the Raiders cut him after next week’s deadline, the veteran would have been subject to waivers.
A late-March signing, Snead profiled as a depth player for the Raiders. He logged only 8% of their offensive snaps through seven games. This marked a sharp decline from his Ravens role last season, when he played 63% of their offensive snaps.
Snead, 29, played three seasons with the Saints and Ravens. His most productive years came in New Orleans, when he topped 890 receiving yards in his first two seasons, and the former UDFA has been a serviceable auxiliary wideout in the years since. Snead caught 33 passes for 432 yards in Baltimore’s run-heavy offense last season. The Raiders added Snead and Brown earlier this year but have used homegrown targets Henry Ruggs, Hunter Renfrow and Bryan Edwards as their primary receivers this season.
The Raiders will add Snead to their new-look WR group, one without Tyrell Williams and Nelson Agholor. Snead will join John Brown and the newly re-signed Zay Jones, but the Raiders will likely continue to scour the market and the draft for more receivers.
The Ravens didn’t show much interest in re-signing Snead. He spent the past three years in Baltimore, but his role has dwindled somewhat over the last two. The former UDFA kicked off his Ravens tenure with 62 grabs for 651 yards and a touchdown in 2018. But, between 2019 and 2020, he has a combined 64 catches and 771 yards. On the other hand, he does have eight touchdowns between the two seasons.
The Ravens have been searching for solutions at receiver, but they have not expressed much — or any – interest in retaining Snead. Snead, who has spent the last three years in Baltimore, kicked off his tenure with 62 catches for 651 yards and a touchdown in 2018. However, his targets and production have roughly been cut in half ever since. Between the last two years, he has a combined stat line of 64/771, though he does have eight touchdowns to his credit in that span.
Snead started his career with the Saints and made his name as a slot receiver. He’d be an interesting fit for the Raiders, who have lost Tyrell Williams and Nelson Agholor. To help fill the void, they’ve signed John Brown and re-upped Zay Jones.
No notable extension talks between the Steelers and James Connertranspired ahead of his contract year, which doubled as a brutally ineffective season for Pittsburgh’s ground game. The team is not expected to re-sign Conner, Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com notes. Considering the Pittsburgh native’s history of nagging injuries and the Steelers’ salary cap issues, this should not be especially surprising. Conner has played well in spurts, initially starting the Steelers’ post-Le’Veon Bell era so strong he made the Pro Bowl as an original invitee. However, an injury slowed Conner late in that 2018 season. He battled maladies in 2019 and ’20 as well; the cancer survivor also contracted COVID-19 last year. This will create a clear need at running back in Pittsburgh, even with the likes of Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland still under contract.
Financial issues likely contributed to the Steelers not adding J.J. Watt to their stable of Watts. Although the Steelers have standout defensive ends Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, they were in the mix for the eldest Watt until the end, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. The Steelers were one of the teams mentioned as a landing spot hours after the Texans released Watt. The five-time All-Pro would have welcomed the opportunity to join his brothers, per Fowler, despite the Steelers being stacked at his position. But the former Texans superstar signed with the Cardinals, who took a clear lead in the final few days of this process.
Ravens GM Eric DeCostadid not seem to view the addition of a No. 1-type wide receiver as critical this offseason, and Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com adds that the team is not expected to spring for one. The Ravens have young players Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin under contract, but Hensley notes the team is unlikely to bring back Willie Snead. Signing a second-tier wideout does not sound out of the question, with several intriguing names available and more potentially coming via the cap-casualty route soon. But Baltimore’s run-oriented offense will make going the free agency route at this position more complicated. The team ranked last in wide receiver receptions (137) last season.
The Browns are not planning to use an RFA tender on backup defensive back and key special-teamer Tavierre Thomas, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. With the cap going down, teams may be stingier with their tender offers. Thomas could be brought back at a lower rate than what the low-end tender will cost (roughly $2.1MM), but the fourth-year player may hit the market.
November 29th, 2020 at 6:54pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
We learned that Ravens tight end Mark Andrews was the latest member of Baltimore’s organization to test positive for COVID-19 in yesterday’s round, and there apparently were more this morning. There were multiple player/staff positives in Sunday’s round of testing, a source told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. At least one of those positives was receiver Willie Snead, Jamison Hensley of The Athletic tweets. As he notes, Snead is the seventh offensive starter to test positive, and there have now been eight consecutive days with a positive test within the team.
Florio writes that it’s believed the league will opine these positives are a result of the “tail end” of the outbreak, and that Tuesday’s game against the Steelers is still on for now. Meanwhile the Ravens are planning on convening at their facility tonight in order to condition and then have a walkthrough tomorrow, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports tweets. He notes that all work will be done on outdoor fields and players won’t be allowed inside the locker room.
Here’s more from the AFC North:
While the Ravens have obviously had it worse, the Steelers have also had their fair share of COVID-19 issues as they approach Tuesday night. Pittsburgh will be without both special teams coordinator Danny Smith and quarterbacks coach Matt Canada due to illnesses, Brooke Pryor of ESPN tweets. Canada plays a pretty large role in the offensive game-planning, so that’s a significant loss.
Pivoting away from COVID news for a moment, the Steelers have some big question marks to address this offseason. One of those is what to do with running back James Conner, who is set to be a free agent. His production has declined since his breakout 2018 campaign, and he’s also dealt with frequent nagging injuries. With those issues, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic writes that he “can’t imagine” Conner getting brought back on anything more than a one-year, prove-it deal. Kaboly thinks the team is grooming Benny Snell to potentially take over for Conner. The Pittsburgh product recently tested positive for COVID-19 himself, which obviously won’t help with his next contract. He’s shown flashes of being a potential featured back, and it’ll be very interesting to see what the market for him looks like. It’s very possible he’s not back with the Steelers in 2021.
The Ravens will sign WillieSnead to a one-year, $6MM extension, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The sum of the pact is fully-guaranteed, so it represents a solid payday for the wide receiver.
The 2014 undrafted free agent out of Ball State bounced between the Browns and Panthers before landing with the Saints. The wideout turned into one of Drew Brees‘ top targets, compiling 141 receptions, 1,879 yards, and seven touchdowns between the 2016 and 2017 seasons. However, he fell off a bit during his final season in New Orleans, and the Ravens landed Snead as a restricted free agent in 2018.
The 27-year-old was dependable during his first year in Baltimore, hauling in 62 receptions for 651 yards. In seven games this season, Snead has 15 catches for 223 yards and two touchdowns.
There was a lot of talk this offseason about how the Patriots’ receiving corp was looking a little thin. Chris Hogan left in free agency and Rob Gronkowski retired, so Tom Brady‘s group of pass-catchers was a bit depleted. New England moved swiftly to address the issue, taking N’Keal Harry out of Arizona State in the first round of last month’s draft. They nabbed Harry at 32nd overall, but they apparently would’ve been willing to take him much higher.
Bill Belichick told Todd Graham, one of Harry’s former college coaches, that the team “had him graded a lot higher than where he was taken in the first round,” per Jeff Howe of The Athletic. Graham spoke to Belichick the night of the draft, and the Patriots coach told him they “were so fortunate that he was still there.” It’s the first time in Belichick’s 19 years at the helm in New England that they’ve taken a receiver in the first round, so they clearly had to be very high on him.
Here’s more from around the AFC:
The Dolphins are rebuilding, whether they want to admit it or not. We still don’t know whether Josh Rosen or Ryan Fitzpatrick will win the starting quarterback job, but we do have a bit more clarity as to who will be one of their starting tackles. Jordan Mills “has come on in the past week and the job is clearly his to lose,” at right tackle, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The Dolphins let Ja’Wuan James walk in free agency, meaning they need a new starter opposite Laremy Tunsil, and it looks like Mills is going to be the guy. Mills started all 16 games each of the last three seasons for the Bills, but Buffalo didn’t have much interest in retaining him. He had a poor season last year, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 70th-best tackle. He signed a one-year, $3MM deal with Miami just a few weeks ago.
The Ravens’ receiving corp is going to look a lot different in 2019, as they made a lot of changes in preparation for Lamar Jackson‘s first full season as the starter. They let John Brown and Michael Crabtree walk in free agency, and drafted two new receivers in the first three rounds last month. They’ll need some veterans to provide some stability with all the young guys around, and one of the vets they’re reportedly counting on to step up this year is Willie Snead. Unfortunately Snead hasn’t been able to be a full-go this offseason, as he had surgery on his finger after the season ended, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link). Zrebiec writes that the Ravens are “taking it easy with him.” Snead had a productive year last season, finishing with 62 catches for 651 yards and a touchdown.