Xavier Woods

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/16/18

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Cleveland Browns

New Orleans Saints

Philadelphia Eagles

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bills Move Roster To 53 Players

The Bills have moved their roster to 53 players but cutting the following:

Buffalo will take on dead money by releasing Coleman, whom it acquired from Cleveland earlier this year. Ryan lost out in the punting battle to Colton Schmidt.

Cowboys Sign S Jeron Johnson

The Cowboys have reached a contract agreement with free agent safety Jeron Johnson, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Dallas has waived quarterback Dalton Sturm in a corresponding roster move.

As Archer notes, Johnson is the second defensive back Dallas has signed in the past day, joining undrafted free agent Dominick Sanders. The Cowboys can use all the help they can get at safety, as Xavier Woods is expected to miss three-to-four weeks with a hamstring injury, while Jameill Showers was recently placed on injured reserve after tearing his ACL.

Johnson, 30, has spent the majority of his seven-year career with the Seahawks, so he has experience playing under new Cowboys defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Kris Richard. Primarily a special-teamer, Johnson has topped 20% playtime just once (in 2015, with the Redskins). In 2017, Johnson signed with the Jaguars in August but was placed on injured reserve the following month, and never saw action on the field.

Dallas, of course, has and could continue to pursue safeties with larger name value than Johnson. The Seahawks’ Earl Thomas has been on the Cowboys’ radar for some time, while the club is also reportedly interested in George Iloka, whom the Bengals released on Sunday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Rumors: Redskins, Woods, Britt, Giants

Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles made plans to visit the Redskins this weekend, following Orleans Darkwa in doing so. This effort to add a piece to a reeling backfield won’t be to bring in a starter but to add depth to a position group that needs it. Jay Gruden said (video link) his team is “covering our bases” in arranging visits with these free agent backs. Being merely a four-year veteran with a light carry history, Darkwa certainly has the most left in the tank. He led the Giants in rushing last season. Peterson, though, has recent experience fitting in quickly with a new team. Although he didn’t do well on a per-carry basis behind a struggling Cardinals offensive line, the future Hall of Fame back posted two 130-plus-yard performances last season — the first of which coming in his initial Cards game. Charles fell out of the Broncos’ rotation late in the season, but the two-time All-Pro made it through last year healthy and performed fairly well (4.3 yards per tote) before being shut down.

Washington lost Derrius Guice and has Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall on the mend. Here’s the latest from some of the Redskins’ rivals, along with news out of the AFC East.

  • Projected to be one of the Cowboys‘ starting safeties, Xavier Woods will be out between three and four weeks because of a hamstring injury, Calvin Watkins of The Athletic tweets. Dallas has been linked to Earl Thomas throughout 2018 and is now examining recently released George Iloka. The Cowboys selected Woods in the sixth round last year and deployed him in four games as a starter.
  • Kenny Britt is still dealing with the hamstring injury he suffered during Patriots minicamp. The veteran wideout has not participated in 11-on-11 drills since that setback, Doug Kyed of NESN.com notes. The Pats removed Britt from the PUP list two weeks ago, and the soon-to-be 30-year-old receiver said he’s feeling OK presently. He declined to predict whether or not he’ll be ready for Week 1. The Patriots signed Britt late last season and picked up his 2018 option in March, but considering how poorly he played with the Browns and his injury status, it wouldn’t be a shock if he’s not on the roster by September. The Pats have endured a turbulent offseason at this position, cutting both Jordan Matthews and Malcolm Mitchell, signing Eric Decker and seeing Julian Edelman incur a four-game PED suspension.
  • The Giants made a change in their sub-package alignment Sunday, swapping in Ray-Ray Armstrong for B.J. Goodson at one of the two linebacker positions, per Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com. Armstrong and Alec Ogletree worked as Big Blue’s nickel ‘backers at practice. Armstrong played safety in college and has bounced around in the NFL, seeing action with the Rams, Raiders and 49ers before joining the Giants last year. Pro Football Focus graded both Goodson and Armstrong as poor coverage players last season.

Cowboys Considering George Iloka

The Bengals’ surprising decision to part ways with longtime safety starter George Iloka may end up helping an NFC team that’s thin at this position.

Iloka’s on the Cowboys’ radar, with Calvin Watkins of The Athletic tweeting internal discussions are taking place about Dallas bringing in the 28-year-old defender. The Cowboys are discussing the position as a whole and aren’t too far along on a possible Iloka pursuit, but the now-ex-Bengal’s name has surfaced, per Watkins.

Dallas may not have starter Xavier Woods for its Week 1 game, Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets. Woods strained a hamstring against the Bengals on Saturday, and the team received a firsthand look at Iloka’s most recent work. The Cowboys also lost fellow safety Jameill Showers to a torn ACL, further limiting the Cowboys at a position at which most believe they were already understaffed.

The Cowboys view Iloka as a strong safety, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. They’ve been connected to one of this generation’s best free safeties for months, but nothing’s transpired on the Earl Thomas-to-Dallas front recently. Former UDFA Jeff Heath is stationed at the strong safety spot for now. No known discussions have taken place about moving Byron Jones back to safety.

Iloka started throughout the three most recent Bengals playoff seasons, re-signed with the team in 2016 and started the past two seasons. The former fifth-round pick is entering his seventh NFL season and figures to land somewhere soon, this offseason’s odd safety free agency developments notwithstanding.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Rumors: Austin, Witten, S, Draft

The Rams and Cowboys agreed on a deal that will send Tavon Austin to Dallas in exchange for a sixth-round pick, and the sides began discussing this trade on Thursday, Stephen Jones said (via Todd Archer of ESPN.com). Jones said the Rams had a third-day pick in mind as compensation for their former top-10 investment, one who renegotiated his pricey contract earlier this year in order to stay with the team that drafted him. Austin will become the Cowboys’ primary punt returner, Jerry Jones said (via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News, on Twitter), and will take over those duties from Ryan Switzer — whom Dallas traded to Oakland shortly after the Austin deal was agreed upon. Austin, 27, was a part-time kick and punt returner for the Rams last season. He will also function as primarily a running back with the Cowboys, who envision him taking over Lance Dunbar‘s old role as the team’s primary receiving back. Jason Garrett said (via Machota, on Twitter) the goal will be to get the ball to Austin in a variety of ways, so it sounds like Dallas intends to keep the 5-foot-9 performer in a gadget role.

Here’s the latest from Dallas:

  • While Jerry Jones said Jason Witten would take a few days before announcing a decision about his 2018 status, the owner now is backing off that stance. It may take longer. “As I saw Troy [Aikman] say, that’s his decision, and he’s got the time to make it,” Jones said, via Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk. “He deserves the time to make that. I don’t have a timeline on it. I do know that when we left [Friday], he certainly thought he wanted the weekend to come to some conclusion. … I want to emphasize again how we like our tight ends that we’ve got on the roster that would be on the roster if we don’t have Witten, but certainly Dalton [Schultz] was noted as what we thought was the best blocker of the tight ends.” The Eagles traded one spot in front of their rivals in Round 2 to select Dallas Goedert. Witten may well inform the Cowboys of his decision early next week, but Dallas brass doesn’t appear to be rushing him. The Cowboys selected Stanford’s Schultz in the fourth round.
  • The team wants to bring in competition for Xavier Woods at free safety, Machota tweets. The Cowboys did not draft a safety this weekend but will remain on the lookout for one. This is a unique year to need a safety, with several experienced ones still available. Eric Reid, Tre Boston and Kenny Vaccaro are without teams. However, Machota notes (on Twitter) Jerry Jones declined to comment when asked if Reid would be a possibility for the Cowboys. The former Pro Bowler is in a strange position, being part of the Colin Kaepernick-led protest movement but profiling as a player who is an upper-echelon starter at a lower-profile position. Jones has been a vocal opponent of these protests, probably the leader among the owners against them, so it would be a surprise if Reid ended up in Dallas.
  • The Cowboys were able to draft defensive end Dorance Armstrong in the fourth round, but Jerry Jones said (via Machota, on Twitter) they nearly traded two fourth-round picks to acquire a third-rounder to draft the Kansas pass rusher.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/10/18

Here are the latest reserve/futures contract signings from around the NFL. These deals will go into effect on the first day of the 2018 league year, with players joining their respective clubs’ offseason 90-man rosters:

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

  • CB Jonathon Mincy

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Green Bay Packers

New York Giants

New York Jets

Raiders Cut Down To 53-Man Roster

The Raiders were among the teams to drag their feet on announcing their 53-man roster. Now that we can see their initial roster in full, we have to say that they’re looking a little thin at linebacker. Here’s the full rundown of their moves:

Waived:

Released:

Waived/Injured

Waived/NFI:

Cowboys Sign Seven Draft Picks

The Cowboys have agreed to pacts with seven draft picks, leaving third-round cornerback Jourdan Lewis as the only member of their nine-rookie class without a contract, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Dallas, which reached a deal with first-round defensive end Taco Charlton on Thursday afternoon, signed this group in the evening:

Chidobe Awuzie

Awuzie was reportedly gaining momentum as a potential first-rounder in the weeks leading up to the draft, but he ultimately come off the board late in the second. The four-year starter at Colorado had his most productive seasons from 2015-16, combining for 150 tackles, eight sacks and three interceptions, and should see plenty of playing time as a rookie in Dallas. The Cowboys, who ranked a mediocre-at-best 18th in DVOA against the pass last year, lost cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne to free agency. The club will try to make up for the veterans’ departures with a corner group consisting of Orlando Scandrick, Anthony Brown, Awuzie and Nolan Carroll, among others.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Trade No. 191 To Cowboys

After a brief period without trade activity, the wheeling and dealing on Day 3 resumed once the Jets and Cowboys completed a trade. Gang Green traded the No. 191 pick to the Cowboys, who used it to select Louisiana Tech safety Xavier Woods.

Dallas surrendered a 2018 fifth-rounder to make the move up 20 spots into the early portion of the sixth round, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News tweets. This will not cost the Cowboys their sixth-round pick, at No. 211, with the 2018 fifth-rounder being enough to entice the Jets to accept the deal.

Woods joins Byron Jones, Jeff Heath, 2016 sixth-rounder Kavon Frazier and recently signed Robert Blanton as Cowboys safeties.