Zach Orr

Extra Points: Bills, Dareus, Ravens, Orr

Mike Rodak of ESPN.com wonders when the Bills get out from defensive tackle Marcell Dareus‘ contract. Signed to a six-year extension with $60MM guaranteed by Doug Whaley’s front office, Dareus has become a major headache for Buffalo due to discipline and legal issues. New GM Brandon Beane won’t say whether he’s looking to dump Dareus, but he did indicate that he’s on a short leash.

Everybody’s got to be on board right now, so hopefully this is something he’ll learn from, and everybody will understand the message that Sean and I are [sending],” Beane said. “We have expectations, we have standards that everybody has to live by, and if you’re not [going to], then you’re not going to be here.”

If the Bills were to cut him this offseason, his entire $16.1MM cap number would remain on the books, plus $7.35MM of his ’18 pay. Trading him before Week 1, meanwhile, would give them cap savings of $9.75MM for this year, but would still leave them with the same $14.2MM dead money charge in 2018.

If the Bills wait until next offseason to cut Dareus, they’ll still be facing unpalatable cap charges. Their best option would be to find a trade partner willing to take on the fully guaranteed portions of his salary. Dareus is undeniably talented, but it’s hard to see a team rolling the dice on him with this price tag. The Bills might just have to keep Dareus for the coming season and hope that he performs up to par.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Zach Orr is rejoining the Ravens, this time as a coach. He’ll be “interning” with the Ravens’ coaching and personnel staffs, according to a team announcement. “It’s a great opportunity,” Orr said. “I’m thankful because, like I always said, I love football. I still want to be around the game. Even though I can’t play anymore, I still love everything about it.”
  • Due to the massive flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, the Texans‘ final preseason game against the Cowboys has been canceled. It’s small potatoes compared to the real-life implications of the storm, but players on the 53-man roster bubble will no longer have one final opportunity to showcase their skills for Houston or Dallas.
  • On Wednesday, the Packers signed linebacker Ahmad Brooks to a one-year deal.

AFC Notes: Broncos, Douglas, Osweiler

Broncos QB Paxton Lynch did not play particularly well in last night’s preseason contest against the 49ers. He completed 9-of-13 passes for just 39 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions, which culminated in a 72.3 quarterback rating. He also rushed three times for 27 yards. While he showed some promise, he also displayed difficulties reading and reacting to defenses, and he was thoroughly outplayed by Trevor Siemian, leading Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post to believe that Denver’s quarterback competition may be over and that Siemian may have won it for the second straight year. Head coach Vance Joseph said it would be ideal to name a winner prior to next week’s third preseason game, but he added, “The timeframe is not important. What’s important is we get it right, so it could be this week, it could be next week. But we’re going to go back and watch the tape and see where we are.” 

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from the AFC:

  • Chiefs running back Charcandrick West is one of the most popular players in the Kansas City clubhouse, but thanks to the emergence of rookie Kareem Hunt and the revival of C.J. Spiller, his roster spot is in jeopardy, as Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star writes. The Chiefs could keep four running backs, but Paylor suggests that is somewhat unlikely unless the team is confident West or Spiller could also line up as a slot receiver if necessary.
  • Titans wideout Harry Douglas managed just 15 catches for 210 yards and no touchdowns last year, and he accepted a $2MM paycut this offseason, which, combined with Tennessee’s revitalization of its WR corps, suggests that Douglas’ days in Nashville could be numbered. But as Jason Wolf of the Tennessean writes, head coach Mike Mularkey considers Douglas “invaluable,” and the coaching staff prizes his vocal and veteran presence, consistent route-running, and capable blocking. As such, Wolf believes Douglas may actually be a lock to make the roster, though his playing time will again be limited.
  • Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says the game still looks a little too fast for DeShone Kizer, so she believes Brock Osweiler has the inside track to open the season as the Browns‘ starting quarterback, which is consistent with reports we have been hearing over the past several weeks.
  • In a piece discussing Maxx Williams‘ promising performance during the Ravens‘ preseason victory over the Dolphins Thursday night, Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun wrote that Williams is competing with Larry Donnell and Vince Mayle for Baltimore’s No. 3 TE job (behind Ben Watson and Nick Boyle). Williams, a 2015 second-round selection, underwent unique and serious knee surgery last year, but he easily has the most promise of any tight end on the roster. Even if he is technically competing for the No. 3 job at the moment, more performances like the one he had on Thursday could catapult him up the depth chart.
  • Former Ravens LB Zach Orr, who recently announced he was hanging up his cleats for good, could be rejoining Baltimore in another capacity. Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com says head coach John Harbaugh is interested in bringing Orr back as a scout or coach.

Former Ravens LB Zach Orr Retires

Zach Orr is retiring for a second time. The linebacker will not be making a return to football as teams feel his medical condition puts him at too great of a risk. Zach Orr (vertical)

Today, I’m officially retiring from professional football … again,” Orr wrote in a piece for The Players’ Tribune. “And I’m even more at peace this time around because the teams have spoken. If there was any way I could come back, I would. Now, I know that’s not possible.”

Orr first announced his retirement in the winter due to his congenital neck condition. Months later, Orr said that he wanted to return to football after new doctors told him he could play again. The Ravens did not apply the restricted free agent tender to Orr after his retirement announcement, so he became a hot name in the late stages of free agency this summer.

Orr was told that he was only at risk to play football again if he played with herniated discs and was under the belief that those herniated discs had corrected themselves. However, he spoke with roughly a dozen teams and visited six of them and none of those clubs were willing to take the gamble.

Orr, signed by Baltimore as an undrafted free agent in 2014, climbed the ranks to become a starter for the first time in 2016. In that season, Orr appeared in 15 games and played the most defensive snaps of any Baltimore linebacker. All in all, Orr recorded 89 tackles, three interceptions, and five passes defensed.

At the age of 25, Orr will have to transition to a new career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: T. Johnson, Elliott, Martin

Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson is clearly disappointed that he did not receive a long-term deal and that he will be play out the season under his second consecutive franchise tag, as Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com writes. Johnson said his focus is now on the field, but he added, “I wanted [a multi-year deal]; I wanted it big time. I believe the Rams are going in a different direction at the end of the season. It’s out of my control.” 

While it is impossible to say for certain whether the Rams will move on from Johnson at the end of the year, it does seem as if that will be the case. Indeed, as Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports tweets, Los Angeles put the tag on Johnson because it wanted to see what new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips could do with him. If Phillips had not joined the club, Johnson would already be elsewhere, per Robinson, and even with Phillips on the sidelines, it is difficult to see Johnson elevating his play enough to convince the Rams to give him elite CB money on a long-term basis.

Let’s take a look at a few more rumors from the NFC:

  • Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said embattled running back Ezekiel Elliott met with NFL officials in New York last month to discuss the domestic violence allegations levied against him. While Jones does not have a timeframe for the league’s much-anticipated decision, he did say “everything is in place” for that decision, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com writes.
  • We heard earlier this month that the Buccaneers are well-stocked at running back even without Doug Martin, who will miss the first three games of the 2017 season due to suspension. And, as Dan Graziano of ESPN.com writes, GM Jason Licht is so pleased with his stable of RBs that he says Martin may not be the starter when he returns in Week 4. That may just be GM-speak to give Martin a little extra motivation, but it underscores how comfortable Tampa Bay is with its backs, who do offer a nice variety of skill-sets.
  • New Saints offensive lineman Orlando Franklin started all 16 games for the Chargers last year after an injury-plagued 2015, but he graded out as one of the seven worst qualified guards in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. However, Joel Erickson of the New Orleans Advocate writes that Franklin had knee surgery in January, and Franklin says he was never fully healthy during his time in San Diego. This year, he expects to return to the form he displayed during his best seasons in Denver.
  • The Lions were the first team to reach out to LB Zach Orr when he announced his intention to come out of retirement, but Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press says Detroit is unlikely to sign Orr, which is consistent with a report we heard yesterday afternoon.
  • Eagles rookie CB Randall Goforth has suffered a season-ending ACL tear, per Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter). Goforth, a UDFA from UCLA, had a real chance for playing time given Philadelphia’s shaky cornerback situation.
  • Giants rookie safety Jadar Johnson, whom the team signed as a UDFA this year, has decided to retire from football, as Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network tweets.
  • Redskins RB Keith Marshall tore his right patella tendon and will miss the 2017 season, per John Keim of ESPN.com. Washington selected Marshall in the seventh round of the 2016 draft, but he missed the entire 2016 season with an elbow injury. He now will have to wait until 2018 to get his NFL career on track.

Extra Points: Jones, Lions, Bengals

The Chargers acquired quarterback Cardale Jones from the Bills earlier this week, giving them another signal-caller to backup Philip Rivers. However, if the organization had had their way, they would have had Jones on their squad last season.

General manager Tom Telesco admitted this week that the Chargers had been eyeing Jones since the 2016 draft, when they had the prospect in for a private workout. The organization was seemingly infatuated with the quarterback, but he was ultimately selected by the Bills in the fourth round.

“Obviously we’re looking for competition at that spot,” Telesco told ESPN.com’s Eric D. Williams. “And with Cardale, he’s a quarterback with some developmental traits that are hard to find.

“Our scouts had really high grades on him when he came out in the draft. And then the fact that Anthony had him in Buffalo for a year — that way he knew him — so it was a good blend for us and a good combination for that. Since Brad Sorensen, we haven’t had a young quarterback in our system that we could work with, so he’s going to be one of those guys.”

Let’s take a look at some other notes from around the NFL…

  • About a month ago, the Lions had free agent Zach Orr in for a workout, but the linebacker ultimately left the audition without a contract. Today, coach Jim Caldwell told reporters to “never say never” when asked if Orr could still join the team, but Justin Rogers of the Detroit News notes (via Twitter) that the sentiment “isn’t the most optimistic take.” Orr met with the Texans earlier this week, and he’s also worked out with the Jets and Colts.
  • The Bengals worked out safety DeJuan Rogers today, according to ESPN’s Katherine Terrell (via Twitter). The undrafted rookie out of Toledo finished his senior season with 87 tackles, one interception, and six passes defended. Behind their starters, the Bengals are currently only rostering a pair of safeties in Clayton Fejedelem and Derron Smith.
  • Alabama defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand, a projected top prospect in next year’s draft, was charged with DUI earlier this morning, according to Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com. In 24 games over three seasons with the Crimson Tide, Hand has compiled six sacks and 11 tackles for loss. “This type of behavior is not acceptable and we are disappointed in Da’Shawn’s actions,” said coach Nick Saban. “We are still gathering information and will evaluate what we need to do in terms of appropriate discipline as we move forward, so better choices and decisions can be made in the future.”

Texans Meeting With LB Zach Orr

The Zach Orr free agency tour continues. The free agent linebacker is spending Monday afternoon with the Texans, according to NFL sources who spoke with Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle (on Twitter).

"<strong

Already, Orr has visited the Lions, Colts, and Jets since announcing his intent to return to football. Reportedly, the Colts were uncomfortable with Orr’s medical status, and that could have also been a sticking point for the Lions and Jets.

The Texans signed Sio Moore in June as a low-cost depth option and Orr could be another late offseason addition to the linebacker group. After John Simon left in free agency to join the rival Colts, the Texans would like to sure up the unit as much as possible with the resources that are left.

Orr retired from football earlier this year, citing a congenital spinal condition. After gathering additional medical opinions, however, the 25-year-old changed course and decided that he wanted to play in 2017. Orr was initially a restricted free agent under the Ravens’ control, but he is now an UFA since the Ravens did not tender him an offer after he announced his retirement.

Orr had 130 tackles for the Ravens in 2016 – leading the Ravens by a wide margin – and earned second-team All-Pro honors. From a talent perspective, he’d be a huge addition to the Texans or any defense that would have him. However, teams will have to weigh out the upside against the potential risk associated with Orr taking the field.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: A. Smith, Orr, Watson, Landry

It was former Chiefs GM John Dorsey who ultimately pulled the trigger on the team’s draft-day trade that allowed Kansas City to climb all the way up to the No. 10 overall spot and draft quarterback Patrick Mahomes. But now that Dorsey is out and Brett Veach is in, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report says it is fair to question what the new hire means for incumbent signal-caller Alex Smith.

But according to Miller, not much will change with respect to the team’s approach to Smith. After all, Veach has been with the Chiefs for the past four years, so it’s not as if he’s coming to Kansas City with a fresh take on the situation. Plus, Miller’s league sources all said effectively the same thing: “nothing changes in Kansas City while Andy Reid is the head coach.” As such, you can still expect the team to move on from Smith after the 2017 season — and save $17MM in the process — as long as Mahomes appears ready to assume control.

Now for more from the AFC:

  • Kevin Bowen of Colts.com says all is quiet on the Colts/Zach Orr front, and at this point, the team has had plenty of time to sift through Orr’s medicals. Therefore, Bowen does not believe Indianapolis will pursue Orr in an attempt to bolster its linebacker corps.
  • Although Texans GM Rick Smith was not as definitive as head coach Bill O’Brien in declaring Tom Savage the team’s Week 1 starter, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle confirms that Savage will be under center when the regular season gets underway. Rookie signal-caller Deshaun Watson, meanwhile, is content to remain patient and wait for his opportunity. Watson said, “It’s best for the team. Coach [O’Brien] knows a lot of football. He’s been with … one of the best in NFL history in Tom Brady. He knows how everything is operated. He knows when the perfect timing will be.”
  • Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant recently said he took issue with the way Ben Roethlisberger spoke about him to the media earlier this summer, when Big Ben said Bryant would need to “win back everybody’s trust.” That might sound pretty rich for a player who managed to get himself suspended for the entire 2016 campaign, but Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com nonetheless believes that it is important for Bryant and Roethlisberger to have the sit-down that Bryant proposed. Although such meetings are often unbeneficial formalities, Fowler says Bryant, whose position in the league is fairly tenuous at this point, needs to feel like the catalyst he can be and not become a source of criticism.
  • The Dolphins‘ best bet may be to simply let Jarvis Landry play out the 2017 season, his contract year, and put the franchise tag on him in 2018, as Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders opines. After all, Landry is set to make less than $1MM this year, so even the projected $17MM tag in 2018 would allow Miami to keep Landry for at least two more seasons at about $8.5MM per year, which is well below the $14MM per year he would likely get with a new contract. Although that approach could create some discord between player and team, it does make short-term financial sense.
  • Darryl Slater of NJ.com makes a series of predictions for the Jets, with the most interesting being that he expects Christian Hackenberg to become the team’s starting quarterback no later than Week 12 (New York has a Week 11 bye), and that he expects Todd Bowles to be retained for 2018.

Colts Uncomfortable With Zach Orr’s Health?

The second team to host recently unretired linebacker Zach Orr on a visit, the Colts may not be much closer to making a contract offer than they were before Orr arrived in Indianapolis on Friday.

This visit — sandwiched in between Lions and Jets summits — was more of an information-gathering exercise, Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star reports. The Colts, Holder reports, wanted to gauge Orr’s readiness after the recently discovered congenital spinal condition forced him to retire earlier this year. So far, the team isn’t comfortable enough with the 25-year-old to foresee a future — based on the current information — where he’s playing in Indianapolis.

Orr has drawn interest from around half of the league, so this could be a lengthy process. He’s planning to visit the Jets on Saturday. The Ravens are also debating a reunion push. But teams’ medical staffs will determine Orr’s future, with the off-ball ‘backer having already established he can be a standout player when on the field.

Orr said he’s feeling great and describes the condition as a birth defect rather than a severe injury. He said he retired after speaking with one doctor but returned after other doctors said he’s not at greater risk of injury by returning to the gridiron.

The Colts made several linebacker signings during Chris Ballard‘s first offseason as GM, but most of the additions came at outside linebacker. The team has needs on the inside after cutting D’Qwell Jackson and not investing high-end draft resources in the spot. Indianapolis took Anthony Walker out of Northwestern in Round 5, though, after signing Sean Spence in free agency.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC South Notes: Orr, Titans, Texans, Colts

A number of teams are interested in Zach Orr, with his agent relaying that about half of the league has contacted him regarding the linebacker. Some teams are standing pat, though. The Titans appear to be one of them. Tennessee is content with its linebacker situation, and according to Terry McCormick of TitansInsider.com (on Twitter), has not reached out to Orr. The Titans have Avery Williamson and Wesley Woodyard penciled in to start on the inside of their 3-4 scheme. That’s been the team’s arrangement inside for the past three seasons, since Woodyard migrated east from Denver, and it looks like the team will roll with this duo for a fourth campaign as Williamson enters his contract year.

Orr’s Lions visit concluded Friday, and he subsequently made the trip to Indianapolis to meet with the Colts. The fourth-year linebacker’s Jets powwow will occur after the Colts summit ends.

Here’s more regarding Orr and the latest out of the AFC South.

  • Orr told SiriusXM (Twitter links) that he feels great, despite his condition. Orr explained that he’s dealing with a birth defect, but not something that is necessarily an injury. Orr also responded to talk of him cherry-picking medical opinions in an effort to get the diagnosis that he wanted. The 25-year-old says that he retired after seeing only one doctor, but the rest of doctors he spoke with say he’s not a greater risk.
  • ESPN.com’s Field Yates recalls Jon Robinson enduring scrutiny for only getting reserve offensive lineman Dennis Kelly from the Eagles in last summer’s Dorial Green-Beckham trade (Twitter link). Now that Philly cut Green-Beckham after one season, the second-year Titans GM’s decision doesn’t look so short-sighted. A former fifth-round pick of the Andy Reid-era Eagles in 2012, Kelly played in 145 snaps last season and suited up for all 16 Titans games. DGB’s talent will make him one of the more interesting waiver cases in recent years, but he’s now seen two NFL teams give up on him after one season. This comes after he transferred to Oklahoma only to sit out his junior year in 2014. The last time Green-Beckham played for the same team in consecutive seasons was during his freshman and sophomore campaigns at Missouri.
  • The Colts‘ early-season schedule and Chris Ballard‘s presence make Chuck Pagano a hot-seat candidate if the sixth-year Indianapolis leader doesn’t get the team off to a strong start, ESPN.com’s AFC South reporters posit. The Colts have started three straight seasons 0-2 but this year have the Rams, Browns, 49ers and Jaguars in their first seven games. Pagano not being Ballard’s handpicked coach figures to have him as a lame-duck candidate if the Colts are unable to return to the playoffs, however.
  • The Texans want Will Fuller to concentrate on developing as a wide receiver instead of focusing on the return game, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle notes. The speedster out of Notre Dame averaged 15 yards per punt return (11 returns) and took back one punt for a touchdown as a rookie. McClain notes backup running back Tyler Ervin has a chance to be a double-duty specialty player. Fuller’s status and kick returner Akeem Hunt‘s uncertainty to make Ervin a candidate to serve as Houston’s kick- and punt-return man.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

Colts Meeting With LB Zach Orr

The Zach Orr free agent tour continues. Today, the linebacker is meeting with the Colts, (Twitter link via Alex Marvez of SiriusXM). Zach Orr (vertical)

[RELATED: Jets, Zach Orr To Meet On Saturday]

The Colts visit is sandwiched between his Lions visit on Thursday and his upcoming powwow with the Jets on Saturday. Orr tells Marvez that he expects to hear back from the Lions later today and his agent (Twitter links via Josina Anderson of ESPN.com) indicated that everything went well in Detroit. It’s not uncommon for scheduled visits to get canceled when a player reaches a deal with another team, but since Orr has interest from roughly half of the teams in the NFL, it stands to reason that he will get together with at least a handful of them before making a decision.

The Colts have already made major renovations to their linebacker group this offseason. Adding Orr would give GM Chris Ballard‘s team an embarrassment of riches, but no team has ever complained about having too much talent in the front seven.

The Colts project to start three free agent additions – John Simon, Sean Spence, and Jabaal Sheard – as linebackers in the 3-4 scheme, along with the returning Edwin Jackson. The reserve group also new faces in rookies Tarell Basham and Anthony Walker Jr. plus free agents Barkevious Mingo and Jonathan Bostic. An Orr signing would be the Colts’ sixth major free agent linebacker pickup of the offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.