Zach Orr

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.

Jets, Zach Orr To Meet On Saturday

Free agent linebacker Zach Orr will meet with the Jets on Saturday, following the conclusion of his Lions visit on Friday morning, agent Rob Sheets tells ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano (Twitter link). Sheets says that Orr will also meet with another team in the next couple of days, but he did not reveal the identity of that club. Zach Orr (vertical)

[RELATED: Ravens Split On Whether To Pursue Zach Orr]

Orr’s visit with the Jets will almost certainly include a physical and that is much more than a formality in his case. Orr retired in January due to a congenital spine condition and at the time, the belief was that he could be at risk of paralysis or even death if he continued playing. The 25-year-old has found medical professionals to give him the thumbs up, but different doctors will have different opinions on whether he should play.

The incumbent Ravens are apparently split on whether to pursue a reunion with Orr. Some team decision makers would like to have Orr back in the fold, and that’s understandable after he led the team in tackles by a wide margin in 2016. Others are worried about the serious risks of having Orr on the field.

Roughly half of the teams in the NFL have called on Orr, according to his agent.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Reach Out To Zach Orr

Count the Jets among the many teams with interest in free agent linebacker Zach Orr, reports Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. Orr’s agent, Robert Sheets, confirmed to Schwartz that the Jets have reached out to his client, adding that they’ll attempt to set up a visit.

Zach Orr (vertical)

Orr, who retired in January thanks to a congenital spine condition, announced Wednesday that he’s considering a comeback after receiving more encouraging medical opinions than he got over the winter. Previously with the Ravens, who are mulling whether to attempt to re-sign him, Orr has a significant portion of the league interested in his services and already has multiple visits lined up – including one with the Lions.

Given that the 25-year-old Orr’s in his prime and coming off a season in which he earned second-team All-Pro honors, it’s no surprise that his unexpected foray into free agency has piqued teams’ interest. Of course, whether he signs with any will come down to if clubs believe he’ll be physically able to continue his career. Should Orr sign with the Jets, he’d replace departed middle linebacker David Harris, who’s now a Patriot after Gang Green released him earlier this month.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Orr, China, Redskins

Free agent linebacker Zach Orr is planning a comeback after retiring in January on account of a congenital spine condition. There’s concern over whether he’ll be able to play with that condition, but Dr. David Chao of the San Diego Union-Tribune expects at least one team’s medical staff to clear Orr. Roughly half the NFL is interested in Orr, so odds do seem to be in his favor. If the 25-year-old does sign with someone, it’s likely that club will require him to sign a waiver releasing it of liability, notes Chao.

More from around the sport:

  • The NFL has abandoned its plan to play a regular-season game in China in 2018, reports Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal. Interestingly, the league is now considering kicking off 2019, its 100th season, in China. “It may make better sense to look at that game as an opportunity to celebrate our hundred years, in the event we can pull it off and as a way to look forward to the future,” NFL executive vice president/international Mark Waller told Kaplan.
  • Houston Bates and Lynden Trail have a chance of making the Redskins‘ roster thanks to Trent Murphy‘s four-game suspension, Rich Tandler of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes. Last year, Bates served as the team’s No. 4 outside linebacker before a torn ACL ended his season in Week 14. Trail, meanwhile, has great size at 6’7″, 270 pounds, but he’s still raw after two practice squad seasons. Still, the suspension cracks the door open for both players to make the 53-man cut.
  • Free agent running back Antonio Andrews pleaded guilty to an assault charge Thursday, according to Stacey Barchenger of the Tennesseean. Andrews, accused in March of punching a man who used a racial slur, was sentenced to six months’ probation and will have the charge expunged from his record if he completes it. On the other hand, if Andrews violates his probation, he’ll serve jail time. Regardless, Andrews could face some form of discipline from the league. It might not matter, however, considering no teams have publicly shown interest in the three-year veteran since the Titans non-tendered him in March. That came after Andrews totaled just two carries in 16 games last season.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Ravens Split On Whether To Pursue Zach Orr

The Ravens’ leading tackler from 2016 is available to be signed, but opinions are split within the organization about whether to pursue him. Linebacker Zach Orr says that doctors have cleared him to play, but not everyone in Baltimore is convinced that he is able to get back on the field. Zach Orr (vertical)

There are a lot of variables that the Ravens are having to deal with,” agent Rob Sheets told 105.7 The Fan (transcript via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com). “There’s a lot of internal consternation. One side of the line fighting to get Zach Orr back, and another line saying we need to move on.”

Orr’s agent says that he has spoken to 15 teams about his client so far. Today, he is visiting with the Lions and another visit is lined up for tomorrow, though Sheets did not say which team he’ll meet with on Friday. Next week, Orr has three more visits scheduled. Still, some of the Ravens’ top decision makers are not sure that taking Orr back would be a good idea.

The Ravens were planning to retain Orr for 2017, either through the restricted free agent tender or an extension. In the midst of contract talks, Orr opted to retire, citing a congenital spinal condition. Earlier this week, Orr announced that he is looking to come back to football and he is a free agent since the Ravens did not exercise the RFA tender.

Orr had 130 tackles in 2016 and earned second-team All-Pro honors.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Orr, Raiders, Chiefs, Bell

A few AFC-themed notes:

  • Free agent linebacker Zach Orr, who retired in January thanks to a congenital spinal condition, announced Wednesday that he’s planning a comeback. Now, nearly half of the NFL’s 32 teams have interest in Orr, though the Raiders aren’t among those clubs at the moment, reports Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (Twitter link). The 25-year-old’s agent, Rob Sheets, told Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun on Wednesday that Orr is “100 percent confident he will play this season. This is a one-in-a-billion situation. I couldn’t even make this up.” But Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun is less than enthusiastic about Orr’s potential return, opining that the defender should stay retired instead of coming back and risking paralysis. Regardless of whether Orr plays in 2017, Schmuck doesn’t anticipate him rejoining the Ravens, as there’s doubt that their doctors would deem him healthy enough to play.
  • Chiefs ownership fired general manager John Dorsey in part over concerns about how he presented himself, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Dorsey is “more comfortable in a sweatshirt than a suit and tie,” writes La Canfora, leading to questions over whether he was corporate enough for chairman Clark Hunt’s liking. Despite that, there were no indications Dorsey was in over his head in the role – the team did go 43-21 with him at the helm, after all – and one agent told La Canfora: “He’s wily. He’s guile. He plays like he doesn’t know, but he knows. He’s creative in his approach to negotiations and he can be strong willed when he has to be. He’s a very smart negotiator. He’s going to get another job, I’m sure, and he’ll show why he is one of the best GMs in the league. He already has to be one of the top evaluators in the game.” Like that agent, La Canfora doesn’t expect Dorsey to go without a job for long, but he also doesn’t see him rushing into a lesser role than the one he just had.
  • There’s no deal in sight for Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, who will either ink a long-term contract by the July 17 deadline for franchise players or go through the season under the tag. With the calendar moving toward that date, each of Jamison Hensley, Pat McManamon and Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com agree that the Steelers should extend Bell, arguing that the 25-year-old – unlike most running backs – is worth a significant investment.

Latest On LB Zach Orr’s Comeback

After announcing this morning that he’s mulling a comeback attempt, linebacker Zach Orr has drawn the interest from at least eight NFL clubs. Orr plans to meet with each and every one of those teams before making a decision on where (and possibly if) to sign, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The Lions were the first club to reach out to Orr, per Birkett, so he’ll take his first visit with Detroit.

Here’s more on Orr as he ponders whether to make a return to the NFL:

  • Orr’s search for “dissenting medical opinions” was not new, reports Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link), and the former Ravens ‘backer finally “found a doctor who told him what he wanted to hear,” a source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Baltimore’s doctors wouldn’t clear Orr after a congenital spine condition was discovered, and it’s unclear if another club’s physicians will have a differing view. Initially, doctors told Orr that he was at risk of death or paralysis if he continued his career.
  • The Ravens opted not to use a restricted free agent tender on Orr because they assumed he was retiring, meaning Orr can now choose his next team unfettered. It’s possible another player could attempt to “escape” the restricted free agent process by feigning retirement, as Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk writes. That’s not to insinuate Orr’s retirement was anything but genuine, as his serious medical condition is clearly limiting. But another player could use Orr’s situation as a template to hit free agency on his own terms in the future (although a club could simply tender said player at the cheapest level, allowing the team to hold the player’s rights).
  • Now that Orr returning to the NFL is a viable possibility, his former Ravens teammates are lobbying for Orr to re-sign with Baltimore, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. The Ravens haven’t added a free agent or draft pick to replace Orr’s 932 defensive snaps, and currently have 2016 second-round pick Kamalei Correa penciled in to play opposite fellow middle linebacker C.J. Mosley. Given that it was Baltimore’s doctors that failed to medically clear Orr in the first place, it seems unlikely he’ll end up back with the Ravens.