Zack Sanchez

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/7/17

Here are today’s minor moves.

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Houston Texans

New England Patriots

Panthers’ Roster Down To 77

The Panthers made a series of moves on Friday to bring their roster to 77 players, still 24 above the 53-man limit (courtesy of Bryan Strickland of the team’s website):

Waived:

  • C Brian Folkerts
  • CB Devonte Johnson
  • DT Gabriel Mass
  • DE Arthur Miley
  • DE Efe Obada
  • TE Bryce Williams
  • DT Connor Wujciak
  • CB Zack Sanchez (waived/injured)

Released outright (vested veterans who are not subject to waivers):

Placed on IR:

Panthers Place LT Michael Oher On IR

Michael Oher‘s season is over. The Panthers announced that he will be placed on injured reserve, along with cornerback Zack Sanchez. In a related move, tackle Donald Hawkins has been waived. Michael Oher (Vertical)

After a down year with the Titans in 2014, Oher found his way to Carolina last year and enjoyed a rebound season. Oher appeared in all 16 regular season games and graded out as a top-30 offensive tackle, according to Pro Football Focus. Over the summer, he was rewarded with a lucrative three-year, $21.6MM extension. Unfortunately, Oher has not played since Week 3 of this season due to a concussion. He apparently hasn’t made enough progress over the past two months and he’ll be shut down for the year with an eye on getting healthy for 2017.

Sanchez was one of three cornerbacks drafted by the Panthers this year as they attempted to replace Josh Norman on the cheap. Surprisingly, Sanchez missed the cut in early September, but he was quickly signed to the practice squad. The youngster’s 53-man break came last month when one-time starter Bene Benwikere was released. His year ends with five games played (one start) and eight total tackles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Cut Bene Benwikere

Days after having a rough outing against Julio Jones, the Panthers have decided to cut starting cornerback Bene Benwikere, a source tells Tom Pelissero of USA Today (on Twitter). Benwikere did not look sharp against the Falcons, but he did earn himself a starting job and had an interception in the team’s season opener. His release comes as a surprise and he will likely be claimed by another team.Bene Benwikere (vertical)

Last year, “Big Play Bene” appeared in 13 games (four starts) before a broken leg shut him down for the season. In total, the cornerback had 59 tackles, nine pass deflections, and one sack on the year last year. This year, he had ten tackles and four passes defensed before being bounced by Carolina.

On Oct. 2, Jones caught 12 passes for 300 yards and one touchdown. It was fair to assume that they would make some kind of change, but few expected them to bounce Benwikere.

In a related move, cornerback Zack Sanchez has been signed from the p-squad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sunday NFL Transactions: NFC South

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four NFC South teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are noted below.

Additionally, as of 12:00pm CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s NFC South transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day. All links go to Twitter unless otherwise noted:

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

New Orleans Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Panthers Cut Fifth-Round CB Zack Sanchez

After the Panthers effectively cut Josh Norman loose, they drafted multiple cornerbacks to help fill the void. Unfortunately, it sounds like one of the Panthers’ three freshman corners wasn’t as sharp as they anticipated. Fifth-round pick Zack Sanchez will be waived today as the team cuts down to 53, according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer (on Twitter). Zack Sanchez (vertical)

If Sanchez goes unclaimed on waivers, he could theoretically be a practice squad candidate for Carolina. However, by exposing Sanchez to waivers, the Panthers are effectively saying that they are not afraid to lose him. Sanchez, the 141st overall pick in the draft, received what was supposed to be a four-year contract worth $2.612MM with a signing bonus of about $272K.

Here’s our running list of the Panthers’ cuts so far today, via Joseph Person and Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, unless noted otherwise:

  • RB Brandon Wegher
  • CB Zack Sanchez
  • DT Eric Crume 
  • TE Eric Wallace
  • TE Marcus Lucas
  • DE Arthur Miley
  • S Stevie Brown (story)

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Pick Signings: Packers, Panthers, Browns

News on draft pick signings continues to trickle in, so after pass along word of several draftees inking their rookie contracts earlier today, we’ve got a few more updates to round up. Let’s dive in…

  • The Packers have signed third-round linebacker Kyler Fackrell, the team announced today in a press release. Green Bay has now secured all but one of its seven draft picks, with only first-round defensive tackle Kenny Clark still unsigned.
  • The Panthers have also signed each of their draft picks except for their first-rounder, having formally locked up fifth-round cornerback Zack Sanchez today, per David Newton of ESPN.com. Sanchez, the 141st overall pick in the draft, is in line for a four-year contract worth $2.612MM, with a signing bonus of about $272K, according to Over the Cap’s data.
  • The Browns begin getting their draftees under team control today by signing fifth-round wideout Jordan Payton and seventh-round linebacker Scooby Wright to their rookie deals, tweets Rand Getlin of the NFL Network. Cleveland still has plenty of business left to conduct — the team drafted 14 players, so 12 remain unsigned.
  • For the full breakdown of which draft picks have signed and which haven’t, check out our complete list.

NFC Notes: Baker, Washington, Panthers

Washington defensive end Chris Baker is entering the final year of his contract and is extension-eligible, but he’s not clamoring for a new deal, as he tells John Keim of ESPN.com. As Keim details, Baker also hopes to stick at left end rather than sliding over to nose tackle for just 10 plays per game.

“I’ve solidified myself as a good left end,” Baker said. “So I’d like to stay at my position and use my athleticism to make plays. I’m willing to do what it takes to make sure the team wins, but hopefully they leave me at left end and use the other noses we have or some of the younger guys we’re going to draft.”

Washington saw last year’s starting nose tackle, Terrance Knighton, depart in free agency, signing a new deal with the Patriots, so the club will likely look to address the position in the draft.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Even though they hold the 30th overall pick in this year’s draft, the Panthers are more likely to move out of the first round than they are to trade up, writes David Newton of ESPN.com.
  • Oklahoma cornerback Zack Sanchez visited with the Panthers on Monday, a league source tells Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. Sanchez, a two-time All-Big 12 selection, has started 37 games over the past three seasons. In 2015, Sanchez hauled in seven interceptions, 45 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, and seven pass breakups. Last month it was reported that Sanchez was moving up draft boards around the league, potentially putting him in position to be a late first-round pick.
  • Florida State linebacker Reggie Northrup traveled to D.C. to meet with Washington on Monday, per Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link).
  • Defensive back Blake Countess, who played his final college season at Auburn after several years at Michigan, has a visit on tap with the Giants, tweets Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
  • The 49ers have done their homework on defensive lineman Vernon Butler, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. The former Louisiana Tech standout measured in with the fourth-highest arm length and hand size of any defensive lineman in this year’s class. Branch notes that head coach Chip Kelly and GM Trent Baalke are both fans of bigger defensive linemen, and Butler fits the bill at 323 pounds.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Miller’s Latest: Glennon, Hackenberg, Doctson

While the Buccaneers have floated the idea of acquiring a first-round pick for quarterback Mike Glennon, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report hears the Tampa Bay would accept a third-rounder if it were from a team picking relatively high. That conflicts with a recent report by Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com which said the Bucs turned down a second-round pick for its backup quarterback. Of course, La Canfora’s report didn’t given any sense of a timetable, so Tampa’s view of Glennon’s market could have changed since it rejected a second-rounder. Glennon is generating the most trade interest of any signal-caller outside of Colin Kaepernick, per Miller.

Here’s more from Miller’s latest column, with a heavy focus on the NFL draft…

  • Some around the NFL don’t expect Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg to have any chance at being a first-round pick now that the Texans have signed Brock Osweiler, according to Miller. Houston head coach Bill O’Brien tutored Hackenberg at Penn State, but now Hackenberg looks to be a second- or third-round pick.
  • Instead of focusing on quarterback, the Texans could now look to find help at either wide receiver or defensive tackle early in the draft, the clubs’ scouts told Miller.
  • Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche‘s character concerns have caused some teams to take him off their draft boards, and one NFC West general manager sounds like he’s employed by one of them. “Take Nkemdiche out of your mock drafts,” the GM said, per Miller. “No one is that stupid.”
  • After releasing Mike Wallace earlier this week, the Vikings are expected to target receivers early in the draft, and one player to keep an eye on could be Josh Doctson of TCU, per Miller, as a team source tells the Bleacher Report scribe that Minnesota has a high grade on Horned Frog pass-catcher.
  • Linebacker Reggie Ragland struggled during his Pro Day, and could now possibly fall to the second round. One scout told Miller that the Alabama product looked “slow, sluggish, and heavy” during his workout.
  • Another Alabama defender — defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson — is viewed as a two-down run-stopper, and therefore might fall out of the first round.
  • Oklahoma cornerback Zack Sanchez is earning good reports from NFL scouts, says Miller, and he’s moved up enough draft boards that he could now be a late first-round pick.
  • Some teams are wary of running back Devontae Booker because the Utah product has undergone two surgeries to clean up a torn meniscus.

Extra Points: Marshall, Bills, Prospects

Some assorted notes from around the NFL…

  • Brandon Marshall‘s tenure with the Bears didn’t end on the most pleasant terms, and the current Jets wideout has used that as motivation for this season. “I can care less about stats and the awards,” Marshall told Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com. “I wanted my character to be rebuilt [in Chicago], and I did that. Then it was ripped away from me. So I’m still a little angry about that, but I’m just going to use that for motivation to keep going.”
  • With Mario Williams on his way out of Buffalo, linebacker Preston Brown wants to be “the guy” for the Bills in 2016. However, considering the constant roster turnover, the 23-year-old isn’t certain he’ll even be on the team next season. “You always want to go be that guy,” Brown told Tyler Dunne of The Buffalo News. “But I’m not in control of that. If I’m here, if I’m not, I don’t know what happens with everybody. You never know. I’ll just go out there and try to do my job each week.”
  • Oklahoma cornerback Zack Sanchez and linebacker Dominique Alexander have both declared for the upcoming draft (via Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller on Twitter).
  • The Dolphins would be “wise” to pursue Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, tweets Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole. If the coaching staff in Detroit is let go, Cole believes Austin could fill a variety of roles for Miami, including defensive coordinator or head coach.