NFC Notes: Cowboys, Compton, Fales

When announcing the new extension for linebacker Jaylon Smith at a press conference today, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones sent a clear message to a few other high-profile players who are eligible for extensions. Jones said, via Jon Machota of The Athletic, “[t]he team takes precedent at a point over the opinion or the demand of the individual. The team takes precedent. This was a team move we are talking about today. The team takes precedent. And I’ve got the backbone to keep it that way” (Twitter link).

Obviously, that statement suggests that Jones is going to hold firm on the offers that have been extended to Ezekiel ElliottDak Prescott, and Amari Cooper, and as we detailed earlier today, Smith’s extension looks relatively team-friendly. Jones did say that there is “enough pie left” to get deals done with all of them, though he did not have an update on negotiations with the trio.

Let’s check out more from the NFC:

  • Free agent linebacker Will Compton will work out for the Saints, as John Keim of ESPN.com tweets. Compton, who played for the Redskins from 2013-17, was a full-time starter as recently as 2016. However, his 2017 campaign was marred by injury, and he played only 79 defensive snaps for the Titans last year in his first and only season in Tennessee. He would provide experienced LB depth in New Orleans, and he could also contribute on special teams.
  • Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press examines the Lions‘ backup QB situation, noting that presumptive QB2 Tom Savage missed his seventh straight practice on Tuesday (Savage is in the concussion protocol). That has meant more reps for David Fales and Josh Johnson, but Birkett says the Lions are unlikely to carry three QBs. So if Savage cannot be medically cleared by next Saturday, he could be cut. Fales looked sharp in the team’s last preseason game while Johnson struggled, so Fales may have a leg up if Savage can’t get healthy.
  • The 49ers fear that rookie wide receiver Shawn Poindexter suffered a torn ACL in Monday’s preseason win, as Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. Poindexter, a UDFA from Arizona, appeared to be a prime practice squad candidate, and the club has already signed WR/KR Chris Thompson to take Poindexter’s place on the 90-man roster.

Dolphins Nearing Extension With WR/KR Jakeem Grant

The Dolphins are nearing a four-year contract extension with wide receiver Jakeem Grant, a source tells Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). The deal would keep Grant under club control through 2023.

Grant is, at best, the No. 4 wide receiver on Miami’s depth chart at the moment, but most of his value comes from his return ability. The 2016 sixth-rounder has returned 59 punts and 58 kickoffs over his first three years in the league, and he took a punt and a kickoff to the house last year. The 16.3 yards-per-return he provided across 14 punt returns in 2018 is a stellar mark, as was his 29.7 yards-per return average on kickoffs.

The Texas Tech product is diminutive, checking in at 5-7, 171. But he is shifty and quick, and those skills do allow him to be an occasional threat in the passing game as well. He has two receiving touchdowns in each of the past two seasons, with a 65-yard strike in 2017 and a 52-yard score in 2018.

Grant had been battling a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined over the past several weeks, but he returned to practice Monday, and the Dolphins apparently believe he is back to full health. His rookie contract expires at the end of the 2019 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets To Sign Stephone Anthony

The Jets are signing linebacker Stephone Anthony, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Anthony was cut by the Falcons on Saturday.

New York has been seeking a replacement for Avery Williamson, who tore his ACL last week. The club signed Albert McClellan on Saturday, and Anthony gives them a higher-upside option.

Anthony, whom the Saints selected in the first round of the 2015 draft, showed some promise with a 112-tackle rookie campaign. He started all 16 games that year for a bottom-tier New Orleans defense, but the team moved him from middle linebacker to strongside linebacker in 2016, and he regressed considerably. The Saints dealt him to the Dolphins in 2017, but the change of scenery didn’t do much for him. Anthony had just seven tackles across 16 appearances last year, and the Dolphins declined his fifth-year option, making him a free agent this offseason.

The Falcons signed him at the end of July, but he did not last a full month on Atlanta’s roster. With the Jets, Anthony will have a chance to compete for playing time alongside free agent acquisition C.J. Mosley, and he will also reunite with Adam Gase, his head coach for two years in Miami, and Joe Vitt, the Saints’ LB coach during Anthony’s first two years in the league.

The Jets cut safety Santos Ramirez in a corresponding move.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers To Sign Dontrelle Inman

The Chargers have signed wide receiver Dontrelle Inman, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (via Twitter). This will be a homecoming for Inman, who played for the Chargers from 2014-16 and for the first quarter of 2017 before the Bolts traded him to the Bears.

Inman, 30, became a free agent after the 2017 season and did not sign with a club until October 2018, when he joined the Colts. He caught 28 passes for 304 yards and three scores for Indy, and he added another eight grabs for 108 yards in the club’s two postseason contests. Advanced metrics were fond of his work, and he has always been a solid contributor when given the opportunity. His best season, which featured 810 yards and four TDs, came with the 2016 Chargers.

The UVA product signed with the Patriots in May but requested his release shortly after Josh Gordon was reinstated. He generated interest from the Lions and Jets, but Rapoport says the chance to reunite with Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers ended up being the deciding factor. However, RapSheet says in a separate tweet that the Jets made a “very strong offer” to Inman, and that the veteran wideout was impressed with the New York outfit.

Inman should see a fair amount of action, especially if Keenan Allen — who is expected to miss the remainder of Los Angeles’ preseason slate — is forced to miss any regular season action. Even if Allen stays healthy, Inman currently looks like the No. 3 or No. 4 option on the Chargers’ WR depth chart.

Jets Claim S Derrick Kindred

The Jets have claimed Derrick Kindred off waivers from the Colts, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. This marks the second time in 2019 that Kindred has been plucked from the waiver wire.

Kindred, who was selected by the Browns in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, was waived by Cleveland on April 1. The Colts claimed him but elected to cut ties yesterday after rostering him for nearly five months.

The Jets have elected to give the TCU product a chance, and they liked him enough to put themselves on the hook for his $2MM 2019 salary. While the club has Marcus Maye and Jamal Adams entrenched at the safety positions, Kindred could provide quality depth there, especially since Maye was only recently removed from the PUP list. Theoretically, Kindred could also see some action at corner — which is currently a glaring weakness for Gang Green — and he is likely to be deployed on special teams as well.

Kindred appeared in 42 games over three years in Cleveland. Last year, he had a perfect attendance record and registered 45 tackles, one interception, and a forced fumble. In New York, he will reunite with Gregg Williams, who served as the Browns’ defensive coordinator in 2017 and the first part of 2018 before taking over as the club’s interim head coach.

The Jets waived DB Montrel Meander in a corresponding move.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Antonio Brown Practicing In Certified Helmet

Raiders GM Mike Mayock expressed his frustrations with Antonio Brown over the weekend, and he implied that he wouldn’t entertain Brown’s drama much longer. Mayock said, “[h]e’s upset about the helmet issue. We have supported that; we appreciate that. At this point, we’ve pretty much exhausted all avenues of relief. From our perspective, it’s time for him to be all-in or all-out.”

Whether Mayock’s words were the impetus behind it or not, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that Brown — who reported to practice on Monday, though the club’s walk-through was ultimately canceled — practiced today with a certified helmet (Twitter link). Obviously, that’s a good sign for the Raiders, as it suggests that even if Brown loses his second helmet-related grievance, he will play nicely and go along with whatever headgear the league tells him he must wear.

Speaking of that second grievance, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that an arbitrator will hear Brown’s case on Friday, so this matter should be wrapped up fairly quickly. But since Brown is involved, it’s hard to say for certain.

Brown, of course, had been trying to have his prized Schutt AiR Advantage helmet certified by the league, and Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic says that the NFL’s Canadian testing lab has ordered some 2011 Schutt helmets from Virginia Tech (Twitter link). Earlier reports suggested that a 2011 Schutt AiR Advantage failed safety testing, but perhaps the league is attempting to compromise by finding AB a different model from the same maker.

We should have some more clarity after Friday’s hearing, but you can probably expect to hear more Brown-related reports in the meantime.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/20/19

Today’s minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

  • Signed: OL Erik Magnuson
  • Placed on IR: OL Garrett McGhin (ankle)

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Cowboys Sign Jaylon Smith To Extension

The Cowboys have reached a long-term extension with linebacker Jaylon Smith, sources tell Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). Smith has been vocal about his desire for a new deal, and he’s got one in place with days to go before the regular season.

Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that it’s a five-year, $64MM pact (Twitter link), but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. Smith was under contract for about $1.3MM this year and would have been eligible for a restricted free agent tender in 2020, and the extension did not subsume those amounts. So, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets, Smith is now playing under a seven-year, $69.7MM deal, and Smith will be under club control through 2025. David Moore of the Dallas Morning News tweets that the extension does include $35.5MM in guaranteed money, but it looks like a fairly team-friendly pact overall.

Still, it’s a good day for Smith, who recently said that he never wants to play for another team. “I want to be a Cowboy. I want to be a Cowboy for the rest of my life,” Smith said last week. “Understanding what they’ve done for me, taking a chance, taking a risk. Now they’re getting the return on their investment. It’s a beautiful thing to be a Dallas Cowboy.”

Indeed, the Cowboys took a gamble on Smith by selecting him in the second round of the 2016 draft. When he was healthy at Notre Dame, Smith was viewed as a top 10 pick. However, severe knee injuries caused his stock to plummet. At the time, it was speculated that Smith could drop like a stone due to medical concerns, but the Cowboys rolled the dice and pounced on him with the No. 34 overall choice.

Smith missed all of 2016 and played mostly as a part-timer in 2017. Then, last year, he came back with a vengeance. Smith graded as the league’s No. 6 off-ball linebacker last season, per Pro Football Focus, making a career-high 121 tackles and registering four sacks. Between Smith and 2018 first-rounder Leighton Vander Esch (No. 4 on PFF’s 2018 linebacker performance list), the Cowboys have one of the NFL’s best three-down linebacking duos.

Of course, there’s still plenty of work for the Cowboys in the coming days with Dak PrescottEzekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper all eligible for extensions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Notes: Elliott, Garrett, Lawrence

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett says he has stayed in contact with Ezekiel Elliott during his holdout (Twitter link via Jon Machota of The Athletic). He went on to say that the conversations have been “all very positive,” though there’s still no word on when Elliott will show up for work.

Publicly, both sides are attempting to paint a fairly rosy picture of what’s taking place. Last week, a story likely leaked from Elliott’s camp indicated that he is in shape and ready to go for the upcoming season, despite his absence from practice. Meanwhile, Garrett was quick to tell reporters that he is on good terms with his star running back.

While we wait for movement on the Elliott front, here’s more from Dallas:

  • The Cowboys are set to activate defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford from the PUP list, a source tells ESPN.com’s Todd Archer (on Twitter). Lawrence had shoulder surgery soon after signing his five-year, $101MM contract in April and has been out of action for the last few months. Crawford, meanwhile, is working through a hip issue that kept him out of the offseason program. Unfortunately, safety Byron Jones (hip) and receiver Noah Brown (knee) remain on PUP.
  • This week, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones acknowledged that a new deal for Dak Prescott would put him in the top tier of compensation for NFL quarterbacks.

Broncos QB Drew Lock To Miss Time

Broncos quarterback Drew Lock has been diagnosed with a fairly serious sprain, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. On the plus side, there will be no surgery required. On the down side, Lock will have to miss some time as he recuperates. Ryan O’Halloran, citing Dr. Steven Shin, the director of hand surgery at Cedars-Sinai Kerlans-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, estimates that Lock will need five to six weeks to recover before he can start throwing again (Twitter link).

[RELATED: Mike Shanahan On Broncos’ Interest, Coaching Plans]

Before the injury, the expectation was that Lock would open the regular season as Joe Flacco‘s primary backup. Now, there will likely be a competition between third-stringers Kevin Hogan and Brett Rypien for the No. 2 QB spot. Hogan served as Case Keenum‘s backup last year, after Chad Kelly‘s departure, so he could have the upper hand. Indeed, Mike Klis of 9News.com suggests that Hogan will be the QB2 until Lock is ready to return, and that the team could ultimately try to sneak Rypien onto the practice squad.

A Kansas City, Mo., native, Lock concluded his Mizzou career with 99 touchdown passes — including 44 as a junior — and 12,193 yards. Flacco’s early work dissuaded the Broncos from using a first-round pick on a quarterback, but when Lock was still on the board in Round 2, the team decided to pull the trigger.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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