NFC East Notes: Giants, Scandrick, Cowboys

The Giants expressed interest in cornerback Orlando Scandrick when he was released by the Redskins last week, but he landed with the Chiefs before New York could arrange a visit, tweets Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com. New York is set at outside corner, where Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple will start, but could still use help at slot, which is where Scandrick has experienced the most success. At present, veterans William Gay and Leonard Johnson are the leading candidates to play inside for the Giants, but given their interest in Scandrick, it stands to reason Big Blue could consider further additions — either via the free agent or trade market, or through a waiver claim — in the coming weeks.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • Zack Martin went down on Saturday night during the Cowboys‘ second preseason game, but the news is expected to be positive for the All-Pro guard. Martin likely suffered a hyper-extended left knee, per Todd Archer of ESPN.com, who adds Martin is expected to undergo an MRI on Sunday. Speaking to reporters last night, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Martin’s knee issue was not expected to be “problematic,” according to Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk. However, given his injury, Dallas could hold out Martin from game action until the regular season begins.
  • While Martin is likely to escape a serious injury, Cowboys safety Jameill Showers wasn’t so lucky. Showers is believed to have suffered a torn ACL, tweets Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News, and will have an MRI on Sunday to confirm. After entering the league as a quarterback in 2015, Showers transferred to defensive back, and has spent much of the past three seasons on Dallas’ practice squad. While he was far from a roster lock, Showers’ injury will further deplete the Cowboys’ defensive depth.
  • The Cowboys need to add another receiver, opines Calvin Watkins of The Athletic (Twitter link). Dallas added free agent Allen Hurns and draft pick Michael Gallup to its receiving corps this offseason, but the position group as a whole hasn’t been overly impressive through two preseason games. While Watkins points to back-of-the-roster pass-catchers such as Noah Brown and Deonte Thompson as candidates for increased playing time, the Cowboys could conceivably look at free agents including Jeremy Maclin, Dontrelle Inman, or Brandon Coleman.

Redskins To Host Adrian Peterson

The Redskins will host free agent running back Adrian Peterson on Monday, according to Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Washington is in serious need of backfield depth, especially after losing presumptive starter Derrius Guice to a torn ACL. Meanwhile, Samaje Perine is expected to miss at least a week with an ankle injury, and Byron Marshall could be sidelined for a month with his own ankle issue. The Redskins also waived/injured running back Martez Carter earlier today, leaving them with Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson, and Kapri Bibbs as their only health backs.

Guice was expected to handle early-down work for the Redskins, and that’s a role Peterson can conceivably still handle. However, the 2017 campaign wasn’t Peterson’s finest, as he averaged just 3.4 yards per carry on 156 rushes between the Saints and Cardinals. That was the second-lowest figure league-wide among backs with at least 150 carries, while Peterson also finished 46th among 47 RBs in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, meaning he wasn’t efficient on a per-play basis.

At his best, of course, Peterson is a Hall of Fame-caliber player, and he managed more than 1,400 yards on the ground as recently as 2015. His pass-game deficiencies aside, Peterson could give Washington a Guice replacement, one capable of handling running downs before ceding to Thompson on passing plays.

The Redskins worked out fellow running backs Orleans Darkwa and Jamaal Charles on Sunday, but it doesn’t appear Washington is in a hurry to sign either player, per Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Darnold, Teddy, Pats

Brian Costello of the New York Post tweets that Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold once again took the majority of snaps in the team’s practice today, and he says it “feels inevitable” that the No. 3 overall selection will be the Week 1 starter. Which means, of course, that Gang Green could look to move Teddy Bridgewater, whose name we have heard in trade rumors almost as soon as the Jets acquired him this offseason. Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv, though, believes Bridgewater will remain with the Jets throughout the season, unless another club’s starter gets hurt. If New York does deal Bridgewater, though, Vacchiano offers a list of teams who could be interested, including the Broncos, Jaguars, and Saints.

Now let’s check out some rumors from other east division clubs:

  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe wonders if Tom Brady‘s reworked deal with the Patriots was actually done with TE Rob Gronkowski in mind. After all, Brady’s deal only added $5MM in incentives and did not come with a big signing bonus or any additional years, so perhaps New England wanted to be able to tell Gronk — who wants a pay raise in the form of guaranteed money, not incentives — “we didn’t give Brady any extra guaranteed money, and we’re not going to do it for you, either.”
  • In the same piece, Volin says he would not be surprised if the Patriots pursue Bridgewater next offseason (when he will be a free agent), or if they look to bring back Jacoby Brissett via trade in 2019 (assuming Andrew Luck proves he can stay healthy in 2018, which would make the Colts more inclined to deal Brissett). New England doesn’t have a young quarterback on its roster aside from seventh-round rookie Danny Etling, who is viewed as a practice-squad player at best.
  • The Patriots haven’t used undrafted rookie punter Corey Bojorquez during their first two preseason games, and that could be because New England hopes to eventually sneak him through waivers and onto its practice squad, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. Veteran Ryan Allen is the Patriots’ likely punter in 2018, but he ranked just 18th in net punting average a season ago. By keeping Bojorquez off game tape, New England isn’t allowing rival clubs to get a look at a potentially talented played.

Bengals To Release George Iloka

In a very surprising move, the Bengals are releasing veteran safety George Iloka, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (via Twitter). Rapoport adds that the decision is a purely financial one, as Iloka has started every game he has played since 2013. Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network confirms as much, pointing out that Iloka was due $5.3MM in base salary and roster bonuses this season (Twitter link). The Bengals will absorb a dead money hit of $2.1MM but will save $4.1MM against the cap in the process.

Garafolo adds that he expects Iloka to have a new job soon, and plenty of writers are already speculating that the Cowboys could be a fit. Others, however, are more skeptical. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, for instance, notes that all of Iloka’s former coordinators/positional coaches are now with teams who are set at safety, and given the abysmal market for free agent safeties this offseason, Barnwell believes a modest one-year deal could be in the cards for Iloka (Twitter link).

As Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets, the Bengals have frequently spoken this offseason about their desire to trim payroll and about their safety depth. With Iloka gone, it appears that impressive rookie Jessie Bates III, the No. 54 overall pick in this year’s draft, will become the team’s starting free safety.

Iloka, a 2012 fifth-round choice out of Boise State, played in seven games during his rookie campaign but has been a fixture in the Bengals’ starting lineup ever since. He has been quite durable as well, as he has played in 76 of a possible 80 regular season games and all three of the team’s playoff contests since 2013. He made the move from strong safety to free safety in 2016, and while he has not been much of a play-maker at either position — he has nine interceptions and zero sacks in his career — he is a solid overall player who would be an upgrade for a number of teams. He signed a five-year, $30MM pact with Cincinnati in March 2016 after a very good 2015 campaign.

Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com, though, writes that Iloka’s on-field play did factor into his release, as Cincinnati was apparently unhappy with how he performed last season. He will have a chance to prove them wrong on another club.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions To Sign Sterling Moore

Free agent cornerback Sterling Moore has signed with the Lions, as his agency tweeted this afternoon. Moore, a former UDFA who began his career with the Patriots in 2011, will reunite with Matt Patricia, the Lions’ new head coach who served as New England’s safeties coach in 2011 and the team’s defensive coordinator in 2012.

Moore was cut by the Patriots during the 2012 season, and he ultimately latched on with the Cowboys later that year. He mostly started for the Cowboys, Buccaneers, and Saints from 2014-2016, but he’s more of a role player at this stage of his career. In 2017, Moore bounced on and off the Saints’ roster, though he was fairly productive for New Orleans in 2016, finishing with a career-high 56 tackles, 13 passes defended, and two interceptions.

He is perhaps best known for his strip of then-Ravens receiver Lee Evans in the waning moments of the 2011 AFC Championship game, knocking a would-be game-winning touchdown out of Evans’ hands and sending New England to the Super Bowl.

In Detroit, Moore could have the opportunity to earn a fair amount of playing time. The Lions currently project to start Darius Slay and Teez Tabor, but the rest of the depth chart is not particularly inspiring. The team was set to meet with Kayvon Webster later this week, and it is unclear if the Moore signing will have any impact on those plans.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: M. Gordon, Broncos, Noteboom

Chargers running back Melvin Gordon will not be eligible for unrestricted free agency until after the 2019 season, as the Bolts picked up his fifth-year option for 2019 back in May. He cracked the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career last season, and he continues to be a force as a receiver out of the backfield. Nonetheless, as Jack Wang of the Orange County Register writes, Gordon still has a long way to go before he can command the type of contract that fellow 2015 first-rounder Todd Gurley recently pulled down (Gordon, after all, has yet to average four yards per carry in his three seasons in the league).

But while Gordon is not focused on his next contract at the moment, he fully expects to be in Gurley territory when that time comes. He said, “[Gurley] definitely changed the market for us…When that time comes for us backs to get paid, I’m sure it’ll be around the same number.” Gordon did play a full 16-game season for the first time in his career in 2017, and there are plenty of reasons to think his YPC average might look a little better in 2018, which could add up to a lucrative extension in another year or so.

Now let’s round up a few more notes from the league’s west divisions:

  • Broncos head coach Vance Joseph was noncommittal when asked after last night’s preseason loss to the Bears if the team would pursue a veteran to back up starting QB Case Keenum. Per Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com (Twitter link), Joseph said, “Right now (Chad Kelly) is our guy. I can’t speak for two weeks down the road here. But right now he’s our backup quarterback.” Troy Renck of Denver 7 ABC says Kelly has been impressive in the preseason, but he would still be surprised if the Broncos do not add a veteran signal-caller (Twitter link).
  • In a separate tweet, Renck passes along Joseph’s statement that the Broncos‘ running back competition is still open. Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post, however, reports (unsurprisingly) that rookie Royce Freeman appears to be the winner of the competition, as Denver clearly wants him to be the team’s lead back. Kiszla also points out that UDFA Phillip Lindsay has been sensational in the Broncos’ first two preseason games, and given Lindsay’s abilities on special teams, both Kiszla and Legwold (Twitter link) believe he has a real chance of making the roster.
  • Alfred Morris‘ new contract with the 49ers is for the veteran minimum of $790K, per ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter). As expected, Morris will need to play his way onto San Francisco’s Week 1 roster. He will count for $630K against the team’s cap.
  • Rams rookie Joseph Noteboom, a third-round choice in this year’s draft — and the Rams’ first draft pick in 2018 — has a chance to see immediate playing time along the team’s offensive line this season. And, given the age and contract situation of Los Angeles’ current starting O-linemen, Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic writes that Noteboom — an ice hockey standout in high school — could become a fixture at guard or tackle in the very near future. The team has been very impressed with the TCU product thus far, and he acquitted himself nicely during last night’s preseason game, when he played both tackle positions and left guard.
  • The Chiefs signed veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick earlier today.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/19/18

Here are today’s minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

  • Waived/injured: P Cory Carter

Carolina Panthers

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Browns Hope Josh Gordon Will Be Ready For Week 1

After Josh Gordon‘s much-anticipated return to the Browns yesterday, Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson expressed his hope that Gordon will be ready to go when the team opens up the regular season against the division-rival Steelers on September 9. Jackson said, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, “There’s a chance. Obviously, we’re just going to take it one step at a time. His focus is going to be on meetings and conditioning, and then we’ll just kind of go from there. Hopefully, we can get him up and running by the first game.”

As we learned yesterday, Gordon was placed on the active/non-football injury list, which means that he can start practicing as soon as the Browns’ medical team gives him the green light. Until that happens, he can attend meetings and conditioning sessions, but if he is going to play in Week 1, he obviously needs to return to the practice field as soon as possible (though Jackson expressed his belief that Gordon developed sufficient chemistry and understanding of the offense in OTAs and minicamp).

Interestingly, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk believes that the league has plenty of say as to when Gordon will make a full return. He writes that, while many reporters have “parroted” the notion that the process has been controlled by a proactive Gordon, this tweet from Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, which quotes NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, suggests otherwise. The tweet says that, since Gordon is still in the league’s substance abuse program, he needs to meet certain conditions before playing, and then it quotes McCarthy as saying, “this [is} part of the process. Can attend meeting, do conditioning. Can go to practice, but not participate. No timetable on next step.”

Florio says it’s clear that Gordon’s ability to practice and to play will be subject to league approval, which means that something happened during Gordon’s treatment plan that triggered his absence in the first place. If Gordon truly did keep himself out of training camp, Florio says he would have been instantly reinstated with no restrictions of any kind upon his return.

The way this situation has played out not only suggests that the league has been directly involved, per Florio, but that the NFL is also realizing that overly-aggressive application of its substance abuse policy is not helpful to either the player or the league. Instead, it appears that the NFL has opted to work with Gordon in this case instead of running him out of the league — another misstep on Gordon’s part would result in at least another year-long suspension — which jibes with a piece from Tony Grossi of ESPN 850 WKNR, who says that commissioner Roger Goodell has been sympathetic to Gordon since the two men had a face-to-face meeting last November.

Grossi also opines that, since the Browns have finally upgraded their receiving corps, Gordon may need the team more than the team needs him for the first time in their tumultuous history together, which may be the motivation he needs to stay on the right track.

Jackson, though, made no guarantees that Gordon is back for good. He said, “I’m confident that he’s here. That’s the most important part. How long he stays, only Josh knows that, but he’s in a much better place. I think all those things, as you guys know, are always fluid. That’s always a concern, but at the same time, we’re here to support, help and try to create the right environments for Josh.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Rejected Seahawks’ Offer For Jacoby Brissett

From a statistical standpoint, Jacoby Brissett was not especially impressive as the Colts’ starting signal-caller last season, but teams apparently saw enough in the former third-round pick to try and pry him away from Indianapolis this year. We heard back in March that the Colts had rejected two trade offers for Brissett — though the identities of the two teams and the strength of the offers were not known — and Colts owner Jim Irsay recently said that his club would not even trade Brissett for a first-round pick.

While it’s unlikely that the Colts have been tempted with a first-rounder, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports that the Seahawks did recently offer a second-round choice to Indianapolis in exchange for Brissett, and the Colts declined. Seattle, of course, does not need a starting quarterback with Russell Wilson under center, but the team apparently believes it could upgrade its backup situation. Austin Davis, who served as the team’s No. 2 QB last year, has not attempted a regular season pass since 2015, and the other quarterback on the roster, Alex McGough, is a rookie and was a seventh-round pick in this year’s draft. Seattle recently worked out Josh Johnson, which also suggests the team is not sold on either Davis or McGough should Wilson be forced to miss time.

The Colts, meanwhile, are thrilled to have Andrew Luck back and apparently healthy, but given his serious and well-documented shoulder problems, it is understandable that they would like to have a capable backup should Luck suffer any more setbacks.

Brissett is under contract through the 2019 season. Last year, his first as a full-time starter, he complied a 4-11 record and an 81.7 quarterback rating, throwing for 3,098 yards and 13 touchdowns against seven interceptions. He did rush for an additional 260 yards and four scores, and given his relative inexperience, the Colts’ porous offensive line, and the fact that he was traded from New England to Indianapolis just before the 2017 regular season began, he did about as well as could be expected (as evidenced by the trade interest he has generated).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jamaal Charles To Visit Redskins

The Redskins’ search for running back depth continues, as the team is set to meet with free agent Jamaal Charles today, per ESPN’s Josina Anderson (via Twitter). Washington is also planning to work out Orleans Darkwa today.

Washington lost presumptive starter Derrius Guice to a torn ACL during the team’s first preseason game, and Samaje Perine is expected to miss at least a week with an ankle injury, so Rob KelleyChris Thompson, and Kapri Bibbs are the team’s only healthy backs at the moment. While Thompson offers upside as a pass-catcher out of the backfield and as a change-of-pace back, the Redskins could really use some more help.

Enter Darkwa and Charles. Darkwa was a bright spot in an otherwise miserable season for the division-rival Giants in 2017, posting career-highs in starts (11), rushes (171), yards (751), and touchdowns (five). Advanced metrics were generally fond of his play, and he has generated plenty of interest this offseason.

Charles, meanwhile, made it through the 2017 campaign healthy — which was an accomplishment in and of itself — but aside from that, it was not an especially memorable season for the 31-year-old. The two-time All-Pro, who was one of the most exciting players in the league before being plagued by extensive knee trouble, racked up just 69 carries for the Broncos last year, and while he led all Denver ball-carriers with a 4.3 YPC average, he was a healthy scratch to close out the year and was frustrated with his lack of playing time.

Charles did meet with the Saints back in June, but we have not heard of any other interest in his services.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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