Iowa offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga was regarded as a surefire top-ten pick just days ago, but he slipped all the way to 23rd overall in the draft. Packers G.M. Ted Thompson hardly hesitated to scoop him up.
Packers intercept Bulaga
If you were surprised when you saw the Lions draft Baylor long snapper Jimmy Landes on Saturday, you’re not alone. Landes was surprised too.
“I was very surprised,” Landes said, via MLive.com. “I was expecting free agency, just because I know how rare long snappers get drafted. I wasn’t expecting anything in the draft.”
If you enjoy a good, old-fashioned long snapper training camp competition, you’ll want to keep an eye on the Lions’ camp. Landes will compete for a roster spot with Don Muhlbach, the team’s longest-tenured player. Muhlbach re-signed with the Lions this offseason and got $80,000 guaranteed, and Landes knows he’ll have to out-perform Muhlbach in camp to get the job.
“I’m getting ready to meet him and just compete,” Landes said. “That’s what I was expecting to do, just whatever team I went to I was expecting to compete, so that’s what I’m ready to come in and work hard.”
The Lions wouldn’t use a draft pick on Landes if they weren’t confident he could beat out Muhlbach. Landes was a surprise draft pick, but now it would be a surprise if he doesn’t make the roster.
The Bengals took a cornerback in the first round of the draft for the third time in the last five years when they took William Jackson with the 24th overall pick, a move that gives them an option in place in the event Dre Kirkpatrick leaves as a free agent after this season.
It also gives them an option in the event Kirkpatrick’s health is a problem again during the 2016 season. Kirkpatrick dealt with a shoulder injury for much of last season — he was initially injured in Week Three — and Coley Harvey of ESPN.com reports that he had surgery earlier this offseason to repair the problem.
Kirkpatrick, who also appeared on the injury report with a variety of lower body injuries, is still rehabbing after the procedure and is expected to be healthy enough to participate in OTAs when they begin later this month. He didn’t miss any games last season, but his play — which featured 70 tackles and 16 passes defensed — came in for some criticism over the season.
Offensive tackles went with the first two picks of the 2013 draft, but only one of them had the fifth year of their contracts exercised for the 2017 season.
According to multiple reports, the Jaguars will decline to exercise their option on Luke Joeckel. Joeckel, the first draft pick of the General Manager Dave Caldwell/coach Gus Bradley era, went second in the 2013 draft behind Eric Fisher, whose $11.9 million option was exercised by the Chiefs on Monday.
If there’s any surprise about the news, it’s only because Joeckel was drafted at such a lofty position.
His play hasn’t been good enough for the Jaguars to justify keeping him at that salary and the team may not even have him in the starting lineup this season. They signed former Steelers left tackle Kelvin Beachum as a free agent and Joeckel may be shuffled inside to guard if Beachum wins the job this offseason.
The Colts on Monday announced that they’ve agreed to terms with 21 undrafted free agents.
The Colts didn’t draft a wide receiver, so it’s no surprise to see five wide receivers among the group of 21 undrafted players who will vie for roster spots. Those five are Daniel Anthrop, Chester Rogers, MeKale McKay, Marcus Leak and Tevaun Smith.
The 6-foot-5 McKay started his college career at Arkansas and finished it at Cincinnati, where he had 17 career touchdown catches.
The rest of the undrafted group includes defensive end Sterling Bailey, guard Isiah Cage, cornerback Daniel Davie, running back Josh Ferguson, tight end Darion Griswold, tackle Davante Harris, linebacker Curt Maggitt, safety Stefan McClure, tight end Mike Miller, cornerback Christopher Milton, guard Adam Redmond, linebacker Anthony Sarao, defensive end Delvon Simmons,linebacker Ronald Thompson, cornerback Darius White and safety Andrew Williamson.
Ferguson finished his Illinois career second in school history with 4,474 all-purpose yards. He was a third-team All-Big Ten pick last fall.
Defensive end Damontre Moore lost his job with the Giants last season after a fight with teammate Cullen Jenkins, ending a run with the team that featured flashes of pass rushing ability mixed in with a penchant for personal fouls that made it hard to consider his contributions to the team a net positive.
Moore landed with the Dolphins on waivers and saw action in three games before the year was out, but he won’t be building on those outings this offseason. The Dolphins announced Monday that they have waived Moore as they make room for rookie additions to the roster.
Moore has 9.5 sacks as a rotation player in 45 career games since entering the league as a 2013 third-round pick of the Giants. The pass rushing ability may earn him another look, but the total package that Moore has brought to the table doesn’t do much to create optimism that it will all come together for a long and productive NFL career.
The Dolphins also waived wide receiver Christon Jones and running back Jahwan Edwards.
Broncos defensive tackle Sylvester Williams is on track to become a free agent after the 2016 season.
According to multiple reports, the Broncos have declined to exercise their team option on Williams’ contract for the 2017 season. The option would have had Williams in line to make over $6.75 million and would have only been guaranteed against injury, but the Broncos opted not to go that route.
Williams, the 28th overall pick of the 2013 draft, started 15 games for the Broncos last season and finished the year with 25 tackles and three sacks. He should remain in the starting lineup this season and told Troy Renck of the Denver Post that he expects to have his best season yet.
Declining the option hardly closes the door on Williams’ return to Denver. Running back Doug Martin and safety/linebacker Mark Barron re-signed with the Buccaneers and Rams respectively this offseason after failing to get their options exercised. If Williams is right about how his 2016 season unfolds, that might make him more expensive than that option price although that’s a risk the Broncos are obviously willing to take.
But the more he talks, it sounds like he’d like to play with anyone who plays the Bears next season.
“Like I said, I like the Chicago franchise and the organization,” Rolle said, via Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune. “I had a great relationship with all the coaches and players and the general manager. So there’s no hard feelings. I don’t take anything personally. This is a business. This is a performance-based business. And due to my injury, I wasn’t really able to perform that year and really show what I can bring to the table. So I wasn’t shocked by anything.
“But at the end of the day, I am who I am. I’m still a human being. And I definitely have a chip on my shoulder. And like I said, whatever team I go to, I hope Chicago’s on the schedule. Because I’m coming to bust their ass. And that’s that.”
Of course, part of Rolle’s grudge may stem from some dissatisfaction with the playing surfaces there, saying his knee injury was a result of the poor practice field conditions.
While coming back from a high ankle sprain, he suffered a torn MCL on the final play of a practice, and would finish the season on injured reserve.
“Obviously my ankle was taped up to the max,” he said. “There was so much tape on my ankle where it could barely move. There were a lot of restrictions. I was just pretty much shuffling. I wasn’t even running. I was just shuffling. And I just tried to change direction and I slipped on the surfaces. . . .
“Yeah, I think the surface had a whole lot to do with it. Ya know, it happens man. … The facilities are good in Chicago. The fields are just not as good. I don’t know the reason behind it. I’m a down south guy. I don’t know the soil level or how the maintenance and the upkeep works in the Chicago area. But, yeah, it’s really hard to maintain and just be stable under those conditions. I’m sure that they’ll try to work and fix it.
“I always knew that Soldier Field was bad. I just never knew that the facilities were just as bad.”
Rolle had a reputation for durability before getting to Chicago, so it’s understandable that he’d be upset about missing so much time. And complaints about Soldier Field are nothing new, but it’s surprising to hear such a direct complaint about the practice field.
The Bills have removed the sheet from their 14-man class of undrafted free agents. As expected, it’s headlined by the youngest Gronk: Kansas State fullback Glenn Gronkowski.
The others are Miami (Ohio) linebacker Bryson Albright, Marshall receiver Davonte Allen, Arizona State receiver Gary Chambers, LSU long snapper Reid Ferguson, Purdue center Robert Kugler, Iowa State guard Jamison Lalk, Fresno State defensive end Claudell Louis, West Virginia tackle Marquis Lucas, Rutgers tackle Keith Lumpkin, Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan, Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker, Syracuse cornerback Julian Whigham, and Ferris State defensive tackle Justin Zimmer.
Striker (pictured) due widespread praise for a heartfelt speech to family and friends after he wasn’t drafted. He said he’d get a shot, and he’s getting that shot in Buffalo.
Talent continues to trump character concerns in the NFL, even if the bar is now higher for getting a player a second chance — and lower for keeping him out.
The Chiefs deemed West Alabama return specialist Tyreek Hill to be good enough to get a shot at the NFL, and his misconduct not bad enough to prevent it. The Chiefs, who were called out locally by Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star for picking a player who pleaded guilty in 2015 to punching an choking his pregnant girlfriend while at Oklahoma State, have defended the decision.
G.M. John Dorsey and Chiefs coach Andy Reid held a Saturday night press conference specifically to address concerns arising from the use of a fifth-round pick on Hill.
“I know that I would never put this community in any type of situation where it would not be good and we’ve done that,” Dorsey said, via Mellinger. “I would like to ask for you guys to just have a little bit of trust in us in this thing.”
“There has to be a certain trust here, but there’s just things that we can’t go into and go through,” Reid said, according to Terez Paylor and Tod Palmer of the Star. “We want people to understand, like [Dorsey] said, we’re not going to do anything to put this community or this organization in a bind. We uncovered every possible stone that we possibly could, and we feel very comfortable with that part of it.”
Reid explained that Hill has worked to rectify his past issues, which occurred when he allegedly punched his girlfriend in the face and choked her twice, when she was two months pregnant.
“Before you’re given a second chance, you better be doing the right things,” Reid said. “So he’s been in counseling, he’ll continue to be in counseling, we’ve got a great support system here for that with quality people. We feel good that he’s trying to right a wrong, a big wrong. But he’s trying to do better, and be a better person for it. And that part, we feel very confident in.”
Hill, who also spoke to reporters on Saturday night, expressed gratitude for the team’s decision to embrace uncanny talents as a return specialist and to overlook his past.
“I got questions everywhere I went, so it wasn’t anything new to me,” Hill said. “I would have just told them straight up, ‘I’m trying to move on from that. I’m trying to be a better young man. I’m trying to show who I truly am.’ Stuff like that. . . . The only thing I did say was, ‘I’m sorry. I messed up. I embarrassed the program at [Oklahoma State]. I embarrassed the coaches. I embarrassed a lot of people back at home.’ That’s it. That’s how I explained it. I really don’t want to go into detail.”
It’s understandable why he wouldn’t want to go into detail. Too much detail would allow a mental picture of what happened to be created.
But no mental picture would as potent as video. If, as in Ray Rice’s case, fans and media could see what Hill did to his pregnant girlfriend, Hill could be Gale Sayers, Devin Hester, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, and Dante Hall rolled into one and it wouldn’t have mattered.
When Bob Quinn was hired as the Lions’ General Manager in January, he kept on board many of the scouts that he inherited. But now that the draft is over, he’s cutting two of them loose.
Quinn fired scouts Chad Henry and Darren Anderson, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports.
It’s not unusual for teams to fire scouts after the draft. Quinn may have felt when he took the job that he needed to go in a different direction with the scouting staff, but that he didn’t want to lose the scouts who had already spent the entire college football season scouting players. Now that the draft is over, those scouts’ services are no longer needed.
As Quinn reshapes the Lions’ front office, several personnel people he inherited have been let go. Scott McEwen, the Lions’ longest-tenured scout, and Sheldon White, V.P. of pro personnel, were both fired soon after Quinn took the job.
The seven players drafted by the Buccaneers over the weekend won’t be the only rookies joining the roster ahead of the team’s rookie minicamp.
That camp gets underway on Thursday and there will be 19 undrafted free agents taking part after they agreed to terms with the Bucs. Among the players that will be vying for a role is safety Isaiah Johnson, who played for secondary coach Jon Hoke at South Carolina when Hoke was the school’s co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach last year.
They also signed wide receiver Anthony Kelly, who wouldn’t mind following in the footsteps of Kutztown’s most decorated football alum although matching Andre Reed’s production is a lot to ask.
Auburn running back Peyton Barber, West Chester tight end Tim Brown, Colorado State tight end Kivon Cartwright, Oregon linebacker Tyson Coleman, Memphis fullback/tight end Alan Cross, Memphis tackle Taylor Fallin, Missouri running back Russ Hansbrough, Northwestern safety Traveon Henry, Auburn defensive end DaVonte Lambert, Auburn linebacker Cassanova McKinzy, Western Kentucky defensive tackle Jonatavius Morris, William & Mary linebacker Luke Rhodes, West Georgia guard Dominique Robertson, Notre Dame safety Elijah Shumate, Ohio Dominican wide receiver Dez Stewart, Ole Miss defensive end Channing Ward and Missouri Western tackle Leonard Wester round out the group.
Via Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Browns aren’t picking up the fifth-year option on outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo. He’s still under contract for 2016, but the option for 2017 would have cost them $11.9 million.
That made it an easy call, since he didn’t have a single sack last year, and has just 7.0 in three seasons.
They’re hoping to find a way to tap into his pass-rush potential this year, but they weren’t going to invest heavily in a guy who has yet to produce to the level of his world-class name.
The Rams had two first-round picks in 2013 and they would like to hold onto both players through the 2017 season.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the Rams have exercised fifth-year options on both wide receiver Tavon Austin and linebacker Alec Ogletree. Both options are guaranteed against injury only and both players are free to sign a longer deal with the team at any point.
Austin, who was the eighth overall pick in 2013, will make over $12 million under the terms of the option. He’s played in 44 games for the Rams over the last three years and set career highs with 52 catches, 473 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns last season. Austin also ran 52 times for 434 yards and four touchdowns and ran his streak of seasons with a punt return touchdown to three.
The Rams likely hope Austin’s impact as a receiver continues to rise now that they’ve added Jared Goff at quarterback and they could revisit Austin’s option down the line if that’s not the case.
Ogletree was the 30th overall pick and is in line to make $6.7 million in 2017 under the option. He’s been a starter since joining the Rams, but missed 12 games last season with a broken leg. He’s expected back in the lineup this season and will be spending more time in the middle with James Laurinaitis out of the picture.
It wasn’t long ago Chris Culliver was Washington’s high-priced answer to their cornerback problem.
As has so often been the case, he’s now unemployed.
Via Tarik El-Bashir of CSNMidAtlantic.com, Washington General Manager Scot McCloughan said that Culliver had just been released.
He’s coming off his second ACL tear in three years, but was only one year removed from a four-year, $32 million contract. Of course, the 2016 guarantees were voided when he was suspended one game for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, making it easier to swallow from a financial standpoint.
Teams across the league are announcing the signings of undrafted rookies, but there’s some movement with veteran players to report as well.
The Lions announced that they have signed former Titans linebacker Zaviar Gooden to their 90-man roster.
Gooden was a third-round pick by Tennessee in the 2013 draft and was released off of injured reserve last year after he tore his hamstring during the preseason. Before the injury, Gooden played 24 games over two years with Tennessee and recorded 36 tackles while making three starts.
Gooden’s arrival comes a couple of days after General Manager Bob Quinn said there was no update regarding linebacker Stephen Tulloch’s status with the team. Tulloch’s departure has been expected for a couple of months, but, for now, he remains on the team’s roster despite the additions of Gooden and fifth-round pick Antwione Williams.