The New York Giants are hosting former New England Patriots defensive back Jason McCourty on a visit on Friday, according to a source. The Giants secondary already boasts a Rutgers alum (where McCourty went to school) in Logan Ryan and two former Tennessee Titans players in Ryan and Adoree' Jackson. McCourty has spent the last three years in New England with his twin brother Devin. The 33-year-old has played under current Giants head coach Joe Judge and still owns a home in New Jersey. McCourty started 11 games for New England last year and had 42 tackles and three passes defensed. In 137 career games in his 13-year career, he has 18 interceptions and 723 tackles. He would join an already much-improved Giants secondary if he were to sign.
The Cleveland Browns released defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson on Friday. Richardson was due more than $12 million this season, and he was no longer needed after the club recently signed pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney for essentially the same salary. Richardson signed with the Browns as an unrestricted free agent in 2019 and started all 16 games last season, recording 64 tackles, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble. He was a first-round pick by the New York Jets in 2013 and was voted as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Richardson made the Pro Bowl in 2014 when he tallied 67 tackles (11 for loss), 21 QB hits and eight sacks over a full season. The 30-year-old should latch on rather quickly with another organization.
The Washington Football Team holds the 19th overall pick in this year's NFL draft, and they may not be done adding to the quarterback position despite bringing in veteran signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick this offseason. General manager Martin Mayhew said that the team is open to trading up or back from the 19th overall pick. Fitzpatrick gives the team a legitimate starting quarterback for the 2021 season, even if he doesn't have the upside of a top-tier draft prospect at the position. Washington has done their research on the QB prospects in this year's draft and could be in play to trade up to take the fifth quarterback that's expected to go in the first round this year. If they pass up a QB in the first round, Washington could also decide to go with a quarterback in the second round.
Veteran free-agent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who has been linked to a coaching job at his alma mater of Tennessee State, hasn't given up the idea of playing in the NFL and has workouts scheduled post-draft. He would only coach if there are no more playing opportunities. The 35-year-old didn't play at all in 2020 and played in only two games in 2019 with the Washington Football Team. The two-time Pro Bowler was the 16th overall pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2008. DRC spent the first three seasons of his career with the Cardinals before playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos, New York Giants and Oakland Raiders. It may be more of a long shot that he makes a return to an NFL field.
New England Patriots restricted free-agent cornerback J.C. Jackson signed his second-round tender offer on Friday. However, interested teams could still offer lower draft picks and create a trade, similar to the Malcolm Butler situation a few years back. Jackson will make $3.38 million now that he's back with the Patriots. The 25-year-old became a star for New England's secondary in 2020 with nine interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Jackson entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Maryland in 2018 and quickly became one of the team's top defensive players, as he has 17 career interceptions in just three seasons. He also had 14 passes defensed last year and hasn't missed a game since his rookie season.
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Dennis Gardeck signed his one-year tender offer as a restricted free agent on Thursday after he had the second-most sacks on the team last year. He signed with Arizona as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Sioux Falls and didn't play a defensive snap in his career until Week 5, when linebacker Chandler Jones suffered a season-ending torn biceps. Gardeck had two sacks in nine snaps in that game and finished the season with seven sacks, behind only Haason Reddick's 12.5. Gardeck suffered a torn ACL in Week 15 and underwent surgery in January, but his recovery seems to be going very well. He should continue to have a role on defense in 2021 while also serving on the special teams unit.
Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said that running back Derrick Henry's work ethic allows him to be successful despite his heavy workload. Henry has led the league in rushing the last two seasons, running for 1,540 yards on 303 carries in 2019 and 2,027 yards on 378 carries last year. He became the eighth running back in history to pass the 2,000-yard mark in a single season, and the previous seven RBs haven't come close to reaching back-to-back 2,000-yard campaigns. The Titans and other teams may be more cautious with their backs with an added 17th game of the season, but it sounds as though Henry will continue to have a pretty hefty workload in this run-first offense. The 27-year-old is one of the toughest backs to bring down and will remain a high-end RB1 heading into 2021.
Penn State edge rusher Jayson Oweh is a hot name among scouts as we approach this month's NFL draft. He has been compared to Minnesota Vikings edge rusher Danielle Hunter because the two are both around 6-foot-5, 250 pounds and had limited production in their last year in college. Hunter had 1.5 sacks before joining the NFL, while Oweh didn't record a single sack in his final season at Penn State. Oweh has the size and length to be a successful edge rusher at the next level, but he'll need to improve his hand technique in the NFL. He may not be drafted in the first few rounds, but he could also be rising on draft boards and could become one of the steals of the draft.
Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell, the consensus top offensive tackle in this year's draft, has been training at right tackle and left tackle, which he played in college. Sewell is preparing for the possibility that a team with an entrenched left tackle drafts him and puts him at right tackle for a year. The young offensive lineman is as smooth and powerful as they come at the position. Sewell should come off the board in the first round as the best offensive tackle in this year's draft. He's at his best when he's on the move and able to use his athleticism, so he should excel with a team that asks him to seal blocks or set the edge to create running lanes.
The Denver Broncos could decide to trade wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton in the coming weeks leading up to the NFL draft after they drafted wide receivers in the first and second rounds last year -- Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler, respectively. Denver also has Tim Patrick, who impressed in 2020 in an expanded role, and Courtland Sutton, who will be returning from injury in 2021. The Broncos have received inquiries on Hamilton, Penn State's all-time leading receiver and former fourth-round pick. He has hauled in 81 catches in his three seasons with the Broncos and had 23 receptions for 293 yards and two touchdowns last year. The 26-year-old had a 12.7 yard-per-catch average in 2020, so he could be a nice downfield threat for another team if he's traded.
Wisconsin-Whitewater center Quinn Meinerz (hand), considered the best center in this year's draft by some, completed 33 repetitions on the bench press on Thursday at a workout run by the Green Bay Packers. Meinerz is coming off a broken hand at the Senior Bowl, but he looks to be healthy ahead of the NFL draft later this month. He will likely be a Day 2 pick, but his legend continues to grow and has been in contact with all 32 teams during the pre-draft process. The Packers have an obvious in-state connection and also have a need at the position after losing Corey Linsley in free agency. Meinerz impressed at the Senior Bowl and could be a starting-caliber player capable of either replacing Linsley or playing guard to allow a player like Lucas Patrick or Elgton Jenkins to move to center.
The Atlanta Falcons released running back Ito Smith on Thursday to make room on the roster for recently signed wide receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson. Smith totaled 689 rushing yards on 175 carries (3.9 yards per carry) and six touchdowns and added 55 receptions for 314 yards in his three seasons with Atlanta. On 63 carries last season, the 25-year-old had 268 rushing yards (4.3 yards per carry) and a touchdown. He also tacked on 75 receiving yards on 17 catches (26 targets) in the passing game. Smith was originally a fourth-round pick by the Falcons in 2018 out of Southern Mississippi. Patterson could be used out of the backfield in his new home, but he'll mostly be a depth piece behind Mike Davis and Qadree Ollison. The Falcons will likely address the position in the draft as well.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb is looking to be a better version of himself heading into his sophomore season after he put up 74 catches for 935 yards and five touchdowns in his rookie season. Lamb had 433 yards, including two 100-plus yard games, in his first five contests in the NFL. But he had no catches in Week 7 and no 100-yard games down the stretch. His struggles came after quarterback Dak Prescott suffered his season-ending ankle injury, and Lamb was forced to work with four different signal-callers throughout the year. With Prescott returning healthy this year and all the team's offensive weapons back, Lamb could certainly improve on his impressive rookie showing.
The Arizona Cardinals are signing former Wayne State wide receiver Darece Roberson to an undisclosed deal on Thursday, according to a source. Roberson was draft-eligible last year but didn't get a chance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He ran well at his Pro Day earlier this month and impressed the Cardinals enough to where they offered him a contract. Roberson measured in at 5-foot-9, 170 pounds and ran the 40-second dash in 4.33 seconds. He's plenty quick for the next level, but his size will be a question in the NFL if he's able to make the Cardinals roster out of training camp this summer.
The Atlanta Falcons signed free-agent safety Duron Harmon to an undisclosed one-year deal on Thursday. In eight NFL seasons, Harmon has played in 127 games (45 starts) and has recorded 248 tackles (191 solo) with two tackles for loss, 19 interceptions and 33 passes defensed. He spent seven seasons with the New England Patriots and was traded to the Detroit Lions last year. Harmon started in all 16 games for Detroit in 2020 and had a career-high 73 tackles (54 solo) with two interceptions and five passes defensed. He was originally selected in the third round (91st overall) by New England out of Rutgers in 2013. Harmon won three Super Bowl rings in his time with the Patriots.
Former Green Bay Packers starting offensive guard Lane Taylor agreed to an undisclosed one-year deal with the Houston Texans on Thursday, according to a source. Taylor will be reunited with his former Packers offensive line coach in James Campen. He is coming off a torn ACL but is expected to be ready to go for training camp this summer. The 31-year-old has played all eight of his NFL seasons in Green Bay and was a starter when he was healthy. However, Taylor has played in just three games in the last two seasons, thanks to a torn biceps in 2019 and the torn ACL in 2020. If he can remain on the field, Taylor could be a solid addition to Houston's offensive line at the guard position.
The Seattle Seahawks signed free-agent pass-rusher Aldon Smith to an undisclosed one-year deal on Thursday, according to sources. Smith was an All-Pro for the San Francisco 49ers back in 2012 and recorded five sacks, 14 QB hits and 50 pressures for the Dallas Cowboys last season in his return to action after being out of the league from 2016 to 2019 due to a number of legal issues. The 31-year-old has 52.5 career sacks since entering the NFL in 2011. Seattle has had interest in Smith for a while now and even tried to trade for him last year. If Smith can continue to avoid off-field distractions, he could form a formidable trio with Carlos Dunlap and Kerry Hyder on the Seahawks defensive line.
The Atlanta Falcons agreed to terms with free-agent wide receiver/returner Cordarrelle Patterson on a one-year, $3 million deal on Thursday, according to a source. Patterson hasn't really made his mark in the NFL on the offensive side of the ball, but he's become one of the best kick returners in the league, as he was named a first-team All-Pro as a kick returner in both of his seasons with the Chicago Bears. He was also earned a second-team All-Pro nod as a gunner on special teams in 2019. Patterson led the league in kick-return yards in both his seasons in Chicago and averaged 29.2 yards per kick return, including two for scores. The 30-year-old had just 32 catches for 215 yards with the Bears, so he's unlikely to provide any real fantasy value unless you're in a league that counts return yardage.
The Miami Dolphins signed free-agent linebacker Calvin Munson and defensive back Jamal Perry to undisclosed deals on Wednesday. Both players were exclusive-rights free agents. Munson began his career with the New York Giants in 2017 and joined the New England Patriots the next season. He has appeared in 18 games for the Dolphins in the last two years. Munson played 49 percent of the team's special teams snaps in all 16 games in 2020. Perry was with the Philadelphia Eagles and Patriots before joining the Dolphins in 2019. He's appeared in 27 games (seven starts) and had 26 total tackles and one pass defensed last season.
The Houston Texans signed free-agent tight end Antony Auclair to an undisclosed deal on Wednesday. Auclair appeared in eight games (two starts) for the Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year, mostly serving as a blocking tight end. He played behind names such as Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate and Tanner Hudson and was targeted just once all year as a result. O.J. Howard is also set to return in 2021, so the Bucs had no real need for another tight end. The Canadian tight end has played in 32 career games (18 starts) and has caught 10 passes for 84 yards since he entered the league in 2017. Auclair spent time on Injured Reserve last year but returned to the team in October. He joins a crowded Houston roster at tight end with Jordan Akins, Pharaoh Brown, Kahale Warring, Ryan Izzo and Paul Quessenberry.
The Cleveland Browns re-signed free-agent defensive tackle Sheldon Day and tight end Stephen Carlson to undisclosed deals on Wednesday on the same day they inked Pro Bowl edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney to a deal worth up to $10 million. Day was on the team's practice squad after signing with Cleveland late last season. He last played for the Indianapolis Colts and has five years of NFL experience. Carlson was tendered earlier this offseason as an exclusive-rights free agent. In his two seasons with the Browns, he has six catches. He also played over 80 percent of the team's special teams snaps last year. Both players will serve as depth at their respective positions in 2021.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are re-signing inside linebacker Vince Williams to an undisclosed one-year deal on Wednesday, according to sources. Williams was released in March in a move to get the team under the salary cap. In 14 starts for Pittsburgh last year, he had 70 tackles and three sacks for the Steelers. Williams' usage jumped significantly in 2020 after the departure of Mark Barron, as he played 65 percent of the defensive snaps, up from 37 percent in 2019. The 31-year-old was a full-time starter for the team in three of the last four seasons after he was a sixth-round pick in 2013. Williams has two interceptions (one returned for a TD), 20.5 sacks and 333 solo tackles in 121 career games (69 starts) in eight seasons with Pittsburgh. There's a good chance he could retire after the 2021 season.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-signed defensive tackle Steve McLendon to an undisclosed one-year deal on Wednesday. McLendon is the latest player to return from the team's Super Bowl-winning squad from a year ago. The Buccaneers acquired McLendon last year in a trade with the New York Jets, and he played a key role in the team's championship run while filling in for the injured Vita Vea on the defensive line. In nine games for the Bucs (no starts), the 35-year-old managed 17 tackles (two for loss) and 10 assists. In six starts for the Jets before being traded, McLendon racked up 14 combined tackles (eight solo). He'll continue to serve as valuable defensive line depth for a stacked Tampa Bay roster in 2021.
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said that "Justin could come back" in reference to veteran free-agent defensive end Justin Houston. Houston is visiting with the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday, but there's still a chance he re-signs with Indianapolis this offseason. If Houston isn't retained, Irsay is confident that the team can draft an edge rusher later this month. Houston had 19 sacks in the last two seasons with the Colts and was a solid starter on the defensive line. However, last year also showed that the 32-year-old was more inconsistent as a pass-rusher. Houston is hoping to sign before the draft later this month, but the Ravens want to wait until after the draft so that they do not lose a compensatory pick.
Veteran free-agent wide receiver/returner Cordarrelle Patterson is visiting with the Atlanta Falcons on Wednesday, according to sources. The expectation is that the two sides will agree on a deal soon. Patterson hasn't done much offensively in his eight-year career, but he remains one of the league's best kick returners who can also be effective on offense in spot duty. He was a Pro Bowler and All-Pro with the Chicago Bears on special teams the last two years, leading the NFL in kick-return yardage each season. Patterson returned 35 kicks for 1,017 yards, with a 104-yard touchdown, in 2020 alone. In his career, he's averaging 29.8 yards per kick return, with Atlanta averaging 20.5 yards per return in 2020. The Falcons haven't had a kick returner with more than 700 yards since Andre Roberts in 2017. Unless your league counts return yardage, Patterson has very limited fantasy appeal.
A Pittsburgh attorney intends to seek assault charges against Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald on behalf of his client, according to multiple reports. Todd Hollis said that Donald assaulted his client, DeVincent Spriggs, on April 11 at a club in the Pittsburgh area. Spriggs was left with a concussion and other injuries. Donald is a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and seven-time Pro Bowler with 85.5 career sacks. "We are collecting more information and will have no further comment at this time," the Rams statement said. The former 13th overall pick in 2014 is in the middle of a six-year, $135 million contract extension. It's unclear if this incident could lead to a suspension for one of the NFL's best pass-rushers. Stay tuned.
The Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to an undisclosed one-year deal to re-sign quarterback Joshua Dobbs on Wednesday, according to his agent, Mike McCartney. Dobbs will return to Pittsburgh as the fourth signal-caller on their roster, joining Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph and former Washington Football Team QB Dwayne Haskins. Dobbs spent his first two seasons with the Steelers after being taken in the fourth round. He was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019 but returned to Pittsburgh last year as a free agent. Dobbs has completed 10 of 17 passes for 45 yards and an interception in six games played in the NFL. Obviously, Dobbs won't be on the fantasy radar.
The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks players were the first groups in the NFL to announce that they won't attend voluntary offseason workouts this year due to concerns over COVID-19. Players from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions later announced that they would do the same. Voluntary workouts for NFL teams are set to begin next Monday, and the league and Players Association have been in talks regarding how much in-person work will take place this offseason after it was scrapped last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The players union has pushed for no in-person workouts this year. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero said "you can expect" more announcements from teams in the coming days.
The Cleveland Browns are signing free-agent pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney to a one-year deal worth up to $10 million on Wednesday after he passed his physical, according to sources. Clowney has been on Cleveland's radar for years, so they finally get their man. The pass-rusher is fresh off another lost season in 2020 due to a knee injury, but he has high hopes with his new team. In eight games with the Tennessee Titans last year, Clowney failed to record a sack but did register six QB hits. The former first overall pick by the Houston Texans in 2014 is fully recovered from knee surgery that he had last December. He can play any position on the defensive line and can be incredibly disruptive on the interior or off the edge, but he'll need to remain healthy to make an impact for a potentially nasty Browns defense in 2021.
Alabama running back Najee Harris' ankle checked out well with no concerns recently, and the injury shouldn't affect his draft stock, according to sources. Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith's (finger) dislocated finger with torn ligaments is healing fine, and he doesn't have any issues ahead. Wideout Jaylen Waddle (ankle), the top pass-catching prospect in this year's draft, is also healing properly after an ankle dislocation last season. All three Alabama offensive weapons should come off the board early in this year's NFL draft, and the injuries that they suffered last season shouldn't make teams hesitant to select them in the early rounds. Smith's size is his biggest question mark moving to the next level.
Former Dallas Cowboys free-agent pass-rusher Aldon Smith is visiting the Seattle Seahawks on Wednesday. Smith is a potential low-risk, high-reward defensive addition for the Seahawks if he checks out. Smith returned to the NFL in 2020 and had 50 QB pressures and five sacks for Dallas. The 31-year-old's promising career was derailed for years due to off-the-field issues, but he managed to play in 16 games for the Cowboys last year and was impressive in his return to action after a long layoff. Smith was among the best pass-rushers in the league in his first two seasons in the NFL, but that was all the way back in 2011 and 2012.
Louisiana State University linebacker Jabril Cox (hamstring) will have his Pro Day on Monday, April 26. Hamstring tightness kept Cox out of his school's first Pro Day. NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah has Cox ranked as the No. 50 overall player heading into this year's NFL draft. He transferred from North Dakota State and didn't look out of place at all during the 2020 season. The 6-foot-3, 232-pounder has plenty of range as a coverage linebacker, but he'll need to improve his ability to diagnose running plays at the next level. Cox has the ability to play a hybrid role as a coverage linebacker with some safety skills, and he could solidify his place in the early portion of the draft if he proves healthy at his Pro Day later this month.
The Carolina Panthers signed free-agent fullback Mikey Daniel to an undisclosed deal on Tuesday after he worked out for the team, according to a source. Daniel was in training camp with the Atlanta Falcons last year after signing as an undrafted rookie out of South Dakota State, but he did not appear in a game. The Panthers needed a fullback after Alex Armah signed with the New Orleans Saints as an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Carolina also added defensive end Frank Herron and defensive tackle P.J. Johnson on undisclosed one-year deals on Tuesday. Herron has played in seven games for the Detroit Lions the last two seasons and has 11 tackles in 197 defensive snaps.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-signed cornerback Ross Cockrell to an undisclosed deal on Tuesday. The former fourth-round pick had 11 tackles and one pass deflection in 12 games (two starts) for the team last season and also played in all four playoff games. General manager Jason Licht called Cockrell "one of the best pickups" the team made in 2020. He becomes the latest member of last year's championship team to return. Cockrell will likely remain a valuable reserve in Tampa's secondary in 2021 after the club brought back all 22 starters from their Super Bowl squad a year ago. Cockrell saw playing time when both Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean missed time with injuries in the second half of last season. He played 270 defensive snaps over the final 10 games after playing on only one defensive snap through the first 10 weeks of the season.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who is expected to be taken first overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in this year's draft, grew up idolizing Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, which is why he wore the No. 16 in college. But NFL scouts continue to compare Lawrence to former Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck. Several scouts acknowledge that Lawrence is the best QB prospect since Luck, who was considered a modern pre-draft gold standard at the position. Lawrence doesn't quite measure up to Luck, but he's the closest to Luck's neighborhood of any QB drafted since. Offseason surgery on his non-throwing shoulder shouldn't affect his first NFL training camp. He's expected to be Jacksonville's Week 1 starter, and his experience with the run-pass option should mesh well with new head coach Urban Meyer.
Free-agent edge rusher Justin Houston is visiting with the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday. The 32-year-old recorded 19 sacks while playing for the Indianapolis Colts the last two years. Houston, a four-time Pro Bowl defensive end, and he could help to fill a huge void on the end of Baltimore's defensive line. Even on the wrong side of 30 years old, Houston has remained a productive pass-rusher on the edge, also recording 25 combined tackles, one forced fumble and 30 QB hits in 32 games with the Colts. The Ravens also showed interest in the veteran when they made a run at signing him in 2019 before he inked a two-year deal with the Colts. Houston is looking to sign before the draft at the end of this month, but the Ravens are unlikely to sign any unrestricted free agent until after the draft, when it won't count against their compensatory picks.
The Washington Football Team signed former Tulane basketball player Sammis Reyes to an undisclosed deal on Tuesday. Reyes finds his way to the NFL through the International Player Pathway Program (IPP). He grew up in Chile before moving to the United States at 14 years old. Reyes decided to turn his attention to football when his childhood dream of playing in the NBA didn't come to fruition. He spent the past 10 weeks training with 10 other NFL hopefuls at IMG Academy in Florida before impressing at Florida's Pro Day on March 31. The 25-year-old won't be guaranteed a spot on the active roster, and he'll be competing with Temarrick Hemingway, Marcus Baugh, Tyrone Swoopes and Dylan Cantrell to back up Logan Thomas at the position.
Free-agent defensive lineman Gerald McCoy (quadriceps), a six-time Pro Bowler, doesn't plan to retire after missing all of the 2020 season due to an injury. "I just know I have so much more to give this game, even if for a short period of time," McCoy said. The pass-rusher had 54.5 sacks in his nine seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as one of their top defensive playmakers. McCoy spent the 2019 season with the Carolina Panthers and signed with the Dallas Cowboys last year, but he tore his quadriceps in training camp. The 33-year-old former first-rounder doesn't want to go out with an injury. His agent, Ben Dogra, said that a few teams have inquired about McCoy's rehab, but he doesn't expect any serious offers until after the draft this month.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said he's not against taking a developmental quarterback at the end of the first round (pick No. 32) of this year's draft. The Buccaneers are returning 22 starters from their championship season a year ago, so they could take the best player available when their turn is up at the end of Day 1. Taking a signal-caller later in the draft is also an option. "If the right guy is there that we think is a developmental guy that has the upside that outweighs every other position of those five or six guys that we're looking at, then we wouldn't be against it," Arians said. The top-five QBs in the draft -- Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones -- are all expected to be gone before Tampa picks at No. 32. Florida's Kyle Trask, Texas A&M's Kellen Mond and Stanford's Davis Mils could be options.
The Arizona Cardinals agreed to terms on an undisclosed one-year deal with free-agent running back James Conner on Tuesday. Conner visited with the team on Monday and took a physical after he had offseason surgery to fix a turf-toe injury that he sustained recreationally this offseason. The 25-year-old is expected to make a full recovery by June, and he'll add a big-bodied complement to the smaller Chase Edmonds in Arizona's backfield after they lost Kenyan Drake to free agency. Conner had a near-1,000-yard season for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018, but he was inconsistent and battled injuries in the last two seasons. He had 169 carries for 721 yards and six touchdowns while adding 35 receptions for 215 yards in 13 games (11 starts) in 2020. Arizona's offensive line should be an upgrade, but Conner's recent injury history is worrisome. Edmonds remains the back to own in this backfield, but the addition of Conner will hurt his overall upside.
With the No. 4 overall pick in this year's NFL draft, the Atlanta Falcons are in a prime position "to stack good quarterbacks" alongside Matt Ryan, according to general manager Terry Fontenot. "It's a prime time to do it when you have a player like Matt Ryan because when you can get in the right quarterback, you don't have that pressure to play him right away. So it just opens up so many possibilities, and we have to make sure we're evaluating those positions, and we feel good about where we are there," Fontenot said. Ryan continues to play at a high level and is tied to the team for the next two years, so it's unclear if the Falcons would want to draft a top-tier QB talent and have him sit for two seasons. North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance could use some seasoning and could benefit from learning behind Ryan. But Atlanta could also choose to trade down and acquire a boatload of pick in this year's draft to fill other positions of need.
New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, is entering the final year of his five-year deal. He may not be elite like he was two years ago, but Gilmore is still a very good cornerback as he approaches his 31st birthday this September. As such, Gilmore isn't guaranteed to receive a lucrative offer from the Patriots when he reaches free agency next offseason. "It's out of my control," he said. "I'm just happy to be a Patriot right now, and see how it goes." Gilmore will account for $16.265 million in salary cap space in 2021, which is over $7 million less than he accounted for in 2020. He's expected to remain the team's top corner opposite J.C. Jackson, but there's no guarantee he'll be back in 2022.
After being released by the New England Patriots on Monday with a failed-physical designation, wide receiver Julian Edelman officially announced his retirement from football. Edelman tried to play through a pretty serious knee injury last year that eventually required surgery, and he was not going to be able to make it back in 2021 for a full season. The veteran pass-catcher missed 10 games because of the injury last year. "By any measure of what constitutes an elite NFL career -- wins, championships, production -- Julian has it all," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. Edelman was as clutch as they come and converted to wideout after playing quarterback in college. The seventh-round pick in 2009 blossomed into a slot receiver in New England, where he spent his entire career. He had his first 1,000-yard season in 2013, catching 105 passes for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns. From 2009-2019, he caught 599 passes for 6,507 yards and 36 touchdowns as quarterback Tom Brady's most trusted target while helping the team win three Super Bowls. Edelman is second all time to only Jerry Rice in playoff catches (118) and yards (1,442). His 620 career catches rank second in team history behind Wes Welker (672).
The Pittsburgh Steelers signed free-agent defensive lineman Abdullah Anderson to an undisclosed one-year deal on Monday. The 25-year-old spent most of last season with the Minnesota Vikings practice squad, although he was elevated to the active roster for one game. He was signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2018 draft by the Chicago Bears and spent most of his first two seasons in the league on their practice squad, making six appearances in 2019. Anderson has four tackles and one sack in seven career NFL games, so he'll be providing depth for Pittsburgh's defensive line. Anderson and T.J. Carter, who signed three days ago, will compete for a spot on the active roster or practice squad this summer.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have spent hours zooming with Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, and the presumed No. 1 overall pick in this year's NFL draft has impressed the team with his retention of their offensive scheme. Similar to what the Cincinnati Bengals did with quarterback Joe Burrow last year, the Jaguars are making the most of their time with the likely first overall pick. Lawrence had surgery on his non-throwing shoulder to fix a torn labrum, but everything has gone smoothly in his rehab and it's not expected to keep him out at all to begin his rookie season. The 21-year-old has both the talent and football IQ to excel at the next level, and he's expected to be Jacksonville's starter entering Week 1. He'll be a no-brainer first overall pick in dynasty/keeper formats, but Lawrence won't necessarily be a great season-long play in single-season fantasy formats in 2021.
The New England Patriots released veteran wide receiver Julian Edelman (knee) on Monday, following 11 seasons and three Super Bowl victories with the team. Edelman was listed as a failed physical after he'd been working to return from an injured knee last season. He'll now be facing a decision on his future in the league and could decide to hang up his cleats. Although it's not official just yet, don't be surprised to hear soon that Edelman has decided to retire. Because of the knee injury he suffered last year, it's unlikely that the 34-year-old will be able to play the entirety of the 2021 season. One of the most trustworthy PPR players in fantasy in his time with the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady, Edelman was sorely missed in New England after he was injured in 2020. He played in just six games last year and had 21 catches for 315 yards and no touchdowns. If this is the end of the road, Edelman will finish his NFL career with 620 regular season receptions, 6,822 yards and 36 touchdowns in 137 games (85 starts), all with the Pats.
Former Washington Football Team tight end Thaddeus Moss, the son of Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss, has been claimed by the Cincinnati Bengals off waivers, according to a source. The former LSU star will be reunited with quarterback Joe Burrow and profiles as a low-risk, possible high-reward pickup. The Bengals were interested in signing Moss last year after he went undrafted. Moss spent his rookie season in the NFL on Injured Reserve due to a foot injury that required surgery. In his senior season at LSU, he caught 47 passes for 570 yards and four touchdowns. Moss will have a chance to compete for a roster spot this summer behind C.J. Uzomah and Drew Sample, depending on what the team does at the position in the draft.
University of Miami defensive end Jaelan Phillips, who has been rising up draft boards after his impressive Pro Day, was not in Indianapolis last weekend for medical evaluations because he tested positive for COVID-19, according to a source. However, Phillips will receive his physical with plenty of time prior to draft night later this month. Phillips had 15.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 2020, earning second-team All-American honors, and he's often been compared to NFL defensive end Maxx Crosby. He was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and initially started his college career at UCLA before transferring to Miami. His injury history in his time at UCLA is the biggest red flag leading up to the draft.
Veteran free-agent running back Giovani Bernard is signing an undisclosed one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday, according to a source. Quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bruce Arians both personally recruited Bernard, who is one of the league's best receiving backs, after he was released by the Cincinnati Bengals. It's another weapon for the Super Bowl champions, but it's uncertain how much of a role Bernard will actually have with Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette already in the team's backfield. Bernard, 29, had 416 rushing yards and three touchdowns and added 47 receptions for 355 yards and three additional touchdowns in 2020. Tampa's backfield is suddenly very crowded, which will make it tough to predict touches among Jones, Fournette and Bernard.
Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule confirmed that the team is allowing quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to seek a trade after they acquired Sam Darnold from the New York Jets, but the Panthers are in no hurry to make a move with Bridgewater. Rhule still thinks Bridgewater can win in the NFL as a starter, but Carolina chose to upgrade with Darnold heading into the 2021 season. The Panthers haven't committed to Darnold as the Week 1 starter, but it'd be a shock if Darnold isn't the starter after the team traded away three draft picks to land him. Rhule also said the Panthers could take a signal-caller with the No. 8 overall pick this year. Bridgewater could remain with the team in 2021, but it's looking increasingly unlikely.