Tagged in: free agent

Washington Football Team places K Joey Slye on IR because of hamstring injury, signs Brian Johnson

The Washington Football Team has placed kicker Joey Slye on injured reserve due to a hamstring injury and signed Brian Johnson to fill its need at the position, the team revealed Tuesday.

Slye was injured in Monday’s 17-15 win over the Seattle Seahawks. He’ll miss at least the next three matches for Washington because of the IR designation.

Johnson had been on Chicago’s practice team but spent four weeks on the active roster with New Orleans. During that time he made all eight of his field goals but only five of eight extra points. Johnson was signed by the Bears as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia Tech, where he made 76.1% of his field goals and was perfect on 131 extra points.

Johnson will be Washington’s fourth kicker of the campaign. It released Dustin Hopkins on Oct. 21; the veteran kicker had missed two field goals and two extra points in the first six games. But his replacement, Chris Blewitt, had three kicks blocked in his two games — all because of a low trajectory.

His signing was a big gamble because Blewitt had not kicked since 2016 while at the University of Pittsburgh.

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But Slye had steadied the kicking duties.

In his first two games, Slye had made all five of his field goal attempts as well as all five extra points. He made one field goal Monday night. But he had an extra-point attempt late in the first half blocked. While in pursuit of Rasheem Green, who blocked the kick and was running with the ball, Slye shot to the ground.

He injured the hamstring on his left leg, also his plant leg.

Without Slye, Washington could not kick a field goal or extra point in the second half. Punter Tress Way was the emergency kicker, but it also meant having a new holder in quarterback Kyle Allen. Washington converted a 2-point try in the second half for a 17-9 lead that turned out to be the difference in the game. It eschewed a 21-yard field goal late in the game and had a touchdown pass overturned on replay.

Washington is still awaiting news on running back J.D. McKissic, who was carted off the field late in the game. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke said McKissic was up and walking around in the locker room after the game. His agent, Doug Hendrickson, tweeted after the game that McKissic “is all good.”

Center Wes Schweitzer injured an ankle and slowly limped off the field. Schweitzer, usually a backup guard, was starting at center because of injuries to two others. His status also hasn’t been updated.

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Odell Beckham Jr. agrees to contract with Los Angeles Rams

Odell Beckham Jr. has agreed to a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Rams, the team revealed.

The free-agent wide receiver joins a high-powered offense led by quarterback Matthew Stafford and adds to a depth chart at the position that already includes Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Van Jefferson.

Beckham became a free agent when he cleared waivers on Tuesday after being released by the Cleveland Browns.

The Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks were among the other teams Beckham considered this week, sources had told ESPN.

Stafford stated Thursday he has a lot of respect for Beckham, who he played with at a Pro Bowl. He lauded Beckham for being “outstanding” both when the ball is in the air and after the catch and said he was “excited” to be able to work with him on the Rams.

“It’s an opportunity for us as a team, it’s an opportunity for him to come in here and prove himself to us. What our room is about in the receiver room is pretty special. I know he’ll fit right in and continue to get better and hopefully help us as a team,” Stafford said.

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Stafford said if Beckham wants to win, “that’s what we’re all about,” and he was confident he’ll be able to contribute.

“Everybody on our team carves out their role. They do a great job of figuring out what that role is going to be and going out there and proving it both on the practice field and in games and given the opportunities I know he’ll do the same,” he said.

In Los Angeles, Beckham essentially replaces veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who was released after the trade deadline last week. Jackson signed with the Las Vegas Raiders this week.

Beckham is the second high-profile player added by the Rams this month, after Los Angeles traded for star pass-rusher Von Miller before the deadline last week. Miller welcomed Beckham to Los Angeles on his Instagram Story, posting: “Let’s chase this ring family!!!!”

Beckham was also welcomed to L.A. by Lakers superstar LeBron James, one of his good friends, who tweeted: “Welcome to LA my brother @obj ! It’s GO TIME!!”

The Rams lead the NFL in total offense this season behind a potent passing attack led by Stafford, who is first in the NFL with 2,771 passing yards. Kupp is the team’s No. 1 receiver and leads the NFL in receptions (74), receiving yards (1,019) and touchdown receptions (10).

The Browns excused Beckham from practice last week while the sides negotiated his exit. He had asked to be traded and never developed an on-field connection with Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Beckham essentially forced his release last week when his father shared an 11-minute video on social media — hours before the trade deadline — of plays in which Mayfield didn’t pass him the ball.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection has 17 catches for 232 yards and zero touchdowns in six matches this season. Beckham had 1,035 receiving yards in 2019, his first season with Cleveland, but suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2020. He has passed the 1,000-yard receiving mark five times in his career.

Browns safety John Johnson III, who spent the past four seasons with the Rams, was on a Zoom call with Cleveland reporters when the news of Beckham’s signing broke. Johnson wondered how OBJ will fit in L.A.

“They had a good thing going, like a complete offense,” Johnson said. “I don’t know. I just feel, like, from being in L.A., I know for a fact the offense runs through Cooper Kupp; even in the run game, the pass game, the screen game, it kind of runs through Cooper Kupp. So obviously, Odell’s a big name and he’s going to want that attention as well. It will be interesting.

“Coach [Sean] McVay, he’s one of the best doing it. He’ll find a way to get it done, but right off the bat, I really wouldn’t want to go there if I were him. But we’ll see how it goes, and I wish him the best.”

The Rams have been remarkably successful at managing the egos and needs of their elite players, with McVay assuaging almost all public disenchantment with the organization.

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey was considered a potential locker room problem after he forced his way out of Jacksonville, but he has been a model citizen and a clear team leader in Los Angeles since arriving in 2019.

The Rams (7-2) play the San Francisco 49ers (3-5) on Monday night.

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Odell Beckham Jr. is free agent after clearing waivers for Cleveland Browns

Former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has cleared waivers Tuesday and is eligible to sign with any team as a free agent.

Beckham wants to spend the rest of this season with a playoff contender and in a winning environment, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter earlier in the week.

Multiple teams with winning records and established offenses are expected to be interested in Beckham, sources told ESPN.

Certain players already have reached out to Beckham, pitching the merits of their organization, according to sources.

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The Browns excused Beckham from practice last week while the sides negotiated his exit, which was finalized Friday.

After he was officially released Monday, Beckham was suitable to be grabbed by the other 31 teams, but none wanted to put in a waiver claim and pick up his renegotiated contract of $7.25 million by Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline.

Cleveland must pay Beckham $4.25 million but will save $3 million.

Beckham, 29, had 17 catches for 232 yards and zero touchdowns in six matches this season. He had only two 100-yard games in 29 games after joining Cleveland in the 2019 blockbuster trade with the New York Giants.

He asked to be traded and never developed an on-field connection with Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Beckham essentially forced his release last week when his father shared an 11-minute video on social media — hours before the trade deadline — of plays in which Mayfield didn’t pass him the ball.

The three-time Pro Bowler had 1,035 receiving yards in his first season with Cleveland but suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2020 and was out when the Browns ended a long playoff drought and won their first playoff game in 26 years.

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Trevor Bauer, Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon decline opt-outs; Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard get qualifying offers from New York Mets

Right-hander Trevor Bauer, third baseman Nolan Arenado, outfielder Charlie Blackmon and infielder-outfielder Jurickson Profar declined to opt out of their contracts to become free agents.

Bauer agreed to a three-year, $102 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers in February and stated 8-5 with a 2.59 ERA in 17 starts. He has been on paid leave since July 2 while he is investigated under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy. He is keeping salaries of $32 million in each of the next two seasons.

Elsewhere, the New York Mets revealed Saturday that they have extended $18.4 million qualifying offers to outfielder Michael Conforto and pitcher Noah Syndergaard — a day ahead of Sunday’s deadline. Players have 10 days to decide whether to accept the one-year offer.

Arenado was owed $214 million over seven seasons as part of the contract that was amended when he was traded Feb. 1 to the St. Louis Cardinals by the Colorado Rockies.

He had the right to opt out after this season and also has the right to opt out after the 2022 season.

Arenado hit .255 with 34 homers and 105 RBIs in his first season with the Cardinals.

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Blackmon struck a six-year, $108 million deal with the Rockies in April 2018 that included a $21 million player option for 2022 and a $10 million option for 2023. He kept his contract for 2022 after hitting .270 with 13 homers and 78 RBIs.

Profar agreed in January to a three-year, $21 million contract with the San Diego Padres and had the right to opt out of a deal that involved $6.5 million for 2022, $7.5 million for 2023 and a $10 million mutual option for 2024. He hit .227 with four homers and 33 RBIs for the disappointing Padres.

Gold Glove catcher Tucker Barnhart’s $7.75 million option was exercised Saturday by the Detroit Tigers, who acquired him Wednesday from the Cincinnati Reds for infield prospect Nick Quintana. Barnhart’s option price included a $250,000 escalator for winning a 2020 Gold Glove and would go up again by the same amount if he wins for 2021.

The Chicago White Sox declined a $6 million option on 31-year-old infielder Cesar Hernandez. He hit .232 with 21 homers and 62 RBIs for Cleveland and Chicago, which got him on July 29.

Reds left-hander Justin Wilson exercised a $2.3 million player option, part of a two-year, $5.15 million deal he signed with the New York Yankees. By exercising the player option, Wilson gave the Reds a club option for 2023 at $500,000 above that year’s minimum salary. He had a 2.81 ERA in 21 games after the Reds obtained him on July 28.

Josh Tomlin’s $1.25 million option was declined by the World Series champion Atlanta Braves, who must pay a $250,000 buyout. The 37-year-old right-hander was 4-0 with a 6.57 ERA but did not pitch in the postseason.

St. Louis declined a $17 million option on right-hander Carlos Martinez, who gets a $500,000 buyout, and a $12 million option on infielder Matt Carpenter, who receives a $2 million buyout. Martinez was 4-9 with a 6.23 ERA, completing a five-year, $51 million contract. Carpenter hit .169 with three homers and 21 RBIs, finishing a two-year, $39 million contract.

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Kansas City Chiefs set to sign newly reinstated WR Josh Gordon to practice squad

Former All-Pro wide receiver Josh Gordon, who recently was informed that he is being reinstated, is planning to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs, sources told ESPN.

Gordon is flying to Kansas City on Monday, and he is likely to be signed to the Chiefs’ practice squad tonight with the expectation that a promotion to the active roster will follow shortly thereafter.

Gordon, 30, had multiple teams contact him and express interest in signing him. But one of the attractions of playing in Kansas City was making it a long-term stop and spending multiple seasons there, according to his agents, Eric Dounn and Matt Leist from LAA Sports.

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The Chiefs have been searching for a wide receiver who can play every down along with Tyreek Hill since losing Sammy Watkins as a free agent in the spring.

They’ve given significant playing time to Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle, but none of those players have consistently delivered for the Chiefs.

Hill is behind only tight end Travis Kelce in receiving yards for the Chiefs with 267.

The other three wide receivers have combined for 260 yards.

Gordon was suspended indefinitely in December 2019 for violations of the league’s policies on substance abuse and performance-enhancing substances.

It was Gordon’s sixth suspension since the 2013 season and his fifth for some form of substance abuse, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Gordon submitted his reinstatement letter fo NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in July and the NFLPA recommended that he be reinstated. His application for reinstatement was approved by Goodell on Monday, a source said.

But this time Gordon, who last played for the Zappers of the Fan Controlled Football league with former Browns teammate Johnny Manziel, stated he is ready to contribute. Gordon led the NFL in receiving in 2013, when he accumulated 1,646 receiving yards.

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Dallas Mavericks sign free agent Frank Ntilikina, No. 8 pick in 2017 draft

The Dallas Mavericks bolstered their backcourt by signing former New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina.

The Mavericks revealed the signing of Ntilikina on Thursday. Terms of the contract weren’t disclosed.

Ntilikina played four seasons for the Knicks, who selected him with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. In that same draft, the Mavs took Dennis Smith Jr. with the ninth selection, later trading the guard to the Knicks in the blockbuster deal that brought Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas.

The 23-year-old Ntilikina averaged 5.5 points, 2.7 assists and two rebounds over 211 career games (55 starts) with the Knicks. He had career-worst averages of 2.7 points and 0.6 assists over 33 games (four starts) last season, his final in New York before becoming a free agent.

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Born in Belgium, Ntilikina moved to France when he was 3 years old and started his professional basketball career in 2015 in a French pro league.

Ntilikina competed in the Summer Games in Tokyo for the French national team, which lost to the United States in the gold medal game.

The Mavericks have focused on guards this off-season, previously adding veterans Reggie Bullock and Sterling Brown in free agency. Dallas also re-signed shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr.

The Mavericks made a point guard selection of their own during that draft. With Ntilikina off the board by the pick prior, Dallas selected Dennis Smith Jr. with the No. 9 overall selection.

Neither Ntilikina nor Smith Jr. had successful tenures with their original NBA team. They are each looking to put together a strong training camp performance to earn a contract for the 2021-22 season.

There was speculation that Smith Jr. could receive a camp invite from the Mavericks, but instead, he received and accepted one from the Portland Trail Blazers.

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DeAndre Jordan intends to sign with Los Angeles Lakers after trade, buyout

After finalizing a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons, three-time All-Star center DeAndre Jordan intends to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, sources told ESPN.

Detroit got Jordan, four second-round picks and $5.78 million in a deal with Brooklyn on Friday with the intention of buying out the remaining two years and $20 million on Jordan’s contract, sources told ESPN.

Once the buyout agreement is signed, Jordan will have to clear waivers before becoming a free agent and signing with the Lakers. His contract terms make it virtually impossible for Jordan to be claimed by a team.

Brooklyn got Jahlil Okafor and Sekou Doumbouya in the deal with Detroit, the Nets revealed Saturday.

They will send the Pistons their 2022 and 2027 second-round picks along with the more favorable 2024 second-rounder between the Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies and the more favorable 2025 second-rounder between the Wizards and Golden State Warriors, sources said.

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Trading Jordan’s contract instead of buying it out offers the Nets financial relief in the short term, but also in the future with the repeater tax penalty starting in 2023.

“We appreciate everything DeAndre has contributed to our organization over the past two seasons both on and off the court and wish him and his family the best moving forward,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement.

Brooklyn had the option of waiving and stretching the $19.7 million owed on Jordan’s deal over five seasons; that would have represented a $3.9 million cap hit that would have lingered on the team’s books from 2021 to 2025.

The move could have saved the Nets money on their luxury tax bill for the next two years but cost them an extra $20 million in 2023-24 and could have reached $50 million in 2024-25 and 2025-26.

The Lakers have signed several veteran players to their bench — including eight-time All-Star center Dwight Howard — and still have three-time All-Star Marc Gasol on the roster.

Jordan was part of a free-agent signing class with Brooklyn that included Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in 2019.

Initially, Jordan alternated at starting center with Jarrett Allen, who was eventually traded to Cleveland as part of the four-team deal that landed the Nets All-NBA guard James Harden.

Once the Nets acquired Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge, Jordan’s role diminished. Jordan averaged 7.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in 57 games played last season in Brooklyn.

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Pittsburgh Steelers undergo special teams makeover, release punter Jordan Berry, long snapper Kameron Canaday

The Pittsburgh Steelers are ushering in a new era in the team’s kicking unit. While kicker Chris Boswell’s job is safe, he’ll have a new supporting cast for the 2021 season.

The Steelers released punter Jordan Berry and long snapper Kameron Canaday, league sources confirmed to ESPN. With their departures, rookie seventh-round pick Pressley Harvin III is the presumed punter and Christian Kuntz, who played FCS football at nearby Duquesne University, is the team’s long snapper.

Berry first joined the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and has been the team’s primary punter for the better part of six seasons.

He was briefly released last year when the team brought on former Kansas City punter Dustin Colquitt for a month, but Berry re-signed with the team in October and reclaimed punting duties.

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He averaged 44.4 yards per punt in his career, including a career best 45.8 last season. He went toe-to-toe with Harvin, a Georgia Tech product and 2020 Ray Guy winner, throughout training camp and the preseason.

“It really has been competitive,” special teams coordinator Danny Smith said during training camp. “It really has. It’s good to see two pros put their best foot forward. No pun intended. But Jordan’s punting the ball better than he ever has and Pressley is very talented, so it’s been quite a competition.”

Harvin impressed from the jump, averaging 46 yards per punt over his three preseason appearances.

Berry rose to the occasion and averaged 43.9 yards per punt in two preseason matches, but the team opted to go with their draft pick.

At long snapper, Kuntz, a Pittsburgh area native, won the job over four-year long snapper Canaday after spending part of the 2020 season on the Steelers’ practice squad.

He also spent the 2019 training camp with the Steelers before being waived during final cuts. He’s been on rosters and in camps with teams since 2017 and had a stint in the XFL with the Dallas Renegades, earning praise for his versatility of being a linebacker and long snapper.

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Top New York Jets free-agent signing Carl Lawson ruptures Achilles, will miss 2021 season

New York Jets defensive end Carl Lawson, the team’s biggest free-agent signing from the offseason, will miss the 2021 campaign after rupturing his left Achilles tendon Thursday.

The injury happened during a red zone period in a joint practice between the Jets and Green Bay Packers at the Packers’ facility. Several players took knees and the practice fell ominously quiet as medical personnel tended to Lawson.

Safety Zane Lewis also suffered a season-ending injury during the joint practice as the Jets stated he tore a patella tendon and sprained an MCL. Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (knee) and wide receiver Denzel Mims (hip) also were injured Thursday, but their injuries are considered minor and both players are day-to-day, the Jets said.

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Lawson’s season-ending injury is a huge blow to the Jets, who were counting on him to be their primary edge-rushing threat in their new 4-3 front.

He had been dominant in training-camp practices.

The loss of Lawson will force the Jets to retool their defensive line under new head coach Robert Saleh, who spent the last four seasons as the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator.

Saleh is no stranger to dealing with injuries and still fielding a strong defense. The 49ers ranked No. 5 in total yards allowed last season despite the losses of Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Dee Ford, Richard Sherman and Ezekiel Ansah due to injuries.

Bryce Huff, an undrafted free agent last year out of Memphis, is the favorite to get a chance to replace Lawson as a primary pass-rusher for the Jets.

The Jets signed Lawson to a three-year, $45 million contract in March. He spent his first four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. Lawson has a history of major injuries. He tore his left ACL at Auburn in 2014, and he tore his right ACL with the Bengals in 2018.

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New York Jets OL Alex Lewis, a former starter, decides to retire

New York Jets guard Alex Lewis, who walked off the practice field Aug. 5 with an apparent head injury, has decided to retire from the NFL, a source told ESPN on Wednesday.

By rule, Lewis, 29, was eliminated from playing for any team in 2021 when he was placed last week on the reserve/left squad list. He was aware of that possibility and wasn’t surprised when the Jets used that designation, the source said.

Lewis’ head injury wasn’t the reason he left the team, as the Jets suggested soon after his sudden departure. “He’s going through some things which are much greater than football right now,” coach Robert Saleh said on Aug. 7. “We’re just giving him a chance to kind of sort through it all.”

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Lewis’ retirement culminates a tumultuous year.

The former starter spent time last campaign on the non-football injury list as he sought medical help for an undisclosed condition. That came after a heated practice-field exchange with then-coach Adam Gase.

In the offseason, the Jets replaced Lewis by drafting guard Alijah Vera-Tucker in the first round. Lewis wasn’t happy, a source said, prompting him to skip the voluntary portion of the offseason program.

The Jets approached Lewis about a pay cut, and the two sides agreed to a reworked deal in May. His base salary was lowered from $5.8 million to $3 million, and the final year of his contact (2022) was voided, which would have allowed him to become a free agent.

In theory, Lewis could try a comeback in 2022, but “it remains to be seen whether he has any desire to play again,” the source said.

Lewis, a fourth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2016, played three years with them before being traded to the Jets in 2019. He did a solid job at left guard and was rewarded with a three-year, $18.6 million contract. He played in 44 career matches, with 39 starts.

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