Tagged in: release

Cincinnati Bengals release RB Giovani Bernard after eight seasons

The Cincinnati Bengals have released veteran running back Giovani Bernard, the team revealed on Wednesday.

Bernard, 29, has played all of his eight NFL seasons with the franchise that drafted him in the second round in 2013. He has appeared in 115 matches and rushed for 3,697 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also had 342 receptions for 2,867 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The former North Carolina player was entering the final year of a two-year extension he signed in September of 2019. The Bengals will gain $4.1 million in salary-cap savings with Bernard’s release and incur only $666,667 in dead money versus the cap, according to Roster Management System.

Bernard started a career-high 10 games in 2020 because Joe Mixon was out with a foot injury. His best rushing performance was an 83-yard effort in a win over Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football, the Bengals’ first triumph over the Steelers since 2015. It was Bernard’s highest rushing total since Week 16 of the 2017 season.

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The Bengals have parted ways with several notable veterans who were part of the team’s playoff runs from 2011 to 2015.

The team released former All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins earlier this offseason and did not re-sign former Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green.

With his ability in the passing game and reliability as a runner in a committee, Bernard shouldn’t have difficulty landing a new gig. A club looking for a third-down back could find a bargain in the 29-year-old Bernard, who still has tread left on the tires.

Bernard is also one of the best pass-protecting backs in the entire NFL, a trait that many teams covet in their backup RBs. Cutting Bernard now makes running back depth a need for the Bengals. Joe Mixon remains one of the top-flight backs in the NFL, with game-breaking ability. 

Samaje Perine impressed coaches for stretches last season and should climb the depth chart. A pass-catching back is now a need for the Bengals, which could look to the draft to fill the new void.

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New Orleans Saints to release WR Emmanuel Sanders

The New Orleans Saints are releasing veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders after just one season as they keep trimming their massive salary-cap deficit, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Sanders, who turns 34 next week, confirmed the move in an Instagram post, saying:

“New Orleans it’s been real. Sucks we didn’t bring a super bowl to the city which was the goal when I signed but it was a blessing to showcase my talents in front of you guys weekend and week out. #Blessingsoblessings #Imafreeagent #Wheretonext?”

Sanders was due to make $8 million this campaign, with $2 million guaranteed. The Saints will save at least $4 million against the salary cap by releasing him — and possibly $6 million if they designate it as a post-June 1 release.

Sanders caught 61 passes for 726 yards and five touchdowns in 14 regular-season games last season. He caught another eight passes for 51 yards in the playoffs.

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The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder has a total of 662 catches for 8,619 yards and 47 touchdowns in an 11-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and the Saints. He has been selected to two Pro Bowls and has appeared in three Super Bowls — winning a title with the 2015 Broncos.

The Saints now have a big void for a No. 2 receiver alongside Michael Thomas again.

The position will rank as one of their top offseason needs, especially since fellow receiver Tre’Quan Smith is heading into the final year of his contract.

New Orleans has now released veterans Sanders, punter Thomas Morstead, tight end Josh Hill and offensive lineman Nick Easton while trimming cap space this offseason.

The Saints will possible release linebacker Kwon Alexander as well, since he is due $13.4 million after tearing his Achilles in December. The Saints started the offseason nearly $100 million over the salary cap and had decreased that number roughly in half as of Wednesday morning after they placed the franchise tag on free-agent safety Marcus Williams.

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Minnesota Vikings release TE Kyle Rudolph after 10 seasons

The Minnesota Vikings have released veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph after 10 seasons, the team revealed on Tuesday.

The move saves Minnesota $5.1 million against the salary cap for 2021. Rudolph, 31, will become a free agent for the first time in his NFL career.

The former second-round draft pick of the Vikings in 2011 issued a heartfelt goodbye in a story published by The Players’ Tribune reflecting on his 10 seasons in Minnesota.

“I got so lucky, because — I didn’t just get drafted by some team who ‘had a need at tight end,’ Rudolph wrote. “I didn’t just get drafted as, like, the nameless, faceless ‘#1 tight end on the board.’ I got drafted by a team that was all set in terms of need … but then drafted me anyway.

“I’ll always remember that: how the Minnesota Vikings wanted me — and wanted to bet on my potential.” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman weighed in on Rudolph’s release in a statement, calling him “one of the premier tight ends in the NFL and most influential and positive leaders I’ve ever been around.”

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“Kyle and [his wife] Jordan have made such an immeasurable impact on our team and community that may never be matched,” Spielman said. “The energy they have invested in the community, most notably through the End Zone at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, is truly remarkable. I admire Kyle and we will miss him and his family. We sincerely wish them the best.”

Rudolph had three years left on the contract he signed in June 2019 after the Vikings approached him to restructure his deal via an extension.

He was in danger of being a cap casualty this offseason with a $9.45 million cap hit and a role that has decreased significantly in the Vikings’ offense over the past two seasons.

Rudolph spoke earlier this offseason about his desire for a bigger role in Minnesota’s offense or elsewhere and said he would not be open to a restructure if the team approached him about taking a pay cut.

“I think I’m worth every dime of my contract,” Rudolph said on the podcast “Unrestricted with Ben Leber” in January.

“That doesn’t mean that I’m used to my potential and I’m used to do what I do well, so it will be interesting over the next few months. Like I said, I have three years left on my contract. I don’t want to go anywhere else. I’ve somehow become a pretty decent blocker because I’ve been forced to. It certainly wasn’t something that I ever did well at any point of my career. Maybe in high school because I was bigger than everyone else, but even then, I just wanted to run around and catch balls.”

Rudolph caught 28 passes on 35 targets in 2020, his lowest output since the 2014 season. He churned up 334 receiving yards and one touchdown, the latter of which was a career low for the former second-rounder.

At 31, Rudolph said he feels he has “a lot of good football left” and will have an opportunity to play for his second NFL team. Rudolph’s impact off the field was well documented throughout his time in Minnesota. The tight end’s work with the Masonic Children’s Hospital led to him being the Vikings’ Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee three consecutive times from 2017-19.

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Green Bay Packers claim Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison off waivers

Another run-stopper is on the way to the Green Bay Packers to perhaps help them evade getting run out of the playoffs like last campaign.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst claimed Damon “Snacks” Harrison off waivers on Wednesday, according to the NFL transaction wire.

The Packers did not informed the move.

The Seahawks waived the 32-year-old defensive tackle on Monday after Harrison requested his release. All players waived at this point in the season are subject to waivers, and Harrison said in a tweet after his release that he was not interested in getting claimed.

However, in response to a tweet that suggested he might actually play for the Packers given that they’re a Super Bowl team and one that was on his list of teams he planned to meet with before he signed with Seattle earlier this season, Harrison responded with a one-word tweet that read: “Bingo.”

A source told ESPN that Harrison assured the Packers he would report to and play for Green Bay.

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The Packers rank 14th in rushing yards permitted but 24th in yards per carry — a slight improvement over last season. But their run defense let them down in the NFC Championship Game, when the San Francisco 49ers rushed for 285 yards en route to the Super Bowl.

If the Packers (12-3) triumph Sunday’s regular-season finale versus the Chicago Bears, they would be the No. 1 seed in the NFC and have a first-round playoff bye. Even if they have to play on wild-card weekend, they could get Harrison through the COVID-19 protocols and ready for that weekend.

They were granted a roster exemption for Harrison.

The Seahawks signed Harrison to the practice squad Oct. 7 and he made his first appearance in a game on Nov. 15 versus the Los Angeles Rams. He played 138 total snaps in six games before he requested his release.

At the time, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was under the impression that Harrison no longer wanted to play. “He’s decided to stop playing,” Carroll said Monday during an appearance on 710 ESPN Seattle.

“He’s done playing. I talked to him this morning. He’s in good spirits and all of that. He’s really grateful for the opportunity in playing here, and he did really well by us, but he just … he’s done.”

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Damon Harrison says it’s ‘time to move on’ from Seattle Seahawks

Veteran defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison tweeted Sunday that it’s “time to move on” from the Seahawks.

NFL Network reported that Harrison asked for his release after learning he would be inactive for Sunday’s game versus the Los Angeles Rams. The Seahawks plan to grant Harrison his release, the report stated.

A Twitter user replied to the NFL Network tweet and wrote “don’t leave,” tagging Harrison, who replied with his reasoning for wanting out.

“Didn’t want to but it’s time to,” Harrison tweeted. “I came here to help and I’ve done that and now it’s time to move on. I came back this year to play and that’s all I want. Team is back healthy and playing really well.. [It’s] my time to head out. Still all love and respect for the hawks!”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll stated he would discuss the situation with Harrison on Monday.

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“We’re going to talk tomorrow,” Carroll said after the Seahawks clinched the NFC West title with a victory against the Rams. “I just know that he was disappointed that he wasn’t active for this game. That’s what we’re talking about.”

The Seahawks signed Harrison, 32, to their practice squad Oct. 7 after he decided to play in 2020.

He didn’t make his Seattle debut until Nov. 15 versus the Rams. The 6-foot-5, 350-pound player had to work himself back into football shape and then had to wait for an opening in Seattle’s defensive tackle rotation, which he got when Bryan Mone injured his ankle.

Harrison, a first-team All-Pro in 2016, was credited with nine tackles and a forced fumble in six games with Seattle. He averaged 23 defensive snaps per game, according to Pro Football Reference, while playing behind starters Jarran Reed and Poona Ford.

The Seahawks activated Mone off injured reserve Saturday. Harrison wished Mone and several other teammates good luck against the Rams on Twitter. The Seahawks would be NFC West champions for the first time since 2016 with a victory.

Harrison’s contract includes a $1.05 million base salary, according to Roster Management System. That amount prorated over six games equals roughly $370,588.

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New York Jets continue roster shake-up, release veteran cornerback Pierre Desir

Veteran cornerback Pierre Desir, a free-agent disappointment who was benched for the final two series in the last game, was released Tuesday by the New York Jets.

The move, not unexpected, opens a starting position for rookie Bryce Hall, who substituted Desir in the Week 9 loss to the New England Patriots. The Jets (0-9) had a bye last weekend.

The Jets signed Desir in March, soon after he was released by the Indianapolis Colts. They gave him a one-year, $4 million contract, including $3.25 million in guarantees, expecting him to be their No. 1 corner.

That never materialized. In fact, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams benched Desir in the first half of the first game.

After one week in a backup role, Desir returned to the starting lineup and remained there for the next seven matches. In the final minutes of the 30-27 loss to the Patriots, Desir permitted a 31-yard completion to wide receiver Damiere Byrd — a play in which Desir half-heartedly gave chase across the field. He was immediately pulled from the game and Hall finished the series and played the entire final drive.

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Desir’s only shining moment came in a Week 4 loss to the Denver Broncos, when he intercepted two passes, including one returned for a touchdown.

In nine matches, Desir recorded three interceptions, eight pass break-ups and one forced fumble.

Hall, a fifth-round pick from Virginia, has played only one match, as he spent the first eight games battling back from a serious ankle injury that occurred during his final campaign in college. He started the 2020 season on the non-football injury list and practiced only two weeks before making his debut versus the Patriots.

In rebuilding mode, the Jets have traded or released several veterans in recent weeks, including running back Le’Veon Bell, linebacker Avery Williamson and nose tackle Steve McLendon. The Jets also placed nickelback Brian Poole (knee/shoulder) on injured reserve.

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Seattle Seahawks release veteran TE Luke Willson

The Seattle Seahawks released veteran tight end Luke Willson on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old Willson has played sparingly this campaign as the Seahawks’ No. 4 tight end behind Greg Olsen, Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister. They just activated rookie fourth-round pick Colby Parkinson from the non-football injury list, adding to their logjam at the position.

Seattle also has undrafted rookie Tyler Mabry on its practice squad as well as rookie seventh-round pick Stephen Sullivan, who plays tight end and defensive end. Sullivan made his NFL debut at defensive end Sunday after being elevated for the Seahawks’ victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Willson has played 10 offensive snaps in five games without a target. Willson was a fifth-round pick by the Seahawks in 2013, the year they won Super Bowl XLVIII. He spent his first five seasons with Seattle and played for the Detroit Lions in 2018 before returning to the Seahawks the following year.

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Releasing Willson will leave the Seahawks with two open spots on their 53-man roster, which figure to be filled by defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and Rasheem Green. The Seahawks now have a roster exemption for Dunlap after acquiring him in a trade last week with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Coach Pete Carroll has said he expects Green to return this week off injured reserve.

In other Seahawks news, wide receiver Phillip Dorsett had surgery Tuesday to repair the foot injury that’s sidelined him all season. A source told ESPN that part of the issue with Dorsett’s foot was bone spurs that needed to be cleaned out. He had been able to run but wasn’t 100%. There’s some hope that Dorsett can return later this season, the source said, but it’s not a sure thing.

Dorsett has been on injured reserve since late September and has been eligible to return. Asked about Dorsett’s status on Monday, coach Pete Carroll made it clear he wasn’t coming back anytime soon.

“Phillip Dorsett is not doing well,” he stated. “His foot has really not responded. We’ll let you know. We haven’t done anything about that yet but he’s not ready to go.”

Asked if surgery was a probability, Carroll said: “It’s not ready to be disclosed yet to tell you what’s going on, but it’s not looking good for the near future, and he’s been doing everything he can and is frustrated and all that. So in the next couple days, we’ll get a little more clarity on it.”

The Seahawks signed the former first-round pick to a one-year, minimum-salary deal in March. Their offense has been leading the NFL in scoring, with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf tied for the league lead in touchdown receptions at seven apiece. 

David Moore, rookie Freddie Swain and Penny Hart are the other wide receivers on Seattle’s 53-man roster.

Josh Gordon remains on the reserve/suspended list as he awaits reinstatement by the NFL from his indefinite suspension. Also Tuesday, the Seahawks waived linebackers Mychal Kendricks and Michael Divinity off their practice squad.

One of those open spots on the practice squad could go to running back Alex Collins, who started COVID-19 testing Friday.

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Jets release veteran starting right guard Brian Winters

The New York Jets have released Brian Winters, who started at right guard until being sidelined by an injury last year and was the team’s longest-tenured player.

The timing of the release is surprising because general manager Joe Douglas said lately that Winters would be given a chance to go to training camp and compete for the starting job.

Winters was due to make a non-guaranteed $7.3 million in the final year of a four-year, $29 million contract. There will be no cap hit for the Jets; the entire $7.3 million comes off the books.

The Jets overhauled their offensive line in the offseason, including signing guard Greg Van Roten to a three-year deal.

Van Roten is expected to be the team’s starter at right guard this campaign.

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The Jets also re-signed starting left guard Alex Lewis and signed center Connor McGovern and tackle George Fant to multiyear contracts. In addition, the Jets used their first-round draft pick (11th overall) on offensive tackle Mekhi Becton.

A starter since his rookie year in 2013, Winters suffered a shoulder injury last training camp but started the regular season in his familiar right guard position and lasted nine matches before succumbing to the pain. He underwent surgery and was placed on injured reserve.

Winters, 29, is known for his toughness. In 2017, he missed only three games despite an abdominal tear, which required surgery after the season.

The following year, he didn’t miss a single snap on offense. He entered the league in 2013 as a third-round pick out of Kent State. He was second to running back Bilal Powell as the longest-tenured Jets on the 2019 team. Winters has appeared in 89 games, including 79 starts, over nine seasons.

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Giants release Pro Bowl kicker Aldrick Rosas

The New York Giants are moving on from former Pro Bowl kicker Aldrick Rosas previous to the start of training camp. Rosas confirmed his release on Instagram — just a day after he was reportedly scheduled to arrive at the team’s practice facility for camp. 

“I wish I could have performed at the level I know I can play at,” Rosas wrote. “I have nothing but love towards the New York Giants. The values of character, love, and family are seen in everyday life at the facility within staff and management. Thank you to all my fans who showed love and support through the years.”

The Giants, who had no kickers on the roster after cutting Rosas, have reportedly already added a substitute. Per Matt Lombardo of NJ.com, the Giants signed former New York Jets kicker Chandler Catanzaro — who had retired from the NFL last August.

In his five-year career, Catanzaro converted 83.8 percent of his field goal attempts with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets. He was 10 of 16 (62.5 percent) on kicks over 50 yards. 

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Catanzaro surprisingly retired last August following a forgettable preseason opener in which he missed two extra points in a Jets preseason loss to the Giants.

Catanzaro missed a kick to the right and one to the left on his first two attempts before finally converting one with 14 seconds left in the game. He finished 1 of 3 on extra points and made his only field goal attempt, a 34-yarder, in the second quarter. 

Rosas was already on thin ice with the Giants and it wasn’t all because of his unfortunate 2019 season, when he hit just 12 of 17 field goal attempts (70.6%) and 35 of 39 extra point attempts (89.7%).

Rosas was charged with three misdemeanors stemming from a high-speed hit-and-run in June: Reckless driving on a highway, hit and run and property damage, and driving with a suspended or revoked license due to a previous DUI of alcohol or drugs. Rosas’ first court appearance is arranged for Sept. 4. 

The charges from June likely were the last straw for the Giants, who actually placed a second-round tender on Rosas earlier this offseason. Rosas converted 82.7% of his field goal attempts in his three seasons combined, but was under 71% in two of those three campaigns.

His 2018 Pro Bowl season was the outlier, as Rosas hit 32 of 33 field goal attempts (97.0%) and 31 of 32 extra point attempts (96.9%). Rosas was just 1 of 5 on field goal attempts from over 40 yards last campaign.

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Ravens Waive LB Jake Ryan After Signing Him This Offseason

It didn’t take long for the Baltimore Ravens to cut ties with one of their offseason acquirements.

On Thursday, the Ravens revealed they’ve waived linebacker Jake Ryan just one month after signing him to a one-year, $985,000 contract.

The Ravens signed Ryan to improve their linebacker corps, but his spot on the roster was in jeopardy after the team drafted LSU’s Patrick Queen and Ohio State’s Malik Harrison. Instead of waiting until training camp, Baltimore opted to put Ryan on the waiver wire in June.

Ryan was a former 2015 fourth-round pick by the Green Bay Packers out of Michigan. He started off his NFL career as a rotational linebacker, but slowly started earning starters snap in his second and third years. In his first three seasons, Ryan recorded 213 tackles (15 for loss), eight quarterback hits, one forced fumble, and one sack.

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His stint in Green Bay reached it’s conclusion after suffering a torn ACL during training camp in 2018, forcing him to miss the entire season.

As an unrestricted free agent last year, Ryan signed on with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He didn’t make an impact with the Jags, as he started his season on the non-football injury list. Ryan played in just two games, where he didn’t post a single statistic.

Considering there are plenty of teams who need depth at linebacker, it should only be a matter of time before Ryan is picked up or signed before the start of summer drills.

In four NFL seasons, Ryan has used his size and physicality to develop into a reliable defender against the run, but he has struggled in coverage. He totaled 213 tackles (including 15 for loss), one sack, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in 45 career games (27 starts).

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