Tagged in: released

Tampa Bay Buccaneers to sign WR Cole Beasley to practice squad

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will sign Cole Beasley to their practice squad, a source confirmed to ESPN, adding the 11-year veteran to a short-handed wide receiver corps.

Beasley was released by the Bills in March and did not sign with another team as a free agent in the offseason.

The Bucs plan to elevate Beasley to their active roster soon, according to NFL Network, which first reported the signing Tuesday. The Bills had granted Beasley permission to seek a trade in early March but lastly released him in a move that created about $6.1 million in salary-cap space.

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Beasley, 33, now will join a Tampa Bay team entering its Week 3 showdown versus the Packers without star receiver Mike Evans, who was suspended one game for his role in Sunday’s brawl with the Saints.

The Bucs also are dealing with injuries to veteran receivers Chris Godwin and Julio Jones, who both missed their triumph over the Saints.

Evans’ appeal of his one-game suspension was heard Tuesday, sources told ESPN, confirming a report by NFL Network. James Thrash, who is jointly appointed by the NFL and the NFLPA was the appeals officer. A ruling is expected this week, possibly as soon as Wednesday.

Beasley concluded with 82 receptions in each of the past two seasons with the Bills and has been a reliable slot receiver over his 10-year career with Buffalo and the Cowboys.

He missed a match during the 2020 season after testing positive for COVID-19 while being unvaccinated and reportedly was fined multiple times for violating the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols.

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Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper likely to be released

The Dallas Cowboys are “likely” to release wide receiver Amari Cooper by the start of the new league year, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Friday.

Cooper is due $20 million in fully guaranteed money on the fifth day of the new league year, March 20. The Cowboys designed Cooper’s $100 million contract in a way in which they could get out of the deal for a relative pittance after two campaigns.

If they cut Cooper, he would count $6 million against the salary cap, not $22 million.

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For a team that is projected to be more than $21 million over the cap, every dollar counts — especially with so many unsigned key free agents such as defensive end Randy Gregory, tight end Dalton Schultz, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and safety Jayron Kearse.

If the Cowboys cut Cooper, they could face a lot of turnover at the receiver spot in 2022. 

CeeDee Lamb is set, but Michael Gallup (who tore an ACL late last season) and Cedrick Wilson are set to be free agents. The Cowboys have been working on a new deal with Gallup and an agreement is considered “close,” sources said.

Cooper concluded with 865 yards on 68 receptions with eight touchdowns in his 15 matches. He had two 100-yard games in the first seven weeks and none in his last eight games.

He had three games with two receptions and one with three. Cooper missed two games last season after testing positive for COVID-19.

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Detroit Lions release veteran LB Jamie Collins after exploring trade

After attempting to trade linebacker Jamie Collins, the Detroit Lions revealed Tuesday that he has been released.

Collins, a nine-year veteran, stopped reporting to practice ahead of Week 3 as the Lions explored options for his future. Coach Dan Campbell stated last week that he met with Collins to communicate the team’s plans to seek a trade, but the Lions ultimately couldn’t reach a deal for him.

Collins can sign with another team immediately. He is making a fully guaranteed $8.8 million from Detroit this year ($5 million bonus, $3.8 million salary).

A one-time Pro Bowler, Collins racked up 10 total tackles, with one for a loss, and a fumble recovery in back-to-back defeats to San Francisco and Green Bay this season.

Campbell stated last week that he felt it was “time for a reduced role” for Collins and decided to play the younger members of the roster.

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“We’ve been through two games now and you make your assessment and your judgement after two games and that’s where we’re at,” Campbell said of Collins last Thursday.

“There again, we felt like it was, if you’re going to grow and you’re going to try to get better as a team, as a unit, everything, you better do it now.

“There again, I think this is best for Jamie as well. He gets a chance to go somewhere and do what he does and we’re just in a different place.”

The Lions have turned to rookie Derrick Barnes to fill the role vacated by Collins. Barnes made his first start of the season Sunday versus the Baltimore Ravens, and made four stops while playing about half the team’s defensive snaps.

Collins made 101 tackles for the Lions in 2020 under former Lions coach Matt Patricia, for whom Collins played in New England. But he had struggled this season, particularly in a Week 2 loss to the Green Bay Packers that spurred Campbell to suggest a move could be in the works.

It proved to be Collins’ last game in Detroit, as he was not at the Lions practice facility Thursday and was designated inactive Sunday versus the Baltimore Ravens.

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LB Kwon Alexander agrees to re-sign with New Orleans Saints

Linebacker Kwon Alexander is back with the New Orleans Saints after he spent the offseason recovering from a torn Achilles tendon.

They agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $3 million, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

It’s a birthday present of sorts for Alexander, who turned 27 on Tuesday.

Alexander, who played college football nearby at LSU, proved to be a good fit for the Saints after they obtained him in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers last November.

The 6-foot-1, 227-pounder started seven matches for New Orleans and had 27 tackles, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. His season ended in December, however, when he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in a Christmas Day triumph over the Minnesota Vikings.

The Saints released Alexander in March before he was due to make $13.4 million in salary and bonuses this year. But clearly they kept the door open, and they brought him in for a workout last month after he was healthy enough to resume football activities.

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The Saints are suddenly crowded at the linebacker position after they drafted Pete Werner in the second round this year and Zack Baun in the third round last year. And it’s a position where they typically play only two linebackers at a time, with Demario Davis locking down one of those spots.

But Alexander, who is particularly valuable on passing downs, adds to their overall depth and versatility after they lost some key pieces at cornerback and along the defensive line during a salary-cap purge this offseason.

The Saints have been filling out their depth throughout the first week of training camp after they cleared out more than $10 million in cap space late in the summer.

They have also recently signed cornerbacks Brian Poole, Prince Amukamara and KeiVarae Russell; running back Devonta Freeman; receiver Chris Hogan and guard J.R. Sweezy.

Alexander, who was initially drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fourth round out of LSU in 2015, made the Pro Bowl in 2017. He has started a total of 66 games in his career with 471 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 7 interceptions and 9 forced fumbles.

The 49ers signed Alexander to a four-year, $54 million contract as a free agent in 2019, but he was limited during the 2019 season by a torn pectoral muscle before returning for their playoff run. He played in five games for the 49ers in 2020 but was sidelined by a high-ankle sprain at the time he was traded.

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Jarran Reed, Kansas City Chiefs agree to 1-year deal

Defensive tackle Jarran Reed has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Sunday.

Reed can earn up to $7 million on the deal, sources said.

Reed joins a defensive tackle rotation that incorporates Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi and Tershawn Wharton. Jones has led the Chiefs in sacks in each of the past three seasons. Nnadi plays mostly on running downs, while Wharton showed promise last season as an undrafted rookie.

But Reed, with his 19 sacks over the past three seasons, gives the Chiefs a strong interior pass rusher to combine with Jones. The Seattle Seahawks released Reed on Friday, a year after the team signed him to a two-year, $23 million extension.

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Reed, 28, has been a full-time starter since 2017, the year after Seattle picked him in the second round out of Alabama.

He was known primarily as a run-stuffer his first two seasons but then broke out for 10.5 sacks in 2018.

He started the 2019 season by serving a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy and finished the year with two sacks in 10 matches.

Reed, who reportedly wanted a long-term contract to stay in Seattle and couldn’t reach an agreement with the team, appeared in all 16 games for the Seahawks in 2020 and played on 74 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, per Football Reference. He had 6.5 sacks, 38 combined tackles and 14 quarterback hits, with one pass breakup and a forced fumble.

He was set to count nearly $14 million against the salary cap before he was released.

For his career, Reed has 22 sacks and 194 tackles in 72 regular-season games.

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Detroit Lions plan to release slot cornerback Justin Coleman

The Detroit Lions have informed slot cornerback Justin Coleman he will be released by the franchise, a source confirmed to ESPN on Thursday.

Coleman is the second Detroit defensive back to learn of his pending release this offseason, joining Desmond Trufant. Earlier this month, when head coach Dan Campbell was asked about Coleman’s and Trufant’s futures with the club, he stated those decisions would be coming. Now they have and both players will be elsewhere in 2021.

Coleman had been scheduled to count $11.029 million against the cap in 2021, and depending on how he’s designated upon his release, the Lions might save up to $9 million if he’s declared a post-June 1 release. If not, the Lions would save $6.971 million, according to Roster Management System.

Releasing Coleman now also keeps the Lions from having to guarantee $1.1 million of his $8.95 million base salary, which would have happened on the third day of the new league year, which starts March 17.

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The Lions will carry $4.058 million in dead money due to Coleman’s release, sending the team’s dead money total for 2021 well over $30 million — largely due to the $19 million from the Matthew Stafford trade that will be official when the new league year begins.

Detroit is now thin at corner with the Coleman and Trufant departures.

With just Amani Oruwariye, Jeff Okudah and recently re-signed Mike Ford at the position with significant experience playing for Detroit last year.

The 27-year-old Coleman signed a four-year, $36 million contract with the Lions during free agency in 2019, making him one of the league’s highest-paid slot corners at the time.

He started 16 matches — mostly in the slot — since his arrival in Detroit, breaking up 14 passes with one interception. He also had three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery, all in 2019.

Coleman went undrafted out of Tennessee and has played two seasons each in New England, Seattle and Detroit, appearing in 79 games (29 starts) and breaking up 41 passes with four interceptions and two returned for touchdowns. He also has forced 4 fumbles, recovered 4 fumbles and scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery.

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J.J. Watt agrees to two-year contract with Arizona Cardinals

Free-agent pass-rusher J.J. Watt has agreed to a two-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals, the team revealed Monday.

Terms were not disclosed, but a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the deal is worth $31 million and includes $23 million guaranteed.

“I’m excited to get started,” Watt said on the tarmac after the plane landed. “Very excited to get started, get to work, get to know the people of Arizona.”

Watt, 31, was released by the Houston Texans, who granted his request on Feb. 12, ending his 10-year run with the franchise.

Four days later, Watt’s former Texans teammate and current Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins posted a photo of himself and Watt photoshopped in a Cardinals uniform on Instagram with the caption: “Let’s finish what we started…” Hopkins reacted to Monday’s news by tweeting: “Life is good in Arizona!”

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Watt will reunite with Vance Joseph, the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator, who was the Texans’ defensive backs coach during Watt’s first three campaigns in Houston.

In Arizona, Watt will be paired with fellow pass-rusher Chandler Jones, who leads the NFL in sacks since he was drafted in the first round in 2012 with 97. Second during that span is Watt with 95.5.

Watt’s addition meant minimal variations to the Cardinals’ odds for the 2021 season from Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. Their odds to win the Super Bowl stays 40-1 and to win the NFC remain 20-1. Arizona’s odds to win the NFC West moved from 7-1 to 6-1, still the longest odds of the four teams in the division.

“The one thing I can promise you is I’m going to work my ass off every single day to make you proud,” Watt said. “Very proud to be a part of the ‘Bird Gang’ and the ‘Red Sea.'”

In 2020, Watt ranked 15th out of 119 qualified pass-rushers in pass rush win rate, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He concluded the season with five sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception he returned for a touchdown. He has been plagued with injuries recently, having played 16 games in a season only twice since 2015.

After the Texans drafted Watt with the No. 11 pick in 2011, he became the face of the franchise, winning three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards from 2012 to ’15. Watt is one of three players to collect that award three times. A five-time Pro Bowl selection and five-time first-team All-Pro, Watt was by far the most productive pass-rusher in Texans history with 101 career sacks.

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Carolina Panthers release DT Kawann Short

Kawann Short has been around the NFL long enough to realize what happens to guys as they age, stack up injuries, and get expensive.

Tuesday, it happened.

The Panthers released the veteran defensive tackle Tuesday, starting the process of clearing up some cap space.

They’ll save $8.6 million worth of room with the move, which will come in handy. With the salary cap for 2021 dropping from $198.2 million to $175 million (though it could rise slightly in the coming weeks), every dollar is going to count this offseason.

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This was a predictable move, and Short seemed to realize it

Explaining at the end of the season that he knew his combination of age, recent injuries, and finances made this likely.

“We’re all grown here. So you know what it is,” Short said the day after the season. “This is a ‘what can you do for me now’ business, so for me to have injuries back to back, it definitely put that in your head, whether the team wants you or not.”

The 32-year-old Short has played in just five games the last two seasons because of shoulder problems and had the second-highest cap number on the roster for 2021, making the move inevitable.

When healthy, he was a steady producer for the Panthers with 32.5 sacks in his first six seasons. And they’ll clearly need to find someone who can do what he did when well, as coaches have identified adding a three-technique defensive tackle spot as a priority.

Converted defensive end Efe Obada was useful there last season, second on the team with 5.5 sacks, but they’d like to find a productive starter to continue to use him as a reserve.

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New Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell agrees to six-year contract

New Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell received a six-year contract from the team, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

The Lions informed Campbell’s hiring on Wednesday but did not disclose terms. The team will introduce him with a news conference on Thursday.

“With more than 20 years of experience as both a coach and player in the National Football League, Dan knows the rigors of professional football and what it takes to be successful. He will help promote the culture we want to establish across our organization, while also bringing with him high energy, a respect for the game and an identity with which everyone can align themselves,” Lions principal owner Sheila Ford Hamp said in a statement.

Campbell, the New Orleans Saints’ assistant head coach/tight ends coach, replaces Matt Patricia, who was released in November after less than three seasons with the Lions and a 13-29-1 record.

The Lions will now try to reset after concluding last in the NFC North the past three seasons. Campbell is expected to bring fellow Saints assistant coach Aaron Glenn with him as defensive coordinator. Glenn has a few other suitors, but Detroit is the favorite, the source told Fowler.

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The 44-year-old Campbell, who has never been a coordinator in the NFL, is viewed as a motivator and someone who can bring a team together, rather than an X’s-and-O’s guru. The Lions had been searching for people they considered unifiers as they identified qualities they deemed important to building a winner out of a franchise that has one playoff victory in the Super Bowl era and claimed its last division title in 1993.

Campbell doesn’t have much experience as a head coach — just 12 games as an interim head coach for the Miami Dolphins — but the Lions clearly saw enough to pair him with recently hired general manager Brad Holmes. Without experience calling plays on either side of the ball, whom Campbell brings in as coordinators will be paramount to his success.

During Holmes’ introductory news conference on Tuesday, the Lions stated all three of Holmes, Campbell and vice president of football administration Mike Disner will report to team president Rod Wood, creating a balanced structure. When asked whether Holmes or Campbell would have final say over the 53-man roster, Wood said it would be a collaborative process.

“Dan’s passion for this opportunity was evident throughout our interview process,” Wood said in a statement.

“When we began the search for a head coach, it was imperative that we find the right leader who values our commitment to building a winning culture based on organizational alignment and collaboration. The leadership Dan has exemplified throughout his football career has prepared him for this next step, and we are excited to support him as our new head coach.”

The Lions had conducted their searches for Holmes and Campbell simultaneously, often asking candidates whether they had people in mind for the other position they would want to work with. After Holmes was hired last week, Ford Hamp said Holmes spoke with some of their remaining candidates.

Campbell played 10 seasons in the NFL, including the final three years of his career for the Lions.

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Le’Veon Bell released by New York Jets

The New York Jets’ rocky relationship with Le’Veon Bell came to a sudden end on Tuesday when the Jets informed they had released the running back.

It ended a 19-month tenure that was filled with disappointment and broken promises. Bell, who arrived as a marquee free agent in 2019, never clicked with coach Adam Gase, who opposed the signing from the outset.

“After having conversations with Le’Veon and his agent and exploring potential trade options over the past couple of days, we have made the decision to release Le’Veon,” the team said in a statement.

“The Jets organization appreciates Le’Veon’s efforts during his time here and we know he worked hard to make significant contributions to this team. We believe this decision is in the best interests of both parties and wish him future success.”

As a vested veteran, Bell is not subject to waivers. He will be a free agent at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday.

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Frustrated by his lack of participation in the offense, Bell met with Gase and general manager Joe Douglas on Monday, a source said. They told Bell they would explore a trade, and they gave his agent authorization to speak with other teams.

The Jets contacted every team but found the contract was difficult to move.

They were willing to eat some of the $6 million remaining on his 2020 base salary, but the sticking point was an $8 million injury guarantee in 2021, a source said. No team wanted to take on that much risk, fearing a serious injury this campaign.

In the end, neither did the Jets. They could’ve continued to shop him until the Nov. 3 trading deadline, hoping to recoup a late-round pick, but they too were wary of the injury guarantee, knowing they were planning to cut him in the offseason.

The Jets are responsible for the remaining $6 million on Bell’s 2020 base pay, but there’s an offset clause that will defray it by the amount of the salary on a new contract with his next team.

Bell returned to the lineup on Sunday and carried the ball 13 times for 60 yards. He was targeted only once in the passing game.

On several occasions, Gase talked about getting Bell more involved as a receiver. On Sunday, rookie running back La’Mical Perine saw no action.

Bell’s departure should create playing time for Perine, who will share the workload with the 37-year-old Gore.

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