Tagged in: role

Seattle Seahawks’ Uchenna Nwosu wants bigger role than at Los Angeles Chargers

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Uchenna Nwosu cited the desire to take on a more prominent role in an NFL team as a reason for leaving the Los Angeles Chargers for his new team.

Nwosu spent four seasons with the Chargers, with his last being the most productive. The 25-year-old registered a career-high five sacks in 2021, featuring in 17 matches last season.

However, he considers he can play an even bigger role at the Seahawks, who are expected to deploy a 3-4 defensive scheme, similar to the one which finally brought out his best abilities in his last season with the Chargers.

Facing the media alongside Houston Texans defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo at an NFL FanZone event in Accra on Sunday, Nwosu said: “Sometimes, everybody’s situation is different, but some people might want to take on a bigger role, and to do that, you might have to switch teams.

“The best opportunity was presented to us [himself and Okoronkwo, who recently joined the Texans from the Los Angeles Rams], and we took it and thought it was the best decision for us.”

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Nwosu has been assisting the NFL with training prospects in Ghana, with a pool of 49 African players, scouted predominantly by New York Giants legend Osi Umenyiora, congregating at the Right to Dream Academy’s soccer venue.

Nigeria has been the most prominent African country in NFL history, with 92 players in the league currently, and Nwosu, who was born in Carson, California, expressed pride in his heritage.

“We [Nigerians] work hard. We always want to finish first. We never give up and always represent and carry the name well, with respect, and just carry ourselves to a higher standard,” Nwosu said.

Commenting on what sets Nigeria apart as a producer of NFL talent, he added: “I wouldn’t say it’s because of our size or because we’re bigger or better or anything like that. I just feel like we just … play. It’s a good question.

“Don’t get us wrong; there’s a lot of Ghanaians and other African countries in the NFL too.”

Okoronkwo added that it was a circular process.

“I think it’s more of a perception thing,” he said. “When Nigerians started coming into the league, they started doing well, so more Nigerians were getting opportunities because Nigerians were doing well.”

The pair pledged to work together in Nigeria in the near future, with Okoronkwo saying: “We both plan on, at some point — maybe next offseason — going to Nigeria and doing some things there.”

As Nwosu added, “Whether that be a camp or just helping out in the community, the sky is the limit, so we look forward to doing that.”

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Safety Jessie Bates III, with ‘a real role on our team,’ lands franchise tag from Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals placed their franchise tag on safety Jessie Bates III, the team revealed Monday.

Bates was on the verge of becoming a free agent once his rookie deal expired at the end of the league year. The franchise-tag deadline for all teams is Tuesday.

“Over the past year, we’ve tried to extend his contract here in Cincinnati,” Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn said in a statement. “While that hasn’t come to pass, we want him here for 2022 to be a part of what we think should be an exciting football season and bright future for our organization.”

The franchise tag allows the Bengals to be in prime position to retain Bates’ services for the 2022 season. The franchise tender amount for safeties is $12.911 million, according to a memo obtained by ESPN on Monday.

At last week’s NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Bengals executive Duke Tobin reiterated that the franchise’s intention was to keep him in Cincinnati.

“He’s a guy that developed and that has played well that has a real role on our team in a lot of different areas, particularly in leadership and playmaking skill,” Tobin said. “He’s a guy we want going forward.”

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The franchise tag allows Bates and the Bengals to negotiate a long-term deal until July 15 at 4 p.m. ET. If no multiyear contract is reached by then, Bates will not be eligible for a contract extension until after the season, according to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA.

Bates played a pivotal role in the Bengals reaching their first Super Bowl in 33 years.

In four postseason games, he had six pass deflections, 20 tackles and two interceptions, including one in the 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI.

The safety, who turned 25 in February, sought a contract extension with the Bengals after a breakout 2020 campaign; however, those preseason discussions did not lead to a new deal.

He started 15 games last campaign, making 88 tackles with an interception, four passes defended and a fumble recovery.

Since joining the Bengals, the 2018 second-round pick has been one of the team’s most dependable starters. He has appeared in 63 of a potential 65 games in four NFL seasons, starting all of them.

A neck injury suffered in a Week 3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers snapped Bates’ streak of 51 consecutive starts, the fifth-longest streak in franchise history.

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New-look Los Angeles Rams add veteran to their wide receiver corps, secure deal with DeSean Jackson

The Los Angeles Rams agreed to terms with veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson on Sunday.

Jackson fills a much-needed role as a deep-threat wide receiver on an offense that will feature quarterback Matthew Stafford next campaign.

“We’re always trying to add some juice, and we’ll see what the next month and a half entails,” Rams coach Sean McVay stated Friday when asked if the team needed to find a wideout to stretch the field for Stafford.

“Every offense probably in the NFL would love a deep threat, right?” Rams general manager Les Snead said, answering the same question. “If I added to that, it doesn’t necessarily have to be someone that catches one deep ball a game; those can be low-percentage throws. But when you definitely have skill players with juice, that can threaten the top shelf of the coverage.”

Jackson’s deal is for one year, the team stated. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Jackson has recorded the most 60-plus-yard touchdowns (24) in NFL history.

The 34-year-old, who is entering his 13th NFL season, ranks sixth all time in yards per reception (17.4).

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In Los Angeles, Jackson reunites with McVay, who served as his offensive coordinator for three seasons with the Washington Football Team from 2014 to 2016. Jackson joins a receiving corps that contains Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and second-year pro Van Jefferson. The Rams also utilize tight end Tyler Higbee in the passing game.

However, McVay’s offense has lacked a true deep-threat receiver since trading Brandin Cooks to the Houston Texans after the 2019 campaign.

“We need to be more explosive offensively, but we’ve been a really explosive offense with Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Higbee being centerpieces of it; those guys are going to continue to be that,” McVay said.

“But when you talk about opportunities, you have to call plays that give you an opportunity to be explosive, and that’s where my contribution is. Anytime that you have guys that can do that, that definitely is a benefit.”

Jackson became a free agent when he was released by the Philadelphia Eagles in February.

Jackson’s return to Philadelphia was limited by injuries since he was obtained from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019, reuniting the deep-threat receiver with the team that drafted him.

The excitement of the reunion was fueled by two touchdowns of longer than 50 yards in the 2019 opener versus Washington, but Jackson wound up playing in just three games that season because of a core muscle injury.

Jackson then missed 11 games in 2020 with an injured ankle. Overall, he has 612 receptions for 10,656 yards and has scored 60 touchdowns (including four rushing and four punt returns).

He was selected by the Eagles in the second round of the 2008 draft and played six seasons in his first stint with the team, before joining Washington in 2014.

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Titans sign veteran QB Trevor Siemian as backup

Logan Woodside is no longer the second-most experienced quarterback on the Titans roster.

The team on Wednesday signed veteran quarterback Trevor Siemian to a one-year deal, according to his agent, Mike McCartney. Siemian will contest Woodside for the backup quarterback role behind starter Ryan Tannehill.

Also, the team cut seventh-round pick Cole McDonald, a source confirmed to The Tennessean. McDonald had struggled through the early portion of training camp.

Siemian, 28, was a seventh-round pick of the Broncos in 2015 and brings with him the NFL experience that Woodside lacks. Siemian has played in 27 matches in his NFL career, including 25 starts. He’s 13-12 in those games.

For his career, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Siemian has completed 59.2% of his passes and has thrown for 5,689 yards with 30 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. He signed a one-year deal with the Jets in March 2019, but an ankle injury ended his season in September. Before appearing in one game for New York, Siemian’s last time seeing game action came in December 2017.

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Woodside, a seventh-round pick out of Toledo in 2018, has yet to take a snap in an NFL game.

He spent time on the Titans’ practice squad in each of the past two seasons and has earned high praise this offseason as he vies for the backup quarterback role.

“He’s earned the opportunity right now to earn the job,” Titans quarterbacks coach Pat O’Hara stated last week of Woodside. “The rest remains to be seen.” Earlier this month, Tannehill said, “I love playing with guys like (Woodside) who enjoy playing the game, enjoy the daily grind, the preparation, the hard work. He’s been a guy like that since Day 1. … He’s accurate. He can make all the throws. I feel like mentally, he’s mastering this offense just from being in it for a few years now. I feel like he has all the tools needed. It’s just a matter of going out and making it happen.”

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