The NFL free agency legal tampering period begins on Monday at 12 PM ET. Teams around the league are getting ready for that and the official start of free agency on Wednesday at 4 PM ET. Here’s a look at today’s NFL News and Rumors on March 11.
NFL News and Rumors: Falcons restructure Matt Ryan’s contract
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan restructured his contract, creating $12 million in salary cap space. Ryan, 36, was due a $16.25 million base salary in 2022 and a $7.5 million roster bonus on March 19.
Ryan had the highest salary cap figure in the NFL ($48.662 million) but was last a Pro Bowl selection in 2016.
49ers signed Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles
The San Francisco 49ers signed linebacker Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles to a one-year extension. He was scheduled to become an exclusive rights free agent.
Flannigan-Fowles went undrafted out of Arizona three years ago. He has 38 tackles in 28 career games, including 29 last season after playing in every game with two starts.
NFL News and Rumors: Saints’ Craig Robertson retires
New Orleans Saints linebacker Craig Robertson has retired.
“Craig was a fantastic player, leader and a consummate professional throughout his time with the New Orleans Saints,” Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said in a statement. “When he arrived in 2016, Craig instantly became a leader in the locker room and was well respected by his teammates and staff. It was a pleasure watching Craig’s passion, toughness, and leadership ability on the field, in our locker room, and in our community. We thank him and wish him, his wife Brittani, and their children all the best in their future endeavors.”
Robertson, 34, is a former undrafted free agent from North Texas. He appeared in 136 games with 65 starts in his career and had 556 tackles, 9 sacks, 10 interceptions, 27 passes defensed, 3 forced fumbles, and 8 fumble recoveries. Robertson also had 51 special-teams stops, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 blocked punt recovery.
“After not being drafted into the NFL to be able to play 10 years in this league was truly a blessing,” Robertson said.
Bears claim Darrynton Evans off waivers from Titans
The Chicago Bears have been awarded running back Darrynton Evans off waivers from the Tennessee Titans, according to a league source.
Evans was placed on injured reserve in October and was recently cut by the Titans. In 2020, he rushed for 54 yards on 14 carries and no scores. He also caught 2 passes for 27 yards and 1 touchdown.
Evans was entering the third year of a four-year, $4.561 million rookie contract.
NFL News and Rumors: Cowboys cut Greg Zuerlein, Blake Jarwin
The Dallas Cowboys cut kicker Greg Zuerlein, wide receiver Robert Foster, defensive back Reggie Robinson and running back Ito Smith. In addition, the team waived injured tight end Blake Jarwin with a failed physical.
Jarwin had hip surgery in February. He caught 11 passes for 96 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was signed last year to a three-year, $24.25 million contract extension that included $9.25 million guaranteed.
By cutting Zuerlein, they saved $2.45 million in salary cap space.
Giants cut Kaden Smith with failed physical
The New York Giants cut tight end Kaden Smith with a failed physical designation. Coming off a knee injury, Smith played in nine games last season, and caught 3 passes for 33 yards and no touchdowns.
He is a former San Francisco 49ers sixth-round draft pick from Stanford.
Miami Dolphins tender Nik Needham
The Miami Dolphins placed a second-round restricted tender on cornerback Nik Needham. Needham has played in 45 career games with 22 starts for the Dolphins over the past three seasons. He has 171 tackles, 3 sacks, 6 interceptions, 23 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery.
In 2021, Needham played in all 17 games with five starts and also scored his first touchdown on an interception return at New Orleans.
NFL News and Rumors: Texans signing offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi
The Texans are signing offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi to a one-year contract, according to a league source not authorized to speak publicly.
Ogbuehi (6-foot-5, 306 pounds) is a former Cincinnati Bengals first-round draft pick from Texas A&M. He played for Texans offensive line coach George Warhop previously with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ogbuehi has played in 60 games with 57 career starts. The Bengals declined the fifth-year option on Ogbuehi, and he became a free agent in 2019. Ogbuehi has also played for the Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Ravens, and Tennessee Titans.
Bears cutting Eddie Goldman
The Chicago Bears are cutting veteran defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, a roster move that creates $6.6 million in salary cap space.
Goldman is a former Bears second-round draft pick. He was playing under a four-year, $42 million contract. Last season, Goldman played in 14 games and recorded 22 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, and a half-sack.
Bengals re-sign Joe Bachie
The Cincinnati Bengals re-signed Joe Bachie to a one-year contract extension. He was scheduled to become an exclusive rights free agent.
Bachie went undrafted out of Michigan State University and signed with the New Orleans Saints. In addition to his time in New Orleans, Bachie was also with the Philadelphia Eagles before joining Cincinnati on waivers last May.
He played in nine regular-season games with two starts for Cincinnati in 2021 and had 28 tackles and a pass deflection on defense, along with 2 tackles on special teams. He suffered a season-ending left knee injury on Dec. 19 at Denver and spent the remainder of the regular season and playoffs on injured reserve.
NFL News and Rumors: Texans re-sign quarterback Jeff Driskel
The Texans have re-signed quarterback Jeff Driskel, according to his agent, Harold Lewis, of NSA Football. Driskel, who has also played tight end, is expected to play quarterback. Last season, he broke his collarbone against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Driskel is an outstanding athlete at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds. He officially ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine, but many scouts had him in the 4.4 range. The Texans had expressed hope that Driskel would emerge as a versatile athlete in the mold of New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill.
“Everybody is looking for that Taysom Hill,” former Texans tight ends coach Andy Bischoff said when Driskel was shifted from quarterback to tight end. “He’s got rare traits. Jeff is on a journey. He has embraced it. It’s been noted that his future might not be at quarterback here, but tight end could be good for his future. He’s making the shift to a full-time tight end. He’s a great athlete. You’ve seen it happen in this league a lot. They’re all on a journey and we’re excited to have him.
“He’ll make a play a day that turns somebody’s eyes and we’re just excited to help him make that transition. He’s an athlete. Speed is not an issue. Catches well, good clean hands.”
Driskel was signed during the offseason to a one-year, $2.5 million contract last year. He received a $1 million base salary with $500,000 guaranteed for skill, injury, and salary cap, a $250,000 signing bonus, up to $500,000 in per-game active roster bonuses, and $750,000 in achievable playtime incentives. He was released from the roster during the cutdown to 53 players then signed to the practice squad.
A former San Francisco 49ers sixth-round draft pick from Louisiana Tech who began his career at Florida, Driskel has also played for the Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, and Denver Broncos. Driskel, 28, has passed for 2,120 career yards, 13 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. He’s also rushed for 309 yards and 3 scores.
He started one game for the Broncos in 2020, passing for 176 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. In his only season at Louisiana Tech, he passed for 4,026 yards and 27 touchdowns.
NFL News and Rumors: Isaac Yiadom working out for Texans
The Texans are working out veteran cornerback Isaac Yiadom, according to a league source. The Massachusetts native and former Boston College standout played for the Green Bay Packers last season. He’s a former Denver Broncos third-round draft pick.
He was traded to the New York Giants for a 2021 seventh-round pick in 2020. He started 10 games for the Giants before being traded to the Packers for cornerback Josh Jackson last year. Yiadom was replaced as the starter for cornerback Rasul Douglas.
He has 114 career tackles and 1 interception. Yiadom (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) has run the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds.
Jaguars releasing Carlos Hyde
The Jacksonville Jaguars are releasing veteran running back Carlos Hyde. The 31-year-old rushed for 253 yards and caught 12 passes for 65 yards and a touchdown last season for Jacksonville.
Hyde previously played for the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns. He rushed for 1,070 yards and 6 touchdowns for the Texans in 2019 and 356 yards and 4 scores for the Seattle Seahawks in 2020. The Ohio State alum has rushed for 4,979 career yards and 37 touchdowns with 157 catches for 867 yards and 3 touchdowns.
NFL News and Rumors: Bears cut Tarik Cohen
The Chicago Bears are cutting running back Tarik Cohen with an injury designation.
Cohen is recovering from a torn ACL. In 2020, he rushed for 74 yards and caught 6 passes for 41 yards. He was playing under a three-year, $18.25 million contract.
Raiders re-sign Jackson Barton
The Las Vegas Raiders have re-signed offensive tackle Jackson Barton.
He’s a former Indianapolis Colts seventh-round draft pick who has also played for the Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, and New York Giants. Barton played in two games for the Raiders last season.
NFL News and Rumors: Texans signing Christian Kirksey to two-year deal
The Texans are signing veteran linebacker Christian Kirksey to a two-year contract, according to a league source not authorized to speak publicly. Kirksey is regarded as a team leader and has been a defensive captain who communicates the defensive signals from coach Lovie Smith.
A former Cleveland Browns third-round draft pick from Iowa, Kirksey underwent thumb surgery last season and was placed on injured reserve before returning to play. He recorded 93 tackles, no sacks, 1 interception, 2 fumble recoveries, and 8 pass deflections.
Kirksey was signed to a one-year contract by the Texans last year after being cut by the Green Bay Packers one year into a two-year, $16 million contract with a failed physical designation due to a torn pectoral.
The Browns previously signed him to a four-year, $38 million extension that included $20 million guaranteed.
Texans working out DaeSean Hamilton
The Houston Texans are working out talented former Denver Broncos wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton on Friday.
Hamilton — who was nearly traded to the San Francisco 49ers last year before he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament — is expected to have a strong market.
Hamilton, 27, has caught 81 career passes for 833 yards and 5 touchdowns in 46 career games. He caught 23 passes for 293 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2020 before suffering the injury in 2021.
Hamilton was released from the Broncos this week and cleared waivers.
He’s a former fourth-round draft pick from Penn State where he finished as the Nittany Lions’ all-time receptions leader with 214 catches and finished third all-time with 2,842 receiving yards. He was a four-time academic All-Big Ten Conference selection.
He was a second-team All-Big Ten Conference selection,
NFL News and Rumors: Saints restructure Alvin Kamara deal
The New Orleans Saints restructured running back Alvin Kamara’s contract, according to a league source. With a simple conversion of his salary into a signing bonus ($10.465 million), they created $8.372 million in salary cap space.
Kamara was arrested last month after an incident at a Las Vegas nightclub.
A former third-round draft pick, Kamara is signed to a five-year, $77.133 million contract. He rushed for 898 yards last season and caught 47 passes for 439 yards, scoring 9 total touchdowns.
Browns tender D’Ernest Johnson
The Cleveland Browns intend to tender running back D’Ernest Johnson at the right of first refusal level. Johnson is a talented runner who works behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
He’ll get a one-year, $2.4 million tender, and the Browns have the right of first refusal on any offer sheet. A former undrafted free agent who worked on a fishing boat and played in the AAF, Johnson rushed for 534 yards and 3 touchdowns last season.