Sam Huff, the Texas Rangers catcher who has been destroying Sally League pitching this season, is being promoted from low-A Hickory to high-A Down East, it has been announced. He is replacing Melvin Novoa, who has been catching for Down East, and who is moving back to Hickory.
Huff, 21, was a subject of our minor league post last night, which noted that he had homered for the 15th time and had boosted his OPS to 1164. He was at Hickory last season, and has a lot of swing and miss in his game (his K rate this year is 32.5%, against a 5.3% walk rate), which means that the enthusiasm for his start has to be tempered to a certain degree, but he’s now going to get the chance to show he can do damage against more advanced pitchers in the Carolina League.
Daniel Victor did a write-up on Huff from his observations of him you can check out here.
In addition, righthanded reliever Peter Fairbanks is being promoted to AA Frisco from Down East. Fairbanks, 25, was a 9th round pick out of the University of Missouri in 2015, and missed most of 2017 and all of 2018 after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery. He’s been throwing in the upper-90s this year out of the pen for Down East, with 15 Ks and 4 walks in 12.1 innings, and given his age and stuff, it makes sense for the Rangers to promote him relatively aggressively.
UPDATE — Jake Lemoine has been promoted to AAA Nashville from AA Frisco. The righthander, a 4th round pick of the Rangers in 2015, had an 0.52 ERA in 17 IP in Frisco, with 16 Ks and 6 walks. The 25 year old didn’t pitch as a pro until 2017, but has had success working out of the bullpen, and will now get a shot at the PCL.
Colt McCoy breaking his leg weeks after Alex Smith broke his leg was an interesting study in how you view the Redskins. Either it was an incredible coincidence, a prime example of a team that is snake bitten, or the disastrous result of a number of bad personnel decisions.
The Redskins were leading the NFC East with a 6-4 record after Smith’s injury. McCoy started two games, but was injured after only 4 pass attempts vs the Eagles. The Redskins sat at 6-6, and despite pulling Mark Sanchez off the couch to disastrous results, they thought they still had a chance at the playoffs. This led to Colt McCoy not being placed on injured reserve until the end of the season, and a rush back to the field that potentially made the injury worse.
McCoy had multiple surgeries on his broken fibula, and his status for OTAs was put in serious doubt when he was seen on crutches again. Adam Schefter reports that McCoy has now returned to the Redskins, and should be able to fully participate by training camp.
The Redskins QB room has changed drastically since McCoy’s injury. Washington made a great trade to pick up veteran journeyman Case Keenum on a cheap deal. Then they let the draft come to them, and were able to land a consensus top 2 QB at #15 with Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins. The main advantage McCoy has in this room is his experience in Jay Gruden’s system.
That won’t be enough if the Redskins feel that Haskins offers them their best chance to win, and win now. The team could also opt to go with the veteran Keenum to start the season until DH7 is ready.
McCoy seems like the odd man out in this situation, but Gruden likes him, and you can’t count him out until he is released. The Redskins have no real incentive to do anything until training camp, and Haskins could benefit from more experience in the QB room, but McCoy’s outlook looks dimmer this year, than any of his previous seasons.
Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson (ankle, ribs) said he is feeling healthy this offseason, but he’s still dealing with some soreness in his ankle. The 28-year-old has been a third-down weapon for Washington in his six years with the team, and he’s caught at least 35 passes in each of the last four seasons.
However, injuries have allowed him to play in just 20 games the last two years. He had 43 carries for 178 yards and no touchdowns while adding 41 receptions for 268 yards and a score in 2018. Thompson still might be relevant in PPR leagues, but his fantasy ceiling will be lower with both Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice splitting early down carries this season.
The Dallas Cowboys have arguably the NFL’s best running back in Ezekiel Elliott. But behind him on the depth chart are two rookies and two other players with almost no pro experience. If Dallas wants to bolster the RB group for 2019, signing former Redskin Rob Kelley may be a cheap way to do it.
Kelley has spent three years in Washington since joining them as an undrafted free agent in 2016. His rookie season was his best one; Rob started nine games after an injury to Matt Jones. He rushed for 704 yards and had six touchdown, plus another score and 82 yards off receptions.
In 2017, Kelley lost playing time to Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine. He still started seven games but was eventually used more for short-yardage situations. He finished the season on injured reserve from a high ankle sprain in mid November.
Last season, Kelley again found himself on injured reserve after an early-season toe injury. Before then, Washington had already added Adrian Peterson as the new starter. However, Rob had made the team at final cuts in a continued reserve role.
Rob Kelley became an unrestricted free agent after the Redskins decided not to place an RFA tender on him this offseason. He remains available, and at this point could probably be signed for the veteran minimum.
Over the last few years, the Cowboys have typically had an experienced player as their number-two running back. From Rod Smith to Alfred Morris to Darren McFadden, the team has had solid depth throughout Ezekiel Elliott’s time as the starter.
But currently they have two rookies, fourth-round pick Tony Pollard and seventh-round pick Mike Weber. While he has some exciting athleticism, Pollard is considered more of a gadget player in the mold of a Lance Dunbar. He may not hold up with the pounding of full-time touches if Elliott were to go missing.
Weber is the more traditional back but, again, is a late-around rookie. Other options include Darius Jackson and Jordan Chunn, who have almost no playing time on their resumes.
Rob Kelley isn’t a dynamic player but he’s still young and brings valuable experience. His physical running style also suit this team well; he can get a head of steam with the running lanes that the Cowboys’ offensive line creates.
While Kelley’s injuries the last two years are worth noting, they weren’t major knee issues or anything that should linger into another season. If anything, they’ve kept his mileage down.
Even if Dallas is hoping for success out of its two rookies running backs, it wouldn’t hurt to sign Kelley for the minimum and let him compete. There would be no risk and you might get more out of him than Washington, with their offensive issues the last few years, ever could.
The Cowboys are always looking for good deals, and Rob Kelley offers one of the better combinations of youth, experience, and minimal expense among the current free agents. If they want to add more depth to the running back position, he could be a smart way to go.
The Miami Dolphins today announced they have signed defensive end Ziggy Hood and defensive tackle Sylvester Williams and activated linebacker Mike Hull off injured reserve.
Hood is a 10-year NFL veteran who has played in 134 career games with 73 starts. He’s totaled 225 tackles (139 solo), 14 sacks, 10 passes defensed, one forced fumble and five fumble recoveries in his career. Hood played the past three seasons (2016-18) with Washington. He appeared in five games for the Redskins in 2018 and totaled three tackles (two solo) before he was released on Oct. 16, 2018. Hood originally entered the NFL as a first-round pick (32nd overall) by Pittsburgh in the 2009 NFL draft.
Williams is a six-year NFL veteran who has played in 81 career games with 63 starts. He’s totaled 120 tackles (83 solo), six sacks, two passes defensed and one fumble recovery while spending time with Denver (2013-16), Tennessee (2017) and Detroit (2018). He played in six games with four starts for the Lions this season, totaling six tackles (four solo), before he was released on Oct. 25, 2018. Williams originally entered the NFL as a first-round pick (28th overall) by Denver in the 2013 NFL draft.
Hull has played in 35 career games with four starts for the Dolphins (2015-17) and totaled 42 tackles (27 solo), one interception, one pass defensed and one fumble recovery. He also has 27 career special teams tackles (19 solo) and finished third in the NFL with 18 special teams tackles in 2016. Hull was placed on injured reserve on Sept. 3, 2018 and has yet to appear in a game this season.
Washington cutting defensive tackle Stacy McGee.Washington’s doing big deals. Again.
Which means undoing previous big deals. Again.
PFT has confirmed Washington is releasing defensive tackle Stacy McGee.
Two years ago, he was signed to a five-year, $25 million contract, but they clearly preferred to allocate resources elsewhere.
After signing Landon Collins to a gigantic deal, some other outgoings were expected, and McGee appears to be the first. He played in eight games last year, after beginning the year on the PUP list following groin surgery.
The Washington Redskins let Michael Floyd and Pernell McPhee walk this offseason. The two of them ended up signing with the Baltimore Ravens.
The Redskins let a lot of players walk this offseason. A lot of attention was paid to the top talents that walked, including Preston Smith, Jamison Crowder, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and Ty Nsekhe but, the team lost some depth players as well.
However, the team lost some depth players as well, and there were some that were still lingering on the market. But over the past couple of days, the Baltimore Ravens scooped them up.
With the May 7 compensatory pick deadline passed, the Ravens decided to sign wide receiver Michael Floyd and edge rusher Pernell McPhee to contracts. Both spent one year, 2018 with the Redskins and McPhee is returning to the Ravens after leaving them following the 2014 season. Because of the deadline, neither player will impact the ‘Skins’ 2020 compensatory picks.
Of the two players, McPhee seems likely to have a bigger role. The Ravens lost some of their key edge rushers in the offseason including Za’Darius Smith and long-time Raven, Terrell Suggs. McPhee is familiar with the team and in his final season with the squad, he had a career-high 7.5 sacks. He can play on the edge and his strength-based attack should make him a decent rotational rusher, though he has slowed down in recent seasons.
As for Floyd, he will have a tougher time making the roster. He is one of many veterans fighting for a spot in a receiving corps that is unsettled but has four players drafted within the past two seasons vying for roles as well. Floyd could make the roster but the spot could also go to a guy like Seth Roberts. And even if Floyd makes it, he’ll just be a depth player.
Despite these losses, the Redskins won’t miss either player too much. McPhee played less than 20 percent of the defensive snaps, ceded time to Cassanova McKinzy near the end of the year (before McKinzy’s injury), and failed to log a sack. Meanwhile, Floyd played about 34 percent of the offensive snaps and logged 10 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. His production can be replaced by a younger player like Terry McLaurin or Kelvin Harmon.
At this point in the offseason, these are just bookkeeping notes, and these veterans are now not available to be signed if the ‘Skins need depth at either position. But considering that they didn’t want either player on their 90-man roster, they were always unlikely to make the team anyway.
The Washington Redskins have had trouble finding effective running back depth since the departure of Alfred Morris. For 2019, it looks like they have the most depth they’ve had in recent years.
For the better part of the last five years, the Redskins have had an issue at the running back position. After Alfred Morris left the team in free agency following the 2015 campaign, the team was unable to find a truly solid starting option. Matt Jones had issues fumbling the ball and was eventually cut. Rob Kelley couldn’t stay healthy and lacked game-breaking ability. And over the course of the last two years, the team had issues staying healthy at the position.
But heading into 2019, things are looking up for the once-embattled group.
As of right now, the Redskins have seven running backs on their roster excluding fullback/H-back Elijah Wellman. Of the seven on the roster, five have a legitimate case to be a part of a rotation in the NFL, and you could make the case for a few of them as starters.
The most notable of the potential starters are Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson. Guice, of course, has yet to play a down in the NFL after suffering a torn ACL during the preseason. The second-round pick in 2018 has a ton of potential and was regarded as one of the top backs in the ’18 class. He fell to the Redskins’ pick in Round 2, and they were lucky to retain his services. Provided that he can stay healthy, he could emerge as a more-than-solid starter for the Redskins.
Meanwhile, much has been made of the 34-year-old Peterson’s effort last year, as he went for over 1,000 yards and showed his elusiveness in his first year with the ‘Skins. He defied expectations and the future Hall of Fame player seems to still have juice left, something that few thought was possible after an awful 2017 campaign. Now, he will get a chance to continue to play a role and could split carries with Guice early in the season as Guice gets acclimated to the NFL.
Elsewhere on the roster, Bryce Love could have a chance to become a lead-back at some point in his career. While his final season at Stanford was good, a torn ACL caused him to drop to the fourth round of the draft. However, the previous year he had been a 2,000-yard runner and potential first-round option. He has true three-down ability and should be a good pass catcher at the next level. He may not be healthy enough to start the season on the active roster, but in late 2019 and moving forward, Love could end up emerging as a quality piece in the ‘Skins’ backfield. So, he can’t be discounted as a future starter and, if not, an excellent part of a one-two punch.
As the NFL lexicon slowly morphs into everyday language, more and more Redskins fans want to know if the team will do anything before June 1.
The NFL allows for some salary cap relief if a team releases a player from his contract after June 1. In fact, the league allows teams to designate two players as “post June 1” cuts even before free agency opens. That designation lets a team split the dead money remaining on a released player’s contract over two years rather than taking the immediate dead money hit on that year’s salary cap, freeing up money in March for free agency.
Hope that makes sense. For more, click here.
On a local level, despite some ballooning contracts for veterans, the Redskins did not release any players with a post-June 1 designation prior to free agency. And now, as the calendar turns to June, there appear to be no cuts on the horizon.
There has been some speculation that veteran cornerback Josh Norman could be a June cap casualty. Checking in with one team official, the word was there had not been discussions about releasing Norman.
The 31-year-old corner is slated to count $14.5 million against the cap this season, and none of it is guaranteed. If the Redskins released Norman in June, they would save $11.5 million against the cap and eat $3 million in dead money this season and next. Had they released him before June, or without the June 1 designation, those numbers would have been less advantageous for the club, including the full $6 million dead cap hit this year.
But, for all the fans that question if Norman has lived up to his Redskins contract, ask this question instead:
What do the Redskins look like at cornerback without Norman?
He might not be the best corner in the NFL, but Norman has been good in Washington. He accounted for seven turnovers last season and has missed just two games in three years with the ‘Skins.
After Norman, the Redskins have Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Adonis Alexander, Greg Stroman, Danny Johnson, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Jimmy Moreland. All have promise, some much more than others, but also have questions.
Dunbar - Looked great early in 2018 before a mysterious nerve injury ended his season. Has not been seen running full speed since though Redskins officials say he's in good shape for Richmond.
Moreau - Played well at times in 2018, but doesn't look like a natural slot CB. Could 2019 be a breakthrough year?
Alexander - Showed little in 2018, but has every measurable for a star CB. Lottery ticket.
Stroman - Good games and bad last season as a rookie, smart player.
Johnson - Started strong, ended poor. Hardly a roster lock.
DRC - Last seen retiring from football in Oakland. If he's all the way in, versatile veteran presence the 'Skins could use. If he's not, probably doesn't last through Richmond.
Moreland - 7th-round pick out of JMU. Has shown nose for football in OTAs. Also a 7th-round rookie out of JMU. Small, needs to show the same ability in full contact as he does in non-contact drills in May. Real chance for roster spot and maybe more if his level of play doesn't drop with pads on.
After reading that, it’s easy to understand why team officials in Ashburn aren’t talking about cutting Norman. Put simply, if the Redskins were going to cut Norman, they would have months ago and already reaped the post-June 1 cap advantage. They didn’t.
That doesn’t mean the situation won’t change. Things change in the NFL.
After losing Reuben Foster to injury, the ‘Skins might look for help at inside linebacker. Should a quality veteran come available, maybe Bruce Allen does look to create salary cap space.
If that happens, a veteran like Norman or tight end Vernon Davis could be in a different situation. Davis is set to count $6.3 million against the Redskins salary cap in 2019, and if the team cuts him in June, they would free up nearly $5 million in cap space.
Inside linebacker isn’t the only spot Washington could look for a new player or an upgrade. If a veteran pass rusher or free safety popped up, that could be intriguing. There are also the unforeseen situations that pop up from time to time.
Nobody saw the Redskins landing DeSean Jackson in 2014, but they did. And nobody saw the Redskins landing Josh Norman in 2016, but they did.
That brings things full circle to Norman, and to the June 1 cuts.
If Washington wanted to cut Norman and get the salary cap advantage of a post June 1 designation, the organization could have done that already.
A quick look at why Ryan Anderson might be a good fit on the Atlanta Hawks during the 2019 NBA offseason.
Ryan Anderson never once wanted to stop.
Even when opportunities didn’t result in anything over the last year with trips to camps with the New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars, Anderson remained focused on his dreams of punting in the NFL.
That meant plenty of trips to an uneven soccer field at a church in the Grand Rapids area last fall working on his punting skills using his car head lights as lighting after getting done with long days of work as a technical sales engineer.
And it meant using the light on his phone to find the balls and even shoveling his own path at times when snow covered the field.
All of the time spent still pushing toward his dream paid dividends this weekend for the DeWitt graduate, who was signed by the New York Giants on Sunday after a strong showing at a rookie mini camp.
“It was a surreal moment,” Anderson said. “I was taken a back for sure and definitely had some tears of joy.”
Anderson got a call from the Giants a few weeks ago and knew it was an opportunity he had to make the most of – especially since he had been out of football the last year following a 2017 season where he earned first team all-Big Ten recognition while punting at Rutgers.
Anderson, who averaged 44.4 years per punt during his lone season at Rutgers, had a brief stint trying out with the Birmingham Iron in January in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football league in addition to his trips to NFL training camps over the last year.
But even when the previous opportunities didn’t pan out, Anderson knew he had to keep pushing because of the support system around him.
“I knew I wanted to play in a professional football league and the NFL,” Anderson said.
“It got hard though. Every time it got hard I looked at the people around me like my family, girlfriend and coaches. They were the ones that made it all worth it just to keep going. I knew that if I pushed through long enough that finally I’d catch a break. I was lucky enough and fortunate enough to find that break.”
I know what you’re thinking: “In the 2019 NBA offseason, you want an up-and-coming franchise like the Atlanta Hawks to trade for a notably unplayable defender on a team that is already not particularly well-known for its defensive personnel? Why?”
Perhaps I’ve been swayed by basketball writer Kirk Goldsberry’s new book Sprawlball, which begins with a lengthy dissection of the impact that Ryan Anderson had on the 2016-17 Houston Rockets. It is certainly true that Anderson is one of the few players – at any position – that can truly warp defenses with his spacing due to his ability to spot up from way, way downtown.
In his career per Basketball Reference, Anderson is a 38 percent three-point shooter on a 53.4 percent three-point attempt rate. This begs the question: Why would the Hawks want to add a one-way player like Anderson to a team with already limited defensive personnel?
First-year head coach Lloyd Pierce implemented a modern offensive system in his first year and also prioritized playing an extremely fast pace – two things that Anderson would benefit from, clearly. Despite having a horrendous season in limited action with the Suns and Heat, his time with the Rockets should be a harbinger for what his role might be with the Hawks.
Trae Young attracts a lot of attention, much like James Harden did when Anderson was on the Rockets, which means that Anderson will have an ocean of space around him to spot up from deep as a 6-foot-10, 240-pound big man.
In this case, the Atlanta Hawks would be hedging that offense can outweigh defense – especially in the regular season – and lead to the next step in General Manager Travis Schlenk’s master rebuild plan in the 2019 NBA offseason.
The Redskins roster isn’t where it needs to be for championship contention, but it is certainly better than it has been in recent years. Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how talent depleted Washington became after the RGIII trade, which coincided with some long-time players reaching the end of their careers like Santana Moss and DeAngelo Hall.
The ‘Skins then used their first first round pick in years on Brandon Scherff in 2015, who plays a non-premium position, and their second on Josh Doctson in 2016, who didn’t play his rookie year and has played far below a first round level since returning to the field.
However, the recent drafts and a few strong free agent signings have set the Redskins up to have a chance to have real competition in training camp amongst real NFL players. Over the weekend, I decided to separate roughly 70 of the Redskins players into five categories in terms of their likelihood to make the roster come the fall.
As we quickly found out, injuries will effect this. Reuben Foster was one of three locks I had at linebacker. Now that he’s done for the season with a torn ACL, it actually creates more locks in his absence.
Here are the five categories, followed by the defense. We’ll do the offense tomorrow.
Lock – 95% or higher chance of making the roster. Barring a bizarro world camp, a player with this designation is making the team.
Almost Certain – These are players I feel really good about, but it’s not completely far-fetched that they don’t make the team given a plausible set of circumstances
Toss Up – I initially didn’t have this category, but quickly realized that was a mistake. There are some players that truly are up in the air and they don’t properly fit in the categories above or below.
Probably Not – Players in this category probably won’t make the team, but could be next in line if there’s an injury. They’re also great practice squad candidates.
No Shot – Barring the same bizarro world circumstances that would cause a lock to not make it, these guys are out.
Jon Allen – Lock
Daron Payne – Lock
Matt Ioannidis – Lock
Tim Settle – Lock
Caleb Brantley – Almost Certain
JoJo Wicker – Probably Not
This was far and away the easiest group to designate, for the simple reason that we know so much about who the studs are. Allen, Ioannidis and Payne are three of the 10 best players on the team. Settle came on strong last year and looks to have been a steal in the fifth round of the 2018 draft.
Brantley is the wild card. If he just doesn’t have it in camp, he could get booted for a younger player with some potential, but he was a first round-caliber talent they brought in for a reason. Wicker was on the practice squad last year and could wind up there again.
Ryan Kerrigan – Lock
Ryan Anderson – Lock
Montez Sweat – Lock
Cassinova McKinzy – Almost Certain
Jordan Brailford – Toss Up
The Redskins were really high on McKinzy last year. He’s still recovering from the shoulder injury that ended his season last year in Dallas, but assuming he comes back he joins the three locks as a pass rusher and completes this group.
Brailford could steal his spot or could make it as a fifth OLB depending on how the roster needs to be constructed. As the second-to-last pick in the draft, they might be able to get him through to the practice squad if there’s no room for him on the 53.
Shaun Dion Hamilton – Lock
Cole Holcomb – Lock
Mason Foster – Lock
Josh Harvey Clemons – Lock
Mason Foster went from toss up to lock the second Reuben Foster went down. Harvey-Clemons also went from almost certain to lock. There will be someone else at this position who emerges too, and it will simply come down to a numbers game to figure out how much depth they want/need here. The talk at inside linebacker is no longer about who makes the team. It’s about who will play and in what roles.
Josh Norman – Lock
Quinton Dunbar – Lock
Fabian Moreau – Lock
Jimmy Moreland – Lock
Adonis Alexander – Almost Certain
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – Toss Up
Greg Stroman – Toss Up
Danny Johnson – Probably Not
Deion Harris – Probably Not
Admittedly, thinking about the defensive backs and wide receivers was what gave me the idea for this exercise. There are a lot of names on that list, and there’s simply not enough room for all of them. Add in the question mark at safety opposite Landon Collins, and this gets really interesting really fast.
Danny Johnson looks to be the odd man out after Greg Stroman was simply better than him last year and then the ‘Skins drafted Jimmy Moreland. I had Moreland as “almost certain” over the weekend, but after one day of OTA’s, that felt stupid and I’m changing him to a lock. That makes four in a position group where there are typically six players.
Adonis Alexander would have to be a disaster in camp to not make it, leaving one spot for Stroman and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie. That brings us back to the safety dilemma. Could DRC or Alexander wind up playing some safety? Both have in the past, with DRC having done so in the NFL and Alexander at Virginia Tech. That leaves Johnson and Harris as practice squad candidates, but no room on the 53.
Landon Collins – Lock
Deshazor Everett – Lock
Montae Nicholson – Almost Certain
Troy Apke – Almost Certain
Jeremy Reaves – Probably Not
JoJo McIntosh – Probably Not
Collins might be the lockiest of locks on the entire roster considering the contract he was just given, and Everett is a special teams ace who is 100% making this team as Collins’ back-up. If Nicholson had any real competition, he would be a toss up, but it’s really as simple as “Who else?” Apke is the next guy up at free safety, and his rookie year left mountains to be desired.
Reaves and McIntosh get mentioned because if someone gets hurt, they’re next and probably in that order. Reaves feels more real as a guy who spent most of last year here on the practice squad, but I sincerely wonder if the DRC or Alexander options would be seen above one of the younger guys should something happen to Nicholson.