Texans make Watt NFL's highest-paid defender
J.J. Watt | HOU
(September 2, 2014 1:06 AM EDT)
Texans signed LE J.J. Watt to a six-year, $100 million extension, including $51.8 million guaranteed.
The new contract technically makes Watt the highest paid defender in league history, surpassing Bills DE Mario Williams' six-year, $96 million deal. Watt was already under Texans control through 2015 at a severely underpriced $8.88 million across two years, however, and it appears this extension was simply tacked onto the back end of his rookie deal. Watt spoke publicly about his desire for a long-term commitment from Houston in mid-August, which may have sparked discussions. Watt, 25, has 36.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles across his first three NFL seasons to go with an incredible 27 pass breakups, earning him the nickname "J.J. Swatt." Pro Football has graded Watt as its No. 1 overall 3-4 defensive end in back-to-back years. He's arguably -- or perhaps inarguably -- the best young player in football, regardless of position.
Chris Mortensen on Twitter
Kevin Minter practicing since August 25
Kevin Minter | ARZ
(September 1, 2014 11:37 PM EDT)
Cardinals ILB Kevin Minter has been practicing since August 25 after missing much of camp with a strained pectoral muscle.
He played in Arizona's preseason finale, grading out well per Pro Football Focus across 28 snaps. Minter is tentatively expected to open the season as a two-down player next to ex-Steeler Larry Foote. With one career NFL defensive snap to his name, Minter is a total wild card. He's not worthy of IDP investment, yet.
Raiders bench Menelik Watson
Menelik Watson | OAK
(September 1, 2014 10:27 PM EDT)
The Raiders have benched RT Menelik Watson.
They're turning back to 32-year-old Khalif Barnes after GM Reggie McKenzie's 2013 second-round pick, Watson, couldn't hold off the veteran journeyman. McKenzie's top-two picks in last year's draft were Watson and CB D.J. Hayden, the latter of whom entered the NFL with major injury concerns, and has stayed injured in the NFL. In 2013, Barnes graded out as PFF's No. 59 tackle among 76 qualifiers. This is a huge disappointment for the Raiders.
Vic Tafur on Twitter
Matt Schaub benched in Oakland
Matt Schaub | OAK
(September 1, 2014 10:20 PM EDT)
Matt Schaub has been benched.
This was an easy prediction a half-year ago. Schaub went Full-Delhomme over his final 16 games with Houston, posting a 13:19 TD-to-INT ratio with a mind-blowing five pick-sixes. Apparently, the only people on the planet who didn't realize he was finished work in the Raiders' front office -- which also traded for Matt Flynn last offseason. Oakland will move forward with second-round pick Derek Carr as its starter. All of Schaub's $8 million base salary for 2014 is guaranteed, so he remains a roster lock.
Chris Conte to be Bears' starting free safety
Chris Conte | CHI
(September 1, 2014 8:21 PM EDT)
Chris Conte is expected to be the Bears' starting free safety.
Conte suffered a concussion nine days ago and still needs to be cleared. But he's going to get the first crack at the job after rookie Brock Vereen failed to overtake him. Ryan Mundy is the strong safety, while Danny McCray will concentrate on special teams. Chicago's safety spots remain question marks.
Mike Wright on Twitter
McManus to be Broncos kicker with Prater out
Brandon McManus | DEN
(September 1, 2014 8:04 PM EDT)
Brandon McManus will be the Broncos' kicker during Matt Prater's four-game suspension.
GM John Elway expressed confidence in McManus after he missed 2-of-4 field goals in the Broncos' preseason finale. He was acquired from the Giants for a seventh-rounder. With McManus kicking for Denver's high-octane offense, he's at or near the top of the fantasy kicking group. McManus has a booming leg.
Jets release CB Ellis Lankster
Ellis Lankster | FA
(September 1, 2014 7:57 PM EDT)
Jets released CB Ellis Lankster.
Lankster played just 30 snaps on defense last season, but made 13 tackles on special teams and was a productive member of the kick coverage units. The Jets re-signed ILB A.J. Edds to take Lankster's roster spot.
David Ausberry (knee) back at practice Monday
David Ausberry | OAK
(September 1, 2014 7:00 PM EDT)
David Ausberry (knee) returned to practice Monday.
Ausberry missed a month after undergoing a scope on his left knee. He and Mychal Rivera will handle tight end duties for the Silver and Black.
Alouettes own Michael Sam's CFL rights
Michael Sam | FA
(September 1, 2014 6:46 PM EDT)
The Montreal Alouettes own free agent DE Michael Sam's CFL rights.
The Alouettes have contacted Sam about taking his talents north of the border. To this point, Sam isn't interested in playing in the CFL. He remains committed to finding a job either on an NFL 53-man roster or practice squad.
Ian Rapoport on Twitter
Patriots claim S Don Jones from Dolphins
Don Jones | NE
(September 1, 2014 6:22 PM EDT)
Patriots claimed S Don Jones off waivers from the Dolphins.
Jones, a 2013 seventh-rounder, doesn't play much defense, but is a special teams contributor. The Patriots now have six safeties on their 53-man roster.