Dallas Cowboys defensive end Dorrance Armstrong (92) is seen during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Saturday, December 24, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. Dallas won 40-34.
Tuesday was a tough day for the former Jayhawks, as only one of the nine current NFL players entering the league from Kansas made the 53-man roster after the start of the season.
Defensive end Dorrance Armstrong, who played in 76 games and started 13 during the first five seasons of his career in Dallas, remains locked in with the Cowboys after an 8.5 sacks campaign in 2022. Armstrong followed a historic stint at KU that included his first team for the Jayhawks. – He was named Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year in the preseason with a fourth-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft and has remained a safe haven in the league ever since.
The same cannot be said of fellow KU products, with between zero and five years of NFL experience and varying levels of past success, that their pro teams deemed expendable, or at least not immediately necessary, at the deadline yet. Tuesday afternoon. Hakeem Adeniji, Earl Bostick Jr., Kieron Johnson, Kwame Lassiter II, Lonnie Phelps, Caleb Sampson and Stephen Sims Jr. have been cut. Bostick and Johnson were reportedly signed to the practice squads on Wednesday.
Bostick, an undrafted rookie free agent who spent training camp with Armstrong and the Cowboys after being paid $220,000 guaranteed to join the team, signed to the Dallas practice squad Wednesday morning, Dallas Morning News first reported.
The Philadelphia Eagles beat Johnson in the sixth round of the 2022 draft, and he played in 16 games with a total of eight tackles last year. Seven of those came on special teams, which was tied for second on the team, and as a linebacker by trade, he played just 18 defensive snaps. Johnson recorded two tackles in the preseason opener against Baltimore but missed time in training camp due to an appendectomy. Philadelphia Inquirer, citing league sources. mentioned Johnson will rejoin the Eagles on their practice squad as well.
The rest of the players must be equally valid candidates for the practice squad or other active roster in the league. The expansion of NFL practice squads to 16 players and expansion of practice squad eligibility (six of those players can have any level of experience; they do not necessarily need to be juniors) increased opportunities for roster bubble talent.
Players with less than four years of service time are given waivers, and NFL teams had until 11 a.m. Central time Wednesday to file waiver claims. After that, they can start signing players to coach the teams.
It’s worth noting that former KU player Khalil Herbert, a third-year player, still plays for the Chicago Bears after amassing 731 yards during the 2022 season. However, Herbert’s exceptional 2020 season as a graduate transfer to Virginia Tech is what turned him around. To one of the best prospects in the NFL.
The only other Jayhawk in the NFL last season, according to Pro Football Reference, was Chris Harris Jr., who played in 10 games for New Orleans in his 12th professional season overall. Harris, who recently spoke while unveiling plans for the new Kuwait University stadium, is currently a free agent.
Sims, a native of Houston, has returned to his hometown with hopes of joining the Texans’ roster. He entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2019 and spent four years between Washington, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh. Sims caught four touchdowns as a junior and also scored in the 2020 playoffs but has seen his chances diminish in recent years, although he did serve as a running back for the Steelers in 2022. He had three catches for 29 yards and various return opportunities for the Texans on the season preparatory.
Adeniji and Lassiter both returned to camp with the Cincinnati Bengals after an earlier time with the team. Adeniji, part of the Bengals’ criticized offensive line over the past few seasons, started 22 games between the regular season and the playoffs, including all 13 games he appeared in during their 2021 run to the Super Bowl. Lassiter, the son of a 10-year NFL player and brother of current KU cornerback Kwinton Lassiter and BYU wideout Darius Lassiter, signed with Cincinnati as an undrafted free agent wideout in 2022. He had six catches for 33 yards in the Bengals’ opener pre-season this year but only one in the next two combined.
Wise, who like Sims was on his fourth team in five seasons, caught attention this preseason when he partnered with Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones, who continues to hold out in pursuit of a new contract. He initially signed with the Chiefs in January, was released, and then re-signed to a reserve/futures contract shortly before the Super Bowl. Wise has recorded four tackles, three for a loss, this pre-season. (By the way, Kansas City also waived Echo Boy-Doo, a Lawrence High graduate who attended Kansas State.)
Undrafted rookie free agent Phelps, a defensive lineman, declared for the draft after one season at KU rather than use his fifth year of eligibility. He had a solid pre-season with nine total tackles, three passes defensed, and a sack.
This story will be updated with new information about coaching squad signings.
Missouri State will provide a true test of KU’s defensive improvement
KU women’s basketball reveals full non-conference schedule