NFL News and Rumors: Chiefs cut Anthony Hitchens as salary cap casualty, Texans re-signing Jon Weeks

With NFL free agency right around the corner and the 2022 NFL Combine not too far away, here are the latest news and rumors around the league from PFN National NFL Insider Aaron Wilson. Make sure to continue to check back here as we update you with the most recent NFL news and rumors on February 22, 2022.

NFL News and Rumors: Jon Weeks being re-signed by Texans

Veteran long snapper Jon Weeks has become a fixture on the Texans’ special teams, delivering accurate snaps for over a decade for punts and field goals.

The 36-year-old Weeks, a former Pro Bowl selection, will remain a core member of the Texans’ kicking game for his 13th NFL season. He is being re-signed to a one-year contract with the AFC South franchise, according to a league source not authorized to speak publicly.

Weeks impressed the coaching staff and front office with his skills, leadership, and dedication to fitness. He had a strong season snapping to punter Cameron Johnston and kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn. He’s been an iron man, playing through injuries to snap every game for the past 13 years.

Last season, Weeks played under a one-year, $1.212 million contract. The veteran minimum salary deal included a $1.075 million salary with $112,500 guaranteed and a $137,500 signing bonus.

Weeks is represented by veteran agent Darren DeLoatche of Ascension Enterprises Inc., who also represents Texans safety Jonathan Owens.

The longest actively tenured player in franchise history, Weeks joined the Texans in 2010 as an undrafted free agent from Baylor after a successful tryout. He is known for his consistency and velocity on his snaps. Weeks has played in a franchise-record 193 consecutive games, passing retired Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson for the most games in franchise history in 2020.

NFLPA issues memo to agents

In the wake of the NFL changing its plan of creating a bubble environment for draft prospects at the Scouting Combine, the NFL Players Association sent an email to registered agents applauding their efforts. Agents pushed back and threatened to have players not work out at the Combine and simply do medical exams and interviews.

Here is the email, obtained by Pro Football Network:

“Dear Contract Advisor,

Our union has long believed that the NFL Combine is not in the best interests of a non-unionized workforce. Prospective employees have no privacy protections, no professional standards for interviews and no ability to control their own professional destiny. In short, prospects are at the mercy of whatever program and schedule is imposed upon them. While we recommended that not participating in this year’s Scouting Combine was the best approach and several agents were on board with that recommendation, it is important to take this opportunity to commend you on showing leadership in both reviewing what was in the best interests of the players and also applying collective pressure on the NFL to change course.

We hope that this example of coordination and communication can lead to an ongoing conversation with the agent community this offseason about how to best position prospective players in the future.”

NFL News and Rumors: Chiefs cut Anthony Hitchens

The Kansas City Chiefs released linebacker Anthony Hitchens in a cap savings move. Hitchens’ release nets the Chiefs $8.4 million in cap space.

The veteran defender appeared in 15 games last season, recording 80 tackles and 1 interception. He had a career-high 135 tackles in 2018 and recorded 21 sacks, 1 interception, and 2 forced fumbles in 70 games and four seasons for Kansas City.

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to coach Anthony over the last four years,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said in a statement. “He’s as tough as they come in this league and is a team-first player. I appreciate the way he came to work, ready to do his part, but also his willingness to teach the younger guys around him.”

The Chiefs will go forward with younger players, including Willie Gay and Nick Bolton. That made Hitchens expendable, along with his big contract.

“He has all the intangibles and was an integral piece in our franchise winning a Super Bowl title,” general manager Brett Veach said in a statement. “We appreciate everything he’s done for the organization and wish him the best as he continues his career.”

Bengals hire James Bettcher, two other coaches

The Cincinnati Bengals made it official, hiring linebackers coach James Bettcher, secondary/cornerbacks coach Charles Burks, and assistant offensive line coach Derek Frazier.

Bettcher, 42, has nine years of NFL coaching experience, including as a defensive coordinator for the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals. His other NFL experience includes a stint as a defensive assistant/running game specialist for the San Francisco 49ers.

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Burks was the Miami Dolphins’ cornerbacks coach. Frazier, 48, comes to Cincinnati after spending 2021 as the offensive line coach at the University of Wyoming.

Meanwhile, the Bengals promoted Jordan Kovacs to assistant linebackers coach.  

As the league transitions into free agency, there will be plenty of news and rumors from around the NFL in regard to your favorite team. That includes chatter about players who will be on the move (or not) in free agency. Stay updated and keep track of Pro Football Network’s Top 50 Free Agent Rankings to better understand the free-agent market.

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