Wyoming NFL offseason outlook: Former Pokes, in-state stars make moves on pro football rosters

Former Wyoming football players Logan Wilson (left) and Chad Muma chat during Muma's Pro Day on March 29 in Laramie. (University of Wyoming Athletics)

There’s going to be a sizable Wyoming contingent in the NFL this fall.

Whether those players grew up in the Cowboy State or played for the University of Wyoming (or both), there’s plenty of in-state flair on the gridiron. As of this week, all NFL teams have now kicked off their team minicamps, signaling that the league’s offseason is slowly but surely winding down.

The star names with Wyoming connections are still around, of course, but there will be some familiar faces to UW fans trying to make an impact on their first go-rounds in the NFL this year — plus a few names that originally made their mark playing prep football in Wyoming.

Here’s a look at how the offseason has gone for every NFL player with a Wyoming tie — UW, high school or both — that’s currently contracted to a team in the league:

Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills (UW)

Once Laramie’s secret under center, Allen is no secret now, breaking the all-time record for passer rating in a single postseason with a 149.0 in this past year’s AFC playoffs. Nonetheless, it didn’t end in glory for the former Cowboy as Buffalo lost a classic Divisional Round game to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in January.

Allen, who turned 26 last month, still has plenty of time on his side toward finally making a deep playoff run. And after the Bills bolstered up their offense by picking up All-Pro guard Rodger Saffold, productive wideout Jamison Crowder and tight end O.J. Howard, it’s probably the best team he’s played with in his young pro career, too.

Logan Wilson, LB, Cincinnati Bengals (UW/Natrona County HS)

The Casper native made his hometown proud by being one of Cincinnati’s defensive anchors, which made a surprising run to the Super Bowl before being defeated by the Los Angeles Rams. Wilson had a breakout season in his second year with the Bengals, leading the team with 100 total tackles in the regular season despite missing four games.

The former Mustang and Cowboy turns 26 next month and is likely due for a big payday soon as he enters the third season of his four-year rookie deal. The trick for the Bengals front office is to make it work while expensive extensions also likely loom for the team’s other young stars, such as quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. For now, however, Wilson appears to be taking some time to rest up from offseason shoulder surgery — including by spending some time back in Casper earlier this year.

Chad Muma, LB, Jacksonville Jaguars (UW)

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The most high-profile rookie coming out of UW this season, Muma — a 6-foot-3 linebacker and son of former Cowboy Ty Muma — was picked 70th overall by Jacksonville in April’s NFL Draft, joining a former teammate in Laramie (Andrew Wingard) on a Jags defense that struggled mightily as the team finished with the league’s worst record.

Muma was picked at nearly the exact same spot his college predecessor in Wilson was two years earlier, though expectations for the Colorado native are likely tempered a bit by the fact Jacksonville is still trying to recover from the tumultuous tenure last year of now-fired coach Urban Meyer. Still, Muma was an Associated Press Third Team All-American for a reason.

Marcus Epps, S, Philadelphia Eagles (UW)

The former sixth-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings has seemingly carved out a spot in the Eagles’ rotation since being picked up by the team following its waiver claim for him in 2019, finishing with 62 tackles and an interception a year ago for Philly as it made the playoffs.

Epps now has an opportunity this upcoming season to lock down a starting role at free safety as the Eagles didn’t aggressively pursue a player at the position in either free agency or the draft. Still just 26, Epps could be an option for years to come, too.

Andrew Wingard, S, Jacksonville Jaguars (UW)

Wingard started in all 15 games he played for Jacksonville this past year, finishing with 88 total tackles and an interception despite the Jags’ poor play often overshadowing his on-field talent. A restricted free agent, Wingard signed a tender with Jacksonville that will keep him under contract in Florida for at least another season.

Though the Colorado native was the starter at safety last year, he’ll face stiff competition from the likes of Andre Cisco and Rayshawn Jenkins, who both additionally played in spurts last season.

Taven Bryan, DT, Cleveland Browns (Natrona County HS)

The former first-round pick and second team All-SEC defensive lineman at Florida moved on from Jacksonville in the offseason, signing a one-year deal with the Browns to give himself a fresh start after only starting 17 games with the Jags since being drafted by the team in 2018.

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Bryan is currently listed as a starter on Cleveland’s depth chart, being joined on the D-line by a pair of former No. 1 overall picks and All-Pro selections in Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney.

Chase Roullier, C, Washington Commanders (UW)

The 6-4 offensive lineman was amid his fourth season as a starter for Washington before being carted off the field with a leg injury in Week 8 prior to being put on injured reserve by the team, ending his season.

Now healthy, the 28-year-old Minnesotan should fit right back into the Commanders’ O-line as he blocks for a new quarterback, Carson Wentz, who Washington acquired in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts this offseason.

Carl Granderson, DE, New Orleans Saints (UW)

Granderson signed a two-year extension in March to remain with the Saints until 2024 following a year in which he tallied a career-high 25 tackles with three sacks. Entering his fourth season with New Orleans after being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2019, Granderson will aim to be a consistent starter on the D-line after starting just three of his 15 games played last year.

Mike Purcell, DT, Denver Broncos (UW)

Purcell, at 31, is one of the older former Pokes still playing in the NFL, but had a nice bounceback season with Denver in 2021 as he started a career-best 10 games at nose tackle. Still contracted with the Broncos until 2024, Purcell has managed to carve out a nice spot on an active roster again after various practice squad stops and a brief time in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football.

Jacob Hollister, TE, Las Vegas Raiders (UW)

Following a 2021 season in which he caught only nine balls for 55 yards on a miserable Jacksonville team, Hollister signed with the Raiders — his fourth team — in the offseason, bringing some depth to a tight-end room in Vegas that already features Pro Bowler Darren Waller and fourth-year pro Foster Moreau. The Raiders’ offense, which also acquired All-Pro wideout Davante Adams via a trade with the Green Bay Packers, should be loaded, meaning Hollister could find some playing time on special teams.

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Jacob Bobenmoyer, LS, Denver Broncos (Cheyenne East HS)

The former Thunderbird snaps balls for the NFL team closest to his hometown and gets paid six figures to do it. Not a bad gig. Bobenmoyer played all 17 games for the Broncos last year as he helped make sure that kicker Brandon McManus and punter Sam Martin were able to blast away timely kicks. He’s also become the first graduate of a Cheyenne high school to play in the NFL since Central grad Don Westbrook last did so in 1981.

Rico Gafford, CB, Green Bay Packers (UW)

Most notably used as a wide receiver by the Raiders in 2019 — where he caught two passes and recorded his first-ever NFL touchdown — the Packers announced that they would be transferring Gafford back to the cornerback position for 2022, the same role of which he played in Laramie. Gafford is currently under a reserve/future contract with Green Bay.

Tyler Hall, CB, Los Angeles Rams (UW)

Hall struggled to find the field for the Rams, only playing in four games in 2021, but at least got a Super Bowl ring to show for it as Los Angeles beat Cincinnati back in February. Originally claimed off waivers by the team after being released by the Atlanta Falcons last offseason, Hall signed a reserve/future contract with the Rams a few days after the team’s Super Bowl title.

Tanner Gentry, WR, Buffalo Bills (UW)

One of Allen’s favorite targets in Laramie hasn’t managed to break out in Buffalo like his college quarterback, having still not seen time on offense since his three starts with the Chicago Bears in 2017. A practice squad player for the Bills since early 2021, Gentry inked a reserve/future deal with the team in January after its playoff loss.

Garrett Crall, DE, Miami Dolphins (UW)

The first of four Cowboys that signed undrafted free agent deals out of this year’s draft class, Crall, a former walk-on in Laramie, started 40 of 54 games played for the Pokes as he earned an Honorable Mention All-Mountain West Conference selection his senior season. If Crall makes it on the field for Miami, he’ll be one of two former walk-ons at UW to currently be playing in the league, along with Epps.

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Keegan Cryder, C, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (UW)

A three-time All-Mountain West pick, Cryder was Mr. Consistent for the Cowboys over his four-year career, starting all 44 games that he played in including 40 consecutive starts to close out his time in Laramie. He’ll now have an opportunity to hold one of the most important jobs in football: protecting 44-year-old legendary quarterback Tom Brady, who came out of a brief retirement this offseason to return to Tampa Bay.

Logan Harris, OL, Detroit Lions (UW/Torrington)

If Harris can survive training camp plus preseason cuts and make it onto the field with the Lions, the Torrington native will be the first born in the city to play in a NFL game since the great Jerry Hill, who was on the Baltimore Colts for two Super Bowl appearances. Detroit gave the 6-3 in-stater a shot, signing Harris to an undrafted free agent deal not long after the NFL Draft ended.

Trey Smith, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (UW)

It’s a Pokes party in Jacksonville. Joining Wingard and Muma on the Jags is Smith, who’ll follow in his family’s footsteps as the son of former Jacksonville great Jimmy Smith, who was selected to five Pro Bowls at receiver as a member of the franchise in the late 90s and early 2000s. As for the younger Smith, he played 21 games and tallied 802 rushing yards for the Cowboys.

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