Ravens Eyeing Veteran WRs?

The Ravens’ depth at receiver is shallow, especially following the trade of Marquise Brown. However, it sounds like reinforcement could be coming. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic writes that the Ravens “will sign or acquire a veteran receiver at some point before training camp.”

2021 first-round pick Rashod Bateman is likely the only receiver with a secure spot on the depth chart. Otherwise, the receivers room consists of unproven players, including Devin Duvernay, James Proche II, Tylan Wallace, Binjimen Victor, Jaylon Moore, and a whopping six undrafted rookies. Of course, the team’s passing attack is also highlighted by tight end Mark Andrews.

While Zrebic expects a transaction, he does note that the team isn’t operating like an organization that’s “desperate” for a receiver. That’s likely a “vote of confidence” for the team’s current crop of wideouts, and while the team may be seeking additional depth, they’ll still be heavily relying on the receivers who are currently on the roster.

“We like our receivers, we do,” DeCosta said recently (via Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun). “We’ve seen growth, we’ve seen our guys mature and develop. … We will add players to the mix. We’re doing that right now, and we’ll look at veteran players as well. It wasn’t really by design that we wanted to create a hole on the team. I don’t look at it that way, but in this business, you pivot, you dodge, you weave — you’re always really going to be chasing a need. Every team in the league would tell you that you’re chasing needs.”

What veterans could Baltimore turn to? The Ravens really haven’t been definitively connected to any free agents, but it’s worth noting that the organization pursued veteran T.Y. Hilton last offseason. The long-time Colts wide receiver remains unsigned. Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., Emmanuel Sanders, and DeSean Jackson are other veteran FA wideouts.

Latest On RB Todd Gurley

Todd Gurley hasn’t seen the field for an NFL game since January, 2021…and that’s fine with the veteran running back. Speaking with Keith Kocinski of NBC LX (h/t to Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com), Gurley admitted that he never had the itch to play during the 2021-22 campaign.

“There was never not one time where I watched a game and was like, ‘I wish I was out there,’” Gurley said. “I appreciated my time in the league and I’ve done things I could have never even dreamed about.”

Of course, the former Offensive Player of the Year acknowledged that there’s still a chance he could find himself back on an NFL roster.

“I like doing stuff on my time,” the RB said. “I like doing whatever I want to do. I’ve never been the one that liked to be controlled. I like to be in control of my own path. That’s the best thing about being in the position I’m in. If I want to try to play again, I can try to pursue that. Or if I don’t, I can just relax and chill at the house and spend a lot more time with my family because that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. And then at the end of the day, still becoming a businessman and still venturing off in that next phase of my life.”

Gurley had a prolific two-year stretch with the Rams (2017-2018) that saw him compile 3,924 yards from scrimmage and 40 touchdowns in 29 games. His numbers dipped considerably in 2019, and he was released by the Rams the following offseason. He caught on with the Falcons for the 2020 campaign but continued to regress, finishing with 842 yards from scrimmage (3.8 yards per touch) and nine touchdowns.

Despite the numbers, the veteran still managed to generate some interest last offseason, meeting with the Lions and Ravens. A deal never materialized, and Gurley ended up sitting out the entire 2021 campaign. The RB is still only 27 years old (28 in August), but he’ll likely have to wait for injuries to start hitting before he gets another chance at a gig.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/23/22

We’ve got a number of minor NFL transactions to pass your way:

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Washington Commanders

Latest On Browns, Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield is not planning to show for Browns OTAs, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The Browns are surely fine with this, given the distraction their former starting quarterback could cause alongside their new one. Cleveland’s OTAs begin Tuesday.

The team has hung onto Deshaun Watson‘s disgruntled predecessor two months after his trade request surfaced, and Panthers and Seahawks interest has not reached the point where the NFC teams are satisfied with how much the Browns are willing to pay to move Mayfield off their roster. Cleveland has, however, expressed a willingness to pay a “good chunk” of Mayfield’s fully guaranteed fifth-year option salary ($18.9MM), Albert Breer of SI.com notes.

A game of chicken may well be taking place between the Browns and the NFC teams, whose quarterback depth charts have drawn consistent scrutiny. Carolina came closest to acquiring Mayfield, entering into trade talks with Cleveland, but it is rolling out a Sam DarnoldMatt Corral competition. Seattle is going with a Drew LockGeno Smith setup. Neither group inspires at this point, and the Browns may be betting one of the NFC teams agrees to their terms to finally upgrade at the game’s top position. But the chance the Seahawks or Panthers could land Mayfield for the league minimum exists. That has not enticed either to trade a low-level draft asset for the former No. 1 overall pick.

Because offset language exists in Mayfield’s rookie contract, he would not be able to double dip in salary this year. But if the Browns release him, the former Heisman winner could stick his old team with a $17MM-plus bill by signing for the league minimum ($1.1MM). As such, the Panthers or Seahawks agreeing to pay even a third of Mayfield’s current $18.9MM salary would mean decent savings for the Browns.

OTAs and minicamp could play a major role in how the Panthers and Seahawks proceed, as a healthy version of Mayfield would stand to be an improvement for both teams. Mayfield’s health and the presence of fellow trade-block resident Jimmy Garoppolo still impacts this saga as well. Seattle’s minicamp is scheduled to wrap up June 9; Carolina’s is slated to conclude its offseason program June 16. If neither team blinks, the Browns — who are likely to excuse Mayfield from their mandatory minicamp — will be forced into a decision ahead of training camp. Mayfield is expected to be ready for full participation, following his January shoulder surgery, by training camp, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes.

Eagles Claim CB Jimmy Moreland

The Eagles have added a second veteran cornerback in two weeks, with the latest also being a former NFC East cover man. Following James Bradberry‘s Philadelphia signing, the team claimed Jimmy Moreland off waivers.

Houston waived Moreland on Sunday, doing so after claiming him just before last season. A James Madison alum who became a Washington seventh-round pick in 2019, Moreland has not yet made it to free agency, being claimed twice. One season remains on Moreland’s twice-passed-around rookie contract.

Moreland, who intercepted a school-record 18 passes at James Madison and scored six defensive touchdowns, started five games for Washington in both the 2019 and ’20 seasons. He intercepted a pass in 2020 and allowed just a 74.1 rating while in coverage that season. Washington waived Moreland with an injury designation in 2021, leading to a Texans claim. He played in seven games and saw only eight defensive snaps with Houston last season.

The 5-foot-11 defender profiles as an option in the slot, with The Athletic’s Zach Berman noting he may represent competition for Josiah Scott to become Avonte Maddox‘s inside backup (Twitter link). If nothing else, Moreland provides more experience to a cornerback group that lacked it beyond Maddox and Darius Slay last week. Tay Gowan, Zech McPhearson and Kary Vincent were 2021 draftees; Gowan and Vincent did not see much playing time as rookies.

To make room for Moreland on their offseason roster, the Eagles waived defensive end Joe Ostman with a failed-physical designation.

Kyler Murray Skipping Cardinals’ OTAs

The Kyler Murray-Cardinals standoff calmed down around the draft, after the situation escalated in the weeks preceding it. But the Pro Bowl quarterback will stay away from his team while it is free to do so.

As the Cardinals begin their first set of OTAs this week, their centerpiece player did not report. Murray will not attend this week’s set of OTAs, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Given this offseason’s developments, it would be a surprise if Murray showed for the team’s final two sets of OTAs — June 1-3 and June 6-9 — absent an extension.

Although Kliff Kingsbury said he expects Murray to be at the team’s mandatory minicamp next month, all remains quiet on the contract front, Schefter adds. Murray’s camp has applied some pressure on the team to hammer out an extension, first seeking one before the draft. With that in the rear-view mirror, Murray can stay away from the Cards’ workouts for a bit.

While minicamp would be the next notable chapter here, training camp represents the point when this becomes a true stalemate. The 2020 CBA prevents teams from waiving fines for camp holdouts, which would put Murray to a test. The former No. 1 overall pick is attached to a $965K base salary this year, though he is playing out a contract that contained $35MM guaranteed. Murray has a bit more in the bank than most rookie-contract players, making a potential holdout more realistic than it otherwise would. The Cards also picked up his fully guaranteed fifth-year option — worth $29.7MM — for 2023.

For all the drama surrounding Murray’s future in Arizona, the fourth-year passer indicated last month he is not seeking to be traded. But he has long aimed for an extension ahead of this season. The team has kicked the can down the road a bit, with owner Michael Bidwill pointing to recent summer extensions for Patrick Mahomes (July 2020) and Josh Allen (August 2021) as a reason Murray should be patient. Kingsbury said Monday the team has not changed any plans regarding Murray being its long-term QB. The Cardinals, who have had just one quarterback start more than five seasons since relocating in 1988 (Jake Plummer, from 1997-2002), will soon be tested on the extension matter. The Browns’ Deshaun Watson deal made sure of that.

Jaguars’ Travis Etienne Cleared To Practice

Travis Etienne missed the entirety of his rookie season, but there is further reason for optimism that he will be available at the beginning of the 2022 campaign. The running back has been cleared to practice in full, as detailed by Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk

Head coach Doug Pederson confirmed that Etienne will be “set to work without restrictions” when OTAs begin this week. That will be a welcomed sign for the 2021 first-rounder, whom the team selected with the hopes of continuing the success he had with quarterback Trevor Lawrence at Clemson. A Lisfranc injury cost him his entire rookie campaign, however, and the team’s offense finished with the lowest point total in the league.

The 23-year-old provided an encouraging update in February, when he first began working out again. That pointed to a recovery in time for at least training camp, which would of course have a significant effect on the team’s running game and re-vamped offense in general. With James Robinson having suffered an Achilles injury in December, Etienne would likely be in line for a starter’s workload right away in 2022.

There were more positive signs in April, when Etienne returned to on-field drills. At that time, he confirmed that his recovery was still headed in the right direction. “If I didn’t know I had a screw in my foot, I couldn’t tell”, he said, adding that he was leaning towards having the screw removed. Regardless of his decision on that front, his return to full on-field work will provide Pederson with another intriguing young option as the Jaguars look to take a step forward in 2022.

Colts To Sign QB Nick Foles

Days after it came out that the sides were nearing a deal, the Colts are indeed signing veteran quarterback Nick Foles. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reports (on Twitter) that Foles has agreed to terms on a two-year contract with Indianapolis. 

It was reported last week that the Colts were open to the prospect of adding a veteran to their QB room. Many believed that the signal-caller they would be most interested in would be Foles, given his connection to head coach Frank Reich. It was during their time together with the Eagles that Foles led the team to a Super Bowl title. He recently said, “I learned more with [Reich] and that staff in that season in 2017 than I ever have”.

Days later, it came out that the 33-year-old was nearing a deal with the Colts. When asked about the possibility of adding the familiar face, Reich said, “we’re not in a rush. There is a timing to the way things go, and the way the roster is put together, that is very intentional.” Now, almost immediately after those comments, the two have been reunited.

Foles most recently had a two-year stint in Chicago after a disappointing season spent in Jacksonville. He made seven starts in 2020, but was relegated to the No. 3 role this past year behind rookie Justin Fields and fellow veteran Andy Dalton. At the end of April, he was released, opening the door to this signing. The Colts had competition for his services, however, as ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler tweets that the Eagles were “involved” in Foles’ free agency leading up to his decision to join the former.

In Indianapolis, Foles will provide experienced depth behind Matt Ryan, whom the team has stated a desire to maintain as their No. 1 for multiple years. Should anything happen to him, Reich will now be able to lean on a trusted former colleague for at least the immediate future.

Fox Considering Drew Brees For Broadcasting Role

Retired quarterback Drew Brees has made headlines recently, hinting at a potential return to the NFL. The far likelier career move he could be making, though, would involve changing broadcast networks. Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports (on Twitter) that Brees is “a possibility” to work as an analyst for Fox Sports. 

The 43-year-old listed a return to playing football as a possibility last week in a social media post. While few believed that to be a genuine statement of intent to sign with the Saints (or any other NFL team), it did bring up the question of his next career choice. It was known, at that time, that he would not be returning to NBC Sports, with whom he worked last season.

Not long after, it was reported that Brees recently underwent shoulder surgery, which essentially ended any chance of a comeback. While that news doesn’t guarantee that he will once again work as a TV analyst, it could nevertheless steer him towards a second attempt at doing so. As Marchand states, Fox “will not break the bank for him, but the opportunity will be there”.

Should Brees choose to make the move, he would slot in on the network’s No. 2 broadcast team. As he made clear in his recent tweet, however, there are a number of other opportunities he may prefer to explore. In the coming weeks and months, his future should become clearer.

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