Extra Points: Browns, Mayfield, Pats, Cards

New Browns general manager John Dorsey still has more than five months to formulate plans for the 2018 draft, but he’s watched six games of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and come away impressed, according to Peter King of TheMMQB.com“I want to be able to project and articulate my opinion when the time comes and it matters,” Dorsey said. “I saw [Mayfield] at Kansas this year, in the OU-Kansas game. You’re darn right he’s a good quarterback, no matter how tall he is. Some would say he’s too short, but I would ask you: How tall is Russell Wilson? How tall is Chase Daniel?” Cleveland appears to be lock to boast two top-10 selections in next year’s draft, meaning the club will have a chance at finding a franchise signal-caller.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell is not expected to return to the Patriots‘ active roster this year, tweets Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, which could have led to New England signing free agent pass-catcher Kenny Britt, opines Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Mitchell, a fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft, has been on injured reserve for the duration of this season while dealing with a knee injury. Britt, meanwhile, stands 6’3″, 223 pounds, meaning he’ll give the Patriots a larger presence on the outside. As Reiss notes, New England made a similar late-season addition a year ago, claiming physical wideout Michael Floyd off waivers for the stretch run.
  • Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians admitted he has “no idea” if Adrian Peterson will recover from his neck injury in time to play again this season, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Peterson, 32, has been up and down since being dealt to Arizona, as he’s topped 75 yards in half his six games as a Cardinal but failed to top two yards per carry in the other three contests. With a 6-7 record in a stacked NFC playoff picture, Arizona doesn’t have much to play for down the stretch, so it could conceivably shut Peterson down. He’s under contract for 2018 at a cost of $3.5MM, a figure that could be untenable given the return of David Johnson in 2018.
  • Rival teams are showing interest in Raiders practice squad defensive lineman Fadol Brown, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link). On Wednesday, the Raiders opted to promote Darius Latham to provide depth up front, meaning other clubs still have a chance to pounce on the Ole Miss product. Brown, an undrafted rookie, has spent the entirety of the 2017 campaign on Oakland’s practice squad. In a predraft profile, Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said Brown “sets a strong edge” in the run game but is a poor pass rusher due to “lazy” hands.
  • Former general manager Scot McCloughan‘s grievance against the Redskins could cause problems for the club’s scouting staff (every member of which could be asked to testify), a source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. If Washington’s personnel members favor McCloughan, they could potentially face retribution from current ream president Bruce Allen, but if the scouts speak in favor of the Redskins, they fear other teams — who possibly enjoy a relationship with McCloughan — may not hire them in the future, per Florio. The hearing for McCloughan’s grievance is set to begin next Monday, December 18.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 12/13/17

Today’s practice squad updates:

Arizona Cardinals

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Los Angeles Rams

  • Signed: CB Marcus Sayles

Oakland Raiders

  • Signed: DE Joby Saint Fleur

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

South Notes: Colts, Mariota, Bucs, Saints

Sunday’s snow game in Buffalo may end up costing Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri a significant amount of money, as Mike Wells of ESPN.com writes. Vinatieri has a clause in his contract that calls for him to earn a $500K bonus for converting 90% of his field goal attempts this season. After missing two field goals in a near blizzard against the Bills, Vinatieri’s field goal percentage now sits at just 88%, down from 95.6% entering Week 15. As Wells details, Vinatieri will need to hit at least five-of-five attempts during Indianapolis’ remaining three games in order to hit 90% again and reach his incentive threshold. Vinatieri, 44, is earning $2.75MM in base salary this year, and will become a free agent next spring.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two South divisions:

  • Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is still dealing with hamstring, leg, and ankle issues and could require surgery following the season, a source tells Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com. Mariota, who missed the tail end of the 2016 campaign after breaking his fibula, suffered a hamstring injury earlier this year, and the combination of those leg ailments are now affecting the Tennessee signal-caller. His recent performance is evidence of the problem, as Mariota hasn’t topped 200 yards passing in any of the Titans’ last three contests (while throwing for only two touchdowns against four interceptions). Tennessee still looks like a solid bet for a postseason berth — 81% per FiveThirtyEight — but the club could be held back by a hampered Mariota.
  • Although he initially feared he suffered a torn biceps in Week 14, Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy wants to play out the rest of the season, reports Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. McCoy has torn his biceps two other times during his NFL career, but he believes he’ll be able to play through the pain this time around. The Buccaneers are evidently willing to let him do so in what has become a lost campaign, as the club made a transaction on Tuesday without putting McCoy on injured reserve. Despite Tampa Bay’s problems on defense, McCoy has been as stout as ever, as he grades as the league’s No. 5 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus.
  • Defensive end Alex Okafor would like to re-sign with the Saints following a 2017 season that was shortened by injury, as he explains to Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com. Okafor, 26, inked one of the better one-year deals of the season, a $2MM pact that will allow him to hit free agency again in 2018. Before going down with a torn Achilles, Okafor had more than lived up to his contract, excelling against the run while also managing 4.5 sacks. He’d been a key contributor as New Orleans’ defense surprisingly improved from its awful 2016 standing.
  • The Colts should use their three remaining games to assess their young talent, argues Wells in a separate column. Now sitting with a 3-10 record, Indianapolis clearly isn’t in the playoff hunt, so the club can begin to see what kind of talent resides on the back end of its roster. One player who could conceivably see more time down the stretch is running back Marlon Mack, especially given that 34-year-old Frank Gore is coming off a 36-carry effort in Buffalo (and will now play on a short week).

Cardinals, Blaine Gabbert Talking Extension

The Cardinals have initiated extension discussions with quarterback Blaine Gabbert, according to Mike Jurecki of 98.7 FM (Twitter link).Blaine Gabbert (Vertical)

Arizona inked Gabbert, the 10th overall selection in the 2010 draft, to a one-year, minimum salary benefit this offseason, and given that he began the season as the club’s third quarterback behind Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton, the Cardinals likely didn’t envision Gabbert becoming their starter this year. But injuries to both Palmer and Stanton have forced Arizona to insert Gabbert into the starting lineup, and head coach Bruce Arians hasn’t dismissed the idea of using Gabbert as a starter in 2018.

Whether or not the Cardinals need Gabbert next season will likely hinge on Palmer’s retirement decision: the veteran signal-caller will turn 38 years old later this month, and has flirted with retirement in the past. If he returns in 2018, Palmer will almost certainly be Arizona’s starter, but if he hangs up his cleats, the Cards could use Gabbert as a low-cost insurance policy.

While Gabbert has clearly never lived up to his draft billing, he’s improved during his seven-year career. Among the 38 quarterbacks with at least 130 pass attempts in 2017, Gabbert ranks 22nd in yards per attempt, 26th in completion percentage, 28th in quarterback rating, and 31st in adjusted net yards per attempt.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks Work Out LB Mike Morgan

The Seahawks worked out veteran linebacker Mike Morgan on Wednesday before deciding to promote ‘fellow backer Paul Dawson from their practice squad, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com.Mike Morgan

Morgan, 29, was technically the Seahawks’ starting strongside linebacker in 2016, but he didn’t see a ton of snaps since the team spent so much time in the nickel formation. He was also held back by injury, spending eight weeks on injured reserve with a sports hernia. All in all, Morgan played only 138 defensive snaps and posted just ten tackles.

Morgan didn’t land a free agent contract immediately after the market opened, but after auditioning for the Jaguars and Saints, he ultimately landed back in Seattle, inking a deal in July. He didn’t make it past final roster cuts, however, and he hasn’t met with any other known clubs since being released in September.

The Seahawks are dealing with injuries to both Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, so it was imperative that the club added a bit of depth before Sunday’s contest against the Rams. While Dawson was chosen this time around, Seattle could conceivably circle back to Morgan later this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Eyeing Eliot Wolf, Nick Caserio For GM

Although former Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman is considered the favorite for the Giants’ GM position, the club also has other candidates in mind. Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf and Patriots vice president of player personnel Nick Caserio are on New York’s radar as it seeks to replace Jerry Reese, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.Eliot Wolf

[RELATED: Giants To Begin GM Interviews Next Week]

Wolf, 35, has long been considered a future general manager, but never actually interviewed for an opening until this year (partially because Green Bay denied permission for him to meet with Philadelphia and Detroit in recent hiring cycles). Although he was viewed as a strong contender for the 49ers’ GM job this offseason, Wolf ultimately accepted a new contract with the Packers. He subsequently interviewed with the Colts.

Caserio, who has spent the entirety of his 17-year NFL career in New England, has been linked to other vacancies in the past, but has never shown much willingness to leave Foxborough. Since 2014, he’s declined an offer from the Dolphins and an interview from the 49ers in order to remain with the Patriots. However, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com recently indicated Caserio is “willing to listen” to general manager proposals, and noted the Giants job could hold particular interest.

Each of the candidates for the New York gig could have potential head coaches in mind: a source tells Florio that Gettleman or Wolf could attempt to hire Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, while Caserio could unsurprisingly look at Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/13/17

Today’s minor moves:

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Los Angeles Rams

Oakland Raiders

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Bengals Meet With Rey Maualuga

Linebacker Rey Maualuga visited the Bengals on Wednesday, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Maualuga, of course, offers familiarity with the Bengals system and he could be an easy plug-in for the team’s injury-ravaged LB group. Rey Maualuge (Vertical)

The status of outside linebackers Nick Vigil (hamstring) and Vontaze Burfict (concussion) is up in the air as the Bengals get set for Sunday’s game against the Vikings. Rookies Carl Lawson and Jordan Evans will see an increase in playing time, but the presence of a vet like Maualuga would help solidify the team’s pass rush.

Maualuga joined the Dolphins in the summer, but he found himself without a job after he was arrested for battery at a nightclub in November. Prior to that incident, the linebacker made four starts for the Dolphins and played in six games.

The Bengals are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but they’re virtually out of the running. However, Maualuga can get himself back in the NFL conversation with a successful three-game audition.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Want Eli Manning Back In 2018

Giants owner John Mara says that he wants Eli Manning to remain with the Giants in 2018. However, he’s not guaranteeing his return either. Eli Manning (vertical)

[RELATED: Where Will Eli Manning Play In 2018?]

Yes,” Mara said when asked if he wants Manning to stay with the club. “But that’s a discussion that we’ll have.”

Earlier this month, there was an uproar amongst Giants fans when Manning was asked to take a backseat to Geno Smith. Days later, Mara sacked coach Ben McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese while interim coach Steve Spagnuolo reinstated Manning as the starter. With that in mind, it’s hard to tell whether Mara’s endorsement of Manning is a move to appease Giants fans in the short term or if he is genuinely interested in keeping the veteran under his current contract.

Manning has two years to go on his expensive deal and he’ll turn 37 shortly after the New Year. As it stands, he’s set to earn $10.5MM in 2018 and $11.5MM in 2019. If Manning is unwilling to take a hair cut, then the Giants could cut him loose before his $5MM roster bonus comes due in March.

If the season ended today, the Giants would own the No. 2 pick in the draft. From there, the team’s next GM (whoever he may be) will find most, if not all, of the class’ top QBs available. UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, and USC’s Sam Darnold are widely considered to be this year’s top prospects at the position.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Jets, Petty, Giants, Cowboys

This is Bryce Petty‘s last call to prove that he can be the Jets‘ quarterback in 2018 and beyond, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News writes.

I have all the confidence in the world in Bryce,” center Wesley Johnson said this week. “He’s great in the huddle, he’s great in the locker room and I know he works hard. He prepares like a starter every week, so I’m not worried about him at all. I’m actually excited for the opportunity that he could get.”

While some of Petty’s teammates believe in him, the same can’t necessarily be said for team brass. Petty was a draft pick of the previous regime and he has only a small sample of real NFL work to show the new bosses. In his latest outing against the Broncos, Petty failed to impress, so he’ll have to turn it up in the final games of the season if he wants to stay in New York.

Here’s more from the East divisions:

  • Ernie Accorsi is helping the Giants in their search for a new GM and if history is any indicator, it won’t take long to make a hire, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com writes. Raanan rightly notes that Accorsi drew from a small pool of candidates when he helped the Panthers (2013), Bears (2015), and Lions (2016) make their respective choices. In each case, a hire was made roughly one week after the conclusion of the regular season.
  • Giants owner John Mara says the league will discuss changes to the “composition” of the Compensation Committee at the league meeting in March (Twitter link via Jim Trotter of ESPN.com). The Compensation Committee is currently comprised of six owners with Falcons owner Arthur Blank acting as the group’s leader. Up until recently, Cowboys boss Jerry Jones served as an unofficial seventh member.
  • Jones says that the incentive-based structure of Roger Goodell‘s new contract will force him to deliver big results for the league. “If Roger comes in and knocked it out of the ballpark, he’ll really be rewarded,” the Cowboys owner told Jarrett Bell of USA Today. “You’ve got to hope that he has that kind of performance. There are no easy layups here on his bonuses. He’s got to come in there and lead the division in high scoring.” Goodell’s new contract is said to be 90% incentive-based and will take him through the 2024 season. After that, the NFL says Goodell will step aside.
  • The Patriots are not expecting wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell to return from IR in time for the end of the regular season or the playoffs (Twitter link via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald).

NFL News & NFL Rumors