Month: October 2020

Browns GM: We’re Keeping OBJ

Maybe the trade rumors Odell Beckham Jr. finally quiet down now. Believe him or not, Browns GM Andrew Berry says the wide receiver will be a “long-term member” of the organization. 

With all due respect to the question, I think this is actually a topic, at least from our perspective, there really hasn’t been a ton of ambiguity,” Berry told NFL Network. “We’ve been clear from the beginning that we view Odell as a fantastic player. We’re a better team with him on the field. We see him as a long-term member of the organization. We really like how he’s acclimated and adjusted with the new staff. So the rumors, that’s not something that we can control, but we’re happy to have him as a part of our organization.”

Beckham clashed with Freddie Kitchens last year, but he was far from the only player to butt heads with the coach. Between OBJ and Kitchens, only one of them made it to Year 2 in Cleveland – the new regime has spent the last few months shooting down trade speculation about the star receiver and Berry’s latest comments are his strongest yet.

Relatively speaking, OBJ fell flat last year. Still, he pulled off 74 catches for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns. Quirks and all, Beckham is one of the most talented offensive weapons in the NFL and the Browns have every reason to make things work.

The latest round of speculation pegged Beckham for the Vikings. The Browns flatly denied any talks with the Vikes and we’re inclined to believe them. After moving on from Stefon Diggs for salary and personality reasons, it would have made little sense to replace him with Beckham.

In short, I will just say it was completely false,” executive Paul DePodesta told reporters earlier this month. “It’s a frustrating a little bit. I think it is pretty clear we are trying to build at this point…The idea that we would take away from that core at this moment just does not make a whole lot of sense and is not really something that we are exploring at all.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins Sign 4 UDFAs

The Redskins have signed four undrafted rookie free agents, according to a team press release:

Montez could face long odds of making the Redskins’ roster with Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen already under contract (not to mention Alex Smith), but he’s still a prospect to keep an eye on. At 6’5″, he has the size that pro scouts drool over for quarterbacks. He was also a three-sport standout coming out of high school; his athleticism is a major plus, even though he didn’t do quite enough for the Buffaloes to earn a spot in the seven-round draft. He did, however, break 31 program records during his run. Montez’s deal includes $35K guaranteed (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle), a solid sum for a UDFA.

The biggest name on the list, however, is Moss – the son of Hall of Famer Randy Moss. At LSU, the tight end showed promise in spurts, so the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. If not for a fracture in his right foot, Moss likely would have been drafted somewhere during Day 3.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Redskins, Newton, Williams, Cowboys, Eagles, Giants

Things weren’t great down the stretch for the Redskins and Trent Williams, but the new 49ers tackle says he’s not harboring any ill will towards his former team.

I’m thankful this is over,” Williams told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). “Thanks to Dan [Snyder] and the organization for all they’ve done for me. Still a lot of love for the fans and that locker room. Now I’m focusing on being the best player I can possibly be for the 49ers.”

Now that his saga with the Redskins is in the rear view mirror, Williams is focused on hashing out a new deal with the defending NFC champs. Right now, Williams is set to play out the 2020 season on a $12.5MM base salary, but the veteran says there’s mutual interest in a fresh pact. Given Williams’ medical history and age, it remains to be seen whether the 49ers would be willing to commit substantial guaranteed cash to him. Then again, he’s a seven-time Pro Bowler at a premium position and the Niners, ideally, want to keep him happy.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

  • Were the Redskins ever serious about selecting Tua Tagovailoa instead of stud edge rusher Chase Young? “No, not really,” head coach Ron Rivera said this week (via JP Finlay of NBC Sports). “We just feel about the things we saw from Dwayne Haskins,” Rivera continued. “I feel good enough about him that I’m willing to take that chance, that opportunity.”
  • Meanwhile, the longtime Panthers head coach isn’t ruling out a reunion with former MVP Cam Newton (via NFL.com). “You know, the thing about Cam really is the situation,” said Rivera. “We’re in a situation where we’ve got two really young quarterbacks, one that’s been with us, been in the system, understands how we want things done and the other one is a guy who was taken last year in the first round and shows some promise.” For now, Newton is holding out for an opportunity to start.
  • The Cowboys coughed up a 2021 fifth-round pick to the Eagles to take Wisconsin lineman Tyler Biadsz last week. The intra-divisional trade wasn’t an easy call, but they were able to stomach it thanks to a wealth of mid-round selections coming their way, The Athletic’s Jon Machota writes. Jerry Jones & Co. will recoup comp picks after losing four starters in free agency: cornerback Byron Jones, edge rusher Robert Quinn, wide receiver Randall Cobb, and defensive tackle Maliek Collins.
  • The Giants non-tendered center Jon Halapio earlier this year, but there’s a strong chance he’ll return to the team as he recovers from an Achilles injury, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com tweets. For now, the Giants have a few options on hand in guard Shane Lemieux – who has never lined up in the middle – Spencer Pulley, and G/T Nick Gates.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/30/20

Today’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys

Oakland Raiders

  • Re-signed: WR De’Mornay Pierson-El

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Signed: DT Josiah Coatney, FB Spencer Nigh

 

Bears To Sign S Tashaun Gipson

Tashaun Gipson did not spend much time in free agency. Three days after his Texans release, the veteran safety agreed to a deal with the Bears, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports.

The former Browns, Jaguars and Texans safety agreed to a one-year Bears contract. Chicago did not re-sign Ha Ha Clinton-Dix this offseason, with the now-well-traveled defender opting to sign with Dallas. And the Bears did not draft a safety, opening the door for Gipson to crack another team’s starting lineup.

In All-Pro Eddie Jackson, the Bears employ one of the game’s best safeties. They have fifth-year player Deon Bush, former Chief Jordan Lucas and ex-Packer Kentrell Brice as well. Gipson is more accomplished than all of Chicago’s non-Jackson safeties, having made 104 starts in eight seasons.

This will be Gipson’s age-30 season. The former Browns UDFA spent just one season with the Texans. He was with the Jaguars for three years and played a key role on two dominant defenses. Last season in Houston, Gipson intercepted three passes and took one back for a touchdown. He has 23 career INTs.

Gipson graded outside Pro Football Focus’ top 60 at the position, however, so his Bears deal is unlikely to approach the three-year, $22.5MM deal he inked with the Texans.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Waive DE Taco Charlton

The Dolphins will move on from one of its first-round defensive linemen. They waived Taco Charlton on Thursday. Miami initially claimed Charlton off waivers from Dallas last season.

Charlton did not live up to expectations with the Cowboys, who used a first-round pick on him in 2017, but did lead the 2019 Dolphins in sacks with five despite playing in only 10 games with Miami. No other Dolphin totaled more than 3.5 last season.

Miami signed multiple defensive ends this offseason — Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah — and added hybrid player Kyle Van Noy but did not make a substantial investment in the position during the draft. The Dolphins used a fifth-round pick on defensive end Jason Strowbridge.

Given Charlton’s draft pedigree and production in limited Dolphins time last season, he will be a tempting waiver claim — especially when teams can carry 90 players on their respective rosters. Charlton, though, recorded just four sacks in two seasons with the Cowboys. Dallas waived him in September of last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Exploring Saturday Games If COVID-19 Impacts College Football

With May 9 the tentative date the NFL plans to unveil its 2020 schedule, it is exploring a radical concept — playing games on Saturdays throughout the fall.

The league has discussed the prospect of creating a flexible schedule that would allow games to be moved to Saturdays, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports. This would only go into effect if the COVID-19 pandemic prompts the NCAA to postpone or cancel the college football season.

While the NFL still has significant hurdles to clear before it can be known its season will commence, college football has more issues to navigate. If students do not return to campuses in the fall, that would open up the NFL to potentially move certain games to Saturdays. The league has broached this subject with its broadcast partners, per Marchand.

The Thursday-Sunday-Monday setup the NFL has used for years will still be in effect, but Marchand adds multiple games could be moved from Sunday to Saturday. This would, through unfortunate circumstances, create new nationally televised slots for the NFL. The league already plays certain games on Saturdays — but only after college football’s regular season concludes.

Such rescheduling would seemingly provide a solution to the afternoon imbalance issue the NFL has dealt with for decades, with the league annually flooding the noon CT time slot with games and sometimes leaving as few as two for the late-afternoon window. But a missed season would double as a financial catastrophe for the NCAA. It will surely be months before the organization commits to shutting down college football in 2020.

The NFL has discussed contingency plans as well, with one being a mid-October start for a season that runs through late February. As of now, the plan remains to start on time. But when the league releases its 101st schedule, it may well designate some games as candidates to move to Saturdays.

Trent Williams Willing To Wait On New Deal

The 49ers are now the team dealing with Trent Williams‘ hopes for a new contract. But their new left tackle said he is willing to be patient.

In addressing his contract Thursday, Williams did not indicate this is an issue the 49ers must address now. The soon-to-be 32-year-old lineman has one season — with a non-guaranteed $12.5MM base salary — remaining on a five-year deal he agreed to in 2015.

We both agreed on we can take a wait-and-see approach,” Williams said, via the San Jose Mercury News’ Cam Inman (on Twitter). “… Obviously it’s an incentive for me to play well. Both parties are interested in something long term but I’m more than OK with just getting my feet wet and just playing it out.

Shortly after Joe Staley‘s retirement, the 49ers traded a 2020 fifth-round pick and a 2021 third-rounder for Williams. This ended a lengthy standoff with the Redskins. The Vikings had also pursued Williams, who was believed to have scuttled a trade to Minnesota. Williams’ agent denied this, and Williams said the Vikings did not land him because they dropped out of the chase. The soon-to-be 32-year-old tackle added that his and the Vikings’ visions did not line up. The Vikings drafted Ezra Cleveland in Round 2.

The Vikings, long term, and what I looked at long term, it didn’t sync up,” Williams said, via NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco. “They just really dropped out. It wasn’t me refusing to go.”

The seven-time Pro Bowler worked with Kyle Shanahan during the latter’s stay as Washington’s offensive coordinator. The familiarity with Shanahan and his offensive system led Williams to view San Francisco as a preferred destination, he added.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jadeveon Clowney Interested In Jets?

Linked to several teams during what’s been a much longer free agency process than anticipated, Jadeveon Clowney may still be interested in a New York agreement. Weeks after he was believed to be open to a Giants deal, the free agent edge defender would give the Jets a good chance — if they were interested in signing him, Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com notes.

Regarding the Jets’ potential interest, Pauline writes they are “fishing around” the former No. 1 overall pick, adding that a big-market team like the Jets intrigues Clowney. The Jets re-signed Jordan Jenkins in March and drafted an edge player in the third round (Florida’s Jabari Zuniga), but this still should be considered a need position.

With the deadline for 2020 free agent signings to count toward the 2021 compensatory formula passing earlier this week, Clowney would have a better chance of landing somewhere. But teams are still in a holding pattern of sorts with certain free agents — with the COVID-19 pandemic preventing them from having their medical personnel examine them.

Titans GM Jon Robinson said he would like to have his team’s medical staff clear Clowney before agreeing to terms (Twitter link via TitanInsider.com’s Terry McCormick). Clowney has dealt with persistent knee issues and battled a core muscle injury last season.

Clowney has been linked to the Seahawks, Titans and Browns this month. But no steam has picked up on a deal with any of these teams since the draft. The Jets hold just more than $18MM in cap space. Among potential Clowney suitors, the Browns’ NFL-leading $38MM-plus in cap room would give them the edge. Though, Clowney lowered his asking price weeks ago. He may have to accept a one-year deal and try his luck at free agency again next year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Sign 15 Undrafted Free Agents

The Packers have become the latest team to bring in a class of undrafted free agents. Green Bay announced that it’s agreed to terms with the following UDFAs:

As you may have heard, the Packers didn’t select a wide receiver at any point during the 2020 draft. Instead, Stewart will represent the only collegiate wideout added to Green Bay’s roster. In his senior season, the 6’2″, 216-pound Stewart posted 49 receptions for 697 yards and two touchdowns. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com praised Stewart’s size and willingness to block, but noted the ex-Spartan’s “catch technique may need to be stripped and rebuilt.”