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Minor NFL Transactions: 1/15/22

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Dallas Cowboys

Kansas City Chiefs

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cowboys Cut CB Rashard Robinson

The Cowboys have cut cornerback Rashard Robinson, per a club announcement. The move doesn’t come as a huge surprise, since he was already unavailable until Week 3.

Robinson has his latest suspension in April, a two-game ban for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Before that, Robinson received four- and 10-game suspensions in 2018 and ’19, respectively. Both of those bans were for substance abuse — this was the five-year vet’s first PED ban.

The Cowboys signed Robinson to the taxi squad in September of last year, giving the former fourth-round pick a chance to show his stuff. Once a 13-game starter in San Francisco, he hasn’t seen much playing time since. The Cowboys used the soon-to-be 26-year-old cover man in just four games last season, though he did start three of those, shuttling him on and off their active roster.

All in all, Robinson has two interceptions, 15 passes defensed, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries to his credit across 42 career games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Suspends Cowboys’ Rashard Robinson

Rashard Robinson has incurred another suspension. The NFL handed the Cowboys cornerback a two-game ban for violating its performance-enhancing drug policy, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

This is familiar territory for the veteran defender. Robinson received four- and 10-game suspensions in 2018 and ’19, respectively. Both bans were for substance abuse. This marks the five-year vet’s first PED ban.

The Cowboys signed Robinson in September, adding him to their practice squad. The former fourth-round pick has also played for the 49ers and Jets. San Francisco traded Robinson to New York at the 2017 deadline.

While Robinson was a 13-game starter with the 49ers, he has not received extensive playing time since. The Cowboys used the 25-year-old cover man in four games last season, though he did start three of those, shuttling him on and off their active roster. Robinson is signed through the 2021 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jordan Matthews To Audition As TE

Longtime wide receiver Jordan Matthews is set to audition for teams this weekend as a tight end (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Matthews seems serious about the move, having added more than 15 pounds to his frame in recent months.

[RELATED: Kelvin Benjamin Switches To TE, Signs With Giants]

Matthews teased his plans earlier this summer and began working out with tight ends including George Kittle and Robert Tonyan. He even switched representation, signing with Steve Caric, the agent for notable TEs like Zach Ertz, Austin Hooper, and Devin Asiasi.

Standing at 6-foot-3, Matthews always had the height to play tight end. Now tipping the scales at somewhere above 230 pounds, he has the bulk too. We’ve already seen one former wideout switch to tight end this offseason — Kelvin Benjamin has joined the Giants and old pal Dave Gettleman as a TE. Of course, there’s also former quarterback Tim Tebow, who is attempting a switch to TE with the Jaguars.

Matthews, a former second-round pick, had at least 800 receiving yards in each of his first three NFL seasons. He hasn’t matched that production over the past few years though. Since 2017, Matthews has hauled in just 49 receptions for 615 yards and three scores. He saw time in the 49ers’ final two games of the 2020 season, appearing on 14 offensive snaps without recording a catch.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns, Rashard Higgins Talk Extension

The Browns and Rashard Higgins have begun preliminary talks on a contract extension, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears. The wide receiver is currently on track for free agency after his one-year, $910K deal expires. 

Higgins, a fifth-year pro, enjoyed a solid 2018 with 39 grabs for 572 yards and four scores. Unfortunately, a knee injury kept him from building on that in 2019, but he still drew a fair amount of interest as a free agent. Despite having more lucrative offers on the table, Higgins opted to re-up with the Browns, favoring his chemistry with Baker Mayfield over short-term dollars.

So far, that decision has paid off. Higgins has 25 grabs for 400 yards and three TDs through ten games, and he could be on the verge of a pay bump in Cleveland. And, after a 6/95/1 showing to help beat the Titans, there couldn’t be a better time for him to negotiate. If the season ended today, Higgins’ 16.0 yards per grab would represent a career best, and the season is far from over. The 9-3 Browns — with the Ravens on the horizon — are on track to break the league’s longest-standing playoff drought.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Buccaneers, Matthews, Haskins

The Buccaneers announced that five individuals would be joining the organization via the The Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship: Trai Essex, La’Roi Glover, Andre King, Heather Marini, and Louis Murphy Jr.. These coaches will be allowed to “observe, participate, [and] gain experience” throughout training camp and the preseason, and the experience could ultimately lead to a job offer.

Marini made a name for herself this past season at Brown University as the QB coach, making her the first female position coach in Division I history. Marini previously served as an offensive quality control coach with the Bears, and she served as a scout on Todd Bowles’ staff with the Jets.

Essex and Grover had distinguished careers in the NFL. Grover made six Pro Bowls and was a member of the 2000s All-Decade Team while Essex won a pair of Super Bowls with the Steelers (while playing under current Bucs head coach Bruce Arians). King also has experience playing under Arians, with the two having spent four seasons together in Cleveland.

Murphy Jr. has the best connection to the Buccaneers after spending a few years playing for the organization. The receiver had 41 receptions for 578 yards during his two seasons in Tampa Bay, and that was part of a nine-year career that saw him collecting 2,589 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns. He most recently served as a high school head coach in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Some more notes from around the NFL:

  • Jordan Matthews is set to audition for teams as a tight end, and at least one squad will have interest in the veteran. Paul Kuharsky reports (via Twitter) that the Titans are expected to kick the tires on the veteran. Tennessee could use some extra depth at the position after losing Jonnu Smith, but suitors shouldn’t expect too much from Matthews. The 28-year-old has appeared in only five games since the 2019 season, and it’s been four years since he last topped 800 receiving yards.
  • Steelers QB Dwayne Haskins was involved in a dispute earlier this month that resulted in his wife facing a domestic violence charge, per ESPN’s Brooke Pryor. Kalabrya Gondrezick-Haskin is accused of punching Haskins in the mouth, leading to a “felony charge of battery and domestic violence resulting in bodily harm.” Haskins reportedly had a split upper lift and a lost tooth, but the quarterback disputed that today on Instagram. “I appreciate the concern… however I have all of my teeth,” Haskins wrote (via Pryor). “Don’t believe everything you read. Peace.”
  • “We are aware of the situation but will have no comment,” the organization said in response to ESPN’s inquiry. Haskins inked a one-year deal with Pittsburgh earlier this offseason, and he’ll be competing with Mason Rudolph and Joshua Dobbs to be Ben Roethlisberger‘s primary backup.
  • Earlier tonight, we posted a poll asking which head coach will be the first to lose his job. Bears head coach Matt Nagy and Broncos head coach Vic Fangio are neck-and-neck for the lead.

Jets Waive Rashard Robinson

On Friday, the Jets waived cornerback Rashard Robinson. Pink slips were also handed to wide receiver Stacy Coley and defensive lineman Charles Tapper

[RELATED: Jets Sign 16 Undrafted Free Agents]

The Jets acquired Robinson prior to the trade deadline in 2017 and gave up a 2018 fifth-round choice in the deal. Robinson went on to appear in 16 games for the Jets between ’17 and ’19, but tallied just nine tackles in total.

The Jets still need veteran help at the cornerback position, but they were unwilling to keep Robinson around at a paltry $2MM cap hit. By cutting him, the Jets will take that entire obligation off of the books.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns To Tender Rashard Higgins

The Browns will tender restricted free agent Rashard Higgins, according to GM John Dorsey (via Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer). However, Dorsey did not indicate whether the Browns will employ the first- or second-round tender to cuff the wide receiver. 

[RELATED: Teams Interested In Browns’ Duke Johnson]

The first- or second-round tender will determine what pick a team would have to give the Browns if they were sign him. The first-round tender in 2019 is worth $4.407MM and the second-round tender is worth $3.095MM. It stands to reason that the second-round tender would be enough to scare away interested teams, even though this year’s wide receiver group in both free agency and the draft is underwhelming.

Higgins caught 39 passes for 572 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games. More importantly, he developed a nice rapport with rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield in the second half of the season. With Jarvis Landry entrenched in the slot, Higgins should have an opportunity to start outside next year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns To Re-Sign WR Rashard Higgins

Rashard Higgins is heading back to Cleveland. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the Browns are re-signing the free agent wideout. It will be a one-year deal for Higgins.

The 2016 fifth-round pick has spent his entire career in Cleveland, appearing in 67 regular season games in parts of five seasons. The wideout had one of his best seasons in 2020, hauling in 37 receptions for 599 yards and four touchdowns.

In total, the 26-year-old has collected 113 career receptions for 1,615 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The Browns have been a bit quiet this week, but securing Higgins’ services assures that they’ll return much of the same receiving corps next season. Barring a trade, Higgins will likely slide in behind Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry on the depth chart.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rashard Mendenhall Retires

Free agent running back Rashard Mendenhall is retiring, reports ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Mendenhall, 26, spent his first five seasons with the Steelers, then started 13 games last year for the Cardinals, rushing for 687 yards and eight touchdowns.

A first-round draft pick from Illinois in 2008, Mendenhall totaled 4,236 yards and 39 touchdowns in his six-year career. He surpassed 1,000 yards rushing in the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

Mendenhall hinted at retirement in a February 25 column for Huffington Post: “And as I write this, today is the day that the journey is over and I am fully at peace. Eagerly looking to a new way, which lies ahead.”

PFR’s Luke Adams ranked Mendenhall in the second tier of free agent running backs.

Jets Work Out WR/TE Jordan Matthews

The Jordan Matthews audition tour is heading to New York. The veteran wideout (and perhaps future tight end) had a tryout with the Jets today, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter).

Matthews, a former second-round pick, had at least 800 receiving yards in each of his first three NFL seasons, but he’s struggled to match that production over the past few years. Since 2017, Matthews has hauled in only 49 receptions for 615 yards and three scores. He saw time in the 49ers’ final two games of the 2020 season, appearing on 14 offensive snaps without recording a catch.

We learned earlier this offseason that the veteran was hoping to reinvent his career as a tight end. The 29-year-old has added 30 pounds this offseason; standing at 6-foot-3, Matthews always had the height to play tight end. Now tipping the scales at somewhere above 230 pounds, he has the bulk too. Matthews also spent time working out with NFL tight ends like George Kittle and Robert Tonyan, and he visited the University of Louisville to train with wide receivers coach Gunter Brewer and assistant tight ends coach Stu Holt.

We heard that a handful of teams had their eye on the veteran, but the only team that’s been definitively connected to Matthews was the Titans. We can now add the Jets to that list, and it makes sense that the team would consider some depth at the position. Besides Chris Herndon, the team has a number of uninspiring options like Ryan Griffin, Tyler Kroft, Trevon Wesco, Daniel Brown, and rookie Kenny Yeboah.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns’ Rashard Higgins Wants Extension

Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins could receive some significant interest on the open market this offseason, but the young wideout is making it clear he wants to stay in Cleveland. “I want to be in Cleveland, no other team. Tell (John) Dorsey, Tell Lonzo (Alonso Highsmith) to get it done”, Higgins said this week at the Super Bowl, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.

Dorsey, the Browns’ GM, said last week that the team had talked to Higgins’ representatives about a new contract, and it sounds like the interest is definitely mutual. Higgins is only scheduled to be a restricted free agent anyway so the Browns could match any offer he receives from another team, but it doesn’t seem like it’ll get to that point.

Higgins’ agent Michael Swensen told Kay Cabot “we’re getting there”, meaning a deal could be close. The Browns drafted Higgins in the fifth round out of Colorado State back in 2016. They cut him before the 2017 season, but quickly re-signed him. He didn’t do much as a rookie, but showed signs of progress last season before breaking out in 2018.

This past year he caught 39 passes for 572 yards and four touchdowns in only 13 games, and showed a nice rapport with rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield. With Jarvis Landry entrenched in the slot, Higgins should have an opportunity to start outside next year. Higgins sounded excited to help turn around the Browns, raving about Mayfield, new coach Freddie Kitchens, and the organization in his comments to Kay Cabot. At this point it would be surprising if he’s not locked up by the time free agency rolls around in March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Suspends Jets’ Rashard Robinson

Jets cornerback Rashard Robinson has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He’ll be eligible to return to the active roster on October 1 after the team’s Week 4 contest against the Jaguars. In the interim, he’ll be allowed to participate in all preseason practices and games.

The Jets acquired Robinson in a pre-deadline trade in 2017, giving up a 2018 fifth-round choice in exchange for the former fourth-round pick. Robinson appeared in six games but recorded just two tackles.

Robinson’s suspension stems from a December incident in which he was pulled over by cops and found to have marijuana-laced candy in his possession. Apparently, that was not the cornerback’s first instance of off-the-field trouble. The 23-year-old reportedly also had an “embarrassing and troubling incident” on a Niners team flight in 2017. He had words with SF coaches in the midst of that outburst, and that prompted the team to ship him to New Jersey.

Robinson’s first game with the Jets in 2018 – if he sticks on the roster – will be against the Broncos on October 7.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

WR Jordan Matthews Hoping To Land Job As TE

After being limited to only five games over the past two years, veteran wideout Jordan Matthews is taking a different approach as he looks for a new gig. During a recent podcast appearance, Matthews told ESPN’s Turron Davenport that he’s looking to play tight end for his next team (Twitter link).

The 28-year-old noted that he’s added 30 pounds this offseason. He’s also been working out at the University of Louisville with wide receivers coach Gunter Brewer and assistant tight ends coach Stu Holt.

Standing at 6-foot-3, Matthews already had the height to play tight end. The veteran was listed at 215 pounds in 2020, so that extra 30 pounds of weight should provide him with the necessary bulk for the position. We’ve already seen one former wideout switch to tight end this offseason; Kelvin Benjamin will reportedly try to make the Giants roster at TE. More notably, former quarterback Tim Tebow is attempting a switch to tight end with the Jaguars.

Matthews, a former second-round pick, had at least 800 receiving yards in each of his first three NFL seasons, but he’s struggled to match that production over the past few years. Since 2017, Matthews has hauled in only 49 receptions for 615 yards and three scores. He saw time in the 49ers’ final two games of the 2020 season, appearing on 14 offensive snaps without recording a catch.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Officially Re-Sign Rashard Higgins

The Browns have re-signed Rashard Higgins, per a club announcement. The wide receiver will return on a one-year deal, giving him an opportunity to prove himself before trying his hand in free agency next year. 

Higgins came into the league as a fifth-round pick of the Browns and he’ll return to Cleveland for his fifth pro season. Over the past four years, he’s tallied 76 catches for 1,016 yards and seven touchdowns. Those numbers don’t jump off the page, necessarily, but he did shine in 2018 when he finished out with 39 grabs for 572 yards and four scores.

Last year, a knee injury kept him from building on that performance, but a healthy season could put him back on the right track. Most of Baker Mayfield‘s targets will be going to the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, and new addition Austin Hooper, but Higgins could benefit from the double teams against those stars.

In addition to Landry and OBJ, the Browns’ WR depth chart also features JoJo Natson and sixth-round rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones. Higgins is the longest-tenured player of the group.

In a corresponding move, the Browns have also waived defensive tackle Brandin Bryant.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns To Re-Sign WR Rashard Higgins

The Browns are expected to re-sign wide receiver Rashard Higgins, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. It will be a one-year, $910K deal for the 25-year-old.

We heard back in March that Cleveland was likely to let Higgins test the open market but was interested in re-signing him if the price was right. Cabot says the Colorado State product received more lucrative offers from other clubs, but he elected to re-up with the Browns because he loves playing with quarterback Baker Mayfield.

The Browns selected Higgins in the fifth round of the 2016 draft, and after setting career highs in 2018 with 39 receptions for 572 yards and four touchdowns, he appeared primed for a key role in 2019 behind star wideouts Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham. Unfortunately, he battled knee injuries early in the 2019 campaign and fell out of favor with prior head coach Freddie Kitchens upon his return. He ultimately caught just four passes for 55 yards and a score.

But with a new regime in place, Higgins will presumably have a good chance to rebuild his value. He will compete with sixth-round rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones and returning pieces like Damion Ratley for playing time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Want To Re-Sign WR Rashard Higgins

Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins will likely hit the free-agent market, but that does not mean a reunion with Cleveland is out of the question, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. In fact, Cabot adds that, per a league source, the team would still like Higgins back “‘at the right price.”

Higgins fell out of the Browns rotation this past season after a falling out with the previous coaching staff. However, now that Freddie Kitchens has been replaced by Kevin Stefanski as head coach, the new regime appears to have interest in a reunion.

A fifth-round pick in 2016, Higgins progressed into larger and larger roles in Cleveland’s offense over his first three seasons and seemed poised to be the team’s third receiver behind Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham last season.

After hauling in 39 receptions for 572 yards and four touchdowns in 2018, Higgins managed just four catches for 55 yards in all of 2019. At just 25, Higgins is not far from being a solid young prospect, but his dip in production could very well dampen his market.

Rams To Release Clay Matthews

Todd Gurley isn’t the only Rams star on his way out. The Rams have released linebacker Clay Matthews, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). 

[RELATED: Rams Cut Todd Gurley]

Matthews, 34 in May, wasn’t easy to let go. Last year, the veteran racked up eight sacks in 13 games (all starts), despite missing some time with a painful broken jaw.

Jaw aside, Matthews has been durable throughout his pro career. That’s part of what helped Matthews earned six Pro Bowl nods through his ten seasons in Green Bay and he seemed on pace for a seventh before that setback.

The Rams will have to find edge pressure elsewhere as they remake their entire defense. So far, they’ve watched Eric Weddle retire while Cory LittletonMichael Brockers and Dante Fowler have all departed in free agency. They also turned down their option on slot corner Nickell Robey-Coleman. Meanwhile, they’ve added a handful of players, including former first-rounder Leonard Floyd and A’Shawn Robinson.

Thanks to his re-emergence under Wade Phillips, Matthews figures to draw some degree of interest on the open market. Matthews, however, did not live up to the extension he signed with the Packers. He failed to produce a double-digit sack season from 2015-18, recording just 3.5 and 12 quarterback hits in 2018. Matthews managed just 11 QB hits last season.

While the former Pro Bowler’s career is winding down, he still has a chance to reach 100 sacks. The former Packers first-round pick is up to 91.5 for his career. Matthews getting there would make him the 35th player in NFL history to do so. The third-generation NFLer will need to find a third team to help him reach this milestone, however.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/24/21

Here are the NFL moves from Christmas Eve:

Buffalo Bills

Cleveland Browns

Green Bay Packers

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Football Team

FA CB Rashard Robinson Banned 10 Games

The Jets cut Rashard Robinson in May, and a clearer picture as to the possible reason for that move emerged two months later. The NFL suspended the free agent cornerback 10 games on Wednesday, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

This marks Robinson’s second suspension. He began his 2018 season in October because of a four-game substance-abuse ban to start it. The former fourth-round 49ers pick has not participated in a visit or a workout since the Jets waived him.

I would like to to take this opportunity to apologize and take full responsibility for the 10-game suspension I have received from the National Football League. I have no one to blame for my actions,” Robinson said in a statement (Twitter link). “I will work during my time away to better myself and be ready to contribute when I am eligible this coming season.”

The Jets gave up a fifth-round pick at the 2017 trade deadline to acquire Robinson from the 49ers, and the LSU alum played in 16 games for the franchise over the next two seasons. Robinson has started 15 games, but 13 of those came as a 49er. He registered eight tackles in 10 2018 contests, playing mostly special teams.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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