Andrew Sendejo

NFL Finds COVID-19 Spread Within Browns

Jan. 8: There is finally some good news to report on the Browns’ COVID-19 situation. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that the only new positive test today was assistant offensive line coach Scott Peters, who had already been identified as a high risk close contact. Hopefully, this means that the spread has been contained.

The wildcard game against the Steelers remains scheduled for Sunday night.

Jan. 7: The Browns learned Thursday they will be without another starter against the Steelers. Ronnie Harrison tested positive for COVID-19, the Browns announced. The team will have another starting safety — Andrew Sendejo — back for its playoff opener, but the NFL has determined some coronavirus spread has occurred within the Browns.

NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said “there was some spread from one individual to another,” via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). Previously, the league deemed the Browns’ virus issue as having resulted from a spread within the Cleveland-area community.

Despite the Browns being down head coach Kevin Stefanski, Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio and others, the game remains on schedule for Sunday night, Pelissero tweets. However, contact tracing is ongoing and intra-team spreads have triggered postponements this season.

The Steelers saw multiple games — against the Titans and Ravens — postponed because of COVID-19 spreading within those teams’ facilities. The NFL could face a decision soon. It is not out of the question the AFC North matchup is postponed, per the Washington Post’s Mark Maske, but a “bigger bump” in spread would need to happen (Twitter link).

Even in the event of a postponement of a day or two, the Browns would not have Stefanski or Bitonio back due to their positive tests occurring earlier this week. Cleveland also has key contributors Denzel Ward, Kevin Johnson, KhaDarel Hodge, Malcolm Smith and Harrison Bryant on its reserve/COVID-19 list. Ward could be activated in time for Sunday’s game but only if he has not encountered symptoms.

The Browns also placed linebacker Montrel Meander on the practice squad reserve/COVID-19 list but moved linebacker B.J. Goodson back onto their active roster after his stay on the COVID list. Harrison just returned to action, playing in Week 17 after missing several late-season games due to a shoulder injury.

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Latest On Browns’ COVID-19 Situation

The Browns’ COVID-19 situation will keep at least four players out of their crucial Week 17 game. Linebacker Malcolm Smith and tight end Harrison Bryant are the players who tested positive for the coronavirus, sources tell NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). They’ll be held out of Sunday’s tilt against the Steelers, along with linebacker B.J. Goodson and safety Andrew Sendejo

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Although the team reopened its facility after a contact tracing effort Wednesday, the Browns closed it again Thursday. They will, however, have their top four receivers back this week. Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and KhaDarel Hodge are off the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list. So is linebacker Jacob Phillips. The Steelers-Browns rematch remains on schedule for 1pm ET Sunday.

Denzel Ward, however, is the latest Browns player to run into COVID trouble. The Browns’ No. 1 cornerback tested positive for the coronavirus and is out Sunday, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports (on Twitter). He is out for Sunday’s game and would be a long shot to play in the Browns’ playoff opener, should they qualify.

The Browns are playing to snap the NFL’s longest active playoff drought. If they win, they’re in. If they lose, they’ll need the Colts to do the same, but that would hinge on a quality performance from the lowly Jaguars. If the Browns lose and the Colts win, they’ll need a Titans loss, plus wins from the Ravens and Dolphins to sneak into the postseason.

On the plus side, the Steelers indicated they will rest Ben Roethlisberger this weekend. Plus, they’ll be without top defenders Devin Bush and Bud Dupree, who limited the Browns to just six points in their October meeting. As it stands, Football Outsiders gives the Browns a 44% chance to hold at the No. 6 seed and a 20% chance to make it as the No. 7 seed.

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Browns Close Facility Due To COVID-19

3:13pm: While several Browns remain on the coronavirus list, they have completed a contact tracing effort and reopened their facility, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com tweets. They also added center Javon Patterson to the practice squad COVID list, Cabot adds (via Twitter).

11:06am: On Wednesday, the Browns closed their team facility due to a positive COVID-19 test. This comes after the Browns learned that a coach and a practice-squad player have tested positive for COVID-19 (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero).

The Browns have also placed safety Karl Joseph, Andrew Sendejo and Harrison Bryant on the reserve/COVID-19 list, a sign that he was likely in close contact with one or both of those individuals.

The Browns were in similar territory last week with the ripple effect of B.J. Goodson‘s positive COVID-19 test. Contact tracing deemed several Browns wide receivers Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins and Donovan Peoples-Jones to be high-risk close contacts, keeping them out of Sunday’s game against the Jets. The Jets went on to win 23-16, bumping the Browns to 10-5 and knocking themselves out of the No. 1 draft pick sweepstakes.

The Browns can make the playoffs for the first time in a long time with a win over the Steelers in Week 17. Alternatively, they can still reach the postseason if the Colts fall to the Jaguars. There’s also a third scenario that would give them a playoff berth, though that would be dependent on the outcome of three different games.

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Contract Details: Zuerlein, Bills, Cardinals

Here are the latest details from the second wave of free agency. All links courtesy of the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson, unless otherwise noted.

Browns To Sign S Andrew Sendejo

Andrew Sendejo is going from the NFC North to the AFC North. On Friday, the Vikings agreed to sign the safety to a one-year, $2.25MM deal with the Browns, as Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.

Sendejo spent eight seasons with the Vikings up until March of last year when he hooked on with the Eagles. That union didn’t last long – the Birds dropped him in November, leading him back to Minnesota to close out the season.

Sendejo was a staple in the Vikings’ secondary up until 2018, when a groin injury put him on the sidelines. After that point, the Vikings’ D actually improved with Anthony Harris, George Iloka, and Jayron Kearse taking on a larger share of the workload.

In Cleveland, he’ll play alongside a cornerback group headlined by Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams with support from newcomer Kevin Johnson.

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League Notes: Burfict, Goodell, Kearse, Rivers

In an exclusive interview with Vic Tafur of The Athletic (subscription required), controversial Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict laid into the league and did not seem to leave any thought unspoken. Burfict, who is currently serving a suspension that began after Week 4 and spans to the end of the season, was adamant that his behavior does not compare to Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, who was recently suspended indefinitely after swinging a helmet at Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph.

Burfict also detailed the suspension process, including the appeal meeting he had with league executives. The former Bengals linebacker claims the league had already decided on the suspension prior to the meeting and had no interest in hearing his side of the story. On top of some colorful language used at the expense of multiple execs, the piece offers an interesting view into Burfict’s place in the Raiders locker room.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Vikings safety Jayron Kearse may not be in Minnesota for much longer given the tone of his tweets today. This morning Kearse tweeted out that he was “excited” for his future, but when a fan replied asking if the Vikings will be a part of his future, Kearse replied “No.” Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press noted the back and fourth and added that Kearse did not answer him on Friday when Tomasson asked if he would start in tomorrow’s game against the Broncos given Anthony Harris‘ injury. Tomasson speculates that Andrew Sendejo could instead be the starting safety.
  • Longtime Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers‘ contract expires at the end of this season and set to turn 38 in December, it would not be a shock for the veteran to declare this his last professional season. However, Rivers remains noncommittal on his future, according to Eric D. Williams of ESPN. Rivers still has a desire to play in the Chargers new stadium when it opens in 2020, but wants to take some time after the season ends to evaluate where he is physically and mentally before making any final determination.

Vikings Claim Andrew Sendejo

The Vikings claimed safety Andrew Sendejo off waivers from the Eagles, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). It’s a reunion for the vet and the Vikes – Sendejo spent eight seasons in Minnesota up until this year. 

The Vikings had the opportunity to keep Sendejo through 2019, but they elected to put him on the free agent pile by waiving his option. He would have earned $5.5MM had he stayed. Instead, the Vikings dropped that entire number from the cap and set the wheels in motion for him to sign a one year deal with Philly.

Now, he’s back, but at a much lower rate. He’ll have his first chance to don purple again on Sunday, when the Vikings take on the Cowboys.

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Eagles Waive Andrew Sendejo

The Eagles have waived safety Andrew Sendejo, per a club announcement. Sendejo joined the Eagles in March on a one-year deal, but he won’t get the chance to see it through. 

Sendejo, 32, had his 2019 option declined by the Vikings in the offseason. The move was largely expected after the veteran lost much of the 2018 season to a groin injury. After Sendejo exited the Vikings’ rotation last year, their defense actually improved. In his wake, the Vikings used Anthony HarrisGeorge Iloka, and Jayron Kearse to hold down the fort and saw better results. This year, Sendejo tallied 26 tackles and one sack across nine games for the Eagles, playing mostly as a reserve.

Even though Sendejo is a vested veteran, he’ll be subject to the waiver wire as a post-trade deadline cut.

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Eagles To Sign Andrew Sendejo

Free agent safety Andrew Sendejo has agreed to sign with the Eagles, sources tell Peter Schrager of NFL.com (on Twitter). When finalized, it’ll be a one-year deal for the Eagles and the former Vikings safety. 

Sendejo, 32 in September, had his 2019 option declined by the Vikings last week. The move was largely expected after the veteran lost much of the 2018 season to a groin injury. After Sendejo went down in Week 5, the Vikings’ defense actually improved, though it’s impossible to say whether that was coincidental. In his wake, the Vikings used Anthony HarrisGeorge Iloka, and Jayron Kearse to hold down the fort.

The Vikings prevented Sendejo from hitting the open market in 2016 with a four-year, $16MM deal. After the Vikes rejected the final year of his deal, he’ll try to reestablish himself in Philadelphia.

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Vikings To Decline Andrew Sendejo’s Option

The Vikings will decline the option on safety Andrew Sendejo, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Sendejo will join an exceptionally talented safety market, which could limit his earning potential. 

Sendejo, 32 in September, suffered a groin injury in Week 5 of last season and was unable to return. It may be coincidental, but the Vikings’ defense actually got better since turning to reserves Anthony HarrisGeorge Iloka, and Jayron Kearse in his stead. In the first five weeks of the season, the Vikings surrendered 26.2 points per contest. Sendejo’s campaign ended with 27 total tackles and one pass deflection across five games.

The veteran was due a $5.5MM salary for 2019, but that sum was completely non-guaranteed. By declining Sendejo’s option, the Vikings will gain a good deal of flexibility to take care of their own free agents and make some small additions this week.

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