Antonio Callaway

Antonio Callaway Loses Suspension Appeal

Former Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway lost the appeal of his ten-game suspension, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). It’s a bad blow for Callaway, who is currently on waivers and was hoping to hook on with another team before the end of the season. 

Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens clashed with Callaway this year and the team ran out of patience with him on Thursday. The Browns cut the talented wideout, partially due to the suspension, but also for other reasons.

Callaway started the year with a four-game suspension for a substance abuse policy violation. Then, recently, the Browns learned that Callaway was facing a separate ten-game ban for a second violation. Despite his flashes of impressive play last year, the Browns were fed up.

Callaway is now up for grabs for the league’s other 31 teams. Any team claiming him would assume the remainder of his inexpensive rookie contract, which extends through 2021. Obviously, Callaway won’t be able to help any team until September 2020, but it’s possible that a non-contending team could roll the dice on him.

Meanwhile, Callaway claims his positive test came from a tainted CBD product (Twitter link). Unfortunately for him, the league’s drug policy is quite strict and insists that players know what they’re putting in their bodies.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Release WR Antonio Callaway

The Browns have released wide receiver Antonio Callaway, per a club announcement. Meanwhile, Callaway is facing, and appealing, a ten-game suspension for another violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, sources tell NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). While that’s a major factor in the team’s decision to cut him, Rapoport hears that it is not the only reason the team waived him.

The Browns drafted Callaway in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, opting to roll the dice on an extremely talented player who had multiple red flags off the field. At times, that talent has shown. Last year, he clicked with Baker Mayfield and finished out with 43 catches for 586 yards and five touchdowns. This year, however, his off-the-field problems reappeared – the NFL suspended Callaway for the first four games of the year after violating the substance abuse policy and he’s now looking at an additional ten-game ban.

The Browns benched Callaway against the Bills on Sunday for reasons that head coach Freddie Kitchens did not disclose. Days later, Callaway is out of a job. Per league rules, he’ll hit the waiver wire as a post-trade deadline cut. In his four games this year, Callaway registered eight catches off of 15 targets for 89 yards and zero TDs.

In a related move, the Browns have activated offensive lineman Drew Forbes. Forbes, a sixth-round pick, is now set to debut after recovering from a knee injury suffered late in the offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Joseph, Callaway, Dozier, Bears QB

The Vikings nose tackle Linval Joseph underwent surgery on his meniscus, according to Ben Goessling and Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune. Joseph, who did not play in Minnesota’s 28-24 victory against the Cowboys, has been on the team’s injury report since Week 7 with a knee injury, but had yet to miss any practice until last Thursday.

On a positive note, Joseph has not been placed on injured reserve and Goessling and Krammer cite sources within the organization that are optimistic he will return soon. With their bye coming in Week 12, Goessling and Krammer note the Vikings Week 13 matchup with the Broncos as a possible target date for Joseph’s return.

Here’s more updates from the teams in the AFC and NFC North:

  • Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway was benched shortly before the team’s game against the Bills for tardiness on Sunday, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Cleveland still managed to pull out the 19-16 victory without Callaway, but the offense surely could have benefited from another dynamic receiver on the field. In Cabot’s report, a source told her that Callaway parked in a different lot than usual and arrived a few minutes late.
  • The Vikings plan to move forward with Dakota Dozier at right guard if starter Josh Kline has to miss more games with a concussion, according to Ben Goessling and Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune. Dozier replaced Kline after he left Sunday’s matchup against the Cowboys with concussion like symptoms. Kline was diagnosed with a concussion and is now in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Dozier has already started three games this season along Minnesota’s offensive front.
  • If the Bears decide to move on from quarterback Mitchell Trubisky this offseason there will be a plethora of strong veteran options, according to Dan Pompei of The Athletic. Pompei details ten signalcallers with varying degrees of past success. While free-agency seems poised to offer more viable options than usual, the play of young quarterbacks around the league has potentially pushed some other established veterans onto the trade market as well. Sitting at 4-5 and in third place in the NFC North, Chicago’s playoff hopes are dwindling by the week. Trubisky, in his third NFL season, has garnered the brunt of the criticism for the team’s underwhelming performance.

Extra Points: Vinatieri, Callaway, Barkley

Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri has struggled mightily this season, and those struggles continued on Sunday. Vinatieri missed a crucial extra point, and the team ended up losing to the Dolphins by four points. Indy ended the game on Miami’s 16-yard line, and would’ve been able to attempt a game-tying field goal if not for Vinatieri’s miss. The organization has stuck by him throughout, but there were signs after the game that their patience might be wearing thin. “We’d been committed to him, but like everybody. … we’re going to always evaluate. Everyone gets measured, everyone’s held accountable. From top to bottom, that’s always the case. Nothing meant to read into that, that’s just the reality,” head coach Frank Reich said, per Joel A. Erickson of The Athletic (Twitter link).

On extra points, Reich said “there is an expectation there. Whatever percent it is to make an extra point, 97 percent, or 96.whatever it is to make that, we need to make those,” Erickson noted in a separate tweet. Vinatieri has now missed six extra points and five field goals on the year. It’s certainly not for sure, but the Colts appear to be inching closer to a divorce with the legendary 46-year-old kicker.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Browns receiver Antonio Callaway was a healthy scratch during Cleveland’s win over the Bills, and it appears there could be something interesting here. Callaway warmed up in uniform as if he was about to play, but then wound up inactive. When asked about it after the game Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens said it “was between him and Callaway and repeated the response when asked if it was a disciplinary matter,” according to Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com. Alper notes that Baker Mayfield said Callaway was in the game plan during the week, but that “things happen.” Since it’s the Browns, it will probably turn out to be something of note.
  • The Giants suffered a tough loss to the Jets on Sunday, and things might get even worse. Star running back Saquon Barkley was spotted getting X-Rays after the game, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. Head coach Pat Shurmur conceded Barkley got “banged around pretty good,” but neither the coach nor player was willing to talk about what was wrong. Barkley, of course, just recently returned after missing time with an ankle injury.
  • In case you missed it, some in the Browns organization wanted to hire Kevin Stefanski instead of Freddie Kitchens.

AFC Rumors: Clowney, Brady, Brown, Browns

Two franchise-tagged edge defenders changed teams this offseason, with Dee Ford leaving Kansas City and Frank Clark arriving. Trades for tagged players after the July 15 extension deadline are obviously rarer, but John McClain of the Houston Chronicle expects the Texans to deal away Jadeveon Clowney before the season (Twitter link). NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo agrees but wonders (Twitter link) if the talented defender’s Houston departure will instead come in 2020. The 26-year-old edge presence plans to return to his current team in late August.

Clowney is tethered to a $15.9MM cap number, which is a point of contention for the outside linebacker’s camp because of his greater usage as a defensive end, and cannot be extended by any team until after the regular season ends. The Texans discussed a Clowney trade with the Chiefs, but they opted for a Clark deal soon after. McClain cites the team, despite drafting Tytus Howard in Round 1 and signing Matt Kalil, needing a left tackle as a reason Clowney has a better chance of being traded than suiting up for Week 1.

Clowney’s trade value will not be as high as it was before July 15, however, so the Texans would have to factor this into the equation. They could tag him again in 2020 and continue this long-drawn-out process, potentially revving up the tag-and-trade scenario at that point — when they would likely have a GM again.

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Although Tom Brady agreed to an in-name-only extension, setting him up for potential 2020 free agency, and put his house on the market, the Patriots quarterback continues to maintain he would like to play past his 45th birthday. That has long been the 42-year-old passer’s goal, and he reiterated it during an appearance on WEEI (via Pro Football Talk) this week. Brady’s post-2019 status, though, is murky.
  • The redone contract Brady agreed to will place a $21.5MM cap number on the Patriots’ books, Nick Underhill of The Athletic tweets. This is down $5.5MM from his previous 2019 cap hold. In doing this, the Patriots, as of Tuesday, possess $15.15MM in cap space (17th-most in the NFL).
  • We have learned plenty about the importance Antonio Brown places on in-game headgear over the past several days. Now, the Raiders receiver is enlisting the help of Twitter followers in hopes of finding a newer brand of his preferred helmet — a Schutt AiR Advantage. The NFL has given Brown the go-ahead here, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, since the NOCSAE could certify a helmet that is less than 10 years old. But it may be difficult for Brown to succeed on this front. This model was discontinued in 2009, per the Toronto Sun’s John Kryk, and a helmet-industry source (we are deep in the weeds here) said any post-production models of this helmet will likely be unavailable so many years later. However, Drew Rosenhaus told Florio his client apparently located “a few” 2010 models and is searching for one from 2011 — to potentially get two more years to wear this type of helmet.
  • Antonio Callaway‘s failed drug test, which will cost him four games, evidently did not occur this offseason. The second-year Browns wide receiver has not failed a test since the end of last season, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports. Since, the 2018 fourth-round pick has been in a comprehensive drug treatment program. Callaway entered the NFL in stage 1 of the league’s drug treatment program, because of a diluted sample at the Combine — which the Florida alum admitted was an attempt to mask marijuana use — and can be tested up to 10 times per month. Several violations needed to have occurred for him to test positive, per Cabot. Callaway was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession last summer.

AFC Notes: Stidham, Jags, Browns, Bolts

Although Tom Brady continuing to play at a high level into his early 40s has allowed the Patriots to table their need to identify a long-term successor for many years, their recent extension/2019 pay raise brings this issue back to the forefront. The Pats, however, are pleased with their latest quarterback draft pick. Fourth-round rookie Jarrett Stidham has “blown away expectations” this offseason, Jeff Howe of The Athletic notes (subscription required), adding that he is ahead of where Jimmy Garoppolo was at this point during his first NFL summer. Stidham has taken first-team reps in camp and moved the Patriots to move Danny Etling to wide receiver. He finished 14-for-24 for 179 yards and a touchdown in New England’s preseason opener Thursday. While the Auburn alum does not profile as a classic Brady successor type, the Patriots certainly appear encouraged by their developmental prospect.

As we wind down preseason Week 1, here is the latest from the AFC:

  • A.J. Cann has served as the Jaguars‘ starting right guard since his rookie season in 2015. He is not a lock to reprise his role in 2019. Cann is battling converted tackle Will Richardson for the spot, with Doug Marrone indicating (via Hays Carlyon of 1010 XL, on Twitter) Brandon Thomas is also in the mix here. A 2018 fourth-rounder, Richardson looks like the favorite to win this job thus far, Carlyon adds (via Twitter). Richardson has yet to play an NFL down; he hit IR in October of his rookie year. Thomas has hung around for six NFL summers, with the 2014 third-round 49ers pick having never played in a regular-season game. He’s bounced on and off the Jaguars’ roster and practice squad since 2017. Cann has three years remaining on a contract he signed in 2018.
  • With Cam Robinson potentially set to have a delayed start to the season, Marrone said the Jaguars are considering free agent additions Cedric Ogbuehi and Leonard Wester at left tackle. Longtime Jags backup Josh Wells is vying for that temp job as well. Second-round rookie Jawaan Taylor is set to start at right tackle.
  • Had Antonio Callaway not received a four-game suspension, the second-year Browns wideout might not have been able to go in Week 1 anyway. Callaway suffered a high ankle sprain in Cleveland’s preseason opener, per Freddie Kitchens (via ohio.com’s Nate Ulrich, on Twitter). The Browns will now be without two of their 2018 pass catchers, with Duke Johnson having been traded and Callaway out until at least October. Fortunately, they acquired Odell Beckham Jr. this offseason.
  • Chargers tight end Andrew Vollert suffered ACL damage in the team’s preseason opener, and Anthony Lynn said (via ESPN.com’s Eric Williams, on Twitter) the second-year UDFA will miss the season. The Bolts signed Vollert in May.

NFL Suspends Browns’ Antonio Callaway

The NFL has suspended Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway for violating the league’s policy and program on substances of abuse. He’ll miss the first four games of the season, leaving the Browns without one of their most intriguing weapons until mid-October. 

I take full responsibility for my actions. I made a mistake and I own that,” Callaway said in a statement. “I have taken steps to make myself better and I appreciate the Browns standing by me and supporting me during this time. I know there’s nothing I can say to regain trust; it will all be about my actions.”

Callaway has been talking a big game all offseason, and the Browns were excited to see what he could do in his sophomore season. The 2018 fourth-round pick hauled in 43 passes for 586 yards and five touchdowns last year and seemed to have a strong rapport with quarterback Baker Mayfield. Unfortunately, his off-the-field issues date back to college and have reared themselves once again.

We’re disappointed in Antonio,” Browns GM John Dorsey said in a press release. “Freddie and I have had a direct conversation with him about where we stand. He understands our expectations of him. We will continue to support him as long as he remains committed to taking advantage of the resources made available to him by our club and the league to help him become the best version of himself as a person first and foremost.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Gruden, Raiders, Rams, Browns, Chiefs

Jon Gruden seemed to indicate the Raiders wouldn’t be overly aggressive in free agency this offseason during a recent podcast interview, per Scott Bair of NBC Sports. “Obviously, we’re not looking to add players at the end of their career. We’re looking for blossoming young players. Those guys usually don’t get to free agency, so the pickings are slim”, Gruden said, adding “we’ll see where the market goes, but you don’t want to spend all the money you have on a few free agents. You want to try to keep some of that money available in case a trade might develop during the draft.” Gruden separately again emphasized the possibility of making a trade, saying “I think there’s a lot of potential for trades.”

Here’s more from around the league on this Friday night:

  • The Rams are making another change to their coaching staff. So far this offseason they’ve lost Zac Taylor to the Bengals, promoted Jedd Fisch and Shane Waldron, and hired Wade Phillips’ son Wes to be their tight ends coach. Now, they’re hiring away Eric Henderson from the Chargers to be their new defensive line coach, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Henderson had been serving as an assistant defensive line coach with the Chargers. Before that, he had been an assistant with Oklahoma State. The Rams haven’t made any announcement, but Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic was able to confirm that their incumbent defensive line coach, Bill Johnson, won’t be back with the team next year (Twitter link).
  • Browns receiver Antonio Callaway had his marijuana charge from last October dropped recently, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Callaway had maintained all along that he had no idea the small amount of marijuana was in his car, and apparently he was right. Callaway had previously tested positive at the combine before he was drafted, so his citation turned into somewhat of a big deal.
  • Earlier this week, we heard that the Chiefs intended to franchise tag pass-rusher Dee Ford. The team could be facing a fight with Ford though over which position he’ll be classified as, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. Ford has played outside linebacker in old defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s scheme, but Ford is a pass-rusher first and foremost and will want to be classified as a defensive end for tagging purposes. As Florio points out, because the tag is valued based on what the top players at a given position are being paid, it’s the difference of several million dollars. Newly-hired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo runs a 4-3 defense so Ford will be a defensive end in 2019 anyway, but Florio writes that Spagnuolo intentionally declined to talk specifics about positions in his defense during recent comments to reporters, perhaps because of an impending battle between Ford and the club.

Extra Points: Super Bowl, London, Callaway, Browns, Cooper, Cowboys

There’s been a lot of talk about the NFL and London recently. There were rumors earlier this month that the Jaguars were eyeing a move to London in the near future. Just days later, the NFL’s vice president of international said the league was ready for a team across the pond right now. While Jaguars owner Shad Khan recently pulled his offer to buy Wembley Stadium, throwing cold water on the rumors for now, the NFL is still very invested in expanding the game abroad.

One possibility that’s been suggested is holding the Super Bowl in London. While Roger Goodell is acknowledging that it’s “been talked about a lot”, he said the league currently isn’t planning on doing it anytime soon, according to Nick Shook of NFL.com. Goodell said the Super Bowl is supposed to be a reward for fans, and that he won’t look to put a Super Bowl in London until London has its own team. Overall, Goodell’s comments suggest the league still plans on having a franchise overseas sooner rather than later.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Browns receiver Antonio Callaway has a well-documented legal history. He dealt with lots of off-field issues while at Florida, then was arrested this summer and reportedly didn’t tell the Browns about it until it was reported in the media. Now, Callaway was pulled over for speeding on his way to the team’s game against the Chargers a couple of weeks back, according to Robin Goist of Cleveland.com. It’s a very minor incident, but still worth noting due to Callaway already being on thin ice with the team. Callaway’s role has been reduced in recent weeks, even with injuries piling up to the Browns’ pass-catchers, and it seems like he’s in the doghouse with the coaching staff.
  • The Cowboys had been looking for a number one receiver for a while before trading for Amari Cooper, Cowboys VP Stephen Jones said, per Jon Machota of Dallas News (Twitter link). Jones revealed the team heavily pursued Sammy Watkins in free agency but missed out. Since then, they didn’t find a possibility they liked until Cooper became available.
  • In case you missed it, a breakdown of all the recent drama surrounding ownership of the Denver Broncos.

North Notes: Steelers, Browns, Bears, Lions

Le’Veon Bell‘s revelation that he plans to report to the Steelers following their Week 7 bye leads to as many questions as it does answers, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes in a pair of posts. As Florio notes, Pittsburgh will have three options once Bell reports: play him as if nothing ever happened; trade him before the October 30 trade deadline; or rescind Bell’s franchise tender, which wouldn’t lead to any additional draft pick compensation. Additionally, a roster exemption could play a large role in Bell’s return, per Florio. The Steelers will be allowed to use a two-week exemption for Bell once he signs his franchise tag, and club and player will need to agree to the salary Bell will be paid if he’s on the exempt list. If Pittsburgh doesn’t want to pay Bell at his full rate while he’s on the exempt list, Bell could conceivably reinstate his holdout.

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

  • Browns rookie receiver Antonio Callaway today pleaded not guilty to a charge of marijuana possession stemming from an August arrest, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. Callaway’s lawyer indicated they’ll fight the misdemeanor marijuana charge, but the case doesn’t figure to be resolved for awhile. The NFL, of course, could choose to suspend Callaway regardless of whether he faces legal consequences, but the league will likely let the case play out before taking any action. Unrelatedly, Browns head coach Hue Jackson said today that Callaway’s playing time could be dialed back, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Callway has played the third-most snaps among Cleveland wideouts, producing 10 receptions and 155 yards on 24 targets.
  • After losing Sam Acho for the season, the Bears could theoretically take a look at free agent edge rusher Lamarr Houston, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com speculates (Twitter link). The connection makes sense, as Houston spent the 2015-17 seasons in Chicago before landing with the Texans in 2018. Houston landed only five games with the Texans, and was back on the Bears’ roster for the conclusion of the 2018 campaign. The 31-year-old has drawn plenty of interest on the open market despite not yet landing a contract, as he’s worked out for the Vikings, Seahawks, Raiders, and Jets since April.
  • Lions right guard T.J. Lang is in the concussion protocol after suffering a brain injury in Week 4, as Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com writes. This is at least the fifth known concussion for Lang, so the issue is obviously serious in nature, tweets Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. Detroit has heavily invested in its front five in recent seasons, using early picks on Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, and Graham Glasgow while inking free agents Lang and Ricky Wagner. Thus far, the unit ranks second in adjusted sack rate and 15th in adjusted line yards, per Football Outsiders. Veteran Kenny Wiggins filled in for Lang on Sunday and will continue to do so while the latter is sidelined.