B.J. Goodson

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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

[POLL: Which AFC Contender Will Miss Playoffs?]

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

COVID-19 Latest: Browns, Texans, Panthers

The Browns have closed their facility and delayed their flight to New Jersey because of a positive COVID-19 test. They are performing contract tracing ahead of their scheduled noon CT Sunday game against the Jets. While the Browns placed Jedrick Wills on their reserve/COVID-19 list, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports the rookie left tackle did not test positive for the coronavirus. He and practice squad wideout Ryan Switzer are close contacts. However, Wills is expected to be pulled off the Browns’ virus list in order to start Sunday, Cabot adds. Cleveland indeed activated Wills off its reserve/COVID list but placed linebacker B.J. Goodson on it ahead of Sunday’s game. Goodson tested positive, Cabot reports. The Browns are planning to depart Cleveland at some point tonight, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets.

Here is the latest from the NFL’s COVID-19 front:

  • Deshaun Watson‘s restaurant opening has caused an issue for the Texans. Watson and other Houston players were photographed maskless at the recent indoor event, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). Watson received a $7.5K fine. The Texans levied fines against some of his teammates as well, with ESPN.com’s Sarah Barshop noting Laremy Tunsil, Brandin Cooks and Tytus Howard were among those at the event.
  • Whitney Mercilus now resides on the Texans’ reserve/COVID-19 list, and the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson reports he tested positive for the virus (Twitter link). This is Mercilus’ second time on the COVID list; he landed there in November as a close contact of then-COVID-positive linebacker Jacob Martin. This will end Mercilus’ season — his ninth with the Texans. Thanks to his December 2019 extension, Mercilus is signed through the 2023 season.
  • The Panthersdustup with COVID earlier this month produced a series of fines. The team handed out fines of at least $10K to players who broke virus protocols during the team’s bye week earlier this month, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Wideouts D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel and Shaq Thompson, Derrick Brown and Greg Little were among those placed on the COVID list.
  • After the Broncos were forced to use practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton at quarterback earlier this season, the NFL tweaked its protocol to help teams in the event similar trouble emerges. Players already receiving COVID testing will be permitted to make their debuts for new teams without having to take virus tests six days apart, Pelissero tweets. This would allow for a team to sign a player off another team’s practice squad late in the week and use him in a game in an emergency scenario.
  • Washington fined Dwayne Haskins $40K for breaking COVID protocols for the second time this season but did not suspend him.

Contract Details: Davis, Roberts, Haeg

Let’s take a closer look at the details of a few recently-signed free agent contracts:

AFC

NFC

  • Sean Davis, S (Redskins): One year, $4MM. $2MM guaranteed (Twitter link via John Keim of ESPN.com).
  • Seth Roberts, WR (Panthers): One year, $3.75MM (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of ESPN.com).
  • Zach Kerr, DT (Panthers): Two years, $3MM. Unknown incentives available (Twitter link via Garafolo).
  • B.J. Goodson, LB (Browns): One year, $2.4MM. $2.25MM guaraneed. $1.25MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com).
  • Joe Haeg, T (Buccaneers): One year, $2.3MM. $1.5MM guaranteed. Up to $1MM available via playtime incentives (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Cedric Ogbuehi, T (Seahawks): One year, $2.3MM. $500K guaranteed. $500K signing bonus (Twitter link via Brady Henderson of ESPN.com).
  • Will Parks, S (Eagles): One year, $1.5MM. $1.375MM guaranteed. $375K signing bonus. Up to $125K in per-game roster bonuses (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Tajae Sharpe, WR (Vikings): One year, $1MM. $675K guaranteed. $175K signing bonus. Max value of $1.5MM (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Sharrod Neasman, S (Falcons): One year, $950K. $40K signing bonus. Veteran salary benefit (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Joe Walker, LB (49ers): One year, $900K. Max of $75K in per-game roster bonuses (Twitter link via Wilson).

Browns To Sign LB B.J. Goodson

The Browns have come to an agreement with linebacker B.J. Goodson, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. Cleveland has already lost linebackers Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert in free agency so Goodson should immediately slot into the starting lineup.

Still just 26 years old, Goodson has accumulated 160 tackles in 53 games (29 starts) since entering the league in 2016. A fourth-round pick by the Giants, Goodson spent his first three seasons in New York before a trade last September sent him to Green Bay where he immediately entered the team’s rotation.

Last season, Goodson graded similarly to both Schobert and Kirksey, ranking as the 54th highest graded linebacker out of 89 qualified players, per Pro Football Focus.

NFC North Notes: Lions, Jackson, Vikings, Fields, Vedvik, Packers, Goodson

The Lions might not be done stockpiling quarterbacks. At cutdown day, they had amassed five on the 90-man roster. They cut Tom Savage and Luis Perez to get them down to three, but are now apparently looking for additional options. Detroit will work out Tyree Jackson on Monday, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). The Bills waived Jackson this weekend. As of right now the Lions have journeyman Josh Johnson and undrafted rookie David Blough, who they just traded for, on the roster behind Matthew Stafford.

The Lions also scheduled a Kyle Sloter workout, but the recently waived Vikings passer ended up signing with the Cardinals’ practice squad. Sloter drew interest from several teams, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. Jackson left the University of Buffalo a year early, then went undrafted. He’s widely regarded as having impressive physical tools, but still being far too raw to play anytime soon.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • The Vikings made a minor trade with the Chiefs for cornerback Mark Fields over the weekend, and now we have the details. The 2021 seventh-round pick Minnesota sent is conditional, a source told Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Twitter link). Gooessling writes that it’s “based on Fields being on the Vikings’ roster for an agreed-upon number of games,” and that if Fields isn’t on the roster long Minnesota won’t have to give up anything. Fields was an undrafted rookie from Clemson who the Vikings reportedly had interest in right after the draft.
  • Speaking of Vikings trades, Minnesota caught some flak for trading a fifth-round pick for kicker/punter Kaare Vedvik and then cutting him a few weeks later. Vedvik struggled during the preseason, and Minnesota opted to stick with Dan Bailey as their kicker. The Jets ended up claiming Vedvik off waivers, but Minnesota apparently wanted him back. The Vikings had offered him a spot on the practice squad and he was likely going to accept before New York claimed him, Tomasson tweets.
  • We also now have terms on the B.J. Goodson trade. The Giants initially announced they intended to release the inside linebacker, but then traded him to the Packers earlier this morning. The deal was done in exchange for the teams agreeing to swap conditional 2020 seventh-round picks, according to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (Twitter link). Balzer notes that Green Bay sent a pick they had previously acquired from Baltimore in the deal. Goodson was a fourth-round pick of the Giants’ back in 2016, who started 13 games for them last year.

Giants Trade B.J. Goodson To Packers

The Giants aren’t cutting B.J. Goodson after all. Moments after announcing his release, the Giants struck a deal to send him to the Packers, as Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com tweets. The Giants’ return is not yet known.

Goodson isn’t a star, but he does offer starting experience. With the Packers, he can provide depth at inside linebacker in wake of Oren Burks‘ pectoral injury.

I’m not sure what’s really going on with ‘OB,’ but for what it is right now, there’s definitely an opportunity for all of us to step up and fill that role, for whoever it is that the coaches decide,” second-year pro James Crawford said after Burks suffered the injury against the Texans in preseason action.

Now, Goodson will be among those on hand to help out.

Giants Cut B.J. Goodson

The Giants have released B.J. Goodson, their one-time starting middle linebacker. To take his place, the club added fellow ‘backer David Mayo.

As recently as June, Goodson profiled as the Giants’ base-set starter. Things changed, however, and the 26-year-old has been displaced from the only NFL team he’s ever known. Since being drafted in the fourth round in 2016, Goodson has appeared in 37 games with 20 starts for the G-Men. Last year, he notched 61 tackles, half a sack, and two interceptions.

Mayo, meanwhile, was dropped by the Niners on Saturday. Before he hooked on with SF, Mayo suited up for 59 games as a member of the Panthers across four seasons.

NFC East Notes: Eagles, McCoy, Giants

With Brandon Brooks going down with a torn Achilles in the second round of the playoffs, the Eagles face an issue regarding how their starting offensive line will look come Week 1. But five months later, Brooks revealed a bit about where his recovery process stands. The veteran guard shared a brief workout video (Twitter link) that shows him doing agility drills again. The fourth-year Eagle will almost certainly begin training camp on the active/PUP list, and it can’t be considered a lock he will be ready for the start of the season. But this represents an encouraging sign from the mammoth offensive lineman.

In the event Brooks is not ready to go in September, a contingency plan might involve a position switch. Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who replaced Jason Peters at left tackle as a rookie in 2017, has worked at guard at times this offseason. The Eagles appear to be preparing Vaitai to be their Brooks stopgap, in the event he needs more time, Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia writes. The Eagles drafted Andre Dillard in Round 1 and have rugby convert Jordan Mailata at tackle as well, so Vaitai working at guard may be a way to stay on the roster. This is interesting given that Stefen Wisniewski (24 Eagles left guard starts from 2016-18) re-signed in May. It would stand to reason the experienced interior lineman would be the Brooks fill-in, but Doug Pederson mentioned a possible Vaitai-Lane Johnson right side recently.

Shifting to more NFC East position battles, here is the latest out of the division:

  • The Eagles’ Zach Brown addition figures to clear up uncertainty about their three-down linebacker sets, with Brown joining Nigel Bradham. And despite the return of Paul Worrilow and arrival of L.J. Fort, Zangaro notes Kamu Grugier-Hill remains the third linebacker in base sets and adds it would not be a surprise to see him gut into Brown’s work in nickel sets. Grugier-Hill played 32% of the Eagles’ 2018 defensive snaps. Brown, however, posted a top-10 Pro Football Focus coverage grade last season. Grugier-Hill did not grade nearly as well.
  • Colt McCoy‘s final surgery total from the fractured fibula he suffered late last season: three. The veteran Redskins quarterback is expected to be cleared for training camp, but J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington notes McCoy indeed underwent three procedures since December — the most recent coming in April. McCoy’s knowledge of Jay Gruden‘s offense will help him in Washington’s QB battle and possibly as a mentor type once Dwayne Haskins inevitably takes over this season.
  • Once Janoris Jenkins returned to work this offseason, Deandre Baker remained a Giants first-stringer over Sam Beal this offseason. And UDFA Grant Haley resides as the favorite to replace B.W. Webb as the team’s slot corner, Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com writes. While including Beal as a possible challenger for the slot job, along with fourth-round rookie Julian Love, Dunleavy notes the 2018 supplemental draft pick does not have slot experience. This would stand to make the Western Michigan product Big Blue’s CB4 to start the season.
  • Alec Ogletree has one Giants inside linebacker job locked up, and as of now, fourth-year man B.J. Goodson is the team’s base-set starter. Tae Davis remains the nickel replacement for Goodson, per Dunleavy, but rookie fifth-round pick Ryan Connelly is in the mix for this role. The fifth-rounder out of Wisconsin was viewed as one of this draft’s top coverage linebackers.

East Rumors: Redskins, Woods, Britt, Giants

Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles made plans to visit the Redskins this weekend, following Orleans Darkwa in doing so. This effort to add a piece to a reeling backfield won’t be to bring in a starter but to add depth to a position group that needs it. Jay Gruden said (video link) his team is “covering our bases” in arranging visits with these free agent backs. Being merely a four-year veteran with a light carry history, Darkwa certainly has the most left in the tank. He led the Giants in rushing last season. Peterson, though, has recent experience fitting in quickly with a new team. Although he didn’t do well on a per-carry basis behind a struggling Cardinals offensive line, the future Hall of Fame back posted two 130-plus-yard performances last season — the first of which coming in his initial Cards game. Charles fell out of the Broncos’ rotation late in the season, but the two-time All-Pro made it through last year healthy and performed fairly well (4.3 yards per tote) before being shut down.

Washington lost Derrius Guice and has Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall on the mend. Here’s the latest from some of the Redskins’ rivals, along with news out of the AFC East.

  • Projected to be one of the Cowboys‘ starting safeties, Xavier Woods will be out between three and four weeks because of a hamstring injury, Calvin Watkins of The Athletic tweets. Dallas has been linked to Earl Thomas throughout 2018 and is now examining recently released George Iloka. The Cowboys selected Woods in the sixth round last year and deployed him in four games as a starter.
  • Kenny Britt is still dealing with the hamstring injury he suffered during Patriots minicamp. The veteran wideout has not participated in 11-on-11 drills since that setback, Doug Kyed of NESN.com notes. The Pats removed Britt from the PUP list two weeks ago, and the soon-to-be 30-year-old receiver said he’s feeling OK presently. He declined to predict whether or not he’ll be ready for Week 1. The Patriots signed Britt late last season and picked up his 2018 option in March, but considering how poorly he played with the Browns and his injury status, it wouldn’t be a shock if he’s not on the roster by September. The Pats have endured a turbulent offseason at this position, cutting both Jordan Matthews and Malcolm Mitchell, signing Eric Decker and seeing Julian Edelman incur a four-game PED suspension.
  • The Giants made a change in their sub-package alignment Sunday, swapping in Ray-Ray Armstrong for B.J. Goodson at one of the two linebacker positions, per Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com. Armstrong and Alec Ogletree worked as Big Blue’s nickel ‘backers at practice. Armstrong played safety in college and has bounced around in the NFL, seeing action with the Rams, Raiders and 49ers before joining the Giants last year. Pro Football Focus graded both Goodson and Armstrong as poor coverage players last season.