Brett Rypien

More Minor NFL Transactions: 10/30/19

Today’s minor moves:

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

  • Claimed off waivers (Giants): LB Tae Davis

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Promoted from practice squad: CB Tevaughn Campbell

Miami Dolphins

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Redskins

Notable NFL Practice Squad Salaries

Playing on an NFL practice squad isn’t a bad gig. You work with a club’s 53-man roster every week, have a good chance to get called up if/when injuries strike, and collect a solid paycheck ($8K per week minimum). And for some practice squaders, the pay can get even better.

While all practice squad salaries count towards the salary cap, there’s no restriction on how much a team can pay a practice squad player. When a club desperately wants to retain a player but can’t fit him on its 53, they’ll often bump up his salary in an effort to keep him around. Here’s a look at several players who are earning much more than the NFL’s $8K per week standard, via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link):

The 49ers clearly have no problem with spending a little extra on practice squad players, as both Lee and Harris are earning at least $22K more than the league PS minimum. Lee’s been with San Francisco since 2017 and started five games for the club last season, but the 49ers’ front seven depth is keeping him on the taxi squad for now. Harris, too, was a part-time starter for San Francisco in 2018.

The quarterbacks on the list are also interesting. Rypien has been deemed Broncos’ offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello‘s “project” and could be called up to the active roster at some point given that Denver is only carrying two quarterbacks in Joe Flacco and Brandon Allen (rookie second-rounder Drew Lock is on injured reserve). And the rebuilding Dolphins seem intent on hanging onto Rudock, who spent the first three seasons of his career with the Lions.

Broncos Trim Roster To 53

The Denver Broncos made a slew of moves today to get down to 53 players. Notably, the team will place rookie second-round quarterback Drew Lock on injured reserve, meaning he’ll have to miss at least the first eight games of the season as he recovers from his thumb injury. The team cut journeyman Kevin Hogan and UDFA Brett Rypien, leaving them without a quarterback behind Joe Flacco. GM John Elway has said they’ll sign a veteran to backup Flacco for now, and we’ve already heard they’re interested in Brian Hoyer.

There weren’t too many surprises that we didn’t already know of. Brendan Langley, a 2017 third-round pick, failed to make the team. He was drafted as a cornerback, but switched to receiver earlier this offseason after he didn’t pan out on defense.

Here’s the full list of other moves:

Waived:

FB George Aston

T Quinn Bailey

WR Trinity Benson

LB Keishawn Bierria

OL Adam Bisnowaty

OL Jake Brendel

WR Fred Brown

LB Jamal Carter

CB Rashard Causey

WR Steven Dunbar Jr.

OLB Ahmad Gooden

CB Alijah Holder

RB Devontae Jackson

CB Trey Johnson

G/C Sam Jones

OL Tyler Jones

T John Leglue

WR Kelvin McKnight

RB Khalfani Muhammad

DL Deyon Sizer

CB Linden Stephens

TE Moral Stephens

RB David Williams

DE DeShawn Williams

Waived/injured:

C Ryan Crozier

LB Joe Dineen

OLB Dadi Nicolas

S Dymonte Thomas

Released:

AFC Notes: Collins, Broncos, Raiders, Finley

Jamie Collins held the distinction of being the highest-paid off-ball linebacker for nearly two years. His new deal with the Patriots is less glamorous. Escalators exist in Collins’ one-year, $2MM contract, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com broke them down Sunday. If the eighth-year linebacker plays 50% of the Pats’ 2019 snaps, he will obtain an additional $250K. A 60% snap clearance will mean another $250K. This goes up in 10% increments until the 80% mark, when the incentives increase but also venture into not-likely-to-be-earned territory. Should Collins wind up in the Pro Bowl, he would earn an additional $500K. Collins was making $12.5MM per year on his Browns deal.

Here’s the latest from the AFC, moving westward:

  • It should be expected that Drew Lock is the Broncos‘ backup quarterback once the regular season begins, even after a shaky preseason start. But the Broncos also moved rookie UDFA Brett Rypien into position to challenge Kevin Hogan‘s roster spot. The nephew of former Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien received the third-team reps ahead of Hogan in practice Sunday, Mike Klis of 9News notes. Lock took the second-team snaps. Hogan served as Case Keenum‘s backup last year, after Chad Kelly‘s departure. Rypien could conceivably be a practice squad stash, but Klis views the Broncos as giving him every opportunity to unseat Hogan.
  • On the defensive side of the ball, the Broncos made a move to address their depleted inside linebacker corps. Third-year safety Jamal Carter is now an inside linebacker, with Vic Fangio indicating (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, on Twitter) Carter sought this switch. “I’ve been wanting to play this since high school and college,’’ Carter said, via Klis. “I like being in the trenches. I’m a physical specimen. I don’t like being too deep away from arms and contact. It’s going to fit me.” Todd Davis, Josey Jewell and Joe Jones are out with injuries presently. Carter, a 2017 UDFA out of Miami, missed all of last season due to injury and is on Denver’s roster bubble.
  • Set to use Andy Dalton as their starting quarterback for a ninth season, the Bengals did draft another passer this year. Their Ryan Finley fourth-round investment has gone well as the offseason has progressed, and The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. (subscription required) views a Bengals final roster that only includes Dalton and Finley at quarterback. This would mean Cincinnati cutting Jeff Driskel, who was needed for five starts after Dalton’s IR trip last year. A 2016 sixth-round pick, Driskel posted a 31.6 QBR in his 2018 work.
  • The Raiders placed cornerback D.J. Killings on IR on Sunday, doing so because he tore a pectoral muscle in the team’s preseason opener Saturday. Killings, a third-year UDFA, will undergo surgery, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tweets.

Latest On Broncos’ QB Situation

The Broncos traded for veteran QB Joe Flacco in February with the clear intention of having him serve as their starting signal-caller for at least the 2019 season. But given the state of Denver’s quarterback situation since Peyton Manning retired, GM John Elway hedged his bets in a big way, drafting talented but raw prospect Drew Lock in the second round of this year’s draft and handing a $136K guarantee to UDFA Brett Rypien.

Mike Klis of 9News.com examined the status of the Broncos’ QB depth chart as we inch closer to training camp, and to no one’s surprise, Flacco is the unquestioned starter. His performance during early Broncos practices this year made Elway comfortable enough to eschew a QB prospect in the first round of the draft, and despite some speculation that Lock could push Flacco for the starting job at some point in 2019, Klis says the long-time Raven will be Denver’s one and only quarterback this season, provided he stays healthy. The fact that Flacco has looked his best when playing in an offense similar to the one that new OC Rich Scangarello runs will certainly help his cause, and he built on his strong work early in the offseason by continuing to play well throughout OTAs and minicamp.

Klis notes that Lock has shown flashes of his potential, but his decision-making and ability to read defenses still need a great deal of refinement, and the Missouri product will have a legitimate battle with Kevin Hogan for the club’s backup job. Hogan has started just one game in his professional career, but he apparently showed enough in practice in 2018 for Denver to re-sign him this offseason. However, if Lock wins the No. 2 spot, then Hogan will likely be cut, with the third-string job going to Rypien. If Lock struggles and cedes the backup role to Hogan, then Rypien may be forced onto the practice squad, where he could be poached by another team.

The AFC West looks as if it will be a highly-competitive division in 2019, and Denver will not have an easy road back to the playoffs after a three-year absence. But if Lock shows significant improvement and can become a real candidate to start in 2020, that would be a decent consolation prize.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Jones, Raiders, Broncos

The Chiefs entered the offseason with two major extensions on tap, but considering Tyreek Hill‘s situation, that number has almost certainly dwindled to one. And Chris Jones looks to be staying away from the team for the time being. Jones did not show for the Chiefs’ voluntary workouts this week, Terez Paylor of Yahoo.com reports. While this may not be contract-related, the now-extension-eligible interior defender may be sending an early message to his team. The Chiefs just gave trade acquisition Frank Clark a massive extension, and despite Clark’s presence as the Seahawks’ top pass rusher last season, Jones outperformed him with 15.5 sacks — far and away the most in Chiefs single-season history for an inside defender. Considering Fletcher Cox received $17.1MM per year after a 9.5-sack season, and on a $155MM cap in 2016, Jones’ representation will surely argue the Pro Bowl snub deserves to be the highest-paid non-Aaron Donald interior lineman in the game.

Here is the latest from the AFC West, shifting to a lineman that already received a massive contract:

  • Although the Raiders gave Trent Brown the biggest contract in tackle history, they plan to use him at right tackle. Jon Gruden confirmed (via NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo, on Twitter) Kolton Miller will stay at left tackle and Brown, who signed a $16.5MM-AAV deal in March, will return to the right-edge spot he occupied in San Francisco. The Patriots used Brown at left tackle, and he played a key role in their championship push in the playoffs. However, this may be geared toward the Raiders’ competition. Von Miller consistently rushes against right tackles, as does Joey Bosa. It is possible Clark will too, though that has yet to be determined. Nevertheless, Brown now easily usurps Denver’s Ja’Wuan James ($12.75MM per year) as the NFL’s highest-paid right tackle.
  • Mike Mayock identified a new key presence in his scouting department. Cowboys west coast area scout Jim Abrams will become the Raiders’ new college scouting director, Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio and ESPN.com’s Todd Archer report (Twitter links). Abrams worked with Gruden during part of the Raiders HC’s Buccaneers tenure and has nearly 30 years of NFL experience.
  • The Broncos did use one of their six draft choices on a wide receiver, waiting until Round 6 to do so (Juwann Winfree), but did not add any notable wideouts in free agency. They are counting on Emmanuel Sanders to return from his Achilles injury. Sanders made another key step in his rehab recently, taking to Instagram to show his first on-field sprint following his December injury. Sanders, 32, is entering the final year of his contract.
  • While the Broncos did take a quarterback in the second round, they appear to have their eyes on another developmental project at the position. Their UDFA deal with Brett Rypien comes with a $146K base salary guarantee and a $10K signing bonus, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. This virtually assures the Boise State product and nephew of former Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien of making Denver’s practice squad, with 9News’ Mike Klis reporting (on Twitter) he will receive $136K if he is part of the Broncos’ taxi unit. That is well north of most P-squad salaries. Rypien’s guarantee represents the largest of John Elway‘s nine-year tenure, per Klis (on Twitter). That said, Joe Flacco, Drew Lock and Kevin Hogan remain likely to be the quarterbacks on Denver’s 53-man roster. The Broncos may have to hope no team claims Rypien if and when he is waived after the preseason.

Broncos Sign 17 UDFAs

The Broncos UDFA list is up to 17 players, and it now officially includes quarterback Brett Rypien, whom the club agreed to sign several days ago. Today, Denver waived Garrett Grayson to make room for Rypien. Here’s the updated list (Mike Klis of 9News.com passes along the signing bonuses for all of the players for whom that information is available).

The Broncos have been consistent in identifying UDFA talent during John Elway‘s tenure, with Chris Harris becoming a perennial Pro Bowler and C.J. Anderson and Phillip Lindsay each making the Pro Bowl during their initial years as starters.

Lindsay’s late-season injury may create a chance for Jackson, who rushed for 1,385 yards and 12 touchdowns last season at the Division II school. The 5-foot-7 ball carrier will give the Broncos a two-Devontae running back room, with Devontae Booker entering a contract year.

Denver lost two offensive linemen in free agency and only drafted one, Dalton Risner, pointing to an opportunity for its quartet of UDFA blockers.

Broncos To Sign QB Brett Rypien

The Broncos are set to sign quarterback Brett Rypien, according to Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (on Twitter). The Boise State product went undrafted last week, but there was a ripe market for his services. 

The Broncos are giving Rypien a “six-figure guarantee,” according to Jhabvala, which would give him one of the most lucrative signing bonuses of any UDFA.

With the signing, the Broncos’ quarterback room just got a bit more crowded. Already, Joe Flacco may be feeling some heat from second-round pick Drew Lock, and the club also has journeymen Kevin Hogan and Garrett Grayson on the depth chart.

Rypien completed 67.3% of his passes for 3,705 yards in his final collegiate season. He also threw for 30 touchdowns against just seven interceptions.

Rypien has been lauded for his intangibles, but many NFL evaluators wonder if he has the arm to compete at the NFL level. His 9-inch hand measurement at the combine also didn’t do him any favors.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.