Brett Rypien

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/1/20

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Tennessee Titans

All Broncos QBs Ineligible For Week 12

The Broncos and the NFL have run into a significant problem. Jeff Driskel‘s positive COVID-19 test earlier this week will lead to an unprecedented situation.

None of the Broncos’ three other QBs will be eligible to play Sunday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles have been deemed high-risk close contacts of Driskel. The NFL forced the Broncos to pull the three passers out of practice earlier today, Mike Klis of 9News tweets.

With the Broncos having no available QBs, this certainly puts the viability of Sunday’s Denver-New Orleans game in doubt. However, this game is still on schedule for Sunday, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. This seems like a tenuous proposition, but as of now, the Broncos would be forced to deploy a true emergency quarterback. They cannot sign any free agent passer to play Sunday, due to COVID-19 protocols.

Driskel’s Thursday positive test coincided with his three non-infected teammates not wearing masks, Schefter adds (on Twitter). It is not known how long the trio went without masks, but it was evidently long enough for the NFL to sideline an entire team’s QB room. The Patriots saw Cam Newton sidelined because of the virus earlier this season, and COVID-positive Lamar Jackson will miss Tuesday’s Ravens-Steelers game — should it stay on as scheduled. But the Broncos’ predicament drags the NFL into new territory regarding the virus.

The Broncos have a wide receiver on their practice squad, Kendall Hinton, who played quarterback at Wake Forest for three seasons, Klis adds (on Twitter). Quality control coach Rob Calabrese worked in that role at practice Saturday, Klis tweets. Hinton attempted 251 career passes with the Demon Deacons, though most of them came in 2015. He ran for 390 yards and seven TDs that season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos To Start Brett Rypien Vs. Jets

In what will seemingly become an increasingly difficult sell as a nationally televised game, Thursday’s Broncos-Jets clash will include another different Denver quarterback. The matchup between the winless teams will feature Brett Rypien calling signals for the Broncos, Vic Fangio confirmed Tuesday.

Rypien, who replaced Jeff Driskel in the Broncos’ Week 3 loss to the Buccaneers, will become Denver’s ninth starting quarterback since Peyton Manning‘s retirement. Fangio said Driskel may see time against the Jets, per Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter), but the Broncos are trying one of their other backups while Drew Lock continues his rehab effort.

Since Manning’s retirement, the Broncos have used Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler, Case Keenum, Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen, Lock and Driskel as starters — the most in the NFL since 2016. Rypien, a second-year UDFA out of Boise State and nephew of former Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien, went 8-for-8 in garbage time against the Bucs. He started four seasons for the Mountain West’s Broncos outfit, throwing 90 career TD passes at Boise State.

The injury-plagued Broncos signed Blake Bortles last week but were unlikely to use him for a short-week game. Should Lock need the estimated five- or six-week timetable to recover from his rotator cuff strain, it represents a decent bet Bortles will see time — given his experience edge on Rypien and Driskel. Rypien, at least, will play behind a more experienced right tackle than Driskel did. Longtime Bucs starter Demar Dotson will take over for the injured Elijah Wilkinson, Fangio said.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Sign 15 To Practice Squad

The Broncos will feature one of the more traditional practice squads, at least to start the season. No big-name veterans appear on Denver’s initial practice squad. Instead, a host of developmental players populate the unit.

However, veteran cornerback De’Vante Bausby — who was one of Denver’s final cuts Saturday — will stick with the team as part of this 15-man practice squad. The Broncos acquired Bausby after his stint in the Alliance of American Football in 2019. He played in five Broncos games last season, after previously seeing spot work with the Bears and Eagles in 2016 and ’18, but wound up on IR for much of the slate.

Joining the four-year veteran will be ex-UDFA Brett Rypien, who resided on Denver’s practice squad last season. Here is the Broncos’ full list:

Broncos Move Roster To 53

The Broncos parted ways with 24 players to trim their roster to the 53-man regular-season limit. Here are the players the team cut to get to 53.

Waived:

Released:

Placed on IR:

The Rypien cut will leave the Broncos with two active-roster QBs — Drew Lock and Jeff Driskel — while the Fumagalli and Fort decisions mean Jake Butt made Denver’s active roster. Viewed as a long shot to do so after the team made multiple tight end additions this offseason, Butt made it through camp healthy to start his contract year. The former Michigan standout has suffered three ACL tears in his career.

Denver drafting three wideouts made matters difficult for their lesser-known holdovers, but Winfree — a 2019 sixth-rounder — profiles as a practice squad candidate. The Broncos will carry rookie seventh-rounder Tyrie Cleveland onto their active roster.

Bausby has bounced around the league for several years now, and the former Division II standout joined Mike Purcell in vaulting from the Alliance of American Football to a Broncos role last year. But the team kept UDFA Essang Bassey over Bausby this year.

Reserve/Futures Contracts: 12/30/19

With the regular season behind us, teams can start signing players to reserve/futures contract. This ties the player to the team’s 90-man offseason roster.

Several teams have already started completing these deals, which we’ve compiled below:

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos

Indianapolis Colts

New York Giants

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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.