Brock Osweiler

AFC Notes: Steelers, Harrison, Texans

James Harrison, who was released by the Steelers on Saturday, posted a message on Instagram that seems to hint that an instant return is not in the cards. “Can’t wait to find out what God has in store for me next,” Harrison wrote. “Many thanks to [Steelers Nation] for the years of love and support.” The veteran hasn’t played much this year, but he has been among the team’s most popular players over his 14 years with the club. His release came as a huge surprise and it will be interesting to see if another team will put in a waiver claim on him.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • It has been said that Texans coach Bill O’Brien is on the hot seat, but he recently picked up the endorsement of injured quarterback Deshaun Watson. O’Brien may or may not want to return himself, but he appreciates the support of the Clemson product. “Look, I don’t really know how to answer that question,” O’Brien told reporters (via PFT). “I appreciate all the support that anybody — I think that’s just the way I think any of us are. People support you, it’s a nice thing. But, at the end of the day, we’ve got to focus on Pittsburgh and that’s what we’re trying to do.” O’Brien has one year left on his deal but team owner Bob McNair says there will be no extension talks until the season is through.
  • Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler is likely to start Sunday against Washington, a league source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Recently, Osweiler indicated that he wants to stay with Denver even though the team probably does not see him as a starter for next year. At minimum, he’ll have a platform at the end of the year to prove that he can be an option for the team going forward. Paxton Lynch, for now, will be on the bench.
  • The Texans have placed Tom Savage on IR.

AFC Notes: Kizer, Wilkerson, Broncos, Yates

Hue Jackson took a step back from championing DeShone Kizer following the Browns‘ 14th loss of the season, and on Wednesday, the second-year coach backed off previous talk that the second-round rookie would be the team’s quarterback of the future.

We did not draft a quarterback in the first round and say, ‘This is our quarterback of the future.’ We took a quarterback. We’re trying to grow him,” Jackson said Wednesday when asked of Kizer’s longer-term status, via Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. ”

… I understand when you take a guy in the second round, everybody suspects that that’s the guy. We wish it is. I mean you hope it is. But if it isn’t, that’s OK, too. And hopefully guy will continue to grow and get better, but you also have to continue to get better at the position.”

Jackson has said this season Kizer could be the Browns’ long-term quarterback solution but said Sunday he wondered if the Notre Dame product — who has 19 interceptions, five more than any other passer this season — would ever “get it.” The then-Sashi Brown-led front office may have viewed the 2018 quarterback crop as superior to this year’s, inducing the Browns to bypass a first-round quarterback in order to not block a possible 2018 Round 1 pick. The Browns are almost certainly going to hold the No. 1 overall pick, so they’ll have their chance at the best quarterback prospect come April.

Here’s the latest from the AFC, shifting to the Muhammad Wilkerson situation.

  • In response to a question about if he’d like to stay with the Jets, Wilkerson said it wasn’t going to be up to him. “That’s up to Todd (Bowles) and the organization,” Wilkerson said, via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (video link). Although Wilkerson returned to the Jets on Wednesday, he is not expected to be a part of next year’s team due a turbulent season and disappointing run following his 2016 contract extension.
  • Conversely, Brock Osweiler still wants to stay with the Broncos next season despite the team presumably not viewing him as a starter going into a pivotal offseason. Osweiler’s contract is up after Week 17, but he wants to stay in Denver, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post relays (on Twitter). The Broncos have not decided if he or Paxton Lynch will start on Sunday against the Redskins. Osweiler may be amenable to again being the backup in Denver, with the franchise likely to explore options in what promises to be one of the more unique groups of available quarterbacks in the free agency era, and is unlikely to be be viewed as a starter-level talent by another team.
  • With the Broncos having little inclination Lynch can be counted on as a potential above-average starter, Troy Renck of Denver7 explores the idea of the team adding Kirk Cousins. While it would surely cost a team Derek Carr or Matthew Stafford money to sign Cousins, should be become a free agent, Renck notes the Broncos’ inability to replace Peyton Manning has cost them dearly. Manning wasn’t even making $20MM per year, so the prospect of Cousins — whom Renck lists as a player who figures to be pursued by the Jaguars, Bills, Browns, Cardinals and Jets as well — would be interesting. The Broncos are projected to have $30MM in 2018 cap space.
  • On the subject of cap space, Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap analyzes some of the league’s worst situations. He lists the Chiefs, who are projected to be $3MM-plus over the ’18 cap, but notes the Alex Smith contract could be moved to create relief. The Chiefs would save $17MM by moving Smith’s deal off their books. Veterans like Tamba Hali or Derrick Johnson ($8MM apiece in cap savings) could also be cap casualties at little cost (less than $5MM between them). The Chiefs will also have decision regarding Dee Ford‘s $8.718MM fifth-year option to make. Fitzgerald adds the Chiefs’ failure to be proactive in extending Justin Houston or Eric Berry helped put them in this place.
  • The Texans will indeed start T.J. Yates again Sunday. Tom Savage could well miss the rest of the season. Savage is a free agent at season’s end.

Broncos To Start Paxton Lynch At QB

First, the Broncos made a change at offensive coordinator. Now, they’re making a big change under center. In Week 12, the Broncos will start Paxton Lynch at quarterback. Tuesday was an off day in Denver, so head coach Vance Joseph waited until Wednesday morning to deliver the news to the rest of his staff and the players. Paxton Lynch (vertical)

[RELATED: Broncos Fire OC Mike McCoy, Promote Bill Musgrave]

In some ways, this has been a long time coming for the 2016 first-round pick. In another sense, this was a quick ascension up the ladder. Last week, Paxton suited up for the very first time in 2017 as Brock Osweiler‘s backup with Trevor Siemian marked as a healthy scratch for the first time since Peyton Manning retired. This Sunday, Lynch will start, Siemian will serve as the QB2, and Osweiler will be left off of the active roster.

Last season, Lynch was on the field for three games and two starts. In that short sample, he completed 49 of 83 passes with two touchdowns against one interception. The Broncos have had some concerns about Lynch’s NFL readiness, but there’s no time like the present given their 3-7 record.

Last week, when discussing the possibility of starting Lynch, Joseph indicated that he would tailor the offensive game plan to the rookie’s strengths.

That’s on the coaches and myself if he does play for us to make have a system that fits Paxton,” Joseph said Monday. “He’s practiced the last two weeks. Again guys, it won’t be soccer. It’s football for him. What he’s practiced the last couple weeks may be called a little different. It may be called more of the same stuff, but it’s just football, so he’ll be fine.”

Lynch’s first start of the season will come on Sunday against the Raiders.

The news was first reported by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Osweiler, Cousins, Jim Harbaugh

The Broncos have tried to tinker their playbook a bit to suit Brock Osweiler‘s strengths, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). However, Rapoport calls tonight’s matchup with New England Osweiler’s final audition, and if he should continue to struggle, Paxton Lynch — who is reportedly getting healthier — will be given the chance to show what he can do.

Now for more rumors from the AFC (we rounded up some NFC nuggets earlier today):

  • Rich Cimini of ESPN.com believes that the Jets‘ chances to acquire Kirk Cousins in the offseason improved after Jimmy Garoppolo was traded to San Francisco, thereby (presumably) taking the 49ers out of contention for Cousins’ services. Of course, it all depends on what Washington does, but Cimini thinks New York will make a major QB acquisition one way or another. He thinks the club will either pursue Cousins or another quality veteran (like Alex Smith, should he become available) or else trade up for one of the top signal-callers in the draft.
  • Browns LT Joe Thomas is battling an injured triceps that has knocked him out for the remainder of the season, and he remains undecided about his future, even though Cleveland gave him a pay raise for the 2018 season. As Dan Labbe of Cleveland.com writes, however, the Browns’ outlook could play a role in his decision. Thomas said, “Is it going to be for trying to pursue a championship or are we trying to pursue a playoff berth or are we trying to pursue a first pick overall? Those are all things that could play into that decision.”
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says that, when the 49ers were considering trading former head coach Jim Harbaugh, the Browns offered San Francisco two third-round picks and offered Harbaugh a five-year, $40MM contract. Harbaugh, though, did not want to go to Cleveland, but sources close to the current University of Michigan head coach say his eventual return to the league is “inevitable.”
  • Rookie Gareon Conley might be the Raiders‘ most talented corner, but he has only been able to appear in two games in 2017 due to a shin injury that has taken longer than expected to heal. Per Scott Bair of NBCSports.com, Conley’s prospects for the remainder of the year will become clearer this week. If he is able to return to practice, he could work his way back into the mix. If not, Oakland will place him on injured reserve, thereby ending his first professional season.

AFC Notes: Luck, Fournette, Watson

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) says no one is exactly sure what the future holds for Colts QB Andrew Luck, who was recently placed on IR and ruled out for the remainder of the year. Per Rapoport, Luck has met with at least four doctors and has been advised that he should not throw for two to three months, though surgery is not in the cards at this point. Rapoport says all indications are that Luck will be healthy for the start of 2018, but Alex Marvez of Sporting News is not so optimistic. Because of the way the Colts publicly handled the situation, Marvez does not put much stock in reports that Luck will be ready to go by the start of 2018 — especially since he still cannot throw without soreness 10 months after surgery — and he says Indianapolis is facing the possibility of Luck never playing again at a high level and being on the hook for $87 million in salary guaranteed against injury. Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com tweets that Luck will be reevaluated in December, and that the Colts are “not ignoring” the 2018 QB draft class.

On that sobering note, let’s take a look at more rumors from around the AFC:

  • The Colts claim that cornerback Vontae Davis is out for today’s game due to non-injury reasons, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk hears that is actually a cover-up for the fact that the Colts have not disclosed Davis’ lingering groin injury in recent weeks. Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star says there is more to Davis’ absence than the team is letting on, but he believes Davis’ absence is due to personal reasons and is not injury-related.
  • Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette was deactivated for today’s game against the Bengals, and Jay Glazer of FOX Sports tweets that the star rookie missed treatment, a workout, and a team photo this week, which led to his benching. Head coach Doug Marrone is clearly trying to change the culture in Jacksonville, though Jags fans have to hope it doesn’t come at the expense of the team’s playoff push.
  • Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that Texans QB Deshaun Watson is expected to miss eight to nine months as a result of his ACL tear, though the last time he tore his ACL, he missed only five months, so Houston is hopeful for a shorter timeline.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says Broncos QB Paxton Lynch is under consideration to start in the team’s Week 10 matchup against New England, but Mike Klis of 9News.com says (via Twitter) that report is inaccurate. Klis reports that Lynch is not yet physically ready and that Brock Osweiler will keep the job if he plays well.
  • As La Canfora writes in a separate piece, there are some Browns coaches who believe GM Sashi Brown intentionally scuttled the team’s near trade for A.J. McCarron, presumably because he believed the cost (a second- and third-round draft choice) was too high. Even if Brown is right about that, his efforts to intentionally sabotage the trade represent a massive breach of protocol and will only intensify the much-discussed rift between the team’s coaching staff and front office. But even if Brown did not act duplicitously, and even if the botched trade was simply due to human error, the fact that the coaching staff thinks Brown intentionally nixed the deal suggests things have gone beyond the point of no return in Cleveland.

Brock Osweiler To Start For Broncos

As expected, the Broncos are making a change under center. Brock Osweiler will take over for Trevor Siemian as the team’s new starting quarterback. Brock Osweiler (vertical)

It’s my job to do what’s best for the football team,” Joseph said Tuesday. “… If you try to go the same way and it doesn’t get better, that’s on me. Again, we have players and coaches putting a lot of time and effort in to get ready for these football games and guys are playing hard. I think it’s fair to examine [the quarterback] position and all positions.”

This, of course, marks Osweiler’s second stint as the Broncos’ starting quarterback. In 2015, he was the No. 1 QB in place of the injured Peyton Manning. In that stretch, he threw for 1,589 yards, eight touchdowns, and three interceptions over six games. Manning took the reins later in the year and was the signal caller for the team’s Super Bowl 50 win, but Osweiler was able to parlay his success into a fat free agent contract with the Texans.

Things didn’t go as planned in Houston (and he never took a real snap in Cleveland), but things have worked out just fine for Osweiler. He has his old job back and, this time around, he has way more money in the bank account.

Mired in a three-game losing streak, Osweiler will look to get the Broncos back to .500 with a win over the red-hot Eagles on Sunday. If he looks sharp the rest of the way, Osweiler might be able to position himself as the team’s QB solution in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Broncos, Murray, Steelers, Hill

The Broncos are under .500 for the first time since October 2012 and have seen their aerial attack sputter this month. They are considering benching Trevor Siemian for Brock Osweiler, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Osweiler was once ahead of Siemian in Denver’s pecking order prior to departing as a free agent, starting seven games in relief of Peyton Manning in 2015, but has seen his stock plummet considerably in between Broncos stays. Siemian, though, threw three interceptions against the Chiefs and has now thrown 10 this season — as many as he did in 14 games in 2016. Paxton Lynch would be the more logical choice for a longer-term change but has only practiced three times thus far. Still, if the Broncos’ losing streak continues — and games against the Eagles and Patriots loom the next two weeks — it would stand to reason Lynch could see the field soon for the lengthy audition he’s yet to receive.

Here’s the latest from the AFC on trade deadline day.

  • DeMarco Murray has heard “rumblings” he could be traded, Ed Werder tweets. This would be an obviously interesting move given the Titans‘ placement in the AFC South and wild-card races and their affinity for ground success under Mike Mularkey. Murray has no guaranteed money left on his through-2019 deal. The Cowboys are reportedly calling about running backs after Ezekiel Elliott‘s suspension was restored, and Werder notes Murray makes sense due to his All-Pro season for Dallas in 2014.
  • Martavis Bryant has been informed he’s going to be part of the Steelers‘ Week 10 game plan, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports, continuing to squelch the notion the mercurial pass-catcher could be traded today. The Steelers have said they are not trading the fourth-year wide receiver, one who has another season remaining on his rookie contract since it tolled while he was suspended. Fowler notes Pittsburgh could get blown away by an offer but doesn’t see a trade coming.
  • Steelers rookie cornerback Cameron Sutton returned to practice on Tuesday, the team announced. He remains on IR, and the Steelers have 21 days to activate the third-round pick. Pittsburgh has six cornerbacks on its active roster presently.
  • Jeremy Hill‘s contract year is not going especially well, and the Bengals running back made an agency switch, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (on Twitter). Hill will now be represented by Joel Segal and Greg Barnett, per Owczarski. The fourth-year ball-carrier has just 113 rushing yards on 37 carries. He profiles as a possible trade candidate due to Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard being signed long-term. Hill rushed for at least 790 yards in each of his first three NFL seasons, which would seemingly make him an intriguing free agent despite the role reduction this season.

Broncos Expected To Sign Brock Osweiler

The Broncos will reunite with Brock Osweiler, agreeing to sign the quarterback the Browns recently released, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports (on Twitter).

However, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter) the deal is not yet done. But he adds the Broncos hope to sign him, noting there are still details to sort through.

Osweiler would stand to slide into the backup spot behind Trevor Siemian for the time being. Paxton Lynch is expected to miss multiple regular-season games with a shoulder injury. Cabot reports the Browns are still going to be stuck with most of Osweiler’s guaranteed $16MM due this season.

Denver’s Osweiler decision signals Lynch could be out for a while, Troy Renck of Denver7 notes (on Twitter).

This will provide a reunion between Osweiler and the Broncos, obviously, but also with rehired OC Mike McCoy. While Osweiler saw his only relevant Denver game action in Gary Kubiak‘s offense, he worked with McCoy as a rookie in 2012 and developed in a similar system with Adam Gase from 2013-14.

The 26-year-old quarterback’s career has spiraled to a different place compared to March 2016, when he agreed to leave Denver for a four-year, $72MM Texans contract. John Elway, though, made a competitive offer to Osweiler during free agency. But the Texans proposed a better deal, enticing the quarterback to bolt for Houston. Denver would be getting Osweiler back for much cheaper than it was offering in the winter of 2016.

The Texans made a historic trade of Osweiler to Cleveland, having to give up a second-round pick to coax the Browns into taking on his contract.

Osweiler caught the Texans’ eye with a sporadically productive 2015 season, when he came on in relief of Peyton Manning to help the Broncos to the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The former second-round pick completed 62 percent of his passes and led Denver to key wins over the Patriots and Bengals to secure home-field advantage. However, Kubiak’s benching of the 6-foot-7 signal-caller midway through the 2015 regular-season finale was believed to be one of the causes of Osweiler’s exit.

Denver moved on and drafted Lynch in the 2016 first round but will again start Siemian, who was the third-string quarterback behind Manning and Osweiler as a rookie. Bill O’Brien benched Osweiler late last season, and the Browns tried to move his contract for another draft pick throughout the offseason but found no takers. DeShone Kizer won Cleveland’s starting job, and Cody Kessler will be his backup.

It remains to be seen if the Broncos would consider keeping their one-time starter once Lynch recovers, but in waiving preseason success story Kyle Sloter today, the team may merely be eyeing a temporary Osweiler arrangement until its preferred two-quarterback setup can be utilized.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Release Brock Osweiler

The Browns have released quarterback Brock Osweiler, Zac Jackson of The Athletic reports. Cutting Osweiler was the likely route for Cleveland after he failed to beat out second-round rookie DeShone Kizer for the team’s starting job, though the club will still have to pay the veteran his fully guaranteed $16MM salary. Brock Osweiler (vertical)

The Browns acquired Osweiler in March in an unprecedented trade with the Texans, when Houston essentially paid Cleveland a 2018 second-round pick just to take on his contract. The expectation then was that the Browns would either flip Osweiler elsewhere or cut him, and they went the latter route after they couldn’t find a taker via trade.

Now, if Osweiler signs elsewhere, he’ll likely do so for the league minimum $775K, which will give the Browns a relatively small bit of financial relief. But with the recent releases and trades of Joe Haden, Desmond Bryant and Cameron Erving, the Browns basically made back the money they’re obligated to pay Osweiler.

While Osweiler had a miserable 2016 in Houston after signing a big-money deal in free agency, he seems likely to find work as an inexpensive backup somewhere. Not only is Osweiler still fairly young (26), but the ex-Bronco brings size (6-foot-7, 240 pounds), a big arm and a second-round pedigree (2012) to the table.

AFC Notes: Brock, Ware, Bell, Raiders, Colts

The odds of the Browns releasing quarterback Brock Osweiler and eating his fully guaranteed $16MM salary have seemingly increased in recent days, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk contends. Cleveland saved $15.25MM – nearly the sum of Osweiler’s salary – by releasing defensive lineman Desmond Bryant and cornerback Joe Haden in the past week-plus, which could make it easier to part with the QB now that he won’t be its starter, Florio posits. Osweiler is unlikely to garner any trade interest, so cutting the 26-year-old would enable the Browns to recoup a bit of his salary ($775K) if he signs elsewhere for the league minimum.

More from around the AFC:

  • Chiefs running back Spencer Ware did indeed suffer a torn PCL and LCL in the team’s preseason game against the Seahawks last week, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com confirms (on Twitter). Ware will undergo surgery and miss the entire season, leaving him in line for an “intense rehab,” Rapoport notes.
  • Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell will end his holdout Friday specifically to avoid landing on the roster exempt list, Florio reports. If Bell were to show up after cuts occur Saturday, the Steelers would be able to place the franchise-tagged star on the list for up to two weeks and pay him a lesser salary than his $711K game check during that period. It’s unlikely Pittsburgh would’ve done that, per Florio, but Bell will remove the possibility by showing up before cutdown day.
  • The Raiders may attempt to acquire a linebacker via trade or waiver claim in the coming days, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. As Gehlken writes, the club didn’t invest much in the position in the offseason – it signed Jelani Jenkins for $1MM and used a fifth-round pick on Marquel Lee – and Cory James is now dealing with an undisclosed injury.
  • The Colts have worked out fullback Jody Webb, Alex Marvez of Sporting News tweets. Webb went undrafted out of Youngstown State in the spring and hasn’t signed with a team since then.