Browns Rumors

Bills LB Christian Kirksey To Retire

Just before the season, Christian Kirksey ventured to Buffalo on a practice squad agreement. The veteran linebacker prioritized signing with a contender, upon not making the Texans’ 53-man roster. But he does not plan to stay on with the Bills.

Instead, the 10th-year vet has informed the team he plans to retire,’s Mike Garafolo reports. Kirksey, 31, spent time with the Browns, Packers and Texans before coming to Buffalo. Prior to this season, the former third-round pick had been a regular starter in each of his previous nine seasons. The Bills have since announced Kirksey’s retirement plan.

To fill Kirksey’s spot on the practice squad, Garafolo adds the Bills are planning to bring back A.J. Klein. The off-and-on Bills regular was with the team during training camp. Klein re-signed with the Bills in April but was among the vested veterans not to make the team’s 53-man roster in August. The 11th-year veteran has remained in free agency since that cut.

Chosen by the Browns during what became an infamous draft for the team, Kirksey ended up a long-term starter for the downtrodden franchise. After selecting first-round busts Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel, the Browns did very well on Day 2 of the 2014 draft. They added Joel Bitonio in Round 2 and Kirksey in Round 3, taking the Iowa linebacker at No. 71 overall. Bitonio has become one of the Browns’ best players since the 1999 reboot, while Kirksey became a six-year starter for the team.

Kirksey’s post-Cleveland tenure provided a bounce-back effort after injuries sidetracked him as the 2010s wound down. After the Browns released him in 2020, Kirksey wound up with the Packers and started for a team that reached the NFC championship game. The Packers also released Kirksey, however, leading him to the Texans as one of the many veterans to stop through Houston on short-term accords during Nick Caserio‘s GM tenure. Kirksey spent the past two years in Houston, starting 29 games with the rebuilding team. After signing an extension to stay with the Texans in 2022, he started all 17 games and posted a 124-tackle, three-sack, two-interception season.

Excepting his 2020 Green Bay cameo, Kirksey did his best work for struggling teams. The off-ball ‘backer notched a career-high 148 tackles (11 for loss) during the Browns’ 1-15 season in 2016, earning a four-year, $38MM extension during the 2017 offseason. Cleveland then completed the NFL’s second 0-16 season, doing so despite rostering the likes of Bitonio, Kirksey, Joe Thomas and well-paid ILB Jamie Collins. The Browns cut bait on Kirksey’s deal with two years remaining, and he never came especially close to securing that kind of cash again. Still, Kirksey will leave the game having made more than $37MM.

Offering intermittent sack production despite his place on teams’ defensive second levels, Kirksey finishes his career with 16.5 sacks and 45 tackles for loss. He produced three 100-plus-tackle seasons.

Nick Chubb Suffers Multiple Ligament Tears, Out For Season

SEPTEMBER 20: The Browns made the expected move of shifting Chubb to IR. The team also confirmed Wednesday that the four-time Pro Bowler will miss the rest of the season. Hunt is now officially back on Cleveland’s roster as a replacement.

SEPTEMBER 18: Nick Chubb‘s injury is expected to sideline him for the rest of the season. The standout Browns running back is believed to have suffered multiple ligament tears, Ian Rapoport of reports.

It is not known which ligaments are torn, but the cart coming out to transport Chubb off the field in Pittsburgh — and ABC opting to not show a close-up replay of the injury — pointed to this outcome. More tests are on tap for Chubb, but he is unlikely to play again until 2024. Kevin Stefanski soon confirmed Chubb is expected to be out for the season.

Chubb’s contract runs through the 2024 season, but this will obviously deal a blow to his career and the Browns’ 2023 season. This is the same knee Chubb hurt while at Georgia. In October 2015, Chubb tore the MCL, PCL and LCL in his left knee. He came back to re-establish his standing with the Bulldogs and has since become one of the NFL’s best running backs. But the perennial Pro Bowler will be facing a road back much later in his career. Chubb will turn 28 in December.

The 2018 second-round pick had entered Week 2 as one of the league’s most durable backs. Chubb suffered a sprained MCL in 2020, costing him four games. He missed two contests the following year due to a calf strain. Otherwise, the top-tier back had avoided setbacks and continued to produce each year for the Browns.

Chubb did well to secure a three-year, $36.6MM extension in July 2021. That deal did not top the market, with Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara and Ezekiel Elliott tied to higher-end contracts at that point. But Chubb collected $20MM guaranteed, signing a Browns re-up months after he became extension-eligible. While Chubb had long been taken care of — as the most recent RB to sign an eight-figure-per-year extension — he still participated in the Zoom meeting in which running backs discussed the declining state of their position. (That has since become the subject of an NFL grievance.) The injuries to Chubb and Saquon Barkley, who suffered a sprained ankle Sunday, will only intensify the attention given to the position.

While the likes of Michael Vick, Randall Cunningham and Russell Wilson sit above Chubb for career yards per carry, the modern Browns dynamo is in historically elite company among running backs in this department. Chubb came into Monday night with a 5.3-yard average, never finishing a season south of five yards per tote. For post-merger backs, only Jamaal Charles (5.4) and Bo Jackson reside above Chubb. He has ripped off four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, hitting a career-high 1,525 last year.

The Browns made some changes behind Chubb this offseason, letting Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson walk in free agency. Hunt had been Chubb’s backup since his personal conduct suspension ended midway through the 2019 season, while Johnson played behind both the standout backs in Cleveland. Johnson is now a Jaguar, while Hunt remains unsigned. Hunt has spoken to the Colts, Saints and Vikings but has not signed anywhere. Considering his experience in Stefanski’s system, a signing would not exactly be off the radar.

But Cleveland used Jerome Ford as Chubb’s primary backup in Pittsburgh. Ford totaled 106 yards on 16 carries. The Browns also obtained Pierre Strong via trade from the Patriots in August. An Alabama signee who transferred to Cincinnati, Ford posted a 1,300-yard season to help the Bearcats become the first Group of Five team to advance to the College Football Playoff in 2021. Last season, the Browns gave the fifth-round rookie only 15 carries. Upon letting Hunt’s contract expire, the Browns eyed a bigger role for Ford this season.

Ford, who clocked a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at the 2022 Combine, should be expected to lead the way for a Browns team that has also lost veteran right tackle starter Jack Conklin. The former top-10 pick suffered ACL and MCL tears in Week 1. Attached to a $10.85MM base salary this season, Chubb is due an $11.78MM payout in 2024. This season, however, features the last of the guarantees in Chubb’s contract.

Browns, Kareem Hunt Agree To Terms

9:52am: A deal is in place, Cabot reports. The Browns are bringing Hunt back on a one-year contract worth up to $4MM,’s Adam Schefter tweets. Hunt, who spent the past four seasons with his hometown team, will be asked to help fill the void Chubb’s injury has created.

9:12am: Kareem Hunt‘s six-month stay in free agency may be winding down. Nick Chubb‘s gruesome injury led to the Browns surveying options, and after they brought their former 1-B back in for a visit, a deal appears close.

The Browns and Hunt are moving toward an agreement, Mary Kay Cabot of reports. A deal is expected to come together today. This would take one of the highest-profile free agents off the market and give the Browns an accomplished back who has extensive experience in Kevin Stefanski‘s system. The parties have not crossed the goal line on this deal yet, but’s Ian Rapoport indicates it should be done by the Browns’ Wednesday practice.

Cleveland has looked into Cam Akers, who looks to again be on the outs in Los Angeles, and Trey Sermon. But the latter signed with Indianapolis’ practice squad Tuesday. Hunt, 28, has always represented the simplest solution. The Browns gave the former Chiefs draftee a second chance via a 2019 agreement, after Hunt was caught on video assaulting a woman at a Cleveland hotel in 2018, and used him frequently as an overqualified Chubb backup. Hunt signed a two-year, $12MM extension in 2020 and played a key role in the Browns ended a near-two-decade playoff drought that season.

Of course, Hunt’s past two seasons have not gone as planned. Multiple injuries slowed him in 2021, an eight-game season for the former rushing champion, and he did not re-establish quality form last year. Hunt averaged 3.8 yards per carry — by far a career-low mark — and ranked miles behind Chubb in Next Gen Stats’ rushing yards over expected metric, with the starter at an NFL-best 284 and backup at minus-10. The Browns still prioritized Hunt at multiple junctures last year, refusing to accommodate a summer trade request and then hanging onto him at the deadline. But the team was prepared to move on this offseason, building its backfield around Chubb and 2022 fifth-round pick Jerome Ford.

With Cleveland previously intending to let Hunt walk, the six-year veteran lingered in free agency and was not closely tied to any team until training camp. But Hunt has been busy over the past several weeks. He has visited the Vikings, Saints and Colts. Late last week, the Colts were still in discussions with the former Chiefs third-rounder. But it appears the Browns are willing to offer a better deal in this emergency circumstance. The team did not make Hunt an offer this offseason, per Cabot, who adds Hunt is down around 10 pounds from his 2022 playing weight. The Browns are hoping Hunt’s weight loss helps him excel in the passing-down role he held for years.

Chubb came into 2023 having never missed more than four games in an NFL season, but the perennial Pro Bowler is believed to have suffered multiple ligament tears early in the Browns’ Week 2 loss in Pittsburgh. Multiple surgeries may be necessary, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson tweets, potentially clouding Chubb’s comeback attempt. Internal discussions have pointed to a surgery occurring before month’s end and another to take place weeks later, per Anderson, who adds Chubb is also believed to have sustained meniscus damage. This marks the second time Chubb sustained a major left knee injury. The 27-year-old star battled back after suffering multiple ligament tears while at Georgia in 2015.

The Browns, who have Chubb signed through 2024, turned to Ford as his primary replacement. Buoyed by a 69-yard run in the second half of the narrow defeat, Ford totaled 16 carries for 106 yards Monday night. While the Browns had a bigger role in mind for the ex-Cincinnati and Alabama performer this season, he played behind Chubb and Hunt as a rookie and finished Week 1 with 36 yards on 15 carries.

A Ford-Hunt backfield setup will provide some insurance for the Browns, and with Stefanski’s seat warming, it is unsurprising the team did not want to rely solely on a “next man up” process. Hunt expressed dissatisfaction with his contract last year, but his 2022 showing and the events of this offseason at the position did not give him much leverage. It appears the Willoughby, Ohio, native will end up back in Cleveland on a lower-cost deal soon.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/19/23

Today’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

Tennessee Titans

Michael Dogbe, a former seventh-round pick, got into 40 games for the Cardinals through the first four seasons of his career. This included 2021 and 2022 campaigns where he appeared in 29 games, collecting 55 tackles and one sack. He caught on with the Texans last week and proceeded to appear in about 25 percent of the team’s defensive snaps this past weekend.

Kyle Peko will bring 31 games of experience to the Titans defensive line. The veteran has already been promoted by the Titans twice this season and started both of his appearances, collecting four tackles. He’ll be taking the spot of Jayden Peevy, who got into two games across two seasons with the organization.

Browns Hosting Kareem Hunt On Visit; Cam Akers On Radar

3:25pm: This process is moving fast. The Browns are hosting Hunt on a Tuesday visit, Adam Schefter of tweets. This marks Hunt’s fourth known visit this offseason. He met with the Vikings, Saints and Colts. As of this past weekend, Indianapolis still had the six-year veteran on its radar.

2:52pm: Nick Chubb‘s gruesome injury has forced the Browns to look for a running back addition. The team is in the Cam Akers trade market, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot reports Kareem Hunt is also back on the radar.

In April, a report emerged indicating the Browns were not planning to bring back Hunt, who played out a two-year, $12MM extension with his hometown team last season. But Hunt has remained a free agent for the past six months. Having visited the Colts, Saints and Vikings, the former rushing champion looms as a natural fit for the Browns, seeing as he spent the past three seasons in Kevin Stefanski‘s system.

At 24, Akers is four years younger than Hunt, who turned 28 last month. The Cleveland-area native came up in trade talks before last year’s deadline, but after Hunt completed a down season, the running back market cratered. No substantial offers have likely come Hunt’s way, leading to the longtime Chubb complementary piece remaining unattached. An interesting opportunity could soon await, though it might depend on what the Rams are willing to accept for Akers. Hunt has logged 1,106 career touches; Akers’ NFL odometer sits at 387.

At least four teams are believed to have discussed Akers with the Rams. The former second-round pick is again on the trade block, becoming a healthy scratch in Week 2. While the Rams and Akers mended fences after last year’s dustup — one that led to trade talks ahead of the 2022 deadline — Sean McVay confirmed a trade represents this latest saga’s likely endpoint.

As Chubb led the NFL in Next Gen Stats’ rushing yards over expected metric last season, with 284, Hunt finished with minus-10. Hunt gained only 678 scrimmage yards in 17 games. The 2017 rushing champ had requested a trade during the 2022 offseason, and after the Browns refused to accommodate him at that point, they were open to an in-season move. A fourth-round pick emerged as a Cleveland ask, but the team ended up hanging onto Hunt during Deshaun Watson‘s suspension. A host of lower-profile backs found deals in March, and Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliott wound up with teams during training camp. Hunt and Leonard Fournette, however, have been unattached for more than six months.

Calf and ankle injuries limited Hunt in 2021; he amassed just 560 scrimmage yards that year. The ex-Chief played a major role in the Browns snapping their near-two-decade playoff drought in 2020, producing 1,145 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns alongside Chubb. During the Chubb-Hunt partnership, the latter played a much bigger passing-game role. Akers has not done much as a receiver during his pro career.

Hunt complementing 2022 fifth-rounder Jerome Ford in a similar capacity makes sense for the Browns, who did acquire Pierre Strong from the Patriots in August. Ford played the lead role following Chubb’s season-ending injury Monday night.

Going through an up-and-down career with the Rams, Akers did close the 2022 season well after seeing a July 2021 Achilles tear sidetrack him. Akers produced three straight 100-yard games from Weeks 16-18 but has seen 2022 fifth-rounder Kyren Williams usurp him in L.A.’s backfield. Akers rushed for just 29 yards on 22 carries in Week 1, with most of those totes coming after the Rams had put the Seahawks matchup out of reach.

Hunt arrived back in Cleveland during John Dorsey‘s GM stretch, reuniting with the exec who drafted him with the Chiefs. But Hunt signed the above-referenced extension during Andrew Berry‘s first year at the helm. With this looming as a crucial year for Stefanski (and perhaps Berry as well), it is logical the Browns are looking for a veteran to team with Ford, who totaled just eight carries for 12 yards last season. Trey Sermon also landed on the Browns’ radar, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, but the ex-49ers and Eagles back signed with the Colts’ P-squad.

Rams RB Cam Akers Drawing Trade Interest

With Cam Akers‘ time with the Rams set to come to an end, multiple suitors appear to have emerged for his services as a mid-season rental. At least four teams have reached out regarding the contract-year back, reports Jordan Schultz of the Score.

Schultz names the Buccaneers, Ravens, Raiders and Browns as being among the clubs which have show interest in a deal for Akers. The 24-year-old was a healthy scratch in Week 2, and head coach Sean McVay has since confirmed that the Rams are once again interested in finding a trade partner to move on from their former second-rounder. Today’s update points further to a trade being the end to this situation.

Both Baltimore and Cleveland have seen their No. 1 backs go down with massive injuries early in the year. J.K. Dobbins suffered an Achilles tear in Week 1, while Nick Chubb is likely to miss the remainder of the campaign after encountering multiple ligament tears in his knee last night. It thus comes as no surprise those squads would seek out short-term help in the backfield, though Ravens head coach John Harbaugh recently stated his confidence in the team’s incumbent RB options.

Kevin Stefanski confirmed, via Jeff Schudel of the News-Herald, the Browns are looking for backfield help in the wake of the Chubb injury. Akers would represent a low-cost addition (in terms of draft capital and finances) to help stabilize the team’s ground game while turning to Jerome Ford in a larger capacity. Even with Deshaun Watson and a new-look receiving corps in place, Cleveland’s offense is still likely to depend in large part on the run game, particularly if a notable addition is made.

Ex-Browns backup Kareem Hunt is still on the open market, and he would represent a logical candidate for a reunion if Cleveland does elect to add a veteran back. Given Ford’s skillset, though, adding Akers for early-down contributions would also come as little surprise. The Florida State alum has been used sparingly as a pass-catcher during his time with the Rams, one which has included serious trade talk for each of the past two seasons.

Both the Raiders and Bucs have their lead back in place at the moment (Josh Jacobs and Rachaad White, respectively), but each squad could use a depth addition. Jacobs – who like Akers is set to hit free agency at the end of the season – has averaged only 1.6 yards per carry through two weeks as Vegas has struggled to find success on the ground. White has likewise seen his efficiency (3.3 yards per attempt) drop compared to last season despite Tampa Bay’s 2-0 start.

Akers struggled in his lone game of the 2023 campaign, turning 22 carries into just 29 rushing yards (though he did find the endzone as well). That performance helped inform the Rams’ decision to turn to Kyren Williams as their new lead back, and no doubt hindered Akers’ trade value. Now far removed from his 2021 Achilles tear, however, the latter could prove to be an effective pickup for a team in need of healthy bodies in the backfield. A favorable new environment could produce a rebound performance for Akers, something which would boost his free agent value come the spring. With multiple interested parties, meanwhile, the Rams may be able to secure somewhat notable draft compensation in a swap.

Amari Cooper Aggravates Groin Injury

SEPTEMBER 18: Cooper’s practice setback will not lead to a Monday-night absence. The Browns’ top wideout will play against the Steelers, Rapoport tweets.

SEPTEMBER 16: The Browns may be down a receiver on Monday against the Steelers. Amari Cooper “aggravated” his groin during Saturday’s practice, according to coach Kevin Stefanski (via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport). The wideout is considered questionable for Cleveland’s Week 2 matchup.

After sitting out a practice earlier this week for a maintenance day, the veteran was on the practice field over the past two days. Stefanski said Cooper was injured late during Saturday’s practice before he exited with training staff.

“Aggravated his groin,” Stefanski said (via Mary Kay Cabot of “We brought him inside. We’ll evaluate him over the next 48 hours.”

Despite inconsistent quarterback play, Cooper was productive during his first season in Cleveland. The receiver finished the 2022 campaign with 78 catches for 1,160 yards and nine touchdowns. He played through a hip injury for much of the second half of the season, and he ultimately underwent core muscle surgery this offseason. The veteran had three catches for 37 yards in the season opener.

If Cooper is forced to sit out Monday Night Football, the Browns could turn to veteran Marquise Goodwin or rookie third-round pick Cedric Tillman to soak up some of the snaps next to Donovan Peoples-Jones and Elijah Moore.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/12/23

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Waived from IR: DL Tautala Pesefea Jr.

Cleveland Browns

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Michael Dogbe has found his next gig after getting waived by the Jaguars during final cuts. The former seventh-round pick spent the first four seasons of his career with the Cardinals, appearing in 40 games. He took on a bigger role over the past two years, compiling 55 tackles in 29 appearances. He joined Jacksonville this offseason before earning his walking papers.

Myles Gaskin is back on an active roster following an unceremonious end to his Miami tenure. The running back had 1,818 yards from scrimmage across the 2020 and 2021 seasons, but he saw a limited role with the Dolphins in 2022. He joined the Vikings practice squad at the end of the preseason and was elevated to the active roster for their season opener.

Browns To Sign T Ty Nsekhe

For a second straight year, Ty Nsekhe will join a team in-season. After his Rams signing last year, the veteran tackle will join the Browns. In the wake of Jack Conklin‘s season-ending ACL tear, ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes Nsekhe will sign with Cleveland.

Nsekhe, who will turn 38 next month, has started 25 games over the course of his career. Eight of those came for the Rams last season, a campaign that featured numerous injuries on Los Angeles’ offensive line. Nsekhe was with Washington during Browns O-line coach Bill Callahan‘s time with the NFC East team.

Working as Washington’s O-line coach from 2015-19, Callahan coached Nsekhe for four seasons. Nsekhe’s longest NFL stint came in Washington, which employed him as primarily a swing tackle from 2015-18. Sixteen of Nsekhe’s career starts came in Washington. The Browns used fourth-round rookie Dawand Jones as Conklin’s replacement in Week 1. Nsekhe profiles as insurance behind the 6-foot-8, 375-pound blocker. James Hudson, a 2021 fourth-round pick, looms as another option. But Nsekhe will be part of the equation now as well.

Last year, the Rams signed Nsekhe in mid-October. The team had lost then-starting left tackle Joseph Noteboom during a season in which a number of Rams O-linemen suffered season-ending injuries. Nsekhe moved into the starting lineup in Week 9 and, with Alaric Jackson later being lost for the year, started the Rams’ final six games.

Nsekhe auditioned for the Jets in mid-August but did not sign with the team. The former UDFA played for the Bills and Cowboys, respectively, from 2019-21. Prior to his Rams stint, Nsekhe went two seasons without starting a game.

Conklin also suffered an ACL tear in 2018, a development that helped lead to his earlier-than-expected Tennessee exit. The Browns have benefited from the Titans not hanging onto their four-year right tackle starter, signing Conklin to two contracts. Cleveland gave Conklin a four-year, $60MM extension just before last season ended. Conklin’s contract contained only $12.75MM guaranteed at signing, but another $16.1MM — his 2024 base salary, a 2024 option bonus and $3.25MM of his 2025 base — became guaranteed in March. His second Browns deal runs through the 2026 season.

Browns T Jack Conklin Suffers ACL Tear

SEPTEMBER 11: Testing confirmed that Conklin did indeed tear his ACL and MCL, ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes. As a result, he will undergo season-ending surgery. The news adds further to Conklin’s missed time in Cleveland, and will keep him sidelined until the 2024 campaign, the final one on his pact in which he is due guaranteed money. Jones will likely see full-time starting duties moving forward, but it will be interesting to see if the Browns look for experienced depth on the trade or free agent fronts.

SEPTMBER 10: Taking away slightly from the joy of a season-opening win in Cleveland today, Browns starting right tackle Jack Conklin went down with what appeared to be a serious knee injury. After seeing Conklin get carted off the field, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that there’s a possibility the injury could be season-ending for the veteran Browns lineman.

Conklin was a welcome addition to the offensive line in Cleveland three years ago. The team signed him to a three-year, $42MM contract and he rewarded them with a first-team All-Pro season. Since then, though, the Browns have had trouble keeping him on the field.

In 2021, after missing a pair of games, Conklin was placed on injured reserve with a dislocated elbow that would force him to miss three more games. Ten snaps into Conklin’s first game off the IR, Conklin left the game early again, this time with a torn patella tendon that would keep him out for the remainder of the season, limiting him to only seven games played that year and only four games from start to finish.

While Conklin did miss three games last season, he was much improved throughout the rest of the year, returning to the high level of play the Browns were used to seeing. As a result, Cleveland rewarded him with a four-year, $60MM contract extension that will keep him on the roster through the 2026 season.

With the extension coming late into the season last year, a season-ending injury in Week 1 would be an inauspicious start to his first season under the new deal. Head coach Kevin Stefanski spoke on the situation saying, “It doesn’t look good,” according to Browns staff writer Kelsey Russo. Stefanski continued, “I feel absolutely awful for Jack. The person that he is, the player that he is, and what he means to this team…He’s such a big part of what we are. We’ll hold out hope there.”

Massive rookie fourth-round pick Dawand Jones filled in for Conklin today after the veteran was carted off. The team will likely remain with Jones at the position as long as he can deliver in a starting role. At 6-foot-8, 375 pounds, the rookie could be a force once he gets some in-game experience under his belt. This is, once again, assuming that Conklin’s injury is season-ending. For now, though, things aren’t looking promising.