Cody Kessler

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/28/19

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Released from IR via injury settlement: RB Alfred Blue

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/15/19

Here’s a rundown of early-week minor NFL moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

  • Signed: T Dan Skipper (from Patriots’ practice squad)

Indianapolis Colts

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Signed: DE L.T. Walton

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Redskins

Extra Points: Mack, AB, Ramsey, Kessler

The Bears are set to face off against the Raiders in London this weekend, which means Khalil Mack will have his first chance to play against his former team. The linebacker told reporters today that he actually envisioned playing for the Raiders for his entire career.

“That’s the expectation when you get drafted to a team: You want to be there for the long haul and bring championships and all those good things,” Mack said (via ESPN.com’s Jeff Dickerson). “It’s the business side of it that doesn’t really let you do that.”

Mack spent the first four seasons of his career with Oakland, but the Raiders put him on the block when the two sides couldn’t agree to a long-term selection. The Bears swooped in and ended up signing four-time Pro Bowler to a deal that included $90MM in guaranteed money. Mack rewarded his new team by compiling 47 tackles and 12.5 sacks in 14 games.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • As the NFL continues to investigate Antonio Brown for alleged sexual assault, the wide receiver still hasn’t met with the league, tweets ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler. Considering the Pro Bowl receiver is currently a free agent, Fowler notes that it’s “unclear how cooperative he plans or needs to be.” As Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com writes, it’s likely that no team would sign Brown until the NFL’s investigation is complete, meaning the wideout could be forced to cooperate if he wants to play again.
  • Peter King of Football Morning in America writes that the Chargers might get into the Jalen Ramsey sweepstakes. The writer believes adding a top defensive player would be a savvy move as the organization prepares for a new stadium in 2020. King adds that he “still think[s]” that the Chiefs and Ravens are also involved in talks with the Jaguars. We heard earlier this week that the Jaguars rejected a trade that would have netted them a pair of late first-rounders.
  • Yesterday, the Eagles acquired linebacker Duke Riley and a sixth-round choice from the Falcons in exchange for safety Johnathan Cyprien and a seventh-round pick. SiriusXM’s Adam Caplan tweets that the seventh rounder is actually the Buccaneers’ selection. The Eagles originally acquired the pick in the offseason trade that brought DeSean Jackson back to Philly.
  • Quarterback Cody Kessler signed a minimum contract with the Patriots, tweets Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. This means he’ll earn a prorated $720K salary (a bit less than $593K for the rest of the season) with no guaranteed money and a $448K “injury split.” This essentially means the Patriots can evaluate Kessler’s spot on the roster on a week-by-week basis.

Patriots To Sign Cody Kessler

The Patriots have a new quarterback. On Wednesday, the Pats agreed to sign Cody Kessler, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

The former Jaguars, Eagles, and Browns passer has 12 career starts to his credit and, now, he’ll learn from one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. At this moment, fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham serves as Tom Brady‘s QB2, though he tossed a pass into the hands of Jets safety Jamal Adams on Sunday for a pick six.

Kessler was most recently with the Eagles, but he was dropped from the flock when the club opted to roll with Josh McCown and Nate Sudfeld as Carson Wentz‘s support team. In his five games/four starts for the Jaguars last year, he completed 64.9% of his passes with two touchdowns against two interceptions.

Eagles To Cut DE Eli Harold

Three weeks after acquiring Eli Harold from the Bills, the Eagles will not carry him through to their 53-man roster. The Eagles will release the veteran edge defender, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

The team will also place tight end Richard Rodgers on IR and waive quarterback Cody Kessler. The Eagles only gave up undrafted rookie offensive tackle Ryan Bates for Harold, so it’s not like they had a particularly big investment in him. Harold was originally drafted by San Francisco in the third-round back in 2015, and spent last year with the Lions. He had four sacks with Detroit last year and the Eagles were looking for pass-rushing depth, but they apparently didn’t like what they saw from the 25-year-old. For his career, he has nine career sacks in 61 games and 25 starts

Kessler was drafted by the Browns in 2016, then traded to Jacksonville last offseason. He surprisingly ended up starting four games for the Jaguars last year, but he averaged a pitiful 5.4 yards per attempt. He was trying to make the team in Philly, but the Eagles luring Josh McCown out of retirement all but sealed his fate. Rodgers has made some noise in the past with Green Bay, but he’ll now miss the entire 2019 campaign with a foot injury.

Eagles To Sign Cody Kessler

The Eagles are expected to sign quarterback Cody Kessler tomorrow, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Kessler joins 2019 fifth-round pick Clayton Thorson and former AAF signal-caller Luis Perez as new additions to Philadelphia’s QB room.

The Eagles strongly believe that a team can never have enough opportunities to develop a quarterback with talent, and the team’s acquisitions this offseason are certainly in line with that philosophy. Carson Wentz is obviously the first-string signal-caller — though he has dealt with serious concerns over the past two years — and the team has long been high on current backup Nate Sudfeld.

But Sudfeld has only attempted 25 passes in his professional career, and Kessler could theoretically push him for the No. 2 job. Or, if Wentz’s recovery doesn’t go as hoped, Kessler could even compete for the interim starting gig. At the very least, he and Thorson could battle it out for a role as the team’s third-string signal-caller.

Kessler, whom the Browns selected in the third round of the 2016 draft, has compiled an unattractive 2-10 record as a starting QB in his career, but he hasn’t exactly been in environment that are conducive to winning. Cleveland traded Kessler to the Jaguars last March in exchange for a conditional seventh-rounder, and Kessler ultimately appeared in five games (four starts) for Jacksonville. He went 2-2 and completed 64.9% of his passes with two TDs and two interceptions en route to a modest 77.4 QB rating.

The Jaguars cut Kessler just a few days ago.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Release Cody Kessler

The Jaguars released quarterback Cody Kessler, according to league sources who spoke with Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Kessler made four starts for the Jags last year while Blake Bortles was benched. Now, both players are gone.

Last year, Kessler took the reins for four games, but didn’t exactly set the world on fire. All in all, he completed 64.9% of his passes (85-of-131) for 709 yards with two touchdowns against two interceptions.

This year, the Jaguars will trot out a totally revamped quarterback room with new starter Nick Foles, sixth-round rookie Gardner Minshew, 2018 sixth-round choice Tanner Lee, and Alex McGough. Of course, at least one of those backup QBs will be displaced between now and September.

In other Jags news, linebacker Telvin Smith says he wants to stay put, despite his absence from workouts and continued whispers about his future.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars To Start Blake Bortles

The Blake Bortles era isn’t over yet in Jacksonville. On Wednesday, head coach Doug Marrone told reporters that Bortles will start in the team’s season finale against the Texans. 

Bortles was demoted twice this season, which signaled that a return to Jacksonville is unlikely. It’s unclear whether there’s any hope for that now, but Bortles did come through over the weekend to help the Jags beat the Dolphins. The Jaguars wound up winning 17-7 and, in theory, another strong showing from Bortles could impact the team’s offseason plans.

It was like holy s—, I miss this,” Bortles said (via Phillip Heilman of the Florida Times-Union). “I wanted to play. I wanted to get another opportunity. Obviously, I didn’t want to see anything happen to Cody, but to be given an opportunity, it just kind of feels like you’re back where you belong.”

Only $6.5MM of Bortles’ $16.5MM contract is guaranteed for next season, so the Jaguars are expected to either release him or try to unload him in a Brock Osweiler type of trade. At least, that’s the most likely scenario for now. Sunday’s game will be largely meaningless for the Jaguars, but it could have major ramifications for next year’s QB plans.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Bench Blake Bortles

For the second time this season, the Jaguars have demoted Blake Bortles. The reeling team will turn to Cody Kessler in Week 13. Doug Marrone announced the change Monday.

The Jags demoted Bortles during a loss earlier this season, but after Kessler’s cameo, the defending AFC South champions reinstalled Bortles as their starter. That decision did not work out. The Jags lost their next four games and are now 3-8.

With its losing streak now at seven games, Jacksonville fired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Now, Bortles will head to the bench. The Jags acquired Kessler from the Browns this offseason, one that may be scrutinized for a while.

During a rocky 2017 Bortles season, the Jaguars were viewed as a prime suitor for quarterbacks in this year’s unusually deep market. But Bortles (and a No. 1-ranked defense) helped the Jags to the AFC championship game. Instead of moving on from Bortles, the franchise signed him to an $18MM-AAV extension and did not make a significant investment in a possible challenger for the embattled starter. Kessler, acquired for a conditional 2019 seventh-rounder, was the top offseason add.

Prior to their decision to bypass the the 2018 QB marketplace — which included Kirk Cousins, Alex Smith, Case Keenum, Tyrod Taylor and Teddy Bridgewater — the Jaguars passed on Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson to select Leonard Fournette during the 2017 draft. They now figure to be interested in a 2019 upgrade at the position though will have a difficult time shedding Bortles’ contract. The fifth-year passer is signed through 2020 and would cost the Jags $16.5MM in dead money to cut in 2019. Bortles has a $1MM roster bonus due in March, and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com adds (via Twitter) $6.5MM of his $14MM 2019 base salary is fully guaranteed.

Bortles posted a 46.8 Total QBR this season and threw for fewer than 130 yards in his past two games. The 2014 No. 3 overall pick has completed less than 60 percent of his passes in six of the seven games that have comprised the Jags’ losing streak.

A 2016 third-round pick, Kessler’s made eight starts — all in Cleveland’s 1-15 2016 season — and has thrown seven touchdown passes compared to four interceptions. He completed 70 percent of his passes, albeit at just 5.2 yards per attempt, in his lone Jags appearance this season.

The team is now plunging toward another top-10 pick, which would be its 11th in the past 12 years. Next year’s draft crop, though, is not expected to be as fruitful at the quarterback position as the most recent group of prospects was.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Bell, Jags, Bosa, Michel

The Steelers are still hopeful that they can trade Le’Veon Bell and net a third-round pick or better in return before Tuesday’s deadline, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Bell, as we heard earlier this week, does not want to be traded, and given that he would need to sign his franchise tender before he can be dealt, he holds all the cards in that regard. La Canfora tweets that Bell (predictably) balked at returning to the Steelers on the exempt list, so there are still plenty of moving pieces to keep an eye on before this situation is finally resolved.

Now let’s take a quick swing around the AFC:

  • Blake Bortles played decently for the Jaguars during their loss in London today, but we heard earlier this week that the fifth-year pro is on a short leash after he was benched during last Sunday’s loss to the Texans. However, Albert Breer of TheMMQB observes that Bortles still took the lion’s share of first-team reps in practice this week (though Cody Kessler did get a few, as anticipated), so it does not appear that there is a quarterback competition at the moment.
  • La Canfora writes that the Jaguars were very much interested in Kirk Cousins last offseason and were prepared to offer him a significant free agent contract and move on from Bortles. However, they were not willing to meet the $30MM-per-year figure that Cousins ultimately got from the Vikings (they hoped to land him for something in the $20-24MM range). Instead, of course, they gave Bortles a pay-as-you-go, team-friendly extension, which allows the club the flexibility to move on this offseason if it so chooses.
  • Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette is expected to return to the field for Jacksonville’s Week 10 matchup on November 11 against the Colts, per Schefter.
  • It does not appear as if the Chargers will get Joey Bosa back for their November 4 matchup against the Seahawks, as they had been hoping for some time. Although Bosa is making progress, Schefter writes that he is not “anywhere near ready to play right now.” It is unclear when Bosa will make his much-anticipated return to the field, but the wait will carry until at least the second week of November.
  • Sony Michel returned to practice for the Patriots yesterday, per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. While Michel will not play in the team’s Monday night contest against the Bills tomorrow, he may be ready to go against the Packers next week. Reiss adds that New England could promote Kenneth Farrow from the taxi squad for tomorrow’s game in order to give themselves three healthy backs.
  • The relationship between Browns HC Hue Jackson and OC Todd Haley is not improving, and one of the two could be relieved of his duties in short order.