Damarious Randall

Raiders To Sign Damarious Randall

Damarious Randall is headed to Las Vegas. On Friday, the safety agreed to a one-year deal to join up with Jon Gruden & Co., according to ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson (Twitter link). Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds that the pact will be worth up to $3.25MM (Twitter link).

[RELATED: Raiders Call Off Deal With Eli Apple]

Randall, 28 in August, spent the first three years of his career with the Packers before moving on to the Browns in 2018. Last year, he was limited to just eleven games, though he still managed 2.5 sacks, 61 total stops, and six passes defensed. All in all, he’s got 56 career starts and 14 interceptions to his credit across five NFL seasons.

Randall clashed with head coach Freddie Kitchens at times last year, but he wasn’t the only player in Cleveland to get into it with the since-fired coach. Besides, Gruden likes to see a little bit of fire in his veteran players.

The Redskins and Seahawks also expressed interest in Randall in March, but the Raiders stayed patient and landed him on a short-term deal in April. Luckily for them, Randall was still available to help fortify the secondary after their deal with Eli Apple fell through.

One way or another, the Raiders will have to improve their pass defense in order to contend in 2020. Last year, they surrendered 256.7 passing yards per game, the eighth-highest total in the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders, Redskins, Seahawks Interested In Damarious Randall

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Damarious Randall views the Raiders, Redskins, and Seahawks as the most compelling suitors for his services, ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson (on Twitter) hears. The Browns safety is set to reach free agency on Wednesday and is currently in talks with teams as the “legal tampering” period gets underway.

Randall, 28 in August, was limited to just eleven games last year. Still, he notched 2.5 sacks – the first sacks of his pro career – while logging 61 total tackles and six passes defensed. Over the course of five years with the Packers and Browns, he’s appeared in 65 games with 56 starts and come away with 14 interceptions in that span.

For what it’s worth, Randall clashed with head coach Freddie Kitchens at times in 2019. However, he was far from the only player to butt heads with Kitchens, who has since been fired and replaced with Kevin Stefanski.

Browns To Scratch Damarious Randall Vs. Steelers

Prior to the now-infamous conclusion to this season’s first Browns-Steelers game, Damarious Randall was ejected for delivering a helmet-to-helmet hit. Although Randall was not suspended, he will join Myles Garrett in missing the Pittsburgh leg of this series.

The Browns will make Randall a healthy scratch, having departed for Pennsylvania without the starting safety, according to a team announcement. Freddie Kitchens‘ choice to leave Randall in Cleveland instead stems from an unknown incident that occurred this week, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Randall was ejected after a hit on Diontae Johnson resulted in the Steelers rookie suffering a concussion. Randall played against the Dolphins last week, doing after saying he’d received death threats because of his hit on Johnson. The former Packers defender has started 22 games since being traded to the Browns in 2018. He’s made seven starts this season, missing four games due to injury.

Cleveland has already lost its other starting safety, Morgan Burnett, for the season. The team has consistently had to play backups in the secondary this season, due to injuries and now a surprise scratch.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Bengals, Steelers

David Njoku currently resides on the Browns‘ IR list, but for the time being, the third-year tight end has a chance to return in 2019. Njoku has opted not to have surgery on his broken wrist, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. The earliest Njoku could return would be for the Browns’ Week 12 game against the Dolphins. Cleveland has 2019 additions Demetrius Harris and Ricky Seals-Jones in place atop its tight end depth chart. The Browns must decide on Njoku’s fifth-year option by May of 2020.

Here is the latest out of Cleveland, along with other AFC North cities:

  • The Browns’ defense is facing more pressing matters. Both Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams pulled hamstrings during practice Thursday, per Cabot. They missed the Rams game. Interestingly, reserve safety Sheldrick Redwine pulled a hamstring that day as well. The Browns played without their four secondary starters — Ward, Williams, Damarious Randall (concussion) and Morgan Burnett (quadriceps). However, Cabot adds that Randall is out of concussion protocol. Burnett was questionable last week. Hamstring injuries are obviously tricky for skill players and those charged with covering them, but Cleveland’s safeties seem in line to return for Week 4 against the Ravens.
  • While no one obviously expected Shaquil Barrett‘s virtuoso start, only two teams even submitted contract offers this offseason. In addition to the Bucs’ one-year, $4MM deal, the Bengals also offered Barrett a contract, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com notes. Barrett visited the Bengals but did not meet with the Bucs before his agreement. A four-year backup in Denver, Barrett sought a starting role in free agency. He’s found one, and his eight sacks through three games match an NFL record. It’s early, but the former UDFA who began his career at a now-defunct Division II program is putting himself in position for a major payday — either via Bucs extension or as a 2020 free agent.
  • The Bengals worked out some defensive backs on Tuesday. Cornerbacks Greg Mabin, Picasso Nelson and Deatrick Nichols joined corner/safety Briean Boddy-Calhoun in auditioning for the team, per the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson (on Twitter).
  • The Steelers auditioned tight end Alize Mack, according to Howard Balzer of BalzerFootball.com (on Twitter). Vance McDonald was present Tuesday with his arm in a sling, pointing to Pittsburgh suddenly needing help at this position.

AFC Notes: Jaguars, Patriots, Randall

The Jaguars will be without several players on Sunday against the Texans, Michael DiRocco of ESPN recaps on Twitter. S Ronnie Harrison is listed as questionable with an ankle injury. CB A.J. Bouye, WR Marqise Lee, DE Yannick Ngakoue and LT Cam Robinson have all already been ruled out of the contest.

Last week, Jacksonville lost starting QB Nick Foles, who suffered a broken left clavicle in Week 1 and has been placed on injured reserve. The franchise’s collective health has put a damper on what should have been a bounceback year for the Jags. As the team carries on in Houston, let’s take a look around the AFC:

  • The Patriots worked out several players ahead of their game against the Dolphins, a source tells Nick Underhill of The Athletic (Twitter link). OT Caleb Benenoch, NT Carl Davis, DT Willie Henry, DB Josh Jones and DB Adarius Pickett worked out for New England.
  • Browns S Damarious Randall has been ruled out of Monday’s game, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Randall showed up to Cleveland’s facility with a concussion and was placed in the concussion protocol.
  • A.J. Green, who injured his ankle during the Bengals‘ training camp, is out of his walking boot and feels like is he ahead of schedule in his recovery, as Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer relays. “I’m only six weeks out and I’m already walking,” Green said. “You never know what the next two weeks or three weeks are going to bring to where I can start back putting on shoes and actually running and doing some on the field stuff. You never know.”

Browns, Damarious Randall Discussing Deal

The Browns and defensive back Damarious Randall have had “very preliminary” talks about a new deal, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com hears. For now, Randall is set to play out 2019 on his fifth-year option, which would pay him $9.069MM. 

Already, Randall has seen a significant bump from his previous pay. Over the first four years of his career, Randall earned just $7.915MM combined. A new deal would likely keep him paid around the $9MM/year level, over multiple seasons.

The Browns shifted Randall from cornerback to free safety, but even at his new position, Randall stands to earn a solid payday. Currently, Tyrann Mathieu (Chiefs, $14MM/year), Landon Collins (Redskins, $14MM/year), and Earl Thomas (Ravens, $13.75MM) lead the way at the position and Randall figures to be somewhere in the second tier.

For his part, Randall has said that he wants to stick around in Cleveland after spending the early part of his career in Green Bay.

I would want to finish my career here in Cleveland,” Randall said. “I love it here. The fans, the coaches, everybody in charge here, I just love Cleveland.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Vikes, Browns, Ravens, Sutton

At Vikings OTAs this week, they placed Mike Remmers back at right tackle, per Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Remmers finished last season playing guard, and the Vikings used a second-round pick on tackle Brian O’Neill out of Pittsburgh. Minnesota had UFA signee Tom Compton working as its first-string right guard during OTAs, per Rand. Compton has never been a full-time starter in his six-year career, coming closest with the 2014 Redskins, who used him as a nine-game starter. Last season, the Bears started Compton in five of the 11 games he played. Minnesota lost its most effective blocker, Joe Berger, to retirement and did not make any notable additions beyond Compton at the guard spot.

Here’s more from the north:

  • The Browns have made some adjustments to their front office and scouting department, and Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com expects that to continue. She targets the VP of player personnel decision as a possible turnover spot. Alonzo Highsmith, Ken Kovash and Andrew Berry currently reside in that role. John Dorsey just hired Highsmith, and Cabot reports Berry is safe from a change despite being an integral part of the previous regime. The Browns promoted Kovash shortly after the Sashi Brown regime took over in 2016 after he’d previously worked as the franchise’s director of football research.
  • Converted cornerback Damarious Randall will be the Browns’ starter at free safety this season, relocating Jabrill Peppers to strong safety, per Cabot. Gregg Williams‘ deep placement of Peppers, sometimes more than 25 yards off the ball, became a constant source of discussion and derision among Browns fans, and Peppers himself may be a bit tired of the jokes. But the Browns will now place him closer to the line of scrimmage, which is similar to the role he had at Michigan.
  • Optimism exists around Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith, who saw a strong season end early in 2017 because of a torn Achilles, but Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun notes the veteran may not be ready for the start of training camp. The career-long Raven is going into his age-30 season.
  • Additional Ravens’ timelines are coming into focus as well. Defensive lineman Carl Davis, who started nine games last season, underwent surgery to repair a tear in his shoulder earlier this offseason, Zreibec reports. The former third-round pick is questionable to participate in minicamp. Offensive lineman Nico Siragusa also had an operation this offseason. The 2017 fourth-round pick missed all of last season because of ACL, MCL and PCL tears and required an additional knee surgery this year. Zreibec reports the goal for him is a training camp return. As for Alex Lewis, Baltimore’s projected guard starter opposite Marshal Yanda, he’s fully recovered from the shoulder injury that nixed all of his 2017 season, Zreibec notes.
  • The Steelers aren’t sure where to station Cameron Sutton. The 2017 third-round pick played 117 snaps as a rookie after an injury delayed his NFL debut. Pittsburgh may be planning to use him at outside or slot cornerback, or as a safety alongside Morgan Burnett, Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. But he notes that Artie Burns and Sean Davis will still have first crack at their respective jobs, outside cornerback and the non-Burnett safety starter, with the Steelers still hoping for the high draft picks’ upside to show. Mike Hilton remains the frontrunner to be the Steelers’ slot corner, where the former UDFA fared well in 2017.

Browns Exercise Damarious Randall’s Option

The Browns have exercised the fifth-year option for defensive back Damarious Randall, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Browns acquired Randall from the Packers via trade earlier this offseason. 

[RELATED: 2019 Fifth-Year Option Decision Tracker]

The fifth-year option is guaranteed for injury only, so the Browns will have the option to bail for any non-health reason. Assuming he remains with the club through 2019, Randall will earn $9.069MM, as shown on PFR’s fifth-year option tracker.

A first-round selection (No. 30 overall) in 2015, Randall appeared in 39 games with 30 starts for the Packers. In that time, he amassed ten interceptions, including four in 2017, one of which was taken to the house for a pick six.

Randall placed as the 81st ranked corner in the NFL last year, per Pro Football Focus, but GM John Dorsey isn’t overly concerned with analytics. This year, the Browns will convert Randall from cornerback to free safety as fellow newcomers T.J. Carrie and Denzel Ward start on the outside.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Interested In Several Big-Name FAs

The Browns took on some more salary last week by adding Jarvis Landry and Tyrod Taylor, but the team is still loaded with cap space. And the John Dorsey-led operation plans to be active this week.

Nate Solder is on the Browns’ radar as a possible Joe Thomas replacement, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports. While Thomas hasn’t announced his retirement, a decision on whether he will return in 2018 is expected soon.

Additionally, the trade for Damarious Randall won’t preclude Cleveland from seeking top-end cornerback talent. The Browns will pursue Bashaud Breeland, Cabot reports, and a Trumaine Johnson/Gregg Williams reunion could well be something the team considers.

The Browns are targeting big-name corners not just because they have a need for younger talent there but because they are going to play Randall as a free safety, per Cabot. Randall has not played safety yet in the NFL, but the Browns evidently view that as a worthwhile adjustment for their new defensive back.

Terrelle Pryor remains on the Browns’ radar, per Cabot. They’ve been linked to him this offseason and tried to reacquire him from the Redskins at the trade deadline last year. Hue Jackson remains a Pryor backer. Pryor’s market may not be what it was a year ago, however, after a rough season in Washington. Cabot adds that agent Drew Rosenhaus didn’t think it was wise for Pryor to be tied down at $8.5-$9.5MM per year. It would be incredibly surprising if Pryor signs for around that amount this year.

Cabot adds the Browns will likely go after Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins as well. Robinson is a top Browns target, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reaction To Browns Trades

In a span of less than two hours on Friday, the Browns completely retooled their offense and added a piece to their secondary by acquiring Jarvis Landry, Tyrod Taylor and Damarious Randall from the Dolphins, Bills and Packers respectively.

The flurry of moves drastically improves the teams offense and provides a veteran stopgap quarterback — assuming no longterm deal is made — that can bridge to the signal-caller the team is presumably going to tab with one of its two first-round picks.

Leaving Cleveland was 2017 second-round pick DeShone Kizer, who was sent to Green Bay in the Randall deal. The teams also agreed to swap fourth- and fifth-round picks in the upcoming draft. For Landry, the Browns only parted with a 2018 fourth-round pick (No. 123) and 2019 seventh-round selection. In the Taylor deal, Cleveland sent one of its third-round picks (No. 65) in exchange for the turnover-averse passer.

These deals can not be officially completed until Wednesday, the first day of the 2018 season.

Here’s more on Cleveland’s busy day:

  • The Browns do not have a long-term deal in place for Landry at the moment but both sides are interested, the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson tweets. Jackson also notes (Twitter link) that Landry likes the situation in Cleveland and is excited to work with new offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
  • Sticking with Landry, the Ravens, Titans and Jets were all involved in talks for the receiver late this week before the Browns landed him, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler tweets. The Ravens were widely reported as suitors for the dynamic slot receiver, but both the Jets and Titans flew under the radar.
  • ESPN’s Pat McManamon believes the trade of Kizer and the acquisition of Taylor emphasizes the Browns believe in one of the quarterbacks in the upcoming draft. He writes the plan is for Taylor to hold the spot in 2018 and let the drafted passer take the role in 2019.
  • Several other teams were interested in adding Taylor, including the Cardinals and Broncos, the Buffalo News’ Vic Carucci reports (Twitter link). Both teams were not willing to meet the Browns’ offer of a third-round pick. Kent Somers of AZ Central Sports, however, hears that the Cardinals were not involved in talks for the quarterback (Twitter link).
  • Heavily linked with Cleveland due to his ties with head coach Hue Jackson, A.J. McCarron will have to find a new suitor. ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link) noted the obvious candidates — Arizona, Denver and now Buffalo — as potential landing spots for the former Alabama signal-caller.