Darren Fells

Lions Re-Sign TE Darren Fells, Place QB Tim Boyle On IR

As expected, the Lions will begin their season without backup quarterback Tim Boyle. A thumb injury will sideline him into October, with the team placing the former Packers reserve on IR Thursday.

The team also stashed defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand on IR. Players placed on IR after roster cutdown day are eligible to return after three games. This is Hand’s fourth IR stay in four seasons.

Detroit also brought back one of its offseason additions, re-signing tight end Darren Fells a day after releasing him. Fells made it through to the Lions’ 53-man roster after cut day but was dropped on Wednesday. The former college hoops standout-turned-red zone target signed with the Lions in May.

Fells joins T.J. Hockenson as the only tight ends on Detroit’s active roster. This will be Fells’ age-35 season and second with Detroit. He was on the 2017 Lions before relocating to Cleveland and then Houston. With the Texans, Fells caught 11 touchdown passes over the past two years.

Boyle’s injury leaves David Blough as the only QB behind Jared Goff on the Lions’ active roster. This marks Blough’s third year with the team.

Additionally, the Lions also re-signed safety Dean Marlowe on Thursday. A Bills contributor from 2018-20, Marlowe joined Fells in being dropped from the roster for procedural purposes Wednesday.

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Wednesday NFL Transactions: NFC North

Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These BearsLionsPackers and Vikings moves are noted below.

Here are Wednesday’s NFC North transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.

Chicago Bears

Claimed:

Signed:

Waived:

Placed on IR:

Signed to practice squad:

Detroit Lions

Released/Waived:

Signed to practice squad:

Green Bay Packers

Signed to practice squad:

Minnesota Vikings

Signed:

Claimed:

Placed on IR:

Signed to practice squad:

Lions To Sign Darren Fells

The Lions have agreed to a deal with Darren Fells, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets. It’s a reunion for Fells, who spent the 2017 season in Detroit. 

Last time with the Lions, Fells notched 17 catches for 177 yards and three touchdowns. Back then, he was known solely for his blocking ability. But, in 2019, he made waves with 34 catches for 341 yards and seven touchdowns. His second season with the Texans wasn’t as flashy. In 2020, Fells notched 21 catches for 312 yards and four TDs. Still, that makes eleven scores in two years and the Lions are more interested in Fells for his blocking ability.

Fells will help replace TE Josh Hill, who signed with the Lions this year only to retire earlier this week. Hill, 31, was set to play on a one-year, $1.2MM deal.

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Lions To Meet With Darren Fells

The Lions will meet with Darren Fells tonight (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo). If all goes well, the veteran tight end could return to Detroit, where he spent the 2017 season.

Fells has notched eleven touchdowns across the last two seasons with the Texans, plus another TD in the 2019 postseason. The bulk of those scores came in ’19 (seven) off of 34 grabs for 341 yards. Last year was quieter for the 35-year-old as he registered 21 catches for 312 yards and four TDs. Still, it’s worth noting that he finished with the highest yards per catch average of his career (14.9). Also, it wasn’t exactly a banner year for the Texans offense on the whole.

Overall, Fells is better known for his blocking prowess than his pass-catching, so he still profiles as solid support for T.J. Hockenson & Co.

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Texans To Cut TE Darren Fells

The Texans are releasing Darren Fells (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). The tight end was previously set to play out the second-year of his two-year, $7MM contract. 

Fells, who will celebrate his 35th birthday in April, set a career high with seven touchdowns in 2019. It was an unexpected jump in offensive production for the veteran, who was previously known best for his blocking prowess.

Last year, he staved off competition from Jordan Akins and third-round pick Kahale Warring, but the Texans are going younger across the board as they rebuilt. Akins led all Houston TEs with 37 grabs for 403 yards. Meanwhile, Warring stands at 6’5″ with tons of promise as a blocker. If he’s healthy, he could be a featured part of the rotation.

By releasing Fells, the Texans will save upwards of $1.2MM on the books.

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Texans, Darren Fells Agree To Extension

The Texans have agreed to terms on a new two-year contract with tight end Darren Fells, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). The new deal is worth $7MM and will pay Fells a little more up front with $4MM in 2020. 

Fells, who will celebrate his 34th birthday in April, set a career high with seven touchdowns last year. It was an unexpected jump in offensive production for the veteran, who was previously known best for his blocking prowess.

Last summer, many thought that Fells was on the chopping block soon after signing his one-year deal with Houston. Six weeks after putting pen to paper, the Texans used a third-round choice on San Diego State’s Kahale Warring, a 6’5″ athlete with lots of promise as a blocker. Meanwhile, there were also “the Jordans” – 2018 picks Jordan Akins and Jordan Thomas.

Still, Fells emerged from the pack and as he started in all 16 games and caught 34 passes for 341 yards (and the aforementioned seven TDs.) Now, he’ll stick with the Texans for 2020 and possibly beyond.

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Release Candidate: Texans TE Darren Fells

The Texans signed Darren Fells to a one-year deal in March, adding a proven blocking tight end to their offensive unit. However, the 33-year-old could be looking for work before the summer is through. 

Roughly six weeks after signing Fells, the Texans used a third round pick on San Diego State’s Kahale Warring, a 6’5″ tight end who has shown serious promise as a blocker. Meanwhile, the Texans also have the Jordans – 2018 rookies Jordan Akins and Jordan Thomas – on their TE depth chart. Fells faces an uphill battle, even after the Texans released Ryan Griffin in May.

Fells’ blue collar blocking skills have made him a known commodity in a league obsessed with offensively explosive tight ends, but they might not be enough to get him over the hump in Houston. It’s also worth noting that Fells, despite his rep, wasn’t all that sharp of a blocker last season. Pro Football Focus assigned Fells a 72.9 pass-blocking grade in 2018, which put him near the middle of the pack among his position group, and a 55.9 grade in the run game, a mark which ranked near the bottom of the league.

Fells’ blocking foibles weren’t just recognized by the advanced metrics. The Browns, who inked him to a three-year, $12MM deal in the 2018 offseason, released him this year and took on a dead money hit of $1.4MM.

Fells seems likely to hook on somewhere for the 2019 season, but it might not happen with the Texans, who guaranteed him just $100K on his one-year, $1.5MM deal.

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Texans To Sign TE Darren Fells

Darren Fells has a new home. On Monday, the Texans agreed to sign the tight end to a one-year deal, as Mark Berman of FOX 26 tweets

Fells, 33 next month, signed a three-year, $12MM deal with Cleveland just last offseason. But, earlier this month, the Browns cut him after being unable to find a suitable trade.

Fells was scheduled to carry a cap charge of $3.7MM. Instead, the Browns sent him packing and took on a dead money hit of $1.4MM.

In his lone season in Cleveland, Fells appeared in all 16 games, but played on just 38.5% of the Browns’ offensive snaps and managed only 11 receptions. While he wasn’t given many opportunities behind starting tight end David Njoku, Fells was effective when targeted. Among tight ends with fewer than 25 catches, Fells finished third in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, meaning he was productive on a per-play basis.

While Fells has historically been praised as a blocking tight end, 2018 wasn’t a banner year for him in that regard, at least according to Pro Football Focus. PFF assigned Fells a 72.9 pass-blocking grade, which put him near the middle of the pack among his position group, but a 55.9 grade in the run game, a mark which ranked near the bottom of the league.

Fells will bring his blocking knowledge to the Texans’ TE group, which currently includes Ryan Griffin, Jordan Thomas, and Jordan Akins.

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Browns Release TE Darren Fells

The Browns have released tight end Darren Fells after failing to trade him, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (Twitter link). The Jets were mentioned as a possible suitor for Fells after reports emerged Saturday that he was on the trade block, but no deal came to fruition.

Fells, 33 next month, signed a three-year, $12MM deal with Cleveland just last offseason. He’d been scheduled to earn a base salary of $2.65MM in 2019, and would have carried a cap charge of $3.7MM. Instead, the Browns will now take on a dead money hit of $1.4MM by cutting Fells.

In his lone season in Cleveland, Fells appeared in all 16 games, but played on just 38.5% of the Browns’ offensive snaps and managed only 11 receptions. While he wasn’t given many opportunities behind starting tight end David Njoku, Fells was effective when targeted. Among tight ends with fewer than 25 catches, Fells finished third in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, meaning he was productive on a per-play basis.

While Fells has historically been praised as a blocking tight end, 2018 wasn’t a banner year for him in that regard, at least according to Pro Football Focus. PFF assigned Fells a 72.9 pass-blocking grade, which put him near the middle of the pack among his position group, but a 55.9 grade in the run game, a mark which ranked near the bottom of the league.

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Browns Shopping Darren Fells, Jets Interested

The Browns have showed a strong willingness to make trades under new GM John Dorsey, most recently sending guard Kevin Zeitler to the Giants in exchange for defensive end Olivier Vernon. He isn’t done yet, as the team is shopping tight end Darren Fells in trade talks, a source told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com (Twitter link).

Fells signed a three-year, $12MM deal with the Browns in March of last year, but they’re apparently looking to move on just one year into that pact. Fells has never offered much in the passing game, and is much more of a blocking tight end than anything else. He was an occasional redzone threat for the Browns last year, catching three touchdowns. He had just 11 receptions for 117 yards overall, although he did start 11 games.

With David Njoku the future at the position for Cleveland, the Browns don’t have too much of a need for an expensive blocking tight end. They can find a decent blocker on the open market for a cheaper price. Fells has only been in the league for five seasons, but he turns 33 in April. He never played college football, and made the leap to the NFL after playing professional basketball overseas for several seasons.

As for teams that might be interested, the Jets “have had internal discussions about trading for” Fells, sources told Manish Mehta of The New York Daily News (Twitter link). Mehta adds that New York “is in the market” for a blocking tight end. Fells did receive slightly above average marks from Pro Football Focus last year. If they can’t find a trade partner, it’s definitely possible the Browns could just release Fells outright.

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