DeShone Kizer

AFC West Notes: Chiefs, Raiders, Leary

Let’s take a quick look at the AFC West, beginning with the division’s three-time reigning champion on the eve of a rather important game.

  • The Chiefs‘ New England visits over the past two seasons have included monster stat lines from their running back corps. While the player responsible for most of that production (Kareem Hunt) is long gone, the Chiefs will also be without starter Damien Williams for Sunday’s Patriots game. Kansas City’s Hunt successor remains out due to a rib injury, set to miss a second straight game. The Chiefs placed Darrel Williams on IR earlier this week and will take a LeSean McCoySpencer WareDarwin Thompson contingent to Foxborough.
  • Set for perhaps a do-or-die game, regarding their playoff aspirations, the Raiders will do so without their largest player. Trent Brown will miss Sunday’s game against the Titans with a pectoral injury. Second-year player Brandon Parker will start at right tackle. A second-round pick, Parker made 12 starts as a rookie but was replaced when the Raiders doled out a record contract for Brown.
  • When Jon Gruden pulled Derek Carr during a blowout loss against the Jets, Mike Glennon took the snaps. Should Carr go down or be benched again this season, that would not be the case. The Raiders promoted DeShone Kizer to their backup spot, Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area Notes. Kizer has been Oakland’s QB3 this season, inactive each game. He will suit up as a Raider for the first time, displacing Glennon in that role. The Raiders claimed Kizer, the Browns’ primary 2017 starter and a Packers backup last season, shortly after roster cutdown day.
  • Ronald Leary‘s 12 games this season represent his most with the Broncos, but Denver will have a new right guard Sunday. A concussion will sideline Leary and move Austin Schlottman into the starting lineup, per Mike Klis of 9News. A UDFA out of TCU, Schlottman spent last season on Denver’s practice squad and has played 10 NFL snaps. Leary will exit Week 14 having missed 16 games during his three-year Broncos tenure and looms as a cap-casualty candidate next year. The Broncos can save nearly $9MM by cutting the soon-to-be 31-year-old blocker, who has one season remaining on his contract.

Raiders Claim QB DeShone Kizer

The Raiders claimed quarterback DeShone Kizer off waivers from the Packers, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter).The move gives Oakland four quarterbacks as of this writing, though one of their signal callers will almost certainly be displaced to make room for the Notre Dame product.

A second-round selection in 2017, Kizer was pegged as a green talent that had high upside. Unfortunately for him, he was taken by the Browns, who proceeded to lose every game that season. At year’s end, he was shipped to Green Bay. Now, at the age of 23, he’s moving on to his third career NFL team.

The Raiders seemed set at quarterback with Derek Carr, Mike Glennon, and Nathan Peterman. Now, it looks like Peterman will be squeezed out to make room for Kizer. The Raiders would probably like to stash Peterman on the practice squad, but he’d have to clear waivers first.

Packers To Cut QB DeShone Kizer

The 53-man roster deadline is always full of surprises. Here’s the latest one – the Packers have cut quarterback DeShone Kizer, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Just a couple of months ago, Kizer indicated that he did not see him “as Aaron Rodgers’ backup for the final era of his career.” Instead, he envisioned being a “future Super Bowl MVP.”

“That’s the level I want to play at. Therefore, if I’m competing and focused in on the backup competition, then once again, I’m limiting myself,” he said.

The good news for Kizer – he won’t be Rodgers’ backup for the final era of his career. The bad news – well, you know.

A second-round selection in 2017, Kizer was pegged as a green talent that had high upside. Unfortunately for the Notre Dame product, he was taken by the Browns, who proceeded to lose every game that season. At year’s end, he was shipped to Green Bay. Now, at the age of 23, he’ll look for his third NFL squad.

Extra Points: Kizer, Falcons, Broncos

Packers backup quarterback DeShone Kizer said he doesn’t view himself as a longtime backup quarterback, Packers News’ Jim Owczarski writes.

“I don’t see myself as Aaron Rodgers’ backup for the final era of his career. I see myself as a future Super Bowl MVP. That’s the goal that I want to head toward. That’s the level I want to play at. Therefore, if I’m competing and focused in on the backup competition, then once again, I’m limiting myself,” he said.

A second-round selection in 2017, Kizer was pegged as a high-upside but raw talent coming out of Notre Dame. Unfortunately, he was taken by the Browns, who proceeded to lose every game that season. At year’s end, he was shipped to Green Bay where he serves as a backup to Aaron Rodgers.

Though he is a long way from his goal, Kizer said he is playing the best football of his career and is learning the ropes of the NFL from Rodgers, one of the best in the business. That, along with working with quarterback instructor Adam Dedeaux, could help the Fighting Irish product salvage a career that has seemed to stall. If all goes well for Kizer, he could continue to grow under Rodgers in Green Bay before looking for a chance to compete to start in a new locale after his contract is up.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Broncos third-round pick Dre’Mont Jones could quickly assume a large role as a versatile defender on the team’s defensive line, Kyle Fredrickson of the Denver Post writes. A bit undersized for a defensive lineman, Jones has impressed with his pass-rushing ability both up the middle and as a defensive end.
  • The Falcons haven’t had a punt return touchdown since 2014 and a kickoff return for a score since 2010. Looking to end those streaks are Kenjon Barner and Marcus Green, who are the frontrunners to return kicks for the Falcons in 2019, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Barner was an accomplished returner in college at Oregon and has served in the role in the NFL. Green is a sixth-round selection in 2019 from Louisiana-Monroe who has turned heads with his speed.

North Notes: Hundley, K. White, Hurst

Although many have assumed that the Packers will keep DeShone Kizer on their final roster — after all, Kizer is just one year removed from being a second-round draft pick, and Green Bay liked him enough to trade for him this offseason — Eric Baranczyk and Pete Dougherty of PackersNews.com believe the Packers should keep Brett Hundley and cut Kizer if it comes to that. Baranczyk and Dougherty say the game has slowed more for Hundley than it has for Kizer, and the fact that Green Bay recently traded for Kizer should not be a factor in the team’s decision (after all, the Packers were likely to cut Damarious Randall anyway if Cleveland hadn’t been willing to deal Kizer for him). Ideally, the Packers would be able to swing a trade for one of Hundley or Kizer, but failing that, the Packers News scribes think GM Brian Gutekunst should stick with Hundley, who did not play very well in relief of the injured Aaron Rodgers last year.

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from the league’s North divisions:

  • Wide receivers Kevin White and Javon Wims both improved their chances of making the Bears‘ 53-man roster during Chicago’s preseason victory over Kansas City last night, as Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. White, of course, was the No. 7 overall pick of the 2015 draft — and GM Ryan Pace‘s first-ever draft choice — but injuries have almost completely wiped out the first three years of his NFL career. Wims was a seventh-round selection in this year’s draft, and Jahns believes the Bears should keep both players and six receivers overall, including Josh Bellamy.
  • Although Mackensie Alexander is battling an ankle injury, he is expected to start as the Vikings‘ slot corner — and “quarterback of the defense” in head coach Mike Zimmer‘s scheme — if he is healthy, as Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune reports. However, first-round rookie Mike Hughes — who is also battling an undisclosed injury — has been pushing for first-team reps, which is fairly remarkable when considering that he did not play in the slot in college. Hughes could overtake Alexander down the line, but in any case, Minnesota appears to be well-set at the position in the long-term. Alexander, a 2016 second-rounder, has made tremendous strides in his third summer with the club.
  • Though they had been enjoying an injury- and drama-free offseason, the Ravens have been hit hard with unwelcome news over the past few days. They lost rookie TE Hayden Hurst for three-to-four weeks, they saw star CB Jimmy Smith suspended for four games — though they at least knew that was coming — and now Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic has more bad news to report. Zrebiec tweets that emerging third-year defensive tackle Willie Henry will miss several weeks with a hernia, while promising rookie safety DeShon Elliott may be out for the season with a forearm injury. Zrebiec adds that the recent spate of bad luck will impact Baltimore’s initial roster construction, because while the team will likely carry Hurst and Henry on the 53-man roster until they are ready to return, the Ravens may need to keep an extra tight end and defensive lineman until that happens (Twitter link). Elliott, meanwhile, is an IR candidate. Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com reports that Henry had surgery for his hernia and Hurst has had surgery for the stress fracture in his foot (Twitter links).
  • Browns head coach Hue Jackson wants to keep six wide receivers on the team’s regular-season roster, as Steve Doerschuk of the Akron Beacon Journal writes. Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, and Rashard Higgins make up four of those six wideouts, while sixth-round rookie Damion Ratley also stands a good chance. That means veteran Jeff Janis and relative unknowns Derrick WilliesDa’Mari Scott, and C.J. Board could be fighting it out for the last spot.

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.

Browns Deal Kizer For Damarious Randall

In the deal that sent 2015 first-round cornerback Damarious Randall to the Browns, the Packers received in return quarterback DeShone Kizer, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network tweets

In addition to Randall and Kizer, the teams agreed to swap picks in the fourth and fifth rounds, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets.

A second-round selection in 2017, Kizer started 15 games with Browns as a rookie and did not win a game, posting just 11 touchdowns with a league-leading 22 interceptions. The writing appeared on the wall that the Notre Dame product was not in the Browns’ future plans after the team swung a deal for Tyrod Taylor on Friday. Just moments later, the team was able to find Kizer a new home in the Randall deal.

Boasting prototypical size and a cannon for an arm, Kizer entered the 2017 NFL Draft as a potential franchise signal-caller who could go in the first round. With the move to Green Bay, he will be able to learn the ropes from one of the best in the business in Aaron Rodgers while battling Brett Hundley, who has one year remaining on his rookie deal, for backup duties.

With the deal, the Packers cleared $1.4 MM in cap space. The Browns will have a fifth-year option on the cornerback they will have to declare by May 3, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein reports (Twitter link).

A first-round selection (No. 30 overall) in 2015, Randall has appeared in 39 games with 30 starts in Green Bay and has made 10 interceptions. In 2017, the cornerback registered four interceptions and returned one for a touchdown in 12 starts.

The trade can be made official as early as Wednesday.

[RELATED: Browns Depth Chart]

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Kizer, Steelers

Browns rookie DeShone Kizer is out to prove that he can be the quarterback of the future in Cleveland.

Every time I step out onto the field it’s about doing whatever I can to prove to my teammates and to this organization who I am as a quarterback and as a competitor,” said Kizer (via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com). “I look forward to being in Cleveland for a long time and I look forward to winning for a long time. Every rep that I get, it’s about making sure everyone knows exactly who I am.”

Still, Cabot argues that the Browns have no real choice but to use their top draft pick in 2018 on a quarterback. Kizer has shown promise at times, but someone from the group of Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, and Josh Allen may provide greater upside. If the Browns finish out with the No. 1 pick – which seems very likely – and come to a consensus on someone from that trio, Kizer’s days in Cleveland could be numbered. Or, at the very least, he could find himself holding the clipboard next year.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • Browns head coach Hue Jackson says that wide receiver Kenny Britt did not ask for his release. “I can clarify that for sure,” Jackson said (Twitter link via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal). On Wednesday, the Patriots formally signed Britt to a two-year deal.
  • Steelers cornerback Joe Haden will practice this week after missing a month with a broken leg, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Before the injury, Haden was on the field for almost every Pittsburgh defensive snap. Haden still ranks as the No. 32 cornerback in the league among 117 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.
  • This week, Robert Griffin III said that he nearly signed with the Ravens this year. Thanks to being benched in his final year with the Redskins, injuries in 2016, and his lack of employment in 2017, Griffin has appeared in just five games over the last three seasons.

AFC Notes: Dolphins, Jets, Rosen, Darnold, McDermott, Bills QB’s, Kizer, Broncos Offense

The Dolphins dropped their fourth game in a row when the Bucs broke away in the fourth quarter of today’s contest, which has James Walker of ESPN.com saying that the team will start have to turn their attention to 2018. While Walker does note that the coaches and players will say that they’re still in the wild card hunt, the reality is that the team is showing no signs of making a run during the remaining weeks of the regular season. It’s a sobering thought for second-year head coach Adam Gase, who led Miami to a playoff birth during his first season as the Dolphins leader.

In addition to the defeat, the team also lost starting quarterback Jay Cutler to a concussion during today’s game. Cutler has already missed time earlier in the season, but the Dolphins continue to have an identity problem at the position, according to Adam Beasley of The Miami Herald. Although Matt Moore was effective in relief of Cutler in Week 11, the team did not signal what they intend to do at the quarterback position a week from now.

Gase told Beasley after the game that, “I want to get to tomorrow first, see how [Cutler is] feeling.” These situations usually get more light shed on them as the practice week goes on, however the Dolphins find themselves stuck in an unassuming gray area of the league with two veteran signal callers that can’t be relied on to deliver in the future. Miami still has Ryan Tannehill signed to a long-term deal when he fully recovers from his season-ending knee injury, but he hasn’t truly grabbed the reigns of the franchise since the team took the quarterback in the first round back in 2012.

  • Another team definitely looking ahead in regards to the QB position is the Jets, who had their general manager Mike Maccagnan, vice president of personnel Brian Heimerdinger and area scout Brian Shields on hand for the USC-UCLA game on Saturday to watch two of the best 2018 NFL Draft QB prospects in Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold square off, reports Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. Cimini notes the interesting behavior of Maccagnan in particular, who he saw writing a “copious” amount of notes and decided to watch the game from behind the sidelines instead of in the press box, where most of the NFL scouts were sitting. The Jets are likely to cast a wide net in their search for their next franchise signal, but it would seem that the front office has a significant amount of interest in two of the best college quarterbacks in the country.
  • The Bills have produced themselves a tremendous QB controversy when they shockingly decided to bench starter Tyrod Taylor for rookie Nathan Peterman. However, after Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half of today’s loss at the hands of the Chargers, head coach Sean McDermott is confident and says that he is not second guessing his decision, according to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. The head coach didn’t reveal his intentions for who will start next week, even though Taylor did finish out the game today. The coach just said, “I’m going to evaluate.” when asked about his QB questions in his postgame media session, reports Vic Carruci of the Buffalo News (Twitter link).
  • On the other hand, Browns head coach Hue Jackson committed to his rookie signal caller for the rest of the season after today’s game, reports Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Jackson has turned to both Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler throughout the season, but he seemed very set on DeShone Kizer after his team suffered their 10th straight loss of the 2017 season. “Where we are right now, I need to continue to see him,” said Jackson. “Let’s let him play. Let’s let him play this thing out. As long as he’s healthy, let’s keep putting him out there. I want to walk away from this season knowing exactly what DeShone Kizer is top to bottom. He deserves that. I know this is all tough for him. Week in and week out, it’s the consistency he has to keep chasing. He just has to keep working at it.” While seeing how Kizer reacts to this adversity seems like the franchise’s main priority, they’re quickly running out of chances to not fall into the same breadth as the 2008 Lions, who were the first team in league history to go 0-16 in a season.
  • The Broncos suffered their sixth straight loss at the hands of the Bengals after starting out 3-1 to start the season. The team has shifted to backup Brock Osweiler and could be looking to implement second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch at some point in the remaining six weeks of the season. However, apart from the QB problems, the team is apparently dealing with pushback from players regarding their current offensive scheme, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Sources tell the reporter that players are starting to show frustration with the way the offense is running. The team does have two very good receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, but there are a ton of holes throughout the unit that schemes won’t hide. We’ll see how first-year head coach Vance Joseph reacts to the losing streak, but it’s turning out that this is a lost season for the Super Bowl 50 champions.