Packers Rumors

QB Blake Bortles Announces Retirement

Blake Bortles is not planning to continue his efforts at returning to a team’s active roster. The former No. 3 overall pick announced his retirement during an appearance on Barstool Sports’ Pardon My Take podcast.

The longtime Jaguars starter has not played in a regular-season game since the 2019 season, when he appeared in three as Jared Goff‘s backup with the Rams. But he has bounced around the league in the years since, last being with a team in April. The Saints released Bortles at that point, and the former AFC championship game starter said during the podcast he has not touched a football since January.

Since his 2019 Rams signing, Bortles caught on with the Broncos and Packers and also circled back to the Rams. He finished his career as a Saints emergency roster option, amid the team’s COVID-19 surge during the Omicron variant’s height. Mostly from his rookie contract and the three-year, $54MM extension he signed with the Jaguars in 2018, Bortles walks away from the game having made more than $47MM. The Jags bailing on that deal after one season, however, abruptly ended the oft-scrutinized passer’s run as a starter.

The Central Florida product started 73 career games, and while he ended up being benched months after signing that extension, the former Doug Marrone pupil had Jacksonville on the cusp of a Super Bowl LII berth. Bortles threw for 293 yards in a narrow AFC championship game loss in New England, doing so after the Jaguars won a divisional-round shootout in Pittsburgh.

Despite having chosen Blaine Gabbert in the top 10 three years prior, the Jags went back to the Round 1 QB well with Bortles, who came off the 2014 board far earlier than his QB contemporaries — in a class that included Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr. Numerous The Good Place references aside, Bortles frequently drew criticism during his rocky Jags tenure. Working with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, Bortles finished the 2015 season with 35 touchdown passes. But the Jags went 5-11 that year; Bortles then struggled in 2016. He threw 51 interceptions from 2014-16, but the team nevertheless stuck with its starter — as Marrone replaced Gus Bradley as HC– leading to a 2017 outlier season that nearly produced one of the most unlikely Super Bowl entrants in the game’s history.

Jacksonville assembled a strong defense in 2017 — one that led the league in DVOA and lived up to its “Sacksonville” nickname — helping the team to a 10-6 record and the AFC title game. The Jags could not sustain that formula in 2018 and began a decline that led to their talented defense splintering and, eventually, the Urban Meyer year. The Jags released Bortles in March 2019, taking on $16.5MM in dead money as they pivoted to one-and-done option Nick Foles. Bortles concludes his career with 103 touchdown passes and 75 interceptions; his 17,646 passing yards are second-most (behind Mark Brunell) in Jags history.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/4/22

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Cleveland Browns

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Minnesota Vikings

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Designated for return from IR: WR Calvin Austin

San Francisco 49ers

Tennessee Titans

Cine has now undergone two surgeries in London to repair his leg fracture. The first-round pick underwent a preparatory procedure before his Tuesday operation to repair the compound fracture he sustained. The Georgia product will stay in England for the time being, with Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press noting (via Twitter) doctors want to ensure no infections develop. Cine could travel back to Minnesota as soon as this weekend.

Following Latavius Murray off the Saints’ practice squad this week, Wilson did not see any action for the team this season. The former multiyear Vikings starter signed a one-year, $2.75MM Eagles deal in 2021, but Philadelphia bailed on that contract during the season. Wilson, 28, finished last season with the Texans. In his lone full season as a Vikings starter (2020), Wilson made 122 tackles, registered three sacks and intercepted three passes.

Addison signed with the Texans shortly after the draft, joining fellow ex-Bills edge rusher Jerry Hughes in joining the rebuilding team on a two-year deal. The Texans placed Addison on IR with a groin injury; he is eligible to be activated to the 53-man roster this week. Teams can make eight activations from their injured lists — be it IR, PUP or NFI — this season.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/1/22

Today’s minor moves around the league, including practice squad elevations for tomorrow’s action:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

2022 NFL Cap Space, By Team

As we exit September, trade rumors will become a steady NFL topic. This year’s deadline falls on Nov. 1. That will return cap-space discussions to the forefront. Here is how every team stacks up financially going into October, via Over The Cap.

  1. Cleveland Browns: $35.94MM
  2. Philadelphia Eagles: $10.89MM
  3. Denver Broncos: $10.67MM
  4. Carolina Panthers: $10.47MM
  5. Las Vegas Raiders: $10.35MM
  6. Dallas Cowboys: $9.25MM
  7. Pittsburgh Steelers: $8.64MM
  8. Green Bay Packers: $8.57MM
  9. Indianapolis Colts: $7.97MM
  10. Atlanta Falcons: $7.92MM
  11. New York Jets: $6.97MM
  12. Chicago Bears: $6.84MM
  13. San Francisco 49ers: $6.75MM
  14. Miami Dolphins: $6.51MM
  15. Arizona Cardinals: $6.25MM
  16. Los Angeles Chargers: $5.83MM
  17. New York Giants: $5.49MM
  18. Jacksonville Jaguars: $5.41MM
  19. Los Angeles Rams: $5.38MM
  20. Baltimore Ravens: $4.51MM
  21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $3.87MM
  22. New England Patriots: $3.5MM
  23. Cincinnati Bengals: $3.16MM
  24. New Orleans Saints: $2.86MM
  25. Detroit Lions: $2.64MM
  26. Washington Commanders: $2.58MM
  27. Buffalo Bills: $2.44MM
  28. Tennessee Titans: $2.41MM
  29. Seattle Seahawks: $2.28MM
  30. Kansas City Chiefs: $2.12MM
  31. Houston Texans: $1.64MM
  32. Minnesota Vikings: $1.47MM

The Eagles’ number is certainly far closer to the Vikings’ last-place figure than what the Browns have stockpiled. Cleveland would stand to have room to augment its 2022 roster, via a patient free agent or a trade. That could depend on where Jacoby Brissett has the team stationed going into the Nov. 1 deadline. But the Browns also appear to be preparing for their Deshaun Watson future. Watson’s unprecedented contract spikes from a $9.4MM cap number (2022) to a record-shattering $54.99MM numbers from 2023-26. As that reality awaits, the Browns rolling over cap space to 2023 would be prudent.

With Sterling Shepard‘s ACL tear moving the veteran wide receiver to IR, the Giants will need to both cover that cost ($6.3MM) and add a contract to fill the roster spot. Every team will go through versions of that issue this season, as injuries pile up. The Giants are prepared to eat a significant chunk of Kenny Golladay‘s 2022 base salary ($13MM) to move him, eyeing an escape from his $4.5MM 2023 guarantee. No takers have emerged, though it will be interesting to see if a market for the former Pro Bowler forms once injuries affect more teams’ receiver situations.

Since their Jimmy Garoppolo restructure, the 49ers agreed to a two-year extension with Dre Greenlaw. The team is not expected to extend Nick Bosa until 2023, however. The Texans, Falcons, Bears and Eagles all sit north of $60MM in dead money, meaning more than a quarter of their respective cap space is tied to players no longer on the roster. Watson, Matt Ryan and Khalil Mack are responsible for massive dead-money hits on the Houston, Atlanta and Chicago payrolls. Philadelphia still has Alshon Jeffery, Malik Jackson and Brandon Brooks dead money on its cap sheet.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/28/22

Here are the practice squad signings and releases for today:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Green Bay Packers

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

  • Signed: OLB Gerri Green

Packers LT David Bakhtiari Expected To Play In Week 3

Green Bay appears to be receiving some long-awaited injury news with respect to one of their top players. Left tackle David Bakhtiari is expected to play tomorrow, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). 

Bakhtiari is officially listed as questionable as he continues to deal with the effects of his 2020 ACL tear. That injury left him sidelined for all but the regular season finale last year, and required a third operation this offseason. With plenty of uncertainty surrounding his short- and long-term future, things appeared to take a positive turn on the eve of the season.

The two-time First-Team All-Pro stated that he expected to be available for Week 1, but the Packers continued to rely on Yosuah Nijman instead. That remained the case again the following week, as Nijman continued to operate effectively on the blindside in PFF’s eyes. With a pass-blocking grade of 84.7 and only one penalty committed, he has helped stabilize a Green Bay offensive front which just got Pro Bowler Elgton Jenkins back in Week 2.

Still, a return to the field – and elite form – from Bakhtiari would be a welcomed sight for the Packers. The 30-year-old has been a full-time starter on the blindside since his rookie season, and is the team’s second highest-paid player. With his cap hits scheduled to soar to $29MM and $33MM for the final two years of his contract, it will be important for both player and club to see if he can handle a regular workload.

Doing so could be made easier by the light practice schedule he will be following this season. The first significant test, though, will come tomorrow when the Packers face the Buccaneers in an attempt to move to 2-1. With healthy tackles on both sides of the o-line, Green Bay’s prospects in that game and beyond could be notably improved.

Packers Place WR Sammy Watkins On IR

The Packers ruled out veteran wide receiver Sammy Watkins yesterday as he deals with hamstring issues, but they took the ruling a step further today as the team placed him on injured reserve. The new ruling means that not only will Watkins miss tomorrow’s game against the Buccaneers, but quarterback Aaron Rodgers will have to wait four weeks to get his top receiver back. 

Watkins has seen a bit of a resurgence so far in his ninth NFL season. The 29-year-old has led the Packers in receiving yards through the first two games with six catches for 111 yards. Watkins’ resurgent season has seen the benefit of Rodgers’ top returning target, Allen Lazard, missing Week 1 as he deals with an ankle injury. He also has taken advantage of his competition for targets being rookies and a 32-year-old Randall Cobb. Regardless, Watkins has made the most of his early opportunities and the Packers will have to make up for some lost production in his absence.

Lazard has been cleared to play but is still dealing with that ankle injury. Rookie Christian Watson joins Watkins in his hamstring issues and Cobb has not practiced recently due to illness. Both are currently listed as questionable. Beyond those four, Rodgers will have to rely on two more rookies in Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure, second-year return specialist Amari Rodgers, and practice squad gameday call-up Juwann Winfree.

Watkins dealt with hamstring issues during his lone season in Baltimore last year, as well, missing four games and being mostly held out of the final three. He’s never quite been the portrait of health. Watkins hasn’t played in every game of the regular season since his rookie year back in 2014. Since then, he’s missed an average of four games per season. Watkins will be eligible to return to play in time for the Packers Week 7 matchup with the Commanders.

After moving Watkins to IR, Green Bay signed practice squad running back Patrick Taylor to the active roster in a corresponding move. Winfree, as mentioned above, has also been called to the active roster, but, as a standard gameday elevation, he will revert back to the practice squad after the game.

NFC Injury Updates: Bucs, Packers, Smith

Tampa Bay knew it would be without two of its bigger playmakers in wide receiver Chris Godwin and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks this week. That is no surprise, as Godwin missed last week with a hamstring ailment and Hicks is predicted to miss a month with a foot injury. The Buccaneers were hoping to get back offensive tackle Donovan Smith this week, but he is doubtful to appear this Sunday against the Packers, according to Cameron Wolfe of NFL Network.

Smith suffered a hyperextended right elbow in Tampa Bay’s Week 1 victory over the Cowboys. Last week, the Buccaneers slotted Josh Wells in to start for Smith, but, after Wells suffered a calf injury that landed him on injured reserve in the team’s matchup with the Saints, they’ll likely turn to Brandon Walton who replaced Wells last Sunday.

It was also reported, by Buccaneers staff writer Brianna Dix, that wide receiver Julio Jones is expected to be a game-time decision, according to head coach Todd Bowles.

Here are a few other Sunday game statuses we heard about today, starting with two top receivers in Green Bay:

  • The Packers‘ top returning receiver from last year had to miss Week 1 while dealing with an ankle injury. While they got Allen Lazard back last week, he was seen limping at points of the game. Regardless, Lazard “is optimistic about playing” this week versus Tampa Bay, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. The Packers have been cautious with him in practice this week, but it’s likely been precautionary. On the other hand, quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be without one of his top targets as Sammy Watkins has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, according to Field Yates of ESPN. Rookie wide receiver Christian Watson is also dealing with hamstring issues but is listed as questionable going into the weekend.
  • Vikings safety Harrison Smith is expected to miss his first game due to injury since 2016, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Smith did sit out two games last year on the COVID-19/reserve list and took a rest day in the 2019 season finale, but a concussion suffered in Monday night’s loss to the Eagles will likely hold him out against the Lions this week.
  • Tyler Kroft has been the man for the 49ers at tight end, starting twice to begin the season in place of the injured star, George Kittle. He has never been a strong receiving threat, but his ability to run block has made him a valuable asset to the San Francisco offense. In the team’s Week 2 win over the Seahawks, though, Kroft suffered a sprained MCL. He’s expected “to miss several weeks” because of the knee injury, but, due to new injured reserve rules, the veteran will not be placed on IR, according to David Lombardi of The Athletic. The new rules this year dictate that only eight players can be designated to return from IR, so, even though Kroft will be eligible to return after several weeks, the 49ers are choosing to save their designated to return IR spots for more valuable players who may end up sustaining injuries later on in the season. The timing of Kroft’s injury is not the worst it could possibly be as Kittle is set to return this week from injury. Kittle is mostly known for his receiving ability but is a decent run blocker in his own right and will help to vacate any deficit resulting from Kroft’s absence.
  • The Lions will be down one of their rotational defensive linemen when they play the Vikings and, according to Justin Rogers of the Detroit News, a recent surgery will hold him out for a while. Defensive lineman John Cominsky is dealing with a wrist injury that required the surgery. Cominsky may not be a household name, but, when he was put on waivers after three years of playing with the Falcons, Cominsky drew the interest of one-fourth of the league, as eight teams were intrigued enough to put in claims on the former Golden Eagle out of Division II Charleston in West Virginia. The Lions were second in the waiver order and were granted the 6-foot-5 lineman, but the Commanders, Colts, Browns, Texans, Cardinals, Vikings, and Bengals all attempted to bring him in. With Cominsky out, Lions head coach Dan Campbell suggested that the starting four defensive linemen will be backed up by the likes of Austin Bryant and undrafted rookie Demetrius Taylor.

Patrick Mahomes Played Central Role In Chiefs Signing JuJu Smith-Schuster, MVS

The Chiefs are 2-0 and enter Week 3 second in points per game. The team, which traded Tyreek Hill and lost other wide receivers in free agency, heads to Indianapolis ranked sixth in passing yards and third in offensive DVOA.

Patrick Mahomes is obviously driving this effort, but the former MVP and Super Bowl MVP is still adjusting to a new-look receiving corps. Kansas City’s fifth-year starter did plenty to assemble this group, beginning shortly after the Hill extension talks took a turn that led to the blockbuster swap with Miami.

Chiefs GM Brett Veach informed Mahomes in mid-March of the increasing likelihood Hill would be dealt, Nate Taylor of The Athletic notes, with the perennial Pro Bowl wideout’s request for a significant raise becoming an untenable proposition for the Chiefs (subscription required). The Raiders’ Davante Adams contract changed Hill’s approach, and the Chiefs added their two free agent receiver targets shortly after the Adams extension (JuJu Smith-Schuster) and the Hill trade (Marquez Valdes-Scantling).

Although it looked for a bit like the Chiefs brought in Smith-Schuster to complement Hill, due to the team’s No. 1 wideout still being on the team when the longtime Steeler signed, Taylor adds Mahomes had begun recruiting Smith-Schuster shortly after learning Hill could be gone. Smith-Schuster had been on Kansas City’s radar for two offseasons. The Chiefs pursued him in 2021, but the former Steelers second-round pick opted to stay in Pittsburgh for one more year. A January report indicated Smith-Schuster was interested in circling back to the Chiefs as well. Mahomes helped move this transaction — a one-year, $3.76MM deal — across the finish line, eyeing the Pittsburgh slot as a player who could excel in myriad capacities in Kansas City.

Valdes-Scantling did not have the Chiefs on his radar to start free agency, according to Taylor, but Mahomes called the ex-Packers deep threat shortly after the Hill deal commenced. MVS visited the Chiefs and signed with them a day later. The Packers had made a late push to retain their former fifth-round pick, but Taylor notes they offered a one-year deal. MVS had expected to land a one-year pact, however, and the Chiefs only guaranteed $8.56MM of the wideout’s three-year, $30MM deal at signing.

Combined, the Chiefs’ top four receivers’ salaries — also factoring in Mecole Hardman and Skyy Moore‘s second-round contracts — come in at a fraction of Hill’s league-record $30MM-per-year Dolphins dough. Hill has gotten off to a fast start in Miami and fit better on a Dolphins payroll lacking a franchise-QB salary. Travis Kelce still leads the Chiefs in receiving by a wide margin — something that probably should be expected to be the case at season’s end, barring injury — while Smith-Schuster, MVS and Hardman have combined for 21 receptions through two games. Moore is being brought along slower, having played just 15 offensive snaps in two weeks.