Jarvis Landry

Latest On Browns’ Receivers

The Browns are coming off their most successful season in decades, but they’ve got very important questions to figure out this offseason. One of the most pressing questions is what’s going to happen in their receivers room.

Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. both have big cap hits for 2021, and there was a report back in November after Beckham tore his ACL that some believed he had played his final down as a Brown. GM Andrew Berry tried to squash that when he recently said Beckham was still very much in the team’s plans moving forward, and head coach Kevin Stefanski echoed that sentiment this week. “I think we can, yeah,” Stefanski said to Keyshawn Johnson on ESPN Radio when asked whether the team can fit Landry and Beckham’s salaries for 2021, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.

Interestingly, Kay Cabot writes that Cleveland “would likely listen to offers for Beckham this offseason,” but that “there’s not expected to be much of a market” for him given his contract and the knee injury he’s coming off of. She notes the team could get out of Landry’s deal with only $3MM in dead cap, but doesn’t think they have any plans to cut him.

Stefanski spoke very highly of Beckham’s efforts to get his knee right, saying “he attacks rehab like I’ve never seen people do it.” Thankfully everything seems to be going well with his recovery and he should be all systems go for 2021.

The Browns also have a third key receiver flying more under the radar, Rashard Higgins. Kay Cabot writes that the impending free agent will receive a contract offer whenever the cap is set, but that if he receives an offer in the $6MM annually range that Spotrac.com estimates him at, it’ll likely be “more than the Browns are willing to pay.”

“If he can get that on the open market, he’ll likely be gone,” she writes. Higgins caught 37 passes for 599 yards and four touchdowns last year. As of right now, it looks like Landry and Beckham are strong favorites to be back catching passes from Baker Mayfield next year, although that seemingly could change if a team steps up with trade interest in Beckham. Higgins’ status is more up in the air, and it appears to be trending toward him heading elsewhere.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Browns’ COVID-19 Situation

The Browns’ COVID-19 situation will keep at least four players out of their crucial Week 17 game. Linebacker Malcolm Smith and tight end Harrison Bryant are the players who tested positive for the coronavirus, sources tell NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). They’ll be held out of Sunday’s tilt against the Steelers, along with linebacker B.J. Goodson and safety Andrew Sendejo

[POLL: Which AFC Contender Will Miss Playoffs?]

Although the team reopened its facility after a contact tracing effort Wednesday, the Browns closed it again Thursday. They will, however, have their top four receivers back this week. Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and KhaDarel Hodge are off the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list. So is linebacker Jacob Phillips. The Steelers-Browns rematch remains on schedule for 1pm ET Sunday.

Denzel Ward, however, is the latest Browns player to run into COVID trouble. The Browns’ No. 1 cornerback tested positive for the coronavirus and is out Sunday, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports (on Twitter). He is out for Sunday’s game and would be a long shot to play in the Browns’ playoff opener, should they qualify.

The Browns are playing to snap the NFL’s longest active playoff drought. If they win, they’re in. If they lose, they’ll need the Colts to do the same, but that would hinge on a quality performance from the lowly Jaguars. If the Browns lose and the Colts win, they’ll need a Titans loss, plus wins from the Ravens and Dolphins to sneak into the postseason.

On the plus side, the Steelers indicated they will rest Ben Roethlisberger this weekend. Plus, they’ll be without top defenders Devin Bush and Bud Dupree, who limited the Browns to just six points in their October meeting. As it stands, Football Outsiders gives the Browns a 44% chance to hold at the No. 6 seed and a 20% chance to make it as the No. 7 seed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns To Be Down Several WRs In Week 16

Dec. 27: There were no new positive tests overnight, so this afternoon’s contest with the Jets will go forward, as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reports (via Twitter). The Browns will be without their top four wideouts and two linebackers, and while they did activate left tackle Jedrick Wills from the reserve/COVID-19 list as expected, Wills has been ruled out of the game with an illness. Cleveland has elevated Willies and Bradley from the practice squad, along with LB Montrel Meander.

The close contact with Goodson occurred in the team’s recovery pool area, according to Pelissero (hold your jokes, please). Sharing the pool isn’t a protocol violation in and of itself, but at least one player wasn’t wearing a mask as required, and the league may choose investigate further.

Dec. 26: Some fallout is emerging from B.J. Goodson‘s positive COVID-19 test. Contact tracing deemed several Browns wide receivers high-risk close contacts, according to Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins and Donovan Peoples-Jones — the Browns’ top three wide receivers — have are high-risk close contacts, Schefter and Mortensen report (on Twitter). These three will be placed on Cleveland’s reserve/COVID-19 list and miss Sunday’s game against the Jets, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com (on Twitter).

A fourth wideout, KhaDarel Hodge, will also be placed on the virus list, Cabot reports (on Twitter). Linebacker Jacob Phillips is also out. Hodge is Cleveland’s fourth-leading wide receiver this season.

The Browns have not yet left Cleveland and have yet to learn how many players will be unable to travel with the team to New Jersey. The Browns are also likely to be without at least one tight end against the Jets, according to ESPN. The game remains on as scheduled for noon CT Sunday.

While this is not as dire of a situation, functionality-wise, as what the Broncos encountered earlier this season at quarterback, the Browns are in a higher-profile spot. The Browns still have a chance to win the AFC North, with two wins and two Steelers losses, and have yet to clinch a wild-card spot yet. The Jets are 1-13 but coming off a 23-20 win over the Rams.

Already down Odell Beckham Jr., the Browns do not have much in the way of receiving talent beyond their top three healthy targets. Few teams do. Landry’s 789 receiving yards lead the team, while Higgins has contributed 544 and four receiving TDs. This will be Landry’s first absence with the Browns.

Cleveland’s remaining wideouts: Marvin Hall and practice squad cogs Derrick Willies and Ja’Marcus Bradley. None of them have a catch with Cleveland this season. Hall caught 17 passes for 290 yards and two scores with the Lions this year. The Browns claimed Hall off waivers from the Lions earlier this month.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Steelers, Ravens

Odell Beckham Jr. will be good to go when the Browns convene for training camp. Kevin Stefanski confirmed the three-time Pro Bowl wideout has 100% recovered from the core muscle surgery he underwent earlier this offseason, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes. Beckham battled this problem for much of last season, often not being able to practice until Fridays, while also navigating a hip injury. While the star receiver suited up for 16 games — after failing to do so in three of his five Giants seasons — OBJ did not develop much of a rapport with Baker Mayfield. In Year 2 with the Browns, Beckham attended the team’s virtual offseason meetings. He skipped much of Cleveland’s onsite OTAs last year.

Jarvis Landry also underwent winter surgery — a hip procedure — and is behind Beckham in recovery. Stefanski expects his other Pro Bowl wideout to be healthy at some point in August. So it appears Landry will miss some time in camp, and Stefanski said he would be cautious with Beckham as well. Moving away from Cleveland, here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin will begin training camp with right tackle Matt Feiler at left guard (Twitter link via Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). The Steelers need a new left guard after Ramon Foster‘s retirement. However, a Feiler position switch would create a hole at right tackle — where he started 16 games last season. The Steelers signed Stefen Wisniewski as a possible Foster replacement, and Dulac does not expect Feiler to ultimately make the move to guard. Should Feiler be a genuine option at left guard, third-year tackle Chukwuma Okorafor and fourth-year blocker Zach Banner would compete for the Steelers’ right tackle gig.
  • Both James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster are in contract years. While nothing has transpired on the Conner extension front, Dulac expects the Steelers to extend Smith-Schuster and avoid the franchise tag to do so. The Steelers have displayed an excellent ability to identify receiver talents for many years and have often let starters walk in free agency (Plaxico Burress, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Wallace) or traded them (Santonio Holmes, Martavis Bryant). But the team does not have a veteran contract in its current receiver stable, leaving the door open for JuJu to get paid.
  • The Ravens have several standouts either in contract years (Matt Judon, Ronnie Stanley), extension-eligible now (Marlon Humphrey) or set to become free to negotiate in 2021 (Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews). John Harbaugh is optimistic the team will be able to keep some key players, even as the threat of a reduced 2021 salary cap looms. “We’ll keep as many guys as we can,” Harbaugh said, via The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec (subscription required). “I’m very optimistic about the fact that we have a good cap situation going forward. We have not been in good cap shape for the last six years or so. Really, seven years. Every year, we’ve been behind the eight ball with the cap. That’s just the way it was. This year was a little better, and next year will be a lot better.”

AFC Injury Notes: Landry, Phillips, Beckham

Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry was unable to avoid offseason hip surgery, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Landry had been hopeful that rest and rehab would be enough to deal with his injury during the offseason but instead opted to go under the knife. The news did not come as a huge surprise given the fact that Landry had previously mentioned he regretted not getting surgery sooner, but it remains noteworthy nonetheless.

The timetable for his return appears to be six-to-eight months, which would allow him back onto the field at some point during training camp.

Here’s some more injury notes from around the AFC:

  • Bills defensive tackle Harrison Phillips discussed the grueling recovery process from a torn ACL with Bills Insider Chris Brown. Phillips described his experience going through the “very long, slow process” working back to the field. On top of his original rehab, Phillips suffered a major setback in September, which delayed his recovery timetable even further. At this point, Phillips does not expect to be a full go until training camp.
  • Unlike teammate Jarvis Landry, Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. should be back at full strength from surgery in less than a month, per Cabot. Beckham, who underwent core-muscle surgery in late January, is on pace to be recovered in time to participate in offseason minicamp. While he did not attend minicamp last offseason, the combination of a new head coach in Cleveland and his attempts to come back from an injury could make his attendance more likely.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Landry, Steelers

A change of plans for Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Initially, Landry said he would go the rest-and-rehab route for his lingering hip issue. Instead, he went under the knife recently to correct the problem, per a team announcement.

The Browns expect Landry to make a full recovery for the 2020 season, so this shouldn’t impact their plans very much. And, even though there’s a new regime in Cleveland, Landry (and Odell Beckham Jr.) are expected to remain in the fold, giving Kevin Stefanski as many offensive weapons as possible.

Landry, 28 in November, played through the pain in all 16 games last year. In fact, he’s never missed a game in his six-year career. The LSU product – who finished out with 83 catches, 1,174 yards, and six touchdowns – has three years to on his five-year, $75.5MM deal.

More from the AFC North:

  • Even after inking nine contract extensions over the past year, the Ravens could have more on the way. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic looked at the club’s remaining extension candidates, including outside linebacker Matt Judon and defensive tackle Michael Pierce. Center Matt Skura hasn’t been talked about as much, but he could also be in line for a fresh deal as he nears unrestricted free agency. The former UDFA gave the Ravens consistent play in the middle up until his major knee injury in November. The injury might complicate things a bit, but he expects to be back in time for training camp.
  • Alex Van Pelt is the Browns‘ new offensive coordinator, but he’s not sure if he’ll be the one calling the plays (via WKYC). That responsibility could be kept by Stefanski, who previously donned the headset for the Vikings.
  • Steelers cornerback Artie Burns has switched to Drew Rosenhaus, as Liz Mullen of SBJ tweets. Burns, a former first-round pick who had his fifth-year option declined by the team, will be a free agent in March. In 2019, he appeared in just ten games and started only once.
  • Another pending Steelers free agent – linebacker Bud Dupree – will be switching representation (Twitter link via Mullen). For now, all we know is that Dupree is parting ways with CAA. In the next few days, we should know who his agent will be. Dupree’s stock is pretty high after he registered 11.5 sacks in 2019, though the Steelers could cuff him with the franchise tag.

Browns Rumors: Berry, OBJ, Landry, Van Pelt

The Browns dominated last year’s NFL offseason storylines. After their strong finish to the 2018 season, lead executive John Dorsey made a number of aggressive moves, highlighted by the acquisition of Odell Beckham Jr. However, while that momentum led them to be a pundit favorite to win their division and potentially reach the Super Bowl, those predictions never came close to fruition. They finished the season 6-10 and moved on from Dorsey and rookie head coach Freddie Kitchens.

New general manager Andrew Berry though, seemed to suggest he will at least follow Dorsey in his willingness to make bold moves. In her weekly mailbag, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com noted that Berry was clear in his introductory press conference that he was looking to be aggressive and would not shy away from big moves.

Here are more notes from around the Browns organization:

  • Jay Glazer of The Athletic does not expect Cleveland to make any moves to unload either Beckham or Jarvis Landry this offseason. Glazer noted that new head coach Kevin Stefanski would likely want as many offensive weapons as possible given his focus on offense. Glazer did note that both Beckham and Landry have to be invested in Stefanski for that to work. He could still see a trade occurring if they are unwilling to buy-in.
  • Cleveland has yet to announce if there will be a quarterbacks coach on Stefanski’s staff. In a separate part of her mailbag, Mary Kay Cabot suggested there is a pretty good chance that offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt will serve the dual role as coordinator and QB coach considering his lengthy experience at that position.

North Notes: Landry, Garrett, Bears, Lions

Both of the Browns‘ starting wide receivers may need offseason surgeries. While Odell Beckham Jr. has been battling a sports hernia injury that is not yet certain to require a corrective procedure, Jarvis Landry‘s hip problem might need to be operated on next year, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes. Landry has dealt with a hip injury all season, though the malady’s severity is uncertain. Landry has not missed a game this season, but going into his third Browns campaign, it appears likely he will miss some of the team’s offseason program. With Freddie Kitchens a possible one-and-done candidate, an offseason absence could loom larger considering a new playbook may be en route.

Here is more out of Cleveland and the latest from other North-division locales:

  • Although Myles Garrett is suspended indefinitely, he is now allowed back at the Browns’ facility, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal reports. The NFL initially barred Garrett from team headquarters but has since permitted the Pro Bowl defensive end to return to the team’s Berea, Ohio, complex. However, Garrett remains ineligible to attend Browns meetings or practices. But he’s allowed to work individually with Browns training and medical personnel in the building, per Ulrich.
  • Mitchell Trubisky‘s uneven play, especially when compared to draft classmates Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, has been the primary Bears talking point this season. But the third-year quarterback has fared better as of late, and Joel Corry of CBS Sports expects the team to pick up his fifth-year option by May (Twitter link). That 2021 option price is expected to come in at approximately $25MM. Fifth-year options are guaranteed for injury only.
  • The Bears opted not to retain former safety starter Adrian Amos, adding Ha Ha Clinton-Dix on a buy-low deal instead. Chicago likely will make a strong effort to keep Eddie Jackson, and Corry expects the third-year safety to command a top-market contract (Twitter link). The safety market reignited in 2019, and Kevin Byard‘s $14.1MM-per-year deal current represents the position’s top figure. A 2017 fifth-round pick who is now a two-time Pro Bowler, Jackson becomes extension-eligible at the end of the regular season.
  • Darius Slay was mentioned in trade talks before this year’s deadline. Were the Lions to attempt to unload their top cornerback in the offseason, the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers expects a second-round pick to be around the level of compensation for which the team could aim. However, with perhaps both Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia on the hot seat in 2020, it would probably behoove them to retain their top cover man rather than deal him for a Day 2 pick. Slay, however, skipped the Lions’ 2019 offseason program while lobbying for a new contract. His current deal expires after next season.

Extra Points: Gordon, Chargers, Browns

One of the biggest stories in the league over the past week has been the situation involving Melvin Gordon and the Chargers. Somewhat out of nowhere, we heard that Gordon was threatening a holdout and a trade demand unless he received a new contract from Los Angeles. The 2015 first-round pick is set to play out the final year of his contract under the fifth-year option. Gordon struck a somewhat conciliatory tone recently, saying that he wants to end up back with the Chargers at the end of the day. Sometimes disputes like this can cause locker room issues and other chemistry problems, but Gordon isn’t worried about that here.

In a sit-down interview with Sam Alipour of ESPN, Gordon said of his Chargers teammates, “they’re all behind me. They all got my back.” Gordon continued, saying “they all told me, ‘You know what — we don’t really speak on contracts — but you just go and do what’s best for your family.’ And I’m glad I got that support from them.” Running backs across the league have bonded together as they’ve seen their value get questioned by many in recent years, and Gordon said that he’s heard from a ton of them. “A lot. A lot of starters. A lot, a lot of backs,” have reached out to him “just saying go out and get what you deserve,” he revealed. Gordon will be an interesting case-study, as the Chargers likely don’t want to pay him top of the market money. Backs like Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, and David Johnson have commanded in the area of $15MM annually, and Los Angeles seems hesitant to pay that much. As we’ve broken down, Gordon doesn’t have all that much leverage because he can’t sit out the season like Bell did without his contract tolling.

Here’s more from around the league:

North Rumors: Browns, Packers, Bears

The Browns plan to use Jarvis Landry, who ran 72.7% of his routes from the slot with Miami in 2017, as a part-time outside receiver during the upcoming season, as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com writes. Landry will almost assuredly still move inside in three-wide sets, and given the NFL’s ever-expanding use of “11” personnel (one back, one tight end, three wideouts), Landry will still see plenty of time in the slot. But the Browns seem intent on using Landry in a slightly different fashion, as Cabot reports Cleveland will send Landry on deep routes in Todd Haley‘s offense.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • When asked whether Josh Gordon will play for the Browns in 2018, general manager John Dorsey said “Yeah, I would think, absolutely,” per Cabot (Twitter link). It’s difficult to parse the words of a team executive, and even more difficult when it comes to a player with a history of off-field issues, but Dorsey’s answer wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of Gordon. Gordon did not report for training camp, and while it’s not believed that he failed another drug test, he’s thought to be in a rehab facility. With Gordon’s status in question, Cleveland is considering an addition of veteran wideout Dez Bryant.
  • The Browns inserted offset language into Baker Mayfield‘s rookie contract, and fellow first-rounder Denzel Ward made the same concession, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. Ward, the fourth overall pick in the 2018 draft, likely didn’t have much of an argument after Mayfield — the No. 1 overall selection — accepted offset language in his deal. Players with offset language in their contracts who are cut before the end of their rookie deals have their remaining guaranteed money reduced by what they earn elsewhere.
  • The Packers placed both receiver Michael Clark and offensive lineman Cole Madison on the reserve/did not report list, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. While Madison is dealing with a personal matter and figures to report at some point, Clark is ending his NFL career, per Aaron Nagler of PackersNews.com (Twitter link). Clark signed with Green Bay as an undrafted free agent in 2017, and ultimately managed four receptions for 41 yards in two games. Madison, meanwhile, was selected out of Washington State in the fifth round of the 2018 draft.
  • Matt Nagy hired former Oregon Mark Helfrich as his offensive coordinator earlier this year, but the new Bears head coach had spoken with Helfrich in 2017, as Peter King of NBC Sports writes. When Nagy was the Chiefs’ OC last season, a fellow staff member advised him to call Helfrich, who immediately expressed interest in an NFL role were Nagy to land a head coaching job. Now, the two offensive minds are tasked with further developing quarterback Mitch Trubisky, while working in new weapons like Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton.