Jeff Driskel

Cowboys Host Jeff Driskel

Jeff Driskel was just cut by the Broncos a few days ago, and it didn’t take long for the backup veteran quarterback to generate some interest.

The Cowboys flew in Driskel Thursday night for a Friday visit, Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Last night Gehlken had tweeted there was “a good chance Driskel signs” which would make him the “favorite to serve as Dak Prescott’s primary backup in 2021.” However, sources told long-time Cowboys beat writer Clarence Hill Jr. on Friday afternoon that there wouldn’t be a deal at this time (Twitter link).

It sounds like the door will remain open for a signing in the future, and perhaps Driskel is seeking too much money. He was set to earn $2.5MM this year with Denver. The Broncos paid him $2.5MM for 2020, and that notable salary along with the Cowboys’ apparent immediate interest show that some around the league think relatively highly of him as a backup.

That’s despite never looking anything better than mediocre in his spot starts over the years. Driskel started five games for the Bengals in 2018, three with the Lions in 2019, and one with the Broncos last year. After Andy Dalton went to the Bears the Cowboys only have Garrett Gilbert, Ben DiNucci and Cooper Rush on the depth chart behind Prescott, so it’s not surprising they’re kicking the tires on a new veteran backup.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Release Jeff Driskel

After adding Teddy Bridgewater in a trade, the Broncos are making some space in the quarterbacks room. Denver is releasing veteran backup Jeff Driskel, Mike Klis of Denver 9 News tweets. He made $2.5MM last year and was scheduled to make the same in 2021, which the Broncos had no reason to pay.

Denver will move forward with Bridgewater, Drew Lock, and Brett Rypien as their quarterbacks. Driskel was the top quarterback recruit in the country coming out of high school, but had a bumpy college career that ended at Louisiana Tech. The 49ers drafted him in the sixth-round in 2016, but he was waived at final cuts.

The Bengals claimed him off waivers, and he spent the next few seasons in Cincy. He ended up starting five games in 2018 in place of an injured Andy Dalton. He had six touchdowns and only two interceptions, but averaged just 5.7 yards per attempt. He latched on with the Lions in 2019, and started three games for them that year.

He was once again mediocre. He achieved journeyman status by signing with the Broncos last year, and played well in relief as he nearly led them to a come from behind victory against the Steelers. He started the following week, his lone start for Denver, and collapsed against the Buccaneers. He turned 28 last month.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/16/20

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

  • Placed on IR: S Saquan Hamilton

Philadelphia Eagles

All Broncos QBs Ineligible For Week 12

The Broncos and the NFL have run into a significant problem. Jeff Driskel‘s positive COVID-19 test earlier this week will lead to an unprecedented situation.

None of the Broncos’ three other QBs will be eligible to play Sunday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles have been deemed high-risk close contacts of Driskel. The NFL forced the Broncos to pull the three passers out of practice earlier today, Mike Klis of 9News tweets.

With the Broncos having no available QBs, this certainly puts the viability of Sunday’s Denver-New Orleans game in doubt. However, this game is still on schedule for Sunday, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. This seems like a tenuous proposition, but as of now, the Broncos would be forced to deploy a true emergency quarterback. They cannot sign any free agent passer to play Sunday, due to COVID-19 protocols.

Driskel’s Thursday positive test coincided with his three non-infected teammates not wearing masks, Schefter adds (on Twitter). It is not known how long the trio went without masks, but it was evidently long enough for the NFL to sideline an entire team’s QB room. The Patriots saw Cam Newton sidelined because of the virus earlier this season, and COVID-positive Lamar Jackson will miss Tuesday’s Ravens-Steelers game — should it stay on as scheduled. But the Broncos’ predicament drags the NFL into new territory regarding the virus.

The Broncos have a wide receiver on their practice squad, Kendall Hinton, who played quarterback at Wake Forest for three seasons, Klis adds (on Twitter). Quality control coach Rob Calabrese worked in that role at practice Saturday, Klis tweets. Hinton attempted 251 career passes with the Demon Deacons, though most of them came in 2015. He ran for 390 yards and seven TDs that season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos To Start Brett Rypien Vs. Jets

In what will seemingly become an increasingly difficult sell as a nationally televised game, Thursday’s Broncos-Jets clash will include another different Denver quarterback. The matchup between the winless teams will feature Brett Rypien calling signals for the Broncos, Vic Fangio confirmed Tuesday.

Rypien, who replaced Jeff Driskel in the Broncos’ Week 3 loss to the Buccaneers, will become Denver’s ninth starting quarterback since Peyton Manning‘s retirement. Fangio said Driskel may see time against the Jets, per Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter), but the Broncos are trying one of their other backups while Drew Lock continues his rehab effort.

Since Manning’s retirement, the Broncos have used Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler, Case Keenum, Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen, Lock and Driskel as starters — the most in the NFL since 2016. Rypien, a second-year UDFA out of Boise State and nephew of former Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien, went 8-for-8 in garbage time against the Bucs. He started four seasons for the Mountain West’s Broncos outfit, throwing 90 career TD passes at Boise State.

The injury-plagued Broncos signed Blake Bortles last week but were unlikely to use him for a short-week game. Should Lock need the estimated five- or six-week timetable to recover from his rotator cuff strain, it represents a decent bet Bortles will see time — given his experience edge on Rypien and Driskel. Rypien, at least, will play behind a more experienced right tackle than Driskel did. Longtime Bucs starter Demar Dotson will take over for the injured Elijah Wilkinson, Fangio said.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Expected To Sign QB Jeff Driskel

Jeff Driskel is expected to sign with the Broncos, reports Mike Klis of 9News in Denver (via Twitter).

The 49ers bailed on Driskel after selecting him in the sixth round of the 2016 draft, but he ended up finding a home in Cincy. He spent three-plus years as one of Andy Dalton‘s backups, and he started five of his nine appearances in 2018.

He was let go by the Bengals last September, but he ended up catching on with the Lions, where he started three games filling in for Matthew Stafford. Driskel finished the campaign having connected on 59-percent of his passes for 685 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions. He also added 151 rushing yards and one score on 22 carries.

In Denver, he’ll be backing up starter Drew Lock. It’s uncertain how the organization will proceed with veteran Joe Flacco.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jeff Driskel Expected To Have Strong Market

Lions backup quarterback Jeff Driskel is expected to have a “plump” free-agent market for his services, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Birkett notes that as the NFL becomes more open to dual-threat quarterbacks, Driskel’s skill set has become more desirable to NFL teams.

The former Florida quarterback appears well-positioned to secure a backup job after vagabonding around the league since the 49ers selected him in the 6th round of the 2016 NFL Draft. After failing to make the 49ers 53-man roster, the Bengals claimed him off waivers and he served as depth in Cincinnati behind Andy Dalton and A.J. McCarron.

Following the 2017 season, McCarron signed with the Bills and Dalton became the primary backup behind Dalton. In 2018, Driskel began contributing in sub-packages where the team utilized his athleticism. An injury to Dalton allowed Driskel to make five starts as well. He finished the season completing 105 of 176 passes for 1003 yards, 6 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, with 130 rushing yards on 30 carries.

Last season, with the Lions, Driskel was the first to step in for Matthew Stafford after his injury. He made three starts before a hamstring injury of his own ended his season. He completed 62 of 105 passes for 685 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions with 151 rushing yards on 22 attempts.

Lions To Sign Sloter, Place Driskel On IR

2:04pm: Instead of placing Stafford on IR, the Lions will slide Driskel to their injured list, per Yates (on Twitter). Driskel started three games for the Lions in place of Stafford this season but missed Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day game with a hamstring injury. Although Driskel got in three limited practices this week, he will nevertheless end up on IR. Sloter and Blough are now the only healthy quarterbacks on the Lions’ roster.

1:55pm: Kyle Sloter will head back to an NFC North franchise. The Lions will sign the former UDFA quarterback off the Cardinals’ practice squad, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

This will give Detroit four quarterbacks on its active roster. While it could be a precursor to a Matthew Stafford IR trip, no such move has been made yet. Stafford, Sloter, Jeff Driskel and David Blough will reside on the Lions’ 53-man roster.

Shortly after teams finalized their rosters in early September, the Lions scheduled a Sloter workout. But he instead opted to join the Cardinals’ practice squad. Nearly three months later, Sloter will head to Detroit.

Sloter spent two seasons with the Vikings, who plucked him off waivers from the Broncos after his strong 2017 preseason as a rookie UDFA. The Northern Colorado alum, however, could not beat out Sean Mannion for Minnesota’s backup job this year. The Cardinals signed him to their practice squad shortly after the Vikings cut him.

Stafford has missed the past four Lions games, giving way to first Driskel and then Blough. Stafford has objected to being shut down early, but with the Lions now well out of contention at 3-8-1, it would not make much sense to redeploy their franchise centerpiece this season. The 31-year-old passer is dealing with fractured bones in his back.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions QB David Blough Expected To Start Thursday

Lions quarterback David Blough is expected to make his first career start tomorrow in place of Jeff Driskel, a source tells Jeremy Fowler of ESPN. Driskel is not expected to be able to play through a hamstring injury that’s been causing him problems.

Blough will be the third different player to start under center for the Lions. Driskel stepped in for franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford when he went down with an injury of his own. The Lions do not have another quarterback on their roster, which means tight end (and collegiate quarterback) Logan Thomas will serve as the team’s emergency backup.

An undrafted free agent out of Purdue, Blough, originally signed with the Browns. However, as roster cuts approached, the Lions agreed to swap conditional draft picks in exchange for the rookie signalcaller. Unlike Driskel, Blough is not a mobile quarterback (he ran a 4.9 40-yard dash during the draft process), and will have to rely on his skills as a pocket passer to take down the Bears.

In his first career start, Blough will be going up against one of the better defenses in football (Bears) on one of the biggest stages of the year (Thanksgiving). The pressure and bright lights will be on and he will get a chance to make an impression.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/17/19

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Detroit Lions

Los Angeles Chargers

New Orleans Saints

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers