Jeff Janis

Browns Release Jeff Janis

The Browns did not deem former Packers wide receiver Jeff Janis as worthy of their 53-man roster. They released the fifth-year veteran on Friday, along with a host of other moves.

Janis was in the mix for one of Cleveland’s backup jobs but couldn’t impress enough to beat out some younger competitors. Known best for his heroics in a Packers-Cardinals divisional-round game, Janis will avoid outright waivers due to his vested-veteran status. The other players the Browns are parting with Friday will head to waivers.

Here’s the full list:

The Browns also waived three players with injury designations.

Browns Rumors: Taylor, Njoku, Janis, Cribbs

Throughout the offseason, Hue Jackson has insisted there is no quarterback competition in Cleveland. Even before the Browns’ No. 1 overall pick became known, the third-year head coach said Tyrod Taylor will be his starter. And Jackson wants that to be the case for the duration of this season. As for why the Browns were steadfast with Taylor as their starter despite the team going 0-16 last season: the franchise wants to make this year about winning games rather than developing a rookie quarterback at any cost, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Mayfield’s progressing quickly, in Cabot’s view, and showing the kind of arm talent that had Browns execs and then-consultant Scot McCloughan convinced going into the draft he could turn the franchise around. Another argument could be made that the Browns’ status as a non-contender, talent added this offseason notwithstanding, should prompt them to get Mayfield some reps early this season. Cabot does believe the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner will play this year, but for now, it doesn’t look like the Oklahoma product will be fast-tracked into the lineup like 2017 first-rounders Mitch Trubisky or Deshaun Watson were with their respective teams.

Here’s the latest from northeast Ohio:

  • One of the players Taylor will be targeting has enjoyed a strong offseason. Jackson expects David Njoku to make a major leap in his second season. “I expect to see a huge jump,” Jackson said, via Patrick Maks of ClevelandBrowns.com. “He’s very athletic. He can catch and run. He’s going to be one of our playmakers.” Njoku caught 32 passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns last season, despite the Browns having probably the worst quarterback situation in the league. The Browns noticed significant improvement from the Miami alum this offseason, and QBs coach Greg Seamon said the 6-foot-4 pass-catcher should be a “dominant receiver in the red zone.”
  • Though the Browns brought in Antonio Callaway and Damion Ratley in this year’s draft, and added Jarvis Landry via trade, there could be a spot for Jeff Janis on the 53-man roster. Cabot notes Janis has some fans in Cleveland’s new-look front office, given that he was a Packers draft pick when Eliot Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith were part of Green Bay’s operation, and believes that will help his case. Janis may well be competing against Sashi Brown-era draftees Rashard Higgins and Ricardo Louis. Cabot notes Higgins has probably had the better offseason of the two. Former first-rounder Corey Coleman is not a lock to be part of this year’s team, either, so Janis — a former seventh-round pick with 17 career catches who is at the same time well known well because of his heroics against the Cardinals in a divisional playoff game — could have an avenue to sneak onto the roster.
  • Josh Cribbs is serving as a Browns intern coach this summer, and Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer reports the former star return man interviewed to be the team’s assistant special teams coach this offseason. That job, however, went to Sam Shade. This will be Shade’s first season as an NFL assistant. However, after the Browns chose Shade over Cribbs, new special teams coordinator Amos Jones was impressed enough with Cribbs to bring him on board as an intern, per Pluto.

Contract Details: Browns, Janis, Wright

Here’s a look at the details of some recent free agent deals:

  • The Browns got former Packers wide receiver Jeff Janis on a one-year, $1.25MM deal with no guaranteed money, Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel tweets. He’ll have to make the 53-man roster to earn any cash, but the deal does include a $100K workout bonus. If he sticks, the contract will call for a $1.25MM cap number.
  • Wide receiver Kendall Wright’s deal with the Vikings is worth $1MM with $400K guaranteed, Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune tweets. The pack includes an $800K base salary, $100K signing bonus, and a $100K workout bonus.
  • Tight end Bucky Hodges’ contract with the Jets is a two-year deal worth $1.075MM, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. The pact includes a $25K roster bonus if he is on the 53-man roster in Week 1.

Browns To Sign WR Jeff Janis

The Browns have agreed to sign wide receiver Jeff Janis, Peter Schrager of NFL.com tweets. Janis spent the past four seasons with the Packers. 

At one point in time, there was some buzz about the former seventh-round pick becoming a popular target in Green Bay’s offense. At the 2014 combine, Janis impressed with a 4.42 second 40-yard-dash, a 37.5 inch vertical leap, 20 bench press reps, and a 6.64 second time in the three-cone drill. He became a special teams fixture, but never got much of a chance on offense. His highest level of involvement came in 2016 when he was targeted 19 times and came away with eleven catches for 93 yards and one touchdown.

Janis’ deal is a low-risk proposition for the Browns. At worst, he’s a potential special teams contributor on a cheap contract that can be easily terminated if he doesn’t make the final cut. The Browns could also give him an opportunity to work in the slot, instead of on the outside. Given Janis’ tools, that could be the best way to utilize him.

The Browns now boast one of the league’s best slot weapons in Jarvis Landry and he’ll pair with Josh Gordon at the top of the wide receiver depth chart. Janis will fight for a role in a group that also includes former first-round pick Corey Coleman, Ricardo Louis, Rashard Higgins, and Kasen Williams.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Packers, Rudock, R. Hall

Packers WR Jeff Janis broke his right hand on Wednesday, and although a serious injury is a less-than-ideal way to solve a roster crunch, Janis’ misfortune could help resolve Green Bay’s logjam at wide receiver, as Tom Silverstein of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. Head coach Mike McCarthy all but ruled out having seven wide receivers on his 53-man roster early in camp, and if the Packers were to put Janis on IR, they could keep all six of their other drafted receivers: Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery, Jared Abbrederis, and Trevor Davis. Of course, Green Bay could put Janis on the Injured Reserve-Designated to Return list, which means that the club could keep those other six wideouts, and if Janis is needed later on, he could be brought back for the second half of the season. Today, McCarthy said that Janis, at the very least, will not practice with the team this week (Twitter link via Silverstein).

Now let’s take a look at some more notes from around the league:

  • Last season, the Packers‘ third running back spot was split between two small school products, and Bob McGinn of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes that another small school back, Brandon Burks, has a real shot at landing that job in 2016. Burks, a Troy product whom the Packers signed as a UDFA this year, was terrific as a runner, receiver, and pass blocker in Green Bay’s preseason win over Cleveland on Friday night, and he offers a nice change-of-pace to Eddie Lacy and James Starks.
  • The top four spots on the Lions’ wide receiver depth chart are fairly well-settled, but after Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, Anquan Boldin, and T.J. Jones, Dave Birkett of The Detroit Free Press writes that there are still no clear favorites for the final one or two WR openings on the roster.
  • Lions rookie signal-caller Jake Rudock looked as good as anyone could have reasonably expected during his professional debut against Pittsburgh on Friday night, and Carlos Monarrez of The Detroit Free Press wonders if the Michigan product could ascend the depth chart to become Matthew Stafford‘s primary backup this year. At the very least, continued strong performances from Rudock could convince the Lions to carry three QBs on the roster.
  • Browns WR Rannell Hall, whom the club plucked off of Tampa Bay’s practice squad last December, will be out for the season after suffering a fractured fibula in Friday night’s loss to Green Bay, according to Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Hall was certainly on the roster bubble, but he would have been eligible for the practice squad and would have at least had an outside chance at a roster spot given Cleveland’s fairly thin receiving corps.
  • Earlier today, we learned that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is insisting that Ladarius Green‘s absence is related to his ankle issues, not his headaches, and that Tomlin will not confirm reports that Green is experiencing lingering headaches and is considering retirement.

Packers Notes: Lacy, Matthews, McCarthy

In his end-of-season press conference, Mike McCarthy gave Eddie Lacy an ultimatum of sorts after the third-year running back endured his worst season.

Eddie Lacy, he’s got a lot of work to do. His offseason last year was not good enough, and he never recovered from it,” McCarthy told media, including ESPN.com’s Jason Wilde. “He cannot play at the weight he was at this year.”

Lacy’s yardage total decreased considerably from two upper-echelon campaigns in 2013-14, with the former second-round pick rushing for 758 yards (4.1 per carry) on 187 totes — 59 fewer than last season and 97 fewer than his offensive rookie of the year slate.

2015 also brought three games where Lacy came off the bench, once as a result of missing curfew in Detroit and being outright demoted in favor of James Starks earlier.

Here are some more takeaways from the Packers coach’s presser.

  • Green Bay will look to move Clay Matthews back to outside linebacker after spending more than a season inside, Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com reports. Matthews spent the entire season on the inside of the Packers’ 3-4 look after moving there due to thinning talent at the position in 2014. “My goal with Clay is to play outside linebacker,” McCarthy said. “The matchup part of it was really always my goal. There’s things he does at that position that he’ll continue to do. He’s an outside linebacker and we need to get back to him playing there and just playing inside when needed.” Matthews’ sack total plummeted to 6.5 after the former All-Pro accrued 10+ sacks in four separate seasons as an outside backer. Playing 16 games, Matthews graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 39th-best inside linebacker, which was still a Packers-best but well below his usual strata. Outside backers Mike Neal and Nick Perry are free agents.
  • McCarthy also won’t be delegating play-calling responsibilities like he did for most of this season, the 10th-year coach announced, via Wilde. He also plans to retain assistant head coach Tom Clements, who was given play-calling autonomy this year before McCarthy reclaimed it. “That was a big change. Different kind of change. The structure was different offensively,” McCarthy said. “What I was trying to accomplish, being balanced, that part was accomplished with special teams and defense. Offensively, the structure was part of the failure on offense.”
  • Jeff Janis did not see the field for most of the season due to early-season struggles, necessitating a meeting with McCarthy, via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The former Division II wide receiver caught seven passes for 145 yards against the Cardinals after hauling in just two all season. “Look for them to take a big jump second year. Jeff and Jared Abbrederis need to earn their opportunities to get on the field,” McCarthy said.

North Notes: Thomas, Bell, Janis

As expected, the agent for Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, Peter Schaffer, has quickly moved to dispute this morning’s reports that the trade that would have sent Thomas to the Broncos fell through because Denver would not guarantee Thomas’ 2016 and 2017 salaries. Those reports, of course, also mentioned that Thomas asked Cleveland to see if it would be able to trade him. In a series of tweets, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com passes along Schaffer’s response.

Schaffer says Denver and Cleveland never discussed Thomas’ contract, adding that if the Broncos were willing to give up a first-round pick for Thomas, they had no intention of cutting him, so there would have been no need to discuss guaranteed salaries. Furthermore, Schaffer says neither he nor Thomas asked the Browns to pursue a trade, and he is frustrated that this morning’s news made Thomas–who expressed surprise that he was almost traded, and said he would have been crushed should the deal have happened–look like a liar. Former NFL agent Joel Corry weighed in as well (via Twitter), noting that even if Thomas did ask for his 2016 and 2017 salaries to be guaranteed, that should not have killed the trade unless Schaffer convinced Denver that a holdout was coming next year.

Now let’s take a look at some more notes from the league’s north divisions:

  • Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says the Steelers, who typically refuse to entertain in-season extension talks with their players, may have to make an exception for Le’Veon Bell, who underwent season-ending knee surgery on Friday. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets that Bell is on target to return right when the 2016 season begins, but Kaboly points out that any complication would make it an in-season return. If the Steelers then choose to wait until the end of the season to negotiate with Bell, it could be too late, as the talented back would be eligible for free agency. As such, Pittsburgh may have to bite the bullet and discuss an extension with Bell in the midst of the 2016 campaign.
  • The Steelers will not, however, discuss an extension with Bell until they at least get some idea of how his knee handles game action, as Corry tweets. La Canfora agrees, tweeting that although the team feels “very good” about how Bell will recover, they will shelve extension talks for a while, particularly since they will likely need to address Antonio Brown‘s contract in the near future as well.
  • In his latest mailbag, Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com explains why he believes Tashaun Gipson will not be with the Browns in 2016, and he looks at the dilemma head coach Mike Pettine faces in deciding whether Johnny Manziel or Josh McCown should be under center for the remainder of the year.
  • Jeff Janis, the Packers‘ seventh-round selection in 2014, is the only member of the team to amass 78 or more receiving yards in a single game during the last month. However, as Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes, Green Bay has shown a strange reluctance to consistently include Janis in the game plan, despite the team’s offensive struggles. Cohen takes a look at Janis’ journey to this point in his career as he awaits an opportunity to prove himself on a weekly basis.
  • Matt Vensel of The Star Tribune describes how the Vikings, who again looked to the later rounds of the draft to address their biggest offseason need, the offensive line, have been hurt by that strategy this year. Vensel goes on to explore the team’s history of seeking out late-round gems to fill out its O-line.

NFC Mailbags: Packers, Giants, Cowboys

It’s Saturday morning, and that means ESPN.com’s NFL writers are opening their mailbags and answering questions from readers. Let’s start with notes from the NFC, with a cameo from the Dallas Morning News’ Bob Sturm…

  • Quarterback Brett Hundley is a lock to make the Packers roster, says Rob Demovsky. At wideout, the writer believes Jeff Janis and Jared Abbrederis will make the team.
  • The Packers could opt to keep a pair of fullbacks (John Kuhn and Aaron Ripkowski) on their opening day roster, writes Demovsky. This would probably require the team to keep only two running backs, and the writer can’t imagine the Packers going into the year with only Eddie Lacy and James Starks. If there were to be a third running back, Demovsky believes the competition is between Rajion Neal and John Crockett, with Neal being the favorite.
  • If Giants rookie Ereck Flowers shows promise at left tackle, Dan Graziano says the team could move on from veteran Will Beatty following the season. Beatty, who is scheduled to make $6.675MM next season, is expected to be out until at least November.
  • The Cowboys must be careful when Terrance Williams becomes a free agent in an effort to not overpay what Sturm calls an “adequate” wideout in a mailbag.
  • Sturm also predicts the Cowboys will regress in the running game but won’t be set for a freefall without DeMarco Murray, with Tony Romo ready to assume more control of the offense. Sturm expects Joseph Randle to be the starter in what is expected to be a coalition approach to replacing the league’s rushing leader.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.

Packers Notes: Lyerla, Adams, Clinton-Dix

The Packers are leaning toward signing former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla, ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky reports.

Lyerla, in Green Bay at rookie orientation camp on a tryout basis after going undrafted, can be argued as the most talented rookie at his position. He stands 6-foot-3 and 242 pounds, and he ran 4.61 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. But, Lyerla left the Ducks program his junior season and was subsequently arrested for cocaine possession and feeling from the police.

“We did a lot of work on Colt,” general manager Ted Thompson said. “He’s a very talented athlete. We interviewed him at the combine. We went through all those procedures, talked to a lot of people. He’s a young man that made some mistakes, and we feel like he was worth bringing in and taking a look at.” 

Without Jermichael Finley in the fold, the tight end position in Green Bay is relatively thin. Fifth-year pro Andrew Quarless was re-signed this offseason and figures to be the team’s opening-day starter, and the team used a third-round pick at the position on Cal product Richard Rogers.

More news and notes from Titletown…

  • Wide receiver Davante Adams, the Packers’ second-round pick from Fresno State, is one of three rookies leading a youth infusion at the position, Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press Gazette writes. Green Bay added two more receivers on the third day of the draft with Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis (fifth found) and Saginaw Valley’s Jeff Janis (seventh round).
  • In a video posted on packersnews.com, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said he is honored and happy to be wearing No. 21, which was recently occupied by Charles Woodson, now with the Raiders.
  • The Packers drafted for defense with four of their nine picks, and Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said those rookies have a good chance to earn playing time on a unit that’s been struggling as of late.
  • Despite a contract that is set to expire after the 2016 draft, Thompson — in his 10th year as GM of the Pack — said he’s just getting started and can’t anticipate himself doing anything different, writes Dunne.

Draft Signings: Reaser, Chiefs, Packers

Here’s a rundown of tonight’s draft signings from rounds 3-7. For a look at the signings that went down earlier today, check out our previous post..

  • The 49ers have signed fifth-round pick Keith Reaser, a league source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The cornerback out of Florida Atlantic might have gone higher if he hadn’t suffered a torn ACL last October. Despite not being able to compete in on-field drills at the NFL Scouting Combine, Reaser put up 22 reps of the 225-pound bench press.
  • The Chiefs signed sixth-round offensive tackle Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, according to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). After Tennessee guard Zach Fulton agreed to terms yesterday, Duvernay-Tardif became the second KC rookie to sign. The 6’5″ offensive tackle out of McGill in Canada was the 200th overall pick and looks to be competing for the Chiefs swing tackle spot with starters Eric Fisher and Donald Stephenson already on either side.
  • The Packers have signed seventh-round pick Jeff Janis, according to Wes Hodkiewicz of the Press-Gazette (on Twitter). The receiver out of Saginaw Valley State was the third wideout taken by Green Bay in the draft.