Malcolm Brown

Rams Expected To Place RB Malcolm Brown On IR

The Rams are expected to be without their backup running back for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs, as Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay told reporters today that Malcolm Brown is likely to be placed on injured reserve after suffering a clavicle injury last week (Twitter link via Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com).

Once he is formally moved to IR, Brown’s 2019 campaign will officially end, for a few reasons. One, the Rams have already designated the NFL-maximum two players to return from injured reserve in cornerback Aqib Talib and return man Pharoh Cooper. Two, Brown’s recovery is expected to take eight-to-ten weeks, so even if league rules didn’t prevent him from coming back this season, Brown wouldn’t be ready until — maybe — the NFC Championship Game or the Super Bowl.

Brown didn’t see many snaps behind All-Pro Todd Gurley, but he did produce when called upon. Brown has averaged 4.9 yards per carry this season, while Football Outsiders ranks him as a top-10 back in DVOA among runners with fewer than 99 carries, meaning he was extremely efficient on a per-play basis. Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus assigned him a pass-blocking grade of 90.0, which would rank first among NFL running backs if he had enough snaps to qualify.

Brown, 25, is scheduled to become a restricted free agent next spring. While he almost certainly won’t be offered a first-round tender, a second-round tender (which should be worth approximately $3MM) isn’t out of the realm of possibility. If the Rams don’t believe Brown will have much of an RFA market, they could opt to use the right of first refusal tender, which will only be worth ~$2MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams RB Malcolm Brown To Miss Time

Rams running back Malcolm Brown will miss the rest of the regular season with a clavicle injury, sources tell Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). However, there is hope that Brown could heal up in time for the playoffs. 

Brown is the primary backup to star Todd Gurley, so the Rams will be in a tough spot if Gurley goes down in the next few weeks. Beyond Brown, who has averaged 3.6 carries per game this season, the Rams have a pair of inexperienced backs in Justin Davis and 2018 sixth-round pick John Kelly. Brown is not a starter for the Rams, but head coach Sean McVay deemed his injury to be a “huge loss” since he is the team’s top insurance policy behind the MVP candidate.

They’ve already clinched the division, but a win will officially slot them in for a first-round bye.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Foles, Giants, Breeland

The Eagles and reigning Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles just agreed to a reworked contract that gives Foles a $2MM raise for 2018, plus a whole host of incentives. The deal also includes a mutual option for 2019, though if Foles were to decline the option, he would have to give back the $2MM he just received.

Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com examines why Philadelphia, which is tight against the cap this year and will be again in 2019, made the move. The reworked deal probably had little to nothing to do with the Eagles’ wanting to reward Foles for his postseason heroics, so Shorr-Parks speculates that Foles and his camp could have put some pressure on the team, and he also suggests the new contract may come with a lower cap hit.

The chances that the Eagles exercise the 2019 option are very slim, as Foles would be owed a $20MM salary under that scenario. But, if the two sides want to continue their relationship beyond 2018, this gesture will certainly buy the Eagles some goodwill when it comes time to negotiate again. It also guarantees that Philadelphia, which already had the best QB insurance policy in the game, will keep that policy perfectly content this season, and even if Carson Wentz cannot stay healthy, the team has given itself a chance to deploy a capable signal-caller for at least the next two years.

Now let’s take a quick swing around a few other east division clubs:

  • Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com says the Giants could look to trade offensive tackle Ereck Flowers during the draft, though that will probably be a difficult trick to pull off. Raanan also says Big Blue has done a lot of pre-draft work on punters this year, and he believes the team could bring in a UDFA punter to compete with Riley Dixon. Dixon was recently acquired from Denver for a conditional seventh-round pick, so if he does not make the club, the Giants will likely not need to surrender the pick.
  • Former Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland was set to sign a three-year, $24MM pact with the Panthers last month, but Carolina scuttled the deal due to a “non-football incident” in which Breeland cut his foot. The foot became infected, and at the time, it was reported that Breeland was a few months away from being able to pass a physical. He will surely garner some interest this summer once he is healed, but JP Finlay of NBCSports.com says Washington is not expected to bring Breeland back into the fold. Indeed, Breeland himself indicated on Instagram that the Redskins never had interest in retaining his services.
  • The Patriots are in the unique position of having three fifth-year options to either exercise or decline before May 3, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says the team will almost certainly exercise those options on defensive tackles Danny Shelton and Malcom Brown (at a little over $7MM apiece). However, the team is unsurprisingly not expected to exercise the $9.387MM option for receiver Phillip Dorsett.
  • The Cowboys are expected to exercise Byron Jones‘ fifth-year option.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/17/18

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Green Bay Packers

Los Angeles Rams

New York Jets

Seattle Seahawks

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/12/18

Here are today’s restricted free agent and exclusive-rights free agent tender decisions, with the list being updated throughout the day.

RFAs

Tendered at second-round level:

Tendered at original-round level:

Non-Tendered:

ERFAs

Tendered:

Non-Tendered:

California Notes: Raiders, Janikowski, Rams

A quick look at the Raiders and Rams:

  • Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie says he won’t hurry Sebastian Janikowski back from injured reserve. “You don’t have to rush him back; that’s for sure. Giorgio [Tavecchio] has really stepped up to the plate.” (Twitter link via Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review Journal). Janikowski w
  • When asked if NaVorro Bowman could be a long-term option for the Raiders at middle linebacker, McKenzie answered in the affirmative (Twitter link via Matt Schneidman of the Bay Area News Group). Bowman, 30 in May, is playing on a one-year deal that can max out at $3MM. He’ll be eligible for free agency in March.
  • Rams backup running back Malcolm Brown will be “out for a little bit of time” with an injured MCL, as Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com writes. His absence could open the door for Lance Dunbar, currently on PUP, to get back on the field. It’s not yet clear whether Brown will require surgery.

NFC West Notes: 49ers, Hyde, Seahawks

Although the 49ers have several key players, including safety Eric Reid and running back Carlos Hyde, entering their respective contract seasons, it doesn’t as though San Francisco has extension offers lined up for free agents-to-be, according to Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com.

“I would say that we’re always having internal discussions, Kyle (Shanahan) and myself and our staffs,” general manager John Lynch said. “And, we really try to be forward thinking looking out, not just this year but three to five years and saying, ‘OK, let’s look at the construct of our roster.’ But, our priority was let’s provide competition at each and every position. And so, that’s why we were so active this year to go out and to be able to really judge this and judge those guys in particular. There’s going to be a little more urgency with some of them, but we’re going to let this play out a little bit and see how they fit with what we want to do.”

Here’s more from the NFC West:

  • The Seahawks gave former Philadelphia first rounder Marcus Smith a one-year, $690K deal with zero guarantees, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The deal carries a maximum value of $1.44MM. Smith hasn’t done much in his three NFL seasons so far, but the Seahawks are hoping to get something out of him as a reserve.
  • Lance Dunbar was signed to serve as the backup to running back Todd Gurley, but given that the former Cowboy is on active/PUP and has no timetable to return from injury, Malcolm Brown is taking the lion’s share of work as the Rams‘ No. 2, as Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com writes. Brown, a 2015 undrafted free agent out of Texas, has managed only 22 carries in two pro seasons, but new Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay has been “pleasantly surprised” by Brown’s training camp work, per Gonzalez. The Rams could still look at external options — they’ve talked with free agent Rashad Jennings — but for now, Brown is on track to take over the backup role.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

Rams Place Nick Fairley On IR, Claim Troy Hill

The Rams have made several roster moves in advance of their regular season finale against the 49ers, including placing two defensive lineman – Nick Fairley and Doug Worthington – on injured reserve, according to Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com (Twitter link). To fill those two roster spots, St. Louis claimed cornerback Troy Hill off waivers from the Patriots (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN) and promoted running back Malcolm Brown from its practice squad (Twitter link via Wagoner).

Fairley, the most high-profile name of the bunch, was expected to secure a hefty contract last offseason after a solid contract year with the Lions, but ultimately inked a one-year pact to join the Rams. The 27-year-old had played in all 15 games this season, seeing time as a rotational lineman, playing on slightly less than 40% of the club’s defensive snaps. Still young and productive (he graded as the league’s No. 24 interior lineman per Pro Football Focus), Fairley shouldn’t have any trouble landing another deal this spring.

Despite being a year older than Fairley, Worthington has far less NFL experience, having played in just eight career games. He’s bounced around quite a bit this year, spending time on the Rams’ practice squad before being activated prior to Week 15. The Ohio State product saw just 53 snaps on the year, but St. Louis does control his rights for 2016, so there’s a chance he could return.

Speaking of well-traveled players, Hill now joins his third organization in less than a month. Signed by the Bengals an undrafted free agent out of Oregon, Hill was waived earlier this month by Cincinnati only to be claimed by the Patriots, who subsequently cut ties earlier this week. An unheralded favorite of the scouting community, Hill has actually landed in a good space, as the Rams could use secondary depth with both Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson headed to free agency.

Like Hill, Brown was a 2015 undrafted free agent, having signed with St. Louis after his college career at Texas came to an end. He’s spent the entire season on the Rams’ practice squad, and with Todd Gurely nursing a foot injury, Brown has an outside chance to contribute during Week 17.

Sunday NFL Transactions: NFC West

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four NFC West teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Cardinals, 49ers, Seahawks, and Rams are noted below.

Additionally, as of 11:00am today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. For the 2014 and 2015 seasons, changes were made to practice squad rules that allow teams to carry eight players instead of 10, and the eligibility requirements for those extra two spots were also loosened. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s NFC West transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day:

Arizona Cardinals

San Francisco 49ers

  • Signed to practice squad (link via Matt Maiocco):
    • WR DiAndre Campbell
    • CB Marcus Cromartie
    • RB Kendall Gaskins
    • DT Kaleb Ramsey
    • OLB Marcus Rush
    • NT Garrison Smith
    • QB Dylan Thompson
    • OG Andrew Tiller (Twitter link via Matt Barrows)
    • S Jermaine Whitehead (Twitter link via Barrows)

Seattle Seahawks

St. Louis Rams

  • Signed to practice squad:

Davis, Jones Among Rams’ Final Cuts

Thought to have the upper hand in the Rams’ center competition, Barrett Jones was one of St. Louis’ roster cuts as it trimmed to 53 players (according to Myles Simmons of the team’s website).

Tim Barnes and Demetrius Rhaney ended up sticking on the roster due to having better positional versatility than Jones, an Alabama product who the Rams took in the fourth round in 2013, per ESPN.com’s Nick Waggoner.

An undrafted free agent in 2011, Barnes is listed as the Rams’ starting snapper.

The Rams also waived Austin Davis, who started eight games for the team last season in Sam Bradford‘s absence. Davis threw for over 2,000 yards and completed 63.4% of his passes in his first game sample.

Here are the rest of the Rams’ cuts:

  • Alex Bayer, TE
  • Emory Blake, WR
  • Malcolm Brown, RB
  • Christian Bryant, S
  • Justice Cunningham, TE
  • Marcus Fortson, DT
  • Montell Garner, CB
  • Jacob Hagen, S
  • Martin Ifedi, DE
  • Zach Laskey, FB
  • Matt Longacre, DE
  • Marshall McFadden, LB
  • Brandon McGee, CB
  • Trovon Reed, CB
  • Daniel Rodriguez, WR
  • Louis Trinca-Pasat, DT
  • Brandon Washington, OL