Pharoh Cooper

Sunday NFL Transactions: AFC North

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four AFC North 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 RavensBengalsBrowns, and Steelers are noted below.

Additionally, as of today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. 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 AFC North transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day:

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Pittsburgh Steelers

* = International Pathway Program player

Cardinals Reach 53-Man Max

Arizona has officially announced their cuts. Notably, the Cardinals trimmed their roster all the way down to 51 players, which they said was in preparation for waiver claims on Sunday. Arizona has first priority in the waiver order, so they’ll almost certainly be claiming some players.

The biggest name on this list is probably tight end Ricky Seals-Jones. He showed a lot of promise as an undrafted rookie in 2017, and was a favorite of Bruce Arians. He fell out of favor when Arians retired, and the new staff didn’t take as kindly to him. Seals-Jones has flashed serious potential, so he should land on his feet soon. Pharoh Cooper was a 2017 All-Pro selection for his return prowess, and the Cardinals claimed him off waivers from the Rams late last season. Three other teams also put in claims for Cooper at the time, so maybe one of them will scoop him up now. Receiver Chad Williams was the team’s third-round pick in 2017, but he barely got on the field during his two seasons in the desert.

QB Drew Anderson

QB Charles Kanoff

RB Wes Hills (injury settlement)

RB Dontae Strickland

WR Pharoh Cooper

WR Chad Williams

WR A.J. Richardson

WR Isaac Zico

OL Rees Odhiambo (waived/injured)

OL Colby Gossett

OL Coleman Shelton

OL William Sweet (waived/injured)

OL Parker Ehinger

OL Patrick Lawrence

OL Jacob Ohnesorge

TE Ricky Seals-Jones

TE Darrell Daniels

TE Caleb Wilson

TE Drew Belcher

DL Bruce Hector

DL Pasoni Tasini

DL Siupeli Anau

DL Sterling Bailey

S Jonathan Owens

S Tyler Sigler

CB Brandon Williams (waived/injured)

CB Nate Brooks

CB Deatrick Nichols

Giants, Jaguars, Titans Put In Claims For WR Pharoh Cooper

The Cardinals acquired ex-Rams wide receiver Pharoh Cooper off waivers earlier this week, but they weren’t the only team with interest in the return man. The Giants, Jaguars, and Titans also put in claims for Cooper, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Once the NFL’s trade deadline passes in November, every player is subject to waivers once they are cut. (Cooper, as a player with fewer than four pro seasons under his belt, would have gone on the waiver wire even if he’d been released before the deadline.) After the first three weeks of the season, the waiver order is based on standings, with the league’s worst team earning priority. Arizona has the No. 1 waiver slot, while Jacksonville is fifth, New York is ninth, and Tennessee is 22nd.

A fourth-round pick out of South Carolina in 2016, Cooper earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2017 as a return man. The 23-year-old handled 66 combined kick and punt returns, and led the NFL in yards per kickoff return (27.4). Cooper hasn’t been much of an offensive force through two-plus years in the NFL, as he played roughly 400 offensive snaps from 2016-17 and managed only 25 total receptions during that time. This season, Cooper was on injured reserve for nine weeks and thus only made five appearances.

Neither the Giants nor the Jaguars are headed to the postseason this year, but both clubs may have been attracted to Cooper’s contractual status, which will now keep him with the Cardinals through 2020 at a league minimum rate. The Titans would reaped the benefits of Cooper’s cheap salary, as well, but they’d have been hard-pressed to improve their kick return unit, which already ranks as the league’s best per Football Outsiders.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals Claim WR Pharoh Cooper

The Cardinals claimed former Rams wide receiver Pharoh Cooper off of waivers, a source tells Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Cooper was waived by the Rams on Tuesday to make room for running back C.J. Anderson.

Cooper was a 2017 All-Pro as a return man, but his 2018 season in L.A. did not go as expected. A Week 1 injury sent Cooper to IR, and when he returned in November, he was relegated only to kick returns as Jojo Natson took over on punt return duty.

A 2016 fourth-round pick, Cooper averaged 12.5 yards per punt return in 2017 and returned one kick for a score. He struggled during Los Angeles’ playoff loss but was still prioritized by the NFC West champions this season. Now, the Cardinals have claimed Cooper’s contract, which runs through 2019.

The Cardinals likely see Cooper as a candidate for 2019’s roster, but he may also provide them with valuable intel in advance of their Week 16 matchup against the Rams.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Waive Return Man Pharoh Cooper

When last year’s Pro Bowl rosters were unveiled, Pharoh Cooper was honored as the NFC’s return specialist. When the latest batch of Pro Bowl invites are announced Tuesday night, Cooper will be without a team.

The Rams cut the 2017 All-Pro return man today, sending him to the waiver wire. Cooper’s accolades would make him an intriguing waiver claim, but his 2018 season has not gone as expected.

A Week 1 injury sent Cooper to IR, but the Rams used the first of their two IR-boomerang slots on him last month. But Cooper did not get his punt-return job back, only returning kicks. This cut also comes after new punt returner Jojo Natson fumbled to impede a Rams comeback bid Sunday night.

A 2016 fourth-round pick, Cooper averaged 12.5 yards per punt return last season and returned a kick for a score. He struggled during Los Angeles’ playoff loss but was still prioritized by the NFC West champions this season. Now, another team could pick up Cooper’s through-2019 contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams To Activate WR Pharoh Cooper

The Rams are expected to activate wide receiver/returner Pharoh Cooper from injured reserve before Monday night’s game against the Chiefs, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Cooper Kupp, who went down with a torn ACL in Week 11, has formally been placed on injured reserve. 

Cooper has appeared in just one game this season, as the ankle injury he suffered in Los Angeles’ season opener landed him on IR. Now that he’s missed eight weeks, Cooper is eligible to return and began practicing last week. That opened up a three-week window during which the Rams had to decide whether to activate Cooper, or keep him on injured reserve for the remainder of the year.

A fourth-round pick out of South Carolina in 2016, Cooper earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2017 as a return man. The 23 year-old Cooper handled 66 combined kick and punt returns, and led the NFL in yards per kickoff return (27.4). He will immediately take back both of those roles from Blake Countess and Jojo Natson, who have been handling kicks and punts, respectively.

Cooper hasn’t been much of an offensive force through two-plus years in the NFL. He played roughly 400 offensive snaps from 2016-17 and managed only 25 total receptions during that time. Cooper could conceivably see snaps at receiver now that Kupp is done for the season, but the Rams typically stick with the same three wideouts (Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and — now — Josh Reynolds) in their “11” personnel package.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams’ Pharoh Cooper To Return From IR

Aqib Talib‘s return will be the higher-profile Rams IR decision, but on Tuesday, they used the first of their IR-return slots on a specialist.

Return man Pharoh Cooper will come off Los Angeles’ IR and return to practice. An ankle injury sustained in Week 1 shelved Cooper. Having gone on IR before Week 2, Cooper could return to action Monday if the Rams choose. They have three weeks to activate the All-Pro returner, or he’ll stay on IR the rest of the way.

This will lock the Rams into Cooper and Talib coming back from IR. Talib is expected to be ready to return from his ankle malady after L.A.’s Week 12 bye. The Rams’ IR, though, isn’t filled with return candidates who would rival a Cooper comeback.

Cooper earned All-Pro acclaim for his return work last season. Former UDFA Jojo Natson‘s been the Rams’ return man during Cooper’s absence.

Rams Place WR Pharoh Cooper On IR

Sean McVay said All-Pro return man Pharoh Cooper would be out for “some time” after a Week 1 injury, and that absence will extend into at least Novemeber.

The Rams are placing Cooper on IR, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). He won’t be able to return to game action for eight weeks. An ankle injury’s resulted in this transaction, and wideout JoJo Natson will take Cooper’s place on Los Angeles’ 53-man roster, per Rapoport (via Twitter).

Considering how valuable Cooper was to the Rams’ resurgence last season, he would make sense as an IR-return candidate. However, the star-studded team’s first-half health situation will help determine if Cooper comes back this season. He could return by Week 10.

Natson now stands as a return option, perhaps the frontrunner, for the Rams, per Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com. Given his 5-foot-7, 153-pound stature, it doesn’t seem he’s much of a threat to contribute on offense. Natson came to camp with the Rams this summer and worked as a returner throughout camp but was not retained on L.A.’s active roster or practice squad at the preseason’s conclusion.

An Akron product, Natson served as the Jets’ kick returner and punt returner in seven games last season. Returning a kickoff and punt for a touchdown, Cooper glided to a Pro Bowl berth.

West Rumors: Prosise, Cards, Rams, Raiders

After a promising flash as a rookie, C.J. Prosise has not contributed much to the Seahawks‘ cause. He’s picked up 17 touches since December 2016 and is behind Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis on the Seattle running back depth chart. However, the team is discussing a position change for the third-year back. Pete Carroll said (via Pro Football Talk) his coaching staff is examining a possible Prosise switch to wide receiver, citing his background at the position in college. Prosise was a wideout at Notre Dame before being switched to the backfield. He caught 29 passes for 516 yards in 2014. The Seahawks are down Doug Baldwin for perhaps multiple weeks, and they have just four healthy wide receivers.

Here’s the latest from the West divisions, shifting to a running back who is also quite adept at the receiver role.

  • David Johnson is now the NFL’s second-highest-paid running back, holding a substantial lead over the No. 3 player in this hierarchy, and ranks close to the top in terms of fully guaranteed money, too. Johnson’s three-year, $39MM Cardinals extension will come with $24.682MM fully guaranteed at signing, Joel Corry of CBS Sports tweets. Adding in the amount guaranteed for injury increases the deal’s guarantees to $31MM, per Corry, who adds offset language is included in this contract. Johnson’s $24MM-plus full guarantee leads all running backs on veteran contracts, surpassing Todd Gurley‘s $21.9MM in guarantees.
  • Martavis Bryant is indeed back with the Raiders, as Jon Gruden suggested he could be. An illness and general inconsistency during camp led to Bryant being a preseason cut, Gruden said (via Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic, on Twitter). Gruden said the perpetual suspension risk, who may or may not be facing another ban, is more focused and may suit up for the team on Sunday in Denver.
  • In addition to the Raiders’ interest in signing top free agent Johnathan Hankins, Gruden said they’re also interested in adding Clinton McDonald, per Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Hankins is visiting the Raiders on Wednesday. The Broncos released McDonald after the preseason slate. If signed, McDonald would add yet another 30-something to Gruden’s free agency haul. He’s 31.
  • The Raiders are in need of help at defensive tackle because of a Justin Ellis injury. The fifth-year veteran defensive tackle strained ligaments in his foot, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. He’s week-to-week, prompting Oakland to pursue outside help.
  • Adam Jones signed with the Broncos late in the preseason, appearing to represent an upgrade at punt returner and No. 4 cornerback. However, the 35-year-old defender appears to have usurped Tramaine Brock for the nickel job, Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com notes. Brock didn’t fare poorly in the preseason and graded as an upper-echelon corner during his last season of full-time work, with the 2016 49ers, but Jones has more experience in Vance Joseph‘s defense from their time together in Cincinnati. If he’s been demoted, it would mark a second straight season the 30-year-old defender’s resided out of a nickel picture. The Vikings carried Brock as a depth piece in 2017.
  • The Rams are going to need a new return man. Pharoh Cooper suffered an ankle injury and will be out for “some time,” Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com notes. Backup return man Michael Thomas is out for a few weeks, Sean McVay said, to prompt Los Angeles to seek alternative options. Cooper served as the Rams’ kick- and punt-return man last season, soaring to All-Pro honors.

Injury Notes: Lewis, Pruitt, Cooper, Marshall

The Steelers are still considering free agent cornerback Keenan Lewis, but it will take him at least a month to recover from hip and groin injuries, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). That news jibes with at least one report earlier this month that indicated Lewis would need as much as six weeks to heal from his ailments. However, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently reported that the Steelers were troubled by the medicals on Lewis’ hip when he visited the team recently.

Here’s more on the injury front:

  • Although tight end MyCole Pruitt looked to have suffered a serious injury during yesterday’s preseason games, the second-year Viking will only miss two-to-four weeks with a sprained MCL, tweets Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. As such, Pruitt will likely miss at least the season opener, but he’ll return as Minnesota’s No. 2 tight end at some point early in the campaign.
  • Rams rookie wide receiver Pharoh Cooper has a shoulder injury and will miss “a few weeks,” head coach Jeff Fisher yesterday told reporters, including Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com. At minimum, Cooper will probably miss the season opener. Cooper, a fourth-round pick, had apparently been the favorite for the LA’s third receiver role (and could still be when he gets back to action).
  • The Redskins will also lose a rookie for a short period of time, as seventh-round running back Keith Marshall will likely be out for three weeks, according to coach Jay Gruden (Twitter link via Mike Jones of the Washington Post). However, Gruden added that Marshall could be placed on injured reserve, which would likely allow Washington to stash Marshall until 2017.
  • The Buccaneers are expected to place WR/KR Donteea Dye on the waived/injured list with a hamstring issue, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Dye will need roughly a month to recover, but there’s a possibility could bring Dye back into the fold, tweets Laine (though it’s unclear if that means the club would bring him back off IR, or re-sign him after releasing him with an injury settlement).