Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These Bengals, Browns, Ravens and Steelers moves are noted below.
Nixon was a first-team All-Pro returner for the Packers this year. He’s signed to a new one-year deal with a maximum value of $6MM, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Wharton’s new one-year deal is reportedly worth $2.03MM, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2. The contract has a guaranteed amount of $850,000 consisting of a $500,000 signing bonus and $350,000 of the base salary (worth $1.01MM total).
Baker Mayfield and Jarvis Landry did not practice this week, but both will be in line to play on Christmas Day. The Browns are activating Mayfield and Landry from the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Mayfield tested positive for the coronavirus Dec. 15 but could not navigate the return protocol until Friday. Still, he will be expected to start against the Packers.
The Browns also activated backup Case Keenum, cornerback A.J. Green and defensive lineman Ifeadi Odengibo from the virus list for their Green Bay trip. Cleveland’s loss against Las Vegas, in a game Nick Mullens started with a host of backups at other spots, significantly diminished its playoff chances. The team was without 10 starters against the Raiders.
Some Browns remain on the virus list, including center J.C. Tretter and left tackle Jedrick Wills. Still, the Browns will be in better shape to face the Packers compared to the squad they were forced to deploy Monday.
Mayfield is still dealing with the left shoulder fracture he suffered earlier this season. The former No. 1 overall pick has dealt with other injury issues this season, but the shoulder problem will require surgery in 2022. Some of Mayfield’s numbers are well off his 2020 pace. He has thrown just 13 touchdown passes. While his completion percentage (62.8) is identical to his full-season 2020 mark and yards-per-attempt figure (7.6) up from last year, QBR slots Mayfield 25th. The metric placed the Browns starter 10th in 2020, putting him on track for a potential extension this year. Those talks have since been tabled, with a new deal unlikely until next year at least.
In his third season with the Browns, Hunt has totalled 386 rushing yards and five touchdowns, along with an additional 174 yards on 22 catches in eight games. The 26-year-old has been a key member of the Browns’ backfield alongside Nick Chubb, helping the team average 143.5 rushing yards per game, ranking fourth in the NFL.
The team also announced that offensive assistant coach T.C. McCartney has tested positive for COVID-19. We learned earlier today that the NFL was pushing Saturday’s game between the Browns and Raiders to Monday.
Meanwhile, Cleveland activated linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. from the reserve/COVID-19 list, and they’ve signed quarterback Kyle Lauletta to the active roster off the Jaguars practice squad. Lauletta, 26, has appeared in just two NFL games. Both were with the Giants in 2018, where he went 0-for-five with one interception. He has since spent time on the Eagles’, Falcons’ and Browns’ practice squads, only going to Jacksonville’s after being waived at the end of August.
7:52pm:Cornerback A.J. Green and linebacker Jacob Phillips have also tested positive for COVID-19, reports Nate Ulrich of the Beacon Journal (via Twitter).
4:59pm: The Browns will likely have to turn to their third-string QB for Saturday’s matchup against the Raiders. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter), quarterback Case Keenum has tested positive for COVID-19. With Baker Mayfield already on the reserve/COVID-19 list, this means Nick Mullens is in line to start.
The Browns are facing at least five more positive tests in addition to Keenum, according to CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones (on Twitter). This would bring the total to 20 players on the Browns who have tested positive for COVID-19 this week. One of those players is Grant Delpit, as Nate Ulrich of the Beacon Journal tweets that the safety tested positive. While the Browns are eyeing a handful of absences, coach KevinStefanski wouldn’t rule out any players following the NFL’s changes to COVID protocols.
“Certainly when they tell me we have run out of days in terms of negative tests and those type of things, then it will be official, but I don’t know that we’re ruling any of those guys out just yet,” Stefanski said (via Ulrich).
Either way, it’s looking like Mullens will be forced into the lineup for a crucial start. The 26-year-old has spent the majority of the 2021 campaign on Cleveland’s practice squad, although he is coming off a 2020 campaign where he started eight games for the 49ers. Mullens is 5-11 in his 16 career starts, and his 4,405 passing yards are the second most by any quarterback in their first 16 career starts in NFL history (behind Patrick Mahomes (h/t to ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter)). Mullens also has 25 career touchdowns vs. 22 interceptions.
Keenum started one game for the Browns this season, completing 21 of his 33 pass attempts in a win over the Broncos. In total, the 33-year-old has seen time in six games for Cleveland this season, tossing one touchdown vs. zero interceptions.
January 18th, 2021 at 4:38pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
With the Ravens, Browns, and Rams getting eliminated from the playoffs over the weekend, both teams announced their slew of reserve/futures deals on Monday. As a reminder, these are all non-guaranteed deals, usually for practice squad type players, to help teams flesh out their 90-man offseason rosters.