Per ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter), the Broncos (with Bassey and Waitman), Lions (with Hughes), and Texans (with Keke) placed their respective claims earlier in their offseasons. Since these players were on playoff teams, they weren’t immediately assigned. Instead, the teams needed to wait for the league year to switch over to 2022, allowing the players to join their new squads.
Tennessee will not activate Henry from IR on Saturday, keeping him shelved until the playoffs. The Titans designated Henry for return this week, giving them options moving forward. Henry’s ramp-up period can last up until before the AFC championship game, should the Titans’ season extend that far. But the team has long been preparing to have its top weapon ready to go before that point.
Henry has been out since suffering a Jones fracture in his foot in Week 8. The Titans initially struggled to pick up the pieces, and they moved on from Adrian Peterson fairly quickly. However, the AFC South champs have since seen D’Onta Foreman — also a midseason pickup following Henry’s injury — begin to establish himself as a starter. Foreman has notched three 100-yard games over his past five. Should Henry indeed return to action in the playoffs, Foreman would stand to be a key off-the-bench performer.
For now, however, the Titans are reshuffling their backfield. One of the early candidates to replace Henry, Jeremy McNichols, is no longer on the roster. The Titans waived the veteran backup Saturday and promoted Jordan Wilkins from their practice squad. A former Colts fifth-round pick, Wilkins caught on with the Titans after a midseason Indianapolis exit. He joins Dontrell Hilliard alongside Foreman on Tennessee’s active roster.
Wilkins topped 5.5 yards per carry in each of his first two seasons, playing behind Marlon Mack, and eclipsed 300 rushing yards in each of his first three. Now rostering the NFL’s rushing leader in Jonathan Taylor, the Colts dropped Wilkins this season. A former Buccaneers fifth-round pick who also spent time with the Colts, McNichols has been with the Titans for the past two seasons. He is averaging just 3.8 yards per carry this year, on 41 totes, and saw Foreman take over the backfield down the stretch.
The Titans also promoted defensive linemen Da’Shawn Hand and Kevin Strong on Saturday. The team has a chance to clinch home-field advantage for the first time since 2008 Sunday. A win over the Texans would secure Tennessee the AFC’s No. 1 seed. This would obviously be beneficial for both the Titans and Henry. The Chiefs would recapture the conference’s top slot with a win over the Broncos today and a subsequent Titans loss.
As expected, the Lions will begin their season without backup quarterback Tim Boyle. A thumb injury will sideline him into October, with the team placing the former Packers reserve on IR Thursday.
The team also stashed defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand on IR. Players placed on IR after roster cutdown day are eligible to return after three games. This is Hand’s fourth IR stay in four seasons.
Detroit also brought back one of its offseason additions, re-signing tight end Darren Fells a day after releasing him. Fells made it through to the Lions’ 53-man roster after cut day but was dropped on Wednesday. The former college hoops standout-turned-red zone target signed with the Lions in May.
Fells joins T.J. Hockenson as the only tight ends on Detroit’s active roster. This will be Fells’ age-35 season and second with Detroit. He was on the 2017 Lions before relocating to Cleveland and then Houston. With the Texans, Fells caught 11 touchdown passes over the past two years.
Boyle’s injury leaves David Blough as the only QB behind Jared Goff on the Lions’ active roster. This marks Blough’s third year with the team.
Additionally, the Lions also re-signed safety Dean Marlowe on Thursday. A Bills contributor from 2018-20, Marlowe joined Fells in being dropped from the roster for procedural purposes Wednesday.
Add Frank Ragnow to the list of first-round picks who have signed their rookie deals. The Lions came to terms with their top draft choice, and this draft’s first center chosen, on Friday. Here’s the full list of Friday agreements heading into Detroit’s rookie minicamp:
Ragnow figures to immediately compete for a starting job in the Motor City. The Lions allowed starting center Travis Swanson to defect to the Jets, but they added ex-Jets starting snapper Wesley Johnson in free agency. Detroit was considering moving Graham Glasgow from guard to center, but the Ragnow addition may keep him at guard, where he fared well last season.
The former Razorback was a consensus All-American last season, and Pro Football Focus twice bestowed first-team All-American honors on Ragnow — in both his junior and senior slates. The draft slot system will place Ragnow’s rookie deal at $11.8MM over the customary four years, with an approximate $6.6MM signing bonus, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).
This leaves only third-round pick Tracey Walker, a safety out of Louisiana-Lafayette, as Detroit’s only unsigned pick.
The Patriots are wheeling and dealing. ESPN’s Mike Reiss reports (via Twitter) that New England is sending pick No. 114 to the Lions. The Patriots acquired that selection earlier today in a deal with the Browns. Detroit will be sending a 2019 third-rounder to New England, according to Reiss (on Twitter).
The Lions have used the pick on defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand. The Albama product compiled 27 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and three sacks during his senior season. He’ll provide head coach (and former Pats defensive coordinator) MattPatricia some depth on the defensive line.
The Patriots have been might busy this weekend, as they’ve already pulled off six trades. Reiss believes that these moves are an indication that BillBelichick is planning on sticking around for the foreseeable future (Twitter link).