Demetrius Taylor

NFL Reinstates Five Players Banned For Gambling

Last year’s round of gambling suspensions affected a few teams’ starting lineups, but a handful of depth-level players also received significant suspensions for violating the NFL’s betting policy. Five players from this group will have a chance to resume their careers.

The NFL is reinstating Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney, along with veteran special-teamer C.J. Moore, wide receiver Quintez Cephus, linebacker Rashod Berry and defensive lineman Demetrius Taylor. None of the five played last year due to indefinite suspensions that covered at least one season in length. Moore, Cephus, Berry and Taylor are currently free agents.

Cephus, Moore and Toney were part of the initial wave of suspensions — a development headlined by Jameson Williams‘ six-game suspension — last April. Cephus and Moore lost their jobs as a result. Isaiah Rodgers headlined the Colts’ suspensions, but Berry was also banned for at least a season. Indianapolis waived both players. Rodgers, now with the Eagles, has not been reinstated.

The Lions released Moore, a four-year special teams contributor, despite having re-signed him in March 2023. Cephus, who has been a rotational wide receiver under Matt Patricia and Dan Campbell, hit the waiver wire. Of the contingent reinstated Thursday, Cephus has delivered the most early-career production. As a rookie in 2020, the former fifth-round Lions draftee caught 20 passes for 349 yards. He was at 15-204 in 2021, scoring four touchdowns in that span. Cephus, 26, spent much of the 2022 season on IR but had one more season remaining on his rookie deal at the time the Lions cut him.

Drafted in the seventh round during Ron Rivera‘s time with Washington, Toney totaled 1.5 sacks as a rookie but none during a 16-game 2022 season. For his career, Toney has played just 169 defensive snaps. He served as a special teams regular for the Commanders in 2022, however. With Dan Quinn taking over, it is worth wondering if the rebuilding team will keep Toney onboard.

Taylor joined Cephus and Moore in having been with the Lions in 2022. With an apparent communication breakdown transpiring in Detroit, the Lions axed multiple staffers amid this gambling scandal. The NFL tweaked its gambling policy last fall, which allowed for quicker returns for players given a six-game ban for betting on non-NFL games while on team grounds.

This adjustment did not impact the five players reinstated Thursday, as each was popped for betting on NFL games. Rodgers’ betting scheme was quite elaborate, so it will be interesting to see if the league greenlights the young cornerback’s return this year. It appears the Eagles had hoped to see the league reinstate Rodgers today, as the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane indicates they were monitoring today for a potential re-emergence. But Rodgers’ indefinite ban persists.

Isaiah Rodgers, Others Receive Season-Long Gambling Suspensions

JUNE 29: Colts defensive end Rashod Berry and free agent defensive lineman Demetrius Taylor are being hit with gambling bans as well. Berry and Taylor will be suspended for the entire 2023 season, joining Rodgers in that regard, the NFL announced Thursday (via’s Mike Garafolo). The league also finalized Rodgers’ long-rumored suspension; the fourth-year cornerback’s ban is indefinite but will cover all of the 2023 season.

Berry and Taylor bet on NFL games during the 2022 season, the league announced. Berry remains on the Colts’ 90-man roster; Indianapolis plucked him off Jacksonville’s practice squad in January. Berry, 26, did not play in a game last season. Taylor, 24, played in one Lions contest. Both players are former UDFAs. Taylor may well be the fifth Lion the league was investigating. The Lions waived Taylor on the same day they cut Berryhill last month. Rodgers and Berry must apply for reinstatement to return to action, Zak Keefer of The Athletic tweets.

These three join Titans right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere in being part of the league’s latest gambling probe. Petit-Frere will serve a six-game suspension for betting on other sports from team grounds. Thursday’s penalties run the count to nine players suspended by the NFL in 2023 for violating the gambling policy. After Ridley and Shaw were the only players hit with gambling bans between the 1980s and 2022, this year has marked a watershed moment for the league on this front.

JUNE 28: The Isaiah Rodgers suspension will likely down this week, but the Colts cornerback is not the only player on track to be suspended. Other gambling-driven bans are expected to be assessed, Adam Schefter of reports (on Twitter).

Rodgers will be given a season-long suspension, per Schefter. The fourth-year Indianapolis defender is believed to have made bets on NFL games. A year-long ban would be consistent with those given to ex-Lions Quintez Cephus and C.J. Moore and Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney earlier this year. That trio was found to have made bets on NFL games.

It is unknown who the other offenders are here, but a fifth Lions player was believed to be under investigation for gambling. The league already suspended Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams for six games. Since-cut Lions wideout Stanley Berryhill also received a six-game ban; both he and Williams bet on non-NFL games while on team grounds.

Since the initial batch of suspensions came out in April, teams have attempted to provide more thorough educational efforts regarding the NFL’s gambling policy. But after the league went decades without a known issue of player betting, 2023 has brought a number of headlines on this front. Rodgers stands to be the sixth player banned this year. Those punishments follow the ones given to Calvin Ridley (2022) and former defensive back Josh Shaw (2019) for violating the league’s gambling policy.

Since a 2018 Supreme Court ruling that opened the doors for sports betting outside of its traditional hubs (primarily Nevada), 33 states and Washington D.C. have opened legal betting markets. Once a beneath-the-surface topic in the NFL, wagering on games and players (via daily fantasy sites) is now regularly promoted. The NFL has partnered with three sportsbooks in recent years.

Rodgers, 25, was on track to remain a Colts starting cornerback. He started nine games last season. The former sixth-round pick had also served as Indianapolis’ primary kick returner, holding that job throughout his career. An indefinite suspension covering all of 2023 would require Rodgers to apply for reinstatement. Ridley successfully did so this year, but the former Falcons first-round pick carried considerable value based on his pre-suspension form. Such punishment may be costlier for Rodgers. This ban will result in the UMass alum not receiving his $2.7MM 2023 salary; that money will toll to 2024 and delay Rodgers’ free agency by a year. The latter aspect could be significant, as a productive season could have led to a nice payday next year.

The Colts did not become aware of the NFL’s Rodgers investigation until after the draft. The team traded Stephon Gilmore to the Cowboys in March, leaving a gaping hole at outside corner. After also allowing part-time starter Brandon Facyson to rejoin the Raiders in free agency, the Colts used a second-round pick on Kansas State corner Julius Brents. Rodgers was still expected to be a key part of Gus Bradley‘s second Indianapolis defense, potentially as a starter alongside Brents and veteran slot Kenny Moore. As a result of the gambling development, Indy may be in the market for veteran help.

Lions Waive WR Stanley Berryhill

The Lions have now cut ties with three of the four players who received gambling suspensions last month. The team handed wide receiver Stanley Berryhill his walking papers Tuesday.

A UDFA who caught on with the Lions last year, Berryhill incurred a six-game gambling ban. While Berryhill’s punishment was not as extreme as the indefinite suspensions — which will last at least one season — given to wideout Quintez Cephus, special-teamer C.J. Moore and Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney, Berryhill will hit the waiver wire.

Jameson Williams is the only gambling policy violator left on Detroit’s roster. The 2022 first-round pick, who joined Berryhill in receiving a six-game suspension, obviously is not at risk of being cut. Berryhill, however, played in four games last season but saw just six offensive snaps. The Falcons signed the Arizona alum as a UDFA; he made his way to the Cardinals’ practice squad in September and landed on the Lions’ P-squad in October.

The Lions have also fired at least three staffers — believed to be a strength and conditioning coach and two equipment managers — for violating the NFL’s gambling policy. Unspecified league employees have also been canned for violating the policy, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. After decades of dormancy on the gambling suspension front, seven players — also including Calvin Ridley and former defensive back Josh Shaw — have received bans since 2019.

Detroit, which also waived cornerback Mac McCain and defensive lineman Demetrius Taylor, did not draft a wide receiver until the seventh round (North Carolina’s Antoine Green). Josh Reynolds remains on the Lions’ roster, and the team reunited with Marvin Jones — a Lion from 2016-20 — in late March. Kalif Raymond, Tom Kennedy, Trinity Benson and 2022 UDFA Maurice Alexander round out the rest of Amon-Ra St. Brown‘s potential supporting cast. The Lions cut McCain with a failure to disclose a physical condition designation, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson tweets.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/9/23

18 teams had their seasons come to an end yesterday, and their front offices have already turned the page to the 2023 NFL seaon. This started today, as a number of players were signed to reserve/futures contracts, which allows organizations to retain (routinely) young, practice squad players throughout the offseason. Here are today’s reserve/futures contracts:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

  • WR Ty Fryfogle

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Washington Commanders

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/27/22

Today’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Signed to active roster: S Nolan Turner
  • Promoted: CB Don Gardner, LB J.J. Russell

Edge Notes: Ravens, Lions, Browning, Hawks

After letting both Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue walk during the 2021 free agency period, the Ravens acquired a first-round pick in the Orlando Brown Jr. trade. The team entered the draft determined to use one of its two first-round choices on an edge defender, but strategy played a role in the team ending up with Odafe Oweh. The Ravens would have been happy with either Oweh or Greg Rousseau, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic notes, but also wanted to leave last year’s first round with a wide receiver.

We heard previously the Ravens expected the Packers to select Bateman, whom several execs viewed as the team most likely to draft the Big Ten prospect. That played into Baltimore’s edge defender blueprint as well. The team had Oweh and Rousseau ranked similarly on its 2021 draft board, Zrebiec adds, leading to Bateman being prioritized with the No. 27 pick. Waiting for No. 31 to make its edge rusher selection paid off, as Oweh remained on the board. The Bills took Rousseau at 30. (The Packers took cornerback Eric Stokes at 29.) Through 1 1/4 seasons, Oweh has six sacks, four forced fumbles and 17 quarterback hits. Rousseau checks in with similar production, having tallied eight sacks — four already this season — along with one strip and 16 QB hits.

Here is the latest from the NFL’s edge defender landscape:

  • The Ravens used Jason Pierre-Paul extensively alongside Oweh in Week 4, playing the recently signed veteran on 55 defensive snaps. Their one-year Pierre-Paul deal is worth $1.35MM, according to OverTheCap. The contract includes a $150K signing bonus and playing time- and sack-based incentives that could take the price north of $5MM, Jeremy Fowler of tweets. This is a lower-priced deal than JPP is accustomed to signing, but he has a chance to be the rare free agent to sign in-season and earn potentially far more than the veteran minimum.
  • The Lions will be waiting a bit longer to deploy their two-Okwara edge-rushing attack. Eligible to return from the Lions’ PUP list this week, Romeo Okwara will likely need more time to recover from his 2021 injury, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. Okwara, who suffered an Achilles tear just more than a year ago, did not return to practice this week when first eligible.
  • Detroit’s pass rush, when at full strength, is set to include Romeo and Julian Okwara, Charles Harris and first- and second-round picks Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal. That said, the Lions are adding another edge rusher to the equation. Rookie UDFA Demetrius Taylor is going to play defensive end in his debut this week, Birkett notes. Signed as a UDFA defensive tackle, Taylor will shift to a big D-end role as the Lions attempt to pick up the pieces on defense. This will likely lead to Hutchinson, who had previously played the team’s “big end” spot, rushing from around the formation, per Birkett. Taylor saw some time at D-end at Appalachian State.
  • It will not be second-round pick Nik Bonitto getting the call to replace Randy Gregory; Baron Browning will play that role for the Broncos beginning Thursday night, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. This will be an interesting stretch for Browning, whom the Broncos used as an inside linebacker during his 2021 rookie season. The third-round pick moved to the outside this offseason, helping lead to the late-August Malik Reed trade, and has impressed the coaching staff. Bonitto, who began the season as a healthy scratch despite being Denver’s top 2022 draftee, will see more time as a rotational cog behind Browning and Bradley Chubb.
  • The Seahawks will give second-rounder Boye Mafe more playing time, Pete Carroll said this week. This will be interesting considering the rookie logged a season-high 32 defensive snaps against the Lions. Mafe, who has one sack thus far this season, registered 10 in his final college campaign.

Lions Finalize Initial 53-Man Roster

Detroit got an early start on reducing its roster size Monday, but the team made the final moves toward 53 players Tuesday. Here are the moves from today that got the Lions there:




Placed on reserve/physically unable to perform:

Houston was the only member of the Lions’ 2022 rookie class that failed to make the initial 53-man roster. The young linebacker should have a good chance to land on the team’s 16-man practice squad Wednesday, if he can clear waivers. On the other hand, undrafted defensive lineman Demetrius Taylor found his way onto the roster after a disruptive preseason. Another undrafted rookie, running back Greg Bell, didn’t make the roster, but will remain with the team on Detroit’s injured reserve.

There were a number of surprising, but necessary, cuts today. Igwebuike had a decent chance to make the roster due to his experience and ability returning kicks. Kennedy led the team in catches, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns during the preseason. His lack of effective use on special teams likely lost him his spot on the final roster. Parker started much of last year at nickel for the Lions. Unfortunately he was expendable after the offseason additions of veteran JuJu Hughes and rookie Chase Lucas.

The winner of the kicking battle has been crowned as Austin Seibert made the final roster over Patterson. Patterson showed plenty of ability during the last couple of weeks and it would be no surprise if he was to be claimed by another team off waivers by tomorrow.

Finally, it appears the backup quarterback battle was won by David Blough, who outperformed Boyle in preseason. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Detroit peruse the mass of recently waived players for a new quarterback. They have the second-highest priority on the waiver wire and should have their pick of the litter if they think they can improve on Blough.