Drew Forbes

Lions Place G Halapoulivaati Vaitai On IR

SEPTEMBER 6: While the issue affecting the veteran lineman’s availability remains a mystery, it is far from certain he comes back when first eligible. Vaitai is not a lock to play in 2022, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Kraemer will be Detroit’s right guard starter, according to the official depth chart the team released Tuesday morning.

SEPTEMBER 5: Halapoulivaati Vaitai‘s third Lions season will not begin on time. The veteran offensive lineman is now on Detroit’s IR, mandating a four-game absence. The nature of Vaitai’s injury is unkonwn.

The well-paid blocker is expected to return as the Lions’ right guard starter, but the team will need to make other plans for its September slate. This will be Vaitai’s second IR trip since he signed with the Lions in 2020. The team also claimed guard Drew Forbes off waivers from the Browns on Monday.

[RELATED: Offseason In Review, Detroit Lions]

A former Eagles draftee, Vaitai missed six games in 2020 due to a foot injury but returned to play in 15 last year. Vaitai, 29, represents part of a Lions source of optimism; both he and left guard Jonah Jackson ranked as a top-30 guards (per Pro Football Focus) in 2021. Along with former first-rounders Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow and Penei Sewell, the Lions are expected to field one of the league’s top O-lines.

Detroit’s fill-ins from 2020 are no longer on the roster, though Forbes is now in the mix. The team now rosters four backup interior O-linemen — a group that also includes 2020 fourth-rounder Logan Stenberg, fifth-year veteran Evan Brown and 2021 UDFA Tommy Kraemer. Brown served as Ragnow’s primary backup last season, and Kraemer made three starts in 2021. Neither Forbes nor Stenberg has started a regular-season game.

The Lions gave Vaitai a five-year, $45MM contract in free agency two years ago. He is due to count $8.7MM on the team’s 2022 payroll.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/5/22

Today’s minor moves around the NFL:

Baltimore Ravens

  • Released from IR via injury settlement: WR Shemar Bridgers

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Waived: CB Allan George
  • Reverted to active roster: S Jessie Bates

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

New York Giants

  • Waived: RB Sandro Platzgummer

New York Jets

Washington Commanders

Nixon generated significant draft buzz after his college career at Iowa. His final season with the Hawkeyes in 2020 included 5.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss, though he fell to the fifth round that year. He played sparingly as a rookie, and has met injury troubles early in his pro career. Despite the move, Carolina has a number of options to call on in a rotational role behind Derrick Brown and Matt Ioannidis

The roster cutting by the Bengals was necessary with today being the time at which Bates’ time on the Commissioner’s Exempt List expired. The franchise-tagged safety was the final holdout of the 2022 offseason, inking his tender long past the deadline for a long-term deal to be finalized. Fully back to team practices and activities, Bates’ time on the list allowed him to ramp up at his own rate following a lengthy absence throughout the spring and summer.

Lancaster was one of several additions the Raiders made on the d-line during free agency. The former UDFA spent the first four years of his career in Green Bay, registering 10 starts in 2019. Other signings such as Bilal Nichols and Andrew Billings will see plenty of playing time along the defensive interior in his absence.

Browns Place Eight Players On COVID-19 List

The Browns could be seriously shorthanded for Saturday’s game against the Raiders. On Tuesday, the Browns placed wide receiver Jarvis Landry, right guard Wyatt Teller, tight end Austin Hooper, left tackle Jedrick Wills, defensive end Takkarist McKinley and guard Drew Forbes (on IR) on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Meanwhile, tight end Ross Travis and return man JoJo Natson have been placed on the practice squad COVID list. 

[RELATED: Chargers’ Slater Placed On COVID-19 List]

All eight players have tested positive for the virus (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero), putting their availability in doubt. Still, as of this writing, the game is still slated to go ahead as planned on Saturday (Twitter link).

On Monday alone, 36 NFL players — including Chargers tackle Rashawn Slater — were placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list. Since then, the league has issued a memo requiring booster shots for all Tier 1 and 2 staff by Dec. 27. While players are not required to be vaccinated, coaches and trainers fall within Tier 1.

The Browns were already down three players on Sunday, including tight end David Njoku, thanks to the reserve/COVID-19 designation. Despite that, they still managed to beat the Ravens and advance to 7-6 on the year.

Browns Set Initial 53-Man Roster

The Browns became the second team to move their roster down to the required 53-man max. They began paring their roster to the regular-season limit Monday. While waiver claims could change the equation, here are the cuts Cleveland made to reach 53 Tuesday:



Placed on IR:

Absent from these cuts are two defensive line reclamation projects. Both Takk McKinley and Malik McDowell have made the team. The latter’s journey back represents the latest step in a long road. McDowell saw an ATV accident during his first NFL offseason sidetrack his career. Prison time followed for a DUI arrest from 2019. The No. 35 overall pick in 2017, McDowell has never played a regular-season game. McKinley bounced around last year, being jettisoned from the Falcons, Bengals and 49ers. The former first-round pick later landed on the Raiders’ IR list but caught on with the Browns this year.

Hodge should be expected to stay in Cleveland via the practice squad, but the Browns have a deep receiver group. A Browns backup wideout in 2019 and ’20, Hodge has 15 catches for 256 yards as a member of the team. The Browns added Lee last year, using him in eight games as a backup and special-teamer. He is a vested veteran and will avoid waivers. All eight members of the Browns’ 2021 draft class made the roster.

2020 NFL Opt Out Tracker

Per an agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA, players with COVID-19 health concerns can opt out of the 2020 season. Initially, the deadline was believed to be Tuesday, August 4. Talks between the league and the union have pushed it to August 6.

Chiefs guard and medical school graduate Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the first player to officially opt out. Scores of players followed.

Here’s the rundown, so far:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • T Brad Seaton

Tennessee Titans

  • OL Anthony McKinney

Washington Football Team

Free agents

Browns Release WR Antonio Callaway

The Browns have released wide receiver Antonio Callaway, per a club announcement. Meanwhile, Callaway is facing, and appealing, a ten-game suspension for another violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, sources tell NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). While that’s a major factor in the team’s decision to cut him, Rapoport hears that it is not the only reason the team waived him.

The Browns drafted Callaway in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, opting to roll the dice on an extremely talented player who had multiple red flags off the field. At times, that talent has shown. Last year, he clicked with Baker Mayfield and finished out with 43 catches for 586 yards and five touchdowns. This year, however, his off-the-field problems reappeared – the NFL suspended Callaway for the first four games of the year after violating the substance abuse policy and he’s now looking at an additional ten-game ban.

The Browns benched Callaway against the Bills on Sunday for reasons that head coach Freddie Kitchens did not disclose. Days later, Callaway is out of a job. Per league rules, he’ll hit the waiver wire as a post-trade deadline cut. In his four games this year, Callaway registered eight catches off of 15 targets for 89 yards and zero TDs.

In a related move, the Browns have activated offensive lineman Drew Forbes. Forbes, a sixth-round pick, is now set to debut after recovering from a knee injury suffered late in the offseason.

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

AFC North Notes: Ravens, Steelers, Browns

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh told reporters last week that slot cornerback Tavon Young could miss the 2019 season after suffering a serious neck injury, but the club hasn’t been given an update on the status of the 25-year-old defensive back. “Nothing definitive,” Harbaugh said, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). “It’s in the opinions of the doctors. I’m sure there are different ways of looking at it, so they’ll probably see how it goes in the next week or two or three, and see what the progress is.” If Young is sidelined for the upcoming campaign, Baltimore will likely deploy Brandon Carr in the slot, while Cyrus Jones is also a candidate to see work inside.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • John Ross will finally make his 2019 practice debut early next week, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor told reporters, including Ben Baby of ESPN.com (Twitter link). A hamstring injury has forced Ross to sit out of practice sessions thus far, but if the former ninth overall pick gets in two weeks of work, Taylor believes he’ll be ready for the season opener against the Seahawks. Cincinnati will already be without A.J. Green for the first few weeks of the season after the veteran pass-catcher suffered an ankle injury in July, so getting Ross on the field would be a boon to the club’s offense. Ross, 24, posted only 21 receptions a year ago but did haul in seven touchdowns.
  • More from Cincinnati, where receiver depth isn’t the only roster issue: Cordy Glenn has been diagnosed with a concussion, meaning the left tackle may not be ready for Week 1, tweets Jay Morrison of The Athletic. As a result, the Bengals — who have already lost rookie left tackle Jonah Williams (shoulder injury) and left guard Clint Boling (retirement), may be forced to use Andre Smith as Andy Dalton‘s blindside protector, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Smith, now in his fourth stint with the Bengals, does have some experience at left tackle, but the overwhelming majority of his NFL time has been spent on the right side.
  • Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton has posted a “tremendous” preseason and could have a significant role on Pittsburgh’s defense, according to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. Sutton has played so well that he could potentially overtake Mike Hilton as the team’s slot corner. At worst, Sutton is likely to serve as the Steelers’ third outside corner behind Joe Haden and Steven Nelson and play as a dime linebacker in six-defensive back looks. Sutton, a third-round pick out of Tennessee in 2017, played 113 defensive snaps during his rookie campaign and 240 last season.
  • The Browns now have three candidates to replace Kevin Zeitler at right guard, as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com writes. Veteran Eric Kush was thought to be leading the competition against 2018 second-round pick Austin Corbett, but rookie sixth-rounder Drew Forbes has also entered the mix. Per head coach Freddie Kitchens, the battle is still wide open. Corbett, though, hasn’t practiced at right guard in weeks, and is instead working as Cleveland’s backup center.

Browns Sign 5 Draft Picks

The Browns are wasting little time in getting their rookies on board. On Friday, the Browns inked five of their seven draft picks, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal and Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Here’s the rundown: 

Wilson, taken with the No. 155 overall pick, says he’s on a mission to prove that he is the best linebacker in the entire 2019 draft class.

That chip is going to always be on my shoulder,” said Wilson, who anticipated being drafted no later than the third round. “I’m going to always think about it. I feel like I have to prove people wrong, but I just want to show that in this draft, I was the best linebacker. There were 31 teams that slipped up on me, and somebody is going to have to feel all the pain that I built up these past few days.

After registering 113 total tackles and six interceptions across 33 games at Alabama, Wilson has a right to be disappointed in his draft slot. Of course, that won’t matter much in the long run if he can prove himself at the pro level.

With those five under contract, the Browns have only two stragglers to go: LSU cornerback Greedy Williams (second round) and BYU linebacker Sione Takitaki (third round).