December 24th, 2020 at 4:53pm CST by Zachary Links
The Buccaneers are set to sign quarterback Drew Stanton to the practice squad, as Peter Schrager of NFL.com tweets. Stanton played under head coach Bruce Arians with the Cardinals, so he’ll provide a mix of familiarity and insurance somewhere behind Tom Brady.
Stanton, 36, first entered the league in 2007 as a second-round pick of the Lions. He hasn’t quite lived up to his Michigan State hype, but he has been a practice field fave for many coaches around the league. All in all, he has 38 career appearances to his credit, including 17 starts.
His last live action came in 2017 on Arians’ Cardinals team, but he’s been in the NFL orbit over the last few years. Stanton’s two-year Browns contract in 2018 didn’t lead to any snaps, but he did find himself in the news as a part of last year’s Freddie Kitchens drama. Stanton — the third-string QB — was rumored to have a significant hand in the team’s game plan. That didn’t sit well with star Odell Beckham Jr., offensive coordinator Todd Monken, and many others in the locker room.
Of course, Stanton isn’t expected to siphon offensive control from Arians or Brady, who will be aiming to clinch a playoff berth on Saturday against the Lions.
09:29am: ESPN’s Josina Anderson says Beckham texted her this morning and told her that he has not yet made a decision as to whether he will have surgery this offseason (Twitter link). However, he did confirm that he has been in pain since training camp.
08:30am: Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.has largely disappointed during his first year in Cleveland. Although he is on pace for a 1,000-yard season, he has just two touchdowns and has caught just 55.3% of his targets, a career low. But there could be a reason for the disconnect between OBJ and quarterback Baker Mayfield.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Beckham has been playing through a serious and painful sports hernia injury that will require surgery in the offseason. The injury has not forced him to miss any game action, but it has kept him out of practice a great deal, so he and Mayfield have not had as much time to develop chemistry as they would like.
As Rapoport observes, Beckham has been on the injury report every week this season with either a hip or groin ailment. Hernias are sometimes characterized as hip or groin injuries, which adds credence to RapSheet’s report.
But as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com writes, the hernia injury is not the only thing keeping Beckham’s production from taking off. Her sources say the Browns’ offensive design is inherently flawed and that there is a disconnect between head coach Freddie Kitchens and offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Some believe that the team’s QBs, including third-stringer Drew Stanton, have too much influence over the game plan, and Beckham has admitted that he has had a hard time keeping his frustration in check.
Beckham did make some headlines earlier this week when he declined to definitively say that he wants to be back with the Browns in 2020. However, Rapoport (unsurprisingly) says it would be far-fetched to expect Cleveland to trade OBJ this offseason. But the club may make major changes to its coaching staff, so between that shake-up and Beckham’s surgery, perhaps Beckham can return to form next year.
September 16th, 2019 at 3:40pm CST by Sam Robinson
Sunday marked a rough day for high-profile starting quarterbacks, sending less seasoned backups into the fray. Browns backup quarterback Drew Stanton has made more career starts than Baker Mayfield, but the team will boast far less experience at its signal-caller spot going forward.
The only other quarterback on Cleveland’s active roster at present is Garrett Gilbert, a 2014 sixth-round pick who has played in just one regular-season game. Gilbert played in the Alliance of American Football this year and signed with the Browns in April.
Gilbert played well during the Browns’ preseason slate, but Freddie Kitchens squashed any idea he would usurp Stanton. Gilbert went to the same high school as Mayfield (Lake Travis in Austin, Texas) and played for Texas and SMU in college. He will now be the primary backup to Mayfield, though the Browns could obviously opt to pursue a better-known option while Stanton is out.
Teams can bring two players off IR each season. The Browns do not have any high-profile players on IR yet, so Stanton could be a candidate to re-emerge on the roster later this season.
This does not come as a great shock, but 2018 No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield will open the season as the Browns’ backup signal-caller, as Jeff Schudel of the News-Herald tweets (though head coach Hue Jackson wants to inform his team of his decision before making it official). It was always understood that Tyrod Taylor, whom the Browns acquired in an offseason trade with the Bills, would serve as the team’s starting quarterback at least until Mayfield is deemed ready, and we recently heard that Cleveland is allegedly open to extending Taylor’s contract (he is eligible for free agency at season’s end).
The decision to name Mayfield the No. 2 QB, then, is actually more about the battle between Mayfield and Drew Stanton — Jackson said last week that he was still undecided as to which player would serve as the backup — than the “battle” between Mayfield and Taylor. Stanton, the long-time second-stringer who signed a two-year pact with the Browns in March, will be the team’s No. 3 quarterback, assuming Cleveland elects to keep three QBs.
Now let’s take a look at several more notes out of Cleveland:
Josh Gordon will not play in the Browns’ preseason finale due to hamstring discomfort, but Jackson says the embattled wideout — who is expected to be ready for Week 1 — is “getting close,” per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (via Twitter).
In her weekly mailbag, Cabot says the Browns have not ruled out signing Dez Bryant,who recently rejected the team’s contract offer. She says Bryant liked the Browns and clearly the team had interest in him, so things could change at any time.
Cabot also suggests in her mailbag that Shon Coleman, who was given the first chance to succeed Joe Thomasat left tackle, could well be on the roster bubble.
Jackson says he “thinks” Zane Gonzalez is in the lead in the Browns’ kicking battle, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal (via Twitter).
Raiders coach Jon Gruden is surprised to see Colin Kaepernick without a job in the NFL, but he’s not necessarily of the belief that he is starting caliber.
“I think there’s a lot of intrigue there. His performance on the field wasn’t very good, on tape,” Gruden said (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Paul Gutierrez). “I think, Robert Griffin III, a rookie of the year, surprised he’s out there. Tim Tebow, takes a team to the playoffs, there’s some surprise that he never came back. You know, Johnny Manziel, he’s out there. Back to Kaepernick, you know he got beat out by (Blaine Gabbert), to start the (2016) season. I think that says something. (But) I am surprised he’s not in camp with somebody. He probably will be soon.”
Here’s more from the AFC:
Texans coach Bill O’Brien says quarterback Deshaun Watson is ahead of schedule in ACL rehab and could be on the field throwing for OTAs (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). It’s unlikely that he’ll participate in team periods, but he has a chance at doing some individual workouts.
The Browns‘ two-year deal with Drew Stanton is worth $6.5MM, a source tells Rapoport (Twitter link). The deal includes $4.15MM fully guaranteed and carries a maximum value of $11.3MM.
With Tyrod Taylor,Stanton, and a quarterback to be drafted later, the Browns are expected to shop Cody Kessler, Rapoport tweets. Kessler started eight games for Cleveland in 2016, but didn’t necessarily shine. Given Kessler’s performance and the fact that the Browns probably do not have him in their plans, I wouldn’t expect much of a trade market for him.
The Colts moved down from No. 3 to No. 6, but they do seem inclined to trade down any further unless the expected run on quarterbacks fails to materialize, Stephen Holder of the Indy Star writes. The Colts believe that at least two of this year’s top four quarterbacks (Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, and Baker Mayfield) will go in the top five, leaving them to choose some of this year’s very best overall talents. If that’s the case, they’re content to stay put. “If it’s beneficial for us, and we think we have a deal that works long term, we’ll make the deal,” GM Chris Ballard said recently. “But (No. 6) is a good spot for us.”
The Browns secured the services of another quarterback on Sunday, as veteran Cardinals signal-caller Drew Stanton signed a two-year deal with the club, Mike McCartney, the player’s agent reports (Twitter link).
The 10-year veteran did not take a formal meeting with the team. Instead, he ran into team brass by chance while the Browns were scouting on the West Coast. The informal run-in was enough to convince the club to go through with the two-year deal.
A backup to Matthew Stafford in Detroit, Andrew Luck in Indianapolis and Carson Palmer in Arizona, Stanton has been in the locker room with some of the game’s top quarterbacks. He will again serve as a backup, this time to Tyrod Taylor, who was traded to Cleveland from Buffalo earlier this month.
The move also provides quite the logjam at the position. Behind Taylor and Stanton, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan are also on the squad. The list is expected to expand to five after the NFL Draft next month, when the team is thought to be taking a quarterback with one of their two first-round picks.
The Browns have met with free agent quarterback Drew Stanton, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). While Stanton didn’t actually venture to Cleveland, he did “run into” the Browns’ decision-makers on the West Coast, so the club reported the conversation as a visit, tweets Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.
Cleveland has already added one quarterback to their roster this offseason, as the club acquired Tyrod Taylor from the Bills in exchange for a third-round pick. Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan comprise the remainder of the Browns’ signal-caller depth chart, and general manager John Dorsey & Co. are fully expected to select a quarterback with one of their two top-five draft picks.
Stanton, 33, hasn’t generated any other known interest on the open market, and that’s perhaps unsurprising given his recent track record. In five starts with the Cardinals in 2017, Stanton completed just 49.7% of his passes for 894 yards, six touchdowns, and five interceptions. Among the 40 quarterbacks with at least 150 attempts last season, Stanton finished 37th in passer rating and 38th in adjusted net yards per attempt.
NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.
Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account. Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market. The same goes for players who have been franchise tagged or transition tagged.
We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.
Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2018:
Drew Brees is included here, but by his own admission, he’ll be re-signing with the Saints rather than testing the open waters of free agency. Unless the Saints lowball their franchise QB, it’s hard to see him leaving New Orleans.
Case Keenum put together a tremendous season for the Vikings, but he doesn’t have a history of success beyond 2017. There will be plenty of interest in Keenum, but only after QB-needy teams strike out on Cousins. The incumbent Vikings could re-sign Keenum, but right now, it seems like they are intent on exploring the Cousins waters first.
There isn’t a ton of footage on A.J. McCarron, which made his placement on this list awfully tricky. We know this much: McCarron did well in place of Dalton in the home stretch of the 2015 season and his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was salivating at the chance of landing him before the Browns bungled the trade with the Bengals. McCarron’s relative youth is a plus (he won’t turn 28 until September) and his lack of experience can be looked at as a positive. Unlike some of the other names on this list, he hasn’t run up his NFL odometer.
What will NFL teams make of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford this offseason? Not long ago, both seemed like quality starting options. However, there are serious injury questions about both players and any team signing them will either look to backstop them with another decent option or ask them to come onboard as a QB2. With that in mind, one has to wonder if Bradford would consider retirement if asked to hold the clipboard for another signal caller. Bradford has earned upwards of $110MM over the years in the NFL, so it’s safe to say that he has enough money in the bank to call it quits if he wants. For now, he’s intent on playing.
Colin Kaepernick‘s placement on this list is sure to draw some strong reactions from his fans and detractors alike. Looking purely at his football ability, there’s no question that he belongs on someone’s roster. At minimum, Kaepernick profiles as a high-end backup, even after a year out of the game.
Quarterbacks coaches have long believed that Mike Glennon is capable of great things, due in part to his height. At 6’7″, he can see over any defensive line, but he hasn’t done much on the field to prove that he is a quality Week 1 starting option. Josh McCown, who is a decade his senior, edges him here for his surprisingly strong performance in 2017 at the helm of a weak Jets offense.
Carlos Hyde didn’t have the kind of platform year he was hoping for, but he’s still just 26 and could headline a running back by committee group.
Jerick McKinnon‘s placement on this list figures to be controversial, but his athleticism and pass-catching ability can blow a game wide open. No one will bank on McKinnon to carry the ball 20 times per game, but he can be a real difference maker for a team out there.
Can Frank Gore outrun father time? History indicates that he can’t and so does his 3.7 yards per carry average in 2017. You have to give credit where credit is due, however. Gore has been ruled out by many for years, but he has not missed a regular season game since the 2010 season. He’s also just one year removed from cracking 1,000 yards and he almost did the same last year.
For most teams, Allen Robinson would be a franchise tag candidate. However, that may be too much of a luxury for the cash-strapped Jaguars. He presents a fascinating free agent case. Robinson missed all but three snaps of the 2017 season after suffering a torn ACL, but he’s the most talented wide receiver on the board in the eyes of many. His 2015 season – 80 catches, 1,400 yards, and a league-leading 14 touchdowns – makes GMs drool. His quieter year in 2016 (73 catches, 883 yards, and six touchdowns) is less worthy of salivation. His 2017 season, of course, was a lost cause. For all the question marks, you can expect Robinson to see more dollars than any other free agent WR this year, particularly since Jarvis Landry has been held back by the tag.
Some in the football world may prefer Sammy Watkins for his big-play ability, but his down contract year amidst a capable offense is cause for concern. His injury history doesn’t do him any favors either. No matter your feelings on Watkins, there’s no debating that this year’s WR market has a top tier comprised of just two players – Watkins and Robinson. With few quality receivers out there, they’ll both get paid.
Marqise Lee represents a much less sexy option (speaking in football terms, of course), but he had the most receptions of any Jaguars receiver in 2017 (56) and finished second in receiving yards (702). Teams looking for a quality WR2 in free agency could do a lot worse than Lee and he’ll be far cheaper than the two-man top tier.
Danny Amendola hauled in 61 receptions for 659 yards and two touchdowns in the regular season and continued his strong play in the playoffs. However, teams will wonder if he can thrive in his age-33 season while playing outside of the Patriots’ offense. It’s also quite possible that he never tests the market as his stated preference is to remain in New England.
After that, you’ll notice a pretty significant drop off. That’s because this year’s WR class isn’t all that deep. Terrelle Pryor had to settle for a one-year prove-it contract last year and, to put it mildly, he did not prove it. Paul Richardson caught 44 passes for 703 yards and six touchdowns in 2017, but that marked his first NFL season of real note.
Trey Burton spent most of the year behind Zach Ertz on the Eagles’ depth chart, but he emerged late in the season and set himself up nicely for free agency. Given his age and potential, there’s no question that he is the belle of the ball at tight end.
The rest of the tight end crop is not nearly as inspiring. Jimmy Graham has enjoyed back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons with the Seahawks, but he’ll turn 32 in November and he’s no longer the monster playmaker that he was in New Orleans. He had ten touchdowns in 2017, but his 9.1 yards per reception average is a career low.
Odds are, you have Tyler Eifert ranked over Austin Seferian-Jenkins given the fact that Eifert has played just ten games over the last two years. ASJ, meanwhile, rebounded from personal issues to post a 50-catch season for the Jets. Personally, I’m picking Eifert based on upside. Hopefully, we can still be friends.
Offensive line play is down across the board and evaluators around the league have been openly complaining about an increasing dearth of tackles coming out of college. That makes for a generally uninspiring lot in free agency.
Nate Solder battled through injuries in 2017 and did not miss a game. He’s no longer a top-flight option, but he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 32 tackle last year, meaning that he’s starter quality at left tackle. You’ll notice that three of the top five tackles on this list are Patriots. There’s little chance that the Pats let all three get away.
Justin Pugh offers the ability to play both guard and right tackle, though he might not do either one particularly well.
Andrew Norwell is the undisputed king of this category after netting an All-Pro selection in 2017. Norwell also earned a career-high 88.8 overall score from Pro Football Focus, which positioned him third in the entire NFL amongst guards. A team with greater means than the Panthers might have used the franchise tag on him. Fortunately for rival teams in need of interior help (such as the Giants), they won’t cuff him with the one-year placeholder.
Mike McCarthy appeared to move closer to the prospect the Packers could shut down Aaron Rodgers for the season’s remainder on Monday. The Green Bay HC said Rodgers was sore and the staff is “working through that” after the all-world quarterback’s re-emergence game against the Panthers, and the coach said he would watch the Falcons-Buccaneers game closely Monday night, per Ryan Wood and Michael Cohen of PackersNews.com. The Falcons are currently leading, and that result holding would end the Packers’ eight-season playoff streak tonight. McCarthy being noncommittal about Rodgers’ status after the Week 15 Green Bay loss, coupled with his Monday-night plans, would indicate a possible consideration of giving Rodgers a longer offseason to fully recover and prepare for 2018.
Here’s the latest from the quarterback position as Week 15 winds down.
As for Rodgers’ offseason, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports suggests it would be a good time to lock down Rodgers to a “monster” extension. The quarterback has seen inferior passers usurp him on the salary list in the past few years and would be in position to command a deal close to $30MM annually if he so chose. The salary cap is expected to rise between $174MM and $179MM from this year’s $167MM ceiling. Rodgers’ five-year, $110MM extension came in a year (2013) when the cap rested at $123MM. There are two years remaining on Rodgers’ contract following this season. The 34-year-old passer has no guaranteed money left on his deal, which has cap numbers of just $20.9MM and $21.1MM lined up for 2018 and ’19, respectively.
La Canfora also writes the Bengals playing A.J. McCarron instead of Andy Dalton during the final two games would be prudent. McCarron could end up a UFA depending on the outcome of his grievance, which is set for February. As of now, the fourth-year passer is set to be a restricted free agent. However, Marvin Lewis said (via Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer) he plans to keep Dalton in his starting role despite another sub-.500 season being guaranteed. La Canfora writes Dalton, who is attached to a team-friendly contract that runs through 2020 but contains little guaranteed money going forward, could “easily” be traded. McCarron, of course, was nearly traded to the Browns for a second- and third-round pick. The career backup’s attempted just 133 regular-season passes.
The Cardinals will be shaking up their quarterback status quo by turning back to Drew Stanton after going with Blaine Gabbert for five games. Bruce Arians (via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, on Twitter) confirmed his initial Carson Palmer contingency plan will take back the reins. This comes after Arians raved about Gabbert’s abilities and with the Cardinals reportedly discussing an extension with the former first-round pick. Stanton started two games for the Cards earlier this season before going down with an injury. Stanton is signed through 2018.
Tom Savage‘s scary injury in Week 14 did not immediately result in his removal from that Texans-49ers game, making it a seminal sequence in the NFL’s ongoing concussion crisis. And Bill O’Brien said Monday (per Mark Berman of Fox 26, on Twitter) the fourth-year quarterback may not play again this season. T.J. Yates started in Sunday’s blowout loss to the Jaguars. Savage stands to be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.