Elijah Moore

Latest On Browns’ WR Corps

There is a lot of confidence around the Browns’ roster heading into the 2023 season. One of the positions of interest, though, is the wide receivers group. Highly dependent on the production of its top two wideouts last year, Cleveland will be paying close attention to the availability of Amari Cooper and the development of other receivers.

Luckily, after offseason surgery for a core muscle injury that had Cooper limping into the offseason, there are reportedly “no concerns from either Cooper or the Browns that he won’t be ready to go for training camp,” according to Chris Easterling of the Akron Beacon Journal. Even with the injury, Cooper delivered a team-leading 78 receptions for 1,160 yards and nine receiving touchdowns. Finally able to have an opportunity to build a rapport in camp with quarterback Deshaun Watson should set Cooper up for a strong second year in Cleveland.

The other top receiving performance for the team last season came via a bit of a breakout year for third-year receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones. The former sixth-round pick recorded career-highs in receptions (61) and receiving yards (839) while also matching his career-high total in touchdowns (3). If Peoples-Jones can take the next step forward in his development in 2023, the Browns could end up with three extremely capable receiving options for Watson in Cooper, Peoples-Jones, and tight end David Njoku.

Following Cooper and Peoples-Jones, the experienced depth disappears and the Browns begin to rely on young players to produce. The first player the Browns will look to is offseason trade acquisition Elijah Moore. After two years with the Jets that contained several hit-or-miss performances, Cleveland will be hoping for a bit more consistency from Moore this year. They can expect him to produce around 500 receiving yards, considering he’s delivered similar numbers in each of his two previous seasons, but if Moore, too, can take a step forward, the Browns’ top three wideouts can be dangerous. The versatility of Cooper and Peoples-Jones combined with the speed of Moore can provide Watson with a diverse set of primary weapons.

A trio of receivers will look to be top contributors behind those three. Free agent addition Marquise Goodwin, second-year receiver David Bell, and third-round rookie Cedric Tillman will all be vying to prove they can contribute in limited opportunities. Bell could find himself on the roster bubble after a disappointing rookie season, but it seems unlikely that they would release the former third-round pick after only one year.

If the Browns only decide to take six receivers on the roster into 2023, Bell will be competing for the sixth spot with veteran Jakeem Grant and Jaelon Darden. Neither Grant nor Darden are likely to add much on offense, but their abilities in the return game could allow Cleveland to trot someone other than Peoples-Jones out there for returns. If the team would prefer the possible offense Bell could add, they could continue utilizing Peoples-Jones in the return game.

This leaves another third-round pick, Anthony Schwartz, in danger of being waived. Over two years, Schwartz has only caught 14 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown. He contributed on kick returns as a rookie, but with others who can fill that role, that doesn’t help his case much. Other receivers Ra’Shaun Henry, Mike Harley Jr., and Daylen Baldwin all face long odds to make the 53-man roster, while last year’s sixth-round pick, Michael Woods II, is expected to miss the entire season after rupturing his Achilles tendon in April.

The Browns will have a few tough decisions to make when deciding just how many receivers to keep going into 2023, but they should feel confident about the weapons they have leading the group. With Cooper expected back healthy and Peoples-Jones and Moore hoping to continue their development, the Browns could be providing Watson with a talented top group of targets.

Browns Comfortable With WR Room; Team Unlikely To Pursue DeAndre Hopkins

DeAndre Hopkins resided as Deshaun Watson‘s top receiver throughout the latter’s stay with the Texans, and the 2022 trade chip has expressed support for his new team to greenlight a reunion. Although early momentum signaled the Hopkins-to-Cleveland scenario was viable, that buzz ceased over the past several days.

Hopkins made visits to Nashville and Foxborough, and the 10-year veteran is weighing Titans and Patriots free agency offers. The former All-Pro, however, is clearly hoping for more. He is eager to see if more teams will enter the fray and drive up the price. As of now, it does not look like the Browns will be one of them. It has been trending in this direction for a bit with Cleveland.

The Browns are comfortable with their receiving corps, Albert Breer of SI.com notes, adding that the team has not made an effort to enter the Hopkins derby. Such an entrance is unlikely. Elijah Moore‘s work thus far this offseason has contributed heavily to the organization’s comfort level with a position group that was thin during Watson’s first year.

Helping the Jets rearrange their receiver room to accommodate what turned out to be three free agency additions (Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman, Randall Cobb) as Aaron Rodgers arrived, the Browns acquired Moore in a pick-swap deal that featured the former second-round pick relocating in exchange for a 32-spot draft-slot drop. The Jets used the Moore pick in the package sent to the Packers for Rodgers. While the Jets now have four second-contract receivers supplementing Garrett Wilson, the Browns have been impressed by Moore’s showing during their padless set of practices.

Moore is expected to operate in the slot frequently in Cleveland, but the team is also planning a versatile role for the former Ole Miss prospect. Saddled with potential bust Zach Wilson in New York, Moore showed promise as a rookie (43 catches, 538 yards, five touchdowns) but slumped last season. Moore feuded with Jets OC Mike LaFleur, was sent home from a practice and requested a trade. The Browns looked into Moore last year, but the Jets brought him back into the fold. He ended averaging just 27.9 yards per game — far lower than his 48.9 per game as a rookie. Two seasons remains on Moore’s rookie contract; he is expected to work alongside Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones as a Browns starter.

In addition to the intrigue surrounding Moore, Breer adds Anthony Schwartz has shown progress as well. The former Auburn speedster has not taken flight as a pro, catching just 14 passes in 25 career games. The Browns also brought in veteran Marquise Goodwin to help as a long-range threat. Schwartz, who joined Moore as a 2021 Day 2 pick, could conceivably put pressure on Goodwin for the team’s final WR spot. But Goodwin is viewed as a good bet to make the team. The Browns also have 2022 third-round pick David Bell and yet another third-rounder (rookie Cedric Tillman) in the mix; Bell’s roster spot is not believed to be in jeopardy.

Hopkins’ past with Watson notwithstanding, he would seemingly fit better with the Patriots or Titans — or other teams that have also been connected here over the past few weeks. The Chiefs lost Hardman and JuJu Smith-Schuster and saw Kadarius Toney‘s run of injuries follow him from New York last year. The Bills did not see consistency from Stefon Diggs sidekick Gabe Davis, who is going into a contract year.

After the Browns trudged through last season mostly dependent on only Cooper and Peoples-Jones, Moore gives them a clear third option. The team has some interesting backups as well, which will likely keep Hopkins out of Ohio. The Browns’ receiver acquisitions will put Watson in position to improve on his sluggish start with the franchise.

David Bell Not On Browns’ Roster Bubble; Anthony Schwartz Facing Longer Odds

Since the Browns drafted David Bell in the 2022 third round, they have been busy at the receiver position. This offseason, they traded for Elijah Moore, used another third-round choice on a wideout (Tennessee’s Cedric Tillman) and signed veteran speedster Marquise Goodwin.

With Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones atop the depth chart, competition for the Browns’ receiving gigs will be interesting. But the team should not be considered likely to bail on a third-round pick after just one season. Bell remains in good standing with the Browns, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot.

[RELATED: Browns WR Michael Woods Tears Achilles]

The Browns chose Bell 99th overall out of Purdue, bringing him in after a prolific career with the Big Ten program. Bell posted two 1,000-yard seasons with the Boilermakers, including a 1,286-yard junior year alongside eventual Raiders QB draftee Aidan O’Connell. In Cleveland last year, Bell did not carve out a regular role. He caught 24 passes (seventh on the team) for 214 yards and no touchdowns as a rookie. But Kevin Stefanski viewed the slot receiver highly coming out of college; the fourth-year Cleveland HC still sees considerable potential here, per Cabot.

But the Browns’ offseason acquisitions do put Bell in an unusual spot. They have now drafted a wideout in in three straight third rounds, and the Moore trade may directly impede Bell’s path. Moore should be expected to work often in the slot, though Cabot adds the Browns also plan to use the trade pickup on the outside and in the backfield.

Moore showcased promise as a rookie but did not progress in his second season — a rocky one in which he asked the Jets for a trade. But the Jets’ shaky quarterback situation certainly limited the Ole Miss product. Moore, who has two years remaining on his rookie contract, is set to team with Cooper and Peoples-Jones as the Browns’ top wideouts this year.

While Moore and Cooper are signed through 2024, Peoples-Jones is going into a contract year. Given Cooper’s $20MM-per-year contract, Deshaun Watson‘s megadeal and the extensions on the books for Nick Chubb and three starting O-linemen, paying Peoples-Jones might be difficult for the Browns — especially if the sixth-round success story keeps progressing. Peoples-Jones (839 receiving yards in 2022) could become a free agent prize next year, keeping the door open for Bell to move into a starting role with Cooper and Moore. For now, however, the Browns’ receiving corps looks crowded.

The Browns also have return man Jakeem Grant in line to return, after he missed all of 2022 due to injury, and would then be positioned to carry seven wide receivers. That is more than many teams will be set to retain on cutdown day.

Goodwin represents a better bet to make the team than Schwartz, per Cabot, who adds the former Olympic long jumper is expected to play a key role as a Browns deep threat (video link). Two days after the Moore trade, the Browns signed Goodwin to a one-year, $1.7MM deal with just $400K guaranteed. Schwartz, who has a sub-10.1-second 100-meter clocking in his past, also qualifies as a deep threat. But the former No. 91 overall pick has 14 receptions in 25 career games. The Browns’ receiver decisions this offseason likely came about in part because of Schwartz’s struggles. As such, Cabot notes the Auburn alum has an uphill battle to make the team.

Goodwin being a good bet to make Cleveland’s roster is interesting, considering his age (33 in November) and nomadic 2020s. Goodwin has played for three teams (the 49ers, Bears and Seahawks) over his past three seasons — this sandwiched a 2020 opt-out — and has not eclipsed 400 yards in a season since 2017. But the London Olympian, after a four-touchdown year in Seattle, looks to be in good standing with the Browns, who are certainly deeper at this position than they were in 2022.

AFC North Notes: Mixon, Browns, Steelers

Nearly three weeks into free agency, Joe Mixon remains on the Bengals‘ roster. The team having seen Samaje Perine turn down an offer to stay and instead choose Denver thinned out its running back room. But Mixon’s status for a seventh Bengals season is not yet a lock. Bengals executive VP Katie Blackburn stopped short of guaranteeing the six-year Cincinnati starter will be back, reminding of comments player personnel VP Duke Tobin made at the Combine.

Right now, he’s on the team and we are going count on him until that wouldn’t be the case,” Blackburn said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Kelsey Conway. “Right now, he’s our starting guy. You’ve seen other teams have to make moves. Could we get to that point? Maybe. But it would be down the road here and we’d have to see if that’s what makes sense or not.”

This situation could hinge on how the Bengals approach the position in the draft. Mixon, 26, is due a $9.4MM base salary and is tied to the third-highest cap figure ($12.8MM) on the team. Blackburn did not rule out the possibility of a post-June 1 cut designation, which would save Cincy $10MM, and ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler indicated recently (h/t Bleacher Report) the Bengals are looking to add at running back. (They were linked to Ezekiel Elliott, but little has emerged on that front since.) The Perine offer may have been indicative of Mixon plans. The team could still pair Mixon with a rookie, but it does have some pricey deals — most notably for Joe Burrow — on the horizon. Mixon’s $12MM-per-year deal could be used to create more cap space.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • The Browns attempted a bigger swing at defensive tackle in free agency. Dalvin Tomlinson became an expensive consolation prize, with Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer noting the team was one of the final two suitors for Javon Hargrave. The standout D-tackle signed a four-year, $84MM 49ers deal, denying the DT-needy Browns one of this year’s biggest free agency fish. Cleveland regrouped with Tomlinson, who signed a four-year, $57MM pact. The Browns, who did little at D-tackle ahead of a poor run-defense season in 2022, preferred Tomlinson to fellow target Dre’Mont Jones, Cabot adds. Tomlinson’s acumen as a run defender attracted the Browns more, as Jones profiles as an inside pass rusher rather than a run stopper.
  • Staying in Cleveland, the Browns no longer have a second-round pick thanks to the Elijah Moore pick-swap trade. The Browns eyed Moore since his trade request emerged last year, GM Andrew Berry said (via Cabot). After a dispute with then-Jets OC Mike LaFleur, Moore requested a trade. The Jets were adamant they did not want to trade Moore at the time, but after they signed Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman, the Ole Miss alum became expendable. Still, Cabot adds Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh vouched for Moore’s character to the Browns ahead of the trade.
  • The Steelers traded Chase Claypool for a second-round pick last year, and given their reputation for selecting Day 2 wideouts, it should not surprise the team is being connected to such a move once again. The team will seek an upgrade in the slot, GM Omar Khan said (via The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly). Hopeful slot weapon Calvin Austin III missed his entire rookie year due to injury. The team should be considered likely to address this need by Round 3, Kaboly adds in a separate piece. From 2013-22, the Steelers chose eight wideouts on Day 2. Both their current top two receivers — Diontae Johnson and George Pickens — were Friday-night draftees.
  • It does not sound like the Ravens will use a notable resource to replace Ben Powers. John Harbaugh alluded to another competition — one featuring former third-round pick Ben Cleveland, ex-Raiders draftee John Simpson, swingman Patrick Mekari and 2022 fourth-round tackle Daniel Faalele (who is 6-foot-9) as options — being how the team will replace Powers, who won a left guard battle last year. Powers, who scored a four-year Broncos deal worth $52MM, beat out Cleveland in training camp. A draft choice could be added here, but The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec does not anticipate a high pick going to this spot.

Jets Trade WR Elijah Moore To Browns

Shortly after agreeing to terms with Mecole Hardman, the Jets have a trade in place involving one of their holdovers. They are sending Elijah Moore to the Browns, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

A former second-round pick, Moore will head to Cleveland in a deal involving a Day 2 pick swap. The Browns will send their No. 42 overall pick for Moore and the Jets’ No. 74 overall choice, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Two years remain on Moore’s contract; he is going into his age-23 season.

As the Jets’ wide receiver room became crowded, the Browns were connected to wideout interest. The team was looking into Jerry Jeudy, but the Broncos have continued to set a high price for teams regarding their top pass catcher. Instead, Cleveland will add Moore to its receiving corps as a slot piece to pair with Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones.

This will be a nice vault up the draft board for the Jets as well. Moving up 32 spots, the Jets now hold the Nos. 42 and 43 overall picks. Although the Packers have been seeking a first-round pick and change for Aaron Rodgers, the Jets now having two mid-second-round choices figures to come up in the Joe DouglasBrian Gutekunst trade talks involving the superstar quarterback.

Moore voiced frustration about his role last season and asked the Jets to trade him. The 2021 second-rounder, who was sent home after a heated argument with then-OC Mike LaFleur ahead of a midseason hiatus, did not match his rookie-year numbers in 2022. But Zach Wilson‘s presence hindered Jets receivers, hence the all-out Rodgers pursuit. In reaffirming the team’s desire to retain Moore, Douglas issued strong support for the disgruntled wideout in November. Four months later, Moore has a new team.

As a rookie, Moore showed immediate promise coming out of Ole Miss. The 5-foot-10 target caught 43 passes for 538 yards and five touchdowns, reaching these numbers despite Wilson’s inconsistency and despite missing six games. The Browns will bet on Moore’s upside with Deshaun Watson targeting him, and the team will move out of another early draft slot to do so. The Watson trade cost the Browns their first-round picks in 2022, 2023 and 2024. Cleveland’s first 2023 draft choice will now arrive at No. 74.

Moore, who clocked a 4.32-second 40-yard dash at his pro day two years ago, is due base salaries of just $1.5MM and $1.9MM this season and next. This bet on potential notwithstanding, it does invite some risk for the Browns. Cleveland has now traded out of the first and second rounds of the draft, and the Watson swap also will send the Browns’ 2023 third-rounder (No. 73) to the Texans. Cleveland does have a compensatory third-rounder — No. 98, acquired from the NFL for the Vikings hiring ex-Browns exec Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as GM — but sliding down from No. 42 to No. 74 will make for a long wait on draft night.

The Jets targeted Moore on just 13% of his routes run last season, per ESPN.com’s Jake Trotter, who adds that was a league-low number for players who ran at least 400 routes. Paired with Cooper and Peoples-Jones, Moore should have a clear-cut opportunity in Cleveland. His exit will also free up space in a Jets receiver room that has seen both Hardman and Allen Lazard added since free agency started.

Gang Green’s receiver cadre now includes Hardman, Lazard, Garrett Wilson, Corey Davis and Denzel Mims. While Mims is an obvious candidate not to be part of a Rodgers-led receiver room, it will be interesting to see if the Moore trade allows for Davis to avoid cap-casualty status — the Jets can save $10.5MM by cutting him — or enables the team to pursue Odell Beckham Jr. and/or Randall Cobb. Rodgers is believed to have encouraged the Jets to sign both players, and they have begun doing so. Hardman’s arrival throws a wrench in both OBJ and Cobb coming to the Big Apple, but the Jets still have some space to add another weapon soon.

AFC East Notes: Becton, Jets, Tua, Bills

The 2023 fifth-year option numbers dropped this week, and a near-$6MM gap exists between the first and fourth tiers of offensive line option numbers. That is unlikely to matter regarding the Jets‘ plans with Mekhi Becton. There is “virtually no chance” the Jets pick up Becton’s 2024 option, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. Tier 4 in the 2023 option structure checks in at $12.57MM for offensive linemen, but with that number being fully guaranteed, the Jets were not exactly expected to consider it for Becton given his past two seasons.

With 2023 almost definitely set to be a contract year for the once-entrenched Jets tackle, Cimini adds Becton changed representation. He signed with the New York-based Sportstars agency. Becton, who had been represented by Klutch Sports, returning to form would represent quite the contract-year success story. He has played in one game since his rookie season ended. An avulsion fracture of the right kneecap felled Becton in 2022; a dislocated kneecap and MCL damage sidelined Becton for 16 games in 2021. The Louisville product showed considerable promise as a rookie, and he will attempt to revive his career in 2023. Becton is expected to be ready for OTAs in April.

The talented blocker’s weight has been a recurring issue during his Jets career. It plagued him during each of his first three years; most recently, the Jets were concerned with Becton’s weight during minicamp last year. Weighing 363 pounds at the 2020 Combine, Becton has weighed as much as 400 during his Jets tenure. After Becton said recently he had lost “a lot” of weight, Cimini confirms he is down to around 370 and plans to lose more this offseason.

An opportunity could await Becton, with George Fant five weeks from free agency and Duane Brown going into an age-38 season. But the Jets cannot count on the 2020 first-rounder at this point. Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Elijah Moore returned to the Jets after a brief hiatus and trade request. Some among the Jets believed Zach Wilson‘s struggles contributed to Moore’s departure request, Cimini adds, with Mike LaFleur‘s play-calling contributing as well. Moore and LaFleur engaged in a heated argument in October, and teams called the Jets on the second-year receiver. But Gang Green brought the second-round pick back into the fold. Moore’s production declined from his rookie year, dropping from 48.9 yards per game to 27.9 per contest. The Jets have made no secret of their pursuit of a quarterback upgrade this offseason.
  • LaFleur and assistant GM Rex Hogan pushed hardest for Wilson in 2021, per Cimini, who offers that some in the organization viewed the BYU arm as a developmental prospect unworthy of the No. 2 overall pick. Both Wilson and Trey Lance leapfrogged Justin Fields that offseason; each’s career is at a crossroads entering 2023. Wilson is not a lock to return to the Jets, though team brass has consistently stumped for the struggling passer. The Jets and LaFleur parted ways last month; he is now the Rams’ OC.
  • Tua Tagovailoa‘s fifth-year option would cost the Dolphins $23.17MM. That number is down more than $6MM from what Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert‘s 2024 options will cost, but the Dolphins have not indicated they are certain to pick it up. As Tagovailoa prepares for his fourth season, he has joined Becton in changing agents. Tua signed with Ryan Williams and Austin Lyman of Athletes First, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal writes. Tagovailoa recently cleared concussion protocol and showed remarkable improvement in 2022, but the former No. 5 overall pick will have health- and performance-related questions to answer in 2023.
  • The conditional pick the Bills sent the Colts for Nyheim Hines at the deadline will be a fifth-round choice, Sal Capaccio of WGR 550 tweets. Thanks to the Cody Ford trade, the Bills held two fifth-round picks prior to the Hines deal. It will be the Bills’ own fifth-rounder that will go to the Colts.

AFC East Notes: Bills, Chubb, Moore, Bailey

The Bills were connected to a number of running backs leading up to the deadline, including major names like Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara. Bills GM Brandon Beane, who worked for the Panthers for nearly 20 years, acknowledged that he discussed McCaffrey with his former team but never made a formal offer, per Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News. On the flip side, Beane said he never discussed Kamara with the Saints.

Ultimately, the Bills ended up landing on Nyheim Hines, who was acquired from the Colts for a conditional draft pick and running back Zack Moss. Beane told reporters that he spoke with the Colts on Monday night but talks really heated up right before the deadline.

“Another guy with speed, experience,” Beane said of Hines (via Skurski). “He can go out there and play slot. I mean, back at N.C. State, he was a punt returner, kick returner, receiver, running back. He can just – he can do a lot of things. So, when he’s in the huddle, the defense knows he’s in the game, but they don’t know exactly where he’s going to line up. I think you’ll see that as James (Cook) gets going, too – you know, you don’t want to overload a rookie, but he’ll be used more as a receiver, slot, things like that. So this just gives us a guy who’s proven, who can add in, and we’ll see. But if we needed him to go play slot receiver for a game, once he picks up the offense, he’s got that skill set.”

Buffalo also acquired safety Dean Marlowe from the Falcons for a seventh-round pick. While neither the Marlowe nor Hines acquisitions stole headlines, Beane is confident that these depth moves will ultimately pay off in the long run.

“Neither one of these moves at 1 o’clock were anywhere near happening,” Beane said. “So if they didn’t happen, for whatever reason, I could have sat up here, said we believe in who we got, and we do, but … I’m always going to look. If it makes sense for the Buffalo Bills, today and long term, we’re going to try and make it happen. Of the two guys we got, there’s another 100-plus that we looked into. … I think we looked at, dug deep on just 10 safeties alone, but we looked at other positions – is there a chance to acquire a depth (player)? Maybe not a starter, but a depth piece, just to shore us up, should injury happen. But these were the two that we felt made the most sense.”

More notes from around the AFC East:

  • The Dolphins quickly signed their major deadline acquisition to an extension, inking Bradley Chubb a five-year, $110MM deal ($63.2MM guaranteed) earlier today. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport provides some more details (via Twitter) on that guaranteed money, noting that $33.4MM of the total is fully guaranteed at signing, while $53MM becomes fully guaranteed in 2023.
  • Elijah Moore was hoping for a trade out of New York prior to the deadline, and while Jets GM Joe Douglas acknowledged that he received “some calls” on the wideout, he made it sound like the front office never seriously entertained offers (per ESPN’s Rich Cimini on Twitter). “We love Elijah,” Douglas said (via NFL.com’s Kevin Patra). “We all stood on the table to take him high in the second round last year, and we think the world of him. Obviously, we’re a football family and anytime there’s an issue, we like to handle that in-house. But I was able to have a really good one-on-one conversation with Elijah. We think the world of him; we think he has a bright future as a New York Jet.”
  • Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton has been rehabbing a season-ending knee injury, and Douglas said there’s some optimism that he’ll be ready to go for next year’s OTAs (per Brian Costello of the New York Post on Twitter). The lineman specifically suffered an avulsion fracture of the right kneecap, knocking him out for a pivotal campaign. The 2020 first-round pick missed the majority of his sophomore season with a knee injury.
  • Patriots punter Jake Bailey has struggled this season, leading ESPN’s Mike Reiss to wonder if the veteran could be playing for his job. After working out a number of punters, the team ended up adding Michael Palardy to the practice squad, a further indication that Bailey’s job is on thin ice. “Right now we’re working through some things,” said special teams coordinator Cameron Achord. “Jake’s going to be OK. Jake’s a pro … He still has all the talent.” Bailey is averaging a career-low 42.9 yards per punt, and his 62.2 percent touchback percentage is also a career-worst mark.

AFC Notes: Ryan, Jets, Bills, Chargers

Matt Ryan has started each of his 239 appearances (including playoffs) in the NFL, but he’ll find himself behind Sam Ehlinger on the depth chart for Sunday’s game against the Commanders. Despite the sudden change of role, Ryan told Joel E. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star that he hasn’t thought about asking the Colts for a trade.

Ryan is currently dealing with a shoulder issue, and while there’s a chance he’ll be active against Washington, the QB admitted that the injury is significant. Either way, the Colts made it clear that their change atop the QB depth chart would have happened regardless of the veteran’s health. Now, Ryan will likely find himself serving as a backup for the rest of the season.

“That part is different,” Ryan said of his new role. “But I’ve also learned in this league, it’s tough to assume anything. The minute you start to make assumptions about how things are going to shake out, you just never know. For me, No. 1, it’s about getting healthy and getting myself into a position where I’m staying ready.”

Ryan also acknowledged that he was disappointed in his performance through the first seven games. While the Colts are a respectable 3-3-1, the offense has been inconsistent, with Ryan completing 68.4 percent of his passes while tossing nine touchdowns vs. nine interceptions.

“Individually and personally disappointed,” Ryan said. “As a player and a competitor, you want to be out there. You want to go. … It’s part of the deal in this league. You’ve got to produce.”

More notes from around the AFC…

  • After asking for a trade and sitting out Week 7, Elijah Moore has rejoined the Jets, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post (on Twitter). The receiver is expected to be active for Week 8. The 2021 second-round pick has been limited to only 16 catches in six games this season, including zero catches on zero targets in New York’s Week 6 win over the Packers. That empty stat line ultimately prompted Moore’s trade request.
  • Speaking of the Jets, the team made headlines when they acquired running back James Robinson from the Jaguars earlier this week. While Robinson saw a reduced role during his last few games in Jacksonville, it wasn’t necessarily because of an impending trade. Jaguars coach Doug Pederson told reporters that the team wasn’t actively shopping the running back, per ESPN’s Michael DiRocco on Twitter. The Jets initiated trade talks after losing star rookie RB Breece Hall for the season. “I have a ton of respect for James,” Pederson said. “He put himself in a position to help our football team, and now he gets a chance to do that with the Jets and wishing him well.”
  • Tre’Davious White has missed the first chunk of the season while recovering from a torn ACL, but Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier told reporters that the cornerback’s return to the lineup doesn’t appear to be “that far away” (via Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic on Twitter). White returned to practice before Week 6, and his three-week window will soon be coming to an end. While it doesn’t sound like he’ll be active on Sunday night, there’s a good chance he’ll be back for Week 9.
  • Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson had surgery yesterday to repair his patellar tendon, per NFL Network’s Bridget Condon on Twitter. The surgery generally takes around eight to nine months to recover from. The offseason acquisition ruptured the tendon on Sunday, ending his 2022 campaign prematurely.

AFC East Rumors: Jets WRs, Davis, Collins, Jones

Second-year wide receiver Elijah Moore made headlines yesterday when he became the second Jets pass catcher to request a trade in the past two months. The frustration leading to the request had been building for weeks, according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, as Moore hasn’t quite found the success and production he saw in his rookie season. The team sent him home from practice for a “personal day” yesterday and are not considering trading the 22-year-old.

The other receiver who requested a trade was New York’s second-round draft pick from the year before the Jets selected Moore in the second round: Denzel Mims. Mims has been a healthy scratch for the team’s first six games of the season and, according to him, a trade is “still on the table.”

Here are a few other rumors out of the AFC East, starting with some injury details up in Massachusetts:

  • Patriots safety and core special teamer Cody Davis was placed on injured reserve earlier this week. According to the Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the move is a result of season-ending surgery Davis must undergo to repair a knee injury. It’s a tough loss for the Patriots, who have always valued special teams experts, and a return to the NFL next season will pose a difficult test for Davis, who will turn 34 before he can return.
  • Veteran linebacker Jamie Collins has been serving time with his first career stint on an NFL practice squad during his tenth year in the league. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick seemed to indicate that Collins’ offseason surgery is the reason he’s not on the active roster, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN. Belichick insinuated that there’s a conditioning process that Collins will have to go through in order to earn a promotion to the active roster.
  • Although Dolphins cornerback Byron Jones is eligible to return from the team’s physically unable to perform list, the veteran starter is still not ready to play, according to Charean Williams of NBC Sports. Jones is still recovering from a March surgery on his ankle/Achilles area, even though head coach Mike McDaniel claimed multiple times that the team expected Jones back in time for the regular season. Instead, Jones remains on PUP and there is, reportedly, no timeline for his return.

WR Elijah Moore Asks Jets For Trade

OCTOBER 21: While reaffirming the Jets’ no-trade stance here, Saleh said the second-year wide receiver will not be active for Sunday’s game against the Broncos. Saleh said this situation reached a boiling point, with Cimini noting Moore and LaFleur engaged in a heated argument (Twitter link). Although Moore is back at the Jets’ facility, he will not practice Friday.

OCTOBER 20: A year after drafting Elijah Moore in the second round, the Jets have run into an issue with the talented young wideout. Moore is not happy with his role in Mike LaFleur‘s offense and wants out.

Moore has asked the Jets to trade him, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). This comes after Moore made some cryptic comments on social media recently. The Jets excused Moore from practice Thursday, calling it a personal day. There appears more to the nature of Moore’s absence now. Moore’s behavior Thursday displeased Jets brass, according to ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini (on Twitter).

The Jets do not plan to honor Moore’s request, Rapoport adds, but the resurgent team suddenly has an aerial-attack problem. Moore’s targets have dipped since Zach Wilson retook the quarterbacking reins. Joe Flacco targeted Moore 21 times during the Jets’ first three games; Wilson has thrown his way eight. The former Ole Miss wideout has caught just one pass over the past two weeks, though the Jets have not attempted as many passes in the games Wilson has started.

Addressing Moore’s lack of targets Thursday, Wilson called Moore “a great player” and noted (via Cimini, on Twitter) there were not a lot of opportunities last week — a Jets runaway upset win but one in which Moore caught zero passes. After the Jets’ 27-10 win over the Packers, Moore tweeted, “Just know I don’t understand either.” Wilson completed just 10 passes. Moore deleted the tweet, and Robert Saleh spoke with the disgruntled receiver about it.

We’re all entitled to mistakes,” Saleh said during an appearance on The Michael Kay Show on ESPN New York (via Cimini). “I know where his heart is. I know how he is when he walks in the building. I know how hard he works. I know how good a teammate he’s been. You know, sometimes mistakes happen, but I know where his heart is. That’s the important thing.”

Moore’s request comes nearly two months after Denzel Mims requested to be moved. The Jets discussed Mims with other teams but ultimately held onto the 2020 second-round pick. Mims does not have much of a role in New York’s offense. Moore does. He has played 83% of the Jets’ offensive snaps this season.

Last year, Moore looked like a long-term receiver in Gang Green’s attack. As the Jets cycled through quarterbacks, Moore caught 43 passes for 538 yards and five touchdowns. He compiled those numbers despite missing six games, seeing his season halted by a quadriceps injury.

The Jets reconvened for their offseason program with more firepower at this position, having drafted Garrett Wilson 10th overall. This came after they were connected to just about every contract-seeking wideout — from Tyreek Hill to Amari Cooper to Deebo Samuel to D.K. Metcalf to A.J. Brown — this offseason. Wilson joined Moore, Corey Davis and the re-signed Braxton Berrios as Gang Green’s top targets. Thus far this season, Moore’s 203 receiving yards are just fifth on the team. Davis leads the way with 351, while Wilson has accumulated 290. The team also has a better rushing attack than it did last season, with second-round pick Breece Hall becoming a central figure for the Jets’ offense.

For now, it appears Moore will need to hope his targets increase in the coming weeks. He is short on options. The Jets have the 5-foot-10 pass catcher under contract through 2024.