Ethan Pocic

C Ethan Pocic Wants To Re-Sign With Browns

Following a breakout campaign in 2022, Browns center Ethan Pocic is eyeing a sizable pay raise this offseason. However, if the impending free agent has his way, he’ll be sticking in Cleveland.

“I just feel like this is where God called me to be,” Pocic said (via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal). “This is what God wanted. Just coming in here, working with [offensive line coach] Bill [Callahan] and [assistant offensive line coach] Scott [Peters] and then everything around them, whether it be the O-linemen, the weight room, the training room, everyone’s on point, so you’ve got a lot of good help around you.

“With a new system, it’s kind of a new way how you see things, and I got to see it [Callahan’s] way. Me and him are on the same page. Bill, he knows how to coach players, man. He’s future Hall of Famer. Him and Scott — and they work well together — both of them, man, I’ve learned so much [from]. I can’t thank them enough.”

The former Seahawks second-round pick mostly disappointed during his five seasons in Seattle. While he started 40 of his 58 appearances, he generally graded out as a middle-of-the-road center, per Pro Football Focus. After inking a one-year, veteran-minimum deal with Cleveland this past offseason, Pocic was expected to provide depth at the center position behind expected starter Nick Harris.

Harris ultimately went down with a season-ending knee injury, forcing Pocic into the starting lineup. The lineman has made the most of the opportunity, turning into one of the top players at his position. Heading into the final two weeks of the season, the 27-year-old currently ranks third among 39 qualifying centers, per PFF. He’s started all 11 game he’s appeared in this season, with a knee injury forcing a stint on injured reserve.

Browns Activate C Ethan Pocic From IR

The Browns are getting their offensive line back to full health after activating starting center Ethan Pocic from injured reserve. Pocic will return back to play after sitting out the required four games before returning from IR.

Upon his rookie contract expiring, the Seahawks’ former starting center signed a one-year contract with the team that drafted him in the second round in the 2017 NFL Draft. After that fifth year in Seattle, Pocic signed a one-year deal joining the Browns. Pocic became the team’s starting center and started every game until a knee injury sidelined him only two plays into the Browns matchup with the Bills back in November.

With Pocic out for the rest of that game, the Browns called on backup center Hjalte Froholdt to finish the contest. Froholdt would be depended on to start the next four games with Pocic on IR, as well. Now that Pocic has returned to the active roster, Froholdt will go back to his role as the first interior lineman off the bench for Cleveland.

It’s a big piece for the Browns to be adding back to their offensive line. Pocic has made significant strides during his time in Cleveland. After five fairly average years in Seattle where, at his best, Pocic ranked 15th out of 39 graded centers in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Pocic is having a career year in Cleveland. Out of 39 graded centers this season, Pocic has graded out as the third-best in the league, combing his fourth-best 84.1 run blocking grade and his 17-ranked pass blocking grade. Pocic’s return will be a significant boost for quarterback Deshaun Watson, running back Nick Chubb, and the rest of the Browns offense.

To make room for Pocic on the active roster, the Browns have waived veteran reserve center Greg Mancz, who was signed to the roster when Pocic first got injured. Unrelated to the injury news, the Browns have also promoted linebacker Tae Davis as a standard gameday elevation for tomorrow’s matchup with the Saints. Davis will be playing in his third contest of the season.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/20/22

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

  • Signed off Chiefs practice squad: LB Elijah Lee
  • Designated for return: RB Khalil Herbert (story)
  • Released: CB Justin Layne

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Commanders

Caleb Huntley suffered a season-ending Achilles injury this past weekend, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). The injury is expected to require surgery. The Falcons RB made his NFL this season and has collected 369 yards from scrimmage.

While Russell Wilson is expected to start for the Broncos on Christmas, the Broncos still decided to promote a third QB to the roster in Jarrett Guarantano. According to Troy Renck of Denver7 (on Twitter), there was enough interest from other teams (including the Cardinals) for the Broncos to decide to promote the rookie. The UDFA out of Washington State had his first professional gig with the Cardinals before catching on with the Broncos.

Browns’ Ethan Pocic To Miss Multiple Weeks

The Browns will be without a starter along the offensive line for an extended stretch. Head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed that center Ethan Pocic will miss multiple weeks as a result of a knee injury. The team has since announced that he will be placed on IR.

Pocic had played every snap so far this season before going down during the first drive of Cleveland’s loss to the Bills on Sunday. Along the way, the 27-year-old established himself as a vital member of the Browns’ offensive front, one which has paved the way for the fifth-ranked rushing attack in the league this season.

Individually, Pocic has enjoyed by far the best season of his career in terms of PFF rating. His overall grade of 83.0 is a new personal mark, up from the 67.3 he registered last season in Seattle. The LSU alum has also yet to commit a penalty across 630 snaps.

Pocic signed in Cleveland this offseason to provide experienced depth at the position, one which saw plenty of turnover for the Browns. Veteran J.C. Tretter was released in a cost-cutting move, which opened the door to Nick Harris taking on the starting role. He suffered a major knee injury during the preseason, however, forcing Pocic into the first-team spot.

While the loss of the latter will certainly be felt by the Browns given his effectiveness (particularly in the run game), the team still has its top option available at every other o-line position (tackles Jedrick Wills and Jack Conklin, along with guards Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller). Stefanski said veteran Hjalte Froholdt will slide over from right guard to center to fill in for Pocic moving forward, as he did on Sunday. Cleveland is signing veteran Greg Mancz with the roster spot opened up by Pocic’s IR placement.

Sitting at 3-7 on the year, the Browns will test out their new combination up front against the Buccaneers in Week 12 before, in all likelihood, seeing quarterback Deshaun Watson suit up for the first time this season the following week.

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Pocic, Ravens

The Steelers are trending in the wrong direction to start the 2022 season, one which came with a number of questions on offense. After last week’s 38-3 loss to the Bills, though, no shake-up on the sidelines is expected.

When speaking to the media after the loss, head coach Mike Tomlin stated that he has been “highly involved” in the team’s offense, a unit led by Matt Canada. The latter has been the subject of plenty of scrutiny dating back to last season, his first as offensive coordinator. As Tomlin stressed, however, he will not make “changes for the sake of changes” with respect to the maligned play-caller (Twitter links via ESPN’s Brooke Pryor).

Through five weeks, Pittsburgh ranks 30th in the NFL in both yards (308.6) and points (15.4) per game. The underwhelming play of veteran signing Mitch Trubisky led to first-round rookie Kenny Pickett being installed as the starting quarterback, something which certainly didn’t produce the desired results in Week 5. He and the team face another tough matchup this Sunday against the Buccaneers.

Here are some other notes from around the AFC North:

  • Beside Tomlin, another high-profile coach who has had a hand in offensive game-planning has been Brian Flores. The former Dolphins head coach sat in on that unit’s meetings prior to the Steelers’ game against the Patriots, per SI’s Albert Breer. More generally, Breer notes, Flores has been operating as an “over-the-top assistant” with the offense, in addition to his primary responsibilities as LBs coach. The expanded role comes as the team “hopes” Flores is able to land another HC opportunity down the road.
  • As for the QB position, a deal could be coming soon. Mark Kaboly of The Athletic points out that, with Pickett having assumed No. 1 duties, it would make sense for Pittsburgh to move on from one of Trubisky or Mason Rudolph at the upcoming trade deadline (subscription required). The latter is a pending free agent and was the subject of trade talks this offseason, though the Steelers held on to him. Trubisky, meanwhile, is under contract for 2023 with a cap hit of $10.625MM.
  • The Browns have the league’s top rushing attack, something owing in no small part to the play of their offensive line. That includes center Ethan Pocic, who signed in Cleveland this offseason after five years in Seattle. When weighing the options presented by a modest free agent market, the 27-year-old chose to work with Browns o-line coach Bill Callahan. “As soon as I wasn’t going to get a big contract, a long-term contract, everything was pretty low, league minimum for the most part, I just went to the team with the best coaches and the best players,” he said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. After the season-ending injury suffered by Nick Harris, Pocic assumed a starter’s role and currently ranks as PFF’s fourth-highest rated center.
  • The first few weeks of the season have offered a glimpse into a new element in the Ravens’ offense. The team has implemented more looks from under center for QB Lamar Jackson, as detailed by the Washington Posts’ Jason La Canfora. Jackson operated almost exclusively from the shotgun prior to entering the NFL; Baltimore deployed plenty of pistol formations during the first four years of his career. 2022, however, has seen a dramatic uptick in his under-center looks, especially in the passing game – part of OC Greg Roman‘s attempts to diversify the team’s run-heavy offense. Overall, that has so far translated to just 213 passing yards per contest (23rd in the league), so the degree to which the team remains committed to this new element will be interesting to monitor as the season progresses.

Latest On Browns’ Center Competition, J.C. Tretter

After cutting veteran J.C. Tretterthe Browns were prepared to move on to Nick Harris as their starting center in 2022. The latter suffered what is expected to be a season-ending knee injury during the team’s first preseason game, however, leaving the position in question once again.

For now, the Browns are turning to Ethan Pocic. The 27-year-old signed a one-year deal with the Browns in March to compete with Harris for the starting job at center, or at least provide experienced depth behind him. The former Seahawk started 40 of the 57 games he appeared in with Seattle, and could be an effective stop-gap option in the middle of the Browns’ highly-touted o-line in Harris’ absence.

If the team were to add a free agent option, though, the obvious candidate for a deal is Tretter. The 31-year-old was released in a cost-cutting move, saving the Browns over $8MM in cap space. The move ended a five-year run for Tretter as the team’s full-time pivot, during which time he missed just one game. With a PFF grade over 78 last season, the Cornell alum showed that he is still capable of playing at a high level.

Tretter’s status of president of the NFLPA, however, could be a factor in why he has still yet to sign in free agency this late into the summer. As Chris Easterling of the Akron Beacon Journal notes, Tretter’s position in the union (which he has held since 2020) “often led to differences of opinion between he and management.” Despite Cleveland leading the league in cap space, then, a contract bringing him back might not be likely.

When asked about Tretter, longtime teammate and All-Pro left guard Joel Bitonio said, “I don’t hear those conversations all the time, but I think when you have a guy that’s a top-five, top-10 center in the league, and he’s not on a roster and he’s the NFLPA president, maybe some of the owners don’t appreciate what he brings to the table on certain topics where he’s trying to protect player safety and things of that nature.”

The Browns’ aggression in adding another center – and whether or not their search includes a reunion with Tretter – will be worth watching as the offseason winds down.

Browns Not Seeking OL, DL Additions?

At this point in the offseason, teams use the remaining free agent market to address depth needs on their rosters. As a result, some view offensive and defensive line as two positions the Browns could use to make additions between now and training camp. However, May Kay Cabot of cleveland.com observes that the team is confident in its current options in both position groups. 

The Browns cut veteran center J.C. Tretter in March, saving the team significant cap space but creating a hole in the middle of the 0-line. They have signed former Seahawk Ethan Pocic, but the top candidate for Tretter’s vacated role is Nick Harris, who has made one start in each of his first two NFL seasons. If healthy, the team will also be able to return one of the league’s top tandems at both tackle (Jedrick Wills and Jack Conklin) and guard (Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller).

In terms of depth, 2021 fourth-rounder James Hudson is in line to remain the team’s top swingman. He played over 300 snaps as a rookie, making four starts along the way. While he struggled during his initial season, earning a PFF grade of 57.3, Cabot notes how confident the Browns are that he will take a step forward after gaining experience at the NFL level.

The situation is similar on the other side of the ball. The Browns are high on the potential shown in spring practices by Jordan ElliottThe 2020 third-rounder has only made four starts so far in his career, but he took on a significantly larger workload last season, setting himself up to do the same this year. He could be joined as a starter by former first-rounder Taven Bryan, who signed a one-year deal in free agency. Cabot also names rookie Perrion Winfrey as a candidate for at least a significant depth role.

Given their cap situation, the Browns could easily afford another signing along either the offensive or defensive fronts. Aside from any difficulty which could arise from convincing remaining free agents to come on a short-term deal (given the lengthy suspension expected to be handed down to Deshaun Watsonwhich could very well take the team out of 2022 contention), Cleveland already appears content with their in-house depth.

OL Notes: Browns, Bakhtiari, Pats, Bears

Although the Browns signed the Seahawks’ primary center of the past two years (Ethan Pocic), they are first attempting to see if one of their recent backups can claim J.C. Tretter‘s old job. Nick Harris is working as Cleveland’s first-string center during OTAs, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal notes. A fifth-round pick out of Washington in 2020, Harris made one start in each of the past two seasons — the late-2021 outing came when Tretter contracted COVID-19 — but he practiced extensively with the Browns’ first-unit O-line last season. Tretter dealt with injuries, and while the veteran played through them, he often sat out practices or worked in a limited capacity. This gave Harris a runway to full-fledged starter action and gave the Browns enough confidence to make Tretter a March cap casualty. The NFLPA president remains a free agent.

Ditching Tretter, 30, remains a gamble for the Browns, who still hold the NFL’s most cap space. Tretter graded as Pro Football Focus’ sixth-best center in 2021, started all but one game in five Cleveland seasons and provided a solid pivot on one of the league’s best lines. Here is the latest from the O-line scene:

  • The ACL tear David Bakhtiari suffered on New Year’s Eve 2020 wrecked his 2021 season, limiting him to just one game (Week 18). The Packers are proceeding cautiously with their two-time All-Pro left tackle this offseason. Matt LaFleur confirmed the team is holding Bakhtiari out of OTAs, via ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky (on Twitter), for conservation purposes. The expectation is the 10th-year veteran returns for training camp. Still, the lengthy recovery Bakhtiari required from his injury makes his status worth monitoring ahead of an age-31 season.
  • New England picked up Isaiah Wynn‘s fifth-year option in 2021, guaranteeing the injury-prone left tackle $10.4MM this season. But he has missed OTA time, leaving recently re-signed right tackle Trent Brown — the left tackle on the Patriots’ 2018 Super Bowl-winning team — to fill in on the left side. The Pats have made a few trades involving contract-year talent under Bill Belichick — Sony Michel, Brandin Cooks and Jamie Collins being recent examples. If New England was to dangle Wynn, Jeff Howe of The Athletic notes teams would be willing to fork over a reasonable return (subscription required). That might be a bridge too far, considering the Pats already traded a veteran blocker (Shaq Mason) and saw Brown’s run of absences continue with eight more last season.
  • The Bears have 2021 second-rounder Teven Jenkins pegged as their right tackle starter. Jenkins returned from preseason back surgery to start two games as a rookie, but he was close to 350 pounds last year. The Chicago blocker is back near his listed 320-pound weight, with Adam Jahns of The Athletic noting Jenkins is checking in around 325. Larry Borom is penciled in to take over for Jason Peters at left tackle.

Browns To Sign C Ethan Pocic

Not long after parting ways with J.C. Tretter, the Browns are set to add to the interior of their offensive line. The team is signing center Ethan Pocic, as first reported by NFL insider Jordan Schultz (on Twitter). 

[RELATED: Browns To Cut Tretter]

Pocic, 26, played five seasons in Seattle after being drafted in the second round by the Seahawks in 2017. Over that time, he played at both guard and center. In total, he registered 57 appearances and 40 starts with the team.

Pocic’s heaviest workloads in terms of snaps percentage have come in the past two campaigns. In 2020, he was on the field for every offensive play in the 14 contests he suited up for, and last season, that figure was 79%. The 2021 campaign was the first in which the LSU alum didn’t commit any accepted penalties. That helped him earn a PFF grade of 67.3, the highest of his career.

Pocic’s days in Seattle were likely numbered when the team signed Austin Blythe at the start of free agency. The former Ram returned to the NFC West after one season as a backup in Kansas City. Given the absence of Tretter in Cleveland, though, Pocic has an opportunity to compete for the starting center job with Nick Harris. The latter has played sparingly in two seasons with the Browns.

With Pocic, the Browns have gotten younger in the middle of their offensive front while adding accomplished depth at a minimum. If the deal is similar in value to his career earnings, it also shouldn’t use up too much of the Browns’ roughly $21MM in cap space.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/16/21

The Week 6 Saturday minor move blitz:

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Football Team