Grant Delpit

Browns Designate S Grant Delpit For Return

Entering the playoffs with the NFL’s No. 1-ranked total defense, the Browns will hope to have one of their injured starters back for Saturday’s wild-card matchup against the Texans.

They designated Grant Delpit to return from IR on Wednesday. The fourth-year safety has missed the past four games due to a groin injury. While Cleveland has seen several starters suffer season-ending injuries on the offensive side, Jim Schwartz‘s unit has not seen its troops suffer as many setbacks. Upon placing Delpit on IR, the team had targeted a playoff return.

The Browns and Delpit reached a rare gameday extension agreement; at least, the news came out about the deal hours before the team’s Week 14 game. But Delpit sustained the injury during that contest. He agreed to a three-year, $36MM extension, which came with $14.9MM fully guaranteed.

A 2020 second-round pick, Delpit has come a long way since an Achilles tear sidelined him for his entire rookie season. The LSU product has become a key piece, working as a three-year starter. Despite the four-game hiatus, Delpit sits second on the team with 80 tackles this season. Pro Football Focus slots Delpit just outside the top 30 among safeties, giving him a better mark for his coverage work compared to run defense.

While the Browns have not seen their defense battered compared to what has happened to their offense, the team did lose Rodney McLeod for the season. However, rookie UDFA Ronnie Hickman — a starter during Delpit’s absence — has shown flashes early. Hickman notched a pick-six against the Jets in Week 17 and, albeit on a limited snap count, finished his first NFL regular season as PFF’s No. 6-ranked safety. Hickman joins Delpit and Juan Thornhill on Cleveland’s defensive back line.

Thornhill signed a three-year, $21MM deal in free agency, and Delpit’s subsequent accord locks in both Browns starting safeties through at least the 2025 season. The team can devote resources elsewhere come March as a result of keeping Delpit off the 2024 market. The Browns’ injury issues notwithstanding, they are in great shape in terms of IR activations. Five such moves remain available for the AFC’s No. 5 seed.

Browns Place S Grant Delpit On IR; DE Ogbo Okoronkwo Out For Season

Grant Delpit will become the latest Browns starter set to miss significant time due to injury. Hours after agreeing to an extension, Grant Delpit sustained a groin injury. That will lead the Browns to make a roster move.

The Browns placed Delpit on IR on Wednesday; this transaction will sideline the fourth-year safety for the rest of the regular season. Joining a host of starters out of the mix for the regular season’s remainder, Delpit has already undergone surgery, Jake Trotter of notes. Kevin Stefanski said Delpit will be in play to come back if the Browns make the playoffs.

Cleveland is already without its starting quarterback (Deshaun Watson), running back (Nick Chubb) and top three tackles (Jedrick Wills, Jack Conklin, Dawand Jones). Its defense has been a bit healthier this season, leading to a No. 1 ranking in yards allowed. But Delpit will be out of the mix for the time being. To replace him on their 53-man roster, the Browns signed safety Duron Harmon from the practice squad. The Browns now have 13 players on IR.

In addition to Delpit, the Browns’ defense will take a hit up front. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo suffered a pectoral injury that’s Mary Kay Cabot indicates will knock him out for the rest of the season. The former Rams and Texans defensive end sustained a torn pec, per Cabot. Signed this offseason, Okoronkwo has been a key rotational rusher for the Browns. The fifth-year edge defender has registered 4.5 sacks coming off the bench behind Myles Garrett and Za’Darius Smith.

For Delpit, this injury makes his extension timing rather important. The LSU alum and the Browns completed a rare gameday-morning agreement Sunday, locking the fourth-year defender into a three-year, $36MM deal. Delpit will receive $14.9MM guaranteed at signing, per OverTheCap, and $23.6MM guaranteed for injury. The latter guarantee number only comes into play if Delpit cannot pass a physical once a new league year starts, but locking in nearly $15MM at signing now proves pivotal considering Jessie Bates was the only free agent safety to score a contract worth more than $8MM per year this offseason.

Okoronkwo signed a three-year, $19MM accord in March, coming to Cleveland two months before the Browns traded for Smith. On that contract, Okoronkwo collected $10.8MM fully guaranteed. Given the void years attached, Okoronkwo is prohibitive to release in 2024. With Smith set to become a free agent once again, Okoronkwo moving into the Browns’ 2024 starting lineup alongside Garrett could be in play. But he will need to complete a rehab journey first.

Behind Garrett and Smith, the Browns also have 2022 third-round pick Alex Wright, rookie fourth-rounder Isaiah McGuire and third-year UDFA Sam Kamara. No Browns player behind Garrett has collected more than five sacks. Of the healthy DE options behind the starters, only Wright has even registered one. The Browns also lost defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. for the season this week, completing a rough span on the injury front for the 8-5 team.

Browns, S Grant Delpit Agree On Extension

This year’s free agent safety market only included one eight-figure-per-year agreement, with Jessie Bates lapping the field on a $16MM-AAV accord. Grant Delpit and the Browns found a happy medium Sunday.

Delpit will not make it to the 2024 market. The Browns have a deal in place to extend the 2020 second-round pick, 247Sports’ Brad Stainbrook tweets. The LSU alum will be tied to a three-year contract worth $36MM, according to’s Mary Kay Cabot, who adds the fourth-year safety secured $23MM guaranteed on this deal.

Chosen in Andrew Berry‘s first draft as GM, Delpit has come a long way since missing his entire rookie season. The former No. 44 overall pick suffered an Achilles tear during training camp in 2020. Upon returning, he was not a full-time starter. But the 25-year-old defender has turned the corner in the years since. With the Browns making a substantial improvement in Jim Schwartz‘s first year as defensive coordinator, they have identified Delpit as a keeper alongside the likes of Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward and Dalvin Tomlinson.

Delpit’s deal checks in more than $4MM north of any contract handed to a non-Bates free agent safety this offseason. While Bates scored a four-year, $64MM pact, the rest of the lot did not eclipse $8MM per annum. This profiles as an upper-middle-class safety contract, as it will check in tied for 12th overall, AAV-wise, at the position. It is not yet known if the $23MM guarantee is fully locked in at signing or if that total represents the injury-guarantee number. Were Delpit to receive $23MM fully guaranteed, that would place him fifth overall among safeties.

Cleveland participated in this offseason’s midlevel safety market as well, signing Juan Thornhill to a three-year, $21MM deal. The team will complete 2023 having devoted notable capital to two back-line defenders. Ward, Thornhill and Delpit are all signed through at least 2025. Ward sidekick Greg Newsome‘s rookie deal can run through 2025, should the Browns pick up the cornerback’s fifth-year option by May.

Pro Football Focus slots Delpit 30th overall among safeties, while Pro-Football-Reference’s coverage metrics place Delpit’s numbers as slightly worse than last season. But it is undeniable the Browns have made significant strides in pass deterrence compared to where they were under Joe Woods. The three-year DC’s tenure ended with the team ranking 20th in points allowed and 14th in total defense, though Cleveland did finish fifth against the pass last season. The team has built on that this year, leading the NFL in total defense. A No. 1-ranked pass defense fuels that effort, one that has become even more important since the team lost Deshaun Watson for the season.

The Browns have, however, been without Ward for the past three weeks (the high-end corner is out again Sunday). With recent free agent pickup Joe Flacco once again in place as the Browns’ starting quarterback — the team’s fourth QB1 this season — the team’s vaunted pass defense will be tasked with attempting to keep this car on the road en route to the playoffs. Delpit will be a key part of that effort and the Browns’ long-term future on defense.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Monken, Ravens

With Jim Schwartz returning to Cleveland after 28 years, then as a scout, now as defensive coordinator, there are some expected changes to how the Browns‘ defense will get things done. Thanks to Mary Kay Cabot of, we have a bit of insight into just how things might change in the secondary under Schwartz.

At safety, the team exchanged starter John Johnson III with Juan Thornhill while also bringing in veteran Rodney McLeod, as well. Schwartz brings two interesting factors to the safety position: he likes to play three at one time often and he expects versatility. He doesn’t strictly prescribe to free and strong safety assignments but more often tends to focus on sides of the field. Grant Delpit, Thornhill, and McLeod will be interchangeable and will be asked to line up in many areas.

Versatility will be expected of the cornerbacks, as well, as Schwartz has reportedly been crosstraining all of Cleveland’s defensive backs in the slot. This is welcome news for Greg Newsome II, who reportedly wanted to play more to his strengths on the outside this year. He won’t solely work outside, but with Denzel Ward and Martin Emerson also getting work as nickelbacks this summer, Newsome won’t be asked to shoulder the load in the slot alone.

Here are a few more rumors from around the AFC North:

  • Schwartz is excited to be bringing together two strong pass rushers in Myles Garrett and Za’Darius Smith on the Browns’ defensive line, according to Cabot. After a year in which Jadeveon Clowney failed to mesh with Garrett, Schwartz is excited about the flexibility that Smith brings to the table. For one, he’s already had the experience of working across from talented pass rushers like Danielle Hunter, Preston Smith, Matt Judon, Terrell Suggs, and Elvis Dumervil. Secondly, Smith provides a versatile attack that allows him to rush from either side, as well as from the interior, when needed.
  • After four years under a huddle-first Greg Roman offense, the Ravens will allow quarterback Lamar Jackson a bit more agency in the offense under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. According to a report from ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, Jackson will be given more freedom to audible and make adjustments at the line this season. This is not completely foreign to the recently extended quarterback. Baltimore experimented with this type of offense in a Week 2 game last year against the Dolphins as a counter to Miami’s pressure package. In that game, Jackson threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns while adding 119 yards and a touchdown on the ground, as well. The Ravens will hope to see more of that in 2023, as Jackson is presented with more opportunities to truly lead the offense.
  • We mentioned about two weeks ago that Ravens second-year tackle Daniel Faalele was a candidate to replace former starting left guard Ben Powers, who departed for Denver in free agency in March. Knowing Faalele’s importance in his current role as one of the team’s primary backup tackles, we boiled it down to a battle between Ben Cleveland and John Simpson. A recent report from Hensley, though, claims that head coach John Harbaugh spoke highly of Faalele at the position and refused to rule him out as a potential starter. He praised Simpson’s performance in the position, as well, but it may be time to start considering Faalele as one of the top candidates to start next year.

J.C. Tretter Tests Positive For COVID-19

The Browns are set to run into more offensive line unavailability because of the coronavirus. J.C. Tretter announced (via Twitter) he turned in a positive COVID-19 test Thursday.

Barring a false positive, this will rule the Pro Bowl snapper out for the Browns’ Christmas Day matchup against the Packers. Tretter’s positive test follows Jedrick Wills and Wyatt Teller also doing so. Teller returned to play against the Raiders after testing positive, but the two-day window here would make Tretter following suit all but impossible.

Wills remains on the Browns’ virus list, but swing man James Hudson is back on the active roster, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes. Cleveland tinkered with its O-line as a result of Wills’ positive, sliding Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio to left tackle. Tretter, however, has not missed a game since signing with the Browns in 2017. The Browns also moved Grant Delpit off their virus list.

Tretter, 30, is also the NFLPA president. He said the union’s push to postpone three games last week — rather than cancel them, a path Tretter indicated the NFL preferred — led to the three Week 15 games being moved rather than players losing out on per-game salaries. His absence Saturday will certainly affect a top-tier Browns O-line in a pivotal game. The Browns’ shorthanded loss Monday dropped them to 7-7; gives Cleveland a 15% chance to make the playoffs.

Browns Place RB Kareem Hunt, Seven Others On Reserve/COVID-19 List

The Browns have placed more players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including running back Kareem Hunt. The team announced that the following players have landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list:

In his third season with the Browns, Hunt has totalled 386 rushing yards and five touchdowns, along with an additional 174 yards on 22 catches in eight games. The 26-year-old has been a key member of the Browns’ backfield alongside Nick Chubb, helping the team average 143.5 rushing yards per game, ranking fourth in the NFL.

The team also announced that offensive assistant coach T.C. McCartney has tested positive for COVID-19. We learned earlier today that the NFL was pushing Saturday’s game between the Browns and Raiders to Monday.

Meanwhile, Cleveland activated linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. from the reserve/COVID-19 list, and they’ve signed quarterback Kyle Lauletta to the active roster off the Jaguars practice squad. Lauletta, 26, has appeared in just two NFL games. Both were with the Giants in 2018, where he went 0-for-five with one interception. He has since spent time on the Eagles’, Falcons’ and Browns’ practice squads, only going to Jacksonville’s after being waived at the end of August.

QB Nick Mullens Expected To Start For Browns On Saturday

7:52pm: Cornerback A.J. Green and linebacker Jacob Phillips have also tested positive for COVID-19, reports Nate Ulrich of the Beacon Journal (via Twitter).

4:59pm: The Browns will likely have to turn to their third-string QB for Saturday’s matchup against the Raiders. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter), quarterback Case Keenum has tested positive for COVID-19. With Baker Mayfield already on the reserve/COVID-19 list, this means Nick Mullens is in line to start.

[RELATED: Browns’ Baker Mayfield Tests Positive For COVID-19]

The Browns are facing at least five more positive tests in addition to Keenum, according to CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones (on Twitter). This would bring the total to 20 players on the Browns who have tested positive for COVID-19 this week. One of those players is Grant Delpit, as Nate Ulrich of the Beacon Journal tweets that the safety tested positive. While the Browns are eyeing a handful of absences, coach Kevin Stefanski wouldn’t rule out any players following the NFL’s changes to COVID protocols.

“Certainly when they tell me we have run out of days in terms of negative tests and those type of things, then it will be official, but I don’t know that we’re ruling any of those guys out just yet,” Stefanski said (via Ulrich).

Either way, it’s looking like Mullens will be forced into the lineup for a crucial start. The 26-year-old has spent the majority of the 2021 campaign on Cleveland’s practice squad, although he is coming off a 2020 campaign where he started eight games for the 49ers. Mullens is 5-11 in his 16 career starts, and his 4,405 passing yards are the second most by any quarterback in their first 16 career starts in NFL history (behind Patrick Mahomes (h/t to ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter)). Mullens also has 25 career touchdowns vs. 22 interceptions.

Keenum started one game for the Browns this season, completing 21 of his 33 pass attempts in a win over the Broncos. In total, the 33-year-old has seen time in six games for Cleveland this season, tossing one touchdown vs. zero interceptions.

AFC North Notes: Lamar, Schobert, Browns

Even after Josh Allen‘s Bills extension, the Ravens and Lamar Jackson are continuing their methodical approach to what will be the biggest contract in franchise history. Although Jackson expressed happiness for Allen landing a $43MM-per-year deal with a record guarantee, the fourth-year Baltimore quarterback said his extension will come in due time. John Harbaugh, who has said Jackson will be extended either this year or next, added (via Baltimore Beatdown’s Joshua Reed) that Allen’s deal does not change anything regarding the Ravens’ negotiations with Jackson. Allen’s deal almost certainly will affect Jackson’s, potentially setting up the 2019 MVP to command a Patrick Mahomes-level salary without the 10-year commitment.

The quarterback market catching up to Mahomes’ $45MM AAV so quickly may make things interesting in Kansas City in the coming years, with the 2018 MVP signed through 2031. The bulk of the recent big-ticket quarterback contracts have come before passers’ fourth seasons, so time is running short for the Ravens and their agentless QB to agree on a deal that will allow Jackson to make more than $1.78MM this year.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Shortly after trading for Joe Schobert, the Steelers have restructured the veteran linebacker’s contract. Schobert’s 2021 cap number has dropped to $1.74MM, with Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweeting the move will create nearly $2MM in cap space. The Steelers frequently restructure contracts to create cap space, and the team has a rather critical contract to complete soon. T.J. Watt has gone through with a partial hold-in, staying out of team drills until he lands an extension. The Steelers are not believed to be eyeing a Minkah Fitzpatrick re-up until next year, with the safety under contract through the 2022 season, putting a Watt deal center stage. Watt’s contract is up after 2021.
  • The Steelers are preparing Schobert for a big workload. The former Browns linebacker is slated to start, be Pittsburgh’s dime ‘backer and wear the green dot that signifies he will communicate with coaches pre-snap, Brooke Pryor of tweets. Quite the plan for a player who has been with the team less than a week, but Schobert played 99% of his team’s defensive snaps in each of the past two seasons. Pittsburgh’s designs for Schobert will mark a transition for Devin Bush, but Steelers DC Keith Butler said (via The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette; subscription required) the team wants the former first-round pick to focus solely on returning to full strength. Bush is coming back after suffering an ACL tear last October.
  • Grant Delpit‘s comeback continues to hit snags. Completing a return from the Achilles rupture he suffered last August, Delpit injured his hamstring after just nine practice snaps. The Browns safety has since aggravated that hamstring issue and will miss more time, Mary Kay Cabot of notes. Delpit was already iffy for Cleveland’s Week 1 game in Kansas City. The LSU product missing the start of the Browns’ season now looks likelier.

Grant Delpit Week 1 Status In Doubt

After missing his rookie season, Grant Delpit is set to be a key Browns defender this year. But the 2020 second-round pick is behind in his pursuit of making his NFL debut in Week 1.

The final steps of Delpit’s Achilles rehab delayed his training camp start, and Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer adds that the second-year safety has run into a hamstring problem that may well keep him out of the Browns’ Week 1 game against the Chiefs. After suffering the hamstring injury during camp, Delpit has encountered a significant setback in his recovery from that ailment, per Cabot.

This will leave Delpit battling uphill in his quest to play a major role for the Browns early this season, given the reps he will stand to miss in the leadup to Week 1. Delpit, who suffered the Achilles’ tendon rupture in late August of last year, was sprinting by May and expecting full clearance come camp. This latest malady has interfered with the former Thorpe Award winner’s comeback.

The Browns are uniquely equipped to withstand a Delpit absence to start the season. They have returning starter Ronnie Harrison and veteran acquisition John Johnson at safety. However, Harrison has not practiced in two weeks because of his own hamstring injury. Cleveland’s potential three-safety setup set for deployment in sub-packages is down to just Johnson, who is teaming with backups Jovante Mofatt and Richard LeCounte III presently.

Greedy Williams Receives Full Clearance

For the first time in nearly a year, Greedy Williams was a full practice participant. The Browns began their 11-on-11 drills without Williams on Tuesday. A day later, the former second-round pick was full-go, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal notes.

The third-year cornerback is officially off the Browns’ active/PUP list and will attempt to return to Cleveland’s starting lineup. A shoulder nerve issue sidelined Williams during training camp last year — on the same day ex-Williams LSU teammate Grant Delpit suffered a ruptured Achilles’ tendon — and he went on IR in October. Neither Williams nor Delpit played last season.

The Browns have eased Delpit back into action, but Williams can begin making a legitimate attempt to recapture his starting job. A second-round pick during John Dorsey‘s GM regime, Williams started 12 games as a rookie. While Williams will face stiffer competition for a first-string job this year, he lined up with the Browns’ starting defense during OTAs and was back in that role Wednesday

After using stopgap solutions alongside Denzel Ward in 2020, the Browns were active in bolstering their cornerback group this offseason. Cleveland signed Troy Hill and drafted Greg Newsome in the first round. Williams’ return gives the team interesting depth. The Browns have made extensive outside investments on defense this year, after ranking 25th in DVOA on that side of the ball last season. But the returns of Williams and Delpit also stand to strengthen the unit.