Isaiah Weston

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/2/22

Today’s minor NFL transactions:

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

  • Reverted to IR: WR Isaiah Weston

Indianapolis Colts

  • Signed: C Alex Mollette
  • Placed on IR: WR John Hurst, G/T Carter O’Donnell

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Waived: OL Chris Glaser

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Browns Activate OT Jack Conklin, Shuffle Receivers

After missing ten games last season with two separate injuries, Browns offensive tackle Jack Conklin has been activated from the physically unable to perform list, according to Nate Ulrich of USA Today. Conklin’s return to the field ensures that Cleveland will field all but one starting offensive linemen from last season. 

Conklin had two separate trips to the injured reserve list last year. He spent three weeks out with an early-November elbow injury and tore his patellar tendon in his first game back from the elbow injury, knocking him out for the remainder of the season. After missing OTAs to rehabilitate on his own, it was expected that Conklin would be limited to start training camp. The Browns confirmed as much by opening camp with Conklin on PUP.

After only eight months of recovery, though, Conklin has been cleared for practice. Cleveland likely won’t take any unnecessary risks in rushing Conklin back to full-go, but to have him back at all this early is an extremely encouraging sign for the Browns’ offensive line. He’ll return to right tackle opposite Jedrick Wills, bookending a line that returns starting guards Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller. With J.C. Tretter departing in free agency that leaves center as the only position filled by a different player than last year. A backup center for Cleveland over the past two seasons, Nick Harris will get his chance to start at center in camp this summer.

Cleveland also made some moves at wide receiver today, signing Derrick Dillon and waiving Isaiah Weston with an injury designation. Dillon participated in the USFL draft this past year but, after getting selected in the 15th round, never appeared in a game. He also spent time on the Giants’ practice squad after signing there as an undrafted free agent in 2020. Weston was an undrafted free agent from this year’s rookie class that was carted off the practice field with a knee injury on Saturday. Weston was a longshot to make the roster in the first place, and Dillon will replace him as a camp body this summer.

Browns Unlikely To Re-Sign C J.C. Tretter

The Browns released center J.C. Tretter in March, and he has lingered on the free agent market ever since, with no concrete reports of interest in his services. However, even if Cleveland was able to re-sign its five-year starter to a team-friendly pact, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com does not envision such a reunion.

Per Cabot, the Browns would only consider re-signing Tretter if presumptive starter Nick Harris suffers a serious injury. Harris has started only two games in his two-year professional career, but the team is high on his ability and expects the transition from Tretter to Harris to be a smooth one. Indeed, while Tretter’s release saved Cleveland $8.2MM against the cap, the Browns — who currently boast a whopping $48MM+ of cap space — would not have made that move if they were not completely comfortable with Harris at the pivot.

Cabot speculates that teams that might otherwise be interested in Tretter, the NFLPA president, may have soured on him because of the hardline stance he has taken in negotiations with the league over the offseason program (among other things). Still, it is somewhat surprising that a player who has missed only one game since 2017 — a COVID-related absence in 2021 — and who has consistently rated as a high-end starter in the eyes of Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics has not gotten any bites.

One wonders if Tretter, who is 31 and who has dealt with ankle and knee ailments over the past three seasons, is simply waiting for the right opportunity, or if he is contemplating walking away from the game. His $44MM+ of career earnings would certainly allow him to do that, although Cabot does believe he will eventually sign somewhere.

Echoing her earlier reports on the matter, Cabot says that the Browns are unlikely to add a veteran wideout unless David Bell‘s foot injury lingers. Bell, a third-round rookie, had an impressive spring and is currently penciled in alongside Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones at the top of Cleveland’s WR depth chart. But he was recently put on the PUP list and is not expected back for another couple of weeks. If players like 2021 third-rounder Anthony Schwartz or sixth-round rookie Michael Woods II should fail to impress while Bell is sidelined, the Browns could look to the FA and/or trade markets.

One member of the team’s receiver mix, rookie Isaiah Weston, was carted off the practice field yesterday, as Tony Grossi of 850 ESPN Cleveland tweets. As a UDFA, Weston was a longshot to make the team anyway, and even if his injury is serious, it’s unlikely to alter the Browns’ decision-making too much.

Latest On Browns’ Wide Receiver Situation

Fans of the Browns may have been hoping to add a few more veteran bodies to the wide receiver room this offseason, but, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com, the Browns “don’t feel compelled to add a bona fide No. 2 just for the sake of it.” 

Cleveland’s receiving stats last year were nothing short of disappointing. Their wide receiver room was headed by Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry coming into the season with youngsters Anthony Schwartz and Donovan Peoples-Jones eager to contribute. Paired with a three-headed tight end attack comprised of David Njoku, Austin Hooper, and Harrison Bryant, the Browns’ offensive weapons looked poised for success.

Several factors contributed to the team’s lack of production in the passing game. Quarterback Baker Mayfield played throughout the season with a torn labrum, missing some time due to the injury and leading to starts by backups Case Keenum and Nick Mullens. A disgruntled Beckham parted ways with the franchise following a frustrating first half of the season and Landry saw injuries limit his action to 12 games. Peoples-Jones made an impact, leading the team in receiving yards, but without the two leaders of the room, his efforts look less like an impressive No. 3 receiver and more like a disappointing No. 1 target. After Landry and Peoples-Jones, Mayfield mostly targeted his tight ends, with Njoku, Hooper, and Bryant making up half of the team’s top-6 players in receiving yards. Again, much like with Peoples-Jones, the tight end room’s contribution was welcomed, but without a productive 1-2 punch from the receiving corps, it only helped so much.

With veterans Beckham, Landry, and Rashard Higgins all finding their way to the NFC this offseason, the Browns lost their entire veteran presence. To offset the losses, Cleveland brought in Amari Cooper, who immediately slots in as WR1, and the diminutive Jakeem Grant, an expert in the return game. They retain youngsters Schwartz, Peoples-Jones, and Ja’Marcus Bradley, while bringing in an unproven pass catcher in Javon Wims. Through the Draft, Cleveland brought in Purdue’s David Bell and Oklahoma’s Michael Woods II. They also signed a number of undrafted college players in Isaiah Weston, Travell Harris, and Mike Harley. At tight end, the departure of Hooper leaves Cleveland with Njoku, Bryant, and unproven projects like Miller Forristall, Nakia Griffin-Stewart, Zaire Mitchell-Paden, and college basketball player Marcus Santos-Silva.

It seems Cleveland is comfortable moving forward with Cooper and Peoples-Jones as their top two receivers while counting on Grant, Schwartz, and the rookie, Bell, to contribute behind them. They’ll continue to rely on tight ends Njoku and Bryant, leaning on them slightly more now that Hooper is out of the picture.

If the Browns were able to luck into a mutually beneficial deal, they may find themselves reconsidering their mindset on a veteran No.2 receiver. The free agent market still houses distinguished names like Julio Jones, T.Y. Hilton, Emmanuel Sanders, and DeSean Jackson. Past contributors like Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, and Albert Wilson remain on the market, as well. Beckham is currently a free agent who has expressed interest in returning to his most recent home in Los Angeles, but he recently claimed he wouldn’t rule out a return to Cleveland. Former Texan Will Fuller is also available to sign and has expressed interest in rejoining his former quarterback.

Regardless of whether or not they choose to add another weapon to their receiving corps, the Browns are hoping for a different outcome simply by changing the composition of personnel. Perhaps more important than any of the additions and subtractions noted above is the acquisition of quarterback Deshaun Watson. It’s unclear how soon he’ll be able to contribute, but the prospect, alone, of having the three-time Pro Bowler under center is enough to instill confidence in the receiving room as it is for the Cleveland staff.

Browns Announce 12 UDFA Signings

This morning, the Browns officially announced the addition of 12 undrafted free agents to their rookie class:

Harley leaves the Hurricanes as the school’s all-time leader in career receptions (182, surpassing former Colts receiver Reggie Wayne) and single-game receptions (13). He’ll be joined in Cleveland by the Cougars’ receptions and receiving-touchdowns leader from last season, Travell Harris.

Logan spent six years in Baton Rouge, playing a key role in the Tigers’ run to their 2019 National Championship victory over Clemson, contributing a half-sack in the title game.

Jolly provides some electric ability at corner. He’s an aggressive cornerback who returned two picks for touchdowns in 2019. Jolly adds 25 passes defensed and 2 forced fumbles over his 45-game college career.