J.C. Tretter

Latest On Lloyd Howell, NFLPA’s Executive Director Search

The NFLPA unveiled their new executive director on Wednesday, introducing Lloyd Howell as the leader tasked with overseeing the union moving forward. Details regarding his selection and expected start date have emerged.

Howell, 57, was not mentioned as one of the known candidates in the union’s search process for its DeMaurice Smith successor. Secrecy surrounded the build-up to Howell’s selection, and the identities of the other finalists voted on remains unknown. Of note, though, is the fact that ex-players Matt Schaub, Domonique Foxworth and Kellen Winslow Sr. were mentioned as names to watch, but the top position was once again given to someone with no playing experience.  

“You don’t need to be a former player to be able to motivate and galvanize a group of people,” president J.C. Tretter said, via The Athletic’s Zak Keefer (subscription required). “We were really looking for anybody that was capable of doing that, and we found a great one.”

Tretter added that the search process – which began in October – involved casting a “wide net,” and ultimately landed on Howell. The latter has no background in pro sports, and he has yet to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, though that is expected to soon change. Howell declined to go in to specifics on his opinion regarding the current CBA, but he indicated his views with respect to the 2020 negotiations and the ones which will take place after the 2030 campaign helped earn him the position.

Veteran reporter Daniel Kaplan tweets that Howell’s start date is expected to be July 10, which will mark a quick transition from Smith to the new director. After the former won his most recent re-election with the minimum votes, it was expected his final term would be much shorter than his previous ones, which will be the case if Howell is in place by next month. The success he makes in integrating into the union and establishing new relations with the NFL will be a key factor when CBA talks take place and in the time leading up to that point.

Matt Schaub On NFLPA Executive Director Aspirations

With NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith set to transition away from his position as early as March 2023, the union’s search for his replacement is underway. The most prominent name to emerge as his potential successor is Matt Schaub

The longtime Falcons and Texans quarterback is in his second year of retirement, and has been public about his intention of leading the player’s union. He expounded on his candidacy and top priorities in the event he lands the job in an interview with Pro Football Network.

“After playing for 17 years and being a part of the union for 19 years and seeing the impact the union has on players’ lives, both while in the game and once they retire, the physical toll, the mental toll, the emotional toll and how the financial side of the game impacts everyone from the top of the rosters to the bottom,” he said, “it has opened my eyes to want to advocate and help and lead the union to a place that all players need to be in, especially physically as they move beyond the game.”

To no surprise given those remarks, the 41-year-old doubled down on long-term health care as his chief concern, naming lifelong coverage as a target. He also referenced the compensation levels for end-of-the-roster players, along with the split of league revenues between the league and players (central issues in the last round of CBA negotiations) as focal points in upcoming agreements.

In addition to Schaub, other contenders for the position could include NFLPA president J.C. Tretter and senior director of player affairs Don Davis. They, too, have a background as NFL players, something which Smith does not. In Tretter’s case, his status in the union was widely seen as a key factor in his release from the Browns this offseason, and the lack of free agent interest which led to his retirement. Davis, meanwhile, spent more than a decade in the league and has played a leading role in a number of union events under his current title.

Latest On Retired C J.C. Tretter

J.C. Tretter made the surprising move of retiring last month. The 31-year-old had been a quality full-time starter for five seasons with the Browns, but, as he confirmed not long after announcing his decision, he faced a notable lack of free agent options. 

Tretter was released by Cleveland in March, leaving him on the open market throughout the summer. Over that span, he told Sports Illustrated’s Alex Prewitt, the Cornell alum put together a shortlist of clubs he would prefer to sign with, including the Panthers, Cowboys and Vikings. In all, his representatives contracted seven teams inquiring about a potential deal.

“Minnesota never returned our call,” Tretter said, however, adding that none of his potential landing spots showed significant interest in signing him. That lack of a market was noted throughout the summer, when injuries such as the one suffered by Ryan Jensen did little (if anything) to increase his chances of joining a third career team. That led to speculation that Tretter’s status as NFLPA president was a contributing factor to his circumstances.

Indeed, the former fourth-rounder added, I always said, ‘My NFLPA job is gonna end my career well before my knees end my career.'” Tretter’s role in the union was reported to be a source of tension between himself and the Browns which explained, in part, their decision not only to release him but to not seek a reunion after projected replacement Nick Harris suffered a season-ending knee injury.

With respect to contract demands, Tretter described his desired salary as “not at a vet minimum” but also “well below the value [that] I bring.” He averaged over $10.8MM on the contract that the Browns terminated, but would, based on those comments, have accepted a significantly lower rate to continue his playing days.

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the end of his on-field football career, Tretter reiterated that he will not look to un-retire at any point in the 2022 season if interest in him were to heat up. Instead, he will turn his attention elsewhere, including his remaining time as NFLPA president.

“I’ve gotten to the point where I’m going to retire,” he said. “I know what I’ve accomplished in my career and I’m at peace with that.”

J.C. Tretter Retires

After his release from the Browns earlier this offseason, J.C. Tretter represented one of the top centers on the open market. Having failed to land on a roster, the veteran is retiring, reports Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network (on Twitter). 

In his official announcement, Tretter reflected on his commitment to converting to offensive line to land in the NFL, saying that “I am proud of what I’ve accomplished… I feel like if my 31-year-old self could talk to my 20-year-old self, I could earnestly tell him that we did it. We did everything we said we’d do and more” (Twitter link).

Tretter was a fourth-round pick of the Packers in 2013. Over that time, he grew into a starting role, leading him to Cleveland in free agency. For the past five seasons, he had been a model of consistency in the middle of the team’s offensive line, missing just one game over that span and logging over 1,000 snaps every year.

In a cost-cutting move at the start of free agency, though, the Browns released the Cornell alum, freeing up more than $8MM in cap space. He was expected to generate a relatively significant market for himself given the lack of more established options in free agency, along with injuries suffered by the likes of Ryan Jensen. Instead, not much traction was gained from outside teams, and the Browns were prepared to give the starting role to Nick Harris

Even after Harris suffered a season-ending injury, a reunion with Cleveland was deemed unlikely. Tretter’s status as president of the NFLPA reportedly caused tension between himself and the organization, and was thought to be chief among the reasons he was unable to land on a roster throughout the summer. CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones tweets that Tretter will stay on as president of the union.

With Tretter off the table as a fill-in for Harris, the Browns will move forward with veteran Ethan Pocic at the pivot. Other veterans still available include Matt Paradis, Trey Hopkins and Billy Price; they could start to see offers (from Cleveland or elsewhere) given Tretter’s decision to join fellow veteran center Alex Mack in retirement.

Tretter will end his career with more than $44.5MM in total earnings, an impressive sum for a player who never made a Pro Bowl appearance. His attention can now turn exclusively to working with the NFLPA, which he has headed since 2020.

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 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.

OL Rumors: Fins, Meinerz, Bates, Steelers

Addressing needs at left tackle and left guard, the Dolphins are turning their attention to center. GM Chris Grier plans to bring in competition for incumbent Michael Deiter, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The Dolphins are looking to keep costs down here, Jackson adds, noting they are not currently on the radar for J.C. Tretter or Matt Paradis. Both have been center starters for the past several years but would qualify as replacements for Deiter rather than competition. Given Tretter’s performance in Cleveland, the NFLPA president looms as one of the top free agents available. Miami’s to-be-determined center will join Terron Armstead, Connor Williams, Robert Hunt and either Austin Jackson or Liam Eichenberg on the team’s reconfigured O-line.

Here is the latest from the offensive line ranks:

  • Although the Patriots hosted Bills restricted free agent Ryan Bates, it does not appear they were competing with the Bears for his services. Unlike the Bears, the Pats did not extend Bates an offer sheet and, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, the team was not overly interested. The Bills ended up matching the offer sheet to retain Bates. The Pats lost both 2021 guard starters — Ted Karras and Shaq Mason — this offseason. While swingman Michael Onwenu stands to take over at one of the positions, it is uncertain who will join he and longtime center David Andrews as the third interior man.
  • Quinn Meinerz did not open last season as a Broncos starter, but the Division III product looks set to do so in 2022. Nathaniel Hackett envisions Meinerz as the team’s starting right guard, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post notes. “The sky is the limit” for Meinerz, said Hackett, who plans to keep Graham Glasgow‘s midseason replacement in the lineup. That leaves Glasgow’s role uncertain. The 2020 UFA addition has been the Broncos’ starting right guard when healthy over the past two seasons, but he played center for 16 games with the 2018 Lions. Broncos center Lloyd Cushenberry has not missed a snap during his initial two NFL seasons, but Pro Football Focus graded the former third-rounder as the team’s worst O-line starter last season.
  • The Steelers signed James Daniels and Mason Cole in free agency. Cole has primarily played center, while Daniels has played the position as a pro as well. Daniels has spent most of his NFL days at guard, and it is possible 2021 Steelers center Kendrick Green becomes the team’s other guard starter. Mike Tomlin is open to moving Green to guard, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic notes (subscription required). A third-round pick last year, Green started 15 games as a rookie. PFF graded him as one of the league’s worst centers. A move to guard, where he spent most of his time at Illinois, could potentially open the door to improvement and threaten Kevin Dotson‘s starting role. Dotson, a 2020 fourth-rounder, opened the season as Pittsburgh’s left guard starter but missed eight games due to injury.
  • Zach Banner‘s Steelers exit stemmed from his 2020 ACL tear remaining a deterrent, Kaboly adds. Banner opened the 2020 season as the Steelers’ starting right tackle but suffered the tear in Week 1. The 6-foot-8 blocker played seven games last season, but Kaboly adds his knee never returned to form.

Browns To Release J.C. Tretter

The Browns have made a cost-cutting move on the offensive line. The team is releasing center J.C. Tretter, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). The move saves the team roughly $8.2MM in cap space. 

The 31-year-old was recently named as a cut candidate, given his projected cap hit of over $9.8MM in 2022. That was the final year of his contract. After five seasons in Cleveland, the former fourth round pick will now look for a new home.

After three season in Green Bay, Tretter joined the Browns in 2017, and was the team’s full-time starter at center for his entire tenure there. That durability led general manager Andrew Berry to recently compliment the veteran, despite the questions around his contract status.

“J.C.’s been a real productive veteran for us, he’s been a starter since 2017 for us and played a lot of really good football, we expect him to continue to play some really good football” Berry said. Given today’s news, though, the team will be moving in a new direction looking for a younger, less expensive option in the middle of their offensive front.

Tretter – the president of the NFLPA – has remained a consistent if unspectacular player during his career. He has never been named a Pro Bowler, but has earned a PFF grade of at least 72 in each of the past four seasons. Now, he will enter a center market which has shrunk considerably in recent days. Beside Bradley Bozeman, Tretter will likely find himself near the top of the list for available options.

Latest On Browns C J.C. Tretter, O-Line Plans

Browns center J.C. Tretter profiles as a potential cap casualty, given that his release would save the team $8.2MM against the cap while incurring a modest $1.6MM dead money charge. Cleveland GM Andrew Berry recently addressed Tretter’s status, and he stopped short of confirming Tretter will be back in 2022, the final year of his current contract.

“For all of these situations on our roster, we work through them over the next couple weeks,” Berry said (via Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal). “J.C.’s been a real productive veteran for us, he’s been a starter since 2017 for us and played a lot of really good football, we expect him to continue to play some really good football.”

Tretter, 31, has dealt with ankle and knee injuries over the past three seasons, but he has missed just one game since joining the Browns in 2017 (which came in Week 16 of the 2021 season and which was due to a positive COVID-19 test). Although he has never made a Pro Bowl, Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics have consistently rated him as a high-end starter, with a grade no lower than 72.0 since 2018. And with the Browns angling for a postseason berth in 2022, a quality veteran on a reasonable salary at the pivot is a nice luxury for Berry to have.

That is especially true when considering that RT Jack Conklin, who recently restructured his deal, missed 10 games in 2021 due to a variety of injuries, including a torn patellar tendon. Berry said that Conklin is “doing well” in his recovery, but in light of the play-time incentives included in the reworked contract, it seems as if there is at least a chance that Conklin will miss game action in 2022.

If that happens, though, the Browns do not plan to shift LT Jedrick Wills to the right side. Wills had some injury issues of his own in 2021 and did not play particularly well in his 13 contests, but he is going to stay right where he is, despite his RT experience in high school and college.

“No, Jed will stay at left tackle,” Berry said. “We feel good about the depth that we have at the tackle position.”

Berry did leave open the possibility of supplementing that depth. Swingman Chris Hubbard, who played in just one game in 2021 due to a triceps injury, is eligible for free agency, and as a result of the health issues experienced by Hubbard, Wills, and Conklin, 2021 fourth-rounder James Hudson and former Jets taxi squad member Blake Hance were forced into significant action.

On the plus side, 2020 fifth-rounder Nick Harris played well in Tretter’s absence last year. If Berry were to move on from Tretter, that would suggest that he has considerable faith in Harris.

In related news, head coach Kevin Stefanski will continue calling the team’s offensive plays, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (via Twitter). This is despite the fact that Alex Van Pelt no longer has to pull double-duty as offensive coordinator and QB coach.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 12/30/21

Here are Thursday’s reserve/COVID-19 list updates:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

  • Activated from virus list: OL Cody Ford, CB Cam Lewis
  • Activated from practice squad virus list: TE Quintin Morris

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

  • Placed on practice squad virus list: LB Omari Cobb

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team