Jack Conklin

Browns To Extend RT Jack Conklin

This is turning into quite the morning for high-profile offensive line moves. Barely an hour after the Packers locked down Elgton Jenkins, the Browns agreed to a deal that will keep Jack Conklin off the market.

The Browns and Conklin agreed on a four-year, $60MM extension Friday, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Conklin’s deal includes $31MM fully guaranteed. Conklin, who arrived in Cleveland as a free agent in 2020, was set for free agency again in March. The Browns, as they have done at other O-line positions in the recent past, will prevent that from happening.

Like Jenkins, Conklin spent this offseason recovering from a major knee injury. The patella tendon tear Conklin suffered in November 2021 sidelined the former first-round pick until Week 3 of this season, but Cleveland’s right tackle has played in every game since that debut. After locking in guards Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller, the Browns will keep another upper-echelon blocker.

Conklin only made his way to Cleveland after the Titans passed on his fifth-year option and a free agency accord. Tennessee drafted Conklin in the 2016 first round; he was the first player recently fired GM Jon Robinson chose. While Conklin earned All-Pro honors as a rookie, he suffered a torn ACL in 2018. The following May, the Titans did not pick up his option. After he played a major role in the first of Derrick Henry‘s two rushing titles (during the 2019 season), the Titans — who had both Henry and Ryan Tannehill as free agents in 2020 — let him hit the market. That ended up being the Browns’ gain, and Friday’s extension will set up Conklin for a long-term Ohio stay.

Armed with extensive cap space in 2020, the Browns used a chunk of it to land Conklin on a three-year, $42MM pact. The short-term deal allowed the Michigan State product a chance to hit the market again before turning 30. Finishing up his age-28 season, Conklin ended up using that three-year accord to his advantage and will become the rare player to sign three lucrative deals in his 20s.

Although this $15MM-per-year extension does not place Conklin among the top five wage-earners at his position, the $31MM fully guaranteed sits fourth among right-siders. For AAV, Conklin’s deal checks in sixth at the position. The 2023 O-line free agent market is now considerably worse, with Jenkins and Conklin off the board. Conklin had said recently he wanted to finish his career in Cleveland.

Coming off the severe injury, Conklin sits just inside Pro Football Focus’ top 40 at tackle. PFF gave him top-20 assessments from 2019-21, and it stands to reason Conklin will be in better form as more time passes from the patella tendon setback. PFF rates the Browns’ O-line eighth overall, though the team’s center issues have dinged the unit a bit. The team will not have to worry about right tackle for the foreseeable future.

The Browns were unable to stay in the thick of the playoff race during Deshaun Watson‘s suspension, and the highly paid quarterback has not shown much of his Texans form since returning from the 11-game ban (and 17-game paid absence last year). But Nick Chubb booked a fourth consecutive Pro Bowl this week. The star running back has rushed for 1,252 yards and matched his career high in touchdowns (12) already. The Browns cut center J.C. Tretter this year, leading to his retirement, but have prioritized extensions for their O-line finds. Bitonio and Teller are signed through 2025, and left tackle Jedrick Wills‘ rookie deal — based on how the Browns handle his fifth-year option — can run through 2024. Conklin is now signed through 2026.

Browns Sign OL Joe Haeg

The Browns are signing veteran offensive lineman Joe Haeg, as Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network tweets. Haeg was released by the division-rival Steelers at the end of August.

Pittsburgh signed Haeg in March 2021, and the North Dakota State product wound up seeing action in 12 games (two starts) last year. His 307 offensive snaps represented his highest total since 2018, and he spent a little time at all O-line positions except for center.

It appeared as if the Steelers would keep Haeg around as a depth piece in 2022, but the club recently acquired fellow OL Jesse Davis in a trade with the Vikings, and that transaction cost Haeg his roster spot. He became a popular free agent upon his release, and he lined up visits with multiple teams, including the OL-needy Raiders, before opting to sign with Cleveland.

Browns RT Jack Conklin is working his way back from a torn patellar tendon, and as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com tweets, head coach Kevin Stefanski has not yet indicated whether Conklin will be ready to suit up for the team’s Week 1 matchup against the Panthers next Sunday. Chris Easterling of the Akron Beacon Journal adds that Chris Hubbard — who played in just one game in 2021 due to a triceps issue — has not practiced in more than a week, so the Browns are clearly in need of some RT insurance.

Haeg, 29, can provide that, and he can also play guard if necessary. A fifth-round pick of the Colts in 2016, Haeg started 29 games over his first two years in the league, lining up at both RG and RT. He earned solid PFF scores of 67.9 and 64.1 for his work during those two seasons, but his play slipped a bit in 2018, and an ankle injury limited him to just eight games that year. In 2019, the final year of his rookie contract, he was used almost exclusively as a special teamer.

He hooked on with the Bucs in 2020 and earned a Super Bowl ring, though he was on the field for just 127 offensive snaps.

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.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/26/22

Today’s minor NFL transactions, including a handful of notable names landing on the physically unable to perform list and the non-football injury list as teams open up camp:

Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

  • Released with NFI designation: WR Cody Core

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Commanders

AFC North Notes: Conklin, Hunt, Steelers

Browns offensive tackle Jack Conklin missed quite a bit of time during his second year in Cleveland, seeing two separate trips to the injured reserve. He spent three weeks on injured reserve after an elbow injury sidelined him in early November. In his first game back from injury, Conklin tore his patellar tendon and promptly returned to injured reserve for the rest of the season.

According to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com, Conklin’s recovery is coming along quite well. While he remains off the field in OTAs, rehabbing on his own, and likely will be held off the field in mandatory minicamp, as well, Conklin is expected to be ready to practice at the start of training camp. He will likely be limited as camp opens up, but Conklin is expected to be ready to start once the Browns roll into Charlotte this September to open their season.

Here are a few more notes out of the AFC North, starting with another note from The Land:

  • The Browns have a fairly full running backs room. Nick Chubb is the premier back with D’Ernest Johnson and Demetric Felton serving complimentary roles and fifth-round draft pick Jerome Ford joining John Kelly in reserve roles for the position. Despite the wealth of potential contributors and the lack of certainty concerning his future going into a contract year, Kareem Hunt is viewed a valuable member of the Browns’ offense going into the season. According to Mary Kay Cabot, Hunt “is still very much in the Browns’ plans for this season” with no ideas of dealing or releasing the 26-year-old due to a lack of substantive extension discussions.
  • Omar Khan was recently promoted to the role of general manager of the Steelers. He doesn’t have a strong background in personnel, but is well-versed on the way Pittsburgh operates. It appears that Khan had a plan in place to address that weaker section of his resume. According to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, Khan pushed for his hiring to be a sort of package deal including his good friend Andy Weidl, who served previously as the vice president of player personnel for the Eagles. Bringing in Weidl and pairing him with director of pro scouting Sheldon White, who has extensive league experience in player personnel, creates a strong trio of executives to start a new era in the Steel City.

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.

Browns Rework Jack Conklin’s Contract

The Browns are starting to carve out some extra cap space. Per ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter), the Browns have reworked the final year of offensive lineman Jack Conklin‘s contract.

As Yates notes, Conklin was due a non-guaranteed $12MM in 2022. Now, he’ll earn $8MM in fully guaranteed money, plus up to $4MM in play-time incentives (starting at 55% and up to 75%). Conklin initially signed a three-year, $42MM deal with the Browns in 2020.

Now, Conklin will be locked in for 2022, he can still earn up to the $12MM he was due, and the Browns save $4MM in cap space. The Browns already entered the offseason with plenty of breathing room under the cap, with ESPN’s Jake Trotter citing their projected cap space at $27.32MM.

Following a four-year stint with the Titans that had both highs (like earning All-Pro honors as a rookie) and lows (like having his fifth-year option declined), Conklin joined the Browns in 2020. He started all 15 of his games in 2020 and earned another All-Pro nod, but he was limited to only seven starts in 2021 after suffering a torn patellar tendon.

Browns’ Jack Conklin Done For Year

Browns tackle Jack Conklin is done for the year (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). Now confirmed to have a torn patella tendon, Conklin will have to turn his attention to rehab with an eye on 2022.

That hurts to see Jack like that,” defensive end Myles Garrett said after Sunday’s game (via Cleveland.com). “I see the guy work every day, saw him work in training camp. I was part of the group that got him to come here. To see him have to deal with all these injuries, knowing what he’s going through and it’s tough to see, tough to watch and I feel for him.”

As noted by Garrett, this is just the latest malady for Conklin. In 2021 alone, he’s missed time with a dislocated elbow and a separate knee injury. It’s all amounted to a seven-game season, a disappointing follow-up to his stellar 2020. Last year, Football Focus rated him as the tenth best tackle in the NFL as he captured First-Team All-Pro honors for the first time in his career.

Blake Hance filled in after Conklin’s early exit, and he’ll continue to start at RT the rest of the way. The Browns can also be expected to add another tackle for depth during their Week 13 bye.

Latest On Browns’ Jack Conklin

The Browns believe that right tackle Jack Conklin is dealing with a torn patella tendon in his knee, according to a source who spoke with ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). Conklin, who was carted off during last night’s loss to the Ravens, will know more after additional testing this afternoon.

You hate that for anybody, especially Jack, who’s been fighting to come back after the dislocated elbow,” said quarterback Baker Mayfield (via ESPN.com). “It’s just one of those freak deals. He’s one of our guys, and it’s just a really, really unfortunate thing.”

Conklin has already missed time this year, thanks to the elbow dislocation he suffered in Week 8 and another knee injury earlier in the year. Of course, when healthy, Conklin has performed as one of the game’s best right tackles. In 2019 and 2020, Pro Football Focus ranked him as the tenth best tackle in the NFL. And, even in this injury-marred season, PFF has him slotted 14th.

The Browns gave the former first round pick a three-year, $42MM deal in 2020. He’s still under contract for 2022 and almost certain to return — releasing him would save just $6MM against $9MM in dead money. Beyond that, they’d be hard-pressed to find a better option for less on the open market.

Browns Activate RB Kareem Hunt, RT Jack Conklin

As expected, the Browns will be getting some reinforcement tomorrow night against the Ravens. The team has officially activated running back Kareem Hunt and and right tackle Jack Conklin from injured reserve. Both players are listed as questionable but are expected to play. Cleveland has also waived guard Hjalte Froholdt and defensive end Joe Jackson, and they’ve promoted defensive end Porter Gustin and wideout Jojo Natson from the practice squad (via Nate Ulrich of the Beacon Journal on Twitter).

Hunt has been on Cleveland’s IR list since suffering a calf injury in Week 6. Despite Hunt missing extensive time and Nick Chubb being sidelined for multiple games as well, Cleveland’s vaunted rushing attack still leads the NFL. Hunt, however, was averaging 5.2 yards per carry through six games. The ex-rushing champion has topped out at 4.9 over a full season.

Hunt has experienced knee and wrist issues as well this season, and he is unlikely to be 100% again until the 2022 campaign. But Hunt returning at slightly less than 100% would certainly help a Browns team that has struggled through the air. The running back duo obviously affects the Browns’ offensive output. In five games with Chubb and Hunt active, the Browns are averaging 28.4 points and 417.6 yards per game. In the six in which either has missed, they have scored just 16.5 points per contest while averaging barely 315 yards, via ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter).

Conklin went down with a dislocated elbow in Week 8, adding a three-game absence on top of a two-game hiatus earlier this season. The Browns gave the ex-Titans right tackle a three-year, $42MM deal in 2020. His five missed games this season mark his first extended absence since 2018, when he missed nine games. The former first-round pick remains one of the NFL’s best right tackles. Pro Football Focus grades Conklin 14th among all tackles in his abbreviated 2021 slate.

Jackson has appeared in a career-high 10 games this season, collecting 11 tackles and one sack. Froholdt has seen time in four games for Cleveland this season. Gustin got into 14 games for the Browns last year but has been limited to only one appearance in 2021. Natson has also seen time in one game this season, returning three kickoffs.