The losses of Hart and Ifedi seem like fairly large blows to the offensive line, but the Lions are set to return four of last year’s five starting offensive linemen in Penei Sewell, Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, and Jonah Jackson. The fifth spot will be re-filled by Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who missed last season due to injury but started at right guard the previous two years. Detroit is absolutely set on their starting five offensive linemen. Hart and Ifedi could’ve likely provided strong depth, but with both at 29 years old, they should land on their feet and perhaps find starting opportunities like they’ve had in the past.
Denzel Mims‘ time in Detroit has come to an end rather quickly. The former Jets wideout has been dealing with multiple ailments and will be waived with an injury designation, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). The move is now official.
The former second-round pick was traded from the Jets to the Lions last month in a move aimed at giving him a fresh start and providing Detroit with low-cost receiver depth. The Day 3 picks swapped in that trade were conditional on Mims making the Lions’ 53-man roster. Since that will not be happening, both teams will retain their respective selections.
Mims entered the NFL with considerable expectations after posting two 1,000-yard seasons in college. He flashed potential as a deep threat during his rookie season, averaging 15.5 yards per catch on 23 receptions. The Baylor product saw his playing time cut dramatically after that, however, and his production over the past two seasons left him on the roster bubble.
New York’s preference was to find a trade partner for Mims rather than waiving him themselves, but he will now find himself on the open market nevertheless. Rapoport notes that the 25-year-old suffered a calf injury while rehabbing an ankle injury picked up earlier in training camp. Today’s news thus comes as little surprise, and the Lions will move forward with a receiving corps which will be without Jameson Williams for the rest of the summer after the latter encountered a hamstring issue.
To fill the roster spot opened up by Mims’ departure, the Lions are signing Jason Moore, per Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 (Twitter link). The former UDFA has made 20 career appearances in the NFL, all with the Chargers. Unlike Mims, Moore has a background on special teams, something which could help the latter in his bid to earn a 53-man roster spot. The former, meanwhile, will turn his attention to recovery and seek out another new opportunity when healthy.
The 49ers closed last season with only Josh Johnson backing up Brock Purdy, moving to that two-quarterback setup after Jimmy Garoppolo‘s foot injury. That approach’s conclusion ended up leading to the NFL changing the rules regarding QB availability.
Going into this year, the 49ers will likely take a more conventional approach. They are prepared to carry three quarterbacks on their active roster, Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes (subscription required).
San Francisco’s offseason roster houses four quarterbacks — Purdy, Trey Lance, Sam Darnold, Brandon Allen — and the team just worked out recent XFL arm Jack Coan (along with four-year veteran wide receiver Jason Moore), KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson tweets. With a four-QB arrangement rarely used during the regular season, one of the team’s current four passers will not be on the active roster once the team sets it August 29. This does invite questions regarding Lance and Darnold coexisting, but Allen could make sense as a practice squad option.
Despite Allen spending the past three years as Joe Burrow‘s Bengals backup, he landed with the 49ers midway through the offseason. Allen would pass straight to free agency if cut in late August, opening the door for a spot on San Francisco’s 16-man P-squad. It is possible another team would view the veteran backup as a second- or third-string candidate, however. In the event the 49ers do pull the trigger on a Lance trade — a rumored scenario earlier this offseason, though John Lynch has veered in the other direction as of late — Allen makes sense as their third-stringer.
“He’s obviously not just a camp arm around this league,” Shanahan said of Allen. “He’s been a backup for a while.”
Allen, 30, is going into his eighth NFL season. For now, Lance and Darnold are splitting first-team reps while Purdy recovers. But after the events of last season, the 49ers could carry three QBs on their active roster and have an insurance option on the P-squad.
Lance went down in Week 2 of last season and underwent two ankle surgeries, while Garoppolo’s Bay Area run coming to an end in early December. The latter issue led to a March surgery, which has affected the Raiders’ 2023 plans. Purdy’s UCL tear did not lead to Tommy John surgery, but it has still thrust the 49ers into another offseason headlined by post-surgery rehab. Garoppolo came back from shoulder surgery last year, moving off the trade block and into the role of Lance’s backup. Johnson, signed off the Broncos’ practice squad after Garoppolo’s injury, suffered a concussion that brought a severely compromised Purdy back into the NFC championship game. Last month, the NFL approved the return of the emergency QB rule, which allows for teams to designate a non-active-roster passer as its game-day emergency option — only in the event its top two QBs go down.
This scenario opens the door to the strange proposition of Lance or Darnold not dressing but being an emergency option. Purdy continues to look like he will not need a stay on the reserve/PUP list to start the season. Although the second-year passer’s rehab timetable may still threaten his regular-season availability, the 49ers will likely play it week to week and keep Purdy on their 53-man roster in that case. Not long after beginning to throw post-surgery, Purdy has ramped up his throwing program to three times per week, Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News notes.
Considered ahead of schedule in his recovery from an internal brace procedure, Purdy remains in the driver’s seat to start for the 49ers. Training camp will provide a better indication of Darnold or Lance’s capabilities at unseating last year’s Mr. Irrelevant, but for the time being, Purdy’s grip on the job remains firm.
Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs and Raiders moves are noted below.
Here are Wednesday’s AFC West transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.
Covington represents by far the most experienced player being let go. He spent just one season in Los Angeles, starting three of his 16 appearances. While the 28-year-old Canadian set a new career-high in tackles with 52, he was part of the league’s third-worst run defense. That, coupled with Covington’s small roster bonus, made him a logical cut candidate.
The Chargers have a crowded backfield to work with, and one main training camp storyline has been the competition to establish the pecking order behind Austin Ekeler. By waiving Nabers, however, the team can keep one more back on the 53-man roster. Given their passing efficiency, eliminating the fullback position from the offense would allow them to keep the former UDFA on the practice squad (if at all); if not, Nabers will need to find one of the few remaining teams with a spot for his skillset.
Surratt carries the most upside amongst the TE departures. The converted WR didn’t play during his rookie season, but demonstrated his talent in college, including a 1,000-yerd season at Wake Forest. Given his absence from the 2020 college season, as well as the 2021 NFL campaign, though, keeping the six-foot-three, 215-pounder as a depth option behind Gerald Everettcould better be done via the practice squad.