K.J. Hamler

Broncos Place WR KJ Hamler On IR

The latest injury suffered by KJ Hamler will lead to an extended absence. The Broncos wideout has been placed on IR, per a team announcement on Saturday.

Hamler has been sidelined since Week 9 with a hamstring injury. Signs appeared to be pointing to a return in the near future, but a recent setback ruled him out for tomorrow’s game against the Ravens. The 23-year-old will now miss at least the next four weeks of the season, one which has only six contests remaining for Denver.

Hamler entered the league with considerable potential as a deep threat given his time at Penn State, but injuries have been a constant to begin his NFL career. The 2020 second-rounder has played in 23 games to date, logging a snap share above 50% only in his rookie season. His 14.8 yards-per-reception average demonstrates his vertical speed when healthy, but those times have been too few and far between for him to allow for much in the way of development.

With Hamler now sidelined, the Broncos have a league-leading 15 players on IR. Their WR corps has been significantly affected by the team’s overall injury woes, with Tim Patrick going down for the season and Jerry Jeudy missing the past two games. With the latter being a game-time decision for Week 13, Denver’s 18th-ranked passing attack could continue to be shorthanded. To little surprise given that uncertainty, Denver has officially signed wideout Brandon Johnson to the active roster after elevating the rookie from the practice squad for two consecutive weeks.

In more positive injury news, the Broncos used the open roster spot to activate running back Mike Boone. He has missed the past four games, but will now step into a rotational role in the team’s new-look backfield alongside veterans Latavius Murray and Marlon Mack. The former UDFA has averaged 5.5 yards per carry over the course of his career, albeit in a limited workload.

The 3-8 Broncos will likely be forced to use a ground-heavy attack against the Ravens on Sunday, given their banged-up WR room, though Baltimore’s defensive strength has come on the ground. With improvement on offense likely being needed in the coming weeks to avoid a coaching change, Hamler will play little (if any) part in it given today’s move.

WR Rumors: Diggs, Texans, Panthers, Hamler

Week 10’s VikingsBills thriller featured Stefon Diggs‘ first game against his former team. The 2020 trade that sent Diggs to Buffalo and a compensation package headlined by a first-round pick (Justin Jefferson) to Minnesota became one of the great win-win trades in modern NFL history. Diggs voicing his frustration about the Vikings’ run-heavy offense in 2019 led to Bills interest, laying the groundwork for the 2020 swap. Diggs requested a trade in October 2019, but after meetings with Vikings brass, the sides agreed to shelve the matter until 2020, Tim Graham of The Athletic reports (subscription required).

After a season in which Diggs drew just 94 targets in 15 games, the Vikings worked with the wideout’s agent to find a fit. The Jets and Patriots reached out, and Graham adds the Texans were in the mix as well. A Texans trade would have been interesting, considering they ended up trading DeAndre Hopkins on the same day Diggs was ultimately dealt. Houston ended up acquiring Brandin Cooks later that spring. Diggs did not ask for a new contract from the Bills immediately. His camp worried an extension request upon arrival would scuttle a potential deal, Graham adds, but the Bills understood money needed to be moved to accommodate the trade asset. Buffalo did so later that summer. Diggs ended up playing two years on his 2018 Vikings-constructed deal before inking a four-year, $96MM Bills pact this offseason.

Both Diggs and Jefferson are 2-for-2 in Pro Bowls since the trade, with both heading toward more accolades this year. Jefferson will be eligible for a monster extension in 2023. Here is the latest from the NFL’s receiver landscape:

  • Although the Texans used their No. 1 waiver spot to claim Amari Rodgers on Wednesday, Field Yates of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter) the Panthers also submitted a claim. The Panthers have D.J. Moore and Terrace Marshall signed to long-term deals but recently changed up their receiver situation by trading Robbie Anderson. Houston now has Rodgers, a 2021 third-round pick whom the Packers cut this week, signed through 2024.
  • Injury problems have hindered the Broncos throughout the season, and their receiver situation — one already affected by Tim Patrick‘s training camp ACL tear — took another hit last week when KJ Hamler went down in practice. Hamler’s hamstring injury sidelined him for Denver’s Week 10 game, and Nathaniel Hackett said (via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter, on Twitter) the third-year wideout is expected to miss “a few” more weeks due to the injury. A former second-round pick, Hamler is coming off a season marred by an ACL tear and a hip injury. The young deep threat drew interest at the trade deadline, but the Broncos opted to stand pat at receiver. Hamler has just seven catches for 165 yards this season.
  • Conversely, Jerry Jeudy is believed to have avoided a major setback. Jeudy suffered an ankle injury early in the Broncos’ Week 10 loss to the Titans; he was carted off the field. But the Broncos believe the former first-round pick dodged a bullet, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, who notes Jeudy could return this week. Jeudy, who also left a Week 2 game due to an ankle injury before returning in Week 3, has 30 receptions for 449 yards this season.

Broncos WR KJ Hamler Ruled Out With Hamstring Injury

After injuring his hamstring this Wednesday in practice, Broncos slot receiver KJ Hamler will not be available this Sunday when the team travels to Nashville, according to Troy Renck of Denver7. This leaves Denver’s receiving corps down two men as Tim Patrick remains on injured reserve after a preseason ACL tear.

Renck points out that the absence of Hamler is especially damaging as the Titans have struggled to defend the middle of the field against slot receivers this season. The natural replacement for Hamler in the slot would this year’s fifth-round pick Montrell Washington. The rookie out of Samford has only amassed three catches for five yards this year in limited time but physically represents the best matchup in the slot.

Whoever the Broncos line up in the slot should get plenty of opportunities with wideouts Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy drawing attention on the perimeter. The Broncos could also see plenty of production from tight ends Greg Dulcich, Eric Saubert, and Albert Okwuegbunam across the middle.

The Broncos haven’t quite had the season they were hoping for after acquiring quarterback Russell Wilson in a trade with Seattle this offseason. Denver is hoping that the offensive momentum from the team’s win over Jacksonville two weeks ago will carry through the bye week into this week’s matchup with the Titans. Losing Hamler as a target in the middle of the field hurts, but Wilson and company can still capitalize against the Titans’ perceived weakness.

Giants, Others Called Broncos On Jerry Jeudy; Team Wanted Round 2 Pick?

This year’s wide receiver trade market included Jerry Jeudy, but the Broncos backed away from trading him. They instead unloaded Bradley Chubb for first- and fourth-round picks, along with Chase Edmonds. But teams showed interest in Jeudy, a former first-rounder.

Denver is believed to have wanted a second-rounder for Jeudy, Dan Duggan of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Broncos GM George Paton said several calls came in for Jeudy and the team’s other wide receivers, but the team — which has each of its top three wideouts under contract beyond 2022 — stood down. The Chubb market picked up considerably ahead of the deadline, but the Broncos had been leaning toward keeping Jeudy for a few days before NFL trading ceased.

We received a number of calls on our receivers, some other positions,” Paton said. “We wanted to keep our young, talented receivers. We started to get some rhythm in the last game vs. Jacksonville. We just feel good with where we’re going. We’re trending in the right direction with Jerry and [KJ] Hamler and Courtland [Sutton]. We didn’t want to break that up. I think we have a good thing going. We’re in it to win it moving forward, and so we kept all of our receivers.

Rumored to be interested, the Giants indeed called the Broncos on Jeudy, Ralph Vacchiano of Fox Sports adds. Addressing his team’s need at receiver, Giants GM Joe Schoen said “the price point just didn’t work out,” citing a desire to protect future draft picks. The Giants were interested in Jeudy and Brandin Cooks, though the latter’s big 2023 salary ($18MM) interrupted every team’s talks with the Texans, but were viewed as unlikely to part with more than a Day 3 pick for a wideout. Chase Claypool ended up being the only receiver — at least, among those eligible to play in 2022 — moved at the deadline, going from Pittsburgh to Chicago for a Round 2 choice.

The Broncos’ previous regime drafted Jeudy 15th overall. The Alabama alum (30 catches, 449 yards, three touchdowns in 2022) is on pace for a career-high receiving total, but he has also enjoyed an inconsistent career and has struggled with drops. Jeudy, 23, has four this season; Sutton has five. Coupled with Russell Wilson‘s struggles assimilating in Nathaniel Hackett‘s offense, the Broncos have run into rampant issues on that side of the ball.

Still, Denver moving forward with Jeudy makes sense. He is tied to his rookie contract through 2023, with a to-be-determined fifth-year option allowing the deal to be extended through 2024. While the Broncos have not lived up to offseason expectations, a true fire sale did not make much sense — especially at receiver. The team could finetune this group next year, but as of now, Wilson’s top four wideouts — Sutton, Jeudy, Hamler and Tim Patrick — are all under contract in 2023.

The Giants have a far less certain receiving corps — both this year and next. They traded Kadarius Toney to the Chiefs and have lost Sterling Shepard for the season. Kenny Golladay has missed much of this year with an MCL sprain, while Darius Slayton only recently re-emerged from Brian Daboll‘s doghouse. Shepard and Slayton are on expiring contracts, with Golladay a certain 2023 cap casualty. With Wan’Dale Robinson about the lone guaranteed receiving cog to be part of next year’s Giants, this will be a major offseason need.

Chiefs, Rams Expected To Pursue Pass Rushing Help

The Chiefs and Rams are involved in the Brandin Cooks market, and both clubs are also seeking upgrades to their pass rushing contingent. Per Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports, Kansas City and Los Angeles would like to add a pass rusher prior to Tuesday’s trade deadline.

The most notable pass rusher that has the best chance of being moved within the next several days appears to be Denver’s Bradley Chubb. Indeed, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com classifies the 2-5 Broncos as the most likely team to make a trade, and he further reports that one club has offered Denver a package headlined by a first-round pick in exchange for Chubb. Even though two of Chubb’s first four professional seasons were marred by injury, his fifth season has proven that, when healthy, he is one of the game’s better edge defenders. Through seven games in 2022, he has posted 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

As Jones points out, Denver would almost certainly not trade Chubb to the division-rival Chiefs, though the Rams would be a viable trade partner. LA, however, lacks a 2023 first-round pick due to last year’s Matthew Stafford trade, so it remains to be seen if it would be able to present Broncos GM George Paton with a winning offer. Jones says the Rams, as is their custom, are willing to trade future first-rounders.

Since Chubb is in the final year of his rookie contract, any acquiring club would want to work out a contract extension with him, according to Schefter. Of course, if Paton holds onto Chubb, he would want to come to terms on a multi-year pact as well (as Parker Gabriel of the Denver Post writes, Chubb is amenable to a contract that keeps him in the Mile High City for the long haul). Regardless of where he ends up, Chubb’s next deal is expected to pay him more than $20MM on an annual basis.

Other pass rushers that could be available for the Chiefs and Rams include players like the Panthers’ Brian Burns and the Jaguars’ Josh Allen. Jones echoes recent reports that Carolina seems unwilling to move Burns, and the NFL.com trio of Ian Rapoport, Tom Pelissero, and Mike Garafolo report that Jacksonville wants to retain Allen, whom it views as a foundational piece.

While Chubb could be dealt, Schefter says the Broncos do not plan to trade wideouts Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler. Tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, meanwhile, is still likely to be traded, per Troy Renck of Denver 7 (via Twitter). The asking price on Okwuegbunam is “minimal.”

Broncos’ Jerry Jeudy Viewed As Available; KJ Hamler, Melvin Gordon Drawing Interest

The latest London game will feature two 2-5 teams — one of them set to debut a rather odd uniform combination — and lacks the appeal the Giants-Packers matchup brought. But Sunday’s Broncos-Jaguars meeting figures to have a major impact on next week’s trade deadline.

As the interest in Jerry Jeudy persists, the third-year Broncos wide receiver is now viewed as available, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler. An initial report indicated the Broncos were not planning to trade the former first-round pick, but interest may be developing to the point the franchise is prepared to follow through.

KJ Hamler and Melvin Gordon are two other Broncos who have also drawn some interest, per ESPN’s Dan Graziano. Bradley Chubb joins them. Chubb and Jeudy would bring back the most in returns, but Gordon and Hamler have each been three-year contributors in Denver. The Broncos’ disastrous start has piqued teams’ interest re: trades, with Fowler adding teams believe Denver GM George Paton is willing to deal multiple players.

Chubb and Jeudy might carry similar value; Day 2 draft capital is likely required to pry either from the freefalling Broncos. But the latter is believed to be close with Russell Wilson and would stand to be a considerable asset in Wilson’s second Broncos season. Jeudy, 23, is three years younger than Chubb and would profile as a cheaper complement to Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick, who each signed extensions during the 2021 season.

Providing slot ability Sutton and Patrick lack, Jeudy has flashed at points during his Broncos tenure. Injuries have, however, limited the Alabama alum, who arrived in Denver before Paton. John Elway‘s final first-round pick as GM, Jeudy has also seen the Broncos’ struggles at quarterback limit him. A team eyeing the 6-foot-1 pass catcher would stand to believe it can unlock more from a player who can be controlled on his rookie deal (via the fifth-year option) through 2024. Jeudy’s contract enhances his value, even if his production has come in below draft-class peers Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb and Tee Higgins.

The Broncos chose Hamler in the 2020 second round, but injuries and inconsistency have defined his career. An ACL tear and hip injury in Week 3 of the 2021 season kept Hamler out to the point the Broncos sat him in an early-season game this year. But the Penn State-developed deep threat has played in six games this season. Jeudy’s 386 receiving yards are second on the team; Hamler is only at 113 (on five catches). The latter’s trade value will be considerably lower.

Gordon, 29, has not seen eye-to-eye, usage-wise, with embattled HC Nathaniel Hackett. Whereas Hackett has run into trouble on most fronts, Gordon’s fumbling problem has led to his reduced standing. Since Gordon signed a two-year, $16MM Broncos deal in 2020, he has fumbled 11 times. No other running back in that span has put the ball on the ground more than nine times. Javonte Williams‘ injury did not lead to a full-time Gordon role, with Latavius Murray — signed off the Saints’ practice squad — soon taking over as Denver’s primary back. This has led to frustration from Gordon, who has still started the past three Broncos games. He is averaging 3.5 yards per carry this season. The two-time Pro Bowler did combine for 20 touchdowns during his first two Broncos slates.

The former Chargers first-rounder re-signed on a one-year, $2.5MM deal that includes a $2.15MM base salary. Gordon joins Cam Akers and Kareem Hunt as prominent backs who could be moved before the Nov. 1 deadline. Gordon might be dealt regardless of the Broncos’ result against the Jaguars, joining Albert Okwuegbunam in that regard. But Denver’s outing against Jacksonville might determine where high-profile cogs like Jeudy and Chubb finish the season.

A regular deadline seller in recent years, Denver has traded Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Von Miller since 2018. The Wilson trade also stripped Denver of its first- and second-round picks in 2023. Will the team make a move to recoup Day 2 value?

WR Notes: Lions, Burks, Broncos, Giants

The Lions are leading the NFL in scoring, having hit 35 points in three of their four games. They did so Sunday without Amon-Ra St. Brown and D’Andre Swift and have been playing without their No. 12 overall draft choice all season. As expected, Jameson Williams will not return to practice when first eligible. Dan Campbell confirmed the first-round pick is improving but added “several weeks” remain before practices enter the equation, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Detroit has a Week 6 bye. Campbell said it will be “a good time after” that point before the team considers Williams practicing.

An Ohio State recruit who broke through after transferring to Alabama in 2021, Williams is rehabbing the ACL tear he sustained in the national championship game. The previously mentioned midseason return, which would give Williams nearly 10 months of rehab, may not quite cover it. But the Lions are understandably playing the long game here. They are not exactly primed to contend in 2022 and could have Williams under team control through 2026, via the fifth-year option. Once Williams’ practice window is opened, the Lions have 21 days to activate him from their reserve/NFI list.

Here is the latest from the receiver scene:

  • Turf toe will pause Treylon Burks‘ rookie season. While Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes the Titans receiver is not set to undergo surgery, he will miss time (Twitter link). This absence is expected to extend beyond a couple of weeks, per Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed. That would open the door to an IR stint. Turf toe can be a nagging issue, and this ailment has cropped up after Burks cleared some offseason hurdles to put together a somewhat promising start. Burks bounced on and off the field during the offseason for the Titans, with an asthma issue contributing to his missing minicamp. Despite the first-round pick not starting Tennessee’s opener, he caught seven passes for 102 yards over his team’s first two games. The Arkansas alum will look to build on that upon return.
  • Staying with the 2022 receiver draft class, the Commanders are set to be without their first-round pick for a stretch. A hamstring injury will likely sideline Jahan Dotson for at least two games, Ron Rivera said. Dotson has proven to be a solid contributor early, catching three touchdown passes in four weeks.
  • The Broncos, who have now lost two skill-position starters to season-ending ACL tears, are planning to elevate K.J. Hamler‘s role. Nathaniel Hackett said the 2020 second-round pick is a player the team must involve more in its game plans, via the Denver Post’s Parker Gabriel (on Twitter). Although Hamler caught a well-placed 55-yard pass in Week 4 to set up a Denver touchdown, he played four snaps in Las Vegas. Considering the Broncos are without Tim Patrick for the season, Hamler not seeing much action surprises. But the Penn State-developed speedster suffered an ACL tear and a hip injury — one the Broncos feared was a Bo Jackson-type malady — in Week 3 last season. With the team holding him out in Week 2 because of his previous injury, Hamler is still attempting to surmount that setback. During this process, the Broncos have used Kendall Hinton as their No. 3 wideout.
  • Sterling Shepard confirmed (via The Athletic’s Dan Duggan, on Twitter) he did not suffer any damage beyond his ACL tear, though the seventh-year Giants wideout estimated his tear actually occurred two plays before he went down. Shepard, who will undergo surgery this month, agreed to a pay cut to stay this offseason — which followed a 2021 Achilles tear. This latest injury could put the former second-round pick’s career in jeopardy.

Broncos WR KJ Hamler Out For Week 2

After the position was seen as a strength entering the season, the Broncos’ situation at wide receiver is being tested early in the campaign. KJ Hamler will miss Denver’s Week 2 game against the Texans, reports NFL Network’s James Palmer (Twitter link). 

The 23-year-old will sit out as he continues to deal with lingering pain stemming from the knee and hip surgeries he underwent last year. As Palmer notes, “it took a lot” just for Hamler to be available for the Broncos’ regular season opener in Seattle. He played 40 snaps in that contest, his first action since Week 3 of the 2021 campaign.

“Part of the maintenance,” head coach Nathaniel Hackett said, via 9News’ Mike Klis, when asked about Hamler missing the entire week of practice. “We want to make sure we get him to [play] as many games as we possibly can.”

A second-rounder in 2020, Hamler has been limited to just 17 games so far in his NFL career. His receptions (35) and yardage (455) totals fall short of what he and the team would have expected given his college production, though his yards-per-catch average of 13.0 demonstrates the vertical speed he was drafted to provide. Expectations are high in 2022, just as they are for the rest of Denver’s skill-position corps, given the presence of Russell Wilson at quarterback.

With Hamler’s availability set to fluctuate from one game to the next, the loss of fellow wideout Tim Patrick to an ACL tear leaves Denver much thinner at the position than they were entering training camp. Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy will likely see an increase in targets, but Tyrie Cleveland along with rookies Montrell Washington and Jerry Virgil are among the options to step into a starting slot role. The inexperienced trio will likely be in and out of the rotation as the team continues managing Hamler’s situation.

“It’s such a unique deal what happened to him,” Hackett added. “He’s been doing some great things, been getting some great reps, did good last game. We just want to be sure we got him for the whole season.”

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/1/22

Here are the first minor moves of August:

Baltimore Ravens

Denver Broncos

  • Activated from active/PUP list: WR KJ Hamler

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Las Vegas Raiders

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

The Lions’ new running back, Jackson, has found a second home after playing out his rookie contract in Los Angeles. The former seventh-round pick out of Northwestern spent his time with the Chargers backing up starting running back Austin Ekeler, earning a few starts during Ekeler’s more injury-riddled periods. Despite not receiving many touches, Jackson has made the most of each one averaging 5.0 yards per carry during his four-year career in the NFL to total 1,040 rushing yards and four touchdowns, adding 508 yards receiving on 65 receptions. Jackson will compete with Craig Reynolds and Jermar Jefferson for the reserve positions behind the top-two backs, D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams.

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