Kellen Mond

Wednesday NFL Transactions: AFC North

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 BengalsBrowns, Ravens and Steelers moves are noted below.

Here are Wednesday’s AFC North transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.

Baltimore Ravens

Signed:

Claimed:

Waived:

Placed on IR:

Signed to practice squad:

Cincinnati Bengals

Claimed:

Released:

Waived:

Placed on IR:

Signed to practice squad:

Cleveland Browns

Claimed: 

Released:

Signed to practice squad:

Pittsburgh Steelers

Browns Claim QB Kellen Mond

Ahead of what will be a historically unusual quarterback season in Cleveland, the Browns added a recent Day 2 pick to their equation. Kellen Mond will head to Cleveland as a waiver claim, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

The Vikings waived the 2021 third-round pick Tuesday, but Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press notes the team was planning to bring him back on its practice squad if he cleared waivers (Twitter link). The Browns interrupted that process and are adding the Texas A&M product to an active roster that features Jacoby Brissett and Joshua Dobbs.

Mond did not particularly impress the Vikings regime that drafted him, and his issues this offseason undoubtedly led the new Minnesota staff to trade for Nick Mullens. The Browns are offering another developmental opportunity. Brissett is in place as the fill-in for Deshaun Watson, whose 11-game suspension began Tuesday, and Dobbs beat out Josh Rosen for the backup job. Mond will be in place to train behind the veterans.

In his final season with the Aggies, Mond set a new career-high mark in completion percentage (63.3%), and passer rating (146.9). The multiyear Aggies starter, however, only came to Minnesota after the team’s push to trade up for Justin Fields failed. Despite Mond’s draft status, the Vikings still brought back veteran backup Sean Mannion this offseason. He and Mond split reps in camp, leading to the Mullens trade. Mullens spent last season with the Browns.

Vikings Move Down To 53

Here is how the Vikings finalized their initial 53-man roster Tuesday:

Released:

Waived:

Waived/injured:

Beyond the previously covered quarterback situation, the Watts departure is Minnesota’s most notable cut. The 2019 sixth-round pick started nine games last season, moving into the lineup after Michael Pierce‘s injury. The Vikings cut Pierce this offseason, though Watts did not profile as a pure nose tackle. He was also drafted to play in a different scheme.

Minnesota hired a new DC this offseason (Ed Donatell), and the team acquired former Texans second-round defensive tackle pick Ross Blacklock on Tuesday. The Vikes had also added veteran Jonathan Bullard this offseason. These moves appear to have affected Watts’ status, as does the Vikings keeping only six D-linemen. They retained 10 after 2021’s cutdown day. Some of the changes can be attributed to classification, with edge defenders classified as outside linebackers in 3-4 sets. Watts also carried a $2.5MM cap charge, allowing Minnesota to save some decent money.

The Davis cut represents a quick bailout on a 2021 third-round pick. One of two guard Davises the Vikes shipped out Tuesday (along with Jesse, whom they traded to the Steelers), Wyatt — an Ohio State alum — played in six games last season and did not log an offensive snap. In addition to drafting Ed Ingram in the second round this year, the Vikings signed veteran interior linemen Chris Reed and Austin Schlottmann.

Vikings To Cut Kellen Mond, Sean Mannion

12:45pm: Mannion also received word he has been cut, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. This leaves only Cousins and Mullens at quarterback on Minnesota’s roster. Unlike Mond, however, it appears Mannion has a chance to come back. The Vikings would like Mannion to be their practice squad QB, per Tomasson. As a vested veteran, Mannion does not need to pass through waivers. He can join Minnesota’s practice squad as soon as Wednesday.

10:30am: The Vikings are in line to sort out their crowded quarterback room. The team is waiving Kellen Mond, reports NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).

Minnesota drafted the Texas A&M product in the third round last year, setting him up as a potential Kirk Cousins successor. The interest shown by the Texans in the draft process demonstrated how he was regarded coming out of college.

In his final season with the Aggies, Mond set a new career-mark in completion percentage (63.3%), and passer rating (146.9). While not known for his mobility, he added 294 yards and four touchdowns on the ground as well, cementing his status as a Day 2 candidate. After just one NFL season – during which he made one appearance – though, his future is now far more uncertain than his age and draft status would imply.

The Vikings spent training camp splitting reps evenly between Mond and veteran Sean Mannion. That competition alone left the former in danger of being left off the 53-man roster, but another recent move left him in that position to an even greater extent. The Vikings traded for Nick Mullens, who was himself displaced as a backup by Jarrett Stidham in Vegas.

With Mond on waivers, the Vikings (now led by GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah) are content to move forward with Cousins and Mullens at the top of the depth chart. Mannion, meanwhile, is now without competition for the No. 3 role.

Raiders To Trade QB Nick Mullens To Vikings

The Raiders faced a decision with respect to their backup quarterback position at some point before the start of the regular season. They have apparently made it, as the team is sending Nick Mullens to the Vikings in exchange for a conditional 2024 seventh-round pick (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero). 

His colleague Ian Rapoport adds that Mullens must be active for one game this season for Vegas to receive the pick. The Raiders signed Mullens this April as an insurance policy for starter Derek Carr. The former UDFA spent three seasons in San Francisco, wining five of his 16 starts filling in for Jimmy Garoppolo. He then joined the Eagles briefly, but spent last season in Cleveland, where he made one start as the Browns were dealing with a long list of COVID-related absences.

One month after signing Mullens, though, the Raiders also traded for Jarrett Stidham. The former Patriots fourth-rounder got an opportunity to once again work with Josh McDaniels in Vegas, and has impressed in training camp and the preseason to the point where he has won the competition with Mullens for the No. 2 spot.

The Vikings, meanwhile, will likely be able to accommodate Mullens for their backup gig. Minnesota drafted Kellen Mond in the third round last year, but have also rostered Sean Mannion. The two have been receiving equal work so far in training camp, indicating that neither has significantly distanced themselves from the other. With Mullens, who has familiarity in the kind of offensive system new head coach Kevin O’Connell will install, the Vikings will have more of a known commodity behind Kirk Cousins.

The team will be likely to try and retain Mond as well, given his draft status. His hold on a 53-man roster spot has now become much less certain, though, as both the Raiders and Vikings look for clarity in their QB rooms in the build-up to campaigns carrying significant expectations.

NFC North Notes: Smith, Lions, Vikings

A strange situation may be developing in Chicago. Roquan Smith made his trade request public earlier this week, and the standout linebacker is staging a hold-in effort at Bears camp. Smith does not have an agent, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports a person claiming to represent the fifth-year defender has been contacting teams to gauge trade interest. The person calling teams is not an NFLPA-certified agent, per Florio, and the Bears have not given Smith permission to seek a trade. The team still wants to extend the two-time second-team All-Pro, even though Smith does not have much hope for salvaging this situation. A team that negotiated with this unknown Smith representative would face tampering charges. While teams are interested in the former top-10 pick, Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus does not expect a first-round pick to be offered — if it reaches the point the Bears are fielding offers.

Here is the latest from the rest of the NFC North:

  • The Lions signed veteran wide receiver Devin Funchess and converted him to tight end, a position where he spent some time while a Michigan freshman in 2012. Funchess is not a lock to make the Lions’ roster, and Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes the team may only keep three tight ends. In addition to T.J. Hockenson, Dan Campbell plans to a keep a blocking tight end and an all-purpose player. Funchess would obviously be competing for the latter spot, with Birkett adding Shane Zylstra and fifth-round pick James Mitchell are in that group as well. Garrett Griffin and Brock Wright are vying for the blocking gig. Funchess would still have practice squad eligibility, and teams can still keep 16 players on their taxi squads.
  • Detroit also brought back Jarrad Davis this offseason, but the former first-round pick is not a lock to make the team. Davis has worked with the second- and third-team defenses in training camp, per Birkett, who adds the ex-Florida standout might need to show he can be a productive special teams player to make the team. Davis logged a career-high 46% special teams snap rate with the Jets last season. The Lions are not particularly deep at linebacker, but this regime did not draft Davis, who was brought in during Jim Caldwell‘s final season under GM Bob Quinn. Davis, 27, started 45 games for the Lions from 2017-20.
  • Despite the Vikings selecting Kellen Mond in last year’s third round, they brought back Sean Mannion for another potential run as Kirk Cousins‘ backup. The two have split time behind Cousins at training camp, per the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson. They are listed as co-backups on Minnesota’s depth chart, with Mond — after a year of seasoning — seemingly having a better chance to move into the QB2 role. Under Mike Zimmer, Mond worked only with the Vikings’ third-team offense. The quarterback said earlier this offseason he played at less than full strength throughout his rookie year due to contracting COVID-19 during camp.

NFC North Notes: Vikings Front Office Hire, Hundley, Jones, Alexander

New Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah made a noteworthy addition to his staff earlier this week. The team announced the hiring of Demitrius Washington as their new vice president of football operations.

Washington had spent seven years with the 49ers, a stretch which overlapped with Adofo-Mensah’s time in that organization. For the past two seasons, Washington served as San Francisco’s director of research and development, the same title Adofo-Mensah held with the Browns prior to his hire. The pair will now reunite and, along with new head coach Kevin O’Connell, oversee the franchise’s transition from the previous Rick Spielman-Mike Zimmer regime.

Here are some other notes from around the NFC North, starting with one more from Minnesota:

  • The Vikings brought in veteran backup quarterback Brett Hundley as a tryout during rookie minicamp, but they made it clear they would not be signing him, as noted by Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. The 28-year-old hasn’t made a regular season appearance since 2019, most recently spending time with the Colts. Minnesota’s QB room currently consists of Kirk Cousins, Kellen Mond, Sean Mannion and Nate Stanley.
  • The Bears used one of their 11 picks in last month’s draft to add to its receiving corps, selecting Velus Jones in the third round. The team is high on his speed and versatility, leading to the new coaching staff having “big plans” for the 25-year-old. “Let’s start out at receiver and then let’s see what he can do, moving him around to different spots and getting him the ball, because he is an explosive athlete” head coach Matt Eberflus said, via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin. After transferring from USC to Tennessee, Jones produced both on offense and special teams, recording 807 receiving yards and leading the SEC in both punt and kick return yardage in 2021.
  • An interesting note came out in the aftermath of Jaire Alexander‘s record-breaking extension with the Packers. USA Today’s Josina Anderson reports (on Twitter) that the Pro Bowler specifically wanted a four-year (rather than five-year) deal. He got just that, helping him to break the record briefly held by Denzel Ward for the highest annual average amongst cornerbacks at $21MM per season, and keeping him under contract through 2026.

Kirk Cousins Will Miss Game This Week On COVID List

According to a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Vikings’ quarterback Kirk Cousins has tested positive for COVID, moving him to the COVID-19/reserve list and ruling him out for this weekend’s matchup in Green Bay. Tom Pelissero, of NFL Network, was told that Cousins experienced symptoms, self-reported, and test positive (Twitter). Because Cousins is symptomatic, he is not affected by the new rule change shortening the isolation requirements for players who test positive but prove to be asymptomatic. The rule change will make it easier for Cousins to return to the facility once his symptoms subside, though.

Backup quarterback Sean Mannion was on the COVID-19/reserve list after testing positive on Sunday. The remaining quarterbacks on the roster are Kyle Sloter and the rookie out of Texas A&M, Kellen Mond.

Neither quarterback has seen playing time in the NFL. Kellen Mond was drafted in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft and has been sitting on the active roster as a reserve. Kyle Sloter went undrafted in 2017 and was signed by the Denver Broncos. In the preseason, Sloter impressed completing 31 of 43 pass attempts for 413 yards while throwing 3 touchdowns and no picks. His passer rating of 125.4 in the preseason led a rookie class that included Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, and Deshaun Watson. Sloter was nonetheless cut before the season started and has since bounced around on multiple NFL practice squads. He spent the tail-end of the 2019 NFL season on Detroit’s active roster, but never saw a down of football. Sloter was signed to the Vikings’ active roster only three days ago, when Mannion was placed on the COVID list.

The silver lining for the Vikings comes from a tweet by ESPN’s Minnesota Vikings’ Reporter, Courtney Cronin, who is expecting Mannion to be activated off of the reserve/COVID-19 list today and start this weekend with Mond backing him up. This was confirmed by NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport as the move was made official.

Vikings Not Ruling Out QB Addition

The Vikings have taken a different path at quarterback this year, slotting inexperienced passers behind starter Kirk Cousins. Third-round rookie Kellen Mond and practice squad veteran Jake Browning are competing to be Minnesota’s backup. Thus far, the results have not impressed.

While Minnesota also has 2020 seventh-round pick Nate Stanley and well-traveled former UDFA Danny Etling on the roster, Mond and Browning appear to be vying for the gig. Following the team’s second preseason game, Mike Zimmer described his QB2 situation as a work in progress said the team will discuss bringing in an outside option this week, via the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson.

Mond, who missed time due to a COVID-19 contraction earlier in camp, has not progressed to the point he can be relied upon as a backup, per Tomasson. Browning, Stanley and Etling have also not taken any NFL regular-season snaps. Browning has spent the past two seasons on the Vikings’ practice squad. The Vikes did not re-sign two-year backup Sean Mannion, and their hopes of trading up for Justin Fields did not produce the desired result. Although Cousins has proven durable (zero missed games due to injury), the team may be vulnerable if its starter suffers an injury or lands on the reserve/COVID-19 list again.

Under Zimmer, the Vikings have used several veterans as backups. Matt Cassel, Shaun Hill, Case Keenum, Trevor Siemian and Mannion have been in these roles at various points over the past seven seasons. The Vikings’ 2017 Keenum addition proved rather important, with Sam Bradford going down early and Keenum delivering by far the best season of his career to steer the team to the NFC championship game.

Zimmer cited a need to be careful financially, despite the team holding more than $13MM in cap space and a QB2 signing unlikely to cost much at this point. Available options include Blake Bortles, new ESPN analyst Robert Griffin III and Josh Rosen. The latter, however, has not been viewed by his past two teams as a backup-caliber passer. Minnesota could look to the trade market as well. With Falcons backup A.J. McCarron going down with an ACL tear and the Jets also having no experience behind their starter, there figures to be competition on the trade front.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/10/21

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves, with the list being updated throughout the day:

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

  • Waived: FB Mikey Daniel

Chicago Bears

Houston Texans

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Released from IR via injury settlement: G Anthony Coyle

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans