Malik Cunningham

Ravens’ Malik Cunningham Standing Out In Move To WR

In late May, we were made aware that the Ravens had officially changed the position of Malik Cunningham on their roster from quarterback to wide receiver. A long-time admirer of starting quarterback Lamar Jackson, Cunningham initially held the same headstrong attitude towards a position conversion that Jackson once held. According to Ravens editorial director Ryan Mink, Cunningham has changed his mindset, opting to buy in and embrace his new role with the team.

Over his first year in the league, Cunningham has had no shortage of appropriate mentors for his situation. Despite neither player being an active Patriot at the same time as Cunningham, the undrafted quarterback out of Louisville was able to speak with former Patriots wide receivers Julian Edelman and Jakobi Meyers, who both made the conversion from quarterback to receiver at some point in their careers. Reportedly, both veterans told Cunningham that the quarterback instincts don’t abandon you once you switch positions.

Then, late into his rookie season, Cunningham found himself getting signed off New England’s practice squad to join his former Louisville predecessor in Baltimore, joining a backup group that included Tyler Huntley and Josh Johnson. Before the draft, though, the team came to Cunningham and asked him if he would make a full-time change to wide receiver. This move likely influenced the team’s decisions to draft a quarterback in the sixth round and only draft one wide receiver.

Cunningham took time to consider the decision, initially disappointed to once again be asked to move from quarterback. When he had departed from New England, several teammates had sent messages of support to Cunningham encouraging him to continue pursuing his goals of playing quarterback in the NFL. After careful deliberation, Cunningham gave his reply: “I’m all in.”

Cunningham was able to put aside his initial disappointment and focus on what he can do to help the team. He was immediately thrust into the battle for the reserve wide receiver spots and, per Mink, has been a standout at organized team activities and minicamp. Much like Edelman and Meyers told him, his quarterback instincts have helped him to see the field in a different way.

As a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands, Cunningham has the potential to become a surprise contributor for the Ravens in 2024. After swallowing his pride and buying in to the team’s vision for his role on the offense, Cunningham has put himself in the best position to snatch a roster spot to open the season.

Ravens Officially Convert Malik Cunningham To WR

When the Ravens signed 2023 UDFA Malik Cunningham off the Patriots’ practice squad in December, it was widely assumed they were doing so with an eye towards installing Cunningham as quarterback Lamar Jackson‘s backup for the upcoming season (and perhaps beyond). However, as Ryan Mink of the Ravens’ official website notes, Cunningham is now listed as a wide receiver on Baltimore’s roster.

The Ravens allowed Jackson’s former backup, Tyler Huntley, to depart in free agency while re-signing 38-year-old journeyman Josh Johnson, which appeared to set the table for a Johnson v. Cunningham battle for the QB2 role. Instead, head coach John Harbaugh anointed Johnson as the second passer on the depth chart earlier this month, and at the time, we heard that Cunningham may transition to wideout.

The transition has been made official, as the Ravens are apparently comfortable with their quarterback situation after selecting Devin Leary in the sixth round of this year’s draft (Leary and UDFA rookie Emory Jones will compete for the QB3 job). Cunningham, whose rawness as a passer is what caused him to go undrafted last spring, is nonetheless a highly-athletic talent for whom the Patriots designed a special package of gadget-type plays when he was on their roster.

While Cunningham only saw action in one game (six snaps) with New England, he will now have a chance to focus exclusively on his craft as a receiver. According to Mink, the Louisville product has shown promise in that role in the early stages of the Ravens’ offseason program.

Baltimore did not make an effort to re-sign Odell Beckham Jr., a key ancillary weapon in last year’s passing attack, and the team also saw Devin Duvernay defect to the Jaguars in free agency. Despite a re-up for Nelson Agholor, those departures left the Ravens a little thin at the WR position, especially given Rashod Bateman‘s history of injury troubles. Like the 2023 edition of Duvernay, free agent acquisition Deonte Harty is likely to see more action as a return specialist than on offense.

The club did add Devontez Walker in the fourth round of April’s draft, and tight ends Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely have proven themselves to be terrific pass catchers, but Cunningham still appears to have a decent chance to carve out a spot for himself in the WR room. Behind Zay Flowers, Bateman, and Agholor, the rest of the Ravens’ wideouts are either unproven or ticketed for a third phase role, so if Cunningham continues to perform well as the summer progresses, he and Jackson — who were actually teammates at Louisville in 2017 — could find themselves on the field together when the regular season rolls around.

Patriots Notes: Dugger, Cunningham, Offseason

The Patriots have 15 impending unrestricted free agents, a group that’s headlined by safety Kyle Dugger. The former second-round pick has turned into one of New England’s most dependable defenders, but there’s a good chance he hits free agency after the season.

According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, “prior extension talks didn’t generate much momentum” towards a long-term deal, leading to the belief that Dugger wants to test the market. The Patriots are armed with a bit of leverage, as the team could choose to slap Dugger with the franchise tag. Doug Kyed previously noted that the franchise tag could be in play if the two sides don’t agree to a long-term deal. The 2023 franchise tag value for safeties was at $14.46MM.

Dugger previously expressed an interest in sticking around New England, but there haven’t been many updates this season regarding an extension. The fourth-year player has started all 14 games for the Patriots in 2023, collecting 88 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and two interceptions.

More notes out of New England…

  • There’s plenty of uncertainty surrounding Bill Belichick‘s future in New England. Regardless of who’s running the Patriots front office this offseason, Doug Kyed of the Boston Globe expects the organization to spend big. Thanks to the league’s cash-spending floor, the Patriots will need to spend at least $98MM to hit the $216MM requirement. The front office should have far more money to play with; if the Patriots take a similar approach to their pricey 2021 offseason, Kyed projects that they could commit upwards of $194MM to free agency (especially via signing bonuses).
  • Belichick told reporters that the Patriots attempted to keep quarterback Malik Cunningham before he landed on the Ravens’ active roster. The undrafted rookie spent the entire season shuffling between New England’s active roster and practice squad, with the organization experimenting with the player at both quarterback and wide receiver. As Reiss notes, the Ravens ultimately sold Cunningham on their system and the presence of Lamar Jackson.
  • Considering the Patriots’ struggles at the quarterback position this season, it was a surprise that Cunningham never got a shot to run the offense. Offensive tackle Trent Brown told Sophie Weller of that “everybody on the team” thought the rookie should get a look under center. Brown also admitted that Baltimore was an ideal spot for his former teammate. “It’s funny because I told him months ago if they ever called, if anybody, that’s the team where he should go,” Brown said of the Ravens. “It was almost like I saw it coming…And that’s really good for him to actually get a real chance to play his real position.”
  • Tight end Mike Gesicki inked a one-year deal with the Patriots this offseason, but things haven’t gone as planned during his first season with the team. Through 14 games, the veteran has hauled in 22 catches for 189 yards and one touchdown, and he’s on pace for his lowest offensive output since his rookie campaign. Despite the struggles, Gesicki is remaining positive about his experience in New England. “Control what you can control, coming in here every day and having a good attitude and being positive and enjoying it,” the tight end told Reiss. “Because at the end of the day, you’re playing in the NFL, meeting new guys, and playing for the greatest coach to ever do it. So there’s a lot of things you can take away from it. And we still have another four games. You never know how we can finish this thing and have some bright spots.”

Ravens To Move Devin Duvernay To IR, Sign Malik Cunningham Off Pats’ Practice Squad

The Patriots have regularly passed quarterbacks through waivers to their practice squad this season, but they will bid farewell to one of those arms. Rather than sign Malik Cunningham to their active roster once again, the Pats will let him head elsewhere.

Cunningham will trek to Baltimore; the Ravens are signing the rookie UDFA to their 53-man roster,’s Adam Schefter tweets. This will mark a reunion for Cunningham and Lamar Jackson. Despite the superstar QB being in his sixth NFL season, he and Cunningham were teammates at Louisville in 2017. Cunningham, who was at the ACC school for six years, redshirted during the ’17 slate.

As the Ravens add a quarterback, they will lose a wide receiver. Devin Duvernay sustained a back injury in Week 14, and’s Ian Rapoport reports the former All-Pro return man will head to IR. Though, Rapoport adds the fourth-year wideout will not require surgery and is expected to be ready to return in the playoffs. Duvernay will be eligible for activation to start Baltimore’s playoff journey, whenever that point comes. But he is done for the regular season.

Emerging as an intriguing gadget-type player during the preseason in New England, Cunningham did not make the Pats’ 53-man roster out of training camp. The team took a chance on exposing Cunningham to waivers on cutdown day, waiving both he and Bailey Zappe. Cunningham indeed passed through waivers and stayed in Foxborough on the Pats’ practice squad.

Cunningham will join a Ravens team that has used a Jackson-Tyler Huntley QB depth chart for the past three seasons. The team now has four QBs on its active roster, with journeyman extraordinaire Josh Johnson still with the team. This could point to a versatile role for Cunningham, for whom the Patriots had designed special packages this season. Even as the Pats moved from Mac Jones to Zappe and designed a package of plays for Cunningham recently, the athletic rookie has played only six regular-season snaps — all against the Raiders in Week 6.

This move will ensure Cunningham stays on Baltimore’s active roster for at least three weeks, though Schefter adds it could be a play for next season as well. Given an original-round RFA tender this offseason, Huntley will be a UFA in 2024. Cunningham, 25, can be kept through the 2026 season before he hits unrestricted free agency. Though, it remains to be seen if the ex-Louisville star will pan out as a QB2 option.

A thinner Ravens wide receiver depth chart last year required regular Duvernay contributions, but Baltimore reloaded at the position this offseason. The team signed Nelson Agholor and Odell Beckham Jr. and drafted Zay Flowers in Round 1. With Rashod Bateman recovering from his 2022 foot injury, the Ravens have a solid top four at receiver. Tylan Wallace also became a memorable fill-in for Duvernay at punt returner, notching only the fourth overtime punt-return walk-off in NFL history.

While Duvernay caught 37 passes for a career-high 407 yards last season, he exited Week 14 with just four grabs for 18 yards. The former third-round pick had operated as Baltimore’s primary kick- and punt-return option this season. Duvernay, who is set for free agency in 2024, also finished last season on IR (due to a foot injury).

Additionally, the Ravens will use one of their IR activations on cornerback Damarion Williams, The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec notes. The 2022 fourth-rounder played in 14 games as a backup last season but suffered an ankle injury this summer. The Ravens had expected Williams back around October. Regardless of the delay, the Houston alum will be in position to contribute. Williams will fill Mark Andrews‘ roster spot. The Ravens now have four IR activations remaining.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/7/23

Today’s minor moves:

Jacksonville Jaguars

New England Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers

Elliss was waived by the Eagles yesterday following the team’s signing of Shaquille Leonard. The linebacker spent the better part of the past three seasons in Philadelphia, getting into 19 total games. He appeared in a career-high 12 games this season, collecting 21 tackles while appearing in about 15 percent of his team’s defensive snaps. Elliss also had a significant role on special teams.

Since the Patriots play tonight, the move will be deferred to tomorrow, per ESPN’s Field Yates.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/2/23

Today’s gameday callups and minor moves heading into Sunday:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

The Chiefs have ruled out running back Jerick McKinnon for tomorrow’s game against the Packers, necessitating some extra depth at the position. The team will turn to Prince, an undrafted free agent who has spent the entire season on Kansas City’s practice squad. Prince had a breakout season at Tulsa in 2022, finishing with 813 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns.

Winfrey, a 2022 fourth-round pick, was cut by the Browns last July after being investigated for pulling a gun on a woman. He joined the Jets practice squad in early November and will finally earn his first promotion of the season. Winfrey got into 13 games for Cleveland last year, collecting 22 tackles and 0.5 sacks.

At age 36, Irvin will be making his debut for a sixth NFL team. The veteran pass rusher signed with Detroit midway through November and will finally have a chance to extend his streak of regular season appearances to 12 straight years. The only absence on the Lions’ front-seven will be linebacker Alex Anzalone, so Detroit may be looking to stand Irvin up to help the team’s depth at linebacker.


Patriots To Start Bailey Zappe In Week 13

DECEMBER 1: Zappe will indeed make his first start of the season Sunday, Howe reports, adding Cunningham is on track to play as a specialty package performer. Cunningham made his debut against the Raiders in October, logging six snaps, but has not suited up since. It is unlikely Jones sees action, per Howe, unless circumstances change during the game (as they have often this year for the Patriots).

While the repeated Jones benchings have pointed to this happening, it will still mark a significant change. The former first-rounder has only missed three starts in his three-year career, each coming due to injury.

NOVEMBER 30: Replacing Mac Jones on several occasions this season, Bailey Zappe has not made a start in his second NFL campaign. Signs are pointing to that changing in Week 13.

The Patriots are preparing to give the record-setting college passer a start over Jones this week, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe tweets. Bill Belichick is again not planning to announce his starting quarterback, but Jones’ second-year backup took the bulk of the first-team snaps in practice Wednesday, according to’s Mark Daniels.

Zappe made two starts for an injured Jones last season. With the Patriots winning both those games, the Western Kentucky alum generated some momentum. But Jones did not cede his job upon returning from the high ankle sprain he sustained. As Belichick-Jones tension simmered coming out of the former first-round pick’s step-back 2022 campaign, Zappe was rumored to have a shot at the starting job. But a true competition did not materialize in camp. Jones’ game action in his third season has changed this equation.

Two years after guiding the Pats to the playoffs, Jones sits 28th in QBR. He has thrown 10 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions, two of those picks coming last week. The Alabama product is averaging just 6.1 yards per attempt, and while New England’s receiving corps resides as one of the NFL’s worst, Jones has regressed to the point he is far from a lock to be part of the 2024 Patriots.

This Zappe bump does come after multiple reports of the 2022 fourth-rounder failing to impress in practice, with issues developing in Bill O’Brien‘s system being at the root of these struggles. Zappe continued to encounter issues during in-season practices, but with Jones scuffling each week during games, he has made four second-half cameos. After completing 70.7% of his passes as a rookie, Zappe has connected on just 48.7% of his throws — albeit on just 39 tosses — this year. Zappe came to Foxborough after setting the Division I-FBS single-season touchdown pass record, throwing 62 in the Hilltoppers’ pass-heavy offense in 2021 to break Joe Burrow‘s record.

The Patriots do not have a good option here. Belichick’s team is barreling toward a top-five draft pick, sitting third in the early 2024 order after 11 games. This should be expected to produce another first-round QB investment, though Belichick may not be around to make that move. For now, this Jones-or-Zappe pattern persists. Neither rookie UDFA Malik Cunningham nor third-rounder-turned-journeyman Will Grier profile as players the team is ready to consider for starts, per’s Dan Graziano, though each could conceivably be an option as the Belichick era’s worst season moves toward the finish line.

Zappe, Cunningham and Grier have each been exposed to waivers this year, but no team claimed any of the New England backups. The Pats’ Matt Corral experiment fizzled early as well. This leaves Zappe as the lone viable alternative ahead of the Patriots’ matchup with the Chargers, but considering the way the team has operated at QB this season, Jones probably should not get too comfortable on the bench.

Patriots Waive QB Will Grier

The Patriots’ backup QB carousel continues. The team is waiving quarterback Will Grier, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The move clears a spot for p-squad offensive lineman Conor McDermott to join the 53-man roster, per Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald.

[RELATED: Patriots Undecided On Week 12 QB Starter]

While Mac Jones has started every game for the Patriots this season, the depth chart behind him has seen plenty of reshuffling. Projected backup (and potential QB1 fill-in) Bailey Zappe was bounced from the roster after the preseason, only to later rejoin the active roster via the practice squad. Former third-round pick Matt Corral was also briefly on the team before eventually earning his walking papers.

The Patriots then pivoted to Grier as a potential backup option. Grier most recently served as one of Dak Prescott‘s backups in Dallas, but following the Cowboys’ acquisition of Trey Lance, the 2019 third-round pick was cut loose. After a brief stint on the Bengals practice squad, Grier was added to New England’s 53-man roster back in late September.

Grier hasn’t seen the field at all this season, and even with the Patriots’ uncertain QB situation, it was unlikely he was going to earn a promotion from his QB3 role. Coach Bill Belichick admitted as much during a recent appearance on Patriots All-Access.

“When you’re new and haven’t been here in training camp and had the full background of OTAs and a chance to run our core plays, it’s a lot to catch up on,” Belichick said. “Will has done a good job of it. There’s no issues with him. It’s just there’s only so many snaps out there.”

With Grier no longer on the roster, Malik Cunningham could be in line for snaps if the Patriots pivot from both Jones and Zappe. The UDFA out of Louisville has spent much of the season working with the Patriots receivers, although the organization hasn’t completely shut the door on his QB abilities. For what it’s worth, the rookie did tell Kyed that he’s not part of the team’s plans at quarterback tomorrow against the Giants.

So, as expected, that leaves Jones and Zappe as the candidates to start Week 12. The Patriots still haven’t announced who will start the game, but with Jones having reportedly lost “at least 80 percent of the Patriots’ locker room,” there seems to be some real momentum towards Zappe earning his first start of the season. The 2022 fourth-round pick showed some flashes as a rookie, but the Patriots have been reluctant to turn to the second-year pro in 2023.

That lack of faith could be because of Zappe’s underwhelming performances at practice. As Kyed writes, the second-year pro has struggled under new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, and Jones has been the superior QB every step of the way. While that’s obviously not saying a whole lot, the Patriots may be struggling to justify a Zappe promotion.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 10/25/23

Today’s practice squad transactions:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

  • Signed: LB Donavan Mutin

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Las Vegas Raiders

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles

Tennessee Titans

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/24/23

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

  • Promoted: TE Blake Whiteheart

Atlanta Falcons

Houston Texans

New England Patriots

New York Giants

New York Jets

Roster gymnastics at quarterback continues for the Patriots, who will again take the chance no one will claim Cunningham. New England waived the rookie UDFA in August and stashed him on its practice squad, and’s Mike Reiss notes that is likely to happen again — provided no team claims him. The Pats promoted the Louisville product earlier this month, but after playing him in Week 6, they sat him in Week 7. Although the Patriots designated Flowers for return from IR on Oct. 4, they will cut ties with their former starter rather than use a roster spot on his activation by Wednesday.

The Giants have now added two running backs this week, with Jackson following Jashaun Corbin‘s return from the Panthers’ practice squad. Injuries to Gray and Gary Brightwell led to these moves. Gray sustained a calf injury in Week 7, leading the Giants to insert veteran Sterling Shepard as their punt returner. Shepard muffed a punt that led to the Commanders’ only score. Peart had operated as a backup tackle. He joins Andrew Thomas‘ initial replacement, Joshua Ezeudu, on IR. Guard Shane Lemieux is also on IR.

The Texans initially released Littleton due to roster-reorganizing purposes, per KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson, but the offseason pickup remains in the team’s plans. Houston cut Littleton to make room for waiver claim Myjai Sanders, but after waiving cornerback D’Angelo Ross on Monday, the team is re-signing the veteran linebacker. Littleton, 30, played sparingly in the Texans’ six games this season, logging only 17 defensive snaps.