Malik McDowell

Browns Unlikely To Re-Sign Rashard Higgins

The Browns are expected to part ways with wide receiver Rashard Higgins, according to sources who spoke with Mary Kay Cabot of Nothing’s official yet, but that’s the likely outcome as the Browns look ahead to free agency later this month. Cabot also hears that defensive tackle Malik McDowell is trending towards a non-tender.

[RELATED: Browns Won’t Extend Mayfield This Offseason]

The 2016 fifth-round pick has spent his entire career in Cleveland, appearing in 82 regular season games in parts of six seasons. The wideout had one of his best seasons in 2020, hauling in 37 receptions for 599 yards and four touchdowns. In 2021, he finished with just 24 grabs for 275 yards and one touchdown in 15 games. All in all, the 27-year-old has collected 137 career receptions for 1,890 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Higgins re-upped with the Browns last year on a one-year, $2.37MM deal. He likely could have fetched a similar contract in 2021 but, this time around, he’d be looking at a much softer market.

Just a year ago, the Browns figured their receiving corps was set for years to come with Higgins backing top targets Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Now, OBJ is in Los Angeles following a messy divorce and Landry profiles as a potential release candidate. The five-time Pro Bowler has one year left on his deal with a 2022 cap hit of $16.4MM — cutting him would clear the bulk of it with just $1.5MM in dead money remaining. A restructuring is also possible, though they’d have to furnish Landry with more in the way of guarantees.

In other Browns news, the team is reportedly willing to keep tight end David Njoku off the market with a ~$10MM/year deal.

Mayfield, Wide Receivers Central To Browns’ Offseason Plans

Especially if he is able to be fully healthy at the start of next year, Baker Mayfield will play a large role in determining if the Browns can rebound from a disappointing 2021 season. Even if that’s the case, though, the team could still look very different by that time. 

[Related: Browns Plan To Keep Baker Mayfield]

Both head coach Kevin Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry have expressed confidence in Mayfield: “It’s easy to forget… what we’ve seen with Baker over the past several years. Obviously he had his most productive season in this offense under [Stefanski in 2020]” Berry said recently. That’s one of the reasons ESPN’s Jake Trotter writes that bringing Mayfield back on his fifth year option “seems to be the most likely outcome”, another being the lack of realistic trade targets. With that said, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal adds that “acquiring someone to push” Mayfield, such as Mitchell Trubisky or Marcus Mariota, is a strong possibility as well. Mayfield will have a price tag of just under $19MM in 2022.

Meanwhile, the wide receiver position is setting up to be an area of focus. With veteran Jarvis Landry in danger of being a cap casualty – he has no guaranteed money left on his deal, leaving Trotter to write that it “feels like he has played his last snap with the Browns” – rebuilding the pass-catching corps is sure to be a priority. While the Browns should have the cap space to target at least one experienced wideout, there is a growing sense of expectation they will use the draft as a means of acquiring a true No. 1. Mel Kiper’s first mock draft has Cleveland taking Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson, while Dane Brugler projects them taking Treylon Burks from Arkansas.

The two reporters are also in synch when it comes to the team’s defensive needs. Defensive tackle in particular looks to be a key area of focus, given the pending unrestricted free agency of 32-year-old Malik Jackson and the recent arrest of Malik McDowell. Trotter adds that edge rusher could also be a need, depending on what happens with Jadeveon Clowney in free agency. Just like receiver, the defensive front figures to see a significant overhaul in the coming months.

For a team that generated so many expectations heading into the 2021 season, the Browns clearly face a number of key roster decisions heading into the offseason to be able to meet them in the future.


Browns’ DT Malik McDowell Arrested For Public Exposure, Assault

There has been troubling news regarding Browns defensive tackle Malik McDowellThe 25-year old has been arrested in Florida, as first reported by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Unfortunately, it is not the first time he has had run-ins with the law. 

McDowell’s arrest stems from an incident on Monday in Deerfield Beach. As Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes, he “has been accused of exposing himself in public, resisting arrest with violence, and battery on a law enforcement officer”. The police report indicates that the latter accusation consisted of a “violent attack” that left the affected deputy “dazed”.

Originally drafted in the second round in 2017 by the Seahawks, McDowell didn’t play at all in his rookie season due to an ATV accident. In December of that same year, he was arrested for disorderly conduct after an incident in an Atlanta nightclub. That wasn’t the end of his legal troubles, however. In November of 2019, McDowell was sentenced to 11 months in prison, along with three years’ probation, after pleading guilty to three charges including DUI and a fight with police officers. That also earned him a two-game NFL suspension, and helped keep him out of the league without having played up to that point. Florio notes that he is still on probation in his native Michigan, which could further complicate this latest incident.

This past May, the Browns signed McDowell to a one year contract. In 15 games, he recorded 33 total tackles, five QB hits and three sacks. While his play demonstrated his potential as an interior disruptor, and likely would have earned him another deal in Cleveland, this news may very well end his NFL career once and for all.

In an official team statement, a spokesperson said, “We are aware of the very concerning incident and arrest involving Malik McDowell and are in the process of gathering more information. We understand the severity of this matter and our thoughts are for the well-being of all involved. We will have no further comment at this time“.

Browns Sign Malik McDowell

The Browns made an intriguing addition on Monday. Cleveland has signed defensive tackle Malik McDowell to a contract, the team announced.

McDowell was drafted 35th overall by the Seahawks in 2017, but has never played in an NFL game. A serious ATV accident that summer landed him on the NFI list for the whole season, and he was arrested a couple of times for DUI and disorderly conduct. The Seahawks waived him in July of 2018 with a non-football injury designation, and there were questions about whether he would ever be medically cleared to play football again.

He was arrested a couple of more times in 2019, and eventually sentenced to 11 months in prison. He worked out for the Dolphins in October of last year, and his representatives say he has been fully medically cleared. At the time of his imprisonment, McDowell said “I’m doing everything I need to do, seeing all the doctors I need to, working out…doing everything I can to get back to where I was, back to the NFL.”

Browns GM Andrew Berry issued a statement on the signing, which you can read courtesy of this tweet from Tony Grossi of ESPN. “We are certainly aware of Malik’s past, as we have done extensive work on him for the last two months. He is accountable for his actions and has had to live with the consequences for decisions earlier in his life,” Berry said.

We believe Malik is in a good place, personally & medically. He has taken the necessary steps to get on a healthy path, & has learned from his experiences. Malik understands the expectations we have of him as he attempts to make our football team. He is committed to taking advantage of the support network in place to become the best version of himself—both on and off the field—and we will support him as he attempts to make his return to football.” 

McDowell obviously has a ton of theoretical potential, as he was considered a first-round talent back in the day. Although it’s been years since he played on a team, he’s still only 24. It’s a low-risk flyer for the Browns that could pay dividends down the line. They could use some defensive tackle depth after cutting Sheldon Richardson earlier this offseason.

Extra Points: Bieniemy, Giants, Panthers

Although the Giants are just one game back of the NFC East lead, they are 1-5 and appear on the verge of their fourth straight double-digit loss season. GM Dave Gettleman has presided over the previous two 10-plus-loss campaigns, and some around the league have tabbed the Giants GM job as a potential opening ahead of the 2021 offseason, Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler of note. The Panthers‘ GM spot has also surfaced around the NFL as one to monitor. Marty Hurney, in place long before Matt Rhule‘s arrival, has been rumored as a potential chopping-block candidate because of Rhule’s overhaul and seven-year contract. Hurney’s contract runs through 2020. Gettleman made his way back to New York shortly after his Carolina ouster, but his rebuild has not taken off. The Giants have never lost double-digit games in four straight seasons.

Here is the latest from around the league:

  • Sticking with staffs, the Texans are indeed expected to strongly consider Eric BieniemyDeshaun Watson has advocated for Patrick Mahomes‘ OC, and Graziano and Fowler note the Texans “definitely” have interest in the Chiefs assistant. The Chiefs are prepared to lose Bieniemy this offseason, which would mark the third time they have lost an OC since 2016. Houston is believed to be seeking a quarterback guru and will have Josh McDaniels (again) and Bills OC Brian Daboll on its target list as well.
  • The Bears may not need to make it back to the playoffs for their current power brokers to stay in place. Both Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace are believed to be on track to stick around for 2021, per Fowler and Graziano. Chicago’s 5-1 start has come with just a plus-12 point differential, and the team benched Pace’s handpicked quarterback early in the season. Despite Mitchell Trubisky‘s struggles and current backup status, Pace is currently believed to be safe to receive a seventh year as GM.
  • It does not sound like the Chargers are expecting to have Austin Ekeler back anytime soon. The Bolts’ starting running back is battling what Anthony Lynn calls a “very serious” hamstring injury that has him set to be sidelined for the foreseeable future, Daniel Popper of The Athletic tweets. Given a four-year, $24MM extension this offseason, Ekeler went down in Week 4. The Bolts have been without many key players on offense since turning to Justin Herbert in Week 2.
  • Adoree’ Jackson returned to Titans practice Wednesday. The team designated the former first-round cornerback as an IR-return player, making him eligible to face the Steelers in Week 7 — if the team activates him by Saturday afternoon. Jackson landed on IR before Week 1 with a knee injury.
  • The Panthers placed Joey Slye on their reserve/COVID-19 list and brought in kickers for workouts this week. Carolina has auditioned Casey Bednarski (Minnesota State), Taylor Bertolet and Austin Parker (Duke), per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Bednarski began his coronavirus testing with the team Tuesday, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. None of these kickers has NFL experience. Slye has not tested positive but came in contact with someone who had, Adam Schefter of notes. The Panthers do not have a kicker on their practice squad, but Slye has not been at the team’s facility since Sunday and could still kick in Week 7.
  • The Dolphins conducted an interesting workout Wednesday. They brought in former Seahawks second-round pick Malik McDowell for an audition, per Field Yates of (on Twitter). The 2017 draftee has not played an NFL down, with an ATV accident and subsequent legal troubles harpooning his career. The former Michigan State defensive lineman recently spent time in prison after a bevy of charges stemming from a 2019 arrest.

Malik McDowell Sentenced To 11 Months In Prison

Former Seahawks defensive tackle Malik McDowell has been sentenced to 11 months in jail and three years of probation after pleading guilty to numerous crimes, including a DUI, a fight with police officers, and a stolen property offense, as Brady Henderson of reports.

“I’m doing everything I need to do, seeing all the doctors I need to, working out…doing everything I can to get back to where I was, back to the NFL,” McDowell said, and added that he’s “very remorseful,” as Aileen Wingblad of the Oakland Press writes.

Seattle selected McDowell with the 35th overall pick in the 2017 draft, but he never managed to actually get on the field. The former Michigan State Spartan was injured in an ATV accident three months after being drafted and spent the first two years of his career on the non-football injury list. The Seahawks officially waived McDowell in March, and are currently suing him to recoup a portion of his rookie contract.

McDowell received a two-game ban from the NFL earlier this year, but clearly, a league-imposed suspension is the least of his worries. The Cowboys worked him out after he was released by the Seahawks, but Dallas’ doctors weren’t able to give him a clean bill of health. Given his legal issues and his injury questions, McDowell isn’t likely to play in the NFL again.

Malik McDowell Receives Two-Game Ban

In addition to Richie Incognito‘s two-game suspension, this news-dump Friday included another multi-game ban. Free agent defensive lineman Malik McDowell‘s troubles continue, with the former Seahawks draft pick set for a two-game suspension, Tom Pelissero of tweets.

The No. 35 overall pick in 2017, McDowell has never played an NFL down. An ATV accident during his rookie offseason scuttled chances of the Michigan State product making an early impact as a pro, and the 2019 offseason has gone poorly from a legal perspective.

McDowell has been charged for two separate incidents, one more squarely in the NFL’s purview than the other. McDowell was charged with assault and resisting arrest, and operating a vehicle while intoxicated and, according to the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta, “receiving and concealing stolen property” in purchasing a Ford truck with a $74K value for just $3K.

McDowell spent 2017 and 2018 on Seattle’s NFI list, but agent Drew Rosenhaus said in March he’d received clearance from an independent doctor. The Seahawks never cleared McDowell, waived him on March 2 and then sued to recoup part of his signing bonus. Although he visited the Cowboys later in March, this suspension will obviously not help the former second-rounder’s chances of taking the field as an NFLer soon.

Extra Points: Supplemental Draft, Bucs, McDowell, Wilkerson

The 2019 Supplemental Draft is tomorrow, and just like last year we could see a lot of action. Before last season, when two players were taken, there had only been one selection since 2013. This year, it seems likely that two players will get taken again, Washington State safety Jalen Thompson and West Virginia receiver Marcus Simms. Thompson is more highly regarded by the scouting community, and has been drawing a lot of interest. He met with the Packers earlier today, and 26 teams attended his workout yesterday. To help get you prepared for tomorrow, Dane Brugler of The Athletic studied game tape of both players and wrote up detailed scouting reports.

He notes that while Thompson is a “terrific athlete” and good in coverage, he’s also “undersized for the safety position.” There’s been some speculation that Thompson may have to switch to corner at the pro level. Brugler gives Thompson a third or fourth round grade. Brugler writes that Simms is a burner with excellent speed, but that his route-running isn’t very well developed. As a “best-case NFL player projection,” Brugler lists Kenny Stills, while giving Stills a fifth-to-seventh round grade. We’ll know the results of the draft tomorrow afternoon.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Things reportedly aren’t going well between rookie first-round pick Josh Jacobs and the Raiders. There’s a holdup in negotiations over his rookie deal, and it looks like Jacobs isn’t going to report to training camp in a couple of weeks. Don’t expect anything similar for linebacker Devin White and the Buccaneers. The fifth overall pick in April’s draft is going to sign “any day now,” and “you can bet he won’t miss a meeting,” writes Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). The Bucs are counting on White to play a huge role for their revamped defense, so it’s good to hear there’s no drama surrounding his contract.
  • A couple of weeks ago we heard that free agent defensive lineman Malik McDowell had been arrested, and now we have video of the incident, courtesy of TMZ Sports. In the video, McDowell can be seen getting tased, and then attempting to fight the arresting officer after pulling the taser prongs out. McDowell was drafted by the Seahawks in the second round back in 2017, but never played a game for them. He suffered serious injuries in an ATV accident before his rookie training camp, and the Seahawks never cleared him to return. McDowell has reportedly been cleared to play by independent doctors, and recently met with the Cowboys, but nothing materialized. Back in May, the Seahawks filed a lawsuit seeking to recoup some of McDowell’s signing bonus.
  • Free agent defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson is one of the biggest names left on the market. He was arrested for DWI at the beginning of June, which could be delaying his signing. Wilkerson recently appeared in court, and turned down a plea deal prosecutors offered him, per Shayna Jacobs and Sarah Valenzuela of the New York Daily News. Wilkerson’s attorney said it was “telling” that they offered the deal, and seemed confident his client would get off. After spending seven seasons with the Jets, Wilkerson signed a one-year deal with the Packers last season. A serious ankle injury ended his first year in Green Bay after just a few games. Wilkerson is still capable of playing at a high level, and should sign somewhere soon.

FA DL Malik McDowell Facing Criminal Charges

Things are not looking good for free agent defensive lineman Malik McDowell. McDowell, who was selected by the Seahawks in the second round of the 2017 draft, is facing charges of assault, resisting arrest, and operating a vehicle while intoxicated, as Brady Henderson of writes. McDowell appeared in Oakland County (Mich.) Circuit Court on Thursday, and Mike Martindale of the Detroit News reports that Judge Michael Warren was less than pleased when he learned that McDowell had traveled out of state without Warren’s permission and that he missed a routine alcohol test. Warren ordered McDowell to return for a hearing next Wednesday, at which time his bond may be revoked.

The charges stem from a February arrest, and the police report indicates that McDowell was pulled over after speeding, spinning out, and driving recklessly. The report also says that McDowell, who pulled into a gas station, smelled strongly of intoxicants and that he refused to show the officer his driver’s license. McDowell repeatedly asked for a “supervisor,” and then he exited his car and began walking into the gas station. The officer tried to arrest McDowell at that point, but McDowell began actively fighting the officer, who was unable to subdue McDowell with a Taser. A second officer arrived at the scene to assist, and both officers say that McDowell attempted to grab their guns during the struggle.

But wait, there’s more. In addition to that disturbing incident, Martindale says that McDowell faces a separate charge, which was filed in April, of receiving and concealing a $74K pickup truck that McDowell says he bought on the street for $3K.

Seattle had high hopes for the Michigan State product when it used 2017’s No. 35 overall pick on him, but he suffered a head injury in an ATV accident several months after the draft and has not been back on the field since. The Seahawks waived McDowell in March, and they are now suing him to recover nearly $800K in signing bonus money. Between the injury and the criminal charges, McDowell’s path back to professional football looks very difficult indeed.

He did try out for the Cowboys shortly after he was cut by Seattle, but Dallas was unable to give him a clean bill of health. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, says that McDowell has been medically cleared by independent doctors, and McDowell himself says he is ready to play, but the odds of him having that opportunity look even bleaker now.

Malik McDowell: Seahawks Had Their Own Reasons For Not Letting Me Play

The Seahawks are suing Malik McDowell for the ~$800K that an arbitrator ruled he must pay back to the team, but as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (citing John P. Gilbert of writes, Seattle initially wanted to recover even more.

As Gilbert notes, McDowell’s roughly $3.2MM signing bonus was to be paid out in installments, with about $1.6MM due at signing, $800K due in July 2017, and the final $800K due in July 2018. Seattle paid out the first $2.4MM, so it would seem that the arbitrator would have awarded at least that amount back to the club for McDowell’s breach of his contract (and, per Gilbert, the Seahawks actually asked for the full $3.2MM). But even though the bonus was to be completely paid by July 2018, the cap charges for the bonus were to be spread evenly from 2017-2020 in the amount of $800K per year. Since the Seahawks cut McDowell after the 2018 season, the CBA prohibits them from recovering the 2019-20 allocations totaling $1.6MM. Therefore, Seattle was only entitled to $1.6MM for the 2017-18 cap charges, less the $800K that it did not pay.

All of that is interesting enough, but more interesting is the fact that McDowell himself has taken to Twitter to address the issue (Twitter links 1, 2, 34). Per McDowell, he was cleared by neurologist Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher to play football, but the team’s neurologist, Dr. Samuel R. Browd — whom McDowell says specializes in children under the age of two — did not clear him. McDowell suggests that the Seahawks hid behind Browd’s opinion and that the team had its own reasons for not letting him play, though he did not specify what those reasons might be.

After all, one would think that the Seahawks would want a player they just drafted in the second round and to whom they just paid $2.4MM to be a major contributor, so it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which the Seahawks would undermine that player’s efforts to return to the field. And, if McDowell had a legitimate grievance, one would also think that he would have contested the arbitrator’s ruling or appeal it, which he did not do.

Instead, this feels like McDowell’s attempt to suggest to potentially interested clubs that he is, in fact, healthy and ready to play. McDowell’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said in March that his client has been medically cleared by independent doctors, but the only team McDowell has visited after being cut by Seattle, the Cowboys, has been unable to give him a clean bill of health.