The Browns join the rest in their efforts to start moving their roster down to the eventual 53 players they’ll start the season with. In the process, Cleveland waived nine players, released two, and placed wide receiver/return specialist Jakeem Grant on injured reserve, following his season ending injury.
Schwartz is maybe the most notable of the players to be cut loose today. A third-round pick from two years ago, Schwartz has failed to live up to his draft stock through his first two seasons after only amassing 186 total receiving yards. A track star through high school, Schwartz’s speed granted him some kickoff return opportunities in his rookie season, but even that job fell out of his reach last year. The team may attempt to place him on injured reserve if he clears waivers in order to keep him on the team. Otherwise, this marks the end of a disappointing tenure in Cleveland.
Finally, the team did add a player back to the active roster, activating wide receiver Marquise Goodwin off of the non-football injury list, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Coming back from a scary situation involving blood clots, Goodwin will be able to return to practice.
There are some big names in Baltimore that won’t be healthy to open camp. Two offensive youngsters who can’t seem to stay on the field, Dobbins and Bateman, continue to struggle to get healthy. Bateman sat out most of the spring after receiving a cortisone shot in hopes it would help get him back in time for camp. While he didn’t report, general manager Eric DeCostaexpects him back soon, according to the team’s editorial director Ryan Mink. Dobbins has started thinking about his second contract this summer, and getting healthy will be key to gaining any leverage in negotiations. Ricard is no surprise, as head coach John Harbaughpredicted this placement a month ago. Bowser, though, experienced an unexpected flare up in his knee this spring after missing eight games last season.
In Cleveland, Goodwin experienced a medical scare recently when discomfort in his legs and shortness of breath turned out to be blood clots in his legs and lungs, according to James Palmer of NFL Network. He will miss the start of training camp as the clots are addressed.
There is a lot of confidence around the Browns’ roster heading into the 2023 season. One of the positions of interest, though, is the wide receivers group. Highly dependent on the production of its top two wideouts last year, Cleveland will be paying close attention to the availability of Amari Cooper and the development of other receivers.
Luckily, after offseason surgery for a core muscle injury that had Cooper limping into the offseason, there are reportedly “no concerns from either Cooper or the Browns that he won’t be ready to go for training camp,” according to Chris Easterling of the Akron Beacon Journal. Even with the injury, Cooper delivered a team-leading 78 receptions for 1,160 yards and nine receiving touchdowns. Finally able to have an opportunity to build a rapport in camp with quarterback Deshaun Watson should set Cooper up for a strong second year in Cleveland.
The other top receiving performance for the team last season came via a bit of a breakout year for third-year receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones. The former sixth-round pick recorded career-highs in receptions (61) and receiving yards (839) while also matching his career-high total in touchdowns (3). If Peoples-Jones can take the next step forward in his development in 2023, the Browns could end up with three extremely capable receiving options for Watson in Cooper, Peoples-Jones, and tight end David Njoku.
Following Cooper and Peoples-Jones, the experienced depth disappears and the Browns begin to rely on young players to produce. The first player the Browns will look to is offseason trade acquisitionElijah Moore. After two years with the Jets that contained several hit-or-miss performances, Cleveland will be hoping for a bit more consistency from Moore this year. They can expect him to produce around 500 receiving yards, considering he’s delivered similar numbers in each of his two previous seasons, but if Moore, too, can take a step forward, the Browns’ top three wideouts can be dangerous. The versatility of Cooper and Peoples-Jones combined with the speed of Moore can provide Watson with a diverse set of primary weapons.
A trio of receivers will look to be top contributors behind those three. Free agent additionMarquise Goodwin, second-year receiver David Bell, and third-round rookie Cedric Tillman will all be vying to prove they can contribute in limited opportunities. Bell could find himself on the roster bubble after a disappointing rookie season, but it seems unlikely that they would release the former third-round pick after only one year.
If the Browns only decide to take six receivers on the roster into 2023, Bell will be competing for the sixth spot with veteran Jakeem Grant and Jaelon Darden. Neither Grant nor Darden are likely to add much on offense, but their abilities in the return game could allow Cleveland to trot someone other than Peoples-Jones out there for returns. If the team would prefer the possible offense Bell could add, they could continue utilizing Peoples-Jones in the return game.
This leaves another third-round pick, Anthony Schwartz, in danger of being waived. Over two years, Schwartz has only caught 14 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown. He contributed on kick returns as a rookie, but with others who can fill that role, that doesn’t help his case much. Other receivers Ra’Shaun Henry, Mike Harley Jr., and Daylen Baldwin all face long odds to make the 53-man roster, while last year’s sixth-round pick, Michael Woods II, is expected to miss the entire season after rupturing his Achilles tendon in April.
The Browns will have a few tough decisions to make when deciding just how many receivers to keep going into 2023, but they should feel confident about the weapons they have leading the group. With Cooper expected back healthy and Peoples-Jones and Moore hoping to continue their development, the Browns could be providing Watson with a talented top group of targets.
The Browns chose Bell 99th overall out of Purdue, bringing him in after a prolific career with the Big Ten program. Bell posted two 1,000-yard seasons with the Boilermakers, including a 1,286-yard junior year alongside eventual Raiders QB draftee Aidan O’Connell. In Cleveland last year, Bell did not carve out a regular role. He caught 24 passes (seventh on the team) for 214 yards and no touchdowns as a rookie. But Kevin Stefanski viewed the slot receiver highly coming out of college; the fourth-year Cleveland HC still sees considerable potential here, per Cabot.
But the Browns’ offseason acquisitions do put Bell in an unusual spot. They have now drafted a wideout in in three straight third rounds, and the Moore trade may directly impede Bell’s path. Moore should be expected to work often in the slot, though Cabot adds the Browns also plan to use the trade pickup on the outside and in the backfield.
Moore showcased promise as a rookie but did not progress in his second season — a rocky one in which he asked the Jets for a trade. But the Jets’ shaky quarterback situation certainly limited the Ole Miss product. Moore, who has two years remaining on his rookie contract, is set to team with Cooper and Peoples-Jones as the Browns’ top wideouts this year.
While Moore and Cooper are signed through 2024, Peoples-Jones is going into a contract year. Given Cooper’s $20MM-per-year contract, Deshaun Watson‘s megadeal and the extensions on the books for Nick Chubb and three starting O-linemen, paying Peoples-Jones might be difficult for the Browns — especially if the sixth-round success story keeps progressing. Peoples-Jones (839 receiving yards in 2022) could become a free agent prize next year, keeping the door open for Bell to move into a starting role with Cooper and Moore. For now, however, the Browns’ receiving corps looks crowded.
The Browns also have return man Jakeem Grant in line to return, after he missed all of 2022 due to injury, and would then be positioned to carry seven wide receivers. That is more than many teams will be set to retain on cutdown day.
Goodwin represents a better bet to make the team than Schwartz, per Cabot, who adds the former Olympic long jumper is expected to play a key role as a Browns deep threat (video link). Two days after the Moore trade, the Browns signed Goodwin to a one-year, $1.7MM deal with just $400K guaranteed. Schwartz, who has a sub-10.1-second 100-meter clocking in his past, also qualifies as a deep threat. But the former No. 91 overall pick has 14 receptions in 25 career games. The Browns’ receiver decisions this offseason likely came about in part because of Schwartz’s struggles. As such, Cabot notes the Auburn alum has an uphill battle to make the team.
Goodwin being a good bet to make Cleveland’s roster is interesting, considering his age (33 in November) and nomadic 2020s. Goodwin has played for three teams (the 49ers, Bears and Seahawks) over his past three seasons — this sandwiched a 2020 opt-out — and has not eclipsed 400 yards in a season since 2017. But the London Olympian, after a four-touchdown year in Seattle, looks to be in good standing with the Browns, who are certainly deeper at this position than they were in 2022.
The Browns are making another addition to their receiver room, this time via free agency. Veteran Marquise Goodwinis headed to Cleveland on a one-contract, per ESPN’s Field Yates (Twitter link).
The Browns had been interested in adding a vertical threat to their offense this offseason, and they targeted Goodwin as an option by hosting him on a visit earlier this week. He will add a speed element to the team’s revamped WR room, which lacked a true burner near the top of the depth chart.
Goodwin, 32, will likely have a rotational role behind starting wideouts Amari Cooperand Donovan Peoples-Jones. The latter two have been joined by former Jets second-rounder Elijah Moore, who was dealt to the Browns amidst his trade request and New York’s efforts to reshape their own receiver stable. The latter will operate in the slot, with Goodwin in place as an experienced option behind him after stints with four different teams.
During the first of those, with the Bills, Goodwin worked as a starter for only one season. After his underwhelming time in Buffalo came to an end, the former third-rounder enjoyed by far the best campaign of his career. In 2017, the first of his three years in San Francisco, Goodwin recorded 962 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 56 receptions. That year marked the only time in which he received more than 100 targets, as he has been used in a less pronounced role since then.
Goodwin took on a complimentary role in the past two years with the Bears and Seahawks, respectively. His yardage totals and catch percentages have fluctuated over the course of his career, but his yards per catch average (16.2 overall) has remained relatively consistent. The 5-9, 180-pounder will look to give the Browns a boost in the downfield passing game in 2023 as the team aims to take a sizable step forward in their offensive efficiency.
The Brandin Cooks trade domino dropped Sunday morning, leaving DeAndre Hopkins as the only clear-cut impact receiver trade chip available. The Cardinals continue to shop the 11th-year veteran, and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes talks are ramping up (Twitter link). Hopkins is amenable to adjusting his contract to facilitate a deal, and Rapoport adds an adjusted contract is likely. As is, Hopkins’ through-2024 contract calls for a $19.45MM base salary this season. That will likely be untenable to interested teams.
Staying on the Hopkins front, here is the latest from the receiver scene:
The Browns are not believed to be interested in reuniting Hopkins with Deshaun Watson, Josina Anderson of CBS Sports tweets. Cleveland has a big contract at receiver (Amari Cooper‘s) already, though the team could benefit from a veteran presence alongside its No. 1 target. The Browns did host Marquise Goodwin on a visit that has spanned from Monday to today, Anderson adds (on Twitter). Goodwin spent last season with the Seahawks, catching 27 passes for 387 yards and four touchdowns. The former Olympic long jumper is going into his age-33 season.
Darius Slayton is back with the Giants, re-signing on a two-year deal worth $12MM. That contract includes $4.9MM guaranteed, The Athletic’s Dan Duggan tweets. This can be treated more like a one-year deal; the Giants can save $6MM by cutting Slayton in 2024. That said, Slayton said (via the New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy) he received other offers in free agency. The Giants, despite burying him on their initial 2022 depth chart and cutting his pay, reached out early and will have the former fifth-round pick back in the fold. The team’s improvement last season helped convince Slayton to stay.
A year after he signed for the exact terms Slayton reached (with the Jets), Braxton Berriosis now in Miami. The ex-Hurricanes receiver agreed to terms with the Dolphins on what KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson notes is a one-year, $3.5MM pact (Twitter link). Berrios will receive $3MM guaranteed, giving him a good chance of being part of the Dolphins’ 53-man roster. The Dolphins still have Cedrick Wilson and brought back River Cracraft and Freddie Swain last week.
Noah Brown‘s one-year Texansdeal is worth $2.6MM, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The longtime Cowboys wideout received $2.25MM guaranteed and can add an additional $500K through incentives.
Addressing his season-long gambling suspension recently, Calvin Ridley said he deposited $1,500 into an unspecified betting app and, after making approximately $200 worth of NBA bets, he included the Falcons in a parlay. Denying he had inside information, Ridley said (via a piece on The Players’ Tribune) he had been away from the Falcons for a month, was not talking to anyone on the team and made the bet to root for his teammates. Regarding Ridley’s midseason Falcons exit in 2021, the former first-round pick said he was dealing with depression and anxiety. Ridley said he played most of the 2020 season (a career-high 1,374-yard slate) on a broken foot, but he was not informed of the break until June 2021. He underwent surgery, which was described as a minor procedure, but said he was not close to 100% by Week 1. This and Ridley’s house being robbed on that Week 1 Sunday intensified his anxiety. The NFL reinstated Ridley, now with the Jaguars, earlier this month.
Here are some details on deals recently signed around the NFL:
Sony Michel, RB (Dolphins): One-year, $1.75MM. The deal, according to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe, has a guaranteed amount of $850,000 consisting of a $350,000 signing bonus and $500,000 of the base salary. Michel will also earn a per game active bonus of $14,117 for a potential season total of $240,000.
Marquise Goodwin, WR (Seahawks): One-year, $1.27MM. The contract, according to Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times, has a guaranteed amount of $152,500 in the form of a signing bonus. It’s a low-risk deal meant to either bring in a veteran on the back end of the depth chart or motivate the younger players on the back end of the depth chart to up their game.
Goodwin is a deep-threat wide receiver that was drafted out of Texas in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Bills. His best year in Buffalo saw him catch 29 passes for 431 yards and three touchdowns.
That performance convinced the 49ers to give him a chance and Goodwin gave them the best season of his career, catching 56 balls for 962 yards and two touchdowns. He was only able to play in 11 games the following year, but was still able to put up a career high four touchdown catches. He played in nine games to start the 2019 season, before being placed on injured reserve.
The 49ers traded Goodwin to Philadelphia in the next offseason for a swap of sixth round picks. Goodwin took the option available to all players that year: opting out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stipulations in the trade agreement reverted Goodwin back to San Francisco and the Eagles received a seventh-round draft pick as a result of the failed deal. The 49ers released him the next day. Last season, Goodwin signed with the Bears, getting limited looks in 14 games of action.
Marquise Goodwin‘s bid to make a second U.S. Olympic team failed Friday. The Bears wide receiver was unable to qualify for Sunday’s finals in the long jump, placing 19th out of 24 jumpers in the prelims at the U.S. Olympic trials. An Olympian in 2012, Goodwin has now fallen short of returning to the U.S. team in back-to-back trials. He placed seventh at the 2016 Rio-qualifying event. The 30-year-old’s best jump a 24-foot, 10-inch leap, was nearly three feet shy of his career-best mark — set at the 2012 trials. Goodwin falling short should not exactly surprise, given his focus on an NFL career in the years since the London Games. Although the veteran wideout met the Olympic standard at a March meet, he has been far from an active jumper during his NFL career. He can now transition to full-time football prep. Goodwin, who signed with the Bears in April, will now be on track to join his team on time for training camp.
Here is the latest from the NFC:
Danielle Hunter‘s reworked contract ended up creating nearly $4MM in cap space for the Vikings. The Pro Bowl defensive end’s adjusted deal dropped his 2021 cap number from $17.25MM to $13.37MM, per Sports Talk 790’s Aaron Wilson (Twitter link). This pact added $9.45MM in total guarantees to Hunter’s contract, Wilson tweets. In 2022, Hunter’s base salary will drop to $1.4MM, per Wilson (on Twitter), with the $18MM roster bonus comprising most of his $26.1MM cap figure. The Vikings also included a $1MM sack-based incentive for their top pass rusher.
The Cardinals lost All-Decade cornerback Patrick Peterson, a 10-year starter, in free agency. Fellow 2020 Arizona boundary starter Dre Kirkpatrick is gone as well. However, the Cards want to keep top holdover Byron Murphy primarily in the slot, Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com notes. GM Steve Keim called Murphy one of the league’s top inside defenders earlier this year, and the former second-round pick fared much better in 2020 than he did as a rookie in ’19. Murphy’s snap rate, however, dropped from 98% in 2019 to 72% last season. The Cards also signed Darqueze Dennard this offseason; Dennard mostly played in the slot with the Bengals. It will be interesting to see how DC Vance Joseph deploys Murphy, whom he called his top corner, in the Washington product’s third season.
The Saints‘ starting lineup received some shakeups this offseason, most notably at quarterback. But Taysom Hill and/or Jameis Winston are still set to play behind one of the NFL’s top offensive lines. However, the Saints may be considering a change up front. Upon selecting Cesar Ruiz in last year’s first round, the Saints originally planned to play him at center and move incumbent Erik McCoy to right guard, per Larry Holder of The Athletic. But McCoy’s play at center through two seasons prompted New Orleans to leave him there. While a switch may still be a consideration, Holder expects the two blockers to stay put for now (subscriptionrequired). McCoy has been a quality center, but Pro Football Focus ranked Ruiz 64th among guards last season.