The Raiders are signing Nick Mullens to a one-year deal (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo). The quarterback will receive just over $1MM guaranteed with a chance to earn up to $2.5MM via incentives (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com).
Mullens will support Derek Carr on the Raiders’ depth chart, alongside Garrett Gilbert. It’s not a given that the Raiders will carry three QBs on their final roster, so it may be a one-or-the-other scenario. For what it’s worth, Mullens has $1.5MM guaranteed versus sub-$100K locked in for Gilbert.
Mullens, 27, has appeared in 20 games over the course of his career with 17 starts. The bulk of those starts came with the Niners, where he spent his first three seasons. Last year, he made just one start for the Browns — a December loss to the Raiders.
December 20th, 2021 at 9:31am CST by Zachary Links
Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum weren’t able to test out of the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols in time for today’s game (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). With that, Nick Mullens is set to start for the Browns against the Raiders today.
Without their top two QBs, the Browns will need a big day out of their running backs. Unfortunately, that group won’t include Kareem Hunt, who also finds himself on the COVID-19 list. Instead, they’ll look to Nick Chubb, who has 5.5 yards per carry on the year, and D’Ernest Johnson, the reserve who turned in a couple of impressive performances earlier this year.
7:52pm:Cornerback A.J. Green and linebacker Jacob Phillips have also tested positive for COVID-19, reports Nate Ulrich of the Beacon Journal (via Twitter).
4:59pm: The Browns will likely have to turn to their third-string QB for Saturday’s matchup against the Raiders. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter), quarterback Case Keenum has tested positive for COVID-19. With Baker Mayfield already on the reserve/COVID-19 list, this means Nick Mullens is in line to start.
The Browns are facing at least five more positive tests in addition to Keenum, according to CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones (on Twitter). This would bring the total to 20 players on the Browns who have tested positive for COVID-19 this week. One of those players is Grant Delpit, as Nate Ulrich of the Beacon Journal tweets that the safety tested positive. While the Browns are eyeing a handful of absences, coach KevinStefanski wouldn’t rule out any players following the NFL’s changes to COVID protocols.
“Certainly when they tell me we have run out of days in terms of negative tests and those type of things, then it will be official, but I don’t know that we’re ruling any of those guys out just yet,” Stefanski said (via Ulrich).
Either way, it’s looking like Mullens will be forced into the lineup for a crucial start. The 26-year-old has spent the majority of the 2021 campaign on Cleveland’s practice squad, although he is coming off a 2020 campaign where he started eight games for the 49ers. Mullens is 5-11 in his 16 career starts, and his 4,405 passing yards are the second most by any quarterback in their first 16 career starts in NFL history (behind Patrick Mahomes (h/t to ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter)). Mullens also has 25 career touchdowns vs. 22 interceptions.
Keenum started one game for the Browns this season, completing 21 of his 33 pass attempts in a win over the Broncos. In total, the 33-year-old has seen time in six games for Cleveland this season, tossing one touchdown vs. zero interceptions.
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 Bengals, Browns, Ravens and Steelers moves are noted below.
Here are Wednesday’s AFC North transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.
Nick Mullens will not be without a team for long. The Browns are expected to sign the veteran backup quarterback, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.
This will be a practice squad addition, per Garafolo. Teams cannot officially set their practice squads until after today’s 3pm CT roster-finalization deadline, but Mullens is on track to have a gig in Cleveland soon.
Upon trading for Gardner Minshew late last week, the Eagles cut Mullens. The former San Francisco backup had made his way back from elbow surgery. After failing to solidify a job in Philadelphia, Mullens looks set to be Cleveland’s de facto third-string quarterback behind Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum. The Browns waived Kyle Lauletta on Monday.
A 2017 UDFA who spent time on the 49ers’ practice squad in 2017 and ’18, Mullens started eight games during the 2018 and ’20 seasons. He fared well for the 2018 team in Jimmy Garoppolo‘s absence, throwing 13 touchdown passes and averaging 8.3 yards per attempt, and had moments last season — prior to the elbow malady ending his slate early.
Mullens had spent the first four seasons of his career with the 49ers, seeing time in 19 games (16 starts). While San Francisco only went 5-11 in those 16 starts, Mullens still put up respectable numbers, completing 64.5-percent of his passes for 4,714 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 22 interceptions. That included a 2020 campaign where the 26-year-old tossed 12 touchdowns while guiding the 49ers to a 2-6 record in eight starts.
Mullens inked a one-year deal with the Eagles back in June, and he was expected to serve as a third quarterback behind Jalen Hurts and Joe Flacco. However, the organization pivoted a bit this morning, acquiring Minshew from the Jaguars. As a result, Mullens earned his walking papers, making him a free agent.
Considering the quarterback’s starting experience, there’s a good chance Mullens finds another gig as a backup. In fact, several reporters (including Brian Costello of the New York Post and Ralph Vacchiano of SNY) speculate that Mullens could be an option for the Jets. Besides his connection to current head coach (and former 49ers defensive coordinator) RobertSaleh, Mullens is also familiar with current Jets offensive coordinator MikeLaFleur, who had spent the previous four years serving as San Francisco’s passing game coordinator. Plus, as Vacchiano tweets, the Jets got a recent up-close look at Mullens; the team participated in joint practices with the Eagles this week, and Mullens completed 10 of his 14 pass attempts in last night’s preseason contest.