Van Jefferson

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/29/22

Here are the minor moves leading into Sunday’s slate of games:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Commanders

Rams To Activate Van Jefferson, Troy Hill From IR

OCTOBER 28: Both Jefferson and Hill will be activated ahead of Saturday afternoon’s Week 8 deadline, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson tweets. Sean McVay said he expected to have several players back from injury after the team’s bye. Roster designations will be used on Jefferson and Hill, who each went on IR earlier this year. The Rams came into the week having not used any of their injury activations. After these moves, they will have six remaining this season.

OCTOBER 24: The Rams announced on Twitter today that they have designated three players for return from injured reserve. The three players that could potentially come back this year are cornerback Troy Hill, linebacker Travin Howard, and wide receiver Van Jefferson.

Hill is a longtime cornerback for Los Angeles that took a brief hiatus during its Super Bowl season last year. Hill signed as a free agent with the Browns for the 2021 season but was traded back to the Rams during this year’s draft. Hill had earned a starting role in Los Angeles before signing with the Browns and was in line to return to that role before a groin injury in a Week 2 win over the Falcons sent him to injured reserve.

Howard has been with Los Angeles since 2018 in some capacity, spending lots of time on reserve lists over the years. Most recently, Howard was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list in July after suffering a groin tear that would eventually require surgery. While he had opportunities to make an impact last year, even making the game-sealing interception in last year’s NFC Championship Game to send the Rams to the Super Bowl, this year’s linebacking corps in Los Angeles is much more talented. If he returns from the NFI list, Howard will only add some depth to the linebacker unit and likely contribute on special teams.

Jefferson is attempting to make his season debut after undergoing knee surgery this offseason. The Rams have badly missed the third-year receiver who served as the team’s second receiving option behind Cooper Kupp last season. Los Angeles has attempted to replace Jefferson’s production with Ben Skowronek and Allen Robinson, but getting Jefferson back could be a huge addition to the Rams’ passing game.

Designating Hill, Howard, and Jefferson opens up the three-week practice period for each player. If, at the end of the three-week period, the Rams have not activated any individual player, that player will have the designation for return removed and will have to remain out for the remainder of the season.

NFC West Notes: Cards, 49ers, Van, Hawks

Following the Chiefs’ lead, the Cardinals used a position player as their emergency kicker Sunday. Backup running back Eno Benjamin logged a kickoff for the Cardinals against the Panthers on Sunday. That arrangement, similar to the Chiefs’ usage of safety Justin Reid against the Cards in Week 1, will not persist past Week 4. With Matt Prater battling a right hip injury, the Cardinals worked out multiple kickers Monday.

Rodrigo Blankenship, Matt Ammendola — the Chiefs’ first post-Reid solution to fill in for Harrison Butker — Jose Borregales and Jonathan Garibay auditioned for the Cardinals, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets. Blankenship, whom the Colts turned to in their first full season without Adam Vinatieri, missed much of last year with an injury and was removed from his gig after struggling in Week 1 this year. Blankenship worked out for the Jaguars last week. Ammendola lasted two games as the Chiefs’ Butker fill-in, being cut after struggling in Week 3, while Garibay was part of the Cowboys’ kicking competition. The rookie UDFA did not make it out of training camp.

Ahead of Monday’s Rams-49ers matchup, here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • Although the 49ers turned to Jaylon Moore to replace Trent Williams in Week 3, Colton McKivitz will start against the Rams on Monday night. An ankle injury prevented McKivitz from replacing Williams against the Broncos, who pounced after the All-Pro’s exit, but he was the team’s swing tackle throughout the summer. With Williams facing a four- to six-week recovery timetable, McKivitz may have the blindside gig for a bit. The 49ers let 2021 swing tackle Tom Compton sign with the Broncos, but McKivitz — who filled in for Williams in a do-or-die Week 18 tilt in Los Angeles — has been with the team since arriving as a 2020 firth-rounder.
  • The 49ers have made a few changes at the slot cornerback spot over the past several weeks. After Darqueze Dennard entered camp with the job, rookie Samuel Womack supplanted him and led to the 49ers releasing the veteran. Deommodore Lenoir has since replaced Womack, with Kyle Shanahan indicating the 2021 fifth-rounder played ahead of the 2022 fifth-rounder due to superior practice work recently, Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Lenoir played 29% of San Francisco’s defensive snaps last season but likely does not have a firm grip on the job over Womack, who impressed during training camp, just yet.
  • Staying on the subject of 49ers corners, Shanahan expressed optimism Jason Verrett would practice this week. Verrett’s practice window opens ahead of Week 5, with the 49ers carrying the injury-prone vet on their reserve/PUP list. Should Verrett prove recovered from his September 2021 ACL tear, Barrows notes a starting job should not be ruled out. Verrett played well as a 49ers starter in 2020, showing form that enticed the team to re-sign him in 2021 and this year. Emmanuel Moseley‘s past in the slot could allow for a transition, forming a Verrett-Mosley-Charvarius Ward trio, if Verrett is healthy.
  • Sean McVay did not seem to expect Van Jefferson to miss a third of the season, but that will happen. The Rams placed Jefferson on IR ahead of their Week 3 game, but McVay is adamant the third-year wideout did not suffer a setback upon returning from arthroscopic knee surgery, Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com tweets. Jefferson’s IR move was more about roster construction, and The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue adds (via Twitter) the Rams expect their WR3 to be back when first eligible in Week 8 (following the team’s Week 7 bye).
  • Seahawks cornerback Tre Brown will not be ready to return when first eligible to come off the team’s PUP list. Pete Carroll confirmed the third-year corner remains a few weeks away, via ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson (on Twitter). Brown missed last season’s first five games and was down for their final seven, with a Nov. 21 knee injury leading to the latter hiatus. Seattle’s cornerback room has changed considerably since Brown last played; it will be interesting to see what role the 2021 fourth-rounder will play upon returning.

Rams WR Van Jefferson Placed On IR

The Rams are placing third-year wide receiver Van Jefferson on injured reserve as he continues to work his way back from offseason knee surgery that’s kept him mostly on the sideline. The move has raised questions as outsiders become less-and-less clear on the true status of Jefferson. 

Jefferson had a breakout year during his sophomore season, starting every game while reeling in 50 passes for 802 yards and six touchdowns after only amassing 220 yards in his rookie year. Jefferson was second in receiving yards and touchdowns for the Super Bowl LVI champions.

The receiving corps has looked quite different to begin this year without four of last year’s six receivers. DeSean Jackson was released midseason last year by request, Robert Woods was traded to the Titans for a sixth-round pick, and Odell Beckham Jr. remains a free agent after tearing his ACL in the NFL’s season finale. With those three gone, Cooper Kupp, Jefferson, and Ben Skowronek were the only returning receivers from last year. Luckily for the Rams, Kupp, last year’s Offensive Player of the Year, has been his usual self, averaging 118 receiving yards per game in the first two weeks of the season.

The frustration from those following Jefferson’s injury stems from continuous statements from head coach Sean McVay that Jefferson has been “week-to-week” since the start of the season. This has kept optimism alive that Jefferson could return any week or game. But waiting until Week 3 of the season to place Jefferson on IR ensures that he will miss the next five weeks (four games and a bye week), dousing any lingering threads of weekly optimism. If Los Angeles had any idea that Jefferson would be out long-term, it could’ve placed Jefferson on IR far earlier, allowing him to come back as soon as he’s ready, as opposed to now being without their No. 2 wide receiver until the end of October.

In Jefferson’s absence, Stafford has relied on Kupp, tight end Tyler Higbee, free agent addition Allen Robinson, and Skowronek as his top targets. They haven’t been utilized much, but Brandon Powell, Tutu Atwell, and undrafted rookie Lance McCutcheon have served as backup receivers so far this year.

To fill Jefferson’s spot on the active roster, cornerback Grant Haley has been signed to the active roster from the practice squad. The Rams brought back linebacker Keir Thomas to fill Haley’s spot on the practice squad. Wide receiver Jacob Harris has also been called to action as a standard gameday elevation from the practice squad. Harris missed the back half of his rookie season last year after suffering ACL and MCL injuries and made the shift from tight end to receiver.

Eagles Were ‘Deep In Talks’ With WR Allen Robinson; Rams Entered Market Late

The Eagles’ new No. 1 wide receiver blew up for 155 yards in Week 1, and A.J. Brown is tied to a contract that still leads the wideout market in fully guaranteed money ($56MM). Before moving to Brown, the Eagles look to have needed some other doors to close.

Allen Robinson has previously been mentioned as one of those doors, but the Eagles may have been close to a deal with the ex-Jaguars and Bears target. The Eagles were “deep in talks” with Robinson as the legal tampering period gave way to official free agency, according to Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic (subscription required). Von Miller‘s concurrent Rams negotiations impacted Robinson’s free agency.

The Rams were saving their top free agency slot for Miller, whose market came down to Los Angeles, Dallas or Buffalo. With the Rams long expected to retain the future Hall of Fame pass rusher and re-sign Odell Beckham Jr., it did not appear Robinson would be an L.A. fit. After Miller informed Sean McVay he was signing with the Bills on March 16, the Rams changed course and called Robinson that night, Rodrigue adds.

A subsequent McVay-Matthew Stafford video call swayed Robinson, who signed with the team March 17. Though, the Rams’ offer may have had more to do with his commitment. The Eagles were not prepared to outbid the Miller-less Rams for Robinson, and they again swung and missed (or checked their swing) on a veteran wideout. Robinson, 29, signed a three-year, $46.5MM deal with the Rams. The pact included $30.3MM guaranteed at signing. The Rams, who offered Miller a deal that included a higher through-2024 AAV than the Bills’ proposal did, later used some additional funds to add Bobby Wagner.

Philly nearly completed a trade for Calvin Ridley prior to free agency; the Falcons wideout’s gambling suspension nixed it. The Eagles also pursued Christian Kirk but saw the Jaguars submit a stunning offer to lure him to north Florida. The Eagles soon entered the DeVante Parker mix, but the Patriots’ willingness to include a third-round pick helped them land the former Dolphins first-round pick.

Robinson or Ridley being Philly-bound could have led to a ripple effect regarding Brown, who by draft time was at an impasse with the Titans. The Jets were the only other team connected to Brown, as they were connected to just about every potentially available receiver before the draft. But other teams probably would have entered the Brown sweepstakes as well, given the Pro Bowler’s talent and age (25). The Eagles ended up acquiring him, marking probably the franchise’s biggest WR swing since Terrell Owens in 2004. Brown is signed through the 2026 season. Brown leads a Philly receiving corps housing 2021 first-round pick DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins and free agency pickup Zach Pascal (but no longer Jalen Reagor).

Van Jefferson undergoing surgery prior to free agency also impacted the Rams’ entrance into the deeper free agency waters for Robinson, per Rodrigue, who adds the Rams’ staff viewed Jefferson as a 2022 wild card of sorts. Jefferson has since undergone a second knee procedure, and CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson notes (via Twitter) the former second-round pick is likely to miss at least one more game to start the season. That will place more on Robinson’s plate. Robinson’s first Rams game did not produce much (one catch, 12 yards), with Cooper Kupp still carrying the load. Stafford is by far the best quarterback Robinson has played with, so it will be interesting to see if the ninth-year pass catcher can move past his sluggish final season in Chicago.

Van Jefferson Out For Week 1; Rams Still Waiting On Odell Beckham Jr.

SEPTEMBER 7: The Rams have ruled Jefferson out for their opener against the Bills. The team has Ben Skowronek, 2021 second-rounder Tutu Atwell and rookie UDFA Lance McCutcheon in place as their other Week 1 WR3 options.

SEPTEMBER 6: For a very short span last season, Odell Beckham Jr.‘s signing bumped Van Jefferson down to the Rams’ No. 4 wideout role. Robert Woods‘ ensuing ACL tear kept Jefferson a regular on offense. With both out of the picture, Jefferson would have a clear path to his previous gig.

But Jefferson is still rehabbing from his second offseason knee surgery. The Rams are preparing as if the third-year receiver will not play Thursday night, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com notes. Sean McVay called Jefferson’s early-August surgery minor but did not guarantee he would be ready for Week 1. While Wilson adds Jefferson returning early in the season would not surprise, he is not expected to suit up against the Bills.

Jefferson caught 50 passes for 802 yards and six touchdowns last season. The Florida alum figures to fly under the radar again this year, with Cooper Kupp being extended and Allen Robinson signing. Beckham’s continued place as a Rams free agent target again leaves Jefferson’s WR3 status as tenuous, should the long-connected parties agree to terms again.

He’s a guy that, in a short amount of time, we were able to develop a really special relationship,” McVay said of Beckham. “I thought he brought a great spark to our team. I thought he played really well. He’s a great teammate. Without a doubt, want to get Odell back here. That’s the goal and continuing to work toward a solution of him re-signing with the Rams.”

The Rams’ Beckham interest is well known, but Wilson adds OBJ is also interested in returning to play for the defending Super Bowl champs. His crashing of McVay’s wedding this summer may have been a decent indicator here. Although Cam Akers commandeered the talented receiver’s Rams number (3), the team has a locker reserved — nameplate and all — for Beckham going into the season, The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue tweets.

Beckham, who averaged 38.7 yards per game with the Browns last season and just 38.1 as a regular-season Ram, came through for his third NFL employer in crunch time. The 29-year-old target’s 113-yard performance in the NFC championship game and 52-yard Super Bowl LVI half — prior to his second ACL tear — did plenty to help Los Angeles to the title. Other teams will surely be monitoring Beckham this season, as he is not expected to be ready to return until October or early November, and there will be — as Jefferson re-emerges — needier teams. It will be interesting what a second straight in-season Beckham market will look like. We do know one team that will absolutely be in the mix.

NFC West Notes: Rams, Cards, 49ers, Hawks

Van Jefferson‘s second 2022 surgery will shut him down for weeks. In their No. 3 wide receiver’s stead, the Rams are using the likes of second-round pick Tutu Atwell, veteran backup Ben Skowronek, converted tight end Jacob Harris and fifth-year return specialist Brandon Powell, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Of course, the Rams have also been linked — mostly by their own words — to a second Odell Beckham Jr. contract.

We’ll look at those guys and then we’ll continue to see if we can figure out when Odell will come back at some point as well,” Sean McVay said.

Jefferson’s surgery went well, Rodrigue tweets, adding a Week 1 return should be realistic. Although the Rams signed Beckham when Robert Woods was still healthy, Jefferson’s role was not threatened after the latter’s injury. He finished his sophomore NFL slate with 50 receptions, 802 yards (nearly quadrupling rookie-year total) and six touchdowns. Although Beckham coming back and joining Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson would threaten Jefferson’s playing time, the third-year receiver should have a firm grip on the WR3 job for a bit.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • Activated off the non-football injury list Tuesday, Marquise Brown found himself in off-field trouble several hours later. The recently acquired Cardinals wide receiver was arrested on a criminal speeding charge and booked in the Maricopa County Jail. The arrest occurred at 7:05am Wednesday in north Phoenix, according to Jose Romero of the Arizona Republic. Brown was traveling from his home to the Cards’ facility, per Kliff Kingsbury. Brown, acquired in a draft-weekend deal that saw the Cardinals’ first-round pick change hands, faces a potential suspension under the personal conduct policy purview.
  • D.J. HumphriesCardinals extension is for three years and $51.8MM, Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger tweets. This deal comes with a $17MM signing bonus, per ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter). Humphries’ 2022 cap number will also drop from $19.9MM to $12.6MM, creating some additional space for the Cards. Humphries’ extension is worth a bit more than his previous contract (three years, $44.3MM), but it comes in eighth among left tackles for AAV.
  • The 49ers may go with two unseasoned guards this year. They have been using fourth-round rookie Spencer Burford exclusively as their first-string right guard, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle notes. If the Texas-San Antonio product can stick at this position, it could relocate two-year San Francisco right guard starter Daniel Brunskill to center, where he is battling veteran backup Jake Brendel to take over for Alex Mack. Buford is vying to join Aaron Banks as a guard starter. The 2021 second-round pick logged five offensive snaps as a rookie but looks to have a firm grip on the 49ers’ left guard gig in camp.
  • The SeahawksReuben Foster workout does not look to signal an immediate signing, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets. This appears to be a case of the Seahawks kicking the tires on the former first-round pick. Foster has not played in a game since the 2018 season. Although Washington claimed the once-high-profile linebacker during the 2018 season, he never played a down for the team. An ACL tear during Washington’s 2019 offseason program led the Alabama product out of the league. However, the Seahawks are the fifth team to work out Foster since his Washington contract expired following the 2020 season. The Jets, Jaguars, Browns and Dolphins have also brought him in.
  • Former Jets quarterback James Morgan also worked out for the Seahawks, auditioning Thursday. The team, which is holding a long-scrutinized Geno SmithDrew Lock competition, is not planning an immediate Morgan signing, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets. A Green Bay native, Morgan, 25, also worked out for the Packers recently.

Rams’ Van Jefferson To Undergo Surgery

AUGUST 1: McVay said Jefferson will undergo knee surgery Tuesday, though the sixth-year Rams HC described the procedure as minor and indicated the timetable here will be a few weeks, via CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones (on Twitter). McVay stopped short of guaranteeing Jefferson would be ready for the regular season, however.

JULY 31: Rams wide receiver Van Jefferson will see a knee specialist on Monday, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (via Twitter). The third-year pro missed practice on Saturday, and in speaking with reporters after practice, head coach Sean McVay did not explicitly say whether Jefferson’s absence was related to his knee.

“We’re figuring that out right now, working through that,” McVay said (via Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk, citing Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times). “I’ll have more information for you later — like I said, I don’t have anything right now.”

Those comments don’t shed much light on the matter, but Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic says that the coach was clearly concerned about his big-play wideout (Twitter link). McVay is not scheduled to speak with the media today, so we are unlikely to have additional information until Monday at the earliest.

Jefferson played through a knee injury late in the 2021 regular season and throughout the Rams’ postseason run to a Super Bowl title. As Rodrigue notes (via Twitter), Jefferson underwent a knee procedure in the spring, though he appeared to be in good health when training camp opened and was moving well. Per Rapoport, Jefferson could miss a few weeks, and another surgery is on the table.

The Rams selected Jefferson in the second round of the 2020 draft, and he played a key role in the club’s offensive success in 2021. Despite the knee problems, he started all 17 regular season contests, compiling 50 catches for 802 yards (good for a terrific 16.0 yards-per-reception rate) and six TDs. He also started all four postseason games, adding nine more catches for 102 yards.

Los Angeles has an enviable WR corps, with Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson, and Jefferson as the top three players on the depth chart. The team invests heavily at the position, and if Jefferson is forced to miss time, the Rams have 2021 draftees Tutu Atwell, Jacob Harris, and Ben Skowronek waiting in the wings. An Odell Beckham reunion has consistently been rumored as a possibility, but OBJ may be unable to suit up until November, so the Jefferson situation will not necessarily impact the team’s decision to re-sign Beckham.

In better health-related news for Los Angeles, quarterback Matthew Stafford sounded mostly positive when asked how his arm is feeling after the first week of training camp. The 34-year-old passer did not throw during spring work because of a right elbow injury, but he has been throwing in camp.

“It’s coming along,” Stafford told reporters on Saturday (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “I’m kind of right where I want to be and just continue to get it feeling better. Get it stronger. You just lose those reps through the offseason and [I’m] trying to gain some of those reps back at the moment.”