Zach Morton

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/5/23

Saturday’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Indianapolis Colts 

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

Signed: WR Jontre Kirklin

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Washington Commanders

The Browns waived receiver Daylen Baldwin yesterday, and more details on his situation have emerged today courtesy of NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link). Baldwin tore a tendon behind his knee, and he will undergo surgery as a result. After his recovery (which is expected to take roughly six to eight weeks), Pelissero notes that a return is the Browns’ preference.

Vigil will add considerable experience to the middle of the Jets’ defense. The 29-year-old has started 53 of his 89 career games, though he has not operated as a full-time starter in recent years as he once did. Vigil spent the 2022 season in Arizona, where he was limited to only eight games played and logged a defensive snap share of 35%. Both Vigil and Eguavoen worked out with the Giants last month, but they will instead head to New York’s other franchise for the 2023 season.

Kirklin played four games with the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks, and he scored four touchdowns in the process. He will look to carry over that production at the NFL level as part of a Saints receiving corps which has plenty of uncertainty amongst its depth options.

Whittaker spent the past three seasons in Arizona, coming on and off the Cardinals’ practice squad a number of times. He was a key member of the team’s secondary last year, however, starting four of his six games played and logging a snap share of 74%. The 28-year-old will compete for a depth role behind the established starters at the CB spot in Washington.

Lions Add CB Tae Hayes, Waive LB Zach Morton

The Lions have started the weekend by reworking the bottom of their roster. The team announced that they’ve signed cornerback Tae Hayes and wide receiver Avery Davis. To make room on the roster, the Lions have waived linebacker Zach Morton.

Hayes has the most experience of the bunch, with the defensive back bouncing around the NFL since going undrafted out of Appalachian State in 2019. Since then, Hayes has spent time with the Jaguars, Dolphins, Vikings, Cardinals, Panthers, and Patriots. The defensive back also had a stint with the Birmingham Stallions of the USFL.

In total, the soon-to-be 26-year-old has appeared in 13 career games, collecting 16 tackles and a pair of passes defended. He got into seven games with the Panthers and Patriots in 2022, finishing with six stops. He’ll provide some depth to a Lions secondary that is currently dealing with a number of injuries. Jarren Williams was carted off the field with a leg injury the other day and was ultimately waived/injured. Safety Ifeatu Melifonwu is also sidelined while dealing with his own knee injury.

Davis spent four years at Notre Dame, with the prospect listed as a quarterback, cornerback, and wide receiver during his four years at the school. He took on a larger role in the offense in 2021 and 2022, compiling 784 yards from scrimmage and six total touchdowns.

Morton joined the Lions as an undrafted free agent earlier this offseason. The Syracuse and Akron product finished his collegiate career with 24 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and a pair of interceptions.

Lions Place QB Hendon Hooker On NFI List

Hendon Hooker will begin his first NFL training camp on the sideline. The team announced that they’ve placed the rookie quarterback on the active/non-football injury list.

The Tennessee product was a favorite for the Heisman Trophy in 2022 after tossing 27 touchdowns vs. only two interceptions in 11 games (he added another five touchdowns on the ground). However, a torn ACL and meniscus ended his college career prematurely, and he ended up sliding to the Lions in the third round of the draft.

While Hooker has continued to tell reporters that he’s ahead of schedule in his recovery from the knee injury, the Lions have also made it clear that they’re going to take it slow with the rookie. Fortunately for the organization, there isn’t any urgency to get the quarterback on the field, and even if he was healthy heading into training camp, Hooker probably wouldn’t be in contention for a significant role in 2023.

The Lions still have Jared Goff atop their depth chart, and if the veteran is able to repeat his production from last year, there’s a good chance the Lions will keep him under center for the 2024 season, as well. The team also has Nate Sudfeld as a serviceable backup, meaning Hooker will likely be eyeing a QB3 role for his rookie campaign. In the meantime, UDFA Adrian Martinez will get some extra run during training camp and the preseason.

The Lions also placed tight end Derrick Deese Jr. and defensive lineman Zach Morton on the NFI list today. Morton is an undrafted free agent out of nearby Akron, and he joined the Lions following a 2022 campaign where he compiled 4.5 sacks. Deese spent most of his 2022 rookie season on Detroit’s practice squad before inking a futures contract.

Lions Sign 15 UDFAs

With the Lions kicking off rookie minicamp yesterday, the team was busy adding 15 undrafted free agents to their roster:

Per Tim Twentyman of the team’s website, Lions Brad Holmes expressed enthusiasm about their year’s UDFA class, with the GM noting that three unspecified players were actually on Detroit’s draft board.

One of the team’s most notable additions is Steven Gilmore, the younger brother of former NFL DPOY Stephon Gilmore. The Marshall product had nine interceptions and 34 passes defended during his five collegiate season, and his ability to play multiple positions in the secondary (plus special teams) could give him a strong opportunity to earn a roster spot.

The Lions used a third-round pick on Hendon Hooker, but that didn’t stop them from adding a QB in free agency. Adrian Martinez had a prolific showing at Nebraska before transferring to Kansas State, where he paired an underwhelming 1,261 passing yards with 627 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. His passing inconsistency led to him going undrafted, but the Lions could get creative with how they use the dynamic runner.

Speaking of, Keytaon Thompson was a backup quarterback at Mississippi State before transferring to Virginia as a wideout. He was productive in the slot during his two seasons as Virginia, hauling in 131 receptions for 1,569 yards.