The past two games have seen Green Bay function with two backups at safety as starting strong safety Rudy Ford has missed time with a combination of biceps and groin injuries. In both contests, the team was forced to rely on Jonathan Owens and Anthony Johnson.
Owens has been filling in for Savage since his placement on IR and has mostly struggled as a starter, grading out as the league’s 75th-best safety, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). In his lone season as a starter for the Texans last year, Owens struggled in a similar fashion, grading out as the 86th safety out of 88 ranked players at the position. Johnson, a seventh-round rookie, hasn’t fared much better, grading as the 72nd safety, according to PFF, but he did nab an interception in one of his three starts this year.
Savage will now have a chance to return and make a case for himself in what’s left of his contract year. The Packers picked up his fifth-year option back in the 2022 offseason, but it doesn’t seem like there has been much in the way of extension talks. In fact, it was seeming like Green Bay may have regretted their decision to opt-in for the additional year of Savage’s rookie contract after benching him for a four-game stretch last year. The Packers don’t have much of a choice but to start Savage for now, allowing him an additional few games to show what he’s worth in free agency.
In addition to Savage’s activation, Green Bay announced its two standard gameday practice squad elevations for tomorrow’s Sunday night matchup with the Chiefs. Fullback Henry Pearson and running back James Robinson will be suiting up with the active roster tomorrow night. Robinson spent time with both the Patriots and Giants in the offseason. After failing to make a 53-man roster, Robinson signed to the Packers’ practice squad in mid-October and has been off-and-on with both the p-squad and active roster ever since. He has yet to make an in-game appearance this season.
The Chiefs have ruled out running back Jerick McKinnon for tomorrow’s game against the Packers, necessitating some extra depth at the position. The team will turn to Prince, an undrafted free agent who has spent the entire season on Kansas City’s practice squad. Prince had a breakout season at Tulsa in 2022, finishing with 813 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns.
Winfrey, a 2022 fourth-round pick, was cut by the Browns last July after being investigated for pulling a gun on a woman. He joined the Jets practice squad in early November and will finally earn his first promotion of the season. Winfrey got into 13 games for Cleveland last year, collecting 22 tackles and 0.5 sacks.
At age 36, Irvin will be making his debut for a sixth NFL team. The veteran pass rusher signed with Detroit midway through November and will finally have a chance to extend his streak of regular season appearances to 12 straight years. The only absence on the Lions’ front-seven will be linebacker Alex Anzalone, so Detroit may be looking to stand Irvin up to help the team’s depth at linebacker.
Reinforcements are on the way for the Panthers this weekend, as the team has formally activated three defenders from injured reserve. The Carolina defense has been depending on injury replacements for much of the season but is finally set to return three recent, high draft picks in cornerback Jaycee Horn, safety Jeremy Chinn, and outside linebacker Yetur Gross-Matos.
Injuries have been a torment in Horn’s young career so far. After a fracture in his foot prematurely ended his rookie year after three games, Horn battled back to be fully healthy for his sophomore season. He would miss two games early in the year but would start 13 before suffering a season-ending broken wrist. This year, Horn only got through 20 snaps before suffering a hamstring injury that would require a 10-week IR stint.
Horn’s talent is undeniable. Despite the frequent injuries, the Panthers are always eager to get him back on the field, never choosing to ease him in. He’s started all 17 games he’s appeared in. In the short samples we’ve seen thus far, he’s proven to be as good as advertised. In the lone three games of his rookie season, he nabbed an interception and a pass defended. The following year, in 13 starts, Horn recorded three picks and seven passes defensed. Expect him to slot back in immediately as a starter across from Donte Jackson as soon as the coaching staff deems him healthy enough to return.
Chinn’s return couldn’t come at a better time. His usual starting role had been reduced a bit with the free agent addition of Vonn Bell, but with Bell set to miss this weekend’s matchup with a shoulder injury, Chinn should slot right back in as a full-time starter next to Xavier Woods, as opposed to only being on the field for certain packages in each start.
As Chinn’s role in the Panthers’ defense has changed and Carolina has found a suitable starting duo in Bell and Woods, the team had begun listening to trade offers on their former second-round pick. Before the Eagles brought in All-Pro Kevin Byard from Tennessee, Philadelphia reportedly kicked the tires on Chinn. While Chinn’s future may still lead him out of Carolina eventually, the Panthers will be happy to utilize him while they’ve still got him with Bell out.
Gross-Matos is experiencing a bit of disappointment in a contract year but continues to persist. It started when he was forced to change his style of play a bit to fit in new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero‘s 3-4 scheme. Then, Gross-Matos took a backseat on the depth chart as veteran free agent signingJustin Houston slotted in as the starter across from pass rushing star Brian Burns.
Gross-Matos responded by putting up 2.5 sacks in six games of limited time before getting placed on IR, a much faster pace than he’s shown in the past. Houston has since been placed on IR, as well, forcing Carolina to turn to options like Marquis Haynes, Amare Barno, and rookie third-round pick DJ Johnson as starters at outside linebacker. Gross-Matos should now get a chance to make a strong case for himself as an extension candidate or future free agent.
The Panthers are dangerously close to becoming the first team eliminated from playoff contention, and given that Chicago owns their first-round pick thanks to the trade that helped the Panthers to draft quarterback Bryce Young No. 1 overall last year, the team doesn’t have much of a reason for tanking. So, this next stretch of three-straight divisional matchups proves as a measuring stick of how Carolina may measure up with a more-experienced Young and a less-injured defense.
Additionally, the team announced their two standard gameday elevations from the practice squad. Defensive end Chris Wormley and offensive guard Justin McCray will both be suiting up for tomorrow’s matchup in Tampa Bay.
Assuming Amos is subsequently cut, he’ll have to pass through waivers. Per Pelissero, Amos is “healthy and ready to contribute down the stretch.”
Following a four-year stint with the Packers, Amos joined the Jets this past offseason on a one-year, $1.75MM deal. He joined the organization following offseason acquisition Chuck Clark‘s season-ending ACL tear.
The veteran started the season as the third safety behind Jordan Whitehead and Tony Adams. When Adams was forced to miss time, Amos slid into the starting lineup, including a two-week stretch where he appeared in 140 of the team’s 142 defensive snaps.
However, with Adams back and the likes of Jamien Sherwood and Ashtyn Davis earning more playing time, Amos has fallen down the depth chart. Since he got into 68 defensive snaps in Week 4, Amos has been limited to only 62 defensive snaps over the last seven games. The 30-year-old has also contributed on special teams, leading to 23 tackles in his 11 appearances.
Prior to his stint in New York, Amos was a dependable part of the Packers and Bears secondary. He finished the 2022 campaign with a career-high 102 tackles, an indication that he’s still got something left in the tank. There’s a chance a contender looks to snag the vet off waivers, but Amos could have his pick of landing spots if he hits free agency.
It’s uncertain if Horn will play tomorrow against the Buccaneers, and the defensive back was listed on questionable on Friday’s injury report. Either way, it sounds like the defensive back will be making his return sooner than later.
Horn suffered a hamstring injury against the Falcons in Week 1, keeping him off the field for months. He returned to practice in mid-November, and the Panthers had until Monday to activate the player from IR. If the team didn’t make the move, Horn would have been ineligible to return this year.
The former eighth-overall pick has dealt with a number of injuries throughout his career. He was limited to just three games as a rookie in 2021, and he was sidelined for another four contests last year. In total, Horn has appeared in 17 career games, totaling 59 tackles and four interceptions.
Long gets waived from the Panthers’ roster just a week after starting for them against the Titans. Long, who was claimed off of waivers about a month ago, has not been a regular starter in Carolina but was forced into action due to the injury absences of C.J. Henderson and Jaycee Horn. With both players nearing their return, and the recent waiver claim of Shaquill Griffin, the Panthers decided to bring up Strachan instead holding onto Long. The big-bodied receiver had one catch for 45 yards as a practice squad callup earlier this year.
Woods has received a six-game suspension for an incident that took place this summer in which he violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Woods has already missed the entire season up until now on the reserve/non-football injury list after tearing his Achilles tendon back in April. While the Browns hoped for the possibility of a late-season return, this newest development guarantees that Woods will miss the entire 2023-24 season.
Hamler reportedly had joined the Colts’ practice squad at full health after undergoing offseason surgery to repair a partially torn pectoral muscle and taking time away from football to deal with pericarditis, a heart condition that didn’t require surgery but did necessitate medication. Despite being seemingly healthy at the time of his signing, Hamler has yet to be elevated for an in-game appearance in 2023 and is now headed to the practice squad’s injured reserve. It’s unclear if this newest transaction has anything to do with the 24-year-old’s previous health issues.
November 30th, 2023 at 10:00pm CST by Sam Robinson
Entering Thursday on the Cardinals’ injured reserve, Zach Ertz will see his three-season tenure with the team come to a surprising end. The veteran tight end asked for his release, and CBS Sports’ J.J. Watt reports the Cardinals will grant the request.
A two-year Ertz Cardinals teammate, Watt indicates the 11th-year pass catcher hopes to sign with a contender. The Cardinals had given Ertz a three-year, $31.65MM deal in 2022, but the Steve Keim regime authorized that pact. GM Monti Ossenfort will sign off on a separation. The Cardinals have since announced the move.
Although Ertz is a vested veteran, the trade deadline passing mandates he must clear waivers before becoming a free agent. Though, given his quad injury and $8.8MM salary, he would stand to have a decent chance of reaching free agency once again. Ertz, 33, has missed the past five games due to the quad issue. The Cardinals designated guard Elijah Wilkinsonfor return this week, but Ertz remained on IR. It is unclear if he is ready to return, but now that he is off Arizona’s IR, teams will be able to check on this matter.
A team considering an Ertz claim would be responsible for just more than $2.5MM in remaining base salary. Teams can certainly afford this claim, and Ertz’s productive past should at least prompt some to consider it. Ertz is due a $7.96MM base salary in 2024, but that amount is nonguaranteed. But the accomplished tight end has missed significant time in each of the past two seasons.
The Cardinals will be hit with a few million in dead money, but the team has shifted to a rebuilding direction since hiring Ossenfort. In exchange for this release, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport adds Ertz agreed to give up a game check. He earns more than $517K per game.
Since re-signing Ertz, the Cardinals chose Trey McBride in the 2022 second round. The Colorado State product has shown improvement during his stretch of full-time usage, which came about because of Ertz’s October injury. McBride has 48 receptions for 521 yards. Since moving to Arizona in 1988, the Cardinals have struggled for decades to find tight end production. Illustrating this, McBride — who has only started seven games this season — is 53 yards from breaking the franchise’s Arizona-years record for receiving yards in a season by a tight end.
Ertz holds that modest mark presently, but it came during an abbreviated 2021 season — one that saw the Eagles send the former Pro Bowler to the Cardinals. Ertz rolled to 574 yards in 11 Cards games that year, helping the NFC West franchise snap a playoff drought. The Cardinals sent the Eagles a fifth-round pick and cornerback Tay Gowan for Ertz in October 2021, and the partnership paid off for both parties for a bit. But Ertz suffered a season-ending knee injury last year, missing a messy stretch run that ended with Kyler Murray tearing an ACL and the Keim-Kliff Kingsbury duo dismissed. In seven games this season, Ertz totaled just 187 yards (a career-low 6.9 per catch).
While Ertz recovered in time for Week 1, the Cardinals had made major changes during his rehab odyssey. Watt retired, and veterans Zach Allen, Byron Murphy and Markus Golden ventured elsewhere this offseason. After trying to trade DeAndre Hopkins for weeks, the Cardinals moved on via release in May. James Conner and Marquise Brown remain as veteran skill-position presences under Jonathan Gannon, but the Cards are in a clear rebuild mode.
Prior to being traded two years ago, Ertz had angled for an Eagles raise. The Eagles balked and then extended Dallas Goedert. Ertz ended up getting his money in Arizona and has signed two lucrative deals over the course of his career. Ertz made the Pro Bowl from 2017-19, eclipsing 800 yards in five straight seasons (2015-19) and topping out with a 1,163-yard 2018 showing.
The Ravens would seemingly profile as an interested party, having lost Mark Andrews to what is likely a season-ending ankle injury. The Broncos have placed Greg Dulcich on IR four times over his first two seasons; they have not designated their top receiving TE for return yet. The Dolphins did not re-sign Mike Gesicki this offseason. A Stanford product, Ertz also grew up in the Bay Area. The 49ers’ George Kittle employment notwithstanding, they lead the NFL in cap space.
As far as familiarity goes, Doug Pederson coached Ertz from 2016-20, while Shane Steichen was the Eagles’ OC during the tight end’s partial 2021 season in Philly. Though, Pederson’s Jaguars are well situated at tight end after the Evan Engram extension. Would a return to the Eagles make sense? Goedert is on his way back from his forearm fracture, but he has missed time in each of the past two years. The Eagles do not have a viable backup, either.
Laviska Shenault Jr. missed a handful of games earlier this season thanks to a high ankle sprain, but he was able to avoid an IR stint. He wasn’t as lucky this time around, as a new ankle injury will keep him off the field for at least the next four games. Shenault has hauled in 10 receptions this season for 60 yards, and he’s added another 55 yards on 12 carries. The former Jaguars second-round pick has also returned six kickoffs.