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.
With Week 13 underway, the picture at the top of the NFL draft board continues to become clearer. Plenty is yet to be determined with respect to the top of the order, however.
The Panthers’ ongoing struggles led to Frank Reich‘s firing, but the Bears own Carolina’s top pick this year due to the 2023 swap which landed Bryce Youngvia the No. 1 selection. Chicago being able to have the top pick once again – coupled with their own selection landing in the top-10 – would make the Bears a team to watch closely come April. The race for the top two or three slots (and, as such, the ability to draft QBs Caleb Williamsand Drake Maye, along with wideout Marvin Harrison Jr.) will also be a key late-season storyline for the Cardinals and Patriots.
The Commanders have lost three straight games, overshadowing a promising season from first-year starter Sam Howell. After deciding to move on from defensive ends Chase Youngand Montez Sweatat the trade deadline, the team’s defense has continued to struggle. DC Jack Del Rio is out as a result, and head coach Ron Rivera‘s position is not believed to be on strong footing. A top-five pick could make the job in Washington more attractive presuming a opening arises this offseason.
For non-playoff teams, the draft order will be determined by the inverted 2024 standings — plus a series of tiebreakers, starting with strength of schedule — with playoff squads being slotted by their postseason outcome and regular-season record. Here is an updated look at the current draft order:
Undrafted rookie quarterback Tommy DeVito has guided the Giants to two-straight victories, tossing four touchdowns vs. no interceptions in wins over the Commanders and Patriots. While the sudden breakout has shocked many, it probably wasn’t much of a surprise to the two teams he beat.
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported last weekend that after DeVito went undrafted in this past year’s draft, he received an offer from Washington. In fact, that offer featured more guaranteed money than the contract that DeVito ultimately signed with the Giants. However, the rookie quarterback grew up in New Jersey and wanted to play for Brian Daboll, two factors that played major roles in him taking the lesser deal.
Then, when DeVito was cut by the Giants at the end of the preseason, the Patriots approached the rookie quarterback about joining their practice squad. Instead, DeVito stuck with the Giants’ taxi squad, and he earned a promotion to the active roster in October after backup Tyrod Taylor went down with an injury.
After entering Week 9 in place of the injured Daniel Jones, DeVito has started every game for the Giants. In total, the rookie has completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 697 yards, seven touchdowns, and three interceptions. He’s also added 83 yards and one touchdown on the ground.
While the Giants have seen Andrew Thomas become one of the NFL’s better tackles — en route to a $23.5MM-per-year extension — they have not observed their right tackle make a second-year leap. Evan Neal has missed time with injuries and struggled when on the field. Thomas was a Dave Gettleman draft choice, while Neal went in Joe Schoen‘s first draft in charge. Pro Football Focus has assigned this season’s third-worst tackle grade to Neal. The Alabama product was seen as a player who could potentially slide to guard at some point, having played there at times in college. For the time being, Schoen is not entertaining such a switch.
“No, I don’t think so,” Schoen said, via the New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy. “We are looking forward to getting him back, but he knows there are some things he can do better — and that’s what we expect from him. … I went back and watched the Alabama stuff: The kid can play. We just have to get him to be more consistent. I have a lot of confidence in Evan.”
In 20 starts over two seasons, PFF charges Neal with 10 sacks allowed. Just two of those have come this year, but the former No. 7 overall pick has missed five games. Neal has missed five of the Giants’ past six contests; the team has not placed him on IR. The Giants will certainly hope to see signs of promise from Neal down the stretch.
Here is the latest from the NFC East:
DaRon Bland has morphed from a 2022 fifth-round pick into an NFL record holder, via the fifth pick-six he notched on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys could see two cornerbacks become first-team All-Pros in three seasons, after Trevon Diggs‘ 11-INT season landed him on the 2021 top team. Diggs’ 2023 replacement played at Division I-FCS Sacramento State and then spent a year at Fresno State. Cowboys scout Ross Wuensche identified Bland as a target, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes (video link), and the team brought him in for a visit. Describing Bland as a late-blooming prospect, Rapoport adds interest came in late enough he could not turn all his invitations for “30” into meetings before the 2022 deadline. With Stephon Gilmore‘s contract up after this season, the Cowboys extended Diggs and have Bland signed through 2025.
Recent Cowboys pickup Martavis Bryant remains in redevelopment mode. The team has not elevated its practice squad stash for a game yet, making it now more than five years since the former Steelers starter has played in an NFL game. No timetable is in place for a Bryant move to the active roster, but executive VP Stephen Jones said (via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill) the team sought the recent XFL wideout for his size-speed combo. The Cowboys are fairly well stocked at receiver, but Bryant’s 6-foot-4 frame would be a new dimension for this particular Dallas receiving cadre. It remains to be seen if the soon-to-be 32-year-old pass catcher still has NFL-viable form left.
Having fired DC Jack Del Rio after a Cowboys Thanksgiving romp, Ron Rivera is set to call the Commanders‘ defensive plays. The team also fired multi-stop Del Rio lieutenant Brent Vieselmeyer, who was Washington’s DBs coach this season. To help manage the workload, Rivera hired Jimmy Salgado as an interim staffer, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter tweets. Salgado had spent six seasons on Sean McDermott‘s Bills staff, but the team fired him this offseason. Salgado spent the 2023 season at Michigan State, working as the Spartans’ cornerbacks coach.
November 29th, 2023 at 10:22pm CST by Sam Robinson
One of the great deep threats in modern NFL history, DeSean Jackson is not planning to play a 16th season. The veteran wide receiver instead intends to announce his retirement as a member of the Eagles, according to the team.
Jackson, who had joined the Raiders and Ravens as an in-season addition over the past two years, played 15 seasons for six teams. While the 2008 second-round pick will primarily be remembered for his contributions in Philadelphia, he made an impact in a few cities. Jackson started 159 games and is one of just 40 players to surpass 11,000 receiving yards for his career.
“DeSean Jackson was a dynamic playmaker who captivated Eagles fans with his game-breaking speed, unique skill set, and explosive play,” Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie said in a statement. “What made DeSean truly stand out during his accomplished 15-year career was his ability to make miraculous plays look routine.”
The Cal product spent time in Philly, Washington, Tampa, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Baltimore during his NFL run. He led the NFL in yards per reception in four seasons, most recently in 2018 with the Buccaneers, and remained a coveted player into his mid-30s. Jackson will turn 37 on Friday, choosing that notable date to retire with the team that drafted him.
While no wide receivers went off the board in the 2008 first round, the second produced quality performers. Jordy Nelson and Eddie Royal also became Round 2 picks 15 years ago. Jackson made a quick impact, becoming an immediate long-range threat for Donovan McNabb on an Eagles team that voyaged to the 2008 NFC championship game. Jackson became the fifth player to reach 900 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons; he eclipsed 1,000 in two of those slates. Over the course of his career, Jackson produced five 1,000-yard seasons; the most recent came with Washington in 2016.
Jackson scored 66 touchdowns over the course of his career; one will probably stand out as his most memorable. Used regularly as a punt returner early in his career, Jackson finished off a 24-point Eagles rally to stun the Giants in Week 15 of the 2010 season, completing a walk-off 65-yard punt return. This came a week after he accumulated a career-high 210 yards against the Cowboys, helping the Eagles to the NFC East title in Michael Vick‘s first season as the team’s starter.
Although the deep passing game was more prominent in prior eras, Jackson stood out on that front in this one. Only Devery Henderson produced a higher yards-per-catch average in a season than Jackson’s 22.5 (2010) during the 21st century. Despite Jackson’s deep-ball brilliance, he wore out his welcome in Philly in 2014. Deemed a poor fit duringChip Kelly‘s second offseason in charge, Jackson wound up in Washington on a four-year, $24MM contract. This came after the Eagles had given the 5-foot-10 weapon a five-year, $47MM extension in 2012, Andy Reid‘s final year at the helm.
Washington’s Jackson and Pierre Garcon additions ignited Kirk Cousins, who set single-season franchise records for touchdown passes and passing yards while targeting the two free agency pickups in the mid-2010s. Jackson topped 1,000 yards in 2014 and ’16, but Washington let both veterans walk in 2017 — a year before losing Cousins. While Jackson’s post-Washington years did not generate the same kind of production he offered during his initial run in the NFC East, Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s 9.6 yards per attempt in 2018 came with significant Jackson contributions. The then-Mike Evans sidekick finished that season with a 18.9 yards per reception.
The Eagles reacquired Jackson via trade in 2019, sending a fifth-round pick to the Bucs. But injuries marred Jackson’s second Philly stint. In two seasons back with the Eagles, Jackson suited up for just eight games. The team cut him once again in 2021.
After the Rams released Jackson during the 2021 season, the veteran pass catcher was linked to a few teams. He ended up helping the Raiders to a surprising playoff run, which came after the exits of Jon Gruden and Henry Ruggs. A Ravens team that lost Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay to season-ending injuries sporadically used Jackson while limping into the playoffs last season. Jackson did not play in Baltimore’s wild-card game, however. He operated as the NFL’s oldest receiver in 2022.
Jackson made three Pro Bowls and earned more than $91MM over the course of his career. While Jackson ranks 39th in both career receiving yards and yards per catch, his 17.6 yards per grab rank second among 21st-century wideouts.
That is hardly surprising. While it made sense for new owner Josh Harris, who purchased the club in July, to give the power brokers that he inherited a fair evaluation period and to avoid a major shakeup less than two months before the start of the 2023 regular season, it likewise stands to reason that Harris would want to start afresh with his own choices at the HC and GM positions (especially in the wake of what is shaping up to be a sub-.500 campaign).
Our own Sam Robinson recently suggested as much, and a source told Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda.com that Harris wants to “get rid of the Daniel Snyder stench,” which would entail a total purge of both the front office and coaching staff. Harris, who is also the managing partner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, has reportedly expressed an interest in structuring the Commanders like an NBA team and has consulted with Sixers GM Elton Brand on the matter. Such a setup would apparently include, among other things, the possibility of giving the players a say in decision-making.
Mayhew, 58, enjoyed a long stint as the Lions’ general manager from 2008-15 and subsequently held high-level executive positions with the Giants and 49ers before joining Washington in 2021 (one year after Rivera). Despite Mayhew’s GM title, Rivera has always had final say over personnel matters, and Jones suggests that if Mayhew is relieved of his duties after the season, Harris may opt for a hierarchy wherein the head coach reports to the general manager, who in turn reports to ownership.
The good news for Commanders fans is that the presence of Harris, along with a healthy salary cap situation and an ample supply of draft capital, have made the team’s HC and GM posts very desirable. As one executive told Jones, “everyone’s shooting for Washington,” and that should allow Harris to choose from the best available talent in the upcoming hiring cycle. Although Jones does not say so, it could also mean that Washington’s faith in second-year quarterback Sam Howell is shared by top head coach and general manager candidates.
There are several additional notes from the above reports worth passing along. We already knew that Harris drove the recent deadline trades of defensive ends Montez Sweat and Chase Young, and that the club dropped its asking price on Young before sending him to the 49ers. According to Pauline, the team was especially motivated to move Young because it had grown weary of his propensity to improvise and freelance rather than operate within the defensive scheme.
With respect to the Commanders’ possible GM search, Jones says that an analytically-minded candidate could be particularly appealing to Harris. Indeed, as ESPN’s Seth Walder writes in a thread on X, it had been speculated that Harris would want more of a quantitative approach to personnel decisions, and to that end, the team has hired Eugene Shen as its Senior VP of Football Strategy.
Shen, who has previously worked for the Ravens and Dolphins and who served as the Jaguars’ VP of Football Analytics before leaving the team in 2022 to work in finance, will oversee all analytics and software development on the football side of the operation.
A former Jaguars and Raiders head coach, Del Rio had been with Washington throughout Ron Rivera‘s four-year tenure. But the veteran HC/assistant’s defense has struggled this season. Following the Cowboys’ 45-10 romp, the Commanders will make a significant change. Rivera will now call the Commanders’ defensive plays, per the Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala. The Commanders have since announced Del Rio’s ouster.
In addition to the Del Rio move, the Commanders are also firing defensive backs coach Brent Vieselmeyer, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweets. Like Del Rio, Vieselmeyer had been on Washington’s defensive staff since 2020. He served as a Raiders assistant during Del Rio’s three-year Oakland tenure. Christian Garcia will take over as Washington’s DBs coach, Jhabvala adds, with safeties coach Richard Rodgers assisting Rivera with game-planning.
Although Commanders ownership playing the lead role in the team trading top defensive ends Montez Sweat and Chase Young has factored into the team’s defensive unraveling, Del Rio’s unit was not thriving before the deadline deals. The Commanders allowed at least 33 points five times between Weeks 2-8, with both Young and Sweat being in the lineup in each of those contests. Following the Cowboys’ demolition, the Commanders rank last in points allowed, 29th in total defense and 30th in defensive DVOA.
Del Rio received this opportunity after not coaching for two years. The Raiders fired Del Rio following his third season, despite the team going 12-4 a year prior, to give Jon Gruden a 10-year contract. The 60-year-old coach did not have an NFL gig during the 2018 and ’19 seasons. His Washington tenure produced a mixed bag. The team ranked fourth in points allowed in 2020 and seventh in this area last season, though the 2021 campaign produced a 25th-place result. While this Commanders edition saw its edge-rushing muscle stripped away, ownership will sign off on Rivera making an in-season change.
Giving Rivera a green light to make these moves would point to ownership being committed to the veteran HC through season’s end. Rivera appears a likely chopping-block candidate in January, but Del Rio served as one of the Commanders’ interim HC options in the event Josh Harris axed Rivera during the season. OC Eric Bieniemy resides as an interim option as well, but the team would not have much in the way of defensive leadership in the wake of Friday morning’s dismissals. This appears likely to end with Rivera and potentially Bieniemy being gone as well, as Harris remodels the organization he recently acquired, but the fourth-year HC remains in place for now. A Harris statement indicates Rivera recommended the changes.
In the Rivera-Del Rio partnership’s first season, Washington won the NFC East — albeit with a 7-9 record — after forming a stacked defensive line by drafting Young second overall. Young paired with former first-rounders Sweat, Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Ryan Kerrigan to form a strong pass rush. This unit helped cover for a QB situation that featured a struggling Dwayne Haskins and a limited Alex Smith, and Washington accounted itself well in a close wild-card loss to Tampa Bay. But the team is headed toward a fourth straight .500-or-worse season under Rivera. Del Rio’s role in that will cost him his job early.
The Del Rio-Rivera defense fared well despite Young barely playing in 2022, with the unit also withstanding the free agency miss on William Jackson, whom the team benched early last season and sent to the Steelers for a low-end return. This year brought a regression on most fronts, even with Young returning to full strength following his November 2021 knee injury. High-powered offenses like the Bills and Eagles ran out to 30-plus points against the Commanders, but the Bears and Broncos also combined for 73 points during the season’s first half. Although a six-turnover effort hamstrung the Commanders in the Giants rematch, Del Rio’s unit allowed rookie UDFA Tommy DeVito to throw three touchdown passes in New York’s two-score Week 11 win (as a two-score underdog).
A former linebacker, Del Rio has been an NFL staffer since 1997. Vieselmeyer has only served as an NFL coach under Del Rio. Primarily vacillating between the high school level and a Del Rio assistant (with a few college seasons mixed in), Vieselmeyer was on the Raiders’ staff throughout Del Rio’s three-year tenure. Washington hired him as its assistant secondary coach in 2020. Following Chris Harris‘ defection to the Titans this offseason, Vieselmeyer moved up to DBs coach. The Commanders exit Week 12 having allowed an NFL-most 49 pass plays of at least 20 yards, per ESPN.com’s John Keim. Washington has not intercepted a pass in six games.
NOVEMBER 24: Corroborating Rapoport’s report from Thursday, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes Rivera is likely safe for the remainder of the 2023 season. That update comes as little surprise in the wake of defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio being let go in a move which Rivera appears to have recommended. Still, signficant progress will likely need to be made down the stretch for the Commanders’ evaluation to result in anything but a new head coach taking the reins relatively soon.
NOVEMBER 23: While today’s contest against the Cowboys could carry signficant sway in the decision on Rivera’s future, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network confirms an in-season coaching change “is not the team’s desire.” He adds that Harris and Rivera have a strong working relationship, but that an evaluation will be conducted no later than after the conclusion of the regular season. While Rivera may be safe past the bye week barring further underwhelming performances, signs therefore continue to point to this season being his last in the nation’s capital.
NOVEMBER 22: With the Commanders trading Montez Sweat and Chase Young on deadline day, Ron Rivera‘s 2024 fate appeared sealed. The team won its first game without the two former first-round defensive ends but has since lost back-to-back contests, dropping to 4-7. The well-liked HC looks to be in the final weeks as the Commanders’ leader.
Some in the Washington building have wondered if Rivera will be canned during the team’s Week 14 bye, per ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler. The Commanders face the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and then match up with the Dolphins in Week 13. Starting at a potential 4-9 mark going into the bye, Washington could look into an early firing. The Commanders are coming off an upset loss to the Giants, committing six turnovers in defeat.
That said, Fowler adds some around the league would lean toward new owner Josh Harris not making changes during his first season in charge. Ownership had not applied early-season pressure on Rivera, with Harris praising the veteran HC. But the long-term thinking points to a change. The timing here may be ultimately inconsequential. Whether the firing takes place in December or January, Rivera’s time as Commanders HC will likely wrap after four seasons. Two more losses will ensure the former Super Bowl HC will not post a winning season in four years at the helm.
Should Rivera be fired, it will mark the second time a new owner will have pulled the trigger on an ouster. If Rivera is axed during the upcoming Commanders bye, it will remind of the Panthers’ move four years ago. David Tepper officially became an NFL owner in May 2018, and while he gave Rivera that season, walking papers emerged 12 games into the 2019 slate — one that involved Cam Newton going down in Week 2 with a foot injury. Rivera, 61, is on track to be available again in 2024.
The Commanders have two-time HC Jack Del Rio and an interview circuit mainstay — OC Eric Bieniemy — on staff as interim options, in the event Harris decides to cut bait early. The Dan Snyder successor took over in August, and the Philadelphia 76ers owner — whose NBA franchise conducted a radical rebuild aimed around stockpiling draft assets during the 2010s — is believed to have played the lead role in driving the Commanders to not stop at just trading Sweat. The owner instructed his football ops staff to explore trading both D-ends. Less than an hour before the deadline, the 49ers acquired Young for only a third-round compensatory pick. This has certainly hurt Washington’s defense, though Del Rio’s unit was struggling on the whole before the trades.
Rivera did lead Washington to the playoffs in 2020, and despite being down to in-season pickup Taylor Heinicke, the team tested the eventual champion Buccaneers in the wild-card round. Though, Washington only went 7-9 — Rivera’s second sub-.500 playoff season, following a 7-8-1 2014 campaign in Charlotte. Washington needed Heinicke throughout the 2021 season, losing starter Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 1. The team’s aggressive 2022 QB approach did not yield its top-tier targets, producing Carson Wentz. The Commanders bailed on Wentz after one injury-truncated season. Rather than make another big push for a veteran or attempt to draft a passer in Round 1, the Commanders committed to 2022 fifth-rounder Sam Howell.
It is unclear if Howell will definitively be back under center in 2024, though the North Carolina product is the NFL passing yardage leader. Howell is the only QB over 3,000 yards (3,038) presently. But he will almost definitely have a new head coach. With Harris also not in place yet when Bieniemy was hired, it is certainly possible the Commanders will have a new play-caller in 2024 as well.
Smith’s tenure on the Raiders lasted about three weeks after he was signed off of the Saints’ practice squad. The Raiders immediately plugged him in hoping that he would improve a unit struggling to defend the run. After his initial game in Vegas, though, Smith was inactive for the next two games. Whether due to injuries or ineffectiveness, Smith no longer warranted a roster spot with the Raiders.
The Jets signed Kelly in the midst of a litany of offensive line injuries. Kelly is an established veteran with a good amount of starting experience, but even with all the opportunities provided due to injury, Kelly couldn’t quite crack the rotation and now finds himself without a roster spot.
NOVEMBER 21: When speaking publicly about Barton’s status, head coach Ron Rivera confirmed he will be activated tomorrow (h/t ESPN’s Joh Keim). That will allow Barton to suit up for the Commanders’ Thanksgiving contest against the Cowboys and return to his starting role.
NOVEMBER 20: Cody Bartonhas been absent from the Commanders’ defense for the past month, but he could be in line for a return soon. The veteran linebacker was designated for return from injured reserve on Monday, per a team announcement.
Barton was placed on IR due to the high ankle sprain he suffered in Week 7, a move which required at least a four-week absence. The fact he has returned to the practice field at the first opportunity to do so, though, is an encouraging sign for his prospects of suiting up as early as Week 12. He can be activated any time within the next 21 days.
The-27-year-old signed with the Commanders on a one-year, $3.5MM deal this offseason. That contract sent him out of Seattle after a four-year run with the Seahawks. Barton logged 16 starts during his time in Seattle, but his move to Washington resulted in a jump in playing time. Prior to the injury, he had logged a defensive snap share of 88% while starting all seven of his appearances.
Barton has parlayed that increased workload into 61 tackles, having reached double-digits in that department during a game on three occasions this season. The former third-rounder sits third on the team in stops despite having missed one month, an illustration of his importance to Washington’s defense. That unit has struggled in recent weeks in particular, and the team now sits 21st in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (114).
The return of Barton should help in that department. The Utah alum has posted the worst PFF rating of his career to date with a 45.9 rating, but his impact on Washington’s LB corps have been evident when he is on the field. Bringing him back into the fold will use up one of the Commanders’ six remaining IR activations.