The Browns agreed to a 3-year, $15.6 million extension ($7.7 million guaranteed) with RB Duke Johnson on Thursday, NFL Network reports. Johnson already looked likely to hang on to his significant offensive role, and this extension only solidifies that standing. It's especially important given the additions of Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb to the Cleveland backfield this offseason. Johnson is a nice value in current PPR drafting.
LB Mychal Kendricks vehemently denied early reports of him joining the Browns, but then he signed with them Sunday after all. Yahoo! and ESPN each reported a 1-year deal worth up to $3.5 million. The Yahoo! report said Kendricks would start immediately, but we're not ready to buy that. OLBs Christian Kirksey and Jamie Collins each own large salaries and will clearly remain in the lineup. MLB Joe Schobert went to the Pro Bowl in his 1st starting turn and ranked a respectable 32nd (among 87 qualifiers) in Pro Football Focus' off-ball LB grading. The deal does suggest that Kendricks is likely to take on a significant role. We'll see exactly how things shake out. For now, we're knocking Schobert down the LB rankings.
The Eagles on Tuesday released OLB Mychal Kendricks, after several years of trade/cut rumors spanning 2 coaching staffs. The 27-year-old (until late September) figures to quickly get a shot somewhere else. Kendricks is a top-shelf athlete among LBs and has produced across categories when playing full-time snaps. His departure opens the lead weak-side role, though we'll see if that means more snaps for his replacement. One potential replacement, veteran Paul Worrilow, suffered an ACL tear in Tuesday's on-field workout and will miss the season.
Browns HC Hue Jackson said Friday that he's giving OC Todd Haley "total autonomy" of the offense. He's "one of the best in the business," Jackson added of Haley. Consider this good news for all of Cleveland's skill-position guys. The Browns have ranked 31st and 32nd in points scored under Jackson the past 2 seasons. Haley arrives with 11 years of experience as a HC or OC. Eight of his squads have finished in the top half of the league in total points, including 6 top-10 finishes.
The Browns selected Florida WR Antonio Callaway in the 4th round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Callaway would have come off the board much earlier if not for off-field issues, including arrests for sexual assault and marijuana possession. He was also suspended for the entire 2017 campaign for his involvement in a credit card fraud scheme and then failed his drug test at the Combine. When on the field at Florida, Callaway averaged 15.7 yards per catch and scored 3 return TDs. The 5’11, 200-pounder registered a 44th percentile SPARQ score in the pre-draft process. If he can stay out of trouble, Callaway has a shot to make a significant impact as a pro. He joins a crowded WR corps in Cleveland, though, that also includes Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry and Corey Coleman.
The Browns used the 35th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft on Georgia RB Nick Chubb. Chubb busted out as a true freshman back in 2014, racking up 1,547 yards and 14 TDs on 7.1 yards per carry. His 2015 was cut short in October by a catastrophic left knee injury: a torn PCL, MCL and LCL, plus cartilage damage and a dislocation. Chubb returned for 2016 but didn’t look like the same player, posting a career-low 5.0 yards per carry. He bounced back nicely this past year, carrying 223 times for 1,345 yards (6.0 YPC) and 15 TDs. Chubb proved that the knee injury is behind him by registering an 83rd percentile SPARQ score at the Combine. When healthy, this guy is as good a runner as any RB in the class. He’s mostly unproven in the passing game, though, totaling just 31 catches across 4 college seasons. Chubb won’t be doing much pass-catching in Cleveland with Duke Johnson in the same backfield. But the rookie has a good shot to beat out Carlos Hyde for lead ball-carrying duties. That’ll be a situation to monitor throughout the summer.
The Browns selected Ohio State CB Denzel Ward 4th in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. It's likely not a terribly impactful move for IDP owners. Cleveland doesn't currently sport a strong cover corner to drive targets at Ward. He's likely to start as a rookie, though. Ward grabbed just 2 career INTs in college but defensed 24 passes over the past 2 years in a defense that doesn't highlight going for picks at corner.
The Browns selected Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield with the 1st pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. It’s a new, smarter day in the Cleveland front office! Our top-ranked QB in the class, Mayfield turned in a sparkling college career. He walked on at Texas Tech in 2013 and beat out heralded recruit Davis Webb for the Week 1 starting job. After transferring to Oklahoma and sitting out 2014, Mayfield went on to complete 69.8% of his passes with 119 TDs vs. 21 INTs over the next 3 seasons. He added another 895 yards and 19 scores on the ground. Mayfield led the Sooners to a 34-6 record and won the 2017 Heisman. Mayfield haters point out his less-than-ideal height (6’1) and cocky attitude. But the guy is ultra-accurate, boasts plenty of arm strength, is crafty inside the pocket and slippery outside of it. He has all the makings of a successful — and potentially superstar — NFL QB. Mayfield joins Tyrod Taylor in Cleveland’s QB room. The veteran might be the favorite for the Week 1 nod, but Mayfield is a strong bet to make a good number of starts this season. The last 10 QBs to go #1 overall have averaged 10.9 starts as rookies. Six of the 10 made double-digit starts, and only JaMarcus Russell made fewer than 7. Whenever Mayfield gets on the field, he’ll be working behind a solid offensive line and with a nice group of pass-catchers in Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, Corey Coleman, David Njoku and Duke Johnson.
The Browns and WR Jarvis Landry have agreed to a 5-year, $75.5 million extension with $47 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. That $15.1 million per year makes Landry the league's 5th highest paid WR in terms of average annual salary. It's a massive commitment to a guy the Dolphins clearly didn't value nearly as much. Landry is still unlikely to see the 142.5 targets per season he averaged in Miami, though. He's a bit overvalued at his current ADP on WR20 in early best-ball drafts.
New Browns RB Carlos Hyde revealed that he played last season around 228 pounds — down 7 pounds from his listed weight. “That’s the lightest I’ve been," Hyde said. “I went into the season feeling the best I’ve ever felt.” Following a new diet, the 27-year-old managed to play 16 games for the 1st time. That produced a career-high 240 carries. HC Hue Jackson has already said that he'll give the former 49er “every opportunity to run the ball.”
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that Cleveland has agreed to a 3-year deal with RB Carlos Hyde. The contract is reportedly worth “more than” $15 million total, with $6 million in the 1st year. Hyde is an upgrade over Isaiah Crowell in the “early-down” role, and his signing indicates Cleveland doesn’t plan to significantly increase Duke Johnson’s role. There’s room for both RBs to contribute worthwhile fantasy numbers in what should be a much-improved offense, though Hyde’s easily the more attractive draft target. His arrival makes it significantly less likely that the Browns draft Penn State RB Saquon Barkley next month.
Browns WR Josh Gordon has signed his 1-year tender, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. The contract is reportedly worth the league minimum, $790,000. As an exclusive-rights free agent, though, Gordon didn't have much choice. We'll see if he can make it through the offseason without off-field issues. If he does, Gordon will have an opportunity to re-prove it in 2018 and hit the open in 2019.
The Browns have acquired QB Tyrod Taylor from the Bills in exchange for the 65th overall pick of this year's NFL Draft. Cleveland is finally using its ammunition of picks, adding Taylor and WR Jarvis Landry in the span of a few hours. Buffalo's new regime never seemed high on Taylor, who completed 62.6% of his passes with 51 TDs vs. 16 INTs over the past 3 seasons. He spent much of that time working with weak pass-catching corps. He'll have a lot more to work with in Cleveland -- notably Landry, Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman and David Njoku. That said, we still wouldn't rule out the Browns using the 1st or 4th pick of April's draft on a QB. The Bills, meanwhile, are left with QB Nathan Peterman atop the depth chart. Holding the 21st and 22nd overall picks, they're a candidate to make a big move up the board for a QB.
The Dolphins have traded WR Jarvis Landry to the Browns in exchange for a 2018 pick and a 2019 pick. No word on the exact compensation, but ESPN's Adam Schefter hears that neither pick is a 1st- or 2nd-rounder. Schefter also reports that Landry and the Browns are expected to agree to a new long-term deal. Landry's 400 catches through his first 4 seasons are the most in NFL history. He's also averaged just 10.1 yards per catch, though, and totaled only 22 TDs. If WR Josh Gordon stays clean, Landry is unlikely to see the 142.5 targets he averaged in Miami. And we'll see who's chucking him the rock. But for now, the move to Cleveland is a downgrade for Landry's fantasy stock.
Update: Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that Cleveland is sending a 2018 fourth-round pick and a 2019 seventh-rounder to the Dolphins.
Browns HC Hue Jackson is happy with WR Josh Gordon's offseason so far. “Josh has been great. Josh has been outstanding,” Jackson said from the Combine. “He’s having a really good offseason. Obviously, he’s got to continue to do so and continue to do the right things, but I truly believe that Josh Gordon is going to have a great year for us.” The goal for Gordon at this point in the year is to stay out of trouble off the field. He flashed in his 5-game cameo last season, posting lines of 4-85, 3-69-1 and 4-115. He'll be a high-upside fantasy pick in 2018 drafts if the next few months go smoothly.
The Dolphins have placed the franchise tag on WR Jarvis Landry. He'll make about $16 million in 2018 if the 2 sides are unable to work out a long-term deal before the July 16 deadline. Miami has been seemingly reluctant to commit to Landry, and there's already been a report from Pro Football Talk that the team might still be looking to trade him. We'll see where this goes. Staying in Miami another year certainly wouldn't be bad for Landry's fantasy value. He's averaged 100 catches over the past 4 seasons, including a career-high 112 last year.
Bills QB Tyrod Taylor suffered a concussion late in Sunday's Wild Card loss to the Jaguars. It's the 1st known concussion of his career and shouldn't impact his 2018 offseason. That might be the last time we seen Taylor in a Bills uniform, though. This current coaching staff and front office has always seemed lukewarm on him. And Taylor is due a $6 million roster bonus -- on top of his $10 million salary -- this year.
Browns CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee) is inactive for today's game against the Bears. That's good news for Chicago slot WR Kendall Wright. According to Pro Football Focus, Boddy-Calhoun sits tied for 17th among all corners in coverage grade on the season and has allowed just 48% completions.
Cardinals HC Bruce Arians announced on Monday that QB Drew Stanton will start against the Giants this weekend. QB Blaine Gabbert has struggled after a decent start, completing just 51.5% of his passes with 1 TD and 3 INTs over the past 3 games. Stanton posted a 50.7% completion rate with 3 TDs and 1 INT in 2 starts before spraining his knee. Despite the plus matchup this Sunday, he can't be trusted in Week 16 fantasy lineups. It's worth noting that WR Larry Fitzgerald posted 5-70 and 10-113 lines in those 2 Stanton starts.
Bills HC Sean McDermott on Friday named QB Tyrod Taylor (knee) his stater for this weekend's game against the Dolphins. He put in a full week of practice, although it's still possible his rushing ability is a bit limited by that knee injury. That -- plus the fact that Taylor has busted in 2 of his last 3 starts -- makes him tough to trust as more than a QB2. His return is good news for Buffalo's skill-position guys.
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