Recent NFL Player News
Brandon Aiyuk 'the best player on the field' in 49ers OTAs
Matt Barrows of The Athletic believes wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk was "the best player on the field" in San Francisco 49ers OTAs.
Aiyuk was seemingly unstoppable in OTAs, though it should be noted that many of the team's defensive starters were not participating in the drills. Barrows pointed out that Aiyuk's participation in the voluntary practices illustrated how locked-in the receiver is this offseason, while teammate Deommodore Lenoir remarked "He’s going to be a top-five receiver in this league this year."
Aiyuk enjoyed his first 1,000-yard season in 2022, catching 78 passes for 1,015 yards and 8 scores during the regular season. The former first-round pick has been steadily growing as a receiver through his first three seasons and could enjoy a true breakout this season if he continues his upwards trend. The 49ers will be returning a star-stacked pass-catching group for the 2023 season, but Aiyuk has a chance to outshine his teammates.
Panthers' Bryce Young taking first-team reps in OTAs
The Athletic's Joseph Person wrote that Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young has appeared to surpass Andy Dalton as the team's first-unit quarterback.
Person noted that Young, the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, had already been taking first-team reps earlier in OTAs, but that the team had been giving veteran Andy Dalton the first several throws before moving to Young. Head coach Frank Reich added that it was "just the next step" for Young, who showed "really good stuff" throughout the early parts of the preseason. It's no surprise, but Young should be expected to be the Panthers Week 1 quarterback.
The 2021 Heisman award-winner was well-deserving of becoming the first overall pick in this year's draft, throwing for 8,200 yards with 79 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions in his 2 seasons as the Crimson Tide's starter. The Panthers will be a bit of a work in progress during the 2023 season, but there's reason for optimism with Young at the helm in Carolina.
Rams' Cooper Kupp (ankle) 'feeling really good'
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (ankle) said he is "feeling really good" entering OTAs.
Kupp was able to participate in the Rams' practices earlier this week for the first time since suffering his season-ending ankle injury. The star receiver noted that he is still technically rehabbing the injury, but it looks like he'll be up to full speed well before the start of the regular season. With the departure of Allen Robinson earlier this offseason, Kupp will be in line to shoulder most of the receiving work again for the Rams this season.
Kupp was having yet another insanely productive season with Los Angeles in 2022. Prior to his Week 10 injury he had been averaging 9 receptions for 101.6 yards and 0.8 touchdowns per game, essentially picking right back up where he left off in his record-setting 2021 campaign. He should once again be one of the first wide receivers off the board in fantasy drafts this summer.
Vikings inform Dalvin Cook of upcoming release
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Minnesota Vikings have informed running back Dalvin Cook that he is being released.
The Vikings have been making noise about moving on from Cook for much of the offseason, and are now making the move official. Cook signed a 5-year, $63 million deal with the team before the 2020 season and will now enter free agency just 2 years later. We have already begun seeing reports of interest in Cook from teams like the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and Denver Broncos, so it seems like Cook should find a new landing spot relatively quickly. The Vikings are now expected to enter the season with Alexander Mattison as their primary back.
Cook finished each of the past 4 seasons with at least 1,300 yards from scrimmage, but the 4-time Pro Bowler's efficiency has decreased in each of the past 2 seasons. According to Next Gen Stats, Cook ranked 7th-worst in the league in Rushing Yards Over Expectation last year, finishing with an estimated 41-fewer yards than an average back with his carries would be expected to produce. The 4 other backs who ranked worse than Cook in that metric last year (excluding those on rookie contracts) were each also cut from their teams this offseason, but teams do still seem interested in Cook's ability to create big explosive plays.
Payton: Broncos "have a vision" for Greg Dulcich's role
Denver Broncos tight end Greg Dulcich is in store for a larger role in his second season, according to head coach Sean Payton.
Getting used to the Denver lingo, Payton referred to Dulich as a "Joker," alluding to Nuggets' two-time MVP Nikola Jokic. The plan is to "work matchups" with the dynamic tight end, finding ways to exploit defenses using his talents. "He's got a unique skill set," Payton said. "He's got traits. In the passing game we use the term 'Joker' where you can get matchups." The Broncos' tight end room curently has Albert Okwuegbunam and Adam Trautman also competing for snaps, but if Dulcich can be unlocked, that will greatly help Russell Wilson bounce back from a dreadful first season with the team.
Our models currently project Dulcich for 45.28 catches on 69.15 targets for 483.42 yards and 3.91 touchdowns this season. He's currently the TE18.
Laquon Treadwell signs 1-year deal with Ravens
Free agent wide receiver Laquon Treadwell has signed a one-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Treadwell was once a first-round pick way back in 2016 for the Minnesota Vikings. But in the first 7 years of his career, he has just 5 career touchdown catches. Whether or not Treadwell makes the 53-man roster is currently up in the air, as the current receiver rotation already includes Rashod Bateman, Odell Beckham Jr., Zay Flowers and Nelson Agholor as entrenched options. Treadwell will be battling the likes of Devin Duvernay and James Proche for the 5th receiver spot.
In 6 games last year, Treadwell had 6 catches on 10 targets for 42 yards.
Vikings' Jalen Nailor 'continued to show up' in OTAs
Minnesota Vikings receiver Jalen Nailor "continued to show up" in passing drills during OTAs.
Nailor didn't see much time on the field with the Vikings' offense last season, but was a key member on special teams for most of his rookie campaign. He was efficient with the few opportunities he saw at the end of the season, and could vie for the team's third wide receiver spot with K.J. Osborn this offseason.
Nailor finished his rookie campaign with an impressive 13.8 yard per target mark, catching 9 of his 13 targets for 179 yards and a touchdown. He won't have much of an opportunity to compete for real targets behind Justin Jefferson and rookie Jordan Addison, but his is a name to keep an eye on in deeper leagues and dynasty formats.
Giants' Parris Campbell showing 'early chemistry' with Daniel Jones
New York Giants receiver Parris Campbell has been showing "early chemistry" with quarterback Daniel Jones according to The Athletic's Dan Duggan.
Duggan noted that Campbell appears to have the chops to carve out reps as an underneath option and chain-mover, a role Jones favored a season ago with Richie James running those kinds of routes. It's only OTAs and several Giants wideouts were nursing injuries, but Campbell did sign a contract worth up to $4.7 million with the team this offseason.
Campbell's tenure with the Colts was derailed by frequent injuries, but the former second-round pick did finally play a full season in 2022. Unfortunately that season came in the Colts' worst year of offense since Campbell entered the league, but he still finished with a respectable line of 63 catches for 623 yards and 3 scores. He could work into solid volume with the Giants this season.
Eagles' Rashaad Penny competing for roster spot
Philadelphia Eagles reporter Bo Wulf of The Athletic notes that running back Rashaad Penny is one of "three players competing for one or two spots".
Wulf noted that fellow Eagles D'Andre Swift and Kenneth Gainwell were "locks" to make the opening day roster as long as they stay healthy, while Penny will be competing with Boston Scott, Trey Sermon, and Kennedy Brooks for the final one or two spots remaining on the team's running back depth chart. Wulf added that Penny's small contract means there are "no guarantees" of a locked-in spot on the roster.
If Penny can play the way he opened the 2022 season he should have no problem winning a spot on the team's Week 1 roster, but we'll have to see how things shake out this offseason. The oft-injured back handled 57 carries for 346 yards and 2 scores before breaking his leg in Week 5 last season, but his 6.1 yards per carry would have led all running backs in the league.
Commanders' Jahan Dotson excited for 'explosive' offense in 2023
Washington Commanders receiver Jahan Dotson told The Athletic's Ben Standig he was excited for "explosive" plays in 2023.
“Explosive plays are going to happen back to back to back," Dotson said when asked about new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy's system. The second-year receiver thrived as a secondary option behind Terry McLaurin as a rookie, but could step into a bigger role in Bieniemy's new offensive system.
Dotson's 7 touchdowns tied Packers receiver Christian Watson for the most among rookie pass-catchers in 2022. The former first-round pick caught 35 passes for 523 yards and his 7 scores in 12 games for the Commanders and could be poised for a breakout in Year 2 (as long as quarterback Sam Howell is up to the challenge).
Titans' Treylon Burks 'stood out' to Ryan Tannehill in OTAs
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill told reporters that second-year receiver Treylon Burks "stood out" during OTAs.
When asked about the Titans' receiver corps, Tannehill was quick to mention Burks' name as a player that "stood out" to him during OTAs. A first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Burks has been seemingly taking a step forward heading into the 2023 season after his rocky first offseason in the league. The former Arkansas receiver struggled with his breathing at times as a rookie, but has told reporters this offseason that he's handling his training much better in 2023.
Burks slowly worked into the Titans' offense as a rookie, efficiently producing as a manufactured-touch player in the first few weeks of the season before taking on a larger role in the second half of the season. The Titans did not do much to improve their receiver room this offseason and the team likely has high hopes for Burks heading into Year 2. He finished with 33 catches for 444 yards and a touchdown in 2022.
Packers' Luke Musgrave 'earning first team reps'
Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur praised rookie tight end Luke Musgrave during OTAs as a "quick learner" who was "earning first team reps".
LaFleur even added that Musgrave has "an elite trait in that he can flat fly, and he's a large target." Injuries limited Musgrave during his collegiate career, but the 6'6", 253-pound tight end flashed rare movement skills during his time at Oregon State. He backed up his explosive tape with impressive results at the NFL Combine as well, blazing an 88th-percentile 40-yard dash during the event. He'll have ample opportunity to earn a first-team role on the Packers' thin tight end depth chart.
Musgrave finished his collegiate career with just 47 receptions for 633 yards and 2 scores over his 4 years, but appeared to be breaking out before his season-ending knee injury in his senior season. He caught 11 passes for 169 yards and a score in his 2 games as the team's top pass-catcher.
Browns 'want to get' wide receiver Elijah Moore the ball in 2023
The Athletic's Zac Jackson reports that the Cleveland Browns have been making heavy use of wideout Elijah Moore and "want to get him the ball" in 2023.
Moore had an impressive rookie season with the Jets before falling out of favor in their offense in 2022. The Browns acquired the former second round pick from the Jets via trade, and already appear to be impressed with his skillset from his performance during OTAs. Jackson added that the Browns have been feeding Moore in the passing game already, and that the third-year receiver is establishing a connection with quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Moore thrived as the Jets' go-to guy for stretches as a rookie. When the team used him as their WR1 between Weeks 6 and 11 that year, he rewarded them with 34 catches for 459 yards and 5 touchdowns. He'll vie for targets with Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones in 2023, but should get more opportunities than he did with the Jets last season.
Jets' Robert Saleh 'very optimistic' about Week 1 return for Breece Hall (ACL)
New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh said he is feeling "very optimistic" about having running back Breece Hall (ACL) ready for Week 1 of the NFL season.
Hall suffered an ACL tear just halfway through his rookie season, which prematurely ended what was on pace to be an Offensive Rookie of the Year-winning campaign until that point. The explosive former second-round pick has already been participating in a limited fashion during the team's OTAs and should be a full go for Week 1 barring any unforeseen setbacks.
Hall rushed for an absurd 5.8 yards per carry in his shortened season, totaling 80 rushes for 463 yards and 4 scores. He added another 19 receptions for 218 yards and 1 touchdown as well, and led all running backs in averaged depth of target (4.7) in his rookie season. He's likely to go near the top of fantasy drafts in 2023.
Raiders significantly rework contract with Jimmy Garoppolo (foot) following failed physical
The Las Vegas Raiders significantly reworked their contract with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (foot) following his failed physical.
News of Garoppolo's foot surgery came as something of a surprise given the deal he reportedly signed with the team, and now it would appear as though the team has baked exit-plans into their deal with the former 49er. The team forced Derek Carr out after the 2022 season and now seem to be preparing to be without Garoppolo in 2023. Things are not looking great for Las Vegas.
The Raiders did not retain Jarrett Stidham in free agency, either, leaving them with a depth chart of Brian Hoyer and rookie Aidan O'Connell behind Garoppolo heading into the season. Fans of the team may want to set their sights on the 2024 if things continue to trend in the wrong direction with Garoppolo this offseason.
Cardinals release wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins on Friday
The Arizona Cardinals have released wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins.
After several reports about the veteran wideout's future during the offseason including several trade rumors, Hopkins will head into the free agent market after he played three seasons with the Cardinals. Expect the 30-year old to draw plenty of interest without his previous contract obligations while Marquise Brown should see lead volume among Arizona's receiving group.
On 93 targets last season, Hopkins ranked 33rd among his position with a 72.9 Pro Football Focus offensive rating while producing 64 receptions for 717 yards and 3 touchdowns and 1.98 yards per route run.
Geno Smith: Seahawks' Jaxon Smith-Njigba (hamstring) going to be 'tremendous'
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith told The Athletic's Michael-Shawn Dugar that wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (hamstring) "is going to be a tremendous player."
Smith-Njigba was kept out of the Seahawks' rookie minicamp while they monitor the hamstring issue that forced him to miss most of his final season at Ohio State, but the team's starting quarterback sang the first-round pick's praises after witnessing him participate in OTAs. "Jaxon’s been tremendous so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing him grow," he told Dugar after OTAs.
Smith-Njigba's sophomore season at Ohio State thrust him into the national spotlight after he out-produced future first-round picks Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson in the Buckeyes' high-flying offense. He finished that season with 95 catches for 1,606 yards and 9 touchdowns, and should join D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in the Seahawks' starting lineup before long.
Trey Lance working with 49ers' first unit in OTAs
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (ankle) was playing with the team's starters during OTAs.
The 49ers are planning to enter the season with Brock Purdy (elbow) as their QB1, but Lance has been reportedly taking the first-team reps in OTAs while Purdy works his way back from offseason surgery. It's great to see Lance healthy enough to play after breaking his ankle in Week 2 of the 2022 season, and it's likely the third-year quarterback will be the subject of frequent news updates throughout the summer.
Lance has made just four starts for the 49ers since the team drafted him third overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, but it's unclear whether the team has soured on the physically gifted quarterback during that time. He could find himself starting for another franchise before the end of the season, but for the time being he's ahead of offseason addition Sam Darnold in the pecking order.
49ers' Brock Purdy (elbow) on track to begin throwing in June
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (elbow) is reportedly on track to begin throwing a football in early June, The Athletic's Matt Barrows reports.
Things appeared bleak shortly after Purdy suffered an elbow injury during the 49ers' devastating NFC Championship game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, but it seems like the breakout quarterback avoided any worst case scenarios. He is now reportedly on track to begin throwing as early as next week after undergoing surgery after the playoffs and is expected to be ready to start for Week 1.
The 49ers seem intent on having Purdy lead their team come Week 1, and his shocking performance as a rookie provided a pretty good case as to why. He finished the regular season with 1,374 passing yards and 13 touchdowns to 4 interceptions, and rose to the challenge during the playoffs until his injury. Unless we hear otherwise during the summer, Purdy seems to have locked up a starting gig.
Jonathan Taylor (ankle) sidelined for Colts OTAs, planning for training camp return
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (ankle) is aiming to be fully healthy when the team opens its official training camp programs.
Taylor has been present but inactive at the Colts' early OTAs while he continues to rehab the ankle he had offseason surgery on. The ankle injury severely limited the star running back in 2022, restricting him to just 11 games while he averaged a career-low 4.5 yards per carry. By all accounts we've heard so far, Taylor should be 100% healthy heading into the 2023 season.
The Colts should be looking to lean on Taylor again in the 2023 season, especially as they work first-round pick Anthony Richardson into the mix. With Taylor and Richardson threatening opposing defenses on the ground, the Colts will have an opportunity to field a truly exciting offense under new head coach Shane Steichen this season.
Colts' Anthony Richardson showing flashes of 'really next-level stuff'
Indianapolis Colts head coach Shane Steichen said rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson has showcased "really next-level stuff" in OTAs.
Richardson has reportedly shared the first-team reps with veteran Gardner Minshew as the team figures out where they're at heading into the heart of the offseason. The former Florida Gator has reportedly made some impressive throws already, but has mixed in the good with the bad so far. The Athletic's James Boyd remarked that the team has to be feeling pretty pleased about their circumstances after the performances of both of their quarterbacks thus far.
That Richardson has not looked overmatched in passing drills is a good omen, as the exciting young quarterback's true ceiling will reveal itself once he takes live reps in an NFL game. According to Kent Lee Platte's Relative Athletic Score system, Richardson is the most athletic quarterback prospect we have ever seen. The Colts have yet to make any declarations about their Week 1 starter, but we'll all be excited to watch whenever Richardson does take the field.
Allen Robinson (foot) 'earmarked' for Steelers' slot receiver role
The Pittsburgh Steelers have "earmarked" wide receiver Allen Robinson for their slot receiver role in the 2023 season according to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic.
Robinson has not yet been cleared to participate in OTAs after undergoing foot surgery in the offseason, but according to Kaboly it seems as though the Steelers already have designs on the veteran functioning as their slot receiver in 2023. 2022 was not a strong showing for Robinson, but a transition to the slot (a position filled by Cooper Kupp during Robinson's time with the Rams) could be just what he needs.
Robinson's production as a receiver over the past two seasons have left a lot to be desired. He produced more catches (102), yards (1,250), and touchdowns (6) in his 2020 season in Chicago than he has done in the 22 games he's played over the last two years combined. Hopefully a season playing in the slot alongside talented players like Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, and Pat Freiermuth will help him resuscitate his career.
Steelers' Kenny Pickett 'doing everything right off the field' heading into year two
The Athletic's Mark Kaboly believes second-year Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett is "doing everything right off the field."
Pickett has reportedly been an offseason all-star for the Steelers following his rookie campaign, attending close to every single offseason workout and virtually living at the team's facilities. Head coach Mike Tomlin repeatedly used the word "excited" when asked about Pickett's development heading into his second season, and expectations in Pittsburgh are that the former first-round pick will take a leap in 2023.
Pickett's overall rookie season numbers weren't too exciting; he finished with 2,404 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. But the Pitt alum showed signs of improvement down the stretch, throwing just a single interception over his final seven contests and leading two game-winning drives. The Steelers offense has solid pieces in place for Pickett to utilize in year two, but we will have to wait and see how his development showcases itself on the field.
Ravens' Lamar Jackson 'loving' OC Todd Monken's offense
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson said he was "loving it, so far" when asked about operating new offensive coordinator Todd Monken's offense in OTAs.
The Ravens parted ways with former offensive coordinator Greg Roman in the offseason after their offense seemed to stagnate under his direction, and brought in former Bucs play caller Todd Monken to replace him. Monken's Bucs offenses featured prolific passing numbers, and with a skill position corps of Mark Andrews, Rashod Bateman, Odell Beckham, and first-rounder Zay Flowers, Jackson could be set up for massive passing production in 2023.
Roman's offenses made extreme usage out of tight end- and running back-heavy personnel packages over the past two seasons, but the Ravens seem poised to utilize more three-receiver sets in 2023. Things are shaping up for Baltimore after a couple of disappointing seasons, and Jackson seems properly set up for a season rivaling his 2019 MVP campaign.
Kyle Pitts (knee) not participating in Falcons' OTAs
Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (knee) is not participating in the team's OTAs.
Pitts is working his way back from a torn MCL he suffered in November of last year. Pitts had surgery and the expectation in February was that he would be ready for the start of training camp. His absence from OTAs doesn't put him behind schedule, and he could still be good to go come training camp.
Pitts finished last season with 28 receptions on 59 targets for 356 yards and 2 touchdowns.
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