While so much of the attention at Cleveland Browns camp will be on Baker Mayfield, he isn’t even going to be the starting quarterback.
That job belongs to Tyrod Taylor, who said it’s his duty to block out the chatter about Mayfield, and he believes he can do it.
“Absolutely,” Taylor said, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “It’s part of the job. It’s part of being a leader, being able to take on questions, even on days that you don’t want to take them on. I’m here to help turn this organization around. We have a step for us to take tomorrow (at the start of OTAs) and I’m looking forward to it as well as everyone else.”
If anything, Taylor is fueled by the underdog mentality he has.
“I was drafted in 2011,” Taylor said. “(10) quarterbacks were taken ahead of me. Two of them are playing now (Cam Newton and Andy Dalton). And that’s not any disrespect to the guys who aren’t playing, but what drove me every day was remembering my mom and my parents’ faces and the feeling that I had on draft day, not being happy about that. So I’m going to continue to keep pushing, continue to keep working the way I do.
“[I’m] ready to take my game to the next level. I think that I’ve been able to take steps in the right direction each year that I’ve been able to play the game. So I’m excited about the opportunity that I have here. There’s so much talent on this team and guys that are in the right mindset.”
Taylor has been assured of the starting job, but it still feels tenuous as the expectation settles on Mayfield. The veteran quarterback looks to be handling it as well as can be expected.
Baker Mayfield could have the best training camp of any rookie in NFL history, and it sounds like it still wouldn’t be enough for him to win a starting job in his first season as a pro.
After Mayfield and other Cleveland Browns rookies went through their first minicamp on Friday, Jackson praised the No. 1 pick but continued to temper expectations.
“He has a lot of characteristics that we love. That’s why he’s here. (But) let’s make sure we pump our brakes a little bit, because he’s got a ways to go and a lot to learn,” Jackson said, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “I’m very excited about him. It was a good first day, but he’s got a ways to go. The guy you’re comparing him to (Tyrod Taylor) has played a lot of games, and won games in the National Football League.”
Jackson then once again assured reporters Taylor is going to be under center in Week 1.
“I’m not going to back off of this,” he said. “We can keep writing this narrative, Tyrod Taylor’s the starting quarterback of this football team, and that won’t change.
“I don’t want to look back. That’s why we traded for (Taylor). He’s here to lead this organization to winning. I think Tyrod Taylor will do that. I’m very excited about Baker Mayfield. I’m glad he’s on our football team. I’m excited about Drew Stanton. I’m excited about our quarterback room in general. But it feels good to have a guy I know has played in games in the National Football League in the tough division we play in and won.”
The Browns have had a revolving door at quarterback for many years now, and they want to finally get it right. It makes sense that they don’t want to risk hurting Mayfield’s confidence by throwing him into the fold prematurely. While some other teams may have already admitted they are willing to give their rookie QBs a chance to win the starting job, it sounds like Mayfield is going to have to wear a headset for a while.
The NFL free agency frenzy has officially come and gone, and while there are still plenty of moves to be made, the noteworthy trades, signings, releases and tenders are all set in stone.
Free agency itself was as wild as ever, but the trade market was also far more active than usual. And as the result of both, a plethora of superstars have new homes heading into the 2018.
Here’s a look at 20 NFL players who will thrive with their new team.
20. Justin Pugh, OL, Arizona Cardinals
Behind Andrew Norwell, Nate Solder and one or two others, Justin Pugh was arguably the most talented offensive lineman available in free agency. The versatile Pugh proved himself to be a selfless team-first player with the Giants, shifting positions based on the team’s needs. He played both tackle and guard positions, and played relatively well at each. With some positional stability in Arizona, Pugh should excel so long as he can remain healthy.
The new league year is still less than two weeks old, but already the entire NFL landscape has changed quite a bit thanks in large part to free agency and an uncharacteristically active trade market. Couple that with a plethora of new head coaches, new general managers and shifts in front office structure, and there’s been a substantial amount of shakeup around the NFL.
But which teams and players have benefited most from all these changes? Who has gotten better? Who has gotten worse?
Here’s a look at the 10 best moves of the 2018 NFL offseason to date.
10. Eagles acquire Michael Bennett
The Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl title on the shoulders of their dominant defense, which was highlighted by one of the better and more versatile defensive lines in football. So, what did the Eagles do as they begin their path to a repeat? They further bolstered their defensive line with the addition of Michael Bennett, who had been traded by the Seattle Seahawks as part of their organizational purge.
To land Bennett and a seventh-round pick, the Eagles sent back a fifth-round selection in the 2018 draft and wide receiver Marcus Johnson, who signed with Philadelphia as an undrafted rookie out of Texas in 2016 and was rarely used.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, Bennett came with some unexpected baggage. He recently had a warrant issued for his arrest as part of an ongoing assault investigation. Bennett allegedly injured a 66-year-old paraplegic woman during Super Bowl LI, which led to an indictment by a Texas Grand Jury.
The charge carries a potential for 10 years in prison, but so long as Bennett gets his life in order and pays the proper restitution, it should still result in a good acquisition for the Eagles.
If the Cleveland Browns draft a quarterback with one of the two picks they have in the top four of the upcoming NFL Draft, the rookie will not be competing for a starting job this summer.
While speaking with reporters on Thursday, Browns head coach Hue Jackson already named Tyrod Taylor his starting quarterback for 2018.
That’s not exactly a surprise, as the Browns appear committed to contending next season and acquired Taylor from the Buffalo Bills as a means of gaining stability at the most important position on the field. If Cleveland ends up taking one of the QBs in this year’s deep class, they won’t have to rush the player onto the field like they did with DeShone Kizer and so many others before him.
On paper, we have already named the Browns one of our most improved teams of the early offseason. New general manager John Dorsey clearly is not thinking about just winning a handful of games in 2018, otherwise he would not have acquired players like Jarvis Landry, Carlos Hyde, Demarious Randall and Taylor. It makes sense that the Browns fully intend to have Taylor start in Week 1, even if it is somewhat surprising that Jackson ended the discussion so early.
The Cleveland Browns continue to reshape their roster via trades.
Hours after acquiring Jarvis Landry in a trade with the Miami Dolphins, the Browns acquired quarterback Tyrod Taylor from the Buffalo Bills. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport says Cleveland is trading a third-round pick (No. 65 overall) to the Bills for Taylor.
Taylor was due a $6 million roster bonus, so that put some pressure on the Bills to move the quarterback. Cleveland will now be paying $16 million for a very competent QB who just took a team to the playoffs last season.
Taylor is set to be a free agent after the 2018 season and is unlikely to be the Browns’ long-term solution at the position, but he gives them their best quarterback in years.
Between Landry, Taylor, and the Nos. 1 and 4 picks in the draft, one of which they could use on running back Saquon Barkley, we will likely be looking at a revamped, much-improved Browns offense next season.
The official start to the new league year is less than a month away, which means all 32 NFL teams are gearing up for their annual free agency frenzy.
In preparation for said frenzy, each team is currently deep in evaluation mode, looking not just at the crop of impending free agents, but also their own impending free agents and what remains of their roster. Teams must decide whom they’d like to bring back, sign, perhaps equally important, who they can part ways with in an effort to trim their salary cap.
Already this month we’ve seen the New York Giants release Bobby Hart, the Kansas City Chiefs terminate the contract of Darrelle Revis, and the Bucs release Chris Baker and Doug Martin. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg; a plethora of releases will be coming in relatively short order.
Who is poised to join the list of available players? Here’s a look at 15 players who could be released prior to the start of free agency.
15. Adrian Peterson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Although it’s not yet official, it’s widely believed that the Cardinals are poised to part ways with future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson despite a few successful weeks with the team. He was acquired from the New Orleans Saints in a trade that sent a sixth-round pick in the other direction. Entering 2018, Peterson is on the books for a $1.05 million base salary and a cap hit of $2,881,250 including bonuses. There would be no dead cap hit to release the long-time veteran, so Arizona essentially rented Peterson for a portion of the year. At 32 years old and a displaying clear inability to stay healthy — Peterson has appeared in a full 16 games just once since 2012 — it makes sense that the Cardinals plan to go in a different direction. Peterson, however, insists he’s not done playing just yet.
Tyrod Taylor certainly sounds like he’s headed for an exit in Buffalo.
The Bills quarterback said Friday that he would like to remain with the team, but had no intention of restructuring his contract for a second straight season.
Taylor took a pay cut last offseason, but it doesn’t sound like he’s willing to entertain such a proposal again. While he wasn’t awful, he threw just 14 touchdown passes in as many starts, and the Bills didn’t look like they had full faith in him even as he was winning games for them. It’s probably best for both sides to move on.
Tyrod Taylor probably needs a new team, the Denver Broncos probably need a new quarterback, and both sides could be getting just that this offseason.
Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post reported this week that many are pegging the Broncos as the top landing spot for the Buffalo Bills quarterback if he is released or traded, as expected. Jhabvala also notes Taylor’s connection with Broncos executive Gary Kubiak, who was previously the former Pro Bowler’s offensive coordinator on the Baltimore Ravens.
Denver’s QB play was atrocious last season — their trio under center of Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, and Brock Osweiler always seemed to be injured, totally inept, or some combination of both. As for Taylor, he endured a rough year in Buffalo where he put up his career-worst numbers as a starter and was briefly benched for Nathan Peterman before his season came to a painful end.
Taylor, 28, will be owed a $10 million base salary for 2018 and a $6 million roster bonus due in March. But in any case, he probably has at least the raw talent to make a short-term difference for the Broncos after their 5-11 2017.
NFL wild-card weekend is complete, and we’re down to eight remaining teams in the postseason. Four teams are going home after suffering losses. That means plenty of goats will have an entire offseason to reflect on what went wrong for them at the worst possible time.
Here’s a list of 10 big disappointments from the first weekend of the NFL playoffs.
Andy Reid, Chiefs
The Chiefs’ second half collapse on Saturday will do nothing to dispel Reid’s reputation as a guy who can consistently get you to the playoffs, but doesn’t know how to win there. Up 18 points at halftime, the Chiefs sleepwalked through the second half, ultimately losing out to a Titans team that some viewed as the worst in the playoffs. Not everything that happened was Reid’s fault, but he ultimately bears responsibility — especially since this keeps happening on his watch.
Officiating in Chiefs-Titans game
A series of reports on Sunday indicated that referee Jeff Triplette, who headed the crew that worked the Chiefs/Titans game, was retiring. If he is, he certainly didn’t go out on a high note. His crew made several bizarre decisions during the game, most notably ruling Marcus Mariota down by forward progress, wiping out a fumble that could have changed the entire game. The explanation for that ruling was woefully insufficient. Playoff referees are supposed to get these assignments on merit, but it’s hard to see how Triplette and his crew got that assignment, especially after a performance like that.