Latest Player News from RotoWire
Nick Chubb RB, CLE
The Browns want to keep Chubb (knee) but might consider releasing him this offseason if the two sides can't agree on a new contract, according to Zac Jackson of The Athletic.
Chubb probably wouldn't like the idea of taking a pay cut for the final year of his contract, as he mostly outplayed the terms of the deal before suffering an ACL tear in September. An extension would allow the Browns to lower his $15.83 million cap hit and $11.78 million base salary for 2024 without forcing Chubb to take a straight-up pay cut, though the team might be hesitant to offer significant guarantees to a 28-year-old RB coming back from a severe injury. GM Andrew Berry said in January that the Browns intend to bring Chubb back for 2024, one way or another.
Deshaun Watson QB, CLE
Watson (shoulder) is on track or slightly ahead in his rehab schedule and will begin throwing in March, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.
The quarterback had surgery Nov. 21 to repair a fractured right shoulder socket. he resumed work in the weight room last week and is already discussing the possibility of organizing offseason throwing sessions with teammates for the third year in a row. New Browns offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey said he's optimistic about getting Watson back to the level of play he demonstrated in Houston, and the the QB's fully guaranteed contract ensures the Browns will give him another shot as the clear starter despite disappointing showings in the second half of 2022 and the first half of 2023. The contract runs through 2026, i.e., Watson's age-31 season.
Calvin Ridley WR, JAC
The Jaguars are expected to make a strong push to re-sign Ridley, who can become an unrestricted free agent in March, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reports.
Ridley can become a free agent for the first time three months after his 29th birthday. He was on the old side for his draft class (2018 first round), got suspended for all of 2022 and then played out 2023 under the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. Ridley wasn't quite the dominant No. 1 option the Jaguars (and many fantasy drafters) had been hoping for, but he did play all 17 games in 2023 en route to a 76-1,016-8 receiving line on 136 targets (55.9 percent catch rate, 7.5 YPT). It was enough for the Jaguars to likely offer him a new contract before the start of free agency, though not enough that the team would be willing to make him one of the higher-paid WRs in the league. He can start negotiating with other teams March 11 if nothing gets done with Jacksonville before then.
Kenny Pickett QB, PIT
The Steelers want to give Pickett another chance to be their starting quarterback, according to Gerry Dulac of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The 2022 first-round pick has thrown 13 touchdown passes in 24 NFL games but went 7-5 as a starter in both of his first two pro seasons. While it's safe to say Pickett won't ever be a top quarterback, the Steelers apparently hope he can become a competent starter under new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. Dulac suggests the Steelers are unlikely to pursue QBs that definitely would expect to be starters (e.g. Justin Fields, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins) but could end up re-signing impending free agent Mason Rudolph, who replaced an injured Pickett in December and then continued to start once his teammate was medically cleared. It's certainly worth noting that not all of the Pittsburgh beat reporters are as confident as Dulac about the Steelers wanting to give Pickett another shot rather than replacing him with someone like Fields/Cousins/Wilson.
Rhamondre Stevenson RB, NE
Stevenson (ankle) recently said he's "feeling great" and would be able to play in a game if the Patriots had one coming up, Nicole Yang of The Boston Globe reports.
Stevenson has been going to physical therapy four or five times per week since missing the final five games of 2023 with a high-ankle injury. It sounds like he'll be ready for the start of the offseason program, heading into the fourth and final year of his rookie contract. Stevenson said he plans on speaking to new coach Jerod Mayo and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt about his desire to handle a clear lead role in the backfield, after rotating with Damien Harris in 2022 and Ezekiel Elliott in 2023. Elliott is headed for unrestricted free agency this offseason, leaving Stevenson and 2022 sixth-round pick Kevin Harris as the only RBs from the 2023 roster under contract for 2024.
Tank Dell WR, HOU
Dell (leg) is making good progress in his recovery from a broken fibula and expects to be ready for OTAs this spring, Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 Houston reports.
Ten and a half weeks removed from surgery, Dell was limited to coaching at Travis Scott's Cactus Jack Foundation celebrity softball game last Thursday, though the wide receiver moved around normally while playing catch with other participants. He started pool work in January, and there hasn't been any report of significant ligament or muscular damage accompanying his broken fibula. Dell plans to participate in spring practices and should be ready for training camp even if the Texans want him to slow-play things until then.
Mike Evans WR, TB
The Buccaneers are not expected to re-sign Evans by Monday's 'soft' deadline, which will force the team to take on $7.4 million in dead cap space, Jordan Schultz of BleacherReport.com reports.
Evans and Tampa Bay will continue contract negotiations in the meantime, but as things stand, the passing of Monday's deadline makes it look more realistic that the 30-year-old wideout ends up on the free agent market. The Buccaneers also have the option of placing the franchise tag on Evans, though that would cost the team a whopping $28.4 million for 2024, and rule out other tag options like Baker Mayfield and Antoine Winfield. Evans has put together 10 straight seasons with over 1,000 receiving yards and been instrumental to each iteration of Tampa Bay's offense to burgeon forth in that stretch, so whether he receives his next contract from the Buccaneers or a team on the open market, expect his compensation to be remunerative.
Jimmy Garoppolo QB, LV
Garoppolo will be suspended for the first two games of 2024 for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances, and the Raiders are expected to release him this offseason. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Garoppolo used a prescribed medication without having a valid Therapeutic Use Exemption from the league. He was likely headed for a release anyway, as the Raiders benched him in 2023 and can avoid paying his $11.25 million base salary for 2024 if they cut the QB before March 18. Garoppolo does have a guaranteed $11.25 million roster bonus due one day earlier, and it's possible this suspension will allow the Raiders to recoup some of that money.
Geno Smith QB, SEA
The Seahawks informed Smith on Thursday that he'll remain on the roster through this week, rather than being released to avoid a $12.7 million contract guarantee that kicks in Friday, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.
Smith has two years remaining on the three-year, $75 million contract he signed last offseason, but the deal only had injury guarantees after the first year. His $12.7 million base salary for 2024 is one of those, converting to a full guarantee Feb. 16 (this Friday). Smith then has a $9.6 million roster bonus due March 17, and the Seahawks presumably wouldn't keep him around for now if they didn't also plan to pay that out and have the 33-year-old QB under contract for 2024.