Training Camp Buzz Roundup: OBJ Questions NFL's Approach, Won't Opt Out
Welcome to the new normal: NFL players and coaches will continue to test positive for COVID-19 throughout training camp.
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was the latest high-profile positive test Sunday, per ESPN's Tim McManus.
"The reality is, returning to work is probably helping NFL guys to know they're positive, who might otherwise not have known," an anonymous head coach told Josina Anderson. "I still think it's ridiculous that it's not mandatory for all players to stay in quarantined hotels during camp."
The NFL continues to roll on even as players test positive or opt out of the 2020 season. However, Cleveland Browns star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. recently questioned the league's motives.
As teams await the opportunity to get on the practice field, they can tweak their rosters between now and the first time the players put on pads. The New York Jets, Las Vegas Raiders, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings and Washington Football Team all made moves within the last 24 hours.
Here's a rundown of the day's biggest NFL news.
Odell Beckham Jr. Is Ready for Season Despite Reservations
Odell Beckham Jr. is a lightning rod for controversy, whether the inevitable backlash is warranted or not.
The latest example came Monday when the Wall Street Journal published an article with Beckham's thoughts on the NFL's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Author Lane Florsheim conducted the interview before the league and the NFLPA reached an agreement regarding player safety and COVID-19 prevention for the 2020 campaign.
During a roundtable interview that included New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton and Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley, Beckham questioned the league's approach and its sincerity regarding player safety.
"Obviously with everything that's going on, it doesn't make sense why we're trying to do this," the three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver said.
"We're not ready for football season. So why are we trying to push forward? It's obviously for their money. And that bothers me because there's always been this—and I hate saying it like that—but the owners' [attitude is], Oh we own you guys, and just kind of that unfairness going on that they don't see us as human. I just feel like the season shouldn't happen and I'm prepared for it to not happen and I wouldn't mind not having it."
Despite his reservations, Beckham has no intention of opting out this season and is already with the team, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot.
A player having reservations regarding the upcoming season shouldn't come as a surprise, and Beckham's comments came before the league ironed out its plan of action. He might not have originally agreed with the NFL's approach, but he's still with the team and been a full participant in activities, per Browns senior media broadcaster Nathan Zegura.
Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski Just Might Be 'Right Guy' for Job
The Cleveland Browns seem to have a stabilizing force leading them for the first time since, well, they returned to the NFL in 1999.
The Browns' constant coaching staff and roster turnover turned a once-proud franchise into a laughing stock. The team is a putrid 33-94-1 since Jimmy Haslam became principal owner in 2012. During that span, he's had six different head coaches, including Kevin Stefanski, who took over this offseason.
Stefanski appears to bring something different to the franchise after years of ineptitude.
"This guy seems to really get it," an anonymous agent told CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora after talking to his Browns clients months ago.
Another added, "Could be the right guy for the job. Players seem to respond to him, even if it's all remote."
The Browns are still more than a month away from taking the field against an actual opponent, and no one knows how the team will respond with Stefanski leading the way on game day. However, the organization appears to be handling current adversity well after years of dissent between coaches and the front office.
It appears as though the Browns may have finally made the right move in hiring Stefanski to work alongside first-time general manager Andrew Berry.
New York Jets Continue Offensive Line Overhaul, Move On from Veteran WR
The New York Jets' offseason has been built around making life easier for quarterback Sam Darnold.
They may have both succeeded and failed in this endeavor.
General manager Joe Douglas added multiple offensive linemen via free agency and the draft, which made veteran right guard Brian Winters expendable. The Jets released him Sunday, and he signed with the Buffalo Bills shortly thereafter, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
"I think there's a real shortage of quality offensive linemen in the NFL, so we're going to do our best to get as many quality ones as we can because you can never have too many," Douglas said in April, per SNY's Ralph Vacchiano.
The Jets signed center Connor McGovern, guard Greg Van Roten and tackle George Fant in free agency. They also spent first- and fourth-round picks on tackles Mekhi Becton and Cameron Clark, respectively. Douglas even tried to coax three-time Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long out of retirement, according to the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta.
Releasing Winters may seem counterintuitive based on Douglas' comments from April, but it isn't. According to SiriusXM NFL Radio's Adam Caplan, Van Roten is the "landslide favorite" to start at right guard this fall.
Along with those already mentioned, the Jets still have Chuma Edoga and Jonotthan Harrison on the roster as depth. That made Winters the odd man out, especially since the Jets saved $7.3 million with his release, per Spotrac.
Wide receiver was also a concern. The organization signed Breshad Perriman in free agency and drafted Baylor's Denzel Mims with a second-round pick to go with standout slot receiver Jamison Crowder. That made veteran Quincy Enunwa expendable, and team announced the 28-year-old's release Monday.
Enunwa's release is significant because of the financial ramifications. The veteran injured his neck last season, and the Jets had already determined he wouldn't play this fall, per ESPN's Rich Cimini. Even so, the Jets will lose an extra $3.6 million by moving on from Enunwa now, according to Spotrac.
Washington Adds WR Dontrelle Inman to Offset Kelvin Harmon Injury
The Washington Football Team featured one of the game's most exciting young wide receiver trios in Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims Jr. and Kelvin Harmon. All three were rookies last season and were expected to grow alongside second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
Unfortunately, Harmon suffered a torn ACL in June while preparing for the 2020 campaign, per ESPN's John Keim. He'll miss his entire sophomore campaign as a result.
In response, Washington is expected to sign 31-year-old veteran target Dontrelle Inman, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Inman bounced around the league over the last three seasons despite a promising start to his career with the then-San Diego Chargers. Last year, the five-year veteran split time between the Chargers and Indianapolis Colts, catching 12 passes for 181 yards.
Even with Inman in the fold, McLaurin and Sims will be Washington's primary receiving threats. However, Washington didn't have a single wide receiver on the roster with more than two seasons of experience. Inman fills that void as the group's veteran presence.
Las Vegas Raiders Trade 2018 2nd-Round Pick P.J. Hall to Minnesota Vikings
The Las Vegas Raiders want a certain type of player as part of their organization. Apparently, 2018 second-round pick P.J. Hall didn't meet those qualifications.
The organization chose to trade the defensive tackle Monday to the Minnesota Vikings for a conditional 2021 seventh-round draft pick, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
During the 2019 draft, head coach Jon Gruden told reporters, "You've got to have a lot of maturity, and we wanted guys that weren't only great football players and talents, but guys who could handle the circumstances of being front-line players, leaders, and also having a lot of maturity to handle the move of the franchise."
Gruden also stated Hall showed up to last season's training camp "overweight," per Heavy's Austin Boyd.
Teams usually give their high-round picks every opportunity to contribute. While it's unclear why the Raiders sold low on Hall, they seemingly didn't envision him as a long-term building block.
Hall played in all 16 games last season and started 12 of them. The Raiders will move forward with Johnathan Hankins, Maurice Hurst, Maliek Collins, Daniel Ross and Mike Panasiuk along the defensive interior.
The Vikings, meanwhile, needed help along their defensive interior after prized free-agent Michael Pierce opted out of the 2020 campaign. Hall should compete with Jaleel Johnson to start at 1-technique.
Baltimore Ravens Concentrate on Tight End Improvements
The Baltimore Ravens used two or more tight ends on 40 percent of their offensive snaps last season, according to Sharp Football's Warren Sharp. However, they traded tight end Hayden Hurst and a 2020 fourth-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons for second- and fifth-round picks in this year's draft.
General manager Eric DeCosta saw the value in the trade despite the coaching staff's effectiveness utilizing multiple tight-end sets.
"The Ravens posted some ridiculous numbers out of 13 personnel, starting with a successful play rate of 60.7 percent on 61 snaps," ESPN's Matt Bowen wrote. "Baltimore averaged 8.11 yards per play, 10.71 yards per pass attempt and 5.08 yards per rush."
Mark Andrews is already a Pro Bowl-level performer, while Nick Boyle is one of the league's better in-line blockers. The Ravens are still in search of a third option, although they're expected to sign Jerell Adams, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Adams spent most of the past two seasons on the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints' practice squads. As such, the Ravens may not be done at the position.
Three-time Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker remains an option, according to Josina Anderson. CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported the 35-year-old tight end is 100 percent healthy after dealing with ankle problems for the last two seasons and is interested in reuniting with former offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
TE Jordan Reed Signs with San Francisco 49ers
The Ravens may have been interested in tight end Jordan Reed, but the San Francisco 49ers beat them to the punch.
The 49ers reached an incentive-laden, one-year deal with Reed on Monday, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The 30-year-old tight end is essentially a lottery ticket at this point his career.
At his peak, Reed was one of the league's most difficult mismatches. During the 2015 and 2016 seasons, he played in 26 games and caught 153 passes for 1,638 yards.
Unfortunately, concussions and mounting injuries derailed a once-promising career. He didn't play during the 2019 campaign after suffering his seventh concussion during a preseason contest against the Atlanta Falcons. The Washington Football Team released Reed this offseason.
San Francisco took a low-level risk in hopes of a maximum payout.
"We got to a point where we felt the risk that we're taking on was worth it with the potential reward," general manager John Lynch told reporters.
The Niners already have George Kittle, the game's best all-round tight end. Kyle Juszczyk is also the NFL's most versatile fullback. Reed adds yet another potential weapon to Kyle Shanahan's dynamic offense.
Denver Broncos RT Ja'Wuan James Opts Out of 2020 Campaign
The Denver Broncos thought their offense was set, but right tackle Ja'Wuan James threw a wrench into their plans when he chose to opt out of the season Monday.
Quarterback Drew Lock is a potential breakout star after a strong finish to his rookie season. He now has rookie wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler and running back Melvin Gordon III in his arsenal to go along with wideout Courtland Sutton, running back Philip Lindsay and tight end Noah Fant.
But the team now has a large void on the right side of the offensive line.
Offseason acquisitions Graham Glasgow and Lloyd Cushenberry III should solidify the interior, though the Broncos don't have the same depth at tackle.
Elijah Wilkinson started started 12 games for an injured James last season. He'll likely step into the starting role once he returns from the physically unable to perform list (foot), even though he was originally expected to compete with Garett Bolles on the left side.
The Broncos could add more depth besides Jake Rodgers in the form of a veteran free agent like Cordy Glenn, Demar Dotson, Marshall Newhouse or LaAdrian Waddle.