Category Archives: NFL

Ben Roethlisberger expects this to be his last season with Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger privately has told former teammates and some within the organization that he believes this to be his final season playing quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, league sources told ESPN on Saturday.

Roethlisberger has not made any such public proclamations, and likely won’t, since he doesn’t want the latter part of the season to be about him as Pittsburgh tries to make a playoff push.

But sources say he and those within the organization are now operating as if he is entering the final five matches of his Hall of Fame career, with two of them fittingly coming versus the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh’s opponent Sunday and in the final regular-season game.

Roethlisberger is in the final year of his contract. He is 39 years old, turns 40 in March and has seen all of his quarterback draft classmates, such as Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, move on to the next chapters of their lives. Roethlisberger’s 18 seasons with one team is the most by a quarterback in NFL history.

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Roethlisberger has told many that he never would want to play anywhere other than Pittsburgh.

It doesn’t mean he couldn’t surface next season in another NFL city, but that is “highly unlikely,” according to one source.

That would mean that this year is expected to cap the career of one of the Steelers’ all-time greatest players. Roethlisberger will leave the franchise with more victories, touchdown passes and passing yards than any quarterback in Steelers history.

His 410 career touchdown passes entering Sunday’s game are eighth most in NFL history. His 62,870 passing yards are sixth in NFL history. His 161 career wins are fifth in NFL history.

The fact that this is expected to be the final NFL season for the six-time Pro Bowler does not come as a surprise to many around the organization.

They felt that last season could have been Roethlisberger’s last and, in a way, the team even seemed to prepare for that, turning over much of its roster on offense this season and transitioning to the future there.

The Steelers have, on average, the youngest offensive roster in the league, with rookies manning the center and left tackle positions and playing at running back and tight end.

Though the Steelers have quarterbacks Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins on their roster, there are questions about whether either will succeed Roethlisberger.

The Steelers’ home finale is Week 17 versus the Cleveland Browns on Jan. 3, a game that will air on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. Pittsburgh closes out the regular season in Baltimore on Jan. 9.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown suspended 3 games for COVID-19 violation

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown has been suspended three games for violating the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols, the league revealed Thursday.

The league and players’ union found that Brown was among three players who misrepresented their vaccination statuses. A former personal chef of Brown’s stated earlier this month that the wide receiver had obtained a fake COVID-19 vaccination card over the summer.

Also suspended for three games were Buccaneers backup safety Mike Edwards and free-agent wide receiver John Franklin III, whom Tampa Bay waived in August. All three players accepted their discipline and will not appeal, according to the NFL.

Brown’s and Edwards’ suspensions are without pay. Both will be eligible to return to the Buccaneers’ lineup for the team’s Dec. 26 game versus the Carolina Panthers. The NFL and NFLPA negotiated the length of the suspension ahead of Thursday’s announcement, sources told ESPN’s Dan Graziano. All three players are now vaccinated and admitted wrongdoing to the league in the investigative process, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

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“The NFL-NFLPA jointly reinforce their commitment and further emphasize the importance of strict adherence to the protocols to protect the well-being of everyone associated with the NFL,” the league and players’ union said in a statement.

The league’s investigation found that Brown brought a fake vaccination card with him to training camp, but shortly after he arrived someone told him having one could get him in trouble, so he made the decision to get vaccinated, sources told Graziano.

Brown’s attorney, Sean Burstyn, said in a statement that Brown “continues to support the vaccine for any person for whom it is appropriate.”

“The NFL made its determination and, instead of going through the drawn out and distracting process of challenging the outcome, Mr. Brown wrapped this up promptly and he will make the most of this time by treating his ankle injury,” Burstyn said. “Mr. Brown will be motivated, well rested, and in the best shape of his life when he returns in week 16.”

Brown was not expected to play in the next two games due to an ankle and heel injury that has kept him out since Week 7, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Wednesday.

Chef Steven Ruiz stated earlier this month that Brown had his girlfriend, model Cydney Moreau, reach out to him over the summer to get a fake vaccination card. After Ruiz was unable to get a fake card for Brown, he said that a few weeks later the wide receiver showed him ones he had for himself and Moreau that Brown said he had purchased.

Ruiz told ESPN that Brown had obtained his fake vaccine card from a Buccaneers teammate. Ruiz declined to name the other player.

Burstyn had denied that Brown obtained a fake vaccine card.

A day after Ruiz’s initial allegation, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said the team did its “due diligence” in vetting player’s vaccine cards, adding, “I really don’t think it’s a story.”

“We appreciate the League’s timely handling of this matter and recognize the importance of the health and safety protocols that have been established. We will continue to implement all league COVID-19 protocols,” the Buccaneers said in a statement Thursday.

While Brown did not publicly discuss his vaccination status, Edwards wore a mask when he met with reporters at the starting of training camp, which is required for players who are unvaccinated. Asked about his vaccination status, Edwards said at the time, “I don’t really want to talk about vaccinations really. It is what it is. I don’t really want to get into that.”

Asked whether he would change his mind, Edwards stated, “I don’t know. We’ll see.” After that, Edwards did not wear a mask when speaking with reporters.

Edwards, who has lined up at safety and nickelback, forced a fumble in last week’s win over the Indianapolis Colts and leads the team with three interceptions.

He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 2 after recording two pick-sixes against the Atlanta Falcons.

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Seattle Seahawks sign veteran Adrian Peterson to practice squad

The Seahawks are taking a look at Adrian Peterson to see what the veteran running back might have left in his Hall of Fame career.

Coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Wednesday that the Seahawks signed the 36-year-old Peterson to their practice squad as a potential reinforcement for their banged-up backfield.

“Excited to see if he can help us out and give us a little something,” Carroll stated. “He’s a player that I’ve known forever — way back to his high-school days — and admired him tremendously over the years. Always disappointed we didn’t get him back in the day, but like I just told him, we finally got him.

So I’m looking forward to seeing how he does and where he can fit in. He’s an incredible competitor and a great guy, so I’m anxious to give him a chance to get on the field with our boys.”

Peterson was waived last week by the Tennessee Titans, who signed him after losing star Derrick Henry to a broken foot. He carried 27 times for 82 yards and a touchdown in three matches.

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Carroll held off on any comments about what Peterson may add to Seattle’s backfield, saying he needs to see him practice first.

The Seahawks (3-8) are in what Carroll described as “recovery mode” in practice these next few days as they prepare to host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, having lost to the Washington Football Team on Monday night before making the cross-country trip back home.

“I’ve got to wait and see how he does out here,” Carroll said. “I’ve watched the film and seen him play. He plays just as tough and aggressive as he ever has, so I’m anxious to see what he adds to the club. He’s fired up about it, too.”

Peterson ranks fifth in NFL history with 14,902 career rushing yards. He spent his first 10 campaigns with Minnesota and then had stints with Arizona, New Orleans, Washington and Detroit before his most recent one in Tennessee.

The Seahawks rank 25th in the league with 92.5 rushing yards per game. They’ve been without their preferred No. 1 running back, Chris Carson, since Week 5 because of a neck injury that required season-ending surgery. Alex Collins has started in his absence and has only topped 50 yards rushing once in that seven-game span.

Collins and DeeJay Dallas combined for 18 rushing yards on 10 carries against Washington as Rashaad Penny (hamstring) and Travis Homer (calf) were inactive due to injuries. Undrafted rookie Josh Johnson was elevated from the practice squad for that game but only played on special teams.

Carroll didn’t know whether Penny or Homer will be available Sunday versus the 49ers, though he said the word from trainers is that Penny will practice.

The Seahawks’ loss to Washington all but eliminated their opportunities of making the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 seasons.

Carroll was asked about the thinking behind adding Peterson versus giving a look to a younger back like Johnson.

“We’re trying to get ready to win this football game,” Carroll said. “So I’m going to see if Adrian has got something to offer us. Just in his presence and his toughness, he brings something. So let’s see what happens. We’re just trying to get the right mix. Rashaad’s been in and out. We’ve been concerned about him getting back and staying back. Homer has been banged up and we’re not sure about him this week either. So it just looks like there’s some opportunities.

“So we’ll see how it goes and see how the guys respond. I’m as excited as probably you guys are just to see what he looks like playing in our uniform and doing something for us, so we’ll see how it goes.”

The Seahawks made two other additions to their practice squad Wednesday with receiver Cade Johnson and free safety Elijah Benton. Johnson was previously on Seattle’s practice squad.

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Washington Football Team places K Joey Slye on IR because of hamstring injury, signs Brian Johnson

The Washington Football Team has placed kicker Joey Slye on injured reserve due to a hamstring injury and signed Brian Johnson to fill its need at the position, the team revealed Tuesday.

Slye was injured in Monday’s 17-15 win over the Seattle Seahawks. He’ll miss at least the next three matches for Washington because of the IR designation.

Johnson had been on Chicago’s practice team but spent four weeks on the active roster with New Orleans. During that time he made all eight of his field goals but only five of eight extra points. Johnson was signed by the Bears as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia Tech, where he made 76.1% of his field goals and was perfect on 131 extra points.

Johnson will be Washington’s fourth kicker of the campaign. It released Dustin Hopkins on Oct. 21; the veteran kicker had missed two field goals and two extra points in the first six games. But his replacement, Chris Blewitt, had three kicks blocked in his two games — all because of a low trajectory.

His signing was a big gamble because Blewitt had not kicked since 2016 while at the University of Pittsburgh.

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But Slye had steadied the kicking duties.

In his first two games, Slye had made all five of his field goal attempts as well as all five extra points. He made one field goal Monday night. But he had an extra-point attempt late in the first half blocked. While in pursuit of Rasheem Green, who blocked the kick and was running with the ball, Slye shot to the ground.

He injured the hamstring on his left leg, also his plant leg.

Without Slye, Washington could not kick a field goal or extra point in the second half. Punter Tress Way was the emergency kicker, but it also meant having a new holder in quarterback Kyle Allen. Washington converted a 2-point try in the second half for a 17-9 lead that turned out to be the difference in the game. It eschewed a 21-yard field goal late in the game and had a touchdown pass overturned on replay.

Washington is still awaiting news on running back J.D. McKissic, who was carted off the field late in the game. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke said McKissic was up and walking around in the locker room after the game. His agent, Doug Hendrickson, tweeted after the game that McKissic “is all good.”

Center Wes Schweitzer injured an ankle and slowly limped off the field. Schweitzer, usually a backup guard, was starting at center because of injuries to two others. His status also hasn’t been updated.

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Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook has dislocated shoulder

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook dislocated his shoulder during Sunday’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Cook is anticipated to miss at least the next two matches — Sunday at the Detroit Lions and the following Thursday versus the Pittsburgh Steelers — with the hope being he can return the next week for the Monday, Dec. 20, game at the Chicago Bears, the source told Schefter.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer would not disclose the nature of Cook’s injury Monday and stated his star running back was “day-to-day.”

“That’s what they’re telling me,” Zimmer said.

Cook was carted off the field late in the third quarter and ruled out for the remainder of the game.

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He was injured after being brought down by Niners defensive tackle Kevin Givens following a handoff.

The running back lost the ball in the process of being tackled and immediately grabbed for his chest with his right arm when he hit the ground.

He stayed down on the field for several minutes as athletic trainers tended to him. Both Vikings and Niners players knelt around Cook while he was moved onto a cart before being taken off the field and back into the locker room for further evaluation.

Cook’s day ended with 10 carries for 39 yards and six receptions for 64 yards. He was replaced by backup running back Alexander Mattison, who rushed three times for 8 yards and caught one pass for 2 yards after Cook left.

In other news Monday, the Viking placed cornerback Patrick Peterson on the reserve/COVID-19 list, putting his availability for Sunday’s game versus the Lions in question.

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49ers win 1st home game in more than a year, 31-10 over Rams

After a nearly two-month stretch that featured one victory and far too many disappointments, the San Francisco 49ers were running out of time to establish an identity this season.

An opening 18-play touchdown drive versus the rival Los Angeles Rams was a pretty good start.

Jimmy Garoppolo capped that long drive with the first of his two touchdown passes, Jimmie Ward returned one of his two first-quarter interceptions for another score and the 49ers beat the Rams 31-10 on Monday night for their first home win in more than a year.

“It got us into a rhythm for sure,” Garoppolo said. “That’s the way we want to do it. Just running the ball, converting on third down and then score at the end. I don’t want to say it took their soul away but it definitely did something.”

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The Niners (4-5) had lost four of five matches and were in danger of falling out of the playoff race before putting together a complete performance in their fifth straight win versus the Rams (7-3).

Garoppolo threw TD passes to George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, Samuel also ran for a score and Ward delivered the big plays defensively to give San Francisco its second home win in the past two seasons. The other also came against the Rams on Oct. 18, 2020.

It all started on the ground, where coach Kyle Shanahan had set an audacious goal of 40 carries that the Niners exceeded with 44 runs for 156 yards.

“I almost regretted it because it’s tough to do,” Shanahan said. “I’m glad I set it. We came through with it. It’s a huge team goal.”

San Francisco had its most rushes in a regular-season game in nine years. The Niners used a similar formula two years ago when they made it to the Super Bowl.

Last week, San Francisco had 11 carries for 39 yards in a 31-17 loss to Arizona.

“If you want to establish any type of dominance, especially in the trenches, I think that is necessary,” left tackle Trent Williams said. “You got to run the ball and got to make your opponents respect it.”

The Niners sealed the game when Garoppolo connected on a 40-yard TD to Samuel on fourth-and-6 early in the fourth quarter that made it 31-7.

Garoppolo finished 15 for 19 for 182 yards and the two TDs.

The Rams lost for the second straight week with Matthew Stafford once again throwing two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown.

Los Angeles struggled to get into any rhythm offensively in the first game after receiver Robert Woods went down with a season-ending knee injury last week in practice.

“This was a humbling night for us as a team, and a great opportunity for us to be able to take a deep breath, step away, look at the things that we need to correct, particularly offensively over the last couple of weeks,” coach Sean McVay stated.

Odell Beckham Jr. made his Los Angeles debut after signing last week but had only two catches for 18 yards.

Recently obtained edge rusher Von Miller also played for the first time with the Rams and had three tackles but didn’t put pressure on Garoppolo. Stafford went 26 for 41 for 243 yards with one TD, two interceptions and nearly a third that K’Waun Williams trapped on his backside only to have it wiped off by a penalty.

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Odell Beckham Jr. may return punts in Los Angeles Rams debut on MNF

The Los Angeles Rams have discussed using Odell Beckham Jr. as an occasional punt returner Monday night as part of a package of plays designed for the star wide receiver, sources told ESPN.

Beckham, who joined Los Angeles on an incentive-laden deal this past Thursday, is expected to make his Rams debut Monday night versus the division-rival 49ers.

Beckham was used as a punt returner early in his career with the Giants, but he has returned only one punt since 2019 in his two-plus seasons with the Browns. Star receiver Cooper Kupp sometimes has been the Rams’ “safe” punt returner, fielding punts deep in their own territory.

Beckham could be used there, as well as in other spots, and Monday night will be the first glimpse of whether the Rams decide to deploy the idea.

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The chances of returning punts is one of the ideas the Rams have pondered since signing Beckham to a one-year, $4.5 million deal that is heavy on team-driven postseason incentives.

The Rams joined the free-agent bidding for Beckham this past Tuesday once he cleared waivers after being released by the Browns.

The Rams felt they had a strong chance to land Beckham after head coach Sean McVay had a long and direct conversation with the receiver about how he would be used in Los Angeles.

Beckham made it clear that he was looking for three things: a good coach, a good quarterback and a team that would win this season.

The Packers, Chiefs, Saints and Seahawks showed varying levels of interest, but the Rams fit all the criteria and also could offer Beckham something no other franchise could — Los Angeles as a location.

The conversation between McVay and Beckham was the first of several that the three-time Pro Bowler had with members of the Rams organization over the next two days. He also spoke with his friends Von Miller and Jalen Ramsey, with each player pitching to Beckham the merits of playing in Los Angeles.

The Rams plan to attempt to re-sign both Beckham and Miller, who is in the final year of his contract, in the offseason, sources told ESPN. Although they added Beckham and Miller to make a Super Bowl run this season, the Rams see their relationships with both players potentially lasting beyond 2021.

Los Angeles also would receive compensatory draft picks if either player leaves in free agency.

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Odell Beckham Jr. agrees to contract with Los Angeles Rams

Odell Beckham Jr. has agreed to a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Rams, the team revealed.

The free-agent wide receiver joins a high-powered offense led by quarterback Matthew Stafford and adds to a depth chart at the position that already includes Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Van Jefferson.

Beckham became a free agent when he cleared waivers on Tuesday after being released by the Cleveland Browns.

The Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks were among the other teams Beckham considered this week, sources had told ESPN.

Stafford stated Thursday he has a lot of respect for Beckham, who he played with at a Pro Bowl. He lauded Beckham for being “outstanding” both when the ball is in the air and after the catch and said he was “excited” to be able to work with him on the Rams.

“It’s an opportunity for us as a team, it’s an opportunity for him to come in here and prove himself to us. What our room is about in the receiver room is pretty special. I know he’ll fit right in and continue to get better and hopefully help us as a team,” Stafford said.

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Stafford said if Beckham wants to win, “that’s what we’re all about,” and he was confident he’ll be able to contribute.

“Everybody on our team carves out their role. They do a great job of figuring out what that role is going to be and going out there and proving it both on the practice field and in games and given the opportunities I know he’ll do the same,” he said.

In Los Angeles, Beckham essentially replaces veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who was released after the trade deadline last week. Jackson signed with the Las Vegas Raiders this week.

Beckham is the second high-profile player added by the Rams this month, after Los Angeles traded for star pass-rusher Von Miller before the deadline last week. Miller welcomed Beckham to Los Angeles on his Instagram Story, posting: “Let’s chase this ring family!!!!”

Beckham was also welcomed to L.A. by Lakers superstar LeBron James, one of his good friends, who tweeted: “Welcome to LA my brother @obj ! It’s GO TIME!!”

The Rams lead the NFL in total offense this season behind a potent passing attack led by Stafford, who is first in the NFL with 2,771 passing yards. Kupp is the team’s No. 1 receiver and leads the NFL in receptions (74), receiving yards (1,019) and touchdown receptions (10).

The Browns excused Beckham from practice last week while the sides negotiated his exit. He had asked to be traded and never developed an on-field connection with Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Beckham essentially forced his release last week when his father shared an 11-minute video on social media — hours before the trade deadline — of plays in which Mayfield didn’t pass him the ball.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection has 17 catches for 232 yards and zero touchdowns in six matches this season. Beckham had 1,035 receiving yards in 2019, his first season with Cleveland, but suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2020. He has passed the 1,000-yard receiving mark five times in his career.

Browns safety John Johnson III, who spent the past four seasons with the Rams, was on a Zoom call with Cleveland reporters when the news of Beckham’s signing broke. Johnson wondered how OBJ will fit in L.A.

“They had a good thing going, like a complete offense,” Johnson said. “I don’t know. I just feel, like, from being in L.A., I know for a fact the offense runs through Cooper Kupp; even in the run game, the pass game, the screen game, it kind of runs through Cooper Kupp. So obviously, Odell’s a big name and he’s going to want that attention as well. It will be interesting.

“Coach [Sean] McVay, he’s one of the best doing it. He’ll find a way to get it done, but right off the bat, I really wouldn’t want to go there if I were him. But we’ll see how it goes, and I wish him the best.”

The Rams have been remarkably successful at managing the egos and needs of their elite players, with McVay assuaging almost all public disenchantment with the organization.

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey was considered a potential locker room problem after he forced his way out of Jacksonville, but he has been a model citizen and a clear team leader in Los Angeles since arriving in 2019.

The Rams (7-2) play the San Francisco 49ers (3-5) on Monday night.

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Russell Wilson not being limited in Seattle Seahawks’ practice this week, and ‘looks pretty good’

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll stated quarterback Russell Wilson is not being limited in practice this week in his return from an injury to his right middle finger.

Wilson practiced on Monday for the first time since his Oct. 8 surgery.

“I’ve just seen him in the walk-through since then and you would never have known,” Carroll said before Wednesday’s practice. “So I don’t know what that means yet, but he looks pretty good.”

Carroll stated earlier in the week that the plan was for Wilson to play Sunday versus the Green Bay Packers assuming all goes well this week. The Seahawks would need to activate Wilson off injured reserve by Saturday to make him eligible.

Because he is not on the active roster, the Seahawks aren’t required to include Wilson’s level of participation on their daily practice reports. But Carroll answered in the affirmative when asked whether Wilson is a full participant. Wilson was not seen wearing a glove during the portion of Monday’s practice that was open to reporters.

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“He doesn’t have to wear anything unless he chooses to,” Carroll said. “He has been experimenting with some stuff just to see what’s out there for him.”

The Seahawks on Wednesday designated running back Chris Carson for a return to practice.

Carson has missed the past four matches with a neck injury and was placed on IR the same day as Wilson, making both players eligible to return for the Green Bay game.

“He’s got to make it through the week of work and like we always talk about, it’s a one-day-at-a-time thing,” Carroll said.

“He’ll get banged around a little bit tomorrow, but just see how he responds to it. It’s pretty important to get a good bead on this one. He’ll feel good physically running around and all that because he’s in great shape and he’s been working really hard, so it’s just how he responds — same old thing — and how his body reacts to the workload.”

Carroll said Carson has gotten through the discomfort he was dealing with in his neck.

“That’s why he’s back and hopefully it’ll stay that way,” the coach said. He said he didn’t know whether Carson would have to be on a so-called pitch count whenever he returns.

The Seahawks designated rookie receiver Dee Eskridge for a return to practice on Monday. Seattle’s second-round pick hasn’t played since suffering a concussion in the opener.

He made two trips to a concussion specialist in Florida to work through issues he was having with his vision. Eskridge practiced Monday and was feeling good enough to practice again Wednesday, per Carroll.

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Odell Beckham Jr. is free agent after clearing waivers for Cleveland Browns

Former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has cleared waivers Tuesday and is eligible to sign with any team as a free agent.

Beckham wants to spend the rest of this season with a playoff contender and in a winning environment, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter earlier in the week.

Multiple teams with winning records and established offenses are expected to be interested in Beckham, sources told ESPN.

Certain players already have reached out to Beckham, pitching the merits of their organization, according to sources.

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The Browns excused Beckham from practice last week while the sides negotiated his exit, which was finalized Friday.

After he was officially released Monday, Beckham was suitable to be grabbed by the other 31 teams, but none wanted to put in a waiver claim and pick up his renegotiated contract of $7.25 million by Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline.

Cleveland must pay Beckham $4.25 million but will save $3 million.

Beckham, 29, had 17 catches for 232 yards and zero touchdowns in six matches this season. He had only two 100-yard games in 29 games after joining Cleveland in the 2019 blockbuster trade with the New York Giants.

He asked to be traded and never developed an on-field connection with Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Beckham essentially forced his release last week when his father shared an 11-minute video on social media — hours before the trade deadline — of plays in which Mayfield didn’t pass him the ball.

The three-time Pro Bowler had 1,035 receiving yards in his first season with Cleveland but suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2020 and was out when the Browns ended a long playoff drought and won their first playoff game in 26 years.

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