Tagged in: WR

Green Bay Packers WR Sammy Watkins (hamstring) out for Week 3 game at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This game still has Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, but the quarterbacks of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers won’t have anything close to their full complement of receivers on Sunday.

The Packers for sure won’t have Sammy Watkins, their leading receiver through two games, because of a hamstring injury. Two of their other top receivers, rookie second-round pick Christian Watson (hamstring) and veteran Randall Cobb (illness), were listed as questionable on Friday.

The only one of the Packers’ top four receivers who has been cleared to play and taken off the injury report is Allen Lazard, who has been limited in practice this week because of the ankle injury that kept him out of the season opener.

Lazard returned for last week’s game versus the Chicago Bears and is the only receiver on the roster to have caught a touchdown this season

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Packers coach Matt LaFleur stated Friday that rookie receiver Romeo Doubs is “probably going to have to take more of a [work] load this week.”

The Buccaneers already knew earlier in the week that they would be without leading receiver Mike Evans because of his one-game suspension for last Sunday’s altercation in their game versus the New Orleans Saints.

Tampa Bay also won’t have receiver Chris Godwin, who was ruled out Friday because of a hamstring injury. Meanwhile, Julio Jones (knee) was listed as questionable. The Packers also could be without one of their top tight ends, Marcedes Lewis (questionable with a groin injury).

Left tackle David Bakhtiari, who has yet to play in the 2022 season, also was listed as questionable as he tries to return from multiple knee surgeries.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers to sign WR Cole Beasley to practice squad

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will sign Cole Beasley to their practice squad, a source confirmed to ESPN, adding the 11-year veteran to a short-handed wide receiver corps.

Beasley was released by the Bills in March and did not sign with another team as a free agent in the offseason.

The Bucs plan to elevate Beasley to their active roster soon, according to NFL Network, which first reported the signing Tuesday. The Bills had granted Beasley permission to seek a trade in early March but lastly released him in a move that created about $6.1 million in salary-cap space.

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Beasley, 33, now will join a Tampa Bay team entering its Week 3 showdown versus the Packers without star receiver Mike Evans, who was suspended one game for his role in Sunday’s brawl with the Saints.

The Bucs also are dealing with injuries to veteran receivers Chris Godwin and Julio Jones, who both missed their triumph over the Saints.

Evans’ appeal of his one-game suspension was heard Tuesday, sources told ESPN, confirming a report by NFL Network. James Thrash, who is jointly appointed by the NFL and the NFLPA was the appeals officer. A ruling is expected this week, possibly as soon as Wednesday.

Beasley concluded with 82 receptions in each of the past two seasons with the Bills and has been a reliable slot receiver over his 10-year career with Buffalo and the Cowboys.

He missed a match during the 2020 season after testing positive for COVID-19 while being unvaccinated and reportedly was fined multiple times for violating the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols.

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New York Giants lose promising WR Collin Johnson to torn Achilles

The New York Giants lost wide receiver Collin Johnson for the season Wednesday on the same day that veteran Sterling Shepard returned to the practice field.

Johnson tore his Achilles tendon during Wednesday’s practice, per the team. The big receiver (6-foot-6, 220 pounds) out of the University of Texas had been receiving first-team reps in recent weeks at practice with Kadarius Toney and Shepard among those on the sideline.

Coach Brian Daboll had noted earlier in the week that Johnson and fellow wide receiver David Sills were making a strong impression. Johnson started Sunday’s preseason victory over the Cincinnati Bengals and had three receptions for 41 yards; Sills had five catches for 56 yards, with most of the damage coming with the first-string offense.

“Collin Johnson, David Sills, they’ve stepped their game up,” Daboll said. “And they’re right in the mix, not just to make a team but to play.”

The Giants’ opener is in 18 days in Tennessee. Toney (right leg), C.J. Board (ribs) and Darius Slayton are also dealing with minor injuries.

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Shepard, meanwhile, was making his way back from a torn Achilles suffered last December. He returned to practice for the first time Wednesday since the injury.

“It felt great, man,” said Shepard, who snuck in some reps during live drills and even caught a 20-yard pass from backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor. “Just being back on the field, it’s a blessing. Especially when you go through an injury like that and you’ve been on the sidelines for so long watching those guys get after it. You have to take every day and cherish them because you never know when you’re going to have to sit out that long.”

It had been eight months and five days since Shepard tore his Achilles.

He is the longest-tenured Giant and has 349 catches for 3,884 yards and 21 touchdowns in his career, all in New York.

Shepard’s return made it appear as if the Giants were actually getting healthier at the position. Toney, Board and Slayton participated in the early portions of Wednesday’s practice.

But Toney was seen grabbing at the back of his leg during the workout, and Johnson and Marcus Kemp (hamstring) suffered significant injuries. Both Johnson and Kemp landed on injured reserve later in the day.

The Giants claimed wide receivers Bailey Gaither and Jaylon Moore on Wednesday to fill the voids. They cut tight end Jordan Akins to make room on the roster.

Johnson, 24, has 29 catches for 377 yards in 26 career matches with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Giants. He made his mark with the Giants last year as a blocker.

But this summer it appeared he had taken his game to the next level. He was making plays consistently throughout training camp, earning him the trust of starting quarterback Daniel Jones and some first-team reps. Johnson even had 10 catches for 123 receiving yards in the first two preseason matches this season.

With Toney still banged up and Shepard coming back from a serious injury, it looked possible that Johnson could have started — or at least played a substantial role — Week 1 versus the Tennessee Titans. Instead his season came to a premature end.

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Chicago Bears acquire New England Patriots WR N’Keal Harry for seventh-round pick

The Chicago Bears have obtained wide receiver N’Keal Harry from the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2024 seventh-round draft choice, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates.

Harry, the final selection in the first round of the 2019 draft (32nd overall), never truly panned out in New England after becoming the highest drafted receiver in Bill Belichick’s tenure (2000-present).

He totaled 57 receptions for 598 yards and four touchdowns in 36 regular-season matches. The 24-year-old joins a receiver room in Chicago led by Darnell Mooney, who led the Bears in receiving last season, and features plenty of new faces that will compete for playing time.

The Bears signed former Kansas City wideout Byron Pringle to one-year deal worth $4.125 million and used a third-round pick on Velus Jones Jr. Chicago also brought in Equanimeous St. Brown, Dante Pettis, Tajae Sharpe and David Moore to fill out its receiving corps this offseason.

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Harry, who had requested a trade prior to the 2021 season, faced an uphill climb to earn a roster spot this season after New England traded for veteran DeVante Parker.

In addition to Parker, the Patriots have Nelson Agholor, Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne locked into the top spots on their depth chart.

Harry had not been a participant in the team’s voluntary offseason program, and during June’s mandatory minicamp, had been leapfrogged by others who had previously been behind him on the depth chart.

The Patriots, who are tight to the salary cap, receive roughly $1 million in much-needed relief by trading Harry.

In 2019, Harry had been a highly-touted prospect coming out of Arizona State, where he had appeared in 37 career games and totaled 213 receptions for 2,889 yards and 22 touchdowns. The Patriots had been excited about his physical makeup (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) and knack for making contested catches.

While that didn’t manifest itself in New England, Harry now gets a fresh start in Chicago. The Bears still have an estimated $23.037 million in salary cap space to work with, which is the second-most in the NFL.

Chicago starts training camp on July 26 at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Ill.

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Washington Commanders, Terry McLaurin agree to three-year extension with $28M signing bonus

Washington Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin is signing a three-year extension worth up to $71 million in new money that places him among the NFL’s five highest-paid WRs.

Agents Buddy Baker and Tony Bonagura of Exclusive Sports Group concluded the deal Tuesday with Washington senior vice president of football operations Rob Rogers.

The three-year extension for McLaurin includes a $28 million signing bonus, the largest given to any wide receiver, and also has 76.4% of the new money in the deal guaranteed.

The deal contractually ties McLaurin, 26, to Washington through the 2025 season. McLaurin’s rookie contract had been set to expire after the 2022 season.

McLaurin acknowledged the extension on Thursday, thanking the organization and its fans.

“While I am both humbled and ecstatic about this contract, it motivates me to work even harder,” he wrote in the statement posted on Twitter. “I understand and embrace the responsibility that comes with signing this extension. To whom much is given, much is required. There is no other place I would rather be on fan base I would want to represent.”

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He had skipped the three weeks of voluntary OTAs as well as the team’s mandatory three-day minicamp.

The deal ends what would have been a headache for a franchise that didn’t need another one. McLaurin’s popularity both in the locker room as a leader and with the fan base would have resulted in more displeasure directed at the Commanders.

Washington coach Ron Rivera stated on June 15 that they started to have more talks about a week earlier. One source told ESPN’s John Keim that Rivera reached out to McLaurin — not to negotiate but to reiterate his importance to the organization. Washington didn’t waver on its desire to sign McLaurin and did not consider trading him.

McLaurin’s contract is the latest in a wide receiver market that has exploded this offseason. Davante Adams (five years, $140 million), Tyreek Hill (four years, $120 million) and A.J. Brown (four years, $100 million) each signed deals worth at least $100 million. Other wide receivers to sign major contracts include Stefon Diggs (four years, $96 million), Cooper Kupp (three years, $80.1 million), Mike Williams (three years, $60 million) and Chris Godwin (three years, $60 million).

McLaurin surpassed 1,000 yards receiving in two of his first three seasons after being selected in the third round of the 2019 draft despite playing with nine different starting quarterbacks.

He caught 77 passes for 1,053 yards and five scores last season after grabbing 87 for 1,118 yards and four touchdowns the previous season. He finished with 919 receiving yards as a rookie. He has missed just three games in his career.

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Tyreek Hill ‘very confident in my quarterback’ as Miami Dolphins WR bonds with Tua Tagovailoa

Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill has only caught passes from Tua Tagovailoa for a month, but already has high praise for his new quarterback.

Hill told reporters during his introductory news conference in March that he knew Tua was “one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the NFL,” and expanded on that statement after Tuesday’s OTA practice.

“At first, I thought it was going to be something crazy — the ball going all over the place, but Tua actually has probably one of the prettiest balls I’ve ever caught in my life,” Hill said. “It’s very catchable. Tua is a very accurate quarterback. That’s all I’m going to say.”

Miami traded five draft picks, including first and second-round picks in the 2022 draft, to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for Hill back in March, before immediately signing him to the most lucrative contract in NFL history for a wide receiver — a four-year, $120 million extension with $72 million guaranteed.

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Despite being teammates for barely more than two months, Hill has already had Tagovailoa’s back on multiple occasions, counting earlier in May when a practice video depicted a seemingly underthrown ball by Tagovailoa went viral, amassing nearly 7 million views on Twitter.

Hill responded the next day by posting a video of several deep passes from Tagovailoa to Dolphins receivers.

“I just feel like football is all about confidence and I’m very confident in my quarterback,” Hill stated. “So I just feel like if I’m able to help him get all the confidence in the world and push other guys to push that confidence into him, then the sky’s the limit for the guy because he’s a heck of a talent, has crazy arm strength, arm talent.

“We’re all excited just to watch him sling the ball each and every day.”

Tagovailoa has received praise from Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel for his play and work ethic throughout this offseason, and was named the team’s practice player of the day last week.

McDaniel told reporters Tuesday that he was impressed by Tagovailoa’s instincts at the position.

“I’ve seen a guy that’s attacking the moment, a guy that really likes to play football,” McDaniel said. “You hear people describe a quarterback’s instinctiveness. … I didn’t quite know what that meant. Now I have a better idea of what that meant, but I still don’t have a better way to describe it besides instinctiveness.

“But you can tell the player has played the position for a long time and that he thinks about the game of football through the lens of the quarterback position. I’ve been very excited about his development as far as the offensive plan and being the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins.”

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Las Vegas Raiders trade WR Bryan Edwards, 7th-rounder to Atlanta Falcons for fifth-round pick in 2023 NFL draft

The Las Vegas Raiders have traded wide receiver Bryan Edwards and a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2023 draft to the Atlanta Falcons for their fifth-round selection next year, the teams revealed Friday.

Edwards, 23, has 45 catches for 764 yards and four touchdowns in 28 career games (15 starts) since being selected by the Raiders in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft.

Las Vegas, under the direction of new general manager Dave Ziegler and new coach Josh McDaniels, saw Edwards as expendable after getting two-time All-Pro wideout Davante Adams in March to join Pro Bowler Hunter Renfrow.

The team also signed Mack Hollins, Demarcus Robinson and Keelan Cole in free agency as part of the overhaul of the wide receiver room.

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Cole on Thursday signed a one-year, $1.2675 million deal with Las Vegas that included a $150,000 signing bonus, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates.

With the departure of Edwards, the Raiders now have just two of their seven picks from the 2020 draft still on the roster:

Offensive lineman John Simpson, a fourth-round pick who started all 17 games at left guard last season, and cornerback Amik Robertson, who was taken 30 picks after Simpson and has started two of 18 career games.

First-rounders Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette were both cut. Lynn Bowden, who was taken one spot after Edwards, was traded before playing in a regular-season game, and Tanner Muse, drafted 19 picks after Bowden, spent his rookie campaign on injured reserve and was released before playing a match.

The Falcons, meanwhile, needed to add to their receiving depth after drafting Drake London with the No. 8 pick last month. Edwards could end up being No. 2 on the depth chart, as Auden Tate and Olamide Zaccheaus are their most experienced receivers.

Atlanta, in the past two years, traded Julio Jones to Tennessee, had Calvin Ridley suspended indefinitely for gambling and lost Russell Gage in free agency to Tampa Bay.

The Falcons also have one of the tallest group of pass-catchers in the NFL. Tight end Kyle Pitts is 6-foot-6, London is 6-5, running back Cordarrelle Patterson is 6-2, Tate is 6-5, and Edwards is 6-3.

In corresponding roster moves, the Falcons released cornerback Kendall Sheffield and tight end Ryan Becker

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Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins suspended six games for violating PED policy

Arizona Cardinals star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has been suspended six matches for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, the league announced Monday.

The suspension comes four days after the Cardinals traded their first-round pick in the 2022 draft to the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday for wide receiver Marquise Brown.

Hopkins will be permitted to play during the preseason and practice with the team until the beginning of the 2022 regular season.

Hopkins, a three-time first-team All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl selection, is set to turn 30 on June 6 and is coming off an injury-riddled season that led to the lowest output of his career.

He missed three games in the middle of last season with a hamstring injury and the final four games of the regular season, plus Arizona’s wild-card loss to the Los Angeles Rams, after suffering an MCL injury in Week 14 on Monday Night Football.

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The knee was surgically repaired in December.

In February, while making interview rounds at the Super Bowl in Los Angeles, Hopkins said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that his rehab was going great and he was ahead of schedule.

Hopkins concluded with 572 yards and eight touchdowns on 42 catches a year after having 1,407 yards. Arizona went 3-4 without Hopkins during the regular season and was then blown out in the playoffs, losing 34-11 to the Rams.

Before his injuries, Hopkins was as good in 2021 as he has been in the past, or better. He had a higher catch percentage, yards per target and yards after catch per reception through Week 8. He was down slightly in yards per route, from 2.1 in his first eight seasons to 2.0 last season.

In two seasons with the Cardinals since they got him from the Houston Texans in 2020, Hopkins has 157 receptions for 1,979 yards and 14 touchdown catches.

Hopkins missed just two games in the first eight seasons of his career before missing seven last season.

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Cincinnati Bengals WR Tee Higgins to miss offseason workouts following shoulder surgery

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins is expected to miss offseason workouts while he recovers from shoulder surgery, coach Zac Taylor stated Monday.

Higgins had the procedure following the team’s trip to the Super Bowl and was sporting a protective brace on his left shoulder during an appearance at the Cincinnati Reds’ home opener.

Taylor stated he expects Higgins to be out for a couple of months.

“Made a decision to get it fixed,” Taylor said. “[I] don’t expect him to be part of the offseason.”

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Higgins missed the third and fourth games of the regular campaign because of a shoulder issue.

He returned to play in every remaining game for the AFC champions, aside from the regular-season finale in which Cincinnati rested nearly all of its starters.

The team’s second-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft is coming off his best season as a pro. In 14 matches, he had 74 catches for 1,091 yards and six touchdowns. Higgins appeared in all four playoff games.

In the team’s Super Bowl LVI loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Higgins had four catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns in the team’s first championship appearance in 33 years.

The Bengals will start offseason workouts on May 2 and hold six voluntary organized team activities. Cincinnati will not have a mandatory minicamp, Taylor said on Friday.

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WR DeVante Parker says he ‘chose’ to be traded from Miami Dolphins to New England Patriots

DeVante Parker was granted his wish; the Miami Dolphins received the draft capital they were looking for; and the New England Patriots got a player they hope will be a top wide receiver for quarterback Mac Jones.

That’s how the primary people involved in the rare intradivision trade — the Dolphins shipping Parker and a 2022 fifth-round pick to the Patriots for a 2023 third-rounder — described what unfolded. There have been just six intradivision trades in the NFL over the last five years, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

“I chose to get traded here,” Parker said Thursday in his first interview since the April 2 deal. “My agent [Jimmy Gould] hit me up, just telling me what the situation was, and the options I had for the teams to go to. The first on my list was the Patriots. I’m just excited we were able to get everything done.”

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier confirmed Wednesday that that’s how it went down, noting that once Miami traded for Tyreek Hill after signing free-agent receiver Cedrick Wilson, Parker’s status with the team changed.

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“When you have an opportunity to do right by the player and the organization — both sides feel good about it. This was never anything where we [had] planned to trade DeVante,” Grier said, highlighting how trading for Hill altered the dynamic.

“Multiple teams called; the Patriots were the most aggressive. We worked with the agent, talked to DeVante, we wanted to do right by him as well. Getting that third-round pick was very important to us. We were fine if it was this year or next year.”

Parker, who played the first seven years of his career with the Dolphins, has spent the past week participating in the Patriots’ voluntary offseason program.

He stated he enjoyed playing in front of Patriots fans as an AFC East rival and said that is one reason he decided being in New England was “just something I want to be a part of.”

The 6-foot-3, 219-pound player added that he likes playing different spots, which is a staple of the Patriots’ offense, and that he hopes to add a down-the-field presence who can high-point deliveries from Jones, the second-year quarterback.

Parker has previously spent time working with Jones in Tampa, Florida, along with fellow Patriots receivers Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers.

“My impressions of Mac: He has a nice arm on him. He was zipping it,” Parker said. “It was a great workout for all of us. It was good for me to come down and start throwing with him early, get the timing down.

“Mac is a good quarterback. The way he throws the ball, it’s not tough. He throws a catchable ball. It’s something I’m looking forward to during the season.”

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