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The Houston Texans expect rookie wide receiver John Metchie III (knee) to play in his rookie season, but head coach Lovie Smith said the team is "in the process" of finding out where Metchie is in his recovery from a torn ACL suffered last December. Metchie expects to be full-go by training camp in July, but the Texans probably won't put too much on his plate. The second-round pick out of Alabama could easily fall behind in his development in his first year in the NFL, so fantasy managers in dynasty leagues shouldn't expect much from him in his rookie campaign. We would be surprised if the 21-year-old doesn't make his NFL debut until around halfway through the season, which makes him one to avoid in redraft formats.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota had his last start on October 13, 2019. He was with the Titans then. But after spending a few seasons with the Raiders, the 28-year-old will get another chance to prove his worth as the expected starter for the Falcons, filling in for longtime signal-caller Matt Ryan, who is now a Colt. Despite Mariota's excitement, he made it known he's also willing to mentor rookie Desmond Ridder, who was selected in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Nonetheless, with Atlanta in the midst of a rebuild, it's no secret the team is lacking on the offensive end. As a result, Mariota may not find himself as the primary option under center if he begins to struggle, making it possible for Ridder to get some reps during the 2022-23 campaign.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb has high expectations heading into the season. With Amari Cooper now in Cleveland, Lamb is clearly the top wideout on the depth chart. You won't hear Jerry Jones complain about this. In fact, the owner believes having Lamb as the No. 1 target for Dak Prescott is an "upgrade" over Cooper. Lamb finished last year by hauling in 79 catches for 1,102 yards and six touchdowns. It's clear the 23-year-old is ready to embrace his role. He'll also draw plenty of interest from fantasy managers, likely getting drafted in most leagues somewhere in the second or third round. Yet, Lamb has the capability to return first-round value in any format.
The Cleveland Browns and franchise-tagged tight end David Njoku agreed in principle on a four-year, $56.75 million contract extension on Friday, according to sources. He'll receive $28 million guaranteed at signing that averages $14.1875 million per year, making him the fifth-highest paid tight end in the league. It seems like a pretty hefty contract for a tight end that had only 36 catches for 475 yards and four touchdowns on 53 targets in 16 games (11 starts) in 2021, but Njoku should have a much bigger pass-catching role with Austin Hooper no longer in town. Njoku's best season came in 2018, when he had 56 receptions for 639 yards and four scores. He should have a higher ceiling with quarterback Deshaun Watson under center as well.
The Los Angeles Chargers signed first-round offensive guard Zion Johnson to his four-year rookie deal on Friday. The Chargers took Johnson with the No. 17 overall pick in this year's draft out of Boston College. The 22-year-old was considered to be one of the best offensive guards in this year's class, and he'll help protect rising young quarterback Justin Herbert in 2022 and beyond. Johnson started 49 of 58 college games and earned conference recognition in his final four years. He was a first-team All-America selection and was named to the first team in the Atlantic Conference at Boston College last year.
Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick had a positive workout with the Las Vegas Raiders on Wednesday, but no signing was imminent as of late Thursday night, according to sources. The Raiders could be searching for another QB as the backup to Derek Carr, despite trading for Jarrett Stidham and signing Nick Mullens this offseason. Kaepernick hasn't played in the NFL since 2016, the same year he started protesting racial inequality by kneeling during the national anthem. Raiders offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi was a San Francisco 49ers assistant from 2013 to 2016, so there is a link to Kaepernick on Las Vegas' coaching staff.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who was feeding the ball to many different receivers during offseason practices this week, said the team's offense will feature everybody this year. "That's what you're going to see with this offense this year," Mahomes said. "It's going to be everybody. It's not all going to be one guy. Obviously Travis Kelce is still going to get a lot of completions, a lot of yards but the whole receiving room is going to have big days and that can be something we use to our advantage." In his four years as a starter, Mahomes went to either Kelce or Tyreek Hill for 45% of his completions and 50% of his yards and touchdowns. With Hill now in Miami, receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and rookies Skyy Moore and Justyn Ross will need to step up.
Jacksonville Jaguars second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence has been happy with new wide receiver Christian Kirk so far this offseason. "He's great. Just from a football IQ sense, I think he's really quarterback friendly," Lawrence said. The Jaguars signed Kirk to a four-year, $72 million deal with $37 million guaranteed in March, and he'll be asked to lead a receiver room that had just one wideout with more than 620 receiving yards in 2021. Jacksonville's receivers caught just nine touchdowns last year, with almost half coming from Marvin Jones Jr. Lawrence struggled to make big plays consistently last year, but the addition of Kirk should help in that regard. Kirk had a career year with the Arizona Cardinals, catching 77 passes for 982 yards and five TDs, but his overall success will depend on how much Lawrence improves in Year 2.
The Baltimore Ravens waived cornerback Kevin Toliver on Thursday. Toliver was on the team's practice squad last year, but he never played in a game after recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered while playing for the Denver Broncos in December of 2020. He began his NFL career as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears in 2018 and 2019. In three seasons, Toliver has 32 tackles (27 solo) and four passes defensed in 29 games played (two starts). The 26-year-old will now look to latch on with another organization to provide secondary depth.
The Atlanta Falcons released defensive end John Cominsky on Thursday. The move saves the team $965,000 against the 2022 salary cap. Cominsky played 27 games (one start) for the Falcons over the last three years and recorded 41 tackles (19 solo), four tackles for loss, five QB hits, 1.5 sacks, two passes defensed and a fumble recovery. The 26-year-old was primarily a rotational defensive lineman in Atlanta. Several injuries limited him to 59 defensive snaps over four games last season. Cominsky was originally a fourth-round pick by the Falcons in 2019 out of Charleston. His departure should open up a bigger role for Nick Thurman in 2022.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee (knee) continued on-field football activity during organized team activities this week after ramping up his rehab process throughout the spring. Higbee had knee surgery after the Super Bowl. Hybrid tight end/wide receiver Jacob Harris (knee) worked on the sideline for the first time in practice open to the media this week after tearing his ACL last year. He looked fluid and explosive, even running at partial speed in straight-line sprint drills. Barring setbacks, Higbee and Harris should be ready for training camp and the regular season. With plenty of weapons around him, Higbee will continue to be a low-end, touchdown-dependent TE1 for fantasy managers in 2022.
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