Cleveland's plan to replace the sitting NFLPA president will feature two main characters.
The Browns announced the signing of veteran center Ethan Pocic on Wednesday.
Pocic moves to Cleveland after five seasons spent in Seattle, where the Seahawks spent a second-round selection on the All-American from LSU with the hopes of solidifying the center position. He appeared in 57 games (40 starts) in five seasons, but never quite became the player the Seahawks were seeking until the franchise had all but moved on.
After the expiration of his rookie deal, Pocic re-signed with Seattle in 2021 on a one-year, prove-it contract. He compiled his best season of his career, per Pro Football Focus, earning the highest offensive grade (67.3) of his five NFL seasons. It was a mark heavily dependent on his production in the ground attack, while he continued to be average at best in pass protection.
Pocic's skill set might fit well in Cleveland, where the Browns have built an offense around a wide-zone scheme with an agile offensive line directed by renowned assistant Bill Callahan. He'll have to battle with third-year center Nick Harris, a former Day 3 pick of the Browns who played adequately as a guard when Cleveland dealt with multiple losses along the offensive line late in the 2020 season.
With Cleveland releasing JC Tretter and signing Pocic, the competition for the starting center job has officially begun. The silver lining for the Browns: both should be able to serve as solid guards, too.
- The Atlanta Falcons announced the signing of former Bears offensive lineman Germain Ifedi to a one-year contract. The Falcons also announced signing former Titans linebacker Rashaan Evans to a one-year deal.
- The Baltimore Ravens retained DB Geno Stone as an exclusive rights free agent, per the transaction wire.
- The Buffalo Bills have agreed to terms with wide receiver Stefon Diggs on a four-year, $96 million contract extension that can be worth more in incentives, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday. Rapoport added that Diggs will receive a $21.5 million signing bonus and $70 million in total guarantees as part of his new deal. Diggs has recorded 230 receptions for 2,760 yards and 18 touchdowns since being traded to the Bills in 2020.
- The Miami Dolphins signed CB Xavien Howard to a contract extension through the 2026 season, the team announced Wednesday. Howard has twice led the NFL in interceptions and has totaled 27 career picks since the Dolphins selected him in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Keanu Neal. Neal spent 2021 playing linebacker for the Cowboys but is expected to return to the safety position with Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers also announced the re-signing of QB Blaine Gabbert, who has spent the past two seasons as Tom Brady's primary backup.
NFL draft prospect visits
- The Carolina Panthers will host Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder for a visit next Tuesday, per Rapoport. Carolina holds the sixth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
- The Cleveland Browns will host Arkansas WR Treylon Burks on a visit, per Rapoport. Cleveland does not own a first-round draft pick in 2022.
- The Dallas Cowboys hosted LB Devin Lloyd for a visit Wednesday, per Rapoport. Dallas picks 24th overall in the upcoming draft.
- The Detroit Lions will host Oregon DE Kayvon Thibodeaux for a visit next week, via Rapoport. Detroit picks second overall in the upcoming draft.
- The Houston Texans hosted Thibodeaux for a visit Wednesday, via Rapoport. Houston holds the third overall pick in the draft.
- The Las Vegas Raiders hosted Brown quarterback EJ Perry on a top-30 visit Wednesday, NFL Network's Peter Schrager reported.
- The Minnesota Vikings hosted SMU wide receiver Danny Gray for a visit on Wednesday, per Rapoport. Gray had previous visits with the Cowboys and Raiders.
- The New England Patriots will host Clemson CB Andrew Booth for a visit on Friday, per Rapoport. New England has the 21st overall pick in the draft.
- The New Orleans Saints will host Booth for a visit, per Rapoport. New Orleans holds two picks in the first round of the draft.
- The New York Giants will host Oklahoma LB Nik Bonitto for a visit, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported Wednesday. New York holds the fifth and seventh overall picks in the upcoming draft.
- The New York Jets will host Burks for a visit Wednesday and Thursday, per Rapoport. New York holds two of the top 10 picks in the draft.
- The Philadelphia Eagles hosted Thibodeaux for a visit, via Rapoport. Philadelphia holds two picks in the first round of the draft.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers will host Ridder for a visit Thursday and North Carolina QB Sam Howell for a visit Friday, per Rapoport. Pittsburgh holds the 20th overall pick in the draft.
- The Seattle Seahawks will host Ridder for a visit next Wednesday, Rapoport reported. Seattle picks ninth overall in the upcoming draft.
- The Washington Commanders are hosting Ohio State WR Chris Olave and San Diego State DL Cameron Thomas for visits Wednesday and Thursday, per Rapoport. Rapoport also reported the Commanders will host Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III and Penn State S Jaquan Brisker for visits at the end of the week. Washington picks 11th overall in the upcoming draft.
- LB Whitney Mercilus announced his retirement from the NFL, per his Instagram. Mercilus, a first-round pick by the Houston Texans in 2012, amassed 58 sacks during his 10-year career.
Coaching staff moves
- The Los Angeles Rams have finalized their 2022 coaching staff, the team announced Wednesday. New additions consist of offensive coordinator Liam Coen, inside linebackers coach Chris Beake, defensive assistant Skyler Jones, senior offensive assistant Greg Olson, offensive assistant Jake Peetz, running backs coach Ra'Shaad Samples, special teams assistant Jeremy Springer and coaching fellow Kenneth Black.