Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) meet after the wild card game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys, Browns and Brady featured in Week 1 matchup

Tom Brady and two of the NFL’s highest-paid quarterbacks will gather Week 1 of the 2024 season in Cleveland.

Brady, in his regular-season broadcasting debut with FOX, was part of the announcement Monday night when he confirmed alongside new booth partner Kevin Burkhardt that they would call the Cowboys at Browns in Week 1, a 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff.

Brady and Michael Strahan, the former Giants defensive end and part of FOX’s studio show, briefly discussed the matchup and Brady offered a good-natured ribbing of Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

“Let’s see if he can finally come through,” said Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl champion. “Did that just slip out?”

The Cowboys posted a 12-5 record in 2023 with Prescott leading the NFL in touchdown passes with 36. Dallas lost in the playoffs to the Green Bay Packers.

Prescott is in the final season of a four-year, $160 million contract. He would be a free agent if the two sides fail to reach a contract extension before March and cannot be retained on the franchise tag.

Cleveland reached the playoffs last seaon as a wild-card team with Joe Flacco operating the offense. Deshaun Watson underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in October and spent the offseason rehabbing. His health is a critical storyline for the Browns ahead of training camp.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills running back Duke Johnson (22) runs back a kick off against the Minnesota Vikings during the first half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

RB Duke Johnson retires from NFL after 8 seasons

Running back Duke Johnson, who played for the Cleveland Browns and three other teams across eight NFL seasons, announced his retirement on Sunday.

The pass-catching specialist was not on a team in 2023, last appearing in one game for the Buffalo Bills during the 2022 season.

“8 Years 4 teams with 1 goal in mind, create a better life for my family,” Johnson wrote in an Instagram post. “I never dreamed of being the all time leading rusher of my dream school or being somewhere on the list of all time players to come out of South FL. I just wanted an opportunity to play a game to provide a better life for my family and I was able to do just that. I want to thank each team for giving me the chance to play and represent your organization and all the fans that supported me through the highs and lows.”

Johnson, 30, racked up 3,519 rushing yards in three seasons at Miami and is still the Hurricanes’ all-time rushing leader.

He was drafted in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft by Cleveland and spent four seasons there. His career-best season came in 2017 when he gained 1,041 yards from scrimmage (348 rushing, 693 receiving) and totaled seven touchdowns.

After 97 career games (21 starts) with the Browns, Houston Texans (2019-20), Miami Dolphins (2021) and Bills (2022), Johnson finished his career with 2,265 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns and 311 receptions for 2,870 yards and 12 touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Dec 28, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns cornerback Greg Newsome II (0) celebrates during the first half against the New York Jets at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Browns to exercise 2025 option for CB Greg Newsome

The Cleveland Browns picked up cornerback Greg Newsome’s fifth-year option on his rookie contract, multiple media outlets reported on Tuesday.

Newsome will earn $13.37 million guaranteed during the 2025 season.

He recorded 49 tackles, 14 passes defensed, two interceptions and a half-sack in 14 games (13 starts) last season.

Newsome, 23, has 128 tackles, 29 passes defensed, two picks and one sack in 41 career games (39 starts) with the Browns. Cleveland selected Newsome with the No. 26 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks with head coach Kevin Stefanski during an offseason workout.

Browns QB Deshaun Watson progresses to ‘full speed’ throws

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson shed the pitch count and progressed to throwing full speed passes in the latest tier of his rehab from season-ending shoulder surgery.

“Everything is full motion,” Watson said Tuesday after reporting for Cleveland’s offseason program. “Everything is fluid and motion is really good. The velocity and the strength is really good.”

Watson had surgery in November following a season-ending injury to his right shoulder during Cleveland’s 33-31 victory in Baltimore on Nov. 12. He landed on injured reserve as the Browns signed former first-round pick Joe Flacco from the couch to lead the team’s charge to the playoffs and a wild-card berth.

Acquired from the Houston Texans and signed to a fully guaranteed, five-year, $230 million contract in 2022, Watson has played 12 total games in his first two seasons with the Browns.

He has three years left on that contract and is determined to prove he’s the best man for the job in Cleveland. But Watson won’t be pushing to make any offseason statements at the risk of re-injury, a position head coach Kevin Stefanski said the franchise would take to preserve their QB1 this spring.

“This is an injury that, for spring, you want to be a little bit more conservative. This summer you get ready for training camp. That’s going to be a time where we can pick that up,” Watson said.

Watson, 28, completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 1,115 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions in six games in 2023.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Watson has thrown for 16,756 yards with 118 touchdowns and 45 interceptions in 66 career games with the Houston Texans (2017-20) and Browns.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) approaches Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith (56) during the first quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Browns, RB Nick Chubb agree to restructured deal

Browns general manager Andrew Berry insisted he would find a way to keep running back Nick Chubb in Cleveland.

According to multiple reports, the Browns and Chubb agreed to a restructured deal to take his scheduled base salary of $15.85 million down to $11.775 million with the ability to recoup the difference in performance incentives.

Chubb, 28, is recovering from multiple knee surgeries following a season-ending left knee injury in Week 2 of the 2023 season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and recent reports indicate a plan from the franchise to be “conservative” with the decision to put the All-Pro back on the field.

Chubb was hurt in September on a tackle by Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. The direct contact with Chubb’s left knee, the same one that required reconstructive surgery at Georgia in 2015, caused an extreme hyperextension and ripped three ligaments.

Berry said in January he didn’t want to see that injury be Chubb’s final carry in Cleveland.

Chubb has 1,238 career carries for 6,511 yards and 48 touchdowns since Cleveland took Chubb in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) runs with the ball as Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike (92) defends during the second half at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jessica Rapfogel-USA TODAY Sports

Browns QB Deshaun Watson (shoulder): ‘In a great spot’

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson said he is making progress as he continues his recovery on his surgically repaired throwing shoulder.

Watson sustained the season-ending injury to his right shoulder during Cleveland’s 33-31 victory in Baltimore on Nov. 12. He underwent surgery the following month.

“The situation is good,” Watson said on his “QB Unplugged” podcast. “We’re in a great spot, right where we need to be. We have plenty of time to ramp up the throwing sessions and things like that, but everything is going pretty smooth.

“As long as I’m feeling well and the doctors and (physical therapists) and everyone are on the same page, we’re in a good spot.”

Watson, 28, completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 1,115 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions in six games in 2023.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Watson has thrown for 16,756 yards with 118 touchdowns and 45 interceptions in 66 career games with the Houston Texans (2017-20) and Browns.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Demario Douglas (81) is tackled by New York Jets cornerback Justin Hardee (34) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Browns add CB Justin Hardee to roster

The Browns signed core special teams player and Cleveland native Justin Hardee to a contract on Tuesday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed for Hardee, who was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2022.

Hardee, 30, recorded five tackles in 11 games last season with the New York Jets.

The cornerback had 78 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble in 100 career games with the New Orleans Saints (2017-20) and Jets (2021-23).

–Field Level Media

Dec 17, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; A detailed view of a New York Giants helmet before the game against the New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

NFL grants international market access to four new teams

The Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants are going global.

The four teams are entering the NFL’s Global Markets Program for the first time, with three of them including Germany among their target countries.

In the third year of the league’s program, the total number of teams participating has risen to 25 across 19 different markets around the country. The program aims to help teams grow their presence on the international stage with events, marketing and commercial opportunities.

The Browns were granted rights to Nigeria — the first NFL team to access that market.

The Giants have rights to Germany, the Colts were allowed both Austria and Germany and the Lions were granted Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Canada.

The league also said that the Miami Dolphins are expanding their rights holdings to Argentina, Colombia and Mexico — the former two being targets for the first time. Miami already had rights in Brazil, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The Los Angeles Rams, who previously had rights in Australia, New Zealand, China and Mexico, became the first teams to expand their rights to Japan and South Korea.

“The momentum of the Global Markets Program underscores the strong commitment of NFL clubs to growing the game and their passionate fan bases around the world. Clubs are seeing the value and opportunity in new markets and aligning with the league to accelerate that growth together,” Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s executive vice president for club business, major events and international, said in a statement. “We can’t wait to see the ongoing impact of the program on fandom and global growth in this season and in years ahead, both in new and existing markets and via new clubs joining and active clubs deepening their strategic commitments.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 10, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Detroit Lions defensive lineman Josh Paschal (93) hangs on to Chicago Bears running back D'Onta Foreman (21) to make the tackle in the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Browns to sign RB D’Onta Foreman

The Cleveland Browns added depth to their backfield by signing running back D’Onta Foreman to a contract, multiple media outlets reported on Wednesday.

Terms of the deal were not known for Foreman.

Foreman will join a running back room that is headlined by star Nick Chubb, who is coming off two knee surgeries and is not expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. Jerome Ford led the team in carries (204) and rushing yards (813) last season.

Foreman, who turns 28 next month, rushed for 425 yards and four touchdowns in nine games (eight starts) last season with the Chicago Bears.

He has gained 2,326 yards on the ground with 14 touchdowns in 52 games (21 starts) with the Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, Carolina Panthers and Bears. He was selected by the Texans in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

Jan 7, 2024; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (10) gains yardage against the Las Vegas Raiders during the fourth quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Browns WR Jerry Jeudy signs 3-year extension

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jerry Jeudy signed a three-year contract extension on Tuesday.

Multiple outlets reported the contract is worth up to $58 million — including $41 million guaranteed at the signing — but details were not confirmed by the team. Jeudy was heading into the final year of his contract this season.

He was acquired by the Browns on March 9 from the Denver Broncos in exchange for fifth- and sixth-round picks (135th and 202nd overall) in the 2024 NFL Draft.

“I want to be somewhere that wants me to be there. I want to be home,” Jeudy said. “When I stepped in the building, just the energy and excitement that I received when I got there, that made me feel welcomed. I feel like it’s a fresh start. It’s going to be exciting just to be able to be somewhere new, especially having all the great guys on the team. So, it’s just going to make things a lot easier for me and just better.”

Jeudy, who turns 25 next month, is receiving a fresh start after being selected by the Broncos with the 15th overall draft pick in 2020 out of Alabama. They picked up his fifth-year contract option last May, signing him to a $12.99 million deal for 2024.

With the Browns, Jeudy will join Amari Cooper (1,250 yards, five touchdowns in 2023) and Elijah Moore (640 yards, two TDs) as a key target for quarterback Deshaun Watson.

“When we acquired Jerry via trade this spring, it was with the vision that he would become a core member of our offense in 2024 and beyond,” said Andrew Berry, the Browns executive vice president of football operations.

“He is a scheme-versatile receiver with high-level ability to separate against man coverage and a diverse number of ways to produce on the perimeter or in the slot.

“We felt that the ability to add a passionate and competitive player with his combination of strengths would be an important component of our offense now and into the future. At 24 years old and just entering his prime, we are pleased to have Jerry as a member of the Browns for the next several seasons and believe the best is yet to come.”

Last season, Jeudy appeared in 16 games (11 starts) for the Broncos and tallied 54 catches for 758 yards and two touchdowns.

In four seasons in Denver, he gained 3,053 yards on 211 receptions and added 11 touchdowns in 57 games (44 starts).

–Field Level Media