The Cleveland Browns were forced to part with one of the breakout stars of this preseason on cutdown day, but the separation didn’t last long.
Cleveland cut Austin Watkins Jr. on Tuesday, August 29, as part of a series of moves to reduce the roster to 53 players. However, the team added Watkins back as a member of the practice squad just one day later after he cleared waivers.
The #Browns are signing WR Austin Watkins Jr. to the practice squad, per a league source. pic.twitter.com/4BbTNr4V9z
— Brad Stainbrook (@StainbrookNFL) August 30, 2023
“The #Browns are signing WR Austin Watkins Jr. to the practice squad, per a league source,” Brad Stainbrook of Orange and Brown Report posted Wednesday on X, the social media website formerly known as Twitter.
Austin Watkins Was Close to Earning Spot on Browns’ 53-Man Roster
GettyWide receiver Marquise Goodwin of the Cleveland Browns returned to practice in late August after a months-long struggle with blood clots.
Watkins failed to make the initial 53-man roster only due to the return of wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, a free agent acquisition of the Browns this spring. Goodwin missed several months of the offseason dealing with blood clots in his legs and lungs.
Goodwin got the roster nod on Tuesday as Cleveland’s sixth wideout and there was symmetry in the timing, as the Browns only added Watkins to the team in late July due to Goodwin’s absence.
Meanwhile Watkins — who leapfrogged Anthony Schwartz, Jaelon Darden and Jakeem Grant Sr. during the preseason to move from an afterthought to a serious contender for the 53-man roster — ended up the odd man out in the No. 7 WR slot.
Watkins produced 16 catches for 257 yards and two touchdowns across four games for the Browns this preseason, making at least one grab in every contest. The 25-year-old has bounced around the league, signing with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent out of UAB in 2020. He followed that up with a stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization before winning a championship with the Birmingham Stallions of the USFL.
The 6’3″, 210-pound wide receiver will have to bide his time a little longer on the practice squad. However, when one of Cleveland’s pass-catchers is inevitably forced to miss time with an injury issue this season, Watkins should finally get his chance on football’s biggest stage.
Former Bears QB P.J. Walker to Join Austin Watkins Jr. on Browns’ Practice Squad
GettyFormer Chicago Bears backup quarterback P.J. Walker was released on August 27 and joined the Cleveland Browns three days later.
Joining Watkins on the Browns practice squad is former Chicago Bears quarterback P.J. Walker. Cleveland added Walker Wednesday, effectively ending the team’s relationship with former Minnesota Vikings signal-caller Kellen Mond.
Walker signed a two-year deal with the Bears in March after a three-year run with the Carolina Panthers, where he finished 4-3 across seven starts and 15 total appearances. However, a rough preseason cost Walker the backup quarterback job in Chicago and resulted in the Bears releasing him on August 27.
The Browns swooped in and signed Walker just one day after head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters that the team had plans to add a third quarterback.
“We kind of have a plan,” Stefanski said. “I think we’re definitely going to bring in another quarterback soon.”
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