Teams around the NFL are preparing for the home stretch of the 2022 season, with many still fighting for playoff positions. Here’s a look at the latest activity leading up to Week 15.
Mariota Leaves Falcons After Being Benched
Last Thursday, Atlanta Falcons coach Arthur Smith informed quarterback Marcus Mariota that he’s being benched for rookie Desmond Ritter due to his performance. On Friday, he left the team and didn’t inform anyone when or if he’ll return.
Mariota reportedly will have his knee evaluated, but coach Smith clarified that the knee hadn’t been an issue up to this point in the season. He also said Mariota would be placed on injured reserve, making him ineligible for the rest of the regular season.
This is Mariota’s first season with the Falcons after coming over when the team traded Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts. Atlanta was 5-8 with him as the starter, and he ranked near the bottom of the league in passing yards, completions, and touchdown passes.
Atlanta is still in contention for a playoff position and needs wins in their final two divisional games to have any chance at the postseason. At least they can see what Ritter brings to the table before the season ends.
Beasley Makes Return To Bills
Wide receiver Cole Beasley has come out of retirement and returned to the Buffalo Bills. He was signed to the team’s practice squad and will be quickly elevated to the active roster. Beasley was a member of the Bills for three seasons from 2019-2021 and was a reliable target for Josh Allen. He had 82 receptions for 693 yards and a touchdown in 16 games in his last season with Buffalo.
The ten-year NFL veteran was involved in controversy over his decision not to get vaccinated for COVID-19 for the past two seasons and had issues with many aspects of the NFL’s league protocols during that period. The Bills permitted him to seek a trade in the offseason but eventually released him in March. He signed with Tampa Bay as a member of their practice squad in September and announced his retirement in October after being released.
The Bills have been searching for depth at the wide receiver position. Beasley could immediately contribute with Jamison Crowder still on injured reserve and provide Allen with a trusted target that’s already familiar with the offense as the playoffs approach.
Murray Out For Season With Torn ACL
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray left in the first quarter of Monday night’s game against the New England Patriots when running to his right on a three-yard gain. He went down with a no-contact injury and was eventually carted off the field.
An MRI on Tuesday indicated that Murray suffered a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season. He will receive additional tests on the knee, with a final report on the extent of the damage expected on Wednesday.
Murray signed a five-year extension with the Cardinals worth $230.5 million after the 2021 season after appearing in his second straight Pro Bowl. Last season he threw for more than 3,700 yards and was responsible for 24 touchdowns through the air and five on the ground with 423 rushing yards.
This season the Cardinals are 4-9, as Murray threw for 2,368 yards and 14 touchdowns with seven interceptions. With the timeline for recovery from this type of injury being about one year, it’s still unclear whether he will play at all in 2023.