Nick Mullens is the presumed second-string quarterback for the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night.
Cleveland Browns practice squad quarterback Nick Mullens is presumed to be on his way to the active roster for tonight’s game versus the Denver Broncos, barring some unforeseen last-minute personnel move.
Case Keenum moves to the starting role in the absence of Baker Mayfield, so Nick Mullens will have to be the backup quarterback. No official announcement has yet been made, but there is no other obvious possibility.
Mullens can be “elevated” to the regular roster, meaning that he would be a temporary practice squad addition and that he can be sent back down to the practice squad again without being exposed to waivers. In this case, the Browns would not have to cut a player from the 53-player roster.
Alternatively, Mullens could be given a roster spot if it looks like the third-string quarterback will be needed for longer than two weeks, which is the maximum length of time that he could be carried as a temporary practice squad addition. In that case, someone would have to be cut or go on IR in order to create room for him.
So who is Nick Mullins? Please do not be expecting Trevor Lawrence or some household name, because those players are not available for NFL practice squads. Mullins is a credible young former NFL starting quarterback who most recently backed up Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco. He has completed 64.5% of his passes lifetime and has thrown for 4,714 yards and a TD/INT ratio of 25/22.
He has had 16 starts in the NFL for the San Francisco 49er and won five of them, which is actually a lot for a third-stringer. Mullens also has been to the Super Bowl with his team, which counts for something.
In college, Mullens played for the Southern Miss Golden Eagles. Mullens broke Brett Favre’s single-season record for passing yardage (4,476) and touchdown passes (38).
Mullens became expendable behind Josh Rosen, Trey Lance, and Garoppolo. He made a brief stop in Philadelphia and found a similar situation with Jalen Hurts, Joe Flacco, and Gardiner Minshew.
The Browns are lucky that Mullens is still available. Last season, you will recall, the number three quarterback was Garrett Gilbert, and he was pilfered by the Dallas Cowboys. All NFL teams have the right to “poach” players from the practice squad.
There’s a rule that allows NFL teams to protect up to four practice squad players from poaching, but the protection is lifted after each game until Tuesday afternoon. That’s how the Cowboys were able to sign Gilbert away.
Hopefully, Mullens never has to play. But if he has to come into the game, he has led an NFL team to victory and he can do it again. He’s a credible and competent quarterback. He’ll need a lot of help from his teammates, however. He’s not going to be a one-man gang.