Here's a look at some of the top rumors for Monday, Nov. 2:
With the NFL trade deadline looming on Tuesday, buzz began Sunday morning that several Cleveland Browns could be dealt, including left tackle Joe Thomas. NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported the Browns "have engaged in discussions about potentially trading" Thomas and center Alex Mack, who are in their ninth and seventh years, respectively, in Cleveland. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning that outside linebacker Paul Kruger has been a subject of trade conversations, and Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer added that 2013 sixth overall pick Barkevious Mingo has been made available for trade. Cabot reported following Sunday's loss to the Arizona Cardinals that Thomas is not interested in a trade, and it's certainly hard to see the eight-time Pro Bowler and five-time first-team All-Pro donning a different uniform. As great as Thomas has been in his career -- and he is probably already a worthy Hall of Famer -- he may mean more to the Browns than he would to another team given that he will turn 31 in December. It's unclear what Cleveland wants in return, but we'd be surprised if any team forked over more than a second- or third-round pick for Thomas. As for Mack, Kruger and Mingo, these are somewhat less surprising, but still a sign of serious turnover on the roster. The structure of Mack's contract -- the result of the Browns matching an offer sheet from the Jacksonville Jaguars in March of 2014 after Mack was given the transition tag -- allows him to opt out and become a free agent this offseason. The Browns also drafted his heir apparent, OL Cameron Erving, in the first round this past April, and Erving has barely played so far. Kruger, who was part of an expensive free-agent class in March of 2013, told Cabot Sunday he wasn't surprised to hear he might be traded because of "the way I've been used." Kruger has played 407 of 588 (69.2 percent) snaps this season after playing 919 of 1,118 (82.2) a year ago. Mingo totaled five sacks as a rookie but has just two since and has played just 134 snaps (22.8 percent) this season. As one of many busts from the 2013 draft, he probably won't fetch much in a trade, but perhaps another team can get the best out of him.
After San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick continued his struggles against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, a few teammates want to see the QB benched, according to Bleacher Report's Jason Cole. Cole received texts from two 49ers players who still want Kaepernick in the team's future plans but "think he needs time on the bench to clear his head." It's not surprising to hear calls for Kaepernick's benching after another rough outing in what's been a miserable season, but it is interesting that both players think Kaepernick is "going in the right direction." The fifth-year QB has looked overwhelmed at times this season, struggling to process coverages behind extremely leaky pass protection. Head coach Jim Tomsula has been adamant about keeping Kaepernick as his starting quarterback, but we wouldn't be shocked to see a change before the season is out.
After being placed on injured reserve with designation to return, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is eligible to practice this week, even though he won't be eligible to play until Nov. 22. However, NFL Media's Rand Getlin reports that Romo won't practice this week and likely needs "the full eight weeks" to recover from his broken collarbone. This isn't surprising news, but it's a reminder that even when Romo is eligible to return, he'll likely only just be recovered from the injury, and we saw how poorly that went for Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday. No one is running away with the NFC East, but the Cowboys could really use a win against the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday to help maintain their position as they await Romo's return. Even though Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel have struggled, the team's official website expects the coaching staff to stick with Cassel at quarterback rather than going back to Weeden or turning to Kellen Moore.
Tests have yet to be done, but Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte may have escaped serious injury on Sunday. FOX Sports' Jay Glazer reports that the team thinks the injury is MCL-related instead of ACL-related. An MCL tear, like the one suffered by Le'Veon Bell on Sunday, could end Forte's season, but an MCL sprain would be much better news than an injury to Forte's ACL, which would almost certainly end his season. The timing of the injury is intriguing because of its proximity to the trade deadline. Forte has often been mentioned as a candidate to be moved, but any injury that would cause him to miss time would immediately squash any team's interest in acquiring the back, who will turn 30 in December. More news on his ailment should arrive later on Monday.
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh speculated after Sunday's game that wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. may not retire after this season despite his announcement before the year that this campaign would be his last. The MMQB's Peter King concurs with that idea, reporting that Smith -- who tore his Achilles tendon on Sunday and is out for the year -- is "not finished" and "was already talking about surgery and rehab" Sunday evening. CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora adds that Smith is "leaning strongly" toward returning for another season. An Achilles injury could be a death blow to the agility of a 36-year-old, but we wouldn't dare count out the uber-competitive Smith. Likewise, nobody would complain about getting one more season from one of the most entertaining and relentless players of his era.
With the trade deadline approaching, Pro Football Talk reports that Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson will not be dealt. Martin has been a subject of trade rumors in previous years but has been rejuvenated this season on a Buccaneers team that is just a game under .500 after beating the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Patterson seemed like a potential candidate to be moved because of his diminished role on the Vikings after an electric rookie season, but it seems Minnesota intends to keep him around.
Another player to keep an eye on as we near the deadline is Bears linebacker Willie Young. As we've discussed before, he's been seeking a trade for some time due to his poor fit in Chicago's 3-4 scheme, and La Canfora reiterated on Monday that Young "badly wants to move to a 4-3 team." The Bears clearly don't have any reason to keep Young around and his $3 million salary is very reasonable for a team to take on in order to boost its pass rush. We'd expect him to fetch a late-round pick before Tuesday's deadline and provide some pop as a situational rusher for a 4-3 based team.
La Canfora also noted Sunday morning that the Seattle Seahawks are trying to upgrade their offensive line at the deadline and are willing to give up wide receiver -- and Super Bowl standout -- Chris Matthews in return. After Ricardo Lockette's scary injury on Sunday -- Lockette will miss the season due to neck surgery -- the Seahawks might need to keep Matthews for depth instead, but his lackluster body of work probably wouldn't have helped Seattle fetch much in return anyway. The receiver's four-catch, 104-yard, 1-TD performance in last year's Super Bowl still exceeds his career production in the regular season. We'd still expect John Schneider to look for help on the offensive line, but any potential addition probably won't solve Seattle's protection woes.
Houston Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney left Sunday's game with a back injury, but Getlin reports it "isn't thought to be serious," hearing from a source that Clowney is "just sore." It's still not good to see last year's top overall pick fighting yet another injury, but it's good news for the Texans. Clowney's backup, 2012 first-rounder Whitney Mercilus, shined in his place on Sunday, picking up a whopping 3.5 sacks. With a Week 9 bye to rest, Clowney should be back in Week 10, making Houston's pass-rush rotation look awfully scary moving forward.
Getlin also notes that Buffalo Bills wide receiver Percy Harvin is working with team doctors to evaluate the extent of his hip injury. Head coach Rex Ryan supported Harvin fully during his press conference on Monday. After it sounded like Harvin and the team weren't on the same page two weeks ago, this is welcome news in Buffalo, but it's unclear how long it will be before Harvin will be healthy enough to play. He doesn't seem like an every-down threat for the Bills' offense, but Greg Roman could certainly use his presence in his schemes.
The 49ers have some holes to fill at running back after injuries to Reggie Bush and Mike Davis. Bush hurt his knee after slipping on the concrete in the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday and Schefter reported the team fears he tore his ACL. Rapoport reports that Davis fractured his hand, and adds that Ben Tate will work out for the 49ers on Tuesday. Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne was waived before Sunday's game despite the absence of Carlos Hyde, which suggests the team doesn't trust Hayne much as a running back, but San Francisco wants to bring him back to the practice squad. Perhaps, after these injuries, he could be promoted back to the active roster and given a chance to carry the rock.
The San Diego Chargers' offensive line didn't make it very far into Sunday's game before suffering another injury, as left tackle King Dunlap went down and didn't return. The news on Dunlap isn't terrible: Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports Dunlap avoided a fractured ankle, but the full extent of the injury won't be known until an MRI on Monday. If it turns out to be a high-ankle sprain, Dunlap could still be out -- or at least limited -- for multiple weeks. UPDATE: Dunlap's injury is indeed a high-ankle sprain, according to Gehlken, which makes his status for next Monday's game against the Bears questionable at best. The Chargers do have a bye in Week 10, so perhaps Dunlap could be close to full strength in time for Week 11.