One year later Calvin Riley drew an indefinite suspension for the game, the NFL will ban another top wide receiver. jameson williams received a suspension for violating NFL betting policy, confirms Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).
The NFL also suspended the Lions wide receiver Quint Cephus for the game. Williams will be out six games, according to the Lions. The Lions have since waived Cephus and released safety CJ Moore, who the league also slapped with a suspension. The NFL also suspended the Lions Stanley Berry Hill and Edge rusher Commanders Shaka Toneyreports Rapoport.
Cephus and Moore received indefinite suspensions, which will span at least the 2023 season. A former fifth-round Lions pick, Cephus had been on the team since 2020. Moore resided as a special team Lions during the four recent seasons.
Williams and Berryhill remain with the Lions. Berryhill joined the 2022 first-round pick in drawing a six-game ban. Toney, a seventh-round draftee from Washington in 2021, received an indefinite suspension. Toney stays with the commanders.
“Following an investigation by the NFL, it has come to our attention that a few of our players have violated league play policy.”, Lions GM Brad Holmes said. “These players have made decisions that are inconsistent with our organizational values and violate league rules. We have made the decision to part ways with Quintez and CJ immediately. We are disappointed with the decision making demonstrated by Stanley and Jameson and will work with both players to ensure they understand the seriousness of these violations and have clarity on league rules going forward..”
This obviously represents a bad look for both franchises and the NFL, shortly after the league reinstated Ridley from his one-year suspension. The league’s policy allows players to bet on sports — but not on NFL games — but bars players from betting while at team facilities. The NFL did not find the four Lions or Toney used inside information, according to KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson (on Twitter), but Friday’s news is still on to change the Lions’ plans at wide receiver. Williams and Berryhill made mobile bets on non-NFL sporting events while at Lions facilities, ESPN.com’s Eric Woodyard adds.
The Lions traded 20 spots to draft Williams 12th overall last year, despite the Alabama-developed speedster suffering a torn ACL in the previous national championship game. Williams missed 11 games last season and caught only one pass – a 41-yard touchdown – in his return; the Lions used their rehab receiver sparingly. But Williams was expected to be a key part of the Lions offense in 2023. Those plans are on hold. Williams and Berryhill will be allowed to participate in offseason practices, training camp and preseason games, per NFL rules, but receivers will then be closed until Week 7.
Additionally, the Lions fired several staff members last month for violating playing policy, Woodyard reports. The Lions first learned of the NFL’s investigation in March. The staff layoffs associated with the four-player suspensions point to a widespread problem – regarding knowledge of the rules at the very least – among the Lions here. Williams’ agency says (via Rapoport) the second-year catcher accepts responsibility for his infraction but notes that the penalty stems from an otherwise legal bet — only one that took place on team property. Players are also prohibited from making bets on team planes or in hotels on the road.
For decades, the NFL has presented a short list of players banned for violating gambling policy. This number has increased significantly over the past four years. Friday’s news brings the number of NFL players suspended for playing since 2019 to seven, after Ridley and defensive back Josh Shaw. Ridley is on track to return to action as Jaguar; Shaw never played again after his ban.
A former UDFA player, Berryhill played four games for the Lions last season. Toney served as a 16 backup passer with the Commanders in 2022. He didn’t record a sack last season but recorded 1.5 as a rookie in 2021. Toney’s future with the NFC East team should certainly be doubted. If Toney returns to the Commanders in 2024, he will still have two years left on his rookie contract. This suspension will incur the toll of the agreement.
As for the Lions, their receiver situation suddenly looks very different. Williams was to join Amon-Ra St. Brown and the recently acquired marvin jones as the team’s top receivers. Josh Reynolds also remains under contract. The Lions signed Jones on March 29; it’s fair to wonder if the NFL’s investigation of Williams and Cephus played a role in that decision. Of course, the Lions re-signed Moore on March 18; the organization obviously became aware of this investigation after that date. Cephus joined Berryhill playing just four games last season, but the three-year veteran represented the depth of a losing position group Chark DJ this offseason.