AFC East Notes: Mallett, Byrd, Howard, Trades

Tom Brady is signed through the 2017 season, and the Patriots will be facing the same series of questions until that contract is up: should we draft his eventual replacement? Is the replacement already on the roster? Should we sign a veteran backup? Within the framework of those questions, Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald examines the status of current backup Ryan Mallett, who will be a free agent after the 2014 season.

There have been rumors that the Texans may be interested in Mallett, given his familiarity with the offense that Houston’s new head coach Bill O’Brien plans to install, and the Vikings might also have some interest. But despite Mallett’s potential and the fact that he has been mentored by Brady and Bill Belichick, his impending free agency might reduce the the return the Patriots could expect in a trade.

Further complicating the situation is the fact that, if New England were to take a QB in this year’s draft, that player’s rookie deal would expire at the same time as Brady’s. But with Mallett unlikely willing to wait until Brady plays out his contract before finally getting a shot, the Patriots probably have no choice but to trade him now or let him walk after this season. As such, the Pats will keep their eyes peeled for the next young quarterback to impress them the way Mallett did in 2011.

Some more notes from the AFC East:

  • The Bills have nearly $25MM in cap space, and Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News examines how the team might utilize that flexibility. Most notably, Gaughan writes that Buffalo has enough space to retain Jairus Byrd, whether they bring him back on a long-term deal or put the franchise tag on him. GM Doug Whaley said the team will “go after” all of its own free agents, and Gaughan observes that the most significant of those free agents beyond Byrd are Scott Chandler and Dan Carpenter. The team could create even more cap space–about $3.1MM– with the expected release of backup quarterback Kevin Kolb. Right tackle Erik Pears is also in danger of being cut, and his release would save about $2.9MM.
  • Rich Cimini of expects the Jets to re-sign tackle Austin Howard before free agency opens on March 11. He also notes that, with all their cap space–which will increase following the expected release of Santonio Holmes–the Jets will also attack the free agent market for quarterbacks and wide receivers. Cimini expects the team to pursue quarterbacks Michael Vick and Josh McCown and wideouts Golden Tate, Emmanuel Sanders, and Hakeem Nicks.
  • James Walker of says it is “difficult to believe” that the Dolphins are seeking to trade Dion Jordan, Cameron Wake, and Mike Wallace, particularly since the team is in “win now” mode. We heard several days ago that Miami was shopping those players, rumors that the team quickly denied. Walker thinks the most “tradeable” of that group is Jordan, who had a difficult time finding a good fit on the Dolphins defense last year. However, Walker adds that Miami is not likely to give up on such a special talent after just one season.




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