Alan Branch‘s four-game suspension for marijuana implies that the Patriots defensive tackle has tested positive for pot four separate times, as Ben Volin of The Boston Globe points out (via Twitter links). In total, the suspension will likely cost Branch about $1.13MM and could hurt his market when he reaches free agency this spring. Branch also has a DUI from 2014 on his record, which isn’t a good look in free agency.
Here’s more from the East divisions:
- The Jets‘ call to start Ryan Fitzpatrick over Bryce Petty is simply indefensible, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News opines. Now at 3-7, the Jets are out of the playoff running and now is the time to find out what the 25-year-old can do. Still, Mehta writes that Petty has been getting schooled at practice by Fitzpatrick and says that the youngster is making the Harvard product look like “[Johnny] Unitas.”
- In an interview on 105.3 The Fan, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones confirmed reports that Darren McFadden will be activated, as Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News tweets. McFadden will join a crowded backfield headlined by star rookie Ezekiel Elliott and backup Alfred Morris. McFadden could contribute as a pass-catcher, however. He averaged 38 catches per year between 2014 and 2015.
- There is skepticism about Morris Claiborne‘s status going forward, but Jones is confident that he will return for the Cowboys this season (Twitter link via Machota). The cornerback has not played since October 30, a disappointment since he was in the midst of shedding his draft bust label this year. Through the first seven games of the year, Claiborne was ranked as Pro Football Focus’ eighth-best cornerback in the NFL. He figures to see a pay raise over his current one-year, $3MM deal this spring, but his market will be limited if he cannot demonstrate that he is healthy, particularly given his injury history.