AFC East Notes: Darnold, Pats, Patterson

Sam Darnold ended his holdout on Monday, leaving Roquan Smith as the final unsigned rookie. But the Jets made some concessions to bring their long-term quarterback investment into camp. Offset language, bonus payments and guarantees served as sticking points for Darnold’s camp, and the Jets bent on two of these items. Darnold’s deal includes offsets, but he will receive his $20MM signing bonus payment within 15 days, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports (on Twitter). The Jets also agreed agreed to keep Darnold’s guarantees intact in the event he is fined in the future, per PFT (on Twitter). Florio notes the lump-sum bonus payment represents a rarity, and this surely indicates how badly the Jets wanted their QB in camp.

The Jets continue to believe Darnold can make a strong push to unseat Josh McCown from the starting job, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv notes. A Jets official categorized Darnold as not being “hopelessly behind” by missing the first few days of camp. Jets officials have gushed about the USC-developed passer’s potential all offseason, so it’s unlikely he’ll be out of the running because of this holdout.

Here’s the latest from the AFC East:

  • Despite being a two-time All-Pro return man, Cordarrelle Patterson‘s been a specialist on special teams. The former Vikings and Raiders returner has specialized in kick returns. Bill Belichick hinted at the possibility of Patterson being a punt returner with the Patriots as well, but Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes that hasn’t been the case in camp yet. Rookies Braxton Berrios and Riley McCarron have joined veterans Julian Edelman, Patrick Chung and Chris Hogan as the punt returners in Pats camp. Patterson has fielded precisely one punt in his five-year NFL career, so it shouldn’t surprise the Patriots confine him to kickoff returns.
  • Rookie Corey Bojorquez could push five-year incumbent Patriots punter Ryan Allen, per Reiss, who notes the New Mexico product probably has more natural talent than Allen. The sixth-year veteran has one year and $2MM remaining on an extension he signed in 2015.
  • Second-round Pats pick Duke Dawson is in the mix to win the nickel cornerback job, Reiss tweets. Florida’s seen several corners warrant high draft choices in recent years, and this one has a chance to play alongside Stephon Gilmore on passing downs. Reiss tabs Eric Rowe as being slightly ahead of Jason McCourty for work as the other starting corner.
  • The Jets worked out defensive lineman Drew Iddings over the weekend, Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer tweets. Iddings has bounced around the league for a couple of years, with the Panthers being the most recent team to cut him by doing so last week, but has yet to play in a regular-season game.
  • Former Cardinals tight end Troy Niklas latched on with the Patriots this spring, but New England released him last week. He’s still dealing with a sore knee stemming from a 2017 injury, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reports (subscription required). However, Howe adds his New England’s depth chart at tight end also contributed to the move.
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