Month: November 2020

AFC East Notes: Douglas, Pats, White

Jets head coach Adam Gase may soon receive his walking papers, and though the leash for GM Joe Douglas will be a bit longer, Douglas is not without blame for the club’s struggles over his first 16 months or so on the job. In a piece that colorfully recounts all of Douglas’ missteps, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News includes an interesting nugget indicating that Douglas nixed an impending agreement for free agent DB Logan Ryan — whom Douglas reportedly coveted — because he was unhappy that the agreement was leaked to the media.

To be fair, other reporters wrote that Ryan’s asking price was the real obstacle to the deal, and Mehta himself has noted on more than one occasion that Douglas is operating under owner-imposed financial constraints, so it’s unclear what actually prevented Ryan from joining Gang Green. And obviously the Jets would still look just as directionless with Ryan as they do without, but when Douglas’ body of work is laid out in black-and-white, one can understand any skepticism Jets fans might feel about the GM’s abilities.

Now for more from the AFC East:

  • Doug Kyed of NESN.com believes the Patriots should try to trade for a top-flight wide receiver. His piece was published before QB Cam Newton threw the ball all over the place in the team’s narrow loss to the Seahawks in Week 2, but in New England’s Week 3 triumph over the Raiders, it was clear that Newton could use another receiving threat. After posting eight catches for 179 yards against Seattle, Julian Edelman caught just two passes for 23 yards against Las Vegas, and the Pats want to reduce Edelman’s snap count. Meanwhile, N’Keal Harry is still coming into his own, and Damiere Byrd is hardly irreplaceable. Kyed believes a player like the Bears’ Allen Robinson would be a great fit, and that New England should not be hesitant to give up 2021 draft capital.
  • Prior to the Patriots‘ win over Las Vegas, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com suggested that Sony Michel needed a big game to keep his job as New England’s RB1, and Michel delivered. He reeled off 117 yards on just nine carries, though he and J.J. Taylor both had 11 touches and Rex Burkhead had 13 (three of which ended in touchdowns). As usual, it looks like the Pats will take a committee approach to their backfield, and the committee will become even more crowded when Damien Harris returns from IR. Still, it’s encouraging for New England that Michel, who has not exactly lived up to his status as a former first-rounder, looked as good as he did.
  • The Bills signed cornerback Tre’Davious White to a massive extension shortly before the season started, a deal that temporarily positioned him as the highest-paid CB in the league in terms of AAV ($17.25MM). But as Jason Wolf of the Buffalo News writes, some league observers believe Buffalo came out ahead in that deal, as Jalen Ramsey signed a five-year, $105MM extension shortly after the ink dried on White’s contract. The NFL world knew that Ramsey’s deal was coming soon, so pundits like Joel Corry of CBS Sports believe White could have gotten himself at least $19MM per year if he had been more patient, and that the Bills were wise to strike when they did. Of course, with $55MM in guaranteed money coming his way, most people won’t be too sad for White.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/30/20

Today’s practice squad moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Signed: G Deion Calhoun, LB Kendall Donnerson
  • Released: OT Josh Knipfel

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Seattle Seahawks

New Orleans Saints

49ers To Place Dee Ford On IR

The 49ers will place edge rusher Dee Ford on injured reserve this week, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan (Twitter link via NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco). With that, Ford will be held out for a minimum of three games.

Ford played 46 snaps in the 49ers’ Week 1 loss to the Cardinals, but back issues have kept him out ever since. As it turns out, the Niners didn’t need much help against the Jets and Giants, drumming New York’s teams with ease in Weeks 2 and 3. Still, it’s another frustrating setback for both Ford and the Niners. The 29-year-old registered 6.5 sacks last year despite missing five games, and he was said to be looking sharp after offseason knee surgery.

The 49ers sent a second-round draft pick to the Chiefs in 2019 to acquire Ford in a tag-and-trade deal. The impressive edge rusher managed 13 sacks for Kansas City in 2018, but his five-year, $85MM contract has yet to really pay off for John Lynch & Co. Even when he did suit up last year, Ford had to be restricted by a pitch count, putting him on the field for just 22% of SF’s defensive snaps.

The 49ers — sans Ford — will face the Eagles at home on Sunday night.

Bears Work Out Lamar Miller

Lamar Miller‘s workout tour continues. On Wednesday, the Bears auditioned Miller and a handful of other running backs in the wake of Tarik Cohen’s injury, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets

[RELATED: Bears Lose Tarik Cohen]

Miller inked a one-year deal with the Patriots over the summer, but failed to inch ahead of Damien Harris, Sony Michel, James White, and Rex Burkhead before the cutdown deadline. The veteran has been itching to return to the field for a while — he tore his ACL in the 2019 preseason with the Texans and hasn’t seen live action in over a year.

Miller is reportedly healthy now, and he could be a great mid-season grab for the Bears. The 29-year-old earned a Pro Bowl nod during his last healthy season, rushing for five scores and 973 yards on 210 carries (4.6 yards per carry) with the Texans. He also added 25 receptions for 163 receiving yards and one touchdown during that 2018 campaign. Those numbers don’t quite match Cohen’s best receiving work, but the Bears would gladly take that sort of production alongside David Montgomery.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans To Pass On Earl Thomas?

Earl Thomas‘ scheduled workout with the Texans was scuttled, and head coach Bill O’Brien says it was due to the league’s most recent COVID-19 advisory (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle). However, that’s not quite the full story, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), who hears that the Texans do not currently see Thomas as a great fit for their locker room. 

[RELATED: Texans Sign Corey Liuget]

Thomas, a seven-time Pro Bowler, left his past two clubs on bad terms. In Seattle, Thomas literally left the team with an extended middle finger as he was carted off of the field. In Baltimore, Thomas failed to grasp the playbook in his first year and wore out his welcome last week when he got into an altercation with a teammate.

Thomas’ perceived attitude problems would explain his ongoing unemployment. The years-long love affair between Thomas and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones did not result in a deal this year, and the Chargers were quick to pass on him after losing star Derwin James for the season.

For now, the Texans will continue with third-year starter Justin Reid and newcomer Eric Murray as their starting safeties. Meanwhile, they’re without key backup A.J. Moore, who has been placed on IR due to the hamstring injury he suffered against the Steelers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/30/20

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Panthers Designate Eli Apple For Return

The Panthers have designated cornerback Eli Apple and wide receiver Keith Kirkwood to return from injured reserve, according to Joe Person of The Athletic (on Twitter). The club now has a three-week window to activate either player. If they are not activated in that span, they’ll be ineligible to return for the remainder of the year. 

[RELATED: Panthers Promote RB Reggie Bonnafon]

A former Giants first-round pick, Apple inked a one-year deal with the Panthers in May. At the time, he was thought to be on track for a starting role, especially since the Panthers waited until the fourth round before addressing their need at corner.

Without James Bradberry to lead the way, the Panthers weren’t left with much. Pro Football Focus graded none of Carolina’s incumbent corners higher than 89th at the position last season. Apple, meanwhile, was only 20 when he was drafted and he only just turned 25 over the summer, so there’s reason to believe that he can be a quality contributor when healthy.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Cowboys’ La’el Collins

Cowboys right tackle La’el Collins could be done for the year. Collins is still working towards a return, but contact during offensive line drills have proven to be a major hurdle for him, Jane Slater of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. Season-ending surgery could be in Collins’ future, but all parties are holding off on that option for now.

If it was Week 10 and the team was 0-8 it would be something they would explore,” a team source told Slater. “But, we are still hoping it’s manageable.”

Collins was placed on IR after the September roster deadline, so he’s theoretically eligible to return at any time. But, right now, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be ready for live action anytime soon.

The former LSU standout has become one of the NFL’s better right tackles, doing so after making a mid-career move from the guard spot. Since 2015, Collins has appeared in 62 games (61 starts) as one of Dak Prescott’s trusted protectors. Last year, Collins finished as the fourth-highest graded offensive tackle in the league, according to Pro Football Focus, making his five-year, $50MM deal look like an absolute bargain.

Without Collins up front, the Cowboys were held to just 17 points in the season opener against the Rams. Though the offense was sharp enough to top the Falcons in Week 2, they fell 38-31 to the Seahawks on Sunday. This week, they’ll aim for the .500 mark when they face the Browns in Dallas.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Cut Swag Kelly

The Colts have released Swag Kelly from the practice squad, per a club announcement. To take his place, they’ve signed wide receiver Krishawn Hogan to the 16-man unit.

Kelly was once considered one of the top QB prospects in the nation, but he was kicked out of Clemson and his senior season at Ole Miss was cut short by a torn ACL and lateral meniscus. The Broncos made him “Mr. Irrelevant” in 2017 with the final pick in the draft, but he had an opportunity to be very relevant and supplant Case Keenum as the club’s starter in 2018. That never came to fruition thanks to a bizarre arrest and his subsequent release.

In 2019, Kelly hooked on with the Colts’ offseason roster, and he’s been in the team’s practice squad orbit ever since. After the Colts used a fourth-round pick on Jacob Eason in the spring, it was pretty clear that Kelly was no longer a focal point for the offensive staff. With starter Philip Rivers, experienced backup Jacoby Brissett, and Eason leading the way, there was little need to keep Kelly on standby.

The Colts — who have a bit of swag after their 36-7 romp over the Jets — will face the Bears on Sunday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Postpones Steelers-Titans

The NFL has postponed Sunday’s game between the Steelers and Titans, according to Dianna Russini of ESPN.com (on Twitter). From here, the league will weigh its options, including rescheduling the game for Monday night. Tuesday night is also on the table, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), but Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com reports that the CBS crew covering the game has been told that it will happen on Monday (h/t Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk).

The Titans put everything on pause this week after three players and five personnel members tested positive for COVID-19. The Titans have since placed linebacker Kamalei Correa, defensive lineman DaQuan Jones, long snapper Beau Brinkley, and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson on the reserve/COVID-19 list (we already knew about the latter three players, but Correa is a newer addition to the list). The Vikings, who faced the Titans in Week 3, have also suspended their activities. They’re currently scheduled to face the Texans in Houston and, so far, they have not received any positive tests.

Thankfully, no one on the Titans’ side appears to be critically ill. “Some of them are indeed experiencing flu-like symptoms, (but) nothing out of the ordinary. We anticipate they will feel better shortly,” head coach Mike Vrabel told reporters (Twitter link via Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com).

The Titans advanced to 3-0 after their 31-30 win over the Vikings on Sunday. The Vikings, meanwhile, are winless through three games with a thoroughly depleted defense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.