While this year featured a modest receiver market, the Patriots made an important update to their pass-catching corps by letting Jakobi Meyers walk and replacing him with JuJu Smith-Schuster. Meyers signed a three-year, $33MM deal with the Raiders, and the Patriots added Smith-Schuster for three years and $25.5MM soon after. Guarantee-wise, however, Smith-Schuster’s $16MM matched Meyers’ locked-in sum. The Pats were believed to be unwilling to go to $16MM guaranteed for Meyers, though Bill Belichick said this week (via MassLive.com’s Chris Mason) the former UDFA find was a priority for the team.
Belichick confirmed the sides engaged in discussions, and the legendary HC said the parties were “relatively” close to a deal. At the time, it did not appear these talks were too close to producing a deal; the Pats were believed to be leery of Meyers’ price tag. Meyers’ comments in the wake of Smith-Schuster’s signing suggested he did not view the Patriots as especially eager to bring him back. Meyers has enjoyed a solid start back with Josh McDaniels. The four-year Patriot, despite missing a game due to a concussion, has 25 receptions for 274 yards and three touchdowns. Smith-Schuster, who led Chiefs wide receivers in yardage by a wide margin last season, is at 14-86-0 through five games.
Here is the latest from the AFC East:
- Jalen Ramsey‘s meniscus surgery altered the Dolphins‘ cornerback plans significantly, and a return as late as December entered the equation following the procedure. But the 4-1 team looks to be eyeing a Ramsey return commencing a bit sooner. When asked if he could see Ramsey coming back in November, cornerbacks coach Sam Madison responded in the affirmative. “Yeah, speaking with trainers, he looks really good,” Madison said, via the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson. “Very hopeful and looking forward to getting him on the field.” This marks the biggest chunk of time Ramsey has missed as a pro. Following his March arrival from Los Angeles, Ramsey agreed to a redone contract that guaranteed his 2024 salary, which will provide security after this abbreviated season.
- Weeks 4 and 5 gutted the Bills‘ defense. The unit lost its top cornerback, top linebacker and its best interior D-lineman. Tre’Davious White, Matt Milano and DaQuan Jones are each on IR. On that note, ESPN.com’s Graziano offers that the Bills should be expected to look around for defensive help ahead of the Oct. 31 trade deadline. With Von Miller in his age-34 season and Stefon Diggs turning 30 next month, this certainly profiles as a critical season for the Bills — especially on the heels of a one-sided playoff loss. The team has each of its picks in the first five rounds next year and holds three sixth-rounders. Early-season trades point to the Round 6 selections being relevant regarding potential Buffalo additions.
- The Bills fired COO John Roth and senior VP/general counsel Kathryn D’Angelo for engaging in an inappropriate romantic relationship, The Athletic’s Tim Graham reports (subscription required). Roth, whom the Bills promoted this summer, served as D’Angelo’s superior. This issue surfaced in London. Although D’Angelo joined Roth in reporting to owner Terry Pegula, Graham adds Roth recommended her promotion. Josh Dziurlikowski will serve as the team’s interim COO, per Graham, moving up from senior VP of finance and business administration.
- In September, the Patriots added $2MM in incentives to Trent Brown‘s contract. Details have emerged, via ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss, who notes the adjustment includes $250K in per-game roster bonuses. Seven tiers of playing-time incentives now exist in Brown’s deal, with a $250K payoff in place for hitting each. Brown’s cap number dropped by $375K as well, settling in at $12.21MM. A 2024 void year is now in place, with the Pats set for a $2MM dead-money hit if they do not re-sign Brown before the 2024 league year starts. Brown signed a two-year, $13MM deal in 2022. The veteran tackle, who missed 19 games from 2019-21, has been available for four New England contests this season.