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AFC Notes: Colts, McCown, Harbaugh

The Colts pulled off a rare blockbuster trade this offseason, shipping out their first-round pick in exchange for All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. Now, we have more details on exactly how that deal came to be. It all happened quickly, as the deal came together in less than a week, sources told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Buckner’s agent met with 49ers brass back at the combine, where they made it clear the big man was looking for at least $20MM annually on a contract extension. San Francisco apparently decided right then and there that they weren’t going to be able to pay that, and needed to look for a trade.

La Canfora reports that a handful of teams were in the mix, but Colts GM Chris Ballard was the most aggressive in his pursuit. Ballard was willing to talk contract details immediately, and of course the defensive tackle ended up getting a new pact worth more than $21MM annually. La Canfora also notes that Indiana’s low three percent income tax played a role in Buckner’s eagerness to join Indy. The Colts have had one of the best defenses in the league this season, in large part due to Buckner’s continued elite play.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • It was a very quiet trade deadline this past week, and the Browns were one of the many teams to stand pat. That doesn’t mean front office head Andrew Berry wasn’t working the phones, and he revealed recently during a call with the media that Cleveland came close on a couple of deals. “We did explore a number of different possible transactions. I’d say maybe a couple of things got perhaps within striking distance but either moved away from us or we moved away from it for various reasons,” Berry said, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Berry also indicated that the uncertainty around the 2021 salary cap due to COVID-19 played a large part in the lack of trades. At 5-3, the Browns were in position to be buyers at the deadline for the first time in many years, so it would’ve been exciting to see them add a piece.
  • Here’s something we didn’t see coming. The deal Josh McCown recently signed with the Texans is actually for two years, meaning he won’t be a free agent at the end of the year as was initially assumed, La Canfora writes. While it’s a bit surprising considering McCown is 41 and was only on the Eagles’ practice squad until last week, it does make some sense considering the circumstances. Houston is headed into a period of great uncertainty as they look for a new head coach and GM, and McCown will be a steady veteran presence for this rocky transition. La Canfora’s piece makes it clear that the offer was made as a ‘culture’ signing, with McCown essentially serving as another coach for DeShaun Watson moving forward. McCown, who had been participating with the Eagles remotely while living at home in Texas, “agonized” over the decision to leave Philly’s organization, sources told La Canfora. Pretty much everybody seems to believe McCown is going to become a coach whenever he eventually hangs up his cleats, and La Canfora confirms that he is still “very much on the Eagles’ radar as a potential quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator soon after he retires.”
  • Speaking of things seemingly everyone believes, Adam Gase is nearly universally thought be on his way out as the Jets head coach. Whenever he’s officially fired New York’s head coaching search will become very interesting, and one name that is bound to come up again is Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh has been rumored as a Jets candidate in each of their last three coaching searches, but Rich Cimini of ESPN.com isn’t sure it would be a great fit. Although he notes New York interviewed Harbaugh in 2009 and were interested in 2014, he thinks a coach of Harbaugh’s pedigree would likely want to have personnel control over whatever team he heads to. Considering the Jets just recently hired GM Joe Douglas and aren’t planning on firing him any time soon, that arrangement wouldn’t really gel. All that being said, Cimini does point out that Douglas knows John Harbaugh from his time with the Ravens, so perhaps we shouldn’t totally shut the door on this one.

Texans To Sign Josh McCown

The Texans have agreed to sign Josh McCown off of the Eagles’ practice squad roster, as ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter tweets. The veteran quarterback will serve as insurance for starter Deshaun Watson and could dress for Sunday’s game against the Jaguars.

McCown signed an unprecedented deal to become the Eagles emergency remote quarterback (and a QB whisperer for Carson Wentz) in September. Now in his 40s, McCown is essentially viewed as a player/part-time assistant, with the expectation that he’ll be a coveted coaching candidate once he eventually retires.

McCown was the backup to Wentz last year when he was suddenly inserted in their first-round playoff game against Seattle. Then, he nearly led the Eagles to an improbable win.

This year, McCown has spent the bulk of his time at home in Texas, so he won’t have to make much of an adjustment as he joins up with Watson & Co. Furthermore, the deal could give him an opportunity to showcase his expertise as the Texans plot their coaching staff for 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Eagles, McCown, Claiborne, Saints, Crawley

Josh McCown agreed to an unprecedented deal to become the Eagles’ emergency remote quarterback by signing to their practice squad earlier this month, and now we have more details on the arrangement. One of the reasons McCown was brought in was because of his strong relationship with Carson Wentz, and he’s been talking Wentz through his slow start, sources told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.

Sources also told La Canfora that McCown is viewed by the Eagles and other organizations across the league as a future NFL head coach. McCown is essentially working as a part-time coach right now, as La Canfora writes he’s staying in shape but not training with the team at all. “Several” execs told La Canfora that he “could be an NFL head coach within five years of retiring from the game, perhaps sooner.” Those same execs said he could have a quarterback coach job right now if he wanted it, and would be fast-tracked to be a coordinator.

This isn’t all that surprising considering the Eagles discussed a coaching job with him as far back as January. The 41-year-old McCown was the backup to Wentz last year when he was suddenly inserted in relief in their first-round playoff game against Seattle and nearly led them to an improbable win. If Wentz keeps playing like he has been, they might need him to come in cold off the bench one more time.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Speaking of guys on the verge of retirement, that’s apparently a good way to describe free agent corner Morris Claiborne. While not officially retired Claiborne is “not actively looking for work and spending family time,” Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Fowler adds that while he’s “staying ready just in case,” it “would take the ideal circumstance” to get him off the couch. The sixth overall pick of the 2012 draft by the Cowboys, Claiborne won the Super Bowl with the Chiefs last year, appearing in eight games and starting one. He made 15 starts in each of the previous two seasons with the Jets. If this is really it for him, he’ll hang up his cleats having made 74 starts across eight years, but never quite living up to his draft status.
  • The Saints are playing right now on Sunday Night Football, and they could be reuniting with a familiar face soon. New Orleans brought in cornerback Ken Crawley for a visit on Friday, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The 2016 UDFA started his career with the Saints, and was with him until he was cut and claimed off waivers by the Dolphins in October of last year. He was with both the Raiders and Cardinals during training camp, and was ultimately cut by both. Still only 27, Crawley was a big part of the Saints’ defense for a while, starting 13 games in 2017 and five in 2018. He struggled pretty badly toward the end with the Saints, which is what led to his release.

Eagles Sign Josh McCown To Practice Squad

Well this is an unusual arrangement we didn’t see coming. The Eagles are signing veteran quarterback Josh McCown to their practice squad, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Thanks to a new COVID-19 exception veterans will be able to serve on practice squads, making this possible. As Schefter notes, he’ll easily be the oldest practice squad player in NFL history. Making the situation even more unique, McCown won’t even be reporting to the team. Instead McCown will continue to live in Texas, earn a $12K weekly salary, and serve as Philly’s emergency quarterback remotely.

McCown’s lovable journeyman career has taken him all over the football world, so it feels right for him to blaze this unheard of trail. We had heard back in January the Eagles were talking about adding him to the coaching staff, and this is the next best thing.

After originally announcing his retirement in June of last year, he signed with Philly last August after they had a couple of injuries. After serving as Carson Wentz‘s backup and not starting a game he was suddenly thrown into the spotlight when Wentz went down in the Eagles’ first round playoff game against Seattle.

McCown came into the game cold off the bench and nearly led them to a miracle victory, tearing his hamstring in the process and playing through the injury.

The Eagles have Nate Sudfeld and Jalen Hurts behind Wentz now, but in these uncertain times it can’t hurt to have too much insurance. McCown has turned into a fan favorite over the course of his career that started in 2002 with the Cardinals, and this is a nice feather in his cap.

Here is Philly’s full practice squad:

* = international player

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: McCown, Kitchens, Woods

Whenever Josh McCown decides to hang up his cleats, it sounds like he’ll have an opportunity to pursue a new career path. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Eagles discussed “the idea of [McCown] returning to the team in a coaching role” next season.

Notably, the exit meeting was attended by the 40-year-old quarterback, head coach Doug Pederson, general manager Howie Roseman… and owner Jeffrey Lurie, who rarely makes an appearance at those meetings. It’s uncertain if McCown was offered a definitive coaching gig, and the 40-year-old ultimately couldn’t commit to retirement. At the very least, it sounds like the organization is optimistic about the veteran’s coaching ability.

McCown had retired following the 2018 season and caught on with ESPN as an analyst. However, he later signed with the Eagles following injuries to backups Nate Sudfeld and Cody Kessler. The 18-year veteran ended up appearing in three games for Philly, and he filled in for Carson Wentz during the team’s playoff loss to the Seahawks.

Let’s check out some more coaching notes from around the league…

  • Earlier this month, we heard whispers that former Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens could land with the Giants. However, Dan Duggan of The Athletic writes that the coach “isn’t a lock” to land in New York. We learned yesterday that the two sides still hadn’t finalized an agreement. Kitchens worked alongside new Giants head coach Joe Judge during their time at Mississippi State, and there was speculation that the 45-year-old could join the staff as a tight ends coach. The Browns went 6-10 during Kitchens’ lone season as their head coach, and he was canned following the regular season.
  • Before hiring Patrick Graham as their defensive coordinator, the Giants had interest in Saints defensive backs coach Aaron Glenn, reports Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post (via Twitter). While he missed out on the gig, the 47-year-old still interviewed for another role on the Giants coaching staff today. Prior to this stint with New Orleans, the 1994 first-round pick served as the Browns assistant defensive backs coach.
  • Joe Woods is the favorite to become the Browns defensive coordinator, but the 49ers won’t let that happen without a fight. Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune tweets that San Francisco is making a “late push” to retain their defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator. Woods has coached in the NFL since 2004, and he served as the Broncos defensive coordinator between 2017 and 2018.
  • Speaking of the Browns, head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed that three assistants will be sticking around next season (via the team’s website): special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, assistant special teams coach Doug Colman and run game coordinator/running backs coach Stump Mitchell.
  • Vikings receivers coach Drew Petzing won’t be back with the team next season, reports Goessling (via Twitter). Petzing had spent the past six seasons with the organization, spending time with wideouts, running backs, and quarterbacks.

Eagles To Sign Josh McCown

The Eagles will sign Josh McCown to man their backup quarterback spot, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (Twitter link). It’s a one-year, $2MM deal with $1.7MM in base compensation, a $300K signing bonus, and $3.4MM available through playing time incentives (Twitter link via SiriusXM’s Adam Caplan). 

Philadelphia entered the preseason with Nate Sudfeld and Cody Kessler competing for the No. 2 spot on the QB depth chart. Sudfeld broke his wrist during the team’s first preseason game while Kessler suffered a concussion during their second preseason contest. The franchise also has fifth-round pick Clayton Thorson on the squad. The rookie completed 16-of-26 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown in extended play vs. the Jaguars on Thursday.

Sudfeld is expected to return this season and his roster spot seems secure. Kessler’s future with the team is less certain with the McCown signing and it’s hard to envision a scenario where Thorson is on the squad come week 1.

With Nick Foles departing this offseason, the Eagles lacked a strong option at the back-up QB position. McCown, who spent the last two seasons with the Jets, will provide Philadelphia with a solid veteran who is capable of a spot start or two if needed.

McCown announced his retirement this offseason and was pursing a broadcasting career with ESPN. He’ll resume that career next year after serving as an insurance policy of sorts for Carson Wentz in Philadelphia this upcoming season.

McCown’s contract will be a one-year deal with a $2MM base salary that is fully guaranteed, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link) hears that the deal could be worth as much as $5.4MM with incentives.

The Eagles will be the 40-year-old’s 10th team of his 17-year career. He spent the last two seasons with the Jets where he appeared in 17 contests for the club. McCown also previously spent time in the UFL, where he played for the Hartford Colonials.

Eagles’ Josh McCown To Have Surgery

Quarterback Josh McCown tore his hamstring in the Eagles’ playoff loss to the Seahawks, as Tim McManus of ESPN.com tweets. Remarkably, McCown played through the injury in the second half of the game as he filled in for Carson Wentz

The surgery will keep McCown sidelined for six weeks. After that, he’ll have a decision to make on his future. Last week’s game marked McCown’s first playoff action at the age of 40 and he’ll turn 41 in July, just before training camp gets underway.

Few players would have stayed on the field after tearing a hamstring, but McCown felt he had little choice. After Wentz exited in the first quarter with a concussion, McCown was left as the only quarterback on the Eagles’ active roster.

In June of last year, McCown announced that he would retire after 17 years in the NFL. In August, the Eagles talked him out of hit. He inked a one-year, $2MM deal to serve as Wentz’s backup after the Eagles lost QBs Nate Sudfeld and Cody Kessler to injury. The veteran threw just five passes in the regular season before he was called upon in the wild card contest.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: McCown, Treadwell, Cowboys

The Eagles made a surprising decision to sign Josh McCown out of retirement on Saturday, and the fact that they gave McCown a $2MM guarantee suggests that he is a lock to make the roster. Indeed, Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP reports that Philadelphia was trying to sign McCown even before presumptive QB2 Nate Sudfeld was sidelined with a wrist injury (Twitter link). Shorr-Parks notes in a separate tweet that HC Doug Pederson declined to say whether Sudfeld will remain the primary backup. Pederson said he will figure that out when Sudfeld heals.

Let’s round up a few more NFC East items:

  • Former first-round pick Laquon Treadwell is on the trade block, and Matt Lombardo of NJ.com believes the Giants could make a play for him. Treadwell played under New York head coach Pat Shurmur when the latter served as the Vikings’ offensive coordinator, and Shurmur held the Ole Miss product in high regard not that long ago. Given the current state of the Giants’ WR depth chart, Lombardo suggests it would be reasonable for Big Blue to send a sixth- or seventh-round pick to Minnesota to see if a change of scenery can unlock some of Treadwell’s potential.
  • Cowboys owner Jerry Jones may not want to meet QB Dak Prescott‘s asking price — said to be at least $35MM per year — but he confirmed that Prescott’s eventual contract will put him in the top tier of quarterbacks. Jones said, “[a] lot of people question whether Dak is one of those guys that need to be in the top tier. I’ve never questioned that. I don’t think there’s any doubt that he’s in the top level of paid quarterbacks…Now, how do we make this all fit and what can we do to have the best team around him? That’s what we’re trying to work on” (Twitter link via Jon Machota of The Athletic).
  • Tony Pollard‘s performance in training camp and the preseason may be giving the Cowboys a little leverage in their contract talks with Ezekiel Elliott, and Jones said “Zeke who?” when asked if Pollard is becoming the team’s best negotiator with Elliott (Twitter link via Machota). Jones made it clear he was joking and said he believes Pollard will be an excellent complement to, and not a replacement for, Elliott (in case you missed it, we heard this morning that Elliott will not face criminal charges for the altercation between him and a security guard in May).
  • Despite spending the entire 2018 season out of football, Cowboys WR Devin Smith has a legitimate chance of cracking the team’s roster, as Machota tweets. Smith caught a TD pass in Dallas’ preseason contest on Saturday, and his play has been very strong over the past week. The former Jets second-rounder signed a reserve/futures deal with the Cowboys in January.

Josh McCown Retires From NFL

After 17 years in the NFL, Josh McCown is calling it a career. On Monday, the longtime QB bid farewell to the game in a post on The Player’s Tribune

At the end of the day, no matter what team I was on, I tried to serve it to the best of my ability, and I tried to influence my team in a positive manner. I hope I did that,” McCown wrote. “And I made sure that when my number was called, I was prepared, and I gave it everything I had, every time. I may not have turned out to be the franchise quarterback I set out to be back at Cardinals rookie camp, but I’m extremely proud of the career I had.”

McCown didn’t become the face of the Cardinals as he had hoped, but he did enjoy nearly two decades in the NFL while spending time with ten different teams. His journey also included a pit stop in the UFL in 2010, a deal that almost didn’t come to pass when the Bears offered him a contract. Remarkably, McCown declined the opportunity in Chicago and stuck it out with the Hartford Colonials. He later said that the notion of bailing on the commitment “didn’t sit well” with him and he didn’t want to set a bad example for his children in which he would give his “word to somebody until something better comes along and then break that.”

McCown had some memorable moments on the field throughout his career, but he will largely be remembered for his high-character, intense work ethic, and willingness to help groom younger quarterbacks. After starting 13 games for the Jets in 2017, McCown put his ego aside and agreed to return to New York as a mentor for rookie Sam Darnold. Now, McCown will continue to put his football wisdom and knowledge to good use, either as a broadcaster or coach.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys To Release Luke McCown

The Cowboys will part ways with both of their veteran backups and hand the No. 2 quarterback job to an undrafted rookie. Dallas informed Luke McCown of its decision to release him, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

McCown only spent a month in Dallas, but he and Kellen Moore represented the veteran depth behind Dak Prescott. UDFA Cooper Rush is now in line to be the only other passer on the 53-man roster. Although, Rapoport notes the Cowboys want to sign Moore to their practice squad. Despite being 29, Moore has only played in three career games.

The 36-year-old McCown has played in 62 and started 10 since breaking into the league in 2004. He signed with the Cowboys in late July — on a $1MM base salary — after the Saints cut him in April. McCown will cost the Cowboys $250K in dead money.

Rush started for four seasons at Central Michigan, but it’s interesting the Cowboys will turn to him as their only active-roster quarterback behind Prescott.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys To Sign Luke McCown

The Cowboys have agreed to a one-year contract with quarterback Luke McCown, according to his agent, Mike McCartney (Twitter link).

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The season-ending surgery that Zac Dysert underwent earlier this week put the Cowboys in the market for another signal-caller, but it seemed they were searching for a developmental player. At 36, McCown certainly doesn’t qualify, but the Texas native will at least provide the club with an experienced option behind Dak Prescott and Kellen Moore. Before picking up McCown, Dallas was down to undrafted rookie Cooper Rush as its third option under center.

The brother of Jets starter Josh McCown, whom the Cowboys have courted in the past, Luke McCown entered the NFL as a fourth-round pick of the Browns in 2004. Since then, he has also spent time with the Buccaneers, Jaguars, Saints and Falcons. He has totaled 62 appearances and 10 starts, the most recent of which came with New Orleans in 2015. All told, McCown has completed 216 of 356 passes (60.7 percent), averaged 6.7 yards per attempt and thrown nine touchdowns against 15 interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Josh McCown Signs With Jets

Josh McCown agreed to a one-year deal to join the Jets, according to the quarterback’s agent, Mike McCartney (on Twitter). McCown visited the Jets for multiple days last weekend. The Jets confirmed the move.

It’s a $6MM fully guaranteed deal for McCown, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com tweets. That’s high-end backup money on the surface, but Breer adds another $7MM in incentives ($2MM in playing-time bonuses, $5MM in team-based bumps) could come his way. The team incentives aren’t likely to be earned, being associated with the playoffs and Super Bowl (per Breer, on Twitter), but McCown will receive $125K for each game in which he plays 50 percent of Gang Green’s snaps.

Until the parties finalized this agreement, Jay Cutler was slated to visit the Jets this week, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds a Jets/Cutler union is now off the table (Twitter link). The Jets reached out to both Cutler and McCown last week, but McCown was summoned for the initial visit. His asking price almost certainly wasn’t what Cutler’s is. The Jets paid Ryan Fitzpatrick $12MM last season after a lengthy impasse.

This agreement comes after the Jets brought in Chase Daniel for a visit today and have been linked throughout the offseason to Cutler. McCown profiles as a stopgap option, and it’s not a lock that this addition will stop the Jets from adding a younger veteran, but the team has two younger quarterbacks on the roster already in Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. McCown looks set to have a great chance to start during what will be his 16th season.

Also connected to the Cowboys this offseason, McCown visited Dallas just before the new league year started. But the Cowboys weren’t willing to pay their next backup this much money, per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter). The Cowboys reunited with Kellen Moore earlier today.

McCown has history with Jets quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, working under him for two years as Cutler’s backup in Chicago. The 37-year-old McCown’s enjoyed a unique career arc, having spent many NFL seasons as a backup. But a strong showing in relief of Cutler on the 2013 Bears led to multiple agreements to serve as a starter. This could well be a third such commitment from a team.

McCown served as the primary starter for the 2014 Buccaneers and 2015 Browns. After an injury-plagued 2016 season in Cleveland, the Browns cut him with one year remaining on his deal. While the teams McCown’s quarterbacked during his late-career time as a starter have not enjoyed much success — McCown is 2-20 as a starter over the past three seasons — he has had stretches to generate intrigue. McCown completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for a Browns team that didn’t have Josh Gordon in 2015, throwing for 12 touchdowns and four interceptions in eight starts. For the ’13 Bears, McCown shined, completing nearly 67 percent of his throws and tossing 13 TD passes compared to just one INT in five starts of Cutler relief.

He will turn 38 in July. A Sunday-night PFR poll resulted in readers tabbing a McCown/Jets union as far less likely than the team deploying Cutler come Week 1. That could still happen, but it would likely require the Jets to carry four quarterbacks. Although the Jets aren’t particularly sold yet on the long-term viability of Petty or Hackenberg, it might be a rash decision for either to be cut out of training camp.

The Jets were also linked to Mike Glennon this offseason, but his $15MM-per-year price tag induced them to bow out. Brian Hoyer also intrigued Gang Green, but the 49ers added him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets To Host Josh McCown

The Jets will meet with free agent quarterback Josh McCown on Friday and Saturday, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who reported earlier this week Gang Green had reached out to McCown.Josh McCown (vertical)

McCown is now entering his age-38 season and hasn’t been able to stay healthy in recent seasons, but he’d be able to give the Jets some level of competency at the quarterback position. Geno Smith, who may have been an option for New York, signed with the crosstown rival Giants earlier today. The Jets have also been linked to free agent Jay Cutler and a host of draft prospects as they seek to upgrade under center.

Appearing in five games (three starts) for the Browns in 2016, McCown completed 54.5% of his attempts for 1,100 yards, six touchdowns, and six interceptions. He’s also drawn interest from the Cowboys this offseason, and took a visit to Dallas earlier this month.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Josh McCown Visiting Cowboys

The Cowboys are looking into finding a backup quarterback for Dak Prescott. Of course, they already have a No. 2 QB, but he might not be around for much longer. The Cowboys are hosting Josh Mccown on a visit today, according to a source who spoke with Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Josh McCown

For a while now, there has been talk of mutual interest between Dallas and the veteran signal caller. McCown will turn 38 in July and he certainly has the experience to hold down the fort, if necessary, and also help to mentor Prescott. Unlike Tony Romo, he’s at a point in his career where it makes sense to take on a backup role for a winning club.

McCown made five appearances (three starts) with the Browns last year as he battled injuries. In that small sample, he completed 54.5% of his passes, averaged 6.7 yards per attempt, and threw six touchdowns against six picks. I have McCown listed as one of the ten best quarterbacks available in free agency this week.

Speaking of Romo, here’s the latest on him: He wants to join the Broncos, the Texans‘ front office is split on him, and the Chiefs are not among the clubs with interest.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Josh McCown On Cowboys’ Radar

THURSDAY, 7:01pm: The Browns likely want at least a third- or fourth-round pick for McCown, writes Cabot.

5:07pm: The Cowboys and Browns have discussed a McCown trade, but Cleveland has attached a high price to the veteran and prefers to keep him, according to ESPN’s Ed Werder (Twitter link). At the moment, the Cowboys are balking at the Browns’ price, adds Werder.

WEDNESDAY: As the Cowboys prepare to target a replacement for Kellen Moore behind Tony Romo, they’re considering Josh McCown, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Now connected to Nick Foles, whom Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones confirmed the team is in talks with, Dallas appears to be conducting a widespread search for a proven option behind Romo. A deal for the 37-year-old McCown would qualify but would cost the Cowboys at least a draft pick. The Browns, though, would probably be willing to part with him for the right price, Cabot writes.

A deal would make sense due to the rebuilding Browns’ most recent draft performance, which featured rampant collecting of picks, and the Cowboys cratering without Romo last season. A native of Jacksonville, Texas, McCown looms likely to see Robert Griffin III take Cleveland’s starting quarterback reins. Cleveland’s previous starter is set to make $4.375MM and 3.625MM the next two seasons after signing with the Browns last year.

McCown finished 14th in passer rating last season despite having one of the league’s worst skill-position arsenals at his disposal. Griffin’s strong start to training camp notwithstanding, the former No. 2 overall pick has a deserved injury-prone reputation, and the Browns would possess only Austin Davis and rookie Cody Kessler if they were to trade McCown.

The Cowboys’ hierarchy here is unknown, but considering Jones already mentioned him to the team’s website, Foles should be considered a frontrunner if the sides are in the same neighborhood, compensation-wise. Dallas finished 1-11 in games Romo didn’t start last season.

The Browns’ starter for eight games last season, McCown completed 63.7% of his passes and threw for 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. In 2014, however, he piloted the Buccaneers to a 1-10 record in his starts and saw the team cut him after one season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos To Consider Josh McCown

The Broncos’ brief look at Johnny Manziel won’t amount to anything, but Denver is keeping its eye on another quarterback who started games in Cleveland last season. According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, the Broncos will consider acquiring Josh McCown if they don’t ultimately land Colin Kaepernick from the 49ers.Josh McCown

McCown, who turns 37 in July, was arguably the Browns’ most effective signal-caller in 2015, despite the fact that the team lost seven of his eight starts. McCown tossed 12 touchdowns to just four interceptions, completing 63.7% of his passes and surpassing 2,100 yards passing in just half a season. His campaign was cut short by a broken collarbone.

Even with Manziel no longer in the mix though, McCown looks somewhat expendable in Cleveland. Robert Griffin III and Austin Davis are among the QBs currently on the roster, and the Browns are widely expected to use an early pick in this month’s draft to fortify the position. With the franchise in rebuilding mode, McCown, who has a $5MM+ cap hit for 2016 and remains under contract through 2017, doesn’t fit into the long-term plan.

For Denver, McCown wouldn’t necessarily represent a noticeable upgrade on the club’s in-house options of Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian, but he’s capable of starting, and would make for a reliable backup if he didn’t win the job. If the Broncos fail to acquire Kaepernick, they could attempt to land McCown in a deal similar to their trade for Sanchez, in which they surrendered only a conditional late-round draft pick.

The Broncos may prefer for the Browns to simply release McCown, since they could explore signing him on their own terms at that point. Still, the veteran’s salary on his current contract isn’t exorbitant — he would count for $4.375MM in cap space for any team that acquired him in a trade, with no guaranteed money beyond 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Josh McCown To Visit Browns

Since the Buccaneers released Josh McCown on February 11, the veteran quarterback has taken three know visits, meeting with the Bills, Bears, and Jets. The 35-year-old McCown left all those visits without a contract, and now he’ll take a meeting with another club that could be in the QB market. According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer (Twitter link), McCown will visit the Browns today and tomorrow.

The quarterback situation in Cleveland is just as — if not more — complicated than the ones in Buffalo, Chicago, and New York, as 2014 first-round pick Johnny Manziel is coming off a season during which he struggled mightily in limited opportunities, and then entered a rehab facility when the season concluded. Brian Hoyer, the Browns starter for the majority of the season, is a free agent, and it doesn’t appear as though the club has any serious interest in retaining him.

Along with Hoyer and Mark Sanchez, McCown sits atop what is an extremely weak free agent crop of quarterbacks, but he’d probably be the favorite to start if signed by the Browns. He’d have some familiarity with the Cleveland coaching staff — Browns offensive coordinator John DeFillipo was the QB coach in Oakland while McCown was there — which might give him a leg up on Manziel.

The Browns have also reportedly shown interest in acquiring Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, but Peter King of MMQB.com later wrote that Cleveland wouldn’t want to acquire Bradford without assurances that he’d stay beyond 2015.

Josh McCown Visited Bills

11:14am: McCown visited the Bills this morning, but left without signing a contract — in fact, the two sides didn’t even discuss specific contract terms, a league source tells Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News. Carucci also confirms that McCown has at least one more visit (and maybe two) on his schedule after leaving Buffalo.

8:22am: With time on his side, expect McCown to take at least one more visit following his meeting with the Bills, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

8:04am: The Buccaneers’ release of Josh McCown last week allowed the veteran quarterback to get a head start on the rest of this year’s free agent class, and McCown is taking advantage. According to Adam Schefter and Mike Rodak of ESPN.com (via Twitter), the former Bucs signal-caller is in Buffalo today, where he and the Bills are attempting to work out a deal.

While it’s possible that the Bills work something out with McCown, they’re not the only team on his radar. Rodak tweets that the 35-year-old also plans on making a few more visits to potential suitors in the coming days, though it’s not clear if the QB has a specific schedule set up yet.

As our Connor Byrne noted yesterday in his preview of the Bills’ offseason, addressing the quarterback position is a priority for new head coach Rex Ryan and the Buffalo front office this winter. After Kyle Orton announced his retirement at season’s end, EJ Manuel is the only QB currently on the roster who is under contract for the 2015 season. Without its first-round pick this year, the Bills are expected to turn to the free agent market to find someone to compete with Manuel — Mark Sanchez, who has some history with Ryan, is viewed as another potential target.

Of course, McCown has some history of his own with a new member of the Bills’ staff. Former Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer worked with McCown in Chicago during the best year of his career in 2013, and is now the offensive line coach in Buffalo.

Bucs Release Josh McCown

The Buccaneers’ quarterback situation for 2015 remains uncertain for now, but the team has decided to remove at least one veteran from the equation. According to Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com (via Twitter), the Bucs are releasing quarterback Josh McCown from their roster. The team has since confirmed the move, via a press release.Josh McCown

Coming off an excellent run in Chicago in which he threw 13 touchdowns and just one interception in relief of Jay Cutler in 2013, McCown inked a two-year, $10MM deal with the Bucs last offseason. Many observers viewed the contract warily, since McCown has been a backup for most of his NFL career, posting a 71.2 QB rating in 54 total games (33 starts) prior to ’13. McCown’s age-35 season, his lone year as Tampa Bay’s primary starter, didn’t go well — he won just one of 11 starts, throwing more INTs (14) than TDs (11), and completing just 56.3% of his passes.

McCown’s deal didn’t include a signing bonus, so the Buccaneers won’t be on the hook for any dead money in 2015 — the club creates $5.25MM in cap savings by clearing the veteran’s entire base salary from its books. It’s also possible that McCown won’t be the last QB the Bucs part ways with this offseason. Mike Glennon and Seth Lobato remain on the roster, and Glennon has been cited frequently as a potential trade candidate. Given how weak this year’s market is for signal-callers – both in free agency and in the draft – Glennon could potentially net Tampa Bay a mid-round draft pick.

While there aren’t many long-term quarterback solutions expected to be available in the draft, there are two solid options at the top of the class, and the Bucs, armed with the No. 1 overall pick, will have their choice of either Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota. A report earlier today suggested that head coach Lovie Smith prefers Winston, though with the combine, pro days, and individual interviews still on tap, plenty could change between now and April 30.

As for McCown, he re-enters the quarterback market a year after signing the largest deal at his position. The free agent market for quarterbacks, which I examined on Monday, looks just as weak this winter as it did in 2014. Teams may prefer players like Brian Hoyer and Mark Sanchez to McCown, but the former third-round pick should be among the top options on the board.

One potentially intriguing destination for McCown could be Baltimore. He wouldn’t have the opportunity to compete for a starting job with Joe Flacco locked in as the starter, but the Ravens could be in the market for a backup with Tyrod Taylor facing free agency, and Baltimore’s new offensive coordinator is Marc Trestman, who got the most out of McCown in Chicago. Of course, given the number of teams that figure to seek a veteran to compete for a No. 1 role, and the lack of top-notch options available, McCown may prefer an opportunity that could lead to more playing time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Sign Josh McCown

1:28pm: McCown’s deal also includes incentives that could push the deal to $15MM, tweets Alex Marvez of FOX Sports 1. The deal is similar to the one Chad Henne struck with the Jaguars.

1:16pm: The Buccaneers have signed Josh McCown to a two-year deal, tweets agent Mike McCartney. McCown broke out last season when he got the opportunity to start in place of Jay Cutler. McCown will get $10MM over two years under the deal with $4.75MM coming this year and $5.25MM next year, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (on Twitter).

We heard earlier today that the Bucs were pushing to land the veteran quarterback. While McCown may not have the full career resume of other free agent quarterbacks like Michael Vick, he had the best 2013 of any free agent signal caller. The 34-year-old also had visits scheduled with the Texans and Jets this week, but he’ll be skipping those flights. McCown previously said that he’d only leave the Bears for an opportunity to lead his own team and it appears that he got that with his deal in Tampa Bay.

If I leave Chicago, if that’s the case, [a starting job] is the opportunity I’m looking for,” McCown said. “And once those opportunities come, what’s the coaching staff? What are the players there in place?…. To leave Chicago, it would be a situation where I’m looking to be able to compete to start or grow more as a player. The only way you can do that as a player is on the field.

After a journeyman career, McCown found his footing in Chicago over the course of five starts and eight games in total. McCown, who was thrust into the starting role after Cutler was lost to injury, ended the 2013 season completing 66.8 of his passes for 1,829 yards with 13 touchdowns, one interception and a 109.0 passer rating, the third highest behind Peyton Manning and Nick Foles. Over the course of his career, McCown has spent time with the Cardinals, Lions, Raiders, Panthers, and Bears, making a total of 38 starts under center. In his five games starting for Chicago this year, McCown filled in admirably with the Bears going 3-2.

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