Antonio Garcia

AFC East Notes: Garcia, Jets, Osweiler, Bills

Last offseason, Patriots third-round offensive lineman Antonio Garcia was expected to play a role for the 2017 squad. A year later, the Troy product is rostered by one of New England’s division rivals, the Jets.

Garcia ended up missing his entire rookie campaign after blood clots were found in his lungs. The Patriots ultimately cut the lineman earlier this offseason, and he quickly caught on with the New York, where he’s been taking backup left tackle snaps during OTAs. The 24-year-old denied reports claiming he had lost nearly 40 pounds, and he didn’t sound particularly surprised by the Patriots’ decision to let him go.

“I just wasn’t cleared medically in New England. So, it is what it is,” Garcia told Manish Mehta of The New York Daily News. “I think they knew I was a good player.”

After learning of his diagnosis shortly before training camp was set to begin, Garcia admitted that the entire ordeal caught him off guard.

“It was definitely unexpected,” Garcia said. “It’s never happened ever in my life. How did I react to it? I was caught off-guard. But I had no choice but to accept it and try to improve every day.”

Let’s take a look at other notes out of the AFC East…

  • As Brock Osweiler competes with David Fales and Bryce Petty to be the Dolphins backup quarterback, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald says the veteran needs to improve his accuracy if he has any hope of making the team. However, while Osweiler doesn’t seem to be the favorite for the gig, it sounds like he has the support of the coaching staff. “What Brock has is unbelievable command of the offense,” said offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. “He was in it. He got to learn from the best in the game — No. 18 [Peyton Manning] — and when you watch his huddle etiquette, his line of scrimmage procedure etiquette, he does an outstanding job there.”
  • Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News wonders if wideout Brandon Reilly could end up making the Bills. The former undrafted free agent spent most of the 2017 season on Buffalo’s practice squad, but a shallow receiver depth chart means he could earn a promotion in 2018. Skurski notes that Kelvin Benjamin is really the only wideout with a guaranteed roster spot, although he assumes Zay Jones and Jeremy Kerley will make the team. Otherwise, Reilly could realistically beat out any of the other receivers sitting on the roster.
  • Rumors were flying around Twitter and New England yesterday regarding a potential Rob Gronkowski trade. Those rumblings ultimately proved to be unfounded, with one Patriots reporter saying there was “zero truth” to any of the reports.

Jets Claim T Antonio Garcia Off Waivers

The Jets will take a flier on a recently waived Patriot. Second-year tackle Antonio Garcia will have a chance with the Jets after the team plucked him from the waiver wire, Field Yates of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

A 2017 third-round pick, Garcia did not play as a rookie and saw the Patriots revamp their tackle situation during the most recent draft weekend.

The Patriots waived Garcia with a non-football injury designation. The former Troy standout had blood clots in his lungs, causing him to miss last season. He spent it on the Patriots’ non-football illness list. Although New England lost Nate Solder in free agency, Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown are now in the picture. And Garcia will head to the Jets, who also gave Kony Ealy a shot last year after the Pats cut him.

Shipping three draft choices to the Colts for the right to select Sam Darnold, the Jets did not address their tackle situation with outside help in the draft or in free agency. Kelvin Beachum started all 16 games for the Jets at left tackle last season, and Brandon Shell started 12 at right tackle. Both were top-45 tackles last season, per Pro Football Focus. The Jets re-signed Ben Ijalana as well, and Garcia is now in this mix.

Patriots To Cut T Antonio Garcia

Once viewed as a possible heir apparent to Nate Solder at left tackle, Antonio Garcia will be headed to the waiver wire without playing a down as a Patriot.

New England plans to cut the second-year tackle with a non-football injury designation, Field Yates of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Blood-clot issues kept Garcia off the field as a rookie.

The Patriots traded up to take Garcia with the No. 85 overall pick last year. But the Troy product not being able to see the field as a rookie clouded his status, and the New England tackle corps looks different than it did before draft weekend. The defending AFC champions selected Isaiah Wynn in the first round this year and subsequently traded for 49ers starter Trent Brown.

They re-signed LaAdrian Waddle and have Marcus Cannon returning from injury, but there is less clarity beyond Wynn at left tackle. Garcia started for 3 1/2 years at left tackle for the Trojans. He didn’t allow a sack as a senior and became a Day 2 prospect.

AFC Notes: Clowney, Darnold, Patriots

The Texans are hoping to work out a long-term extension with star LB/DE Jadeveon Clowney this offseason, and the former No. 1 overall selection has expressed his desire to remain in Houston, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Clowney, a two-time Pro Bowler, said, “I want to be [in Houston] forever. It would be great, something I always dreamed of. I don’t want to leave this team. I’ve been here since the beginning. I want to stay here. I want to finish my career here, so I’m looking forward to that. Hopefully, they lock me in.”

As Wilson notes, a new contract for Clowney could make him the highest-paid non-quarterback in the league, a mantle currently held by Denver’s Von Miller and his six-year, $114MM ($70MM guaranteed) deal. The Texans would like to get something done prior to the season, or even prior to training camp.

Now for more notes and rumors from around the AFC:

  • Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union offers his thoughts on a number of Jaguars-related items. For instance, he believes that, the longer Jacksonville is without a No. 2 QB, the likelier it is that the team uses a fairly high draft pick on a signal-caller. He also says the Jags need another versatile TE to continue running their grind-it-out offense, and he wonders if the fact that the team put a second-round tender on Corey Grant — which Grant signed several days ago — means that Grant will have a bigger role in the offense in 2018.
  • We already heard that top QB prospect Sam Darnold looked very good at USC’s recent pro day, and per Albert Breer of SI.com, Darnold himself said he is “trying to go to Cleveland” (meaning, of course, that he wants to be the No. 1 overall selection). Indeed, one AFC executive who attended the pro day told Breer, “Everyone out there today saw the Browns’ franchise quarterback.” Breer adds that post-combine buzz has pointed towards a Darnold-Cleveland marriage.
  • The Bengals may appear to be out of the running for the top safeties still on the free agent market — players like Kenny Vaccaro and Eric Reid — but Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer believes that the club is still monitoring those and other players to see if their price drops enough to make a move.
  • Patriots safety Duron Harmon, who was denied entry into Costa Rica after attempting to bring marijuana into the country — and who was briefly detained before being sent back to the United States — issued an apology for his actions via Instagram. Harmon is not expected to be released, though he could be entered into the league’s drug program and face a suspension from the league or the team. It is unclear at this point if he will face any criminal charges.
  • Now that the Patriots have lost Nate Solder and Cameron Fleming, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com looks at the battle for the Patriots’ starting left tackle position. The newly-resigned LaAdrian Waddle could be a factor, as could 2017 third-rounder Antonio Garcia. Garcia missed his rookie season due to blood clots in his lung, and while he has been cleared to play, he has lost a lot of weight and has a lot of ground to make up. Reiss says 2017 UDFA Cole Croston is an ascending player and could be a realistic candidate for the LT job.

Extra Points: Seahawks, Vikings, Lions, Pats

Free agent offensive tackle Branden Albert is still in the Seattle area after working out for the Seahawks on Monday, reports Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (Twitter link). Albert, 32, had reportedly been set to meet with the Giants at some point this week, but as of last night, he hadn’t yet left for New York. Whether that means he’s close to a contract with the Seahawks is unclear, but Albert would almost certainly be an improvement over Seattle blindside protector Rees Odhiambo, who currently ranks as the worst tackle in the league, per Pro Football Focus. The Giants, too, could use help along the offensive line, as Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart have posted below-average results through five games. Albert, of course, had an eventful offseason that included a “retirement” after being traded from the Dolphins to the Jaguars.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • The Vikings should offer an extension to backup quarterback Case Keenum, opines Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Keenum has been called on to appear in four games (three starts) in relief of Sam Bradford, who is still dealing with knee complications. He’s performed well, completing 64.5% of his passes for four touchdowns and zero interceptions, but his contract — like those of Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater — expires after the 2017 season. An extension would allow Minnesota to lock in a quality reserve for another year or two, while giving Keenum more cash and the possibility of competing for a starting job in 2018. Bradford has already been ruled out for Sunday’s contest against the Packers, so Keenum will earn a fourth start.
  • Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata will require a four-month recovery period after undergoing surgery on a torn bicep Thursday, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). As had already been reported, Ngata won’t be able to return to the Lions this season, but that injury timeline means he should be fully healthy by the time free agency opens in 2018. Ngata isn’t under contract for next year, and the soon-to-be 34-year-old interior defender has flirted with retirement in the past. It’s unclear whether he intends to continue his career for another season.
  • Given his lengthy injury history, it would be “shocking” to see Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert garner a long-term contract like Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, or Jordan Reed, all of whom earn more than $8.5MM annually, opines Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). Eifert, who was placed on injured reserve on Thursday, has only appeared in 39 games over four-plus seasons in the NFL. While his talent is immense (13 touchdowns in 2015), Eifert simply can’t stay on the field, a fact which makes the franchise tag — at a cost north of $10MM — an unlikely option for Cincinnati in 2018. Instead, a one-year, “prove-it” deal for the 27-year-old pass-catcher could conceivably make more sense for both sides.
  • The Patriots currently have three rookies on the various NFL reserve lists, but only one will be able to return in 2017, as Doug Kyed of NESN tweets. Offensive lineman Andrew Jelks, an undrafted free agent out of Vanderbilt who is currently on the non-football injury list, can come back under PUP rules, meaning he must miss six weeks of the season. After that, New England has a five-week window during which it can activate Jelks. Tackle Antonio Garcia, a third-rounder from Troy who’s on the non-football illness list, and defensive lineman Keionta Davis, a UDFA on non-football injury, aren’t eligible to return this season, per Kyed.

Draft Pick Signings: 6/5/17

Today’s draft pick signings:

  • Third-round pick Kareem Hunt signed his rookie deal with the Chiefs. This comes three days after Kansas City cut Jeremy Maclin, a surprising move but one that freed up additional funds for the team to sign its highest draft picks. First- and second-round selections Patrick Mahomes and Tanoh Kpassagnon remain unsigned. Hunt could compete for time quickly in a Chiefs offense that could be more run-oriented after Maclin’s release. After releasing Jamaal Charles, Kansas City still has starter Spencer Ware and backup Charcandrick West back. But Hunt (1,475 rushing yards as a senior; 8.0 yards per carry and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore) figures to factor in.
  • Continuing the third-round theme, the Patriots and tackle Antonio Garcia agreed to terms on his four-year rookie accord. The Troy product looks to be a backup behind Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon as a rookie, but with Solder’s contract expiring after 2017, the Patriots likely will use this season to evaluate if Garcia could be a possible heir apparent. New England chose Solder in the first round a year before Matt Light retired. The team still has Cameron Fleming and used a sixth-round pick on tackle Conor McDermott.
  • More third-round negotiation conclusions: No. 72 overall pick Taywan Taylor, a wide receiver out of Western Kentucky, signed his Titans deal. Only Corey Davis is unsigned out of Tennessee’s nine draft picks. The lesser known of the Titans’ two low-major wideout rookies, Taylor recorded 17 touchdown receptions in each of his final two years with the Hilltoppers. Taylor’s 1,730 air yards last season ranked third in Division I-FBS, and his 17 TD grabs were third also. Davis’ 19 tied for first, so the Titans will have two stat-stuffing pass-catchers in the fold this season.

Patriots Acquire 85th Selection From Lions

The Patriots have acquired the 85th pick in the draft from the Lions, tweets Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. New England has given up the 96th and 124th picks, per Field Yates of ESPN (on Twitter), and will select Troy offensive lineman Antonio Garcia.

The 23-year-old Garcia was a stalwart at left tackle with Troy, but if he remains a bookend in the pros, he could have trouble getting on the field for the time being. The Patriots are all set at both tackle spots with Nate Solder protecting Tom Brady‘s blindside and Marcus Cannon manning the right. Solder is entering a contract year, though, so Garcia could be in position to step into the starting lineup in 2018.

Moving up for Garcia gave the Pats two of the three picks from 83 to 85. With the 83rd selection, they chose Youngstown State defensive end Derek Rivers.

Draft Notes: Mixon, Tight Ends, Giants

A pair of notable college players will not be showcasing their talents at the NFL scouting combine. ESPN.com’s Adam Caplan reports that Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon and Baylor wide receiver Ishmael Zamora were not invited to the event.

Both players have had their share of issues. Mixon was suspended for the entire 2014 season after having punched a woman, while Zamora was suspended three games this past season after videos emerged of him beating his dog. The ESPN report indicates that it’s uncertain whether these “off-the-field troubles were factors in their omission” from the combine.

The Sooners running back finished the 2016 campaign with 1,274 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns on only 187 carries. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. believes Mixon is among the top-five most-talented running backs in this year’s class (behind Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, D’Onta Foreman and Christian McCaffrey). Meanwhile, Zamora appeared in 10 games this past season, compiling 63 catches for 809 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Let’s take a look at some more draft notes…

  • A trio of University of Washington defensive backs are garnering plenty of interest from NFL teams. Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com writes that Budda Baker, Sidney Jones and Kevin King have been intriguing front offices. Jones is generally regarded to be one of the top cornerbacks in the draft, while Baker is projected to be taken outside of the first round.
  • USC wideout Adoree Jackson is a “lock” to be a first-round pick, writes Pauline. His teammate, offensive tackle Zach Banner, is projected to be drafted in the fourth round.
  • While many scouts believe Alabama’s O.J. Howard is the best tight end in the class, Pauline writes that South Alabama’s Gerald Everett isn’t far behind. The talented playmaker impressed coaches at the Senior Bowl, and Pauline notes that he’s currently the top tight end on the Giants‘ draft board.
  • One prospect who didn’t look good during the Senior Bowl was Troy offensive tackle Antonio Garcia, with one scout comparing him to “a deer in headlights.” Pauline notes that the lineman looked unsure of himself during team practices.

Pauline’s Latest: Gators, Ramczyk, Garcia

A year after seeing Vernon Hargreaves III warrant early selection in the first round, Florida could see two of its corners go off the draft board during the Thursday-night portion of this year’s broadcast. But the corner most have going first isn’t necessarily the one NFL scouts have with the highest ceiling, DraftAnalyst.com’s Tony Pauline reports.

Jalen Tabor is projected to go in the first round, but Quincy Wilson is drawing praise for his blend of size and ball skills, per Pauline, who adds that many in scouting community believe Wilson is the most underrated cornerback in the country. Those scouts believe he could be the second Gator corner selected in the first round next year.

The 6-foot-1 junior intercepted three passes this season and now has six in his career. Like the 6-foot Tabor (three INTs, eight in his three-year Gators run), Wilson is expected to forego his senior season and declare for the 2017 draft.

Here’s more from the draft expert as bowl season heats up.

  • Projected as a first-round pick, junior Wisconsin tackle Ryan Ramczyk has seen an injury affect his potential NFL path. The former Division III transfer will meet with doctors after the season to discuss options for a hip labrum issue with which he’s dealing. Pauline reports the talented edge blocker — whom ESPN.com’s Todd McShay ranks as his No. 21 overall prospect for this draft — will give strong consideration to entering the draft if it’s determined he will heal by the minicamp portion of the NFL offseason.
  • Boston College pass-rusher Harold Landry put together a monster season with 16.5 sacks — 13 more than his two previous years combined — and teammates expect the junior to declare for the draft, Pauline notes. He has Landry graded as a Day 2 selection.
  • Troy has not seen one of its players drafted since 2012, when the Falcons took defensive back Jonathan Massaquoi in the sixth round. But Pauline expects Trojans tackle Antonio Garcia to halt that drought at five years and be a surefire second-day draft choice. His Dollar General Bowl performance gave scouts the impression the 6-foot-7 senior could rise as high as Round 1 with a solid Senior Bowl showing. Troy has not seen a player go in the first round since Leodis McKelvin in 2008.
  • BYU moved Harvey Langi from defensive end to middle linebacker in advance of the Cougars’ bowl game, and the senior racked up a game-high 16 tackles in the team’s 24-21 win over Wyoming in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. Pauline notes the position change could trigger a late invite to the Senior Bowl, and Langi could rise to a middle-round selection with quality pre-draft workouts. He finished his final season in Provo, Utah, with just two sacks as an edge defender.

Draft Notes: Mixon, Trubisky, Fournette

Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon was/is thinking about entering the 2017 draft, but since the video of him striking a woman has been released, GMs around the league have told people close to him that he won’t get drafted, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com writes. Beyond that, they say there’s even a chance he won’t be signed as a free agent and he may not even get a combine invite if he declares. At this point, Pauline says he should return to OU – if that’s even an option for him.

Just two weeks ago, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report heard that teams were “softening” on Mixon and the first round was still in reach for him. Apparently, teams are changing their tune after viewing the video.

Here’s a look at the latest draft news:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.