Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Patriots To Release Austin Seferian-Jenkins

The Patriots will release tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). ASJ plans to step away from football for a month for personal issues, Rapoport hears, and it remains to be seen whether he’ll circle back to the Patriots. 

[RELATED: Rob Gronkowski Shoots Down Comeback Talk]

Seferian-Jenkins is no stranger to off-the-field hiccups. Substance abuse issues sidetracked him in Tampa, leading him to the Jets, where he enjoyed a productive season in 2017. Last year, he parlayed that success into a two-year, $10MM deal with the Jaguars, but that deal was terminated after he suited up for just five games.

ASJ seemed prime for another comeback with the Rob Gronkowski-less Patriots, but his personal problems have put him in a holding pattern for now. Without the former second-round pick, the Pats will move forward with tight ends Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo, Stephen Anderson, and Andrew Beck. Watson, of course, will miss the first four games of the season due to his PED suspension.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Benjamin Watson’s Suspension

Ben Watson recently joined the Patriots, but the veteran tight end won’t be suiting up for the team until Week 5. We learned yesterday that the 38-year-old will be suspended for the first four games of the 2019 season.

In a Facebook post, Watson explained that he thought he was retiring for good after the 2018 season, so he wasn’t quite as careful with his treatment. He was given Bio Identical Testosterone Cypionate by a doctor, which is banned by the league. Only after he made the decision to return to the NFL did he realize the implications, and he ended up failing a drug test.

Some additional notes and opinions have emerged over the past 24 hours pertaining to Watson’s suspension, which we’ve collected below:

  • While Watson is set to miss four games, he still has a good chance of meeting his incentives. As Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com points out, Watson’s deal with the Patriots includes $650K in incentives: $250K if he appears in 35-percent of the team’s offensive snaps and another $400K if he appears in 45-percent of the snaps. Florio calculates that Watson will need to “get roughly 66 percent of the snaps in the remaining games of the year to earn the full incentive.”
  • Albert Breer of SI.com believes the Patriots could still be in the hunt for more tight end depth. The writer cites the organization’s handling of their 2006 receiver corps; among the three (yes, three) active New England receivers in the AFC title game, one (Jabar Gaffney) didn’t join the team until October. Breer notes that this “a sign of how the Patriots can bring guys along and how they adjust.”
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes that Watson’s suspension should strengthen Austin Seferian-Jenkins‘ chances of making the roster. The 26-year-old, who signed a one-year deal with the Patriots back in April, had 11 receptions in five games for the Jaguars last season. Meanwhile, Volin believes that fellow free agent addition Matt LaCosse likely has a roster spot locked up, while the team could also lean on some of their young options (including Ryan Izzo, Stephen Anderson, and Andrew Beck).
  • Volin also opines that the suspension could be a blessing in disguise for Watson. While the veteran hasn’t missed a regular season game since 2013, he’s still 38-years-old. The four-game absence could prove to be especially helpful come playoff time, with Volin pointing to previous performances from Tom Brady (2016) and Julian Edelman (2018).

Contract Details: Gostkowski, Chung, Jets

A look at the details on recent deals from around the NFL:

  • Stephen Gostkowski, K (Patriots): Two years, $8.5MM (original story). $4.25MM each year, with cap numbers of $3.05MM (2019) and $5.45MM (2020). Twitter link via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.
  • Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE (Patriots): One year. Worth $895K, only guarantee via $50K signing bonus. Veteran minimum salary of $805K with $40K in per-game roster bonuses. Cap number of $707K. Twitter link via Volin.
  • Patrick Chung, S (Patriots): One-year extension. New “three-year” contract worth $12.9MM, with $6MM in new money. $4MM signing bonus. New 2019 cap number increases to $4.48MM. Twitter link via Albert Breer of TheMMQB and ESPN’s Mike Reiss.
  • Ty Montgomery, WR/RB (Jets): One year. Minimum deal with $90K signing bonus/roster bonus. Twitter link via Manish Mehta of NYDN.

Patriots To Sign TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins

The Patriots have agreed to sign tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins to a one-year deal, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.com. 

The pact is worth the veteran minimum salary, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), who adds ASJ chose New England over the Seahawks. Seferian-Jenkins received a $50K signing bonus and can earn another $40K in additional bonuses, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com.

New England is facing the overwhelming task of replacing All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, who retired late last month. Seferian-Jenkins, clearly, isn’t Gronk, but he’ll give the Patriots another option on a tight end depth chart that also includes Jacob Hollister, Stephen Anderson, Ryan Izzo, and free agent addition Matt LaCosse.

A former second-round pick, Seferian-Jenkins floundered until joining the Jets midway through the 2016 campaign. In 2017, ASJ started 10 games for New York, posting 50 receptions for 357 yards (both career-highs) and three touchdowns. That performance earned him a two-year $10MM deal with the Jaguars.

Seferian-Jenkins’ season with Jacksonville wasn’t a success, as he appeared in only five games before landing on injured reserve. ASJ posted only 11 total receptions and ranked as one of the NFL’s least efficient tight ends, per Football Outsiders. On the positive side, Pro Football Focus did grade Seferian-Jenkins as a top-11 run-blocker at his position.

Given the low level of the Patriots’ contractual commitment, signing Seferian-Jenkins shouldn’t rule out another tight end addition in New England. Several draft prospects — including Iowa’s Noah Fant and Alabama’s Irv Smith Jr. — have been popularly mocked to the Patriots.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Decline ASJ’s Option

Nearly a month after Austin Seferian-Jenkins bid farewell to the Jaguars, the team announced the tight end’s Jacksonville stay will indeed be limited to one year.

The Jaguars declined the $4MM 2019 option on Seferian-Jenkins’ contract. He will become a free agent when the new league year opens March 13. This move will save the Jags $4.3MM. The Jags had until 11pm Monday to make these decisions.

One of Jacksonville’s high-priced defensive linemen will be staying, however. The Jags picked up Calais Campbell‘s $3MM 2019 option. Campbell is on the Jags’ books at $14.5MM this coming season.

ASJ signed a two-year, $10MM deal with the Jaguars in 2018. He did not contribute much on a woeful offense, heading to IR after five games. After somewhat of a bounce-back season with the Jets, Seferian-Jenkins posted just 90 receiving yards last season. He will head to free agency without much momentum. The former second-round pick is still just 26, however, and should receive another opportunity on a light tight end market.

While Campbell will be part of the 2019 Jaguars, it is not certain two of his defensive line mates — Malik Jackson and Marcell Dareus — will join him. His playing time having diminished last season, Jackson said he expects to be released. A Dareus cut would save the Jags nearly $11MM, while jettisoning Jackson would bring exactly $11MM in savings for a Jags team that, even after the ASJ move, remains over the projected salary cap.

Jacksonville also exercised $750K options for defensive end Lerentee McCray and safety Cody Davis.

ASJ Bids Farewell To Jaguars

UPDATE, 3:32pm CT: Hold the phone. The Jaguars have not made any decisions regarding ASJ’s option, per the team’s PR director (on Twitter):

The club has until Feb. 19 to make a decision on his 2019 option, which would be the 2nd season of a two-year deal. The team HAS NOT made a decision on his 2019 option. Any reports to the contrary are false.”

3:30pm CT: Austin Seferian-Jenkins will not be returning to Jacksonville. On Thursday, the tight end took to Twitter to bid farewell to his teammates and fans. 

Appreciate the time Jax! It wasn’t what we wanted! But I’m happy y’all supported me and my teammates! Next chapter,” Jenkins wrote.

ASJ joined the Jags on a two-year, $10MM contract last offseason worth $10MM. Like many NFL deals, the contract wasn’t exactly a true $10MM deal. The Jags held a $500K team option bonus for ’19 that had to be exercised in the spring. Instead, they’ll let him go and explore the open market.

Seferian-Jenkins’ lone year in Jacksonville wasn’t a success. He appeared in only five games and finished out with 11 catches for 90 yards and one touchdown.

For all of his warts, his potential should lead him to work next season, even if it’s not on a big money contract. The former second-round pick won’t turn 27 until September and he flashed potential in 2017 as he caught 50 balls for 357 yards and three TDs with the Jets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Place Austin Seferian-Jenkins On IR

The Jaguars have placed Austin Seferian-Jenkins on injured reserve, coach Doug Marrone announced. Marrone added that the tight end could return later this season, however. 

The Jaguars inked Seferian-Jenkins to a two-year, $10MM deal in the offseason. The former Bucs second-round pick had a bounce-back season with the Jets last year, hauling in 50 passes for 357 yards and three touchdowns (he easily could have had two more TDs, if not for a pair of controversial reversals).

Through five games this year, ASJ has been fairly quiet with just 11 catches for 90 yards and one score. Before the ill-fated game against the Chiefs, he was targeted just 19 times through four contests.

Niles Paul did an excellent job of picking up the slack after ASJ’s exit and finished the game with seven passes on nine targets for 65 yards. Paul figures to be a key part of the offense for at least the next two months, and you can expect to see an uptick in usage for James O’Shaughnessy as well. The Jaguars will have to add a third tight end this week, and that could prompt them to promote 6’5″ North Carolina State product David Grinnage from the practice squad.

Marrone also confirmed that running back Corey Grant will be placed on IR. Unfortunately, his Lisfranc injury means that he will not be able to play again in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Bryant, Bell, Cards, ASJ, Harris

Perhaps a “stop us if you’ve heard this before” tagline is appropriate, but Dez Bryant said he intends to sign with a team soon. The former Cowboys wide receiver tweeted “soon” in response to a question about when he planned to end his stay in free agency. This is obviously not the first, second or third time Bryant has discussed his employment plans or hopes, but it’s the latest. Sunday will mark the fourth set of games elapsed without Bryant on a roster. He will turn 30 this season and will be tasked with learning a new offense quickly. It’s not a great situation for the Pro Bowler as October approaches.

Week 4 Sunday is nearly upon us. Here’s what’s going on around the league leading up to it:

  • Another year’s bringing uncertainty opposite Patrick Peterson in Arizona. The Cardinals have struggled for several seasons to fill their No. 2 cornerback job, and the player they acquired to be the latest solution is now in a competition with Bene Benwikere. The Cards benched Jamar Taylor in Week 3 and now have he and Benwikere competing for the other starting job, Bob McManamon of the Arizona Republic notes. These two follow the likes of Brandon Williams and Justin Bethel in the Cardinals’ continuous search to find a reliable starter opposite Peterson. While both players will still play against the Seahawks, per Steve Wilks, this being a competition again is notable given the team’s recent history here.
  • The Jets offered Austin Seferian-Jenkins $8MM over two years, but he chose to depart for Jacksonville for a two-year, $10MM agreement. Nevertheless, Todd Bowles doesn’t begrudge his former tight end for departing for a bit more cash. “Nothing personal,” Bowles said, via John Rowe of NorthJersey.com. “The timing wasn’t right. He got away and that’s just part of free agency every year. We lose some and we keep some. But the guys have done a good job filling in right now.” Eric Tomlinson leads Jets tight ends with three receptions for 45 yards. Seferian-Jenkins’ 50-reception season was the most among Gang Green tight ends since Dustin Keller caught 65 passes for 815 yards in 2011. ASJ, though, only turned his 50 grabs into 357 yards. The new Jags pass-catcher has nine receptions for 66 yards entering Week 4.
  • Gang Green resides as a possible landing spot for Le’Veon Bell, in the view of ESPN’s Josina Anderson (Instagram link). She lists the Jets, Eagles and Packers as being possible fits for the disgruntled running back. The Jets lead this trio with $16MM-plus in cap space. The Eagles hold less than $5MM. Bell is attached to a $10MM-plus prorated version of his franchise tag salary.
  • The Broncos have not found a replacement for Aqib Talib, and Bradley Roby is struggling going into a key game against the Chiefs. This has left Denver’s once-vaunted secondary in trouble, and it continues to force Chris Harris — arguably this decade’s premier slot defender — to play the slot on passing downs. “I like being on the outside because that’s where I can get more picks,’’ Harris said, via 9News’ Mike Klis. “I can read the quarterback more; I can use my coverage skills a lot more. I just think I can make more plays. In the slot, I’m always with my back to the quarterback; I’m man to man most of the time; I can’t see where the ball’s going. So, it’s hard to make those plays.” Late last season, the All-Pro corner expressed a desire to be used on the outside in more than just base sets, but that hasn’t come to pass this season. Denver, which has vacillated between using Adam Jones and Tramaine Brock as its No. 3 corner, ranks 21st against the pass through three games. The team hasn’t finished outside the top five in aerial deterrence in five seasons.

Contract Details: A. Smith, Pugh, Curry, ASJ

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently signed NFL contracts:

AFC

  • Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE (Jaguars): Two years, $10MM. $4MM guaranteed. $3.21MM signing bonus. $500K 2019 option bonus. $500K annually available via catch, playoff, and touchdown incentives (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Adrian Clayborn, DE (Patriots): Two years, $10MM. $5.5MM guaranteed. $4MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe).
  • Albert Wilson, WR (Dolphins): Three years, $24MMM. $14.45MM guaranteed. $4.5MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Marcus Gilchrist, S (Raiders): One year, $4MM. $3.85MM guaranteed. $1.85MM signing bonus. $1MM available via playtime, interceptions, and Pro Bowl incentives (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Tramaine Brock, CB (Broncos): One year, $3MM. Fully guaranteed. $1MM signing bonus. $1MM available via playtime incentives (Twitter link via Mike Klis of 9News).
  • Seantrel Henderson, T (Texans): One year, $4MM. $1MM guaranteed. $500K signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).

NFC

  • Alex Smith, QB (Redskins): Four years, $94MM. $55MM guaranteed. $27MM signing bonus (Twitter links via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com and Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com).
  • Justin Pugh, OL (Cardinals): Five years, $45.025MM. $15.75MM guaranteed. $10MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle).
  • Vinny Curry, DE (Buccaneers): Three years, $23MM. $6.5MM guaranteed (Twitter link via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times).
  • Zach Brown, LB (Redskins): Three years, $21MM. $10MM guaranteed. $4.5MM signing bonus. $1MM annually available in Pro Bowl, All-Pro incentives (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Ed Dickson, TE (Seahawks): Three years, $10.7MM. $3.6MM guaranteed. $2.6MM signing bonus. $1.1MM annually available via catch, yards, and Pro Bowl incentive (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Aaron Lynch, LB/DE (Bears): One year, $4MM. $1.25MM guaranteed. $1MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).

Jaguars To Sign Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Austin Seferian-Jenkins has a new home. The tight end will sign with the Jaguars, according to Dianna Russini of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

This will be a two-year agreement worth $10MM, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). A $1MM incentive package also appears to be included in the deal.

Seferian-Jenkins, a former second-round pick of the Bucs, never lived up to his potential with Tampa Bay. After bouncing back from substance abuse issues, he put together a productive season with the Jets, catching 50 passes for 357 yards and three touchdowns. Two more TDs were overturned on controversial reversals.

ASJ was seeking a slightly more lucrative deal and also met with the Seahawks. But he didn’t make that trip and will add to the reigning AFC South champions’ retooled pass-catcher stable. The Jaguars lost Allen Robinson but added Donte Moncrief. He and Seferian-Jenkins now look to serve as complementary targets for Blake Bortles.

This didn’t cost nearly as much as the most recent notable Jaguars free agent tight end signing. Julius Thomas signed a five-year, $46MM deal in 2015, but that didn’t end up working out. ASJ has not produced what Thomas did in Denver but never enjoyed those kind of favorable circumstances, either. And, as was the case when Thomas signed, Marcedes Lewis is still on the team.

Seferian-Jenkins is only 25, however, and if last season was a brief indication could have some upside. Although, the two-year agreement is likely, to some degree, indicative of his checkered past.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.