Brian Winters

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Tua, Fitz, Jets

Ryan Fitzpatrick is “really excited” to have Tua Tagovailoa in the Dolphins‘ locker room, as Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes. He gushed about the Alabama product in a chat with former Bills teammate Eric Woods, though he’s not quite ready to pass the torch as the team’s starting quarterback.

I also want to be out there playing,” Fitzpatrick said. “I also want to be on the field. And that’s why I’m still doing it, because I still enjoy playing the gameHopefully some of the lessons I’m able to teach him are from him watching me play. But if it’s the other way around, I’m going to do my best to help him succeed in the best way he can.”

Ultimately, the Dolphins will do what’s best for business, but Fitzpatrick may have a leg up on the rookie, thanks to his relationship with new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.

Chan and I have worked together for three years … He’s the guy who has given me the longest leash in my career in terms of being able to do things,” Fitzpatrick said. “And I trust him completely, and he has ultimate trust in me as well. This will be a little bit different in that if I’m out there playing there’s going to be a little bit longer leash because of the history we have together.”

Here’s more from the AFC East:

AFC East Notes: Tua, Pats, Diggs

Though Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa has most commonly been connected to the division-rival Dolphins, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe believes the stars are aligning for the Patriots to make a play for the southpaw passer. The Lions — and all of their New England connections — hold the No. 3 overall pick and will have a major impact on how the quarterback dominoes fall in this year’s draft. If Detroit trades down, as many expect, Volin suggests that New England’s No. 23 overall pick along with a mid-rounder and a veteran player like Julian Edelman could be enough to get a deal done. The Patriots’ ties with Alabama head coach Nick Saban would also help give the team a little more insight into Tagovailoa as a player and as a person.

Let’s round up a few more AFC East rumors on another stay-at-home Sunday:

  • Volin’s proposal may be a little far-fetched, but if Tagovailoa starts to slide on draft day — after all, the Dolphins may not be entirely sold on him, and Matt Miller of Bleacher Report says the 2018 Heisman runner-up is the No. 3 or 4 QB on some teams’ boards even if he is completely healthy — then the Patriots could be in play, per Doug Kyed of NESN.com.
  • One way or another, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says the Patriots will draft a rookie signal-caller. While he does not rule out a dramatic move for a player like Tagovailoa, he also says the team could once again target a mid-round prospect and is eyeing FIU passer James Morgan.
  • WR Stefon Diggs sounded like a man who wanted out of Minnesota for awhile, and he finally got his wish when he got traded to the Bills in March. However, his displeasure with the Vikings had more to do with his role in the offense than his contract; he signed a five-year, $72MM extension last summer, and he still has another four years to go on that pact. Still, the contract looks fairly team-friendly in the current market, so Buffalo GM Brandon Beane was recently asked if Diggs is content with his deal. Beane side-stepped the issue, saying simply that Diggs is “happy to be in Buffalo” (Twitter link via Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News). It would indeed be rather surprising to see the Bills rework a contract that has four years remaining.
  • Rich Cimini of ESPN.com confirms that Jets guard Brian Winters, who was presumed to be a cap casualty not that long ago, will remain with the Jets and will compete for a job in training camp. Cimini says that if Winters does not win a starting role, he will likely be asked to take a pay cut.

Jets To Keep G Brian Winters?

Rumored as a release candidate for months, Brian Winters remains a Jet. And the team’s longest-tenured offensive line starter looks to have a path to return.

Amid an offseason of significant change on the Jets’ O-line, GM Joe Douglas pointed to Winters being back to compete for a starting job up front. Winters, 28, has been a Jets starting guard since 2013. He’s not only the lone holdover from the Nick MangoldD’Brickashaw Ferguson lines; he is the only O-lineman left from last year’s Week 1 starting lineup.

We love his competitiveness and toughness,” Douglas said, via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano (on Twitter). “We should have a really good competition for our offensive line.”

The Jets would save $7.2MM by releasing their starting right guard and incur no dead money in doing so. So it should not be a given Winters will return. Gang Green added players at other positions, signing tackle George Fant and center Connor McGovern. The Jets also re-signed Alex Lewis, who spent 2019 at left guard, and inked former Panthers guard Greg Van Roten.

In Lewis, Van Roten and Winters, the Jets would have three starter-caliber guards — two of which arriving under the Douglas regime. Winters has been with the Jets through three regimes now. He has started 79 games since being a 2013 third-round Jets pick. Talk of a Winters release began to emerge after he went down with a season-ending dislocated shoulder. But three weeks into free agency, he remains with the Jets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Targeting Pass Rushers

The Jets are seeking some pass-rush help, and they’re eyeing some of the top names on the market. Sources tell Connor Hughes of The Athletic that “the Jets are doing their homework on Jadeveon Clowney” and are among the teams “in on him.” The Jets are also planning to “actively pursue” Rams pass rusher Dante Fowler.

The team could alternatively look to the trade market for help. Hughes writes that the Jets are expected to make a call on Ravens defensive end Matt Judon, who is expected to receive the franchise tag after finishing 2019 with a career-high 9.5 sacks. However, Hughes cautions that the organization may be wary to give up too much draft capital, especially when they’re looking to fill holes via the draft.

Hughes also expects the Jets to be in on a number of offensive lineman, including Joe Thuney and Graham Glasgow. We heard yesterday that the organization was planning on pursuing Redskins lineman Trent Williams. The front office could even pursue cornerback James Bradberry, according to the writer.

The Jets will have a whole lot of money to throw at a pass-rusher, as they’re currently sitting with more than $60MM in projected cap space. Hughes notes that the organization could easily move on from the likes of cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson, lineman Brian Winters, and others, which would open up an additional $20MM to $27MM in cap space.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Brady, Winters, Brown

Tom Brady‘s impending unrestricted free agency will be the largest story of the offseason. It remains unclear whether he will be returning to the Patriots or looking for a new home outside of New England. One important element of negotiations revolves around Brady’s relationship with owner Robert Kraft.

A source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that he “wonders” if Kraft will instruct head coach and president Bill Belichick to do whatever is necessary to keep Brady in a Pats uniform. While little is known about Brady’s own preferences, the power dynamics within the organization itself could very well play a role as well.

  • Many expect Jets guard Brian Winters to be released to make $7MM in salary cap space, but Rich Cimini of ESPN notes that the organization might want to find a way to retain the guard at a reduced salary through a restructure. Winters, a seven-year veteran, has spent his entire career with the Jets and started 9 games for the team last season.
  • Former Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown appears to be taking a larger role on the team’s coaching staff, per Mike Reiss of ESPN. Reiss noted that Brown, who has been on the Pats coaching staff in a limited capacity, was involved in meetings with prospects at the scouting combine.

East Rumors: Rhule, Meyer, Jets

Despite reports connecting the Cowboys to Lincoln Riley and Urban Meyer, team owner Jerry Jones on Saturday downplayed the notion that he would pursue a college coach this offseason. However, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says Jones remains interested in Riley, and he is also paying close attention to Baylor head coach Matt Rhule.

Rhule was a hot name on the NFL head coaching circuit last year and reportedly could have had the Jets’ job if he agreed to certain appointments to his coaching staff. He signed an eight-year extension with Baylor in September, but pro teams are still interested in him. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network shot down recent speculation that the Cowboys would pursue Sean Payton, but he says Dallas made it known through back channels last offseason it was interested in the Saints’ HC, which helped Payton land his extension with New Orleans in September (video link).

Now for more from the league’s east divisions:

  • The Cowboys may not be the only team interested in Meyer. As JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington tweets, Meyer is at FedEx field for the Redskins‘ contest against the Eagles today, and Washington would love to land Meyer as its next HC. Meyer, of course, served as Dwayne Haskins‘ head coach at Ohio State, but it seems like the Redskins don’t really meet Meyer’s criteria for coming out of retirement.
  • Rich Cimini of ESPN.com expects the Jets to overhaul 50% of their roster this offseason, and he unsurprisingly names Brian Winters and Quincy Enunwa as two of the big-name players who could be cut. He also says that, if New York retains Le’Veon Bell, it should bring in another RB with the speed to run outside the tackles.
  • Though the Patriots just cut kicker Josh Gable two days after adding him to the practice squad, head coach Bill Belichick suggested that Gable could be back in 2020 as possible competition for Stephen Gostkowski, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes.
  • In the same piece linked above, Reiss says Patriots D-line coach Bret Bielema, a former collegiate head coach with Wisconsin and Arkansas, is generating interest from college teams. Bielema is said to be open to such an opportunity if the right one presents itself.
  • The NFL’s decision on the Patriots‘ punishment for Spygate 2.0 is expected shortly.

Jets Notes: Enunwa, Gase, Winters

Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa was fined $27,900 by the team for missing two days of treatment, according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini. The wideout later took to Twitter to blast the team for the punishment.

“I normally chill on putting issues on twitter, but this doesnt sit right with me,” Enunwa wrote. “Given everything that’s going on around the team I thought this could’ve been handled so many different ways…I missed those two days, because I took my VETERAN wife out for Veterans Day lunch and because I had to handle an emergency in my house. I let the team know this after the fact, and yes, I should have told them beforehand, but I feel like this was excessive…I’m on IR trying to get back to play so I never thought that they’d be worried about me missing, but obviously I was wrong.”

Enunwa, who’s currently on the injured reserve with a neck injury, revealed that there’s only a 50% chance he ever sees the field again.

Let’s take a look at more notes out of New York…

  • Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News uses Enunwa’s outburst as an example for how players don’t respect head coach Adam Gase. Following the receiver’s comments, Mehta observed that Gase “displayed poor leadership for unofficially the 1,969th time Friday with an arrogance and defiance that simply reinforced that he hasn’t learned a damn thing.” Gase was quick to dismiss the story, telling reporters that they generally settle these types of grievances in-house. As Mehta writes, this type of logic has led to three players taking action against the organization in the past four weeks.
  • Jets offensive lineman Brian Winters was recently placed on the injured reserve, and Matt Stypulkoski of NJ.com wonders if the veteran has played his final game for the organization. The 28-year-old is the team’s longest-tenured lineman, as he joined the organization back in 2013. Winters will be entering the final year of his contract in 2020, and Stypulkoski opines that it may be in the Jets’ best interest to move on from the veteran as they look to revamp the entire unit (the Jets would save around $7MM by cutting Winters). The writer also explored the pros and cons of making such a move.
  • Winters’ recent injury emphasizes that general manager Joe Douglas needs to focus on improving the offensive line this offseason, writes Mehta. As the writer notes, four of the team’s five starting offensive linemen to begin the season have missed time thanks to injury, and the team has had to rely on six different groupings this year. While injuries are obviously unavoidable, Mehta believes Douglas needs to invest resources into building a reliable offensive line in front of Sam Darnold.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/13/19

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Los Angeles Rams

  • Promoted from practice squad: T Chandler Brewer, DB Donte Deayon

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Chris Herndon, Brian Winters To Miss Time

Chris Herndon‘s second NFL season may end up including just one game. Adam Gase said Monday the promising tight end suffered a fractured rib in his Week 10 debut, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (on Twitter).

Guard Brian Winters‘ season is also in jeopardy. The seventh-year blocker is unlikely to play again in 2019 after he suffered a dislocated shoulder, Gase said (via ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini, on Twitter). Surgery is in play for Winters, Cimini tweets. Shoulder trouble sidelined Winters over the summer, and Mehta notes (via Twitter) he has been playing through pain all season and was told to have surgery earlier. But Winters started all nine Jets games this season.

Herndon began his season with a four-game suspension but did not debut until Week 10 because of a hamstring injury. He may have 10 months before he can rebound. Two seasons remain on Herndon’s rookie deal. Winters, however, has a non-guaranteed $7MM remaining on his Jets pact. Considering how new GM Joe Douglas has proceeded with Mike Maccagnan offensive line investments, Winters may have played his final down as a Jet.

Winters is the longest-tenured Jets offensive lineman, beginning his career when Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson anchored the group. He’s made 79 starts for the Jets since joining the team as a third-round pick in 2013. Gang Green has already experienced issues across their O-line this season. They have shuffled players at left tackle, right tackle and left guard. Tom Compton took Winters’ place at right guard Sunday and figures to start in Week 11.

The Jets added Ryan Griffin as a Herndon stopgap this offseason, and the veteran will continue to play a key role in New York’s passing game. He’s caught 20 passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns. Herndon snared one pass Sunday. His 502 yards last season were the third-most most by a Jets rookie tight end.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Rumors: Johnson, Maye, OL, Griffin

While it was once thought this would be the offseason the Jets overhauled their offensive line, that could well happen in 2020. The Jets, who ranked 32nd in adjusted line yards last season, will return three starters from last season’s group. But when new GM Joe Douglas begins his first free agency period next year, Adam Gase expects him to be aggressive in bolstering the front.

I think the fact that our GM is a former offensive lineman, I’m pretty sure you guys know that he’s going to be looking for those type of guys,” Gase said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “His type of linemen: tough, physical, smart guys that can play multiple positions and play both sides of the line. I think that’s what he’s going to be combing the Earth for.”

Starters Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell are playing on expiring contracts, and recent Douglas acquisition Ryan Kalil is certainly a year-to-year player at this point in his career. The Jets drafted tackle Chuma Edoga in Round 3, but that pick came under Mike Maccagnan‘s watch (and largely not Gase’s). So, next year figures to be telling about Douglas’ blueprint up front.

Here is the from the AFC’s Big Apple franchise:

  • Trumaine Johnson has run into more injury trouble. The high-priced cornerback is now dealing with a hamstring injury, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes the eighth-year defender will be sidelined “indefinitely.” Johnson leads a thin Jets corner group and stands as their unquestioned CB1. Johnson missed six games due to injury last season. Douglas has been searching for veterans for weeks, with Cimini noting the rookie GM is still on that hunt. The Jets opted not to bring back Morris Claiborne, a two-year Gang Green starter. He instead signed with the Chiefs.
  • There is better news elsewhere in the Jets’ secondary. Marcus Maye is off the team’s active/PUP list, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes (on Twitter). The third-year safety had offseason shoulder surgery, with Gase indicating one of the Jets’ two safety starters was dealing with nerve damage. Maye ended last season on IR with the shoulder trouble.
  • Concluding the look at the Jets’ injury front, Brian Winters is also dealing with shoulder trouble. Gase called his right guard starter “week-to-week” but expects him to be ready for Week 1 (Twitter link via Mehta). It sounds like Winters will be shelved for the rest of the team’s preseason slate. This will be Winters’ seventh season as a Jets O-line starter. He’s by far their longest-tenured lineman.
  • In addressing some of the Jets’ position battles, Cimini notes recently added tight end Ryan Griffin is running ahead of backups Eric Tomlinson and Daniel Brown. This is rather important because of starter Chris Herndon‘s four-game suspension. Griffin started 36 games for the Texans, before being released after an arrest this offseason, but has never been too much of a receiving threat.