Brian Winters

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Bills, McCoy, Jets

The Dolphins are desperate for cornerback help, so much so that they’re working usual slot corner Bobby McCain on the outside, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. During this week’s practices, Miami used McCain opposite No. 1 corner Xavien Howard, with versatile first-round defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick in the slot. McCain became of the NFL’s highest-paid slot corners after agreeing to a four-year, $27MM extension earlier this year, but if he can stick on the outside, the 25-year-old would become a bargain. The Dolphins could conceivably look to the trade or free agent market in search of a new cornerback, but one of their recent visitors — former Redskins defender Bashaud Breeland — is reportedly unlikely to sign with Miami.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • While a few more details have emerged regarding Bills running back LeSean McCoy and the pending lawsuit against him (which alleges McCoy was responsible for a recent physical attack on his ex-girlfriend, Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane said “nothing’s changed” with regard to McCoy’s status with the club. “You take all allegations seriously, but until the police say there’s something there, we’re not going to act on anything without them saying there’s legit evidence,” Beane told Kate Brumback and John Wawrow of the Associated Press. “It’s an open investigation. Nothing has come forward that said any of these things are true. So until that would happen, I don’t think anything will ever change.” McCoy could potentially be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list depending on the state of the NFL’s investigation, but at this point, it appears he’ll be on the Bills’ active roster for Week 1, barring any further developments.
  • Bills punter Cory Carter suffered a torn ACL in Friday night’s preseason game, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Carter, who went undrafted out of Texas Southern in 2016, spent training camp with the Texans last summer but has never appeared in an NFL contest. While he was unlikely to unseat starting punter Colton Schmidt in Buffalo, Carter was one of only two punters on the Bills’ roster, so the team could conceivably add another specialist in the coming days. Carter, meanwhile, will likely be waived/injured and subsequently moved to injured reserve, where he’ll spend the 2018 campaign.
  • Speaking of injuries, the Jets will be cautious with guard Brian Winters as he continues to recover from the abdomen issue he dealt with in 2017, per Rapoport (Twitter link). Winters played through the ailment last season, but New York has no interest of rushing him back this year, and he’s not expected to play in any preseason games. The 26-year-old Winters has made 56 starts for the Jets over the past five seasons, and last year graded as the league’s No. 59 guard among 78 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.

AFC Notes: Patriots, Allen, Chiefs, Beal, Supplemental Draft, Jets, Winters

Tight end Dwayne Allen is entering the third year of a four-year $29.4MM deal he signed back in 2016. He signed the deal as a member of the Colts before he was traded to the Patriots before last season. Despite being an elite redzone threat with Indianapolis, combining for 14 touchdowns in 2014 and 2016, Allen played sparingly last season with New England.

Now even with Rob Gronkowski‘s injury concerns, Allen could be cut from the team, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Reiss said Allen is in the “roster-cut conversation” due to a salary that’s disproportionate to his role with the team. Reiss thinks that because the Patriots use Allen almost exclusively as a blocking tight end, the team may deem him too expensive and decide to move on. The only thing that could save Allen is the lack of experience of the Patriots’ other backup tight ends, but if one of them emerges this summer, Allen could very easily be a goner.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Matt Miller of Bleacher Report “could see the Chiefs making a bid on Sam Beal in the Supplemental Draft” (Twitter link). Miller thinks Beal “could fill a huge hole” and that the Chiefs would probably have to bid a second round pick to get him. Miller added that he keeps hearing that Beal is “pro ready” and that he thinks Chiefs GM Brett Veach will be aggressive enough to make the move.
  • Jets guard Brian Winters signed a four-year $29MM deal with the team before last season, but 2018 could be his last with the team if he doesn’t improve his play, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. Costello notes that there is no more guaranteed money in his deal after this year and that the Jets will “make a decision” on the lineman after this year. He’s struggled with injuries the past two years and if he isn’t able to return to form he’ll be “looking for a new team” writes Costello.
  • In case you missed it, Zach Links took a look back at the Colts’ decision two years ago today to make Andrew Luck the highest paid player in football.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Jets, Pouncey

James Harrison fired back at the Steelers regarding his 2017 tactics, saying he repeatedly asked for a release this season. The Patriots linebacker said he asked for a release at the beginning of the season when it was clear his role was not what he thought it was going to be, but the team didn’t grant the request, he said on Instagram (via NESN’s Doug Kyed, on Twitter). The 39-year-old edge defender, who did have an extensive role in 2016, said the Steelers continued to tell him he would play only to deactivate him on Sundays or dress him and not deploy him. Harrison has played just 40 snaps across five games this season.

The new Patriots defender — who said he may not have “handled his frustration” well, seeming to confirm some of the accounts of ex-Steelers teammates — said he asked to be released (well, waived, since the trade deadline has passed) early last week before finally seeing the team do so. Harrison said Pittsburgh did not assure him he would be brought back, but the team also didn’t close the door on that possibility prior to his Patriots signing. He described the signing with New England as a “business decision.”

Here’s more from the AFC East.

  • Harrison said no other teams made offers to sign him, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald notes. Unsurprisingly, Harrison’s Patriots deal is for the prorated veteran minimum. He will earn $58K for his work this week plus playoff shares depending on how far New England advances, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The Steelers signed Harrison to a two-year contract in March and paid him $2.13MM this season.
  • The JetsTodd Bowles extension talks may have begun as recently as late December, with Rich Cimini of ESPN.com reporting Jets CEO Christopher Johnson opting to be proactive instead of letting Bowles enter a walk year and opening the door to other teams’ overtures. Specifically, Cimini writes that speculation about a Bowles/Cardinals reunion swirled for months. Bruce Arians will make a decision about his future in the offseason, but Bowles excelled as Arizona’s DC before coming to New York. Cimini also notes the Buccaneers, who are keeping Dirk Koetter for 2018, were a team the Jets knew would’ve been interested.
  • One of the reasons the Jets kept Bowles was the team’s surprisingly competitive season with several little-known players thrust to the forefront because of the offseason veteran purge. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link) Bowles doing more with less was not lost on ownership.
  • The Patriots‘ decision to unload Jimmy Garoppolo at the trade deadline hasn’t been fully embraced within the organization, with Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston reporting some felt the team should have pushed the situation as far as it could go — possibly into 2018. While trading Tom Brady was not a broached subject, Curran notes, his age and Garoppolo’s talent made some in Foxborough want to keep Garoppolo as an insurance policy. While that would have been a tricky process, given the $23MM franchise tag’s involvement, Garoppolo is likely going to be tagged after a breakout showing with the 49ers.
  • Mike Pouncey‘s severe hip injury — one that he’s said will induce a hip replacement at some point in the not-too-distant future — prompted one doctor say his career was over, the seventh-year center said (via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald). However, the Dolphins center made it through 15 games this season. Despite Pro Football Focus grading Pouncey as the league’s No. 25 center this season, Beasley notes the snapper is one of Adam Gase‘s favorites and can expect to be back in 2018.
  • PFF graded Jets guard Brian Winters as one of its worst offensive linemen this season, and the fifth-year player revealed why that might have been the case on Saturday. Winters said (via Twitter) he tore two midsection muscles in Week 2 and tried to play through the maladies the rest of the way. The recently extended lineman will undergo surgery. The Jets placed him on IR earlier this week.

Jets Place G Brian Winters On IR

Brian Winters will miss the Jets’ Week 17 game against the Patriots because of abdominal injury that induced an IR trip, Brian Costello of the New York Post tweets. The Jets ended their starting right guard’s season with this move.

The Jets promoted defensive lineman Deon Simon from the practice squad to take Winters’ roster spot. Winters missed the Jets’ Week 16 game because of injury and will have additional time to recover from it.

Winters is now the longest-tenured Jets offensive line starter. During an offseason that featured rampant cuts, the Jets took care of their fifth-year guard, re-signing him through 2020 for $29MM. He started 13 games up front for New York this season, just as he did last year. Only this year, he operated as the O-line’s centerpiece after Nick Mangold‘s offseason release.

The 26-year-old interior blocker’s first season on this second contract did not go especially well, per Pro Football Focus, which graded the former third-round pick as a bottom-10 guard among full-time qualifiers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Colts, Ravens, Broncos, Jets

A quick look around the AFC…

  • While announcing Andrew Luck‘s right shoulder surgery Thursday, Colts owner Jim Irsay declared that the quarterback will be ready for the season. Here’s a clearer timeline, courtesy of Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter): Luck will start throwing again in three months and should be ready for a full return in six months, which puts him on track for mid-July.
  • After four seasons, the Ravens are likely to part with pass rusher Elvis Dumervil this winter, writes Clifton Brown of CSNMidAtlantic.com. By releasing Dumervil, who has one year left on his contract, the Ravens would open up $6MM in cap space. Baltimore could use those savings to find a cover corner or offensive weapon, Brown suggests. Dumervil, who’s celebrating his 33rd birthday today, is coming off an eight-game, three-sack season. He missed just one contest out of 48 from 2013-15 and combined for 32.5 sacks, including a lofty 17.5 in 2014.
  • The Broncos will hire Brock Olivo as their new special teams coach, reports Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). Olivo spent the past three years as the assistant special teams coach with the AFC West rival Chiefs.
  • Jets guard Brian Winters will receive all $15MM of the guaranteed money on his four-year, $29MM contract in the first two seasons of the deal, per Darryl Slater of NJ.com. The pact also contains per-game roster bonuses of $500K in both 2019 and ’20.

Jets, Brian Winters Agree To Extension

The Jets have re-signed one of their key impending free agents. Brian Costello of the New York Post reports (via Twitter) that the team has inked offensive guard Brian Winters to a four-year extension. The deal is worth $29MM and includes $15MM in guarantees, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano (Twitter link via Rich Cimini). Winters now ranks 10th among guards in guaranteed money.

Brian Winters (Vertical)Winters had spent the past four years with the Jets after being selected as a third-rounder in the 2013 draft. The Kent State product immediately made an impact on the New York offense, as Winters started 12 games that season. An ACL injury limited the lineman to only six games (six starts) in 2014, but he rebounded by appearing in all 16 games (10 starts) during the 2015 campaign.

Winters started the first 13 games in 2016, but his season ended early when he was placed on the injured reserve with a torn rotator cuff. The offensive guard established himself as the Jets’ top offensive lineman during his three months on the field. In fact, by most metrics, Winters ranked as one of the top run blockers in the league, playing a significant role in the hot starts for running backs Matt Forte and Bilal Powell. Winters predictably fell in those rankings, but many still thought that re-signing the lineman would be a top offseason priority for the Jets.

The Jets are surely eyeing some changes to their offensive line this offseason. Tight tackle Breno Giacomini and left tackle Ryan Clady appear to be on their way out of the organization, and the team could also cut veteran center Nick Mangold. Releasing the veteran center would free up more than $9MM in salary cap space.

Winters was just one of many Jets ready to hit free agency. Other impending free agents include quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith, offensive tackle Ben Ijalana, safety Antonio Allen, linebacker Bruce Carter, and long snapper Tanner Purdum.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Place OL Brian Winters On IR

The Jets’ offensive line has taken yet another hit, as the club announced today that they’ve placed guard Brian Winters on injured reserve. In addition, linebacker Mike Catapano is also headed to IR, while New York has promoted offensive lineman Donald Hawkins and defensive lineman Brandin Bryant from the practice squad to the active roster.Brian Winters (Vertical)

[RELATED: Jets High On UNC QB Mitch Trubisky]

Four-fifths of the Jets’ projected starting offensive line is now on injured reserve, as left tackle Ryan Clady, right tackle Breno Giacomini, and center Nick Mangold all preceded Winters in being sidelined for the season. Winters, in the midst of his fourth season with New York, had started 13 games on the year, playing on 87% of the club’s snaps while grading out as roughly average (No. 32) among NFL guards, according to Pro Football Focus. Winters’ rookie deal expires at season’s end, so he’ll head to free agency next spring.

Catapano, 26, had started three games for Gang Green this season, but had mostly acted a reserve, playing on slightly less than a quarter of New York’s defensive snaps while adding 110 snaps on special teams. With Catapano out, fellow linebackers Josh Martin, Freddie Bishop, and Randell Johnson (recently signed off the Rams’ practice squad) should see more time as the season concludes.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Blount, Patriots, Jets

Three running backs have proven to be tremendous values for their respective teams this year, Will Eddowes of Over The Cap writes. That list includes Patriots tailback LeGarrette Blount, who is earning just $1MM on a one-year deal with $100K in full guarantees + $1MM in incentives. The Patriots have been leaning more on the run game this year than they have in recent seasons and that’s partially because of Blount’s effectiveness. The question now is whether the Patriots can retain him for next season. Blount has certainly earned himself a pay raise but the Patriots often prefer to replace free agents with cheaper options. Darren Sproles of the Eagles and Theo Riddick of the Lions are also highlighted as strong values.

Here’s a look at the AFC East:

  • Re-signing Brian Winters should be the Jets‘ top priority this offseason, Connor Hughes of NJ.com writes. After a rough first two years in the NFL, Winters has improved now that he has moved from left guard to right guard. So far this year, he ranks as one of Pro Football Focus’ best interior offensive linemen and he has been a bright spot in an otherwise dreary year for Gang Green. The Jets are going to have to get themselves new offensive tackles and they could be in the market for a center, but the 25-year-old is a player that must be kept. For his part, Winters wants to stay. “100 percent,” Winters said when asked if he wants to return. “I love what has been going on here. I would love to continue to play here. I’ve built something here. I don’t want to leave it.
  • Bills running back Mike Gillislee has signed with NFL agent Ron Butler, as Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal tweets. He was formerly repped by Global Sports Advisors. Gillislee has shown potential as the primary backup to LeSean McCoy in Buffalo. He will be eligible for free agency after the season is over. For now, he’s on the books for just $600K.
  • Yesterday was the Dolphins‘ deadline for activating Dion Jordan and they declined to put him on the 53-man roster. Miami also shut Mike Pouncey down for the season while adding quarterback T.J. Yates.

2016 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure is projected to be $1.696MM in 2016. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2016 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:Keenan Allen (Vertical)

49ers: Gerald Hodges, LB

Bears: Marquess Wilson, WR

Buccaneers: William Gholston, DE; Mike Glennon, QB; Akeem Spence, DT

Cardinals: Andre Ellington, RB; Tyrann Mathieu, CB/S; Alex Okafor, LB

Chargers: Keenan Allen, WR

Colts: Sio Moore, LB; Hugh Thornton, G

Cowboys: J.J. Wilcox, S; Terrance Williams, WR

Dolphins: Jelani Jenkins, LB; Dallas Thomas, T; Dion Sims, TE; Kenny Stills, WR

Eagles: Bennie Logan, DT

Falcons: Kemal Ishmael, S; Levine Toilolo, TE

Jaguars: Josh Evans, S; Dwayne Gratz, CB

Jets: Brian Winters, G

Lions: Larry Warford, G

Packers: David Bakhtiari, T; Micah Hyde, S

Patriots: Duron Harmon, S; Chris Jones, DT; Logan Ryan, CB

Raiders: Mychal Rivera, TE

Rams: T.J. McDonald, S

Ravens: Ricky Wagner, T; Brandon Williams, DT

Saints: Terron Armstead, T; John Jenkins, DT

Seahawks: Luke Willson, TE

Steelers: Markus Wheaton, WR

Titans: Brian Schwenke, C

Washington: Jordan Reed, TE

AFC East Notes: McCoy, Bills, Jets

Bills running back LeSean McCoy has hired noted Philly defensive attorney Jack McMahon to represent him, according to John Barr of ESPN.com (via Twitter link). Over the weekend, McCoy was accused of taking part in a brawl that involved the assault of two off-duty Philadelphia police officers. McCoy has yet to be arrested for the incident, but arrest warrants are expected to be issued in the coming days.

McCoy, 28 in July, was held back by injuries in his first season with the Bills. The tailback ran for 895 yards off of 203 carries, good for 4.4 yards per contest. He also had three rushing touchdowns and two receiving scores. However, he missed one-quarter of the regular season, breaking his two season streak of playing in all 16 regular season games.

Here’s more out of the AFC East:

  • The police have completed their investigation into the McCoy case and turned it over to the district attorney’s office, which is reviewing it for potential charges against the Bills tailback, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Jets guard Brian Winters, who replaced the injured Willie Colon and wound up starting ten games last season, will get a nice raise in 2016 worth roughly $1MM, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com writes. As part of the NFL’s rookie wage scale, Winters’ base salary (non-guaranteed) jumps to $1.696MM, the final year of his rookie contract. Previously, he was due to make $675K. The pay bump is thanks to the “proven performance escalator,” which allows mid- to late-round draft choices to make more money if they play a great deal. A player gets a raise if he was drafted in rounds three through seven and participated in at least 35% of the offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons.
  • Jets coach Todd Bowles filled three coaching vacancies, as Randy Lange of NewYorkJets.com writes. Bowles promoted John Scott Jr. from defensive quality control coach to assistant defensive line coach, hired David Diaz-Infante as assistant offensive line coach, and brought in Tim Atkins to fill Scott’s role as defensive quality control coach.
  • The Dolphins are adding Wisconsin defensive backs coach Daronte Jones as an assistant defensive backs coach, a source told Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter).