Chad Henne

Jaguars Open Up QB Competition

The Jaguars now have an open quarterback competition. After a dismal showing from Blake Bortles on Thursday night, head coach Doug Marrone says the starting job is up for grabs. "<strong

It’s this simple: I’m looking for the best person to lead this offense,” Marrone said (Twitter link via John Oehser of the team’s website). “[The QB position] is right up there for grabs, and either person can take it…It’s not like [Bortles] is not the quarterback. He’s got to go earn it.”

The Jaguars exercised Bortles’ fifth-year option for 2018, but that season is guaranteed for injury only. If the Jaguars see Chad Henne as the superior signal caller right now, then the former No.3 overall pick might not be long for Jacksonville. As Mike Florio of PFT recently suggested, the Jaguars may want to consider benching Bortles for the entire season so that they do not risk him getting injured and collecting on $19MM+ when they don’t want him. It would be an extreme measure, but it’s not unprecedented – the Redskins did the same thing with Robert Griffin III in 2015.

Bortles showed promise in 2015, when he threw for the second-most touchdowns in the NFL (35, one behind Tom Brady) and placed seventh in passing yards (4,428). However, after a down 2016 and a rocky summer, the Jaguars may wind up going in a different direction.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Dolphins, Pats, Dupree

Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill believes the team’s 2017 offense will be the best he has ever played with, and James Walker of ESPN.com agrees with him. On paper, Miami does boast a great deal of talent at the skill positions, but as Walker observes, the Dolphins still have some depth problems. Jay Ajayi was a revelation in 2016, but what happens if he should go down with an injury, or if he needs to be spelled from time to time as the season progresses? Could Kenyan Drake or Damien Williams step up? And can Leonte Carroo be counted on to complement Kenny Stills, Jarvis Landry, and DeVante Parker, or even carry the load if one of those players should get hurt? Will Mike Pouncey stay healthy for a full season. Of course, every team can ask itself similar questions, but for the Dolphins’ offense to take a step forward this year, it will need to stay healthy or else get contributions from unlikely sources.

Now for more from the AFC:

  • As Mike Reiss of ESPN.com observes, the Patriots don’t have many major position battles, but one to keep an eye on is at backup tight end. Of course, Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen are entrenched in the top spots, but given Gronk’s health issues, the No. 3 TE could end up playing a significant role. As it currently stands, Matt Lengel and James O’Shaughnessy will compete with UDFAs Jacob Hollister and Sam Cotton for the job.
  • Steelers LB Bud Dupree was drafted with the thought that he could become the next great Pittsburgh pass rusher, and given the way he performed down the stretch in 2016, the team believes the third-year pro is ready to make the leap. As Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review points out, Dupree did not start his first game in 2016 until Week 14 — he began the year on injured reserve and was slowly eased back into action — but in that Week 14 matchup, Dupree played all but one snap and racked up 2.5 sacks (he ended the regular season with 4.5 sacks). He also recorded a half-sack in the playoffs while playing all but three snaps, so he appears primed for a breakout in 2017.
  • The Browns finished 1-15 last season, and most think they will be lucky to get to six or seven wins in 2017, but Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com says head coach Hue Jackson is not on a short leash. The team’s front office realizes it was again looking at a multi-year overhaul when it hired Jackson, and Jackson will get a chance to see it through (assuming he wants to, of course).
  • Some are wondering why Chad Henne is still on the Jaguars roster even though he does not have a pass attempt since 2014, but Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union has a succinct answer. O’Halloran says, “Henne has experience in many offenses. He has experience working with new coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. And he has accepted being a sounding board for Blake Bortles. That’s why [he] is here.” Of course, as we heard last month, second-year player Brandon Allen could unseat Henne with an impressive preseason.

AFC Notes: Patriots, Luck, Henne

The Patriots‘ best chance to replace the bruising and punishing running of LeGarrette Blount, who was a key part of the team’s success over the past few seasons, could come from a surprising source. In his first attempt to predict the Patriots’ 53-man roster, Jim McBride of the Boston Globe says that UDFA LeShun Daniels, Jr. might be the best-equipped of New England’s stacked running back group to fill Blount’s void. McBride does not believe Daniels will make the team out of camp, writing that he is more likely a practice squad candidate at the moment, but the future is bright for the 6-foot, 225-pounder, who excelled in his senior season at Iowa.

Now for more from the AFC:

  • Patriots wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell was kept on the sideline during spring practices, but Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says there is nothing to worry about. Mitchell has a more extensive injury history than many second-year players, and New England is handling his workload accordingly to ensure they can keep him healthy for the long haul.
  • We heard earlier this week that Andrew Luck may not be ready for training camp, leading some to wonder if he is also in danger of missing the start of the regular season. Kevin Bowen of Colts.com, however, does not believe that’s the case. Bowen says that if the team was really concerned about Luck’s availability for Week 1, the team would have brought in a veteran QB to compete with backup Scott Tolzien.
  • Alex Marvez of NFL.com tweets that Chargers linebacker Nick Dzubnar is completely healed from the ACL tear that prematurely ended his 2016 season. Dzubnar has primarily served as a special teams contributor during his first two years in the league, but he has performed very well in that role.
  • Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union takes his first crack at predicting the Jaguars‘ 53-man roster, and there do not seem to be any major surprises there. One point of intrigue is the quarterback position, as O’Halloran speculates that second-year signal-caller Brandon Allen, who was good enough in camp and the preseason last year to convince Jacksonville to keep a third QB for the first time since 2013, could unseat longtime backup Chad Henne.
  • Earlier today we took a look at a few notes on the Steelers and Browns.

AFC Notes: Patriots, Texans, Steelers, Jags

The University of Alabama is hiring Patriots tight ends coach Brian Daboll as its new offensive coordinator, according to Chris Low of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Daboll, who has led offenses at the NFL level for the Browns, Dolphins, and Chiefs, was first linked to the Crimson Tide earlier this week by Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports. Former Texans play-caller George Godsey was also in consideration for the vacancy in Tuscaloosa, per Feldman.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Veteran safety Quintin Demps hasn’t engaged in contract negotiations with the Texans as of yet, and although the pending free agent would prefer to return to Houston in 2017, he’s not interested in offering the club any sort of hometown discount, Demps told SiriusXM NFL Radio today (Twitter links). Demps is entering his age-32 campaign, which could depress his value, but he’s started 26 games over the past two years and is coming off a season in which he graded as the league’s No. 12 safety, according to Pro Football Focus. After earning only $1.5MM in 2016, Demps should be in a for raise, but he’s not going to break the bank in a safety market that also includes Eric Berry, Tony Jefferson, and T.J. McDonald.
  • Tight end Ladarius Green is expected to be healthy enough to play in 2017, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert yesterday told reporters, including Chris Bradford of the Beaver County Times (Twitter link). Green only appeared in six games during his first campaign with Pittsburgh, as concussion issues limited his ability to get on the field. Although he provided 16.9 yards per reception when he was on the field, Green could represent too large a risk for the Steelers to undertake, especially given that his post-June 1 release would clear $5MM in cap space.
  • Defensive tackle Abry Jones‘ four-year, $16MM deal with the Jaguars contains $6.5MM in guarantees, which are comprised of a $2.5MM 2017 base salary, a $1MM roster bonus due next March, and $3MM 2018 base salary, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. Meanwhile, backup quarterback Chad Henne‘s new one-year contract is worth $3.5MM, reports Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link), and contains a $500K signing bonus, a $750K roster bonus due on September 7, and $2.5MM available via incentives.
  • Steelers linebacker Steven Johnson‘s new deal is a one-year, minimum salary benefit contract that comes with $80K in guaranteed money, per Caplan (Twitter link). Under the terms of the MSB, Johnson will only count for $615K on Pittsburgh’s salary cap.

Chad Henne, Jaguars Restructure Deal

Last year, Chad Henne agreed to a two-year, $8MM deal to stay in Jacksonville. The Jaguars wanted to keep Henne on the roster for 2017, but that price was apparently too rich for their blood. Today, the Jaguars and Henne agreed to a restructured deal for the coming season, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union tweets. The team has since confirmed the deal via press release.Chad Henne

Under the terms of his previous deal, Henne was slated to carry a $3.25MM cap number in ’17. Terms of the new deal have not yet been disclosed, but it will almost certainly be at a lower number. The QB’s previous deal also included incentives and it’s not clear if the new deal will grant him extra cash for playing time. Regardless, he’s slated to once again hold the clipboard for starter Blake Bortles.

In other Jaguars news, the team has also re-signed wide receiver Arrelious Benn.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Rumors: Jack, Posluszny, Henne

Here’s the latest coming out of north Florida during the OTA portion of the NFL calendar.

  • Although Myles Jack‘s role could be on passing downs as he acclimates to the NFL after a damaging knee injury ended his UCLA career, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union projects the Jaguars second-rounder’s future to be at middle linebacker, where Paul Posluszny has lined up for the past three seasons. This would leave Dan Skuta untouched on the strong side if Telvin Smith is indeed going to resume his work opposite him. If healthy, Jack possesses the speed to play anywhere at linebacker but played mostly on the outside with the Bruins during his two healthy seasons, when he wasn’t moonlighting as a running back.
  • The 31-year-old Posluszny, whose 725 solo tackles since 2008 lead the NFL, has been a three-down linebacker during his three-year Jags tenure. But if Jack can prove adept, he could well join Smith in nickel settings. A former second-round pick, Posluszny sees a demotion out of a third-down role as a ticket out of the league, given teams’ reliance on sub-packages. “When teams see you as a two-down player, to me, that means it’s over for you,” Posluszny said. “And what if I’m playing at a high level on first and second downs? Does that mean I get to stay here next year? I don’t know. I just have to continue to do everything I’ve done and when it’s time to compete, I have to play at a high level.” Posluszny, who has started all 113 games he’s played with the Bills and Jags, signed an extension to remain with the Jags until 2017 last April. His cap hits drop, however, from the his peak earnings seasons the past two years. He’s set to occupy $5.17MM of the Jags’ cap this season, and although he can be cut for less than $500K of dead money, cap space isn’t something the Jags are sweating right now. Their $49.3MM available leads the league.
  • Chad Henne did not opt to test the free agent market this year, instead agreeing to another two-year contract in Jacksonville, one that will pay him $8MM in that span. Entering his age-31 season, the former second-round pick of the Dolphins’ prefers the comfort his current role behind Blake Bortles provides as opposed to trying to procure another starting job. “I was hoping it would happen like this just because I enjoy it here … and being in the same system for two years and not having to learn a new one is beneficial,” Henne told media, including O’Halloran. Aside from Chase Daniel‘s $7MM-per-year wages, Henne resides in the top bracket of backup signal-callers in terms of AAV.
  • As is the case in third-round negotiations, Yannick Ngakoue will have some flexibility regarding his rookie contract with the Jaguars. O’Halloran reports Ngakoue will earn at least a $540K salary in 2016 and an $856K signing bonus as part of being selected No. 69 overall. But according to cap expert J.I. Halsell, the Jags rookie pass-rusher can earn up to $456K in additional compensation spread out over the deal’s four years. With the CBA containing no language of what third-rounders will earn precisely, more extensive negotiations are commencing. “It’s just a weird round,” a veteran agent told O’Halloran. “I called the [NFLPA] a couple weeks ago to ask about it, and they said, ‘It’s the wild, wild West.’” Last year’s No. 69 pick, the Texans’ Jaelen Strong, received 62% of that additional compensation figure ($249K of an available $402K), O’Halloran reports, while three picks later, Jaguars guard A.J. Cann booked 75% ($311K) in his rookie pact. It’s a strange financial matrix these third-rounders enter compared to the players slotted above and below them.

Jaguars Re-Sign Chad Henne

11:01am: The Jaguars have officially re-signed Henne, the team announced today in a press release.

10:10am: The Jaguars have reached an agreement with Chad Henne on an extension that will bring him back to the team for the 2016 season, and perhaps beyond that, a source tells Rand Getlin of the NFL Network (Twitter link). Getlin reports that the two-year deal, which features some incentives, is worth $8MM. Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (via Twitter) first reported that the two sides were closing in on a deal.Chad Henne

Henne, 30, has started 53 games since entering the league in 2008, including 22 for the Jaguars from 2012 to 2014. However, since the team drafted Blake Bortles third overall in ’14, he has been primarily relegated to backup duty, and seems to have transitioned into the role of a veteran mentor. While he was eligible to reach free agency this winter, it seems he’s comfortable enough in that role to forgo exploring the open market.

Henne’s last contract with Jacksonville, signed back in March 2014, was also a two-year extension worth $8MM, which included incentives and escalators based on playing time and team success. Even though Bortles has now cemented himself as the unquestioned starter for the Jaguars, it’s not surprising to see Henne get a similar deal as the clear-cut No. 2 this time around. He’s one of the more reliable backups in the NFL, and those players typically earn an annual salary in the $4-5MM range.

Given the Jaguars’ cap situation, paying Henne an annual $4MM salary isn’t an issue. According to Over the Cap, the team entered Thursday with a league-high $79.8MM in projected cap room for 2016, so Henne’s new deal will be a small drop in the bucket. Additionally, Bortles won’t be due for a new extension of his own for at least another year or two, so the team’s top two signal-callers will remain very affordable as a duo for the next couple seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Mailbags: Texans, Chiefs, Jets, Jags, Colts

We took a look at ESPN.com’s NFC mailbags earlier this morning. Let’s now shift our focus to the AFC…

  • The Texans have historically made trades during the draft, so Tania Ganguli believes it’s a possibility the organization could move up this year. However, considering the depth at the position, she doesn’t think the Texans should trade up for a wideout.
  • Adam Teicher writes that “cornerback is a spot to watch” for the Chiefs during the first round. While the organization would be “delighted” with Michigan State’s Trae Waynes, Teicher says Wake Forest’s Kevin Johnson or LSU’s Jalen Collins are more realistic targets.
  • Despite the team’s acquisition of Brandon Marshall, Rich Cimini says it would be hard for the Jets to pass on Alabama’s Amari Cooper if the receiver’s available at the sixth pick.
  • Chad Henne is entering the final year of his contract, and Michael DiRocco could envision the Jaguars re-signing the veteran quarterback following the 2015 season. The 29-year-old has compiled 27 touchdowns to 26 interceptions in his three seasons in Jacksonville.
  • Mike Wells says it’s “highly unlikely” that Ahmad Bradshaw returns to the Colts. The 29-year-old certainly provided a spark during his tenure in Indy, but he only managed to play 13 games between the two seasons. Futhermore, the addition of Frank Gore would leave Bradshaw without a clear role.

Florida Notes: Tannehill, Dolphins, Jaguars

Matt Moore is one of the highest-paid backup quarterbacks in the league, and the Dolphins may be reaching a point where they’re not just paying him to sit on the bench. According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, after another poor performance from Ryan Tannehill on Sunday, the club is mulling the possibility of changing quarterbacks. As Salguero notes, head coach Joe Philbin was evasive when asked about Tannehill’s job security today, and while a change isn’t necessarily imminent, the team is at least considering it.

If Tannehill were to lose his job, it wouldn’t bode well for his next contract. After this season, the Dolphins will have to make a decision on the signal-caller’s fifth-year option for 2016, and could even sign him to an extension if they so choose. While that option would almost certainly be exercised if Tannehill has a big 2014, it’s not looking good at the moment for him.

Here’s more on Tannehill, along with a couple more items on the NFL’s Florida teams….

  • Predictably, Tannehill was one of the three players Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap named in his weekly look at players whose potential future earnings have taken a hit based on their recent performances.
  • While the Dolphins haven’t looked great on the offensive side of the ball over the last two weeks, the defense hasn’t been any better, and according to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, Miami players are getting frustrated. One source tells Beasley that many of the defenders are “beyond furious, irate” with defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle‘s game plans and play calls.
  • Assuming Blake Bortles stays healthy and remains the No. 1 quarterback in Jacksonville, the Jaguars will receive a $1.25MM credit on their cap, according to Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). Those savings would be a result of Chad Henne not reaching the playing-time incentives on his deal with the club.

King’s Latest: CBs, Bortles, Fairley, 49ers

Those defensive penalties that have plagued preseason games for the last two weeks won’t be going away once the regular season gets underway, according to vice president of officiating Dean Blandino. Blandino tells Peter King of TheMMQB.com that defensive holding and illegal contact penalties will continue to be a point of emphasis throughout the year, and that he expects coaches and teams to adjust their style of play over the next few weeks. In the second weekend of the 2014 preseason, there have been nearly nine more penalties per game than an average 2013 regular season contest, which is a number that will hurt the game if it extends into the regular season, writes King.

Here’s more from this week’s MMQB:

  • King predicts that we’ll hear of several teams desperate for cornerbacks in the next week or so. “We’re going to get one,” a personnel man for one team said. “But we may have to pay a higher price than we want, or a higher price than the player deserves.” King identifies the Jets, Ravens, Lions, Colts, Vikings, and Buccaneers as teams that may be on the lookout for another corner.
  • While Chad Henne may open the regular season under center for the Jaguars, the team has always planned to transition Blake Bortles into the starting role when he’s ready, regardless of how well or how poorly Henne is playing, says King. Based on how Bortles has looked so far in the preseason, that transition could end up happening sooner rather than later.
  • According to King, Nick Fairley is now behind C.J. Mosley on the Lions‘ depth chart. So far, it doesn’t seem as Detroit’s decision to decline Fairley’s 2015 option as a motivational tactic has paid off for the defensive tackle or the team.
  • One scout suggests the 49ers should be worried about the backup quarterback situation, and King writes that Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke may be thinking about elevating Josh Johnson to No. 2 on the depth chart after another poor performance by Blaine Gabbert.
  • King praises the Bears‘ signing of wide receiver Santonio Holmes, writing that he has “no idea” why so many people view Holmes as a toxic locker-room presence — in King’s view, the veteran wideout has been “mildly disruptive,” but he’s hardly a cancer.