Chris Herndon

AFC East Rumors: Gronk, Dolphins, Jets

Rob Gronkowski‘s contract has come up in several news cycles in recent years, the all-world tight end still being attached to a deal he signed back in 2012. But the future Hall of Fame Patriots pass-catcher said he wasn’t agonizing over the team adjusting his deal, which it did for the second straight year via incentive package. Gronk did sit out the voluntary portion of New England’s offseason program and considered retirement, but he says the drama’s in the past as he prepares for his ninth NFL season.

It didn’t weigh on me at all,” Gronkowski said of his near-offseason-long negotiations with the Pats (via NESN.com). “Everything’s always in the works. Nothing’s just going to happen in a day, something like that. It’s in the past now. It happened last week, so it’s go time now.”

Gronkowski also said had he not been satisfied with his situation, he would have followed Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack‘s footsteps.

I’m super satisfied with my situation,” Gronkowski said. “If I wasn’t, I would try to pull a move like they did. It works out. You get rewarded for holding out. But I’m not frustrated at all or anything. I’m super satisfied and just ready to go.”

The Patriots will need Gronkowski plenty while Julian Edelman sits and a thin receiving corps attempts to become a reliable source for Tom Brady targets. Here’s the latest from the Pats’ rivals:

  • The Dolphins submitted an unsuccessful waiver claim for a Bills cut, linebacker Tanner Vallejo, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. Vallejo ended up in Cleveland because of the Browns’ top waiver priority position, one they’ve used frequently over the past week. Miami also wanted to keep two of their own cuts — running back Buddy Howell and tackle Eric Smith — but saw the former land with the Texans via waiver claim and the latter end up choosing to sign with the Patriots’ practice squad instead of the Dolphins’.
  • Dolphins skepticism is rampant around the NFL-following world going into this season, with Miami sitting as one of Las Vegas’ longest-odds Super Bowl propositions, but one reason the team believes it will improve from a disappointing 2017 is its offensive line. The Dolphins believe Laremy Tunsil is set for a “monster” season and that Daniel Kilgore has filled in nicely for Mike Pouncey — as both a leader and a player, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald notes. Kilgore and Josh Sitton are now in place on a Miami front that’s endured questions about its interior line — be it Pouncey’s health or guards’ underwhelming performance — for years.
  • Shifting back to practice squad gets, the Jets paid a premium for two of their 10 taxi-squadders. Defensive end Bronson Kaufusi and running back De’Angelo Henderson will make four times as much as league-minimum practice squad players will, with NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero reporting (via Twitter) Kaufusi will earn $32K per week and Henderson will receive $30K per week. The practice squad minimum for 2018 is just less than $8K weekly. The Broncos liked what they saw from Henderson in the 2017 preseason, but the 2017 sixth-round pick did not see much game action behind C.J. Anderson, Jamaal Charles and Devontae Booker. Additions of Royce Freeman and UDFA Phillip Lindsay routed Henderson out of Denver this year.
  • The Jets have one of the league’s least established tight end situations, but the team is high on rookie Chris Herndon, Albert Breer of SI.com writes. A fourth-round pick, Herndon’s caught the Jets’ eye as both a receiver and blocker and is a player the team believes will be a long-term cog. Jordan Leggett, a 2017 fifth-rounder, resides as the Jets’ other primary tight end candidate after Austin Seferian-Jenkins‘ defection to the Jaguars.

East Notes: Redskins, Cowboys, Jets

Earlier today, we looked at how the Redskins plan to deploy their supplemental draft choice, Adonis Alexander. Now let’s take a look at notes from several other east division clubs, starting with more out of Washington:

  • The Redskins‘ lack of a consistent running game in the Jay Gruden era is the byproduct of a number of factors, as John Keim of ESPN.com observes. While the offensive line is generally a good one (when healthy), the team has struggled mightily in short-yardage situations over the last few years, and some question whether Washington is committed enough to the run, as it ranks 27th in the league in total carries since 2014. But, as Keim points out, the Redskins rank 10th in first-down carries over that same span; the problem is that they rank 30th in yards per carry on first down. So, as one scout suggests, the issue is not running more, it’s running more effectively. The addition of Derrius Guice should help, as would a healthy season from the starters on the O-line and more effective blocking from receivers and tight ends. If Washington is going to push for a playoff spot, it will need an effective ground game to help out Alex Smith and the passing attack.
  • The Cowboys have a new O-line coach in Paul Alexander, who spent the last 24 seasons with the Bengals. He inherits one of the best offensive lines in the league, so he is under a good deal of pressure to keep the train rolling. To that end, he does not plan on making a drastic overhaul, but as Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News writes, Alexander and OC Scott Linehan are implementing concepts that are noticeably different from the ones that previous O-line coaches Bill Callahan and Frank Pollack employed. Star running back Ezekiel Elliott is impressed with the modifications, and Alexander suggests that the linemen themselves have also bought in.
  • Darryl Slater of NJ.com touched on the Jets‘ tight end battle in a mailbag item yesterday, a situation that he delves into more deeply today. Per Slater, Jordan Leggett — whom the team selected in the fifth round of the 2017 draft, but who missed his entire rookie campaign with a knee injury — is a roster lock, as is 2018 fourth-rounder Chris Herndon. Both players are essentially rookies, and while they both have upside, rookie tight ends rarely produce a great deal in the passing attack. Slater suggests that Leggett and Herndon could see a fairly even split in snap distribution, though they will both need to improve as blockers. He adds that New York is expected to keep three tight ends, and Eric Tomlinson — who is a capable blocker — is currently the favorite for the No. 3 TE job.
  • Per Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins could build a training facility that will allow them to practice where they play. Miami is considering building a $75MM complex on team-owned land adjacent to Hard Rock Stadium, which would be a considerable upgrade from the facility at Nova Southeastern University that the team has trained in since 1993. Although that facility has been improved over the years, it is still a far cry from the first-class complexes that are becoming more commonplace around the league. Other locations remain in consideration, but an upgrade is coming, and it could come as soon as 2020.

AFC Notes: Mason, Herndon, Foreman

Zack Martin just inked a massive extension with the Cowboys, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com wonders what effect Martin’s contract will have on Shaq Mason‘s future with the Patriots. Mason is not on the same level as Martin or Andrew Norwell — who signed a similarly large deal with the Jaguars this offseason — but he is still a very good guard and should command upwards of $10MM per year when he hits free agency at the end of the 2018 campaign. Reiss is skeptical that New England will pony up that much cash for a guard, so this could be Mason’s last year in Foxborough.

Reiss also observes that other key players, like DE Trey Flowers and K Stephen Gostkowski, are entering the last year of their respective contracts, but he does not offer an opinion as to how those negotiations will play out.

Now for more notes from the AFC:

  • More details have emerged regarding the arrest of Jets‘ rookie TE Chris Herndon. Herndon, a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, was charged with driving while intoxicated several weeks ago, and per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, an eyewitness told New Jersey State Police that an SUV believed to be driven by Herndon was traveling at least 100 mph. Herndon’s SUV flipped after colliding with another vehicle, which caught fire, and the SUV slid approximately 700 feet after initial contact. Eyewitness reports are notoriously shaky, but if this one is accurate, it will not bode well for Herndon, either from an NFL or legal perspective.
  • The Bills‘ WR corps is pretty thin overall, so second-year wideout Zay Jones — whom the team selected in the second round of the 2017 draft — is generally considered to have a stranglehold on Buffalo’s No. 2 wideout job opposite Kelvin Benjamin. However, Jones has dealt with some issues this offseason, as he was arrested in March and underwent knee surgery, and new GM Brandon Beane said the East Carolina product will not be handed anything. During an interview with WGR 550 (via Ryan Talbot of NewYorkUpstate.com), Beane said, “He’s not just going to necessarily go right to the top of the line. He’ll have to earn his way. Part of that will just be just getting his feel. He’s only played with Nathan Peterman. He has not got to play with Josh Allen or A.J. [McCarron] yet. So that bond there will just have to form.”
  • Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle provides an in-depth look at Texans RB D’Onta Foreman‘s recovery from a torn Achilles, which ended his rookie campaign prematurely in November. There is still no specific date for Foreman’s return, and it is unlikely he will be a full participant at the beginning of training camp next month (even the 2018 regular season opener is up in the air at this point). However, the former Texas standout remains confident that he will eventually regain the form that made him a 2017 third-round pick and the heir apparent to Lamar Miller.
  • The Ravens have some depth along their offensive line, part of which is last year’s fourth-round pick, Nico Siragusa. Siragusa suffered a brutal injury last August, as he tore his ACL, MCL, and PCL. Of course, that ended his rookie campaign before it began, but as Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun writes, Siragusa was able to fully participate in last week’s minicamp. He will compete for a backup role this year and could soon become a starting guard or center if he can remain healthy. Alex Lewis, who also missed the entire 2017 season, is expected to start somewhere along the O-line this year — either at left guard, center, or right tackle — but he was held out of minicamp due to back spasms. Head coach John Harbaugh said Lewis should be ready for training camp, but the Nebraska product’s injury history will be cause for concern until he can manage to stay out of the training room for an extended period of time.
  • Tyler Matakevich, a 2016 seventh-round pick, will be given every opportunity to win the Steelers‘ starting ILB job alongside Vince Williams, per Will Graves of the Associated Press. Pittsburgh has a gaping hole at that spot due to Ryan Shazier‘s horrific injury, but the team is confident Matakevich is ready to take the reins. He will need to fend off veteran Jon Bostic, whom the team signed this offseason.

East Notes: Eagles, Wentz, Pats, Gronk

Good news for Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. Based on what he is hearing, ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen (Twitter link) believes that Wentz will be ready for the team’s season opener.

All offseason long, the Eagles have been hoping that Wentz would be ready for Week 1. Of course, after his late-season ACL and LCL tears, the team is taking a cautious approach to his recovery. So far, Wentz has looked sharp in OTAs, so he should be ready to retake his spot as the team’s starting QB in September.

Here’s more from the East divisions:

  • There was a great deal of retirement talk surrounding Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski this offseason, but that’s all in the rear view mirror now. “I had to see where my body was at and where my mind was at. But now I’m out here, and I feel good,” Gronk said (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Jeff Darlington). “I feel like I definitely made the right decision coming back out. Mind and body. That’s what it has always been about. Nothing wrong with that, in my opinion. On Tuesday, Gronk and Tom Brady both reported to the Patriots for OTAs.
  • Jets tight end Chris Herndon, who was arrested Saturday, was on the practice field on Tuesday (Twitter link via Brian Costello of the New York Post). It remains to be seen whether he’ll face league discipline or whether the DUI charge will impact his status with the team.
  • The Giants announced that GM Dave Gettleman is set to undergo treatment for lymphoma. “Recently, I underwent an annual physical, during which it was discovered I have lymphoma. Over the past week, I have undergone more testing to determine the course of treatment, which is scheduled to start in the very near future,” Gettleman said in a statement. “The doctor’s outlook for the treatment and the prognosis is positive, and so am I. I will continue to work as much as the treatment process will allow, and as they know, when I am not in the office, I will be in constant communication with Pat (Shurmur), Kevin (Abrams) and the rest of our staff.”

Jets Rookie TE Chris Herndon Arrested

Jets rookie tight end Chris Herndon was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated early Saturday morning in New Jersey, according to the Miami Herald. The 22-year-old was driving a Nissan Armada when he rammed into the back of a Toyota FJ-40 Land Cruiser, totaling it, and also crashing into a railroad car and its attached trailer, the Miami Herald confirmed with New Jersey State Police spokesman, Jeff Flynn.

“The case remains under investigation,” Flynn said to the Miami Herald. “Mr. Herndon was arrested and charged with DWI. The DWI charge is considered a violation of New Jersey motor vehicle statutes.”

The Jets selected Herndon in the fourth round of this year’s draft out of Miami and signed him to his rookie deal last month.

“We are aware of the situation and have no further comment at this time,” a Jets spokesperson said to ESPN’s Rich Cimini.

New Jersey State Police spokesman Lawrence Peele confirmed to Cimini that Herndon was driving over the legal alcohol limit per results of a breathalyzer test, though the results were not released. Herndon was handcuffed at the scene and reportedly suffered minor injuries.

Herndon caught 40 passes for 477 yards and four touchdowns last season at Miami and was the team’s second-leading receiver. He missed the final two games of Miami’s season after undergoing surgery to repair a ligament in his left knee. He had recently been cleared to practice fully, per Cimini.

Cimini also noted this is the sixth Jets player in the last 13 months to be arrested and the third for drunken driving. Per Roster Resource, Herndon is currently projected as the Jets’ third-string tight end, with Eric Tomlinson and Clive Walford slotted ahead of him.