October 5th, 2020 at 3:42pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
The Patriots are doing some major shuffling with their backfield. New England is placing running back Sony Michel on injured reserve and activating fellow running back Damien Harris off IR, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). The team also activated receiver Gunner Olszewski and placed safety Cody Davis on injured reserve.
With the new rules this year, Michel will have to miss at least three games before returning. It’s a bummer for Michel since he was coming off by far his best game of the season, when he rushed for 117 yards on only nine carries against the Raiders. He had been a disappointment through the first couple of weeks, and will now be hitting the shelf. Fortunately, Rapoport noted in a follow-up tweet that he was told Michel could be activated relatively quickly and it’s not a season-ending injury.
A third-round pick last year, Harris barely played as a rookie and was a healthy scratch most weeks. He reportedly had a strong summer though, and was looking like he might be the Patriots’ starter to open the year before a hand injury sent him to IR. Now he’s back and figures to be in the mix tonight against Kansas City, although with James White and Rex Burkhead also present it’s unclear how much run he’ll get.
That being said, with Michel hitting injured reserve there’s a clear lane for Harris to shine if he can make the most of the opportunity. With Cam Newton out due to COVID-19 and Brian Hoyer getting the start at quarterback, the Pats figure to be running the ball frequently on Monday night. A first-round pick in 2018, Michel impressed as a rookie before taking a step back last year. This quad injury he picked up against Las Vegas certainly isn’t what he needed to get back on track.
Olszewski, a 2019 UDFA, served as New England’s punt returner for half of last season. Davis is a core special teamer who has yet to play a defensive snap this season.
There is plenty of logic to that. The Patriots selected Stidham in the fourth round of the 2019 draft and are said to be high on him, and most believe that New England will spend 2020 cleaning up its salary cap situation and preparing for a return to contention in 2021. That means that the club will not pursue a potentially pricey QB like the recently-released Cam Newton, and it means that Stidham will have a chance to prove that he can be the rightful heir to Tom Brady.
Curran does say that if the COVID-19 pandemic puts a damper on Stidham’s development — which it seems almost certain to do — then Hoyer could get the nod to open the 2020 season. Stidham, though, would probably step in at some point thereafter. The Auburn product threw just four passes in his rookie campaign but put together a strong two years against SEC defenses in 2017-18.
While we’re on the subject of the Patriots, let’s round up a few more notes out of Foxborough:
The release of longtime kicker Stephen Gostkowski did not create $3.5MM of cap space, as originally reported. Because $2MM of Gostkowski’s 2020 salary was fully-guaranteed, the move actually frees up less than $1MM of space. So as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets, Gostkowski’s release wasn’t financially motivated; the team just wanted a new kicker.
Hoyer’s contract calls for a $1.05MM salary with $2MM in playing time incentives, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Because his deal with the Colts contained offsets, Hoyer will earn at least $2MM in 2020.
The Patriots agreed to sign veteran defensive back Cody Davis yesterday, and ESPN’s Field Yates reports that Davis will take home a $1.1MM base salary and landed a $100K signing bonus (Twitter link). He will carry a cap charge of $1.5MM.
Fullback Dan Vitale‘s new contract is a one-year pact worth $1.3MM, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. He received a $100K signing bonus and can earn another $200K in playing time incentives.
Veteran defensive back Cody Davis will sign with the Patriots, according to his agent (Twitter link). He will land with a franchise that has frequently displayed a commitment to rostering high-end special-teamers.
Davis spent the past two seasons with the Jaguars, playing at least 85% of their special teams snaps in those years. He spent the first five seasons of his career with the Rams. While Davis made five starts with Los Angeles, the former UDFA has primarily operated as a special-teamer in the NFL.
The 30-year-old specialist will join recently re-signed Matthew Slater, a perennial special teams Pro Bowler, and three-time Pro Bowl special-teamer Justin Bethel — whom the Patriots added last year. Davis does not have a Pro Bowl on his resume, but he will add to New England’s array of talent at these spots while helping the Pats fill the void Nate Ebner created when he signed with the Giants.
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.
Let’s take a look at the details from the latest contracts signed in the NFL, with all links going to Twitter unless otherwise noted:
A.J. McCarron, QB (Bills): Two years, $10MM. $3MM in 2018, $7MM in 2019. $1.1MM of ’19 salary guaranteed for injury. 2019 salary fully guaranteed on Day 5 of 2019 league year. Bills would incur $2MM dead-money charge by cutting McCarron after one season (via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com).
DaQuan Jones, DE (Titans): Three years, $21MM, $14MM fully guaranteed at signing. $6MM base salary for 2019 fully guaranteed (per Caplan).
Virgil Green, TE (Chargers): Three years, $8.6MM, $5.9MM fully guaranteed, which covers the first two years of this deal (per Adam Caplan of ESPN.com, on Twitter).
Cody Davis, S (Jaguars): Two years, $5MM, $2.5MM fully guaranteed. Deal contains option bonus due 22 days before the start of the 2019 league year (via Caplan).
Defensive back CodyDavis is headed to Jacksonville. Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports (via Twitter) that the defensive back has signed with the Jaguars.
The 2013 undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech had spent his entire five-year career with the Rams, primarily serving in a backup role. Despite appearing in a career-low seven games (two starts) last season, the 28-year-old set career-highs in tackles (22) and passes defended (four). Davis didn’t earn enough snaps to qualify for Pro Football Focus‘ positional rankings, but his score would have placed him 45th among 87 eligible safeties.
Cody Davis is back. Myles Simmons of TheRams.com reports (via Twitter) that the Rams have activated the safety from the injured reserve. To make room on the roster, the team has placed linebacker Matt Longacre on the injured reserve (as we learned yesterday).
Davis had played in six games for the Rams this season before injuring his quadriceps in October. The safety ultimately compiled 19 tackles, three passes defended, and one interception before landing on the IR in early November. The former undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech has spent his entire five-year career with the Rams organization, and he’s taken on more responsibility each season. In fact, despite missing more than half the season, Davis had already collected a career-high in tackles in 2017.
“Excited and happy for all of the success that this team has gotten accomplished,” Davis told the team’s website. “But sitting on the sidelines, you’re just itching to get back out there, so it feels great to be out practicing with my teammates.”
So far, Fitzgerald has 92 catches for 982 yards and five touchdowns on the season. The receiver, who will celebrate his 35th birthday in August, has accomplished a great deal in the league and would leave the game with few regrets if he decides to call it a career. Still, his performance this year indicates that he still has plenty left in the tank.
Here’s more from the NFC West:
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll admitted that things haven’t really worked out with offseason addition Eddie Lacy “for a number of reasons,” (Twitter link via Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times). However, he says that Lacy and teammate Thomas Rawls are still “battling” to see if either can get time this week. Lacy, who is scheduled for free agency after the conclusion of his one-year deal, has a career-low 2.6 yards per carry average.
Safety Cody Davis has been cleared to practice, meaning that he will be eligible to return off of injured reserve for the Rams in the final week of the regular season (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Alden Gonzalez). Davis is a key reserve for L.A. and his return could allow free safety Lamarcus Joyner to help out at cornerback now that Kayvon Webster has been lost for the season. The Rams round out the regular season with games against the Titans and 49ers. With a two-game lead over the Seahawks, they have virtually locked up the NFC West crown.