Cole Beasley

Patriots Were In On Cole Beasley

The Patriots have been trying to upgrade their wide receiver corps this offseason, and they are reportedly interested in Golden Tate, who is the best free agent wideout on the market. However, the club was also in on another slot receiver, Cole Beasley, who ultimately signed with the Bills.

At his introductory press conference, Beasley said his final decision came down to the Cowboys (his original club), the Bills, and the Patriots (Twitter link via Joe Buscaglia of WKBW). He is the type of sure-handed, quality route-runner that has made hay in New England’s Tom Brady-led offense in the past, and he likely would have had plenty of opportunities in the club’s aerial attack in 2019. As of right now, the Pats’ wide receiver depth chart is currently topped by Julian Edelman and Bruce Ellington, who just signed today.

Phillip Dorsett, whom the club re-signed yesterday, is back in the fold but is far from a sure thing. And Beasley turned down the Pats before either Ellington or Dorsett were under contract, opting to head to upstate New York on a four-year, $29MM pact.

That will leave the Pats searching for another pass-catcher or two in free agency and/or the draft, though the team always seems to find a way to make the most out of what they have.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Thomas, Barr, Peterson

Some assorted contract details from the around the NFL:

Bills To Sign WR Cole Beasley

The Bills aren’t done making upgrades at wide receiver. Shortly after inking John Brown to a free agent deal, the Bills struck an agreement with Cole Beasley, as Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. The pact will pay Beasley $29MM over four years, Garafolo adds. 

We previously heard estimates that Beasley could get up to $10MM/year, so the $7.25MM average annual value on this deal isn’t too pricey for Buffalo by comparison. Still, it’s a big chunk of change for a player who had just 672 yards off of 65 catches last year for the Cowboys. Beasley also added three touchdowns, bringing his career total to 23.

Beasley has never been much of a deep threat with a career average of 10.3 yards per reception, but he offers speed in the short game as well as special teams acumen.

Statistically, Beasley’s best season came in 2016 when he posted a 75/833/5 line. He also averaged 11.1 yards per grab that year, which nearly matched his career best of 11.4 ypc in 2014.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

La Canfora’s Latest: Mathieu, Ravens, Bucs

While the Texans are attempting to retain Tyrann Mathieu, both the Ravens and Buccaneers have “serious interest” in the veteran defensive back, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Baltimore just released fellow safety Eric Weddle on Tuesday, while Tampa Bay has been in need of secondary help for years. Mathieu inked a one-year, $7MM deal with Houston last year, but he’s expected to receive a significant raise on his next contract. Per La Canfora, Mathieu should be able to collect $24MM over the first two years of a new deal.

Here’s more from JLC:

  • Overall, the safety market is not expected to be as depressed as it was a year ago, when Mathieu, Eric Reid, Kenny Vaccaro, Tre Boston, and others were forced to settle for one-year pacts. Earl Thomas will set the market and is asking for $13MM annually, per La Canfora. Meanwhile, former Giants safety Landon Collins — now on the market after New York declined to franchise him — will likely come in below Thomas, and Bears defender Adrian Amos is searching for $9-10MM per year.
  • While there aren’t any clear-cut, No. 1 wideouts available this offseason, slot receivers are aplenty, and they should get paid, says JLC. Golden Tate is looking for $13MM per season, while Adam Humphries may be targeting $10MM annually and has already been deemed too expensive to return to the Buccaneers. Cole Beasley could also get $10MM per year, while John Brown wants $8-9MM per season.
  • Offensive tackle Daryl Williams is expected to reach the open market, and La Canfora reports Williams’ price has already “soared” above where the Panthers are comfortable paying. Both the Bills and Giants are expected to target Williams, and both connections make sense. Buffalo employs former Carolina staffer Brandon Beane as its general manager, while ex-Panthers GM Dave Gettleman is in charge in New York.
  • The Raiders have already been mentioned as a potential suitor for Chargers receiver Tyrell Williams, and the Colts could also join the fray, per La Canfora. Williams is expected to earn more than $12MM per year on his new deal.

Cowboys WR Cole Beasley Seeking $20MM Guaranteed

The Cowboys want to retain wideout Cole Beasley, but it’s going to cost them a pretty penny to do so. Clarence Hill Jr. of the Star-Telegram tweets that receiver is seeking a deal that will pay him at least $20MM in guaranteed money.

The team has made it very clear that they’d welcome back the 29-year-old with open arms, but coach Jason Garrett acknowledged that it might be difficult to meet the receiver’s monetary demands.

“Oh, we love Cole Beasley,” Garrett told Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com. “If you followed our football team the last few years you know the impact that he’s made on our team…We want him with our team as we go forward for a long, long time, but business will creep into that on both sides. Hopefully we can get to a point where we can make a deal with him and some of these other guys where it works well for everybody and we keep moving forward.”

$20MM in guaranteed money isn’t some unprecedented number, but it’s debatable whether Beasley deserves to be on that tier of wideouts. For comparison’s sake, DeSean Jackson and Emmanuel Sanders both earned $20MM guaranteed when they signed their previous deals, and those two players had shown a whole lot more than Beasley up to that point of their careers.

Despite only starting four games for the Cowboys last season, Beasley still played more than 66-percent of the team’s offensive snaps. He lead Dallas with 65 receptions, and he hauled in 672 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Beasley has also contributed on special teams during his seven-year career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Jets, Cowboys, Dolphins, Bills

The Jets are expected to hire former Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack for the same position, tweets Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Pollack did a solid job with Cincinnati in 2018, but he was revered for his work with the Cowboys’ front five from 2013-17. He drew interest from the Packers after being fired by the Bengals, but will now head to New York, where the Jets ranked dead last in Football Outsiders‘ run-blocking metric and 18th in pass protection. Before hiring Pollack, the Jets also had interest in former 49ers assistant OL coach Adam Stenavich, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). Stenavich has since joined the Packers’ staff as offensive line coach.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • Dez Bryant regularly criticized the Cowboys‘ front office and coaching staff before and — especially — after being released, and now another Dallas receiver has taken the same tact. “Honestly, the front office pushes who they want to get the ball to,” Cole Beasley tweeted on Tuesday. “I haven’t been a huge priority in that regard. Maybe that will change but I’m not sure. More balls come my way in 2 minute drill where nothing is planned.” In 2018, the 29-year-old Beasley ranked second on the Cowboys in targets, receptions, and yardage, and tied for second with three touchdowns. His four-year, $13.6MM extension expires in March, at which point he’ll hit the free agent market.
  • NFL agent Damarius Bilbo was suspended for three months and fined $12,500 for violations of the NFLPA’s Regulations Governing Contract Advisors, as Darren Heitner tweets. Bilbo’s clients include Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry, Saints running back Alvin Kamara, Chargers running back Melvin Gordon, and Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard. Howard, notably, is entering the final year of his rookie deal and scheduled to hit free agency after the 2019 season, but Bilbo won’t be able to negotiate on his behalf for the time being. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald looked at Howard’s case for an extension earlier today.
  • Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams has no intention of reversing his decision to retire, as he tells Mike Rodak of ESPN.com (Twitter link). “I make a decision, I’ve got to go with it…” said Williams. “You couldn’t dream about coming back and trying to replicate [my final game]. That was such a great day. It’s something I’ll remember forever.” Williams, 35, spent the entirety of his 13-year career in Buffalo, appearing in 178 games during that time.
  • The Senior Bowl will be an opportunity for the Jets to begin their offseason by speaking with other clubs, as Brian Costello of the New York Post. New York could potentially be a suitor for Steelers wideout Antonio Brown, and could begin putting out feelers this week. Meanwhile, rival teams could inquire on the availability of defensive tackle Leonard Williams, per Costello.

Injury Notes: Watkins, Berry, Chiefs, Cowboys

Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins is expected to play in today’s divisional playoff game against the Colts, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). The wideout was listed as questionable with a foot injury.

The 25-year-old had only appeared in a single game since injuring his foot in Week 9, but he was able to practice throughout the week. When healthy, Watkins has managed to play a relatively big role in the Chiefs offense. In 10 games (nine starts) this season, the receiver had hauled in 40 receptions for 519 yards and three touchdowns.

With Watkins back in the mix, Chris Conley and Kelvin Benjamin will find themselves sliding down the depth chart.

Let’s take a look at some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • While Watkins is set to play today, it sounds like one of his teammates will not. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Chiefs safety Eric Berry isn’t likely to play today against the Colts. The veteran has been dealing with injuries throughout the season, with a heel ailment being his latest issue. After playing in only one regular season game in 2017, the 30-year-old has been limited to only a pair of games in 2018, compiling 11 tackles. If there’s any silver lining, the Chiefs were reportedly preparing for Berry to miss today’s contest, as they adjusted their defensive packages to not include the veteran (via NFL.com’s Adam Maya).
  • The Cowboys are “cautiously optimistic” that both wideout Cole Beasley and tight end Blake Jarwin will be ready to play in tonight’s playoff matchup against the Rams, tweets Rapoport. Neither player practiced this week, and they’re both listed as questionable. However, Schefter tweets that the plan is for “both to work out pregame and both be active.” Beasley, who has been dealing with an ankle injury, had one of his best offensive seasons in 2017, compiling 65 catches for 672 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Jarwin emerged late in the season, including a Week 17 contest where he had seven receptions for 119 yards and three scores.
  • We heard last night that Colts receiver Ryan Grant and defensive end Tyquan Lewis will not suit up for today’s matchup against the Chiefs.

East Rumors: Patriots, Cowboys, Bills

Reports of discord within the Patriots‘ organization are nothing new, but a new book by ESPN’s Ian O’Connor has shed even more light on the dynamic between head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. In “Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time,” O’Connor reports that Brady would “divorce” Belichick if he could, but feared alienating New England fans after the Patriots traded backup (and possible successor) Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers last season. “If you’re married 18 years to a grouchy person who gets under your skin and never compliments you, after a while you want to divorce him,” a source told O’Connor. Brady will return for yet another season with the Belichick and the Patriots after agreeing to a revised contract that includes multiple performance-based incentives.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • The Cowboys, perhaps unsurprisingly, don’t have any interest in re-signing veteran wide receiver Dez Bryant, as executive Stephen Jones said on 105.3 The Fan (Twitter link via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News). “Don’t necessarily see that at this moment, but we’re always looking for ways to improve,” Jones said. “Obviously we’re focused on the guys that are on our team at the moment.” Dallas is currently fielding arguably the league’s worst receiving corps, as complementary options such as Cole Beasley, Tavon Austin, Deonte Thompson, and Allen Hurns top the club’s depth chart. Bryant, though, wouldn’t be a clear improvement after a disappointing 2017 campaign. Now 29 years old, Bryant has been linked to multiple clubs this offseason, but only came close to a contact with the Browns, who could still opt to sign him.
  • Speaking of Bryant, the veteran receiver was a factor in Brice Butler re-signing with the Cowboys this week, per Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram, who notes Bryant told Butler to head back to Dallas if the opportunity presented itself. As Hill tweets, the Cowboys called Butler after a Week 1 loss to the Panthers, so his addition was in the works for awhile. Butler, who had spent his entire career in Dallas before signing with the Cardinals this spring, signed a two-year deal, per Calvin Watkins of The Athletic (Twitter link). He’ll earn the veteran minimum of $790K in 2018.
  • Before signing with the Vikings earlier this week, defensive tackle Tom Johnson drew interest from the Bills and Browns, according to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. Johnson, whose release from the Seahawks precipitated his free agency, was in fact close to signing with Buffalo before Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson — who led Johnson in Minnesota from 2014-17 — reached out. Seattle also expressed interest in re-signing Johnson, but his number of suitors allowed to him to a land a one-year, $1MM deal from the Vikings, one that includes $500K in incentives.

NFC Notes: Zeke, Beasley, Seahawks

It’s been a roller coaster news cycle regarding Ezekiel Elliott‘s six-game suspension since the regular season started. Now in another twist, it appears that if the second-year running back’s suspension is officially handed down in December, the league will force him to sit out through the playoffs, reports Clarence Hill Jr. of the Star Telegram (Twitter link). This news adds another aspect to the ongoing legal feud in that if the team felt that Elliott was going to eventually serve his suspension, wouldn’t they rather him take it now rather than wait till playoff time? It’s an interesting question, and while the 22 year-old has repeatedly stated his intention to fight the league, the issue will remain a cloud over Jerry Jones‘ organization for the rest of the year. Elliott will be allowed to suit up for this Sunday’s game after the United States Court of Appeals granted him a stay earlier in the day.

  • In other Cowboys news, another pivotal member of the offense is set to play in Week 9 as well. Wide receiver Cole Beasley cleared his final step of concussion protocol today after taking the week trying to recover from his head slamming to the ground in last Sunday’s game versus Washington, according to Brandon George of Dallas News. Beasley stated that he didn’t really suffer any concussion symptoms throughout the week, but was definitely feeling the effects of the contact during the game. “It wasn’t crazy,” Beasley said. “It was just kind of some dizziness when I hit the ground and it only lasted for a little while. I was able to pass most of the concussion test stuff, but some of the stuff we did it started making me kind of nauseous and made feel like I was going to throw up and they held me out.”
  • The Seahawks are in a tough spot with injuries heading into this week’s contest against Washington. Apart from Earl Thomas potentially missing a few games, the team also may be without defensive starters Sheldon Richardson (oblique) and Bobby Wagner (hamstring) with both players being officially listed as questionable, according to Brady Anderson of ESPN.com. Anderson does report that safety Kam Chancellor will play in Week 9 after dealing with an ankle injury throughout the week. However, losing these three key defensive starters would greatly hurt a Seattle team that is riding a ton of positive momentum after winning their last four games.
  • Anderson also passes along that Seattle’s newest trade acquisition, tackle Duane Brown, is adjusting to his new team’s offense well because of his experience with the Seahawks zone-blocking scheme, according to head coach Pete Carroll. “He’s done exceptionally well,” Carroll said. “Like we said earlier, the carry-over that he had from six years being in the same system has really ensured that he can make this transition as fast as you possibly could make it.” Brown figures to be a major upgrade at left tackle ahead of the team’s former starter on the blind side, Rees Odhiambo, who ranks as the worst qualified tackle in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus.

NFC Notes: Lions, Bucs, Cowboys, Seahawks

Tight end Eric Ebron is the biggest name being floated around by the Lions with the trade deadline looming, according to Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. General manager Bob Quinn has been aggressive since assuming the job nearly two years ago, and even pulled off a midseason deal in 2016 when he traded Kyle Van Noy to the Patriots, Meinke notes. A first-round pick out of North Carolina in 2014, the athletic tight end was expected by many to have a breakout campaign following a career year in 2016 but that has not been the case. Ebron has tallied more than two catches in a game just once this season but still possesses freakish physical traits that could lead a team to take a shot on the fourth-year pass catcher. Ebron is signed through 2018 and is due to earn $8.25MM next season.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Jameis Winston reinjured his shoulder against the Bills in Week 7, Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter confirmed in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link). “[Jameis] was doing better, he played very well, especially in the second half against Buffalo,” Koetter said. “We did have that one sack-fumble in the first half, and he did kind of reinjure it, and so that’s what led to him not throwing on Wednesday or Thursday this week.” Despite missing two days of practice, Winston took all reps on Friday and will start vs. Carolina in Week 8.
  • The Cowboys are not looking to move any of their receivers, team vice president Stephen Jones said in a radio interview with 105.3 The Fan (Twitter link). Jones added the team has not specifically been asked about Cole Beasley‘s availability in a trade. After posting a career-high 75 catches in 2016, Beasley has hauled in just 16 grabs in the team’s first six games this season. It also doesn’t bode well for the slot receiver’s future in Dallas that the team drafted Ryan Switzer, a near carbon copy of Beasley, in the 2017 NFL Draft. Beasley is signed through 2018 and is due to make $3.25MM next season.
  • The Seahawks are paying Dion Jordan $7.2K and Malik McDowell $5K per week while the two are on the NFI list, tweets Joel Corry of CBS Sports. Though a team doesn’t have to pay a player on the NFI list since the injury occurred away from the field, Seattle was able to come to terms with the two defenders. Jordan returned to practice this week, so the team has three weeks to activate him to the 53-man roster or he will not be eligible to play again this season. McDowell is still out indefinitely.