Corey Bojorquez

Bills Sign QB Matt Barkley

The Bills signed quarterback Matt Barkley and Colton Schmidt to one-year deals, according to a team announcement. In related moves, punter Corey Bojorquez shoulder and RB Taiwan Jones neck were placed on injured reserve. 

With Josh Allen still sidelined by an elbow injury and Derek Anderson in concussion protocol, the Bills are expected to turn to embattled QB Nathan Peterman as their starter against the Bears. Barkley joins the club as Peterman’s likely backup for Sunday.

Barkley, 28, was most recently with the Bengals. He signed a two-year contract with the club back in March, but landed on IR after suffering a knee injury in the preseason. He was released by the Bengals on Sept. 12th with an injury settlement. The five-year pro has appeared in 11 games in his NFL career and made a season-high six starts in 2016 for the Bears, but he hasn’t done much of note on the field.

Colin Kaepernick remains available, and would represent a more accomplished alternative to Peterman or Barkley, but the Bills apparently did not want to go down that road.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Notes: Gronk, McDaniels, Guerrero

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) passes along a couple of interesting items this morning regarding several key faces in the Patriots’ locker room. While we knew that New England had indeed attempted to trade star tight end Rob Gronkowski this offseason, Rapoport says that those trade talks were “intense” and that the Pats were actually close to dealing Gronk at one point. However, Rapoport reports that Gronkowski then stepped in and adamantly informed the front office that he would either retire or remain with the Patriots, but that he would not go anywhere else. At that point, Rapoport says, trade talks were scrapped and, as we know, the team sweetened Gronk’s contract late last month.

Let’s take a look at a few more notes out of Foxborough as the Pats get set to kick off the 2018 campaign:

  • In response to Rapoport’s discussion about Gronkowski this morning, Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston revisited a report of his own (video link) in which he indicated that the Patriots did talk with several clubs about a Gronkowski trade. However, Curran says interest in Gronk was more tepid than one might think — in contrast to Rapoport’s report that the Pats almost had a deal in place — and that Tom Brady informed the team that he would not play if his top tight end was dealt.
  • In the same report linked above, Rapoport says that one reason OC Josh McDaniels left the Colts at the altar this offseason is because the Patriots gave him a five-year contract — which is largely unheard of for a coordinator — and that the contract pays McDaniels like a first-time head coach. In fact, Rapoport says that McDaniels is by far the highest-paid coordinator in the league, and his contract will eventually pay him over $4MM per year.
  • The role of Brady’s personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, has been one of the sources of conflict between Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, as we explained earlier this year. However, Rapoport reports that a compromise on Guerrero’s role has been reached. Under the terms of the compromise, Brady and Gronkowski may use Guerrero’s services when they so choose, and Guerrero has “solid” access to Gillette Stadium. Guerrero may also travel with the team, though Rapoport says he is unlikely to travel as much as he did in the past. The most important thing for all sides is that they do not publicly discuss the Guerrero issue in the future, and Rapoport no longer expects the trainer’s role to be a major storyline.
  • The Bills claimed punter Corey Bojorquez  off waivers from the Patriots last week even though Bojorquez never punted in a preseason game. Bojorquez’s lack of game usage was somewhat surprising given that he was seen as a legitimate threat to unseat incumbent punter Ryan Allen, but Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says the team may have been trying to “hide” Bojorquez so that he could clear waivers and return to the Pats’ practice squad, which Bojorquez himself appeared to confirm.
  • Reiss also passes along a couple of notes on the Patriots’ two newest practice squad players, WR Jace Billingsley and T Eric Smith. Reiss says that the team had interest in signing Billingsley to the practice squad last year — he ultimately chose to remain in Detroit on the Lions’ taxi squad — and that the Pats are paying Smith $20K per week (instead of the standard $7,600) because they coveted tackle depth and needed to give him a compelling reason to come to Foxborough.

 

Sunday NFL Transactions: AFC East

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four AFC East teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Bills, Dolphins, Patriots, and Jets are noted below.

Additionally, as of 12:00pm CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s AFC East transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day:

Buffalo Bills

Claimed:

Cut:

Practice squad:

Miami Dolphins

Claimed:

Placed on injured reserve:

Cut:

Practice squad:

New England Patriots

Claimed:

Placed on injured reserve:

Practice squad:

New York Jets

Practice squad:

Patriots Make Roster Cuts

The Patriots are the latest team to move to 53 players by making the following transactions:

Placed on injured reserve:

Cut:

New England kept only three true wide receivers on its initial roster, meaning the club will almost surely be searching for more options on the waiver wire.

AFC East Notes: Darnold, Pats, Patterson

Sam Darnold ended his holdout on Monday, leaving Roquan Smith as the final unsigned rookie. But the Jets made some concessions to bring their long-term quarterback investment into camp. Offset language, bonus payments and guarantees served as sticking points for Darnold’s camp, and the Jets bent on two of these items. Darnold’s deal includes offsets, but he will receive his $20MM signing bonus payment within 15 days, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports (on Twitter). The Jets also agreed agreed to keep Darnold’s guarantees intact in the event he is fined in the future, per PFT (on Twitter). Florio notes the lump-sum bonus payment represents a rarity, and this surely indicates how badly the Jets wanted their QB in camp.

The Jets continue to believe Darnold can make a strong push to unseat Josh McCown from the starting job, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv notes. A Jets official categorized Darnold as not being “hopelessly behind” by missing the first few days of camp. Jets officials have gushed about the USC-developed passer’s potential all offseason, so it’s unlikely he’ll be out of the running because of this holdout.

Here’s the latest from the AFC East:

  • Despite being a two-time All-Pro return man, Cordarrelle Patterson‘s been a specialist on special teams. The former Vikings and Raiders returner has specialized in kick returns. Bill Belichick hinted at the possibility of Patterson being a punt returner with the Patriots as well, but Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes that hasn’t been the case in camp yet. Rookies Braxton Berrios and Riley McCarron have joined veterans Julian Edelman, Patrick Chung and Chris Hogan as the punt returners in Pats camp. Patterson has fielded precisely one punt in his five-year NFL career, so it shouldn’t surprise the Patriots confine him to kickoff returns.
  • Rookie Corey Bojorquez could push five-year incumbent Patriots punter Ryan Allen, per Reiss, who notes the New Mexico product probably has more natural talent than Allen. The sixth-year veteran has one year and $2MM remaining on an extension he signed in 2015.
  • Second-round Pats pick Duke Dawson is in the mix to win the nickel cornerback job, Reiss tweets. Florida’s seen several corners warrant high draft choices in recent years, and this one has a chance to play alongside Stephon Gilmore on passing downs. Reiss tabs Eric Rowe as being slightly ahead of Jason McCourty for work as the other starting corner.
  • The Jets worked out defensive lineman Drew Iddings over the weekend, Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer tweets. Iddings has bounced around the league for a couple of years, with the Panthers being the most recent team to cut him by doing so last week, but has yet to play in a regular-season game.
  • Former Cardinals tight end Troy Niklas latched on with the Patriots this spring, but New England released him last week. He’s still dealing with a sore knee stemming from a 2017 injury, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reports (subscription required). However, Howe adds his New England’s depth chart at tight end also contributed to the move.

East Notes: Beckham, S. Jones, Patriots

The Giants and star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. are far apart in extension talks, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk believes Beckham should stage a holdout. After all, if Beckham reports for training camp — as he said he will do — but does not get the deal he’s looking for, then he would essentially be foreclosed from holding out. As Florio notes, a player who reports and then leaves subjects himself to a “five-day letter,” in which a team advises such player that, if he does not return within five days, he will be put on the reserve/left squad list, thereby tolling his contract for a full year. And, if Beckham reports but does not practice with the team until he gets a new deal, he could be subject to fines and suspension for conduct detrimental to the team.

As such, Florio believes Beckham’s only chance to get the contract he deserves this year is to hold out and put a little pressure on the Giants, which none of his other alternatives would do. Beckham, though, appears to be sensitive to the stigma associated with holdouts, so this will remain a fascinating case to monitor.

Now for more from the league’s east divisions:

  • Matt Lombardo of NJ.com names the secondary as perhaps the biggest weakness on the Giants‘ roster, though he says UDFA cornerback Grant Haley — who reportedly received a whopping $100K in guaranteed money from Big Blue — could be a solid slot corner in his rookie season. Lombardo also says the team could reunite with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, which grows more likely the longer DRC lingers on the open market.
  • Eagles cornerback Sidney Jones had a strong offseason, but as Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com observes, Jones spent the last three practices of the spring on the sideline with soreness in his lower body. Philadelphia has said that soreness is wholly unrelated to the Achilles injury that forced Jones to miss almost all of his rookie season, but Shorr-Parks says the fact that the Washington product was forced to miss the most important practices of the spring with a vague injury is noteworthy. The team needs Jones to live up to his collegiate potential, which would have a positive trickle-down effect on the rest of a secondary that needs to replace Patrick Robinson (as of now, Shorr-Parks says, Jalen Mills is the favorite to serve as the Eagles’ nickel corner, a role that Robinson filled so admirably last year).
  • Free agent WR Eric Decker indicated earlier this week that the Patriots would be a good fit for him, and while no team — including the Patriots – has publicly expressed interest in Decker in nearly three months, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says New England could be interested once it has had the opportunity to fully evaluate its receiving corps in training camp.
  • One potentially key member of the Patriots‘ receiving corps, Malcolm Mitchell, is unsure if he will be ready for the start of training camp. Per Stephen Hewitt of the Boston Herald, Mitchell — who missed all of the 2017 campaign with a knee injury after a promising rookie season — simply said “we’ll see” when asked if he would be ready to go when camp opens next month. New England would love to have a healthy Mitchell, especially in light of Julian Edelman‘s impending four-game suspension.
  • Reiss says that Patriots‘ UDFA punter Corey Bojorquez is a legitimate threat to incumbent Ryan Allen.