Corey Davis

AFC East Notes: Davis, McCourty, Pats, Bills

Corey Davis will be expected to play a critical role for the Jets this season, but he will need some time off first. The fifth-year wide receiver suffered a shoulder injury during Jets OTAs, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). Davis landed on his shoulder after attempting to make a leaping catch. This is believed to be a minor shoulder strain, though Garafolo adds that Dr. James Andrews examined the former top-five pick. Davis, who signed this year’s second-most lucrative wideout contract (three years, $37.5MM), is not expected to require surgery.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • The Dolphins added Jason McCourty early this month. The veteran cornerback is expected to play a key depth role in Miami, and Brian Flores said (via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald) some work at safety is possible for the three-year Patriots corner starter. McCourty saw most of his snaps at corner in 2020 but did work as a safety on 75 plays. The Dolphins let Bobby McCain go this offseason but have ex-Pats corner Eric Rowe and second-rounder Jevon Holland at safety. As for McCourty’s compensation, Jackson adds the 33-year-old defender signed for the veteran minimum. His base salary is nearly fully guaranteed, with OverTheCap noting McCourty is locked into $987K of that $1.1MM figure.
  • Joe Thuney‘s departure for Kansas City will create a vacancy at New England’s left guard spot for the first time in many years. The Patriots‘ first-string left guard since 2016, Thuney has yet to miss a game during his career. The Pats, however, may have located a gem in 2020 sixth-round pick Michael Onwenu. The Michigan product started 16 games and played more on the edge than at guard as a rookie. But it looks like the Pats will shift Onwenu to a full-time guard role, with ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss noting he lined up as their first-string left guard in OTAs. The Pats traded for Trent Brown and are expected to use him at right tackle, Onwenu’s primary 2020 position. Pro Football Focus graded Onwenu as a top-10 tackle last season.
  • Brown and Isaiah Wynn are set to be the Pats’ starting tackles, and Reiss adds Justin Herron looks like the top candidate to be their swing backup. Drafted 13 spots ahead of Onwenu in last year’s sixth round, Herron started six games and played 351 snaps as a rookie. PFF graded Herron 56th overall at tackle in 2020. Considering Wynn’s injury history, the Pats’ swing-tackle role is a pivotal gig.
  • Long snappers have a rigid salary structure. Entering last week, a seven-way tie existed for the league’s highest paid deep snapper. But the Bills appear to have broken said tie. Buffalo made Reid Ferguson the highest-paid snap specialist, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Though it is not known how much more than the previous snapper-high figure ($1.2MM) the Bills are giving Ferguson, Pelissero adds that the fifth-year snapper will receive a $675K signing bonus.

Jets To Sign WR Corey Davis

While the Jets future at quarterback may be uncertain, the team is still adding pieces to their offense. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that New York is adding wideout Corey Davis. The former first-rounder will get a three-year, $37.5MM deal, including $27MM in guaranteed money.

The former fifth-overall pick overcame a disappointing rookie campaign and put together a solid three-year stretch with the Titans. The 26-year-old had a career year in 2020, hauling in 65 receptions for 984 yards and five touchdowns. Davis also had three touchdowns in six career playoff games with Tennessee. Back in February, Titans GM Jon Robinson made it sound like the team was prepared to lose the wideout in free agency.

The Jets entered the offseason with a solid core at wideout. Leading receiver Jamison Crowder is still under contract, and the team is also still rostering notables like Braxton Berrios (37 receptions) and 2020 second-round pick Denzel Mims.

Davis has secured the largest contract of the day among wide receivers. The Patriots committed $26MM to Nelson Agholor and $22.5MM to Kendrick Bourne, while Jamal Agnew got a deal that could be worth up to $21MM from the Jaguars.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans GM On Isaiah Wilson, Offseason

We already talked about how Titans GM Jon Robinson confirmed the team had made contact with J.J. Watt‘s reps this morning, but there were some more interesting nuggets to come out of Robinson’s press conference.

For starters, Robinson talked about perhaps the biggest mistake of the 2020 NFL Draft, Isaiah Wilson. Tennessee drafted the offensive tackle 29th overall last April, but he played only four snaps as a rookie. After getting drafted, Wilson was arrested for DUI, received a trespass warning for attending a party at Tennessee State and twice landed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list. He was suspended for Week 13 for a violation of team rules and then was placed on the reserve/NFI list in December shortly after finally making his NFL debut.

Robinson revealed on Tuesday that he hasn’t spoken with Wilson since placing him on the NFI list, via Jim Wyatt of the team’s official site. Robinson said others had been in some degree of contact with the first-rounder, but he didn’t sound particularly optimistic about his future with the team. “He is going to have to make a determination on if he wants to do everything necessary to play pro football,” Robinson said bluntly.

Wilson only just turned 22 last week so he’s got time to figure it out, but it sure sounds like the Titans won’t be counting on the Georgia product for 2021. Meanwhile, Robinson seemed to indicate there’s a good chance receiver Corey Davis and tight end Jonnu Smith could walk in free agency.

Robinson said he had the same conversation with those two guys that he did with tackle Jack Conklin last year, saying the team “will make competitive offer, but wishes them the best if they opt for free agency,” Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com tweets. Conklin, of course, left for the Browns in free agency. Davis, the fifth overall pick of the 2017 draft, is set to be a free agent since Robinson elected to decline his fifth-year option last May. Davis responded with a resurgent season, racking up a career-high 984 yards in only 14 games. It’ll be very interesting to see what kind of offers he gets on the open market.

 Finally, Robinson acknowledged that pass-rushing help was needed in one form or another. “It’s something that’s high on our list – to find guys, whatever position it is defensively – that can affect the quarterback,” he said. Tennessee ranked 30th this past year with only 19 sacks. That would certainly explain the interest in Watt.

Titans Activate Corey Davis From Reserve/COVID-19 List

We just heard the Titans aren’t going to be harshly punished for any protocol violations, and now the team is getting more good news on the COVID-19 front. Tennessee has activated receiver Corey Davis from the reserve/COVID-19 list, they announced Monday.

Taylor Lewan was as expected placed on injured reserve to free up the roster spot following his torn ACL. It’s a big boost for the Titans, as with Davis on the shelf the team was lacking pass-catchers beyond A.J. Brown. Especially so with tight end Jonnu Smith now dealing with a minor ankle injury. The fifth overall pick of the 2017 draft, Davis has never quite lived up to his draft status, but he’s still a solid receiver.

He took a big step back last year when he only had 601 yards, but it was looking like 2020 could be somewhat of a breakout for him early on. Through the first three games he had 15 catches for 206 yards and a touchdown before COVID forced him to miss the past two contests.

The Titans declined his fifth-year option back in May, making the rest of this season extremely important for his financial future as he’ll now be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. The outbreak in Tennessee was scary, but fortunately things are trending in the right direction and appear to be almost back to normal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Place Corey Davis On Reserve/COVID-19 List

Earlier Wednesday, reports indicated the Titans had two new COVID-19 positives. One of those appears to have been fourth-year wide receiver Corey Davis.

The Titans placed Davis on their reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday afternoon. Tennessee now has 12 players on that list. The team still cannot re-enter its facility for practice, putting its Sunday game against Buffalo in doubt.

The league, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter), has launched an investigation into the Titans. They have seen a coronavirus outbreak spread among their roster and are believed to have conducted an illegal offsite workout. Some around the league believe the league is set to levy a “historic” punishment against the team to set an example, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. In addition to levying six-figure fines against teams for their coaches not complying with mask protocols, the NFL has threatened to strip teams of draft picks. That would seem to be the baseline for a “historic” punishment.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Davis joins fellow wideout Adam Humphries, defensive line starters Jeffery Simmons and DaQuan Jones, second-round cornerback Kristian Fulton, linebacker Kamalei Correa, long snapper Beau Brinkley, first-round tackle Isaiah Wilson, running back Khari Blasingame and practice squad players Cameron Batson, Greg Mabin and Tommy Hudson.

If the Titans-Bills game does happen this week — which is still the league’s plan — Tennessee could be severely shorthanded at wide receiver. No. 1 target A.J. Brown has not played since Week 1, but the team’s virtual injury report listed the second-year player as going through a pseudo-limited practice. This marks a pivotal year for Davis, after the Titans did not pick up his fifth-year option in May. Through three games, the former top-five pick has 15 receptions for 206 yards and a touchdown.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Make-Or-Break Year: Titans WR Corey Davis

We recently profiled Bengals receiver John Ross as a make-or-break player as he enters the final year of his rookie deal, and today we’ll look at one of his draftmates, Titans WR Corey Davis. Like Ross, Davis saw his fifth-year option declined earlier this year, which puts him on track for unrestricted free agency following the 2020 season.

Davis, the No. 5 overall pick of the 2017 draft, entered the league after a dominant collegiate career with Western Michigan. Over his sophomore to senior seasons, Davis averaged 88 catches for 1,448 receiving yards and 15 TDs, and while his level of competition in the MAC was not what it might have been in a Power Five conference, that type of production is tough to ignore. And when it comes packaged in a 6-3, 209-lb physical specimen, it’s easy to see why Tennessee pulled the trigger.

Unfortunately for Davis and the Titans, the 25-year-old has been unable to replicate that production in the pros. The all-time NCAA leader in receiving yards has just 1,867 yards in his first three NFL seasons, and after scoring 52 total TDs through the air in college – good for second-most in NCAA history – Davis has found paydirt just six times with Tennessee.

Though he has never suffered a major injury, a variety of smaller ailments may have prevented him from reaching his potential. He was unable to participate in drills during the 2017 scouting combine due to an ankle injury, and his rookie season was hampered by a hamstring injury. He managed to stay healthy in 2018, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that he posted career highs in receptions (65) yards (891) and receiving TDs (four). He led the team in all three categories, and though his catch rate was not particularly impressive – those 65 catches came on 112 targets – he appeared to be poised for a breakout.

Last season, however, Davis battled hip issues and saw rookie A.J. Brown emerge as the team’s leading receiver. Davis finished with just 43 catches for 601 yards and two scores, so Tennessee really had no choice but to decline the fifth-year option. That option would have been guaranteed for injury only but would have been worth nearly $16MM, so the Titans could not take that chance.

Given his pedigree, Davis will almost surely get another NFL opportunity in 2021 even if he continues to underwhelm in 2020. But a disappointing effort this season will likely lead to a one-year, prove-it deal next year, whereas a strong campaign could secure him a multi-year payday with a great deal of guaranteed money.

Offensive coordinator Arthur Smith recently sung Davis’ praises, saying, “[t]here were some huge explosive plays (last year) that Corey was the unsung hero to. He’s a big part of this offense and I think he’ll take another step.”

A full season with the resurgent Ryan Tannehill could help, though Davis did not perform any better last season with Tannehill under center than he did with Marcus Mariota. The Titans did not select a receiver in this year’s draft, so Davis will continue to start opposite Brown, with Adam Humphries in the slot. If he’s not careful, this could be his last year as an unquestioned starter, so it will be incumbent upon him to make the most of that opportunity and start realizing all of the promise that made him a top-five pick three years ago.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Notes: Henry, Davis, QB

While speculation swirls about the Titans and a potential Jadeveon Clowney signing, here’s the latest on the players who are actually on Tennessee’s roster:

  • Last year, Derrick Henry led the league in both carries (303) and rushing yards (1,540). This year, he’ll likely be looking at a reduced workload. Tennessee’s offense will benefit “if more guys are touching the ball,” Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith says (Twitter link via Michael Giardi of NFL.com). If a significant number of those touches figure to go to third-round rookie Darrynton Evans, Henry’s future earnings could be impacted. Unless the Titans and Derrick Henry come to terms on an extension between now and the July 15 deadline, the running back will be on course for free agency in 2021. It’s worth mentioning that a lighter workload may actually benefit Henry as teams tend to fret about RB odometers.
  • Corey Davis‘ future with the Titans is also in limbo, but Smith tells the team website that he likes what he’s seen out of the wide receiver thus far. “There were some huge explosive plays (last year) that Corey was the unsung hero to,” Smith said. “He’s a big part of this offense and I think he’ll take another step. I feel very confident in Corey, A.J. and Adam (Humphries) and that group.” The Titans, as expected, turned down Davis’ fifth-year option in May. Through three pro seasons, Davis has just six touchdowns to his credit.
  • There’s been talk of the Titans adding a veteran backup quarterback, but Smith suggested that the QB2 job will go to either Logan Woodside or Cole McDonald, depending on how the camp competition unfolds.

Titans Decline Corey Davis’ Option

The Titans will decline Corey Davis‘ fifth-year option, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). The wide receiver is now on course for unrestricted free agency following the 2020 season.

Davis was the first of three wide receivers selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, the No. 5 overall pick has yet to realize his potential at the pro level. He showed promise in 2018 with 65 catches, 891 yards, and four touchdowns (all career highs), but he regressed last year. In 2019, Davis finished out with just 43 grabs for 601 yards and two TDs. For his career, Davis has found pay dirt only six times.

The option would have paid Davis $15.68MM in 2021, far too much given his track record. Instead of guaranteeing his year for injury at an exorbitant rate, the Titans will let the year play out and take it from there.

Davis’ hip injury didn’t help matters, of course. While he was hampered, second-round rookie A.J. Brown stepped up as the team’s WR1, eclipsing 1,000 yards and scoring eight times.

Meanwhile, the Titans have exercised the fifth-year add-on for cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, the No. 18 overall pick in the ’17 class.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Panthers, Newton, Titans, Davis, Henry, Buccaneers, Winston

Just three years ago, Cam Newton was the league’s MVP who led the Panthers to a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl appearance. The past two years haven’t gone nearly as well for him, and now Newton is on the “hot seat” according to David Newton of ESPN.com. He notes that 2018 will be a big year for Newton as he starts anew with a new offensive coordinator and scheme.

“If he doesn’t show improvement after consecutive down years, there will be a lot of questions about his future” he writes. Newton is the face of the franchise, but the team could theoretically get out of his contract relatively easily after this season. It would be shocking if it happens, but according to this report, it’s not totally inconceivable that the end of the Cam Newton-era in Carolina could be near if he doesn’t turn things around this season.

Here’s more from the league’s southern divisions:

  • Corey Davis “was one of the stars” of the Titans’ early offseason workouts, according to Jim Wyatt of Titansonline.com. The fifth overall pick in 2017, Davis was somewhat limited by injuries last season, but still flashed a ton of potential. Wyatt notes that Davis “looked smooth during the offseason, snatching the ball out of the air with ease in traffic”, and that the team is “counting on Davis to make a big leap in Year 2.”
  • Jameis Winston‘s suspension may have caught a lot of people by surprise, but it didn’t shock the Buccaneers, according to Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). Stroud writes that the Bucs had been bracing for the suspension for quite some time, and re-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick back in March knowing they might need him to start some games.
  • “The plan” is for Derrick Henry to be the Titans‘ lead back in 2018, according to Wyatt. The Titans signed Dion Lewis to a four-year, $20MM deal this offseason, but apparently view him as more of a complimentary piece.

Extra Points: Donald, Gruden, Titans, Bills

There’s no end in sight to the standoff between the Rams and holdout Aaron Donald, but the two sides remain on “amicable” terms, according to Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com. The superstar defensive lineman is under control through the next two seasons at low costs relative to his play and could be a franchise tag candidate in 2019 and ’20, meaning the Rams don’t have any incentive to give him a long-term mega-deal, one NFL agent told Gonzalez. “The Rams should sit back and do nothing. Let him play out this year, let him play out the fifth-year option, and franchise him,” said the agent.

The agent’s point of view makes sense from a financial perspective, but it wouldn’t be acting in good faith, notes Gonzalez, who writes that Donald is worth breaking the bank for and someone who’s clearly a franchise player. While the Rams are aware of the 26-year-old’s greatness, they also realize that they technically don’t have to cave into Donald, which puts them in a tough situation. Ultimately, if a deal does come together, it might not be until closer to September, observes Gonzalez. That’s when the Rams extended wide receiver Tavon Austin, edge rusher Robert Quinn and nose tackle Michael Brockers in past years. In the meantime, they can fine Donald $40K per day as long as he’s absent.

  • Redskins coach Jay Gruden wouldn’t be surprised if his brother, Jon Gruden, returned to coaching. “It wouldn’t shock me, no,” said Jay Gruden (via John Keim of ESPN.com). “I don’t know why he would want to do that. He has a pretty good job. He has a passion for the game, the way he talks and prepares for the job he has is second to none. He loves coaching and he loves preparing. I don’t know if he’ll come back or not.” Jon Gruden hasn’t coached since 2008, and while the Monday Night Football commentator suggested last week that a comeback was possible, he indicated he’s content in his current role a few days later.
  • Titans receiver Corey Davis, the fifth pick in this year’s draft and the last rookie to sign his contract, will sit out at least a week after suffering a hamstring injury Thursday, head coach Mike Mularkey told 104.5 The Zone in Nashville (via Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com). Davis will not need surgery, fortunately, though the Titans will evaluate him week to week. He expects to be in Tennessee’s lineup come Week 1, tweets Wolfe.
  • Speaking to reporters Friday, Bills head coach Sean McDermott didn’t rule out foot surgery for left tackle Cordy Glenn. Both the Bills and Glenn can now breathe a sigh of relief, though, as the stalwart’s “fine” and will likely resume practicing next week, reports John Wawrow of The Associated Press. Glenn’s ankle injury limited him to a career-low 11 games last season, but the five-year veteran’s play still ranked an impressive 21st among 76 qualified tackles at Pro Football Focus.

Zach Links contributed to this post.