Cyrus Jones

AFC East Rumors: Patriots, McMillan, Bills

A calf injury forced Marcus Cannon to miss the Patriots‘ preseason slate and resurfaced in New England’s Week 1 win over Houston. But the Pats’ right tackle starter looks on track to return on Sunday night. Cannon made progress this week, per The Athletic’s Jeff Howe (subscription required), and the Patriots announced he did make the trip to Detroit on Saturday. LaAdrian Waddle started for Cannon against the Jaguars. Cannon was signed to an extension to be the Patriots’ long-term right tackle, but he played in only seven games last season. It looks like he’ll have a chance to establish some consistency beginning in Week 3.

Here’s more out of New England and other AFC East locales:

  • Although Brandon Beane serves as the Bills‘ GM, it’s Sean McDermott who establishes the franchise’s tone “from top to bottom,” Tim Graham of The Athletic writes in an expansive piece about how the Bills’ rebuild is going thus far. The offseason mistakes Beane made in adding Vontae Davis, Jeremy Kerley, Corey Coleman and Russell Bodine may increase McDermott’s voice within the organization, Graham adds.
  • It will be a stretch for Trey Flowers to play this week. Howe notes Bill Belichick hasn’t deployed a player who’s missed an entire week of practice in at least 10 years. The Patriots’ top pass rusher was sidelined all week because of a concussion. Patrick Chung is in the same boat. Of course, the concussion protocol being in place means it’s not up to Belichick whether or not Chung and Flowers can suit up Sunday. Both are listed as doubtful to face the Lions. A Flowers absence could free up a spot for 2017 third-rounder Derek Rivers, who has yet to play in a regular-season game.
  • The Dolphins‘ intentions for Raekwon McMillan — set to be their starting middle linebacker in 2017 prior to a season-nullifying injury — was not to play him in their nickel package, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald notes. However, McMillan is now being used as a three-down player this year. Pro Football Focus has graded McMillan as one of its worst coverage ‘backers through two games, and Salguero adds Jerome Baker was brought in this year via third-round pick to help in coverage. While McMillan remains a part of Miami’s nickel set, Baker is pushing for a role there, per Salguero, as passing-down backs like James White, Giovani Bernard and Tarik Cohen loom on the Fins’ first-half schedule.
  • On the subject of nickel work, the Patriots‘ bringing back Cyrus Jones for a possible nickel role, Howe adds. Although the former Pats second-round pick was re-signed to serve as the punt returner, he worked as a safety and was given a chance to play in the slot during practice this week. Third-year Patriot Jonathan Jones currently serves as New England’s slot man. He’s graded well through two games, per PFF, which slots him as the NFL’s No. 21 corner thus far. Jonathan Jones, though, was in coverage during Dede Westbrook‘s back-breaking touchdown last week.

Patriots Notes: Gordon, Jones, Mitchell

No surprise here, but Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t offer much insight on the newly-acquired Josh Gordon when speaking with reporters on Friday. When asked about the wide receiver and newly re-signed defensive back Cyrus Jones, Belichick said the two have “done as much as they can do in the few days they’ve been here, we’ll see how it goes,” (via Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston).

Belichick went on to say that Gordon is a “smart kid” who has “picked up a lot,” so that could bode well as the former Browns standout tries to learn the Patriots’ playbook in short order.

Here’s more on the Pats:

  • Speaking of Jones, his new two-year deal gives him the same base salaries he was set to make on his previous Patriots contract before they cut him, as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets. That means the defensive back will earn $814K this year ($718K prorated) and $996K next year. The Patriots probably did that in order to convince Jones to forego restricted free agency next year. If the 2016 second-round pick plays up to his potential, it will be a worthwhile investment for New England.
  • Former Patriots wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell filed an injury grievance against the team seeking his entire 2018 salary of $630K, Volin writes. Mitchell had six catches for 70 yards in the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory over the Falcons, but missed the entire 2017 season with a knee injury. He was cut in August without an injury designation, meaning that he was unable to recoup any of his salary. Mitchell will be examined by a neutral doctor selected jointly by the NFL and NFLPA and a neutral arbitrator will decide the case, as per the rules laid out in the collective bargaining agreement.
  • The 49ers had interest in Gordon before he was traded to the Patriots, but they backed out towards the end.

Patriots Sign CB Cyrus Jones

The Patriots signed cornerback Cyrus Jones off the Ravens practice squad, a source tells Jeff Howe of The Athletic (on Twitter). To make room for their 2016 second-round pick, the Pats released running back Kenjon Barner. It’s a two-year deal for Jones, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter), so the youngster can be controlled through the 2019 season.

Jones was released earlier this month during the Pats’ final roster cuts, but it wasn’t an easy call for New England. Now that he’s back in the fold, he figures to handle return punt returns while also seeing some reps at cornerback.

As a second-round pick of the Patriots in 2016, Jones saw time on special teams as a kick and punt returner. Last year, however, a torn ACL and partially torn meniscus cost him the season.

Barner, 28, was expected to handle some return work for the Pats when he was signed last week. The former Eagles running back will now look to hook on elsewhere.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Patriots Cut CB Cyrus Jones

The Patriots have moved on from a former second-rounder. Jeff Howe of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that New England has released cornerback Cyrus Jones.

The 2016 draft pick struggled to earn playing time during his two years in New England. He appeared in 10 games as a rookie, compiling seven tackles. However, he suffered a torn ACL and partially torn meniscus during the 2017 preseason, forcing him to miss the entire season.

Following a successful career at Alabama, Jones has since proven to be one of Bill Belichick‘s biggest draft misses. While the 24-year-old hasn’t looked solid on defense, he could have a role on special teams. Jones has eight career kick returns for 180 yards and 11 career punt returns for 46 yards.

Patriots’ Cyrus Jones Likely Tore ACL

Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones likely suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during their preseason finale against the Giants on Thursday, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. Jones will undergo an MRI on Friday.

Cyrus Jones

Having started in just one of 10 appearances and made seven tackles as a second-round rookie last year, the loss of Jones wouldn’t be an enormous blow to the Patriots’ defense. New England continues to boast Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe and Justin Coleman as its top options at corner, leaving little room for Jones to make his mark defensively.

On the other hand, Jones’ absence would negatively affect the Pats’ special teams unit and could influence how Bill Belichick constructs their roster prior to the cutdown deadline on Saturday. Jones was in line to serve as New England’s No. 1 return man on both kicks and punts prior to Thursday, and a serious injury to him (on top of Julian Edelman‘s) would leave the club without an obvious in-house solution, Doug Kyed of NESN writes. The 23-year-old Jones combined for 19 kick and punt returns last season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Colts, Patriots, Petty

There are plenty of pundits who expect the Colts to part ways with at least one of head coach Chuck Pagano and GM Ryan Grigson at season’s end, but owner Jim Irsay has downplayed the notion of major changes, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Irsay said, “I would say it would be unlikely for any changes to occur, honestly. It’s unlikely, but look, we’ll see when we sit down and thoroughly vet the season.” One reason for Irsay’s hesitation is the fact that the first five year’s of the Pagano/Andrew Luck regime has gone better than the first five years of Peyton Manning‘s career in Indianapolis.

Now for more from the AFC:

  • DT Darius Kilgo may be on the Patriots‘ practice squad, but the Pats are not paying him that way. According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe in a series of Twitter links, New England is paying Kilgo $30,882 per week, which gives him the same compensation he would have received under his original contract (the practice squad minimum is $6,900 per week). The team also guaranteed him $92,647, the equivalent of three weeks pay. As Volin observes, the team is attempting to “do right” by Kilgo, who was claimed off waivers from the Broncos when it looked like Alan Branch would be suspended, but who was cut and re-signed to the practice squad when Branch won his appeal.
  • The Patriots have until Wednesday to activate quarterback Jacoby Brissett to their active roster, or he will revert to injured reserve and be lost for the season. Mike Reiss of ESPN.com believes the Patriots do plan to activate Brissett but that they are waiting until the last possible moment to do so because they do not have an obvious corresponding roster move to make. We had previously heard that the team was expected to activate Brissett on Friday.
  • Cyrus Jones has had a disappointing rookie year for the Patriots, but the second-round selection out of Alabama is not going anywhere, as Volin writes in a separate piece. Jones, who was coveted for his return skills, has been a disaster as a return man this season, and he hasn’t fared much better as a corner. But even if he does not get much playing time the rest of the season, Jones will get the chance to right the ship in 2017.
  • Jets quarterback Bryce Petty was knocked out of last night’s loss to Miami, and initial reports suggested that he had the wind knocked out him. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com reports that Petty will have a CT scan on Monday to determine if he has a punctured lung.
  • The injury that landed Jaguars TE Julius Thomas on IR was a fractured tailbone, according to ESPN’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter). The Jags could save $4.7MM against the cap if they were to cut Thomas, who has disappointed since Jacksonville made him the highest-paid tight end in the game last March.
  • One reason for the Raiders‘ success this season is the fact that they have done such a good job at getting contributions from undrafted free agents. As Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com observes, Oakland started the season with four undrafted free agents on the 53-man roster, and now have seven on the active roster. That list includes players like Jalen Richard, Johnny Holton, and Marquette King.

AFC Notes: Patriots, Broncos, Woodhead

The Patriots signed Terrance Knighton to a one-year, $4.5MM deal this offseason to serve as a key cog in the interior of the club’s defensive front, but now Pot Roast is in danger of being cut, as Kevin Duffy of MassLive.com writes. Knighton struggled in the team’s second preseason game against Chicago, and he did not log a single defensive snap during New England’s third preseason contest against Carolina on Friday night.

Knighton, who insisted that he is completely healthy, expressed his frustration afterwards. He said, “It’s disappointing just because, you know, I’ve played a lot of ball in this league, seen a lot of things. I’m not going to make too much of it. It is what it is. Whatever happens, happens. If I’m here, I’m here. If I’m not, I’m not. I’m just taking it a day at a time.”

If Knighton does indeed receive his walking papers, he should be able to find work with a club looking for a dependable and durable run-stuffer.

Now for some more notes from the AFC:

  • It’s looking more and more like Patriots WR Danny Amendola will stay on the PUP list and miss at least the first six games of the regular season, according to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe.
  • The Patriots had assigned rookie corner Cyrus Jones the same grade as several other players who were still available when the club was set to make its first draft pick (No. 60 overall) this year. As Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes, the team selected Jones because of his dynamic return ability, which he demonstrated in a big way with a 60-yard punt return Friday night. Reiss points out that Jones taking over the role could help preserve 30-year old returners Julian Edelman and Amendola from taking additional pounding.
  • Trevor Siemian likely cemented his status as the Broncos‘ starting quarterback after turning in a solid performance during last night’s preseason victory over Los Angeles, Mike Klis of 9News.com writes. At this point Klis would be surprised if the Broncos didn’t release Mark Sanchez, a move that would save the team $4.5MM and a seventh-round pick.
  • Troy Renck of Denver7 believes that Tavon Austin‘s new four-year, $42MM deal with Los Angeles will set the floor in Emmanuel Sanders‘ contract negotiations with the Broncos (Twitter link). As Renck observes, Sanders is older than Austin, but his production level has thus far been superior.
  • Danny Woodhead is entering the final year of the two-year extension he signed with the Chargers in 2014, and he would like to remain with the club long-term, as Michael Gehlken of The San Diego Union-Tribune writes. However, contract talks between team and player prior to training camp were unproductive, with the Chargers determining it was not in position to extend Woodhead for a variety of cited factors, including cash committed to other contracts this year. Woodhead, though, will not publicly comment on his contract situation, and simply indicated a desire to focus on the 2016 season.

Impact Rookies: New England Patriots

The old adage that defense wins championships may or may not be true, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a title-winning team that didn’t build heavily through the draft. Rookie classes, naturally, are evaluated on the perceived upside of the NFL newcomers, but which rookies are ready to contribute right out of the gate? And, how do they fit in with their new team schematically?

To help us forecast the immediate future of these NFL neophytes, we enlisted the help of draft guru Dave-Te Thomas who has served as a scouting personnel consultant to NFL teams for multiple decades.

Today, we continue PFR’s Impact Rookie series with his insight on the New England Patriots’ draft class:

In a tradition started by Jimmy Johnson during his days with Dallas, lots of NFL teams use what is called a draft “value board” in their war rooms. Based on the selections made by the coaching genius of Bill Belichick, analysts might be scratching their heads over the Patriots’ decisions during this past draft.

Deflategate left the team with no choice in the opening round, but in what has been Belichick’s pattern over the years, he put on his “Trader Jack” hat before and during the draft proceedings in attempts to improve his roster. In mid-March, the team made a surprising move, trading away one of the defense’s cornerstones in Chandler Jones for oft-injured offensive guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round draft pick.

The Patriots flipped that No. 61 overall pick to the Saints, netting the Saints’ third (No. 78) and fourth-round (No. 112) selections. Even with Cooper in the fold and starters Shaquille Mason (left side) and Tre’ Jackson (right) stationed as the starters, New England added to their guard cache in the third round by taking North Carolina State’s Joe Thuney. Thuney is likely to caddy for Shaquille Mason on the left side and while he could prove to be a reliable backup, he’s not likely to make waves in 2016. However, we do see these two Pats rookies leaving a mark in their first NFL season:

Continue reading about the Patriots’ rookie class..

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Patriots Reach Deals With Five Draftees

1:32pm: Patriots third-round offensive lineman Joe Thuney has also signed his rookie deal, as Ben Volin of The Boston Globe tweets. For Thuney, it’ll be a four-year deal worth $3.54MM with a signing bonus of $773K. The offensive lineman out of North Carolina State drew interest from clubs thanks to his versatility — he started all along the O-Line in college.

1:28pm: The Patriots aren’t wasting any time locking up their 2016 draft class, having already reached deals with four of their draftees from last weekend, including top pick Cyrus Jones, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets.New England Patriots general helmet (Featured)

Fourth-round receiver Malcolm Mitchell, sixth-round offensive lineman Ted Karras, and seventh-round wideout Devin Lucien have also agreed to terms with New England, according to reports from ESPN’s Adam Caplan, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, and ESPN’s Mike Reiss, respectively (all Twitter links).

The rookie contracts for the four draft picks who have reached agreements with the Pats will look like this, per Over The Cap:

  • 2-60: Cyrus Jones, DB (Alabama): $4.007MM total value, $1.114MM signing bonus
  • 4-112: Malcolm Mitchell, WR (Georgia): $2.918MM total value, $578K signing bonus
  • 6-221: Ted Karras, OL (Illinois): $2.17MM total value, $100K signing bonus
  • 7-225: Devin Lucien, WR (Arizona State): $2.425MM total value, $85K signing bonus

With four draftees having agreed to terms, the Pats still have more than half of their nine-man draft class to lock up, including two third-round picks — quarterback Jacoby Brissett and defensive tackle Vincent Valentine.

Although contracts for third-rounders can sometimes be trickier to negotiate than deals for later-round picks, Brissett appears to be proceeding without any formal representation. Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald notes (via Twitter) that the signal-caller is being advised by Abe Elam, but doesn’t officially have an agent.

Zach Links contributed to this post.