Dru Samia

East Notes: Patriots, LaCosse, Jets, Eagles

Now that Austin Seferian-Jenkins is out of the picture, the Patriots seem likely to go with Matt LaCosse are their top tight end in Week 1, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes. The Patriots made a minor splash by signing Ben Watson earlier this offseason, but he’ll have to sit on the sidelines for the first four games of the season due to his PED violation. That leaves LaCosse, blocking tight end Ryan Izzo, and UDFA Andrew Beck, and LaCosse is the best pass catcher of the bunch.

LaCosse hasn’t produced much at the pro level, but there’s reason to believe that he can be a late bloomer. LaCosse saw 38% of the Broncos’ snaps last year and he could be poised to take another step forward in 2019.

If LaCosse doesn’t cut it in camp, Volin speculates that the Patriots could explore a trade for Kyle Rudolph, though it would require some salary cap magic. The Patriots could also kick the tires on former Texans tight end Ryan Griffin, who would seem to be a fit for the system.

Here’s more from the East divisions:

  • Former Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan got a little too cute in the draft and wound up losing out on one of his mid-round targets, Manish Mehta of the Daily News hears. The Jets had their eyes on Arkansas interior lineman Hjalte Froholdt with the third pick of the fourth round (No. 105 overall) before moving down to the No. 116 pick in order to add a fifth-round pick to their arsenal. Then, they traded down yet again to No. 121, allowing the Pats to scoop up Froholdt with the No. 118 pick. Maccagnan’s maneuvering also cost the club Oklahoma offensive lineman Dru Samia, another target of the team who could have helped at the center position. After all that movement, they wound up settling for West Virginia blocking tight end Trevon Wesco at No. 121 overall.
  • Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby is still aiming to play in Week 1 and expects to participate in training camp, Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Darby has missed 17 games (counting the postseason) since joining the Eagles prior to the 2017 season.

Vikings Sign Five Draft Picks

The Vikings made more selections (12) than any other team in the 2019 NFL draft, but they’re nearly done signing their entire rookie class. Only first-round center Garrett Bradbury and seventh-round long-snapper Austin Cutting remain unsigned after Minnesota recently announced the following first-year players have inked their rookie deals:

Mattison was considered something of an over-draft at the end of the third round, but he could see a path to playing time during his rookie campaign, as he’ll compete with Mike Boone, Ameer Abdullah, and Roc Thomas for work behind starting running back Dalvin Cook. Mattison, who stands 5’11” and 211 pounds, surpasses 1,000 rushing yards in each of the past two seasons, scoring a combined 29 touchdowns on the ground during that time. His four-year contract should be worth $3.342MM and come with a signing bonus of ~$822K.

Samia was one of four Oklahoma offensive lineman selected in last month’s draft. The four-year starter was named the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2018, and also earned first-team All-Big 12 and second-team All-American nods. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com calls Samia a “very able zone blocker,” which could help him adjust to the NFL as the Vikings implement some form of new offensive consultant Gary Kubiak‘s zone-based scheme. Samia probably isn’t in line for starting work immediately, as Pat Elflein, Bradbury, and Josh Kline will handle Minnesota’s interior, but he’s likely penciled as the club’s top guard/center reserve.

First-round contracts often take a bit longer to work out, so it’s perhaps no surprise that Bradbury is still unsigned. But Cutting’s situations is tied to his status as an alum of the Air Force Academy. He hasn’t signed his rookie deal as he waits for the Air Force to decide if he’ll first need to fulfill his service requirement before playing in the NFL. President Trump is reportedly considering a waiver to allow service academy prospects to immediately play professional sports and delay their military obligations.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.