Eli Apple

New York Notes: Darnold, Breeland, OBJ, Apple

In the wake of Elijah McGuire‘s broken foot, the Jets signed RB George Atkinson III earlier today. However, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the team’s first choice was Alfred Morris, who obviously comes with considerably more experience than Atkinson (Gang Green brought Morris in for a visit yesterday). Rapoport says the two sides could not come together on contract terms, so Morris remains a free agent and Atkinson is now a Jet.

Now for more notes from the two clubs who call the Meadowlands home:

  • The Jets still have interest in free agent CB Bashaud Breeland, per ESPN’s Josina Anderson (via Twitter). There’s still no word on whether Breeland will visit with Gang Green, but a number of clubs are interested in his services. Breeland remains undecided for the time being.
  • Just yesterday, we heard that offset language was no longer the issue holding up contract negotiations between the Jets and rookie QB Sam Darnold. Instead, the latest reports suggested that how and when the guarantees in Darnold’s contract could void is the real sticking point. But Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says offset language and the guaranteed money issue are still matters that need to be resolved. Cimini does not think that the holdout will get as bad as the infamous Joey Bosa/Chargers standoff several years ago, but Darnold is in a different situation because he is a quarterback, not a defensive lineman. Every practice he misses is critical, and while there are not enough details to know which party is in the “right” in this case — though Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News opines that Darnold’s agent’s stance with respect to the offset language is ridiculous and selfish — this is fast becoming a lose-lose situation for player and team.
  • Odell Beckham Jr. has excelled in Giants training camp thus far, and he looks committed and healthy, per Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Raanan ends his tweet with an emphatic, “pay the man.”
  • Though it’s obviously still early in training camp, the Giants‘ offensive line has left much to be desired in summer practices thus far, as Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com writes. Dunleavy lists a few OL free agents that Big Blue might consider bringing in, and he also names Denzelle Good, who is currently fighting for a starting job with the Colts, as an interesting trade candidate.
  • After two seasons as a backup cornerback with the Titans, Curtis Riley saw an opportunity to start at free safety with the Giants, which encouraged him to sign with Big Blue in March. Thus far, his conversion to safety is going swimmingly, and Greg Joyce of the New York Post writes that Riley has a legitimate chance to win the starting FS job.
  • Giants CB Eli Apple‘s maturity issues and lack of effort have gotten him into plenty of hot water with his teammates and coaches during his first two seasons in the pros, but new head coach Pat Shurmur is impressed with Apple’s attitude and his play thus far. Shurmur said, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, “I’m seeing a guy that’s all about his business. He’s very businesslike. And he’s covering really well, a really good attribute for a corner. I like the way he’s working. He’s out there challenging, but he’s also being smart. And I like the way he’s functioning in the building. Very attentive in meetings. In my mind, and based on what I’ve seen, he’s acting like a pro.”

East Notes: Smith, Pryor, Giants

Although other quarterback deals soon overshadowed this one, the Redskins made a commitment to Alex Smith. And the details of his contract have him entrenched in Washington into the next decade. Smith received a $27MM signing bonus, and his 2018 and ’19 base salaries — $13MM and $15MM, respectively — are also fully guaranteed at signing, Rich Tandler of NBC Sports Washington notes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, Smith’s 2020 salary ($16MM) becomes fully guaranteed, per Tandler. So, barring something crazy, the Redskins are essentially tethered to Smith for three seasons. The deal runs through 2022, but non-guaranteed base salaries of $19MM and $21MM are on tap in those respective seasons. Washington would save $13MM by cutting Smith after the 2020 slate. Smith’s contract will call for cap hits of $18.4MM (2018), $20MM (2019), $21.4MM (’20), $24.4MM (’21) and $26.4MM (’22).

Here’s the latest from the East divisions as teams sit midway through their OTA calendar.

  • Former Redskins receiver Terrelle Pryor has run into more injury trouble, encountering another ankle malady that’s sidelined him from Jets OTAs. But Todd Bowles said, via Calvin Watkins of Newsday, this latest issue is unrelated to the one that forced him to undergo surgery while a member of the Redskins. The Jets have a host of wide receivers under contract, and Pryor is attempting to carve out a role and rebound from his poor performance in Washington.
  • Speaking of wideouts, the Giants may not be necessarily done adding talent at that position. When asked earlier this month if the Giants had their No. 3 wide receiver on their roster, Pat Shurmur said, via Tom Rock of Newsday, “I don’t know.” This was before New York added Russell Shepard in the latter stages of free agency. But Big Blue signed Cody Latimer, and he’s been playing on the outside in that No. 3 role during OTAs, per Rock. Shepard likely represents Latimer’s top competition for this job, barring another outside hire. The Giants cut Brandon Marshall, and Dez Bryant‘s been mentioned as wanting to join this receiving contingent. They have $8.3MM in cap space.
  • Shurmur is hoping Eli Apple can rebound from what’s been a rough start to his career, and he’s not going to hold what the 2016 first-rounder did during the previous regime against him. “You hear things,” Shurmur said (via Rock) regarding Apple’s past behavior, “but I’m sure glad that I truly believe in a clean slate. He’s been nothing but professional; he’s been out here competing. He’s one of the guys that has been here almost every single day, and I haven’t seen anything that somebody might have thought I heard. He’s been greatIn terms of his stature, his skill set, yeah, he’s what you’re looking for.” The Giants cut Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and did not use a draft pick on a corner. They signed William Gay, Teddy Williams and B.W. Webb, however. But Apple could well have a promising route to a starting job despite the tumultuous 2017.

Giants Expected To Sign William Gay

The Giants are on the verge of adding more help to their cornerback corps, a group that endured constant tumult last season.

William Gay is visiting the Giants on Thursday, and it looks like the sides have agreed on terms in advance of it, with former Gay teammate Bryant McFadden, now at CBS Sports, reporting (on Twitter) only a pending physical stands in the way of the longtime Steelers corner joining the Giants. Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv also reports this deal is expected to happen.

Big Blue stands to return Janoris Jenkins and as of now is moving forward with Eli Apple in the fold. The Giants, though, cut Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie last month. Each of these players was suspended for a game last season.

Gay is entering his age-33 season. He played 10 years in Pittsburgh and started 102 games. He’s played 11 NFL seasons, with a 2012 layover in Arizona sandwiched between lengthy Pittsburgh runs. The Steelers released their longest-tenured defender last month. He had lost his starting spot but remained incredibly durable. Since arriving in western Pennsylvania in 2007, Gay had never missed a game.

Vacchiano notes the Giants had hoped to keep the player who replaced Gay in Pittsburgh, Ross Cockrell, but he signed with the Panthers. The New York-based reporter expects Gay to step in and become the Giants’ third corner.

Another of Gay’s former teammates, Deshea Townsend, is now the Giants’ assistant defensive backs coach. Townsend described Apple as having “God-given ability most people don’t have,” and both he and new DC James Bettcher are willing to work with the 2016 first-rounder. The team appears set to bring in some veteran leadership as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Panthers, Peppers, Giants, Apple

The Panthers would like to have 37-year-old Julius Peppers back in the fold next year, as David Newton of ESPN.com writes.

I’d love for him to come back, absolutely,’’ head coach Ron Rivera said. “And I know we’ve managed him [in terms of practice time] and we’ll do whatever we need to. But it’s all up to him. He’s had a very good year. Who knows? Hopefully, we can keep it rolling.”

Peppers is playing out a one-year deal with a base value of $3.5MM that could reach up to $4.25MM with bonuses. Of course, his focus is currently on helping the Panthers advance in the playoffs.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • New Giants GM Dave Gettleman had a sit-down meeting with Eli Apple this week, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (on Twitter). Schwartz takes this as a sign that Apple could still be in the team’s plans for 2018 and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter) agrees. However, that comes with the caveat that Apple shows increased maturity. If all goes right, both Apple and offensive lineman Ereck Flowers could be a part of the team moving forward.
  • The Cardinals are in town to interview Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz for their head coach opening today, a source tells Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (on Twitter). First, Schwartz gets his shot in the afternoon, followed by DeFilippo in the evening.
  • The Packers want to talk to a key executive from the Ravens about their GM vacancy.

Giants Notes: Manning, Beckham, Apple, OL

Dave Gettleman met with media for the first time as Giants GM on Friday, and he addressed the Eli Manning situation. Working under Ernie Accorsi when Manning was selected and staying on through the Giants’ second 21st-century Super Bowl title in 2011, Gettleman looked to show some faith Manning has quality football left. The new GM said he expects Manning to start in 2018.

Eli’s won a lot of games,” Gettleman said, via Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. “A great competitor, very intelligent. He and I are gonna talk and if what I saw in Philadelphia was not a mirage — and I don’t believe it is — we’ll keep moving.”

Saddled with one of the league’s worst offensive lines and ground attacks, Manning has not enjoyed a good season. But he threw for 434 yards and three touchdowns against the NFC’s No. 1 seed earlier this month. Manning’s only other 300-plus-yard game this season came against the Eagles as well. Gettleman, however, said the Manning situation wouldn’t affect a possible first-round quarterback pick and added the “as of now” caveat to his Manning-in-2018 remarks, per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv.

Here’s the latest out of New York on a busy day for the franchise.

  • John Mara has not wavered on his Odell Beckham Jr. stance. Although the co-owner said he’s unsure when an extension will be discussed for the rehabbing superstar, he remains committed to the wideout long-term. “Let’s face it, players with his ability don’t come along very often. So, yes, I want him to be a part of this team’s future,” Mara said, via Kimberly Jones of NFL.com (on Twitter). Gettleman, however, wasn’t as firm on a Beckham deal. Although, the new GM’s hesitance on an “obviously extremely talented kid” was largely based on a lack of interactions with Beckham, Vacchiano tweets. Beckham’s headed into his fifth-year option season.
  • Giants ownership wanted to wait until after the season when they could talk to other GM candidates, but after meeting with Gettleman, Mara and Co. decided to proceed in order to be ready to conduct a head-coaching search after Week 17’s conclusion, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.
  • Eli Apple‘s status with the Giants may be in the murky-at-best category after his disastrous sophomore NFL season. But Mara isn’t ready to throw in the towel on the cornerback yet. “You don’t want to quit on talent,” Mara said, via Jones (on Twitter). “I happen to like him personally. I’m obviously disturbed with what’s happened this year. … I think we have to figure out what’s going on with him. But I’d like for him to be a part of this team’s future.” The Giants suspended Apple for Week 17, and a source told ESPN’s Josina Anderson he would soon be done in New York. Apple is under contract through 2019, although this suspension makes that deal less binding.
  • Gettleman wasn’t vague about one area in need of repairs. The new Giants GM said the offensive lined needs to be fixed (Twitter link via Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com). Big Blue’s boasted one of the NFL’s worst fronts for the past two years, and both Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg are in line to be free agents — and two of the best available. Ereck Flowers has not lived up to the billing as a top-10 pick, but his contract is guaranteed through 2018. Last year’s O-line draft class was not viewed as strong; this one has received higher marks early in the pre-draft process.
  • Accorsi could well seek Bill Belichick‘s counsel regarding a potential hire, but Garafolo reports (video link) he’s heard nothing to suggest the Patriots coach is playing a role in the Giants’ HC search thus far. A report earlier today indicated some buzz about Belichick advising Accorsi to get the Giants to hire Eagles DC Jim Schwartz.

Contract Clause To Signal Apple’s Release?

On Wednesday, the Giants suspended second-year cornerback Eli Apple for conduct detrimental to the team. With the suspension, the team could have cleared the way to release the 2016 first-round pick without having to pay his contract guarantees for 2018 and 2019, ESPN’s Dan Graziano writesEli Apple (Vertical)

Graziano says Apple’s contract includes a clause that allows the team to void his guaranteed money if “among other things, ‘Player is suspended by the NFL or by the Club’ or ‘Player engages in conduct reasonably judged by the Club to adversely affect or reflect on Club, in Club’s sole discretion.'”

Graziano reports the Giants could then argue that they wouldn’t be on the hook for his guaranteed salaries of $1,827,484 in 2018 and $2,516,226 in 2019 if they were to release him.

To say this has been a roller-coaster ride for the Giants is an understatement. The team entered the 2017 season as Super Bowl contenders with one of the most promising secondaries in the league. It will end, however, with captain Landon Collins calling Apple a cancer and the team suspending the young corner for a series of events we detailed earlier in the day.

The writing appears to be on the wall for New York to cut ties with the No. 10 pick in last year’s draft at the end of the season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Suspend Eli Apple For Week 17

A historically tumultuous season for Giants cornerbacks will end with a third being suspended for a game. The Giants suspended Eli Apple for Week 17, the team announced.

This comes a day after Landon Collins publicly referred to the second-year corner as “a cancer.” Steve Spagnuolo met with Collins and Apple today in what was called a “really productive” summit, one that included a Collins apology. But the Giants banned Apple nonetheless. He received the news in a meeting with Spagnuolo and interim GM Kevin Abrams.

We have suspended Eli for a pattern of behavior that is conduct detrimental to the team,” Abrams said.

This pattern of behavior looks to have produced a final-straw moment Wednesday. ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan and Dan Graziano report Apple argued with coaches, including cornerbacks coach Tim Walton, at practice. That argument looks to have been catalyzed by Apple’s refusal to take the field with the Giants’ scout team, Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com report (Twitter link). Apple was already arguing unspecified matters with coaches prior to refusing the scout-team assignment, Garofolo tweets. This wasn’t the first argument between Apple and Walton, per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv (on Twitter).

Apple played only on special teams in Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, ceding his spot to less-heralded cogs — and first-year Giants — Brandon Dixon and Ross Cockrell. The Ohio State product started in seven games this season after opening with the first unit 11 times as a rookie. He finished with exactly the same amount of tackles as last season (49) and recovered two fumbles as well. Pro Football Focus slotted Apple as its No. 73 full-time corner this season, putting him fourth among Giants.

The Giants surprised many by taking Apple No. 10 overall in 2016, with Big Blue eschewing an offensive line need to take a corner in spite of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins‘ statuses. Now, Apple follows in their footsteps by incurring a one-game suspension. Ben McAdoo suspended the starting duo at different junctures this season before being fired.

Apple and Collins would not have shared the field this weekend because Collins is now out for the year due to injury. The defensive backs’ beef goes back to at least to a point earlier this month, when Collins had to be restrained from going after Apple inside the team facility. A report in November also indicated Apple nearly left the Giants’ facility because of a film-room session featuring harsh critiques from teammates and coaches. Apple’s mother also underwent brain surgery this fall, and the second-year defender was given time off because of it.

(Landon and I) had a quick conversation this morning and then I had a quick conversation with Eli,” Spagnuolo said about the aforementioned summit involving himself and the two at-odds defensive backs. “And then all three of us had a really good conversation and it was very productive and I’ll just leave it at that. It’s between them and they were really great.”

One of several Ohio State corners to be first-round picks in recent years, Apple is under contract through 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Giants, Collins, Cutler, Jets

A day after referring to Eli Apple as “a cancer,” Landon Collins has attempted to walk that back. While that might be difficult, the All-Pro Giants safety issued an apology (on Twitter) today and confirmed he did so in person in a meeting with Apple and Steve Spagnuolo. The interim HC confirmed the meeting, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (on Twitter).

I met with Coach Spags and Eli this morning and I apologized for the things I said yesterday,” Collins said. “I never stop supporting my brother/teammate Eli and the rest of my teammates as we move forward. Just want him to know I’m always here for him.”

On Tuesday during a radio interview, Collins said Apple “needs to grow up.” Wednesday’s apology marks the latest chapter in a weeks-long saga involving the two defensive backs. Earlier this month, Collins said he’d talked to Apple — who has taken a step back this season — and told media the cornerback’s issues were mental and that he was dealing with “significant” personal struggles. Apple then denied Collins spoke with him, and the third-year safety — according to NJ.com — had to be restrained by teammates as he attempted to confront the second-year corner. Apple has not been suspended like Janoris Jenkins or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were, but he’s been benched and reportedly nearly left the Giants’ facility because of a harsh film-room session earlier this season.

Here’s the latest out of the Eastern divisions.

  • Josh McDaniels remains linked to Patriots exec Nick Caserio regarding GM/HC arrangements, but Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports the New England OC could also be interested in pairing up with Louis Riddick as a GM. Riddick interviewed for the Giants’ GM job last week, although Dave Gettleman is viewed as the favorite. McDaniels and Caserio were a sought-after tandem last year, with the 49ers having shown interest in bringing them to the Bay Area.
  • Adam Gase said Wednesday he has not spoken to Jay Cutler about him returning to the Dolphins in 2018, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. Jackson adds the Dolphins remain committed to having Ryan Tannehill return as their starter next season, but he reported last week the Fins would be open to Cutler coming back as the backup. Cutler will start this weekend’s regular-season finale against the Bills.
  • Davis Webb will rise to the Giants‘ No. 2 quarterback role and take Geno Smith‘s place as Eli Manning‘s backup, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. It will be the first time Webb suits up as an NFLer. Smith will be inactive Sunday, and Webb could see time off the bench in the game under the format Ben McAdoo broached with Manning upon benching him earlier this year. Spagnuolo, however, said (via Schwartz, on Twitter) there are “no guarantees” the third-round rookie makes his NFL debut against the Redskins.
  • The Jets are likely to land a pick in the lower part of the top 10, and Brian Costello of the New York Post ranked the most- to least-likely scenarios involving offseason quarterback plans. Most likely is a setup where the Jets draft Josh Allen with their first pick and re-sign Josh McCown to continue his better-than-expected stopgap work. Costello notes the Jets’ top competition for the Wyoming passer could be the BroncosJohn Elway trekked to the Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho, last week to observe Allen in person. The Jets, though, have put in the most work on Allen to this point. Gang Green’s No. 2 scenario? Kirk Cousins, whom Costello recalls the team showing interest in after Smith was sucker-punched in 2015.

Collins Calls Eli Apple A “Cancer”

During an interview with ESPN Radio New York on Tuesday, Giants safety Landon Collins didn’t mince words about 2016 first-round pick Eli Apple when asked what changes he would make to the team’s secondary next season. Eli Apple (Vertical)

“There’s one corner that … he needs to grow up, and we all know who that is,” Collins said. “That would be the only person I would change out of our secondary group. The other two guys, [Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie] and [Janoris Jenkins], I love those guys. They play hard, they love what they do. But that first pick, I don’t think … he’s a cancer.”

There is little doubt the corner in question is Apple, who has rubbed teammates the wrong way with his effor. In November, the cornerback nearly walked out of the Giants facility because he received criticism for his play vs. San Francisco. Later, Collins told reporters he had discussions with Apple about improving his play, which Apple later denied to the press.

Apple still has two more years fully guaranteed on his contract, but when the team’s two-time Pro Bowl safety and leader in the clubhouse wants you gone, it’s hard to see a scenario in which Apple can return to the team. Both Jenkins and Rodgers-Cromartie are candidates for release or trade once the team hires a new general manager and head coach.

Apple has played in 11 games this season with New York, registering 49 tackles and eight passes defensed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Notes: Abrams, Apple, Shepard, JPP

The Giants interviewed interim general manager Kevin Abrams for the team’s full-time position yesterday, lengthening a list of candidates that already includes Giants VP of player personnel Marc Ross, former Giants executive Dave Gettleman and ESPN analyst Louis Riddick. While Abrams had spent the majority of his career as a salary cap guru, he’s focused on proving that he can also build a winning roster.

“My role has been more than just doing the cap stuff,” Abrams told Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.TV. “I wasn’t raised to be a cap guy. It was just the opportunity that was given to me and I was grateful of the opportunity. And the Giants do a great job with everyone — not just me, but we’re all encouraged to grow professionally. And like everyone else, I was getting a lot of opportunities to do that and I tried to take advantage of them whenever I could. A lot of that included being involved with our personnel departments.”

While Giants owner John Mara may be seeking major “wholesale changes,” sources told Vacchiano that Abrams is a serious candidate for the gig. The writer notes that the organization could choose to pair the interim general manager with someone like Gettleman.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from the Giants organization…

  • While many attributed cornerback Eli Apple‘s tumultuous season to immaturity, Dan Duggan of NJ.com explored the true root of the player’s issues. Ultimately, the reporter attributed the problems to “strife in Apple’s family,” particularly a falling out with his stepfather, Tim. “One of the biggest reasons Eli is declining so much this year as opposed to last year is (Tim’s absence),” Apple’s half-brother Dane Blackson said. “I know everyone always talks about the fame and all of the attention and how all of that can go to your head. But you have to imagine that from middle school to the NFL, Tim was there. Tim made this whole thing happen. Tim didn’t miss a game. Whenever Eli looked for that support, that was always there. Now, this year whenever he goes to look for support, it’s not real, it’s not genuine.” Duggan dug more in Apple’s family issues in a must-read article.
  • While the 2017 season hasn’t gone as planned for the Giants, one player has emerged as a major piece of the organization’s future. Zach Braziller of The New York Post writes that wideout Sterling Shepard has emerged as a “a future organizational linchpin.” The 2016 second-round pick is on pace to surpass his rookie numbers, as he’s hauled in 54 receptions for 686 yards and two scores. “I was ready to take it on,” Shepard said of the added responsibility. “You don’t expect for your top two receivers to go down. It kind of just throws a lot of weight on you. I’m a second-year player but kind of forced to take that leadership role because I’m the guy in that room with the most experience.”
  • Jason Pierre-Paul revealed that he’s recovering from a broken finger, although he expects to play this weekend against the Cardinals. Neil Best of Newsday.com believes the defensive end suffered the injury during his early-December matchup against the Raiders.