Elijah McGuire

Jets Sign George Atkinson; Elijah McGuire Out Three To Six Weeks

The Jets have signed George Atkinson III, per Brian Costello of the New York Post (via Twitter). Atkinson, a running back by trade, has gotten just seven carries in his professional career. He has been deployed more frequently as a punt returner, seeing action in 2014 with the Raiders and 2016 with the Browns (his seven carries came with Cleveland). He did not log any regular season snaps last year, though he spent some time on the Chiefs’ practice squad.

Atkinson will presumably operate as a temporary replacement for running back Elijah McGuire. As Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter), McGuire will undergo surgery on his broken foot and will be sidelined for three to six weeks. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets that the team will have to decide whether it wants to carry McGuire on the 53-man roster or place him on short-term IR.

In the wake of McGuire’s injury, Gang Green quickly set up visits with free agent running backs Orleans Darkwa and Alfred Morris yesterday, but Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweeted earlier this morning that the Jets were not expected to immediately sign either player, and the Atkinson signing seems to foreclose the addition of Darkwa or Morris. Cimini notes that the Jets also worked out running back Tion Green (Twitter link).

Darkwa, Morris, and even Green have more experience as an NFL running back than Atkinson, so perhaps the fact that the Jets signed Atkinson suggests that they expect McGuire to be back sooner rather than later. McGuire, a 2017 sixth-rounder, is a player that the Jets have high hopes for, and assuming he gets healthy, he should see his fair share of snaps, even with Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell also under contract.

To make room for Atkinson, the Jets cut TE Bucky Hodges.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets To Host Alfred Morris On Visit

The Jets are taking a look at the running back market on Saturday, with Alfred Morris arriving for a visit, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

It’s been a quiet offseason for the former Redskins starter and Cowboys depth piece. This is Morris’ first known visit in 2018. While Morris is now 29, he should be relatively fresh after being Ezekiel Elliott‘s backup for most of the past two seasons.

The Jets let Matt Forte walk in the offseason but added Isaiah Crowell to their backfield mix. New York also has Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire and former Seahawks starter Thomas Rawls under contract. McGuire left Friday’s Jets practice with a foot injury, however. And Rapoport reports this is a serious malady.

McGuire fractured his foot and will undergo surgery, Rapoport tweets. The second-year back will miss an extended time period and looks set for IR. This may not be a season-ending setback, though, with Rapoport adding an IR-return slot may be possible in this case. But that will depend on the Jets’ injury situation this season, since teams are limited to two IR-return players per season.

Serving as a backup to Forte and Powell, McGuire rushed for 315 yards (3.6 per carry) as a rookie.

Morris, though, looked spry with the 2017 Cowboys, averaging a career-best 4.8 yards per carry. That came on 115 totes after Morris received just 69 in 2016. Elliott’s suspension increasing Morris’ workload, the veteran gained 547 yards on the ground and scored a touchdown last season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Packers, Cobb, Matthews, Buccaneers, Beckwith, Jets, McGuire

Randall Cobb and Clay Matthews are two of the longest tenured members of the Packers, but their time in Green Bay could be coming to an end. There’s been a drop in production for both in recent years and both are heading into the final year of their contracts. Both have non-guaranteed salaries for 2018, and could be cap-casualties this summer.

When asked which big names could be on the chopping block this summer, Jason Fitzgerald of Overthecap.com listed both Cobb and Matthews (Twitter link). Cobb has been held to less than 700 receiving yards in back to back seasons and was recently spotted in a walking boot. If the Packers do decide to move on from either player, it would be the end of a very successful era for the fan favorites.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

AFC Notes: Brady, Jets, McGuire, Browns

Tom Brady‘s career will soon be coming to an end, but the future Hall of Famer still wasn’t willing to give a definitive timeline in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. The Patriots quarterback acknowledged that retirement would be coming “sooner, rather than later,” but he also noted that he’ll still play if he has the passion and drive.

“As long as I’m still loving it,” Brady said (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “As long as I’m loving the training and the preparation and willing to make the commitment. But it’s also, I think what I alluded to a lot in the docu-series, there’s other things happening in my life, too. I do have kids that I love, and I don’t want to be a dad that’s not there, driving my kids to their games . . . my kids have brought a great perspective in my life. Kids just want the attention. You better be there. And be available to them.”

The five-time Super Bowl winner will be turning 41 next month, but he hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down. He completed 66.3-percent of his passes for a league-leading 4,577 passing yards, 32 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the AFC…

  • The Jets have a number of relatively popular running backs on their roster, including Isaiah CrowellBilal Powell, and Thomas Rawls. However, running backs coach Stump Mitchell decided to gush about 2017 sixth-round pick Elijah McGuire, who is currently buried on the depth chart. “He has the skill set to be a LaDainian Tomlinson, if he was given that opportunity,” Mitchell told Zach Braziller of the New York Post. “That’s not what presents itself to him at this point in time. The skill set, he can do it all. He can catch, he can run as a running back and he can run routes as a receiver. He just happens to be here, and I’m glad we got him.”
  • Once Jets quarterback Sam Darnold signs his rookie contract, the Jets will have around $16MM in cap space. ESPN’s Rich Cimini doesn’t believe the front office will end up using any of that money for extensions, but he notes that it could provide general manager Mike Maccagnan will the ability to pull off a pricey preseason trade. Cimini also writes that the Jets could simply roll their open cap room into next season, which will add to their projected league-leading $88MM in space.
  • During his tenure as Steelers offensive coordinator, Todd Haley worked with quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich and Michael Vick. However, the current Browns offensive coordinator say he may be working with the best grouping of signal-callers throughout his career. “This is probably one of the best – if not the best – quarterbacks rooms, in general, that I’ve had,” Haley told Patrick Maks of ClevelandBrowns.com. “The group, in general, is what I’m excited about. I think that it’s an intelligent, intelligent group, with ability to throw the football and make plays with their legs, some of them. When you have that, I think that good things happen. Competition is created in the room, even though they’re working hard together to help each other and get better as a group.” The Browns are currently rostering a trio of quarterbacks in Tyrod Taylor, Baker Mayfield, and Drew Stanton.

Draft Pick Signings: Jets, Patriots

Along with the Dolphins, a couple of other AFC East clubs made draft signings Friday. Here they are:

  • The Jets inked two sixth-round picks, Louisiana-Lafayette running back Elijah McGuire and Mississippi cornerback Derrick Jones, to their rookie deals, tweets Brian Costello of the New York Post. McGuire (No. 188) and Jones (No. 204) are the first members of Gang Green’s nine-player class to sign.
  • Patriots sixth-round offensive tackle Conor McDermott has put pen to paper, per ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter). At No. 211, the ex-UCLA Bruin was the final selection last weekend for New England, which only had four picks. The other three haven’t signed yet.