Eric Rowe

Patriots Place CB Eric Rowe On IR

The Patriots are down a cornerback. ESPN’s Field Yates reports (via Twitter) that New England has placed Eric Rowe on the injured reserve. The 26-year-old has been battling a groin injury throughout the season.

It’s a tough break for the impending free agent. The 2015 second-round was seemingly coming into his own this season, as he had compiled 10 tackles and one pass defended in four games (two starts). While he didn’t play enough snaps to earn a spot on Pro Football Focus‘ cornerback rankings, his score would have placed him right in the middle of the list.

The move leaves the Patriots relatively thin at cornerback for the time being. Starters Jason McCourty and Stephon Gilmore are both healthy, but the team is rostering three inexperienced cornerbacks behind the duo: Jonathan Jones, J.C. Jackson, and Keion Crossen.

Fortunately for the Patriots, they’ll soon be receiving some reinforcement. As ESPN’s Mike Reiss points out (via Twitter), rookie Duke Dawson is eligible to come off the injured reserve next week. Assuming the 2018 second-rounder is healthy, he could soon find himself as the team’s top reserve cornerback.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Notes: Kraft, McClellin, Rowe

Back in January, an explosive piece from ESPN.com detailed a major rift within the Patriots organization. Since that time, there have been continued whispers about the tension in Foxborough, particularly between head coach Bill Belichick and franchise quarterback Tom Brady. Owner Robert Kraft has continually denied those rumors, and he did that once again on Friday. Appearing on CNBC, Kraft attributed the reports to “envy and jealousy.”

“We’ve been together 19 years, which is unheard of for a head coach, a quarterback and an ownership group,” Kraft said (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). “Thankfully, we have had a lot of success and whenever that happens you become a target. We understand that and there is always tensions and issues and different things you’ve got to deal with. That is part of the privilege of owning a team and being successful. I have a little saying that envy and jealously are incurable diseases. You’d rather be a recipient than a donor. That is what is going on now.”

A new book by ESPN’s Ian O’Connor has renewed interest in the dynamic between Belichick and Brady. In “Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time,”O’Connor reports that Brady would “divorce” Belichick if he could, but feared alienating New England fans after the Patriots traded backup (and possible successor) Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers last season.

Let’s take a look at some more notes out of New England…

  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets that retired Patriots linebacker Shea McClellin filed for Injury Protection last night, which entitles him “to 50 percent of the base salary he was supposed to make this year.” Therefore, the team ended up losing another $1.075MM worth of cap space, dropping them down to $1.17MM of room. As Volin observes, it’s an interesting predicament for the Patriots, who haven’t been so close to the cap in at least a half decade. The team doesn’t have a whole lot of high-priced players, leading the reporter to wonder whether the issue is by design or due to “poor cap management.”
  • Eric Rowe returned to practice yesterday, but Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal points out that the cornerback was limited after having missed the past two sessions. It’s still no guarantee that the 25-year-old will end up playing this weekend, and he’s currently listed as questionable (along with 10 other teammates, including tight end Rob Gronkowski, offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, safety Patrick Chung, and defensive end Trey Flowers).
  • Despite adding Josh Gordon to the mix, the Patriots are still eyeing some reinforcement as wide receiver. Over the past week, the team has auditioned three wideouts: Breshad Perriman, Jeremy Kerley, and Dontrelle Inman.

Extra Points: Davis, Vea, Pats, Lamp, Colts

Prior to Vontae Davis‘ now-infamous halftime retirement, the 10-year NFL veteran cornerback told Bills defensive backs coach John Butler, “I’m done” while he was in uniform late in the first half. This one-sided conversation, per Davis (via The Undefeated’s Domonique Foxworth), occurred in the final minute of the half. Lafayette Pitts replaced Davis in the game and ended up having to play a larger role after halftime once Davis did not return for the second half.

I didn’t expect them to understand,” Davis said, via Foxworth, of his teammates’ reaction to his abrupt NFL exit. “That moment was shocking to me as well. … My intention was not to hurt my teammates. In that moment, my intuition was telling me I don’t belong on that field anymore.”

The Bills received a roster exemption after the 30-year-old defender’s retirement, and they placed Davis on the reserve/left squad list, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. While Davis sounds about as far away from a player who’d attempt a comeback, his placement on this list would not allow it — with the Bills or another team — this season.

Shifting back to some active NFLers, here’s what’s new going into Week 3:

  • Jack Conklin‘s 2018 debut is unlikely to take place Sunday, Titans insider Paul Kuharsky tweets. In the final part of his recovery process from a torn ACL sustained in January, Conklin appears likelier to suit up in Week 4 against the Eagles than Sunday against the Jaguars. The Titans didn’t have Conklin nor Taylor Lewan in Week 2, but Tennessee’s left tackle has been cleared to return from a concussion he sustained in the season opener. Swing tackle Dennis Kelly, however, remains out. An illness forced Kelly to be hospitalized before last weekend’s game.
  • Another AFC South tackle won’t play Sunday, but Anthony Castonzo‘s second hamstring setback in as many months has not caused the Colts to consider placing him on IR. Indianapolis’ left tackle remains week-to-week in his recovery, Frank Reich said (via the Indianapolis Star’s Zak Keefer, on Twitter). Were Castonzo to land on IR, he would not be able to return for eight weeks.
  • Three Patriots deemed unlikely to play will, in fact, sit out New England’s Week 3 game in Detroit. The Patriots announced Trey Flowers, Patrick Chung and Eric Rowe are out against the Lions. The team did not declare Marcus Cannon or Josh Gordon out. Cannon returned to practice this week and made progress, pointing to the right tackle’s return.
  • Vita Vea‘s calf strain will delay his debut for another week. The Buccaneers‘ first-round pick is out for Monday night’s Steelers game, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Vea did practice on Saturday, doing so for the first time in a month, so the defensive tackle’s NFL debut appears imminent.
  • The Chargers continue to bring Forrest Lamp along slowly. The 2017 second-round pick has not yet debuted, and Anthony Lynn said (via Jeff Miller of the Los Angeles Times) Lamp isn’t ready for action yet. “It’s just that Forrest was an athletic guard,” Lynn said. “He moved a lot and we pulled him in space. He doesn’t feel that speed yet. He feels like he’s a step behind.” Lamp tore an ACL a few days into his rookie training camp and underwent an arthroscopic procedure in May. The Bolts are already down Joe Barksdale for another week. They’ve been playing guard-tackle Michael Schofield in Lamp’s spot, and Sam Tevi started in Barksdale’s right tackle position last week in Buffalo.

East Rumors: McCloughan, Giants, Rowe

Former Redskins GM Scot McCloughan filed a grievance against Washington for the balance of his contract, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, and in-house litigation is moving forward. The Redskins refused to pay McCloughan after firing him, alleging that they had cause for doing so (which is believed to be McCloughan’s struggles with alcoholism). McCloughan’s contract requires him to file a grievance with the league rather than file suit in an independent court, which is standard among contracts for front-office employees and coaches, who are not represented by a union.

Now let’s take a look at more notes from the league’s east divisions:

  • James Kratch of NJ.com believes Giants O-lineman Justin Pugh will be looking for $11MM annually when he hits free agency after the season, with around $30MM guaranteed. Kratch adds that Big Blue will be interested in re-signing Orleans Darkwa, who is also a free agent at the end of the year, though the club will not break the bank for him.
  • Giants head coach Ben McAdoo might have ceded play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, but as Howie Kussoy of the New York Post rights, McAdoo retains “veto power” if he does not approve of a play that Sullivan calls.
  • Eagles CB Ronald Darby practiced this past week for the first time since the ugly ankle injury that he sustained in Week 1, and while his absence as not hurt Philadelphia yet, the team needs him back on the field. As Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes, there is no exact timetable for Darby’s return to game action, but it should only be a matter of time at this point (though he is not expected to play tomorrow night against Washington).
  • Patriots CB Eric Rowe is set to miss tonight’s game against Atlanta with a groin injury, meaning he will have played less than 21.6 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. As Mike Reiss of ESPN.com points out, If Rowe plays in more than 50 percent of New England’s defensive snaps this season, the team will send a 2018 third-round draft choice to the Eagles to complete the trade that sent Rowe to the Pats. However, if he plays in fewer than 50 percent of the snaps, New England will send a fourth-rounder to Philadelphia, so it is looking increasingly likely that it will be a fourth-round pick heading the Eagles’ way in 2018.

AFC East Rumors: Patriots, McCown, Cutler

The Patriots will be without two of their top cover men against the Jets. A late addition to the Pats’ injury report, Stephon Gilmore is out for Sunday’s game with a concussion. Gilmore was not listed on New England’s injury report prior to Saturday, but Josina Anderson of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter) the cornerback had experienced headaches since the Buccaneers game nine days ago. Eric Rowe is out with a groin injury, leaving the Patriots shorthanded on the outside. Gilmore’s concussion setback comes after he was a game-time decision to face the Bucs due to an ankle injury. Rowe hasn’t practiced since aggravating a groin problem in Week 4. New England did not sign anyone before Saturday afternoon’s deadline, so the team will not make a practice squad promotion for depth purposes as a result of these injuries.

Here’s more from New England and other AFC East headquarters prior to Week 6 Sunday.

  • Alan Branch, though, did make the trip with the Patriots to New York after being left off the travel roster for his team’s Week 5 tilt in Tampa, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports. Branch played in New England’s first four games after being re-signed this offseason. His season’s traversing a pattern Jabaal Sheard‘s did last year. After being left off the travel list for a midseason road trip, Sheard returned a week later and finished last season with 15 regular-season games played. Branch signed a two-year deal worth up to $12MM, so another healthy scratch would certainly be strange.
  • When the Jets were surveying the quarterback market, they became the latest team to turn to Josh McCown‘s five-game audition with the 2013 Bears as evidence of proficiency. New OC John Morton observed McCown’s work during that stretch — one that booked him the starting gig with the 2014 Bucs and probably played a key role in coaxing the Browns to sign him a year later — and tailored Gang Green’s offense around what McCown did well that season, Bob Glauber of Newsday notes. McCown has the Jets at a surprising 3-2, with the three wins exceeding his total with the Bucs and Browns combined. The 38-year-old quarterback is completing 71 percent of his passes in Morton’s offense.
  • That said, the Jets aren’t expected to let this season distract them from plans to acquire a long-term quarterback in 2018, Rich Cimini notes (on Twitter). In comparing this to the 2016 situation that saw the Jets re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick late in the offseason and then watching him regress last season, Cimini does not see the Jets turning to McCown again after this bridge season.
  • Despite some outside outcries for the Dolphins to bench Jay Cutler, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald doesn’t get the feeling Dolphins players are ready to see the recently acquired veteran demoted just yet. In attempting 26 passes against the Titans, Cutler completed just 12 for 92 yards. The Dolphins plan to stick with Cutler throughout the season, although that plan could certainly be revised down the road if this offense regresses further.

AFC Notes: Patriots, Ravens, Colts

The latest from the AFC:

  • Eric Rowe isn’t necessarily a lock to serve as the Patriots’ No. 3 cornerback in 2017, suggests Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Rather, it could be Jonathan Jones who emerges behind stars Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler, as Reiss notes that the second-year man got first-team reps as the Patriots’ nickel corner during OTAs last week. With that in mind, Rowe’s playing time during the upcoming season might depend on matchups. At 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, the Patriots could feature Rowe as their nickel corner against teams with multiple big receivers or clubs with tight ends who function as large wideouts, relays Reiss. That was the case in Super Bowl LI when the Pats put Rowe on the Falcons’ best receiver, the 6-3, 220-pound Julio Jones.
  • Now-49er Kyle Juszczyk was more of a Swiss Army knife than a fullback for the Ravens, meaning it may take multiple players to replace him, writes Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. Running backs Lorenzo Taliaferro and Danny Woodhead, fullback Ricky Ortiz and tight end Nick Boyle could try to make up for Juszczyk’s departure as a group. The versatile Juszczyk parlayed his time in Baltimore as a lead blocker/pass catcher/special teamer into a record contract for a fullback (four years, $21MM, including $10.5MM guaranteed). Although the Ravens wanted to keep Juszczyk, their offer wasn’t competitive with the 49ers’, reports Zrebiec.
  • Le’Raven Clark started in just three of eight appearances as a third-round rookie in 2016, but he ended the year as the Colts’ No. 1 right tackle and looks likely to win the job this season, per Kevin Bowen of the team’s website. Joe Reitz and Joe Haeg picked up the bulk of the work at right tackle while Clark was on the bench, but the former has since retired and the latter is primarily a guard. As for Clark, he’s “got enough talent” to be a full-timer, according to Chuck Pagano, though the head coach noted that the 24-year-old must improve as a pass blocker. Pro Football Focus agrees, having assigned Clark an awful pass-blocking grade during his inaugural campaign.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Jets, Kaepernick

Patriots cornerback Eric Rowe says he still doesn’t know why the Eagles traded him, Matt Lombardo of NJ.com writes.

I don’t know what happened,” Rowe said. “Obviously you want to get better at your position. I didn’t think I did that bad of a job to slide down the depth chart. I wasn’t getting get beat deep. I was getting a lot of pass breakups on deep balls and I know I probably needed to start pulling some of them down for interceptions but I don’t think that was the reason. I don’t want to say I took it personally or as a personal shot. This is a business at the end of the day. I felt like when I got traded that it was just another opportunity to keep getting better. Just to stay in the NFL is tough. Just to get another shot is a blessing.”

Rowe’s 26 tackles and one interception on the year aren’t that impressive, but he has been a major contributor as of late and he looks like he’ll be worth the conditional 2018 fourth-round draft choice for New England.

Here’s more out of the AFC East:

  • In his latest mailbag, one reader asks Darryl Slater of NJ.com whether the Jets should take advantage of the draft’s strong defensive back crop and find a left tackle in free agency instead. Slater agrees with the assessment, noting that the Jets could select Ryan Ramczyk at No. 6, a player who is viewed as a safer choice than Cam Robinson. Meanwhile, the Jets could go for someone like Andrew Whitworth or Matt Kalil on the open market. Whitworth, 35, has more mileage between the two but the 27-year-old Kalil played in just two games last year thanks to injury.
  • More from Slater, who wonders if new offensive coordinator John Morton will push the Jets to acquire quarterback Colin Kaepernick from the 49ers. Morton was with SF from 2011-2014 and was in the building while Kaepernick shined from 2012-2014. After that point, of course, No. 7 fell off and he hasn’t looked the same ever since. If the 49ers cut or trade Kaepernick, they’d save $16.9MM in cap space.
  • Patriots assistant head coach/offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia says he plans to coach at least through next season. “That’s the plan,” he told reporters this week (including Bleacher Report’s Doug Farrar on Twitter). Scarnecchia turns 69 in mid-February.

NFC Notes: 49ers, Eagles, Seahawks, Cowboys

49ers fans have been waiting for the better part of a month for the organization to hire their next head coach and general manager. The team will seemingly have to wait at least another two weeks to hire frontrunner Kyle Shanahan from the Falcons, and they may be waiting a bit longer to bring in a new general manager.

On Tuesday, CEO Jed York preached patience when it comes to the team’s hirings.

“The message is we’re going to re-establish a championship culture,” York said (via Cam Inman of The Mercury News). “We’re not going to do that by filling a job quickly. We need to be patient. We need to be willing to wait.

“And when we get the right people, we’ll start putting everything into place.”

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

  • Last offseason, the Eagles dealt with some turmoil when quarterback Sam Bradford was upset following the team’s draft selection of Carson Wentz. This offseason, the front office is hoping to be completely transparent with their franchise signal-caller. “The way the league rules are, you’d love to be able to bring him down and throw to these guys,” said vice president of football operations Howie Roseman (via Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice.com). “That would be unbelievable. It just doesn’t work that way. But from our perspective, we want to make sure that he’s on board with some of these things, and he’s looking at some … probably more in free agency than in the draft, because it’s hard for him to get caught up on the draft prospects.”
  • The Eagles traded former second-round pick Eric Rowe to the Patriots earlier this season, and the cornerback proceeded to start seven games for the AFC champs. Roseman provided some logic for cutting bait on the promising defensive back. “When we sat down and discussed the offer, we really started thinking about the likelihood that we had to sign him to an extension,” Roseman said (via Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com).“We want to build this team with some continuity. We felt at that time that we were not going to sign him to an extension and to be able to get that value for him and possibly add someone who would be here for a longer period of time made sense for where we were.
” Rowe’s contract expires following the 2018 season.
  • Perrish Cox‘s new one-year contract with the Seahawks is worth $855K, reports ESPN.com’s Sheil Kapadia. The cornerback’s initial cap hit is $680K, and he’ll earn $443K if he suffers an injury prior to the start of the regular season.
  • Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones said his team would like to keep free agent wideouts Terrance Williams and Brice Butler (via Brandon George of The Dallas Morning News on Twitter). Williams had one of his least-productive seasons in 2016, but he still finished the campaign with 44 receptions for 594 yards and four touchdowns. Butler, a former seventh-round pick, finished the season with 16 receptions for 219 yards and three touchdowns.
  • Jones also passed along that Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence will need back surgery for the second straight offseason (via George on Twitter). The former second-round pick has only played in 32 games over his three seasons in the NFL, including nine games (three starts) in 2016.

Extra Points: Raiders, Carr, Bills, Pats, Rowe

The latest from around the NFL as Christmas Day comes to a close:

  • Although the Raiders wanted quarterback Derek Carr to undergo surgery for his broken fibula today, that operation was unlikely to take place on Christmas Day because Oakland wants to use the best surgeons available, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links). Most of those doctors were likely occupied due to the holiday, so the Raiders want to wait and secure the best crew before putting Carr under the knife. However, the operation will apparently take place in the very near future. Any chance Carr has of returning for a postseason run would clearly be aided by quick surgery and recovery.
  • While a Rex Ryan firing is a “near-certainty,” Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports that Bills‘ general manager Doug Whaley‘s status remains up in the air. The Bills could finish with a .500-or-better record in consecutive seasons for the first time since Wade Phillips’ 1999-2000 stretch, but the Ryan era has produced major turmoil and seen the Buffalo defense regress considerably from the Jim Schwartz season in 2014. The 2015 Bills ranked 19th in total defense, and the ’16 version sits there as well. While not horrendous, Jay Ajayi‘s monster day to eliminate the Bills notwithstanding, it’s well off the pace of 2014, when the team ranked fourth defensively.
  • Patriots defensive tackle Malcom Brown was demoted during Saturday’s game against the Jets because he was late for a meeting last week, reports Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Head coach Bill Belichick has dealt harshly with tardiness in the past, but Reiss notes that Brown is valued as a mature player who likely just made an “honest mistake.” Brown, a 2015, first-round pick, has started 13 games this season.
  • Under the terms of the trade that sent cornerback Eric Rowe from the Eagles to the Patriots earlier this year, New England will be forced to ship a 2018 third-round pick to Philadelphia if Rowe plays in 50% of the Patriots’ snaps in either 2016 or 2017. Rowe won’t meet that mark this season, per Reiss, although Rowe could still reach that threshold next year. If he doesn’t, New England will only be required to send a 2018 fourth-rounder to Philly.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.

AFC Notes: Murray, Colts, RGIII

Let’s take a quick swing around the AFC:

  • Titans RB DeMarco Murray had an MRI on his toe after Thursday night’s victory over Jacksonville, and the prognosis is good, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Rapoport’s source indicated that Murray will be fine.
  • Kevin Bowen of Colts.com believes that Colts TE Jack Doyle has established himself as a starting-caliber tight end, and that his free agent platform year has come at a perfect time for him. Bowen says Doyle will be one of Indianapolis’ most important free agents this offseason and that he could pull down a contract with a $5MM average annual value.
  • Colts DE Kendall Langford, who has the the longest active games-played streak among all NFL defensive linemen (135), will see that streak come to an end, according to Andrew Walker of Colts.com. Langford continues to deal with a right knee issue that required minor surgery during training camp, and he will sit out an indeterminate amount of time to give that knee a chance to fully heal.
  • Neema Hodjat of OverTheCap.com examines what a potential extension for Raiders QB Derek Carr might look like. This is Carr’s third year in the league, so he will be eligible to receive an extension at the end of this season. Assuming he continues to play at a high level, Carr should command a five-year deal worth upwards of $110MM, according to Hodjat. And the Raiders, who have done a terrific job managing the salary cap in recent years, will be able to shell out that kind of money without much hesitation.
  • Browns QB Robert Griffin III does not need surgery at this time, so he could possibly return somewhere between the November 20 game against the Steelers and the Dececmber 11 matchup against the Bengals after the bye week, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Cabot believes the Browns should get RGIII some action this year if possible, as they have to decide if they need to draft a quarterback in April.
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe opines that the Patriots‘ recent trades for Kyle Van Noy and Eric Rowe indicate that the team is preparing for significant free agent losses this offseason. Both players are under club control through at least 2017, and they are playing on fairly inexpensive deals. Van Noy will serve as insurance should one or both of Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower depart in free agency, and Rowe will offset the potential losses of Malcolm Butler and/or Logan Ryan.
  • Volin tweets that Jacoby Brissett could be the Patriots‘ one player to return from IR this season.