Erin Henderson

Jets Notes: Kerley, Henderson, Darnold

We learned earlier this week that former Jets linebacker Erin Henderson was suing the organization, with the player citing “wrongful termination and disability discrimination” stemming from his placement on the NFI list. Yesterday, coach Todd Bowles responded to the news, saying that he doesn’t regret cutting the veteran.

“No, not that I know,” Bowles said when asked if he’d do it differently (via Alex Squadron of the New York Post). “It’s a personal matter, and I think the team is taking care of it. I have no regrets.”

Henderson, who is seeking $3.3MM in compensatory damages in addition to punitive damages, says he wasn’t hurt when the Jets placed him on the non-football injury list. The organization previously said that the linebacker “was not fit” to play in the NFL, although Bowles wouldn’t elaborate on that sentiment yesterday.

“I am not going to get into that,” Bowles said. “It was just our decision that we came to. … I’ll let the legal system take care of everything else.”

Let’s take a look at some other notes coming out of New York…

  • When asked how many “foundational players” were currently on the Jets roster, ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini (on Twitter) named five: defensive end Leonard Williams, safety Jamal Adams, safety Marcus Maye, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (who he accompanies with a “maybe” tag), and linebacker Darron Lee.
  • Following his return to the Jets, Jeremy Kerley was relieved to learn that “nothing changed,” the wideout told Darryl Slater of NJ.com. “Picking up the offense was fairly easy,” the 28-year-old said. “Todd [Bowles] is still here. Some of the guys I know are still here. Back in the area that I know well. It just seems like nothing really changed, man. Everything just feels normal now. San Francisco, I loved it out there. Beautiful. San Fran is home, too. Don’t get me wrong. San Fran is my second home. But here is where I started at. It’s where the dream started.” In two games this season, Kerley has eight receptions for 56 yards.
  • The Jets were “credentialed” to have three representatives, including general manager Mike Maccagnan, at yesterday’s USC vs. Washington State matchup, reports ESPN.com’s Kyle Bonagura. The team was presumably attending the game to get a first-hand look at Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold, who WalterFootball.com currently has going first-overall in their 2018 mock draft. The prospect wasn’t particularly impressive during his team’s loss, completing 15 of his 29 pass attempts for 164 yards and one interception (he also lost a key fumble in the fourth quarter).

Extra Points: Jets, Baldwin, Boone, Packers

Former Jets linebacker Erin Henderson was placed on the team’s non-football injury list last season, and the player is now suing the organization, citing “wrongful termination and disability discrimination.” According to Connor Hughes of NJ.com, Henderson is seeking $3.3MM in compensatory damages in addition to punitive damages, using his remaining 2016 and hypothetical 2017 salary as a guideline.

The lawsuit does acknowledge that the 31-year-old suffers from bipolar disorder, but it also notes that the organization was never accommodating before they “wrongfully terminated his employment.” The team ultimately said Henderson “was not fit” to play football, a revelation that the player didn’t learn about until the NFLPA grievance hearing in June.

The 2008 undrafted free agent out of Maryland spent the first six years of his career with the Vikings before spending the 2015 and 2016 campaign in New York. During his Jets tenure, Henderson appeared in 21 games (including four starts during his “injury-shortened” 2016 season), compiling 66 tackles and one forced fumble.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Seahawks wideout Doug Baldwin is currently day-to-day with a groin injury, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The reporter notes that there’s optimism that the Pro Bowler could even play this weekend. The 29-year-old had his best game of the season this past weekend, and he’s already hauled in 20 catches for 212 yards and one touchdown this season.
  • Cardinals general manager Steve Keim told 98.7FM in Arizona that offensive guard Alex Boone has an injured pectoral muscle (via Kent Somers of AZCentral.com on Twitter). The veteran had an MRI today, and the team is hopeful that he can play through it. After refusing to take a pay cut from the Vikings, the 30-year-old ultimately joined Arizona this offseason, and he’s started two of the team’s first three games.
  • The Packers placed long snapper Brett Goode on the injured reserve yesterday, and ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky reports that the player has now reached an injury settlement with the organization. This means the Packers can sign him later this season without making him one of the two players the team can return from the IR.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 3.0: Defense

The initial wave of NFL free agency is now complete, and while many of the league’s top available players are now off the board, there are still plenty of quality options still on the open market.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2017:

Edge defender:

  1. Dwight Freeney
  2. Elvis Dumervil
  3. Chris Long
  4. Mario Williams
  5. Connor Barwin
  6. Paul Kruger
  7. Trent Cole
  8. Erik Walden
  9. Jason Jones
  10. Darryl Tapp
  11. Devin Taylor
  12. Eugene Sims
  13. Howard Jones
  14. Wallace Gilberry
  15. Sam Acho

The pass rushing market has been completely depleted during the first week of free agency, as 14 of our original top 15 edge players have now been franchised, signed, or, in the case of DeMarcus Ware, retired. As such, a 37-year-old with 15 NFL seasons under his belt is now the best pass rusher on the market. Dwight Freeney played on roughly a third of the Falcons’ defensive snaps in 2016, and posted three sacks and 18 hurries. Capable of playing in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, Freeney can still help out a club on the cheap.Dwight Freeney (Vertical)

Three players on this list — Elvis Dumervil, Connor Barwin, and Eugene Sims — were released by their respective clubs last week, meaning they won’t count against the compensatory formula if and when they’re signed. Dumervil, now 33, was hampered by injuries last season but still earned strong pass-rushing marks from Pro Football Focus. Barwin, meanwhile, wasn’t a good fit in Jim Schwartz‘s 4-3 defense, but he should flourish if he signs with a team running a 3-4 look. So far, he’s met with the Bengals (who use a 4-3) and Rams (3-4).

Chris Long has already indicated he won’t be returning to the Patriots, indicating he wants to join a roster where he’ll earn more playing time. Erik Walden, too, won’t re-sign with his 2016 club (the Colts), but he has taken a visit with the division rival Titans. Further down the list, Howard Jones has also met with at least one club, as he was hosted by the Jets on Tuesday. Jones, 27, is recovering from a torn ACL, but did post five sacks in five starts last season.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Johnathan Hankins
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Jared Odrick
  4. Vance Walker
  5. Sen’Derrick Marks
  6. Ricky Jean-Francois
  7. Roy Miller
  8. Al Woods
  9. Tony McDaniel
  10. Cullen Jenkins
  11. Frostee Rucker
  12. Cam Thomas
  13. John Jenkins
  14. Tyson Jackson
  15. Tyson Alualu

Although top-flight players such as Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams have already been signed, the crop of interior defenders remains strong at the top. The buzz around Johnathan Hankins has been virtually non-existent, as the only club that’s been even tangentially linked to the 25-year-old is the Redskins. He’s one of the youngest free agents on the market, and therefore is probably looking for a massive payday. But the lack of interest around Hankins may be an indication that he’s simply asking for too much money.Johnathan Hankins (Vertical)

The same issue could be surrounding Dontari Poe, although he’s not wanting for meetings around the league. He’s visited with the Colts, Falcons, Jaguars, and Dolphins, while the 49ers and Raiders also reportedly have some level of interest. Clubs may have concerns about Poe’s lingering back issues, and he might have to accept a one-year deal in order to prove he’s healthy and willing to provide full effort.

The remaining defensive interior players are mostly over-30 veterans, with names such as Tony McDaniel, Cullen Jenkins, Frostee Rucker, and Tyson Jackson still looking for new deals. While most of these guys can still play, they may have to wait awhile — possibly into the summer — before signing on with their next club. Jared Odrick (Patriots) and Vance Walker (Bears) have both taken visits, but the most intriguing lineman here may be Sen’Derrick Marks, who offers a good amount of pass rush from the interior.

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Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 2.0: Defense

NFL free agency gets underway on Thursday and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. Here is our updated outlook for each defensive and special teams position.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as franchised players aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for this offseason:

Edge defender:

  1. Nick Perry
  2. Jabaal Sheard
  3. John Simon
  4. DeMarcus Ware
  5. Lorenzo Alexander
  6. Andre Branch
  7. Julius Peppers
  8. Charles Johnson
  9. Datone Jones
  10. Dwight Freeney
  11. Chris Long
  12. Mario Williams
  13. Paul Kruger
  14. Courtney Upshaw
  15. Jarvis Jones

Now that Chandler Jones, Melvin Ingram, and Jason Pierre-Paul have all been assigned the franchise tag, Nick Perry stands as the top edge defender on the free agent market, and is now in a position to cash in. The Packers opted against the franchise tender for the 26-year-old Perry, so he’ll hit the open market following a career year which saw him post 11 sacks."<strong

The rest of this year’s crop of free agent pass rushers is a blend of young defenders searching for their first payday and veterans on the hunt for one last contract. Among players with youth still on their side, Datone Jones figures to interest clubs thanks to his versatility, as he can vacillate between end and linebacker, while fellow former first-round pick Jarvis Jones is solid against the run. John Simon has been overlooked while playing alongside the likes of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus but could represent a hidden gem, while the Dolphins are reportedly prioritizing Andre Branch.

After managing nine sacks over the first nine years of his NFL tenure, Lorenzo Alexander busted out with 12.5 quarterback takedowns in 2016, and now could be looking for a double-digit annual salary. Charles Johnson, meanwhile, looks like a good bet to return to the Panthers, but DeMarcus Ware could be something of a wild card — after missing 11 games in the past two seasons, does the 34-year-old have enough left in the tank? The same could be asked of Dwight Freeney, who at age-37 posted three sacks in a rotational role for the Falcons.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Calais Campbell
  2. Johnathan Hankins
  3. Brandon Williams
  4. Dontari Poe
  5. Chris Baker
  6. Bennie Logan
  7. Nick Fairley
  8. Alan Branch
  9. Jared Odrick
  10. Karl Klug
  11. Terrell McClain
  12. Lawrence Guy
  13. Stacy McGee
  14. Stephen Paea
  15. Sylvester Williams
    Honorable mention: Paul Soliai

Calais Campbell is the best overall player among interior defenders, and though he’s entering his age-31 season and may not cost as much as Johnathan Hankins, Brandon Williams, and Dontari Poe, Campbell will still be highly-sought after as he searches for his last substantial payday Campbell’s agent met with the Cardinals last week, but other speculative fits for the veteran defender include the Broncos, Raiders, Ravens, Colts, and Titans."<strong

Hankins is only 24 years old, and though the Giants are trying to retain him along with the rest of their defensive core, the 6’3″, 320-pound mauler should represent an attractive option to a number of clubs this offseason. Williams, too, offers a massive presence on the inside, while Poe could intrigue clubs based on his first-round pedigree and athleticism (though his play hasn’t always matched his potential). The Redskins’ Chris Baker is a solid, well-rounded defensive tackle, and could constitute a consolation prize for teams that miss out on their top targets.

The rest of the class offers an interesting mix of nose tackles (Bennie Logan), interior pass rushers (Nick Fairley, Karl Klug), and run stoppers (Alan Branch), so clubs hoping to bolster their defensive line should find no shortage of options. Jared Odrick recently hit free agency after being released by the Jaguars, while Terrell McClain, Lawrence Guy, and Stacy McGee could be underrated finds for the right team. McClain, for what it’s worth, has already been linked to the Falcons.

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Jets To Decline Erin Henderson’s Option

The Jets’ salary-shedding spree looks to be continuing with Erin Henderson. The team will not pick up the linebacker’s 2017 option, Darryl Slater of NJ.com reports.

Henderson signed a two-year deal in 2016, but that pact did not contain any guaranteed money for ’17. Henderson missed 11 games last season, landing on the non-football injury list in October. The Jets will save $2.75MM in cap space by making this move. The former Vikings UDFA success story was due a $250K roster bonus on the first day of the 2017 league year, but the Jets are making this move early.

This continues Gang Green’s string of veteran cuts, with Henderson now joining Nick Mangold, Ryan Clady, Breno Giacomini and Nick Folk as free agents. Altogether, the Jets have added more than $29MM in cap room by making these moves. More could be coming when a decision on Darrelle Revis is made, but for now, the Jets are sitting on $19.2MM in space as the new league year nears.

Henderson spent two seasons with the Jets, spending 2015 as a backup but playing in all 16 games. Last season, he played in five and started four. The 30-year-old, though, landed on that NFI list for reasons that remain unknown. The Jets signed him to a one-year contract in 2015 but re-upped him for two a year later. However, the team selected Darron Lee in the first round last year. With David Harris also still under contract, Henderson became a potentially superfluous commodity, especially after the mysterious injury.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Notes: Henderson, Giacomini, Clady

The Jets will soon have to make a decision on linebacker Erin Henderson, as Rich Cimini of ESPN.com writes. Henderson was the Jets’ starting inside linebacker for the first six games of the season before he was placed on the non-football injury list for the remainder of the season without explanation. Now, the team will have to make their call on Henderson in two parts.

Under the terms of his two-year, $4MM deal signed last offseason, the Jets must decide by Wednesday whether to trigger their option for 2017. There’s no financial commitment with that call, however – that doesn’t come into play until March 9, when he’s due a $250K roster bonus. If he’s kept, he’ll count for $2.75MM against the salary cap with a non-guaranteed base salary of $2.25MM.

We still don’t know exactly what happened with Henderson, but he has battled alcohol issues in the past. Recently, on Twitter, Henderson declined to go into specifics, though he did say “all is well on [his] end.” If Henderson is healthy, will the Jets keep him on board? As Cimini notes, the Jets could use depth at inside linebacker behind David Harris and Darron Lee. However, his cap number is a bit too high for a backup, he turns 31 in July, and his off-the-field history is off-putting.

While we wait to see how that plays out, here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Darryl Slater of NJ.com ranked the Jets‘ likeliest offseason cuts from least to most likely. Henderson was tied for the top spot with 99% odds, along with right tackle Breno Giacomini and left tackle Ryan Clady. Giacomini, 32 in September, had a bad 2015 and was slowed by a back injury last season, so the Jets will likely drop him to save $4.5MM against the cap. Clady, meanwhile, could be brought back on a cheaper deal, but there’s no way the Jets will keep him on his current deal and pass on $10MM in cap savings. Others with a high probability of getting cut include free safety Marcus Gilchrist ($4.625MM in cap savings, $2.75MM dead money) and cornerback Darrelle Revis ($9.3MM savings, $6MM dead). Interestingly, he feels there’s a 60% chance that Brandon Marshall ($7.5MM savings, no dead money) will be released.
  • Jets GM Mike Maccagnan isn’t prioritizing character as he looks to rebuild, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News writes. Mehta points to the team’s recent waiver claim on Mike Pennel as an example of a low-risk move on a potentially troubled player. He also noted that cornerback K’Waun Williams – who is set to meet with the Jets this week – was reportedly mulling retirement in Cleveland last offseason when he lost his starting job. Since then, however, we have learned that Williams was dealing with an ankle issue that the franchise effectively shrugged off.
  • Defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson might have less trade value than you’d expect.

Jets Place Erin Henderson On Reserve NFI List

The Jets re-signed Erin Henderson this offseason but may not have the veteran linebacker available for the rest of this year after the team placed him on the reserve non-football injury/illness list, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (via Twitter).

An illness led the ninth-year veteran to this list, which works like the standard IR format, meaning Henderson could return after eight games. The Jets signed linebackers Victor Ochi and Julian Stanford from their practice squad, per Brian Costello of the New York Post (on Twitter). They also placed tight end Braedon Bowman on the traditional IR with a torn ACL, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv tweets.

A second-year Jets ‘backer, Henderson started four games and played in five for his second NFL employer this season. With first-rounder Darron Lee also out for Sunday, New York is thin at linebacker after this interesting development.

Henderson played Monday night against the Cardinals and made a season-high seven tackles, but this recent transaction will put the 30-year-old inside linebacker’s chances at returning in 2016 as a slim proposition. Costello seemed to point to the change in Henderson’s status occurring late this week (Twitter link).

Henderson played the 2015 season with the Jets on a one-year deal but re-signed in March on a two-year pact for $5MM. He doesn’t have any guaranteed money left on his deal and would stand to see his cap number rise from $1.25MM to $2.75MM next season. Henderson spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Vikings.

Fellow UFA signing Bruce Carter figures to see more playing time as a result, with second-year man Lorenzo Mauldin also standing to have a quicker avenue to work on a linebacking corps lacking Henderson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Wilkerson, Carter, Bills

According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Muhammad Wilkerson and his camp “are in full-fledged get-me-the-heck-out-of-here mode,” angling for a trade out of New York. As Mehta details, Wilkerson doesn’t dislike playing for the Jets, but he doesn’t believe the team is willing to pay him what he believes he’s worth, so he wants to join a club willing to pony up for a long-term deal.

As we wait to see whether Gang Green finds a trade it likes for Wilkerson, here are a few more items from out of the NFL’s East divisions…

  • After meeting with the Lions and Jets earlier this week, free agent linebacker Bruce Carter is visiting the Bills today, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Buffalo doesn’t have a ton of cap flexibility, but it appears unlikely that Carter will require much more than a minimum salary deal.
  • Rich Cimini of ESPN.com provides the details on Erin Henderson‘s two-year contract with the Jets, writing that the linebacker will earn a guarantee of $750K, including a $365K roster bonus that was paid on Monday. The deal is worth $4MM overall and features a $250K option for 2017.
  • Before he decided to join the Patriots, Terrance Knighton had an offer on the table from Washington as well. However, Mike Jones of the Washington Post (Twitter link) hears that it was significantly lower than New Englands offer. John Keim of ESPN.com adds (via Twitter) that Washingtons offer was heavy on incentives.
  • Asked by Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com if he wants to return to the NFL as a head coach, former Washington coach Mike Shanahan said it would have to be the perfect situation, suggesting that it might be a better fit for him to be a consultant for a team.

Jets Re-Sign Erin Henderson

THURSDAY, 2:55pm: The Jets have officially re-signed Henderson, the team announced today on its website.

WEDNESDAY, 3:41pm: Free agent linebacker Erin Henderson is heading back to New York for 2016, having agreed to re-sign with the Jets, reports Dom Cosentino of NJ.com. According to Cosentino, the two sides have struck a two-year deal worth up to $5MM, including $750K in guaranteed money. Per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (Twitter link), the base value of the pact is a modest $3.1MM, with the remaining $1.9MM made up of various incentives and escalators.Erin Henderson

Henderson first joined the Jets last April after missing the entire 2014 season due to off-field issues. The 29-year-old has been arrested multiple times for DUI-related incidents, and has been suspended by the league for his off-field behavior, but made it through 2015 without making any negative headlines.

During his last season as a starter, Henderson racked up 112 tackles, four sacks, and two interceptions for the Vikings in just 14 games in 2013. His numbers for the 2015 Jets were more modest, as he didn’t see much action in the first half of the season, but he was solid down the stretch.

In our preview of the Jets’ offseason, I suggested that the team would be wise to let Demario Davis walk and re-sign Henderson on an inexpensive, short-term deal as his replacement, which is what the club has done — Davis inked a two-year, $8MM contract with the Browns last week, so Henderson comes a little cheaper. He currently projects as a potential starter for the Jets, alongside David Harris.

The Jets only have about $2.5MM in cap room, so even though they may be able to squeeze Henderson’s deal under the cap, the team will soon have to restructure, trade, or terminate other contracts to create additional flexibility.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jermaine Gresham, Shea McClellin Visiting Jets

The Jets are hosting tight end Jermaine Gresham and linebacker Shea McClellin on visits, according to multiple reports. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports (via Twitter) that McClellin is visiting Gang Green today, while ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that Gresham also met with the team.Shea McClellin

Gresham, 27, signed with the Cardinals last season after spending five seasons with the Bengals. His role was reduced in Arizona, and he caught a career-low 18 balls for 223 yards and a touchdown. During his time in Cincinnati, Gresham earned two Pro Bowl nods, averaging 56 receptions per season.

The Jets, meanwhile, got little to no production from their tight ends in 2015. Gresham’s 18 receptions would have easily ranked first for New York, as the team’s TEs combined to catch just eight balls last season.

As for McClellin, the 26-year-old was the Bears’ first-round pick in 2012, and according to Biggs, Chicago would still like to re-sign him. However, the Jets figure to take a hard look at McClellin, since they have a need at inside linebacker, with both Demario Davis and Erin Henderson now on the free agent market.

The Jets are also hosting quarterback Robert Griffin and offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum on visits.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.