Geno Smith

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Bolts, Washington

Paxton Lynch joins the likes of Ameer Abdullah, Breshad Perriman, Stephone Anthony and Mike Gillislee on a roster bubble, per ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter), and the Broncos may choose to cut ties with their disappointing 2016 first-rounder. Lynch would prefer to stay in Denver, Mike Klis of 9News tweets, despite his rocky tenure there to date. A fresh start might be best for the former Memphis prodigy, but the Broncos may elect to keep him as their No. 3 quarterback. Chad Kelly‘s performance in Denver’s Thursday-night finale could determine Lynch’s fate, with Troy Renck of Denver7 writing that a strong showing from the 2017 seventh-rounder may convince the Broncos he’s ready to be Case Keenum‘s regular-season backup rather than forcing the Broncos to acquire a veteran to serve in that role. That would seemingly free up a roster spot for Lynch as the third-stringer. It would cost the Broncos $4.9MM to cut Lynch. They already absorbed a $5.5MM dead-money hit upon releasing Menelik Watson.

Here’s the latest from the AFC West, shifting to another quarterback battle.

  • The Chargers are likely to keep just two quarterbacks, which makes sense given Philip Rivers‘ historic durability. Los Angeles’ starter has taken first-string snaps in every game since succeeding Drew Brees in 2006. As a result, Yates adds that either Cardale Jones or Geno Smith is a cut candidate. The Bolts, though, aren’t certain which one will be given his walking papers. Smith is a vested veteran and would head into free agency if released, while Jones would be subject to waivers. Neither is attached to a contract worth more than $1MM.
  • Su’a Cravens will make his Broncos debut Thursday night after missing most of August due to a knee injury, Renck notes. The former Redskins safety/linebacker has a clearer path to the Broncos’ roster, despite missing most of training camp, due to Jamal Carter‘s season-ending injury.
  • With UDFA Phillip Lindsay almost certainly having earned his way onto the team as Denver’s No. 3 running back, De’Angelo Henderson has drawn trade interest. Former Broncos tackle Tyler Polumbus, writing for The Athletic (subscription required) believes that would be the best scenario for the second-year player, noting that Denver will likely keep four backs — Devontae Booker, Royce Freeman, Lindsay and fullback Andy Janovich — on its 53-man roster. This would leave both Henderson, who likely wouldn’t pass through waivers, and seventh-round rookie David Williams, who might, off the team.
  • Although he returned a punt for a touchdown in the preseason, Isaiah McKenzie probably won’t make the Broncos, per Polumbus. The diminutive return man has fumbled several kicks in his short Broncos stay, losing another one during preseason play. Lindsay and the recent addition of Adam Jones look to have forced the second-year player off the roster.
  • The Raiders will likely waive DeAndre Washington and allow recent camp pickup Chris Warren to take his place, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com notes. Washington recently underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and is an IR candidate, per Gutierrez, who has the Raiders keeping four running backs — Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, Jalen Richard and Warren. Washington and Richard served as backups for Lynch and Latavius Murray the past two years. Washington averaged 5.4 yards per carry as a rookie but struggled last season (2.7 YPC).

Chargers Notes: Gates, Jones, Smith, Nwosu

After Hunter Henry was lost for the season with a torn ACL, it was immediately speculated that the Chargers might look to bring back Antonio Gates. Gates’ NFL career appeared to be over after the Chargers indicated they were moving on, but Henry’s injury threw him a lifeline.

Gates isn’t interested in playing for any other team, and the two sides had talks right after Henry went down. Despite there still being no deal in place with the preseason already underway, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said “we’re still talking with him” after the Chargers’ game against the Cardinals, according to Eric D. Williams of ESPN. Williams points out that the Chargers tight ends accounted for five drops in the preseason opener, and Lynn said “we need to make more plays at the tight end position.” It all sounds like eventually something will get done with Gates.

Here’s more from Los Angeles:

  • In the race to be Philip Rivers‘ backup between Geno Smith and Cardale Jones, Smith “appeared to seize control of the competition” with his strong performance in the first week of the preseason, Williams writes. Smith threw for over 200 yards while Jones, who started the game, threw for only 50 on 12 attempts.
  • Williams writes that rookie linebacker Uchenna Nwosu could start right away for the team. Nwosu, the 48th overall pick in this year’s draft from USC, had a sack and two quarterback hits in his professional debut.
  • In case you missed it, we took a look at the Chargers’ situation at guard as Forrest Lamp continues to rehab from a knee injury.

Contract Details: Meredith, Matthews, Smith

Here’s a look at the details of some recent free agent deals:

  • Cameron Meredith‘s two-year, $9.6MM Saints offer sheet can be worth up to $12.6MM, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports. There are $5.4MM in total guarantees. The Bears have not determined if they will match or not.
  • Jordan Matthews‘ rough year with the Bills may have cost him. The former productive Eagles slot receiver signed with the Patriots for one year and $1MM, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. While $700K is available via incentives, this is a team-friendly deal — one that only includes $170K guaranteed.
  • Bennie Logan‘s Titans deal is for one year and worth $4MM in base value, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Incentives can escalate Logan’s haul to $5MM.
  • The ChargersGeno Smith contract is worth $1MM over one year, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com tweets. This comes with a $200K signing bonus.

Geno Smith To Sign With Chargers

It looks like Philip Rivers will have a new backup quarterback. Geno Smith and the Chargers reached an agreement on a deal that will bring Smith to Los Angeles, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. It’s a one-year deal, per Schefter and ESPN.com’s Eric Williams.

Smith will reunite with Anthony Lynn, who was a Jets offensive assistant during his first two seasons with the team.

The sixth-year quarterback met with both the Bolts and Seahawks this offseason, with the Chargers receiving the first meeting. He will trek to L.A., leaving Seattle without a proven backup to Russell Wilson. Smith and Cardale Jones are now in line to fill out the Chargers’ Rivers-centric QB meetings.

Having spent a year backing up the player once traded for Rivers, Smith made one start for the Giants and ended up snapping Eli Manning‘s historic streak. That caused quite a bit of uproar and accelerated the changing of the guard in New York. Smith saw action in just two Giants games last season and only three Jets contests from 2015-16, with the infamous locker room skirmish with IK Enemkpali playing a role in sidetracking the former second-round pick’s career.

Entering his age-28 season, Smith holds a career 57.9 completion percentage and has thrown 29 touchdown passes compared to 36 interceptions. He started a loss to the Raiders in Oakland last season, completing 21 of 34 tosses with a touchdown on a depleted Big Blue team.

Rivers has not missed a start since taking over the Bolts’ passing reins in 2006. Jones did not throw a pass last season with the Bolts. Longtime Rivers backup Kellen Clemens, who threw eight passes in 2017, is a free agent. Rivers’ backup for the past four seasons, Clemens seems poised to head elsewhere now. The Seahawks could be a fit, with the 34-year-old quarterback having worked under new Seattle OC Brian Schottenheimer with the Rams earlier this decade.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Geno Smith To Visit With Seahawks

Free-agent quarterback Geno Smith is set to visit with the Seahawks, a source told Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. It’ll be the second visit for Smith, who met with the Chargers earlier this week but left without a deal. 

The Seahawks are in need of some depth behind Russell Wilson after parting ways with backup quarterback Trevone Boykin earlier this week. Boykin was arrested Wednesday on charges of aggravated assault stemming from an incident earlier this month. Russell Wilson currently stands as the only quarterback on the Seahawks’ roster. Austin Davis was the only other quarterback on the team’s active roster outside of Wilson last season and remains a free agent.

Smith, 27, has spent his entire career in New York, with the first four years of his career spent with the Jets and last season spent as the backup for Eli Manning and the Giants. Smith wound up making a start last season as Eli Manning’s consecutive starts streak came to an end in controversial fashion. He appeared in two games in total, completing 58.3% of his passes while throwing a touchdown without an interception.

The Jets took Smith in the second round of the 2013 draft out of West Virginia. He started 29 games through his first two seasons but was relegated to backup duties behind Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2015 before departing the Jets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers To Meet With QB Geno Smith

Former Giants and Jets quarterback Geno Smith will visit the Chargers on Wednesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Rapoport adds that Bolts head coach Anthony Lynn has been a fan of Smith in the past. 

Another former Jet – Kellen Clemens – served as Philip Rivers‘ primary backup last season. As it stands, Cardale Jones is the only other quarterback on the Chargers’ depth chart. While Jones has potential, the Chargers are looking for an experienced QB to play behind Rivers.

Smith, a second-round pick in the 2013 draft, has had a rocky NFL tenure to say the least. After two unsuccessful seasons under center for New York, he missed the overwhelming majority of the 2015 season after teammate IK Enemkpali broke his jaw in a locker room brawl.

Smith spent the following season holding the clipboard for Ryan Fitzpatrick before hooking on with the Giants last year. In an extremely controversial move, the Giants started Smith in a December contest against the Raiders. After his two-fumble game, the Giants reinstated Eli Manning as the starter and fired their coach and GM.

Despite all of his warts, Lynn believes that Smith could be a capable No. 2 QB for the Chargers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Eli Manning

The Giants’ decision to bench Eli Manning has created plenty of drama in the football world over the last week, and the way head coach Ben McAdoo handled the benching might have cost him his job. It is now difficult to envision Manning returning to Big Blue next season — although team owner John Mara did not foreclose that possibility — but there are any number of quarterback-needy clubs who would love to have Manning under center for a couple of years.

Eli Manning (vertical)

Manning himself has said that he is not planning to retire, so there has already been a great deal of speculation as to which teams could be in play for his services this offseason. But Manning’s father, Archie Manning, has suggested that his son could indeed hang up the cleats.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Archie said that Eli was heartbroken over the benching, which was perhaps exacerbated by the way McAdoo handled it (Manning was apparently made to feel like a scapegoat when New York brass simply wanted to evaluate the rest of its roster in a lost season). Archie said, “Eli’s passion for the Giants goes deeper than most and I’ve mentioned it through the years. Eli loves playing for the New York Giants. He just does. He just loves it, I think more than most. So therefore, it broke his heart.”

Archie went on to say that Eli could simply call it a career and stay home with his wife and three daughters. After all, he has two Super Bowl trophies — to go along with two Super Bowl MVP awards — a young family, and more money than he could ever hope to spend. He has nothing left to prove, and Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network tweets that all options, including retirement, are on the table.

But it would still be hard to imagine Manning not playing in 2018. The Jaguars have been mentioned as a logical landing spot for him, which Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reiterated today (per La Canfora, who also indicated that Manning has absolutely no intention of retiring, several GMs say Manning-to-Jacksonville makes too much sense to not happen). The Broncos also make some sense, though Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post suggests a second Manning-Denver marriage is unlikely.

In any event, Manning will not suit up for the Giants again (at least in 2017) barring injury to one of the team’s other QBs. Per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk (citing ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio), McAdoo has vowed that he will not bench Geno Smith today, and Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com says the team legitimately like Smith and wants to take a real look at him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eli Manning Not Planning To Retire

Eli Manning does not sound like he’s ready to retire after this season. The 14th-year quarterback still wants to play and believes there are “several” destinations out there for him next year, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com reports.

This would throw a big name onto the quarterback market, one that could also include the likes of Kirk CousinsAlex Smith and the Vikings’ passers. Graziano reports Manning has been hit “pretty hard” by this demotion, and while adding the caveat of this being too soon to know for sure how the Giants icon wants to proceed, the feeling is he doesn’t want his career to end like this.

Teams like the Jaguars and Broncos come to mind as otherwise well-stocked outfits with glaring holes at quarterback, with the Cardinals — who could observe a Carson Palmer retirement — profiling as such as well. Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com, however, doesn’t see the Cards having interest in bringing in Manning (Twitter link). The Vikings have generated plenty from Case Keenum this season, but the defensively geared franchise does not have a quarterback under contract for 2018.

This would certainly point to Manning being willing to waive his no-trade clause in hopes of facilitating a trade to a logical team. Two years and more than $40MM remain on his deal, one that’s largely non-guaranteed. He has a $5MM roster bonus due March 14.

Manning will turn 37 in January. He’s two years removed from a Pro Bowl season that featured 35 touchdown passes. He threw 26 TDs last season. Saddled with a skeleton-crew receiving corps and an offensive line riddled with injuries, Manning has 14 TD passes and seven interceptions through 11 games in 2017.

Manning said earlier today he wasn’t thrilled with the Giants’ original plan. He found Giants management’s idea of letting him start games before being pulled at halftime as a phony way of going about this succession strategy, Graziano reports.

The Giants are not planning to keep Geno Smith in the starting lineup for long, either.

Graziano reports Davis Webb is expected to make the bulk of the starts down the stretch, perhaps beginning that run as soon as Week 14. The Giants didn’t feel it was right to throw the third-round rookie into the fray this week after receiving scant practice reps this season. But the current power structure wants to see what the rookie has before this rough season concludes.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants To Start Geno Smith On Sunday

The Giants announced that Geno Smith will start at quarterback on Sunday against the Raiders. The move will allow the Giants to evaluate their younger quarterback in what has become a lost season. Geno Smith (vertical)

Geno will start this week,” coach Ben McAdoo said in a press release. “Over the last five games, we will take a look at Geno, and we will also give Davis [Webb] an opportunity.”

It’s a historic move for the G-Men given that Eli Manning has started 210 consecutive regular-season games. It is the second-longest streak by a quarterback in NFL history, second only to Brett Favre’s 297. According to the press release, Manning was given the option to continue his streak, but declined.

Coach McAdoo told me I could continue to start while Geno and Davis are given an opportunity to play,” said Manning, who has started every Giants game since Nov. 21, 2004. “My feeling is that if you are going to play the other guys, play them. Starting just to keep the streak going and knowing you won’t finish the game and have a chance to win it is pointless to me, and it tarnishes the streak. Like I always have, I will be ready to play if and when I am needed. I will help Geno and Davis prepare to play as well as they possibly can.”

The Giants will be re-evaluating every area of the team in the offseason, including the quarterback position. Manning isn’t necessarily being forced out, but the Giants are expected to look towards the future as his 37th birthday comes in January. McAdoo & Co. are about to find out whether the former Jets bust is a potential option. Meanwhile, they’ll have to decide on Manning’s future before he collects on a $5MM roster bonus on the fifth day of the 2018 league year in March.

Smith played in 33 regular-season games with 30 starts for the Jets, but he has not started a game since October of last year. His stint in green was defined by poor play, injuries, and a locker room brawl that left him with a major jaw fracture.

Heading into the season, the Giants believed that Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., and free agent pickup Brandon Marshall would power them into the playoffs. Unfortunately, injuries to OBJ, Marshall, and scores of other key players have taken them out of contention. The Giants are 2-9 with no mathematical chance of reaching the postseason.

This is not the way it should be, but unfortunately, it’s where we are,” McAdoo said. “Our number one priority every week is to go win a game, but we owe it to the organization to get an evaluation of everybody on the roster, and that includes at the quarterback position. I’ll say it again, I have the utmost respect for Eli and everything he has done for this organization throughout his career. He is the consummate professional. He doesn’t like the position we are in, and neither do any of us. Eli has had to deal with a lot this season. Through it all, he has done everything we have asked of him in getting that unit ready to play. He has been steady, just like he has always been.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants To Release QB Josh Johnson

The Giants are releasing quarterback Josh Johnson, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. This ostensibly means that Geno Smith has won the backup job.

The news comes as a bit of a surprise since the word this summer was that Johnson would likely prevail over Smith. Johnson, 31, is out after re-signing with the Giants on a two-year deal in March, but this is familiar territory for him. After spending the first three years of his career with the Bucs, Johnson has had stints with the Ravens, Browns, Bengals, 49ers, Colts, Bills, Jets, and Giants – all since 2012. The last time he took the field was in 2013 with Cincinnati.

Smith, a former second-round pick of the Jets, has had a bizarre career to date with little to cheer about. The 26-year-old (27 in October) has a career 57.9% completion percentage and a touchdown-to-interception ration of 28:36. The Giants are hoping that he can be a suitable emergency option in the event of an Eli Manning injury, however.

Third-round pick Davis Webb is slated to open the season as the Giants’ third-string quarterback.