Isaiah Wynn

AFC East Notes: Jets, Patriots, Mayo, Bills

While it is not known when the Jets will make their GM decision, they do appear to be done interviewing candidates. The four executives the Jets spoke toJoe Douglas (Eagles), Scott Fitterer (Seahawks), Champ Kelly (Bears) and Terry Fontenot (Saints) — remain in contention, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets (video link) the team has since discussed salary expectations with the candidates. These follow-up talks occurred Tuesday night, per ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). The favorite since this process started, Douglas has not done anything to remove himself from that perch, but Fitterer has gained steam after a strong interview, Rapoport adds.

These meetings may have also been for the benefit of the candidates, with Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweeting multiple interviewees are concerned about the Jets’ atypical ownership situation. CEO Christopher Johnson is working in brother Woody Johnson‘s place, with the latter having accepted an ambassador position with the Trump administration. Woody Johnson will sign off on this GM pick, Mehta adds.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • A Patriots contingency plan for if presumptive left tackle Isaiah Wynn is not ready: perhaps Joe Thuney sliding over one spot. The Patriots’ fourth-year left guard worked with their first-string offense at left tackle Wednesday, according to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe (subscription required). Brian Schwenke and Ted Karras have been rotating at left guard during Pats minicamp. A 2016 third-round pick, Thuney has started every game at left guard since entering the league. Wynn, a 2018 first-rounder who tore his Achilles’ tendon during camp last year, is not yet ready for team drills.
  • Bill Belichick is expected to call Patriots defensive plays this season, but the team is using minicamp to try out some other possibilities. First-year full-time assistant Jerod Mayo was calling Pats plays for a second straight day at minicamp, according to Howe. The Patriots hired their former linebacker as assistant inside ‘backers coach this offseason, and Howe adds the 33-year-old calling plays during the season is now a “serious possibility.”
  • Quinnen Williams sustained a calf injury recently and will be limited for the rest of Jets minicamp, Adam Gase said (via Mehta), calling it a scare. However, the No. 3 overall pick is expected to resume full work when the team, interestingly, holds another OTA session next week.
  • Former Buccaneers seventh-round pick Stevie Tu’ikolovatu worked out for the Bills on Wednesday, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets. The former USC defensive tackle has not played since being drafted, with injuries keeping him off the field.
  • One of the Dolphins‘ 18 priority free agent signings hit the waiver wire Tuesday. The Dolphins parted ways with cornerback Tyler Horton (Boise State) via left-squad designation, veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer notes (on Twitter).

Patriots Notes: Gordon, Gronk, Slater, Jones

The Patriots will end up getting a 2019 seventh-round pick out of the Josh Gordon trade, per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. It was initially reported that New England sent a fifth-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for Gordon, and that a seventh-rounder would be coming back to the Pats if Gordon was unable to play 10 games with the club in 2018. Although Gordon ended up playing 11 games for New England before being suspended again, Reiss says the 10-game condition was lifted and that the Patriots will get the 29th pick in the seventh round.

Now for more news and notes from the Super Bowl champs:

  • Tight end Rob Gronkowski has been at Gillette Stadium multiple times over the last couple of weeks, and while he may only be there to continue treatment on his thigh, Reiss believes Gronk’s presence is reflective of the good relationship between him and the team at the moment and of Gronkowski’s overall positive feelings towards the Patriots. Although he may still retire, his current state of mind is good news for Pats fans who would like to see him back in 2019.
  • Matthew Slater is due a $400K roster bonus on March 13, and assuming he is still on the roster at that point, the team’s 2019 option — which calls for a $1.6MM base salary — will be automatically exercised. Reiss believes that is a reasonable price for a special teams ace like Slater, and that the 33-year-old will be back in Foxborough next season.
  • Reiss also believes tight end Dwayne Allen could be back, as the team admires his professionalism and work ethic, but he will obviously need to accept a pay cut; he is due a $6.4MM base salary in 2019.
  • Cornerback Jonathan Jones proved his value to the Patriots in this year’s playoffs, and he is eligible for restricted free agency in March. As Reiss observes, the Patriots could tender him at the second-round level, which would entitle him to a salary of $3.1MM, or at the low level, which calls for a $2MM salary. But if they go with the latter option, they risk losing Jones without getting any draft compensation in return, so Reiss suggests that the two sides could explore a long-term deal before free agency opens.
  • Zack Cox of NESN.com believes LT Trent Brown will get a contract on the free agent market that the Patriots cannot compete with, and that the team will need to turn to 2018 first-rounder Isaiah Wynn to replace him. Wynn, of course, missed his entire rookie campaign due to a torn Achilles he suffered last preseason.
  • Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels received only tepid interest on the head coaching market this year, but Ben Volin of the Boston Globe says McDaniels’ excellent work in engineering the Patriots’ Super Bowl run will put him firmly back on the HC radar in 2020.
  • The Patriots have once again surfaced as a potential home for Colin Kaepernick.

Patriots Make Roster Cuts

The Patriots are the latest team to move to 53 players by making the following transactions:

Placed on injured reserve:

Cut:

New England kept only three true wide receivers on its initial roster, meaning the club will almost surely be searching for more options on the waiver wire.

Patriots’ Isaiah Wynn Done For Season

Patriots’ first-round pick Isaiah Wynn tore his Achilles in Thursday’s preseason game against the Eagles, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Patriots will be forced to place the offensive lineman on season-ending IR. 

Wynn was pushing for a starting job on the Patriots’ offensive line and, at worst, he was in line for a pivotal rotational job. Now, without the versatile tackle/guard, it appears that the front five is more or less set. The Pats project to start Trent Brown, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, and Marcus Cannon up front with veterans such as LaAdrian Waddle and Brian Schwenke among those pushing for reserve roles. Meanwhile, the injury will improve the odds of another lineman making the final cut, and that could be good news for Ulrich John, Matt Tobin, and Cole Croston.

The Patriots are fortunate to have depth up front, but this is still a tough blow for the offensive line. The Pats pounced on Wynn at No. 23 overall this year because of his technically-sound blocking, above-average athleticism, and ability to play multiple positions. Now, they’ll have to wait until 2019 to see what the Georgia product can do.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Sign Top Pick Isaiah Wynn

The Patriots have signed top draft pick Isaiah Wynn, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Wynn will receive $11.44MM over the course of his four-year rookie contract, in accordance with his slot at No. 23 overall. 

The Patriots were drawn to Wynn, in part, because of his versatility. The Georgia product has the ability to play both guard and tackle, but he has been lining up primarily at left guard this offseason. Wynn, it seems, will battle with Trent Brown for a spot on the starting lineup. The loser of that competition will head to the bench to serve as a swing backup.

Wynn is said to be a technically-sound blocker with above-average athleticism. At 6’2″ (or 6’3″, depending on who you ask), he may be a bit undersized for tackle at the pro level, but time will tell whether he can handle both positions.

With Wynn locked up, the Pats have only one unsigned draft pick remaining – fellow Georgia product Sony Michel.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Rumors: Williams, Jets, Bills, Patriots

Trent Williams is on schedule to participate in Redskins training camp, as expected after a surgery that was slated to erase his offseason. While the official name for the operation the ninth-year left tackle underwent is a tibial tubercle osteotomy, Peter Hailey of NBC Sports Washington notes doctors performed a “slight” microfracture surgery as well. The TTO procedure repaired Williams’ damaged kneecap. However, microfracture surgery is among the most difficult to surmount for athletes and could be worth monitoring as the soon-to-be 30-year-old blocker returns to full-contact work. Nevertheless, Williams has been working toward a camp re-emergence and fully expects to be ready by the time Washington’s roster reconvenes late next month.

Here’s the latest from the east, moving to another recent surgically altered starter.

  • The Jets were without one of their starting safeties during minicamp. Marcus Maye underwent ankle surgery this offseason. He is targeting a training camp return, per Calvin Watkins of Newsday. Maye started alongside Jamal Adams throughout last season. Third-year UDFA Doug Middleton, who missed all of last season with a torn pectoral muscle, took the first-team reps in Maye’s place.
  • Lorenzo Alexander is not a lock to make the Bills‘ 53-man roster, Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News notes. Two years removed from a 12.5-sack season, one that secured him a two-year contract, the 35-year-old linebacker is unlikely to be a starter in 2018, per Skurski. Alexander started 11 of Buffalo’s 16 games last season, doing so in a 4-3 defense after he thrived in the 2016 Bills’ 3-4 look. Skurski notes rookie Tremaine Edmunds and 2017 fifth-rounder Matt Milano are the frontrunners to be the Bills’ three-down ‘backers.
  • Despite playing only half of last season, one halted by a PED suspension and subsequent Jets release, Jeremy Kerley appears to be a lock to not only make the Bills but play a key role, Skurski writes. The veteran slot receiver is entrenched alongside Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones among Buffalo’s top three, in Skurski’s view. Kerley, 29, finished as the 49ers’ leading receiver in 2016 before signing a San Francisco extension. The 49ers then cut him before last season.
  • On the subject of wide receiver battles, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com expects ArDarius Stewart to be given another chance with the Jets (Twitter link) in camp. The third-round pick out of Alabama caught just six passes as a rookie, and the Jets signed Terrelle Pryor and now have Quincy Enunwa healthy. And 2017 fourth-rounder Chad Hansen has fared well this offseason. Nevertheless, Mike Maccagnan using that third-round choice on Stewart likely keeps him safe for at least another training camp, per Cimini.
  • One of the bigger free agency defections the Patriots have had to deal with in a while, Nate Solder‘s departure to the Giants leaves what looks like a two-man battle for his left tackle spot, Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston notes. Trent Brown took the lion’s share of the first-team reps during offseason work, with first-rounder Isaiah Wynn lining up at left guard more. However, left guard starter Joe Thuney is currently absent. Once he returns, Perry points out Brown and Wynn are likely set to compete for one spot. The other would become a swing backup, with Marcus Cannon now back at right tackle.

NFL Draft Rumors: Bengals, Ragnow, Browns

It increasingly sounds like Arkansas center/guard Frank Ragnow has a good chance to be drafted in Round 1, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com hears. The Bengals got a last minute meeting in with Ragnow and it’s possible that they could consider him with the No. 21 overall pick. Pelissero wonders if we could be in for a run on interior linemen towards the back of the first round, with guys like Ragnow, Iowa center James Daniels, Georgia guard Isaiah Wynn and Ohio State center Billy Price (despite his partially torn pec) coming off of the board sooner than expected.

Those guys are just safe. They’re steady. The bust factor is very low on those guys,” an AFC executive said. “Maybe they’re not the sexiest picks, but worst-case scenario, you’re going to end up with a solid player who can step in and contribute pretty early.”

Here’s the latest NFL Draft buzz:

  • Most people believe the Browns are zeroed in on a quarterback, but GM John Dorsey isn’t publicly ruling out Penn State running back Saquon Barkley at No. 1 overall (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Of course, draft season is full of smokescreens, so we shouldn’t necessarily take Dorsey’s comments at face value. In all likelihood, the Browns will be selecting their QB of the future with the top pick while considering other players at No. 4.
  • Draft visits are officially over, but the Seahawks are still doing their homework. On Thursday night, they’ll dine with Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, Rapoport tweets. The Seahawks pick at No. 18, so they may have to trade up if they want him. It will be interesting to see if they go in that direction since they have opted to trade down in recent drafts.