J.C. Jackson

Patriots Notes: QBs, Dugger, Jackson

The Patriots did not guarantee Cam Newton the starting quarterback job after they signed him in late June, but assuming Newton is healthy, it would be shocking to see anyone else under center come Week 1. And the 2015 MVP was a “full go” when practices started earlier this month, so all signs are pointing towards Newton serving as New England’s signal-caller when the season opens in a few weeks.

Jeff Howe of The Athletic details how the “competition” has unfolded over the first few practices. Newton has taken the majority of first-team reps, and while he has not been perfect, his accuracy has been impressive. Jarrett Stidham, the second-year pro who was in line to replace Tom Brady before the Newton acquisition, has been dealing with a hip injury, and he has also struggled with interceptions. The team is not concerned about Stidham’s health, but the turnovers aren’t helping his cause.

Brian Hoyer, meanwhile, has had an up-and-down camp thus far, but considering his experience and familiarity with the Patriots’ offense, Howe says the 34-year-old remains an option to start during the early stages of the season.

Now for more notes out of Foxborough:

  • The Patriots’ top draft choice in 2020, safety Kyle Dugger, may struggle to see early playing time on defense because of how much the condensed offseason is impacting rookies’ abilities to learn the pro game. But as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes, the team is eyeing Dugger as its top return specialist. The Lenoir-Rhyne product returned 67 punts for 929 yards and six TDs during his collegiate career.
  • In the same piece linked above, Reiss says Jermaine Eluemunor is in the mix to replace Marcus Cannon — who opted out of the 2020 season — at right tackle. Though Yodny Cajuste appeared to be the favorite for the job, Reiss writes in a separate post that Cajuste, a 2019 third-rounder, appears to be buried on the depth chart.
  • Reiss adds that J.C. Jackson‘s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has touched base with the Patriots about an extension for his client. As a former UDFA, Jackson is now extension-eligible despite having just two years of service time. He has become a key piece of New England’s secondary and has recorded eight interceptions over his first two professional seasons.
  • Lamar Miller‘s one-year deal with the Pats will feature a $1.05MM base salary with $200K guaranteed, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Miller can earn up to $1.5MM more in achievable incentives.

AFC Rumors: Jones, Patriots, Browns, Tags

While the Chiefs are not planning to let Chris Jones get away, the dynamic interior pass rusher staying in Kansas City long-term is another matter. The Chiefs have a $20MM defensive lineman already, in Frank Clark, and will likely have to give Patrick Mahomes a deal in the $40MM-AAV neighborhood. Nevertheless, the Chiefs have the UFA-to-be entrenched as their top priority going into March.

Chris is obviously a great player, and he’s a priority,” GM Brett Veach said via KCChiefs.com’s B.J. Kissel on his In the Trenches podcast (h/t Chiefs Wire). “We have a lot of priorities. Look, we know how hard it is to win a Super Bowl. It hadn’t been done in 50 years and we won it with the group we had last year. So I think that as we attack this offseason, first up its free agency before the draft, our goal and mindset is to do whatever we can to retain as many players as we can. And Chris is at the top of that list because of the talent he is.”

It will likely take near-Aaron Donald-level money ($22.5MM per year) to lock down Jones long-term, but the franchise tag is only estimated to cost $16.3MM. Despite the Chiefs currently holding $13.7MM in cap space, that is likely where this situation is headed for the time being. Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Karl Dorrell‘s decision to leave the Dolphins to become Colorado’s head coach may impact other staffs. The Browns recently hired T.C. McCartney as an assistant, but Dorrell has the young coach on his radar, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. The Broncos’ 2019 quarterbacks coach, McCartney is the son of late Colorado quarterback Sal Aunese and grandson of longtime Buffaloes coach Bill McCartney. T.C. McCartney has worked on the Buffs’ staff previously. Signs point to the Browns having a job opening soon.
  • Three Patriots are changing agents. Both defensive tackle Danny Shelton and cornerback J.C. Jackson will now be Drew Rosenhaus clients, with Mike Reiss of ESPN.com adding that Pats right tackle Marcus Cannon will be represented by Joby Branion and Eugene Lee. Cannon recently said there is nothing to retirement rumors, and this move points to the 31-year-old blocker coming back for a 10th season. Shelton is an unrestricted free agent, while Jackson is due for restricted free agency in 2021.
  • With the CBA coming down to the wire before the 2020 league year, teams may be able use both their franchise and transition tags this offseason. There will be many players mentioned in tag rumors this week. The tight end market could lose a key member, with Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com writing it makes sense for the Chargers to tag Hunter Henry at the near-$11MM price. That move would help a Tom Brady pursuit. Additionally, Rosenthal sees Ryan Tannehill‘s franchise tag making a Derrick Henry transition tag sensible for the Titans. The running back transition tag is projected to come in at less than $9MM. If a new CBA is agreed to, however, teams can only use either their franchise or transition tags. That would complicate matters for the Titans.

AFC Notes: Titans, Dodd, Kearse, Manziel, Patriots,

It’s a crucial offseason for Titans linebacker Kevin Dodd. Despite being the first pick of the second round back in 2016, his early draft status doesn’t assure him of anything due to his lack of production his first two years in the league. Dodd is apparently skipping voluntary OTAs, and will find himself squarely on the roster bubble heading into the 2018 season writes Jim Wyatt of Titansonline.com, who says “he’s going to have to earn his spot on the team.”

With a brand new coaching staff that has no ties to him, it’s a puzzling move for Dodd to be skipping OTAs. He was a much hyped prospect coming out of college, but has appeared in just 18 games through two seasons, making only 12 total tackles.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel has repeatedly deflected when asked about Dodd, and as Wyatt points out, the Titans have a lot of bodies at outside linebacker. The team recently drafted Harold Landry in the second round, a sign that their patience with Dodd is wearing thin. If he doesn’t turn it around soon, Dodd might not be on the team that spent the 33rd overall pick on him just two years ago much longer.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Jermaine Kearse is due a non-guaranteed $5MM salary this season, leading some to speculate he could be cut by the Jets. He’s currently no higher than fourth on their wide receiver depth chart and is quite expensive for a fourth option. But Darryl Slater of NJ.com thinks Kearse will make it through final cuts, saying “ultimately, I think Kearse sticks with the Jets in 2018.” As Slater points out, Quincy Enunwa and Terrelle Pryor are both working their way back from injuries, while Robby Anderson still might be suspended by the league, so the Jets may end up counting on Kearse far more than a typical fourth wide receiver.
  • Former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel made his return to professional football yesterday, playing in a preseason game with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Manziel finished the night going 9-of-12 for 80 yards (Twitter link via Mike Rodak of ESPN). After recently signing with the Tiger-Cats, Manziel will have to spend at least the next two seasons in Canada as he attempts to make a return to the NFL.
  • Patriots rookie undrafted cornerback J.C. Jackson is receiving first-team reps at OTAs and seems to be in good position to make the team, according to Doug Kyed of NESN.com. Kyed notes that the Patriots have a history of discovering undrafted gems at cornerback, including Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler. Jackson was seen as a day three prospect by evaluators based on talent, but went undrafted due to off-field concerns according to Kyed.