Jake Butt

Broncos Place Lock, Butt, Riddick On IR

The Broncos have placed quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Jake Butt, and running back Theo Riddick on injured reserve, per a team announcement. All three will be eligible to return to game action after eight weeks, but the Broncos can only activate up to two players from IR, not the whole trio.

The moves will clear the way for three signings: linebackers Keishawn Bierria and Corey Nelson and cornerback Davontae Harris. Bierria and Nelson (see story here) will receive one-year deals while Harris gets a two-year pact.

If all three players return to full health, and Joe Flacco plays well, Butt and Riddick could be the leaders in the clubhouse for the Broncos’ IR-DTR spots.

Extra Points: CBA, Clowney, Julio, Butt

As expected based on the past several weeks of talks, there will be no new collective bargaining agreement before Week 1. The parties’ latest round of discussions ended this week without much movement, and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes no more meetings are currently scheduled. The owners continue to push for an 18-game season, while the players want a greater revenue share than their 47% figure without adding any additional regular-season contests. But the sides have made progress on issues like increased league-minimum salaries and health and safety components, Pelissero adds. With NFL-NFLPA meetings more difficult to arrange during the season, due to players’ focuses shifting to game preparation, there is now an increased possibility we will get to 2020 without a new CBA in place. That would mean final-year-of-a-CBA rules going into place. This CBA expires after the 2020 season.

Here is the latest from around the league, as rosters continue to take shape leading up to Saturday’s cutdown:

  • It continues to look less and less likely Jadeveon Clowney will wear a Texans uniform again. A bevy of teams are interested, even if a Clowney-to-Miami proposition has hit snags on multiple fronts. Bill O’Brien, who was reported to be against a Clowney extension before this year’s franchise tag deadline, said he will reconvene with Clowney if he signs his tag tender, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Clowney has now threatened to miss regular-season time.
  • We are now less than nine days away from the Falcons‘ opener, and it could put Julio Jones to a decision. The All-Pro wideout did not skip training camp but he would soon be set to play in games on the league’s 13th-highest-AAV receiver deal. Thomas Dimitroff said (via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com) the team believes this process is “very close” to being completed. Jones’ current deal runs through the 2020 season.
  • Jake Butt has endured another setback. The Broncos tight end who has undergone three reconstructive ACL surgeries will have another knee procedure soon, James Palmer of NFL.com tweets. This will be a minor surgery on Butt’s left knee, that was operated on last year. At this point, it should be considered a safe bet Butt will land on the Broncos’ IR list. The Broncos have the former All-American under contract through 2020 and could give him another medical redshirt year of sorts by placing him on IR before finalizing their roster. Butt missed most of Denver’s preseason work.
  • The Texans may have their backup quarterback back soon. A.J. McCarron has resumed throwing, per Wilson, pointing to the longtime Bengals QB2 being available in Week 1. McCarron has been dealing with a thumb injury for most of August. Houston signed McCarron to a one-year, $3MM deal to be Deshaun Watson‘s backup.

Jake Butt Headed To IR Again?

Broncos TE Jake Butt just can’t seem to catch a break. The Michigan product, who looked destined to be a first- or second-round draft pick in 2017 before a torn ACL suffered in his final collegiate game caused him to fall to the fifth round, is trying to battle back from another torn ACL, which came during a walkthrough practice last September.

He looked to be making progress in that regard, as he made it back to 11-on-11 drills earlier this month and played in the Broncos’ preseason game against the Rams on Saturday. Butt even indicated that he had “turned the corner.”

But head coach Vic Fangio said today that Butt has been shut down again and will not play in Thursday’s preseason finale due to renewed problems in his knee (h/t Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk). Fangio said Butt could miss some time, and it seems that the 24-year-old may be IR-bound once again.

If Denver wants to put Butt on IR but retain the option of bringing him back at some point this season, he will need to be on the team’s initial 53-man roster before being placed on IR. We will know soon if the Broncos want to go that route.

Denver invested a first-round pick in raw but talented tight end Noah Fant this year, and Butt’s time with the Broncos may be running out. He played in three games (all starts) last year, posting eight receptions for 85 yards. That represents his only regular season action to date.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Foles, Driskel, Butt, Cardinals

After a rough year with the 2015 Rams, Nick Foles nearly retired. That turned out to provide astonishing benefit to the Eagles, who won Super Bowl LII thanks largely to Foles’ virtuoso performance. But going into the 2017 season, Foles had retirement on his mind again. Injuries at the time prompted Foles to inform at least one Eagles teammate, Brandon Graham, he planned to retire at season’s end (video link via ESPN.com’s Tim McManus). Fortunes changed for the 30-year-old passer, who piloted four playoff wins since considering another early NFL exit. The Jaguars guaranteed him $50MM in March on a four-year, $88MM contract. This will be Foles’ eighth NFL season.

Ahead of preseason Week 2, here is the NFL’s latest:

  • Jeff Driskel is not a lock to make the Bengals‘ 53-man roster, with fourth-round rookie Ryan Finley progressing toward the QB2 role. On Tuesday, the team experimented with its 2018 backup as a wide receiver, Jay Morrison of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Driskel would still prefer to play quarterback, but Finley will work with Cincinnati’s second-stringers in the team’s second preseason game. Zac Taylor approached Driskel on Tuesday about taking reps at receiver, per Morrison. Driskel played quarterback at Florida and Louisiana Tech; he was also a late-round Red Sox draft pick in 2013. He rushed for 130 yards last season (5.2 per scramble).
  • Attempting to return to the Broncos‘ 53-man roster after a third ACL tear, Jake Butt spent most of camp sidelined because of another setback. But he made it back to 11-on-11 drills Tuesday, Mike Klis of 9News notes. Despite Austin Fort‘s season-ending injury, the Broncos still have three other tight ends — Noah Fant, Jeff Heuerman and Troy Fumagalli. But the latter, a 2018 fifth-rounder who missed all of last season, worked as an H-back/fullback on Tuesday. Vic Fangio said Fumagalli could fit in there while Andy Janovich recovers from a pectoral injury. This would be a way for the Broncos to roster four tight ends.
  • Despite A.Q. Shipley and Mason Cole listed as co-starters at center on the Cardinals‘ depth chart, the former is expected to earn his job back. The 33-year-old is a “virtual lock” to be Arizona’s first-string snapper in Week 1, Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com notes. Cole has also worked at guard, pointing to an interior swing role for the team’s 2018 starting center. Shipley, the Cards’ center starter from 2015-17, missed all of last season due to an ACL tear but was given a one-year, $1.6MM extension during his recovery.
  • Browns defensive end Chad Thomas dodged a scare in a recent practice. The second-year defender was carted off the Berea, Ohio, practice field Monday and hospitalized. But the Miami product was quickly released and diagnosed with a neck sprain.
  • Buccaneers wide receiver Bryant Mitchell was not as fortunate. He suffered a torn left Achilles’ tendon in the team’s preseason opener, Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets. A three-year Edmonton Eskimo, who posted 867 receiving yards in 2018, Mitchell caught on with the Bucs in May.

Broncos Notes: Sanders, Butt, Lock, CBs

After Chris Harris and Emmanuel Sanders suffered season-ending injuries in a four-day span last December, the Broncos lost their final four games and reassembled their coaching staff. The team did not make any major additions at wide receiver this offseason, waiting until the sixth round to address the spot. Sanders has shown steady progress during offseason Achilles rehab, but the 32-year-old wideout conceded Tuesday (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, on Twitter) he will not be full-go to start Denver’s training camp. With the veteran not yet certain to be ready to play by Week 1, a stay on the active/PUP list to start camp seems likely. The Broncos, whom Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com ranked 31st on his list of skill-position groups, are counting on Sanders to reprise his role as a key starter.

With the Broncos two days away from training camp, here is the latest out of Denver:

  • While Sanders may not avoid the active/PUP list, it appears Jake Butt will. The third-year tight end is attempting to recover from the third torn ACL of his playing career, but the Michigan product said (via the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran, on Twitter) he will not land on the PUP list to start camp. However, the Broncos will still ease him back to practice work. The Broncos brought back Jeff Heuerman and drafted Noah Fant, but Butt could still be a nice bonus for a team with an uncertain pass-catcher situation.
  • Denver used third-round picks in 2017 and ’18 on cornerbacks, but neither Brendan Langley nor Isaac Yiadom have a locked-in role going into camp. Langley has been moved to wide receiver, and Yiadom might not even be the favorite for the team’s No. 4 cornerback gig. The Broncos’ top three of Harris, Bryce Callahan and Kareem Jackson (in nickel sets) is set, and O’Halloran notes Alliance of American Football refugee De’Vante Bausby may be the player to beat for the Broncos’ CB4 role. Bausby played for Vic Fangio briefly in 2016 and suited up for six Eagles games last season.
  • Dalton Risner agreed to terms on his second-round rookie deal. Drew Lock has not. But the Broncos are not planning to cave to Lock’s reported aim at securing an overslot deal. They will not pay Lock more than what Risner received, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. Risner was taken 41st overall, and while Lock was projected to be a first-round pick for most of the draft process, the four-year Missouri starter went 42nd.

Broncos TE Jake Butt Eyeing Training Camp Return

Less than a year after undergoing ACL and meniscus surgery, Broncos tight end Jake Butt is already eyeing a return to the field. The 23-year-old told Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post that he’ll be ready to go for training camp next month (Twitter link).

“I feel really, really close,” Butt said (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala on Twitter). “At this point it’s just about getting back into football shape and to where I feel good every day.”

The 2017 fifth-rounder out of Michigan has struggled through injuries during his brief career. He missed his entire rookie season as he recovered from a torn ACL suffered during his senior year. He came into the 2018 campaign fully healthy, and he started each of the Broncos’ first three games, hauling in eight receptions for 85 yards. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL during a non-contact drill at practice, ending his sophomore season.

Butt will have a bit more competition at his position heading into 2019, as the Broncos used a first-round pick on tight end Noah Fant. The team is also rostering Jeff Heuerman and Troy Fumagalli, meaning the coaching staff has the depth to bring Butt along slowly.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos To Promote TE Brian Parker

Following Jake Butt‘s season-ending ACL injury, the Broncos have added another tight end to their roster. Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that the team has promoted Brian Parker to the active roster. To make room on the roster, the Broncos are expected to place Butt on the injured reserve (via Mike Klis of 9News on Twitter).

The 26-year-old Parker entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Albany in 2015. He bounced between the Chargers, Chiefs, and Jets before landing with the Broncos in 2017. He played in nine games with Kansas City as a rookie, hauling in a single catch for six yards. He’ll likely slide behind Jeff Heuerman and Matt LaCosse on the tight ends depth chart.

It was expected that Butt would be placed on the injured reserve after he suffered a torn left ACL during Thursday’s practice. The 23-year-old had already suffered a pair of ACL’s during his playing career, although his recent injury was in a different knee.

“I made a cut and I knew it right away,” Butt told Klis (via Twitter). “But I feel lucky. I have so many wonderful people around me for support. I’ve had so many people reach out to me and tell me they’re praying for me and thinking of me. I’m so blessed.”

Butt also told Klis that he’s prepared for the grind of rehab, noting that being unable to play in games is the toughest aspect of the recovery process.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos’ Jake Butt Done For Year

Jake Butt suffered a torn left ACL during Thursday’s walkthrough practice, according to Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). Butt is done for the year and will be placed on injured reserve. 

It’s a crushing blow for Butt, who tore his right ACL twice while at Michigan. Through three games, Butt was making an impact, and had eight catches for 85 yards. He’ll now have to wait until September of next year to build on his progress.

Butt was the 145th overall pick in the 2017 draft, but offers far more upside than your average fifth-rounder. Before his second torn ACL suffered in the Orange Bowl, Butt had a chance to parlay back-to-back strong seasons into becoming a first- or second-round pick. Butt combined for 97 receptions and seven touchdowns during his final two years with the Wolverines and earned first-team All-America honors in each season.

Without Butt, top tight end Jeff Heuerman and backup Matt LaCosse will be relied on a bit more heavily. Fifth-round pick Troy Fumagalli is on IR with an abdominal injury, so the Broncos may look to sign another tight end this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Bucs, Butt, Browns, Dobbs

The NFL is still investigating Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston for allegedly groping an Uber driver in 2016. It’s been seven months since an unnamed woman’s allegation surfaced, but NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said (via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times) the matter “remains under review.” Winston has long denied any wrongdoing, but even if no charges were brought, the fourth-year quarterback could face NFL discipline. The Bucs open the season with games against the Saints, Eagles and Steelers. They re-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started three games last season, in preparation for this, Stroud notes, adding that they believe the 35-year-old veteran is the best option to navigate that stretch if Winston is suspended. Of course, if the Bucs go into training camp without knowing if Winston will be suspended, it could make allocating reps difficult.

As minicamp week concludes, here’s the latest news:

  • The Browns plan to slot Mychal Kendricks at weakside linebacker going into camp, per Zac Jackson of The Athletic (subscription required). Christian Kirksey played every snap at that spot last season and is signed long-term. Jackson doesn’t see him losing his job. The Browns believe Kendricks can play all three linebacker positions, but how Cleveland distributes playing time will be interesting since Jamie Collins — the league’s highest-paid off-ball linebacker — and 2017 Pro Bowler Joe Schobert are the other incumbents. It’s arguable Kendricks, long upset with his role in Philadelphia, had an easier path to playing time with the defending Super Bowl champions than he does with a team coming off an 0-16 season.
  • Excluding the 2 1/2 seasons Peyton Manning was healthy for the Broncos, the franchise has not been able to generate much from its tight end spot this decade. The Broncos, though, might have their best chance in a while to do so with one-time highly regarded prospect Jake Butt healthy. After essentially redshirting in 2017, which does not count as an accrued-service year for Butt since he spent it on Denver’s PUP list, the Michigan product could be in position to start. “He looks healthy, finally,” Vance Joseph said, via Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com. “ … Right now, he’s totally healthy.” The Broncos have struggled for three years to generate much in the passing game outside of their two starting wideouts, but with Butt in the mix, Case Keenum figures to have more options than his immediate predecessors. Denver used a 2017 third-round pick on Carlos Henderson only to see him miss all of his rookie year, and the Broncos now have second- and fourth-round picks Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton potentially ready to fill the auxiliary pass-catcher void.
  • File this away to the what-if department: had the Buccaneers not selected O.J. Howard at No. 19 overall last year, they were “poised” to take Dalvin Cook, Stroud notes. This would have been a wildly different path for Cook, who sat on the board until the Vikings selected him at No. 41 overall. Tampa Bay instead waited a year to make a big draft investment at this position, taking Ronald Jones at No. 38 this year.
  • The SteelersMason Rudolph selection will likely leave Joshua Dobbs as the odd man out in Pittsburgh, barring injury. Pittsburgh is expected to go into the season with Ben Roethlisberger, Rudolph and Landry Jones as its three quarterbacks, Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes, leaving 2017 draftee Dobbs as either trade bait or waiver wire fodder. Jones is due $2.2MM this season but would profile as the veteran backup to complement the developing Rudolph.

Extra Points: AAF, Dolphins, Ray, Broncos

The Alliance of American Football is set to debut this winter. While the league is expected to provide an alternative for NFL fans, founder Charlie Ebersol said they aren’t intending to put their counterpart out of business.

“It’s a positive relationship,” Ebersol told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. “One of the reasons that we made the contract the way we do for the players where they have an out to go to back to the NFL is because we recognize the fact just like the MLS recognizes the fact that the Premier League is ultimately gonna pay players more and put them on a bigger stage than the MLS will. They support that. We support the same concepts. I think that it’s a foolish to try to pick a fight with a $150 billion business when you’re starting up and when you’re also not competing. I mean none of my content touches any of their content. Ultimately, it’s a complementary, positive relationship.”

Ebersol touched on several additional points during the interview, including the ability for players to switch to the NFL should they receive an offer.

Let’s take a look at some other notes from around the NFL…

  • Dolphins second-round tight end Mike Gesicki has yet to impress during the media portions of practices. While the Penn State product clearly has some work to do, it sounds like Miami’s coaching staff is optimistic about the prospect’s future in the NFL. “Mike is a little bit unique,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains told Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald. “[Durham Smythe] is a ‘Y’ and Mike G is more of a … We’ve got to find out exactly what he can and can’t do and what he can and can’t handle early. As the season goes and the offseason goes and training camp, his package will expand and his routes will expand as we found out what he can and can’t do.” To start the season, Gesicki is expected to backup A.J. Derby.
  • Beasley writes that filling Ndamukong Suh‘s role is easier said than done. However, several Dolphins players could be ready for the challenge, and the writer specifically points to 2017 third-rounder Vincent Taylor. “It’s hard losing a guy like Suh just knowing what he’s capable of doing; but at the end of the day, it’s a business decision,” Taylor said. “I know all of the things when I was coming in, what he taught me, so I learned some of the things that he taught me.”
  • The Broncos declined to pick up Shane Ray‘s fifth-year option. As a result, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post believes the injured linebacker should take as long as he needs to recover from wrist surgery. The writer explains that returning early and re-aggravating the injury could hurt Ray’s market value. However, if the linebacker is productive and healthy in a lesser playing sample, he still might be able to secure a lucrative contract. The 2015 first-rounder had a disappointing season in 2017, compiling only 16 tackles and one sack in eight games (seven starts).
  • O’Halloran also observes that Broncos tight end Jake Butt has been an offensive standout during practices. “It’s our responsibility as tight ends and slot (receivers) to win one-on-one match-ups on the inside,” he said. “We’ve got to make plays when our number is called to take a little bit of pressure off those guys (Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders) on the outside.” Butt could end up with the starting gig in Denver, but he’ll have to compete with a grouping that includes Jeff Heuerman and Troy Fumagalli.