Jake Butt

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.

Broncos Place Jake Butt, Chad Kelly On IR

A pair of Broncos rookies are headed to the injured reserve. The team announced today that they’ve placed tight end Jake Butt and quarterback Chad Kelly on the IR. The two players were previously on the NFI list, and after evaluating their progress, the coaching staff decided that the duo would be shut down for the season.

Jake Butt“They’re both going to go down,” said head coach Vance Joseph. “Chad Kelly, obviously, he came back and practiced last week, and obviously numbers-wise, it doesn’t make sense for our football team. We were hoping that Jake could come back and help us at this point, but he’s not ready yet. So we’re going to put both of those guys down.”

Butt, who was selected in the fifth round of this past year’s draft, has spent the majority of the campaign recovering from his second ACL surgery. The tight end had been practicing for the past few weeks, but he continued to feel soreness in the knee. After having earned a pair of first-team All-American nods, it was expected that Butt could eventually work his way into a major role. Instead, the Broncos will have to continue to rely on A.J. Derby, Virgil Green, and Jeff Heuerman at tight end.

“There’s definitely frustration,” Butt told Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post last week. “For me, I’ve been a quick healer my whole life and everything I’ve come back (from), I’ve been able to come back with no problems. But it’s also teaching me some things. Patience is a big thing.”

There had been less optimism that Kelly would be activated from the NFI. The seventh-round pick was recovering from both wrist and and knee surgeries, and while the trio of Brock OsweilerTrevor Siemian, and Paxton Lynch have been uninspiring, there wasn’t room on the roster for a rookie quarterback. Kelly was limited to nine games during his senior season at Ole Miss, but he still managed to complete 62.5-percent of his passes for 2,758 yards, 19 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Down To 52-Man Roster

The Broncos are down to a 52-man roster. Why 52, you ask? That’s because their signing of quarterback Brock Osweiler is not yet official. Once he’s inked, they’ll be at the 53-man max.

The Broncos also have Shane Ray on the active roster as of this writing. If they place him on IR, they’ll have another spot to work with.

Here’s the full look at their roster:

Released:

Waived:

Waived/Injured:

  • LB Kevin Snyder

Placed On IR:

Reserve/NFI:

Broncos Rumors: Charles, Stephenson, Butt

Jamaal Charles reportedly has a “50/50” shot to make the Broncos‘ final roster, and his only chance to earn a spot on the club will come in Saturday’s preseason game against the Packers, tweets James Palmer of NFL.com. Charles, 30, signed a one-year deal with Denver that contained only $100K in guarantees, and he hasn’t yet participated in a preseason game. The veteran back, who’s been injured for much of the past two years, won’t play in the Broncos’ final preseason contest, so he’ll need to show he’s worth a roster spot this weekend. Denver’s other running backs includes C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker, Juwan Thompson, Stevan Ridley, and De’Angelo Henderson.

Here’s more from the Mile High City:

  • Denver will soon face a decision on the status of offensive tackle Donald Stephenson, as Adam Caplan of ESPN.com details (Twitter links). Stephenson isn’t expected to start, as the Broncos plan to play rookie Garret Bolles at left tackle and free agent addition Menelik Watson at right tackle. That combination would leave Stephenson as an extremely overpaid backup, as Stephenson will earn a fully guaranteed $2MM base salary and another $2MM bonus if he makes Denver’s Week 1 roster (all part of a contract restructuring agreed to earlier this year). While Stephenson’s salary is clearly a sunk cost, the Broncos could save the other $2MM by releasing him before the regular season gets underway.
  • Rookie tight end Jake Butt will “probably” begin the 2017 season on the physically unable to perform list, as Broncos head coach Vance Joseph explained to reporters, including Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Butt, recovering from a torn ACL suffered in his final collegiate contest, would be forced to miss the first six games of the year if placed on PUP. Denver selected Butt in the fifth round, using the 145th overall pick to secure the Michigan product.
  • The Broncos have had a relatively busy week, as they’ve announced Trevor Siemian as their starting quarterback over Paxton Lynch, and learned fourth-year edge rusher Shaquil Barrett could be available for Week 1.

Extra Points: Bell, Steelers, Hawks, Broncos

Using three-year cash value as a baseline metric, Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com examines the most above-market deals in the NFL at the moment. While some contracts listed — such as those signed by Kevin Zeitler, Kawann Short, or Marcell Dareus — aren’t surprising, the No. 1 slot is, as it went to 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk, whose pact is more than 200% above the baseline for his position. The entire article is well worth a read, both for its interesting metric and Barnwell’s analysis.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap offer competing views on the Steelers‘ reported offer to running back Le’Veon Bell, some of the details of which were leaked earlier today. Pittsburgh apparently offered Bell a $12MM annual salary over a five-year term, with $30MM coming in the first two years of pact, but as Florio notes, it’s difficult to completely evaluate the proposal without knowing its exact specifics. But Fitzgerald writes the Steelers typically offer large signing bonuses and honor the entirety of contracts, meaning Bell may have passed up quite a commitment on Pittsburgh’s part.
  • Seahawks backup quarterback Trevone Boykin‘s court date has been rescheduled, meaning he now won’t appear until August 22, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes. That date will come amid Seattle’s preseason schedule, but it shouldn’t affect Boykin as he is required to attend the hearing. This court date is related to Boykin’s March arrest, while the fallout from his April arrest is still up in the air. As Condotta noted in May, the Seahawks aren’t expecting Boykin to be disciplined by the league.
  • As he continues to recover from a torn ACL, Broncos rookie tight end Jake Butt will “almost certainly” begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list, according to Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com. If he remains on PUP for the duration of camp, Butt could be transferred to the reserve/PUP list, which would force him to miss the first six weeks of the 2017 campaign. When does regain full health, Butt should be able to contribute, but he’s currently near the bottom of Denver’s tight end depth chart, which also includes Virgil Green, Jeff Heuerman, A.J. Derby, and Henry Krieger-Coble.

Broncos Sign Jake Butt

The Broncos, continuing a busy Thursday, have inked fifth-round tight end Jake Butt to a contract, per a team announcement (Twitter link via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post).

Jake Butt

Butt, the 145th overall pick, isn’t your average fifth-rounder, as he only dropped that far as a result of the torn ACL he suffered in Michigan’s Orange Bowl loss to Florida State on Dec. 30. To that point, 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.

Prior to last year, Butt purchased a loss-of-value policy which enabled him to collect compensation for his draft fall. All told, he ended up with a guaranteed $380K and could earn another $2.7MM-plus, including a $300K signing bonus, if he sees his rookie contract through. He’s the seventh member of the Broncos’ eight-player class to sign, leaving second-round defensive end DeMarcus Walker as the lone straggler.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Fallout: Kizer, Abdullah, Butt, Jags

The Browns were the club most frequently connected to new Bears’ QB Mitch Trubisky prior to the draft, but Chicago made the surprising decision to trade up to the No. 2 overall pick and nab the former UNC signal-caller, and then Patrick Mahomes came off the board before Cleveland could nab him with the No. 12 overall selection. So the Browns dealt that pick and waited until the the second round to get a quarterback, selecting Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, whose stock slipped over the last few months but who certainly has first-round ability.

As Tony Grossi of ESPN.com writes, the Browns are open to having Kizer start right away. Head coach Hue Jackson said, “If he can handle [starting], great. We are not going to say, ‘No, you can’t play,’ if he is ready to play.”

Now for more fallout from the 2017 draft:

  • The Lions did not select a running back in this year’s draft, and as Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com writes, GM Bob Quinn stated afterwards that Ameer Abdullah, who missed almost all of 2016 with a foot injury, will be the team’s starting back going into 2017.
  • The Packers drafted three running backs over the past several days, but head coach Mike McCarthy said that converted wideout Ty Montgomery will “absolutely” be the team’s starting back (via Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal).
  • The Cardinals landed guard Dorian Johnson in the fourth round of this year’s draft, even though his talent level should have made him a Day 2 selection. Johnson has a liver condition that made a number of clubs wary of making him a second- or third-round choice, and Johnson’s agent, Joe Panos, took exception to his client’s slide, saying, “I had GMs tell me they couldn’t risk a 2nd or 3rd on Dorian due to the recent discovery of a liver condition he’s had since birth, even though his heptalogist said his condition will in no way affect his ability to play. Teams couldn’t risk a high pick on him. Yet every year I see teams risk high picks on guys with serious character issues. Bad guys. They’ll take risks on those guys because his coaches ‘vouched’ for him. [A coach’s] word is gold. But Dorian’s heptalogist, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about?” (all links go to Twitter via ESPN’s Adam Caplan).
  • New Broncos tight end Jake Butt slipped to the top of the fifth round of this year’s draft due to an ACL injury he suffered in his final collegiate game (prior to the injury, he was projected to be picked at the top of the second round). But before the 2016 college season, Butt purchased a loss-of-value policy that partially compensated him for the money he lost due to his draft slide, as Darren Rovell of ESPN.com writes. Had Butt been selected at the top of the second round, he would have earned $4MM guaranteed, but as an early fifth-rounder, he is guaranteed only $380K. The insurance policy paid out roughly $900K (pre-tax), so the injury ended up costing Butt a little shy of $2.8MM. These loss-of-value policies have become increasingly popular over the last few years, and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Jaylon Smith are two of the more notable recent beneficiaries of such policies.
  • The Jaguars acquired Branden Albert earlier this offseason, but GM Dave Caldwell said second-round draft pick Cam Robinson will compete with Albert for the starting left tackle job (via Hays Carlyon of 1010XL). Albert has been absent from voluntary workouts as he seeks a new contract, though if he proves to be the best man for the job, Caldwell did indicate that Robinson could move, at least temporarily, to guard.
  • The Jaguars selected Oklahoma wideout Dede Westbrook in the fourth round yesterday despite his two domestic violence arrests that caused some teams to remove him from their boards completely. As Albert Breer of TheMMQB tweets, one AFC area scout said of Westbrook, “No thoughts. It is what it is. He’s a degenerate.”

Michigan’s Jake Butt Ahead Of Schedule

Michigan tight end Jake Butt says he is ahead of schedule in his rehab efforts and could be ready to play again by mid-July (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Andrew Groover). Butt suffered a torn ACL during the Orange Bowl in December, so a July return to football activities would mark a much quicker turnaround than expected. Jake Butt

Early mock drafts had Butt going late in the first round or early in the second round. After the injury, however, it became difficult to gauge his stock. If he can truly take the field in the summer and be ready to play in Week 1, it’s conceivable that he could be in play at the backend of the first round. Of course, teams will want to take a close look at his scans to determine whether this timetable is legit or just wishful thinking on the part of Butt.

O.J. Howard of Alabama is pretty much universally considered to be the best tight end in this year’s draft. After him, Miami’s David Njoku, Ole Miss’ Evan Engram, and South Alabama’s Gerald Everett are considered to be among the best tight ends in this year’s class.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Prospect Jake Butt Suffers Knee Injury

7:14pm: It’s a torn ACL for Butt, who will need to undergo surgery, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

9:51am: A potential first-round pick may have seriously injured his knee during last night’s Orange Bowl. Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com writes that Michigan tight end Jake Butt left last night’s contest with an injury. Coach Jim Harbaugh was unsure of any specifics, but he acknowledged that the offensive weapon likely tore his ACL or MCL.

Jake ButtIt can take months for athletes to recover from an ACL or MCL tear, meaning Butt will likely miss both the Combine and individual workouts with NFL teams. CBS Sports recently projected that Butt would be selected towards the end of the first round or beginning of the second round. He ranked second behind Alabama’s O.J. Howard among tight end prospects.

It’s certainly admirable that Butt prioritized his team over himself, and some NFL team’s will presumably appreciate that team-first attitude. However, while Butt should still be taken in the upcoming NFL draft, we shouldn’t expect to see him selected in the first two rounds. We can only assume that Butt’s draft stock has dropped with this recent injury, which will also cost the prospect significant money.

Butt had collected three catches and 28 yards last night prior to the injury. This season, the senior tight end compiled 46 receptions for 546 yards and four touchdowns.

Despite the injury, Butt said that he doesn’t regret playing in last night’s Orange Bowl.

“Never once crossed my mind to sit this game out and I would never change that mindset,” Butt tweeted. “I play this game because I love it, my teammates and coaches.”

We’ve seen a number of potential first-round draft prospects announce that they’ll skip out on their team’s bowl game to avoid injury, including LSU running back Leonard Fournette and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.