Jamar Taylor

Extra Points: Bryant, Bell, Cards, ASJ, Harris

Perhaps a “stop us if you’ve heard this before” tagline is appropriate, but Dez Bryant said he intends to sign with a team soon. The former Cowboys wide receiver tweeted “soon” in response to a question about when he planned to end his stay in free agency. This is obviously not the first, second or third time Bryant has discussed his employment plans or hopes, but it’s the latest. Sunday will mark the fourth set of games elapsed without Bryant on a roster. He will turn 30 this season and will be tasked with learning a new offense quickly. It’s not a great situation for the Pro Bowler as October approaches.

Week 4 Sunday is nearly upon us. Here’s what’s going on around the league leading up to it:

  • Another year’s bringing uncertainty opposite Patrick Peterson in Arizona. The Cardinals have struggled for several seasons to fill their No. 2 cornerback job, and the player they acquired to be the latest solution is now in a competition with Bene Benwikere. The Cards benched Jamar Taylor in Week 3 and now have he and Benwikere competing for the other starting job, Bob McManamon of the Arizona Republic notes. These two follow the likes of Brandon Williams and Justin Bethel in the Cardinals’ continuous search to find a reliable starter opposite Peterson. While both players will still play against the Seahawks, per Steve Wilks, this being a competition again is notable given the team’s recent history here.
  • The Jets offered Austin Seferian-Jenkins $8MM over two years, but he chose to depart for Jacksonville for a two-year, $10MM agreement. Nevertheless, Todd Bowles doesn’t begrudge his former tight end for departing for a bit more cash. “Nothing personal,” Bowles said, via John Rowe of NorthJersey.com. “The timing wasn’t right. He got away and that’s just part of free agency every year. We lose some and we keep some. But the guys have done a good job filling in right now.” Eric Tomlinson leads Jets tight ends with three receptions for 45 yards. Seferian-Jenkins’ 50-reception season was the most among Gang Green tight ends since Dustin Keller caught 65 passes for 815 yards in 2011. ASJ, though, only turned his 50 grabs into 357 yards. The new Jags pass-catcher has nine receptions for 66 yards entering Week 4.
  • Gang Green resides as a possible landing spot for Le’Veon Bell, in the view of ESPN’s Josina Anderson (Instagram link). She lists the Jets, Eagles and Packers as being possible fits for the disgruntled running back. The Jets lead this trio with $16MM-plus in cap space. The Eagles hold less than $5MM. Bell is attached to a $10MM-plus prorated version of his franchise tag salary.
  • The Broncos have not found a replacement for Aqib Talib, and Bradley Roby is struggling going into a key game against the Chiefs. This has left Denver’s once-vaunted secondary in trouble, and it continues to force Chris Harris — arguably this decade’s premier slot defender — to play the slot on passing downs. “I like being on the outside because that’s where I can get more picks,’’ Harris said, via 9News’ Mike Klis. “I can read the quarterback more; I can use my coverage skills a lot more. I just think I can make more plays. In the slot, I’m always with my back to the quarterback; I’m man to man most of the time; I can’t see where the ball’s going. So, it’s hard to make those plays.” Late last season, the All-Pro corner expressed a desire to be used on the outside in more than just base sets, but that hasn’t come to pass this season. Denver, which has vacillated between using Adam Jones and Tramaine Brock as its No. 3 corner, ranks 21st against the pass through three games. The team hasn’t finished outside the top five in aerial deterrence in five seasons.

NFC West Notes: Cardinals, Rosen, 49ers

Sam Bradford is slated to be the Cardinals‘ starting quarterback..for now. Between now and September, rookie Josh Rosen could very well beat him out for the top job, coach Steve Wilks says.

Smart, this guy is extremely smart,” Wilks said of Rosen, the No. 10 overall pick (via Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic). “His ability to see certain things from the defense and pick it up quickly and execute … I don’t want to say this, but he has the mindset of a vet, the way he sees the game. He’s not playing like a vet. Make sure you guys understand that. He’s still a rookie, OK? But he sees things from a different lens.”

So far, Bradford is healthy “and when he’s healthy, he’s great,” Wilks said. Still, Wilks believes in competition and is not ready to hand him the job here in May.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

Details On Jamar Taylor’s New Contract

Last week, the Cardinals acquired cornerback Jamar Taylor from the Browns. In order to facilitate the deal, Taylor agreed to a restructured contract. It turns out that Taylor has taken a significant pay cut in order to play opposite of Patrick Peterson

Taylor’s base salary will drop from $4.25M to $975K under the terms of his revised deal, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. His overall cap number has decreased by $2.75M thanks to the adjustment.

That marks a substantial hair cut for Taylor, especially when considering that he signed his three-year, $15MM extension less than a year-and-a-half ago. However, Taylor was unlikely to make the Browns’ final cut after the additions of T.J. Carrie, E.J. Gaines, Terrance Mitchell, and No. 4 overall pick Denzel Ward this offseason. Faced with the prospect of hitting free agency in the summer when teams have already set their CB plans or taking less money to (likely) start in Arizona, Taylor went with the latter.

It’s not immediately clear whether the 2019 portion of Taylor’s deal has also been tweaked. Assuming the ’19 season remains untouched, he remains on course to earn a base salary of $4.075MM with a $5.1MM cap number. However, the Cardinals would be left with just $750K if they were to release him under those terms.

In 2016, Taylor ranked as one of the 20 best corners in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. He took a step back last year, but the Cardinals are optimistic that he can revert to his old form. Even if he performs somewhere in between, that’s still preferable to the team’s other CB2 options, which include Brandon Williams, Bene Benwikere, and Marcus Williams.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Rumors: Taylor, Carrie, Broncos, Hawks

The trade that will send Jamar Taylor to his third NFL team will come with an adjusted contract. Taylor will make less for the Cardinals this year than he was supposed with the Browns, with Kent Somers of AZCentral.com reporting (on Twitter) the veteran cornerback will earn $3.5MM in base salary — down from $4.25MM. The additional $750K will be pushed onto the Cards’ 2019 balance sheet. The Cardinals and Browns have been discussing a Taylor deal since the draft, Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com tweets, adding that the Bashaud Breeland avenue is likely closed after this trade. Taylor is under contract for two more seasons. Finding a capable Patrick Peterson counterpart has been a problem in Arizona for a while, and Taylor will have a decent chance to earn that No. 2 job. Now-well-traveled Bene Benwikere, former Jets corner Marcus Williams and one-time third-round pick Brandon Williams represent the top competition.

Here’s the latest from the West divisions, keeping with the subject of cornerbacks who have worn Browns colors recently.

  • Taylor and T.J. Carrie were Browns teammates for a little more than two months, and Cleveland has now traded both of its 2017 starting corners as John Dorsey enters his first full season as Browns GM. Carrie will factor in prominently in the Browns’ 2018 secondary, but Jon Gruden would have preferred the Raiders retain Carrie, per Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area. It’s unclear how much the Raiders were willing to offer their 2017 slot corner, but Gruden and some members of his new staff did meet with Carrie just prior to free agency. And the Bay Area native wanted to stay. However, Bair mentions money guided him to northeast Ohio. It’s unlikely the Raiders’ offer was especially close to the Browns’ four-year, $31MM proposal.
  • It appears the Broncos are going to try Menelik Watson at guard. After the former Raiders tackle struggled mightily before his latest injury, allowing a career-worst 7.5 sacks despite playing in just seven Broncos games last season, the team’s putting him in competition with as-of-now starter Connor McGovern for its right guard job, Mike Klis of 9News notes. A sixth-year player, Watson is a career tackle. Denver, which has entered the past five seasons with five different right tackle starters, traded for Jared Veldheer to replace Watson on the edge. McGovern himself is a notable inclusion into the lineup, since Max Garcia has started at guard for two seasons. McGovern worked his way into Denver’s starting mix after being an injury replacement for Ronald Leary late last season.
  • After the Seahawks lost pro personnel director Dan Morgan to the Bills, they will replace him with Nolan Teasley. A former running back at Division II Central Washington, Teasley began his career as a scouting intern in 2013 but rose to the position of assistant pro personnel director in 2017.
  • By giving Patrick Mahomes a top-flight arsenal to work with as he begins his run as the Chiefs‘ starting quarterback, Andy Reid is taking a better approach to developing his most recent prized passing prospect compared to his work with Donovan McNabb, Geoff Mosher of The Score writes. McNabb was not given many notable pass-catchers early in his career, but Mahomes has plenty. With the $16MM-AAV Sammy Watkins deal representing a notable Chiefs about-face regarding their No. 2 wideout position, the franchise now has a quartet of weapons — Watkins, Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill — that rivals any it’s ever assembled. While the Chiefs’ defense may have some work to do after the Marcus Peters trade, Mahomes has far more to work with offensively than Alex Smith did when he arrived in Kansas City five years ago.

Browns To Trade Jamar Taylor To Cardinals

The Cardinals are finalizing a trade for Browns cornerback Jamar Taylor, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Cardinals have long had a glaring need at cornerback and Taylor figures to step in as the team’s new No. 2 CB alongside Patrick Peterson. Arizona will send a 2020 sixth-round pick to Cleveland in the deal, according to Nate Ulrich of the Beacon-Journal (on Twitter). The deal is expected to be finalized after 4pm ET/3pm CT on Friday.

The belief before the draft was that the Browns would look to unload Taylor if they selected a cornerback early on. After the Browns selected Ohio State’s Denzel Ward with the No. 4 overall pick, his fate was all but sealed. The Browns have moved on from both of their starting cornerbacks from last year after trading Jason McCourty to the Patriots for a late draft pick. The Browns’ revamped secondary will see free agent pickup T.J. Carrie start opposite of Ward with newcomers E.J. Gaines and Terrance Mitchell among those in support at cornerback.

Taylor had the best year of his career in 2016 as he hauled in three interceptions and 57 total tackles, but he was not quite as sharp in 2017. If he can revert to his old form, then the Cardinals will be getting a quality starter in the trade. In ’16, Taylor ranked as Pro Football Focus’ No. 19 ranked overall cornerback in the NFL and excelled in the slot, where he played 32% of his snaps.

The acquisition of Taylor could impact the Cardinals’ pursuit of free agent Bashaud Breeland. Then again, the Cardinals have signed the majority of their draft class and they still have upwards of $16MM in cap room, so there could be room for both players. Theoretically, Breeland could be signed to start at outside corner while Taylor mans the slot with occasional snaps on the outside.

Taylor restructured his contract in order to make a trade more palatable for the Cardinals, Rapoport hears (Twitter link), so there should still be plenty of breathing room for GM Steve Keim & Co. Originally, Taylor was slated to take up $5.25MM in cap space this year and $5.1MM in 2019. The revised terms of his deal are not yet known.

The Cardinals’ release of Tyrann Mathieu left them with a glaring need for slot help this offseason. The acquisitions of cornerbacks Bene Benwikere, Marcus Williams, Louis Young, and sixth-round pick Chris Campbell may provide depth, but that leaves much to be desired in Arizona’s secondary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Could Trade CB Jamar Taylor

If the Browns take a cornerback early, cornerback Jamar Taylor is expected to be made available via trade, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) hears. The Browns added three free agent cornerbacks this year and drafting one in the first or second round would likely squeeze Taylor out of the picture. 

[RELATED: Browns Considering Baker Mayfield With No. 1 Pick?]

Taylor, 28 in September, is set to enter the second year of his three-year, $15MM deal. The former second-round pick had the best year of his career in 2016 as he hauled in three interceptions and 57 total tackles, but he took a step back in 2017. New GM John Dorsey traded Jason McCourty to the Patriots for a late draft pick after a strong showing in ’17, so there’s little question that the Browns would be open to moving on from Taylor.

Already, Taylor sits no higher than third on the Browns’ CB depth chart after the signings of T.J. Carrie and E.J. Gaines. Meanwhile, newcomers Terrance Mitchell and Denzel Rice will push for time in support.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Bolts, Bengals, Bills, Browns, Pats

Cornerback Brandon Flowers‘ NFL future is in question after the Chargers placed him on injured reserve Wednesday, writes Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Flowers had a history of concussions even before suffering two this year, and he told Gehlken in November, “I have to make sure I am sane and can function and remember things after football.” If the soon-to-be 31-year-old does continue his career in 2017, it probably won’t be in San Diego, per Gehlken, who points to the cap savings that would come with releasing Flowers. By cutting the nine-year veteran and three-year Charger, the Bolts would free up $7MM in spending space compared to $4MM in dead money for 2017.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Bengals defensive tackle Brandon Thompson will remain on the physically unable to perform list and will not play in 2016, according to Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com. Thompson, 27, tore his ACL at the tail end of the 2015 campaign, but then re-signed with Cincinnati on a one-year deal. He’d been practicing for the past two weeks, but Bengals coaches don’t feel Thompson has progressed enough for a return to action.
  • A few prominent Bills are publicly rallying around embattled head coach Rex Ryan, whom the franchise could move on from after the season. “I think Rex is the guy for the job,” running back LeSean McCoy said. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins would also like the Bills to stay the course with Ryan, he told the Associated Press. And guard Richie Incognito wants to “fight for Rex. “I want to go out there and get wins and keep him around here” (all links here). With games against winless Cleveland, a Dolphins team that could be without Ryan Tannehill and the Jets, the 6-7 Bills seemingly have a decent chance of hitting the nine-win mark by season’s end. Buffalo went 8-8 last year under Ryan in his first season with the team.
  • Browns cornerback Jamar Taylor‘s three-year, $15MM extension includes $5.5MM in fully guaranteed money, relays ESPN’s Adam Caplan (Twitter link).
  • The Patriots worked out three free agents – running back Shakir Bell, defensive tackle Michael Brooks and linebacker Deon Lacey – on Wednesday, tweets Doug Kyed of NESN. The only member of the trio with NFL experience is Brooks, who appeared in one game with the Seahawks in 2013.
  • The Texans tried out a pair of offensive linemen in guard Sean Hickey and tackle Jason Weaver on Wednesday, according to Caplan (Twitter link).

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Browns, Jamar Taylor Agree To Extension

The Browns stand to possess plenty of funds to spend come 2017, and the team has identified one free agent-to-be to keep off the market. Cleveland and Jamar Taylor have agreed to terms on a three-year extension worth $15MM, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).

Taylor’s deal includes a $3MM signing bonus and $10.05MM over the first two years, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports.

While the fourth-year cornerback wasn’t exactly challenging Terrelle Pryor or Jamie Collins for top-priority status among the Browns’ impending free agents, the 2016 trade acquisition has played a consistent role for the team, starting 10 games.

This extension comes a year after the Dolphins were making the former second-round pick a healthy scratch. Garafolo points out (via Twitter) Browns secondary coach Louie Cioffi called Taylor an “unbelievable acquisition,” so the team clearly placed a priority on the corner remaining in Cleveland.

The Dolphins traded Taylor to the Browns for a seventh-round pick — the 250th overall selection, at that — so this represents a remarkable turnaround for the 5-foot-11 corner. Miami banished Taylor from its starting lineup after six games last season and opted to take whatever it could get for the Boise State product on draft weekend. This season, the 26-year-old talent has performed like the Browns’ top outside stopper in the opinion of Pro Football Focus, which has Taylor ranked as its No. 37 overall corner.

Through three seasons with the Dolphins, Taylor did not record an interception and started in just nine games. In 2016 for the winless Browns, he has two starts and two picks to go along with eight pass deflections and 40 tackles. The Browns, who entered Saturday with the most cap space in the league at $50MM-plus, now have Taylor and Joe Haden signed through 2019.

Considering the Browns stand to possess more than $64MM in cap room in 2017, this deal shouldn’t preclude them from retaining Pryor or Collins, should they choose to do so.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Foster, Steelers, Browns

Steelers player rep Ramon Foster is prepared for a tussle over the collective bargaining agreement in 2020 and says players should be prepared to sit out games, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Because the league could be headed towards a strike or lockout, Foster is hoping players will save up now. “Hit them in the pocket,” said Foster of the league. “Money always talks.”

Let’s take a look at the latest out of the AFC North:

AFC Notes: Broncos, Colts, Browns, Steelers

Broncos management is at risk of sending the wrong message to the team’s players if it doesn’t reach a long-term deal with disgruntled franchise linebacker Von Miller by the July 15 deadline, opines Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com. Denver’s standoff with Miller comes a year after it reduced then-quarterback Peyton Manning‘s salary by $4MM, writes Legwold, who notes that the Broncos’ willingness to play hardball with their biggest stars isn’t lost on their other players. However, as Legwold points out, the Broncos are the reigning Super Bowl champions, winners of five straight AFC West titles and have managed the salary cap well, so they’re clearly operating in a competent manner.

More from Denver and a few other AFC cities:

  • Quarterback Andrew Luck‘s record-setting contract won’t have an adverse effect on the Colts’ salary cap, argues Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star. Among Holder’s reasons: The cap, which has gone up $22MM since 2014, is likely to continue rising; as evidenced by the deals given to Luck, left tackle Anthony Castonzo, No. 1 receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight end Dwayne Allen since last summer, the Colts are now emphasizing drafting, developing and keeping their own instead of relying on free agency; and Luck helped the Colts by agreeing to a team-friendly pact that will pay him just over $23MM per year, not the $25MM annual amount many predicted.
  • Miami traded fourth-year cornerback Jamar Taylor Cleveland earlier this offseason, and the former second-round pick is excited for a new beginning with the Browns“It’s definitely a fresh start for me. For what I went through in Miami, it’s all over. This is a great group of people here, a great organization, a great staff,” Taylor told Patrick Maks of ClevelandBrowns.com. “Nobody knows me, I know nobody. It’s just really new for me. It’s definitely a fresh start, but it’s a fresh start for everybody. None of the coaches really know a lot of these guys so everybody knows they just have to go put it on tape. You are who you put on tape and you are who you are around your teammates.”
  • Although Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette doesn’t necessarily doubt ex-Guyer Institute pharmacist Charlie Sly’s allegations regarding performance-enhancing drugs in the NFL, the writer blasts commissioner Roger Goodell over the league’s desire to interview the Steelers’ James Harrison concerning PEDs. The 38-year-old linebacker was among several players Sly accused of receiving PEDs and-or painkillers from Guyer Institute in a 2015 Al Jazeera documentary. Sly has since recanted his claims, however, and with that in mind, Starkey doesn’t see the credible evidence necessary to pursue an interview with Harrison. The NFL Players Association echoed a similar sentiment in a letter to the league earlier this week, and Harrison took to social media to express the limited terms under which he’d agree to an interview.
  • Texans minority owner Philip Burguieres has passed away, reports Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston (via Twitter). Owner Bob McNair paid tribute to Burguieres in a statement: “As most of you know, Philip worked tirelessly with me to bring an NFL franchise back to Houston in the late 1990s. He was instrumental to the success of the Texans, serving as Vice Chairman until 2012. Philip also was involved in the McNair Group investment activities. He was a longtime friend of mine and a mentor to many and will be greatly missed.”
  • Broncos safety Shiloh Keo could be subject to league discipline after pleading guilty Friday to a misdemeanor charge for driving under the influence in February, according to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk. Keo, who joined the Broncos last December, re-signed with the team on a one-year deal in April.

Ben Levine contributed to this post.