Jarrett Stidham

AFC East Notes: Newton, Tua, Fins, Bills

The Patriots made a big splash last night when they signed former league MVP Cam Newton to a one-year contract. The assumption is that Newton will be the team’s starting signal-caller, but Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network says the Pats made no promises in that regard. Still, while there is technically an open competition between Newton and second-year pro Jarrett Stidham, it would be stunning if Newton did not win the job (video link). Garafolo also points out that Newton still has to pass a physical, but the Patriots are confident he will do so.

Garafolo also passes along a fun fact (via Twitter): New England is the third team in NFL history to lose one MVP and sign another in the same offseason. The 2000 Dolphins parted ways with Dan Marino and brought in Thurman Thomas, and the 2005 Cardinals bid farewell to Emmitt Smith and signed Kurt Warner.

Now for more from the AFC East:

  • The Dolphins drafted Tua Tagovailoa with the belief that he will be the franchise signal-caller the team has been seeking for the past 20 years. He may not start right away, but Albert Breer of SI.com believes the southpaw will be put into the starting lineup at some point this season. While the 2020 Dolphins should be an improved squad over last year’s iteration, Miami is still probably at least a year away from playoff contention, so the team will have no reason to keep Tagovailoa on the sidelines for the entire campaign.
  • Miami is set at the LG and C spots with Ereck Flowers and Ted Karras, respectively. Beyond that, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald says the Dolphins are still undecided as to whether second-round rookie Robert Hunt would be a better fit at RG or RT in 2020. If Hunt gets a shot at RT and performs well, that could bump 2019 starter Jesse Davis back to the interior or to the bench. Meanwhile, Michael Deiter will compete for the starting RG and backup C slots.
  • In the same piece linked above, Jackson notes that the Dolphins are working out WR Gary Jennings in the slot — where he thrived in college — and on the outside. Jennings was a fourth-round pick of the Seahawks in 2019, but Seattle waived him in November and Miami scooped him up. He played in just one game for the ‘Fins before getting hurt, but his draft pedigree and upside will give him a good chance to make the club as the fifth or sixth WR.
  • In a minor trade last summer, the Bills acquired OL Ryan Bates from the Eagles in exchange for DE Eli Harold. Philadelphia subsequently cut Harold, but Buffalo hung on to Bates, who was active for nine games. Per Adam Caplan of InsideTheBirds.com, the Bills view Bates, a 2019 UDFA, as a viable right tackle, guard, and center, so they expect him to be a key backup in 2020 who may take on a bigger role down the road.
  • Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic, meanwhile, views Bates as a potential trade candidate. Buscaglia also looks at a few other players that the Bills could put on the trade market, a list headed by WR Robert Foster and TE Jason Croom.

Patriots Notes: Stidham, McDaniels, Winovich

Jarrett Stidham will likely be taking over for Tom Brady next season, and his former college coach is optimistic that the 2019 fourth-rounder will be successful.

“It definitely helped him to learn under the best and see what that looks like, but he’s the kind of young man, too, this is what he’s been waiting on,” Auburn’s Gus Malzahn told ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “I’ll tell you, the moment won’t be too big for him. He’ll be up to the challenge, that’s what I expect.

“Even when he got here, before he played his first game, you could just kind of tell he was a mature young man. Like a gym rat, always at the complex trying to learn, study film. When he got drafted by the Patriots [in 2019], I thought it was a perfect spot for him system-wise — spreading the field. He’s so good with protections, changing protections, and scheme-wise everything that goes with it, and just the flexibility the scheme gives him. I think that really applies to his strength.”

Stidham played a pair of seasons at Auburn, including a 2017 campaign where he connected on 66.5-percent of his passes for 3,158 yards, 18 touchdowns, and six interceptions.

Here are some more notes out of New England:

  • We’ve heard this plenty of times, but Joseph Person of The Athletic reiterates that Cam Newton won’t be landing with the Patriots. In fact, the reporter notes that Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels wasn’t “necessarily high” on Newton when he interviewed for the Panthers’ head coaching gig.
  • Speaking of McDaniels, SI.com’s Albert Breer writes that a successful 2020 campaign (particularly from Stidham) could go a long way in the OC getting more head coaching interviews next offseason. If McDaniels does leave New England, Breer hints that he may take Patriots pro director Dave Ziegler with him; McDaniels planned to recruit the executive when he was interviewing with Cleveland.
  • Patriots defensive end Chase Winovich is recovering from hernia surgery, reports Stan Grossfeld of the Boston Globe. The 25-year-old underwent the procedure back in February. The 2019 third-rounder had a solid rookie season for New England, compiling 26 tackles and 5.5 sacks.
  • Marqise Lee‘s new one-year deal with the Patriots is worth the veteran minimum, reports Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (via Twitter). The deal could be worth up to $1.0475MM, and it includes $300K in guaranteed money. If Lee makes the team, he’ll have a cap hold of $887.5K.

Bill Belichick On Not Adding QB In Draft

We heard last month that Jarrett Stidham, a fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft, is in the driver’s seat to open the 2020 season as the Patriots’ starting QB. But we also heard that New England was all but certain to select a rookie passer in this year’s draft in either the first round or with a mid-round choice, and that did not happen.

The Pats had the opportunity to select Utah State QB Jordan Love with the No. 23 overall pick, but they shipped that selection to the Chargers. They also had multiple chances to select passers like Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm, but they instead chose to address their defense and their thin TE depth chart.

So one of the big winners on draft night was Stidham, whom many believe is better than Love and the other QBs in this year’s class outside of the consensus top-three. Still, the fact that New England completely avoided the quarterback position until it agreed to sign UDFA J’Mar Smith came as a surprise to many, and head coach Bill Belichick was asked about the team’s approach in that regard.

“If we feel like we find the right situation, we’ll certainly draft [quarterbacks],” Belichick said (via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com). “We’ve drafted them in multiple years, multiple points in the draft. Didn’t work out the last three days. That wasn’t by design. We just tried to do the best we could with what we had this weekend.”

Belichick stopped short of anointing Stidham the starter, however. “Jarrett had a good year last year,” the legendary HC said. “He improved a lot. We’ll see where that takes him.”

Per Reiss, Belichick also expressed confidence in veteran Brian Hoyer, who may be more suited to start at least the early stages of the 2020 season if Stidham is unable to get the necessary training camp reps due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The club could theoretically pursue a player like Cam Newton or Andy Dalton, but rumors connecting those two to Foxborough have generally been shot down.

Another speculative fit, Jameis Winston, came off the board earlier today.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jarrett Stidham To Start For Patriots?

We heard earlier today that the Patriots may be gearing up for a starting quarterback competition between Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham, but Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston says that as of now, the job is Stidham’s to lose.

There is plenty of logic to that. The Patriots selected Stidham in the fourth round of the 2019 draft and are said to be high on him, and most believe that New England will spend 2020 cleaning up its salary cap situation and preparing for a return to contention in 2021. That means that the club will not pursue a potentially pricey QB like the recently-released Cam Newton, and it means that Stidham will have a chance to prove that he can be the rightful heir to Tom Brady.

Curran does say that if the COVID-19 pandemic puts a damper on Stidham’s development — which it seems almost certain to do — then Hoyer could get the nod to open the 2020 season. Stidham, though, would probably step in at some point thereafter. The Auburn product threw just four passes in his rookie campaign but put together a strong two years against SEC defenses in 2017-18.

While we’re on the subject of the Patriots, let’s round up a few more notes out of Foxborough:

  • The release of longtime kicker Stephen Gostkowski did not create $3.5MM of cap space, as originally reported. Because $2MM of Gostkowski’s 2020 salary was fully-guaranteed, the move actually frees up less than $1MM of space. So as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets, Gostkowski’s release wasn’t financially motivated; the team just wanted a new kicker.
  • Hoyer’s contract calls for a $1.05MM salary with $2MM in playing time incentives, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Because his deal with the Colts contained offsets, Hoyer will earn at least $2MM in 2020.
  • The Patriots agreed to sign veteran defensive back Cody Davis yesterday, and ESPN’s Field Yates reports that Davis will take home a $1.1MM base salary and landed a $100K signing bonus (Twitter link). He will carry a cap charge of $1.5MM.
  • Fullback Dan Vitale‘s new contract is a one-year pact worth $1.3MM, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. He received a $100K signing bonus and can earn another $200K in playing time incentives.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Brady Fallout: Bucs, Belichick, Colts, Hoyer

The Buccaneers‘ signing of the most accomplished free agent in NFL history triggered a ripple effect in several cities. That started in Charlotte. Although neither Bruce Arians nor Jason Licht spoke to Tom Brady until Wednesday of last week, the Bucs believed they had a “shell of a deal” with Brady by Tuesday, Peter King of NBC Sports reports. This was hours before the future Hall of Fame quarterback announced he would no longer return to the Patriots. The Bucs’ discussions with Brady’s agent, Don Yee, Tuesday prompted them to bow out of the Teddy Bridgewater pursuit, King adds. Bridgewater’s Panthers offer prompted the Bucs to give him an answer, and they chose to stay in the Brady pursuit without a full commitment. The Bucs had been linked to Bridgewater for weeks.

At February’s end, the Bucs’ quarterback hierarchy went Brady-Bridgewater-Jameis Winston, King notes. Tampa Bay had also been linked to Philip Rivers in February, but it became clear the Colts were his top option.

Here is the latest fallout from the Bucs’ Brady signing:

  • Brady’s camp expressed interest in the Colts, but King notes the interest was not mutual. The prospect of a Rivers-Colts partnership surfaced shortly after the Chargers revealed they would not re-sign him, and while the notion of Rivers-over-Brady sounds interesting based on the veterans’ accolades, Stephen Holder of The Athletic tweets the Colts’ preference of going with a one-year quarterback arrangement probably did not align with Brady’s hopes of a multiyear commitment. Rivers signed a one-year, $25MM deal; Brady became a Buccaneer for two years and $50MM fully guaranteed. Brady also expressed interest in the 49ers, and the Titans were a long-rumored suitor. These franchises joined the Colts and Raiders in leaving the Brady race early.
  • Early this offseason, Brady’s camp put out feelers to other teams, and ESPN.com’s Seth Wickersham notes many executives around the league viewed the quarterback as being driven by ill will toward Bill Belichick that they could not tell if he wanted out of New England or merely wanted Robert Kraft to step in and broker a new Pats deal. Belichick refused to give Brady the extension he sought last summer, and Wickersham adds that a Brady-Belichick conversation in late 2017 about the quarterback’s future with the Patriots ended with a “blowup.” This meeting appears to have happened just before Wickersham’s “tension in New England”-centered report that indicated Kraft’s intervention helped drive the Jimmy Garoppolo-to-San Francisco deal. The Patriots gave Brady an incentive package in 2018, leading to his extension-in-name-only 2019 contract.
  • As for the Patriots‘ plans, they may actually be planning a Brian HoyerJarrett Stidham quarterback battle. Hoyer could have earned more money elsewhere but wanted to return to New England because he was told he will have a chance to vie for the starting job, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds (video link). The Patriots, as of now, do not have Andy Dalton on their radar and are viewed as being high on Stidham, who has attempted four NFL passes.

AFC East Notes: Anderson, Dolphins, Patriots

With the Dolphins holding the fifth-overall pick, the team may have to make a trade if they want to select quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. General manager Chris Grier acknowledged that a deal is possible, but he cautioned that trade talks have yet to take place.

“No, not yet, because we’re so early,” Grier told reporters (including Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald). “No team has really met many of these guys yet. So I think until everyone goes through the process, as we’ve talked about, that’s when we’ll make determinations on what’s best for our franchise.”

As Salguero observes, Miami is armed with assets. The team owns three first-rounders and a pair of second-rounders in the upcoming draft, and they also have two first-rounders in 2021.

“We feel good,” Grier said. “History shows with the things we’ve done and the picks we’ve acquired and the money that we feel good about our standing and the flexibility to move up and down or stand pat.

“It’s a conversation that sometimes it happens before you talk and sometimes it might happen when you’re on the clock on draft day. Again, it’s weighing. You look at what’s available, how many players are at that position and available as you’re looking at your board. And then in terms of when you’re doing it in free agency it’s just working with the team and seeing what’s best for your organization.

“It’s a lot of conversations. It’s nothing that’s ever done quickly. And in terms of when [it includes] veteran parts you’re looking at salary cap money, how it’s going to affect the years and length left on contracts.”

Let’s check out some more notes from the AFC East…

  • If the Patriots end up seeking a replacement for Tom Brady, Jeff Howe of The Athletic doesn’t believe a move will come via the draft. The reporter opines that the organization doesn’t have/isn’t willing to give up the ammo it’d take to acquire any of the top quarterback prospects, and he’s uncertain the team will take a chance on Jordan Love should he fall in the draft. After that, Howe isn’t convinced that any of the available prospects have a higher-ceiling than Jarrett Stidham, who the team selected in the fourth round of last year’s draft.
  • The Jets are going to make an effort to re-sign wideout Robby Anderson, reports Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork. However, the 26-year-old could end up commanding big money, especially if Amari Cooper is retained via franchise tag and A.J. Green and/or Emmanuel Sanders are retained by their current teams. In that scenario, Anderson would arguably be the top free agent receiver, and there will be plenty of teams lining up for his services.
  • In case you missed it, we learned earlier today that the Bills have expressed interest in free agent cornerback Josh Norman.

AFC Notes: Stidham, Jags, Browns, Bolts

Although Tom Brady continuing to play at a high level into his early 40s has allowed the Patriots to table their need to identify a long-term successor for many years, their recent extension/2019 pay raise brings this issue back to the forefront. The Pats, however, are pleased with their latest quarterback draft pick. Fourth-round rookie Jarrett Stidham has “blown away expectations” this offseason, Jeff Howe of The Athletic notes (subscription required), adding that he is ahead of where Jimmy Garoppolo was at this point during his first NFL summer. Stidham has taken first-team reps in camp and moved the Patriots to move Danny Etling to wide receiver. He finished 14-for-24 for 179 yards and a touchdown in New England’s preseason opener Thursday. While the Auburn alum does not profile as a classic Brady successor type, the Patriots certainly appear encouraged by their developmental prospect.

As we wind down preseason Week 1, here is the latest from the AFC:

  • A.J. Cann has served as the Jaguars‘ starting right guard since his rookie season in 2015. He is not a lock to reprise his role in 2019. Cann is battling converted tackle Will Richardson for the spot, with Doug Marrone indicating (via Hays Carlyon of 1010 XL, on Twitter) Brandon Thomas is also in the mix here. A 2018 fourth-rounder, Richardson looks like the favorite to win this job thus far, Carlyon adds (via Twitter). Richardson has yet to play an NFL down; he hit IR in October of his rookie year. Thomas has hung around for six NFL summers, with the 2014 third-round 49ers pick having never played in a regular-season game. He’s bounced on and off the Jaguars’ roster and practice squad since 2017. Cann has three years remaining on a contract he signed in 2018.
  • With Cam Robinson potentially set to have a delayed start to the season, Marrone said the Jaguars are considering free agent additions Cedric Ogbuehi and Leonard Wester at left tackle. Longtime Jags backup Josh Wells is vying for that temp job as well. Second-round rookie Jawaan Taylor is set to start at right tackle.
  • Had Antonio Callaway not received a four-game suspension, the second-year Browns wideout might not have been able to go in Week 1 anyway. Callaway suffered a high ankle sprain in Cleveland’s preseason opener, per Freddie Kitchens (via ohio.com’s Nate Ulrich, on Twitter). The Browns will now be without two of their 2018 pass catchers, with Duke Johnson having been traded and Callaway out until at least October. Fortunately, they acquired Odell Beckham Jr. this offseason.
  • Chargers tight end Andrew Vollert suffered ACL damage in the team’s preseason opener, and Anthony Lynn said (via ESPN.com’s Eric Williams, on Twitter) the second-year UDFA will miss the season. The Bolts signed Vollert in May.

Patriots Notes: Thomas, Michel, Gronk, Wynn

Demaryius Thomas is not a lock to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster and may well begin the season on the reserve/PUP list. The Patriots started that process Sunday by placing the Pro Bowl wide receiver on their active/PUP list, which applies to players not healthy enough to begin participating in training camp. The Pats used the same designation for Sony Michel, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Michel will certainly be part of the 2019 Patriots and is recovering from offseason knee surgery. Thomas tore an Achilles in December, joining longtime receiver teammate Emmanuel Sanders in that regard. The latter, however, is further along in his recovery, having not started Broncos camp on the PUP list.

Here is the latest out of New England:

  • Patriots third-round pick Yodny Cajuste underwent quadriceps surgery before the draft and landed on the defending Super Bowl champions’ reserve/NFI list, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. As is the case with the active/PUP list, players can come off this list at any point during camp. Cajuste figures to mix in as a swing option for the Patriots as a rookie.
  • If Rob Gronkowski does follow through on a comeback, might the Patriots be wise to assure him blocking responsibilities will be limited? While the future Hall of Famer was a plus blocker for his position, Jim McBride of the Boston Globe suggests the Pats use Gronk as a hybrid-type player that does not have the same kind of in-line role he previously held. The 30-year-old icon has slimmed down this offseason, one that has reportedly not featured much in the way of strength work.
  • Deatrich Wise and Nate Ebner will join Thomas and Michel on the Pats’ active/PUP list, Reiss tweets. A third-year defensive end, Wise has not missed a game in two seasons.
  • Isaiah Wynn, however, will not appear on the Pats’ active/PUP list, Reiss adds (via Twitter). The 2018 first-round pick missed all of his rookie season due to a torn Achilles’ tendon. Suffering the injury before last season began, Wynn is expected to suit up when the Patriots convene for their 2019 camp and line up as New England’s starting left tackle.
  • The Pats do not appear to have an open spot at quarterback, with Reiss noting Brian Hoyer will stick as Tom Brady‘s top backup and rookie Jarrett Stidham is likely assured of a roster spot as the team’s latest developmental QB project. This puts 2018 seventh-round pick Danny Etling on the verge of again falling short of a spot on the team’s active roster. But he may have an outside shot as a Taysom Hill-like role, per Reiss. While the Purdue and LSU alum never rushed for more than 200 yards in a season in college, Reiss points to his 86-yard touchdown run during 2018 preseason play as a sign this outside-the-box notion could work. The Patriots probably aren’t too eager to take Brady off the field, however.

Patriots Sign Jarrett Stidham, Three Other Draft Picks

The day after signing Benjamin Watson, the Patriots have wrapped up most of their draft class. The team announced the signing of four of their remaining picks today. After inking second round pick Joejuan Williams and two others yesterday, only first round receiver N’Keal Harry and third-rounders defensive end Chase Winovich and running back Damien Harris remain unsigned.

  • 4-118: OL Hjalte Froholdt (Arkansas)
  • 4-133: QB Jarrett Stidham (Auburn)
  • 5-163: P Jake Bailey (Stanford)
  • 7:252: CB Ken Webster (Ole Miss)

The Patriots’ drafting of Stidham of course raised some eyebrows because of the position he plays. Stidham had a down year at Auburn in 2018, but many observers chalked that up more to the poor offense he was playing in rather than anything he was doing wrong. After his 2017 season the former Baylor transfer was thought of as a potential Day 2 pick, but his stock took a bit of a tumble last year. 

He’ll now get the chance to develop behind Tom Brady, and could potentially position himself as the heir apparent if he shows well. The Patriots have drafted a handful of quarterbacks in recent years, as early as the second round with Jimmy Garoppolo back in 2014. They drafted Jacoby Brissett in the third round in 2016, and both quarterbacks ended up getting traded.

Bailey was a bit of a surprising pick in the fifth round because the Patriots already had an established punter. Ryan Allen has been the team’s punter since 2013, and he just recently re-signed with the team in March. The drafting of Bailey so early would seem to suggest they aren’t entirely sold on Allen.

Froholdt is a Denmark native who has a lot of experience at both guard and center. New England has invested heavily at center this offseason, and Froholdt could be a nice developmental piece.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Draft Notes: Giants, Haskins, Metcalf

The Giants will host Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins on a top 30 visit on Monday and Tuesday, a source tells NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). After the G-Men brought out the big guns for Haskins’ Pro Day, chatter is building about the Giants possibly targeting the signal caller with the No. 6 overall pick.

Fully expected to become a top-10 pick, Haskins also met with the Broncos (No. 10) and the Redskins (No. 15) last week. The Giants appear to be well in range, but teams tend to move up and reach for stud QBs. The Giants also have the firepower necessary to move up for Oklahoma star Kyler Murray, but they may prefer to spread the wealth and address other areas instead, including the pass rush.

Here’s the latest NFL Draft buzz:

  • Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf visited the Ravens on Monday, Rapoport tweets. Metcalf could give them a much-needed shot in the arm at WR, but it’s not a given that he’ll be available when they’re called to the podium at No. 22. For now, their WR consists of new addition Seth Roberts, Willie Snead, Chris Moore, and 2018 draft picks Jordan Lasley and Jaleel Scott.
  • Speaking of the Ravens‘ WR need, they’ll host Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise Brown on Monday, according to NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo (on Twitter). This year, the Ravens are set to pick at No. 22 overall with no picks in the second round due to last year’s Lamar Jackson trade.
  • More from Rapoport, who notes that Ohio State wide receiver Parris Campbell is visiting with the Bengals. Campbell is a very unlikely target for Cincinnati at No. 11 overall, but he could be a candidate for their second-round choice at No. 42. Last year, Campbell broke out with 90 catches for 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns.
  • Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary will huddle up with the Seahawks and Raiders this week, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears.
  • Arizona State wide receiver will meet with the N’Keal Harry 49ers on Monday before traveling to the Seahawks, Pelissero hears. Projections for Harry are all over the board, but he appears to be a late-first to early-second round type.
  • Washington tackle Kaleb McGary will visit the Seahawks on Monday and the Falcons on Tuesday, Schefter hears (Twitter link). The Falcons’ No. 14 pick would probably be a bit high for McGary, who projects as a right tackle at the next level, but a trade-down scenario could bring him to Atlanta.
  • The Patriots have done “extra pre-draft” work on Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham and Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson, both of whom visited recently (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Versatile Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford spent Friday visiting with the Bengals, who pick No. 11 (Twitter link via Rapoport). Ford was a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2018 and helped Oklahoma win Joe Moore Award, given to the country’s best offensive line.