Jason McCourty

Extra Points: Beckham, Bears, Browns

Odell Beckham Jr. did not report to Day 1 of Giants OTAs, Dan Duggan of NJ.com reports. The reason for the absence is not known, per Duggan. These are voluntary workouts, so Beckham cannot be fined for missing them. The Giants will convene again Tuesday, and Thursday’s session will be the first featuring media availability. Duggan reports Beckham being absent for this part of Big Blue’s calendar isn’t new; the superstar wideout was not a consistent presence at last year’s OTAs. The three-time Pro Bowl receiver is attached to a $1.8MM salary in 2017, but New York predictably picked up his $8.5MM fifth-year option. Beckham is now eligible for an extension that would stand to be in line with the top receivers in football, and while he’s displayed some mercurial tendencies, he’s already shown himself to be historically dominant Giants playmaker.

Here’s the latest from around the league.

  • The Bears are in the process of moving Kyle Long to a third position, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports. He and Josh Sitton are set to swap spots, with Long shuttling to left guard and Sitton sliding over to the right side. Sitton has extensive experience at both guard slots, having played at least four years at each. Long, though, has never played left guard in the NFL. He played right tackle in 2015 but was relocated back to his customary right guard slot last season. Long did suit up at left guard while at Oregon. Long is still rehabbing from the ankle injury that ended his season after eight games, Biggs reports. Sitton started at right guard from 2009-12 for the Packers, who switched he and T.J. Lang in 2013 because of Lang’s more physical approach.
  • Justin Pugh signing an extension this offseason would come as a surprise to NJ.com’s James Kratch, who writes that it makes sense for neither side to rush this process. The Giants want to see Pugh make it through a season unscathed after he missed nine combined games between 2014-16. Pugh discussed being in a good spot regarding his second contract, seemingly content to reach free agency after noticing the guard deals of March.
  • Jason McCourty is a possible free safety candidate for the Browns, Pat McManamon of ESPN.com notes. Hue Jackson said the newly acquired defender, a career-long corner, would get a look at safety and the team would play the best four in the secondary. Ed Reynolds will start Cleveland’s OTA workouts at safety, per Jackson. Upon signing, McCourty said he’d be willing to play free safety. Twin brother Devin McCourty, of course, has been a standout back-line defender for the Patriots. It would certainly behoove the Browns to involve McCourty as much as possible, and they are light on experience at safety. They still have Jamar Taylor, who played better in Cleveland than he did in Miami, at corner and drafted Jabrill Peppers as a safety. But the latter doesn’t have much experience there.
  • The Browns will relocate inside linebacker Christian Kirksey to the weak side in Gregg Williams‘ 4-3 look, McManamon reports. Kirksey led the Browns by nearly 50 tackles last season by registering 148 stops.

Pats, Jason McCourty Had “Mutual Interest”

After the Titans released cornerback Jason McCourty in mid-April, speculation abounded that he’d join twin brother and Patriots safety Devin McCourty in New England. Instead, Jason McCourty ultimately inked a deal Tuesday with the Browns. However, it seems the Patriots at least kicked the tires on signing McCourty.

Jason McCourty (Vertical)

“I think there was definitely mutual interest, but to be honest, the Patriots are kind of set at cornerback,” McCourty told NFL Network on Thursday (via Kevin Patra of NFL.com). “They have a lot of talent in that room. There really wasn’t room for me. Me and Dev talked about that and that’s just the way of the league. I’m excited about the opportunity I have in Cleveland to work with those guys.”

It’s unclear when the Pats showed interest in the 29-year-old McCourty, though they may have viewed him as a fallback option in the event of a Malcolm Butler trade. It appeared earlier this offseason that New England would send Butler to the Saints for draft-pick compensation, potentially the 32nd overall choice, but that never came to fruition. And with Butler still around to serve as one of the Patriots’ top corners, joining big-money offseason signing Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe, there wasn’t a clear fit for McCourty.

While playing with Devin McCourty would’ve been a “dream come true,” Jason McCourty instead looks primed to team with Joe Haden as one of the Browns’ starting corners in 2017. Since signing with the Browns, though, McCourty has indicated that he’d be willing to play free safety (via Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com). Cleveland’s penciled-in No. 1 option there is Ed Reynolds, who started in seven of 10 appearances last season and ranked a respectable 45th among Pro Football Focus’ 90 qualified safeties.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Had Interest In CB Jason McCourty

The Patriots had interest in cornerback Jason McCourty before he signed with the Browns, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald (Twitter link)."<strong

New England was often listed as a speculative landing spot for McCourty — Mike Reiss of ESPN.com called McCourty an “ideal fit” for the Patriots — but it was never clear if the club had expressed definitive interest in the veteran corner. McCourty’s twin brother, All Pro safety Devin McCourty, plays for New England, and had hoped for his sibling to join him on the Patriots roster.

The Patriots’ need for an additional cornerback, of course, was greatly reduced after the team failed to trade restricted free agent Malcolm Butler to the Saints (or another club). Butler now figures to pair with signee Stephon Gilmore in one of the league’s best secondaries, where they’ll be backed up by Eric Rowe, Justin Coleman, and Cyrus Jones.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns To Sign CB Jason McCourty

Jason McCourty has found a new home. The Browns are signing the cornerback, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). It’s a two-year, $6MM deal with $2MM guaranteed, according to Courtney Fallon of NFL.com (on Twitter). "<strong

[RELATED: Browns Rookie CB Howard Wilson Fractures Kneecap]

McCourty met with the Browns on Tuesday and that was his first known visit since being released by the Titans more than one month ago. It didn’t take long for the two sides to agree to terms. McCourty could’ve waited for a camp injury somewhere, but his familiarity with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams helped to quickly facilitate a contract, Rapoport tweets.

The veteran may have lost a step in recent years thanks in part to injuries, but he’ll have an opportunity to redeem himself in Cleveland. It’s likely that he’ll start opposite of Joe Haden, another big-name cornerback who is looking to prove the doubters wrong. There’s also a chance that he could see some time at free safety, allowing him to directly mentor Jabrill Peppers if the rookie wins the top strong safety job.

The Titans cut McCourty to avoid paying him a $7MM base salary in 2017. Terms of his new deal are not yet known, but it’s a safe bet that he’ll be making a lot less in Cleveland.

Length of agreement first reported by Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Meet With CB Jason McCourty

Former Titans cornerback Jason McCourty had dinner with Browns coaches and brass on Monday night, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. McCourty is visiting Cleveland’s facility today and will also take a physical. "<strong

McCourty will be 30 years old when the 2017 season gets underway, and there are certainly reasons to be concerned about his recent level of play. Last year, McCourty finished out as just the 55th ranked cornerback in the league, per Pro Football Focus, so while he was still a viable starter, the Titans were probably right in thinking that he wasn’t worth his $7MM base salary. Additionally, McCourty has been banged up in recent seasons. He played through shoulder and chest ailments last year while groin surgeries caused him to miss a dozen games in 2015.

Still, he was excellent from 2010-13 and he was one of the league’s more secondary guys in the league during that time. He could provide some key veteran leadership for the Browns and maybe even recapture some of his old magic in a new environment.

The Titans cut McCourty in mid-April and several teams reportedly phoned him that same week. However, his trip to Cleveland marks his first known visit with a team since he became a free agent. One report indicated that a one-year deal with a maximum of $2MM – similar to the pact Leon Hall inked with the Giants last season — could be a likely outcome for McCourty.

The Browns added a cornerback in the fourth round of the draft when they tapped Houston’s Howard Wilson, but he might be done for the season after suffering a painful knee injury. As it stands, Joe Haden (who is coming off of a down year) and Jamar Taylor are the projected starting cornerbacks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Jason McCourty’s Market

Recently-released cornerback Jason McCourty was scheduled to earn $7MM in 2017, but he’s not expected to come close to that figure on the open market. A one-year deal with a maximum of $2MM — similar to the pact Leon Hall inked with the Giants last season — could be a likely outcome for McCourty, a source tells Mike Reiss of ESPN.com.Jason McCourty (vertical)

[RELATED: Top NFL Defensive Free Agents]

There are at least a few reasons to think McCourty can earn more than Hall was forced to accept, however. As Reiss notes, McCourty is nearly three years younger than Hall, who was 31 when he agreed to his New York contract. Additionally, Hall had undergone offseason back surgery, which potentially worried teams about his availability. Hall didn’t land a free agent deal until August of 2016.

On the other hand, McCourty has dealt with recent injury concerns of his own. He suffered shoulder and chest ailments in 2016, while groin surgeries that caused him to miss 12 games the year prior. Plus, McCourty hasn’t posted an above-average campaign since the 2013 season. Hall, meanwhile, had largely maintained his level of play over the past few years.

Teams have already begun inquiring on McCourty, who is expected to be officially cut on Monday. I recently speculated that clubs such as the Bills, Colts, Cowboys, Eagles, Lions, Packers, Saints, and Cardinals could all show interest, while Reiss called the Patriots a “ideal match” for McCourty.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Teams Reaching Out To CB Jason McCourty

Several NFL teams have already inquired on veteran cornerback Jason McCourty, who is expected to be officially released by the Titans on Monday, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link).Jason McCourty (Vertical)

[RELATED: Top NFL Defensive Free Agents]

McCourty will be 30 years old when the 2017 season gets underway, and there are certainly reasons to be concerned about his recent level of play. Last year, McCourty graded as only the No. 55 cornerback in the league, per Pro Football Focus, so while he was still a viable starting defensive back, he probably wasn’t worth his $7MM base salary. Additionally, McCourty has dealt with injuries in recent seasons, including shoulder and chest ailments in 2016, and groin surgeries that caused him to miss 12 games the year prior.

Still, McCourty was an excellent corner from 2010-13, acting as one of the more underrated defensive backs in the league during that span. Clubs with holes in the secondary might pursue McCourty with the hope he can return to that height (or at least, close) once again. Speculatively, teams that could use another cornerback include the Bills, Colts, Cowboys, Eagles, Lions, Packers, Saints, and Cardinals.

The Patriots, too, stand out as a potential fit, especially if the club ends up parting ways with Malcolm Butler. Mike Reiss of ESPN.com called McCourty an “ideal match” for New England, while Devin McCourty — a Patriots safety and Jason’s twin — would be interested in playing alongside his brother.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: McCourty, Broncos, Thomas

The Patriots appear to be a natural fit for recently-released cornerback Jason McCourty. Predictably, you can count brother (and current Patriots defensive back) Devin McCourty among those who’d like to see him land in New England.

“I’m excited for him,” McCourty told Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald. “I was hoping he would be out of Tennessee a couple years ago just to experience something different. I think obviously now everyone is saying ‘he’s going to come here, he should come here.’ But you never know. I hope we’re interested in him.”

Devin believes his brother should be seeking a gig that would allow him to start, which might not be possible in New England. If the Patriots end up keeping Malcolm Butler, McCourty would presumably slot in behind him and free agent-addition Stephon Gilmore on the depth chart.

“He’s not at the point in his career where he just wants to sit on the bench,” Devin McCourty said. “He wants to get a chance to get out there and compete. I’m excited for him. It’s a little bit of the unknown, but he’s my brother, he should do all right. He should just tell people he’s related to me.

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

  • Veteran offensive lineman Ryan Clady is arguably the best available free agent, but Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com writes that the 30-year-old hasn’t garnered much interest this offseason. Clady has only appeared in nine total games over the past two seasons, but the four-time Pro Bowler still looked competent when he was on the field. The lineman visited the Seahawks last month, and Smith wonders if teams will start showing interest in Clady following the draft.
  • Mike Klis of 9News.com believes Broncos general manager John Elway can make the “biggest draft splash of his career” by selecting Stanford running back (and Colorado native) Christian McCaffrey with the 20th-overall pick. If the team is really looking to stir excitement, the reporter suggests the team also trades their second-rounder and third-round compensatory pick to the Browns for veteran offensive lineman Joe Thomas.
  • Speaking of Thomas, Troy Renck Denver7 can’t envision the Browns trading the offensive lineman (Twitter link). The reporter notes that the organization has rebuilt their offense around their lineman, so it’d be counter-intuitive to deal the best player on that unit. Reports from last season indicated that Thomas was available, although head coach Hue Jackson recently said that the veteran was staying put.

Titans Release CB Jason McCourty

The Titans are releasing cornerback Jason McCourty, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). McCourty was the team’s longest tenured player, but he’ll now have to seek work elsewhere. The Titans wanted to redo McCourty’s deal, but the two sides couldn’t agree on terms, a source tells Tom Pelissero of USA Today (on Twitter). Jason McCourty (vertical)

There was no real buildup for the move, so McCourty’s release comes as a pretty big surprise. In the past, the Patriots inquired on McCourty, but it didn’t seem like a trade was close to happening. Now that he’s a free agent, one has to wonder if New England will get into the mix in an effort to reunite him with twin brother Devin McCourty.

Jason McCourty, selected in the sixth round of the 2009 draft by the Titans, appeared in 108 games for the team, including 90 starts. The 29-year-old (30 in October) has long been regarded as a quality talent, but he turned in a so-so year in 2016. That came after a 2015 season in which he missed all but four games due to injury. All things considered, the Titans apparently were unwilling to keep McCourty at a $7MM cap number for the coming season. There will be no dead money left over since there was no guaranteed cash remaining on the deal.

In 2016, Pro Football Focus ranked McCourty as the 55th ranked cornerback in the NFL out of 111 qualified players. In his best years (2010-2013), McCourty was ranked comfortably within the top 30, framing him as a starting caliber corner.

The Titans own the No. 5 overall pick in the draft and they could target a top corner like Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley, or Marlon Humphrey.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/17/15

Here are Tuesday’s minor transactions from across the NFL:

  • The Dolphins waived center Sam Brenner, as Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald tweets.
  • The Browns waived tight end Rob Housler (hamstring) from injured reserve today, Nate Ulrich of the Beacon Journal tweets.
  • The Patriots waived offensive lineman Chris Barker while promoting wide receiver Chris Harper from the practice squad, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets.

Earlier Updates:

  • The Seahawks have waived wide receiver Chris Matthews, according to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Matthews had just four receptions during his 12 regular-season games with Seattle, matching the four balls he caught in last season’s Super Bowl against the Pats. Per Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (via Twitter), the Seahawks are promoting wide receiver Kevin Smith to the active roster to replace Matthews.
  • The Dolphins will sign linebacker James-Michael Johnson, tweets Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Johnson was just released by the Lions on Saturday, so he didn’t last long on the open market.
  • Speaking of the Lions, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets that, as expected, the club will place cornerback Josh Wilson on injured reserve due to what Jim Caldwell called a “significant” knee injury. Detroit is expected to sign a new cornerback shortly to help solidify a position that has been hit hard by injuries.
  • The Titans have added two players to their 53-man roster, signing wide receiver Tre McBride from their own practice squad, along with wide receiver Andrew Turzilli from the 49ers‘ practice squad (Twitter link via Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com). The two wideouts will take the roster spots vacated by WR Justin Hunter and CB Jason McCourty, who were formally placed on injured reserve today.
  • The Bears have made a change at cornerback, waiving Terrance Mitchell and promoting Jacoby Glenn from their practice squad to fill the newly-opened roster spot, the team announced today (Twitter link).
  • The Chiefs have placed tight end James O’Shaughnessy on injured reserve due to a foot injury, creating an opening for defensive tackle David King, whom Kansas City claimed off waivers from the Seahawks, according to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter).
  • The Giants have waived linebacker James Morris, according to a team release. Morris, who was elevated from the practice squad at the end of October, played on special teams during his brief stint on New York’s 53-man roster.