Jason McCourty

AFC East Notes: McCoy, Bills, Wake, Pats

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says the odds of the Bills trading any veterans — like RB LeSean McCoy, whose name has recently surfaced in trade rumors — are very slim. La Canfora writes that it would take a “bounty” to pry McCoy or Jerry Hughes away from Buffalo, as the team considers both players, who are both signed beyond this season to club-friendly deals, to be vital veteran components of its rebuild. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com agrees, saying it could take as much as a second-round draft pick to land McCoy.

Now let’s round up a few more notes from the AFC East, starting with more from Orchard Park:

  • This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but Rapoport tweets that the Bills have no intention of playing newly-acquired signal-caller Derek Anderson, barring injury. Anderson is with the club to tutor rookie QB Josh Allen, not to take any of his playing time.
  • From the “something to keep an eye on” department, Jenna Cottrell of 13 WHAM tweets that Allen asked wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin if he wanted to work on routes during pregame warm-ups today, and Benjamin told him no. The Bills acquired Benjamin at the trade deadline last year but have not gotten much production out of him, and he does not appear especially motivated to perform well in his platform year.
  • Dolphins DE Cameron Wake recently underwent arthroscopic knee surgery but could be back as soon as next week, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Normally such a procedure would require a four-week recovery period, but Wake is such a quick healer that he may make it back in a fraction of that time.
  • Mike Reiss of ESPN.com observes that Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty is on pace to recoup the money that he lost when he agreed to a pay cut before the regular season. New England gave him the opportunity to make up the difference via incentives, and McCourty is well on his way to hitting those incentives. The same cannot be said for Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, however.
  • Reiss also notes that Kenjon Barner, who has been shuttled on and off of the Patriots‘ roster several times since September 12, may have a little more job security right now. Barner’s former club, the Eagles, are very much in need of RB help, and the Pats know that if they cut Barner again, they may not get him back.
  • Darryl Slater of NJ.com tweets that Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers, who is dealing with a serious illness, is on the sidelines for the team’s game against the Colts today. It does not sound as if he has resumed his coordinator responsibilities yet, but it is a good sign nonetheless.

Patriots’ Jason McCourty Restructures Deal

Jason McCourty represents a versatile part of the Patriots’ secondary, having added safety work to his usual cornerback preparation responsibilities during the preseason. He made another change just before the start of the regular season as well.

The Patriots and McCourty agreed to a restructured deal that will see the veteran defender’s base salary drop but his 2018 cap number increase. McCourty will trim his 2018 base from $2.375MM to $1.6MM in exchange for up to $1MM in playing-time incentives and $400K in per-game roster bonuses, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

McCourty’s playing-time incentives are broken up into $200K increments. Seeing 40 percent of New England’s defensive snaps will net the 10th-year veteran $200K, while playing in half of the Pats’ snaps will net McCourty an additional $200K. Sixty percent, 70 percent and 80 percent represent the ensuing benchmarks, with 80 percent meaning McCourty — who played six snaps in Week 1 — would collect $1MM total of this incentive package.

A $150K increase to McCourty’s roster bonus also comes as part of this adjustment, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets. McCourty’s cap number will because of this restructure, with Volin noting (via Twitter) the 31-year-old defensive back’s number now represents $3.382MM after previously residing at $2.975MM on the Patriots’ cap sheet.

New England lost second-round pick Duke Dawson to an injury that relegated him to IR, opening possible snaps for McCourty. But he’s a backup for the time being, despite having started 104 career games and being a full-time first-stringer from 2011-17.

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Patriots Rumors: Trades, McCourty, Tobin

The free agency defection of Danny Amendola, the trade of Brandin Cooks, the releases of Kenny Britt and Jordan Matthews, and potentially the advancing age of a now-32-year-old Julian Edelman leave the Patriots somewhat vulnerable at wide receiver. Might the NFL’s most trade-happy team consider one to bolster perhaps Tom Brady‘s final receiving corps? Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk suggests (via NBC Sports Boston) one that would be quite the blockbuster, even if it could be a tad of a reach.

Describing “a weird sense coming out of Denver as it relates to Demaryius Thomas,” Florio posits a Thomas-to-the-Patriots trade. While prefacing this with the fact that said weird sense might not end up being meaningful regarding Thomas’ Broncos status, Florio points out Patriots OC Josh McDaniels drafted Thomas in 2010 and the Pats suddenly need receivers more than the Broncos appear to. That said, the 30-year-old wideout is one of the best players in Broncos history, and John Elway trading a key player to the Patriots may not be realistic. The Broncos have liked what they’ve seen from Courtland Sutton and fourth-rounder DaeSean Hamilton this preseason, and Denver cut the cord on Super Bowl starter T.J. Ward to save money after the 2017 preseason. But the Broncos picked up Thomas’ 2018 option — he’s attached to an $8.5MM base salary and $12MM cap number — and have struggled for years to develop receiving depth. Thomas is, however, due a non-guaranteed $14MM next season, the final year of his contract. So, he very well could be entering the last season of his Broncos tenure.

Here’s the latest out of New England:

  • The Broncos don’t have a clear pipeline to the Patriots, but the Bob Quinn-run Lions do. And Mike Reiss of ESPN.com suggests a possible Golden Tate-to-New England transaction between Belichick and one of his former lieutenants. Reiss posits a deal involving contract-year defensive tackle Malcom Brown and linebacker Elandon Roberts but estimates the Lions probably wouldn’t part with Tate, even though he’s in a contract year and no substantial extension discussions have occurred. Tate, 30, is set to earn $7MM in base salary this season.
  • While his twin brother’s been one of the NFL’s top safeties for a while, Jason McCourty‘s worked as a cornerback. However, the offseason trade acquisition began practicing at safety this week and lined up there in Friday night’s preseason game, Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston notes. Bill Belichick said (via NESN.com) McCourty’s safety reps were about gauging possibilities rather than a permanent move. McCourty also saw time at corner Friday night. New England houses Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Patrick Chung at safety and less experience at corner after Malcolm Butler‘s departure, but it appears Belichick will determine his newer McCourty’s versatility.
  • Isaiah Wynn‘s injury creates a void for the Patriots at swing tackle for the time being, and 2018 UFA addition Matt Tobin saw time as Trent Brown‘s backup at left tackle. The former Eagles cog may find a way onto New England’s 53-man roster because of Wynn’s season-ending injury, per Perry. The Pats have LaAdrian Waddle as a swing tackle, but with Tobin having extensive guard experience, he might bring sufficient value as a bench option at multiple spots.

AFC Notes: Browns, Pats, McCourty

The Browns were seemingly dealt a big blow last week when receiver Antonio Callaway was arrested. News of the arrest came right after the team had traded away Corey Coleman to the Bills, and not too long after Josh Gordon left the team for an indefinite period of time. Callaway seemed poised to start as a rookie, but his arrest clouded the whole situation.

Callaway apparently did not inform the team of his arrest, and the Browns only found out through media reports. Many speculated the Browns would discipline him internally for failing to tell the team about the incident, but it appears no suspension will be forthcoming. Coach Hue Jackson said after practice today that the team’s punishment for Callaway was playing him nearly the entire game in the preseason opener, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal (Twitter link). It seems like Callaway dodged a bullet, as many organizations would’ve been a lot more displeased with his failure to inform them of his situation.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • The Patriots may have traded for cornerback Jason McCourty back in March, but that doesn’t mean he’s a lock to make the team. McCourty is on the “roster bubble” according to Mike Reiss of ESPN, who writes that New England currently has a logjam at corner. Reiss thinks McCourty’s lack of special teams contributions could cost him the opportunity to suit up on the same team as his twin brother Devin McCourty, a safety for the Patriots.
  • Speaking of AFC East roster bubbles, tight end Nick O’Leary is a “surprise cut candidate” for the Bills, according to Joe Buscaglia of Buffalo 7. Buscaglia writes that O’Leary was “once thought of as a shoe-in for the 53-man roster”, but has now been demoted to the third-team offense in practice and very well may find himself cut. The 2015 sixth-rounder caught 22 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns last season.
  • As a result of Jalen Ramsey‘s suspension by the Jaguars, the guarantees in his contract could void writes former NFL agent and current CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry (Twitter link). Although it shouldn’t end up mattering for a player of Ramsey’s caliber, it’s a fascinating look into how quickly all the guarantees in a player’s contract can go out the window in the NFL.

Browns Trade Jason McCourty To Patriots

Jason McCourty isn’t being released by the Browns after all. The cornerback has been traded to the Patriots, according to an announcement from Cleveland. The deal will see McCourty and a seventh-round pick head to New England in exchange for the Patriots’ sixth-round choice. 

The Browns announced on Thursday afternoon that they would be releasing McCourty. Quickly, speculation emerged about McCourty joining up with the Patriots, who are in need of a cornerback after losing Malcolm Butler to free agency. He’s going to New England, but it’s going to be via a trade rather than a free agent signing.

Browns GM John Dorsey said that he was moving on from McCourty because he wasn’t sure if he would make the team’s roster in September. That doesn’t necessarily jive with the rest of the league’s assessment of McCourty’s skills. Last year, he graded out as a top-30 cornerback in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. His play, according to the advanced metrics, was in line with his best seasons with the Titans in 2012 and 2013.

This, of course, will reunite Jason McCourty with twin brother Devin McCourty, who is entering his ninth season as a Patriots safety. The duo played together at Rutgers, with Jason entering the draft in 2009 and Devin following him a year later.

The McCourtys will turn 31 during Patriots training camp. But the Pats could use a replacement for Butler. They may opt to seek younger help in the draft or at least bolster their position, but a two-McCourty setup could be a common site for New England’s defense this coming season. The Pats still have Eric Rowe in the fold for 2018 as well.

This also continues the Patriots-Browns pipeline that’s been flowing for a bit. Cleveland acquired Jamie Collins from New England in 2016, and the Patriots added Barkevious Mingo from the Browns earlier that year. And last weekend, the Browns shipped Danny Shelton to the Pats.

[RELATED: Patriots Depth Chart]

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Extra Points: Seahawks, Nelson, Browns

The Raiders are in the mix to sign Jordy Nelson, but it’s not a done deal just yet. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) cautions not to count out the Seahawks in the Nelson chase, given John Schneider‘s history with the wide receiver.

In 2008, the Packers traded back with the Jets in the second round in order to select Nelson. Schneider was a big reason for that deal as he advocated for Nelson in the war room. Now, Schneider is at the helm in Seattle with a very real chance at signing the veteran.

The Saints, reportedly, are also pushing to sign Nelson.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Browns GM John Dorsey said he released cornerback Jason McCourty because he wasn’t sure he’d make the roster and, given his veteran status, wanted to give him a chance to catch on with another team (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Pat McManamon). McCourty had a solid bounce back year with the Browns, so it’s surprising to hear that Dorsey wasn’t sure if McCourty would quality for the 53-man roster. In any event, he figures to have a ripe market.
  • Meanwhile, Browns coach Hue Jackson confirmed that Tyrod Taylor is the Browns starting quarterback for 2018. “He’s going to be the starting quarterback. There is no competition,” Jackson said (Twitter link via NFL.com’s James Palmer). The Browns hold the No. 1 and No. 4 overall picks in this year’s draft and one of those selections will almost certainly be used on a QB. Whoever that rookie is, apparently, will be learning from the bench at the outset.
  • The Raiders were a close second for Johnathan Joseph before he agreed to re-sign with the Texans, according to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). Joseph re-upped with Houston on Thursday with a two-year deal.
  • The Eagles and Giants are showing interest in Bears free agent punter Pat O’Donnell, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Browns Release CB Jason McCourty

[UPDATE – The Browns have traded McCourty to the Patriots, rather than releasing him]

The Browns are releasing cornerback Jason McCourty, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. McCourty has personally confirmed the news via social media. 

McCourty joined the Browns last offseason on a two-year, $6MM deal with $2MM guaranteed. However, the new regime is going in a different direction following the free agent pickups of cornerbacks T.J. Carrie and Terrance Mitchell.

One has to imagine that the Patriots will have interest in McCourty. Last offseason, they had interest before he hooked on with Cleveland. Of course, his twin brother twin brother, All Pro safety Devin McCourty, would be an advocate in that regard.

“I think there was definitely mutual interest, but to be honest, the Patriots are kind of set at cornerback,” McCourty said last year“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.”

McCourty missed all of 2015 and had a so-so year in 2016, leading the Titans to cut him. However, he bounced back strong in Cleveland with three interceptions and a top-30 rank on Pro Football Focus’ list of NFL cornerbacks. In that sense, the Browns’ decision to release McCourty is a little perplexing since he was set to carry a reasonable cap hit of less than $3.6MM. The move will bring about nearly $3MM in cap savings for the Browns.

McCourty, 31 in August, could very well be in for a pay raise on his next deal, wherever that may be.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.