Jay Cutler

AFC East Rumors: Patriots, McCown, Cutler

The Patriots will be without two of their top cover men against the Jets. A late addition to the Pats’ injury report, Stephon Gilmore is out for Sunday’s game with a concussion. Gilmore was not listed on New England’s injury report prior to Saturday, but Josina Anderson of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter) the cornerback had experienced headaches since the Buccaneers game nine days ago. Eric Rowe is out with a groin injury, leaving the Patriots shorthanded on the outside. Gilmore’s concussion setback comes after he was a game-time decision to face the Bucs due to an ankle injury. Rowe hasn’t practiced since aggravating a groin problem in Week 4. New England did not sign anyone before Saturday afternoon’s deadline, so the team will not make a practice squad promotion for depth purposes as a result of these injuries.

Here’s more from New England and other AFC East headquarters prior to Week 6 Sunday.

  • Alan Branch, though, did make the trip with the Patriots to New York after being left off the travel roster for his team’s Week 5 tilt in Tampa, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports. Branch played in New England’s first four games after being re-signed this offseason. His season’s traversing a pattern Jabaal Sheard‘s did last year. After being left off the travel list for a midseason road trip, Sheard returned a week later and finished last season with 15 regular-season games played. Branch signed a two-year deal worth up to $12MM, so another healthy scratch would certainly be strange.
  • When the Jets were surveying the quarterback market, they became the latest team to turn to Josh McCown‘s five-game audition with the 2013 Bears as evidence of proficiency. New OC John Morton observed McCown’s work during that stretch — one that booked him the starting gig with the 2014 Bucs and probably played a key role in coaxing the Browns to sign him a year later — and tailored Gang Green’s offense around what McCown did well that season, Bob Glauber of Newsday notes. McCown has the Jets at a surprising 3-2, with the three wins exceeding his total with the Bucs and Browns combined. The 38-year-old quarterback is completing 71 percent of his passes in Morton’s offense.
  • That said, the Jets aren’t expected to let this season distract them from plans to acquire a long-term quarterback in 2018, Rich Cimini notes (on Twitter). In comparing this to the 2016 situation that saw the Jets re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick late in the offseason and then watching him regress last season, Cimini does not see the Jets turning to McCown again after this bridge season.
  • Despite some outside outcries for the Dolphins to bench Jay Cutler, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald doesn’t get the feeling Dolphins players are ready to see the recently acquired veteran demoted just yet. In attempting 26 passes against the Titans, Cutler completed just 12 for 92 yards. The Dolphins plan to stick with Cutler throughout the season, although that plan could certainly be revised down the road if this offense regresses further.

Dolphins Not Planning To Bench Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler has not exactly settled into a groove as the Dolphins’ starter after re-emerging from a brief retirement, and he delivered another unimpressive performance in Week 5.

Cutler finished with just 92 yards passing despite attempting 26 passes. Although the Dolphins beat the Marcus Mariota-less Titans, Cutler has not played well for most of this season. But the team is not planning a quarterback switch this season.

Not only do the Dolphins plan to stick with Cutler next week, they don’t intend to bench him for the rest of the season, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports. Multiple sources inside the organization informed Salguero the job is Cutler’s, despite his string of ineffective performances.

Adam Gase said (via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald) Cutler’s “way down on the list” of the Dolphins’ offensive problems, adding the offense would be better if “guys would do their job, catch the ball, block the right guys, give the quarterback a chance to do something.” The Dolphins dropped five passes on Sunday, with four of those coming in a seven-play span.

Gase was asked about a possible benching of Ryan Tannehill last season and steadfastly shot that down, so the team both publicly and privately expressing Cutler support isn’t surprising even if the offense is not where it was during Gase’s first season at the controls.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Rumors: Giants, Fins, Jets, Cowboys

Justin Pugh‘s contract year could well include a lengthy stay at right tackle. The Giants‘ starting left guard slid to his original position on Monday night and will do the same Sunday against the Eagles. Big Blue plans to start Brett Jones at left guard and does not plan on ditching Ereck Flowers at left tackle, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com notes. Pugh’s versatility will allow the Giants, per Ben McAdoo, to keep the “best five” on the field rather than the team having to use a swing tackle. Usual right tackle Bobby Hart will miss Week 3, and D.J. Fluker — a four-year Chargers starter — is apparently the Giants’ seventh offensive lineman. He’ll profile as the backup guard behind Jones and John Jerry, Raanan writes.

Here’s more from the Eastern divisions in advance of Week 3’s Sunday slate.

  • Lawrence Timmons‘ pre-Week 2 disappearance will be costly. The Dolphins linebacker signed a two-year, $12MM deal but will lose money because of the suspension his new team handed down this week. In addition to voiding the $4.5MM in guaranteed money attached to his 2018 salary, Timmons stands to lose as much as $235K in base salary this season — since he can only be suspended for four weeks under the CBA — and could be set to forfeit signing bonus money, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports. Volin adds the linebacker could be forced to refund 4/17ths of this year’s portion of his $5.5MM signing bonus. This team-imposed ban could cost Timmons $882K this season before giving Miami greater leverage over him in 2018 because of voided guarantees.
  • Jay Cutler reached out to Matt Forte about a possible Jets path, but his longtime Bears teammate couldn’t provide many details about an offensive system about to change, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports. Although the Jets and Cutler had multiple visits scheduled, neither came to fruition and the interest wasn’t heavy on either side. Cutler also talked with former Broncos and Bears quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, Gang Green’s current QBs instructor, throughout his first free agency process, per Mehta. But with Bates not calling plays in New York, that connection didn’t have the kind of appeal that would have induced Cutler to sign with the rebuilding team. Instead, Cutler’s second wave of free agency became a Dolphins-centric odyssey.
  • Austin Seferian-Jenkins weighed over 300 pounds in the recent past, according to Calvin Watkins of Newsday. The Jets tight end dropped a staggering 60 pounds, per Watkins, and is down to 262 as he comes off his two-game suspension for substance abuse. A May report indicated Seferian-Jenkins was down 25 pounds. A year ago Saturday, Seferian-Jenkins was arrested on suspicion of DUI. The Buccaneers cut him, routing the formerly coveted prospect to the Jets. As of this week, ASJ is approaching 250 days sober, Watkins reports.
  • The Cowboys struggled to stay with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in a Week 2 loss in Denver, and the team will take a shorthanded cornerback group to Arizona as well. Both Nolan Carroll and Chidobe Awuzie are out for the Cowboys’ Monday-night tilt against the Cardinals, Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News tweets. A hamstring injury will shelve Awuzie, and Carroll’s in concussion protocol.

East Rumors: Lawrence, Jets, McAdoo, Pats

Demarcus Lawrence has won matchups with Giants right tackle Bobby Hart and Broncos right-edge protector Menelik Watson en route to 3.5 sacks in the Cowboys‘ first two games. However, the fourth-year defensive end is not big on attributing his early run of success to being in a contract year. And the former second-round pick wants to impress Cowboys management rather than pursue a UFA path.

I mean, it’s a contract year, so what?” Lawrence said, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “I want to be here forever. This year don’t define me as a player. Y’all might say it’s because it’s a contract year, but the first year I was balling. My second year I was balling. My third year I had trouble with my back, so it didn’t seem like I was there. This year doesn’t define me.”

That injury and a four-game suspension limited Lawrence to nine regular-season contests last season. He registered just four sacks after recording eight as a second-year player. Lawrence missed nine games as a rookie due to injury, so the former Boise State standout staying healthy would be a key component of his push for a second Cowboys contract.

Here’s the latest from the East divisions, shifting to a contract that didn’t come to pass.

  • Jay Cutler said the Jets scheduled multiple visits for him to visit New York as a free agent, but each ended up being cancelled. Now coming to the Big Apple as the Dolphins starter, Cutler said the sides weren’t in the mere exploratory stage but also noted (via the Associated Press) the Jets weren’t “aggressive” in their pursuit of him as a then-UFA. Cutler will face former Bears teammate Josh McCown this weekend in the AFC East tilt.
  • Malcolm Butler played at least 96 percent of the Patriots‘ defensive snaps in 2015 and ’16, but Eric Rowe took his place in the starting lineup last week against the Saints. The subject of trade rumors this offseason — with the Saints being the frontrunner for that would-be deal — the contract-year corner tried to brush that topic off. “This is where I play; this is where I’m happy at,” Butler said (via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com), “just have to continue doing my thing.” This is the latest chapter in the Butler/Pats saga, one that looks likely to end after this season. Both Rowe and Stephon Gilmore have seen groin injuries emerge, so Butler may well return to the Pats’ starting lineup against the Texans. However, Butler’s received no indication that he’ll return to a first-string role.
  • Ben McAdoo is not dismissing the idea of ceding the Giants‘ play-calling reins, but it doesn’t sound like he wants to give them up, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv notes, adding it might take a front office direction to get the second-year coach to give up that responsibility. While writing OC Mike Sullivan suddenly calling plays wouldn’t be a cure-all, Vacchiano opines that McAdoo is occasionally “lost” trying to manage the game and call plays.

East Rumors: Redskins, Elliott, Cutler

Redskins safety Su’a Cravens is expected to report to the team Tuesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Cravens, of course, informed the club several weeks ago that he intended to retire only to reverse his decision almost immediately. Cravens has been in contact with head coach Jay Gruden, and the two have discussed football and life issues. As Rapoport suggests, the fact that Cravens is reporting does not necessarily mean that he will suit up right away, given that he is battling an injury and, as his recent history suggests, may be at a crossroads in his young life. Nonetheless, it is a positive step for one of the more promising defensive talents in the league.

Now for more from the league’s east divisions:

  • The Redskins reshuffled their front office in June, but per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the team considered adding another executive during training camp. Washington reportedly brought in James “Shack” Harris, Charles Bailey, Bill Kuharich, and Ron Hill to watch practice and meet with other staffers, but the team ultimately decided to stand pat and does not plan to make any other additions at this time.
  • Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has never been arrested or charged with a crime, but since June 2014, Elliott’s name has appeared in at least four investigations concerning assault, battery, domestic violence, and disorderly conduct, as Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News writes. The entire piece is well worth a read, and it suggests a troubling pattern of behavior that Elliott will need to correct in order to live up to his sky-high potential.
  • Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald says Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler has impressed the team with his demeanor and work ethic, and if he plays well this season, Salguero writes that Miami would consider re-signing him and trading Ryan Tannehill, thereby creating a great deal of cap room and netting an early draft choice in the process. We are a long way from that happening, of course, but if Cutler somehow becomes a modern-day Jim Plunkett, Tannehill could be on a different sideline in 2018.
  • We recently learned that the Dolphins were interested in trading for Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that Miami went hard after the star DB, making attempts to land him both back early in the free-agency signing period and as recently as last month.
  • Patriots LB Dont’a Hightower was riding a stationary bike after he left the team’s Week 1 contest with a right knee injury, leading to optimism that he might be ready for Week 2. However, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports that Hightower sought a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews last week, which Hightower did not deny. Problems with his right knee forced Hightower to begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list, and given that New England’s defense clearly needs him, this is a situation worth monitoring.

Dolphins To Place Ryan Tannehill On IR

The Dolphins placed sixth-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill on IR Friday night. He will undergo season-ending ACL surgery, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports, emphasizing there is “no chance” the 29-year-old passer returns this season.

Injured last week during practice, Tannehill will now undergo the surgery the Dolphins debated late last season. He opted to traverse a non-surgical course, but this latest setback will send Tannehill to the operating table.

Salguero reports Tannehill made this decision tonight after speaking to Adam Gase. Tannehill again considered other, less invasive treatment options but will undergo surgery next week. Salguero notes he is expected to be ready for training camp next summer. The precise type of surgery isn’t yet known, but Salguero reports this operation will definitely be a reconstructive procedure.

The Dolphins — and their bid to make a second straight playoff appearance for the first time since the 2000-01 seasons — are now in Jay Cutler‘s hands. The 34-year-old passer signed a $10MM deal which is fully guaranteed, per Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter), coming out of retirement in this emergency circumstance.

Tannehill completed a career-high 67 percent of his passes in Gase’s system last season, and although his season was cut short after 13 games, the former first-round pick piloted the Fins to an 8-5 record while healthy. Matt Moore guided the Dolphins into the playoffs before the Steelers ousted them in Round 1.

Tannehill will turn 30 next July. He’s under contract through 2020, although no money is guaranteed in 2019 or ’20.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Cutler, Jets, Bills

If Jay Cutler didn’t return to the NFL in order to sign with the Dolphins, Miami would have considered Robert Griffin III and Christian Ponder, reports Peter King of TheMMQB.com. Of course, RG3 and Ponder were far from the only options on the table for the Dolphins, as Colin Kaepernick, Tim Tebow, Kyle Orton, Brock Osweiler, Blaine Gabbert, and Teddy Bridgewater were all at least discussed internally. Griffin has been linked to the Seahawks, Chargers, and Ravens this offseason, while Seattle was also interested in Ponder at one point. At least one league executive believes the Dolphins had better options available under center, tweets Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald.

Here’s more from Miami and the rest of the AFC East:

  • Cutler will essentially earn $10MM in guaranteed money under the terms of his Dolphins contract, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter links). As previously reported, Cutler will take home a $5MM base salary and a $5MM roster bonus, but that bonus is due this August 9 (this Wednesday). Additionally, Cutler can earn another $3MM in incentives: $1MM if he plays 75% of Miami’s offensive snaps and the club is in the top-10 in touchdowns; $1MM if he plays 75% of snaps and the Dolphins earn a postseason berth; and another $1MM if he plays 75% of snaps and Miami wins a playoff game.
  • “No concerns” were raised about Cutler’s shoulder in his pre-signing physical, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). For what it’s worth, Cutler says he was cleared in March. Meanwhile, Dolphins head coach Adam Gase says the Dolphins have a “plan” for how they’ll manage Cutler’s preseason repetitions. “We’re going to have to be smart with that because I’m sure (Cutler) wasn’t out in the backyard throwing 100 balls a day,” Gase said, per Pelissero (Twitter link).
  • While the Jets won the rights to wide receiver Bruce Ellington last week, the Bills, Texans, and Chiefs all put in waiver claims for the former 49ers draft choice, tweets Kimberley A. Martin of Newsday. Ellington, of course, didn’t last long in New York, as the Jets waived him with an injury designation just one day after acquiring him. That means any of the other clubs that attempted claims on Ellington should have an another opportunity to acquire him, either through the waiver process or after New York potentially cuts Ellington from injured reserve.
  • Free agent running back Stephen Houston worked out for the Jets last week, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post (Twitter link). Houston, originally an undrafted free agent out of Indiana, has never played in a NFL game despite bouncing between several rosters since entering the league in 2014. Most recently, Houston spent time on Baltimore’s practice squad, but was waived by the Ravens in May. The Jets, who already boast Matt Forte, Bilal Powell, Brandon Wilds, and others at running back, also auditioned Shaquille Cooper last week.

Jay Cutler To Sign With Dolphins

Jay Cutler has come out of retirement to sign a one-year deal with the Dolphins, the team announced on Monday. The deal was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Schefter tweets that Cutler will earn $10MM, plus incentives, in 2017, and Jay Glazer of FOX Sports tweets that the incentives could raise the total value of the contract to $13MM.

Cutler’s base salary will be $5MM, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports. With incumbent Fins backup Matt Moore making $1.75MM in base salary, this suggests Adam Gase expects his former pupil to become the starter and also suggests that Ryan Tannehill will miss an extended period of time.

Salguero reports Tannehill, again, has a partially torn ACL. The sixth-year passer suffered the same injury late in the 2016 regular season. It’s uncertain if the Dolphins’ franchise passer will undergo surgery this time to repair the damage or opt for more non-surgical treatment, but he will be out for a while.

Tannehill, 29, spent the past several days consulting with experts about continuing to delay a surgery instead of going under the knife and ending his season, per Salguero. The Miami-embedded reporter adds Tannehill is likely to need surgery, because Cutler didn’t want to step into a situation where Tannehill would come back this season. As of now, Tannehill is almost certain to miss the season, with Salguero tweeting the start of the 2018 campaign is in question.

In Cutler, Dolphins managed to sign a quarterback who possesses high-end physical tools (even if other aspects of Cutler’s game have been scrutinized) and knowledge of Gase’s system. The 34-year-old, who retired from football in May after receiving limited interest as a free agent, has a good relationship with Gase from their time in Chicago in 2015. Then the Bears’ offensive coordinator, Gase helped Cutler to one of his best seasons, in which he completed 64.4 percent of passes, averaged 7.58 yards per attempt and threw 21 touchdowns against just 11 interceptions.

This saga went in a different direction than an ESPN report indicated it probably would on Saturday. Cutler will pivot away from the FOX job he secured earlier this year. And, after piloting some lower-profile Bears teams during his final few seasons in the Windy City, the former first-round pick will become a key component in the AFC playoff race.

The closest Cutler came to a post-Chicago landing spot was with the Jets, who had some interest but did not want to pay franchise-passer money and opted for ex-Cutler teammate Josh McCown instead. Now, Cutler will be thrown onto a playoff-contending outfit. And the skill-position cadre of Jay Ajayi, Julius Thomas, Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker stands to double as one of the best in Cutler’s now-12-season career.

Cutler has one Pro Bowl to his credit, with the 2008 Broncos, and has guided a team to one playoff berth (2010 Bears). His salary will place him in a barely explored middle ground between backup quarterbacks and franchise starters. Cutler’s $10MM in 2017 places him 22nd among quarterbacks, in between the previous gulf that existed between Mike Glennon and Tyrod Taylor in this hierarchy.

Tannehill will earn $20.3MM in 2017, making the Dolphins more committed to two passers financially than any NFL team.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Considered Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow

A common theme appears to have developed in Miami this week in the Dolphins’ search for quarterback help after Ryan Tannehill‘s injury: familiarity with coach Adam Gase.

As a result, some interesting names were considered. Although it’s not certain how seriously these considerations were, Armando Salguero reports (on Twitter) at some point in the process this week former Gase Broncos charges Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow were discussed.

Salguero also confirms the Dolphins’ previously reported interest in Colin Kaepernick, adding more names were likely bandied about during this emergency process (Twitter link). He also notes (via Twitter) some of the names were discarded quickly.

While the Dolphins landed their preferred target in convincing Jay Cutler to come out of retirement, their range of candidates is obviously notable. Set to turn 30 next week, Tebow has not played a down of regular-season football since 2012 and is currently in the New York Mets’ farm system. A historically inaccurate passer, Tebow did lead the Broncos to seven wins in 2011 and a dramatic playoff triumph. Gase was coaching Denver’s quarterbacks at the time, but OC Mike McCoy adjusted the scheme dramatically to fit Tebow’s unique skill set.

Orton, 34, played in a more comparable system to what Gase used with Cutler in Chicago and with the Dolphins in 2016. The passer opened three straight seasons as the Broncos’ starter before Tebow replaced him midway through ’11, and Denver primarily used a three-wide shotgun set for the less mobile signal-caller. Orton, however, retired after the 2014 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Dolphins, Glenn, Reed, Eagles

The DolphinsJay Cutler addition easily became the NFL story of the week, and more specifics on the agreement are emerging. Cutler’s $5MM base salary will be augmented by $5MM in bonuses and $3MM in incentives, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Between Cutler, Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore, the Dolphins are spending more than $32MM on quarterback salaries this season. This salary will represent Cutler’s lowest in a season since 2013, prior to his second Bears pact.

Rapoport (video link) didn’t rule out the possibility of a multiyear Dolphins/Cutler union, but said as of now the plan is just for this season. He cites Cutler’s desire to play, noting the interest he had in the Texans’ job, and possible success with Adam Gase as a reason the door is slightly ajar for the 34-year-old passer to have a beyond-2017 future with the Dolphins.

Here’s the latest from the Eastern divisions.

  • Of course, Tannehill is under contract through the 2020 season. But Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com notes (via Twitter) the Dolphins can escape from Tannehill’s contract after this season, if they choose. No fully guaranteed money remains on Tannehill’s deal, although a $5.25MM injury guarantee for 2018 is in place. Breer categorizes the 2018-20 portion of Tannehill’s contract as team options. The Dolphins, though, don’t have another long-term solution lined up beyond the suddenly injury-prone Tannehill.
  • This Cutler signing will make a Jarvis Landry extension more difficult, James Walker of ESPN.com offers. The Dolphins entered Sunday with $17MM-plus in cap space, with just $3MM projected to be available in 2018. While the latter figure doesn’t mean a ton yet due to roster moves that could me made to increase it, the Dolphins lost some possible carryover money due to the Cutler signing, one Walker calls a mistake. Gase’s Bears campaign produced the 23rd-ranked passing offense in 2015 and a 6-10 record. Although, the Bears were playing without some skill-position talent that season. But Cutler has only led one team, the ’10 Bears, to the postseason and is coming off an injury-marred season. As for Landry, not much has developed on that front.
  • Cordy Glenn has struggled with lower-leg and foot problems since last season, and the Bills‘ franchise left tackle still has some uncertainty surrounding his status. That said, Glenn returned to practice on Sunday after seeing a foot specialist, Rapoport reports (on Twitter). Glenn recently received a second opinion on his foot from foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson, Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News reports. Sean McDermott called the veteran blocker day-to-day.
  • Jay Gruden is optimistic Jordan Reed will be able to shake his toe injury and be ready to go by the time the Redskins take the field in Week 1. “From every indication I’ve received from the doctors and trainers and from Jordan, I feel he’ll be ready for the season,” Gruden said, via John Keim of ESPN.com. “But you never know, so we’ll still have to wait and see. Things are odd from time to time, but I have total faith that he’ll be ready.” Reed is on the Active/PUP list and struggled with the toe malady throughout last season. Reed also visited with Dr. Anderson last week but has ramped up his work since.
  • Corey Graham has experience at both secondary positions, but Jim Schwartz plans to use his former Bills charge at safety despite the Eagles being weaker at corner, Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com notes, adding that Malcolm Jenkins could shift into the slot on sub-packages. Graham has played most of his career at corner but moved to safety full-time in 2015.