Jermaine Kearse

AFC Notes: Colts, Texans, Pryor, Bolts

Anthony Castonzo will make his Colts debut on Thursday night. He’s active against the Patriots. The eighth-year left tackle has been sidelined for most of the past few months because of a hamstring injury, one he’s twice aggravated. Frank Reich said he did not intend to use an IR spot on Castonzo, and the first-year Colts coach’s confidence in the edge blocker being ready to return soon turned out to be appropriate. Castonzo participated in three limited practices this week.

Here’s the latest from the AFC, going into tonight’s intra-AFC matchup.

  • Indianapolis won’t, however, have the services of its top tackler. Darius Leonard, the NFL’s runaway tackles leader four games into his rookie season, will be out. The Colts tweeted the linebacker is not expected to dress against the Patriots. Both are technically active but are not going to play. An ankle injury is restricting Leonard, who has 54 tackles (seven for loss) and four sacks. He joins T.Y. Hilton, Marlon Mack and Kenny Moore among Colts who aren’t playing in Foxborough.
  • Seantrel Henderson‘s Texans stay did not produce much work. The one-year, $4MM free agent addition suffered a season-ending broken ankle in Week 1 against the Pats. The tackle who recently underwent surgery will be a UFA again in March but wants to return to the Texans. “Of course, I would like to be back,” Henderson said, via the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson. “I love it here.” Julie’n Davenport replaced Henderson at right tackle but was benched. Kendall Lamm‘s now playing there.
  • The AFC’s Los Angeles team has seen its wide receivers receive as much publicity as the Rams’ have, but the Chargers contingent’s quite deep in its own right. Although, it will be thinner for a bit going forward. Travis Benjamin is expected to be out for at least two weeks, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Benjamin’s been battling a foot injury this season. The Bolts hope he can return either for their Week 7 Titans game or after their Week 8 bye. L.A. still has Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Tyrell Williams, however.
  • Terrelle Pryor only played two snaps against the Jaguars. He’s not happy with his current Jets role. “It’s kind of nerve-racking. I don’t like it,” Pryor said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, about his usage dissatisfaction. “It is what it is, though. You get frustrated, you know? You don’t go out there and make plays. I’ve shown when the ball comes to me, I make plays. I’m a big play waiting to happen.” Noting Jermaine Kearse surpassed Pryor in Gang Green’s wideout pecking order, Mehta adds Pryor suffered a groin injury during practice last week. Pryor’s experienced persistent injury trouble during his Jets and Redskins tenures. He did not live up to expectations in Washington and saw ankle problems recur in New York this offseason. Pryor, however, is averaging 19.8 yards per catch (eight grabs for 158 yards) but has only received one target the past two weeks.

Jets WR Jermaine Kearse Likely To Miss Week 1?

The Jets fear wide receiver Jermaine Kearse may miss Week 1 after undergoing a medical procedure to treat an abdominal injury, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.

Kearse’s timetable for return isn’t exactly clear, as Brian Costello of the New York Post tweets. Kearse could conceivably recover in time for the season opener, or perhaps miss a few weeks with the injury. As Costello notes, Kearse’s ailment is “impossible to predict.”

If Kearse is sidelined, the Jets will need to turn to the other receiving options on their roster. Without Kearse in tow, New York would likely use Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, and Terrelle Pryor as their starting wideouts in three-WR sets. Gang Green could also conceivably grab a pass-catcher off waivers or via trade in the coming days.

Kearse, 28, enjoyed the best statistical campaign of his career in 2017 by managing 65 receptions for 810 yards and five touchdowns. He’s entering the final season of his contract, and is scheduled to make $5.55MM during the upcoming season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Kearse, Maye, Patriots

Although there’s been some speculation the Jets could release veteran wideout Jermaine Kearse in the coming months, Kearse seems likely to stick on New York’s roster, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. Gang Green would save $5.5MM by cutting Kearse prior to the beginning of the regular season, and the club has a well-stocked depth chart at receiver that includes Terrelle Pryor, Robby Anderson, and Quincy Enunwa, among others. However, the Jets certainly don’t need any extra cap space (they’re seventh in the league with more than $20MM in reserves), and Kearse is viewed as a high-quality locker room presence. Perhaps most importantly, Kearse posted the best statistical campaign of his career in 2017 by managing 65 receptions for 810 yards and five touchdowns.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • The Patriots are expected to keep four or five running backs on their Week 1 roster, but Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel, and James White are the only current locks, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. Burkhead and Michel, the latter of whom New England selected in the first round of the 2018 draft, figure to split early-down work, while White will take on his familiar role as the Patriots’ passing game back. Brandon Bolden is likely to make New England’s squad thanks to his special teams ability, which sets up a showdown between Jeremy Hill, Mike Gillislee, and undrafted free agent Ralph Webb for the club’s final spot. Webb, notably, received a $70K signing bonus in order to latch on with the Patriots, so he could be a surprise addition to the team’s roster.
  • In a separate piece, Reiss also takes a look at the Patriots‘ wide receiver corps, and notes Julian Edelman (who will begin the year on the suspended list), Chris Hogan, Jordan Matthews, and Cordarrelle Patterson are near certainties for New England’s Week 1 lineup. Former fourth-round pick Malcolm Mitchell, who’s been beset by injuries during his short career, is not a lock for the Patriots’ roster, per Reiss, nor is Kenny Britt. The Patriots exercised Britt’s 2018 option earlier this year, but he’s only guaranteed $150K for the upcoming season. Rookie Braxton Berrios and former first-rounder Phillip Dorsett are among the other New England pass-catchers vying for looks.
  • Jets safety Marcus Maye underwent offseason surgery to correct an ankle issue, but New York is hopeful the second-year defensive back will be available for the start of training camp, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Maye, a second-round pick out of Florida in 2017, started all 16 games alongside fellow rookie Jamal Adams, but graded as a bottom-15 safety among 84 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. Jets head coach Todd Bowles wants both Maye and Adams to make “mental improvements” in the second NFL seasons, per Mehta.

Extra Points: Jets, Kearse, Redskins, Reed, Titans, Ravens

There’s been a lot of discussion about which Jets players could get cut, but one name not frequently mentioned has been wide receiver Jermaine Kearse. Still, Kearse apparently isn’t guaranteed a roster spot, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Post. Mehta writes that since Kearse’s $5MM salary is non-guaranteed, he could be cut “if other pass catchers impress in training camp and the preseason.”

While Mehta describes Kearse as someone who was a “positive influence” in 2017 who helped “change the culture in the locker room”, the Jets may still decide they want to get a longer look at some of their younger guys in a year they aren’t likely to compete for a playoff spot anyway. Mehta notes that Kearse’s $5.5MM cap charge is greater than the next four receivers on the depth chart’s put together. Kearse is welcoming the challenge, saying he’s “not going to make it easy” for any of the young players to step up and force him off the roster.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Redskins could move on from Jordan Reed after this season, according to Rich Tandler of NBCSports Washington. Reed was one of the best tight ends in the game for a while, but injuries have derailed his career the past couple years. The guaranteed money in his contract is up after this year and if he can’t prove he can stay healthy in 2018, the team “might not have any choice but to let him go” next offseason writes Tandler.
  • Titans rookie Jordan Veasy has a real shot at making the team, according to Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com. The undrafted receiver from Cal has reportedly “caught the ball well in practices” and “proven to be a pretty savvy route runner” this offseason.
  • Another undrafted free agent with a good chance of making his team’s roster is Ravens wide receiver Janarion Grant, according to Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com. Mink writes that Grant has impressed as a kick returner this offseason and has real shot at sticking as the Ravens’ primary returner after Michael Campanaro left in free agency.

AFC Notes: Titans, Dodd, Kearse, Manziel, Patriots,

It’s a crucial offseason for Titans linebacker Kevin Dodd. Despite being the first pick of the second round back in 2016, his early draft status doesn’t assure him of anything due to his lack of production his first two years in the league. Dodd is apparently skipping voluntary OTAs, and will find himself squarely on the roster bubble heading into the 2018 season writes Jim Wyatt of Titansonline.com, who says “he’s going to have to earn his spot on the team.”

With a brand new coaching staff that has no ties to him, it’s a puzzling move for Dodd to be skipping OTAs. He was a much hyped prospect coming out of college, but has appeared in just 18 games through two seasons, making only 12 total tackles.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel has repeatedly deflected when asked about Dodd, and as Wyatt points out, the Titans have a lot of bodies at outside linebacker. The team recently drafted Harold Landry in the second round, a sign that their patience with Dodd is wearing thin. If he doesn’t turn it around soon, Dodd might not be on the team that spent the 33rd overall pick on him just two years ago much longer.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Jermaine Kearse is due a non-guaranteed $5MM salary this season, leading some to speculate he could be cut by the Jets. He’s currently no higher than fourth on their wide receiver depth chart and is quite expensive for a fourth option. But Darryl Slater of NJ.com thinks Kearse will make it through final cuts, saying “ultimately, I think Kearse sticks with the Jets in 2018.” As Slater points out, Quincy Enunwa and Terrelle Pryor are both working their way back from injuries, while Robby Anderson still might be suspended by the league, so the Jets may end up counting on Kearse far more than a typical fourth wide receiver.
  • Former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel made his return to professional football yesterday, playing in a preseason game with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Manziel finished the night going 9-of-12 for 80 yards (Twitter link via Mike Rodak of ESPN). After recently signing with the Tiger-Cats, Manziel will have to spend at least the next two seasons in Canada as he attempts to make a return to the NFL.
  • Patriots rookie undrafted cornerback J.C. Jackson is receiving first-team reps at OTAs and seems to be in good position to make the team, according to Doug Kyed of NESN.com. Kyed notes that the Patriots have a history of discovering undrafted gems at cornerback, including Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler. Jackson was seen as a day three prospect by evaluators based on talent, but went undrafted due to off-field concerns according to Kyed.

New York Notes: Kearse, Claiborne, Pugh

The Jets entered Week 17 without much to play for, but the team’s players still had plenty to gain. One such player was Jermaine Kearse, who earned an extra $550,000 in incentives in the team’s loss to New England, ESPN’s Rich Cimini reports.

With his fifth and final catch of the day, Kearse brought his season total to 65 grabs which earned him an extra $300,000. He finished the season 810 receiving yards, helping him garner another $250,000. That’s not a bad haul for the veteran receiver, who was signed to a $2.2 MM base salary in 2017.

Kearse enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2017, posting career highs in receptions, yards and tying his personal best with five touchdowns. He will be back with the Jets in 2018 for the final year on his contract, which he is set to earn $5 MM in base salary.

Here is more from around New York:

  • Cornerback Morris Claiborne is hoping to return to the Jets in 2018, Cimini writes. The free agent said, “Why leave and pick up (and go) somewhere else if you’ve got everything here?” A first-round pick in 2012, Claiborne has just five interceptions during his six NFL seasons split between the Jets and Cowboys. After signing a one-year deal for $2.5MM in the offseason, Claiborne started all 15 games he played in.
  • Giants center Weston Richburg said he has been medically cleared from a concussion for about a month, Dan Duggan of NJ Advanced Media writes. Richburg said he wanted to return to the field but was unable to due to being placed on injured reserve. He suffered the concussion in Week 4 and missed the next three games before being placed on IR. Richburg is set to be a free agent in 2018.
  • Also a free agent in 2018, Giants guard Justin Pugh hopes it works out and he can return to the team, ESPN’s Jordan Ranaan writes. Pugh suffered a season-ending back injury in December but it is expected to be healed in a month without surgery.

 

West Notes: Bolles, Bucannon, Chiefs, Hawks

Despite the Broncos fearing multiple severe injuries for left tackle Garett Bolles, the rookie suited up for practice on Thursday and has a chance to play against the Bills. Vance Joseph (via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post) said the team thought Bolles’ injury, determined to be a bruise on his lower left leg, was more serious than it ended up being. Joseph said the first-round pick is “getting better fast” but is obviously hesitant about proclaiming him ready to return to the starting lineup. Bolles has fared well in his first two games, prior to being carted off in the third quarter of the Broncos’ Week 2 win.

Bolles said he also “thought it was serious” and will not rush back. Denver’s bye comes in Week 5, so holding Bolles out for two games would make sense. But his return to practice, on a limited basis, so soon bodes well for a possible return against the Bills or Raiders before the week off.

Donald Stephenson initially received the call to replace Bolles at left tackle Sunday, but utility man Allen Barbre ended up seeing more time there. Barbre and Max Garcia were alternating at left guard, but the veteran played tackle with the Eagles at times in recent years and provides versatility if the Broncos aren’t keen on throwing Stephenson — whom they replaced at right tackle in free agency with Menelik Watson — back out there. Bolles represents the fourth left tackle starter in four seasons for the Broncos, who have also seen numerous players line up with the first-stringers on the right edge in that time.

Here’s more from the Western divisions prior to tonight’s NFC West matchup.

  • Deone Bucannon‘s lengthy recovery from an ankle injury, one he re-aggravated just before Week 1, could produce the Cardinals inside linebacker returning to action in Week 3, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic notes (on Twitter). Bruce Arians said (via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com) Bucannon’s “getting real close” to returning but would be on a snap count if he did so against the Cowboys. The Cards have used Karlos Dansby and first-rounder Haason Reddick as starters while Bucannon’s been out. Bucannon underwent surgery in May.
  • Speaking of injury returns, it sounds like the Chiefs are planning to make cornerback Steven Nelson one of their IR-boomerang players. The third-year corner is eligible to come off IR in Week 9, and Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star notes that return is likely. For the time being, the Chiefs have gotten by with 2016 practice squad promotion Terrance Mitchell operating as Marcus Peters‘ top complement. However, Pro Football Focus rates Mitchell and Phillip Gaines — the former third-round pick whom Mitchell usurped late last season — as its Nos. 96 and 100 full-time cornerbacks through two games. A core muscle injury sidelined Nelson, K.C.’s primary slot defender last season.
  • Do the Seahawks miss Jermaine Kearse? Seattle’s offense has largely sputtered in its first two games, and Doug Baldwin does see a hole where Kearse — traded to the Jets for Sheldon Richardson — departed. “Specifically on the football field, just the intricacies that he did in our offense, guys aren’t used to doing it, they didn’t have to do them, because Jermaine was so willing and able to do it, now guys are being called to do those things and that is another challenge for us,” Baldwin said, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Paul Richardson and third-round rookie Amara Darboh are seeing more time, Richardson especially, after Kearse’s exit. Baldwin leads Seattle’s wideout contingent with 107 air yards; no other Hawks pass-catcher has 80.

Jets, Seahawks Swap Sheldon Richardson, Jermaine Kearse

The Seahawks have agreed to acquire defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson and a 2018 seventh-round pick from the Jets in exchange for wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, a 2018 second-round pick, and a 2018 seventh-round pick, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter links).Sheldon Richardson

The Jets and Seahawks had been discussing the concept of this deal for weeks, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. New York, of course, had been shopping Richardson for much longer than that. Seattle reportedly showed interest earlier this year, but it wanted Richardson to accept a paycut from his $8.069MM base salary. This time around, the Seahawks agreed to take on his full salary. The Seahawks were able to take the hit after reworking receiver Doug Baldwin‘s contract and shedding Kearse’s $2.2MM salary in the trade.

Richardson certainly has his warts, which may have contributed to a limited trade market. For one, he wasn’t all that effective last season, as Richardson managed only 1.5 sacks in 15 games (though he still graded out as the NFL’s No. 31 edge defender, per Pro Football Focus). Richardson also comes with off-field question marks, as he has a substance abuse suspension in his past, and has dealt with commitment and tardiness issues.

But, if healthy and motivated, the addition of Richardson would give the Seahawks arguably the best front seven in the NFL. Richardson, who can conceivably play either along the edge or on the interior, would join a Seattle defensive unit that also includes Michael Bennett, Frank Clark, Cliff Avril, Bobby Wagner, and K.J. Wright on the front end, and the vaunted Legion of Boom in the back end.Jermaine Kearse

The Jets, meanwhile, needed a wide receiver following a season-ending injury to Quincy Enunwa, and Kearse will add experience to a group that includes rookies ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen. Kearse, 27, posted 41 receptions for 510 yards a season ago, but Seattle has developed enough wideouts — including Paul Richardson, Tyler Lockett, and Kasen Williams — that Kearse wasn’t needed any longer. The Seahawks had been shopping him earlier this week, and the Browns were among the interested parties.

For a rebuilding club like New York, adding a veteran piece such as Kearse doesn’t make a ton of sense, so it’s possible the Jets took on Kearse simply to help offset Richardson’s salary. Gang Green won’t take on any dead money by trading Richardson, while Seattle will incur roughly $1.83MM in dead cap during the upcoming season as a result of dealing Kearse.

Gee Scott of ESPN Radio (on Twitter) first reported that Kearse had been traded to the Jets. 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Interested In Jermaine Kearse

The Browns are interested in Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, a source tells Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. The Seahawks have him on the block as Saturday’s roster deadline approaches. Jermaine Kearse (vertical)

[RELATED: Seahawks Shopping Jermaine Kearse]

Kearse is coming off of a down year and is set to enter the second year of a three-year, $13.5MM deal. He doesn’t hold as much appeal as he did this time last year, but the Browns could use someone with his experience level to round out their thin receiving corps. Free agent Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman will serve as the top two receivers, but converted running back Duke Johnson and late round 2016 picks Ricardo Louis and Rashard Higgins are the next ones in line.

So far this preseason, Coleman has been the Browns’ only reliable performer. Even Britt has looked shaky, and that has the Browns looking for outside help.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks Shopping CB Jeremy Lane, Others

The Seahawks aren’t just shopping Jermaine Kearse. The Seahawks are also actively gauging the trade values of players like cornerback Jeremy Lane and running back Alex Collins, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweetsJeremy Lane

Lane, 27, appeared in all 16 games for the Seahawks last season, including nine starts. It appeared that Lane would be in line for significant playing time yet again as DeShawn Shead heals up from last year’s injury, but he’s fallen out of favor somewhat. The Seahawks signed ex-49ers cornerback Tramaine Brock in August and bolstered depth by drafting Shaquill Griffin (third round) and Michael Tyson (sixth round), so they can get by without Lane if the right deal comes along.

Collins, a fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft, is entering the second year of a four-year, $2.566MM deal. He’s affordable enough, but he probably doesn’t hold a ton of value. There’s a good chance that Seattle drops Collins outright now that J.D. McKissic has been reclassified as a running back.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.