Jimmy Garoppolo

Chiefs Could Part Ways With Alex Smith?

Alex Smith has averaged nearly 11 wins per season during his four-year run with the Chiefs, but that won’t stop Kansas City from exploring other quarterback options this offseason, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link), who notes a “growing sense” among NFL executives that the Chiefs could move on from Smith. However, Kansas City will likely only part ways Smith if it’s able to acquire another signal-caller such as the Cowboys’ Tony Romo or the Patriots’ Jimmy Garoppolo, per Cole.Alex Smith

[RELATED: Chiefs Likely To Decline Nick Foles’ Option]

Smith’s potential ouster has been a topic of conversation before, as has possible mutual interest between the Chiefs and Romo. A prospective Kansas City acquisition of Garoppolo, however, has not, although the New England signal-caller figures to be a desirable item in the coming weeks, as the Browns, Bears, and 49ers are all expected to make a push for Garoppolo (and have more attractive draft picks to offer).

A “strong feeling” exists within league circles that the Chiefs have plateaued with Smith, but Kansas City won’t acquire Romo — or presumably, Garoppolo — without cutting ties with Smith first. While the Chiefs could look to trade Smith to a quarterback-needy club, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported earlier this month that Kansas City would likely release Smith if they landed Romo. The Chiefs would save $9.7MM by cutting Smith, or $13.3MM by designating him as a post-June 1 release.

Since being acquired prior to the 2013 campaign, Smith has averaged 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions per season while completing 64.5% of his passes for the Chiefs. Smith, 32, has led Kansas City to three postseason appearances during that span, but the Chiefs have never advanced past the Divisional Round.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Garoppolo, Belichick, Williams

Three executives tell Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report that they believe several teams will be making blockbuster offers for Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Ultimately, they think that will result in an offer the Pats cannot refuse.

Freeman also hears from Patriots sources that Bill Belichick likely plans to stay on as coach for at least five more years. Those same sources believe that Belichick wants to continue coaching after Brady retires to show that he can win without the best quarterback of all time.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Arrelious Benn‘s new contract with the Jaguars is a two-year, $1.765MM deal that contains $100K guaranteed, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. Although he didn’t contribute much to the Jacksonville offense (just five receptions for 116 yards), Benn was a regular on special teams duty, as he saw action on 63% of the Jaguars’ ST plays.
  • Cornerback K’Waun Williams‘ grievance against the Browns will be heard on May 16, reports Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Williams, who played for Cleveland from 2014-15, contends the Browns waived him while he was still dealing with an injured ankle. As such, Williams is seeking the entirety of his 2016 base salary ($600K), plus the cost of his surgery.
  • Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara has fired VaynerSports and hired Damarius Bilbo of Revolution Sports Group as his new representation , according to Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal (Twitter links). Kamara, a committee back with the Volunteers, managed less than 1,300 yards rushing during two years in Tennessee, but also averaged more than six yards per carry during that time. Largely viewed as a Day 2 prospect, recent buzz has indicated Kamara could sneak into Round 1.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

Extra Points: Cardinals, Patriots, Jags, 49ers

An offseason union between quarterback Jay Cutler and the Cardinals wouldn’t be “shocking,” opines Peter King of TheMMQB.com, who adds that a multi-year deal with incentives would make some sense for both sides. At first glance, Cutler signing — and presumably becoming a backup to Carson Palmer — appears unlikely, but as King notes, Arizona head coach Bruce Arians isn’t afraid to take chances on certain veteran players. Still, King is probably speculating rather than reporting, and Cutler is likely to target a starting job after (almost assuredly) being released by the Bears.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Although one recent report indicated agent Don Yee would lead the hunt for a Jimmy Garoppolo trade partner, Yee is planning to let the Patriots and Bill Belichick handle such negotiations, as Tony Grossi of ESPN.com writes. “I don’t really have any information at this moment of time about that,” Yee said. “Everybody’s getting ready for the combine as well as preparing for free agency. I don’t know anything at all about what the Patriots plan to do, nor would I even presume to have any suggestion as to what they should do.” Garoppolo is expected to be the top target for a number of clubs this offseason, including the Browns, Bears, and 49ers.
  • Pending free agent safety Jonathan Cyprien admitted he’s “kind of excited, kind of nervous” about reaching the open market, adding that he hopes to remain with the Jaguars in 2017, per SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link). Cyprien, a 2013 second-round pick, has started 60 games during his Jacksonville career, and last year graded as the league’s No. 7 safety, according to Pro Football Focus. As of December, the Jags appeared likely to let Cyprien hit free agency, and for what it’s worth, PFF’s Sam Monson today identified Cyprien as a player likely to get overpaid next month.
  • After just over a month as Denver’s assistant offensive line coach, John Benton is leaving to become the 49ers’ O-line coach, reports the Sporting News’ Alex Marvez (Twitter link). Prior to his comically brief stint with the Broncos, Benton worked with front fives in St. Louis, Houston, Miami and Jacksonville from 2003-16. San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan was with Benton on the Texans’ offensive staff from 2006-09.
  • While the Broncos are losing one coach, they’re also adding another, as the club is hiring former Northern Colorado defensive backs coach Charles Gordon as a defensive quality control assistant, according to Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. Gordon, who had a short NFL career with Vikings from 2006-09, had been UNC’s staff for the past three years.

Connor Byrne contributed to this post.

AFC Notes: Garoppolo, Murray, Fins, Jaguars

Bill Belichick is unlikely to spend much time working on a trade proposal involving Jimmy Garoppolo, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Despite the Belichick-era Patriots making a league-high 61 trades since he took over in 2000, the coach is more likely to let Garoppolo and Tom Brady‘s agent, Don Yee, find a team that’s willing to extend Garoppolo and have said team put together a compelling array of assets.

La Canfora notes the latest Pats backup quarterback/trade candidate has a chance to be a quality starter. Of course, a buyer-beware element could exist based on Garoppolo’s small sample size (94 pass attempts in three seasons) and the Patriots’ previous trades of Brady backups not working out well for the teams acquiring them.

Relationships between certain key members of quarterback-needy teams and Yee could come into play, with La Canfora noting Hue Jackson has known Yee for more than 20 years and Bears GM Ryan Pace (from the Eastern Illinois grad’s relationship to Yee client Sean Payton; Garoppolo is an Eastern Illinois alum) has known Yee for many years as well. Both teams have been linked to a possible Garoppolo trade, one that La Canfora estimates will send the Patriots a similar haul to the one the Eagles collected for Sam Bradford. Although, some Garoppolo skepticism emerged this week, with a group of anonymous decision-makers preferring A.J. McCarron to the fourth-year Patriot as a trade asset.

[RELATED: Should the Patriots Trade Jimmy Garoppolo?]

Here’s more from the AFC.

  • A possible contractual hangup stands in the way of a DolphinsJaguars Branden Albert-for-Julius Thomas swap, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports. Albert, 32, has two years remaining on his five-year, $47MM deal. Thomas, 28, has three remaining on a five-year, $46.5MM accord. Both teams are in need of upgrades, the Jaguars at left tackle and Dolphins at tight end. Neither player has proven he can stay healthy throughout a season, however. With Albert being set to make $4MM more than Kelvin Beachum did last year at $9MM, Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap wonders (Twitter links) if the hesitation is on the Jags’ end. Thomas is scheduled to make $7.1MM; Miami paid Jordan Cameron $6MM in 2016 for little production. Mike Garafolo of NFL.com expects the deal to be finalized by the time the new league year opens, however.
  • The Raiders want to retain Latavius Murray, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). But the reporter adds the fifth-year running back will have a market as well. Teams like the Giants, Buccaneers, Vikings and others could be in need of a medium- or long-term backfield solution. Murray may have some additional appeal due to the fact he has less wear and tear than other backs who have entered free agency in recent years. A starting back for barely two years and having missed his entire rookie season due to injury, the 27-year-old Murray only has 543 carries on his odometer. The sides have discussed an extension, and Reggie McKenzie noted Murray’s importance to Oakland’s offense — while acknowledging he may be swayed toward the market — earlier this month.
  • The Titans may not view a three-down linebacker as a primary need the way, holding fourth-year ‘backer Avery Williamson in a reasonably high regard, Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com notes. The Titans hold two first-round picks and could nab a top-flight ILB with one. ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper Jr. (Insider link) has the team going with Marshon Lattimore and O.J. Howard, respectively, with its two first-rounders.
  • Within the same mailbag piece, Kuharsky adds Broncos RFA linebacker Todd Davis could have several suitors. The Broncos experienced an eventful RFA last year, placing a low-end tender on C.J. Anderson before ultimately matching a Dolphins offer sheet on their starting running back. Denver applied a second-round tender to Davis’ inside linebacker mate, Brandon Marshall, last season before signing him to a four-year extension later.

Bengals To Assess A.J. McCarron Trade?

Somewhat overlooked in what promises to be an eventful offseason when it comes to available quarterbacks, A.J. McCarron may be firmly in the mix here. The Bengals are expected to gauge the market for a potential trade of their backup quarterback over the next month, Chris Wesseling of NFL.com notes.

And NFL evaluators look to be more intrigued by McCarron than a name that’s risen to a higher tier than Cincinnati’s backup has in terms of trade buzz. NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah surveyed five NFL personnel execs about the respective trade values of McCarron and Jimmy Garoppolo, and the decision-makers rated McCarron as the more attractive trade piece.

I wouldn’t feel good about making a major commitment to any of these quarterbacks,” one executive explained regarding those believed to be available. “If I had to choose one, I would go after McCarron. Ideally, you get him for a late second- or early third-round pick. Then, if it doesn’t work out, you draft a QB in 2018.”

Another exec told Jeremiah he would target McCarron over Garoppolo if his team needed a quarterback. The 26-year-old McCarron has thrown 119 career passes, completing 66 percent of those, but each came in 2015 after what turned out to be a Dalton season-ending injury. The 25-year-old Garoppolo only made it through one game healthy in his Deflategate audition last season, but the former second-round pick has nonetheless drawn extensive interest from QB-needy franchises.

This comes as a bit of a surprise given Garoppolo being linked to several teams — the Browns, 49ers and Bears — compared to scant reports emerging about a prospective deal for McCarron. Multiple second-round picks could be on the table in a Garoppolo deal, with a first-round selection potentially in the realm of possibility.

Earlier this month, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport noted the Browns could pursue McCarron — who spent three years under Hue Jackson‘s tutelage — as a fallback option in case Garoppolo’s price became too much for their liking. Marvin Lewis said recently no team inquired about McCarron last offseason, but the team would have demanded a first-round pick in a deal then, per Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer. It’s reasonable to suggest that could still be the asking price, but if the demand remains nonexistent, it stands to reason the former fifth-round pick could be had for less.

The Cincinnati backup’s value may be viewed as higher because it’s been determined he’s under team control for two more seasons, as an RFA in 2018, compared to Garoppolo being set for a contract year. Being set to enter a fourth season behind Andy Dalton, McCarron would not be opposed to a trade that would let him compete for a starting job.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: JPP, Schaub, Garoppolo

Placing the estimated $16.955MM franchise tag on defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul wouldn’t be ideal for the Giants, but they’ll have no other choice if they can’t reach a deal with the pass rusher by March 1, writes Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. While tagging Pierre-Paul would take a major bite out of the Giants’ cap room, it would keep an integral piece of their defense from hitting the open market and enable the team to continue working to re-sign him. That would be the Giants’ plan, per Vacchiano, who notes that the club would regard the tag as a placeholder in Pierre-Paul’s case. The Giants are currently pushing to re-sign JPP and will have until July 15 to reach a long-term agreement if they make him their franchise player.

More from around the NFL:

  • Falcons backup quarterback Matt Schaub, a pending free agent, is a candidate to serve as a stopgap starter in San Francisco next season. Regardless of whether it comes with the 49ers, the soon-to-be 36-year-old will go into free agency seeking a starting opportunity, he told Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. Although Schaub is a two-time Pro Bowler with three 20-touchdown pass seasons on his resume, he hasn’t been particularly effective since 2012 and has spent the past three years as a reserve with three different teams. In 10 starts dating back to 2013, Schaub has tossed seven interceptions that have been returned for touchdowns. Clearly, then, there’s nothing in Schaub’s recent history to suggest he’d perform well as a starter in 2017.
  • With five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady not looking to retire anytime soon, an offseason trade of Patriots No. 2 quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo seems like a lock, observes Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com. The Bears and Browns – two teams that have extensive histories of trading with the Pats – stand out as the best fits, opines Hannable. The two have drawn connections to Garoppolo in recent weeks, and Hannable points out that each club has the necessary draft capital to acquire Garoppolo. The Browns, for instance, have five of the draft’s top 65 picks. The Bears aren’t quite that rich with selections, though they do possess three of the first 67 choices.
  • Steelers wide receiver Sammie Coates announced Monday on Twitter that he underwent surgery on his pelvis. In theory, because the Steelers didn’t disclose the ailment on injury reports during the season, they could face NFL discipline, notes Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Pittsburgh is already under league investigation for not listing running back Le’Veon Bell‘s groin issue on playoff injury reports, though it seems unlikely the league will punish the team. After all, the Seahawks got off scot-free despite withholding information on Richard Sherman‘s ailing MCL in 2016. Further, Coates’ injury didn’t affect his participation in practice during the season, a source told Fowler.

AFC East Notes: Fitzpatrick, Dolphins, Pats

The Ryan Fitzpatrick era may be over in New York, but as Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post points out, the Jets are still feeling the after-effects. Per Cannizzaro, Fitzpatrick’s contract automatically voided on Friday, per the scheduled clause that called for such action five days after the Super Bowl. But, because of the way his two-year deal was structured, New York will carry $5MM in dead money on the 2017 salary cap. Fitzpatrick almost assuredly will not return to Gang Green, and Geno Smith is a free agent as well, which means that the Jets now have two quarterbacks under contract — Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg — that are both severely lacking in NFL experience. As a result, the Jets have been speculatively connected to some of the better quarterback prospects in this year’s draft as well as veteran options that could become available.

Now for some more notes from the AFC East:

  • Dolphins safety Reshad Jones, who missed the last 10 games of the 2016 season after a significant shoulder injury, has made a full recovery, Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald reports. Jones, who is entering the final year of his contract, indicated that he will be physically able to participate in the Dolphins’ offseason schedule.
  • In the same piece, Beasley writes that Dolphins offensive lineman Jermon Bushrod, who will be an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins in March, will return for an 11th NFL season if he gets the right offer. Bushrod played for the Saints for six years before joining the Bears prior to the 2013 campaign. The 2016 season was Bushrod’s first in Miami, and though he started all 16 regular season games plus the team’s one playoff contest, he largely struggled, ranking as Pro Football Focus’ fourth-worst guard out of 72 eligible players (subscription required).
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe provides a list of 10 things he believes the Patriots should do this offseason, and he suggests that trading Jimmy Garoppolo should be one of New England’s top priorities. With Tom Brady showing no signs of aging, Volin believes the Pats need to do continue surrounding their starting quarterback with top-flight talent, and one way to do that is by acquiring at least one significant draft asset in exchange for Garoppolo.
  • Another thing Volin thinks the Patriots should do is to re-sign running back LeGarrette Blount to a one-year, incentive-laden deal. After all, that approach worked well for both parties in 2016, as Blount turned his $760K salary into $1.75MM after hitting every incentive in his contract. He tallied career bests of 1,161 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns, and as Christopher Price of WEEI.com reports, the 30-year-old Blount would love to be back with the team in 2017, though he does not know what the future holds.

Poll: Should The Patriots Trade Jimmy Garoppolo?

The Patriots have drafted a number of quarterbacks over the past 15 or so years to back up Tom Brady, including Matt Cassel, Ryan Mallett, and (my personal favorite) Rohan Davey. However, none of these signal-callers held as much intrigue as current second-string quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Jimmy Garoppolo (vertical)The Patriots hadn’t drafted a quarterback in the first two rounds since Drew Bledsoe in 1993, which added plenty of hype around the team’s second-round selection of Garoppolo during the 2014 draft. While many declared him the heir apparent to Brady, the Eastern Illinois product didn’t have much of a chance to showcase his skills during his first two years in the league. Excluding brief cameos during the 2014 season, Garoppolo served mostly as coach Bill Belichick’s victory cigar.

That was until this past season, when the third-year player had an opportunity to start the first four games of the season while Brady served his four-game suspension. The 25-year-old showed plenty of poise during his first two starts, completing 71-percent of his passes for 496 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Unfortunately, Garoppolo injured his AC joint during that Week 2 victory, and rookie Jacoby Brissett ultimately took over as the starter until Brady’s return.

Brady was dynamic following his suspension, throwing a career-low two interceptions while completing 67.4-percent of his passes (his highest completion percentage since his record-breaking 2007 campaign). Of course, the former MVP also led his team to the biggest Super Bowl comeback of all-time, giving him a record fifth ring.

Despite being 39-years-old, Brady hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down, and this has predictably led to trade speculation regarding his back-up. These whispers have now been lingering for months, but the logic goes beyond the fact that Garoppolo is more than a decade younger than Brady. The quarterback is set to become an unrestricted free agent following next season. The Texans dished out $37MM in guaranteed money to Brock Osweiler following seven starts, so there’s no doubt that some desperate team would commit long-term money to Garoppolo.

Would the Patriots be willing to spend the money to retain him? The organization could re-sign the quarterback, or they could even opt to franchise him following the 2017 season. However, Brady has continually restructured his contract, and the current iteration of his deal lasts through the 2019 season. Even then, reports from this weekend indicated that the team was looking to extend Brady again next offseason. Plus, the Patriots still have Brissett signed to his rookie contract, and reports indicate that the organization is intrigued by the young signal-caller.

There certainly would be a number of teams willing to give up some assets for Garoppolo. Recent reports have connected the Bears, Browns, and 49ers to the quarterback, and more teams will surely pop up as the offseason continues. For what it’s worth, recent reports indicated that the Patriots would be willing to move their young quarterback, and the team is apparently seeking a first- and fourth-round pick in return.

The downside is all based on hypotheticals. Brady could realistically fall off a cliff suddenly, similar to what happened to Peyton Manning in 2015. Brady could also suffer a devastating injury, leaving the team with no options besides Brissett. Of course, Brady will have to retire eventually, and having a replacement ready to go has typically worked out for franchises.

That leads to my question: should the Patriots trade Jimmy Garoppolo? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots To Seek Tom Brady Extension Next Offseason

The Patriots will look to capture their fifth Super Bowl championship today, and next offseason, they plan to seek an extension for quarterback Tom Brady, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). They believe Brady will play another three to five years, which is why they are currently willing to trade promising backup Jimmy Garoppolo (Twitter link).

Tom Brady (vertical)

Brady is currently under contract through 2019, his age-41 season, so a new deal would likely take him through the end of his playing career. He is set to earn a total of $14MM next year, $22MM in 2018, and another $22MM in 2019. Andrew Luck is currently at the top of the quarterback heap in terms of average annual value ($24.59MM), although Matthew Stafford may will surpass him in that regard this offseason. Aaron Rodgers, meanwhile, is the current pacesetter with respect to total guarantees ($54MM).

An extension after the 2017 campaign would allow the Patriots to spread out Brady’s subsequent $22MM cap hits, which are still pretty reasonable for a quarterback of his caliber. Indeed, Brady’s 2016 campaign was one of his best, as he threw 28 touchdowns to just two interceptions en route to yet another AFC Championship, the seventh of his career. He has captured four Super Bowl titles, a slew of AFC East titles, three Super Bowl MVPs, and two league MVPs.

Plus, he has been durable. He missed almost all of the 2008 campaign due to injury, but otherwise has not missed a game for injury reasons since he captured the starting quarterback job in 2001. Of course, his prodigious offensive lines and the offensive system in which he plays have been a big part of that, but since neither of those things figure to change anytime soon, there is no reason to think that Brady will be more susceptible to injury moving forward than he has been in the past.

Garoppolo, meanwhile, is expected to receive significant interest in the trade market this offseason, and while the Patriots may be hesitant to have Jacoby Brissett serve as their primary backup, the haul for Garoppolo could be too good to pass up.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On 49ers’ QB Outlook

Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is all but certain to be named the 49ers’ next head coach, and according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), Atlanta’s current backup quarterback, Matt Schaub, could follow him to San Francisco. If that happens, Schefter says that Schaub could serve as a starter next season to bridge the gap to a younger signal-caller, or he could serve as a backup.

Dec 11, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Schaub (8) warms up before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Kirk Cousins remains Shanahan’s first choice, but if the Cousins plan falls through, Rapoport indicates that Jimmy Garoppolo, the Patriots’ current backup QB, would be Shanahan’s Plan B, followed by Schaub as Plan C.

We heard several weeks ago that the 49ers could pursue Cousins, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency this year but who could receive the franchise tag for the second consecutive season. While the Redskins reportedly want to sign Cousins to a long-term deal, they are weighing their options in that regard, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk suggests that Washington could tag Cousins and trade him. The 49ers are one team with sufficient cap space to facilitate such a trade, and they would still have the opportunity to work out a long-term contract with Cousins before the summer deadline.

Garoppolo, meanwhile, is not eligible for free agency but is sure to attract attention in the trade market. While the Patriots are reportedly willing to deal him, there are a number of obstacles to such a trade, which makes Schaub the most realistic of the three above-mentioned options.

The Falcons signed Schaub to a one-year deal this past offseason, and he threw just three passes the entire season as the backup to the league MVP, Matt Ryan. Schaub was the Ravens’ backup quarterback in 2015, though he did get the opportunity to start two games for Baltimore in the wake of Joe Flacco‘s season-ending ACL tear that year. Before that, his last significant starting experience came with Houston in 2013. He of course put together a reasonably successful seven-year stint with the Texans — which included two Pro Bowl nods — after spending the first three years of his career in Atlanta, but his days as a starter are clearly over. As Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com tweets, Schaub has started just 10 games over the last four seasons, and during that time, he has compiled a 3-7 record with a whopping seven interceptions returned for touchdowns. So if he does head out to the Bay Area, it will be easy to forgive 49ers fans for being a little less than excited.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.