Jon Bostic

Colts Sign LB Jon Bostic

The Colts have signed linebacker Jon Bostic, according to a team announcement. Bostic will look to get back on track after spending the entire 2016 season IR all last season. Jon Bostic (vertical)

Indianapolis ranked 32nd in DVOA against the run in 2016, and placed 31st in DVOA against opposing tight ends, so the team has been prioritizing help in the front seven. Bostic becomes the fourth free agent linebacker to join the Colts this season, following John Simon, Sean Spence, and Barkevious Mingo.

Bostic, a former second-round pick, began his career with the Bears and played in all 16 games with nine starts in his frosh campaign. He finished up that season with 57 tackles, two sacks, and an interception. In 2014, he set a new career watermark with 83 tackles. A trade shipped him to the Patriots before the 2015 season, but he wasn’t as productive. He was again traded to Detroit in 2016, but it turned out to be a lost season.

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Colts Eyeing Free Agent Linebackers

The Colts have interest in adding a free agent linebacker, and have hosted Kevin Minter (previously reported), Sean Spence, and Jon Bostic on visits, reports Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link)."<strong

Indianapolis ranked 32nd in DVOA against the run in 2016, and placed 31st in DVOA against opposing tight ends, meaning the club needs to add defenders who are able to cover the middle of the field. The Colts began their offseason by releasing inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who at age-33 has lost some of his luster. New general manager Chris Ballard then brought edge rushers Jabaal Sheard and John Simon, but Indy still needs inside ‘backers to complement Edwin Jackson and Antonio Morrison.

Minter, 26, is the best of the free agent linebacker trio hosted by the Colts, and ranks as the No. 2 LB on PFR’s most recent edition of the top remaining free agents. After starting all 16 games in each of the past two seasons, Minter has created a healthy market for himself, and has already met with the Bengals. The former second-round posted 81 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2016, grading as the league’s No. 25 linebacker, per Pro Football Focus.

Spence, meanwhile, wasn’t a full-time starter for the Titans last year, but did play on nearly 50% of the club’s snaps, managing 50 tackles and three sacks. He’s No. 8 on PFR’s ranking of free agent linebackers. Bostic, 25, missed the entirety of the 2016 campaign with injury, and probably wouldn’t be counted on for anything besides special teams duty with the Colts.

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Lions Still Deciding On IR Return Player

The Lions have yet to decide which player they will reinstate off the injured reserve list, and the possibility remains that running back Ameer Abdullah could be the returnee, according to Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com. Detroit is thought to be choosing between Abdullah and linebacker Jon Bostic, both of whom have been sidelined since early this season.Ameer Abdullah (vertical)

[RELATED: Detroit Lions Depth Chart]

Bostic, who underwent foot surgery earlier this season, technically could have come off IR as soon as Week 8, and was participating in running drills during practice sessions during the past few weeks. He’d certainly be a welcome addition to a Lions linebacking corps that has already traded away Kyle Van Noy and will likely be without starter DeAndre Levy on Sunday against the Jaguars.

Abullah, however, would also be able to help the first-place Lions — though the club is excelling on the offensive side of the ball, most of that success has been through the passing game, as Detroit’s rushing attack ranks just 27th in DVOA. Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said earlier this month that Abdullah was a candidate to return, and he’d add a stabilizing presence to a backfield that has seen Theo Riddick, Dwayne Washington, Zach Zenner and Justin Forsett earn carries.

Caldwell also told reporters that Detroit’s record and/or playoff position won’t factor into the club’s decision on which player to activate, per Twentyman. “You look at the next game, see where you are, see what kind of injuries you have,” said Caldwell. “You make adjustments and then put yourself in the best position to win the next game. That’s how we look at it and I think that’s the only way you should look at it. There’s too many things that can happen along the way, every game is extremely important.”

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Lions HC: Ameer Abdullah Could Return

Could Ameer Abdullah return from IR this season? Lions coach Jim Caldwell told reporters today that he’s not ruling it out (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein). Ameer Abdullah (vertical)

There are two important caveats to keep in mind with Caldwell’s comments. One is that linebacker Jon Bostic returned to the practice field this week and was seen running on Wednesday. The Lions can only bring one player back from IR and Bostic certainly seems primed to be that guy. Secondly, Caldwell is notoriously coy when it comes to his interactions with the media. Publicly, he says he’s not shutting the door on Abdullah coming back, but that should perhaps be taken with a grain of driveway salt.

In the first month of the season, Abdullah was diagnosed with a torn ligament in his left foot. Typically, that injury is a season-ender. Heading into the season, the Lions were hopeful that Abdullah would anchor their backfield, but he was ultimately shut down after two appearances.

Since then, the Lions have shuffled through a number of different looks in the backfield as Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington have also dealt with injuries. Assuming everyone is healthy for Sunday, the Lions will be starting Riddick with Washington, mid-season pickup Justin Forsett, and the agile Zach Zenner in support.

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Lions Place Jon Bostic On IR

The Lions have placed linebacker Jon Bostic on IR, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter). Bostic, who had surgery last month, was previously given a timetable that could allow him to return as early as October and as late as December. Depending on how his recovery goes, he could be a candidate to return from IR. Jon Bostic (vertical)

Bostic, a former second-round pick, represented the first deal between Lions general manager Bob Quinn and his former team, as Detroit acquired Bostic from the Patriots in May. The former Florida Gator is no stranger to being traded after a September swap shipped him from the Bears to the Pats. In 2015, he appeared in eleven games (one start) for New England, recording two tackles.

As a rookie with the Bears, Bostic played in all 16 games with nine starts on the year. In total, he notched 57 tackles, two sacks, and an interception in 2013. He followed that up in 2014 with a career high of 83 tackles. If Bostic doesn’t take the field this year, then the Lions will not have to send a seventh-round pick to New England for him. If he does play and reach a certain playtime threshold, then the Lions will still be on the hook.

Moving Bostic to IR will create a roster spot for tight end Khari Lee, who was claimed off waivers earlier today.

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Lions LB Jon Bostic Out 6-12 Weeks

TUESDAY, 6:25pm: Bostic will be out for 6-12 weeks, tweets Josina Anderson of ESPN.com. That timeline is obviously pretty wide-ranging, but Bostic could be a candidate for injured reserve/designated to return.

MONDAY, 8:00pm: Lions linebacker Jon Bostic had surgery today and will be sidelined indefinitely, head coach Jim Caldwell told reporters, including Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). When asked by Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com (Twitter link) to specify what part of the body Bostic had surgery on, Caldwell said: “I’m not going to be clear. He just, he had surgery.”Jon Bostic (Vertical)

[RELATED: Offseason In Review — Detroit Lions]

Bostic, a former second-round pick, represented the first deal between Lions general manager Bob Quinn and his former team, as Detroit acquired Bostic from the Patriots in May. The former Florida Gator is no stranger to being traded after a September swap shipped him from the Bears to the Pats. In 2015, he appeared in eleven games (one start) for New England, recording two tackles.

Not long ago, however, Bostic was looked at as a promising youngster. As a rookie with the Bears, Bostic played in all 16 games with nine starts on the year. In total, he notched 57 tackles, two sacks, and an interception in 2013. He followed that up in 2014 with a career high of 83 tackles.

The trade that sent Bostic to Detroit was based around a conditional seventh-round pick, so if Bostic is not able to play during the upcoming season, it’s fair to assume that the Patriots won’t be receiving any compensation. Bostic isn’t a vested veteran, so he’d have to be waived/injured and clear waivers before being placed on injured reserve, as Birkett tweets. The Lions might not want to risk exposing Bostic to waivers, hence their reluctance to place him on IR just yet.

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Patriots Notes: Hightower, Ninkovich, Gronk, QBs

Dont’a Hightower is set to be a free agent following the season, and ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss has noticed a notable change in the linebacker’s “approach with the media.” This sentiment was confirmed in an interview with WEEI, where he made it clear that the contract situation wouldn’t be a distraction.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’m here for the year,” Hightower said (via Reiss). “I’m not worried about it. Anything that is going to be done with that will be dealt with [agent] Pat Dye. Until then, I will just control what I can control in between these white lines.”

When asked how he deals with the distraction, Hightower said he tries to “avoid the media as much as possible; that’s the No. 1 thing.”

As the linebacker seeks a lucrative extension, let’s take a look at some other notes out of New England…

  • Agent Drew Rosenhaus attended the Patriots preseason opener, only 11 days after having attended the team’s training camp. Reiss wonders is his presence was in regard to clients Rob Gronkowski and Jabaal Sheard, who could both be in line for lucrative contract extensions.
  • Reiss notes that the Patriots dealt linebacker Jonathan Bostic to the Lions earlier this offseason in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick. Bostic suffered a serious leg injury this week, and if the linebacker ends up missing the season, the Patriots presumably won’t end up receiving the pick.
  • Coach Bill Belichick isn’t anticipating the addition of a veteran quarterback, writes Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com“We’ve talked about it but we’re where we’re at,” Belichick said. “We are where we’re at right now.” With Tom Brady set to miss the first four games of the season, the Patriots will be rolling forward with a pair of quarterbacks: fill-in starter Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie Jacoby Brissett.
  • After having torn his tricep earlier this week, defensive end Rob Ninkovich was back at practice today, tweets Ben Volin of The Boston Globe.

How The Cowboys Could Replace Rolando McClain

For the second consecutive season, Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain will serve a suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse. In 2015, Dallas only had to survive without McClain for a quarter of the season, but given that McClain is facing a 10-game ban for 2016, the Cowboys will need to more seriously consider how they’re going to make up for the loss of their middle linebacker.

We’ve examined how Dallas might go about finding a replacement for McClain, looking at players already on the Cowboys’ roster, free agents sitting on the open market, and veterans who could be on the roster bubble with their respective clubs. Let’s dive in…

Internal options:

The primary name being floated to replace McClain in the middle is third-year linebacker Anthony Hitchens, whom the Cowboys selected in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. Thing is, Hitchens was already a starter — he played on the inside in Anthony Hitchens (Vertical)McClain’s absence last year, and then moved to the outside, ultimately seeing action on about half of Dallas’ defensive snaps. So if Hitchens is being counted on to man the middle full-time, including in sub packages, the Cowboys would need to find a replacement at strong-side linebacker, meaning Kyle Wilber and/or Andrew Gachkar could see meaningful snaps after spending most of their respective careers as special teams players.

[RELATED: Updated Dallas Cowboys depth chart]

Gachkar, meanwhile, is another option to fill in at middle linebacker, and he has experience at the position. If chosen, Gachkar would likely be a two-down player, as Pro Football Focus’ grades have shown him to be effective against the run but a liability in pass coverage. The 27-year-old has never been a major defensive contributor — he was forced to step into the starting lineup when the Chargers suffered a variety of injuries at the linebacker position in 2014, but even then, he only played on 36.5% of San Diego’s defensive snaps.

The “wild card” in this race is second-year player Mark Nzeocha, according to Bryan Broaddus of the Cowboys’ website. A seventh-round pick in last year’s draft, Nzeocha only appeared in two games during his rookie season, managing 14 snaps, all of which came on special teams. Extremely athletic, Nzeocha was all over the field at Wyoming, playing safety and all three linebacker positions. His learning curve might be steep, but he clearly has all the physical tools to play the position.

A source tells PFR that the Cowboys are, for the most part, satisfied with the current state of their linebacker room, and are looking forward to have their young players compete for playing time while McClain is suspended. Dallas, says the source, hasn’t shown a lot of interest in scouring the free agent market for substitutes, so one of Hitchens, Gachkar, or Nzeocha might be the favorite to earn significant snaps this fall.

Free agents:

Donald Butler — After selecting Denzel Perryman in 2015 and Joshua Perry in this year’s draft, the Chargers parted ways with Butler, who had spent the past five seasons with the club. At age-27, Butler is the youngest free agent option on this list, but he’s coming off the worst season of his career, having posted just 40 tackles during the 2016 campaign. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune accused Butler of “losing interest” after receiving a massive extension prior to the 2014 season, so perhaps some other clubs have made that same assessment.Justin Durant (vertical)

Justin Durant — Durant started 12 games for the Falcons last year, but prior to his time in Atlanta he spent two seasons with the Cowboys, so at the very least he’d offer some familiarity with Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli‘s playbook. Versatility is another point in Durant’s favor, as he played mostly inside linebacker with Atlanta and Detroit, roamed the middle during his Jacksonville tenure, and moved between both positions with the Cowboys.

A.J. Hawk — The Bengals signed Hawk to a two-year deal before the 2015 campaign, but despite injuries limiting fellow linebacker Vontaze Burfict to just 10 games, Hawk rarely saw the field, playing on roughly a quarter of Cincinnati’s defensive snaps. Hawk recently told Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer that although he’s aware a club might not express interest until late in camp (or perhaps after the season begins), he’s staying in shape in the hopes of receiving a phone call.

David Hawthorne — Like Durant, Hawthorne offers positional versatility, having seen action at both inside and outside linebacker. In 2015, Hawthorne was shifted to the weak side in favor of rookie Stephone Anthony, but was then benched, declared inactive, and ultimately released after an unproductive season. Still, he’s got 83 career starts under his belt, and would presumably feel comfortable in the middle of the Dallas defense.

Keep reading for more external options that could be on the Cowboys’ radar…

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Lions Acquire Jon Bostic From Patriots

The Lions have acquired linebacker Jon Bostic from the Patriots, as Field Yates of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter). New England will receive a conditional 2017 seventh-round draft pick in return. Jon Bostic (vertical)

Bostic, a former second-round pick, is no stranger to being traded after a September swap shipped him from the Bears to the Pats. In 2015, he appeared in eleven games (one start) for New England, recording two tackles. Not long ago, however, Bostic was looked at as a promising youngster. As a rookie with the Bears, Bostic played in all 16 games with nine starts on the year. In total, he notched 57 tackles, 2.0 sacks, and an interception in 2013. He followed that up in 2014 with a career high of 83 tackles. Now, he’ll try and get back to his old form with Detroit in 2016.

The swap marks the first deal between Lions GM Bob Quinn and his former team. Given the relationship there and Quinn’s knowledge of Pats player, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more deals go down between the two clubs in the future.

The Pats have also signed defensive lineman Anthony Johnson, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets.

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Bears Trade Jon Bostic To Patriots

The fire sale in Chicago continues. Just hours after trading Jared Allen to the Panthers, the Bears have shipped linebacker Jon Bostic to the Patriots in exchange for a sixth-round pick, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The deal is pending a physical.

Bostic, a former second-round pick, has started 17 games for the Bears over the last two years. As a rookie, Bostic played in all 16 games with nine starts on the year. In total, he notched 57 tackles, 2.0 sacks, and an interception in 2013. Last season, he set a career high with 83 tackles but he has yet to see the field in 2015 thanks to an ankle injury. All in all though, Bostic has never really blossomed with Chicago, despite the promise he seemed to hold as a prospect out of the University of Florida.

Bostic projects to an off-the-line linebacker role in Pats’ defense, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. Bostic joins Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo, and Jonathan Freeny on New England’s depth chart.