Jonathan Jones

AFC East Rumors: Williams, Jets, Dolphins

The Patriots appear to be putting their cornerback depth to good use. One of the Pats’ corners, Joejuan Williams, is now attending meetings exclusively as a safety, Michael Giardi of NFL.com tweets. New England’s 2019 second-round pick, Williams only played 80 defensive snaps as a rookie. But the Vanderbilt product was stuck behind the likes of Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty and Jonathan Jones. Those three are back in 2020, but the Pats’ safety group looks considerably different.

The team’s longtime Devin McCourtyPatrick ChungDuron Harmon trio is down to just McCourty, though the Pats did sign former Charger Adrian Phillips and drafted Kyle Dugger in Round 2. Dugger, however, played at a Division II school and has not had much time this offseason for on-field work. At 6-foot-3, 212 pounds, Williams has the size to transition to safety. The Pats frequently used three safeties in coverage over the past several years.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Le’Veon Bell has not enjoyed a quality training camp, with Brian Costello of the New York Post rating the Jets‘ starting running back as the team’s third-most impressive back in camp — behind Frank Gore and rookie fourth-rounder La’Mical Perine. Bell enjoyed his worst season in 2019, but the Jets featured a bottom-tier offensive line. They have since made several upgrade attempts. The Jets have Bell under contract for three more seasons, but just one of them features guaranteed money. Bell, 28, is set to count $15.5MM against the Jets’ cap this season.
  • More than a week after bringing Donte Moncrief in for a workout, the Jets again summoned the wideout to their facility. Moncrief visited the Jets on Friday. This comes after the former third-round pick and veteran auxiliary wide receiver met with the 49ers. San Francisco went in a different direction, however. The 6-4 target amassed 668 receiving yards with the 2018 Jaguars but did not make an impact with the Steelers or Panthers last season.
  • The Jets’ wideout interest stems partially from being without Denzel Mims. The second-round rookie has missed all of the team’s work in pads, with The Athletic’s Connor Hughes noting Mims is not yet doing individual drills (subscription required). Mims suffered the injury during the team’s ramp-up period earlier this month. With 2020 already presenting unfavorable circumstances for rookies, Mims may well face an uphill battle to be an early-season contributor.
  • Dolphins first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene is competing with Jakeem Grant and recent addition Chester Rogers for return jobs, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. A cornerback out of Auburn, Igbinoghene notched two kick-return touchdowns in college. He did not return any punts at Auburn, however, so this would seemingly leave the punt-return competition to the two veterans. The elusive Grant has four NFL return TDs, including two on punt returns.
  • Fellow Dolphins rookie Solomon Kindley still has a chance to be one of the team’s starting guards, with Jackson noting that the fourth-round rookie may be a bit ahead of second-round O-lineman Robert Hunt. The Dolphins still view Hunt as a player who could contribute at both guard and tackle, while Kindley — the No. 111 overall pick out of Georgia — is showing well at right guard. The Dolphins signed Ereck Flowers to play left guard this offseason, and guard-tackle hybrid Jesse Davis may be set to again open as the team’s right tackle.

Patriots, Jonathan Jones Agree To Deal

The Patriots are closing in on a deal for fourth-year cornerback Jonathan Jones, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Given a second-round tender this offseason, Jones is nearing a long-term extension before New England’s Week 1 game.

It’s a three-year deal worth $21MM in base value, Rapoport tweets. Jones could earn up to $25MM and will receive $13MM guaranteed. He was slated to play for $3.095MM on the tender. The Patriots landed Jones as a 2016 UDFA out of Auburn.

Jones has not missed a regular-season game since coming into the league, though he did miss the 2017 AFC championship game and Super Bowl LII. The corner has been a part-time starter as a pro, opening with the Pats’ first unit in 10 games. He graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 73 corner last season.

This deal would tie the soon-to-be 26-year-old defender to the Patriots through the 2022 season. He and second-round pick Joejuan Williams would be the only Pats DBs signed through 2022. Stephon Gilmore‘s deal runs through 2021. Jones remains part of a deep New England cornerback corps, joining also Jason McCourty and J.C. Jackson. The Pats dealt from their surplus, unloading 2018 second-rounder Duke Dawson and Keion Crossen, recently but are prioritizing Jackson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots CB Jonathan Jones Signs RFA Tender

Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones has signed his second-round restricted free agent tender, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jones will now be paid $3.095MM for the 2019 season.

Jones becomes one of several second-round RFAs to ink his tender today, joining Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor, Colts receiver Chester Rogers, and Eagles quarterback Nate Sudfeld. Rival clubs could have signed Jones to an offer sheet and sacrificed a second-round pick in order to land him, but Jones will instead sign his tender on the day New England begins its offseason workout program.

A former undrafted free agent, Jones hasn’t missed a single game during his three-year run with the Patriots. Over the past two seasons, he’s contributed on defense, playing between 40% and 50% of New England’s defensive plays in each year. Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the No. 73 cornerback among 112 qualifiers, while Football Outsiders charted him as below average in both yards per pass and success rate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Tender Josh Gordon, Jonathan Jones

The Patriots have tendered receiver Josh Gordon a contract at the original round level, a source told Ben Volin of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). In a separate tweet, Volin reports the team has placed a tender at the second round level on cornerback Jonathan Jones.

The last we heard from Gordon, he was considering applying for reinstatement by the league this spring. Gordon was traded from the Browns to the Patriots last season, and had some initial success before suddenly stepping away from the team. Shortly after, it was announced that the league was suspending him indefinitely for violating the terms of his previous reinstatement.

Another report also said Gordon could be back by training camp, although that’s obviously far from a guarantee. Gordon has always been ultra-talented, but hasn’t been able to stay on the field. In 11 games with the Patriots last year, he caught 40 passes fro 720 yards and three touchdowns. The original round tender will pay Gordon $2.025MM in 2019, assuming he’s able to pay. Since he’s a former second round pick, the Patriots will get a second round pick in return if some other team decided to sign Gordon, which is very unlikely given the price.

A team would also now have to give up a second round pick to sign Jones, which more or less ensures Jones will be back in New England next year. An undrafted free agent from Auburn back in 2016, Jones will make $3.095MM net year. Jones started five games last year and played around half of the team’s defensive snaps, while also contributing on special teams.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Rumors: Flowers, Jets, Pats, Bills

Big changes have occurred in Miami, and more are coming. The Dolphins are expected to shed the contracts of Ryan Tannehill, Robert Quinn, Andre Branch and Josh Sitton (and perhaps more notable names). But the rebuilding team may look to add an impact player familiar with Brian Flores‘ philosophies. The buzz in Indianapolis has led DraftAnalyst.com’s Tony Pauline to call the Dolphins the favorites for Trey Flowers, a prospective UFA who helped the Patriots reach the past three Super Bowls. New England’s top pass rusher may stand to benefit from the likely franchise tags the Cowboys, Texans, Seahawks and Chiefs apply to DeMarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney, Frank Clark and Dee Ford. This marketplace could place Flowers in position to push for a near-$20MM-AAV deal, despite sack numbers that don’t correspond with such a pact. However, the Patriots will make a strong attempt to retain their top edge defender. It may take an atypical Patriots contract to keep him, though.

Here is Thursday’s latest coming out of the AFC East (via Indianapolis):

  • Shifting to the Jets, they again need cornerback help. Buster Skrine, the lowest-profile name in Mike Maccagnan‘s 2015 spending spree that brought Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie to New York, played out his four-year contract. Morris Claiborne‘s second one-year Jets deal is also expiring. (And Gang Green is having buyer’s remorse on Trumaine Johnson.) The Jets are looking at a slot corner to replace Skrine, and Pauline notes they are high on Bears UFA-to-be Bryce Callahan. Prior to going down with an injury, Callahan was operating as a top-tier slot corner and helping the NFL’s No. 1 DVOA defense.
  • Additionally, the Jets will examine the first- and second-tier edge rushers in free agency, per Pauline. If they are able to land one, that may intensify the team’s desire to trade down. The Jets do not own a second-round pick. However, they do now have more than $100MM in cap space. If the big four edge rushers are all tagged, Flowers, Brandon Graham, Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith and Ziggy Ansah profile as the next-best crew. The Jets will obviously be able to outmuscle other buyers for their preference, so the team — a strong Khalil Mack bidder last year — will be a key presence on this front come March.
  • Chris Hogan did not produce for the Patriots the way he did during the 2017 and ’18 seasons, but he is drawing interest as free agency nears, Doug Kyed of NESN.com notes. The 30-year-old wideout struggled in the playoffs, at least compared to his strong performances at key moments for the previous two Patriot teams he was on, but posted 532 regular-season receiving yards, despite Josh Gordon diminishing his role. And this is not a particularly loaded wideout free agent class. Teams might be eyeing Hogan as a second-tier option come March.
  • On the subject of receivers, the Bills may not feel the need to chase big-ticket wideout options. Brandon Beane has said their offense can survive without a surefire No. 1 wideout, but the third-year GM may be looking for a new slot receiver, per Joe Buscaglia of WKBW.com. Broncos castoff Isaiah McKenzie saw time there toward the end of last season. Buffalo has one of the least inspiring receiving corps at this point. It would be a surprise if the Bills did not make attempts to augment their receiver situation in free agency and the draft.
  • Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones hired a new agent, according to ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss (Twitter link). He is a restricted free agent, one whom Kyed opines may need to be given a second-round tender.

Patriots Notes: Gordon, Gronk, Slater, Jones

The Patriots will end up getting a 2019 seventh-round pick out of the Josh Gordon trade, per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. It was initially reported that New England sent a fifth-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for Gordon, and that a seventh-rounder would be coming back to the Pats if Gordon was unable to play 10 games with the club in 2018. Although Gordon ended up playing 11 games for New England before being suspended again, Reiss says the 10-game condition was lifted and that the Patriots will get the 29th pick in the seventh round.

Now for more news and notes from the Super Bowl champs:

  • Tight end Rob Gronkowski has been at Gillette Stadium multiple times over the last couple of weeks, and while he may only be there to continue treatment on his thigh, Reiss believes Gronk’s presence is reflective of the good relationship between him and the team at the moment and of Gronkowski’s overall positive feelings towards the Patriots. Although he may still retire, his current state of mind is good news for Pats fans who would like to see him back in 2019.
  • Matthew Slater is due a $400K roster bonus on March 13, and assuming he is still on the roster at that point, the team’s 2019 option — which calls for a $1.6MM base salary — will be automatically exercised. Reiss believes that is a reasonable price for a special teams ace like Slater, and that the 33-year-old will be back in Foxborough next season.
  • Reiss also believes tight end Dwayne Allen could be back, as the team admires his professionalism and work ethic, but he will obviously need to accept a pay cut; he is due a $6.4MM base salary in 2019.
  • Cornerback Jonathan Jones proved his value to the Patriots in this year’s playoffs, and he is eligible for restricted free agency in March. As Reiss observes, the Patriots could tender him at the second-round level, which would entitle him to a salary of $3.1MM, or at the low level, which calls for a $2MM salary. But if they go with the latter option, they risk losing Jones without getting any draft compensation in return, so Reiss suggests that the two sides could explore a long-term deal before free agency opens.
  • Zack Cox of NESN.com believes LT Trent Brown will get a contract on the free agent market that the Patriots cannot compete with, and that the team will need to turn to 2018 first-rounder Isaiah Wynn to replace him. Wynn, of course, missed his entire rookie campaign due to a torn Achilles he suffered last preseason.
  • Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels received only tepid interest on the head coaching market this year, but Ben Volin of the Boston Globe says McDaniels’ excellent work in engineering the Patriots’ Super Bowl run will put him firmly back on the HC radar in 2020.
  • The Patriots have once again surfaced as a potential home for Colin Kaepernick.

Patriots Re-Sign PR Bernard Reedy

The Patriots announced that they have re-signed punt returner Bernard Reedy. Reedy will be eligible to play in this weekend’s AFC title game against the Jaguars. Bernard Reedy (vertical)

The Pats will have to make a roster move in order to bring Reedy back into the fold. That will likely be accomplished by placing cornerback Jonathan Jones on IR. On Wednesday afternoon, New England opted against activating wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell from injured reserve, which cleared the way for Reedy to rejoin the team.

Reedy, 26, spent 2017 with the Patriots and Bucs. In total, he returned 18 punts for 175 yards plus seven kickoffs for 145 yards.

The Toledo product caught on with the Pats’ taxi squad in November after the Bucs ended his lengthy Tampa Bay stay. Despite being with the Bucs since the 2015 season, the former 2014 UDFA only saw live action in ’17.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Patriots, Ravens, Colts

The latest from the AFC:

  • Eric Rowe isn’t necessarily a lock to serve as the Patriots’ No. 3 cornerback in 2017, suggests Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Rather, it could be Jonathan Jones who emerges behind stars Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler, as Reiss notes that the second-year man got first-team reps as the Patriots’ nickel corner during OTAs last week. With that in mind, Rowe’s playing time during the upcoming season might depend on matchups. At 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, the Patriots could feature Rowe as their nickel corner against teams with multiple big receivers or clubs with tight ends who function as large wideouts, relays Reiss. That was the case in Super Bowl LI when the Pats put Rowe on the Falcons’ best receiver, the 6-3, 220-pound Julio Jones.
  • Now-49er Kyle Juszczyk was more of a Swiss Army knife than a fullback for the Ravens, meaning it may take multiple players to replace him, writes Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. Running backs Lorenzo Taliaferro and Danny Woodhead, fullback Ricky Ortiz and tight end Nick Boyle could try to make up for Juszczyk’s departure as a group. The versatile Juszczyk parlayed his time in Baltimore as a lead blocker/pass catcher/special teamer into a record contract for a fullback (four years, $21MM, including $10.5MM guaranteed). Although the Ravens wanted to keep Juszczyk, their offer wasn’t competitive with the 49ers’, reports Zrebiec.
  • Le’Raven Clark started in just three of eight appearances as a third-round rookie in 2016, but he ended the year as the Colts’ No. 1 right tackle and looks likely to win the job this season, per Kevin Bowen of the team’s website. Joe Reitz and Joe Haeg picked up the bulk of the work at right tackle while Clark was on the bench, but the former has since retired and the latter is primarily a guard. As for Clark, he’s “got enough talent” to be a full-timer, according to Chuck Pagano, though the head coach noted that the 24-year-old must improve as a pass blocker. Pro Football Focus agrees, having assigned Clark an awful pass-blocking grade during his inaugural campaign.

Panthers Bring Roster To 53

The Panthers have moved their roster all the way down to 53 by making several cuts, and the NFL announced that guard Chris Scott had been suspended four games for violating the league’s PED policy.

Placed on IR:

Suspended:

  • G Chris Scott

Garrett, a wide receiver out of Tulsa, went undrafted, but he believes that he is the best at his position in the 2016 class.

I say that all the time,” Garrett told David Newton of ESPN.com earlier this year. “That’s just how I feel. I had the best numbers out of any of the receivers. My numbers don’t lie. “That’s why I felt like I was the best wide receiver.”

Last year, Garrett racked up a nation-leading 1,588 receiving yards off of 96 catches.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/25/16

Today’s minor moves:

  • The Redskins have waived 2015 sixth-round pick Kyshoen Jarrett with a failed physical designation, according to Tarik El-Bashir of CSNMidAtlantic.com (Twitter link). Jarrett appeared in all 16 games last season (starting five), but was unlikely to play in 2016 due to a neck injury.
  • The Panthers signed tight end Eric Wallace and waived wide receiver Cobi Hamilton, as Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer tweets. Wallace played college basketball at Ohio State and DePaul, and then spent three years playing Australian Rules Football. A few weeks ago, the 6’6″, 260-pounder worked out for Carolina and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds, which led to today’s signing, according to a team press release.
  • The Packers waived running Don Jackson with a non-football injury, and also cut defensive end B.J. McBryde, reports Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, who adds that Green Bay’s roster now stands at 88.
  • The Texans signed undrafted rookie wide receiver Quenton Bundrage from Iowa State, Mark Berman of FOX 26 tweets. To make room, Houston has cut wide receiver Richard Mullaney, as Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • The Jaguars have signed former Penn State kicker Sam Ficken, bringing the roster to 90 players, as Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com tweets.