Josh McCown

AFC East Rumors: Jets, Richardson, Patriots

Tell us what you really think, Sheldon Richardson. On Tuesday, the Jets defensive lineman ripped former teammate Brandon Marshall. He says the Jets’ locker room atmosphere is better than it was last year. He elaborated by saying, “Let’s just say there are 15 reasons why it’s better” (Twitter link via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News). The mention of “15” was a clear reference to Marshall’s jersey number.

The locker room may be better, but it’s not clear if the team will be any better than it was last year. As it stands, the rebuilding Jets might have the least talented roster in the NFL.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Andrew Hawkins declined four other offers so that he could play with the Patriots and catch passes from Tom Brady, a source tells Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Hawkins inked a one-year deal with New England, but his place on the 53-man roster is not a sure thing given all of the talent New England has.
  • Jets offensive coordinator John Morton says quarterbacks Josh McCown, Bryce Petty, and Christian Hackenberg will all get first team reps, as Peter Schrager of NFL.com tweets. It seems that the Jets have an open competition going for the starting job, though I personally view McCown as the odds-on favorite.
  • Jets safety Calvin Pryor, who has been the subject of trade talk, showed up for OTAs on Wednesday (Twitter link via Mehta).

East Rumors: Brady, Eagles, Hackenberg

Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com says Tom Brady will have to address his wife’s recent comments about his alleged concussions at some point soon. It appears that, if Brady has suffered concussions, he never told the Patriots, so the club will not face discipline for failing to note his concussions on injury reports. Interestingly, Brady’s agent, Don Yee, recently said that Brady “was not diagnosed” with a concussion last year, which is quite different than saying he did not actually suffer one.

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe makes the common sense point that Brady has of course suffered a few concussions over the course of his 17-year career, and that he, like many before him, has simply done whatever he can to conceal them from his team, both out of a sense of pride and out of a desire to not miss any time.

Now for more from the league’s east divisions:

  • Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com looks at the Eagles‘ 2018 salary cap situation, and while the team is currently projected to have limited cap room again, there are plenty of options to free up some space. For instance, the club is likely to release Jason Peters, and may even consider releasing Brandon Graham if Derek Barnett and Vinny Curry do well in 2017.
  • The Eagles‘ recent signing of LeGarrette Blount will likely force UDFA Corey Clement, who had a real chance of cracking the 53-man roster as the club’s resident big-body back, to the taxi squad, as Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com writes. Zangaro predicts the club will carry four backs on their roster heading into 2017, including Blount, Wendell Smallwood, Darren Sproles, and Donnel Pumphrey. We learned yesterday that Philadelphia was interested in drafting both Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook, but that the price to move up in Rounds 1-2 to be in range to select them was too steep.
  • The Jets‘ QB competition will be the story to watch at the team’s OTAs over the next several weeks, though Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, like most other writers, believes it would be a surprise if Josh McCown is not the team’s Week 1 starter. Head coach Todd Bowles wants to identify a presumptive starter before training camp in order to give that player the majority of first-team reps in camp, and McCown is likely to prevail over the untested youngsters Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, Cimini is especially bearish on Hackenberg, who does not fit OC John Morton‘s West Coast offense.
  • James Kratch of NJ.com looks at some of the Giants‘ high-profile players who are entering their contract years and what their long-term outlook with the club looks like. Kratch says an extension for Justin Pugh will not happen, and that Big Blue is either going to have to pony up big bucks for a multi-year deal next offseason or else slap Pugh with the franchise tag. Kratch believes an extension is slightly more likely for Weston Richburg, but that it is still a remote possibility, and if Richburg returns to form in 2017, he could set himself up for an Alex Mack-level payday.

AFC East Notes: Bills, Ryan, Jets, McCown

The Bills parted ways with Rex Ryan last December in part because of the coach’s declaration that the season was over when the playoffs were still in reach, Albert Breer of The MMQB writes. Ryan was believed to be on the hot seat in Buffalo, but that incident apparently sealed his fate. Months later, the Bills have a new head coach in Sean McDermott and Ryan has a new job as an analyst for ESPN.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • New Jets quarterback Josh McCown said his understanding is “it’s full competition between the three” QBs currently on the roster, meaning that he’ll duke it out with Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty for the main gig (Twitter link via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY). McCown, 38 in July, has $6MM fully guaranteed on his Jets deal. The Cowboys also wanted him, but they didn’t offer nearly as much.
  • Jets owner Woody Johnson says he will judge his team based on development this season rather than wins and losses, as USA Today’s Andy Vasquez writes. “Really, the way I want to be judged, hopefully from the fans’ standpoint, is just watch how we improve during the year,” Johnson said Tuesday on ESPN Radio. “Look at each individual on the team and if they’re getting better, that’s a mark of progress. That’s what we’re looking for.” That could be good news for coach Todd Bowles and GM Mike Maccagnan since the Jets’ roster is among the worst in the league.
  • Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler didn’t get the long-term deal that he wanted, but he reported to the team’s voluntary workouts this week.
  • Dolphins running back Damien Williams wants a raise, but he doesn’t have much leverage.

Jets Offered McCown Far More Than Cowboys

The disparity between the Cowboys’ and Jets’ offers for Josh McCown was believed to be notable, not just in job description but in salary. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com shed some light on how big that chasm was, tweeting that the Jets’ offer eclipsed the Cowboys’ by $4MM.

McCown will play his age-38 season for a fully guaranteed $6MM, with a package that includes mostly team success-based incentives potentially adding to that total. Although, McCown can make $2MM through playing-time bonuses.

It looks like the Cowboys weren’t willing to pay McCown more than $2MM to be Dak Prescott‘s backup. Considering the team’s cap status at free agency’s outset and the fact that Prescott will be making just $540K in base salary this season, it’s understandable they backed off.

But the Jets outbidding the other top McCown suitor by this much certainly shows the team’s interest. As does Gang Green not drafting a quarterback. As it stands, McCown, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty will go into the post-draft portion of the Jets’ offseason work as the passers vying for the No. 1 spot.

The Cowboys have been interested in McCown, either as a UFA or trade candidate, the past two years. The sides’ paths won’t be crossing in 2017, though. Behind Prescott, Dallas houses only former Tony Romo backup Kellen Moore. And the recently re-signed understudy will carry a cap number of just $615K.

Jets Notes: QBs, McCown, Catanzaro, Ijalana

The Jets will stage a competition at quarterback in 2017, and Josh McCown, Bryce Petty, and Christian Hackenberg will all be given a chance to win the job, head coach Todd Bowles told reporters, including Brian Costello of the New York Post (Twitter link). McCown signed a one-year deal that comes with $6MM guaranteed and $7MM available via incentives, so the 37-year-old has to be considered the favorite in any sort of battle. But Hackenberg, specifically, could be handed a shot to play in 2017 after being selected in the second round of last year’s draft.

Here’s more out of New York:

  • Bowles would not rule out the possibility of the Jets drafting a quarterback with the sixth overall pick, and as such, is open to keeping four signal-callers on the roster for the second consecutive season, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY and Connor Hughes of NJ.com (Twitter links). Gang Green has been lined to the majority of the quarterbacks at the top of the draft — including Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, and DeShone Kizer, and could conceivably land one at No. 6. The Jets have no interest in adding another veteran QB, however.
  • New York will add competition “from somewhere” for new kicker Chandler Catanzaro, Bowles said, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Without specifics, that means the Jets could add another kicker in free agency, the draft, or in undrafted free agency. Catanzaro, who signed a one-year deal with $250K guaranteed after being cut loose by Arizona, converted only 75% of his field goal attempts in 2016.
  • After not employing a fullback in 2016 under former offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, the Jets may sign an FB this offseason, per Bowles (Twitter link via Cimini). New play-caller John Morton may want a fullback, as the Saints (Morton’s former employer) used one on roughly a quarter of their plays. New York recently met with free agent fullback Will Johnson.
  • Offensive lineman Ben Ijalana‘s two-year deal is worth $10.25MM and contains $3MM guaranteed, tweets Cimini. Ijalana, who will play right tackle opposite Kelvin Beachum, will count for $4.25MM on the Jets’ 2017 salary cap before the club decides on a 2018 option worth $6MM.

Jets Rumors: Pryor, Richardson, McCown

Jets GM Mike Maccagnan addressed reporters moments ago and touched on a wide range of topics. Here’s a quick look at the highlights:

  • Maccagnan won’t say if they will pick up safety Calvin Pryor’s fifth-year option, as Brian Costello of the New York Post tweets. Pryor, a first-round pick made by the old regime in New York, is reportedly in some danger of being cut this offseason. The Jets have until early may to make the call on Pryor’s option and it sounds like they are hesitating over guaranteeing his 2018 season for injury. The Louisville product known for his hard hitting had 60 total tackles in 2016.
  • Maccagnan declined to commit to Sheldon Richardson‘s future with the Jets and says he’ll weigh all options with regards to the defensive lineman (Twitter link via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY). The Jets once dangled Richardson with the hope of getting a first-round pick, but it now seems like they might have to settle for a third-round choice if they move him.
  • Maccagnan says it’s “highly unlikely” they will add another veteran quarterback, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. However, he won’t rule out drafting a QB. He also wouldn’t commit to Josh McCown being the team’s starter in 2017, saying that it’s a decision that will be made by coach Todd Bowles. McCown’s deal came with a $6MM guarantee, so it would be a bit surprising if he wasn’t the team’s Week 1 starter.
  • There were rumblings about Muhammad Wilkerson being out of shape this offseason, but the defensive lineman refuted that talk earlier this week.
  • The Jets signed Quinton Patton on Thursday, giving them seven wide receivers under contract.

Josh McCown Signs With Jets

Josh McCown agreed to a one-year deal to join the Jets, according to the quarterback’s agent, Mike McCartney (on Twitter). McCown visited the Jets for multiple days last weekend. The Jets confirmed the move.

It’s a $6MM fully guaranteed deal for McCown, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com tweets. That’s high-end backup money on the surface, but Breer adds another $7MM in incentives ($2MM in playing-time bonuses, $5MM in team-based bumps) could come his way. The team incentives aren’t likely to be earned, being associated with the playoffs and Super Bowl (per Breer, on Twitter), but McCown will receive $125K for each game in which he plays 50 percent of Gang Green’s snaps.

Until the parties finalized this agreement, Jay Cutler was slated to visit the Jets this week, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds a Jets/Cutler union is now off the table (Twitter link). The Jets reached out to both Cutler and McCown last week, but McCown was summoned for the initial visit. His asking price almost certainly wasn’t what Cutler’s is. The Jets paid Ryan Fitzpatrick $12MM last season after a lengthy impasse.

This agreement comes after the Jets brought in Chase Daniel for a visit today and have been linked throughout the offseason to Cutler. McCown profiles as a stopgap option, and it’s not a lock that this addition will stop the Jets from adding a younger veteran, but the team has two younger quarterbacks on the roster already in Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. McCown looks set to have a great chance to start during what will be his 16th season.

Also connected to the Cowboys this offseason, McCown visited Dallas just before the new league year started. But the Cowboys weren’t willing to pay their next backup this much money, per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter). The Cowboys reunited with Kellen Moore earlier today.

McCown has history with Jets quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, working under him for two years as Cutler’s backup in Chicago. The 37-year-old McCown’s enjoyed a unique career arc, having spent many NFL seasons as a backup. But a strong showing in relief of Cutler on the 2013 Bears led to multiple agreements to serve as a starter. This could well be a third such commitment from a team.

McCown served as the primary starter for the 2014 Buccaneers and 2015 Browns. After an injury-plagued 2016 season in Cleveland, the Browns cut him with one year remaining on his deal. While the teams McCown’s quarterbacked during his late-career time as a starter have not enjoyed much success — McCown is 2-20 as a starter over the past three seasons — he has had stretches to generate intrigue. McCown completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for a Browns team that didn’t have Josh Gordon in 2015, throwing for 12 touchdowns and four interceptions in eight starts. For the ’13 Bears, McCown shined, completing nearly 67 percent of his throws and tossing 13 TD passes compared to just one INT in five starts of Cutler relief.

He will turn 38 in July. A Sunday-night PFR poll resulted in readers tabbing a McCown/Jets union as far less likely than the team deploying Cutler come Week 1. That could still happen, but it would likely require the Jets to carry four quarterbacks. Although the Jets aren’t particularly sold yet on the long-term viability of Petty or Hackenberg, it might be a rash decision for either to be cut out of training camp.

The Jets were also linked to Mike Glennon this offseason, but his $15MM-per-year price tag induced them to bow out. Brian Hoyer also intrigued Gang Green, but the 49ers added him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest Between Jets, Josh McCown

Free agent quarterback Josh McCown has left his visit with the Jets, and while the two sides are still in contact, no deal is “imminent,” tweets Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com.Josh McCown (vertical)

New York reportedly did discuss contract parameters with McCown, as Ralph Vacchiano of SNY detailed yesterday, but it doesn’t sound as though the two parties will come together on an agreement anytime soon. McCown is now entering his age-38 season and hasn’t been able to stay healthy in recent seasons, but he’d be able to give the Jets some level of competency at the quarterback position. Geno Smith, who may have been an option for Gang Green, signed with the crosstown rival Giants last week.

Appearing in five games (three starts) for the Browns in 2016, McCown completed 54.5% of his attempts for 1,100 yards, six touchdowns, and six interceptions. He’s also drawn interest from the Cowboys this offseason, and took a visit to Dallas earlier this month.

McCown ranks as PFR’s No. 5 free agent quarterback still on the market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets, Josh McCown Progressing Toward Deal?

Josh McCown‘s Jets visit is continuing into Saturday, and the sides are progressing on talks. Contract parameters have emerged during this visit, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv.

With this powwow going “very well,” Vacchiano notes McCown may now lead the pack in the running to be the next Jets stopgap quarterback. Vacchiano confirms the team remains interested in Jay Cutler while also clearly stating the team has no desire to pursue Colin Kaepernick. A Cutler visit was expected, with the Jets reaching out to the 33-year-old passer this week, but it hasn’t occurred yet.

The 37-year-old McCown (he’ll be 38 by Week 1) profiles as another short-term option after Ryan Fitzpatrick previously served in that role. Cutler started in front of McCown from 2011-13 on the Bears and is viewed as the more talented player, so it would be interesting if the Jets opted to sign McCown before hosting Cutler on a visit. New Jets QBs coach Jeremy Bates coached Cutler in both Denver and Chicago but also instructed McCown during two of McCown’s three years in the Windy City.

Gang Green moved from Mike Glennon to Tyrod Taylor to Brian Hoyer, per Vacchiano, this offseason. Glennon’s price tag “scared off” the Jets, Vacchiano notes, before he received his Bears offer (three years, $45MM). The Jets were also open to re-signing Geno Smith before the Giants added him, per Vacchiano, who adds it’s unlikely the Jets use one of their high draft picks on a quarterback after having taken Christian Hackenberg in the second round last year.

The Cowboys are the other serious suitor to emerge for McCown, having hosted him on a visit. This came after Dallas tried to trade for the veteran passer in 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 3.0: Offense

The initial wave of NFL free agency is now complete, and while many of the league’s top available players are now off the board, there are still plenty of quality options still on the open market.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:

Quarterback:

  1. Jay Cutler
  2. Chase Daniel
  3. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  4. Colin Kaepernick
  5. Josh McCown
  6. Robert Griffin III
  7. Case Keenum
  8. Matt McGloin
  9. Mark Sanchez
  10. Christian Ponder
  11. Blaine Gabbert
  12. Ryan Nassib
  13. Shaun Hill
  14. Kellen Moore
  15. Austin Davis

Tony Romo is not a free agent…at least not yet. If the Cowboys do not find a suitable trade and release him, you’ll find him at the top of this list.

Laugh if you must, but Cutler is far and away the best quarterback available on the open market. While most of this year’s QB-needy teams are done with their free agent shopping, the Jets are still searching for their 2017 starter and no one would make more sense for them than Cutler. He’s not all that far removed from playing solid football and he’s a logical transitional option for the Jets until they can isolate a better, younger option for 2018. Jay Cutler (Vertical)

Kaepernick’s reps wisely told the press that he will be standing for the National Anthem this year. Still, Kaepernick is an outspoken guy who wants to use his platform to discuss hot button issues, so there’s no guarantee that the media circus around him will cease. Jets owner Woody Johnson loves seeing his team on the back pages of the New York tabloids, but even he has to have more sense than to entertain Kaepernick. McCown, who has been contact with the team, would be an okay choice if they can’t get something done with Cutler. Chase Daniel could be an option too, but there isn’t much game film on him.

Needless to say, the No. 3 ranked player on this list isn’t an option in New York.

Running back:

  1. Adrian Peterson
  2. LeGarrette Blount
  3. Jamaal Charles
  4. Rashad Jennings
  5. Tim Hightower
  6. DeAngelo Williams
  7. Chris Johnson
  8. Christine Michael
  9. Benny Cunningham
  10. Bobby Rainey
  11. Brandon Bolden
  12. Denard Robinson
  13. James Starks
  14. Matt Asiata
  15. Kenjon Barner

Honorable mention: DuJuan Harris, Antonio AndrewsKhiry Robinson

Adrian Peterson (vertical)The Vikings have moved on and Peterson will not be back in Minnesota. Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess. When Peterson’s option was declined by the Vikings earlier this month, there were tons of stories (likely sourced by Peterson’s camp) about interest from a litany of contenders. Since then, each team – through anonymous sources – has denied being in the mix for the veteran. It would be easy to doubt Peterson at this juncture, but he has come back from serious injuries multiple times in his career and he is only one year removed from his stellar 2015 campaign. He gets the top spot over the bruising Blount as well as Charles, who hasn’t been healthy in a long while.

Jennings was brought to New York with the idea that he would be the team’s workhorse. Unfortunately, two of his three seasons with the G-Men were marred by injury. Jennings is currently putting his agility to good use on Dancing With The Stars and it remains to be seen how committed he is to football. After that, we have a trio of vets (Hightower, Williams, CJ2K) who could still advance the ball in limited spurts.

In case you’re wondering – Mike Gillislee is not listed here because he is a restricted free agent.

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