Josh McCown

AFC Notes: Cushing, McCown, Pats

The latest from around the AFC:

  • Texans linebacker Brian Cushing earned the second PED suspension of his career Wednesday, and while he appealed the previous ban in 2010, he’s not going to fight the punishment this time. “It is with the deepest remorse, he humbly apologizes to his fans, teammates and coaches,” Cushing’s attorney, Harvey Steinberg, said. “After consulting with his attorney and his agent he felt rather than dragging the appellate process out, this would be the best way to proceed.” Cushing will sit out the Texans’ next 10 games, which means the earliest he’ll see the field again is Dec. 3 in Tennessee.
  • The roster bonuses in quarterback Josh McCown‘s contract with the Jets could make it difficult for him to keep the starting job as the season progresses, ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes. Already on a fully guaranteed $6MM salary, McCown will earn $125K for each game he starts in 2017. Given that the Jets are more likely to contend for the first overall pick in the 2018 draft than a playoff spot this season, McCown might not be long for the No. 1 role. Not only would the Jets save money by benching McCown, but they’d get a chance to evaluate one or both of their young signal-callers, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty.
  • Factoring in this season, linebacker Kyle Van Noy‘s two-year extension with the Patriots amounts to a three-year, $12.87MM contract, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. The deal comes with $5.5MM in guarantees, including a $3.5MM signing bonus and a fully guaranteed $2MM salary for 2018. It also features a reporting bonus ($100K) and two workout bonuses (one for $7,095, another for $25K) in 2017 and a $100K roster bonus in both 2018 and ’19.
  • The Raiders are nearing an extension with one of their top players.

Jets Name Josh McCown As Starting QB

With one more preseason game on the docket, the Jets’ quarterback competition is already over. Josh McCown will be the team’s starter in Week 1, head coach Todd Bowles announced. Josh McCown (vertical)

[RELATED: Jets, Colts Complete Trade]

This was the expected outcome for the Jets’ QB battle as Christian Hackenberg has struggled and Bryce Petty has failed to really pull away from the pack. Petty did perform better than Hackenberg this offseason, but he is currently nursing a knee injury suffered in Saturday night’s preseason contest against the Giants. With that in mind, Bowles says that no determination has been made about the team’s No. 2 QB role.

McCown, 38, joined the Jets on a one-year, $6MM contract this offseason, turning down opportunities to serve as a backup on a contending team for less money. He’ll have the opportunity to start for the Jets until they figure out the future of the position for 2018 and beyond.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Jets, Blount, Cowboys

It has been assumed for some time that Josh McCown would at least open the 2017 season as the Jets‘ starting quarterback, but the team needs to give Christian Hackenberg a look this year in order to see what they have in him, and to that end, Hackenberg got a surprise start in last night’s preseason matchup against the Lions.

It did not go well. Hackenberg took a big step backward from his solid outing last week, going 2-for-6 for 14 yards. He was sacked twice, he fumbled once, and four of his five drives were three-and-outs. Although head coach Todd Bowles attempted to take some of the heat off Hackenberg by pointing out that the offensive line did not give him much of a chance, Brian Costello of the New York Post believes McCown won the team’s starting job last night, and he didn’t even have to take a snap to do it.

Now for more from the league’s east divisions, starting with more from Gang Green:

  • McCown was initially supposed to take more snaps in last night’s game than he did in the Jets‘ first preseason contest, but Bowles said he changed his mind on Thursday night, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Bowles said McCown “has played in a million preseason games” and therefore elected to give Hackenberg a shot. However, Mehta reports that McCown was told by a media relations advisor to not speak with reporters after the game, even though McCown was apparently open to talking. It is unclear what the team’s motivation in “censoring” McCown would be, but it is an interesting move just the same.
  • Unlike Hackenberg, Jets No. 3 signal-caller Bryce Petty performed fairly well last night, going 15-for-24 for 160 yards and leading two field goal drives. Per Mehta, Petty has secured a roster spot unless he suffers a complete meltdown over the next several weeks.
  • Mehta also observes that Ross Martin, who made a pair of short field goals last night to go along with a miss from 56 yards, remains the front-runner to win the Jets‘ kicking job over Chandler Catanzaro, who missed a 55-yarder in the preseason opener but did not get an attempt last night.
  • Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount is coming off one of his best seasons, but he struggled to find a new home in free agency this offseason, and the short-yardage specialist may be on the roster bubble in Philly, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (citing Matt Lombardo of NJ.com) writes. Although Blount does not really fit the Eagles’ offense, it may not be wise to cut him, as Wendell Smallwood has had difficulty staying healthy, Darren Sproles is 34, and Donnel Pumphrey is a fourth-round rookie.
  • Cowboys No. 2 QB Kellen Moore turned in another poor performance during last night’s contest against the Colts, and while the team continues to publicly support him, an unnamed source tells Clarence E. Hill, Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that Moore will be the subject of conversation at personnel meetings this week. It is unclear what that means at this point, because the team will certainly not promote undrafted rookie Cooper Rush to the backup job, no matter how well he has played, and the Cowboys have not yet considered adding a proven free agent to compete with Moore.
  • It was a different story for Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith, who finally played in a football game last night after 596 days on the sidelines. Smith, who suffered a gruesome knee injury during the final game of his collegiate career on January 1, 2016, saw his draft stock plummet as a result and was ultimately scooped up by Dallas in the second round of the 2016 draft (he was originally considered a top-10, or even top-5, talent). The Cowboys knew 2016 would essentially be a medical redshirt year for Smith, but they also knew that, if Smith could overcome the injury, they could have something special on their hands. The nerve in Smith’s leg continues to regenerate, and as Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News writes, Smith looked solid in last night’s preseason game. He was in for 12 snaps, he moved well, and he was quick to the ball, further solidifying the team;s belief that he will be a significant contributor this year.

AFC Notes: McCown, Cutler, Brissett, Ochi

Regardless of what head coach Todd Bowles says, the Jets‘ QB battle is not an open competition, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. Costello writes that Josh McCown has taken about 99% of the first-team reps in training camp, while Christian Hackenberg has worked almost exclusively with the second unit. Unless Hackenberg excels during New York’s first two preseason games, Costello expects McCown to be under center come Week 1, which is what we expected all along.

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from the AFC:

  • Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald says Dolphins brass hopes to resolve the Jay Cutler question soon, and that resolution could come as early as today (Twitter link).
  • Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola accepted a pay cut to remain in New England for the third consecutive season, but as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes, the 31-year-old Amendola (32 in November) never considered retirement, nor did he consider suiting up for anyone other than the Patriots. He again projects as the team’s fourth or fifth option at wide receiver, but he has grown comfortable with his limited role and at this point in his career he appears content to get a little burn while playing in a winning environment.
  • Jacoby Brissett, the Patriots No. 3 signal-caller who got two starts last season in the wake of Tom Brady‘s suspension and Jimmy Garoppolo‘s injury, is in danger of being cut, as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes. Brissett did not have a strong spring, and with Brady showing no signs of slowing down and Garoppolo back as the No. 2 QB, New England could look to use Brissett’s roster spot on a linebacker, receiver, or defensive back.
  • Titans LB Victor Ochi tore his ACL in Friday night’s practice, per Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com (via Twitter). Ochi is a small school (Stony Brook) product who has spent time with the Ravens, Jets, Chiefs, and Titans in his brief career, appearing in two games with the Jets last season. He has a great deal of raw pass-rushing ability, but it seems he will have to wait until 2018 to put that ability back on display.
  • Dan Graziano of ESPN.com says Tyler Ervin, whom the Texans selected in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, could fill in for Will Fuller while Fuller recovers from a broken collarbone. Ervin is a running back by trade, but he has tremendous speed and the club was already planning to use him in multiple roles to utilize his athleticism (he returned 27 punts and 14 kickoffs last season). With Fuller out for awhile, Houston could give receiver reps to Ervin with an eye towards making him a full-time slot receiver.

AFC Notes: Browns, Texans, Jags, Jets

Second-round signal-caller DeShone Kizer is in the mold of Super Bowl-winning division rivals Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) and Joe Flacco (Ravens), according to Browns quarterbacks coach David Lee, but it doesn’t sound as if he’ll see the field for a while. “He’s got a great future,” Lee told reporters, including Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com. “He’s just a long way from being ready. He’s not ready, but he’s climbing on it, and he’s making progress.”

Kizer, the 52nd overall pick from Notre Dame, is competing against Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler to open the season as the Browns’ starter. Osweiler has impressed Cleveland’s coaches since coming over in March in a surprising trade with Houston, and the fact that he’s the most experienced and accomplished of the Browns’ QBs matters to Lee. “You can say what you want, but the guy in the last two years has taken two different teams [Texans and Denver Broncos] to the playoffs, and there’s nobody else in that room that can say that,” Lee pointed out. “Plus, this is his sixth year of experience. [The other guys have] got [little or] no experience. … So he’s the senior citizen. He looks like a guy who’s played before. He’s great at the line of scrimmage. He’s great in the huddle, I mean calming effect. Is he the quarterback? We don’t have one yet, but he’s in the mix for sure.”

  • The Texans worked out safety Jaiquawn Jarrett on Monday, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Jarrett, a former second-round pick, spent the first two seasons of his career with the Eagles before joining the Jets from 2013-15. He didn’t appear in the NFL in 2016. A veteran of 47 career games, Jarrett boasts nine starts through five pro seasons. Houston has no plans to sign either Jarrett or fellow defensive back Aaron Williams, whom the Texans hosted earlier this week, as Wilson writes in a full article.
  • Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey underwent core muscle surgery Thursday, per NFL.com’s Mike Garafalo, who adds that he should be ready for the regular season (Twitter link). Ramsey also dealt with a notable injury last spring, a torn meniscus that required surgery and kept him out of organized team activities and minicamp, but still went on to post an excellent rookie season. Last year’s fifth overall pick, Ramsey started all 16 of the Jags’ games, intercepted two passes (one of which he returned for a touchdown) and ranked as Pro Football Focus’ 21st-best corner.
  • Josh McCown has a smaller-than-anticipated lead over Christian Hackenberg as the Jets’ training camp quarterback battle approaches, writes Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. McCown wasn’t all that sharp in minicamp, whereas Hackenberg exceeded expectations, per Cimini, who notes that Bryce Petty is a clear third in the race. The Jets invested a second-rounder in Hackenberg only a year ago, but it seems the ex-Penn State Nittany Lion is widely regarded as a lost cause after he couldn’t crack the lineup last season for a club whose QB play was among the worst in the league. But Hackenberg should get on the field sometime this year for a team that’s now in a full-scale rebuild.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Hoyer, Patriots, Bills

Several quarterbacks appeared on the Jets‘ radar this offseason, one that moved the team into rebuilding territory. But Josh McCown arrived after the team made a “competitive offer” to another recent part-time starter. The Jets submitted a contract proposal to Brian Hoyer, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, but he was not keen on a pact with the team despite his desire for a starting job. Instead, the veteran wanted to reunite with Kyle Shanahan with the 49ers. This was the second straight year the Jets showed offseason interest in Hoyer, who is now affiliated with his fourth team in four years. The 31-year-old passer visited the Jets in April 2016 before signing with the Bears later that month. Hoyer signed with San Francisco for two years and $12MM, $9.85MM fully guaranteed at signing. That package beats the Jets’ eventual deal for McCown, but the 38-year-old presumptive New York starter still received $6MM fully guaranteed for 2017 in a pact that includes incentives as well.

Here’s the latest from New York and other AFC East cities.

  • Also showing interest in Mike Glennon, Jay Cutler and Chase Daniel, the Jets wanted a “cheap, but experienced” game manager, per Cimini. McCown checked the boxes for the Jets, profiling as a classic stopgap quarterback who won’t cause trouble if/when he’s benched for Christian Hackenberg or Bryce Petty. This blueprint for the 2017 quarterback may have been part of the reason Gang Green and Cutler couldn’t line up a visit prior to the quarterback’s retirement.
  • The Patriots‘ refusal to trade Jimmy Garoppolo — and the possibility that a quarterback franchise tag that could be worth around $24MM in 2018 — creates the appearance of a quarterback controversy, Tom Curran of CSNNE.com notes (video link). Tom Brady will almost certainly be the quarterback this season as long as he’s healthy, but the situation becomes murkier after 2017 when Garoppolo’s contract expires and Brady moves closer to his 41st birthday. Curran also notes the Patriots need more intel on Garoppolo before tagging him, which could be difficult if Brady stays healthy. The backup’s Deflategate audition lasting six quarters instead of 16 leaves an incomplete grade as far as durability goes, Curran notes.
  • Jeremy Maclin participated in a two-day visit with the Bills earlier this week, and Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News believes the recently released wideout will end up in Buffalo if he’s willing to accept a short-term, incentive-laden deal. It’s unknown if Maclin, who was a No. 1 wideout for two years with the Chiefs, would be willing to do that. The 29-year-old pass-catcher has drawn interest from at least two teams, with the Ravens hosting him on a visit this week as well, and would profile as a fit on others too. The Bills have $12.6MM in cap space. Carucci notes the Bills don’t figure to be willing to pay Maclin big money given his injury history, and that the receiver profiles as a one- or two-year solution.

East Rumors: Jets, Pats, Switzer

Rich Cimini of ESPN.com recently expounded on last week’s discussion of the Jets‘ QB battle, and while he does not believe the team’s insistence that it will be an open competition is a charade, he does reaffirm his (and everyone’s) belief that Josh McCown is the heavy favorite to open the season under center. But in his latest post, Cimini goes into a little more detail as to how he believes the next few months will play out. He believes that, by the end of minicamp in mid-June, McCown will be the clear-cut front-runner and Christian Hackenberg will be the No. 2. When training camp opens, head coach Todd Bowles will remove Bryce Petty from the starting competition, as it’s hard enough to have a competition among two quarterbacks, much less three. Cimini also believes Hackenberg will get plenty of action in the team’s first two preseason games, but that Bowles, with his job on the line, will ultimately give the job to McCown, though Hackenberg will get the nod at some point this year.

Now for more from the league’s east divisions:

  • The Jets picked up tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins after he was waived by the Buccaneers last September, and while he posted only 10 catches in seven games for New York last season, the team believes the light has finally come on for the former second-round pick. As Cimini writes, ASJ has dropped 25 pounds, he was a diligent participant in the offseason conditioning program, and his performance has caught everyone’s eye at OTAs. Now that the Jets have an offensive coordinator who utilizes the tight end as a pass catcher, ASJ is a dark horse candidate for a breakout season, especially as he enters his contract year.
  • Mike Reiss’ of ESPN.com reports that Andrew Hawkins‘ one-year deal with the Patriots is a minimum salary benefit pact, meaning his base salary will be $900K, his bonus won’t exceed $80K, and his salary cap charge won’t be more than $695K. Reiss says that Hawkins passed up more lucrative opportunities with other clubs because New England was his top choice.
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe applauds the Patriots‘ recent decision to add a healthy incentive package to Rob Gronkowski‘s current contract even though they had no need to do so, as he believes it’s simply smart business to keep Gronk healthy and motivated. Volin does wonder, though, whether the incentives will compel Gronkowski to push himself more than he otherwise would throughout the regular season, thereby reducing his effectiveness when the playoffs roll around.
  • Ryan Switzer, whom the Cowboys selected in the fourth round of this year’s draft, took first-team reps as the slot receiver during the first week of OTAs, as Cole Beasley was held out due to hamstring soreness. But as Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News writes, the Cowboys have big plans for Switzer even when Beasley returns, and they are working on packages for both to be on the field at the same time. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said of Switzer, “He’s a classic slot receiver. He has a similar game [to Beasley], but he has his own things. We would really like those two guys to be able to complement each other and run real similar route trees. He complements Beasley and also gives us some big-time needed depth at that position.”

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.