Josh McCown

New York Notes: Claiborne, Mayfield, Giants

Morris Claiborne said shortly after the Jets‘ season concluded he would like to be back in New York. The sides will have to negotiate another contract, since Claiborne finished up a one-year deal, but Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets the Jets have begun negotiations with the UFA corner. Claiborne signed a $5MM deal with the Jets last season, and Gang Green will enter this offseason with far more cap room that it had a year ago. While a sizable chunk of that space could be used to chase Kirk Cousins, the Jets will have opportunities to build their roster they haven’t had in recent years. Pro Football Focus graded Claiborne poorly in 2017, but he played in the most games (15) he has since his 2012 rookie season and will only be 28 next season. He should generate some interest on the market. The Jets could save $6MM by cutting Buster Skrine, whom PFF did not rate much higher than Claiborne, and they will be in the market for corners this offseason regardless of how they proceed with Claiborne.

Here’s the latest out of the Big Apple:

  • Baker Mayfield met with the Jets at the Senior Bowl and had a summit scheduled with the Giants, but that meeting never occurred, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reports. Although Mayfield has not been mocked to the Giants much early in the pre-draft process, he would be on board with a develop-behind-Eli Manning scenario. “Throwing the ball to (Evan) Engram, Shep and Odell Beckham wouldn’t be too bad, there’s some studs right there,’’ said Mayfield, a college teammate of Sterling Shepard‘s. “Being there, it’s a big-time franchise and in the spotlight. I think I thrive on that. That would be an ideal situation.” The Giants are expected to take a quarterback at No. 2 overall but have made it clear this offseason they intend to keep Manning.
  • The Jets are almost certainly going to pursue Cousins, but they also hold the draft’s No. 6 selection. If the Broncos land Cousins and pick a non-quarterback at 5, New York could be set to snag a passer. That could play into Josh McCown‘s hands, as a player who wants to be back with the team, since the Jets may opt to keep him as a bridge option. “Yeah, it’s hard to say, ‘Hey I want to go somewhere else,’ after you had the best year of your career,” McCown said, via Calvin Watkins of Newsday. “I like being there, and I love the organization and the guys and the locker room. I think it was a good foundation laid, something special, something that can be built.” The Jets could hold more than $90MM in cap room after pre-free agency cuts, making McCown — who played for $6.5MM in 2017 — more affordable.
  • On the subject of players who want to stay in New York, count Devon Kennard as a fan of new Giants DC James Bettcher. Mostly a base-set linebacker in 2017, Kennard is a UFA. He started 35 games in four seasons with the Giants and calls Bettcher’s possible 3-4 conversion “advantageous” to his skill set. “It’s multiple and he likes versatile linebackers. That sounds right up my alley,” Kennard said, via Newsday’s Tom Rock. “… I expect to hear from (the Giants) in the next few weeks now that the coaching staff is established. Maybe then, but you never know. I don’t know what they’re thinking because it’s a new GM and head coach.” Kennard recorded four sacks last season despite playing as a non-rush ‘backer — the second four-plus-sack slate of his career.
  • Talk of a Sheldon Richardson/Jets reunion surfaced recently, but with Cimini envisions it taking eight figures per year to sign him. He doesn’t see the Jets going for that (Twitter link).

Josh McCown Leaning Towards Playing

Josh McCown has pondered retirement in advance of his 39th birthday, but it sounds like he’s leaning towards continuing his career. Josh McCown (vertical)

Right now, that’s how it’s looking,” McCown said when asked if he definitely wants to play in 2018 (via Connor Hughes of NJ.com). “At this time of the year, I go through those conversations with my family, talk with them through that, pray through that. But where we’re at right now, I feel like I want to play … I’m looking forward to the next few months, seeing what happens, and I’ll be ready to go.”

Despite his advanced age, McCown set personal career-highs in passing touchdowns (18), passing yards (2,926), completion percentage (67.3%), and rushing touchdowns (5). McCown says he enjoyed his time in New York and coach Todd Bowles wants him back, but it’s not a slam dunk that he’ll return to the swamp. The Jets are hoping to identify their quarterback of the future and McCown won’t necessarily factor into the equation if they sign a high-priced free agent or draft an NFL-ready rookie.

The good news for McCown is that his broken left hand is on the mend. He’s still sporting a black protective wrap around the hand, but he says that the injury is “healing up” and he believes he’s just weeks away from being 100%.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Open To Bringing Back Josh McCown

Jets head coach Todd Bowles said the team would be interested in bringing back starting quarterback Josh McCown in 2018 if the two sides can agree to a deal, ESPN’s Rich Cimini writes. Josh McCown (vertical)

Bowles said the arrangement would be “contingent on a lot of things,” first and foremost being if McCown is even playing next season. The 38-year-old journeyman quarterback found a home with the Jets in 2017 and impressed, throwing for 2,926 yards and 18 touchdowns with nine interceptions in 13 games.

Though he posted a career year, McCown could opt for retirement to begin a coaching career. He said he would talk with his family at the end of the season before coming to a decision.

The signing of McCown was one of the top free-agent moves of the 2017 season for the Jets, who secured the veteran with a one-year $6MM deal. When he broke his non-throwing hand in Week 14, McCown ranked 11th in passer rating.

“Josh had a great year,” Bowles said. “It would be great to have him back. It’s business in this league. He has decisions to make, we have decisions to make. Hopefully, they can meet and we’ll go from there.”

Though not the future at the position, McCown would present a more than adequate stopgap until the new signal-caller is found. The Jets have the No. 6 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and could target a quarterback in the first round. The team also has young prospects like Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty on the roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

La Canfora’s Latest: Jets, Panthers, Steelers

While Josh McCown hasn’t yet announced whether he’ll continue his career in 2018, those close to him believe the veteran quarterback will return for another season, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. McCown, who is currently on injured reserve after breaking his hand, posted arguably the best campaign of his career while starting 13 games for the Jets this year. Given that he’ll be entering his age-39 season, McCown won’t command a long-term contract, and could theoretically make sense as a bridge quarterback for a number of clubs. When he does hang up his cleats, McCown is expected to generate interest as a coach.

Here’s more from La Canfora as Week 16 comes to a close:

  • Speaking of the Jets, it would qualify as “shocking” if Gang Green doesn’t release defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson prior to next season, per La Canfora. Wilkerson has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in recent weeks, and he isn’t expected to play for New York again this season despite being fully healthy. Missed meetings and other off-field offenses have led the Jets’ coaching staff to become “fed up” with Wilkerson, and there’s almost no chance the club will opt to pay him $17MM in 2018. Still, Wilkerson is expected to generate interest if he hits the free agent market next spring.
  • Although reports of a $2.5 billion price for the Panthers may have been exaggerated, sources still expect the Carolina franchise to garner at least $2 billion, as La Canfora writes. Although the NFL will require full cooperation as the league investigates claims of harassment against owner Jerry Richardson, the league won’t be able to tell Richardson to whom he can sell his team. Because Richardson isn’t keeping the club in his family, he has the right to sell to whomever he chooses.
  • The relationship between Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley has become strained, per La Canfora, who adds Roethlisberger has asked for a “buffer” between him and Haley during games. As such, quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner has begun coaching from the sidelines (instead of the press box) in order to act as that go-between. While reports of complications between Roethlisberger and Haley may have no affect, the relationship could potentially affect offseason staff plans for Pittsburgh.
  • The Patriots, Eagles, and Vikings are all expected to lose members of their staff this offseason as coaches leave for promotions with other clubs, according to La Canfora. New England, Philadelphia, and Minnesota are three of the most successful teams in the league in 2017, and coordinators such as Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia, Jim Schwartz, Frank Reich, John DeFilippo, Pat Shurmur, and George Edwards could all be on the move.

AFC North Notes: Bengals, Lewis, Browns

While Marvin Lewis is denying a report that a decision has been made on his future as Bengals head coach, he hasn’t necessarily said the core of the report — that he won’t return to Cincinnati in 2018 — is incorrect. If he does move on, Browns head coach Hue Jackson could potentially be in the running to replace Lewis, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com and Jay Glazer of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Of course, Cleveland has indicated Jackson will be retained for next season, but those plans are always subject to change. Jackson, formerly the Bengals’ offensive coordinator, was approached regarding a Cincinnati succession plan in 2016, but because no such deal could be arranged, he bolted for the Browns job.

Here’s more from the AFC North, with a focus on the Bengals and Browns:

  • Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is considered a candidate to become Bengals head coach in 2018, but if he’s not promoted, Guenther could end up as the Redskins‘ DC next year, tweets Michael Lombardi of the Ringer. Washington head coach Jay Gruden (who worked with Guenther in Cincinnati) wanted to hire Guenther as his defensive coordinator a season ago, but the Bengals would not release his contract. Cincinnati has finished 14th, 10, and 17th in defensive DVOA in thee full seasons under Guenther, and ranked 19th heading into Week 15.
  • The Browns had hoped to hire Josh McCown as their quarterbacks coach for 2017 had he not continued his career, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Earlier this year, Jackson predicted McCown would be a “rising star” in the coaching ranks, and a number of clubs reportedly had interest in adding McCown to their staff. Instead, McCown inked a one-year deal with the Jets and proceeded to post one of the best seasons of his career. McCown hasn’t made any decisions about his future, but he would presumably have a number of offers if he wants become a coach.
  • New Browns general manager John Dorsey may plan to fire the club’s entire scouting staff after taking over the front office one week ago, according to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report. Of course, any new decision-maker is going to make changes to a front office, but Dorsey could plan to shift away from Cleveland’s recent reliance on analytics. Last week, Dorsey chided the Browns’ previous regime, claiming that former GM Sashi Brown & Co. didn’t acquire “real players.”

Jets QB Josh McCown Done For Season

It’s official – Josh McCown‘s season is over. Coach Todd Bowles shared the bad news with reporters on Monday morning. Josh McCown (vertical)

McCown exited Sunday’s loss to the Broncos with a broken hand. With just three games to go and zero chance of making the postseason, shutting the quarterback down was the only choice left for the Jets.

The Jets have exceeded all expectations this year and so has the 38-year-old McCown. McCown threw for a career-high 18 touchdowns this season and matched a personal watermark with 13 starts. His No. 22 ranking among Pro Football Focus’ top quarterbacks doesn’t portray him as Pro Bowl material, but few expected the aging veteran to do that well given the team’s major gaps on offense.

The Jets are expected to turn things over to the younger Bryce Petty, who struggled in relief of McCown. There’s also the possibility that we’ll finally see 2016 second-round pick Christian Hackenberg get on the field. Bowles has previously dismissed the idea that Hackenberg could see reps despite his apparent lack of readiness. “This isn’t Triple-A,” Bowles told reporters in November. However, with three games left, now is as good of a time as any to find out what Hackenberg has to offer. If the Jets can definitively conclude that the Penn State product is not NFL material, then they can move on from him this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Josh McCown Suffers Broken Hand

The Jets were planning to ride Josh McCown‘s run of steady production to the finish line this season, but those plans look to have changed in Denver.

The 38-year-old quarterback suffered a broken left hand in the Jets’ 23-0 loss to the Broncos, Todd Bowles said postgame (via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, on Twitter).

Bryce Petty entered the game for McCown and struggled. McCown finished Week 13 as the AFC offensive player of the week. Mehta adds (via Twitter) Petty and possibly Christian Hackenberg are going to be taking the snaps the rest of the way. Hackenberg remains without an NFL play to his credit. The Jets are not yet sure if this will end McCown’s season, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter), but with the team reasonably out of the playoff picture and younger players in need of looks, it makes sense to shut McCown down.

McCown established a new career high with 18 touchdown passes this season and today tied his career high by making a 13th start. Petty has not started since the end of last season.

Injuries limited McCown last season in Cleveland, but he’s delivered on the Jets’ $6MM investment this year. Jets OC John Morton said he’d like to have McCown back, but the passer said earlier this week he wasn’t certain he would return for what would be a 17th NFL season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Rumors: Jets, McCown, Giants, Redskins

Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa will be a restricted free agent next spring, and though he missed the entire 2017 season with a neck injury, the Jets will likely still offer him a RFA tender, tweets Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. The 25-year-old Enunwa broke out for 58 receptions, 857 yards, and four touchdowns a season ago, so New York is apparently comfortable tendering him despite his recent injury history. Given those health questions, however, Enunwa will likely receive only an original round tender, which should be worth roughly $2MM next year. If he is re-signed, Enunwa will add another dimension to a Jets receiving corps that also includes Robby Anderson and rookies Chad Hansen and ArDarius Stewart.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • The Jets have been open about their willingness to re-sign quarterback Josh McCown, but the veteran signal-caller hasn’t officially decided if he’ll return for another NFL season, according to Bob Glauber of Newsday. McCown, 38, has four children who don’t live in the New York area, meaning family concerns will play a role in McCown’s future. Given that he’s arguably posting the best season of his career, McCown is expected to start the Jets’ remaining games even though the club has several younger options on the roster. For what it’s worth, New York offensive coordinator John Morton has been vocal his desire to continue working with McCown, writes Daniel Popper of the New York Daily News.
  • Rookie quarterback Davis Webb‘s status with the Giants is now uncertain following the firing of general manager Jerry Reese and head coach Ben McAdoo, especially given that Webb was considered “McAdoo’s guy,” tweets Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com. McAdoo reportedly “pushed for [Webb] in every round” of the 2017 draft, and New York ultimately selected Webb in the third round. The Giants turned to veteran backup Geno Smith in Week 13, but will apparently start Eli Manning for the remainder of the season, leaving open the question of whether Webb is in the club’s long-term plans.
  • Former Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan‘s arbitration hearing against the team will begin next week, reports Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, who adds owner Daniel Snyder, team president Bruce Allen, and head coach Jay Gruden could be required to testify. Washington will reportedly attempt to use McCloughan’s history of alcohol abuse as a fireable offense, while McCloughan will argue that he rarely drank while employed with the Redskins.

Josh McCown To Remain Jets’ Starting QB

On Wednesday, Jets coach Todd Bowles confirmed that Josh McCown will remain the Jets’ starter for the remainder of the season. Given the way he has played – particularly in Sunday’s upset victory over the Chiefs – Bowles’ announcement does not come as a surprise. Josh McCown (vertical)

At the outset of the season, most expected that the Jets would start auditioning Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg by this time. But, a funny thing happened – the Jets wound up being competitive. The Jets are 5-7 (including two close losses to the Patriots and Panthers) and there’s even public support for a Todd Bowles extension.

The play of McCown, 38, has been a major factor in the Jets’ success. His performance sets up an interesting dilemma for the offseason – do the Jets try and draft their quarterback of the future, go for a high-priced star in this year’s free agent crop, or continue with the aging McCown for another season? The veteran is scheduled to hit the open market in March, but the Jets could probably retain him with something similar to his current one-year, $6MM deal.

Through 12 games, McCown has completed a career-high 67.8% of his passes for 2,880 yards with 18 touchdowns against eight interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Anthem, Raiders, Bengals, Jets

Discussion about who stands and who sits for the national anthem could come to an end next season if the owners have their way, the Washington Post’s Mark Maske hears. Maske reports that some NFL owners think there is a “strong possibility” they could enact a change to the league’s policy next season that could keep players off the field during the playing of the national anthem.

Maske quoted one person familiar with the owners’ deliberations saying, “I think that if players are still kneeling at the end of the year, then it could very well happen.” He continued with the source, who said, “I think most owners would support it, particularly if players continue to kneel this season.”

The thought this action could quell attention from the league’s anthem issues is a naive one. Players in favor of demonstrating their right to protest are sure to feel disrespected, while having no one standing for the flag is certain to draw ire from a wide range of fans. Whatever the decision, the NFL isn’t likely to escape the spotlight anytime soon.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Raiders  head coach Jack Del Rio issued a statement on Wednesday stating “nobody should feel comfortable” following the team’s firing of defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., NBC Sports’ Scott Blair reports. Del Rio continued, saying, “We couldn’t continue doing what we’ve been doing to this point. So I made the call. The whole idea is to change what we’re doing and make sure…what I’m looking for at the end of the day is for us to play fast on defense. We weren’t playing fast enough. We weren’t playing confident enough.” After starting the season with Super Bowl aspirations, the Raiders are holding out hope for a second-half revival to contend for a wildcard spot.
  • Former Chiefs general manager John Dorsey sat down with ESPN’s Adam Schefter on his Know Them From Adam Podcast to give his first interview since being fired in June. In the interview, which the Kansas City Star’s Blair Kerkhoff recapped, Dorsey didn’t address his departure much outside of saying he’s had better days. He did claim he wanted to make a return to football, however. “I know I can do my job with the best with my peers in the National Football League,” Dorsey said. “I’m very proud of being able to help an organization re-establish their winning ways, and I think that’s important.”
  • When asked if the team was committed to kicker Randy Bullock for the remainder of the season, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said they were committed to him “for the week.,” ESPN’s Katherine Terrell reports. Bullock has connected on 8-of-10 field goals on the season but has missed an extra point in each of his last two games.
  • It’s getting close to time for the Jets to see what they have in Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News writes. Though Josh McCown has played well, Mehta claims it is time to call the kids up from “Triple-A” to see what they can do.