Josh McCown

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.

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.