McCown, 39, who became a free agent this offseason, had at least one team interested in bringing in the veteran QB as recently as two weeks ago. The journeyman signal-caller decided to retire instead of take that offer.
It’s safe to assume that team would have pursued McCown as a mentor to a young quarterback, similar to the situation he was in with the Jets in 2018 as a de facto coach to first-round pick Sam Darnold.
Cimini also asked McCown about what Darnold could improve upon entering his second season. McCown responded with, “Playing fast and smart on early downs.” That criticism was dead on from the veteran, as Darnold performed better on third downs than he did on first and second downs as a rookie in 2018.
“He needs to know when to cut bait on a play and when to rip it,” McCown said. “That will be more fine-tuned this year because I know Adam [Gase] will help with that. That will be the biggest jump for him. If he can eliminate five or six incompletions per game, it’ll be a major improvement.”
“At the end of the day, no matter what team I was on, I tried to serve it to the best of my ability, and I tried to influence my team in a positive manner. I hope I did that,” McCown wrote. “And I made sure that when my number was called, I was prepared, and I gave it everything I had, every time. I may not have turned out to be the franchise quarterback I set out to be back at Cardinals rookie camp, but I’m extremely proud of the career I had.”
McCown didn’t become the face of the Cardinals as he had hoped, but he did enjoy nearly two decades in the NFL while spending time with ten different teams. His journey also included a pit stop in the UFL in 2010, a deal that almost didn’t come to pass when the Bears offered him a contract. Remarkably, McCown declined the opportunity in Chicago and stuck it out with the Hartford Colonials. He later said that the notion of bailing on the commitment “didn’t sit well” with him and he didn’t want to set a bad example for his children in which he would give his “word to somebody until something better comes along and then break that.”
McCown had some memorable moments on the field throughout his career, but he will largely be remembered for his high-character, intense work ethic, and willingness to help groom younger quarterbacks. After starting 13 games for the Jets in 2017, McCown put his ego aside and agreed to return to New York as a mentor for rookie Sam Darnold. Now, McCown will continue to put his football wisdom and knowledge to good use, either as a broadcaster or coach.
While Barr is expected to help the Jets’ edge rush, he is also viewed as someone who will play off the ball, Mehta notes, comparing the latest high-priced Gregg Williams chess piece to Jamie Collins — the Browns’ off-ball ‘backer who would rush quarterbacks as well. However, it sounds like Barr — a UCLA edge defender — will see more time in rush roles than Collins did.
Here is more from the Jets’ first day of unofficial free agency and the latest from Giants headquarters:
A third Josh McCown Jets season could occur, with the team maintaining some interest in the soon-to-be 40-year-old passer backing up Sam Darnold, per SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. But McCown released a statement Monday night indicating he is undecided on continuing his career, which could put the Jets in the market for another backup.
One of those options figures to be Ryan Tannehill, given his three-year run with Adam Gase in Miami. However, the soon-to-be-released quarterback has not come up in Jets meetings about filling their QB2 role, per Mehta. Tannehill could command a higher-end backup salary, like McCown, due to his extensive run as a starter. But he has not proven he can stay healthy since his knee troubles began in 2016.
A Mosley backup plan may be former Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall. The Jets expressed interest in the longtime Denver starter, according to Vacchiano. This would also point to Lee not being in the team’s plans any longer.
A third Morris Claiborne contract will not be on the Jets’ agenda, despite their need at corner, Vacchiano adds. Claiborne’s past two free agency stays ended with Jets deals; the veteran corner will likely have to seek his latest contract elsewhere.
The Broncos just reset the right tackle market, with their four-year, $52MM deal for Ja’Wuan James, and that should drive up the price for Daryl Williams. The Giants are likely to express interest in the former Panthers starter, Vacchiano notes. But as was the case with former Dave Gettleman find Andrew Norwell, whom the Giants tried to sign last year, Williams probably won’t come cheap. That said, Norwell and James were coming off healthy seasons; Williams missed almost all of last season because of leg injuries.
Big Blue, per Vacchiano, also inquired Monday about former Redskins outside linebacker Preston Smith, who is one of this market’s top edge defenders. The Giants just traded Olivier Vernon to the Browns and have a massive need on the edge. But Smith will also be a coveted commodity on this market.
January 20th, 2019 at 9:39pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
The Patriots are heading to the Super Bowl, and Super Bowl LIII might be the final game for Rob Gronkowski. We’ve heard for a while now that Gronkowski is considering retirement even more seriously than he did last season, and we got even more confirmation of that today. There is a “strong possibility” that Gronkowski retires this offseason in order to pursue an acting career, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter video). He’s flirted with retirement in the past, but given his declining on field production this year for the Patriots, it feels more real. If it really is the end for Gronk, he’ll go down as one of, if not the, best tight end in NFL history.
Here’s more from around the league:
It’s been reported that GM Chris Ballard would like the Colts to add another talented wide receiver to pair with T.Y. Hilton, but don’t expect them to be in on the Antonio Brown sweepstakes this offseason, writes Stephen Holder of The Athletic. It’s unclear if the Steelers would even want to deal Brown to Indianapolis, as they’d likely prefer to trade him out of conference to the NFC.
Adam Gase has already hired Gregg Williams to be his defensive coordinator with the Jets, but the team still has a vacancy at offensive coordinator. “All signs point to” Gase bringing in Dowell Loggains to be his new OC, according to Daryl Slater of NJ.com. Loggains has worked under Gase both in Chicago and Miami, so it’s not surprising he’s tagging along to the Big Apple. Either way, Gase will likely be the offensive play-caller in New York.
Speaking of the Jets, Slater writes separately in the same post that Josh McCown is “definitely not coming back” next year. McCown became a fan favorite during the 2017 season when he helped the team beat expectations as the starter, and got a lot of praise for his work mentoring Sam Darnold this past year. But his ties were to Todd Bowles and the previous coaching staff, and with Gase now in charge, he’s apparently unlikely to spend a second straight year mentoring.
The Jets are preparing to roll with veteran quarterback Josh McCown once again in Week 13 vs. the Titans, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets.
Though rookie quarterback Sam Darnold is close to a return, Rapoport hears from sources the Jets want to make sure their signal-caller of the future is 100% when he returns to the field. He adds Darnold might work out pregame to try to convince them otherwise, but the 17-year veteran McCown is more than likely to get the nod.
The USC product has been out of action after suffering a significant sprain to his right foot in Week 9 vs. the Dolphins. In his stead, McCown has completed 54.4 percent of his passes for 411 yards and a touchdown with three interceptions in two starts against the Bills and Patriots, both New York losses.
Darnold started the season hot, leading the Jets to a 48-17 win over Detroit in Week 1 when he became the youngest quarterback in years to start a season opener. It has been downhill since then, and he had amassed a league-high 14 interceptions at the time of his injury.
At 3-8 and in last place in the AFC East, there is no reason for the Jets to rush back their franchise quarterback to the fold.
If it wasn’t apparent Thursday night, when Sam Darnold received his first preseason start, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv notes many in the Jets organization want the rookie to start in Week 1. Taking this route would likely mean Gang Green finding a trade partner for Teddy Bridgewater, and given the way he’s looked thus far, there are surely some teams who will be interested.
However, Vacchiano adds that Bridgewater “intrigues” Todd Bowles. Josh McCown isn’t likely to receive much preseason work, but Vacchiano notes that’s not indicative of his performance. Bowles observed McCown work throughout last season, so he knows what he has in the 39-year-old incumbent.
More from Jackson, who writes that the Dolphins are unlikely trade for Bridgewater, despite their previous interest in him. The Jets QB is on a one-year deal worth $5MM and could make a lot more through incentives, so the Dolphins are unlikely to pay out that contract and give up a draft pick unless a big need develops. That need has yet to develop as Ryan Tannehill is healthy and David Fales continues to look solid in reserve.
This turned out to be an important year for quarterback acquisitions. Many teams’ short- and long-term futures will depend heavily on the players they added over the past two months.
A fourth of the NFL made major investments in outside talent at the quarterback position this offseason. Which team did you think is in the best position after all the dominoes fell?
Three teams acquired their unquestioned starters via trade or free agency. The Redskins’ trade for Alex Smith ensured they were not going to pick a quarterback in the draft. As did the Vikings’ subsequent Kirk Cousins agreement. The Broncos entered the draft as a borderline QB destination, but John Elway valuedBradley Chubb more than Josh Allen or Josh Rosen, eschewing a Bills offer that would have given his team extra first- and second-round picks. So, Case Keenum is going to be Denver’s starter.
Four of the five teams that used first-round picks on quarterbacks made sure to add bridge-type solutions, with the Browns moving first to get Tyrod Taylor. The Jets and Cardinals then respectively proceeded to bring in Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon. And the Bills made the final stopgap addition in A.J. McCarron. But these players, for the most part, are 2018 placeholders — at best.
The Bills worked the phones relentlessly in an effort to install Allen behind McCarron, and the Cardinals reportedly had the Wyoming prodigy rated as their top QB as well. But Allen could need extensive seasoning, and as of now, a returning playoff team has a fifth-year player with 133 career pass attempts set to open the season and possibly close it as the starter.
Conversely, the player the Cardinals invested in was tabbed by many draft experts as the readiest pro. And Bradford being in front of Rosen for 16 games may be asking a lot from the injury-prone veteran. The Ravens are already planning Jackson packages, and although the player whom some teams wanted to work out as a wide receiver may need a season to develop, this draft’s most dominant college QB resides in Baltimore behind Joe Flacco.
Armed with one of the league’s most talented rosters, Minnesota had the most obvious case to pursue a veteran. And the Vikings made history by authorizing a $28MM-AAV fully guaranteed deal for the soon-to-be 30-year-old Cousins, who may be the safest option among all of these players. But he’s now the league’s second-highest-paid passer and tethered to the Vikings through 2020. Smith is coming off his best NFL season, but his Chiefs teams disappointed in two home playoff opportunities. Washington could also be much further away from contention than Minnesota, and the Redskins have now brought in quarterback who for all the stability he offers is four years older.
It’s debatable the Broncos’ contention window could still be open, with many of their core Super Bowl 50 performers still on the team and having played the past two seasons without much help at quarterback. But a 5-11 team armed with only its second top-five pick since 1992 passing on two coveted QB prospects to pursue the 30-year-old Keenum, a late-blooming talent or a player who benefited from better circumstances, could also be classified as a bold choice as Rosen and Allen’s careers unfold. The Broncos only committed to Keenum for two years and are paying Football Outsiders’ No. 4 2017 DYAR passer $10MM less per year than Cousins commanded.
So, with all things considered, which of these franchises is best set up after this offseason? Did one of the teams that spent a first-round pick on a QB ensure a decade and then some of stability and promise? Or did the teams that went strictly for vets get this right? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!
With the selection of Sam Darnold at No. 3 in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Jets brought their quarterback room to five. The USC product joined Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. Newsday’s Calvin Watkins, however, notes that number is expected to shrink by the time the team heads to training camp in July.
The two obvious candidates to be moved or released are Petty and Hackenberg. The former has failed to impress in seven starts, and the latter, despite having a cannon for an arm, has yet to make an appearance in his first two seasons.
Even if one of the two make it to training camp, another move is likely to come as keeping four quarterbacks would handicap the team at other positions. In addition to Darnold, it would be hard to see the veteran McCown not making the squad. The journeyman is viewed as invaluable in the locker room and is the perfect candidate to help the young Darnold learn the ropes of the NFL.
Bridgewater, however, is no lock to make the roster. As Watkins notes, the former Vikings signal-caller receives a $5MM base salary if he makes the team. If not, the Jets are only out the $500,000 signing bonus. If he proves he is back to his pre-injury form, New York will have a steal. If not, the team can cut bait with minimal salary implications.
Here’s more from around the league:
The Broncos did not endure a turnover in the scouting department following this weekend’s draft, 9 News’ Mike Klis tweets. In the wake of the annual draft, it is not uncommon for teams to part ways with scouts and personnel department. Team president John Elway, however, decided to bring everyone back.
The Chiefs hired Eagles assistant director of college scouting Michael Bradway to an undisclosed position, Geoff Mosher of 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia tweets. Mosher notes Bradway, who was with the Eagles for seven seasons, joins back up with Chiefs general manager Brett Veach, who also spent time in Philadelphia.
The Giants attempted to trade into the back end of the second round to select Georgia linebacker Lorenzo Carter, the New York Post’s Paul Schwartz writes. Though a deal did not form, New York was still able to pluck the speedy edge rusher when he fell to their third-round pick (No. 66). “What you have to appreciate is his unseen production. If he is flying off the edge, he is creating pressure. Sometimes you are looking at guys that create plays for others.,” general manager Dave Gettleman said.
The Eagles drafted their fewest players since 1989 when it emerged from the draft with only five selections. That is not a spot the team wants to be in again, general manager Howie Roseman told The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Les Bowen. “I think it’s a hard first couple of days for people who put a lot of time and effort into the process, and you see that,” Roseman said. “The last two days, it’s hard. A lot of guys get off the board, so we don’t want to do that again. I think that’s the first takeaway.”
Vikings center Pat Elflein is doing “part work” in spring drills but is not going to be ready for OTAs, the player told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). Elflein suffered a fractured left ankle in the NFC Championship game on Jan. 21 and underwent surgery the following week. “We’re just not rushing it. I’m just trying to get myself back in shape and get strong and be ready to go.,” Elflein said.
The 2018 quarterback market sent several players to new teams as likely starters. But Kirk Cousins was clearly the prize. Three teams submitted offers. Here’s the latest fallout from the Cousins deal as well as teams’ decisions to sign other quarterbacks, courtesy of TheMMQB’s Peter King.
While King reports the Broncos indeed did not submit an offer to Cousins’ agent, Mike McCartney, the Cardinals did. They pitched their Patrick Peterson– and David Johnson-fronted core of young players, but McCartney told King Arizona finished third in this derby. Steve Keim was the first GM to call McCartney on Monday morning when the tampering period began, but McCartney told King he called Keim back that night and could not confirm Cousins would visit Arizona. The Cards then pivoted to Sam Bradford.
As reports over the weekend confirmed, the Jets were second, per King. McCartney didn’t confirm to King the Jets made the best offer, but both Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News and ESPN’s Rich Cimini reported they proposed a $30MM fully guaranteed deal, but he said New York pitched its cap space and Cousins’ familiarity with the kind of offense new OC Jeremy Bates would run. However, McCartney placed a call to Mike Maccagnan at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday and could not guarantee Cousins would visit. “That was a tough phone call,” McCartney said, via King. “They were clearly frustrated. They wanted to be guaranteed a visit. I told them I couldn’t guarantee a visit, that if he goes to Minnesota and loves it, he could sign. They were not happy about that. I understand, but I told everyone all along what the rules were, and we abided by them.”
Envisioning a “silent auction”-type format, McCartney told teams to come in with their best offers. However, he appeared to be surprised the Broncos didn’t make one. King reports John Elway liked Keenum “a lot” and didn’t want to pay “in the neighborhood” of $30MM per year for Cousins. The price tags for the slew of veterans on the Broncos’ roster, many of whom lobbied for Cousins to come to Denver, influenced Elway’s Keenum choice to sign Keenum for $18MM AAV. King adds Elway did not want the process to drag into Thursday or Friday and his roster not having a starter-caliber veteran quarterback on it.
The Jets immediately began talking to McCartney about one of his other clients, Josh McCown, but their $10MM offer — a career most for the soon-to-be 39-year-old quarterback — may have come because the Bills were strong pursuers as well. King reports Buffalo was “seriously interested” in McCown, who signed for $4MM more than he did last year. Buffalo ended up landing A.J. McCarron for less money per season.
The seven-team research list McCartney’s office compiled earlier this offseason included the final four teams, but also featured the Bills, Browns and Dolphins. Going into the final week, King notes McCartney and Cousins felt the Jets and Vikings had the edge but acknowledged the Broncos and Cardinals were still in the mix. McCartney told teams a fully guaranteed contract was important during this process. It’s unclear if the Cardinals offered that, but the other two proposals were for fully guaranteed deals. The agent confirmed only the Vikings, Cardinals and Jets made offers, and Minnesota’s included the pitch of possibly being in position to win multiple titles with Cousins as the missing piece. King notes Minnesota’s new stadium and new facility also surfaced during the team’s over-the-phone proposal.
Cousins’ agent, Mike McCartney, said the Vikings’ offer was “not even close” to the best for his client. And a previous report had the Jets ready to offer a boatload for the 29-year-old passer. And it’s quite possible they could have offered a $30MM-AAV fully guaranteed deal. That would have qualified as a better proposal than what Cousins accepted.
While the Vikings didn’t make the best offer, the one they did make comes with some historic provisions: an $84MM fully guaranteed deal, a no-trade clause and the prevention of placing the franchise tag on Cousins once the deal expires, Mehta reports.
During his press conference in Minnesota, the now-wealthier quarterback said he did some scouting on the city while he was in town for Super Bowl week, informing his wife that “everything was checking the boxes” in Minnesota. The Redskins agreed to trade for Alex Smith while Cousins was in Minneapolis, so the Vikings may have been the frontrunners from the start — even though it wasn’t yet known if they were going to place the franchise tag on Case Keenum. Mehta adds Cousins was not believed to have made a trip to the New York/New Jersey area for Jets-scouting purposes.
As far as the Jets go, being so committed to chasing Cousins harmed their free agency prospects, Mehta writes. Although they feared the Vikings in this chase, they were still holding out hope as of Tuesday morning he could be swayed to come to New York. The Jets reporter notes the team could not make sizable financial proposals on Monday because of the commitment they would have needed to make to Cousins if he were to sign with them. Mehta reports the Jets gave Cousins a deadline on Tuesday morning.
After Cousins-to-Minnesota became an accepted reality on Tuesday, however, the Jets sprang into action — most notably with their Trumaine Johnson commitment. New York signed both Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater to serve as a bridge to the likely passer the team will draft at No. 3 overall.
Another theory at Jets headquarters is McCartney helped arrange Cousins going to Minnesota to help Josh McCown — also a McCartney client — receive a better Jets offer. While that may be a bit extreme, since McCown got $4MM more in 2018 ($10MM) than he did in 2017, Mehta reports that is a real sentiment with the Jets.