LeSean McCoy

AFC East Rumors: Gronk, McCoy, Fins, Jets

The AFC East’s teams will report to training camp this week. Here is the latest surrounding the Patriots and their perennial challengers:

  • The Rob Gronkowski comeback talk has escalated considerably, with Gronkowski doing the speculating and predicting how restless he will be when Patriots camp and games begin. It won’t be Gronk’s relationship with Bill Belichick that stands in the way, Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston notes. After 2017 featured tension between Gronkowski and Belichick, Curran adds that the two “greatly” improved their relationship last season. This came despite the Patriots at one point planning to trade Gronk to the Lions last year. This improved relationship could point to Belichick signing off on a Gronk mid- or late-season return. The Patriots’ shaky tight end depth chart would seemingly have the defending champions eager to have the 30-year-old back in uniform.
  • One of Gronkowski’s former sidekicks in New England, Dwayne Allen will not begin camp on time with his new team. The Dolphins placed the veteran tight end on their active/PUP list on Sunday. Cornerback Cordrea Tankersley and linebacker/special-teamer Mike Hull joined Allen in receiving this designation before Miami’s camp. Tankersley tore an ACL in November, so this additional delay was not unexpected. He started 11 games at corner as a rookie but played in only six, as a reserve, last season.
  • Might third-round rookie Devin Singletary‘s performance put a potential Hall of Famer on the outs in Buffalo? LeSean McCoy is entering the final season of a five-year, $40MM Bills contract, and his cap savings ($6MM-plus) would benefit the Bills more than releases of Frank Gore or T.J. Yeldon. This led an NFL scouting director to call the McCoy situation one to monitor, per Albert Breer of SI.com. On a limited Bills offense last season, McCoy averaged a career-low 36.7 yards per game. His 3.2 yards per carry were nearly a yard shy of his previous-worst figure. The idea of a McCoy trade has surfaced this offseason, too.
  • Despite Leonard Williams being one of Mike Maccagnan‘s highest-profile investments, the New York Post’s Brian Costello predicts, barring unrealistic contract demands, Williams will end up staying on a long-term deal. The defensive end’s positive off-field reputation and standing within the locker room supports the notion the new regime, in Costello’s view, regarding him as a cornerstone player going forward. Speculation in league circles emerged that Adam Gase wanted to move on from Williams, but nothing has developed on that front in weeks. Williams, 25, is set for a fifth-year option season at $14.2MM.

East Notes: Jets, Bills, Eagles, Dolphins

The Jets inked former Broncos starter Trevor Siemian to a one-year, $2MM this offseason with the plan to use him as a backup to quarterback Sam Darnold. But as Connor Hughes of The Athletic writes, fellow signal-caller Davis Webb was more impressive during the spring. Webb, a Giants 2017 third-round pick that the Jets claimed off waivers last year, doesn’t have any NFL experience under his belt, while Siemian has started 24 pro games. Gang Green could potentially release Siemian, but they’d be saddled with $1MM in dead money. An alternative, per Hughes, could involve trading Webb for a mid-round pick, although it’s unclear if another club would sacrifice any real draft capital in exchange for an unproven quarterback.

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

  • The Bills have added a number of running backs to complement LeSean McCoy, and the veteran was especially pleased about Buffalo’s signing of Frank Gore, per Nate Mendelson of BuffaloBills.com. “I actually was begging him to come,” McCoy said. “Two years ago we were trying to get Frank and coach (Sean McDermott) asked if I’d like to play with him and I said ‘yeah.’” Buffalo signed not only Gore, but fellow free agent T.J. Yeldon, and selected Florida Atlantic running back Devin Singletary in the third round. Still, the team has been adamant that McCoy remains the starter, although that’s only invited more speculation that he could be traded at some point before the regular season begins.
  • Derek Barnett missed the final 10 games of the 2018 campaign after undergoing shoulder surgery, but the Eagles are still excited about the former first-round defensive end as he enters his third NFL season, according to Dave Spadaro of PhiladelphiaEagles.com. “I’d say every time he’s on the field, he’s rewarding our investment in him,” general manager Howie Roseman said. “We have a lot of confidence in him as a player and he’s a huge part of our football team. He’s shown that this isn’t a guy that’s going into his third year and we haven’t seen what he’s done. We’ve seen what he’s done in big games. We saw what he was doing last year before he got hurt. We expect him to come in and be a huge part of our team.” Now entering his age-23 campaign, Barnett has posted 7.5 sacks and 49 pressures over two years in Philadelphia.
  • Undrafted receiver Preston Williams made a name for himself during the Dolphins‘ offseason program, writes Barry Jackson the Miami Herald. Williams was especially valuable in red zone drills, per Jackson, who also notes Williams is now working with longtime NFL pass-catcher Brandon Marshall (thanks to a connection through now-Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick). Williams, who posted 96 receptions for 1,345 and 14 touchdowns during his final year at Colorado State, is behind DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Albert Wilson, and others on the Dolphins’ receiver depth chart.

East Notes: Zeke, Giants, McCoy

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott managed to escape a suspension for a potentially troublesome incident in May, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk suggests that if Elliott should even come close to violating the league’s personal conduct policy again, the punishment will be severe. Commissioner Roger Goodell gave everyone in the league office this week off, so Florio believes the only reason for Goodell to summon Elliott to league headquarters on Tuesday was to sufficiently scare him into staying on the straight and narrow. Goodell has been less harsh with players who run afoul of league policies in recent history, but if Elliott should put another toe out of line in the future, the commissioner will likely hand out a lengthy ban, and his decision to not suspend Elliott this time will help to justify such a measure.

Now for more the league’s east divisions:

  • There do not seem to be any starting jobs up for grabs along the Giants‘ defensive line, even though the presumptive starters are young and mostly unproven. However, with that youth comes a great deal of potential, and one of the keys to Big Blue’s immediate prospects is the realization of that potential. Third-year player Dalvin Tomlinson, second-year talent B.J. Hill, and rookie Dexter Lawrence are expected to open the season atop the Giants’ D-line depth chart, as Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes, and the addition of Lawrence allows Tomlinson to slide into a traditional nose tackle spot, to which he is better-suited.
  • In a separate 2019 positional preview piece, Schwartz examines the Giants‘ tight end group, which is headed by Evan Engram. Engram had a disappointing start to 2018, his second professional season, but when Odell Beckham missed the final four games of the season, Engram excelled and finished with some positive momentum. Now that OBJ is in Cleveland, New York will need Engram to show more of the same in a crucial year for his development. The club’s second TE, Rhett Ellison, is a favorite of HC Pat Shurmur, while returnee Scott Simonson will have to hold off C.J. Conrad — a UDFA who impressed this spring — and former Syracuse QB Eric Dungey, another UDFA who is trying to make the club as a TE/gadget player.
  • Vic Carucci of BNBlitz.com says it’s possible that Bills GM Brandon Beane and LeSean McCoy have adamantly pushed the notion that McCoy will be the team’s starter in 2019 in order to generate some trade interest. After all, the club does have a large stable of RBs, and McCoy, a 2020 free agent, appears to be nearing the end of his career. But Carucci says he has heard nothing to indicate that Buffalo is seeking to trade McCoy.
  • In the same piece, Carucci says he believes Levi Wallace will start for the Bills at cornerback opposite TreDavious White.
  • In case you missed it, we heard this morning that Cowboys edge rusher Randy Gregory will be applying for reinstatement shortly.
  • Also from this morning: the Giants may deploy safety Jabrill Peppers as their primary punt returner.

Extra Points: Foles, QB Summit, Running Backs

If the Eagles franchise tag Nick Foles and attempt to trade him, as is expected, they’ll be taking somewhat of a risk, writes former NFL agent and current CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry. “There is a school of thought that franchising Foles strictly for trade purposes violates the CBA. Language requiring a good-faith intention to negotiate with a tendered player or keep him for the upcoming season at his tender exists in the CBA”, Corry points out, although he notes it’s unlikely to be enforced.

The real issue is the cap ramifications of tagging and trading Foles, Corry writes. “With Philadelphia’s current contractual obligations, a Foles franchise tag would put the Eagles roughly $20 million over the projected salary cap. Several contracts would need to be restructured and/or players released just to be able to carry Foles’ cap number for as long as he remained with the Eagles even if he was dealt as soon as the 2019 league year started”, he observes. It’s an interesting point, and if the Eagles can’t agree in principle with another team on a good deal for Foles before the franchise tag period is over, they may not end up tagging him after all.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The league is hosting a “QB Summit” to help promote minority coaching candidates, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. According to La Canfora, “the conference will bring together young minority coaches on the offensive side of the ball (quarterbacks coaches, quality control coaches, interns) with established head coaches of all backgrounds in an attempt to facilitate more integration into NFL staffs.” La Canfora writes that “with so many owners seeking a ‘quarterback guru’ and offensive play-callers as head coaches in recent years, and so few African American and Latino coaches currently in those positions in the NFL, the league hopes this ongoing event will foster more integration in the offensive coaching ranks.”
  • With free agency right around the corner, Jason Fitzgerald of Overthecap.com broke down the running backs most likely to be cut this offseason. Carlos Hyde, who has a salary of $4.7MM for the Jaguars while only playing a bit role the second half of the season, is on top of the list. One somewhat surprising name he floats is LeSean McCoy by the Bills, writing that “it’s probably best for both sides to move on.” The team has said in the past that they plan to keep McCoy for 2019, but if they go all in on a youth movement, it wouldn’t be shocking if McCoy wanted out so he could go to a contender in the twilight of his career.
  • In case you missed it, the Ravens believe the presence of Lamar Jackson will help attract free agents this spring.

Bills Plan To Keep RB LeSean McCoy

Changes are coming in Buffalo, but LeSean McCoy is still a part of the team’s plans in 2019. This week, Bills GM Brandon Beane told reporters that Shady is staying put. 

LeSean will come back in 2019 and we’ll go from there,” the GM said.

Beane also indicated in November that McCoy would be retained. The team’s belief in him, in some respects, is surprising. McCoy will turn 31 in July and he’s coming off of a season in which he averaged a career low 3.2 yards per carry and was hit with ugly accusations. The Bills, in theory, could dump McCoy to save $6.425MM against the cap with just $2.625MM left in dead money, but that move is apparently not in consideration.

For what it’s worth, McCoy also says that he’s happy in Western New York. Recently, McCoy said that while “a lot of teams” wanted to trade for him at this year’s deadline, he wants to stay put and be a part of the team’s future.

McCoy still offers serious burst and cutting ability, even at his advanced age, so there’s reason to believe that he can get back to his old form in 2019. The veteran would also benefit from a beefing up of the offensive line.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Bills, Barkley, McCoy, Giants, Dolphins, Herbert

It’s been a crazy season for the Bills. While the defense has been promising, the offense has been an absolute train-wreck. They’ve cycled through quarterbacks, and will now get their fourth new starting signal caller of the season this Sunday. Recently signed Matt Barkley will get the start for Buffalo over Nathan Peterman, according to a release from the team (Twitter link).

There was some hope that rookie Josh Allen would be able to return this week, but the Bills ruled him out with his elbow injury. Derek Anderson has still been unable to clear the concussion protocol, so he won’t be able to play either. That left Barkley, who was only signed ten days ago, and Peterman as the only healthy options. It’s been reported before that coach Sean McDermott risked losing the locker room if he started Peterman again, so it makes sense why the team is turning to Barkley here. Barkley hasn’t appeared in a regular season game since 2016, when he started a few games with Chicago down the stretch. In those starts Barkley was up and down, looking awful at times and competent at others.

Here’s more from the league’s Eastern divisions:

  • Top brass from both the Giants and Dolphins are at the Oregon-Utah game today to scout quarterback Justin Herbert, according to Albert Breer of SI.com (Twitter link). Eli Manning and Ryan Tannehill both have uncertain futures with their respective teams, so it makes sense why they’d be taking a look. Herbert is widely considered the best quarterback prospect who’s draft eligible, but is reportedly considered unlikely to enter the draft after this year.
  • The Bills’ season might be circling the drain, but star running back LeSean McCoy insists he is happy in Buffalo, according to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com (Twitter link). McCoy said that while “a lot of teams” wanted to trade for him at this year’s deadline, he is in the Bills’ longterm plans and is happy where he is. McCoy is getting up there in age, but still has his same burst and trademarked cutting ability. He’s hardly responsible for the Bills’ offensive woes, as opposing defenses completely sellout to stop the run.
  • In case you missed it, former Jets draft bust Christian Hackenberg signed with the upstart football league the AAF yesterday.

AFC East Notes: Jets, McCoy, Patriots

The JetsTrumaine Johnson investment hasn’t quite paid off yet. The twice-franchise-tagged cornerback signed a five-year, $72.5MM contract this offseason but has only played since September due to a nagging quadriceps injury. While Johnson returned to practice this week, he’s listed as doubtful for the Jets’ Week 9 game against the Dolphins. And Johnson said he’s ready to come back. Gang Green’s injury report doesn’t seem to concur.

I definitely feel like I’m there, but that’s the coach’s decision, the trainer’s decision,” Johnson said, via the New York Daily News’ Howie Kussoy. “It’s not my choice.”

The seventh-year cornerback battled quad trouble in 2015 but only missed two games. His return to limited practice work this week certainly points to a return in Week 10 against the Bills, barring a setback. At 3-5 and spiraling out of contention, the Jets need all the help they can get.

Here’s the latest from the AFC East, shifting first to offseason matters for the rebuilding Jets.

  • While big-ticket players like Le’Veon Bell or Jadeveon Clowney (were they to reach free agency) would be within reach for a Jets team that will have north of $100MM in 2019 cap space and intends to spend, several slightly lower-tier options stand to be available. Tevin Coleman, Mark Ingram, Golden Tate and Devin Funchess are some of the skill-position options who could be Jets targets, Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News writes. Devonta Freeman may not be entering 2019 on a high note, but the Falcons’ starting back is not a realistic release candidate next year. That could lead Coleman out of Atlanta. None of the other skill cogs here have entered into substantive extension talks with their respective teams, either.
  • LeSean McCoy‘s legal team filed a response to Delicia Cordon’s lawsuit this week, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets. The Bills running back wants Cordon’s lawsuit to be dismissed, per Rodak (on Twitter), and continues to deny his ex-girlfriend’s claim that he physically abused her. No ruling’s come down on Cordon’s suit yet, and McCoy continues to play. But this matter could potentially bring a suspension in the future.
  • Free agent offensive lineman Jason King filed an injury grievance against the Patriots, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets. King joins Kenny Britt and Malcolm Mitchell in filing injury grievances against the Pats. King’s grievance is for his $363K injury split salary, per Volin. The Patriots twice signed and twice cut King this offseason, the most recent transaction coming when the team cut him after the preseason slate.

Bills To Bring LeSean McCoy Back In 2019

LeSean McCoy‘s name was bandied about in trade rumors last month, but the Bills held on to the veteran past Tuesday’s deadline. In a conversation with Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News, GM Brandon Beane said that McCoy was retained because he is a part of the team’s vision for 2019. 

“Definitely,” Beane said when asked whether McCoy will be on the roster next year. “That’s the whole key. LeSean is still a very good player in this league. Our offense is not where we want it, but LeSean is still playing well. He’s a talented player. We like what he brings, to the point we’ll have him back in 2019. He’ll definitely be a part of that.”

The 30-year-old is currently averaging a career-low 3.4 yards-per-attempt, and he’s yet to score a touchdown this season. However, McCoy had compiled at least 1,000 rushing yards in both 2016 and 2017, and it’s clear that opposing teams are not respecting the pass.

Beane still believes in McCoy’s ability, which is why does not intend to trade or release McCoy, despite the potential cap savings. Releasing McCoy outright would save the club $6.4MM with just $2.6MM left over in dead money.

The GM’s position also reaffirms the club’s belief that the accusations against McCoy are not valid. For his part, the running back has denied any wrongdoing or connection to the July home invasion that left his ex-girlfriend battered.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Patriots Trades, Collins, Bills, Hughes, Jets, Sterling

The Patriots are annually one of the most aggressive teams in the league when it comes to adding talent, as evidenced by their recent trade for Josh Gordon. With the trade deadline now just a couple of days away, New England is looking to make more moves. The team wants “to acquire some help in the defensive front seven by the deadline Tuesday”, and “they’ve had internal discussions about trading for linebacker Jamie Collins“, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic.

The Patriots traded Collins to the Browns in 2016, and now apparently have some interest in bringing him back. It would be an unusual move with a player being traded twice between two teams, but the Browns would likely welcome the relief of getting out of Collins’ contract, and it sounds like the Patriots are interested. Collins signed a four-year $50MM deal with Cleveland in 2017, and hasn’t lived up to that deal so far. Whatever happens, it sounds like the Patriots’ defense will look a little different by this time next week.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes “has been a hot name on the trade market”, but the “Bills have been reluctant to part with him”, a source told Howe. Howe thinks that Hughes would “be a good fit for the Patriots”, but doesn’t think Buffalo will decide to part with him. Hughes has been having a good season, notching 4.5 sacks in seven games.
  • Jets tight end Neal Sterling “suffered his second concussion of the season” today against the Bears, and “likely will be lost [for] multiple games”, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN (Twitter link). The Jets are very thin at tight end, so this is a somewhat significant loss for New York.
  • Bills running back LeSean McCoy has cleared the concussion protocol and will play Monday night against the Patriots, the team announced in a tweet. It’s a huge boost for Buffalo’s struggling offense as they look to pull of the massive upset in primetime.

Trade Rumors: Carr, Raiders, Peterson, Taylor

We learned earlier this morning that Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson has requested a trade, though the team wants to keep him. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that Jackson, on his way to the team bus this morning, declined to comment on the report.

With the trade deadline two days away, let’s round up a few more trade rumors from around the league (Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who says many GMs expect there to be three to five “impactful” deals over the next 48 hours, offers a helpful primer, which includes a list of some of the most-discussed players on the market):

  • Albert Breer of TheMMQB says that the Raiders may not be done dealing just yet, though he does not expect the team to move Derek Carr (indeed, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported this morning that the Raiders have told Carr that he is the quarterback of the present and future). However, Oakland is open to moving Karl Joseph and Gareon Conley, though the Raiders are driving a “hard bargain” with teams interested in Conley.
  • Breer names a number of other players whose names we have not heard in recent rumblings but who could nonetheless be on the move: the PackersHa Ha Clinton-Dix, the 49ersPierre Garcon and Jimmie Ward, the CardinalsChandler Jones, and the BroncosShane Ray and Brandon Marshall. Breers adds that San Francisco would need to get something “significant” to deal Ward. He also says that, while teams are certainly interested in Denver corners Bradley Roby and Chris Harris, he thinks it would be difficult for the team to trade either.
  • If they had elected to trade Patrick Peterson, La Canfora writes that the Cardinals could have received a bounty for him, and may have even landed multiple first-round picks (in fact, several teams were already prepared to offer a first- and second-rounder). JLC reports that Peterson was considered the “crown jewel” of the deadline, and given his attractive contract status, he may be the subject of renewed trade rumors during the offseason.
  • Breer also writes that the Browns are open to trading Tyrod Taylor, whose contract structure could make a deal feasible. Meanwhile, Tony Grossi of ESPN.com suggests that Cleveland GM John Dorsey may be trying to acquire wide receiver help (Twitter link).
  • The Bills remain unlikely to trade LeSean McCoy, per Schefter.
  • Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has demonstrated a proclivity for making trades, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says Maccagnan has been doing his due diligence on everyone, including big-name players. But while there is a sense that New York could swing a deal, the fact that the team is in a no-man’s land between buyer and seller, and the fact that the roster does not have many tradeable pieces, could make a trade difficult to pull off.