Marqise Lee

Extra Points: Broncos, Talib, Jaguars, Lee

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib wants to finish his career with the Broncos, but he also knows that a return might not be in the cards.

If I wasn’t [returning], it wouldn’t be the most surprising thing in the world,” Talib said on Denver’s Altitude 950 (transcription via Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post). “You have three corners making big money and that’s rare to have. I had conversations with our staff during our exit meetings and stuff, so it’s kind of up in the air. But I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m still here. Just put it like this: I had good conversations with [head coach] Vance [Joseph], with [defensive coordinator] Joe Woods. I mean, things change. But there’s a chance I will be back.”

Talib, 31, has two years left on the five-year deal he signed with the Broncos in 2014. He’s slated to carry a cap hit of $12MM in 2018, but the team can release him and carry just $1MM in dead money. If Talib wants to stay in Denver, he’ll probably have to take a pay cut to make it happen. The Broncos can’t afford to squander any of their cap room, particularly with Bradley Roby’s salary increasing from ~$1MM to $8.5MM next season.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee did not practice on Wednesday and may not practice this week. However, the belief is that he will be able to take the field against the Bills this weekend, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Lee had the most receptions of any Jags receiver this year (56) and finished second in receiving yards (702). If Lee cannot go, Jacksonville will have to lean a bit more heavily on Allen Hurns, Dede Westbrook, and Keelan Cole.
  • Meanwhile, Titans running back DeMarco Murray has been ruled out of Saturday’s Wild Card game against the Chiefs (Twitter link via Rapoport). As a result, Derrick Henry will see a larger share of carries.
  • The Giants‘ interview with Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is scheduled for Friday, Rapoport tweets.
  • The Cardinals will have their interview with Patricia on Saturday, Rapoport hears. Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores is set to interview on the same day.
  • The Lions will get to talk with Patricia over the weekend, according to Rapoport.

Jaguars Sign DuJuan Harris

The Jaguars have signed running back DuJuan Harris, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union tweets that the team has waived/injured CB Charles Gaines to make room for Harris.

DuJuan Harris

With Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon both battling injuries, Jacksonville needed depth at the running back position. Harris began his career with the Jags back in 2011, when he signed with the club as an undrafted free agent out of Troy. He has also seen regular season action with the Packers, Seahawks, and 49ers, and he accumulated 38 carries for 138 yards (3.6 YPC) for San Francisco last year, along with eight catches for 115 yards and a score. The 49ers re-signed him to a one-year deal this March but released him just a few weeks later.

Fournette, of course, is expected to anchor the Jags’ offense after being selected with the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft, and O’Halloran reports that Fournette is very optimistic about his chances of suiting up on Week 1. He sustained a foot injury on August 12 but indicated he has made good progress in the last week. And, although the high ankle sprain that he suffered with LSU last year was on the same leg as his current foot ailment, he indicated that the two injuries are not related.

Chris Ivory will be Jacksonville’s No. 2 back this season, so assuming Fournette is healthy, Harris will compete with Yeldon for the team’s No. 3 job, along with the likes of Jonathan Grimes, Corey Grant, and Tim Cook.

In the same piece linked above, O’Halloran reports that wide receiver Marqise Lee, who is dealing with an ankle injury that initially looked severe, also plans to be ready by Week 1.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jags WR Marqise Lee Has High Ankle Sprain

Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee suffered a high ankle sprain in Sunday’s preseason game, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). While Lee could conceivably be available for Week 1, an abundance of caution could force Lee to miss the beginning of the regular season, per Rapoport.Marqise Lee (Vertical)

Lee, a second-round pick in 2014, finally lived up to his draft billing last season, as he appeared in all 16 games for the first time in his career. With Allen Hurns sidelined by injury near the end of the 2016 campaign, Lee actually finished second among Jaguars wide receivers with 817 offensive snaps. In that time, he posted 63 receptions, 851 yards, and three touchdowns, and was excellent on a per-play basis, finishing 18th in DVOA.

If Lee can’t get back on the field in time for the season opener, fourth-round rookie Dede Westbrook would theoretically see more snaps as Jacksonville’s third wide receiver. Arrelious Benn and Rashad Greene could also be in contention for expanded playing time, but the Jaguars may choose to lean even more heavily on the run game. Jacksonville ran the ball on only 37% of plays last year, seventh-least in the league, but now boast fourth overall pick Leonard Fournette in the backfield.

Even if Westbrook (or another wide receiver) can fill in for Lee in the Jaguars’ offense, Jacksonville will need to find a new kick returner for the time Lee misses. In 2016, Lee managed 30.3 yards per return on 18 kickoffs, helping the Jags gain 8.9 points of field position on kick returns (fifth-best in the NFL, and the only area of the club’s special teams that was above-average).

Westrbook and/or Greene could help out on special teams, but adding a free agent could also be on the table. Marc Mariani, who’s made a career of fielding both kick and punt returns, is still on the open market. However, he’s entering his age-30 campaign and averaged only 21.5 yards per kick return in 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Washington, Cutler, Cowboys, Fins, Bolts, Jags

Washington will head to Chicago on Sunday to face the Jay Cutler-led Bears as it looks to stay atop the NFC East heap. Besides the matchup’s playoff implications, adding further intrigue is that Cutler – whom the Bears acquired in a trade with Denver in 2009 – was minutes from being Washington’s quarterback, as ESPN’s John Keim writes.

“You know how much time I put into that? A lot. Months. Dan [Snyder] put in a lot, too,” said Vinny Cerrato, who was Washington’s executive vice president at the time. “It was disappointing because at times we thought we had a deal then they called and said, no. Then they called back and said, ‘Hold on. If the deal falls through, we’ll trade him to you.’ Then it was like, ‘No, it didn’t work.'”

Cutler hasn’t exactly been a franchise quarterback for the Bears, but he has fared better than the slew of passers Washington has used since failing to acquire him. Washington has started Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman, John Beck, Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy and current No. 1 Kirk Cousins throughout Cutler’s time in Chicago, Keim notes. Among that group, the club invested a fair amount in an ineffective McNabb and a boatload in RGIII, who hasn’t taken a snap this year and is all but guaranteed to be with another franchise next season.

Landing Cutler would’ve cost Washington plenty – a first-round pick, a fourth-rounder and QB Jason Campbell – but Cerrato believes Mike Shanahan’s presence would’ve helped make it worthwhile. Shanahan coached Cutler with the Broncos from 2006-08 and went on to hold the same position in Washington from 2010-13. Cutler threw 54 touchdowns against 37 interceptions in 37 games under Shanahan and amassed a career-best 4,526 passing yards in 2008.

“Mike knew him and what made him tick,” Cerrato said. “It would have given the organization a shot in the arm. Some like him and some don’t, but he’d have played his best football because of the way he is with Mike … It was like a punch in the gut.”

We’ll never know how another helping of Cutler-Shanahan would’ve gone, but one thing’s obvious: Had it happened, it would’ve changed both franchises dramatically – not necessarily for the better in either case, of course.

More from around the NFL as we draw closer to Washington-Chicago and the rest of Sunday’s Week 14 action:

  • Cowboys owner Jerry Jones criticized the team’s coaching staff earlier this week. On Friday, he laid some of the blame for Dallas’ 4-8 record on himself – specifically for his handling of the backup quarterback position last offseason. “On the other hand, if you want to look at any aspect of this team you can say well, if we would have been in better shape had you had Matt Cassel in the spring, rather than (Brandon) Weeden, and I’m not trying to knock Weeden, but if we would have had a guy like Cassel in here than we might have made a difference there, so put that one ultimately on my shoulders for sure,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan, per Josh Clark of CBS DFW.
  • Dolphins rookie receiver DeVante Parker – whom the team chose 14th overall in this year’s draft – started quietly but has come on strong over the last two weeks, combining for seven catches, 143 yards and two touchdowns. With Parker seemingly emerging as a playmaker and Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills also part of the Dolphins’ long-term receiving corps, the end of Rishard Matthews‘ tenure in Miami could come this offseason, according to the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero. Matthews, a fourth-year man who’s in the top two among Dolphins in receptions (43), targets (60), yards (662), yards per catch (15.4) and touchdowns (four) this year, is scheduled to hit free agency in a few months.
  • Chargers running back Melvin Gordon was impressive on 12 carries against Denver last Sunday, rushing for 55 yards, but head coach Mike McCoy benched the first-round rookie because of fumbling issues. Gordon coughed the ball up twice in a 17-3 loss, giving him five fumbles on the season. McCoy’s decision to sit Gordon was wrong, Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune offers. In Canepa’s opinion, with the season effectively over for the 3-9 Bolts, McCoy and his staff should be coaching Gordon through his struggles and letting him play – not relegating him to the sideline.
  • The final quarter of the season will provide some important answers for the Jaguars, writes Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. Among them: the future statuses of receiver Marqise Lee, center Stefen Wisniewski, defenders Ryan Davis and Chris Smith, and kicker Jason Myers.

AFC Notes: Pagano, Jags, Titans, Broncos

Rumors have persisted that Colts coach Chuck Pagano is fighting to keep his job. While the rumors seemingly haven’t fazed the team, the players certainly recognize their coach’s questionable job security.

“Every team has adversity,” cornerback Vontae Davis told Stephen Holder of IndyStar.com. “If the job was easy, then everybody could be a head coach. I think he’s the man for the job.”

Offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo echoed that sentiment.

“He doesn’t bring any of that in here,” he said. “I actually don’t even know what you’re talking about.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the AFC…

  • Michael DiRocco reports that Jaguars wideout Marqise Lee is one setback away from landing on the injured reserve. The second-year player has only played in two games this season, but the organization isn’t ready to just cut bate from the former second-rounder.
  • With Titans running back David Cobb set to return from injury, Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com wonders if Terrance West could be the odd man out. The team swapped a conditional draft pick for the former Browns running back, but West still hasn’t appeared in enough games for that to matter.
  • Peyton Manning and the Broncos are struggling offensively, finding it difficult to run the football and getting little production from their tight ends. Owen Daniels should have a chance to get healthy during the bye week and be more productive coming out of it, but if he’s not, Troy Renck of the Denver Post suggests the team seriously consider trading for Vernon Davis, Jared Cook, or Martellus Bennett.

Rob DiRe contributed to this post.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/26/15

Here are today’s minor moves.

  • The Dolphins elevated center Sam Brenner from their practice squad to the active roster and cut guard Jacques McClendon, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald notes (on Twitter). A third-year player, Brenner made four starts with the Dolphins in 2013. McClendon’s bounced around after being selected by the Colts in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, playing for five teams and only staying in the same place in consecutive seasons once, with the Jaguars from 2013-14.
  • To make room for Kam Chancellor on their 53-man roster, the Seahawks waived safety Dion Bailey, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. The second-year player started the Seahawks’ opener against the Rams, but an ill-timed stumble allowed a costly Lance Kendricks fourth-quarter touchdown en route to St. Louis’ overtime victory. Bailey joined the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent.
  • Wide receiver Tony Washington received a promotion to the Jaguars‘ 53-man roster from their practice squad, while the team waived linebacker LaRoy Reynolds to make room, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reports. Washington’s promotion coincides with Marqise Lee being downgraded from probable to questionable for the Jags’ Week 3 contest against the Patriots. Washington will play behind Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and recently re-signed Bryan Walters if Lee is unable to go, notes O’Halloran. Reynolds has played in 30 games for the Jags over the past three seasons, starting in three games in 2014, and O’Halloran speculates the 24-year-old special-teamer could be brought back if he clears waivers.

Jaguars Links: Blackmon, Rookies, Shorts

The Jaguars will be scoreboard watching this weekend, but not because of the playoffs. Instead, the team will be hoping that fellow 3-12 teams, the Jets and the Raiders, win their respective games. If those two teams win their contests and the Jags lose, Jacksonville will clinch the third pick in this year’s draft.

Let’s take a look at some more notes out of Jacksonville…

Poll: Which Rookie WR Will Have Best Season?

They say there are some things you can’t teach in sports. One of them is size. Another is the ability to make a jaw-dropping one-handed catch after tripping just one second prior. Bills rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins is lacking in the first department but he’s got the latter down pat.

With top-level speed, excellent agility, and soft hands, Watkins was almost universally regarded as the top WR talent in the 2014 class. So, he’s a lock to win this poll, right? Maybe not. Second-year quarterback EJ Manuel boasts a strong arm but he’s far from elite and one has to wonder how many quality balls he can deliver to Manuel. The Clemson product is also working through a rib injury which could possibly hamper him to start the season.

Moving further down the draft board, there are plenty of other wide receivers with an opportunity to make a name for themselves in year one. The Panthers overhauled their entire receiving corps this offseason and many are expecting big things out of FSU’s Kelvin Benjamin. In New Orleans, many are skeptical of what the once solid Marques Colston can do and the hype around Brandin Cooks is reaching a fever pitch. And, without DeSean JacksonJordan Matthews could see a lot of balls thrown his way in Philadelphia. Beyond those guys, there are even more promising WR’s from this year’s receiver-heavy draft. Who among them will have the best 2014 season?

Jaguars Sign Second-Round Pick Marqise Lee

FRIDAY, 10:00am: The Jaguars announced (via Twitter) that Lee has signed his deal.

WEDNESDAY, 2:00pm: It took some time, but the Jaguars have finally signed all of their draft picks. The team has agreed to terms with second-round pick Marqise Lee, reports Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida-Times Union (via Twitter). John Oehser of Jaguars.com tweets that the deal will be signed Friday, and O’Halloran adds on Twitter that the team’s rookies will report to camp on Monday.

It’s unclear why it’s took so long for Lee to get signed, but some have suggested that the projected first-round pick may have been looking to recoup some guaranteed money after falling to 39th overall. The former USC Trojan finished fourth in the Heisman voting in 2012, but he had an underwhelming 2013 season. Lee finished with 57 catches for 791 yards and four touchdowns.

With Lee now off the board, three rookies remained unsigned: first-round picks Taylor Lewan (Titans) and Justin Gilbert (Browns) and third-rounder Billy Turner (Dolphins).

AFC South Links: Jaguars, Titans, Colts

Our Offseason in Review series has moved on to the AFC South, with Zach Links looking last night at 2013’s division champs, and the roster shuffling done by the Colts this winter and spring. Keep an eye on PFR over the long weekend for the next few installments in the series, as we tackle the Titans, Jaguars, and Texans. In the meantime, here are a few odds and ends out of the South:

  • Ken Hornack of Fox Sports Florida takes an in-depth look at new Jaguars wideout Marqise Lee, who is one of four 2014 draftees who remains unsigned. Considering Hornack’s piece doesn’t touch on Lee’s contract situation at all, it seems there’s little reason to be concerned about the two sides reaching an agreement this month.
  • Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union believes there should be some optimism for the Jaguars‘ pass rush this season, if only because it can’t be any worse than it has been over the last couple seasons. The club added Dekoda Watson and Chris Clemons in free agency, and expects continued growth from Andre Branch.
  • Within his latest Titans mailbag, ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky says he expects there to be a wide receiver on the team in Week 1 or Week 2 that isn’t currently on the roster.
  • Kevin Bowen of Colts.com also fields questions in a mailbag today, discussing the Colts‘ starting running back job, the team’s defensive line rotation, and its receiving corps.