Matt LaCosse

AFC East Notes: Jets, Williams, Patriots, Gronkowski

When asked whether defensive lineman Leonard Williams could be traded, Jets head coach Adam Gase didn’t exactly say no.

I really don’t deal in the hypothetical aspects,” Gase said (Twitter link via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano). “These guys get calls all year round about trades. Really to me that’s not something I’m going to be dealing with unless something’s on the table. I don’t know what other teams are thinking, but right now I like the way our guys are rolling. Anything’s possible, but I like the way our team is.”

Other teams, predictably, are interested in the former No. 6 overall pick. Meanwhile, it has been speculated that GM Joe Douglas could be willing to part with Williams for third- and fifth-round selections. If that’s the asking price, Williams might not be long for the New York/New Jersey area.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • During an appearance on WEEI, a caller asked former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski point blank if he would return to the NFL. “I’ll give an answer,” Gronkowski replied. “When I retired, I retired for a reason: because I needed to step away. So it would be a no. There it isI never say no, because I’ve said no, and everyone’s like, ‘Yeah, he’s kidding. He’s coming back.’ But it’s a no. In my mind, that’s how it is. It’s a no.” Sounds pretty definitive, but Pats owner Robert Kraft is far from convinced.
  • Ben Watson is back with the Patriots, in part because tight end Matt LaCosse is dealing with an MCL sprain (Twitter link via Mike Giardi of NFL.com). LaCosse played through the Giants game last Thursday night, but his availability for this week against the Jets is in doubt.
  • Speaking of Watson – his new, prorated one-year deal with the Patriots is worth $800K fully guaranteed, plus $140K in incentives (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). That’s a solid payday, considering that he already made $686K off of his original 2019 pact with the Pats.
  • Defensive tackle Steve McLendon’s one-year extension with the Jets is worth $3MM, with $1.65MM in new guarantees, per Pelissero.

Latest On Benjamin Watson’s Suspension

Ben Watson recently joined the Patriots, but the veteran tight end won’t be suiting up for the team until Week 5. We learned yesterday that the 38-year-old will be suspended for the first four games of the 2019 season.

In a Facebook post, Watson explained that he thought he was retiring for good after the 2018 season, so he wasn’t quite as careful with his treatment. He was given Bio Identical Testosterone Cypionate by a doctor, which is banned by the league. Only after he made the decision to return to the NFL did he realize the implications, and he ended up failing a drug test.

Some additional notes and opinions have emerged over the past 24 hours pertaining to Watson’s suspension, which we’ve collected below:

  • While Watson is set to miss four games, he still has a good chance of meeting his incentives. As Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com points out, Watson’s deal with the Patriots includes $650K in incentives: $250K if he appears in 35-percent of the team’s offensive snaps and another $400K if he appears in 45-percent of the snaps. Florio calculates that Watson will need to “get roughly 66 percent of the snaps in the remaining games of the year to earn the full incentive.”
  • Albert Breer of SI.com believes the Patriots could still be in the hunt for more tight end depth. The writer cites the organization’s handling of their 2006 receiver corps; among the three (yes, three) active New England receivers in the AFC title game, one (Jabar Gaffney) didn’t join the team until October. Breer notes that this “a sign of how the Patriots can bring guys along and how they adjust.”
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes that Watson’s suspension should strengthen Austin Seferian-Jenkins‘ chances of making the roster. The 26-year-old, who signed a one-year deal with the Patriots back in April, had 11 receptions in five games for the Jaguars last season. Meanwhile, Volin believes that fellow free agent addition Matt LaCosse likely has a roster spot locked up, while the team could also lean on some of their young options (including Ryan Izzo, Stephen Anderson, and Andrew Beck).
  • Volin also opines that the suspension could be a blessing in disguise for Watson. While the veteran hasn’t missed a regular season game since 2013, he’s still 38-years-old. The four-game absence could prove to be especially helpful come playoff time, with Volin pointing to previous performances from Tom Brady (2016) and Julian Edelman (2018).

Contract Details: Funchess, LaCosse, Golden

Some assorted contract notes from around the NFL:

  • Devin Funchess, WR (Colts): One year, $10MM. $7MM guaranteed via roster bonus. $3MM base salary. $3MM in incentives for receptions, receiving yards, TDs, Pro Bowl, All-Pro. Twitter link via Joel A. Erickson of the Indy Star.
  • Tyrann Mathieu, S (Chiefs): Three years, $42MM. $26.8MM guaranteed, $14.8MM signing bonus. Base salaries: $850K (2019), $1.15MM (2020), $14.5MM (2021, nonguaranteed). Details via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.
  • K.J. Wright, LB (Seahawks): Two years, up to $15MM (original story). $8MM in 2019, including $5MM signing bonus, $1.5MM base salary, $1.5MM roster bonus. Second year isn’t guaranteed. Twitter link via ESPN’s Brady Henderson.
  • Matt LaCosse, TE (Patriots): Two years, $2MM, $500K guaranteed for 2019 (original story). Base salaries: $700K (2019), $1MM (2020). $300K signing bonus, $25K per-game bonus. $500K in playing time/receptions incentives. Twitter link via Nick Underhill of The New Orleans Advocate.
  • Markus Golden, LB (Giants): One year. Worth up to $4.75MM, $2.225MM guaranteed. Twitter link via ESPN’s Jordan Raanan.
  • Cameron Fleming, OT (Cowboys): Two years, $8.5MM. 2019: $1MM base salary, $1.5MM signing bonus, $2.25MM cap number. $300K for 60-percent playing time, $600K for 70-percent. Twitter link via ESPN’s Todd Archer.
  • Bruce Ellington, WR (Patriots): One year, $25K guaranteed. Twitter link via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.

Patriots To Sign Mike Pennel, Matt LaCosse

While some teams are splurging, the Patriots are spreading the wealth. On Thursday afternoon, the Pats agreed to sign former Jets defensive lineman Mike Pennel and former Broncos tight end Matt LaCosse, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. It’s a two-year deal for Pennel, per his agent (Twitter link).

Pennel was a staple of the Jets’ defense in recent years, appearing in every game over the last two seasons. His Jets stint, which included ten starts, yielded an average of 31 tackles per season with zero sacks. His traditional stats did not jump off of the page, but the advanced metrics were very high on his work in 2018. Pennel was tied as the 14th best defensive tackle in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus, though his 358 snaps were the lowest sum of anyone in the top 40. Earlier this month, the Jets turned down his option.

LaCosse had 24 catches and 250 yards while filling in as the Broncos’ starting tight end for a period last year, but Denver non-tendered him this offseason. With Rob Gronkowski‘s status for next year still up in the air, LaCosse could be an option to help fill the gap, albeit one with less star power.

Patriots Host Ellington, Harris, LaCosse

The Patriots will meet with wide receivers Bruce Ellington and Maurice Harris on Thursday, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The club will also meet with tight end Matt LaCosse, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

Ellington and Harris aren’t exactly start players, but they both profile as quality depth options. Last year, Ellington had 23 catches for 132 yards in just four games for the Lions, showing what he could do when healthy. Earlier in the season he caught eight balls for 92 yards and a touchdown in less than three full games with the Texans, before Houston waived him with an injury settlement.

He latched on in Detroit, but unfortunately the hamstring injury that hampered him in Houston re-emerged while he was with the Lions, landing Ellington on IR in December. Harris, meanwhile, had 28 grabs for 304 yards in 12 games for the Redskins.

The Patriots are clearly focused on filling out their receiving corp, re-signing Phillip Dorsett on a one-year deal last night. LaCosse had 24 catches and 250 yards while filling in as the Broncos’ starting tight end for a period last year, but Denver non-tendered him this offseason. With Rob Gronkowski‘s status for next year still up in the air, it makes sense why New England is digging into the free agent tight ends. LaCaosse appears to have legit interest on the open market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

TE Matt LaCosse To Meet With Three Teams

It sounds like Matt LaCosse has a number of suitors. Mike Klis of 9News in Denver tweets that the tight end is set to visit with three teams by Saturday. The reporter adds that the Broncos continue to have interest.

The 26-year-old had a breakout season with Denver in 2018, establishing career-highs across the board. In 15 games (five starts), he hauled in 24 receptions for 250 yards and one touchdown. Pro Football Focus gave LaCosse solid marks for his receiving and pass blocking, but they weren’t as fond of his run blocking.

Earlier this month, the Broncos decided not to tender LaCosse as a restricted free agent. The lowest tender option would have been $2.025MM, so we at least have an indication of how far Denver’s willing to take the bidding.

The Broncos could still use another experienced tight end to pair with Jake Butt. The team is also rostering Troy Fumagalli and Temarrick Hemingway.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Won’t Tender Matt LaCosse

Teams are starting to have make decisions on tendering their restricted free agents, and the Broncos made a big one late Saturday night. The team won’t be tendering tight end Matt LaCosse, a source told Mike Klis (Twitter link). 

LaCosse became the team’s starter down the stretch this past season, and showed some promise. The lowest tender option will be $2.025MM this year, which Denver apparently thinks is too expensive. Klis posted a followup tweet new Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello’s offense “needs tight ends who are plus blockers”, and that while LaCosse is “a nice receiving tight end and willing blocker”, he’s “just not built like other TEs.”

Klis expects the team to add a blocking tight end. Troy Renck of ABC Denver tweeted in response that the team is expected to draft a tight end. The Broncos haven’t had a reliable tight end option in recent years, and getting a consistent one would be a huge boost for new quarterback Joe Flacco.

LaCosse entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2015, and spent the next few years bouncing on and off of the Giants’ roster before landing in Denver in late 2017. Last season he had 24 catches for 250 yards and one touchdown.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/11/17

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Denver Broncos

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Promoted from practice squad: S Leon McQuay
  • Placed on injured reserve: S Steven Terrell on IR

New York Giants

Los Angeles Chargers

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 11/13/17

Here are today’s practice squad moves:

Arizona Cardinals

  • Signed: CB Jarell Carter

Chicago Bears

New York Giants

San Francisco 49ers

  • Placed on injured list: OL J.P. Flynn

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/11/17

Here are today’s minor moves.

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

  • Signed off Chiefs’ practice squad: DT Daniel Ross

Los Angeles Rams

New York Giants

New York Jets

  • Signed: WR JoJo Natson
  • Waived/injured: DL Ed Stinson

Washington Redskins