Mike Gillislee

AFC East Notes: Bridgewater, Gillislee, Bills

When Teddy Bridgewater went down with a devastating knee injury during Vikings training camp in 2016, many doubted he would ever play again. Bridgewater’s journey has been a rollercoaster since then, from being the Vikings franchise quarterback to their third stringer by the time he returned, but he’s back on the field now and has already proved many doubters wrong.

After reportedly coming close to losing his leg entirely, Bridgewater is now a member of the Jets, signed to a one-year deal in March. Although the Jets used the third overall pick on Sam Darnold and still have Josh McCown ahead of Bridgewater for now, Bridgewater apparently has a “legitimate” shot at being the Jets’ 2018 starting quarterback, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN (Twitter link).

Although very little of Bridgewater’s 2018 salary is guaranteed, he’s apparently showed well in OTAs thus far, making it more unlikely the Jets cut him. The key for Bridgewater will be his healthy and “showing his knee is sound” according to Cimini, who adds that nobody will “know that until he gets hit in a preseason game.” If Bridgewater does manage to win the Jets’ starting job this summer, it would be one of the most incredible comeback stories in recent memory.

Here’s more from around the AFC East:

  • The Patriots’ running back room is currently a bit crowded, and at least one notable name will need to be cut before the regular season begins. That’s most likely to be Mike Gillislee according to Doug Kyed of NESN.com, who says he likes Jeremy Hill‘s chances of making the team better than Gillislee’s, and adds that he has “some questions about Gillislee’s effort after some drill work in OTAs.” A much-hyped free agent acquisition last offseason, Gillislee now appears to be on the outside looking in for a roster spot as he’s buried behind Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden, and possibly Hill.
  • Bills rookie first-rounder Tremaine Edmunds “seems destined to start from Day 1” according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Despite being just 19 when he was drafted, Edmunds is expected to be an every down player at middle linebacker for the Bills. La Canfora adds that rookie quarterback Josh Allen was “hardly perfect” in Thursday’s OTA session, and that he’s likely to begin the season on the bench behind A.J. McCarron. While Edmunds could make some of the Bills’ veteran linebackers expendable, the Bills will likely keep McCarron around since he’s due a relatively cheap $5MM salary, unless Allen is lights out during the preseason.
  • The Jets may target a veteran tight end towards the end of training camp, according to Daryll Slater of NJ.com. Slater points out that the Jets have a group of inexperienced young players at tight end, and the team will want to see how they perform this summer. If they don’t show well, the team will likely seek to bring in a veteran to help guide the young unit, writes Slater. The Jets let Austin Seferian-Jenkins walk to the Jaguars in free agency, and now have only a slew of unproven players at tight end.

Patriots Notes: Mayfield, Gillislee, Brady

We recently heard that the Patriots were just one of two teams to rate Baker Mayfield as the best quarterback in this year’s draft, and Mayfield’s agent, Jack Mills, indicated that New England may have been willing to move up to the No. 2 overall pick to land his client. However, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com is not so sure. He thinks the Patriots wanted to meet with Mayfield as part of their thorough scouting process, but if they did not sell Mills on the potential that they could make a big move up, Mills would not have wasted Mayfield’s time with a New England visit. Reiss does not believe the Pats would have jumped from No. 23 to No. 2 even if Mayfield was still on the board.

Now for more notes out of Foxborough:

  • The Patriots have not officially announced their 2018 crop of UDFAs, but as Reiss observes, they have signed Vanderbilt running back Ralph Webb and gave him a $70K guarantee, which clearly makes him a priority signing with a decent chance of making the final roster. In a separate piece, Reiss says that Mike Gillislee, who opened the 2017 campaign as New England’s No. 1 back, is now fighting for a roster spot. With new first-round pick Sony Michel and veterans Rex Burkhead and James White considered locks, Gillislee will battle Webb, Jeremy Hill, and Brandon Bolden for one or two spots. The former Bill could be cut with no dead money ramifications.
  • When he was recently asked if he felt appreciated by Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft, Tom Brady replied with a joke/non-answer. It is unclear whether Brady actually feels underappreciated by the other two most important figures within the organization, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk believes the club should ante up and pay Brady a salary more in line with the top of the market. Brady’s $20.5MM AAV is now 16th among all quarterbacks, and Florio believes the Pats should rectify that to some degree.
  • The news continues to be good for 2017 third-rounder Derek Rivers. Reiss says Rivers, who tore his ACL last August and missed his entire rookie campaign, is expected to be ready for the start of training camp.
  • Earlier this week, ESPN’s Mel Kiper named Patriots’ sixth-round WR Braxton Berrios as one of the 2018 late-round selections most likely to make an immediate impact.

AFC Notes: Bengals, Raiders, Lynch, Patriots

The Bengals selected Washington wide receiver John Ross with the ninth overall pick last Thursday, but some clubs didn’t view Ross as a worthwhile long-term investment, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. “We looked at him as a one-contract player,” one front office told La Canfora. “Our doctors had serious reservations about his longevity at this level.” Ross tore his ACL and missed the 2015 collegiate campaign, and also underwent labrum surgery after the combine. If healthy, Ross and his 4.22-second speed should add a new dynamic to Cincinnati’s offense.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • The Raiders‘ deal with running back Marshawn Lynch is worth $9MM over two years, reports Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). In 2017, Lynch will earn a fully guaranteed base salary of $1.35MM plus a $1MM roster bonus due May 3 (which makes it effectively guaranteed). Lynch can also bring in $500K in per-game roster bonuses and $150K via a workout bonus. In 2018, Lynch’s cap number will be $6MM — including a $4MM base salary — but because none of that money is guaranteed (and because Oakland didn’t use a signing bonus), the Raiders can cut Lynch after 2017 with no dead money accelerating onto their cap.
  • Even if new Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley is handed felony charges after an alleged sexual assault, he can’t be suspended by the NFL, league spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Because the incident and accusations occurred prior to Conley entering the league, the NFL cannot discipline him, although the episode come into play down the line. If Conley were to violate the NFL’s conduct policy going forward, he could be treated as a “repeat offender,” according to Florio.
  • Mike Gillislee‘s two-year pact with the Patriots was front-loaded in order to convince the Bills not to match, as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets. Gillislee will earn a fully guaranteed base salary of $1.5MM in 2017, and will also rake $2MM via a roster bonus and $500K in per-game roster bonuses. In 2018, he’ll see a non-guaranteed base salary of $1.9MM with another $500K available in per-gamers. No signing bonus was used in the deal.

Former Bills RB Mike Gillislee Joins Patriots

The Bills have declined to match Mike Gillislee‘s offer sheet, per a club announcement. He will now join the Patriots. Per the terms of his offer sheet, he’ll play for New England on a two-year, $6.4MM deal. The Bills will get the 163rd overall pick (fifth round) from the Patriots by letting him go. That was the better of the Patriots’ two fifth-round choices."<strong

The Bills’ decision to place the original round tender on Gillislee was a surprise in the football world and they might be regretting that decision today. For another $1MM or so, the Bills could have placed the second-round tender on him and – in all likelihood – kept the Patriots and other teams far away. Gillislee averaged 5.7 yards per carry last season and made it clear that he can handle a larger role if given the opportunity. The Bills, for some reason, apparently did not see what the rest of the league saw in the 26-year-old. Now, they’re losing their top understudy and potential heir apparent for starting running back LeSean McCoy.

The Patriots now have a loaded depth chart at running back headlined by Gillislee and free agent pickup Rex Burkhead. Dion LewisJames White, Brandon Bolden, and D.J. Foster are also under contract for the coming season. Today’s news likely spells the end of LeGarrette Blount‘s time in New England. Lewis and/or Bolden may also be on the chopping block. If the Patriots cut Lewis, they’ll only be on the hook for $200K in dead money.

In Buffalo, five running backs remain on the roster: McCoy, Jonathan WilliamsJoe Banyard, Cedric O’Neal, and Mike Tolbert.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Carr, Raiders, Gillislee, Patriots

We learned earlier this week that Raiders quarterback Derek Carr wants to wrap up extension talks by the beginning of training camp. General manager Reggie McKenzie stated yesterday that he’d prefer to get a new contract wrapped up as soon as possible, and he expressed optimism that the two sides could come to an agreement.

“I feel good about it,” McKenzie said (via Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com). “When both sides want to get it done, that’s a great first step. I’m looking forward to getting it done by then.”

Carr had another productive season in 2016, completing 63.8-percent of his passes for 3,937 yards, 28 touchdowns, and six interceptions.

Let’s take a look at some other notes from around the AFC…

  • Aldon Smith is still under contract with the Raiders, although the linebacker hasn’t taken the field in more than a year after having violated the league’s substance abuse policy. The NFL hasn’t made any move to reinstate the embattled player, and McKenzie isn’t expecting a resolution anytime soon. “Our thought process is on the draft and not considering Aldon at this point,” McKenzie said (via Bair). “He’s still on the suspension list, so we’re not considering him at this point.”
  • Last offseason, when the Patriots signed restricted free agent wideout Chris Hogan, the Bills immediately made it clear that they wouldn’t be matching the contract. However, Buffalo has taken their time deciding what to do with running back Mike Gillislee, who signed an offer sheet with New England earlier this week. ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss wonders if the delay could be an indication that the Bills are strongly considering matching the offer.
  • Following the death of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, legal analyst (and ESPN.com writer) Lester Munson writes that the organization may be required to pay his family “a significant sum of money.” The NFLPA says there are “three outstanding grievances” between Hernandez and the Patriots stemming from the team’s refusal to pay the player’s $3.25MM bonus following his initial arrest. “How these are resolved will determine” whether Hernandez’s family will ultimately receive any money from the Patriots.

Bills Still Mulling Mike Gillislee’s Offer Sheet

It’s widely believed that the Bills will not match Mike Gillislee‘s offer sheet from the Patriots, but no final call has been rendered. Head coach Sean McDermott told reporters today that the team is still in deliberations on the matter. Mike Gillislee (vertical)

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Mike’s a good player. We’re in the process of evaluating the offer sheet and we’ll have a decision in a few days,” the coach said (Twitter link via team account).

Earlier this week, the Patriots inked Gillislee to a two-year offer sheet worth $6.4MM over two years. Complicating matters for the Bills is that the deal is worth $3.96875MM in year one (exact figure via Ben Volin of The Boston Globe, via Twitter). That’s less than ideal for the Bills since matching the bid will tack on another $2.2MM for the coming year over his previously scheduled $1.797MM rate. Currently, the Bills have $10.8MM in space but they still have to consider the upcoming draft and filling potential holes in late stage free agency (Twitter link).

If Gillislee is plucked away by the Patriots, the Bills will receive a fifth-round draft choice, per the terms of the original round tender. For another $1MM or so, the Bills could have placed the second-round tender on the promising young running back and likely warded off any suitors. After Gillislee averaged 5.7 yards per carry last season and proved himself a potential successor to LeSean McCoy, that probably would have been the smart play.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Texans, Bills, Pats, Browns

The Texans hope to extend wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and accomplishing that will likely require the club to give him a five-year deal worth upward of $70MM, including $40MM-plus in guarantees, observes CBS Sports’ Joel Corry (via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle). That type of pact would put Hopkins in the same company as fellow pass-catching stars such as Atlanta’s Julio Jones, Dallas’ Dez Bryant and Denver’s Demaryius Thomas. While an extension for Hopkins is expected, it’s not imminent, per Wilson. As of now, Hopkins is slated to make $7.915MM in 2017, his fifth-year option season.

More from the AFC:

  • The Bills need to match the Patriots’ offer sheet to restricted free agent Mike Gillislee and stop the flow of talent to New England, opines Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. The Pats signed Gillislee to a two-year, $6.4MM contract, including $4MM in 2017, after adding ex-Bills receiver and then-RFA Chris Hogan on a front-loaded deal last offseason. That worked out well for New England and poorly for Buffalo in 2016. Unlike the Hogan situation, the Bills would receive compensation for Gillislee’s departure – a fifth-round pick – but they’d lose another important member of their offense to an AFC East rival. The Bills could have avoided this situation by tendering Gillislee at a second-round level, which only would have cost them about $1MM extra, Rodak notes. In that scenario, Gillislee would have been on the Bills’ books this year at a reasonable $2.7MM.
  • Joe Haden‘s willingness to play through injuries last season may have kept him in a Browns uniform, the cornerback explained to Scott Patsko of cleveland.com on Tuesday. New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams told Haden he would have advised the team to move on from him had he not gutted out his groin issues. “When I first got here, I went to his office and we talked for a while,” said Haden. “He told me, ‘If you didn’t play through your injury, I would tell them to get you out of here.'” Haden last year suited up for 13 games, eight more than he appeared in during an injury-marred 2015. The two-time Pro Bowler was the subject of trade rumors during the fall, but the Browns elected to keep him.
  • A couple of potential early round draft picks, Cal wide receiver Chad Hansen and Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis, visited the Patriots on Tuesday, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com and Doug Kyed of NESN (Twitter links). One could end up with the Patriots with their first selection, which is scheduled for No. 72 overall. Of course, the Pats are likely to acquire a much earlier pick if they trade cornerback Malcolm Butler.

Patriots Sign Bills RB Mike Gillislee To Offer Sheet

The Patriots have signed Bills restricted free agent running back Mike Gillislee to an offer sheet, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The deal is worth $6.4MM over two years, and contains $4MM in year one, per Rapoport. Buffalo now has five days to match the Patriots’ offer, and while the Bills haven’t yet made a final decision, they “don’t believe” they’ll match the sheet, tweets Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald.Mike Gillislee (Vertical)

New England hosted Gillislee — and fellow RFA back Damien Williams — on a visit last week, and the club has now further signaled its interest in the 25-year-old Gillislee. Buffalo, suprisingly, only tendered Gillislee at the original round level (at a cost of $1.797MM). Because Gillislee was drafted in the fifth round, the Patriots would only have to sacrifice a fifth-rounder in order to sign him away. The Bills have the option of matching the contract, but for another $1MM or so, the Bills could have placed the second-round tender on Gillislee and likely warded off any potential suitors.

The Patriots already have a stocked backfield after adding free agent Rex Burkhead to a depth chart that includes Dion Lewis, James White, Brandon Bolden, and D.J. Foster. But that hasn’t stopped New England from pursuing other options, as they’ve been linked to veteran Adrian Peterson in recent weeks. The Pats also reportedly have an offer on the table for LeGarrette Blount, who scored 16 touchdowns for the club in 2016.

The Bills, meanwhile, currently have less than $10MM in cap space, meaning matching the Patriots’ terms could be a problem. Losing Gillislee, who averaged an NFL-best 5.7 yards per carry on 101 attempts last season, would leave Buffalo with Jonathan Williams, Mike Tolbert, and Joe Banyard as depth pieces behind starter LeSean McCoy.

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Patriots Host Mike Gillislee, Damien Williams

The Patriots got a double dose of restricted free agent running backs on Wednesday. The Patriots hosted Bills RFA RB Mike Gillislee and Dolphins RFA RB Damien Williams, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com and Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Mike Gillislee (Vertical)

The Bills surprised many in the football world when they assigned Gillislee an original round/right of first refusal tender, which would only entitle them to a fifth-round pick if they did not match an offer sheet. For another $1MM or so, the Bills could have placed the second-round tender on Gillislee and that probably would have kept every potential suitor at bay. Gillislee averaged an NFL-best 5.7 yards per carry on 101 attempts as LeSean McCoy‘s understudy.

Williams, 25, was eclipsed by Jay Ajayi in Miami last year. Ultimately, he finished out with 35 carries for 115 yards (3.3 yards per carry average) and three touchdowns. Although the Dolphins would like to keep him, they would be able to get by just fine with Ajayi and Kenyan Drake holding down the RB position. They can also replenish the RB group in the late rounds of this year’s draft.

It’s fair to wonder whether the Patriots’ interest in either player is sincere. Already, the Pats have free agent addition Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis, James White, D.J. Foster, and Branden Bolden on the roster and LeGarrette Blount remains available. The Patriots could be taking a real look at guys like Gillislee, Williams, and Adrian Peterson, but they could also be faking it to put additional pressure on Blount to re-sign. It doesn’t sound like Blount has much of an outside market for his services, so that could be an effective strategy for New England.

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Bills Tender RFA RB Mike Gillislee

The Bills have assigned restricted free agent running back Mike Gillislee the original round/right of first refusal tender, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. As such, Gillislee is now slated to earn $1.797MM for the 2017 campaign, but Buffalo will attempt to hammer out an extension with its backup runner, per Rapoport.Mike Gillislee (Vertical)

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Typically, PFR won’t devote a full post to restricted free agents that aren’t tendered at the first- or second-round level. But Gillislee is an intriguing case, especially given that he could interest another team given the slight draft pick compensation attached to him. While the Bills reportedly don’t want to lose Gillislee, they haven’t placed much of a barrier between him and an offer sheet.

Because Gillislee was drafted in the fifth round, a rival club would only have to sacrifice a fifth-rounder in order to sign away the 26-year-old back. Buffalo would have the option of matching any contract offered by another team, but for another $1MM or so, the Bills could have placed the second-round tender on Gillislee and likely warded off any potential suitors. Gillislee, who appeared in 15 games last season, averaged an NFL-best 5.7 yards per carry on 101 attempts behind LeSean McCoy.

Of course, that extra $1MM could be important for the Bills this offseason, as the club only has about $22.5MM in cap space and several free agents — including Stephon Gilmore and Robert Woods — it could consider re-signing.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.