Mike Gillislee

Extra Points: NFLPA, Rodgers, Jets, Tannehill, Dolphins, Patriots, Gillislee

NFLPA boss DeMaurice Smith traveled to Houston to meet with the Texans about a potential upcoming labor battle according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Wilson writes that Smith’s message to the team was “that it’s time to get prepared with a labor battle looming on the horizon.” The current collective bargaining agreement expires in 2021, and a “potential work stoppage is a strong potential scenario” Wilson writes.

Many players have voiced their displeasure with the CBA in recent years, and it sounds like another lockout is a strong possibility. Some players have even referred to a lockout as an inevitability due to how far apart players and owners are on several key issues. The league infamously had a lockout in 2011, and it’s now widely agreed that the owners won those negotiations. The players will likely drive much harder bargains this time around, and demand greater guarantees in contracts. It will be a fascinating situation to watch develop as we get closer and closer to the expiration of the CBA.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • It was reported earlier this week that Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers was dealing with a “serious” health injury, and now Mike Garafolo of NFL Network has new details (Twitter link). Garafolo writes that it “sounds like it could be an extended absence as he focuses on his health.” Rodgers missed the Jets’ win over the Broncos today, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be back anytime soon.
  • Ryan Tannehill has had a rough couple of weeks, and his performance today was so bad that it prompted reporters to ask Dolphins coach Adam Gase after the game if Tannehill would be benched moving forward. Gase responded that Tannehill wouldn’t be benched yet according to Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald (Twitter link), but it’s still surprising that it’s reached that point. The Dolphins have only Brock Osweiler and David Fales behind him on the depth chart.
  • It was reported earlier that the Patriots were planning on doing something to address the fact that they had just two running backs on the roster, and now we might have an idea what. New England has “been in contact” with ex-Patriot Mike Gillislee a source told Doug Kyed of NESN (Twitter link). Gillislee was recently cut by the Saints, and it sounds like we could see a reunion soon.

 

Saints To Cut RB Mike Gillislee

The Saints cycled through a few running backs between the time Mark Ingram‘s suspension was announced and his impending return, but with Ingram on his way back, New Orleans’ backfield situation has the kind of clarity it did last season.

As such, less depth is required. The Saints will release Mike Gillislee to make room for an Ingram activation, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com tweets.

Gillislee received the most handoffs of any non-Alvin Kamara Saints back this season, taking 16. He gained just 43 yards on those plays, however, averaging 2.7 yards per carry. New Orleans added Gillislee just before the season but now has Dwayne Washington in place behind Kamara and Ingram. Gillislee also lost a fumble during his Saints stay.

New Orleans has employed Gillislee, Washington, Terrance West, Shane Vereen and Jonathan Williams during Ingram’s suspension. Kamara has handled most of the work, as expected. He’s gained 611 yards from scrimmage and scored six touchdowns in four games. Ingram and Kamara in 2017 became the first backfield teammates in NFL history to each surpass 1,500 yards from scrimmage in a season.

The Patriots released Gillislee prior to the season opener.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Notes: Gordon, Cooks, Gronk

New Patriots wideout Josh Gordon will make his New England debut today, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Gordon was inactive for last week’s loss against the Lions, but the Pats are sorely in need of some playmaking ability at the wide receiver position, and Gordon certainly has the potential to give them exactly that.

Let’s take a quick look at a few more notes out of Foxboro as the Patriots get set to take on the Dolphins in what could surprisingly be a pivotal divisional matchup:

  • Speaking of playmaking wideouts, given the disappointing performance of New England’s receiving corps thus far, plenty are wondering whether the Pats were right to trade Brandin Cooks to the Rams in the offseason. When factoring in what the team netted in its trade to acquire Cooks from the Saints in 2017 and the trade that sent him to LA, Doug Kyed of NESN.com believes the Patriots were right to make the move. The Pats ultimately received a year of Cooks, a 2017 third-round pick, the 2018 No. 23 overall pick, and a 2018 sixth-rounder in exchange for another year of Cooks, a 2017 fourth-round pick, the 2017 No. 32 overall pick, and a 2018 fourth-round pick. That represents good value, especially when considering the Pats would have had to pay Cooks $8.5MM this year and might have received a 2020 compensatory third-rounder if they let him walk in free agency (which they almost certainly would have). Plus, New England could not have predicted the Julian Edeleman suspension, so even though the results might indicate the Cooks trade was a bad one with the benefit of hindsight, Kyed believes the process was right.
  • The Patriots have already put nine players on IR since the start of training camp, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com observes. Reiss points out that the team put just 11 players on IR all of last season, and just four during the 2016 Super Bowl season. Reiss notes that only Rex Burkhead and Duke Dawson are the only two players who could realistically return from IR in 2018.
  • In light of last week’s Rob Gronkowski trade reports, Reiss points out that there had not been much communication between Gronk and the Pats before the star tight end was informed of the potential trade to Detroit. Reiss wonders whether New England really would have pulled the trigger on the deal, or if it simply used the trade as a way to reignite conversations with Gronkowski
  • Reiss also notes that last week’s AFC Defensive Player of the Week, the Bills’ Matt Milano, was drafted by Buffalo with the fifth-rounder it acquired from the Pats when New England signed then-RFA Mike Gillislee. Needless to say, that transaction looks like a big win for the Bills right now.
  • The Patriots cut Gordon’s former Browns teammate, Corey Coleman, from their practice squad yesterday.

Saints Sign RB Mike Gillislee

The Saints are adding a running back, signing veteran Mike Gillislee according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Rapsheet reports that it’s a one-year deal for Gillislee. The Saints were looking for running back help with Mark Ingram suspended for the first four games of the season. Saints coach Sean Payton has emphasized over and over that the team wants to avoid putting too much wear on Alvin Kamara, so Gillislee could play a significant role on early downs.

Gillislee was cut by the Patriots as they trimmed their roster to 53 yesterday. New England was very high on Gillislee when they signed him away from the Bills as a restricted free agent before the 2017 season. He scored three touchdowns in week one of last year, but his role gradually decreased as the season went on and he was a healthy scratch down the stretch.

The writing was on the wall for Gillislee when the Patriots signed Jeremy Hill in free agency and drafted Sony Michel in the first round of this year’s draft. He now finds a new home in New Orleans after the Saints surprisingly cut preseason star Jonathan Williams yesterday. They wasted no time bringing in Gillislee, and he should stick with the team the entire season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mike Gillislee To Visit Saints

Running back Mike Gillislee, whom the Patriots released yesterday, is visiting with the Saints this morning, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). As Herbie Teope of NFL.com tweets, New Orleans would be a logical fit for Gillislee, as the club currently has just two running backs on the active roster after yesterday’s cuts (Alvin Kamara and rookie Boston Scott).

Last offseason, Gillislee signed with New England as a restricted free agent after an excellent 2016 campaign in Buffalo. But despite a three-touchdown debut for the Pats in the 2017 season opener, he could not carve out much of a role in Foxborough, and his release yesterday was anything but surprising. He finished his New England tenure with 383 rushing yards (3.7 per carry) and five touchdowns.

But the 27-year-old has plenty of ability, and he and Kamara could form a nice 1-2 punch in the Big Easy. When Mark Ingram returns from suspension, that trio would represent one of the best RB corps in the league, especially as they have complementary skill-sets.

Gillislee, a Florida product, was selected by the Dolphins in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. He has spent his entire career in the AFC East, having played two seasons in Miami, two in Buffalo, and one in New England.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Make Roster Cuts

The Patriots are the latest team to move to 53 players by making the following transactions:

Placed on injured reserve:

Cut:

New England kept only three true wide receivers on its initial roster, meaning the club will almost surely be searching for more options on the waiver wire.

Patriots Release RB Mike Gillislee

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The Patriots have released running back Mike Gillislee, according to Kevin Duffy of the Boston Herald (Twitter link).

Rumored as a cut candidate throughout the offseason, Gillislee will indeed have to look for a job elsewhere after his Patriots stay did not go as anticipated.

One of the NFL’s most productive runners on a per-carry basis in 2016, averaging 5.7 yards per carry on 101 handoffs with the Bills, he did not pick up where he left off with the Patriots. After a three-touchdown opener last season, Gillislee was phased out of the Pats’ rotation. And this year, New England added Jeremy Hill and Sony Michel to its backfield mix.

Now 27, Gillislee has spent his entire career in the AFC East — two years with the Dolphins, two with the Bills and two offseasons with the Patriots. He finished his New England tenure with 383 rushing yards (3.7 per carry) and five touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Bolts, Washington

Paxton Lynch joins the likes of Ameer Abdullah, Breshad Perriman, Stephone Anthony and Mike Gillislee on a roster bubble, per ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter), and the Broncos may choose to cut ties with their disappointing 2016 first-rounder. Lynch would prefer to stay in Denver, Mike Klis of 9News tweets, despite his rocky tenure there to date. A fresh start might be best for the former Memphis prodigy, but the Broncos may elect to keep him as their No. 3 quarterback. Chad Kelly‘s performance in Denver’s Thursday-night finale could determine Lynch’s fate, with Troy Renck of Denver7 writing that a strong showing from the 2017 seventh-rounder may convince the Broncos he’s ready to be Case Keenum‘s regular-season backup rather than forcing the Broncos to acquire a veteran to serve in that role. That would seemingly free up a roster spot for Lynch as the third-stringer. It would cost the Broncos $4.9MM to cut Lynch. They already absorbed a $5.5MM dead-money hit upon releasing Menelik Watson.

Here’s the latest from the AFC West, shifting to another quarterback battle.

  • The Chargers are likely to keep just two quarterbacks, which makes sense given Philip Rivers‘ historic durability. Los Angeles’ starter has taken first-string snaps in every game since succeeding Drew Brees in 2006. As a result, Yates adds that either Cardale Jones or Geno Smith is a cut candidate. The Bolts, though, aren’t certain which one will be given his walking papers. Smith is a vested veteran and would head into free agency if released, while Jones would be subject to waivers. Neither is attached to a contract worth more than $1MM.
  • Su’a Cravens will make his Broncos debut Thursday night after missing most of August due to a knee injury, Renck notes. The former Redskins safety/linebacker has a clearer path to the Broncos’ roster, despite missing most of training camp, due to Jamal Carter‘s season-ending injury.
  • With UDFA Phillip Lindsay almost certainly having earned his way onto the team as Denver’s No. 3 running back, De’Angelo Henderson has drawn trade interest. Former Broncos tackle Tyler Polumbus, writing for The Athletic (subscription required) believes that would be the best scenario for the second-year player, noting that Denver will likely keep four backs — Devontae Booker, Royce Freeman, Lindsay and fullback Andy Janovich — on its 53-man roster. This would leave both Henderson, who likely wouldn’t pass through waivers, and seventh-round rookie David Williams, who might, off the team.
  • Although he returned a punt for a touchdown in the preseason, Isaiah McKenzie probably won’t make the Broncos, per Polumbus. The diminutive return man has fumbled several kicks in his short Broncos stay, losing another one during preseason play. Lindsay and the recent addition of Adam Jones look to have forced the second-year player off the roster.
  • The Raiders will likely waive DeAndre Washington and allow recent camp pickup Chris Warren to take his place, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com notes. Washington recently underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and is an IR candidate, per Gutierrez, who has the Raiders keeping four running backs — Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, Jalen Richard and Warren. Washington and Richard served as backups for Lynch and Latavius Murray the past two years. Washington averaged 5.4 yards per carry as a rookie but struggled last season (2.7 YPC).

Release Candidate: Mike Gillislee

When the Patriots signed running back Mike Gillislee last year, it was a case of the rich getting richer. Gillislee, a restricted free agent, averaged 5.7 yards per carry for the Bills in 2016 and his future seemed extremely bright in the Patriots’ backfield. One year later, the Patriots find themselves with an embarrassment of riches in the backfield, and that could leave Gillislee without a spot on the roster. 

[RELATED: Patriots’ Julian Edelman Won’t Sue NFL]

Despite rushing for three touchdowns in the Pats’ season opener against the Chiefs, Gillislee was left off of the active roster for much of the season. Although he had some decent performances in a limited role and averaged a respectable 4.2 yards per carry in October, Gillislee was way behind Dion Lewis in the pecking order and also snaps to Rex Burkhead and James White. When it came time for the playoffs, the Patriots did not ask Gillislee to suit up.

Lewis is out of the picture after signing a lucrative free agent deal with the Titans, but the competition is still fierce in New England. The Patriots used a first-round pick to select Sony Michel, who projects to be the team’s leading rusher. White, Burkhead, and Branden Bolden are still in the fold, and the latest word is that former Bengal Jeremy Hill may have a better chance of making the final cut than Gillislee.

Patriots fans were rightfully ecstatic about plucking Gillislee from the rival Bills last year, but he’s no longer a focal point of the team’s plans. Gillislee’s two-year, $6.4MM deal has no guaranteed money remaining, so the team can save $2.18MM by cutting the Florida product with no dead money left on the cap. If Gillislee can’t step it up in camp, that’ll be the likely outcome for the 27-year-old.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.