New England Patriots Rumors & News

NFL Waiver Priority Now Based On 2017 Record

We’re coming up on Week 4 of the NFL season and that means that waiver claim priority will be based on the current league standings instead of last year’s. Of course, waiver priority is based on the inverted NFL standings, which have built in tiebreakers to sort out the many logjams that naturally occur.

Throughout the offseason and the first three weeks of the regular season, the Browns enjoyed top priority thanks to their 1-15 finish last year. Now, we have a brand new pecking order. Here is a full rundown of the current waiver claim priority, which will change from week to week (Twitter links via Field Yates of ESPN.com):

T-1. Bengals

T-1. Browns

T-1. 49ers

4. Giants

5. Chargers

6. Colts

T-7. Texans

T-7. Seahawks

9. Cardinals

10. Jets

11. Saints

12. Bears

13. Dolphins

14. Buccaneers

15. Ravens

T-16. Panthers

T-16. Cowboys

T-16. Rams

T-16. Steelers

T-20. Broncos

T-20. Lions

T-20. Packers

23. Vikings

T-24. Bills

T-24. Jaguars

T-24. Patriots

T-24. Raiders

T-24. Eagles

T-24. Titans

30. Redskins

31. Chiefs

32. Falcons

 

Patriots Work Out Four

  • The Patriots worked out offensive linemen Gino Gradkowski, Nate Theaker, and Earl Watford, plus defensive back Harold Jones-Quartey, on Monday, tweets Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. The auditions of Gradkowski and Watford are particularly notable, as both offer plenty of experience and would given New England depth on the offensive line interior. The Patriots only listed tackle Marcus Cannon on last week’s injury report, however, so instead of searching for injury replacements, New England was likely just updating its emergency list of free agents.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/25/17

Today’s practice squad moves:

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

New England Patriots

Tennessee Titans

Patriots Notes: Harris, Heinicke

  • Veteran linebacker David Harris had played all of three defensive snaps heading into today’s game, and that’s largely due to the Patriots‘ defensive formations, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. New England used mostly nickel and dime looks against the Chiefs and Saints in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively, and given that Harris is behind Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts on the defensive depth chart, he didn’t see much action. That could conceivably change if the Patriots use more base looks, but Harris is mostly a run-stopper at this point in his career.
  • The Patriots signed former Vikings quarterback Taylor Heinicke to their practice squad last week, a sign that New England wants to develop him for the long haul, as Reiss details in a separate piece. New England didn’t have a quarterback on its practice squad in either 2014 or 2015, so the addition of Heinicke likely speaks about the prospect himself, per Reiss. From Heinicke’s point of view, the opportunity to learn under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady was “too enticing to pass up,” a source tells Reiss.
  • As part of the 2016 trade that sent cornerback Eric Rowe to New England, the Eagles will see their fourth-round return upgraded to a third-round pick if Rowe plays in 50% of the Patriots’ defensive snaps in 2017. Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice examines where that deal stands, and whether the possibility of acquiring a third-rounder lessened the pain of sending a 2018 third-round pick to Buffalo for fellow corner Ronald Darby earlier this year.

Malcolm Butler Struggling During Contract Year

DeShone Kizer will surely see his fair share of struggles during his rookie campaign, similar to his four-turnover performance last weekend. However, the Browns are seemingly willing to be patient with their signal-caller, and this sentiment was emphasized by head coach Hue Jackson.

“He’s playing with a bunch of men,” said Jackson (via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com). “He’s 21 years old. He’s leading an organization that hasn’t been what it needs to be. He’s surrounded by a ton of guys who, we haven’t won a ton of games, and he’s trying to uplift everything. There’s a lot of pressure. Let’s just be honest — it is.”

In two NFL starts, Kizer has completed 57.4-percent of his passes for 404 yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions. He’s also collected 43 rushing yards and one touchdown on 10 attempts.

“Like many rookies, I can name many guys in this league who have thrown three interceptions in a game, four interceptions in a game and came back the next week and played their tails off,” Jackson said. “That’s going to happen. I don’t like it. Nobody does. But hopefully he will keep growing from it and keep getting better.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the AFC…
  • Texans left tackle Duane Brown is the lone veteran to continue his hold out into the regular season. Former NFL agent Joel Corry notes that his team could certainly use some reinforcement on the offensive line, although precedent says Brown won’t receive his desired contract. Not only is the organization reluctant to hand out extensions during the regular season, but they also don’t want to find themselves in similar situations in the future. Ultimately, Corry believes there’s little incentive for Brown to sit out the entire regular season, so he ultimately thinks the Texans will win the stalemate.
  • The cash-strapped Ravens cleared $2.66MM in cap space today, reports ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter). The organization converted Tony Jefferson‘s $1.96MM salary and Justin Tucker‘s $1.79MM salary into signing bonuses, leading to the additional cap space.
  • Could the Colts be eyeing a coaching change if they fall to 0-3 this weekend? ESPN.com’s Mike Wells isn’t sure, although he says a loss to the lowly Browns wouldn’t be a good look for head coach Chuck Pagano. For what it’s worth, owner Jim Irsay has never fired a coach during the regular season, and Pagano can use the excuse that he’s been without his franchise quarterback in Andrew Luck. However, if the team doesn’t put up a fight at home, Wells believes the hot seat will certainly get warmer.
  • Impending free agent cornerback Malcolm Butler has struggled through the Patriots‘ first two games, writes CSNNE.com’s Mike Giardi. In fact, the coaching staff knocked the former Super Bowl hero out of the starting lineup last weekend, replacing him with Eric Rowe. Trade rumors surrounded Butler throughout the offseason, and he watched as the team handed a hefty payday to a cornerback from another organization (Stephon Gilmore). While Butler presumably isn’t happy with his current situation, the writer believes it’s up to the player to turn his season around.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/22/17

We’ll keep track of today’s practice squad moves here:

Detroit Lions

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

Pats Work Out Lamarr Houston, Philly Brown

Lamarr Houston (vertical)

Outside linebacker Lamarr Houston was among those to work out for the Patriots on Friday, Field Yates of ESPN reports (on Twitter). The team also auditioned a pair of wide receivers – Philly Brown and Tavarres King – as well as defensive tackle Stefan Charles, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets.

New England joins New Orleans as the second team Houston has tried out for since the Bears released him from injured reserve Sept. 6. Knee injuries, including two ACL tears, slowed Houston in recent seasons and led to his release from Chicago, which signed the ex-Raider to a five-year, $35MM contract prior to the 2014 campaign. Houston appeared in just two games last season, though he’s only two years removed from an eight-sack showing.

If Houston signs with the Patriots and returns to something resembling his past form, the 30-year-old could provide a boost to a Patriots defense in need of help. The reigning Super Bowl champions’ stop unit ranks last in DVOA through two weeks and has only totaled four sacks.

On the other side of the ball, the Pats haven’t been the picture of health this year at wideout, which could explain their interest in Brown. The 25-year-old has been available since the Bills waived him Sept. 3, and he has worked out with the Jets, Saints and Pats since then. Brown spent the first three years of his career in Carolina, where he hauled in 79 catches, 1,019 yards and seven touchdowns across 43 games (22 starts).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/22/17

Today’s minor moves:

  • The Patriots are promoting defensive end Geneo Grissom to the active roster, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Pats have been paying Grisson handsomely by taxi squad standards – $36,716 per week – and they think rather highly of the former third-round pick. Given the way the Pats’ pass rush was depleted over the offseason, they could use his production. The 25-year-old has appeared in 26 games for the Patriots over the last two years but has yet to really make a mark.
  • The Browns have promoted practice squad wide receiver Jordan Leslie in advance of Sunday’s game (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). Given Corey Coleman’s injury, Leslie should be in for some playing time. To make room, Cleveland waived wide receiver Reggie Davis.
  • The Bengals have waived wide receiver Jake Kumerow from injured reserve.

Malcolm Butler Addresses Benching

  • Malcolm Butler played at least 96 percent of the Patriots‘ defensive snaps in 2015 and ’16, but Eric Rowe took his place in the starting lineup last week against the Saints. The subject of trade rumors this offseason — with the Saints being the frontrunner for that would-be deal — the contract-year corner tried to brush that topic off. “This is where I play; this is where I’m happy at,” Butler said (via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com), “just have to continue doing my thing.” This is the latest chapter in the Butler/Pats saga, one that looks likely to end after this season. Both Rowe and Stephon Gilmore have seen groin injuries emerge, so Butler may well return to the Pats’ starting lineup against the Texans. However, Butler’s received no indication that he’ll return to a first-string role.