Jets Rumors

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/23/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Arizona Cardinals

Jacksonville Jaguars

Miami Dolphins

  • Signed: CB Cre’Von LeBlanc
  • Waived: DE Nick Coe, LS Rex Sunahara

New England Patriots

  • Signed: TE David Wells

New York Jets

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Coach Greg Knapp Passes Away

Jets assistant coach Greg Knapp has passed away. His agent, Jeff Sperbeck, announced the tragic news this evening (per Mike Klis of 9News in Denver on Twitter).

We learned earlier this week that Knapp was battling life-threatening injuries after being involved in a bicycle accident. The 58-year-old was riding his bike when he was struck by a motorist in California. Knapp never regained consciousness following the accident. According to an ESPN report, the driver of the vehicle was cooperating with police, and drugs and/or alcohol were not believed to be a factor.

Knapp had served as a coach for more than three decades. After spending nine years at Sacramento State, Knapp made his way to the NFL. He served as offensive coordinator for a number of teams, including the 49ers, Falcons, Raiders, and Seahawks. He spent the past few years serving as a QB coach for the Texans, Raiders, Broncos, and Falcons, and he was hired by the Jets to be the pass-game specialist earlier this offseason. Per Sperbeck, Knapp worked with a long list of quarterbacks throughout his career, including Steve Young, Jeff Garcia, Rick Mirer, Matt Schaub, Michael Vick, Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, and (most recently) Zach Wilson.

“Greg is such an amazing individual it is hard to imagine the challenge facing him and his family,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said earlier this week (via ESPN). “Greg’s fun nature, kind disposition, and wealth of knowledge has allowed him to make genuine connections with all of our coaches, players and staff since he has been here.”

We here at PFR would like to extend our condolences to Knapp’s family, friends, and colleagues.

Jets Sign Second-Round WR Elijah Moore

The Jets are one step closer to officially signing their entire draft class. The team announced this evening that they’ve signed second-round receiver Elijah Moore.

Per ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter, the four-year deal is fully guaranteed through the first three seasons of the pact. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport adds (via Twitter) that the deal is worth a total of $8.94MM, and ESPN’s Rich Cimini tweets that the deal includes a $3.86MM signing bonus.

Moore had a standout career at Ole Miss, and he had his best collegiate season during the 2020 campaign. The receiver finished with 1,257 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns, earning him first-team All-SEC honors and a consensus All-American nod. Thanks to that performance, the Jets made Moore the second pick of the second round (No. 34 overall).

Despite the presence of free agent addition Corey Davis, 2020 second rounder Denzel Mims, and 2020 receiving leader Jamison Crowder, Moore should have an opportunity to contribute immediately. He’ll initially slot in as the fourth wideout behind that aforementioned trio, although the likes of Keelan Cole or Vyncint Smith could push for snaps with strong preseasons.

With this signing, the Jets only have one unsigned draft pick: second-overall pick Zach Wilson.

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Jets Sign First-Round OL Alijah Vera-Tucker

Jets fans are still waiting for their team to ink second-overall pick Zach Wilson to his rookie contract, but the organization did manage to sign their other first-round pick today. The team announced that they’ve signed first-round guard Alijah Vera-Tucker.

The USC product was selected with the 14th pick during this past year’s draft. The offensive lineman’s rookie contract is worth a fully guaranteed $15.88MM, including an $8.9MM signing bonus.

A darling of scouts across the league, Vera-Tucker was lauded for his versatility and hard-nosed playing style during his time at USC. AVT was already considered a top offensive guard prospect heading into the 2020 season, but he added even more intrigue following a successful transition to tackle. After earning second-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2019, he made a jump to the first team in 2020. He also earned the Morris Trophy this past season, awarded to the best OL/DL in the Pac 12 (as voted by players).

Vera-Tucker lacks elite athleticism, which means his future will probably be on the interior. Indeed, the rookie is currently projected to start at left guard for the Jets.

Following the signing, the Jets have only a pair of rookies who remain unsigned: Wilson and second-round wideout Elijah Moore.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Which Rookie Wide Receiver Will Finish With Most Receiving Yards?

This past week we asked you which rookie running back would finish with the most yards in 2021, and now we’re turning our attention to the wide receivers. This year’s wideout class was a great one, with three going in the top ten picks.

Two more then went later in the first round, and then five were off the board in the second. The crop included reigning Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, and LSU star Ja’Marr Chase who was reunited in Cincinnati with college teammate Joe Burrow.

Chase became the first receiver off the board when the Bengals nabbed him with the fifth overall pick. He should already have great chemistry with Burrow, so he’s got that working in his favor. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are still there, but the team moving on from A.J. Green this offseason means Chase should see plenty of opportunity right away. Will his rapport with Burrow and a potentially improved Cincy O-line be enough for him to seize the rookie receiving title?

The following pick, the Dolphins took Jaylen Waddle from Alabama at number six. Waddle is also reconnecting with an old college quarterback as he’ll re-team with Tua Tagovailoa in Miami. His blazing fast speed gives him plenty of upside, although working against him is the fact that he missed a good chunk of the 2020 season due to injury. Will Fuller will have to sit out the first game of the 2021 season with a suspension, but DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki will also be competing for targets.

Smith *also* is getting paired back up with a familiar face under center. The Heisman winner played with Eagles second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts at Alabama. Despite winning the award for best college football player in the country, Smith was the third wideout taken. Will he use that as added motivation and come out with a chip on his shoulder? He certainly shouldn’t struggle for playing time with Philly’s receiving depth chart being thin as ever. Jalen Reagor, Travis Fulgham, and Greg Ward Jr. are all he has to compete with.

The other two first-rounders were Kadarius Toney from Florida to the Giants at 20 and Rashod Bateman from Minnesota to the Ravens at 27. Toney surprised New York by skipping OTAs and apparently might begin the year in a gadget role as he’s buried behind Sterling Shepard, Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, and Evan Engram in the pecking order, so he’s got his work cut out for him. Bateman has a path to a breakout with Baltimore in desperate need of receiving help, but the Ravens’ passing game is going to be a wild card.

Elijah Moore was the next big name, with the Ole Miss product going to the Jets at 34. He’s also got upside, but has a few guys ahead of him and will have a rookie quarterback throwing to him. Rondale Moore (Purdue) to the Cardinals at 49, D’Wayne Eskridge (Western Michigan) to the Seahawks at 56, Tutu Atwell (Louisville) to the Rams at 57, and Terrace Marshall Jr. (LSU) to the Panthers at 59 round out the rest of the round two receivers.

So, what do you think? Which receiver will rack up the most yards in 2021? Who are the later-round candidates or UDFAs who can join these players as early contributors? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Marcus Maye Pulls Offer Off Table, No Deal With Jets Likely

Well it looks like we have our answer to another one of the unextended franchise tagged players. It does not appear safety Marcus Maye will be getting a new contract from the Jets before the July 15th deadline.

The team has not responded to the latest proposal from Maye’s camp, and Maye has now pulled that offer off the table, sources told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). “No deal is expected,” Rapsheet adds. That would seem to conflict with the Jets’ stance from May that they were “working relentlessly” to get a deal done.

A source also told Rapoport that “negotiations went south weeks before the tag deadline” after New York offered a contract that had an average annual value “about 20% below even the tag amount for 2021.” No wonder he rejected it. Maye is currently set to make about $10.6MM playing under the tag this season. 

We heard a couple of weeks ago that the Florida product could be looking for a deal with an AAV of around $14MM, while the Jets viewed the deal John Johnson got from the Browns ($11.25MM AAV over three years) as a better comp.

Rapoport says that Maye understandably turned down the Jets’ offer, and “had significantly more in APY and guarantees from multiple teams heading into FA.” It sounds like he’s content to now play out this season in New York, and look to cash in with one of those other team’s in next year’s free agency.

Drafted 39th overall in 2017, Maye has never made a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team, but was graded as the league’s fifth-best safety in 2020 by Pro Football Focus.

The 28-year-old was productive last season, finishing with 88 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, 11 passes defended, and two interceptions. He’s started all 54 games that he’s appeared in over his four years with the Jets.

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Poll: Which Rookie Running Back Will Finish With Most Rushing Yards?

Quarterbacks, per usual, dominated this year’s pre-draft coverage. The Falcons made Kyle Pitts the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history, and four wide receivers then went off the board in the top 20. Running backs, as they have done in a few drafts over the past decade, waited.

While two went in Round 1, the Jaguars’ Travis Etienne pick preceded a 60-pick stretch during which just one running back — the Broncos’ Javonte Williams choice — went off the board. The 2021 draft matches 2016 and 2003 for the fewest backs chosen in the top 80 (three) in the common draft era (1967-present), continuing a grim era for this once-storied position. But several of this year’s draftees have quick paths to key roles.

Linked to Najee Harris ahead of the draft, the Steelers took the Alabama standout at No. 24. Harris will join a Steelers team that ranked last in rushing in 2020. Although the Alabama product scored 30 touchdowns in his senior season and topped 1,200 rushing yards in two straight years, he will now play behind an offensive line that went through considerable turnover this offseason. The Steelers lost 17 Pro Bowls on their offensive line this year. They will replace Maurkice Pouncey and Alejandro Villanueva with far less experienced players, and David DeCastro‘s replacement (Trai Turner) struggled in 2020. Will Harris’ talent be enough to overcome significant O-line concerns in Pittsburgh?

Etienne joins a Jags team that just saw James Robinson set the rookie UDFA record for scrimmage yards (1,414) despite missing two games in 2020. Jacksonville also signed Carlos Hyde, who played for Urban Meyer at Ohio State. Etienne spent time at receiver during the Jags’ offseason program but should be expected to contribute heavily in the backfield. Like Harris, Etienne stayed in college for four years. He twice surpassed 1,600 rushing yards and totaled 78 college TDs — most of which coming alongside No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence — but will this unusual setup (for a first-round back, that is) translate to rookie-year production?

The Broncos traded up four spots for Williams in Round 2, Pro Football Focus’ top-rated back in this class, and chose the North Carolina product 36th overall. Williams teamed with Jets draftee Michael Carter to form one of the nation’s top backfield tandems. Williams compiled just one 1,000-yard season with the Tar Heels but led Division I-FBS with 75 broken tackles in 2020. The Broncos have Melvin Gordon signed through 2021, but the John Elway-era addition does not appear to be a lock to hold off Williams for the starting role.

The rest of the rookie field includes third-rounder Trey Sermon (49ers), Carter (fourth round, Jets) and a host of backs ticketed for early-career backup roles. While injuries certainly will hit the running back position, potentially forcing some of the later-round picks into the fray, Sermon and Carter have the best bets of seeing steady action among the mid- and late-round selections.

An Oklahoma and Ohio State product, Sermon also played four years. He averaged more than seven yards per carry in each of his past two, though he never topped 1,000 on the ground. Lead 49ers back Raheem Mostert is coming off an injury-marred season. The Jets added Tevin Coleman, who joined Mostert in missing most of last season, but do not have another back with much experience. This could allow Carter (two 1,000-yard years at North Carolina) early upward mobility, despite his 5-foot-8 frame.

Which rookie back will rush for the most yards in 2021? Who are the later-round candidates or UDFAs who can join these players as early contributors? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2021 Cap Space For All 32 NFL Teams

There are still plenty of quality free agents left on the board as we look ahead to training camp. Cornerback Steven Nelson, tackle Russell Okung, and longtime Legion of Boom leader Richard Sherman headline the list, along with accomplished edge rushers like Justin Houston, Melvin Ingram, and Olivier Vernon. That list will only grow larger, of course, as more teams shed veterans to redirect their funds elsewhere.

With that in mind, here’s a look at every NFL team’s cap situation, starting with the league-leading Jaguars:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars — $32.7MM
  2. Denver Broncos — $28.9MM
  3. New York Jets — $28.5MM
  4. Cleveland Browns — $20.6MM
  5. Los Angeles Chargers — $19.9MM
  6. Detroit Lions — $17.9MM
  7. San Francisco 49ers — $17.8MM
  8. Cincinnati Bengals — $17.4MM
  9. Washington Football Team — $16.7MM
  10. Indianapolis Colts— $14.3MM
  11. Carolina Panthers— $14.3MM
  12. Minnesota Vikings — $13.5MM
  13. Pittsburgh Steelers — $13.1MM
  14. New England Patriots — $13.1MM
  15. New Orleans Saints — $11.4MM
  16. Arizona Cardinals — $11.3MM
  17. Buffalo Bills — $10.5MM
  18. Baltimore Ravens — $8.8MM
  19. Atlanta Falcons — $8.6MM
  20. Seattle Seahawks — $8.3MM
  21. Tennessee Titans — $8.3MM
  22. Kansas City Chiefs — $7.9MM
  23. Los Angeles Rams — $7MM
  24. Chicago Bears — $6MM
  25. Dallas Cowboys — $6MM
  26. Miami Dolphins — $5.3MM
  27. Green Bay Packers — $5MM
  28. Houston Texans — $5MM
  29. Las Vegas Raiders — $3.3MM
  30. Philadelphia Eagles — $3.2MM
  31. New York Giants — $2.4MM
  32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — $489K

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Status Of 7 Remaining Franchise-Tagged Players

Ten players comprised this year’s franchise tag contingent — down from 14 in 2020. However, the Broncos, Cowboys and Giants reached extension agreements with their tagged players — Justin Simmons, Dak Prescott and Leonard Williams, respectively — to leave seven tag recipients unsigned entering July.

With the July 15 deadline to extend franchise-tagged players less than two weeks away, here is where things stand with the remaining members of the group:

WR Chris Godwin, Buccaneers

Rather than tag Shaquil Barrett for a second straight year, the Bucs cuffed Godwin at $15.9MM. The defending Super Bowl champions found room for Barrett and every other notable free agent they had this offseason, going into overdrive in their effort to defend their second championship. Like every other franchise-tagged player this year, Godwin has signed his tender. The former third-round pick has said he wants to stay in Tampa long-term. The Bucs have Mike Evans signed to a now-below-market deal ($16.5MM per year), so it will be interesting to see how they navigate negotiations with his less accomplished (but three years younger, at 25) sidekick.

S Marcus Maye, Jets

Tagged months after the Jets traded Jamal Adams, Maye has not exactly enjoyed a smooth negotiating process. Just before the Jets tagged Maye, his agent slammed the team for a lackluster effort to extend the four-year starter beforehand. The Jets have carried on negotiations since applying the tag and are believed to have been steadfast in this approach, but this has not necessarily translated to progress. These talks are expected to go down to the wire. Maye, 28, not signing an extension by July 15 would keep the Mike Maccagnan-era draft choice on the $10.6MM tag.

OT Taylor Moton, Panthers

While the Panthers’ left tackle position has been one of the toughest to fill over the past decade, Moton has locked down the team’s right tackle post. A 2017 second-round pick, Moton has not missed a game since debuting in Carolina’s lineup in Week 1 of the 2018 season. The Panthers have a new regime in place, but the Matt RhuleScott Fitterer duo hopes to extend Moton.

The right tackle market moved this week, with Ryan Ramczyk agreeing to a $19.2MM-per-year extension. Moton, 26, is not a candidate to top that, but he may be primed to fill the gap between the top tier (Ramczyk and $18MM-AAV Lane Johnson) and Jack Conklin‘s $14MM-AAV deal. Moton is attached to a $13.8MM franchise tender.

WR Allen Robinson, Bears

Tagged at a higher price ($17.98MM) than Godwin because of his previous contract, Robinson has been the Bears’ No. 1 option on offense for the past three years. This has not translated to harmony between he and the team. Robinson has expressed frustration with the Bears’ tactics during his lengthy extension talks, which date back to last year, and he at one point surfaced in trade rumors.

This will be the eighth-year veteran’s age-28 season. A long-term Robinson deal would pair well with Justin Fields‘ rookie contract, with no other Bears receiver making even midlevel money, but the former third-round pick did not sound especially confident a deal will be finalized by the deadline.

OT Cam Robinson, Jaguars

This might be the closest to a “prove it” tag in this year’s lot. The former second-round pick has recovered from the ACL tear that cost him 14 games in 2018, starting 30 over the past two seasons. But Robinson, 25, has yet to show he is among the better players at the left tackle position. Without a viable replacement lined up, the Jaguars tagged the Alabama alum at $13.8MM. It would make sense for the Urban Meyer regime to gauge Robinson’s contract-year performance and reassess the matter next year. Holding the most cap space in the NFL ($38MM), the Jags can afford to carry Robinson’s tag figure this season.

G Brandon Scherff, Washington

Washington and its top offensive lineman have been at this for a while. A 2015 first-round pick, Scherff has been eligible for an extension since the 2017 season ended. Instead, Washington has seen another tag situation near the point of no return. The four-time Pro Bowl guard has played on the fifth-year option and the franchise tag, pushing this year’s tag price to $18MM. A third tag is unrealistic, as the Kirk Cousins standoff showed, and no deal this month would push Scherff toward free agency in 2022. The team wants to extend the 29-year-old blocker, but it will almost certainly take a guard-record agreement to do so. Joe Thuney raised the position’s ceiling with a $16MM-AAV deal in March.

S Marcus Williams, Saints

The Saints’ salary cap tightrope walk included a $10.6MM Williams tag, completing an odyssey that began with the team $100MM-plus over this year’s reduced cap. With New Orleans already doing the rare fifth-year option restructure with Marshon Lattimore, a Williams extension would be the easiest way to create more cap room. The team checked the top item off its offeseason to-do list, the Ramcyzk extension, but it may well have either a Lattimore or Williams re-up in its near-future plans.

Part of New Orleans’ impact 2017 draft class, the 24-year-old safety has been a starter from Day 1. Even though Lattimore may be a higher extension priority, the team coming all the way back from $100MM over the cap to use a franchise tag illustrates its view of Williams’ work.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/2/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here as we head into the weekend:

New York Jets

Peters was let go to make room on the roster for Morgan Moses, whose contract with the Jets became official today. Peters became a starter at Auburn in his senior year, but was mostly viewed as a potential special teams guy in the NFL. He blocked four punts at Auburn. Meanwhile, we just heard that Moses will be the team’s starting right tackle in 2021, even if the Jets insist for now there will be a competition with George Fant.