- There’s been a lot of chatter about Jets inside linebacker Avery Williamson being released as a cap casualty to save $6.5MM, but Brian Costello of the New York Post believes he’s “less likely” to go than veterans such as cornerback Trumaine Johnson and guard Brian Winters. Neville Hewitt, who is set for free agency, played well following Williamson’s ACL tear and could be retained on a cheaper deal. A compromise could be struck in the form of a lower cost deal; after notching 120 tackles in 2018, Williamson is a proven contributor and the Jets would rather not shed him entirely.
The Jets have turned to the CFL for some potential depth in their secondary. The team announced tonight that they’ve signed safety Anthony Cioffi. SiriusXM’s Adam Caplan tweets that it’s a two-year deal.
The New Jersey native was a standout at Rutgers before signing with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2017. He compiled six tackles and one sack in four preseason games before getting cut by Oakland.
He ultimately caught one with the Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League, where he spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Serving as a defensive back and linebacker, Cioffi compiled 97 defensive tackles, two interceptions, three forced fumbles, and four sacks in 33 career games.
The Jets secondary could look a whole lot different in 2020, as cornerbacks Brian Poole, Arthur Maulet, and Maurice Canady are set to hit free agency. There’s also a good chance that the organization moves on from Trumaine Johnson.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Jets have signed tight end Daniel Brown to a one-year extension, according to a team press release. Terms of the deal are not yet known. Last year, he earned $805K while counting for just $735K against the cap, thanks to the minimum salary benefit provision.
Brown joined Gang Green in March, fresh off of a two-year stint with the Ravens. In recent years, he hasn’t been utilized much as a pass-catcher, but the Jets still found plenty of use for him in 2019. Brown, 28 in May, lined up for 29% of their offensive snaps and was featured 67% of the time on special teams. He also appeared in every single game, marking his first NFL season with perfect attendance.
Brown figures to be a part of the plan in 2020 as well, though he’ll be playing behind Ryan Griffin and Chris Herndon. Herndon missed all but one game last year thanks a suspension, plus hamstring and rib injuries. In his stead, Griffin had 34 catches for 320 yards and five touchdowns.
Today, the Jets also announced the signing of Rutgers product Anthony Cioffi. Cioffi spent the last two seasons in the CFL where he played as a defensive back and an undersized linebacker.
Michigan State continues to look for a replacement for Mark Dantonio, and Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reports (via Twitter) that the school was eyeing veteran coach Pat Shurmur.
Fortunately for Denver, the 54-year-old is staying put. Klis notes that Shurmur is “all in” on the Broncos organization, and he’ll continue as the team’s offensive coordinator. It wasn’t even a month ago that Shurmur replaced Rich Scangarello in the role.
Shurmur is best known for his stint as the Giants head coach, but he actually got started in the coaching ranks at Michigan State. He started off as a graduate assistant before coaching tight ends, offensive lineman, and special teams. In total, Shurmur was with the school between 1988 and 1997.
Let’s check out some more coaching notes from around the league…
- The Jets announced this evening (on Twitter) that they’ve added Leigh Torrence as an assistant defensive backs coach. Brian Costello of the New York Post observes that Torrence played for Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams when the two were in New Orleans (Twitter link). The 38-year-old spent the past two seasons as a defensive assistant with the Saints.
- Jonathan Cooley is joining the Rams coaching staff as a defensive assistant/quality control coach, reports Bruce Feldman of The Athletic (on Twitter). The former Akron cornerbacks coach was selected by the NFL for the 2019 Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship.
- We learned earlier tonight that the Jaguars were adding former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo as their new quarterbacks coach.
The Patriots drafted edge rusher Derek Rivers in the third round of the 2017 draft, but the Youngstown State product has played in just six regular season games over his first three years in the pros. His entire rookie campaign was wiped out due to a torn ACL, he had a limited workload in 2018, and he sustained a knee injury during a preseason game in August that landed him on IR for all of 2019.
But as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes, Rivers still features heavily in New England’s plans. Reiss says Rivers remains a constant presence at the team’s facility, and if the team cannot retain free agent Kyle Van Noy — which is quite possible, given the amount of cap space that will need to be devoted to the offensive side of the ball, including the quarterback position — Rivers will need to step up.
Now for more from the league’s east divisions:
- Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv takes a look at a few Jets who could be cap casualties this offseason. Most of them — like CB Trumaine Johnson, whom we recently discussed as a release candidate — are obvious choices, but players like Jonotthan Harrison and Avery Williamson are more difficult calls. Vacchiano believes the club would be wise to retain Harrison at least as a depth option, and he suggests Williamson could be back on a reworked contract.
- In a separate piece, Vacchiano names a few players the Jets should target in free agency, assuming their current teams don’t retain them. Unsurprisingly, he believes Gang Green should target the top of the O-line (Brandon Scherff, Jack Conklin) and WR (Amari Cooper, Emmanuel Sanders) markets.
- Vacchiano undergoes the same exercises for the Giants that he did for the Jets. For Big Blue, he names LB Alec Ogletree as the most likely player to be cut on his list of seven names, and he also believes Conklin would be a perfect fit for the G-Men.
- Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic summarizes the changes to the coaching staff that the Eagles recently made official. We had previously passed along most of those names, though Kapadia’s list also includes Andrew Breiner (hired as pass game analyst) and Dino Vasso (promoted to assistant defensive coordinator). He also offers his take on the changes, including his observation that the offensive staff now includes coaches who have very different schematic backgrounds, which suggests that Philadelphia will try to incorporate a wide variety of looks in 2020.
After two players filed grievances against the Jets in recent months, the franchise has an issue with former offensive line coach Rick Dennison. Now on the Vikings’ staff, Dennison spent the 2018 season as the Jets’ O-line coach and run-game coordinator. A dispute about Dennison’s contract has emerged, with the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta reporting in an expansive piece the Jets and their former assistant have been at odds for a year about his deal. Dennison wanted to stay on as Jets O-line coach, but then-new Jets HC Adam Gase replaced all of Todd Bowles‘ 2018 offensive staff.
The parties are at odds over a roughly $1MM payment. Previous Jets GM Mike Maccagnan, after informing Dennison he would not be on Gase’s 2019 staff, gave Dennison permission to pursue other jobs. The Jets then signed off on the ex-NFL OC receiving the money but subsequently changed their tune, Mehta adds. Gase told some he discussed with Dennison a move to the scouting staff, but Mehta notes no such discussion occurred. Unless the Jets and Dennison reach a settlement, a hearing at the league office is expected to take place this month.
Speculation swirls around Le’Veon Bell, but the Jets running back says he has every intention of staying put. When asked about his future, Bell told TMZ that he’s on the same page with head coach Adam Gase.
“Me and coach Gase had our exit meeting,” Bell said. “It was fine, so we straight. Yeah, we good.”
Gase and Bell butted heads throughout the season, which saw the multiple-time Pro Bowler put up the worst numbers of his career. Bell ran for just 789 yards and three touchdowns on 229 carries – that comes out to just 3.3 yards per tote, a sharp contrast from his best work in Pittsburgh, which included back-to-back 4.9-yard averages. His 66 catches for 461 yards and one score weren’t too shabby, but that’s still a notch or two below expectations. With the Steelers, Bell averaged 8.5 yards per reception and averaged 80 grabs in each of his final two seasons with his former team.
Despite the friction and the disappointment, Bell says he’s ready to bounce back and move forward with the club on his lucrative multi-year deal.
“Everybody blowing everything out of proportion,” Bell said. “Water under the bridge — we’re fine. We good … Jets for four more years unless something drastic changes.”
Bell, we figure, has at least one more year in green, unless the Jets are extraordinarily desperate to get rid of him. Releasing Bell this offseason would leave them with nothing but a backfield vacancy and a giant chunk of dead money. Next year, however, they could escape the deal and save $9.5MM against just $4MM in dead money.
On a related note – Bell’s quick math was slightly off. His contract takes him through the 2022 season, so “four more years” with the Jets would require another contract. For a number of reasons, that won’t be happening anytime soon.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Jets will have some tough decisions to make in the months ahead. Will they part ways with running back Le’Veon Bell, even though that would result in an absurdly high dead money hit? Will they give safety Jamal Adams a top-of-the-market deal, stand pat, or open up the phone lines on trade inquiries, as they did before last year’s trade deadline? And how about free agent wide receiver Robby Anderson, who is gunning for big bucks after posting a so-so stat line?
Those are just some of the issues that need to be addressed by GM Joe Douglas this offseason. However, there are also easier calls to be made, including the future of cornerback Trumaine Johnson.
In 2018, former GM Mike Maccagnan inked Johnson to a five-year, $72.5MM deal with $34MM guaranteed at signing. Previous to that, Johnson performed as one of the league’s better cornerbacks with the Rams across six seasons. In New York, Johnson fell way, way short of expectations.
In his first year with Gang Green, Johnson missed significant time with a quad injury that some Jets staffers believe he could have played through. He did come away with four interceptions in 2018, but that stat doesn’t tell the whole story – Johnson struggled in coverage and looked like a shell of his former self.
Things deteriorated even further in 2019 – Johnson appeared in only seven games before landing on IR in early November. He was also benched for performance reasons and, unsurprisingly, they were unable to find any takers for him at the trade deadline.
Coach Adam Gase was vocal about his frustration with Johnson, but there was no sense in releasing him last year due to his deal. Cutting Johnson in 2019 would have resulted in $24MM in dead money with zero cap relief. This year, they’d still be saddled with $12MM in dead money, and they’d only save $3MM by dropping the 30-year-old, but that’s exactly what the Jets will do, in all likelihood.
The $3MM saved won’t be enough to sign a new starting cornerback, but it’s at least something. Expect Douglas to tack that on to his existing ~$50MM in cap room, a number that could grow even further by cutting vets like guard Brian Winters, cornerback Darryl Roberts, wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, and linebacker Avery Williamson.
Super Bowl LIV is in the books, which means the order for the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft is set. By virtue of their 31-20 win Sunday night, the Chiefs will have the final pick in the first round. The 49ers dropping to 5-2 in Super Bowls will result in the NFC champions approaching the podium at No. 31.
Here is the full first-round order:
1. Bengals (2-14)
2. Redskins (3-13)
3. Lions (3-12-1)
4. Giants (4-12)
5 Dolphins (5-11)
6. Chargers (5-11)
7. Panthers (5-11)
8. Cardinals (5-10-1)
9. Jaguars (6-10)
10. Browns (6-10)
11. Jets (7-9)
12. Raiders (7-9)
13. Colts (7-9)
14. Buccaneers (7-9)
15. Broncos (7-9)
16. Falcons (7-9)
17. Cowboys (8-8)
18. Dolphins (via Steelers 8-8)
19. Raiders (via Bears 8-8)
20. Jaguars (via Rams 9-7)
21. Eagles (9-7)
22. Bills (10-6)
23. Patriots (12-4)
24. Saints (13-3)
25. Vikings (10-6)
26. Dolphins (via Texans 10-6)
27. Seahawks (11-5)
28. Ravens (14-2)
29. Titans (9-7)
30. Packers (13-3)
31. 49ers (13-3)
32. Chiefs (12-4)
- Jets safety Jamal Adams says talks are underway with Gang Green, but ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini cautions that many hurdles remain. As Cimini understands it, Adams doesn’t just want to top Eddie Jackson‘s $14.6MM/year deal with the Bears – he wants to exceed it by a wide margin. Also, Cimini wouldn’t be surprised if Adams aims to surpass Earl Thomas‘ guaranteed mark of $32MM, which currently stands as the highest of any safety. The Jets, meanwhile, can control Adams for three years thanks to the franchise tag, so they won’t necessarily be in a rush to get something done. Adams, in turn, could theoretically drum up leverage with a holdout.