Demario Douglas

WR Notes: Texans, Patriots, Eagles, Cardinals

It’s easy to be excited about the Texans wide receiver corps in 2024. After Tank Dell and Nico Collins established a connection with C.J. Stroud in 2023, the organization added another major name in Stefon Diggs. With the Texans hoping to take a major step forward in 2024, the team can now boast that they’re armed with one of the best WR trios in the NFL.

One of the other players on the depth chart, Steven Sims, has gotten a first-hand look at his talented teammates, and he believes Houston’s wideouts are ready for some big plays during the upcoming campaign.

“We’ve got a great group,” Sims told Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 Houston. “I can’t wait to get back to camp. It’s going to be so much fun. I feel like there’s going to be a lot of big plays, a lot of fun, but it’s a business and it’s work. It’s time to get back to work and I’m excited to go back to work with the group we’ve got I feel like from top to bottom everybody can get it done.”

Sims re-signed with the Texans this offseason after getting into three games with the team in 2023. He’ll be competing with the likes of John Metchie III and Ben Skowronek for reps behind the team’s top-three WRs.

More wideout notes from around the NFL…

  • Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston explores some of the Patriots wideout scenarios for the 2024 campaign, including the best-case scenario (which sees rookie Ja’Lynn Polk and second-year wideout DeMario Douglas break out) and the worst-case scenario (the team’s over-reliance on veterans JuJu Smith-Schuster and Kendrick Bourne). Curran believes the most-likely scenario is a bit of both, with the organization allowing the young players to show their stuff, especially as Bourne works his way back from a torn ACL. Curran says the team’s main wildcard at the position is free agent acquisition K.J. Osborn, who has already developed chemistry with presumed starting QB Jacoby Brissett.
  • Joseph Ngata spent the majority of his rookie campaign on Philly’s practice squad, and Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia believes the former UDFA is set to make the Eagles 53-man roster in 2024. As Zangaro notes, Ngata got some first-team reps during the spring,and he’s clearly ahead of some of the team’s other young wideouts. Parris Campbell is the likeliest of Philly’s non-star WRs to emerge, but Ngata should have an upper hand on fifth-round rookie Ainias Smith and sixth-round rookie Johnny Wilson.
  • Jess Root of Cards Wire notes that Cardinals undrafted rookie WR Xavier Weaver is likely to stick with the organization by virtue of his contract. The Colorado product got $225K in guaranteed money from Arizona, the equivalent to 18 weeks of practice squad salary. If the rookie is eventually waived, it’s unlikely a cash-strapped suitor would willingly add him to their 53-man roster. With four WR spots locked up in Arizona (Marvin Harrison Jr., Michael Wilson, Greg Dortch, and Zay Jones), Weaver will be hard pressed to earn a regular roster gig, but the Cardinals’ financial commitment shows they plan to keep the WR around their practice squad for the 2024 campaign.

Latest On Patriots’ WR Pursuit

Following their failed pursuit of Calvin Ridley, the Patriots continue to be on the lookout for wide receivers. While speaking with reporters today, de facto general manager Eliot Wolf acknowledged that the team still had a need for an outside receiver (per Evan Lazar of the team website).

The Patriots moved on from DeVante Parker earlier this offseason and replaced him with K.J. Osborn, who Lazar profiles as more of a “complementary piece.” Further, Osborn is a better fit for the Z/slot role, a job that would also be ideal for the team’s other top wide receivers: Kendrick Bourne and Demario Douglas. While the team is still rostering the likes of Tyquan Thornton and Kayshon Boutte (along with veterans like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Jalen Reagor), it makes sense that the Patriots would be pursuing a speedster for their offense.

As a result, the Patriots have been mentioned as a popular landing spot for any of the veteran WRs that could shake loose, a grouping that includes the likes of Brandon Aiyuk and Tee Higgins. While Wolf wouldn’t give any specifics, he did acknowledge that the team is pursuing multiple paths as they look to add to the position.

“We’ve had conversations with teams about different scenarios,” Wolf said. “Not just at receiver but at other positions. That’s definitely something that we’d be open to.”

The team was aggressive in their pursuit of Ridley, but the Patriots ended up losing the sweepstakes to the Titans. Robert Kraft previously said the team didn’t lose out on Ridley because of financials. Instead, the owner gave a variety of reasons for not adding the receiver, including taxes, the quarterbacks situation, and the WR’s girlfriend. However, Wolf seemed to acknowledge that it was indeed money that led to the Patriots losing out on the free agent wideout.

“Another team offered more money [for Ridley] would be the main thing,” Wolf said.

The Patriots could have their pick of the top WR prospects with the number-three pick, a grouping that’s led by Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr., LSU’s Malik Nabers, and Washington’s Rome Odunze. However, since the team is expected to take a QB with their first-round pick, Lazar points to a number of later-round receivers like Adonai Mitchell, Keon Coleman, Ladd McConkey, Devontez Walker, and Brenden Rice.

Patriots Submit Offer To WR Calvin Ridley

The Patriots’ reported interest in receiver Calvin Ridley is very real. According to Josina Anderson, the Patriots have made an offer to the free agent wideout.

[RELATED: Patriots Pursuing Calvin Ridley]

The organization is also opting to “keep a deal on the table” following today’s reports that focused on the interesting logistics of the previous Jaguars/Falcons trade. If Jacksonville re-signs Ridley before 2pm tomorrow, they’ll owe Atlanta a second-round pick. If they wait beyond that deadline and re-sign the receiver, the Jaguars would only owe the Falcons a third-round pick.

This led some pundits to believe that Ridley was destined to return to Jacksonville and was simply biding his time to provide his organization with better draft capital. However, it sounds like the Patriots are still very much in the hunt, and it’ll be interesting to see how negotiations progress over the next 24 hours.

New England holds more than $80MM in cap space, and with Ridley sitting atop the WR market, it only made sense that the Patriots would target the free agent for their new-look offense. The team moved on from Mac Jones and added veteran Jacoby Brissett, and the organization appears to be leaning towards selecting a QB with the third-overall pick. Ridley would represent an intriguing target for whoever is under center for the Patriots in 2024 and beyond.

The Patriots’ receivers struggled in 2023, although that was partly due to the team’s inconsistent play at quarterback. The team has already moved on from DeVante Parker and is looking to unload JuJu Smith-Schuster, leaving plenty of question marks atop the depth chart. The team did agree to new deals with Kendrick Bourne and Jalen Reagor, but the rest of their depth chart features unproven options like Demario Douglas, Tyquan Thornton, and Kayshon Boutte.

AFC Notes: Raiders, Pats, Jets, Bengals

As we inch closer to the start of the regular season, the Raiders‘ eventual 53-man roster is starting to come into focus. Two players in particular appear to be securing their positions for the team’s lineup come Week 1, according to Tashan Reed of The Athletic.

Wide receiver DeAndre Carter has definitely taken advantage of his opportunities throughout camp this preseason. In the team’s second preseason game, Carter started in the slot in place of Hunter Renfrow, who sat out for the game. He didn’t put up notable stats from the position, but he really shined in a special teams role. He had a strong opening kick return and was inches away from a punt return for a touchdown, as well. The coaches’ faith in him to start in place of Renfrow combined with his return ability has virtually cemented his spot on the roster, according to Reed.

Another player on the rise is veteran guard Greg Van Roten, who seems to have surpassed Alex Bars for the starting job at right guard. Van Roten started the team’s most recent preseason game at right guard for a single series before being replaced by Bars, signifying the changing of the guard, pun not intended. Bars, who started most of last season for the team at right guard, may be in danger of failing to make the 53-man roster if he keeps sliding down the depth chart.

Here are a few more roster rumors from around the league as the preseason begins its close:

  • The Patriots have struggled as of late with drafting wide receivers. They’re looking to buck that trend this season. In a room that was originally looking weak when the team missed out on free agent De’Andre Hopkins, New England is newly flushed with possibilities. The team lacks elite top end talent, but behind JuJu Smith-Schuster and DeVante Parker, the Patriots have a surprising number of options. Kendrick Bourne has seemingly secured a role as the team’s third wideout with a great camp, according to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe, and behind Bourne, rookie sixth-round picks Demario Douglas and Kayshon Boutte have made strong cases for roster spots themselves with impressive camps. Even undrafted rookie quarterback Malik Cunningham has reportedly shown enough versatility and promise on offense and special teams to make a case for a roster spot.
  • With the recent acquisition of free agent Dalvin Cook, the Jets top-two running backs are clear as day, but in the process, the extra body has made things a bit crowded in the position room. Brian Costello of the New York Post believes that rookie fifth-round pick Israel Abanikanda is likely safe, leading to a battle for the likely last roster spot between Michael Carter and Zonovan Knight. Seemingly, Carter is safe. He’s got more starting experience on the team than Knight and didn’t suit up for the Jets’ most recent preseason game, a likely indication that the coaches have seen what they need to see. Knight played last week and fumbled. He’s had good moments throughout training camp, but his future may lie on the practice squad this season.
  • The Bengals have a clear TE1 and a likely TE2 coming into the end of the preseason in Irv Smith Jr. and Drew Sample, but there’s a chance that TE3 isn’t on the roster, according to The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. Last season’s TE3 Mitchell Wilcox has a decent shot at a roster spot, as does the undersized Tanner Hudson, who has impressed with some nice hands throughout camp. Devin Asiasi, Nick Bowers, and Christian Trahan remain as options, as well, but don’t have the strongest chances at a roster spot. Dehner predicts that Cincinnati may take to the open market after cut day, aiming to pull in any of several experienced tight ends that may find themselves on the roster bubble.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/10/23

Teams are moving quickly on inking their Day 3 draftees to their four-year rookie deals, with this process involving a slot system that does not feature many complications for late-round players. Here are the latest such agreements to commence:

Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Detroit Lions

Jacksonville Jaguars

New England Patriots

San Francisco 49ers

Washington Commanders

Johnson transferred back to the west coast after a freshman year at Miami (FL). He established himself as one of the most versatile players in the country while in Eugene, contributing for the Ducks on defense as an edge rusher and on offense as a tight end. Carolina drafted him for his defensive potential.

Moody is the expected replacement for Robbie Gould, who departed in free agency this spring after six years with San Francisco. Likewise, New England moved on from punter Jake Bailey after a couple of internal disagreements. Baringer is expected to take over for the one-time All-Pro punter.