Greg Van Roten

AFC Roster Rumors: Van Roten, Jefferson, Scharping, Reed

As the calendar year ticks away the days, NFL teams are having to start thinking about the difficult decisions they will have to make to eventually get their rosters down to 53 players to start the season. While the teams still have almost two months to make all the necessary cuts, many veterans are entering training camp on roster bubbles.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the players who may find themselves looking for a new team by the time the season begins:

  • The Bills brought in free agent offensive guard Greg Van Roten to solidify their depth on the interior of the offensive line. The 32-year-old veteran has starting experience with the last two clubs he’s spent time with, the Panthers and Jets, but he may not even make it to the final 53-man roster in Buffalo, according to Alaina Getzenberg of ESPN. As the Bills figure out just who will receive their coveted roster spots, the final spot will likely become a battle between Van Roten, Greg Mancz, whose experience at center could give him an edge, and rookie sixth-round pick Luke Tenuta.
  • The Ravens are overloaded with talent at the safety position. With free agent addition Marcus Williams, first-round pick Kyle Hamilton, and incumbent starters from last year Chuck Clark and Brandon Stephens all crowding the depth chart, veteran Tony Jefferson may find himself on the outside looking in, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. Jefferson was released by Baltimore two offseasons ago, following a season mostly lost to a torn ACL, but was brought back last year after starting safety DeShon Elliott went down with a season-ending injury and Baltimore needed another veteran presence in their defensive backfield. Unfortunately, with the influx of new talent combined with the presence of last year’s starters, the Ravens may find that rostering Jefferson is not crucial to their depth at the position.
  • After trading cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. to the Chiefs this offseason, the Texans‘ 2019 draft class is down to two remaining players: first-round tackle Tytus Howard and second-round guard Max Scharping. While Howard has established himself as a starter on the line, Scharping is not a lock for the 53-man roster, according to Sarah Barshop of ESPN. Scharping stepped up as a starter during his rookie season but could not manage to hold onto the spot in his second year. The 2021 season saw Scharping struggle enough that his roster spot is now in question.
  • Over the past three seasons, pass rusher Malik Reed has been a lifesaver for Denver as the Broncos saw stars Von Miller and Bradley Chubb each miss time over the 2019, 2020, and 2021 seasons. Some roster moves by the Broncos, though, seem to be pointing toward some roster danger for Reed, according to ESPN’s Jeff Legwold. Free agent Randy Gregory was brought in on a $70MM contract, Denver drafted rookie Nik Bonitto in the second round this year, and the Broncos moved Baron Browning to outside linebacker after he played his entire rookie season on the inside. That trio will all be under contract until at least 2025, while Reed is in a contract year. This doesn’t necessarily spell doom for the former undrafted free agent, who has done a lot to earn his spot. But, with only one roster spot likely to be available at the position, Reed will potentially be duking it out with 2021 seventh-round pick Jonathon Cooper for the final OLB roster spot.

Bills Sign G Greg Van Roten

The Jets opted not to retain Greg Van Roten this offseason, releasing the veteran guard despite his 23-start run with the team. The Bills are giving the 10-year blocker a landing spot.

Van Roten agreed to a deal with Buffalo on Monday. This will continue to crowd the Bills’ O-line with veterans. They have also signed Rodger Saffold and David Quessenberry this offseason.

Although the Jets bailed on Van Roten’s contract shortly after the draft, Robert Saleh said the team was open to bringing him back. The Jets believed Van Roten had the potential to start for other teams. After they had signed Laken Tomlinson to pair with Alijah Vera-Tucker, the 32-year-old blocker was not in line to keep starting for the Jets. A northward trek to a superior team should represent a better opportunity for Van Roten to stay a starter. If that does not end up taking place, the Bills still have a strong depth piece in a player who has 50 starts to his credit.

Pro Football Focus viewed Van Roten as a midlevel guard last season and deemed his 2021 work slightly superior to what he offered in 2020. Van Roten came to the Jets after a three-year run with the Panthers, the final two as a starter. He began his career with the Packers, catching on with Green Bay as a UDFA in 2012. While Van Roten does have a Panthers past, his stay did not overlap with ex-Panthers exec-turned-Bills GM Brandon Beane.

Saffold’s career-long run as a starter puts him in position to claim one of Buffalo’s first-string guard gigs, despite this being his age-34 season. The team also retained Ryan Bates by matching a Bears RFA offer sheet, giving the young guard some momentum to build on the six-start season he finished. Buffalo has Ike Boettger (17 starts from 2020-21) and former second-round pick Cody Ford under contract as well.

AFC Rumors: Jaguars, Williams, Van Roten, Leonard, Browns, Griffin III

After the Jaguars fired former head coach Urban Meyer, it became public that Jacksonville had no intentions of paying Meyer the remaining money on his contract, as he was being fired for cause. There was speculation at the time that the parties may follow existing precedents and negotiate a settlement in order to avoid a legal situation.

According to Jarrett Bell of USA Today, an anonymous source with knowledge of the situation informed the columnist that, to date, the two sides have been unable to strike a settlement agreement.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC, starting with a rumor out of South Beach:

  • The Dolphins should have plenty of options for their offensive line configuration, but it most likely hinges on what they do with interior offensive lineman Connor Williams. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Miami isn’t quite sure what to do with Williams, working him at center and left guard over the past three weeks. The good news, is that it gives them plenty of options. With Terron Armstead solidified at left tackle and Robert Hunt solidly at right guard, Williams could fit at either position. If you put Williams at left guard, the team would likely have Michael Deiter start at center and leave Liam Eichenberg and Austin Jackson to compete for the starting right tackle job. If you start Williams at center, Eichenberg can slide in to the left guard job and Jackson can man the right tackle position.
  • The Jets recently released guard Greg Van Roten. According to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, head coach Robert Saleh claimed that they released Van Roten because they believe he has the potential to start for other teams in the league. His release is meant to allow him to find those teams that would provide him a starting opportunity. Saleh was quoted saying they’d “love to have him back,” if he fails to find such opportunities.
  • Colts linebacker Darius Leonard had ankle surgery in June last year before the season. The surgery helped him to get healthy for the season, where he played every game but one and was named a first-team All-Pro for the third time in his career. While the ankle is still ailing him, Joel A. Erickson of the Indy Star reported that Leonard says the ankle is better now than it was at this point last year. This is an encouraging sign for Leonard and a scary message for the other teams in the AFC South. Leonard has been named to an All-Pro team every year of his career while being nagged by his ankle ailment. A healthy Leonard is a dangerous weapon for opposing teams to have to game-plan against.
  • With the return of free agent wide receiver Jarvis Landry seeming less and less likely, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com believes the Browns will be able to push a bit harder now for free agent pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney to return. Cabot points out that drafting UAB pass rusher Alex Wright makes the need to sign Clowney a little less urgent, but also mentions that fellow pass rusher Myles Garrett wants Clowney back, which could help his case. Cabot claims that, if the two parties can’t agree to a new deal, Cleveland will consider former Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes instead.
  • We’ve all seen Rich Eisen of NFL Network run the 40-yard dash for charity. Well, this year, former NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III, currently an analyst for ESPN, participated and reportedly was clocked at 4.48 seconds. Mike Florio of NBC Sports reports that on Eisen’s show, Griffin made the claim that some teams took notice of his impressive run and reached out to him. This doesn’t necessarily mean that any teams have offered to bring him back to the NFL, but Griffin has publicly stated his desire to return to football in the past, even claiming that his contract with ESPN would allow him to sign with an NFL team if the opportunity presents itself. Griffin last spent time in the league as Lamar Jackson‘s back up on the Ravens. He filled in multiple times leading many to wonder if he still had the ability to lead an NFL offense based on his brief appearances.

Jets Release G Greg Van Roten

After claiming Nate Herbig off waivers from the Eagles, the Jets jettisoned one of their experienced blockers and saved some money. They cut Greg Van Roten on Friday.

Van Roten’s release represents the Jets’ corresponding move for the waiver claim; the veteran starter will head straight to free agency. Van Roten, 32, had started 23 games for the Jets over the past two seasons but was no longer in line to be a first-stringer, with the team having signed Laken Tomlinson in free agency.

While this release saves the Jets $3.5MM, it cuts into their newly solid depth on their interior offensive line. Herbig and Dan Feeney represent the team’s top interior backup options. Van Roten, however, arrived prior to Robert Saleh and OC Mike LaFleur‘s arrivals. Tomlinson is set to team with 2021 first-round pick Alijah Vera-Tucker, with Connor McGovern still under contract at center.

The Jets signed Van Roten during the same offseason they landed McGovern, giving the ex-Panther blocker a three-year deal worth $10.5MM. He was set to earn a nonguaranteed $3MM this season. A New York native who emerged as a UDFA out of Penn, Van Roten has made 50 career starts — all since 2018. Pro Football Focus rated Van Roten as a middling guard last season; he figures to have a shot elsewhere at some point before the season.

AFC East Rumors: Watson, Mariota, Allen

Add veteran NFL reporter Tyler Dunne of GoLongTD.com to the list of writers who have heard that Texans QB Deshaun Watson is not budging on his desire to be traded, and that he continues to ignore every call from Houston brass. Of course, Watson has a no-trade clause that he could use to help dictate where he goes — assuming the Texans give in and deal him, which they have insisted they are not going to do — and we recently heard that the 49ers and Broncos are on his destination list.

Dunne’s source indicates that the Dolphins — who have been considered one of the frontrunners for Watson since trade speculation started to swirl — and the Niners are Watson’s top two preferred clubs. In Dunne’s view, a trade to Miami makes too much sense to not happen, and he believes the ‘Fins and Texans could line up on a deal that sends Watson to South Beach in exchange for the No. 3 and No. 18 overall picks in this year’s draft along with Miami’s 2022 first-rounder.

Now for more rumors from the AFC East:

  • Recent reports have indicated that Raiders QB Marcus Mariota is generating legitimate trade interest, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com believes the Patriots could be in the mix. New England obviously needs a quarterback, and Mariota is attached to a reasonable $10.6MM salary for 2021 and would not cost much to acquire in terms of draft capital. Although he could demand a raise if he is being acquired to serve as a starter, his current salary would not preclude the Pats from continuing to explore other options, like Jimmy Garoppolo — if the the 49ers land a different QB and release Garoppolo — or a collegiate passer.
  • Reiss does not expect the Patriots to make a deal with the division-rival Jets for Gang Green QB Sam Darnold, though what the Jets do with Darnold could certainly have a major impact on New England (for instance, if New York trades Darnold to San Francisco, Garoppolo could become available).
  • The Jets have among the most cap space in the league at just shy of $70MM, and they can easily create even more flexibility, thereby giving them a huge advantage in what could be a buyer’s market given the decreased salary cap. Connor Hughes of The Athletic believes New York will release DE Henry Anderson, which jibes with a report from December. That move will save the club $8.2MM in cap space, and Hughes suggests that guards Greg Van Roten and Alex Lewis might be goners as well (their releases would save $3.4MM and $5.1MM, respectively).
  • Meanwhile the Jets don’t have too many of their own free agents that must be retained. Hughes expects safety Marcus Maye to be re-signed, and he also says OL Pat Elflein — who played well in 2020 after being claimed off waivers from the Vikings — is a logical candidate to return, especially if the team moves on from Van Roten and/or Lewis.
  • Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News does not foresee the Bills laying out major free agent dollars this offseason. Instead, he expects the club to use the majority of its cash on an extension for QB Josh Allen, which means that the Bills will likely allow LB Matt Milano to test the open market — contrary to GM Brandon Beane‘s assertion that a franchise tag could be in play — and will not be in the running for a top pass rusher like Shaquil Barrett or Bud Dupree.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/2/21

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

  • Signed off Jets’ practice squad: G Blake Hance
  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: S Karl Joseph
  • Promoted: G Cordell Iwuagwu, LB Montrel Meander, T Alex Taylor

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Promoted: DB John Brannon

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/12/20

Here is Saturday’s usual barrage of minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: LB Jachai Polite; Polite tested positive for the coronavirus, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (via Twitter)

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Tua, Fitz, Jets

Ryan Fitzpatrick is “really excited” to have Tua Tagovailoa in the Dolphins‘ locker room, as Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes. He gushed about the Alabama product in a chat with former Bills teammate Eric Woods, though he’s not quite ready to pass the torch as the team’s starting quarterback.

I also want to be out there playing,” Fitzpatrick said. “I also want to be on the field. And that’s why I’m still doing it, because I still enjoy playing the gameHopefully some of the lessons I’m able to teach him are from him watching me play. But if it’s the other way around, I’m going to do my best to help him succeed in the best way he can.”

Ultimately, the Dolphins will do what’s best for business, but Fitzpatrick may have a leg up on the rookie, thanks to his relationship with new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.

Chan and I have worked together for three years … He’s the guy who has given me the longest leash in my career in terms of being able to do things,” Fitzpatrick said. “And I trust him completely, and he has ultimate trust in me as well. This will be a little bit different in that if I’m out there playing there’s going to be a little bit longer leash because of the history we have together.”

Here’s more from the AFC East:

Contract Details: Anderson, Pennel, Alexander

A handful of contract details to pass along:

Jets To Sign Greg Van Roten

The Jets continue to bolster their offensive line. New York has agreed to terms with guard Greg Van Roten, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

It’s a three-year deal for Van Roten according to a tweet from Connor Hughes of The Athletic, who notes that New York has had their eye on him since before free agency opened. We heard a handful of days ago that the Jets had turned their attention to Van Roten and other second-tier interior linemen after whiffing on their attempt to sign Graham Glasgow, and now they’ve got their guy.

Van Roten was one of the top linemen left on the market, and the available pool just got that much thinner for teams still looking for O-line help. Van Roten has had an unusual path to prominence, as he entered the league as an UDFA back in 2012 but didn’t start a game until 2018. He then became a full-time starter for the Panthers the past two seasons, earning reasonably strong marks from Pro Football Focus.

The Jets have been remaking their unit, and they signed Connor McGovern to a big deal to be their center earlier this week. Jets beat writers seem to expect Van Roten to start at right guard with Alex Lewis at left. This could mean the end of the line for guard Brian Winters in New York, Brian Costello of the New York Post tweets. The Jets could save a little over $7MM by cutting him. They also signed new left tackle George Fant in free agency, so this offensive line is going to look completely different in 2020.