Jahlani Tavai

AFC East Notes: Maye, Bills, Dolphins, Pats

Playing on the franchise tag, Marcus Maye continues to be viewed as on the way out for the Jets. Whether his exit will come via deadline trade or in free agency next year remains to be seen, but Dan Graziano of ESPN.com notes there is interest in the fifth-year safety ahead of the Nov. 2 deadline. While Maye’s $10.6MM franchise tag salary is prohibitive, he is a fifth-year starter who could be an impact rental player. A team acquiring Maye also would allow for exclusive negotiating rights between season’s end and free agency, though Maye giving the 2022 market a try after being tagged would make sense. Maye said last week he has not requested a trade, but contentious negotiations with the Jets did not produce a summer deal. And Maye’s DUI arrest may only further distance him from the Jets, whom he did not inform about the arrest for months after the fact.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Going into the 2021 free agency period, the Dolphins‘ regret from their 2020 spending spree influenced a quieter tour through this year’s market, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. The pandemic-reduced salary cap impacted Miami, like it did all teams, but the Dolphins spent just $25.4MM in guarantees this year. They allocated $147.2MM in total contracts in 2020, and the results helped lead the team to its 1-6 place. Byron Jones has not lived up to his then-record deal, and the Dolphins moved on from Shaq Lawson, Kyle Van Noy and Ereck Flowers after one season.
  • Bills defensive ends Mario Addison and Jerry Hughes have been discussed as trade targets around the league, per Graziano. Buffalo has done well to bolster its defensive line, and Addison and Hughes are 30-somethings in contract years. That said, it is difficult to see the Bills parting with either given their status as Super Bowl contenders. Hughes, 33, has started every game for Buffalo this year — his eighth as a Bills first-stringer — while first-rounder Gregory Rousseau has displaced Addison as a starter. Addison, 34, and Hughes have combined for just 1.5 sacks, but each certainly helps Buffalo with D-line depth.
  • The contract the Patriots gave ex-Lions second-rounder Jahlani Tavai runs through the 2022 season, according to ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss, who writes the ex-Day 2 pick is likely being evaluated for a bigger role next season. The Patriots have Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jamie Collins on expiring contracts, giving Tavai a chance to grow from a seldom-used defender to a more prominent player in 2022. Tavai is set to make just $965K next year.
  • The extension the Patriots gave ex-Dolphins starter Raekwon McMillan calls for a $1MM base salary in 2022, per Reiss, who adds the Pats included $300K in playing-time incentives for the rehabbing linebacker. McMillan tore an ACL early in Pats camp but will have a shot to make next year’s team. The Pats included a $50K roster bonus for McMillan, if he remains with the team March 22.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/13/21

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves, with the list being updated throughout the day:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

New England Patriots

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Patriots To Activate WR N’Keal Harry

N’Keal Harry will begin his third season with the Patriots on Sunday. The team intends to activate the former first-round pick from IR, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

Teams playing Sunday have until 4pm CT Saturday to arrange their Week 4 rosters, and Harry will soon be on New England’s. He missed the first three weeks of the season with a shoulder injury but will return after missing the minimum amount of time.

The Arizona State alum will return to a reconfigured Pats skill-position corps but one that has not yet found its footing. Offseason addition Nelson Agholor has just 110 receiving yards in three games, while New England’s new tight ends — Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry — have also not been major factors in the passing game early. Former UDFA Jakobi Meyers leads the Patriots in receiving (176 yards).

Harry requested a trade this offseason, but the Pats did not move in that direction. The 6-foot-4 wideout has not panned out thus far, totaling 45 receptions for 414 yards in two seasons. Harry has also missed 14 games through two seasons and change due to injury. It is unclear what Harry’s role will be, but he represents another potential weapon for the team as Mac Jones‘ run begins.

The Pats also elevated linebacker Jahlani Tavai and defensive back Myles Bryant from their practice squad. New England picked up Tavai, a former Lions second-round pick, shortly after his late-summer Detroit exit.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/25/21

The weekly Saturday bunch of minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

  • Promoted: WR Juwan Green

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Giants

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Patriots Add LB Jahlani Tavai To Practice Squad

The Patriots are expected to sign former Lions linebacker Jahlani Tavai to the practice squad (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). Tavai, a former starter in Detroit, should be a quick study on Matt Patricia‘s playbook.

The Lions couldn’t find a trade for the former Round 2 pick ahead of Tuesday’s roster cutdown deadline, so they waived him. This marked yet another second-round miss for the Lions, who also waived running back Kerryon Johnson earlier this year.

Tavai, the No. 43 overall pick in 2019, started 16 games during his time in Detroit, including ten in 2020. Pro Football Focus graded the University of Hawaii product as one of the worst off-ball ‘backers in the league last season. Still, the Patriots are getting him on the cheap and there’s still ample room for him to grow.

Lions Down To 53

The Lions have their 53-man roster in place. On Tuesday, the Lions officially cut:

Released

Waived

Placed on Reserve/Suspended

The Lions will carry three quarterbacks for now in Jard Goff, Tim Boyle, and David Blough. Boyle is currently dealing with an injured thumb, which will keep him sidelined for two months. But, in order to hang on to him and dress him ASAP, they’ll have to carry him on their initial 53-man roster. Fortunately, Goff has proven largely durable during his five-year career. He did not miss a start due to injury until late last season, when a thumb surgery sidelined him.

Lions To Waive LB Jahlani Tavai

The Lions attempted to find a taker for former second-round pick Jahlani Tavai ahead of Tuesday’s roster cutdown deadline, but no such trade materialized. Detroit’s new regime is moving on, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

This marks another recent second-round pick to falter in Detroit. The Lions waived 2018 second-rounder Kerryon Johnson earlier this year. After going off the 2019 draft board 43rd overall, Tavai is now on waivers.

Tavai came up in trade talks as recently as Monday, per SI.com’s Albert Breer, but Brad Holmes and Co. instead ended up cutting the Bob Quinn-era draftee. The Lions used Tavai as a starter in 16 games — 10 in 2020. Pro Football Focus graded the University of Hawaii product as one of the worst off-ball ‘backers in the league last season.

That said, two years remain on Tavai’s rookie contract. The young middle linebacker profiles as a potential waiver claim elsewhere. Teams have until 3pm today to pare their rosters down to 53 players, but subsequent waiver claims will change franchises’ roster constructions.

Lions Notes: Okwara, Onwuzurike, Tavai

The Lions have a new regime in place, led by head coach Dan Campbell. Often times, coaching changes put incumbent players on the chopping block, but that’s not necessarily the case for 2019 second-round pick Jahlani Tavai.

I tell you what, I’ve been really impressed with Jahlani,” linebackers coach Mark DeLeone said (via Justin Rogers of The Detroit News). “He’s been here (and) he’s been doing a great job. He’s in really good shape right now. I’m excited to work with him. I’m excited for us to get to OTAs and be able to continue with him because I’m really excited about him.”

I can just tell you when he came out when he was out on the field this week, he’s been doing well and I’ve really enjoyed working with him so far. He has a really good understanding of the game. I think he’s gonna be a nice piece for us to work within this scheme.”

The Lions are exploring their options at LB, including newcomer Alex Anzalone, who has history with Campbell. Tavai, meanwhile, has failed to impress in his two pro seasons. After notching two tackles, one forced fumble, and one interception as a rookie, Tavai didn’t make much of an impact last year. He appeared in all 16 games and made ten starts, but earned poor marks from Pro Football Focus across the board, including a dismal 35.7 score for his coverage. Still, the Lions seem to think that this can be a turning point for the young ‘backer.

More from Detroit:

  • The Lions’ new scheme will push Trey Flowers and Romeo Okwara to outside linebacker, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes.”He’s got a great skill set for what we’re trying to do,” defensive line coach Todd Wash said of Flowers, who inked a $90MM deal to play DE. “Every one of the players that we have on our defensive roster have a skill set. It’s going to be our job obviously as coaches to put them in that position to be successful, and I think Trey has that skill set as a defensive end in base and also in sub.” Flowers won’t be alone — there will be adjustments across the front seven as Detroit commits to a base 3-4 set under Campbell.
  • New second-round pick Levi Onwuzurike will be slotted in as a defensive end that moves inside on clear passing downs, defensive line coach Todd Wash says (Twitter link via Rogers).
  • Before the Lions signed Dan Campbell, they also explored Iowa State coach Matt Campbell as a candidate. But, despite a report to the contrary, it sounds like they never made a formal offer.

Lions Place Jahlani Tavai On IR

Linebacker Jahlani Tavai‘s rookie season is over. The Lions are placing the second-round pick on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, head coach Matt Patricia announced to the media Monday.

The injury is to the same shoulder that cause Tavai to miss time during his senior season in college, making it slightly more concerning, according to Tim Twentyman of the team’s official site (Twitter link). Patricia didn’t know yet whether the injury will cause Tavai to miss some of the offseason program. A Hawaii product, Tavai was drafted 43rd overall back in April.

He played a large role as a rookie, appearing in all 15 games and making six starts. Overall he played just a tick under 60 percent of the defensive snaps while also contributing on special teams. He’ll finish his first campaign with 57 tackles, two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. He’ll be back in camp next year to compete for a starting job.

Lions Sign T.J. Hockenson, 2 Other Picks

The Lions’ second top-10 tight end pick in six drafts, T.J. Hockenson is now in the fold. The acclaimed Iowa prospect signed his rookie contract on Thursday, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets.

In addition to Hockenson’s four-year deal, with the customary fifth-year option, the Lions agreed to terms with second-rounder Jahlani Tavai and fifth-round selection Amani Oruwariye, Birkett adds (via Twitter). Hockenson will receive a $12.435MM signing bonus upon inking his four-year, $19.821MM deal.

Detroit drafted Hockenson at No. 8 overall, two spots higher than the team took Eric Ebron five years ago. Hockenson may not have Ebron’s receiving upside but brings a more well-rounded game and hails from what’s become a tight end factory. The Hawkeyes have produced George Kittle, Broncos first-rounder Noah Fant, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Tony Moeaki, Scott Chandler and Dallas Clark over the past 15-plus years. Hockenson is expected to immediately become a key target for Matthew Stafford.

The Lions passed on Ebron’s 2018 option last year, and while the former North Carolina standout thrived as a Colt, his former team struggled to replace him. Levine Toilolo‘s 263 yards led Detroit tight ends. Hockenson, whom the Jaguars likely would have selected had the Giants not taken Daniel Jones at No. 6, broke out for 760 (on 49 receptions) as a sophomore last season at Iowa, where he also became a well-regarded blocker.

A linebacker out of Hawaii, Tavai played both on the Warriors’ defensive line and at middle linebacker. He registered 16.5 sacks in four college seasons. Oruwariye arrives as a cornerback from Penn State.