Jahlani Tavai

AFC East Notes: Robinson, Patriots, Judon

James Robinson was a surprise inactive for the Jets win over the Bears on Sunday. Naturally, the midseason acquisition wasn’t happy to be a healthy scratch.

“Obviously, I didn’t come here not to play,” Robinson told ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “Obviously, they brought me here for a reason. I don’t expect anything unless I work for it, and I’ve been working my ass off. Me not playing pisses me off.”

Robinson was told that he’d be inactive last Wedneday, with the running back stating that he was “upset” with the decision. The 24-year-old was acquired from the Jaguars following the season-ending injury to rookie standout Breece Hall. Robinson had 27 touches for 80 yards and one touchdown in his first three games with the Jets. When asked why he was suddenly replaced in the lineup, Robinson didn’t have an answer.

“I mean, picking up the runs, that’s easy,” he said. “The thing is getting used to the pass game, protections and I feel like I’ve picked up that stuff up pretty good…You probably have to ask them what their game plan is for me. I’d do the same, but obviously I’m going to continue to work my ass off. I can’t go in there begging. They can see what I do on the field.”

Running back Zonovan Knight ended up getting the open roster spot, and the rookie had 103 yards from scrimmage in his NFL debut. The Jets could make Robinson an inactive once again this weekend if Michael Carter is able to play through his ankle injury. If Carter can go, he’d join a RB corps that would also include Knight and Ty Johnson. Coach Robert Saleh has acknowledge that the RB room is “a week-to-week thing.”

More notes out of the AFC East…

  • Before Bill Belichick settled on Matt Patricia and Joe Judge to guide his offense, there were whispers that the Patriots could recruit former offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. After serving as Alabama’s OC over the past two years, O’Brien has most recently been linked to Georgia Tech’s head coaching vacancy, although Jeff Schultz of The Athletic recently passed along that the coach could prefer to return to the NFL, particularly as New England’s offensive coordinator. For what it’s worth, Belichick said he hasn’t talked to his former assistant about re-joining the organization. “I haven’t talked to Bill in a little while,” Belichick said during an appearance on WEEI (via Mark Daniels of MassLive.com). “So, I don’t know, I wouldn’t really want to comment on his situation. I think that’s something for him to comment on.”
  • The Patriots opened up a chunk of cap space by restructuring Matt Judon‘s contract today, according to ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter). The move created more than $2MM in cap space for the organization. Judon, who inked a four-year, $56MM deal with the Patriots in 2021, leads the NFL with 13 sacks this season.
  • The two-year extension that linebacker Jahlani Tavai recently inked with the Patriots is technically a three-year pact considering the bump in 2022 money, according to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (on Twitter). Tavai got a raise from $1.15MM to $2MM this season, plus $500K in incentives. The linebacker can earn $1.625MM ($1.15MM guaranteed, $1.958MM cap hit) in 2023 and $1.875MM ($2.158MM cap hit) in 2024. The former Lions second-round pick has started seven of his 11 appearances this season, compiling 38 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

Patriots, LB Jahlani Tavai Agree To Extension

The Patriots have taken care of business early with one of their pending free agents. The team has reached agreement on a two-year, $4.4MM extension with linebacker Jahlani Tavai (Twitter link via ESPN’s Field Yates). The deal includes an $850K signing bonus, Yates’ colleague Mike Reiss tweets.

A second-round pick of the Lions in 2019, Tavai started 16 of 31 games in Detroit to begin his career. Over that two-year span, he totaled 168 tackles and 3.5 sacks, but failed to live up to his draft stock. The Lions attempted to trade him in the lead-in to the 2021 campaign, but were unable to find a willing suitor. They made him one of their final roster cuts, marking another disappointing end to a recent high draft pick for the team.

The Hawaii product immediately found himself on New England’s practice squad, giving him a change of scenery which has allowed him to take a step forward in his career. Tavai played primarily on special teams in 2021, something which has continued this year He has taken on a significant defensive role as well, however, with seven starts and a 52% snap share on defense. The 26-year-old has racked up 38 stops and 1.5 sacks in his hybrid role, earning a career-best PFF grade of 71.8 in the process.

That made him a logical extension candidate with his rookie contract set to expire at the end of the season. This deal will keep him on the books through 2024, allowing him to continue to play a notable part at the second level of the Patriots’ defense. That unit has seen plenty of turnover recently, of course, so some stability will be welcomed on both sides.

New England ranks in the top 10 in several major categories defensively this season, helping lead the team to a 6-5 record and putting them in playoff contention. Tavai will no doubt be a contributor down the stretch for not only the rest of this season, but the short-term future afterwards as he continues to prosper in his second NFL home.

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:



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.