Jakob Johnson

AFC East Notes: Patriots, RBs, Bills, Edoga

James White did not make it into last season’s October docket, suffering a hip injury in Week 3. That issue did not deter the Patriots from giving the veteran passing-down back a fourth contract — two years, $5MM — this offseason, but it very well might keep White off the field until October of this year. The ninth-year veteran has not been fully cleared, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com envisions the Patriots being cautious to start the season by using the reserve/PUP list in this case. New England has Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson back as its primary backfield cogs, and the team doubled up on runners in the draft (Pierre Strong in Round 4 and Kevin Harris in Round 6). White, 30, going over a year without playing would be somewhat concerning, but he is the team’s longest-tenured offensive player and still should be on track to play a significant role in its second Mac Jones-conducted attack.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Upon nontendering fullback Jakob Johnson as an RFA this offseason, the Patriots informed him of a potential stylistic shift. Johnson said recently (via Reiss) the Pats told him they were changing course at the fullback position, indicating it was not in the 2022 plan. Johnson spent three seasons with the Patriots, who had rostered James Develin from 2012-19. Although many teams do not have a fullback on their rosters, the Pats — who have not yet sorted out their play-calling situation post-Josh McDaniels — going without one would be notable.
  • The Bills have been active in bolstering their offensive line group with veterans, signing Rodger Saffold, fellow 2021 Titans starter David Quessenberry and ex-Jet cog Greg Van Roten. Of those three, only Saffold is expected to start. Buffalo’s starting O-line is set ahead of training camp, Alaina Getzenberg of ESPN.com notes. Saffold, 34, is in line to be the team’s left guard, with Ryan Bates at right guard and 2021 third-rounder Spencer Brown back at right tackle. This trio represents three new starters, compared to the Bills’ Week 1 configuration last year. Ike Boettger, who suffered a ruptured Achilles’ tendon in December, could begin the year on the PUP list. Boettger started a career-high 10 games last season. Van Roten not being considered for a spot would be interesting, considering he has 50 starts over the past four seasons. He and Quessenberry, however, would represent improved depth for the AFC East champions’ O-line.
  • Chosen by the Jets‘ previous regime, third-round pick Chuma Edoga has started 12 games as a pro. But the fourth-year tackle appears on his way out this year, per ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini. The Jets drafted tackle Max Mitchell in the fourth round and have veteran backup Conor McDermott returning as well.

Minor NFL Transactions: 3/16/22

Today’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

San Francisco 49ers

Tennessee Titans

Patriots Tender Jakobi Meyers

The Patriots will use the second-round restricted free agent tender on wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, agent Drew Rosenhaus tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). In a related move, they’ve elected not to tender fullback Jakob Johnson

[RELATED: Teams Showing Interest In Patriots’ Harry]

Per the terms of this year’s second-round tender, Meyers will be retained on a one-year, $3.986MM deal. However, if another team pries him away, the Patriots will receive a second-round pick in exchange.

Johnson, meanwhile, could have been cuffed at the lowest-level RFA tender, which would have paid him $2.433MM. It’s still possible that he could return to the Patriots, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (on Twitter) hears, though it’d be a lower salary.

Meyers began his career at North Carolina State as a quarterback, before moving to wide receiver as a sophomore. In his third year on campus, he put himself on the NFL radar with 63 grabs for 727 yards and four touchdowns. He followed that up with 92/1,047/5, but still went undrafted.

The Pats saw something in him, however, and he’s blossomed into one of their best offensive weapons. Last year, Meyers set new pro watermarks with 83 catches for 866 yards and two touchdowns.

Patriots Re-Sign FB Jakob Johnson

The Patriots have re-signed exclusive rights free agent Jakob Johnson, per a team announcement. As an ERFA, Johnson could not negotiate with any other club, so this was mostly a foregone conclusion.

Johnson, a fullback, joined New England via the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program in April 2019. He saw action in four games during the 2019 campaign, but he played in every game in 2020, appearing in 37% of the Patriots’ offensive snaps. He caught eight passes for 35 yards and a score and also served as a significant special teams contributor.

With this re-signing and yesterday’s James White re-up, the Pats will now return most of their 2020 backfield. Damien Harris and Sony Michel are also under contract, but Rex Burkhead — who sustained an ACL tear in November — remains a free agent.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/15/19

Here’s a rundown of early-week minor NFL moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

  • Signed: T Dan Skipper (from Patriots’ practice squad)

Indianapolis Colts

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Signed: DE L.T. Walton

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Redskins

Patriots Promote FB Jakob Johnson

With James Develin set to miss tomorrow’s division matchup against the Jets, the Patriots have promoted another fullback. Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com writes that New England has elevated Jakob Johnson to the active roster. The team had an open roster spot following yesterday’s release of Antonio Brown.

Hailing from Stuttgart, Germany, Johnson spent two years on the U19 team for the Stuttgart Scorpions of the German Football League. He moved to Florida for his senior year of high school, and he later played several seasons for the Tennessee Volunteers football program. He decided to return to the Scorpions for the 2018 campaign.

This past offseason, Johnson was signed as an undrafted free agent via the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program. He was released at the end of the preseason, but he quickly joined the Patriots practice squad.

Develin sat out three practices this week as he dealt with an upper back and neck injury. He’s currently considered week-to-week.

Sunday NFL Transactions: AFC East

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four AFC East teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Bills, Dolphins, Jets and Patriots are noted below.

Additionally, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads today. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s AFC East transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New York Jets 

* = International Pathway Program player

East Rumors: Cowboys, Patriots, Giants

Cowboys scout Josh Brent was arrested for public intoxication on Sunday, Calvin Watkins of The Athletic reports (on Twitter). Brent became uncooperative and was tased, according to Watkins, who adds (via Twitter) he waits in a Carrollton, Texas, jail and may face further charges. This incident occurred in a Wendy’s parking lot, according to Dean Straka and Claire Cardona of the Dallas Morning News. (Video of Brent’s arrest, courtesy of WFAA’s Bradley Blackburn, can be seen here.) This may prove to be significant for Brent, who has a checkered legal history. The former Cowboys defensive lineman was convicted of intoxication manslaughter in 2012, when he was driving a vehicle that crashed, killing Cowboys teammate Jerry Brown. Brent served 180 days in jail for that crime. He has worked as a Cowboys scout since 2015. Brent, 31, also pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in 2009.

Here is the latest from the East divisions:

  • Jerod Mayo looks set for a key role on the Patriots‘ coaching staff this season, and some fellow recent acclaimed Patriot players may join him in the near future. Troy Brown, Deion Branch and Kevin Faulk helped run drills during Patriots offseason workouts, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes spots are likely waiting for them on Bill Belichick‘s staff if they are ready to pursue coaching. Patriots special teams coach Joe Judge also instructs Pats wide receivers, leaving a possible role open. Both Brown and Faulk have been Boston-area media presences since their respective careers concluded. Neither played for another organization, while Branch returned to New England after being traded to Seattle in 2006.
  • Although the Patriots have 90 players on their offseason roster, they still have an open spot. Because fullback Jakob Johnson is part of the NFL’s International Pathway program, Reiss notes the Pats can carry 91 players this summer.
  • After passing on Josh Allen and to draft Daniel Jones at No. 6 overall, the Giants carry questions about their edge rusher situation going into training camp. Both Matt Longacre and Sam Acho could be low-cost fits to join the likes of Lorenzo Carter, Markus Golden and Kareem Martin, per NJ.com’s Matt Lombardo. A four-year Rams edge cog, Loncagre visited the Ravens this offseason, but they went with Shane Ray and Pernell McPhee instead. No known Acho visits have transpired since the Bears cut him in March. The Giants’ 30 sacks last season ranked 31st.
  • Also potentially on the Giants’ late-offseason to-do list: add a No. 3 wide receiver. Michael Crabtree and Dez Bryant represent the biggest names on the market, and Lombardo, citing the Giants’ No. 28-ranked 2018 red zone offense, views Crabtree as a fit for Big Blue. Fifth-round rookie Darius Slayton has impressed New York’s coaching staff thus far and appears to have a legitimate shot at commandeering the WR3 job, but the Auburn product has functioned more as a deep threat in his career.
  • It appears Daniel Snyder will have input in which quarterback opens the season as the Redskins starter.

Complete 2019 NFL International Pathway Program

Moritz Boehringer is back in the NFL. The German tight end, who became the first European player ever to be drafted without playing American college football back in 2016, has been allocated to the Bengals as part of the league’s international pathway program, per Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com.

Boehringer’s assignment to the Bengals completes this year’s program. Each season, teams in two divisions get a roster exemption to develop a player from another country. The player can be the 91st man on offseason rosters, and can be an 11th player on practice squads during the regular season. Boehringer was drafted by the Vikings, but spent his rookie season on the practice squad without ever appearing in a game. He came into the league as a receiver, but has since transitioned to tight end. He was with the Bengals as part of this program last year, and will be back in Cincy in 2019.

Here’s a list of the rest of the players selected to participate:

Baltimore Ravens

  • FB Christopher Ezeala

Buffalo Bills

  • RB Christian Wade

Cleveland Browns 

  • DB Tigie Sankoh

Miami Dolphins

  • DT Durval Neto

New England Patriots

  • TE/FB Jakob Johnson

New York Jets

  • RB/WR/KR Valentine Holmes

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • TE Christian Scotland-Williamson

The AFC North participated last year, but this year the AFC East is taking the place of the NFC South. Notably, Efe Obada was a participant in the program with the Panthers last year, and he went on to make Carolina’s 53-man roster last season. He was re-signed this offseason.

Each of the players assigned to the AFC North were with those teams last year. Scotland-Williamson is a former rugby player, while Boehringer, Sankoh, and Ezeala all played American football overseas before making the leap.

All of the AFC East players are new to the program. Given the Patriots’ track record of finding hidden gems, Johnson will likely end up leading the league in receiving yards at some point. Johnson was signed from the German football league. Neto was playing football in Brazil before being added to the Dolphins. Wade and Holmes are both former prominent rugby players.