Young signed with the Raiders in May, as part of their re-vamped linebacker corps. The 27-year-old gradually grew into a larger defensive role with the Ravens before being traded midseason to the Rams in 2019. He was dealt once again last year, from Los Angeles to Denver. Starting all 13 games he appeared in between the two teams, the UCLA product had a career-year in 2021, but hasn’t done enough during training camp to catch on in Sin City. The Raiders will move forward with the likes of Denzel Perryman, Divine Deablo and free agent signings Jayon Brown and Micah Kiserin the middle of their defense.
Injury questions have clouded James White‘s timetable for months now. Although White re-signed with the Patriots on a two-year deal this offseason, the veteran receiving back will instead walk away from the game.
The eight-year veteran announced Thursday (via Twitter) he will retire. White, 30, sustained a severe hip injury in September 2021 and had not resumed practicing. One of the steadier Pats skill-position players of the Bill Belichick era, White was uncertain to regain the form that made him a trusted passing-down back. But he will retire as a key member of four Patriots Super Bowl teams. Three of those won championships, one doing so with significant White contributions.
White followed in the footsteps of Kevin Faulk, Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen. While Woodhead and Vereen enjoyed nice runs as Tom Brady outlet options, White lasted much longer in the role. The Patriots valued White to the point they signed him to four contracts as a pro. The most recent, coming in March of this year, was worth $5MM.
The Wisconsin alum will be best known for his work in Super Bowl LI, arguably the signature night for the Belichick-Brady Patriots. While Brady understandably ran away with MVP honors, White scored three touchdowns in a performance that doubled as one of the greatest aerial displays by a running back in NFL history. The former fourth-round pick caught 14 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons. White added six carries for 29 yards and two scores — the last of which being a walk-off TD to end the only overtime game in Super Bowl history. White’s 5-yard TD reception began the Patriots’ rally from a 28-3 deficit; his 1-yard run late in the fourth quarter (preceding Danny Amendola‘s two-point conversion) sent the game to overtime.
Vereen was still in place during White’s rookie season, minimizing the latter’s role in the Pats’ Super Bowl XLIX-winning campaign, but the Pats let Vereen walk in free agency in 2015. White took over and held the gig for the better part of the next seven years. White surpassed 400 receiving yards from 2015-19, topping out with 751 during the Pats’ most recent Super Bowl year (2018). From 2015-20, no running back topped White’s 3,161 receiving yards.
But White’s 2021 signaled a clear turning point. He suffered a hip subluxation injury in Week 3 of last season and landed on the Pats’ active/PUP list to start training camp. His Week 1 availability and 2022 role altogether were in doubt because of the malady. The Pats’ final White contract only guaranteed him $500K, giving the team options in case its trusted passing-down option could not recover from the injury.
New England drafted two backs this year — Kevin Harris and Pierre Strong — and returns starter Damien Harris and second-year contributor Rhamondre Stevenson. None of these players caught more than 20 passes last season. With Brandon Bolden(41 catches in 2021) following Josh McDaniels to Las Vegas, a questions as to who will pick up White’s job will linger for New England.
White, whose top contract came in 2017 (four years, $12MM), retires as one of the most prolific pass-catching running backs in playoff history. His 59 receptions rank fourth all time for running backs in the postseason, behind only Thurman Thomas, Tony Nathan and Roger Craig. White’s 381 regular-season catches rank eighth in Patriots history, just behind Faulk — a 13-year veteran who finished with 431 career grabs.
James White remains without a return timetable. The veteran is still sidelined following hip surgery, and Jeff Howe of The Athletic tweets that it’s uncertain when the long-time Patriots RB will return to the field.
The longest-tenured member of the Patriots offense could ultimately land on PUP, but Howe notes that the organization will wait a few more weeks to evaluate White’s progress. The RB suffered a hip subluxation injury last September, limiting him to only three games during the 2021 season. White had 496 yards from scrimmage during his first non-Tom Brady season in 2020, but he topped 1,000 yards from scrimmage in both 2019 and 2018.
Fortunately for the Patriots, the organization still has Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson atop their depth chart, but it’s tough to replace the pass-catching prowess of White. The organization also used a pair of draft picks on RBs Pierre Strong Jr. (fourth round) and Kevin Harris (sixth round).
More injury notes from around the NFL…
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow had an appendectomy last week, and it’s unlikely we see him until the regular season. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Burrow likely won’t play during the preseason. Rapoport estimates that the QB could return two to four weeks after his initially surgery, and he’ll likely participate in throwing sessions while limiting his hits during practice.
Bills All-Pro safety Jordan Poyer hyperextended his elbow yesterday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). While the injury will keep Poyer off the field for a few weeks, he’s expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. The veteran defensive back has only missed a pair of regular season games since joining the Bills in 2017.
Giants fourth-round safety DaneBelton suffered a broken collarbone, reports ESPN’s Jordan Raanan (via Twitter). While the rookie will be sidelined for the foreseeable future, the organization is holding out hope that he’ll be good to go for the start of the season. There’s a better chance he lands on IR following final cuts and will then be activated at some point in October. The Iowa product had already made a strong impression at training camp, according to Raanan.
Falcons defensive tackle Vincent Taylor ruptured his Achilles, according to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein (on Twitter). The injury will force Taylor to miss the 2022 season. The 28-year-old joined the Falcons back in April. The journeyman has appeared in 40 career games, including a single start with the Texans in 2021.
The Jets have moved Mekhi Bectonto right tackle, with Robert Saleh citing George Fant‘s athleticism as making him a better blindside fit. Although the second-year Jets HC said Becton is appropriately athletic for the left tackle post, the former first-round pick has faced steady scrutiny regarding his weight. Becton was rumored to be over 400 pounds last year, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes the third-year blocker was thought to be in the 390s as recently as minicamp, when he would not confirm his weight. That said, Cimini adds Becton looks slimmer at Jets training camp. Saleh said the Louisville product has “got himself into football shape.” While Becton would not confirm his training camp weight, he said he hit the goal he targeted. Becton’s listed weight is 363 pounds. Given the rumblings about Jets dissatisfaction with their largest player’s frame at points, this will continue to be an issue to monitor as he transitions to a new position.
Here is the latest from the AFC East:
James White signed a fourth Patriots contract this offseason, agreeing to a two-year deal worth $5MM. But the longtime Pats passing-down back is recovering from a September 2021 hip subluxation injury, one that could land him on the reserve/PUP list to start this season. The ninth-year vet was still walking with a noticeable limp barely a week before training camp, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. White signed for only $500K guaranteed, and the Patriots drafted two running backs — Pierre Strong (Round 4) andKevin Harris (Round 6) — this year. With the team already having Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson locked into roles, Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed wonders if White is a release candidate. White led all backs in receiving yardage from 2015-20 (3,161), Reiss points out, but Strong — he of a 4.37-second 40-yard dash at the Combine, this year’s top running back time — stands to be another option the Pats could use. The Pats slow-played both White and Shane Vereen‘s debuts as passing-down backs, but White’s injury could force the team’s hand.
The Dolphins are moving closer to giving Liam Eichenberg another try as a starter. The 2021 second-round pick is the clear frontrunner to be the team’s left guard starter, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. Eichenberg and 2020 fourth-rounder Solomon Kindleyare vying for that job, and while pronouncements about O-line battles before padded practices are premature, the Dolphins have more invested in the Notre Dame product. Eichenberg spent more time at left tackle last season, but Terron Armstead will take over there this year.
Denzel Mims has been attached to trade/cut rumors for a bit now, and Cimini predicts the Jets will end up trading the former second-round pick before Week 1. Mims delivered a solid offseason, but his lack of a special teams role and clear place out of the Jets’ top three at the position has long made him vulnerable. The Jets have four receivers they figure to look to before Mims, with Garrett Wilson joining a stable of Corey Davis, Elijah Moore and the recently re-signed Braxton Berrios. Despite being the 2020 No. 59 overall pick, Mims (31 career catches for 490 yards) would not fetch much in a deal.
The Patriots placed a long list of players on the physically unable to perform list today. Per ESPN’s Mike Reiss on Twitter, New England placed center David Andrews, cornerback Jonathan Jones, linebacker Raekwon McMillan, safety Jabrill Peppers, and running back James White on PUP. The players are able to return to practice at any time, but they’ll be watching from the sideline until they’re officially activated.
Jones is still rehabbing a shoulder injury that limited him to only six games in 2021, while Andrews is recovering from his own shoulder surgery. White was limited to only three games last season thanks to a hip issue, and it sounds like the injury is lingering into this year’s training camp. Peppers and McMillan are both returning from ACL injuries.
White is one of the most veteran players on the Patriots roster, and in an ideal world, the running back would serve as a pass-catching safety blanket for Mac Jones. Between the 2016 and 2019 campaign, White averaged 68.8 catches and 950 yards from scrimmage per season. Now 30, this injury could spell the beginning of the end for White, and with Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson requiring carries (plus rookie fourth-round pick Pierre Strong Jr.), it’s hard to really see a role for White even if he’s healthy.
Andrews is also one of the longest-tenured Patriots players, having appeared in 89 games across seven seasons with the organization (including a 2019 campaign that he missed due to a pulmonary embolism). Despite the 2021 season being Andrews’ age-30 season, he still proved he was one of the best centers in the NFL, with Pro Football Focus ranking him fifth among 39 eligible centers.
McMillan joined the Patriots last offseason, but he tore his ACL in August and missed the entire season. Peppers, a former first-round pick, spent the past three seasons with the Giants. He collected 29 tackles and one sack in six games before suffering a torn ACL in October. Jones has spent his entire six-year career in New England, starting 27 games (including 21 starts between 2018 and 2020). He collected 20 tackles and three passes defended in six games last season.
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.
White suffered a hip injury last year that required surgery serious enough to end his season and leave him bedridden for months. He hasn’t been fully cleared to return, but seeing him active on the field bodes well for his recovery.
Jones had surgery to repair his shoulder in October and missed the remainder of the season in recovery. McMillan tore his ACL before the season started, but impressed in his limited time before the injury. Keene and Jennings were both placed on injured reserve in August and missed the entire season as a result.
Here are a few other rumors from New England:
New England turned some heads on Day 3 of the Draft when they selected quarterback Bailey Zappe in the fourth round. At a point in the Draft where some teams normally address their positional needs, the Patriots selected a quarterback in the first draft after rookie passer Mac Jones led them to the playoffs. For an explanation, ESPN’s Mike Reiss pointed to a discussion with analysts Todd McShay and Louis Riddick, in which they cover “how it can be good business to draft and develop quarterbacks.” He also quotes former NFL general manger Randy Mueller who applauded the pick, saying that he would rather draft for value over need at that point in the Draft.
After not appearing in any regular season games last season, second-year Patriots outside linebacker Ronnie Perkins is ready to take the next step, according to Reiss. Perkins was buried on the depth chart behind Kyle Van Noy, now with the Chargers, and Jamie Collins, now a free agent. The departure of Van Noy and Collins leaves a hole opposite Pro Bowl pass rusher Matt Judon and Reiss reports that New England coaches are confident Perkins is getting ready to step up.
In the research that led to the Bills’ new stadium deal in Buffalo, the team acknowledged that they looked at many cities that are “oft-mentioned in NFL circles,” according to Tim O’Shei of The Buffalo News.
The Bills organization didn’t specify which cities they researched, but O’Shei’s report lists those often-discussed cities as Orlando, San Diego, San Antonio, Austin, St. Louis, Portland, Salt Lake City, Birmingham, and Louisville. International markets, such as Toronto or London, have also recently entered discussions.
Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC East, starting with a couple notes from Jersey:
In a post-Draft analysis of the Jets, ESPN’s Rich Cimini discussed the situation surrounding Jets tackle Mekhi Becton. Rumors before the draft were hinting that New York would use one of their two top-ten draft picks to add a tackle to assist them in moving on from Becton, but the Jets instead addressed the cornerback and receiver rooms. Head coach Robert Saleh initially claimed Becton would compete with George Fant for the blindside job, but hinted more recently that Becton may move to the right side of the line. Unfortunately for the Jets, they won’t have an opportunity to see how he fits over there until he reports, as Becton has decided to skip the team’s voluntary workouts. Cimini makes a great point that, since their insurance policy of Morgan Moses departed to Baltimore in free agency, it is crucial that Becton sees success at right tackle.
Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated also wrote an analysis of the NFL Draft with a section focusing on the Jets’ historic first round. Breer mentions how, after the Jets were able to land Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner and Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson in the top-ten, Saleh encouraged general manager Joe Douglas to go after Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson II should he start to slide down the board. New York turned up the heat after the Eagles moved ahead of the Ravens and Johnson continued to fall, making phone calls to the Texans (at 15), the Commanders (at 16), and the Chargers (at 17). After talking to the Titans, who had moved up to 18 with the A.J. Brown-trade, Douglas knew Tennessee was going to select a wide receiver to fill their new A.J. Brown-shaped hole, but a discussion was made about a potential swap for the Titans’ other first-round pick at 26. Douglas had only one line in the sand: the Jets owned two early second-round picks, and he wanted to keep at least one of them, to eventually draft Iowa State running back Breece Hall. Johnson fell right into their laps at 26, and the Jets had their three Day 1-selections.
Unfortunately for the Patriots, Becton won’t be the only AFC East player missing voluntary workouts this month as veteran running back James Whiteis still recovering from the hip injury that ended his 2022 season in a Week 3 loss to the Saints, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN. White was quoted at the team’s draft party, saying, “I still have a little while to go (after) a pretty rough injury.” Reiss points out that this is a golden opportunity for running back J.J. Taylor to show he has what it takes to take over White’s role.
The Patriots have re-signed veteran running back James White (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). The deal, which will be formally inked on Wednesday, is a two-year pact worth $5MM. White will also get $500K guaranteed as a part of the deal.
Even though he’s at the age of 30, White has matched his previous annual value on the nose. The Patriots re-upped White on a one-year, $2.5MM deal last year, retaining the longtime Patriots passing-down back for yet another season. Unfortunately, a hip injury capped his 2021 at just three games.
Part of the three 2010s Patriots Super Bowl-winning teams, White has been an essential part of the Pats’ offense for most of his career. Succeeding the likes of Kevin Faulk, Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen as Bill Belichick-era passing-down backs, White is now set to come back for a ninth New England season and, perhaps, a tenth, depending on how things go from here.
White posted 994 all-purpose yards in 2019, but saw less time in 2020, his last healthy season. Still, White had 49 grabs for 375 yards and a touchdown that year to lead all Pats RBs in receiving.