Jarrett Stidham

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Ekeler, Raiders

Jarrett Stidham will replace Brett Rypien as Russell Wilson‘s Broncos backup, agreeing to a two-year, $10MM deal. While Stidham has fewer career starts than Rypien, his late-season Raiders cameo — particularly a 365-yard, three-touchdown performance against the 49ers’ No. 1-ranked defense — generated a market for the former Patriots fourth-round pick. Stidham chose the Broncos over the Raiders because of Las Vegas’ Jimmy Garoppolo signing and potential to also add a quarterback in the first round, per NBC Sports’ Peter King. From the Broncos’ perspective, Sean Payton views Stidham as an upward-trending option behind Wilson.

There were a handful of No. 2s that either I have worked with, or we felt comfortable with,” Payton said, via the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson. “In this case, I think he’s a No. 2 whose arrow is moving in a direction where we feel like he can become an NFL starter in our league. The evaluation was pretty crystal clear for all of us. I think he’s someone that’s going to be great in the room. He’s smart. Quietly, that was an important signing for us.”

Payton’s words do not point to a quarterback competition, but this addition does provide an option in case Wilson’s 2022 stumble was more indicative of a steep decline than being trapped in a dysfunctional offense. Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • Wilson ran into a few injury problems during his shockingly mediocre first season in Denver. Knee trouble can be added to the Broncos quarterback’s list of ailments. Wilson underwent arthroscopic knee surgery shortly after last season ended, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The 12th-year passer is expected to be ready for Payton’s first round of Broncos OTAs. This issue nagged Wilson for a few seasons, per Rapoport. Last year, the knee trouble accompanied hamstring, shoulder and lat issues, along with a late-season concussion. Wilson, who did not miss an NFL start until his 11th season, missed two games last year.
  • Dre’Mont Jones signed for slightly more per year than Zach Allen, committing to the Seahawks on a three-year, $51MM deal just after the ex-Cardinal agreed to a three-year, $45.75MM Broncos pact. But Jones ended up receiving less guaranteed money ($23MM) than Allen ($32.5MM). The Broncos viewed Jones’ initial asking price as too high, Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com notes, pointing to Jones — a player the team had long wanted to retain — preferring a change of scenery or reducing his demand as the market shifted. The Browns also pursued Jones but landed Dalvin Tomlinson shortly after the ex-Bronco’s Seattle pledge.
  • Austin Ekeler explained his trade request recently, correctly indicating his contract is out of step with the value he provides the Chargers. But GMs do not see a market forming for the former UDFA, Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post notes. Ekeler has outperformed most of his peers on their respective second contracts, but several teams took advantage of this year’s buyer’s market at the position. Many lesser backs filled roster holes. While Ekeler is still just 27 and could provide versatility for another team, the Bolts may not land too much for him. His four-year, $24.5MM contract runs through season’s end.
  • Robert Spillane signed a two-year, $7MM Raiders contract, coming over from the Steelers. That ended up being more than Denzel Perryman received to leave Las Vegas for Houston, and Spillane said (via The Athletic’s Vic Tafur) Raiders coaches want him to wear the green communication dot. This would point to the Raiders eyeing a big role for Spillane, a run-stuffer who logged a career-high 59% defensive snap rate in 2022.
  • The Raiders were planning to move Dylan Parham from guard to center, Tafur adds, but the team’s decision to retain starting snapper Andre James will lead to Parham staying at left guard (Twitter link). A 2022 third-round pick, Parham started all 17 Raiders games as a rookie. McDaniels said the Memphis alum will still work at center, pointing to this being the team’s backup plan in case James goes down.
  • Jerry Tillery‘s Raiders deal is a two-year, $6.8MM accord that includes $5.5MM in total guarantees, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 tweets. The ex-Chargers first-round D-tackle is due a guaranteed $1.5MM roster bonus in 2024, though his 2024 base salary ($1.7MM) does not become fully guaranteed until next March.

Jarrett Stidham, Broncos Agree To Deal

As the Raiders landed Jimmy Garoppolo, another of Josh McDaniels‘ ex-Patriots passers-turned-Raiders options is headed out of Nevada. Jarrett Stidham will trek to Denver.

The Broncos, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter), are giving Stidham a nice backup quarterback contract — two years, $10MM — to step in behind Russell Wilson. The deal includes $5MM guaranteed, giving Stidham a clear runway to be Denver’s QB2 in 2023.

Stidham spent three seasons in New England. For a period in 2020, it looked like the Patriots would give him the keys post-Tom Brady. But they signed Cam Newton to take over instead. Stidham, a former fourth-round pick, sat behind Brian Hoyer in New England as well. McDaniels brought him to Las Vegas in 2022, but Sean Payton will land the Raiders’ end-of-season starter.

Stidham and new Broncos quarterbacks coach Davis Webb have known each other since they were teenagers. Despite becoming Denver’s QBs coach, Webb — at 27 — is just one year older than Stidham. The Dallas-area natives will work together in Denver, though the Sean Payton-Wilson partnership will obviously generate the bulk of the headlines this season.

The Raiders made the surprising move to bench Derek Carr ahead of Week 17, moving Stidham into the starting lineup. Stidham’s first start produced a stunning stat line — 365 yards, three touchdown passes — against the 49ers’ top-ranked defense. The Raiders are giving Garoppolo a midlevel contract, and they have been connected to drafting a quarterback early as well. As such, Stidham is relocating. He had other suitors besides the Broncos, per Rapoport.

Latest On Raiders’ QB Situation

Since their decision to move on from Derek Carrquestions have been raised about which direction the Raiders will go in at the quarterback position. As they and other teams continue the evaluation process of both free agent and draft options, much remains uncertain.

General manager Dave Ziegler recently acknowledged that a long-term Carr successor may not be in place by the time the 2023 season kicks off. That was particularly noteworthy given the fact that the Raiders currently hold the seventh overall pick in the upcoming draft, and that they have a number of free agent priorities to address with the money which would be saved by not acquiring a high-end veteran starter. Comments from head coach Josh McDaniels point to a rookie passer still being a distinct possibility for next year, though.

When speaking about the work he and the Raiders would do in meeting with and evaluating the 2023 QB class during the combine, McDaniels affirmed that the organization’s goal does remain adding someone who is “going to be a Raider for a long time.” Las Vegas would have to compete with the likes of the Texans, Colts and Panthers in terms of teams holding top-10 picks which are likely to be targeting rookie passers. Jockeying with those squads could become increasingly relevant given the Bears’ willingness to move the No. 1 pick.

“The goal for us, eventually, is to have somebody that’s going to be here for a long time,” McDaniels elaborated, via ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez“You see the teams that are having success right now in our league, our conference and specifically in our division, they’re young players that were drafted by their clubs and they’re being developed there under the same continuity.”

Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud are likely to be out of the Raiders’ range barring a trade up the board, but other quarterbacks like Kentucky’s Will Levis or Florida’s Anthony Richardson could be options. The team’s evaluations of those passers will become crucial in informing their short- and long-term plans at the position, though McDaniels pointed out that “a number of” QBs will be acquired in the coming weeks and months.

Part of the reason for that, of course, is the fact that Jarrett Stidham, who finished the year as the team’s starter, is not under contract. On that point, Ziegler noted (via Vic Tafur of The Athletic) that talks have begun with the former Patriots draftee. He added that the team is “happy” with Stidham’s performance in his brief audition after Carr was benched, though at least one other option capable of competing for the starting role will no doubt be added in either March or April. Which path the Raiders take to accomplish that very much remains up in the air.

Raiders To Bench Derek Carr, Start Jarrett Stidham

The Raiders may be making a big-picture move. For the first time in his career, Derek Carr will be the Raiders’ backup quarterback. Josh McDaniels announced Jarrett Stidham will start in Week 17.

Carr, 31, is the longest-tenured starting quarterback in Raiders history and the team’s all-time passing leader. He has started 91 straight games. But he threw three interceptions last week and now leads the league with 14 this season. Considering the structure of Carr’s contract, this decision could have long-term ramifications.

This move is for the rest of the regular season, per McDaniels, who said (via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, on Twitter) the Raiders will evaluate the younger quarterback as well as other younger players. The team is already shutting down Chandler Jones and Denzel Perryman; other vets could follow. This could impact the AFC and NFC playoff races; the Raiders host the 49ers in Week 17 and the Chiefs in Week 18. For Las Vegas, however, this decision may bring a major change.

Months after McDaniels took over, he and GM Dave Ziegler authorized a second Carr extension — this one a three-year, $121.4MM deal — that locked down the ninth-year quarterback through 2025. But the contract gives the Raiders an out. Three days after Super Bowl LVII, $40.4MM — Carr’s $32.9MM 2023 salary and $7.5MM of his 2024 base — will become guaranteed. The Raiders, then, have a narrow window to find a trade partner.

Carr’s market should be expected to heat up after the Super Bowl, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets, though the Pro Bowl QB’s extension does include a no-trade clause. That will complicate a potential deal. If the Raiders do move him, it would free up $29.3MM in cap space, Joel Corry of CBS Sports offers (via Twitter).

Raiders brass discussed the Carr plan over the past two nights, per The Athletic’s Vic Tafur, and Wednesday’s decision increases the likelihood Carr could be on the move in February. No trade can become official until the 2023 league year begins in March, but high-profile QB swaps — such as the Matthew Stafford deal or the Alex Smith exchange — have taken place around the Super Bowl in recent years. The Raiders sitting Carr now protects against an injury affecting the longtime starter’s value, even though the 6-9 team is not technically eliminated. On the fringes of “In the hunt” graphics, however, the Raiders are effectively looking ahead to next season.

Carr trade rumors persisted during Jon Gruden’s tenure, but given his performance level, the Raiders securing a replacement who could outplay him was difficult. Thus, Carr stayed on and steadily improved under Gruden. Under McDaniels this season, he has taken a step back. The former second-round pick has thrown nine INTs over his past five games, completing 57% of his passes in that span.

Were the Raiders to make Carr available, a few teams would likely be interested. The Jets, Commanders, Saints, Panthers and Colts are teams who could upgrade with Carr. Excepting the Colts, that lot will not hold top-five draft choices. The Commanders, Panthers, Colts and Saints were in this offseason’s QB market, while the Jets are likely to enter the mix in 2023. Zach Wilson may already be on the way out, and Mike White‘s contract is up after the season. If Carr becomes available, he would join Jimmy Garoppolo, Tom Brady and Daniel Jones as the top potential targets. Other QBs, as recent years have shown, may be on the trade market. But the Seahawks are aiming to retain Geno Smith. And it will take a Deshaun Watson-level package to pry Lamar Jackson from the Ravens, who are all but certain to use their franchise tag on the former MVP.

Carr has enjoyed an up-and-down run in Oakland and Vegas but offered the Raiders QB stability for the first time since Rich Gannon in the early 2000s. The JaMarcus Russell pick and Carson Palmer trade highlighted a wayward stretch between Gannon and Carr. The team is currently sitting in the No. 9 draft slot; multiple quarterbacks will likely be off the board by that point. Of course, moving Carr would give the team more assets to potentially climb in the draft. With Stidham (zero starts in New England) unlikely to be a true option for 2023, the Raiders will seemingly join the aforementioned teams in the QB market — provided they pull the trigger on a deal.

McDaniels’ previous HC stay — an eventful Denver tenure cut short before the end of his second season — featured him moving on from the team’s starting quarterback (Jay Cutler) just weeks into the polarizing HC’s stay. Multiple quarterbacks set for free agency — Brady, Garoppolo — have extensive pasts with the former Patriots OC. The Raiders potentially preparing to move on so soon after this year’s extension/trial balloon — and months after they acquired longtime Carr friend Davante Adams — will inject more intrigue into what promises to be another action-packed quarterback market.

Raiders To Trade QB Nick Mullens To Vikings

The Raiders faced a decision with respect to their backup quarterback position at some point before the start of the regular season. They have apparently made it, as the team is sending Nick Mullens to the Vikings in exchange for a conditional 2024 seventh-round pick (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero). 

His colleague Ian Rapoport adds that Mullens must be active for one game this season for Vegas to receive the pick. The Raiders signed Mullens this April as an insurance policy for starter Derek Carr. The former UDFA spent three seasons in San Francisco, wining five of his 16 starts filling in for Jimmy Garoppolo. He then joined the Eagles briefly, but spent last season in Cleveland, where he made one start as the Browns were dealing with a long list of COVID-related absences.

One month after signing Mullens, though, the Raiders also traded for Jarrett Stidham. The former Patriots fourth-rounder got an opportunity to once again work with Josh McDaniels in Vegas, and has impressed in training camp and the preseason to the point where he has won the competition with Mullens for the No. 2 spot.

The Vikings, meanwhile, will likely be able to accommodate Mullens for their backup gig. Minnesota drafted Kellen Mond in the third round last year, but have also rostered Sean Mannion. The two have been receiving equal work so far in training camp, indicating that neither has significantly distanced themselves from the other. With Mullens, who has familiarity in the kind of offensive system new head coach Kevin O’Connell will install, the Vikings will have more of a known commodity behind Kirk Cousins.

The team will be likely to try and retain Mond as well, given his draft status. His hold on a 53-man roster spot has now become much less certain, though, as both the Raiders and Vikings look for clarity in their QB rooms in the build-up to campaigns carrying significant expectations.

Patriots To Trade Jarrett Stidham To Raiders

After they added more depth to their quarterback room, the Patriots were likely to make a move with Jarrett Stidham. They have done so today, as Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reports (on Twitter) that New England is trading him to the Raiders. 

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero adds that New England is sending a seventh round pick along with Stidham in exchange for a sixth-rounder from Vegas (Twitter link). The deal represents a new beginning for the 25-year-old, but it will reunite him with a familiar face on the Raiders’ staff in Josh McDaniels.

After being drafted in the fourth round by New England in 2019, Stidham worked with the new Vegas head coach when he served as the Patriots’ offensive coordinator. That season marked Tom Brady‘s last with the team, so it came as no surprise that he only attempted four passes in the regular season. After Brady’s departure, though, expectations were raised for Stidham to be able to take over the starting role.

That didn’t end up happening, however, as the Baylor and Auburn alum sat behind Cam Newton. Stidham made five appearances, completing 22 of 44 passes for 256 yards, a pair of touchdowns and three interceptions. Between the level of play showed by both signal-callers, the Patriots entered the subsequent draft needing a new quarterback. They filled that need by selecting Mac Jones in the first round.

This year, the team selected Bailey Zappe in the fourth round to further add to the depth chart. Given the presence of the Western Kentucky product, as well as veteran Brian Hoyer, Stidham would have faced stiff competition for a roster spot. The same could be true in Vegas, as he will join Nick Mullens, Garrett Gilbert and Chase Garbers in vying for the backup job behind Derek Carr.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/9/21

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Patriots Reduce Roster To 53

The Patriots made headlines earlier today when they cut quarterback Cam Newton, a move that made rookie Mac Jones the starter. The team has since reduced their roster to 53 players, and we’ve detailed each of the moves (including those previously reported) below:

Released

Waived

Placed on Reserve/PUP list

Placed on Reserve/NFI list

Placed on Injured Reserve

The Patriots veterans are most notable, but the organization also waived a pair of 2021 draft picks. Sherman was a sixth-round pick out of Colorado who appeared in 30 games during his collegiate career. Nixon was a seventh-round pick; the wideout split his collegiate career between Ole Miss and Central Florida, earning All-AAC honors in 2019.

Patriots Claim QB Jake Dolegala

The Patriots have added another quarterback. The team announced today that they’ve claimed quarterback Jake Dolegala off waivers from the Packers. The 24-year-old was waived by Green Bay yesterday.

More notably, it sounds like today’s transaction was insurance for another QB on the roster. According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic (via Twitter), backup Jarrett Stidhamisn’t expected back in the near future.” The quarterback landed on the physically unable to perform list earlier this week, and Howe writes that the player is battling a shoulder injury that could ultimately lead to surgery.

At one time, it was believed that Stidham could be the heir apparent to Tom Brady. Instead, the 2019 fourth-round pick barely played during his sophomore season, and he fell further down the depth chart when the team added Mac Jones this offseason. The Auburn product will be 25 by the start of the next season, and despite collecting only 48 attempts through two seasons, it’s unlikely his NFL career is in danger. However, it’s looking like he doesn’t have much of a future in New England.

Dolegala actually spent most of his rookie season on the Patriots practice squad, and after earning a reserve/future contract in January, he was waived by the team in April. His best chance of sticking with the Patriots is probably via the practice squad; even with Stidham temporarily out of the picture, the team is still rostering Jones, Cam Newton, and Brian Hoyer.

Patriots Re-Sign QB Brian Hoyer

The Patriots are re-signing a familiar face. New England is signing veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer to a one-year deal, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Jim McBride of the Boston Globe was first with the news (on Twitter).

Hoyer has had three stints with the Patriots throughout his 12-year career, earning a Super Bowl ring as Tom Brady‘s backup in 2018. Following a one-year stint with the Colts in 2019, Hoyer re-joined the Patriots last offseason following Brady’s defection to Tampa Bay. Hoyer ended up starting a single game for New England, completing 15 of his 24 pass attempts for 130 yards, no touchdowns, one interception, and a fumble. The veteran didn’t end up seeing the field again following that Week 4 loss to the Chiefs.

This offseason, Hoyer was briefly mentioned as a potential option for the Jets as a backup, but he’ll instead be heading back to New England. The team’s depth chart looks a bit different in 2021. The team used the 15th-overall pick on Mac Jones, and the rookie is expected to compete with 2020 starter Cam Newton for the starting gig. As Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets, Newton could serve as Jones’ competition while Hoyer could serve an important role as Jones’ mentor.

This signing is probably bad news for Jarrett Stidham. Following Brady’s decision to join Tampa Bay last offseason, there were some whispers that the 2019 fourth-round pick could end up inheriting the starting job. Instead, Stidham started a whopping zero games, although he did complete 50-percent of his passes for 256 yards, two scores, and three interceptions in limited snaps.