As many expected, Joe Flaccowill be staying in New York. The Jets have re-signed the veteran to a one-year contract (Twitter link via ESPN’s Rich Cimini). His colleague Adam Schefter adds that the deal is worth $3.5MM plus incentives (Twitter link).
Jets general manager Joe Douglas has made it clear throughout the offseason that his preference was to keep the 37-year-old, along with Mike White, in the hopes of maintaining the current QB room led by Zach Wilson. On that point, Brian Costello of The New York Post tweets that the team has placed an original round tender (valued at $2.6MM) on White.
A first round pick of the Ravens in 2008, Flacco is of course best remembered for his MVP performance in Super Bowl XLVII, which capped off a playoff run that came at the best possible time for him financially. A mega-extension signed that offseason was followed by inconsistency, and was a large part of the reason for his departure from Baltimore.
After failing to secure the long-term starting role in Denver, Flacco’s first go-round with the Jets in 2020 was equally unsuccessful. He lost all four of his starts, completing just over 55% of his passes. He got closer to home by signing with the Eagles last offseason, but was traded back to New York before the deadline. He lost his lone start filling in for Wilson, but threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns in the process.
With Flacco and, in all likelihood, White, back in the fold, the Jets’ QB situation appears to be set for 2022.
The same goes for youngster Mike White, who can be cuffed as a restricted free agent. So, while other teams around the league are making major moves under center, head coach Robert Saleh intends to keep his current trio, led by Zach Wilson.
The Jets traded for Flacco before the 2021 deadline, sending a conditional sixth-round choice to the Eagles in exchange. The veteran went on to make two appearances, including a Week 11 start against the Dolphins. Between those two games, Flacco completed 64% of his throws for 338 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions.
That was a big step up from Flacco’s previous run with Gang Green. In 2020, he completed a career-low 55% of his passes and averaged just 6.4 yards per attempt. Now at the age of 37, Flacco can serve as an experienced mentor for the Jets young signal callers.
In other Jets news, wide receiver Jamison Crowder is expected to reach free agency. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise — Crowder enjoyed a strong 2019 debut with the Jets but has been hampered by injuries ever since. With Crowder out of the picture, the Jets are expected to target a starting-caliber receiver as well as a quality tight end.
Mike White‘s feel-good 2021 season lasted about five quarters. The fourth-year quarterback led the Jets to an upset of the Bengals in relief of the injured Zach Wilson in Week 8 and then played well in the early stages of the club’s Week 9 loss to the Colts before being forced out with an injury. But his four-interception showing against the Bills last week forced HC Robert Saleh to turn the reins over to veteran Joe Flacco for today’s game against the Dolphins.
The move still qualified as something of a surprise, as New York is not competing for a playoff spot and arguably should have tried to see if White could rebound from his poor outing. The good news for White, as Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says, is that he is still in the Jets’ plans and that the team will tender him as a restricted free agent this offseason.
Cimini recently said that was the expectation, though after the disappointing Bills game and with Wilson slated to return soon — Cimini adds that Wilson has a good chance to suit up for next week’s bout with the Texans — the Jets’ potential last look at White in game action in 2021 might have put his future with the team in jeopardy. It does not sound like that is the case, however, and Cimini writes that the Jets expect White to draw interest from other clubs, which could prompt Gang Green to hand him the second-round tender worth $3.9MM (the original-round tender checks in at $2.4MM).
In related news, the Jets’ top decision-makers are not alarmed by the team’s seven losses in nine games, a number of which have been blowouts. Aside from his election to start Flacco over White, Saleh has adhered to the plan of getting as much playing time for young contributors as possible, and as Cimini observes, the Jets are on pace to give 9,000 snaps to their first- and second-year players. Of the 19 teams to hit that threshold from 2017-19, 13 realized an increase in their win total the following season (with an average of 3.8 more victories).
Of course, GM Joe Douglas will need to nail the 2022 draft — in which he is slated to have nine picks — but the organization expects to return to competitiveness no later than 2023.
The much-discussed Deshaun Watson trade between the Dolphins and Texans never came to fruition, in part because Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wanted Watson to settle the 22 civil suits that have been brought against him. As Jeff Howe of The Athletic writes, Ross also wanted to speak with Watson directly and requested permission to do so, but because there was no chance that Watson’s legal situation would be resolved by the November 2 trade deadline, there was no point in having a conversation just yet.
However, if Houston and Miami reopen talks this offseason, it seems that a sit-down between Ross and Watson will be necessary before a deal can be struck.
Now for more from the AFC East, starting with another item out of South Beach:
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wonders if the Dolphins will consider parting ways with WR DeVante Parker this offseason. Though Parker has been effective when he has been on the field in 2021, he is now on IR and has played in just five games this year. Plus, the ‘Fins could save $6.2MM by making him a post-June 1 cut, though that would leave the club with even more work to do to address the receiving corps, as Will Fuller and Albert Wilson are not expected to be back. Jackson does believe Mack Hollins will be retained.
Jets QB Mike White, who led the club to a surprising win over the Bengals in Week 8 and who was playing well in New York’s Week 9 loss to the Colts before he was forced out with an early injury, is hugely popular in the Gang Green locker room, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. White’s journey and attitude have earned the respect of his teammates and have energized the building, and as Cimini writes in a separate piece, the 2018 fifth-rounder may have already made himself a nice chunk of change. He is playing the 2021 season on a one-year, $850K contract, but he will become a restricted free agent at season’s end. He should at least be in line for an original-round tender of $2.4MM, and he could force the Jets to tender him at the second-round level, which would net him $3.9MM.
It certainly didn’t create many headlines, but the Patriots plucked LB Calvin Munson off the Dolphins‘ practice squad several weeks ago. The 26-year-old has only seen action on special teams with his new club, but New England clearly thinks highly of him. Per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, the Pats gave Munson a contract that runs though 2022 and that included a bit of a pay bump. A number of the Patriots’ off-ball linebackers are slated for free agency at the end of the year, so Munson could have a shot at more significant playing time next season.
Patriots DL Byron Cowart opened the season on the reserve/PUP list. Though he returned to practice in October, the 21-day window for activating him off the PUP list has expired, as veteran NFL writer Aaron Wilson tweets. As such, Cowart, who started 14 games last year, will be forced to miss the entire 2021 campaign.
Mike White is set to make his third start. The fourth-year quarterback, who left last week’s game with an injury, will retake the reins against the Bills. Joe Flacco will replace Josh Johnson as New York’s backup, Connor Hughes of The Athletic tweets.
While the White and Flacco dominoes are notable, Zach Wilson‘s status is the interest driver here. The No. 2 overall pick is running the Jets’ scout team this week and has not yet been deemed full-go from the PCL injury he sustained late last month. Initially given a two- to four-week timetable, Wilson will sit a third game. It is not certain he will regain his job upon returning to full strength, however.
Robert Saleh said Monday that Wilson would be back as the team’s starter once healthy, but the first-year HC has since walked that back. White, whom Saleh has said is giving the Jets a “clear blueprint of how this offense is supposed to run,” has a chance to keep the job and slot Wilson as the backup.
“I think it’s going to happen organically. If Mike does phenomenal, like we think he’s going to do, that’s not weird, that’s awesome, to me, in the sense a quarterback is a precious commodity in this league and we feel we have four good ones,” Saleh said, via Hughes (subscription required). “I think it will all take care of itself. We have to let it play out.
“[White] did wonderful during the [Bengals] game, did a wonderful job in the first quarter of that Indianapolis game. He is putting on good tape. There is an obligation, if he’s playing well and doing the things he needs to do, to give him the opportunity to continue on that.”
In producing the first Jets 400-yard passing game in 21 years, White inserted himself into this discussion beyond the emergency fill-in level. The Jets did not acquire a veteran quarterback this offseason, giving Wilson the job. The BYU product has struggled, ranking 32nd in QBR and starting his career with a 4-to-9 TD-INT ratio. The Jets now have two veterans on the active roster, with Flacco transported from the Eagles’ backup to the Jets’ QB2. Johnson is back on the team’s practice squad.
First-year Jets OC Mike LaFleur called Wilson’s injury-induced hiatus a “somewhat refreshing” break that will allow for a different perspective, via ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini (on Twitter). Should White retain the job once Wilson is healthy, that will mark an unusual demotion. First-round quarterbacks generally do not return to the bench as rookies after being given extended first-string run. In the previous 10 years, Paxton Lynch is the only first-round quarterback to make a start as a rookie and return to the bench without an injury factoring into the equation. (Though, Patrick Mahomes was given a Week 17 start as a rookie before reverting to backup status for Kansas City’s 2017 wild-card game.)
Wilson following suit could create a messy situation, Cimini writes, given his draft slot. For now, the Jets do not have to declare a full-time starter. But they will perhaps as soon as next week.
Sanu suffered a knee sprain during the third quarter of yesterday’s loss to the Cardinals, and Shanhan said the wideout will be out for a while. The veteran receiver had established himself as the third receiver this season, hauling in 15 catches for 177 yards through eight games. The likes of Jauan Jennings and Trent Sherfield could see increased reps while Sanu is out of the lineup.
Wilson suffered a foot injury that will likely require an IR trip. The veteran safety was already starting in place Jimmie Ward, so the team will have to rely on their depth while the two defensive backs are sidelined. Wilson has seen time in eight games this season, although Week 9 was the first time he got significant playing time on defense.
Some more injury notes from around the NFL:
The 49ers provided some additional context on defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw‘s recent knee operation (via ESPN’s Nick Wagoner on Twitter). Team doctors noted “that the ACL has chronic changes that would be best treated with ACL reconstruction.” The organization believes this alternative route will provide Kinlaw with the best chance to play during the 2022 season.
Both Zach Wilson and Mike White will both return to Jets practice this week, reports Brian Costello of the New York Post (via Twitter). It remains to be seen who will be the starting quarterback against the Bills this weekend. It sounds like the team is likely to play it safe with Wilson, meaning White could get another chance to start.
Rams wideout Jacob Harris will miss the rest of the season following ACL and MCL injuries, per Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic (via Twitter). The fourth-round pick was a wideout in college but has been playing tight end since joining the NFL. He’s only played 15 offensive snaps this season, but he got into nine games as a special teamer.
On the heels of Mike White‘s 400-yard debut which keyed a Jets upset win over the Bengals, Robert Saleh did not shoot down the possibility of White pushing Zach Wilson for the starting job once the prized rookie returned from injury.
The first-year coach said postgame the team would go day to day regarding the team’s quarterback outlook and that “anything is possible” here. A day later, Saleh said (via the New York Post’s Mike Cannizzaro), “If everything goes according to plan and Zach comes back and he’s healthy, we’ll address it when we cross that bridge.” Third-year GM Joe Douglas addressed this topic Tuesday.
“I’m in lockstep with the coach.I’m going to piggyback on everything coach said and we’re going to cross that bridge when we get to it,” Douglas said of the team’s QB depth chart (via Newsday’s Al Iannazzone).
Douglas, of course, used the No. 2 overall pick on Wilson this year. This move came shortly after the Jets concluded their previous would-be franchise QB’s run, when they traded Sam Darnold to the Panthers. Wilson has not played especially well thus far — joining a couple of his rookie-year brethren in struggling early. Wilson’s 25.9 Total QBR figure ranks 32nd, ahead of only Justin Fields, and the BYU product has thrown four touchdown passes compared to nine interceptions.
A former Cowboys fifth-rounder who has been with the Jets since 2019, White completed 37 passes — an NFL record for a first-time starter — and joined Cam Newton as the only first-start QBs to surpass 400 passing yards. White’s 405-yard day marked the first Jets 400-yard passing performance since Vinny Testaverde in 2000. Despite the Jets having traded for Joe Flacco, he of 175 career starts (including four with Gang Green last year), White is set for his second start Thursday. Flacco was not active for the Jets’ comeback win over the Bengals.
Any potential decision on a long-term change would not happen until Week 10. The Jets did not place Wilson on IR, hoping he can return from his PCL injury without being moved off the active roster for three games.
“I feel like he was on his way to really taking off in that New England game prior to the injury,” Douglas said of Wilson. “He’s a tough-minded young man. He has great work ethic. I think you’re going to continue to see him just shoot up. His arrow is pointing straight up. He’s going to continue to get better every day once he gets back on the field.”