The Bengals have made a depth addition to their secondary. Cincinnati is signing cornerback Sidney Jonesto a one-year deal, reports Jordan Schultz of The Score (Twitter link).
Jones, 26, spent the first three years of his career with the Eagles, starting eight of 22 games. Since then, he has spent time with the Jaguars, Seahawks and Raiders. In 2021, his 61% snap share pointed to a sizeable role on Seattle’s defense continuing into this past season, but that didn’t end up being the case.
With the Seahawks enjoying a hugely productive rookie campaign from Tariq Woolenand, to a lesser extent, Coby Bryant, Jones’ workload diminished in 2022. The latter saw the field for just 21% of defensive snaps, leaving the team to look for a trade partner ahead of the November deadline. With no suitor in place, the former second-rounder was waived.
Within a matter of days after that move, Jones had been signed by the Raiders. In Las Vegas, he saw an even smaller workload than he had earlier in the year with Seattle, and registered just one pass deflection. He will look to rebound from the 2022 season with a more stable year in Cincinnati. The Bengals represent a logical spot for him to do just that.
The AFC North champions were banged-up at the CB position last season, including Chidobe Awuziesuffering a torn ACL. In part because of his absence, the Bengals ranked 23rd in the league against the pass, averaging 229 yards allowed per game through the air. The team’s secondary has seen safety starters Jessie Batesand Vonn Belldepart in free agency, and veteran corner Eli Appleremains unsigned.
Jones will look to carve out at least a rotational role behind Awuzie and 2022 second-rounder Cam Taylor-Britt in the Bengals’ CB room. At a minimum, he will provide insurance in case Apple is not retained this offseason, as Cincinnati looks to improve in the secondary and continue to contend in the AFC next year.
Jones has since gone through waivers unclaimed, leaving him free to sign with any club. One team has already been named as a potential suitor; Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tweets that the 26-year-old can be expected to be “a person of interest” for the Raiders. Confirming this notion, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the AFC West team is expected to sign him (Twitter link).
Jones was expected to remain a starter for Seattle this season, but the CB position has reaped plenty of rewards from the team’s youth movement. Rookies Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant have locked down first-team roles, while Jones has only made three appearances so far. That played a role in Seattle making him available in advance of the trade deadline, but no buyers were willing to take on even the small financial cost by claiming him off waivers.
Even with that positive development, Jones would be likelier to carve out a consistent role with the Raiders than he had with the Seahawks. Entering today’s slate of games, Vegas ranked 25th in the league against the pass, allowing an average of over 258 yards per game through the air. Another veteran addition therefore comes as little surprise as the team looks to rebound from another loss endured via a blown lead.
Jones has played just 45 defensive snaps this season, which brought a major change to his status with the team. The Seahawks have seen rookies Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant step into key gigs, leaving Jones as an odd man out during this surprising start. The Seahawks attempted to shop Jones in October.
Although Jones is a vested veteran, he will head to waivers because the trade deadline passed. The former second-round pick was an 11-game starter for the Seahawks in 2021, when the Jaguars dealt the ex-Washington Huskies standout back to the Pacific Northwest. The Seahawks let D.J. Reed walk in free agency, seemingly clearing a wider path for Jones. But it did not lead to a repeat starter role.
Jones, 26, sustained a concussion on August 3, leading to him sitting out the preseason. He returned for Week 1 but only played in two more games this season. Woolen, Bryant and Michael Jackson have been Seattle’s primary corners this season, relegating veterans like Jones, Artie Burns and the recently re-signed Justin Coleman to backup posts. Burns and Coleman remain with the team, but Jones will be on the move.
The Eagles drafted Jones in 2017, doing so after a pre-draft Achilles tear damaged his stock. A 2020 Jaguars stay helped move Jones back onto the starter radar, leading the Seahawks to trade a 2022 sixth-round pick for the former area prospect. It will be interesting to see if any team claims his contract, which has just less than $1MM in 2022 base salary remaining. Jones’ deal runs through 2023.
“No,” Gesicki responded when asked if he’s reached out to the Dolphins (h/t Joe Schad of The Palm Beach Post). “I mean, I think I just kind of like I said, I just kind of go about my business. Whatever happens, happens. And I’ve been here for five years now. I love it here. I’m happy to be here. And if I stay here, which I mean, I would assume, I would. I’m excited to continue to be here, make plays and you know, help the team win and move forward and all that kind of stuff for the rest of season.”
Gesicki is coming off his best game of the season, with the tight end hauling in six catches for 69 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Vikings. However, the 27-year-old has been limited to only 101 yards in his other five appearances, with receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle commanding the bulk of the targets. Despite his inconsistent offensive role, Gesicki made it clear that he hasn’t asked for a trade.
“Nah,” Gesicki said when asked if he’s requested a trade.” I mean, I think these coaches also understand what I’m capable of. And I think, you know, Sunday was a good, you know, showing of that just, you know, a couple of opportunities to go out there and make plays. And that was my thing. I don’t know when the opportunity is gonna come, but I gotta keep preparing as if they’re gonna come.”
More trade notes from around the NFL…
The Seahawks have made cornerback Sidney Jones available, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. While the organization would prefer to keep the veteran, they’re willing to listen to offers with Jones buried on the depth chart. Michael Jackson and Tariq Woolen are holding down the fort as the outside cornerbacks, and Tre Brown will eventually work his way back into the lineup. Jones is playing on a one-year deal following a career season in 2021. In 16 games (11 starts) for Seattle, the cornerback compiled 66 tackles and 10 passes defended.
Speaking of Seattle, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times can’t envision the Seahawks making a significant move at the trade deadline. While Seattle has made deadline moves in the past, the team currently seems focused on building their core from within. The team also has little cap space to work with, making a big splash unlikely.
Following his benching in Week 5, it was reported that Commanders cornerback William Jacksoncould be looking for a fresh start elsewhere. However, the defensive back denied reports that he wants to be traded (per ESPN’s John Keim on Twitter). Jackson was ruled out for Week 6 with a back injury, and it sounds like he’s unlikely to play in Week 7. Jackson is attached to a three-year, $40.5MM deal, but teams have expressed interest ahead of the Nov. 1 deadline.
The Panthers were planning to cut Robbie Anderson before they found a taker in the Cardinals, reports ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter). Considering the prospect of just eating his salary, the Panthers made out well in the deal, securing a 2024 sixth-round pick and a 2025 seventh-round pick from Arizona.
After agreeing to return to Seattle this offseason, Coleman worked as the team’s starting nickel during the preseason. The veteran slot’s second Seattle stint may not be through, despite being released. Pete Carroll pointed to Coleman being brought back. Roster moves after trims to 53 frequently result in vested vets returning; Coleman certainly appears in the team’s plans.
Coleman, who played for the Seahawks in 2017-18, returned to the Pacific Northwest on a one-year deal with just $153K guaranteed. He has been expected to man the slot alongside starters Sidney Jones and Artie Burns. Jones, however, has run into more injury trouble. The former Washington Huskies standout did not play in the Seahawks’ preseason slate, and Carroll confirmed the team’s top corner is still dealing with the effects of a concussion sustained Aug. 3. The team has not ruled out Jones playing in its opener, but a short-term IR stint may also be on tap.
A former first-round talent who suffered a pre-draft injury that dropped him to Round 2 in 2017, Jones found his footing again after being traded to Seattle in 2021. He started 11 games for the Seahawks, who then lost a starting corner in free agency for the second straight offseason (D.J. Reed, Jets). In addition to Jones, Carroll said cornerback John Reid is dealing with an injury. After aggravating a groin injury in the Seahawks’ preseason finale, the third-year defender may also be a short-term IR candidate
While Coleman was in Detroit and Miami, Blair spent some time at nickel. But the former second-round pick saw knee injuries end his past two seasons. He was unable to gain traction as a safety during camp, with Condotta adding the Seahawks had stopped using him in the slot. The Seahawks kept rookie UDFA Joey Blountas a fifth safety instead. The Seahawks listed Arcega-Whiteside, obtained in a trade for DB Ugo Amadi this month, as a receiver. The Eagles had tried the disappointing draftee at tight end this offseason.
It continues to look like the 49ers will wait until 2023 to extend Nick Bosa. The fourth-year defensive end became extension-eligible in January, but unlike 2019 draft classmate Deebo Samuel, Bosa has a fifth-year option for 2023. The 49ers would prefer to wait here, per Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com, and Bosa has not pressed the issue regarding a 2022 extension. This comes after John Lynch said next year will likely be the window for a Bosa deal, despite the expected $24MM windfall the 49ers are expected to receive when they move Jimmy Garoppolo‘s contract off their payroll — via trade or release — by Week 1. This will not be a DeForest Buckner situation, however. Lynch said this week Bosa will be a long-term 49er.
“What I do know, as long as we’re here, Nick Bosa is going to be a part of the Niners and he’s going to get paid handsomely to do so,” Lynch said. “His time is coming, and when it does, he’ll get what he deserves because man, what a special player.”
Bosa will be expected to bridge the gap between Aaron Donald ($31.7MM per year) and the field, with the prospect the NFL has at least two $30MM-AAV defenders by Week 1 2023 looking likely. Here is the latest from the NFC West:
Drew Lock missed the Seahawks‘ second preseason game Thursday and remains away from the team. Pete Carroll said the QB trade acquisition is “really sick” with COVID-19, which the team announced he contracted Tuesday. After a solid start (minus a late-game fumble) in Seattle’s preseason opener, Lock is losing ground to Geno Smith by missing time. Smith remains in the lead for the Seahawks’ QB1 post, Eric Williams of Fox Sports writes. This seems like a situation in which both players will start games for the 2022 Seahawks, but Smith remains in pole position to get the Week 1 call.
The cornerback position group in Seattle is one of the more intriguing in the NFL this year. The Seahawks look to put together a formidable group of corners with last year’s trade acquisition, a veteran attempting a comeback, and two mid-round rookies.
Jones was a second-round pick out of Washington back in 2017 for Philadelphia. He only appeared in one game of his rookie season due to an Achilles injury, but received a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Eagles. A nagging hamstring injury kept him from consistently contributing during his sophomore season, but he was able to start four games that year for Philadelphia. An injury to starter Ronald Darby gave Jones an opportunity in Year 3, but another hamstring injury sidelined him and Jones was cut just prior to the 2020 season having only started eight games for the Eagles.
Jones signed with Jacksonville and started six games for the Jaguars, but, once again, injuries held him out of multiple games. The Jaguars extended his contract in March 2021 just to trade Jones five month later to the Seahawks. In Seattle, Jones finally found himself healthy, appearing in all but one game and starting 11. Jones is currently taking some time off the field after sustaining a concussion in practice, but he is is expected to return to a starting role in 2022.
Burns is the other cornerback running with the ones this offseason. Burns is a former first-round pick that many in Pittsburgh will regard as a bit of a disappointment. Burns started his career in Pittsburgh as the No. 3 cornerback behind William Gay and Ross Cockrell. He eventually replaced fellow rookie Sean Davis as the starting nickelback and, in his first career start, picked off Joe Flacco for the Steelers’ first interception by a defensive back that season. Burns was a full-time starter in his second season before losing playing time to Davis, Coty Sensabaugh, Mike Hilton, and Cameron Sutton over the next two years. Pittsburgh declined Burns’ fifth-year option and allowed him to walk in free agency.
Burns signed with the Bears but was carted off the practice field with a torn ACL weeks before the season started. He re-signed with the Bears and, after getting small morsels of special teams snaps in the team’s first 10 games, Burns started six of Chicago’s final seven games last season. Following the dismantling of the Bears’ coaching staff after the 2021 season, Burns followed former Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai to Seattle, where Desai would take the role of associate head coach/defensive assistant. Seattle seemed to notice how Burns was progressing in Desai’s defense and decided that bringing him in could certainly benefit the Seahawks secondary.
“We still feel like he is an ascending player and, sure enough, he has familiarity with the scheme from being in Chicago last year,” defensive coordinatorClint Hurtt said, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. “You’ve seen that benefit pay off since he has been here. He has great command, helps out the young guys.”
Although Jones and Burns will slot in as the starters going into the season, Burns’ influence on “the young guys” is crucial as first- and second-year players fill out the depth chart just behind them. Brown is entering his second season out of Oklahoma. Brown’s rookie season saw two separate stints on injured reserve, but he started three of the five games he appeared in. Add to the roster the two rookies, Bryant and Woolen. Bryant was a playmaker for the Bearcats en route to winning last year’s Jim Thorpe Award for the best defensive back in college football. Woolen made the switch from wide receiver to cornerback while with the Roadrunners. He put together a productive college career but really shot up draft boards with a 4.26 40-yard dash time and a 42-inch vertical at the NFL Combine. All three will play significant roles in the Seahawks secondary, along with veteran free agent addition Justin Coleman.
Rounding out the current roster is Reid, former Cowboys’ fifth-round pick Mike Jackson, and undrafted rookies Elijah Jones and Josh Valentine-Turner. With a top six of Jones, Burns, Brown, Bryant, Woolen, and Coleman, it’s going to be a tough run for Reid, Jackson, Jones, or Valentine-Turner to make the final roster. After spending last year with the Seahawks, Reid may be in the best position to push Coleman for a spot, but Coleman has seniority and experience over Reid.
An injury-riddled Washington native returning as starter, a fallen star from Miami looking for a resurgence, and a host of young go-getters with everything to prove, this secondary is a bit of an island of misfit toys. The Seahawks may need some minor miracles on offense to put them in playoff contention, though, which means it’s the perfect time to experiment with some interesting projects, like they are at cornerback, to see what they can make work.
The Seahawks have seen multiple franchise pillars depart this offseason, but they have maintained an optimistic tone with respect to keeping one of their young stars. Still, the recent actions of D.K. Metcalfhave caused a stir in the organization.
Metcalf is among the numerous wideouts from the 2019 draft class who are in line for second contracts, something which is taking place within the context of a skyrocketing WR market. Head coach Pete Carroll provided an update on contract talks, saying that things are still “semi-quiet” right now, but that negotiations could intensify in the coming weeks. Condotta, likewise, states that “the drama [surrounding Metcalf] may linger all summer but it should end by fall.”
While the Metcalf situation is front and center right now in Seattle, the offseason has also led to speculation about the team’s cornerback situation. As Condotta’s colleague Adam Jude writes, there appears to be a competition along the outside which is “wide open.” He notes that Sidney Joneshas been practicing with the starters, which should come as little surprise given that he started 11 of 16 contests last year. However, Jude adds that one, if not both of rookies Coby Bryantand Tariq Woolen could take on starting roles this season, given their performances in practice, as the team looks for a D.J. Reedreplacement.
Bryant and Woolen won’t have the chance to push for a starting spot until training camp in July. By that time, the Seahawks may have already taken care of their most pressing financial issue.