Sam Darnold

AFC North Notes: Browns, Steelers, Ravens

Prior to the Browns waiving kicker Zane Gonzalez, Hue Jackson did not know the second-year specialist was dealing with a groin injury. The third-year Browns HC (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk) said he knew “nothing about an injury whatsoever” and that no one from the Browns’ medical department told him Gonzalez was hurt, which could set up for an interesting situation as Cleveland pivots to another kicker. It hasn’t been reported that Gonzalez was waived with an injury designation, and Florio posits an injury grievance from Gonzalez could be in the cards. Gonzalez’s groin malady required an MRI, but he still attempted a 52-yard field goal in the final seconds Sunday. This information also doesn’t put Jackson in an especially positive light, given Gonzalez’s struggles on Sunday — ones that led directly to Cleveland’s 21-18 loss.

Shifting from a player the Browns just cut to one they opted not to draft, here’s the latest from the AFC North:

  • Sam Darnold did his best to not offer much regarding his draft-night mindset, but he did say he expected the Browns to take him at No. 1 due to the amount of time John Dorsey and Co. spent with him leading into the draft, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes. The Browns spent time with all four of the top quarterback prospects before narrowing their decision to Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen. “We spent time with (Darnold) and his family, and obviously, every quarterback. We feel very comfortable with the guy that we selected in Baker, and I’m sure they do with him,” Jackson said. “He’s a fine prospect and is going to be a fine player. I think they got a good one, but we feel we have a really good one, too.”
  • The Ravens are not counting on having C.J. Mosley available for their Week 3 game against the Broncos, David Ginsburg of the Associated Press notes. The three-time Pro Bowl linebacker suffered a bruised left knee in Baltimore’s loss in Cincinnati. Rookie Kenny Young and Patrick Onwuasor were called to action in place of Mosley, who’s only missed two games (both in 2016) in his career. A fourth-round pick, Young looks like the Sunday starter, per Ginsburg.
  • Broncos rookie UDFA Phillip Lindsay sits third among the league’s rushing leaders going into Week 3’s Baltimore trip, and Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets the Colorado product narrowed his post-draft choices to the Broncos and Ravens. Lindsay (178 rushing yards on 6.1 per carry) is part of a two-rookie backfield in Denver. The Ravens opted to retain their status quo at running back, with Alex Collins, Kenneth Dixon and Javorius Allen back.
  • Allen is now on IR, though the Ravens would’ve preferred to keep both he and cornerback Maurice Canady on their active roster rather than shelve them for at least two months, Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic notes. Neither’s injury is a season-ending setback, and Dixon is a candidate to return from IR later in the season.
  • Le’Veon Bell‘s agent, Adisa Bakari, attended the Steelers‘ season-opening tie in Cleveland, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes the vibe between he and Steelers brass wasn’t particularly uncomfortable. Bakari also represents Tyrod Taylor. Nothing on the Bell front’s transpired in several days, and Pittsburgh’s bracing for a long absence.
  • Mike Tomlin expressed frustration with punter Jordan Berry, per The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly (on Twitter), and he may be on the verge of losing his job. The Steelers brought in free agent punters Jeff Locke and Justin Vogel for workouts today, Kaboly tweets. Berry’s been Pittsburgh’s punter since 2015, and the Steelers signed him to an extension in February.
  • With Joe Mixon out for a bit, the Bengals brought in a host of running backs for Tuesday workouts. Thomas Rawls, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Troymaine Pope and Matthew Dayes trekked to Cincinnati for auditions, Sirius XM’s Adam Caplan tweets.

Sam Darnold To Start Week 1 For Jets

This is breaking news. Please refresh for updates.

It’s long been rumored, but not it’s set in stone. Sam Darnold will be under center in Week 1 for the Jets a source told Josina Anderson of ESPN (Twitter link).

Darnold, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, beat out both Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater this summer to earn the job. Bridgewater’s recent trade to New Orleans all but sealed the deal, and now the Jets are making it official.

Darnold will be the only member of the 2018 rookie quarterback class starting Week 1, as Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, and Lamar Jackson are all backups for now. After starting and playing improbably well the first part of last season, McCown will return to the backup/veteran mentor role he’s played much of his career.

Darnold and his reps staged a holdout over contract language that spilled over into training camp, but that’s long since been forgotten. It will be Darnold taking snaps against the Lions on Monday Night Football, and hopefully for the Jets, for many years to come.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Darnold, Teddy, Pats

Brian Costello of the New York Post tweets that Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold once again took the majority of snaps in the team’s practice today, and he says it “feels inevitable” that the No. 3 overall selection will be the Week 1 starter. Which means, of course, that Gang Green could look to move Teddy Bridgewater, whose name we have heard in trade rumors almost as soon as the Jets acquired him this offseason. Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv, though, believes Bridgewater will remain with the Jets throughout the season, unless another club’s starter gets hurt. If New York does deal Bridgewater, though, Vacchiano offers a list of teams who could be interested, including the Broncos, Jaguars, and Saints.

Now let’s check out some rumors from other east division clubs:

  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe wonders if Tom Brady‘s reworked deal with the Patriots was actually done with TE Rob Gronkowski in mind. After all, Brady’s deal only added $5MM in incentives and did not come with a big signing bonus or any additional years, so perhaps New England wanted to be able to tell Gronk — who wants a pay raise in the form of guaranteed money, not incentives — “we didn’t give Brady any extra guaranteed money, and we’re not going to do it for you, either.”
  • In the same piece, Volin says he would not be surprised if the Patriots pursue Bridgewater next offseason (when he will be a free agent), or if they look to bring back Jacoby Brissett via trade in 2019 (assuming Andrew Luck proves he can stay healthy in 2018, which would make the Colts more inclined to deal Brissett). New England doesn’t have a young quarterback on its roster aside from seventh-round rookie Danny Etling, who is viewed as a practice-squad player at best.
  • The Patriots haven’t used undrafted rookie punter Corey Bojorquez during their first two preseason games, and that could be because New England hopes to eventually sneak him through waivers and onto its practice squad, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. Veteran Ryan Allen is the Patriots’ likely punter in 2018, but he ranked just 18th in net punting average a season ago. By keeping Bojorquez off game tape, New England isn’t allowing rival clubs to get a look at a potentially talented played.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Darnold, Dolphins

If it wasn’t apparent Thursday night, when Sam Darnold received his first preseason start, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv notes many in the Jets organization want the rookie to start in Week 1. Taking this route would likely mean Gang Green finding a trade partner for Teddy Bridgewater, and given the way he’s looked thus far, there are surely some teams who will be interested.

However, Vacchiano adds that Bridgewater “intrigues” Todd Bowles. Josh McCown isn’t likely to receive much preseason work, but Vacchiano notes that’s not indicative of his performance. Bowles observed McCown work throughout last season, so he knows what he has in the 39-year-old incumbent.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • A few Dolphins players on the bubble have made a case for strong consideration in the past couple of weeks, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. Suddenly, players previously thought to be facing long odds like defensive end Jonathan Woodard and wide receiver Francis Owusu have a real chance at making the cut. If Owusu makes the cut, that could spell bad news for former third-round pick Leonte Carroo.
  • More from Jackson, who writes that the Dolphins are unlikely trade for Bridgewater, despite their previous interest in him. The Jets QB is on a one-year deal worth $5MM and could make a lot more through incentives, so the Dolphins are unlikely to pay out that contract and give up a draft pick unless a big need develops. That need has yet to develop as Ryan Tannehill is healthy and David Fales continues to look solid in reserve.
  • On Friday morning, the Patriots learned that first-round pick Isaiah Wynn is done for the season.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.

AFC East Notes: Darnold, Pats, Patterson

Sam Darnold ended his holdout on Monday, leaving Roquan Smith as the final unsigned rookie. But the Jets made some concessions to bring their long-term quarterback investment into camp. Offset language, bonus payments and guarantees served as sticking points for Darnold’s camp, and the Jets bent on two of these items. Darnold’s deal includes offsets, but he will receive his $20MM signing bonus payment within 15 days, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports (on Twitter). The Jets also agreed agreed to keep Darnold’s guarantees intact in the event he is fined in the future, per PFT (on Twitter). Florio notes the lump-sum bonus payment represents a rarity, and this surely indicates how badly the Jets wanted their QB in camp.

The Jets continue to believe Darnold can make a strong push to unseat Josh McCown from the starting job, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv notes. A Jets official categorized Darnold as not being “hopelessly behind” by missing the first few days of camp. Jets officials have gushed about the USC-developed passer’s potential all offseason, so it’s unlikely he’ll be out of the running because of this holdout.

Here’s the latest from the AFC East:

  • Despite being a two-time All-Pro return man, Cordarrelle Patterson‘s been a specialist on special teams. The former Vikings and Raiders returner has specialized in kick returns. Bill Belichick hinted at the possibility of Patterson being a punt returner with the Patriots as well, but Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes that hasn’t been the case in camp yet. Rookies Braxton Berrios and Riley McCarron have joined veterans Julian Edelman, Patrick Chung and Chris Hogan as the punt returners in Pats camp. Patterson has fielded precisely one punt in his five-year NFL career, so it shouldn’t surprise the Patriots confine him to kickoff returns.
  • Rookie Corey Bojorquez could push five-year incumbent Patriots punter Ryan Allen, per Reiss, who notes the New Mexico product probably has more natural talent than Allen. The sixth-year veteran has one year and $2MM remaining on an extension he signed in 2015.
  • Second-round Pats pick Duke Dawson is in the mix to win the nickel cornerback job, Reiss tweets. Florida’s seen several corners warrant high draft choices in recent years, and this one has a chance to play alongside Stephon Gilmore on passing downs. Reiss tabs Eric Rowe as being slightly ahead of Jason McCourty for work as the other starting corner.
  • The Jets worked out defensive lineman Drew Iddings over the weekend, Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer tweets. Iddings has bounced around the league for a couple of years, with the Panthers being the most recent team to cut him by doing so last week, but has yet to play in a regular-season game.
  • Former Cardinals tight end Troy Niklas latched on with the Patriots this spring, but New England released him last week. He’s still dealing with a sore knee stemming from a 2017 injury, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reports (subscription required). However, Howe adds his New England’s depth chart at tight end also contributed to the move.

Jets To Sign Sam Darnold

The Sam Darnold rookie contract saga has come to a close. Darnold missed the first several days of training camp in his standoff with the Jets, but the two sides officially reached agreement on a contract on Monday, the club announced.

Offset language was a point of contention between the two sides, but the deal will indeed include offset language according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). Darnold’s reps fought hard on that front, but the team “was not moving off that,” Mehta writes.

Over the weekend, conflicting emerged about what exactly was keeping Darnold away. Some reported that bonus money and under what circumstances it would void was the issue, but according to Mehta, “offsets were the real issue” (Twitter link). Mehta adds that Darnold’s agency, CAA, was “fuming” after number one overall pick Baker Mayfield agreed to a deal with offsets in it that reduced their leverage. He also notes that attempts this weekend to muddy the waters about why Darnold was holding out were purely an attempt by Darnold’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, to “save face.”

Finally, Jets fans can stop worrying. Darnold’s absence has prompted a lot of fan anger toward the team for adopting such a hardline stance against the rookie quarterback, and now the team can get back to football. Ultimately, it seems as if this was a battle between two sides who both just wanted to “win” the argument, and Darnold’s camp caved first. Bears linebacker Roquan Smith is now the last remaining unsigned first round pick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Sam Darnold’s Holdout

Third overall selection Sam Darnold‘s holdout from Jets training camp is related to the default language regarding his guaranteed money, reports Rich Cimini of ESPN.com.

New York’s offer to Darnold includes language that would void the former USC’s quarterback guaranteed money if he were to fined by the NFL for either an on- or off-field violation, per Cimini. Other rookie signal-callers, such as Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen, do not have such a clause in their respective contracts, and no top-three selection in any of the past 10 drafts has had such language in their deals.

However, this is standard language in Jets contracts, tweets Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap, so New York is adhering to its own precedence. And as Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes (Twitter link), it’s wholly unrealistic to believe Gang Green would void Darnold’s ~$30MM in guarantees if he receives a simple fine from the league.

Indeed, it would likely require an extraordinary situation for this language to ever factor into Darnold’s contract. No. 8 pick Roquan Smith is dealing with the same issue in his negotiations with the Bears, and Garafolo reports only six rookies were had fine-related language removed from their contracts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

New York Notes: Darnold, Breeland, OBJ, Apple

In the wake of Elijah McGuire‘s broken foot, the Jets signed RB George Atkinson III earlier today. However, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the team’s first choice was Alfred Morris, who obviously comes with considerably more experience than Atkinson (Gang Green brought Morris in for a visit yesterday). Rapoport says the two sides could not come together on contract terms, so Morris remains a free agent and Atkinson is now a Jet.

Now for more notes from the two clubs who call the Meadowlands home:

  • The Jets still have interest in free agent CB Bashaud Breeland, per ESPN’s Josina Anderson (via Twitter). There’s still no word on whether Breeland will visit with Gang Green, but a number of clubs are interested in his services. Breeland remains undecided for the time being.
  • Just yesterday, we heard that offset language was no longer the issue holding up contract negotiations between the Jets and rookie QB Sam Darnold. Instead, the latest reports suggested that how and when the guarantees in Darnold’s contract could void is the real sticking point. But Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says offset language and the guaranteed money issue are still matters that need to be resolved. Cimini does not think that the holdout will get as bad as the infamous Joey Bosa/Chargers standoff several years ago, but Darnold is in a different situation because he is a quarterback, not a defensive lineman. Every practice he misses is critical, and while there are not enough details to know which party is in the “right” in this case — though Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News opines that Darnold’s agent’s stance with respect to the offset language is ridiculous and selfish — this is fast becoming a lose-lose situation for player and team.
  • Odell Beckham Jr. has excelled in Giants training camp thus far, and he looks committed and healthy, per Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Raanan ends his tweet with an emphatic, “pay the man.”
  • Though it’s obviously still early in training camp, the Giants‘ offensive line has left much to be desired in summer practices thus far, as Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com writes. Dunleavy lists a few OL free agents that Big Blue might consider bringing in, and he also names Denzelle Good, who is currently fighting for a starting job with the Colts, as an interesting trade candidate.
  • After two seasons as a backup cornerback with the Titans, Curtis Riley saw an opportunity to start at free safety with the Giants, which encouraged him to sign with Big Blue in March. Thus far, his conversion to safety is going swimmingly, and Greg Joyce of the New York Post writes that Riley has a legitimate chance to win the starting FS job.
  • Giants CB Eli Apple‘s maturity issues and lack of effort have gotten him into plenty of hot water with his teammates and coaches during his first two seasons in the pros, but new head coach Pat Shurmur is impressed with Apple’s attitude and his play thus far. Shurmur said, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, “I’m seeing a guy that’s all about his business. He’s very businesslike. And he’s covering really well, a really good attribute for a corner. I like the way he’s working. He’s out there challenging, but he’s also being smart. And I like the way he’s functioning in the building. Very attentive in meetings. In my mind, and based on what I’ve seen, he’s acting like a pro.”

AFC East Notes: Darnold, Patriots, Allen

Two rookies remain unsigned: Sam Darnold and Roquan Smith. The Jets are working on a deal with a quarterback they’ve been thrilled about throughout the offseason, one who was supposed to have a legitimate chance at a Week 1 starting job, but Darnold’s camp absence isn’t doing him any favors. Offset language was thought to be a sticking point here, but NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes (video link) that isn’t the case (or isn’t any longer). Instead, the quarterback’s guarantees — and how and when they would void — represent why the former USC standout hasn’t signed. Void issues have also come up in the Bears’ discussions with Smith. CAA represents both Darnold and Smith. The Jets began their first practice this afternoon.

Here’s the latest from the AFC East:

  • A former AFC East quarterback was not planning to leave during what turned out to be his final offseason in the division. Jimmy Garoppolo was searching for Boston-area real estate last summer, Joon Lee of Bleacher Report notes. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe adds this should help put an end to speculation the Patriots were planning all along to unload their former backup quarterback. Volin writes Bill Belichick was indeed overruled about a plan to keep Garoppolo as the heir apparent — which would have induced complex math because of the current 49ers quarterback’s rookie contract expiring and Tom Brady not yet retired — before an 11th-hour trade to San Francisco.
  • Brady did not deny that he communicated with Josh McDaniels during the period after the Super Bowl when he backtracked on accepting the Colts’ HC job, the longtime Patriots quarterback said Saturday (via James Palmer of NFL.com, on Twitter). When asked if he spoke with his then-outgoing OC about potentially staying in New England instead, Brady said he “always” talks to McDaniels, who is now back for a seventh season in his second stint as Pats OC.
  • Julian Edelman addressed his suspension Saturday and said this second straight September off will allow him to get his knee fully ready to go. “It’s disappointing with the penalty and the findings,” Edelman said, via Doug Kyed of NESN.com. “And I’m definitely accountable for that. I have to follow the protocols a little better and make sure this never happens again.” Edelman contested the suspension but saw his appeal fail. The 10th-year slot receiver tore an ACL during the 2017 preseason but is expected to be ready to go upon his now-October debut date.
  • Josh Allen‘s been the best Bills quarterback in camp thus far, Joe Buscaglia of WKBW observes. The raw Wyoming-honed talent outshined A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman on Saturday, per Buscaglia. Both of the older QBs are believed to be competing for Buffalo’s Week 1 job, with Allen believed to be set to watch as his career begins.

Extra Points: Cardinals, Johnson, Gurley, Running Backs, Jets, Darnold, McDowell, Seahawks

David Johnson made waves when it was announced he was staying away from the team’s mandatory minicamp in June in search of a new contract. He put an end to any speculation he might hold out for an extended period of time by showing up to training camp on time. Johnson was one of the best players in the entire league in 2016, but missed almost all of last season with a wrist injury. Despite making his desire for a new deal clear, Johnson is now saying he’s not concerned with his contract.

“There are people that need to concern themselves with Johnson’s potential contract – Johnson just doesn’t want to be one of them” writes Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. Johnson reportedly said ““I’ve heard of former players, not just Cardinals but in the league, having the stress of the contract on them and it ends up affecting their play” adding that’s what he’s seeking to avoid. “I don’t have time to think about” a contract, Johnson said. Johnson, who will be 27 this December, is a little old for a player still on his rookie deal. With the short shelf-life running backs in the league tend to have, this could be his one and only opportunity to cash in with a big contract. It makes sense why Johnson would want to wait for the best deal possible, and both sides remain optimistic something will get done. Johnson did talk a little bit about Todd Gurley‘s recent mega-extension, saying it’s “good to see running backs get deals.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Speaking of Gurley and running back deals, Gurley did backs like Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, and Alvin Kamara a “huge solid” by getting his deal writes Albert Breer of SI.com. “I’m just happy to even be in a position to take the next step for us running backs” Gurley told Breer. Gurley definitely paved the way for running backs to get huge guarantees, and it will be fascinating to see how the market reacts across the league.
  •  Although many Jets fans have been worried by the team’s inability to sign Sam Darnold to his rookie contract, coach Todd Bowles isn’t concerned. “It’s part of the business” Bowles declared after practice today while explaining why Darnold’s absence from training camp isn’t a big deal. It might not be significant yet, but if Darnold misses too much more of camp it could turn into a real problem as he battles for the starting job.
  • Defensive tackle Malik McDowell has cleared waivers and has reverted to the Seahawks’ injured reserve list, according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (Twitter link). McDowell was released yesterday after he was unable to ever return to health following an ATV accident last summer. McDowell, the 35th overall pick of the 2017 draft, has never played a down in the NFL and it’s unclear if there’s a chance he ever returns.