Sam Darnold

Jets Notes: Enunwa, Tomlinson, Offseason

The Jets signed receiver Quincy Enunwa to a multi-year contract extension yesterday, with the four-year pact coming in at $36MM (and about $20MM in guaranteed money). The 2014 sixth-round pick out of Nebraska has spent his entire career with the Jets, and he’s excited to stick with the organization for the foreseeable future.

“I knew when I got here that I wanted to be a Jet for a very long time,” Enunwa told the team website. “Now, I’ll get my opportunity and it feels really good.”

The 26-year-old broke onto the scene in 2016, when he hauled in 58 receptions for 857 yards and four scores. He missed the entire 2017 season with a neck injury, and he’s appeared in only 11 games this year. However, he’s clearly gaining the trust of quarterback Sam Darnold, and Enunwa is confident that the duo will continue to improve.

“I’m excited for the future and for some more big plays,” Enunwa said. “And I think there is a lot in store for us as a team.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes out of New York…

  • The Enunwa extension was the “first big contract” that was negotiated by Dave Socie, points out Brian Costello of the New York Post (via Twitter). Socie was hired as the team’s Senior Director of Football Administration during the summer after previously serving in the role back in 2006. In this role, Socie works with general manager Mike Maccagnan on all things contracts and salary cap.
  • The Jets placed tight end Eric Tomlinson on injured reserve earlier this week, but it doesn’t sound like the 26-year-old suffered his injury on the field. Rather, Costello tweets that Tomlinson dropped a weight on his foot, leading to a pair of lacerated toes. The accident forced the tight end to undergo surgery, ending his season. Tomlinson had started 12 of his 15 games this season, serving mostly as a blocking tight end. The former Texas-El Paso standout has 16 career receptions for 193 yards and one touchdown.
  • Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.TV believes the Jets should be prioritizing experience as they search for a new head coach. The writer opines that the organization “can’t afford to be wrong with their next hire,” as they’ll be risking Darnold’s formative seasons. Fortunately, Vacchiano believes Maccagnan and CEO Christopher Johnson recognize this, as the team has already been connected to experienced coaches like Jim Harbaugh and Mike McCarthy. The writer also believes the team should give a look at former Colts and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell.
  • ESPN’s Rich Cimini writes that the Jets should use their draft picks and $100MM+ in cap space to build a formidable team around Darnold. Specifically, Cimini says the team should make a “serious run” at running back Le’Veon Bell, and he also lists offensive line, receiver, and edge rusher as positions of need. The writer also suggests shopping defensive end Leonard Williams, who is set to earn $14.2MM next season.

Sam Darnold Expected To Start In Week 14

Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold is expected to start against the the Bills after Sunday after missing New York’s last three games with a foot sprain, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Head coach Todd Bowles declined to officially name Darold his Week 14 starter, but that’s believed to be the Jets’ plan.

Per Rapoport, the Jets have been delicately handling Darnold’s recovery, and he probably could have played in Week 13 if the club would have let him. However, New York is taking a cautious approach with its first-round signal-caller, just as the Bears have done recently with their young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Chicago already essentially has a playoff spot locked up and didn’t feel the need to rush Trubisky back, while the Jets are in the midst of a lost campaign and thus didn’t intend to deploy Darnold until he was fully healthy.

Gang Green sent their own first-rounder and three second-round picks to the Colts this spring in order to acquire the No. 3 overall selection, which they subsequently used on Darnold. While it’s fair to question the talent around him, Darnold hasn’t been great so far, as he ranks dead last among NFL quarterbacks in passer rating, interception, and adjusted net yards per attempt.

After facing the Bills on Sunday, Darnold and the Jets will close out the 2018 season with the Texans, Packers, and Patriots.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Jets, Browns, Harris, Ravens

Mike McCarthy may well have options going into this coming hiring period, but the Jets might not be a great fit. The status of GM Mike Maccagnan will likely be a deterrent for a coach with other options — in the likely event Todd Bowles is fired soon — multiple NFL executives told Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv. The New York GM has just one more season remaining on his deal and is not expected to follow Bowles out the door. A lame-duck decision-maker could spook McCarthy. With former Packers execs John Dorsey, Alonzo Highsmith and Eliot Wolf in Cleveland, many people around the league believe McCarthy will end up with the Browns, Vacchiano notes. The Browns also have a young quarterback and are projected to possess more than $86MM in cap space. While that’s not on the Jets’ level ($106MM-plus), Vacchiano adds McCarthy is known as being a bit sensitive to criticism. That might be an issue in jumping from the league’s smallest market to its biggest.

Here’s more from the Jets and the latest from the AFC:

  • Josh McCown received another start for the Jets on Sunday, doing so despite Sam Darnold being at or close to 100 percent. The rookie quarterback lobbied to play against the Titans during warmups, Albert Breer of SI.com notes, but Bowles stuck with McCown. Bowles would not commit to Darnold starting against the Bills in Week 14, but Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports Darnold showed he was healthy in practice and will likely return Sunday.
  • On the subject of possible quarterback switches, the Ravens may be able to put off their decision for another week. Joe Flacco was not moving too well this week, walking with a noticeable limp, Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com tweets. While the Ravens could be forced into a choice of benching Lamar Jackson (3-0 as a starter) and returning to Flacco for a pivotal game in Kansas City, this call might be tabled. The possibility of Flacco returning as the starter at some point this month is not out of the question, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, but Jackson may see more work off the bench than he previously did when Flacco was healthy. The difficult prospect of preparing for the quarterbacks’ disparate skill sets intrigues John Harbaugh, per Rapoport, so the Ravens may keep it quiet if they do intend to pivot back to Flacco.
  • Although the Broncos improved to 6-6 Sunday, it came at a cost. Denver lost one of its top players in Chris Harris to a fractured fibula. However, the All-Pro cornerback is not going to be placed on IR and has a goal of returning before a potential playoff game. The eighth-year defender wants to return by Week 17, when the Broncos play the Chargers in what could be a key game — if Denver wins out and receives help — for Vance Joseph‘s team. “I always heal fast,” Harris told Aric DiLalla of DenverBroncos.com.“I’ve got the right people around me to help me get back fast and I’ll work night and day to get back. My goal is three weeks, but they said four. My goal is three weeks because I want to play against [the Chargers].” Harris’ other notable injury (a torn ACL) came against the Chargers in a 2013 divisional playoff game, but the corner returned by Week 1 in 2014.
  • By intercepting three passes, Harris already cashed in $200K of the incentive package he agreed to in the offseason. But another key financial bump is tied to playing time. Despite standing to miss perhaps the rest of the regular season, Harris can still earn an additional $300K if his 736 snaps end up being 65 percent of Denver’s season total, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic notes (subscription required), adding that scenario is in play.

Jets Planning To Start Josh McCown In Week 13

The Jets are preparing to roll with veteran quarterback Josh McCown once again in Week 13 vs. the Titans, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets

Though rookie quarterback Sam Darnold is close to a return, Rapoport hears from sources the Jets want to make sure their signal-caller of the future is 100% when he returns to the field. He adds Darnold might work out pregame to try to convince them otherwise, but the 17-year veteran McCown is more than likely to get the nod.

The USC product has been out of action after suffering a significant sprain to his right foot in Week 9 vs. the Dolphins. In his stead, McCown has completed 54.4 percent of his passes for 411 yards and a touchdown with three interceptions in two starts against the Bills and Patriots, both New York losses.

Darnold started the season hot, leading the Jets to a 48-17 win over Detroit in Week 1 when he became the youngest quarterback in years to start a season opener. It has been downhill since then, and he had amassed a league-high 14 interceptions at the time of his injury.

At 3-8 and in last place in the AFC East, there is no reason for the Jets to rush back their franchise quarterback to the fold.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Notes: Maccagnan, Bowles, Anderson, Darnold

If the Jets’ season continues to go the way it has gone so far, it’s very likely that head coach Todd Bowles will be fired after the season. GM Mike Maccagnan is apparently in far better shape with ownership, and “all indications” are that “Maccagnan will survive this mess of a season and get a chance to finish his rebuilding project”, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. While Maccagnan seems like a heavy favorite to survive, Cimini writes that it’s unclear exactly how much power he’ll have.

Cimini writes that it’s an open question whether or not Maccagnan will get to be the one who hires New York’s next head coach, and notes that the pairing of Bowles and Maccagnan was an “arranged marriage” from ownership. For what it’s worth, Cimini thinks the Jets will “add a couple of years to Maccagnan’s deal” if they keep him, so it doesn’t send the impression that the GM has less job security than the new coach. While Maccagnan will hang on by the skin of his teeth, the way everyone is talking now it seems like a foregone conclusion that Bowles’ days are numbered.

Here’s more from New York:

  • Robby Anderson is a very talented young receiver, but has dealt with multiple off-field incidents as well as injuries this season, so Cimini thinks he might not be long for the team. Anderson will be a restricted free agent this offseason, and while Cimini expects the Jets to tender him, he thinks they might look to trade him next offseason. He mentions the Eagles as a possible trade destination, and notes that the Eagles “tried to pry him away” from the Jets at the trade deadline. He also thinks the team might just let him walk if a team signs him to a huge offer sheet this spring. It was reported earlier this week that the Jets are trying to get an extension done with fellow receiver Quincy Enunwa, and it seems like the team definitely values Enunwa more than Anderson moving forward.
  • Sam Darnold isn’t playing today against the Patriots, and it looks like he might not play next week either. While Darnold could still possibly return in Week 13, “the following week is more likely”, sources told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Rapoport writes that the Jets want to take it easy on Darnold and make sure he’s 100 percent healthy before returning. The team isn’t going to rush him back, so it’ll likely be Josh McCown again next week against the Titans.

Jets’ Sam Darnold To Miss Week 12

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold won’t be able to go in Week 12 against the Patriots, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. With the rookie sidelined, veteran Josh McCown will start once again.

McCown’s last outing against the Bills was one to forget. The 39-year-old completed just 17 of his 34 passes for 150 yards with zero touchdowns against two interceptions as Gang Green lost 41-10.

Of course, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the No. 3 overall pick either. Darnold has flashed at times, but he leads the NFL with 14 interceptions and tossed four picks against the Dolphins in Week 9. The 3-7 Jets are pretty much out of playoff contention, so there’s little sense in endangering Darnold as he recovers from a nagging foot injury.

Naturally, the 7-3 Patriots are heavily favored in Sunday’s matchup. The line could skew even further towards New England now that McCown has been confirmed as the club’s starter.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Sanders, Slauson, Ravens, Jets

Following in the footsteps of Plaxico Burress, Emmanuel Sanders has thrived after leaving the Steelers. Pittsburgh’s permitted many of its wideout finds to depart over the years, prioritizing only long-term partnerships with Hines Ward and Antonio Brown this century. In advance of the latest Broncos-Steelers game, Sanders said (via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Chris Adamski) Mike Tomlin told him prior to 2014 free agency the Steelers “didn’t have the money to pay me.” Denver added Sanders to a $5MM-per-year accord then extended him two years later.

The Steelers have let Sanders, Mike Wallace, Santonio Holmes, Martavis Bryant and Antwaan Randle-El go either after the wideouts’ rookie deals expired or, in Bryant’s case, trading him away. But Pittsburgh continues to find wideout talent, with JuJu Smith-Schuster being the latest such discovery. After an injury-plagued 2017, Sanders (763 receiving yards) is on pace for his fourth 1,000-yard season in five years with the Broncos. He’s signed through 2019. Despite a $10.15MM base salary next year, the 31-year-old pass-catcher may be in line to play out his contract. The Broncos traded Demaryius Thomas, with Courtland Sutton waiting in the wings, but don’t have an obvious Sanders replacement lined up just yet.

Here’s the latest from the AFC on this NFC-only Thanksgiving:

  • It doesn’t sound like Matt Slauson has immediate retirement plans, despite suffering a scary back injury, Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star notes. The first-year Colts lineman has contributed plenty to the cause despite being sidelined for much of this year, with Keefer noting he’s helped Indianapolis’ younger linemen. The Colts haven’t allowed Andrew Luck to be sacked in 214 straight pass attempts; that’s the longest since the Redskins kept Mark Rypien upright for 252 straight pass plays during the franchise’s 1991 Super Bowl season. Slauson continues to work out with teammates but is 32 and only signed through 2018.
  • Both Joe Flacco and Alex Collins missed the Ravens‘ Thanksgiving practice, per Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun. Flacco has not practiced since suffering the hip injury that has him sidelined. He’s expected to miss at least one more week, giving Lamar Jackson another audition opportunity. Collins played last week but has dealt with a foot injury throughout the season, per Shaffer.
  • Signs continue to point to Josh McCown receiving another Jets start. Sam Darnold did not participate in team drills Thursday, missing a second straight day of such work, according to the Associated Press. The rookie starter suited up Wednesday for the first time since straining his right foot but did not throw a pass in individual drills. McCown appears to be in line to face the Patriots, with Todd Bowles indicating (via the New York Post’s George Willis) the team will err on the side of caution. So, unless Darnold makes some significant strides by Friday, he’ll likely rest for at least one more week.

Injury Notes: Graham, Mariota, Darnold, Kupp

We learned earlier this week that Packers tight end Jimmy Graham had suffered a broken thumb, and it was expected that the former All-Pro would be out for the foreseeable future. However, head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters that Graham is going to try to play on Sunday against the Vikings.

“I know he intends to try to go,” McCarthy said (via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky). “That’s his intention…There’s going to be a transition through the practice week and see different splints and things like that. So that’s why you have to work through it.”

The 31-year-old has 34 receptions for 452 yards and two touchdowns during his first season in Green Bay. If he was forced to miss time, the Packers would likely turn to Lance KendricksRobert Tonyan Jr., and/or Marcedes Lewis.

Let’s take a look at some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota didn’t suffer an elbow injury during Sunday’s loss to the Colts. Instead, as head coach Mike Vrabel told reporters, the signal-caller suffered a “stinger” (via Jim Wyatt of Titans Online via Twitter). Mariota may get a second opinion, and there’s still hope that the quarterback can play on Monday against the Titans. Through nine games this season, the 25-year-old has completed 67.6-percent of his passes for 1,583 yards, seven touchdowns, and six interceptions. He’s also rushed for 255 yards and two scores on 47 carries. If Mariota is forced to miss Monday’s game, Blaine Gabbert would likely earn the start for Tennessee.
  • Jets quarterback Sam Darnold had ditched his walking boot, and ESPN’s Rich Cimini writes that the rookie was seen jogging during Monday’s practice. “It feels good. It feels great,” Darnold said of his right foot. “Nothing for me to complain about. No pain, either.” The quarterback missed the team’s last game against the Bills, but he got an extra week off thanks to the bye. If Darnold misses this weekend’s contest against the division-rival Patriots, the team will turn to veteran Josh McCown again.
  • While Cooper Kupp‘s season-ending injury certainly wasn’t promising, Rams coach Sean McVay revealed that the wideout underwent successful ACL surgery. “It went really well,” McVay said (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “He called right afterwards and he was in great spirits. I know if anybody is going to attack the rehab process the right way, it’s going to be Cooper Kupp. Fortunately, some of the things when you do get in there, none of the other things that sometimes can delay that rehab process were affected. It was a clean surgery, did a good job repairing that and we expect him to be able to make a good recovery. Looking forward to getting him back.” The 25-year-old was having another productive season before suffering the injury, hauling in 40 catches for 566 yards and six touchdowns in eight games.
  • Buccaneers offensive lineman Evan Smith suffered torn labrums in both hips, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The veteran will have surgery in New York next Monday. The 32-year-old had appeared in seven games with Tampa Bay this season, serving primarily in a backup role. The team placed him on the injured reserve last week.

Jets QB Sam Darnold To Miss Time

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Bills with a significant sprain on his right foot, as Manish Mehta of the Daily News tweets. The team will monitor his injury, but he is presently considered week-to-week, according to ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini (Twitter link).

Darnold suffered the injury during an all-around trying game against the Dolphins. Frankly, Darnold could use the respite. The rookie showed some flashes of brilliance early on this season, but his performance has sagged along with the rest of the Jets’ offense in recent weeks.

The Jets hope that Darnold will be back after the team’s Week 11 bye to face the Patriots, but Mehta hears they’re not overly optimistic at this point. At 3-6, the Jets are unlikely to make the playoffs, so they have little reason to push Darnold back out on to the field if he is anything less than 100% healthy.

Without Darnold, who has thrown a league-high 14 interceptions through nine weeks, the Jets will use Josh McCown as their starter for the time being. Former Giants draft pick Davis Webb, who is on the team’s practice squad, would be a logical choice for the job.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Mayfield, Steelers, Moore

Browns fans enjoyed the chance to see a matchup between the quarterback most assumed they’d select vs. the one they actually did on Thursday, and Baker Mayfield won the first round between he and Sam Darnold. The USC-developed passer loomed as the frontrunner to go No. 1 overall for months, until Mayfield buzz increased during draft week. However, it wasn’t that tough of a decision for John Dorsey, with Terry Pluto of cleveland.com noting the new Browns GM had a “far higher” grade on Mayfield than Darnold. Both Pluto and cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot write that a return to Tyrod Taylor as the starter doesn’t make sense, with Cabot adding the months-long stance to start Taylor over Mayfield was made by both Dorsey and Hue Jackson. After the Browns’ 21-17 win over the Jets, Dorsey, per Cabot, was overheard saying to owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, “I think I picked the right one,” appearing to reference the controversial Mayfield-over-Darnold selection.

Here’s the latest out of the North divisions:

  • Sterling Moore has a workout scheduled with the Bears for next week, Jane Slater of NFL.com tweets. A former Saints, Cowboys and Buccaneers starter, Moore failed to make the Lions’ 53-man roster out of training camp. The 28-year-old cornerback played six games with the Saints last season, his second stint in New Orleans.
  • The Steelers‘ corner situation will see a boost in a bigger-than-expected spot Monday night. Joe Haden appears set to return for Pittsburgh after missing Week 2, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio tweets. Haden practiced fully on Saturday. Morgan Burnett, however, doesn’t look likely to suit up Monday. The Steelers listed their recently signed safety as doubtful to face the Buccaneers.
  • Pittsburgh’s reeling on its offensive line. David DeCastro will miss his second straight game because of the fractured right hand he suffered in Week 1. Marcus Gilbert is doubtful for Week 3 because of a hamstring malady. The Steelers declared DeCastro out, and the Associated Press notes B.J. Finney will start in his place. Matt Feiler is in line to start at right tackle for Gilbert, per the AP. The Steelers struggled to produce much on the ground in Week 2 without some key pieces, with James Conner being held to 17 rushing yards after a 135-yard debut in Cleveland. Of course, the Chiefs’ 21-0 start forced the Steelers to pass much more often than they would have otherwise done.
  • The Ravens did not make a move to adjust their cornerback situation on Saturday, meaning they’ll be down to four healthy players at this spot against the Broncos on Sunday. Rookie Anthony Averett will miss Week 3, Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun notes. This may force rookie UDFA Darious Williams into action. Although, Baltimore’s still in relatively good shape despite Averett and Jimmy Smith‘s absences. Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr and Tavon Young are available.