Stephen Gostkowski

Extra Points: Patriots, Gostkowski, Redskins

The Patriots have had a ton of turnover on their staff, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, the past couple of years, and that got even more pronounced today. “Defensive line coach Brendan Daly is leaving for a spot on the Kansas City Chiefs’ staff”, a source told Jim McBride of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). Daly, 43, had been with the team since the 2014 season. The team lost defensive coordinator Matt Patricia last year, who left to become head coach of the Lions.

This year, they lost defensive play-caller Brian Flores, who left to become the head coach of the Dolphins. Flores took several Patriots assistants with him to Miami, and New England’s staff will look radically different. It’s a notable occurrence for an organization known for their stability, although Bill Belichick shouldn’t have any issue building a new quality staff. The team is reportedly hiring former Buccaneers head coach and Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano to replace Flores.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Speaking of the Patriots, the champs will have some tough decisions to make this offseason. The team has a bunch of impending free agents, and likely won’t be able to keep them all. While the Patriots have a few players who could possibly be franchise tagged, kicker Stephen Gostkowski “makes the most sense”, according to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe. Volin writes that left tackle Trent Brown is another candidate, but that it’s “more likely the Patriots would let him walk and insert Isaiah Wynn into the lineup” in his place. Wynn was New England’s first round pick in the 2018 draft, but missed his entire rookie campaign after tearing his Achilles during the preseason.
  • We heard Thursday that the Redskins were interviewing Tim Rattay for their quarterbacks coach opening, and the team is indeed hiring him, they announced via Twitter. Rattay will be the replacement for former quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell, who earlier this month was promoted to offensive coordinator. He’s never coached in the NFL before, and has spent the previous six seasons as an assistant at Louisiana Tech. He did interview for the Raiders’ QBs coach position last offseason. As such, it’s possible Oakland head coach Jon Gruden put in a good word for Rattay with his brother, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden.
  • In case you missed it yesterday, you can check out the latest update in the Antonio Brown domestic dispute case here.

AFC East Notes: Gostkowski, Marshall, Jets

When he announced his decision to retire this week, veteran offensive lineman Dan Connolly was a free agent, no longer under contract with the Patriots. However, that didn’t stop New England head coach Bill Belichick from issuing a statement on Connolly’s retirement through the Patriots’ website today.

“Dan Connolly exemplified everything our program requires of players,” Belichick said in that statement. “He was tough and dependable, smart and team oriented and his work ethic ensured he improved on an annual basis to reach his potential. From where his career began as a developmental player to where it finished as a team leader and champion, Dan Connolly was a player I was proud to coach.”

Let’s round up a few more Friday notes on the Patriots and one of their AFC East division rivals….

  • Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links) provides the exact details on Stephen Gostkowski‘s four-year, $17.2MM contract with the Patriots. The extension includes a $6MM signing bonus and fully guaranteed salaries of $1.8MM in 2015 and $2.3MM in 2016, for a total of $10.1MM in guarantees. There are also annual $100K workout bonuses and per-game roster bonuses worth up to $200K per season.
  • Brandon Marshall‘s new team will be his last team, according to a tweet from the veteran receiver himself. In a Q&A session on Twitter on Thursday night, Marshall was asked what team he would eventually retire with, and the ex-Bear answered, “If I’m cut tomorrow. I’ll retire. This will be my last team.” Of course, considering the Jets traded for Marshall and gave him a slight pay bump earlier this offseason, the club doesn’t intend to release him anytime soon. When the time comes for the two sides to part ways, we’ll see if Marshall does indeed call it a career.
  • The Jets are already weighing a possible extension for Muhammad Wilkerson, with Sheldon Richardson nearing extension eligibility as well. As Brian Costello of the New York Post, nose tackle Damon Harrison is also entering a contract year, and the Jets will have some tough financial decisions to make if he gets any better.

Patriots To Extend Stephen Gostkowski

While he didn’t receive nearly as much attention as the other four franchised players this offseason, Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski also had until today to work out a multiyear contract with his team. And according to Christopher Gasper of the Boston Globe (Twitter link), Gostkowski has done just that, agreeing to an extension with the Pats. It’s a four-year deal worth $17.2MM, per Adam Schefter and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (Twitter links).

Gostkowski, 31, has led the NFL in field goals in each of the last two seasons, making 73 of his 78 total attempts during that stretch for a 93.6% mark. Gostkowski has also made all 95 of his extra point tries over the last two years. That success prompted the Pats to designate him as their franchise player, rather than using the tag on safety Devin McCourty, who eventually signed a long-term deal with the club as well.

Because he signed his tender shortly after he was tagged, Gostkowski wasn’t in the same situation as the other four franchised players, who were not under contract heading into today. Although today was the last day Gostkowski could sign a multiyear contract, there was no question that he’d report to the club later this month and participate in training camp, with or without a long-term contract.

Gostkowski’s one-year salary on the franchise tag had been $4.59MM, so his new deal reduces his annual salary slightly – to $4.3MM – in exchange for some longer-term security. Gostkowski’s extension also figures to include at least a modest signing bonus, which should allow the Pats to reduce his cap hit for 2015.

Stephen Gostkowski Signs Franchise Tender

Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski has signed his one-year franchise contract tender from the club, ensuring that he’s locked into a 2015 salary of nearly $4.6MM, reports Field Yates of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Gostkowski and the Pats could still work out a longer-term deal that reduces that figure, but the team won’t be able to rescind the one-year offer at any point now Gostkowski has signed it.

Gostkowski, 31, has led the NFL in field goals in each of the last two seasons, making 73 of his 78 total attempts during that stretch, for a 93.6% mark. Gostkowski has also made all 95 of his extra point tries over the last two years. That success prompted the Pats to designate him as their franchise player, rather than using the tag on safety Devin McCourty, who now appears set to reach the open market.

The move makes Gostkowski the first of six players who were hit with the franchise or transition tag to sign the one-year tender. Dez Bryant, Justin Houston, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Demaryius Thomas have yet to sign their franchise offers, while Charles Clay hasn’t signed his transition offer.

Patriots Franchise Stephen Gostkowski

In the first somewhat surprising franchise-related move of the day, the Patriots have used their tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Safety Devin McCourty had been considered the more viable candidate in recent weeks, but we heard earlier today that the Pats were leaning toward franchising their Pro Bowl kicker, rather than the standout safety.Stephen Gostkowski

If any kicker is worthy of a franchise tag, Gostkowski certainly fits the bill. He has led the NFL in field goals in each of the last two seasons, making 73 of his 78 total attempts during that stretch, for a 93.6% mark. Gostkowski has also made all 95 of his extra point tries over the last two years.

Franchising Gostkowski will mean tendering him a one-year offer worth $4.56MM, which he will immediately be free to sign. Before or after Gostkowski signs that tender, the two sides will have the option of working out a longer-term deal.

As for what the move means for McCourty, it certainly looks like he’s one step closer to reaching the open market next Tuesday. The Pats still have another few days to exclusively negotiate with the veteran safety, but there have been no recent talks, per Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe (via Twitter), and the team is reportedly prioritizing Darrelle Revis, whose option will need to be addressed by next Monday. The decision to use the franchise tag on Gostkowski may be a sign that the club is willing to let McCourty go in order to get something done with Revis, but that’s far from a given at this point.

While the Pats have a reputation for cutting ties with players earlier than expected, in their ongoing quest to maximize a player’s value, they’ve had remarkably little turnover at the kicker position over the last two decades, with only Gostkowski and Adam Vinatieri handling the role. New England previously franchised Vinatieri twice in the first half of the 2000s in order to keep him on the roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

FA Rumors: Pats, Dockett, Langford, Freeney

Let’s check in on a few Monday rumors on current free agents, as well as free-agents-to-be….

  • With this afternoon’s franchise and transition tag deadline looming, the Patriots are more likely to use their tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski than safety Devin McCourty, sources tell Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston. Reiss cautions that the situation is “fluid” and that things could change by 3:00pm central time. However, if the Pats do decide to trade Gostkowski, it would mean McCourty could potentially hit the open market next week, as far and away the best safety available. It would be surprising if the Pats let McCourty get away, but that would at least seem to bode well for the return of Darrelle Revis.
  • According to agent Drew Rosenhaus, free agent defensive lineman Darnell Dockett is generating “a lot of interest” on the free agent market, writes Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. Rosenhaus is expecting Dockett to have a new home by the end of the week. As for the Cardinals, who released Dockett last week, they’re still hoping to bring the veteran defender back — Somers reports that they’ve offered a one-year deal worth up to $4MM through incentives, with a base value of $2.5MM.
  • Former Rams defensive tackle Kendall Langford, cut by St. Louis last week, is visiting the Lions today, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). It’s an interesting tidbit of news, as Detroit attempts to lock up its own free agent defensive tackles, such as Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. For now, we should probably assume that Langford is just a Plan B, or a potential depth piece, but we heard earlier today that the team won’t franchise Suh, so there’s no guarantee he returns to Detroit.
  • After mulling the possibility of retiring, veteran Chargers pass rusher Dwight Freeney has decided to continue his playing career and return for a 14th season, writes Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Freeney doesn’t have a contract for 2015, so he’ll have to find a taker, but I imagine he’ll still draw plenty of interest — despite recording only 3.5 sacks in 2014, the 35-year-old recorded 53 overall quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus’ data (subscription required).
  • Linebacker Brad Jones, who was released by the Packers last month, recently visited the Titans and has a visit lined up today with the Eagles, reports Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean (via Twitter). Of the two veteran linebackers cut this offseason by Green Bay, A.J. Hawk received most of the headlines, but Jones is another player who could still contribute elsewhere.

Patriots Links: Revis, McCourty, Gostkowski

Only time will tell if Darrelle Revis is forced into a 2015 year with the Patriots and if there are any fireworks along the way, but the cornerback’s last two deals should serve as a cautionary tale about the negative trade-offs that can happen when agreeing to certain contract structures, writes Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com. In Revis’ agreement with the Bucs, he got the $16MM AAV he was after, but had no guaranteed money. In his Pats deal, Revis’ camp agreed to a second year that would carry a $25MM cap hit, assuming that the team would never keep him on board at that price. However, a $20MM salary for 2015 – and $32MM over two years – isn’t ridiculous when compared to what guys like Patrick Peterson, Joe Haden, and Richard Sherman are making in the first two seasons of their respective contracts.

Let’s round up a few more items out of New England….

  • Of the potential free agents on the Patriots’ roster, the two who seem most likely to be hit with the franchise tag – if the team uses it – are safety Devin McCourty and kicker Stephen Gostkowski. However, McCourty is the more probable candidate, WEEI’s Ryan Hannable writes, though Hannable speculates that the Pats could give the safety the tag a few days in advance of the deadline in hopes of working out a long-term deal.
  • In a video segment, a CSNNE panel debates whether retaining Revis is worth potentially losing other free agent starters like McCourty, Gostkowski, and Dan Connolly, with Andy Hart suggesting that New England needs to keep its star cornerback “at all costs.”
  • In a separate CSNNE video segment, Ron Borges suggests that both Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork will be asked to take pay cuts and “may not be happy about it.” That applies especially to Wilfork, who accepted a pay cut last year and had a strong season.
  • After capturing another Super Bowl ring, the Pats have proven they don’t need to spend a ton of money on an elite receiving weapon, says Tom E. Curran of CSNNE.com (video link).
  • The 2011 collective bargaining agreement calls for teams to spend at least 89% of the salary cap in cash over two four-year periods (2013-16 and 2017-20), and the Patriots are one of 10 teams that must increase spending over the next couple years to meet that threshold, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today. Considering all the free-agents-to-be that the club is working to retain, using most or all of its cap room shouldn’t be a problem for New England in 2015.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

East Notes: Revis, Jets, McCoy

It’s long been assumed that the Patriots would not pick up Darrelle Revis‘ 2015 option as it would mean carrying the cornerback’s $25MM cap charge next season. However, the idea of New England exercising the option has been gaining traction, and Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (Twitter links) passes along how the contract’s guarantees would be structured. Per Corry, Revis would be entitled to a $12MM roster bonus on the first day of the 2015 league year. The bonus would be paid in four $3MM installments, with payments coming on March 31, October 31, December 31, and March 31 of 2016.

Here’s more from the league’s east divisions:

  • As PFR’s Zach Links wrote in his evaluation of the Jets’ offseason, Gang Green could look to release Percy Harvin and/or Chris Johnson to create cap space. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com agrees, and adds that linebacker Calvin Pace and defensive lineman Jason Babin could also be on the chopping block.
  • Christopher Price of WEEI.com offers his free agent forecast for the Patriots, noting that both Devin McCourty and Stephen Gostkowski are legitimate candidates for the franchise tag.
  • Sheil Kapadia of PhillyMag.com looks at the state of the Eagles‘ running back corps going into the offseason. It’s a diverse and talented group, but the team will have to decide what, if anything, should be done with LeSean McCoy. Although McCoy was not the electrifying playmaker in 2014 that he was in 2013, he still had a very productive season, with 1,319 rushing yards and a 4.2 YPC average. However, his $11.95MM cap hit has left some wondering if Philadelphia would be better off cutting him. Kapadia, though, believes McCoy is not going anywhere, though the Eagles could approach him with a restructure proposal and may select a running back in the middle rounds of the draft.
  • Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir of CSNWashington.com look at how Washington might approach their safety positions, which seem to be in a constant state of flux, this offseason. Although the team has often tried to bring in cheap veteran free agents without much success in the past, both writers believe Washington has no other choice but to open the checkbook again. Tandler suggests Kendrick Lewis as a possible target for free safety, while advocating for Phillip Thomas to be given the strong safety job. El-Bashir, though, thinks the team must fill both positions in free agency and expresses no confidence in Thomas.
  • Liz Clarke of the Washington Post examines the value of Brian Orakpo, who was Washington‘s highest-paid player in 2014, as he hits free agency.

Zach Links and Rory Parks contributed to this post.