Stephen Gostkowski

Contract Details: Watson, Hopkins, Heyward

Here is the latest from some of the high-profile contracts signed around the league, beginning with the Texans’ former Pro Bowl connection:

  • Deshaun Watson, Texans: Four years, $177.4MM. Watson will receive $73.7MM in full guarantees, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets. The deal includes fully guaranteed salaries of $1.177MM (2020), $10.54MM (2021) and $35MM (2022). This places the Pro Bowl passer third among QBs. Watson’s 2023 salary ($20MM) is guaranteed for injury at signing and becomes fully guaranteed on Day 4 of the 2022 league year, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. Watson’s $32MM salaries in 2024 and ’25 are non-guaranteed. Watson’s contract also contains a no-trade clause, per Wilson.
  • DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals: Two years, $54.5MM. Hopkins received $42.75MM guaranteed at signing, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. A $27.5MM signing bonus represents part of that guarantee, Rapoport adds (on Twitter). Hopkins received a no trade clause and a no-franchise tag clause, Rapoport tweets.
  • Cameron Heyward, Steelers: Four years, $71.4MM. Heyward’s second Steelers re-up includes a $17.5MM signing bonus, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets. The Steelers will pay Heyward a $2.5MM roster bonus Friday.
  • Stephen Gostkowski, Titans. Gostkowski’s one-year Tennessee pact is worth $2.75MM, Rapoport tweets. The 15th-year veteran can make up to $3.25MM based on his 2020 field goal make rate.

Titans Sign Stephen Gostkowski

The Titans have signed four-time Pro Bowler Stephen Gostkowski, per a club announcement. To make room, they’ve waived incumbent kicker Greg Joseph.

Gostkowski, the Patriots’ all-time leading scorer, lost his 2019 season to a labrum tear. Now, the 36-year-old is healthy, and ready to begin the next chapter of his career.

The Titans have been concerned about their kicking situation for some time. Last year, the Titans effectively went to the conference championship game in spite of their kickers. Four kickers combined to go just 8-of-18 on field goal tries – Joseph attempted just one FG, and made it, in the playoffs. Before this week’s shuffle, the Titans’ only other in-house option was UDFA Tucker McCann.

McCann may still get a chance to compete with Gostkowski, but it stands to reason that the veteran will be the team’s one and only kicker when the season starts. With 28 playoff games and 39 postseason field goals under his belt, Gostkowski fits the bill for the Titans, who are looking to take another leap forward in 2020.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Work Out K Stephen Hauschka

The Titans may be intent on acquiring a more experienced kicker, and he may be named Stephen. Shortly after their Stephen Gostkowski workout, the Titans took a look at Stephen Hauschka, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Gostkowski certainly has the longer track record of success, being named to the 2010s’ All-Decade team and being the Patriots’ all-time scoring leader. But Hauschka is a 12-year veteran who kicked for the Seahawks during both of their most recent Super Bowl seasons.

The Bills released Hauschka last week, giving their kicker job to rookie Tyler Bass. The Titans experienced significant kicking issues last season, going through five players at the position. Only three of those five — Ryan Succop, Cairo Santos and Cody Parkey — attempted field goals; they combined to make just 8 of 18 attempts.

Greg Joseph, acquired late last season, resides as the Titans’ top in-house incumbent. He served as Tennessee’s kicker down the stretch and in the playoffs. A third-year vet, Joseph has kicked in 16 career games. Hauschka has kicked in 16 games in each of the past eight seasons. He made at least 83% of his field goals in each of his six Seattle seasons but came in under 80% in 2018 and ’19 in Buffalo.

Titans Work Out K Stephen Gostkowski

Stephen Gostkowski booked his first workout since his Patriots release. The 14-year veteran auditioned for the Titans on Saturday, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

The decorated kicker has a home in Tennessee, per Yates. Last month, Titans GM Jon Robinson said the team was looking into the Pro Bowl specialist.

A hip injury ended Gostkowski’s 2019 season and brought his lengthy New England run to a close. Gostkowski tore the labrum in his left hip last season but said in April he was improving. Should he prove healthy, the 36-year-old would obviously be an attractive option for kicker-needy teams.

Tennessee went through a brutal year on the kicker front in 2019. Although the Titans voyaged to the AFC championship game, they did so without much help from their field goal specialists. The Titans used four kickers last season. The group combined for an abysmal 8-for-18 make rate. The last of these kickers, Greg Joseph, did not attempt a field goal in the regular season and went 1-for-1 in the playoffs. Joseph and rookie UDFA Tucker McCann are the kickers on the Titans’ roster.

The Patriots’ all-time leading scorer, Gostkowski made four Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams between 2006-15. He made at least 82% of his field goal tries in 12 of 14 seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Monitoring Jadeveon Clowney, Stephen Gostkowski

The Browns may be out of the Jadeveon Clowney sweepstakes, leaving the Seahawks and Raiders as the the arguable frontrunners for his services. But don’t count the Titans out just yet. In a Periscope/Facebook Live conversation with PaulKuharsky.com, GM Jon Robinson talked about what a useful asset Clowney would be to Tennessee’s front seven and how he would complement the talent already on the roster.

But Robinson also reiterated that he wants to have team doctors examine Clowney before he moves forward in his attempts to sign him. While Robinson acknowledged that the former No. 1 overall pick looks good from what he has seen on social media, there is obviously no substitute for an in-person evaluation.

“Anytime you are dealing with whatever the contract is going to command, you want to make sure that the player is healthy, that you are able to allow your doctors to see him, to look at it, to make sure everything is going to be good,” Robinson said.

Those comments are noteworthy in light of the fact that the Titans were previously reported to have made multiple offers to Clowney earlier this offseason. Assuming those reports were accurate, it seems as if Robinson may have been willing to bring Clowney in on a fairly low-risk deal without a medical examination, but if he is going to make a sizable commitment, he needs to be assured that Clowney is in good health.

Robinson also said that the team would consider taking a look at veteran kicker Stephen Gostkowski. The longtime Patriots stalwart was released by New England in March on the heels of a 2019 season that was largely wiped out by a left hip injury. The Titans are currently rostering Greg Joseph, whom they signed off the Panthers’ taxi squad in December, and UDFA Tucker McCann. Robinson conceded that the PK job is Joseph’s to lose, but he would be amenable to bringing in Gostkowski to provide some worthy competition.

Gostkowski, 36, said in April that he has no plans to retire, but this is the first time we’ve heard his name since then. His 87.4% field goal percentage is the fifth-best of all time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Stephen Gostkowski Doesn’t Plan To Retire

After spending the majority of the 2019 season on injured reserve before being released by the Patriots last month, veteran kicker Stephen Gostkowski isn’t ready to retire just yet. Appearing on Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston’s Patriots Talk Podcast, Gostkowski indicated he’ll attempt to continue his career in 2020.

“I’m not ready to just hang it up,” Gostkowski said. “I’m gonna try to play. It’s going to be tough to show teams what I can do right now or work out or do a physical, but I’m not too worried about it. I’m not concerned. I kind of take things day by day.

I feel good. I’m starting to feel better. I’m trying to keep getting in better and better shape and I’ve probably done more so far this year as I would heading into a normal season so I feel like I’m ahead of where I usually am and I have nothing but time.”

Of course, Gotskowski’s free agent options are hindered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Any interested clubs would surely first want take a look at Gostkowksi’s medical records after a torn labrum in his left hip led to season-ending surgery a season ago. With a physical examination nearly impossible at the moment, Gostkowski may have to wait to land with another team.

A four-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All Pro, Gostkowski stands as one of this era’s best kickers. The former fourth-round pick’s 87.4% career field goal success rate ranks fifth in NFL history, and his 39 career playoff field goals rank behind only Adam Vinatieri’s 56 in postseason history.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jarrett Stidham To Start For Patriots?

We heard earlier today that the Patriots may be gearing up for a starting quarterback competition between Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham, but Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston says that as of now, the job is Stidham’s to lose.

There is plenty of logic to that. The Patriots selected Stidham in the fourth round of the 2019 draft and are said to be high on him, and most believe that New England will spend 2020 cleaning up its salary cap situation and preparing for a return to contention in 2021. That means that the club will not pursue a potentially pricey QB like the recently-released Cam Newton, and it means that Stidham will have a chance to prove that he can be the rightful heir to Tom Brady.

Curran does say that if the COVID-19 pandemic puts a damper on Stidham’s development — which it seems almost certain to do — then Hoyer could get the nod to open the 2020 season. Stidham, though, would probably step in at some point thereafter. The Auburn product threw just four passes in his rookie campaign but put together a strong two years against SEC defenses in 2017-18.

While we’re on the subject of the Patriots, let’s round up a few more notes out of Foxborough:

  • The release of longtime kicker Stephen Gostkowski did not create $3.5MM of cap space, as originally reported. Because $2MM of Gostkowski’s 2020 salary was fully-guaranteed, the move actually frees up less than $1MM of space. So as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets, Gostkowski’s release wasn’t financially motivated; the team just wanted a new kicker.
  • Hoyer’s contract calls for a $1.05MM salary with $2MM in playing time incentives, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Because his deal with the Colts contained offsets, Hoyer will earn at least $2MM in 2020.
  • The Patriots agreed to sign veteran defensive back Cody Davis yesterday, and ESPN’s Field Yates reports that Davis will take home a $1.1MM base salary and landed a $100K signing bonus (Twitter link). He will carry a cap charge of $1.5MM.
  • Fullback Dan Vitale‘s new contract is a one-year pact worth $1.3MM, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. He received a $100K signing bonus and can earn another $200K in playing time incentives.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots To Release Stephen Gostkowski

The longest-tenured kicker in Patriots history will need to head elsewhere to continue his career. The Pats are releasing Stephen Gostkowski, Jim McBride of the Boston Globe reports (on Twitter).

Gostkowski signed a two-year deal to stay with the Patriots in 2019 but is coming off an injury-marred season. He has been New England’s kicker since 2006, taking over after the Pats let Adam Vinatieri walk in free agency. A Gostkowski release will save the Pats nearly $3.5MM. They entered Monday with less than $5MM in cap space.

Gostkowski spent a few days as the Patriots’ longest-tenured player, rising to that position after Tom Brady defected to the Buccaneers. That distinction now belongs to 12th-year special-teamer Matthew Slater. Gostkowski’s 204 regular-season games played ranks fourth in Patriots history. When postseason contests are included, his games-played total ranks only behind Brady’s.

New England used four kickers last season, with Kai Forbath, Nick Folk and Mike Nugent taking turns replacing the injured Gostkowski. While Folk finished the season as the Pats’ kicker, he is currently a free agent. Gostkowski, 36, is coming off hip surgery. This marks another big change for the Pats, who last week saw the most decorated player in franchise history opt to leave.

A four-time Pro Bowler, Gostkowski resides as one of this era’s best kickers. He landed on the 2008 and 2015 All-Pro first teams as well. The former fourth-round pick’s 87.4% career field goal success rate ranks fifth in NFL history, and his 39 career playoff field goals rank behind only Vinatieri’s 56 in playoff history.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Gronkowski, Darnold, Folk, Dolphins

It’s no secret that the Patriots have been searching for a weapon to replace the production they received from now retired tight end Rob Gronkowski. Wide receivers Josh Gordon and Antonio Brown both looked like solutions at various points earlier in the season, but neither remain on New England’s roster. However, it appears the team’s owner Robert Kraft still hopes to get Gronkowski back on the field.

When Gronkowski was cleaning out his locker after announcing his retirement in March, Kraft told him the team would remain hopeful that he would return late in the season for another playoff run, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. While it has been known that the organization hoped Gronkowski would change his mind, no one had reported Kraft’s involvement.

Rapoport notes in his story that, according to sources, Gronkowski remains content with his decision, but if he wants to return this season he has to decide soon. The deadline for retired players to return during the season and play is November 30. New England will obviously plan ahead without him, but they surely will be hoping for a change of heart.

Here more from around the AFC East:

  • Kicker Nick Folk has meshed into the Patriots locker room well, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Folk already knew the man he replaced, Stephen Gostkowski, and offensive lineman Joe Thuney and Ted Karras. All four had been enrolled in some of the same classes as they worked toward master’s degrees in past offseasons. Folk was signed after Gostkowski suffered a torn labrum in his left hip. Reiss also notes that Folk suffered the same injury in 2009 and could offer Gostkowski valuable insight during his recovery.
  • Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is “taking charge” in the locker room, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. After Darnold’s poor performances against both the Jaguars and Patriots, he has become more assertive in meetings with the coaching staff. Cimini reports that Darnold had previously been very deferential to head coach Adam Gase, but now offers feedback and his own opinion more readily.
  • NFL draft experts and scouts were watching this weeks game between LSU and Alabama closely. The Dolphins sent an especially large contingent, which included two scouts and general manager Chris Grier, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter. Miami has long been tied to Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa through the #Tank4Tua trend. However, even if Miami does have the top pick in the draft, some experts are beginning to place LSU’s quarterback Joe Burrow above Tagovailoa. It appears Miami’s top brass got an up-close look at both players on Saturday.

AFC East Notes: Pats, Gostkowski, Jets, Bell

Mohamed Sanu joined the Patriots in late October, but the veteran receiver believed he was going to land with the organization much earlier. As Jeff Howe of The Athletic writes, the Rutgers product expected to be drafted by New England during the 2012 draft, and he later opted for a lucrative payday from the Falcons when he hit free agency in 2016. Now, during his ninth year in the NFL, he’s finally on the Patriots.

“The draft, free agency, and now it happened – it’s kind of been like a long time coming, like it was almost meant to happen,” Sanu told Jeff Howe of The Athletic.

The 30-year-old also discussed his chances of sticking with New England for his entire career.

“That’d be cool,” Sanu said. “You never know. I just go where everything falls, take it day by day. Whatever happens, happens. I do my part, do my best, be a great teammate and do my part, whenever I can to help this team win…Now that I’m here, it’s time to go to work. I’m very excited.”

Sanu had a standout game for the Patriots during last night’s loss, hauling in 10 receptions for 81 yards and one touchdown.

Let’s check out some more notes from the AFC East…

  • Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski underwent successful hip surgery and was back at the team’s facilities last week. Meanwhile, it was revealed that third-round offensive lineman Yodny Cajuste will likely miss the entire season as he recovers from quadriceps surgery. Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia told reporters (including ESPN’s Mike Reiss) that the rookie would likely have a redshirt season: “That’s probably a pretty good way of approaching or saying it. He’s probably not ready to do anything and probably won’t be until next year. That’s the way I see it.”
  • Elandon Roberts has had to fill in at fullback for the Patriots following injuries to James Develin and Jakob Johnson. However, the linebacker isn’t planning on making a permanent position change; Reiss writes that Roberts is still a “full-time participant in defensive and linebacker meetings.” While the 25-year-old indicated that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win, he views the fullback position as an “extra” priority.
  • Jets running back Le’Veon Bell is set to undergo an MRI on his injured knee, coach Adam Gase told reporters (via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano on Twitter). The coach also acknowledged that he’s uncertain when the veteran suffered the injury, as Bell only reveled the ailment this morning.
  • While Jets cornerback Darryl Roberts has love for “the loyal fans,” he wasn’t too happy with those who criticized the team following their loss to the Dolphins yesterday. You can check out the Instagram rant for yourself thanks to Joseph Staszewski of the New York Post.