Taylor Bertolet

Extra Points: Bieniemy, Giants, Panthers

Although the Giants are just one game back of the NFC East lead, they are 1-5 and appear on the verge of their fourth straight double-digit loss season. GM Dave Gettleman has presided over the previous two 10-plus-loss campaigns, and some around the league have tabbed the Giants GM job as a potential opening ahead of the 2021 offseason, Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com note. The Panthers‘ GM spot has also surfaced around the NFL as one to monitor. Marty Hurney, in place long before Matt Rhule‘s arrival, has been rumored as a potential chopping-block candidate because of Rhule’s overhaul and seven-year contract. Hurney’s contract runs through 2020. Gettleman made his way back to New York shortly after his Carolina ouster, but his rebuild has not taken off. The Giants have never lost double-digit games in four straight seasons.

Here is the latest from around the league:

  • Sticking with staffs, the Texans are indeed expected to strongly consider Eric BieniemyDeshaun Watson has advocated for Patrick Mahomes‘ OC, and Graziano and Fowler note the Texans “definitely” have interest in the Chiefs assistant. The Chiefs are prepared to lose Bieniemy this offseason, which would mark the third time they have lost an OC since 2016. Houston is believed to be seeking a quarterback guru and will have Josh McDaniels (again) and Bills OC Brian Daboll on its target list as well.
  • The Bears may not need to make it back to the playoffs for their current power brokers to stay in place. Both Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace are believed to be on track to stick around for 2021, per Fowler and Graziano. Chicago’s 5-1 start has come with just a plus-12 point differential, and the team benched Pace’s handpicked quarterback early in the season. Despite Mitchell Trubisky‘s struggles and current backup status, Pace is currently believed to be safe to receive a seventh year as GM.
  • It does not sound like the Chargers are expecting to have Austin Ekeler back anytime soon. The Bolts’ starting running back is battling what Anthony Lynn calls a “very serious” hamstring injury that has him set to be sidelined for the foreseeable future, Daniel Popper of The Athletic tweets. Given a four-year, $24MM extension this offseason, Ekeler went down in Week 4. The Bolts have been without many key players on offense since turning to Justin Herbert in Week 2.
  • Adoree’ Jackson returned to Titans practice Wednesday. The team designated the former first-round cornerback as an IR-return player, making him eligible to face the Steelers in Week 7 — if the team activates him by Saturday afternoon. Jackson landed on IR before Week 1 with a knee injury.
  • The Panthers placed Joey Slye on their reserve/COVID-19 list and brought in kickers for workouts this week. Carolina has auditioned Casey Bednarski (Minnesota State), Taylor Bertolet and Austin Parker (Duke), per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Bednarski began his coronavirus testing with the team Tuesday, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. None of these kickers has NFL experience. Slye has not tested positive but came in contact with someone who had, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes. The Panthers do not have a kicker on their practice squad, but Slye has not been at the team’s facility since Sunday and could still kick in Week 7.
  • The Dolphins conducted an interesting workout Wednesday. They brought in former Seahawks second-round pick Malik McDowell for an audition, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The 2017 draftee has not played an NFL down, with an ATV accident and subsequent legal troubles harpooning his career. The former Michigan State defensive lineman recently spent time in prison after a bevy of charges stemming from a 2019 arrest.

Sunday NFL Transactions: AFC East

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four AFC East teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Bills, Dolphins, Jets and Patriots are noted below.

Additionally, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads today. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s AFC East transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New York Jets 

* = International Pathway Program player

Jets Claim Kicker Kaare Vedvik

This has been quite the weekend for the Jets. On Sunday, they piled up even more transactions by claiming four players off waivers:

  • K Kaare Vedvik (Vikings)
  • WR Braxton Berrios (Patriots)
  • DE John Franklin, (Bears)
  • DB Bennett Jackson (Ravens)

The Vikings traded a fifth-round pick to acquire kicker/punter Kaare Vedvik just a few weeks ago, but dumped him on Saturday. The Jets, meanwhile, have been looking hard for kicking solutions and they appear to have found their guy with days to go before the season opener. To make room, they cut kicker Taylor Bertolet.

The Jets, naturally, will have to release more players to conform with the 53-man maximum.

Jets Audition K Cody Parkey

With Jets kicker Taylor Bertolet struggling during the preseason finale, the team is apparently eyeing some alternative options. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweets that the Jets auditioned a pair of kickers today: Cody Parkey and Younghoe Koo.

Veteran Chandler Catanzaro, retired earlier this month, forcing the Jets to sign a kicker. After auditioning several veterans, the team landed on Bertolet, who was with the Jets last summer. The 26-year-old was shaky throughout the preseason; he missed a pair of extra points during the second game, was perfect in the third, and then missed three field goals during the finale.

Bertolet has shown that he can absolutely boot the ball, but accuracy has continued to be an issue. Still, the kicker is confident in his abilities.

“I’ve been that guy who goes out and makes long kicks,” Bertolet told Andy Vasquez of NorthJersey.com. “And that part of the reason why I think our coaching staff had confidence to put me out there. … It’s usually the kicks that I make, and I’m looking forward to correcting that.”

We haven’t heard from Parkey since he was released by the Bears back in February. The 27-year-old missed a potential game winner against the Eagles in the opening round of the playoffs, putting him on thin ice. He later made an appearance on NBC’s Today show that rubbed head coach Matt Nagy the wrong way. The veteran struggled during the 2018 regular season, connecting on only 76.7-percent of his field goal attempts.

Koo, 25, appeared in four games for the Chargers in 2017, connecting on three of his six field goal attempts and all nine of his extra point tries. He spent last season playing in the Alliance of American Football.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Dolphins, Rosen, Bills

The Jets‘ talent search is underway, as ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini writes. GM Joe Douglas and his staff have been studying preseason tape from around the NFL and Cimini expects Gang Green to take advantage of having No. 3 waiver priority this weekend.

Their key needs, at this point, have been well documented – The Jets badly need help at cornerback and outside linebacker. However, they could also target wide receivers, kickers, kickoff/punt returners, and tackles with experience to provide depth up front.

While the Jets continue to do their homework, here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Speaking of the Jets‘ kicking situation, Zach Braziller of the New York Post notes some good news for Taylor Bertolet. With his conversions from 48 and 56 yards out on Saturday night, the kicker just might have saved his job. It was a big game for the 26-year-old, who missed two extra point tries in the previous game against the Falcons.
  • Dolphins head coach Brian Flores says the quarterback competition between Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick remains open (Twitter link via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald). Fitzpatrick and Rosen traded off starts in the first three games of the preseason, with each player having their moments.
  • Bills head coach Sean McDermott says wide receiver Robert Foster has been working through a toe injury that he suffered in the spring (Twitter link via Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic). So far, Foster has looked sharp in practice, so he’s still likely to make the roster.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Gase, Bills

The Jets have been widely planned for their lack of improvement at the cornerback position, but head coach Adam Gase doesn’t agree with the critics and doesn’t feel the need to upgrade before the season starts (via PFT).

I guess I don’t look at it like that,” Gase said. “I look at it as Trumaine [Johnson] is down right now, this is a great opportunity for a lot of guys. Like somebody has a chance to step up and make a name for themselves. Somebody has a chance to get in with that first defense, go against our wide receivers, go against our offense and Sam [Darnold] and those guys and see if a guy can play at that high level. I mean it’s a great opportunity.”

To recap: Johnson is week-to-week with a hamstring injury, and so is undrafted rookie Kyron Brown. At present, Darryl Roberts, Arthur Maulet, and Brian Poole represent the Jets’ three best healthy cornerbacks. Gase might not view it as a thin unit, but this week, safety Jamal Adams was moved to volunteer himself to play CB.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • More roster insight Gase – The Jets do not plan to add a second kicker to compete with Taylor Bertolet, who was signed this week after Chandler Catanzaro retired (via the NY Daily News).
  • Before the Bills signed defensive end Sam Acho, they also worked out former Saints second-round outside linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Kikaha, the 44th overall selection in the 2015 draft, has been beset by injuries and ineffectiveness throughout his career. After playing on 62% of the Saints’ snaps during his rookie campaign, Kikaha missed the 2016 season with a torn ACL (the third of his football career) and subsequently saw action on only 209 defensive snaps the following year. New Orleans shopped Kikaha ahead of the 2017 trade deadline, and waived him during final cutdowns. Last year, he worked out for a number of clubs, but did not land a deal.
  • The Dolphins have inquired on Redskins tackle Trent Williams.

Jets K Chandler Catanzaro Retires

Jets K Chandler Catanzaro, 28, has retired, according to a team announcement. To take his place on the roster, the club has signed K Taylor Bertolet.

Catanzaro’s job was clearly in jeopardy after he missed a pair of extra points in the Jets’ preseason opener. It was reported yesterday that New York would be bringing in kickers Blair Walsh and Chris Blewitt for tryouts, and the Jets are said to still be interested in Ravens’ kicker Kaare Vedvik, who also caught their eye last summer.

In addition to his difficulties in the first preseason game, Catanzaro had apparently struggled in camp as well. Perhaps he saw the writing on the wall and elected to leave the game on his terms rather than being cut.

Catanzaro, a Clemson product, signed with the Cardinals as a UDFA in 2014 and won Arizona’s kicking competition that year. His first two seasons in the league were quite promising, as he nailed 87.9% of his kicks in his rookie campaign and 90.3% in 2015. But his success rate dipped to 75% in 2016, and he signed with the Jets in March 2017. He experienced something of a bounceback in his first stint with Gang Green, converting 83.3% of his kicks and all of his PATs, and he signed a three-year deal with the Buccaneers last offseason. Tampa Bay released him after he missed two field goals in a loss to the Redskins last November — he ultimately made just 73.3% of his kicks with the Bucs — and he caught on with the Panthers for the last few games of the season.

The Jets saw Jason Myers turn in a Pro Bowl effort last year, but they lost Myers to free agency in March and hoped that Catanzaro would be an adequate replacement. Obviously, that did not turn out to be the case, though as Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweets, the Jets could at least recoup Catanzaro’s $500K signing bonus if they so choose.

Bertolet was with the Jets last summer and performed well, but he has no regular season experience.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Waive K Taylor Bertolet

The Broncos have ended their kicking competition, while starting a new battle at punter. On Tuesday, the Broncos waived kicker Taylor Bertolet and signed punter Justin Vogel

This effectively means that Brandon McManus will be the Broncos’ starting kicker this year. A cursory look at McManus’ stats shows a so-so 80% field goal conversion rate last year, but all five of his misses came from 50 yards or more. Within reasonable range, McManus was a perfect 18-18 and nailed all of his extra point tries.

Vogel, meanwhile, will duke it out with Colby Wadman for the punting gig. Wadman, a rising NFL sophomore, averaged 44.7 yards per punt in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/29/19

Here are Monday’s minor moves:

Cleveland Browns 

  • Waived: C Kyle Friend

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Waived: C Tejan Koroma

Los Angeles Rams

  • Signed: OL Jeremiah Kolone

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Colts To Work Out Kickers

Kai Forbath, Cairo Santos, and Taylor Bertolet are among the kickers working out for the Colts on Tuesday, sources tell Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). One of these players may wind up filling in for Adam Vinatieri as he recovers from a groin issue.

Vinatieri’s status for Sunday’s game is murky, so the Colts want to have a kicker at the ready in case he is unable to suit up. After Vinatieri missed two extra point tries against the Bills – something he hadn’t done before in his 23-year career – the Colts probably don’t want to trot him out there if he’s still hurt.

We just know he felt a little something on the first PAT, so we are just going to see how the week progresses,” head coach Frank Reich said this week (via Michael Marot of The Associated Press). “We’re going to bring in some kickers, just so you guys know, but we are not going to make any decisions until later.”

Forbath and Santos offer extensive NFL experience, while the 25-year-old Bertolet is still waiting for his first kick in a real NFL game.