Teddy Bridgewater

Jets Rumors: Mayfield, Hackenberg, Teddy

As the Jets prepare to reconvene on Monday for their first day of the offseason program, here’s where their quarterback situation stands — both in terms of veterans and the player they’re eyeing at No. 3.

  • While it’s not certain if Baker Mayfield would win out in a Mayfield-or-Sam Darnold scenario, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes the Oklahoma-developed passer would be Gang Green’s preferred option over Josh Allen. The Jets will be prepared to go with Mayfield’s accuracy — back-to-back seasons with a 71 percent completion rate, albeit in the Sooners’ air raid attack — and his career winning games for the Big 12 school over the Wyoming product with the tantalizing upside. Although, at just 6-foot, Mayfield would be the shortest quarterback the Jets drafted since Jeff Blake in 1992, Cimini writes. Blake did end up having a 14-year career, despite only one of those seasons occurring with the Jets.
  • If the Browns take Allen and the Giants draft Darnold, Cimini expects the Jets to stay with Mayfield if confronted with a Mayfield-or-Josh Rosen decision (Twitter link). While the Jets held a higher opinion of the latter going into the offseason, Mayfield may well have usurped the UCLA product as the draft nears.
  • Lamar Jackson is not under consideration for the Jets at No. 3 overall, per Cimini (on Twitter). While Jackson has met with the Browns, it hasn’t been reported that he visited the Jets, Giants or Broncos. His known meetings have come with the Ravens, Chargers and Saints thus far. And the Patriots have interest in the Louisville standout.
  • Todd Bowles expects Teddy Bridgewater to throw passes this spring, but it’s uncertain how much the recently signed QB will participate in the team portions of these voluntary workouts, Brian Costello of the New York Post notes. The Jets signed Bridgewater to an incentive-laden contract, doing so after the Vikings expressed concern about his knee this offseason. For now, Josh McCown is preparing to start for a second season in green.
  • While both Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty could be on their way out of the Big Apple soon, Costello writes Petty is the likeliest to be given walking papers before camp commences. As for Hackenberg, there remains a contingent at Jets headquarters hoping he can be salvaged to some degree. However, once the new quarterback arrives, the 2016 second-round pick will be the fourth-string quarterback going into camp. The statuses of these incumbent backups could be determined by how Bridgewater looks in camp. Hackenberg has still yet to play in a regular-season game. Petty finished the past two seasons for the Jets, but has led them to one win in seven starts and last season finished with a 49 percent completion rate.

North Notes: Browns, Vikings, Meredith

The Vikings are working on a deal that would bring Terence Newman back to the Twin Cities, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. Newman has expressed a desire to not only return for his age-40 season but do so with the Vikings. However, Tomasson confirms a previous report that money is an issue for a potential re-up. Newman made $3.58MM in 2017. Minnesota reached an agreement to re-sign Marcus Sherels and has Mackensie Alexander back for a third year behind their the team’s starting duo. Newman played in 16 games last season and remained a mid-tier corner in the opinion of Pro Football Focus despite his age.

Here’s the latest from the North divisions as we enter draft month.

  • Connected mostly to Sam Darnold and Josh Allen at No. 1 overall, the Browns are still publicly expressing their interest in the big four quarterbacks at this juncture of the process. But Hue Jackson is “very close” to finalizing a preference to bring to John Dorsey and has said he would like a quarterback whose mobility is relatively in step with Tyrod Taylor‘s, as opposed to a stationary passer. The Baker Mayfield interest is believed to be genuine, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports, adding the Heisman Trophy winner enjoyed a “great” workout with the Browns this week. The team is expected to bring Allen, Darnold, Mayfield and Josh Rosen in for visits before the draft.
  • Darnold-to-Cleveland has been the scenario most discussed around the league at this point, Terry Pluto of cleveland.com writes. While Pluto doesn’t discount the idea of the Browns going in a different direction, he has not heard anything lately connecting the team to Rosen. The UCLA quarterback was not exactly a portrait of enthusiasm about a potential Browns union when that subject surfaced late last year.
  • After the Browns take their quarterback at No. 1, Pluto expects them to select Bradley Chubb at No. 4. The caveat of the N.C. State dynamo being available should obviously be included, but with the Jets expected to take a QB at No. 3 and it making sense for the Giants to do the same at 2, the Browns could have the inside track on selecting the top quarterback and top non-quarterback in the draft. Jackson hasn’t exactly been evasive about envisioning what Chubb would bring to the Browns’ defense.
  • The Vikings still had concerns about Teddy Bridgewater‘s knee after the 2017 regular season, despite the quarterback being activated midway through the year. Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes these concerns affected the team’s approach regarding the former first-round pick this offseason. “The reports I’d get back from the medical people weren’t as positive as I was about it,” Mike Zimmer said. “That’s kind of how it came down is that his knee wasn’t as … he still has some recovery to do. When I watched him in practice he moved well, I didn’t see limitations but from what I’m told there was some.” The Vikings deactivated Bridgewater for both of their playoff games, and his Jets contract is light on guarantees.
  • Having brought in several UFA or RFA wideouts for visits recently, the Ravens may have a favorite among these pass-catchers. Baltimore is believed to be particularly high on Cameron Meredith, Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun reports. Given the low-end tender by the Bears, Meredith joined fellow RFA Willie Snead and UFA Michael Floyd in trekking to Maryland for visits this month. Meredith’s met with the Colts and Saints as well, doing so after missing the entire 2017 season. The 25-year-old former UDFA, though, broke out with 888 receiving yards for the 2016 Bears. The Bears have $27.5MM in cap space compared to the Ravens’ $10.7MM figure, for offer-matching purposes.

AFC Contract Details: Butler, Johnson, Bridgewater

Here are figures on some of the recent contracts signed around the NFL, with all links going to Twitter unless noted otherwise.

Contract Details/Restructures: 3/17/18

Let’s take a look at the most recent new contracts and restructures around the NFL:

New Contracts

  • Allen Robinson, WR (Bears): Three years, $42MM. $25.2MM guaranteed. $6MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle).
  • Teddy Bridgewater, QB (Jets): One year, $6MM. $1MM guaranteed. $9MM available via playtime incentives (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com).
  • Chad Henne, QB (Chiefs): Two years, $6.7MM. $3.1MM signing bonus. Performance incentives and escalators available (Twitter link via Jason Wolf of the Tennessean).

Restructures

  • Cardinals: Created $500K in 2018 cap space by converting S Antoine Bethea‘s roster bouns into a signing bonus (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Vikings: Created $1.15MM in 2018 cap space by reducing RB Latavius Murray‘s base salary from $5.15MM to $3.65M; his roster bonus from $500K to $250K; and his incentives from $2.3MM to $1MM (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com).

Jets To Sign Teddy Bridgewater To One-Year Deal

The Jets will sign free agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a one-year deal, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Bridgewater will earn approximately $5MM on his new pact, tweets Dianna Russini of ESPN.com, while the pact also contains incentives, per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY (Twitter link).

Earlier today, reports indicated that Bridgewater was working on a contract with the Jets, but he apparently had other options on the table. Since then, we’ve learned Gang Green has promised its starting job to fellow quarterback Josh McCown, so Bridgewater will presumably join New York as a backup. McCown, however, isn’t exactly a picture of health, so it won’t be surprising if Bridgewater sees significant playing time.

Bridgewater, of course, comes with significant health question marks of his own. The former first-round pick infamously suffered a gruesome knee injury prior to the 2016 campaign, and while he’s remarkably worked his way back into form, Bridgewater has attempted just two passes since 2015.

The Jets’ quarterback situation is extremely fluid, as they could still use the sixth overall pick on a young signal-caller. If they do, it’s possible Bridgewater is relegated to third-string duty. But if New York goes another direction in the first round, Bridgewater could see playing time as the season progresses, possibly setting himself up for a payday in 2019.

During his two years as the Vikings’ starting quarterback, Bridgewater was competent but not a world-beater. In 28 starts, Bridgewater completed 65% of his passes and averaged 3,075 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. While those are respectable numbers, they’re probably not enough for a club to not pursue an upgrade.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Josh McCown Told He’ll Be Jets Starting QB

The Jets have signed Teddy Bridgewater, but he won’t be their starting quarterback. Calvin Watkins of Newsday.com reports (via Twitter) that Josh McCown has been told he’ll be the starter. The veteran quarterback re-signed with the organization earlier today on a one-year, $10MM deal.

While the Jets may be content with who’s atop their depth chart, the rest of the quarterback corps is not as certain. Bridgewater is on board as a backup, but the organization is also considering some of the top rookie options with the No. 6 pick. To complicate matters, the team is currently rostering Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg (as well as Joel Stave). In other words, this isn’t the last we’ve heard of the Jets quarterback situation.

The 38-year-old McCown had arguably his best NFL season in 2017, leading the Jets to a 5-8 record in 13 starts. He finished the campaign having completed 67.3-percent of his passes for 2,926 yards, 18 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. As our own Zach Links pointed out earlier today, wideouts Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse played well with McCown. This means the veteran will likely be tasked with mentoring a higher-profile young passer than the ones he was previously tasked with tutoring.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets, Teddy Bridgewater Working On Deal

The quarterback market has accelerated rapidly on Tuesday, and the Jets are now talking to their Kirk Cousins contingency plan.

Teddy Bridgewater is working on a deal with the Jets, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). The Jets are not believed to be Bridgewater’s only option, per Rapoport, but he is the team’s top choice at this juncture.

The Jets have been eyeing Bridgewater for a bit now, and with the Broncos, Cardinals and likely Vikings having successfully selected their quarterbacks in the past 15 hours, options for Bridgewater to be a starter are dwindling. The Bills do not have a bridge option as of yet, and A.J. McCarron is still unattached, but New York has had Bridgewater atop its Cousins-failsafe hierarchy.

This coming to fruition would send all three of Minnesota’s 2017 quarterbacks to other teams. Bridgewater, though, has not completed a pass in a game since the 2015 season. He threw two passes last season after entering one Vikings game late, but the severe leg injury has defined the former first-round pick’s career to this point. It figures to significantly lower Bridgewater’s price compared to what it would have been, and given his previous status in Minnesota, Cousins may well not be Twin Cities-bound if Bridgewater didn’t get hurt during the Vikes’ 2016 training camp.

Bridgewater only received one full season of starter work, and it was a workmanlike campaign. The Louisville product threw 14 touchdown passes and nine interceptions but led the Vikings to the NFC North title. He completed 65 percent of his passes that season as well.

The Jets are likely fully committed to landing a quarterback in the first round, putting Bridgewater as their latest bridge option. Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty remain on Gang Green’s roster, but neither has instilled much confidence in the Mike Maccagnan-led franchise as of yet. Hackenberg has not seen any action in two years despite being a second-round pick.

Josh McCown played well as New York’s previous bridge solution, and it was rumored the Jets were considering him for a second tour of mentor duty. But the soon-to-be 39-year-old passer may have to consider other options if he wants to continue playing. McCown was considering retirement prior to the Jets signing him last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Have Teddy Bridgewater As Plan B If They Don’t Land Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins is taking his first visit with the Vikings, and that could spell bad news for the Jets. If the Jets are unable to land their top target, they will turn their attention to Teddy Bridgewater, team sources tell Dianna Russini of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Bridgewater, ranked as the 17th best free agent on our list of this year’s top 50 available players, was hardly seen on the field last season as he returned from a gruesome knee injury. If Bridgewater is indeed signed to be the Jets’ starter, they would be wise to backstop him with another quality option. In theory, that No. 2 QB could be Josh McCown, but the interest level is currently unknown for both sides.

Cousins, for his part, looks to be moving closer to inking a deal with the Vikings. The Jets can theoretically offer more money given their ample cap space, but Minnesota would clearly be able to put a better team around Cousins. Adding Bridgewater, meanwhile, could be a long-term move for Gang Green given that he’s still only 25 years old, but the New York could also use an early-round pick on a signal-caller if it has doubts about Bridgewater’s health.

Bridgewater’s last full season came in 2015, when he threw for 3,231 yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The former first-rounder also ran for 192 yards and three touchdowns on 44 carries. But, thanks that aforementioned knee injury, Bridgewater has attempted only two passes in the last two NFL seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

FA Notes: Smith, Keenum, Irving, Waddle

After being named as a suspect in an alleged domestic violence incident, the Raiders released linebacker Aldon Smith last week. Today, the edge rusher pleaded not guilty at his arraignment, according to TMZ Sports (via Scott Bair NBC Sports Bay Area on Twitter). The 28-year-old is currently facing “misdemeanor counts of domestic violence, assault, false imprisonment and vandalism.”

The former Pro Bowler hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since 2015, when he compiled 28 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and three passes defended in nine games (seven starts) for Oakland. Despite re-signing with the organization in 2016, Smith still hasn’t been reinstated. Smith was originally issued a one-year suspension for a hit-and-run incident in 2015.

Let’s take a look at some other notes pertaining to NFL free agency…

  • Former Vikings starter Case Keenum is pursuing a multi-year, guaranteed deal, reports Mike Jurecki of 98.7FM in Arizona (via Twitter). Meanwhile, former teammate Teddy Bridgewater is reportedly looking for a two-year deal.
  • ESPN’s Todd Archer reports that the Cowboys are likely to place a tender on restricted free agent David Irving tomorrow. The front office is still deciding whether they should slap the defensive tackle with a first- or second-round tender, which is the difference of about $1.2MM. Despite playing in only eight games, the 24-year-old arguably had his best NFL season in 2017, compiling 22 tackles and seven sacks. Irving missed eight games due to suspension and a concussion.
  • It’s unlikely the Patriots and offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle agree to a deal before Wednesday, reports NESN’s Doug Kyed (via Twitter). The 26-year-old is likely to test free agency following a 2017 campaign that saw him play in 12 games (four starts). While the lineman played 380 snaps, Pro Football Focus ranked him 64th among 81 eligible offensive tackle candidates.
  • CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora tweets that the Chiefs, Buccaneers, Colts, Broncos, and Redskins are among the teams looking to add a defensive tackle. The reporter lists free agents Dontari Poe, Star Lotulelei, and Sheldon Richardson as potential targets.

PFR’s Top 50 NFL Free Agents For 2018 1.0

There will be tons of free agents available in March, but only a some of them can be real difference makers for your favorite team. To help separate the wheat from the chaff, we’ve assembled our early list of the Top 50 NFL Free Agents for 2018.

Our early version of the NFL’s top 50 free agents may include players who will be re-signed between now and March 14. When we update this list next week, a few of the big names will be spoken for while new high-profile names will join the fray as veterans become cap casualties.

Recently, we broke down the top free agents by position on both offense and defense, but our rankings below may not have each player listed in the same order. Those position lists took the short-term value of a player into account more heavily, meaning many players in their 30s received prominent placement. Our overall top 50 list favors longer-term value, and is more about forecasting which players will be in highest demand when it comes to years and dollars.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s dive in! Here are Pro Football Rumors’ top 50 NFL free agents for 2018:

1. Kirk Cousins, QB (Redskins): At long last, Kirk Cousins is headed towards unrestricted free agency. You may or may not regard Cousins as a star, but he is the best quarterback in recent history to reach the open market and QB-needy teams will be rolling out the red carpet for him. The Jets, Vikings, Broncos, and Cardinals have been named as the top suitors for his services, but the NFL is full of surprises this time of year and we would not be surprised to see other teams get involved. The cash-flush Browns are reportedly keen on signing a lower-cost vet and drafting a QB early, but who’s to say they won’t change course and get in on the Cousins sweepstakes? The Bills, Giants, Dolphins, Bucs, and Colts could also consider kicking the tires here, but there are obstacles in that bunch ranging from established starters already in place (Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston, and Andrew Luck) to financial constraints. No matter where he goes, it’s almost certain that Cousins will become the league’s highest-paid player of all-time. That is, until another top-tier QB signs a contract extension soon after.

2. Drew Brees (Saints): There are multiple possibilities for Cousins but it’s hard to see a scenario in which Brees actually leaves the Saints. Brees has already said that he does not plan on testing free agency, so he’ll likely put pen to paper before things begin on March 14. As far as we can tell, the only way Brees will think about leaving is if he is lowballed to an extreme degree by the Saints, but that seems improbable based on his history with the team

3. Case Keenum (Vikings): One year ago, no one ever would have expected Keenum to be one of 2018’s most sought-after free agents. The Vikings signed the former Rams signal caller to a one-year, $2MM deal in March with the idea that he would back up Sam Bradford and, eventually slide down to third on the depth chart when/if Teddy Bridgewater returned to full health. When Bradford went down in September, Keenum exceeded all expectations and put together the best season of his career. The 30-year-old graded out as Pro Football Focus’ ninth-ranked QB in 2017, putting him above the likes of Jimmy Garoppolo, Aaron Rodgers, Marcus Mariota, Matthew Stafford, and Tyrod Taylor. With Keenum at the helm, the Vikings earned a first-round bye and beat the Saints in a playoff thriller before succumbing to the Eagles in the NFC championship game. Of course, after four seasons of mediocrity, teams are wondering whether this was an aberration or a real sign of things to come. Teams know that Keenum is not a lock, but he’s also the best Plan B for any team that loses out on Cousins or doesn’t have the means to sign him.

4. Andrew Norwell, G (Panthers): There was a time when tackles were the only offensive linemen to really cash in on the open market. That’s no longer the case, as evidenced by the contracts of Kevin Zeitler (five years, $60MM) and Kelechi Osemele (five years, $58.5MM). Osemele inked his free agent deal with the Raiders in 2016 and Zeitler signed his in the 2017 offseason. Given the cap increase and the natural progression of the market, Norwell figures to reset the market for interior linemen. Keenum figures to gross no less than $20MM/year on his next contract, so he’s slotted behind him, but an average annual value of $13-14MM is not out of the question for the former undrafted free agent.

5. Nate Solder, OT (Patriots): Solder isn’t coming off of his best season and he might be the least sexy name in the top ten. Still, there’s a dearth of tackles league-wide and Solder has been among the league’s best at his position for quite some time. The Patriots are bracing for Solder to leave as they fear he’ll garner offers of $12MM/year. No other tackle in this year’s free agent crop is even close to him in terms of ability, so we’re also buying into the hype. Injuries contributed to Solder’s up-and-down season, particularly early on, so teams will take that into account when evaluating him.

6. Allen Robinson, WR (Jaguars): The Jaguars opted against using the franchise tag on Robinson, which is understandable since they have limited cap space. Robinson missed almost all of 2017 with an ACL tear, but his 2015 season (and even his so-so 2016 campaign) gives teams reason to believe that he can be a quality WR1. Robinson is one of only two such players on the unrestricted market, so expect him to get paid. Robinson probably couldn’t do worse than Kenny Britt‘s four-year, $32MM deal with the Browns from last season (and he should do a whole lot better), but if he is underwhelmed by the multi-year offers he receives, he could always go the Alshon Jeffery route. Jeffery inked a one-year, $9.5MM prove-it deal with the Eagles and that turned out to be a smashing success for both parties. Jeffery was rewarded with a four-year, $52MM extension in December, so Robinson’s camp will surely be open to a pillow contract if necessary. 

7. Sammy Watkins, WR (Rams): Some may view Robinson and Watkins as 1A and 1B in this year’s wide receiver class, particularly since Robinson missed all of 2017 and Watkins, despite his own injury history, played in all but one of the Rams’ games. Unfortunately, Watkins did not have the platform year he was hoping for as he caught just 39 passes for 593 yards. If we strike Robinson’s lost year and Watkins’ down year from the record, the breakdown favors the Jags receiver – Robinson averaged 77 receptions for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns per 16 games in that set versus Watkins’ 66 grabs for 1,063 yards and seven scores. These two should come pretty close in average annual value, but we give the edge to Robinson.

8. Trumaine Johnson, CB (Rams): Players often bemoan the franchise tag, but Johnson can’t really complain after receiving two consecutive tags from the Rams and earning more than $30MM between 2016 and 2017. The Rams, rightfully, did not consider a third consecutive tag for Johnson at a cost of ~$20MM and they already have his replacement in Marcus Peters. That’s one suitor down, but plenty of other teams will be eager to speak with Johnson, who profiles as the best cornerback in a deep class.

9. Sheldon Richardson, DT (Seahawks): Richardson gave the Jets lots of headaches, but he also gave them high-end production. He didn’t quite match that production in Seattle, but Richardson is positioned for a massive payday anyway since impactful defensive linemen are at a premium. Our own Dallas Robinson estimates that Richardson will garner about $9MM/year, but I would say that is his floor. The top-end of free agency rarely yields team-friendly deals, so Richardson could easily creep into eight figures in AAV, particularly since he does not turn 28 until November.

10. Dontari Poe, DT (Falcons): Poe thought he was in for a monster contract last offseason, but concerns about his lingering back issues forced him to take a one-year, $8MM deal with Atlanta. Teams may still worry about his back being a ticking time bomb, but perhaps they’ll view him in a different light now that he has played back-to-back 16 game seasons and has only missed two regular season contests over the course of his career.

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