Todd Bowles

AFC East Rumors: Dolphins, Jets, Glenn

The Dolphins have invested heavily at wide receiver in recent years, selecting Jarvis Landry in the 2014 second round and DeVante Parker in the 2015 first before authorizing a higher-end contract to re-sign Kenny Stills. But at least some within the organization are missing a former lower-level investment, with Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reporting (on Twitter) a common lament among the Dolphins is they wish they’d retained Rishard Matthews — a UFA in 2016. Now an integral component on the Titans, Matthews did not require much to sign. As players like Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Travis Benjamin required at least $6MM per year to sign in 2016, with Jones costing the Lions $8MM annually, Matthews signed a three-year, $15MM deal in Tennessee. (Stills signed for $8MM AAV in 2017.)

A 2012 seventh-round pick, Matthews easily established a new career high with 945 receiving yards last season and is on pace to top that this year, exiting Week 11 with 626. He averaged more than 15 yards per reception in his final year with the Dolphins and is sitting on 15.3 through 10 2017 Titans games. No Dolphin has 500 air yards this season. Stills has 408 through nine games, while Parker’s at 378.

Here’s the latest out of the AFC East.

  • Cordy Glenn will miss Sunday’s Bills-Chargers game with what the team is calling a foot/ankle malady. Glenn has run into rampant injury trouble since signing an extension in 2016. Sunday will mark his fourth missed game of this season. He missed five in 2016 after being absent for none the previous three seasons. Dion Dawkins filled in for Glenn the last time he couldn’t go because of an ankle problem, one that’s dogged him for the past two seasons. Glenn has three seasons remaining on his five-year, $60MM contract authorized by the Doug Whaley regime.
  • Speaking of the Bills, their handling of Tyrod Taylor could make the 2018 draft more complicated. The Bills, who are starting fifth-round rookie Nathan Peterman in his place, figure to be in the hunt for a franchise passer in Round 1, and Andy Vasquez of NorthJersey.com writes that will make the Jets‘ search for one more complex. The new Buffalo regime took over after the draft, so Peterman did not arrive on their watch. That would point to the Bills, who almost certainly will be moving on from Taylor after this season, thoroughly examining the 2018 quarterback prospects. Vasquez adds Taylor could be a Jets option as well. There was interest from Gang Green in the now-28-year-old passer had the Bills not reworked his contract this offseason.
  • The Jets could also be in the market for a new head coach despite Todd Bowles‘ unexpected success with this bare-bones roster thus far, with Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News writing the third-year Jets coach is not secure for 2018. Bowles was viewed as a hot-seat candidate entering this season, one that came after an offseason purge of veterans from the roster, but the Jets sitting at 4-6 when many viewed four wins as a ceiling for the season may put Mike Maccagnan to a decision. Mehta argues it’s hard to judge Bowles based on the talent available presently. He’s 19-23 as Jets coach in just more than 2 1/2 seasons.

AFC Notes: Kizer, Jackson, Bowles, Whitehead, Jags, Grissom

The Browns are in the midst of another season in the cellar of the league and while the 49ers are also winless, the teams’ quarterback situations have Cleveland looking like a much less hopeful franchise moving forward. The Browns struggles in finding a franchise quarterback have been been well documented over the years, but despite a botched midseason trade for A.J. McCarron, head coach Hue Jackson still believes that current rookie starter DeShone Kizer has the ability to end the team’s long QB issues, reports Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.

“I think this guy is going to be a really good player in time, but there’s work to be done,” Jackson said. “We all want the instant success, but it’s going to take a little bit of time because I think it’s not just him. I think the whole offensive team has to do their part, too. But does he have to play better? Yes, he does.

Ulrich relays that while Jackson did push for the McCarron trade, it was was a move that the head coach wanted to make in order to help better his team in the short-term, full knowing that Kizer still had a lot of development to do this season.

“My job as a head coach is to always push for better talent on this football team,” “You’re talking about a young player in the National Football League who has had [seven] starts, compared to other players who have either played for me or players that I have seen that have done it week in and week out. I don’t think that’s a knock on DeShone.”

  • Sticking with the Browns quarterback situation, Mark Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com explained the team’s potential interest in some veteran signal callers this offseason in a video posted to the website. Cabot didn’t shoot down the notion that the Browns could conceivably after names such as Eli Manning, Kirk Cousins and Alex Smith, which would be a major upgrade over what the franchise has this season. The reporter even threw out Andrew Luck as being a potential target if the Colts were to make him available if they have interest in a QB prospect at the top of the draft. She does also note that the team could look at taking another signal caller high in the 2018 NFL Draft. There will be many quarterback options available, but it’s looking likely that the Browns may have a few new faces on the QB depth chart by the time their 2018 training camp begins.
  • While the Browns have performed close to their already low expectations, the Jets have been one of the bigger surprises in the NFL thus far. After seemingly starting the year trying to tank, the Jets are right in the thick of the AFC wild card race after beating the Bills last week for their fourth victory of the season, which has Ralph Vacchiano of theJetsBlog already saying that head coach Todd Bowles has proven that he’s the man to lead this team into the future. Vacchiano argues that although the Jets are just sniffing the playoff hunt, this season was never really about winning, but instead proving to the front office that he is the right head coach for the years to come. He notes that Bowles has the team playing loose and free after a tumultuous 2016 season. The third-year head coach has one more year left on his current deal, but Vacchiano states that he thinks the Jets should invest longer than even 2018 given the way the team has overachieved over the first nine weeks. There is still lots of games to be played and the Jets schedule does get tougher from here, but there is no doubt that the team is playing harder and better even with so many unproven players all over the roster.
  • The Jets will have to shake up special teams return unit for this Sunday’s game with wide receiver Jeremy Kerley suspended. To potentially remedy this, the team will bring in veteran return man Lucky Whitehead in for a visit on Saturday, according to Howard Balzer of Sports on Earth (Twitter link). Whitehead, 25, fielded 25 punt returns for Dallas last season and would make for an easy slot-in given his experience level with returning in his third year in the league.
  • The Jaguars have three starting lineman listed as questionable for Sunday’s affair vs. the Chargers, according to the team’s website. Guards Patrick Omameh and A.J. Cann, along with tackle Jermey Parnell are uncertain to play, which would make it much more difficult for the team to establish a ground game even with Leonard Fournette likely returning after missing the team’s last two games with an injury and suspension due to team rules. Jacksonville has five reserve offensive lineman on the roster, so depth is not a huge issue even if the offense is missing 3/5th’s of its normal group up front.
  • Recently released Patriots defensive end/special teamer Geneo Grissom has cleared waivers, tweets Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Grissom was removed from the active roster to make room for new signee Martellus Bennett, who made some interesting comments today with how he perceived the Packers medical staff misguiding him with his injury. Meanwhile, Reiss notes that New England can now bring Grissom back to the practice squad if they so choose.

Jets Notes: Kerley, Henderson, Darnold

We learned earlier this week that former Jets linebacker Erin Henderson was suing the organization, with the player citing “wrongful termination and disability discrimination” stemming from his placement on the NFI list. Yesterday, coach Todd Bowles responded to the news, saying that he doesn’t regret cutting the veteran.

“No, not that I know,” Bowles said when asked if he’d do it differently (via Alex Squadron of the New York Post). “It’s a personal matter, and I think the team is taking care of it. I have no regrets.”

Henderson, who is seeking $3.3MM in compensatory damages in addition to punitive damages, says he wasn’t hurt when the Jets placed him on the non-football injury list. The organization previously said that the linebacker “was not fit” to play in the NFL, although Bowles wouldn’t elaborate on that sentiment yesterday.

“I am not going to get into that,” Bowles said. “It was just our decision that we came to. … I’ll let the legal system take care of everything else.”

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

  • When asked how many “foundational players” were currently on the Jets roster, ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini (on Twitter) named five: defensive end Leonard Williams, safety Jamal Adams, safety Marcus Maye, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (who he accompanies with a “maybe” tag), and linebacker Darron Lee.
  • Following his return to the Jets, Jeremy Kerley was relieved to learn that “nothing changed,” the wideout told Darryl Slater of NJ.com. “Picking up the offense was fairly easy,” the 28-year-old said. “Todd [Bowles] is still here. Some of the guys I know are still here. Back in the area that I know well. It just seems like nothing really changed, man. Everything just feels normal now. San Francisco, I loved it out there. Beautiful. San Fran is home, too. Don’t get me wrong. San Fran is my second home. But here is where I started at. It’s where the dream started.” In two games this season, Kerley has eight receptions for 56 yards.
  • The Jets were “credentialed” to have three representatives, including general manager Mike Maccagnan, at yesterday’s USC vs. Washington State matchup, reports ESPN.com’s Kyle Bonagura. The team was presumably attending the game to get a first-hand look at Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold, who WalterFootball.com currently has going first-overall in their 2018 mock draft. The prospect wasn’t particularly impressive during his team’s loss, completing 15 of his 29 pass attempts for 164 yards and one interception (he also lost a key fumble in the fourth quarter).

AFC East Notes: Fins, Anthony, Timmons, Jets

The Dolphins discussed acquiring linebacker Stephone Anthony from the Saints even before the club suspended veteran Lawrence Timmons, head coach Adam Gase told reporters, including Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). That’s not entirely surprising, given that Miami had been short on linebackers even before the Timmons saga began. Rookie Raekwon McMillan, pegged to start at middle linebacker for the Dolphins, tore his ACL before the season began, so adding a former first-round talent such as Anthony for the cost of a fifth-round pick makes some sense.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • While Timmons is suspended indefinitely, it’s not out of the question that he returns to the Dolphins at some point, as Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes. Expected to be an integral part of Miami’s defense after agreeing to a two-year contract this spring, Timmons would likely ingratiate himself to teammates with an apology, opines Salguero. “I think every situation is different,” Gase said of Timmons. “And I would say you can be forgiven if the right steps are taken.”
  • Despite a seemingly gaping hole at left guard, the Dolphins did not express interest in Alex Boone after he was released by the Vikings earlier this month, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Instead, Miami is content to rotate Anthony Steen and Jesse Davis on the interior, with Steen handling roughly two-thirds of the club’s offensive snaps. Boone went on to sign a one-year, $1.4MM deal with the Cardinals.
  • New Jets owner Christopher Johnson says his brother — newly sworn-in UK ambassador Woody Johnson — will have no role with the club while serving in his new capacity, tweets Mike Garafolo of NFL.com. Meanwhile, Christopher Johnson also indicated New York is “definitely” not tanking, and that general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles won’t be based on wins and losses alone, per Darryl Slater of NJ.com. Instead, the Jets’ decision-makers will be judged on the team’s gradual improvement and development.
  • Based on early-season performance, the Jets‘ decision to part with veterans such as Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis, Ryan Clady, and Brandon Marshall has turned out well, opines Brian Costello of the New York Post. Mangold and Revis have yet to land a contract, Clady is retired, and Marshall hasn’t performed through two games with the Giants.

AFC Notes: A. Smith, Orr, Watson, Landry

It was former Chiefs GM John Dorsey who ultimately pulled the trigger on the team’s draft-day trade that allowed Kansas City to climb all the way up to the No. 10 overall spot and draft quarterback Patrick Mahomes. But now that Dorsey is out and Brett Veach is in, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report says it is fair to question what the new hire means for incumbent signal-caller Alex Smith.

But according to Miller, not much will change with respect to the team’s approach to Smith. After all, Veach has been with the Chiefs for the past four years, so it’s not as if he’s coming to Kansas City with a fresh take on the situation. Plus, Miller’s league sources all said effectively the same thing: “nothing changes in Kansas City while Andy Reid is the head coach.” As such, you can still expect the team to move on from Smith after the 2017 season — and save $17MM in the process — as long as Mahomes appears ready to assume control.

Now for more from the AFC:

  • Kevin Bowen of Colts.com says all is quiet on the Colts/Zach Orr front, and at this point, the team has had plenty of time to sift through Orr’s medicals. Therefore, Bowen does not believe Indianapolis will pursue Orr in an attempt to bolster its linebacker corps.
  • Although Texans GM Rick Smith was not as definitive as head coach Bill O’Brien in declaring Tom Savage the team’s Week 1 starter, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle confirms that Savage will be under center when the regular season gets underway. Rookie signal-caller Deshaun Watson, meanwhile, is content to remain patient and wait for his opportunity. Watson said, “It’s best for the team. Coach [O’Brien] knows a lot of football. He’s been with … one of the best in NFL history in Tom Brady. He knows how everything is operated. He knows when the perfect timing will be.”
  • Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant recently said he took issue with the way Ben Roethlisberger spoke about him to the media earlier this summer, when Big Ben said Bryant would need to “win back everybody’s trust.” That might sound pretty rich for a player who managed to get himself suspended for the entire 2016 campaign, but Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com nonetheless believes that it is important for Bryant and Roethlisberger to have the sit-down that Bryant proposed. Although such meetings are often unbeneficial formalities, Fowler says Bryant, whose position in the league is fairly tenuous at this point, needs to feel like the catalyst he can be and not become a source of criticism.
  • The Dolphins‘ best bet may be to simply let Jarvis Landry play out the 2017 season, his contract year, and put the franchise tag on him in 2018, as Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders opines. After all, Landry is set to make less than $1MM this year, so even the projected $17MM tag in 2018 would allow Miami to keep Landry for at least two more seasons at about $8.5MM per year, which is well below the $14MM per year he would likely get with a new contract. Although that approach could create some discord between player and team, it does make short-term financial sense.
  • Darryl Slater of NJ.com makes a series of predictions for the Jets, with the most interesting being that he expects Christian Hackenberg to become the team’s starting quarterback no later than Week 12 (New York has a Week 11 bye), and that he expects Todd Bowles to be retained for 2018.

Jets Notes: Bowles, Martin, Skrine, UDFAs

Some fringe NFL players have difficulties finding a job after their NFL career has seemingly come to an end. However, Jets placekicker Ross Martin seems to have it all figured out. The former undrafted free agent out of Duke already has a job lined up at IBM if/when his football opportunities have dried up.

“Throughout my senior year, my first and foremost passion was to make it to the NFL, but I also wanted to have a contingency plan,” Martin told Ethan Greenberg of NewYorkJets.com. “I did a couple interviews with a couple different firms and ended up getting the offer from IBM with a start date in October last year. I went the whole course with the Jets through the preseason and everything. I got cut and started working for IBM in October of last year all the way up through April.”

Martin is hoping for a different outcome this time around. The 23-year-old is competing with Chandler Catanzaro in what special teams coordinator Brant Boyer described as a “wide open kicking competition.”

Let’s check out some more notes out of the Jets organization…

  • In the unlikely event that Jets coach Todd Bowles loses his job, Darryl Slater of NJ.com believes that general manager Mike Maccagnan should have a major say in hiring the team’s replacement. Bowles and Maccagnan were hired together before the 2015 season, and it’s clear that owner Woody Johnson is still running the show. However, considering the organization’s wish to rebuild next season, it seems unlikely that the team wouldn’t consider bringing Bowles back for the 2018 campaign.
  • Looking at holdovers from last season’s team, Slater makes it clear that Jets veteran running back Matt Forte will not get cut. Considering Lorenzo Mauldin‘s legal issues, the writer can envision the team moving on from the linebacker. The writer also points to cornerback Buster Skrine, who he assumes will be gone next offseason, anyway. Cutting the veteran defensive back would create nearly $6MM in cap space, which the Jets could carry over into next offseason.
  • Among all of the Jets’ undrafted free agents, Connor Hughes of NJ.com believes offensive lineman Chris Bordelon has the best chance of making the 53-man roster. While the Jets starting offensive line is seemingly set, the Nicholls State product could catch on as a reserve. The writer also lists wideouts K.D. Cannon and Gabe Marks, fullback Anthony Firkser, cornerback Xavier Coleman, and linebacker Connor Harris as potential candidates to make the team.
  • In case you missed it, free agent linebacker Zach Orr is set to meet with the Jets today.

Extra Points: Jets, Kap, OBJ, Megatron

The Jets moved on from linebacker David Harris and wide receiver Eric Decker solely for financial reasons, reports Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Jets owner Woody Johnson, realizing that the team wasn’t going to compete this year even with Harris and Decker, decided it would make more sense to save $13.75MM than spend it on the two veterans. Committing to a rebuild is a commendable approach, writes Mehta, though he questions the way the Jets handled the Harris situation. Jets bigwigs assured Harris back in March that he’d return to the team for an 11th year, but they then approached him about a pay cut 72 hours before releasing him, per Mehta. Johnson’s desire to save money drove that decision, and Harris is now looking for work at a time when free agency has died down. Harris’ agents complained Tuesday that the Jets didn’t just release the defender over the winter, as doing so probably would’ve led to a stronger market for his services.

As for two of Johnson’s highest-ranking employees, general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles, they should be in line to return in 2018 if the rebuilding club’s young players progress this year, writes Mehta. But Brian Costello of the New York Post passes along somewhat different information, relaying that Maccagnan will probably stay on but that “Bowles is viewed as a goner by nearly everyone.” Talent-wise, the deck is stacked against Bowles as he enters his third season with the Jets and the penultimate year of his contract. “They have the worst roster in the league and it’s not close,” one executive told Costello. Harris’ release added another hole to the roster, and his exit hit Bowles “hard,” according to Costello.

  • Colin Kaepernick‘s inability to find a job as a backup quarterback continues to be a popular topic, and one of his friends, Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin, weighed in on the matter after Seattle signed Austin Davis instead of Kaepernick. “The organizations, they’re going to be giving the younger guys the first and second look. They know what Colin can do,” Baldwin told the Associated Press on Tuesday. “They know he’s a starter in this league. They’re going to give every opportunity for the young guys to compete, show their talents, and then whatever falls he’ll get his opportunities once all this dust settles.” While many believe Kaepernick is unemployed largely because the then-49er refused to stand for the national anthem last season, Baldwin doesn’t see that as a significant factor. “To some degree, but I think that’s really minor,” Baldwin said. “There are 32 teams out there. Not all of them really care about that. I have no doubt in my mind he’ll have a job here rather quickly.”
  • With one report suggesting that Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. hasn’t attended OTAs because he wants a raise, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk contends that it would likely take a multiyear deal with at least $30MM guaranteed to lock him up. Meanwhile, Steve Serby of the New York Post proposes a six-year, $103.5MM contract – including $47.5MM guaranteed – that would make Beckham the game’s highest-paid wideout.
  • Contrary to a prior report, Calvin Johnson did not repay the Lions $320K of his $3.2MM signing bonus when he retired in March 2016. The former receiver actually forked over a much larger sum, at least $1MM, according to Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.

East Notes: Peterson, Sherman, Jets

Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says that the Patriots‘ apparently had at least some interest in free agent RB Adrian Peterson, or they wouldn’t have put him through various tests and drills during his recent visit with the club (some have speculated that head coach Bill Belichick merely brought Peterson in as a favor for someone, like an agent or mutual friend). The Patriots have a take-it-or-leave-it proposal on the table for LeGarrette Blount, and if Blount does not return, the club could turn back to Peterson or could shift its attention to a draft class deep at the running back position.

Now let’s take a look at more East-related rumors:

  • In the same piece, Reiss confirms a report from several days ago indicating that the Patriots are not expected to trade for Richard Sherman. Our Zach Links suggests that could be a sign that Malcolm Butler is staying in New England.
  • Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com believes that the Eagles are likely to nab a cornerback with their first selection (No. 14 overall) in this month’s draft. However, he also notes that Florida State running back Dalvin Cook would be a perfect fit in Philadelphia’s offense, and that the Eagles should consider trading back up into the first round should Cook still be on the board in the latter stages of Day 1.
  • Eagles DT Beau Allen suffered a chest injury on Thursday and will have surgery. He is expected to miss four to six months.
  • Darryl Slater of NJ.com believes the only way Jets GM Mike Maccagnan loses his job after 2017 is if the club is “truly horrific.” Meanwhile, Slater believes head coach Todd Bowles could make it to 2018 if he can coax at least six wins out of Gang Green, but if he produces anything less, he will likely get the ax, even if Maccagnan sticks around.
  • The Giants are in desperate need of a quality offensive tackle, and Paul Schwartz of the New York Post says the team will certainly select Alabama OT Cam Robinson if he is still available when the Giants are on the clock in the first round. Otherwise, Schwartz suggests New York could wait until the second round and hope Western Michigan’s Taylor Moton or Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp (who projects as more of a guard in the NFL) is still on the board.

Jets Hire Saints’ John Morton As OC

The Jets officially announced that they are hiring former Saints wide receivers coach John Morton as their new offensive coordinator. He’ll take over the post vacated by veteran coach Chan Gailey.

Morton and former Texans OC George Godsey were the two finalists for this position, and although Godsey offered OC experience, Morton was coming off a banner year coaching New Orleans’ receivers. The Saints led the NFL in total offense and generated constant production from their wideouts, including UDFA Willie Snead and rookie Michael Thomas.

Morton’s past with Sean Payton, willingness to use the West Coast offense, and plans to fully utilize the tight end position caught Todd Bowles‘ attention, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. Jets tight ends under Gailey produced historically unproductive numbers with just 26 receptions combined during his tenure. Meanwhile, Bowles is expected to be more involved with the offense in 2017 than he was in the previous two seasons.

At one point, the Jets were potentially leaning toward Godsey, having done “extensive homework” on the former Texans assistant. The Jets also considered eventual Broncos OC Mike McCoy and interviewed current McCoy staffer Eric Studesville before the Denver running backs coach withdrew from consideration. The Eagles put the kibosh on a Jets meeting with quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo as well.

Morton served as OC at USC from 2009-11, but has no prior play-calling experience in the NFL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Notes: Pryor, Draft, Coaching Staff

Darryl Slater and Connor Hughes of NJ.com wonder if the Jets could decide to trade former first-round pick Calvin Pryor this offseason. The 24-year-old just completed his third NFL season, but the safety has yet to establish himself as a “huge difference maker.” The Jets will eventually have to decide whether they want to pick up the player’s fifth-year option, and the organization could ultimately decide to put that responsibility on another team.

The two writers suggest a trade with the Seahawks that would send Pryor to Seattle and offensive lineman Germain Ifedi to New York. The 2016 first-round pick played in six games (six starts) for the Seahawks this past season.

Slater and Hughes touch on a number of additional topics in their latest column. We’ve compiled some of the notable tidbits below…

  • The Jets “love” Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson. The 6-2, 253-pound defender had a monster season in 2016, compiling 61 tackles and 8.5 sacks. If Anderson drops to the second round, Slater and Hughes believe the Jets could zero in on him. The organization is also “doing their homework” on the tight end class.
  • The duo notes that the Jets’ two biggest needs are at quarterback and the offensive line. Unfortunately, the organization isn’t going to find elite talent from those positions in this year’s draft. While North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky would be an intriguing option, Slater and Hughes are doubtful that the player will fall to the Jets’ sixth-overall pick.
  • Todd Bowles has started to fill out his staff, but he still has a vacancy at defensive line coach. Slater and Hughes suggest that Cardinals defensive line coach Brentson Buckner could be an option, especially since the two coaches worked together in Arizona for two years. While Bowles is a big fan of Buckner, it’s unlikely that Cardinals coach Bruce Arians would just let him go.
  • The Jets were originally hoping to promote quarterbacks coach Kevin Patullo to offensive coordinator following Chan Gailey‘s inevitable retirement. However, the Jets offense struggled mightily this past season, and the organization decided to look elsewhere to fill the vacancy. Slater and Hughes note that the Jets are still fans of Patullo, but they didn’t feel comfortable making him their offensive coordinator.