Tom Brady

AFC East Rumors: Mack, Brady, Hughes

The Raiders and star defender Khalil Mack are embroiled in contract negotiations that could result in Mack being traded. If that happens, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com suggests that the Jets should pounce. Gang Green has little pass rushing talent at the moment, and the club has $82MM of projected cap room in 2019, with only one big contract (Leonard Williams) on the horizon. Oakland would demand at least a first-round pick in return, and in addition to negotiating a high-level trade, the Jets would also need to work out a long-term deal with Mack. Those types of deals are difficult to pull off, and it is still unlikely that the Raiders part with Mack, whom they can keep under club control through three more seasons if they so choose. However, if Oakland does begin entertaining offers, Cimini would not be surprised if the Jets are one of the first teams to jump on the phone.

Let’s take a look at a few more rumors from the AFC East:

  • Jets OLB Lorenzo Mauldin is still around because of New York’s aforementioned dearth of pass rushers, but Mauldin, a 2015 third-round pick, has been dogged by injuries throughout his brief career, and he hasn’t been particularly effective even when he’s gotten on the field. As such, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweets that Mauldin could be cut sooner rather than later, and that New York could let him go with an injury settlement (Mauldin is currently dealing with a leg issue that kept him out of the team’s preseason opener).
  • In a full-length piece, Mehta says that Brandon Copeland, a former UDFA out of UPenn who signed a one-year deal with the Jets this offseason after missing all of 2017, has been very impressive in camp and has been taking first-team reps over the past few days. Given the Jets’ pass rushing needs, Copeland has a real chance to get plenty of playing time this season.
  • We have written extensively on Tom Brady‘s new contract with the Patriots in recent days, and the moral of the story is that it looks as if Brady will continue playing through at least the 2019 season, and that the two sides could come to terms on another new deal next year in order to push some of Brady’s increased 2019 cap number into 2020. However, as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets, since Brady and the Pats officially put pen to paper on August 9, 2018, they can’t renegotiate his contract again until August 9, 2019.
  • Trent Brown, whom the Patriots acquired via trade with the 49ers earlier this offseason, is the favorite to replace Nate Solder as New England’s starting left tackle, per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Brown is eligible for unrestricted free agency next year, so he will have plenty of incentive to perform at a high level.
  • Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News calls 2018 the most critical season of Bills DE Jerry Hughes‘ career. Hughes’ volatile on-field personality could be overlooked when he was posting double-digit sack totals earlier in his career, but his sack numbers have slumped since he signed a five-year, $45MM in 2015, so the unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties are a little harder to stomach. His $10.4MM salary in 2018 is the highest on the Bills, and while Buffalo could have cut him this offseason and saved a little cap room, the team could save $7.5MM by releasing him after the 2018 campaign, so he may need to show a return to his early-career form to stay in Buffalo and earn another $10.4MM next year. For what it’s worth, the Bills think Hughes’ sack numbers will be improved with the addition of Trent Murphy and (hopefully) some growth out of Shaq Lawson. Plus, Hughes did grade as a top-10 run defender (among edge players) last season, in Pro Football Focus’ view.
  • The Bills shook up their defensive line rotation earlier today.
  • The Dolphins are visiting with the increasingly-popular Bashaud Breeland today.

AFC Notes: Jets, Brady, Fowler, Dolphins

The Jets‘ quarterbacks looked solid during last night’s preseason win over the Falcons, completing 21 of 27 pass attempts for 178 yards and a pair of touchdowns. While veteran Josh McCown sits atop the depth chart, head coach Todd Bowles acknowledged that any of the team’s three signal-callers (a grouping that also includes Teddy Bridgewater and first-rounder Sam Darnold) could end up earning the starting gig.

“We’ll see how the preseason goes,” Bowles said (via Brian Costello of the New York Post). “Like I said, I’ll make my decision when it happens. I’m not going to jump to any conclusions after one game. I’m going to take my notes and watch practice and compare with the coaches and we’ll come up with a decision. It’s a tough decision. We’ve got three good players and we’re happy to have them.”

As ProFootballTalk.com’s Michael David Smith points out, Bowles previously said that the team would wait until the end of the preseason to make a decision on their starting quarterback. In other words, there’s still plenty of time for the depth chart to sort itself out.

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

  • ESPN’s Field Yates has even more details on Tom Brady‘s revised contract (Twitter links). The Patriots quarterback had $10MM of his $14MM base salary converted into a signing bonus, which means he’ll get that chunk of cash now instead of spread out over 17 weeks. His 2018 cap number will not increase (allowing the Patriots to maintain cap flexibility), but his 2019 cap hit has increased from $5MM to $27MM. If Brady decided to keep playing in 2019, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com says the team would presumably sign their franchise quarterback to a new deal, thus pushing some of that money to 2020.
  • Meanwhile, Ben Volin of The Boston Globe believes the revised contract is an indication that Brady intends to keep playing in 2019 (Twitter link). While his 2019 dead cap number was previously $7MM, that’s since been boosted to $12MM. If the Patriots weren’t confident that their quarterback was going to stick around the NFL, there wouldn’t have been much of an incentive for the salary-to-bonus conversion.
  • There was good news for the Jaguars this morning, as the team took defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. off the physically unable to perform list (via ESPN’s Michael DiRocco on Twitter). The former third-overall pick had missed offseason programs, training camp, and the team’s preseason opener as he continued to recover from a shoulder injury. “I’m just happy to see him back to start playing,” said head coach Doug Marrone (via NFL.com’s Kevin Patra). “Obviously, he’s worked hard to get back, strengthening and everything, and we’ll return him to practice. He’ll come back out and we’ll work him there. I’m excited to see him. He’s put in a lot of work and we’ll see him on the field and see what he can do.” The 24-year-old finished last season 21 tackles, eight sacks, and two forced fumbles in 16 games.
  • Dolphins linebacker Mike Hull has a sprained MCL and is expected to be out for several weeks, reports NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). The 27-year-old has been an important bench piece for Miami over the past two seasons, and he finished last season with 35 tackles in 16 games (three starts). Terence Garvin, Chase Allen, Jerome Baker, and Quentin Poling will receive more backup reps during Hull’s absence.

Latest On Tom Brady’s Revised Deal

Although the Patriots have Tom Brady at a bargain price, this week’s incentive-laden agreement will make the future Hall of Fame passer remain on the NFL’s elite level to see any pay bumps.

The team agreed to a $5MM incentive package with its superstar quarterback Thursday, which could — if certain statistical thresholds are met — increase his 2018 base salary to $20MM. But he’ll have to stay at or very close to his current performance level to collect the extra cash, and that isn’t exactly common for 41-year-old passers.

Despite Brady’s status as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, he will need to finish in the top five of the following categories to earn these additional millions — passing yards, touchdown passes, passer rating, yards per attempt and completion percentage — to meet these incentive requirements, Albert Breer of SI.com reports (on Twitter).

Brady will receive $1MM for each incentive met, but Breer adds he can take a shortcut here by leading the Pats to another Super Bowl championship. A Super Bowl title would bring a $2MM bump, but it wouldn’t be $2MM on top of $5MM. The package maxes out at $5MM regardless, but a Super Bowl title would just allow Brady to earn the $5MM by hitting three of the regular-season-based incentives rather than five (Twitter link). He must throw a minimum of 224 passes or play 70 percent of the Patriots’ regular-season snaps to qualify.

This bonus package differs from the one New England gave Rob Gronkowski last season. Gronkowski had to meet certain numbers to kick in the incentives, rather than be among the best in the game. However, the Patriots also allowed for their tight end to max out the bonuses based on a first-team All-Pro appearance, which he did.

Brady indeed finished in the top five of these categories in 2017, but in 2015 — his most recent full season — his work in some of these categories would have left him short of these benchmarks. It’s interesting the Patriots would place the incentives on the level they have, given Brady’s low salary for a franchise quarterback and his contributions to the franchise.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Sweeten Tom Brady’s Contract

The Patriots will add up to $5MM in performance-based incentives to Tom Brady’s contract, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter), allowing him to make up to $20MM. The move is reminiscent of what the Pats did last year with tight end Rob Gronkowski

Brady was scheduled to make $15MM in base salary this season, an absolute bargain for the game’s top quarterback. For reference, Brady’s former backup Jimmy Garoppolo will carry a $37MM cap number in 2018. Of course, even with the potential to earn up to $20MM in 2018, Brady is still an absolute bargain for New England.

The Patriots quarterback abstained from voluntary OTAs this offseason and his absence may have been tied to dissatisfaction with his contract. By amending Brady’s deal, it appears the Patriots have mended fences with their star player.

The five-time Super Bowl winner turned 41 this summer, but he hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down. Last year, he completed 66.3% of his passes for a league-leading 4,577 passing yards, 32 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Meanwhile, in a recent interview with Oprah, Brady indicated that retirement is not on his mind.

“As long as I’m still loving it,” Brady said. “As long as I’m loving the training and the preparation and willing to make the commitment. But it’s also, I think what I alluded to a lot in the docu-series, there’s other things happening in my life, too. I do have kids that I love, and I don’t want to be a dad that’s not there, driving my kids to their games . . . my kids have brought a great perspective in my life. Kids just want the attention. You better be there. And be available to them.”

Brady’s current deal runs through the 2019 season. Prior to Thursday’s agreement, each season called for Brady to carry a cap number of $22MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Darnold, Patriots, Allen

Two rookies remain unsigned: Sam Darnold and Roquan Smith. The Jets are working on a deal with a quarterback they’ve been thrilled about throughout the offseason, one who was supposed to have a legitimate chance at a Week 1 starting job, but Darnold’s camp absence isn’t doing him any favors. Offset language was thought to be a sticking point here, but NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes (video link) that isn’t the case (or isn’t any longer). Instead, the quarterback’s guarantees — and how and when they would void — represent why the former USC standout hasn’t signed. Void issues have also come up in the Bears’ discussions with Smith. CAA represents both Darnold and Smith. The Jets began their first practice this afternoon.

Here’s the latest from the AFC East:

  • A former AFC East quarterback was not planning to leave during what turned out to be his final offseason in the division. Jimmy Garoppolo was searching for Boston-area real estate last summer, Joon Lee of Bleacher Report notes. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe adds this should help put an end to speculation the Patriots were planning all along to unload their former backup quarterback. Volin writes Bill Belichick was indeed overruled about a plan to keep Garoppolo as the heir apparent — which would have induced complex math because of the current 49ers quarterback’s rookie contract expiring and Tom Brady not yet retired — before an 11th-hour trade to San Francisco.
  • Brady did not deny that he communicated with Josh McDaniels during the period after the Super Bowl when he backtracked on accepting the Colts’ HC job, the longtime Patriots quarterback said Saturday (via James Palmer of NFL.com, on Twitter). When asked if he spoke with his then-outgoing OC about potentially staying in New England instead, Brady said he “always” talks to McDaniels, who is now back for a seventh season in his second stint as Pats OC.
  • Julian Edelman addressed his suspension Saturday and said this second straight September off will allow him to get his knee fully ready to go. “It’s disappointing with the penalty and the findings,” Edelman said, via Doug Kyed of NESN.com. “And I’m definitely accountable for that. I have to follow the protocols a little better and make sure this never happens again.” Edelman contested the suspension but saw his appeal fail. The 10th-year slot receiver tore an ACL during the 2017 preseason but is expected to be ready to go upon his now-October debut date.
  • Josh Allen‘s been the best Bills quarterback in camp thus far, Joe Buscaglia of WKBW observes. The raw Wyoming-honed talent outshined A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman on Saturday, per Buscaglia. Both of the older QBs are believed to be competing for Buffalo’s Week 1 job, with Allen believed to be set to watch as his career begins.

AFC Notes: Ravens, Flacco, Brady, Jets

Receiver Breshad Perriman has disappointed since being selected in the first round of the 2015 draft. In three seasons with the Ravens, the 24-year-old has hauled in only 43 receptions for 576 yards and three touchdowns. Considering his lack of production and the team’s depth at his position, Perriman understands that this is a make-or-break year.

“It’s a scary topic,” he told Edward Lee of The Baltimore Sun. “You know what’s on the line; you know that everything is on the line. It’s kind of like a make-or-break year, but at the same time, you can’t put that extra pressure on yourself. So I just really want to go out there and get better every day and control what you can control. Go out there and get better every day and go hard and everything will play out.”

The Ravens signed three free agent receivers in Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead, and the also drafted a pair of wideouts in Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley. Naturally, Perriman recognizes that he’ll have to compete for a roster spot.

“This whole game is nothing but competition,” he said. “So it’s basically just the same thing. We all embrace it, and we all know that it’s a lot of competition. At the same time, we still want the best for each other and we still encourage each other and motivate each other. When we step out here between these lines, we’re all just trying to compete and make plays.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the AFC…

  • There’s been plenty of talk about the Ravens decision to select quarterback Lamar Jackson in the first round of this past year’s draft. Agent Joe Linta told Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic that incumbent quarterback Joe Flacco had expected the organization to select a signal-caller, just not in the first round. “We talked about it many times, We knew they were going to draft somebody; I would have thought it may have been a Mason Rudolph situation,” said Linta, referring to the situation between the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger. “But they had a guy they targeted, and they took him. They didn’t do anything wrong…A lot of people in the media have to create a controversy. No one is mad that they picked a QB. [Ravens executives] are not stupid. They want to win more than they want Joe out. You got a 33-year-old guy with two major injuries. It would be bad business for them to not have a good guy behind him.”
  • Tom Brady may have been absent from team OTAs, but it sounds like he’s going to be early for Patriots training camp. As Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com points out, Brady commented on a Patriots Instagram post stating that he’ll be showing up to training camp four days early. Brady has previously said he missed non-mandatory minicamp due to “personal reasons,” and he made an appearance at Patriots practice in early June.
  • Jets wideout Robby Anderson is set to be a restricted free agent next offseason, and Brian Costello of the New York Post says it’d be a shock if the team didn’t bring him back. However, the writer notes that the embattled 25-year-old could receive a lucrative offer from another team if he has a big 2018 season. Legal issues aside, the former undrafted free agent has looked like a starting receiver during his two years with the Jets, including a 2017 campaign where he hauled in 63 receptions for 941 yards and seven touchdowns.

East Notes: Patriots, Brady, Giants, Cowboys

Tom Brady recently told Oprah that he’ll retire sooner rather than later, but he may still be on course for his original plan. In a reply to a post on Instagram regarding Brady’s long-term plans, the Patriots quarterback replied “cuarenta y cinco” – Spanish for 45.

Brady turns 41 on Aug. 3, so he still has a ways to go before hitting that mark. Still, after another masterful season, it’s hard to doubt him.

Here’s more from the East divisions:

  • New Cowboys assistant Kris Richard is drawing rave reviews in Dallas and he could become one of the league’s hottest head coaching candidates next year. “No question,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said when asked if the 38-year-old could coach his own team in 2019 (via Charean Williams of PFT). “He’ll be like a Mike Tomlin, Lovie Smith, guys I’ve been around who became head coaches. He’s got the right stuff.”
  • Giants executive Kevin Abrams, a member of the organization since 1999 and the assistant GM for the last 16 years, has been promoted to the team’s vice president of football operations. Abrams was considered as an internal candidate for GM before the hiring of Dave Gettleman.
  • Free agent wide receiver Eric Decker feels that he would be a good fit for the Patriots.

AFC Notes: Brady, Jets, McGuire, Browns

Tom Brady‘s career will soon be coming to an end, but the future Hall of Famer still wasn’t willing to give a definitive timeline in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. The Patriots quarterback acknowledged that retirement would be coming “sooner, rather than later,” but he also noted that he’ll still play if he has the passion and drive.

“As long as I’m still loving it,” Brady said (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “As long as I’m loving the training and the preparation and willing to make the commitment. But it’s also, I think what I alluded to a lot in the docu-series, there’s other things happening in my life, too. I do have kids that I love, and I don’t want to be a dad that’s not there, driving my kids to their games . . . my kids have brought a great perspective in my life. Kids just want the attention. You better be there. And be available to them.”

The five-time Super Bowl winner will be turning 41 next month, but he hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down. He completed 66.3-percent of his passes for a league-leading 4,577 passing yards, 32 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the AFC…

  • The Jets have a number of relatively popular running backs on their roster, including Isaiah CrowellBilal Powell, and Thomas Rawls. However, running backs coach Stump Mitchell decided to gush about 2017 sixth-round pick Elijah McGuire, who is currently buried on the depth chart. “He has the skill set to be a LaDainian Tomlinson, if he was given that opportunity,” Mitchell told Zach Braziller of the New York Post. “That’s not what presents itself to him at this point in time. The skill set, he can do it all. He can catch, he can run as a running back and he can run routes as a receiver. He just happens to be here, and I’m glad we got him.”
  • Once Jets quarterback Sam Darnold signs his rookie contract, the Jets will have around $16MM in cap space. ESPN’s Rich Cimini doesn’t believe the front office will end up using any of that money for extensions, but he notes that it could provide general manager Mike Maccagnan will the ability to pull off a pricey preseason trade. Cimini also writes that the Jets could simply roll their open cap room into next season, which will add to their projected league-leading $88MM in space.
  • During his tenure as Steelers offensive coordinator, Todd Haley worked with quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich and Michael Vick. However, the current Browns offensive coordinator say he may be working with the best grouping of signal-callers throughout his career. “This is probably one of the best – if not the best – quarterbacks rooms, in general, that I’ve had,” Haley told Patrick Maks of ClevelandBrowns.com. “The group, in general, is what I’m excited about. I think that it’s an intelligent, intelligent group, with ability to throw the football and make plays with their legs, some of them. When you have that, I think that good things happen. Competition is created in the room, even though they’re working hard together to help each other and get better as a group.” The Browns are currently rostering a trio of quarterbacks in Tyrod Taylor, Baker Mayfield, and Drew Stanton.

Latest On Brady, Gronkowski

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski reported to the Patriots last week, but they won’t be around for the team’s remaining practices in the month of June. The two stars are not slated to take part in the final few OTAs this week, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. With that, Brady and Gronk are not expected to report to the club until July when training camp gets underway.

The arrival of the two players last week was viewed as a positive sign for their relationships with the team and their contractual situations. To date, neither player has received a new deal, and it’s still not clear whether that is part of Brady’s agenda. A revised pact seems likely for the tight end, though nothing is imminent on that front.

For all of the rumors of discord in New England, there is every reason to believe that both players will be in uniform for the team in September. A new round of trade speculation circled around Gronkowski last week, but there’s no basis for such talk.

Brady, predictably, has said very little about reports of a rift between him and coach Bill Belichick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Brady, Gates, Peterson, Titans

In a recent opinion piece, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe makes the case that Tom Brady didn’t hold up his end of the bargain in trying to quell concerns about drama within the Patriots organization. Volin argues that coach Bill Belichick and Rob Gronkowski both did their best to assure the media and the public that all was good in New England, but that Brady raised more questions than he answered during his brief media availability.

Volin writes that the Patriots’ goal when Gronkowski and Brady finally returned to the team was to “show a united front, and squash all of the drama”, but that Brady failed to do so. According to Volin, Belichick did a “superb job” and Gronkowski did a “great job of explaining himself too”, but that Brady seemed like “he wants the drama to linger, to let it be known that he’s still upset with Belichick and the organization.”

Whatever is going on with the Patriots, it seems to be a saga with no end in sight. The issues likely won’t be put to rest for good until the team take the field in 2018 and shows they can still play at a championship level even with all the off-field distractions.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Antonio Gates isn’t a realistic candidate to be signed by the Bills, according to Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News. Despite the Bills being a bit thin at tight end behind Charles Clay, Skurski thinks the Bills would rather develop the young tight ends on their roster.
  • Adrian Peterson would like to play for the Texans, he told Mark Berman of Fox 26 (Twitter link). Peterson said “I would definitely love to be here in Houston. I think I can help them out tremendously..I still got it.” Peterson has repeatedly expressed his desire to continue playing, but hasn’t drawn much interest.
  • Rookie tight end Ethan Wolf is a “long shot” to make the Titans roster, according to Jim Wyatt of Titansonline.com. Wyatt thinks he’ll end up on the outside looking in due to the Titans’ full tight end depth-chart, but that he’s a potential practice squad candidate.