Torrian Gray

East Rumors: Foles, Woods, Jets, Bills

Nick Foles played a major role in ensuring the Super Bowl champions could attempt to defend their title in this year’s playoffs, and the Eagles want to compensate him accordingly. The veteran quarterback came four plays short of a $1MM bonus in Week 17, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes the Eagles are trying to find a solution to pay him that bonus. The Eagles sweetened Foles’ deal this past offseason, after he’d led the franchise to its first Super Bowl title. One of these incentives would have triggered had the Eagles made the playoffs with Foles playing 33 percent of the snaps. With Carson Wentz‘s backup being required to start and finish the season, that became attainable. But Foles went down during the Eagles’ Week 17 win over the Redskins.

Here is the latest from the Eastern front:

  • Jay Gruden will remain in Washington, but one of his assistants will not. The Redskins are letting secondary coach Torrian Gray go, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. Washington appears to have two-year Denver defensive coordinator Joe Woods in mind for this job, but the Jaguars are also eyeing Woods, per Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). The Broncos’ hiring of Vic Fangio would appear to point to Woods being free to seek work elsewhere. Gray coached Washington’s DBs the past two years.
  • The Bills extended in-season quarterback acquisitions Derek Anderson and Matt Barkley recently, and the Buffalo backups’ salaries are now known. Barkley signed a two-year extension that will produce non-guaranteed base salaries of $1.25MM in 2019 and $1.5MM in 2020, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com notes, adding Barkley will receive a $600K signing bonus ($200K of which counts against Buffalo’s 2018 cap). Near-$1MM incentives exist in each season of this deal, too. Anderson signed a one-year extension for the veteran minimum ($1.03MM), per Rodak (on Twitter). He received a $90K signing bonus.
  • Jets tight end Chris Herndon pleaded guilty to a New Jersey DWI charge, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. This comes from a June 2018 arrest following a car accident. This will likely result in a 2019 suspension for the Jets’ top tight end.

Redskins Notes: Cousins, WRs, Baker, Staff

Washington’s seen turnover on its coaching staff and has a potentially contentious negotiation with Kirk Cousins forthcoming. Here’s the latest emerging out of the nation’s capital, courtesy of the Washington Post’s Mike Jones.

  • The Redskins would prefer to keep Cousins on a long-term deal, with Jay Gruden “standing on the table” for the sixth-year quarterback. Jones notes, though, Cousins is “a little salty” and is well aware of the differing opinions on him that exist within the organization. There aren’t any indications the sides could be closer together on terms, and Jones adds a $24MM franchise tag looms as a high likelihood despite more than five months remaining until the extension deadline. A tag for Cousins basically ensures he’s not with the Redskins in 2018, Jones writes. A tag then — at 144 percent of his 2017 salary — would come out to roughly $35MM, and the quarterback in this scenario could see the Redskins as having no faith in him if a second tag is the reality come mid-July.
  • DeSean Jackson is likely to depart as a free agent, with Jones noting the deep threat is too inconsistent for the Redskins brass’ taste. The team has a higher opinion of fellow 30-year-old UFA Pierre Garcon, who has said he wants to stay in Washington. But with other teams seeking receiver help and many performers who could have been on the 2017 market (Emmanuel Sanders, Doug Baldwin, Allen Hurns, etc.) being extended, Garcon is one of the top pass-catchers available. That could complicate his return. The Redskins have not entered into negotiations with Garcon or Jackson, but that’s not necessarily seen as a deviation from the norm nor should it signal that neither wideout will return.
  • Washington hired James Rowe as its new assistant defensive backs coach, per Jones. This comes a day after the Redskins announced the hiring of Torrian Gray as their top secondary boss. Rowe comes straight out of the Division II ranks, having served as Valdosta State’s defensive coordinator in 2016.
  • Prior to moving toward Gray, the Redskins wanted now-Rams assistant Aubrey Pleasant to serve in Gray’s capacity. Money served as an issue that led to an irked Pleasant departing, with the move to Los Angeles coming after the Redskins previously blocked teams from interviewing their coveted assistant. Jones also notes league insiders wonder if Gray will be able to gel with some Redskins veterans who preferred Pleasant and avoid being given the “inflexible” tag previous secondary coach Perry Fewell was upon being fired along with DC Joe Barry.
  • Washington does not view defensive end Chris Baker as a high priority, instead being “lukewarm” on the lineman, Jones writes. He’s expected to want more than the Redskins are willing to pay. A Redskins starter for three seasons, Baker notched 10.5 sacks in 2015-16.

Redskins Notes: Davis, WRs, Cap Casualties

With the exception of tight end Vernon Davis, the Redskins haven’t yet had any discussions with their pending free agents regarding new contracts, according to John Keim of ESPN.com. Aside from Davis, the team’s list of unsigned players includes quarterback Kirk Cousins, wide receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, and defensive end Chris Baker, among others. As Keim notes, though, the team’s decision not to engage with any of its potentially soon-to-be available players isn’t necessarily cause for concern, writing that “there’s no urgency yet and multiple agents weren’t surprised no one has been contacted.” Nevertheless, it would behoove the Redskins to retain at least one of Garcon or Jackson, opines Keim, who argues that better options in free agency will be few in number. Garcon and Jackson were the only Redskins targets to exceed 1,000 receiving yards last season, and losing the pair would leave them with Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson – who endured a lost rookie year because of an Achilles injury – as their top two wideouts.

More from Washington:

  • Some fans are worried that the Redskins haven’t had talks with their key free agents, but Mike Jones of The Washington Post echoes Keim’s sentiment and points out that they historically haven’t done a lot of heavy negotiating this early in the year. Overall, Jones gets the sense that Garcon has a better chance of returning than Jackson, who has been open wanting to explore free agency and could return to the Eagles.
  • While the Redskins currently have no shortage of cap space (upward of $60MM), they’d lose a significant chunk of it by bringing back Cousins with either the $24MM franchise tag or a long-term deal. Thus, several of the team’s veterans are in danger of ending up as cap casualties, observes Keim, who points to safety DeAngelo Hall, center Kory Lichtensteiger, tight end Niles Paul, guard Shawn Lauvao and defensive end Ricky Jean-Francois as players whose roster spots are in jeopardy.
  • The Redskins hired Torrian Gray as their new defensive backs coach Wednesday, per Stephen Czarda of the team’s website. This will be the first NFL coaching stint for Gray, who had been assisting at the college level since 2000 and spent last season on Florida’s staff. Gray’s already familiar with Redskins cornerback Kendall Fuller, having coached him at Virginia Tech from 2013-15.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

NFC Notes: Saints, Brees, Redskins, Shanahan

While the Saints have a clear-cut starting quarterback for next season, could the organization still look to draft an eventual replacement for Drew Brees? For what it’s worth, head coach Sean Payton expressed his interest in Clemson’s Deshaun Watson earlier this week.

“There’s something special about him, right?” said Payton (via ESPN.com’s Mike Triplett). “And when you watch the game, it’s always interesting to hear him talk afterward. And I think he appears to have all those things that we’re looking for.”

While Watson could theoretically fall to the Saints at the 11th pick, Payton was adamant that he’s not looking to replace Brees, who finished this past season with 5,208 passing yards and 37 touchdowns.

“That transaction may take place, not in the same year (Brees) is being replaced,” Payton said. “We pay close attention to, ‘Hey, what are the signs?’ And I don’t see any, we don’t see any. We just finished reading our team, and (Brees’) preparation, his attention to detail is amazing. His movement skills … these guys are so much further along in regards to their rest, their recovery, nutrition.”

Let’s dive into some other notes from around the NFC…

  • While it’s unlikely, Brees acknowledged that he’d still want to keep playing in the event that he’s released by the Saints. “If the Saints came to me right now and said, ‘You’re not our guy right now, we’re releasing you,’ I’d say, ‘I’ve still got football left in me. I’m gonna go play,’” the quarterback said (via Triplett). “I just don’t ever desire to go anywhere else and play for any other team.”
  • University of Florida defensive backs coach Torrian Gray is leaving the school to join the Redskins coaching staff, reports Robbie Andreu of The Gainesville Sun (via Twitter). Zac Jackson of ProFootballTalk.com reports that Gray will be Washington’s new defensive backs coach. Besides a one-year stint as the Bears defensive backs coach, Gray had been coaching in the NCAA since 2000.
  • Falcons offensive coordinator (and soon-to-be 49ers head coach) Kyle Shanahan acknowledged that he liked Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo heading into the 2014 draft. “He was a very good thrower,” the former Browns offensive coordinator told Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland. “Tough guy, kept his eyes down the field, could get rid of the ball fast. Really liked the person. Had a chance to go out to dinner with him and stuff. He played at Eastern Illinois, and it was a different type of offense where you can’t always evaluate with how quick they get rid of the ball. But I really thought he was a very intelligent, tough player with a good throwing motion.” There will be a handful of teams that will inquire on the 25-year-old, and the 49ers could be one of those squads.