Trumaine Johnson

AFC East Notes: Brown, Pats, Jets, Fins

If Antonio Brown were to be reinstated by the NFL after the investigation into his accusations of sexual assault made against him in a civil lawsuit has concluded, Patriots coaches and players would reportedly “welcome him back,” sources tell Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Brown met with the NFL earlier in November, with the interview going “as well as it could have”, and is waiting to hear back regarding a potential reinstatement.

Owner Robert Kraft, who released Brown after playing one game with the team, is the deciding factor, and has not shown an inclination to give the receiver another shot after his repeated missteps on social media in the aftermath of his release by the Patriots months ago, according to La Canfora. However, La Canfora also states that if Kraft were to reconsider, sources have told him that Brown’s teammates and coaches would support bringing him back, with Brown’s chemistry with Tom Brady obvious from his initial practice with the team and Brown getting along well with all parties during his brief stint there.

Brown, 31, tweeted an apology to Robert Kraft on November 19 in response to a shot he took at the Patriots’ owner in September regarding his indiscretions at a massage parlor after being released. Brown has been tweeting out workout videos supporting his own notion that he is more than ready to return to the field.

From a football perspective, the Patriots could certainly use a dynamic playmaker such as Brown, especially one that already has chemistry with impending free agent Tom Brady. However, it remains to be seen if Kraft would once again be willing to take a gamble on the controversial star.

Here are some more developments from around the AFC East:

  • Rather than the customary approach of the team taking one, single plane to Houston ahead of tonight’s matchup against the Texans, ESPN’s Field Yates relays that the Patriots split up into two planes due to a swarming illness that has taken over the locker room. The Patriots listed nine players as questionable because of illness, including linebackers Jaime Collins and Dont’a Hightower, along with safety Patrick Chung. They have already ruled out tight end Ryan Izzo due to illness.
  • In a series of notes by ESPN’s Rich Cimini, he interestingly points out that one of the reasons the Jets traded linebacker Darron Lee to the Chiefs and benched highly paid cornerback Trumaine Johnson earlier this season before placing him on IR was due their lack of tackling. As Cimini points out, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams wants players that “enjoy sticking their face in the fan”.
  • According to multiple current and former NFL personnel people who spoke with the Miami Herald this week, even if the Dolphins do not pick number one in the 2020 draft, they may still have a shot at LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, as any team picking number one may elect to pick star Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young instead. If the Bengals, who have yet to win a game this year, are indeed awarded the first pick in this upcoming draft, despite the potential need at quarterback, they may feel that Young is too much of a dominant player to pass on. Young holds the school record for most sacks in a game with four and now holds the record for most sacks in a season with 16.5.

Jets Place Trumaine Johnson On IR

It looks like the Trumaine Johnson era in New York is coming to an end. The Jets placed Johnson on injured reserve today, as well as receiver Josh Bellamy, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Johnson was a monster flop in the Big Apple after signing his massive free agent deal, and as Rapoport writes, “it’s safe to say Johnson has played his last down with the team.” Johnson is set to have $11MM in salary for 2020 become guaranteed in March, so he’ll almost certainly be cut by then. All told, Johnson will have received $34MM to appear in 17 underwhelming games for the Jets. New York apparently tried desperately to trade him at the deadline, but couldn’t find any takers.

After having a solid first six years in the league with the Rams, Johnson inked a five-year, $72.5MM deal last offseason. Things got off to a rocky start, and although he picked off four passes in ten games last year, he didn’t play up to standards. He was benched for a couple of weeks earlier on this season before ultimately regaining his starting role, and he clearly didn’t get along well with the new regime in New York.

Johnson has been graded very poorly by most observers this season, and he missed last week with an ankle injury. Still only 29, he should draw some interest on the open market. Bellamy is a former UDFA who had the occasional moment with the Bears over the past few years. He inked a two-year, $5MM deal with the Jets this offseason, but will finish 2019 with only two catches for 20 yards.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jamal Adams, Le’Veon Bell May Be Traded In 2020

The trade deadline has come and gone, and Jamal Adams is still a member of the Jets. That’s largely because New York’s asking price of a first-rounder and two second-rounders for its star safety was too rich for rival clubs, but before the Jets started asking for draft picks, they asked for players.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, when the Cowboys called the Jets to discuss an Adams trade, New York GM Joe Douglas asked about the availability of Dallas guard Zack Martin and left tackle Tyron Smith. Dallas made it clear that neither offensive lineman was available, and the Cowboys’ best offer ended up being a first-round pick and backup corner Anthony Brown. However, as Rapoport observes, Douglas’ initial ask is suggestive of how he plans to construct his roster going forward: from the inside out.

Dallas’ and Baltimore’s interest in Adams was previously reported, though Rapoport says the Jets received double-digit phone calls on the 24-year-old. RapSheet adds that a third team actually put forth the strongest offer, though who that team is and the details of the offer are presently unknown.

But the fact that Adams will be with Gang Green for the rest of the year does not mean that he will be with the club in 2020. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com believes Douglas will end up dealing Adams prior to the 2020 draft, and Cimini cites Adams’ “overreaction” to the trade rumors as one of the primary reasons for his prediction.

Adams’ post-deadline public comments in which he voiced his frustration and surprise that the Jets would even think about trading him are emblematic of what Cimini deems a me-first mentality that Adams has begun to display, a mentality which also manifested itself in a locker room blowup during halftime of last week’s loss to the Jaguars. Whether one agrees with Cimini’s characterization of these incidents or not, it seems true enough that Adams’ tenure with the Jets could be drawing to a close (especially given that he will be extension-eligible for the first time after this season).

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports also hears that Adams could be dealt in 2020, and JLC’s sources suggest that Adams and Le’Veon Bell may be traded at next year’s combine. La Canfora adds that the Jets were eager to move Bell and cornerback Trumaine Johnson at the deadline, but there was little interest in them because of their salaries. And while the Jets will surely not find any takers for Johnson in 2020, other clubs may be willing to take the plunge on Bell, and Adams will remain a hot commodity.

But for what it’s worth, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv believes the Jets should build around Adams, Bell, Sam Darnold, and Quinnen Williams and not subject the club’s fanbase to another teardown. As many have said about the division-rival Dolphins’ rebuild — draft picks are great, but a rebuilding outfit needs core players too — the Jets should not blindly pursue premium draft capital at the expense of their foundational pieces.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Notes: Falcons, Bengals, Browns, Broncos, Jets, Redskins, Giants, Eagles, Bills, Packers

Teams continue to ask about Austin Hooper, whose 526 receiving yards sit 11th in the NFL entering Week 8. However, the Falcons have spurned suitors who’ve called about the emerging tight end, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Hooper is in a contract year, but the Falcons believe they have a chance to re-sign him. The Falcons, though, are the team doing the contacting regarding Vic Beasley. Atlanta is shopping its former All-Pro defensive end, who is playing out a $12.8MM fifth-year option. Pass rushers are obviously valuable, but with Beasley’s play having fallen off since that 2016 breakthrough, the return might not be what the Falcons seek.

Here is the latest from the trade market:

  • The Redskins continue to respond with hard nos when asked about Trent Williams, but Breer adds Josh Norman‘s name has been floated around. With Norman having not lived up to the $15MM-AAV contract he signed in 2016, it would be hard to imagine the Redskins getting much value for the eighth-year cornerback.
  • A cornerback performing better continues to look likelier to stay put. Chris Harris does not expect to be traded, and Troy Renck of Denver7 notes the Broncos are not as motivated to deal their four-time Pro Bowler as they were to ship out Emmanuel Sanders. A second-round pick would likely be necessary here, per Breer. Considering the Broncos’ issues finding corners as of late, dealing Harris would create a massive offseason need in Denver.
  • The Bengals are 0-7, and A.J. Green continues to come up in trade rumors. But the old-school organization isn’t budging. Mike Brown has not signed off on a firesale, Breer adds, instead preferring to provide first-year HC Zac Taylor with a foundation. That project is not going well so far, with the veteran-laden team performing poorly. Cincinnati’s potential trade chips also include franchise sack leaders Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. Neither appears to be a departure candidate. Tyler Eifert is a name Breer mentions could be dealt, but the tight end obviously has a significant injury history that would limit a return.
  • As for the expensive New York corners, Janoris Jenkins has generated more interest than Trumaine Johnson. The Giants have shopped Jenkins around some, per Breer, while Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes it would require “a miracle” for a team to take Johnson’s salary off the Jets‘ payroll. Jenkins is signed through 2020, with $5.37MM remaining in 2019 salary.
  • In addition to the Saints exploring receiver additions, the Bills, Eagles and Packers are as well, Breer notes. This could heat up the Robby Anderson market, but Breer adds Browns wideout Rashard Higgins has been discussed in advance of Tuesday’s deadline. The backup is in a contract year. However, Higgins has battled knee issues and has only played in one 2019 game.
  • With Mark Andrews having outproduced Hayden Hurst, the Ravens have received calls on their 2018 top pick. As of now, however, Hurst is not believed to be available, per Breer.

Trade Rumors: Williams, P2, OBJ

With the trade deadline coming up at the end of the month, and with NFL general managers expecting an active trade season, let’s round up a few of the biggest trade rumors floating around this morning:

  • Multiple teams have inquired about the availability of Jets DE Leonard Williams, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. New York is reportedly not interested in dealing Williams, who is in the last year of his rookie contract, at this time, but that could change. Indeed, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv says multiple sources expect GM Joe Douglas to be extremely active over the next few weeks. Schefter suggests that a third- and fifth-round draft choice may be what it takes for an interested club to land Williams, and Kelechi Osemele, Trumaine Johnson, and even Le’Veon Bell could also be on the move (though the last we heard, there were no trade talks surrounding Bell).
  • In recent weeks, the Cardinals have gotten calls from at least three teams interested in trading for cornerback Patrick Peterson, per Schefter. Peterson is currently serving a six-game ban for violating the league’s PED policy, but we heard several weeks ago that Arizona has no interest in dealing him. According to Schefter, that stance has not changed, as the Cardinals have turned away all potential suitors.
  • Although you won’t find it on PFR, there was apparently a report this past week suggesting that the Browns were listening to offers for receiver Odell Beckham Jr. However, Cleveland GM John Dorsey called that report “fake news,” per Schefter. Dorsey said he has not taken any trade calls on OBJ and has no interest in doing so.
  • If the Bills beat the Dolphins next week to improve to 5-1, Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic expects Buffalo GM Brandon Beane to work the phones in search of a wide receiver, defensive tackle, and/or offensive lineman.

Adam Gase On Trumaine Johnson: It Hasn’t Worked Out

As part of their spending spree during the 2018 offseason, the Jets brought in Trumaine Johnson on a five-year, $72MM deal. Earlier this week, Johnson found himself benched against the Browns because of ineffective play.

“It just hasn’t worked out as well as we need it to. The good thing is we have a long ways to go,” head coach Adam Gase said (h/t Michael David Smith of PFT).

The Jets organization reportedly does not believe that the cornerback enjoys football. Johnson missed six games last season with five of those coming because of a quad injury and one coming because of suspension (tardiness).

As our own Zach Links noted, releasing Johnson now would leave the Jets with $24MM in dead money and no salary cap benefit. Cutting him after the season would allow New York to save just $3MM against the cap but leave them with $12MM in dead money.

Jets Doubt Trumaine Johnson’s Commitment

Trumaine Johnson is in Year Two of a five-year, $72.5MM deal. And the Jets do not believe that he loves the sport of football, sources tell Manish Mehta of the Daily News. This is, perhaps, an indication that a divorce could be just around the corner, even though it would be costly for Gang Green. 

Johnson, for his part, says he’s still committed to being the best player he can be.

Of course I love football,” Johnson said. “I’ve been doing it all my life. I’m passionate about it. It’s my life. It’s not a job to me. I love what I do.”

For what it’s worth, Johnson showed more passion in his response than head coach Adam Gase did when explaining why he benched Johnson for the bulk of Monday night’s loss to the Browns.

We just decided not to play him,” said Gase.

Johnson, a breakout star with the Rams, has also been held back by injuries during his Jets tenure. Johnson missed five games last year due to a lingering quad injury and some Jets officials feel that he could have played through the injury, Mehta hears. It’s also worth noting that Johnson missed another game due to a suspension for tardiness.

Johnson, 29, is signed through 2022. Releasing him now would saddle the Jets with $24MM in dead money, with no cap benefit. The Jets could consider cutting ties with Johnson after this season, prior to his $11MM base salary becoming fully guaranteed on the third day of the league year. That move would save the Jets $3MM against the cap, but would still leave them with $12MM in dead money.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Adams, Dolphins

We have more social media drama. On Tuesday, safety Jamal Adams unfollowed the Jets on Instagram.

In years past, this sort of teenage drama wasn’t on our radar, but we’ve seen countless players unfollow their respective teams and ask for trades as of late.

In case you were wondering, Adams still follows the Jets on Twitter as of this writing, so there’s that. Also, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) hears there’s nothing to this latest unfollow scandal, even though the Jets are 0-2 and suffered a Monday night embarrassment at the hands of the Browns.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

Jets Notes: Bell, Clowney, Johnson, Kalil, LBs

For a player without a major injury, Le’Veon Bell has gone through a historically light amount of organized football work over the past 19 months. Bell’s game-action delay will continue until Week 1, with Adam Gase indicating (via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, on Twitter) his top running back will be held out from Jets preseason games. Bell has not played in a game since the Steelers’ divisional-round loss to the Jaguars in January 2018. His most recent regular-season game was Week 16 of that season. Gase had slammed the door nearly shut on Bell seeing preseason reps, but the first-year Jets coach said Avery Williamson‘s season-ending injury finalized that conversation (Twitter link via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano). For a player who based his ’18 holdout on conservation, this should go along well with his late-2010s M.O.

Here is the Jets latest:

  • Despite the Jets devoting extensive resources to positions that are not typically tabbed as high-value areas, with Bell and C.J. Mosley making out great in free agency, the team largely left its persistent need for edge rushers alone. While Jadeveon Clowney would obviously start for the Jets, were they to make a move for the disgruntled Texans outside linebacker, Cimini writes no trade should be expected. A way it could work: the Jets trade a mid-round pick — worse value than the Texans would have received before the franchise tag extension deadline — and then flip Clowney in a 2020 tag-and-trade. The Jets hold $14.7MM in cap space, so they would have to perform some slight reorganization mechanisms to fit Clowney’s $15.9MM cap figure on their books. For now, the team will head into another season with Brandon Copeland and Jordan Jenkins on the edge.
  • On the inside, Neville Hewitt received the first crack at replacing Williamson. At the Jets’ Green and White scrimmage Sunday night, the four-year veteran — who played 16 Jets games (four starts) last season — lined up in Williamson’s inside ‘backer spot, per Vacchiano (on Twitter). Hewitt’s high-water mark for starts came with the Dolphins in 2016, when the former Miami UDFA started five games.
  • It still appears Bilal Powell, Trenton Cannon and Eli McGuire are competing for two spots. Although the Jets re-signed Powell this offseason, the 30-year-old not playing special teams stands to work against him, Cimini writes. Cannon remains the leading Jets kick-return candidate, pointing to a Bell-McGuire duel for New York’s final running back slot. McGuire is not a key Jets special-teamer, either, and only averaged 3.0 yards per carry last season.
  • Trumaine Johnson‘s adjusted timetable: Week 1. Gase said he is targeting his top cornerback for a return in time for the Jets’ opener. Johnson is dealing with a hamstring injury. He missed six games with leg trouble last year.
  • Not that Ryan Kalil‘s timetable is in question, but the recently signed center had yet to practice with his new team. The Jets deployed him with their first unit (which had some second-stringers sprinkled in) on Sunday night, Cimini adds (via Twitter). The former Panthers snapper has started in the past 12 Week 1s.

Jets Rumors: Johnson, Maye, OL, Griffin

While it was once thought this would be the offseason the Jets overhauled their offensive line, that could well happen in 2020. The Jets, who ranked 32nd in adjusted line yards last season, will return three starters from last season’s group. But when new GM Joe Douglas begins his first free agency period next year, Adam Gase expects him to be aggressive in bolstering the front.

I think the fact that our GM is a former offensive lineman, I’m pretty sure you guys know that he’s going to be looking for those type of guys,” Gase said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “His type of linemen: tough, physical, smart guys that can play multiple positions and play both sides of the line. I think that’s what he’s going to be combing the Earth for.”

Starters Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell are playing on expiring contracts, and recent Douglas acquisition Ryan Kalil is certainly a year-to-year player at this point in his career. The Jets drafted tackle Chuma Edoga in Round 3, but that pick came under Mike Maccagnan‘s watch (and largely not Gase’s). So, next year figures to be telling about Douglas’ blueprint up front.

Here is the from the AFC’s Big Apple franchise:

  • Trumaine Johnson has run into more injury trouble. The high-priced cornerback is now dealing with a hamstring injury, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes the eighth-year defender will be sidelined “indefinitely.” Johnson leads a thin Jets corner group and stands as their unquestioned CB1. Johnson missed six games due to injury last season. Douglas has been searching for veterans for weeks, with Cimini noting the rookie GM is still on that hunt. The Jets opted not to bring back Morris Claiborne, a two-year Gang Green starter. He instead signed with the Chiefs.
  • There is better news elsewhere in the Jets’ secondary. Marcus Maye is off the team’s active/PUP list, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes (on Twitter). The third-year safety had offseason shoulder surgery, with Gase indicating one of the Jets’ two safety starters was dealing with nerve damage. Maye ended last season on IR with the shoulder trouble.
  • Concluding the look at the Jets’ injury front, Brian Winters is also dealing with shoulder trouble. Gase called his right guard starter “week-to-week” but expects him to be ready for Week 1 (Twitter link via Mehta). It sounds like Winters will be shelved for the rest of the team’s preseason slate. This will be Winters’ seventh season as a Jets O-line starter. He’s by far their longest-tenured lineman.
  • In addressing some of the Jets’ position battles, Cimini notes recently added tight end Ryan Griffin is running ahead of backups Eric Tomlinson and Daniel Brown. This is rather important because of starter Chris Herndon‘s four-game suspension. Griffin started 36 games for the Texans, before being released after an arrest this offseason, but has never been too much of a receiving threat.