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Jets Shopping Quinnen Williams?

The Jets are shopping defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (on Twitter). However, other Jets beat writers — like Ralph Vacchiano of SNY (Twitter link) — say that “shopping” is a strong word. But, at minimum, they may be keeping an open ear to inquiries.

For the lowly Jets, it may be a matter of semantics. With a record of 0-7 and a limited budget for 2020, the Jets are clearly in need of a revamp. Trading Williams, of course, would signal an overhaul. Williams, 23 in December, was drafted third overall just last year. The former Crimson Tide standout has been a starter ever since, and he has the talent to be a cornerstone for years to come.

The Jets, according to Mehta, would want more than a second-round pick for Williams. That’s a fair ask, given his draft status and his own personal improvement in the face of the Jets’ general disarray. Through seven games, Williams has five tackles for loss and ranks as one of the league’s very best run-stoppers on the interior, according to Pro Football Focus.

It’s worth noting that Williams was the final first-round choice of the Mike Maccagnan era. New GM Joe Douglas — who took over months later — might not share the same affection

NFC East Notes: Ertz, Giants, Cowboys

Zach Ertz‘s high ankle sprain may well have prevented a big trade. Prior to Ertz’s injury, the Eagles were willing to part with the eighth-year tight end before the Nov. 3 deadline, multiple NFL executives informed ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (video link). The Eagles view Dallas Goedert as a long-term cornerstone, a position Ertz previously held in Philly, and the older of the team’s two prominent tight ends became embroiled in a contract dispute with the team during camp. Ertz sought a deal in the George KittleTravis Kelce neighborhood ($14MM-plus per year) and openly questioned whether the Eagles wanted him around. Ertz’s current contract — a four-year, $42MM pact — expires after the 2021 season. He will be on IR beyond the trade deadline.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Although Joe Judge was interestingly noncommittal about Andrew Thomas‘ status earlier this week, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the No. 4 overall pick is in good standing with the Giants and will start at left tackle Thursday night. The Giants used third-round rookie Matt Peart as their left tackle starter against Washington, making the change because Thomas violated a team rule. Thomas played just 22 snaps in Big Blue’s win. Through six games, Pro Football Focus slots Thomas 61st among tackles — behind three tackles that were taken after him in this year’s first round.
  • The Eagles will continue to incorporate Jalen Hurts into their offense. Doug Pederson said this week using Hurts in a Wildcat-type capacity is something the Eagles are “definitely going to continue to explore each week,” via Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP. The second-round rookie has played 19 snaps this season, including a career-high seven last week. Hurts has completed one pass but is averaging 7.0 yards per carry on seven attempts.
  • It is quite possible the Washington Football Team‘s mascot-less existence will continue into 2021. “There’s a pretty good chance we will be the Washington Football Team next season,” team president Jason Wright said (via John Keim of ESPN.com). The franchise made the change in mid-July.
  • Key defensive personnel could return for the Cowboys this week. Sean Lee and Chidobe Awuzie returned to practice and could be activated ahead of Saturday’s deadline. Both players went on IR after Week 1. Lee’s return from a sports hernia issue would follow Leighton Vander Esch into Dallas’ lineup, giving the embattled defense its full set of first-string linebackers. Awuzie is attempting to come back from a hamstring malady.
  • The Giants worked out a familiar player Thursday. They brought former first-round pick Corey Coleman back for an audition/checkup. The Giants re-signed Coleman in March but cut him ahead of the regular season. Coleman tore an ACL during the team’s 2019 training camp and has not played since.

AFC West Notes: Bolts, Broncos, Incognito

Tyrod Taylor could be on the verge of being benched in September for a second time in three seasons. A chest injury he was battling caused Justin Herbert to be called upon Sunday, and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo report Taylor received a pregame injection to the area (Twitter link). Complications ensued, prompting Chargers HC Anthony Lynn to call on Herbert. While the No. 6 overall pick fared better than could be expected, given the lack of offseason prep time, Lynn has not named him the Chargers’ Week 3 starter. The fourth-year coach said he will turn back to Taylor when he is “100%” recovered from the chest setback.

Whether “100%” will be how the Bolts justify keeping Herbert in the lineup or not, it would seem difficult for the team to give the job back to its bridge starter. The Chargers drafted a quarterback in the first four rounds for the first time since 2006 and saw him throw for 311 yards in an overtime loss, making it entirely possible Taylor is benched again. The Browns sidelined Taylor after three starts in 2017.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • Von Miller has not given up on returning this season. The Broncos‘ future Hall of Fame linebacker has been studying how some non-NFL athletes returned in three months from the injury he suffered — as opposed to the four- to six-month timetable he was given after suffering a dislocated peroneal tendon — and has told teammates he could return in mid-December, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. However, since this report surfaced, the Broncos lost Drew Lock for perhaps more than a month and Courtland Sutton for the season. They are already down A.J. Bouye and Phillip Lindsay for the foreseeable future, making a playoff run more difficult to envision. As for Miller’s long-term future, the 31-year-old pass rusher has told teammates he is eyeing five or six more seasons, per La Canfora. This tracks with previous Miller plans.
  • Speaking of Lindsay, the Pro Bowl running back will almost certainly miss Week 3 and may be out longer. Rather than turf toe, Lindsay is dealing with a toe sprain, Rapoport notes. This represents a tough break for the UDFA success story, who was discussing an extension shortly after last season’s conclusion. However, the Broncos instead opted to sign Melvin Gordon to a two-year, $8MM deal. Lindsay is set for restricted free agency in 2021.
  • Brandon McManus‘ four-year, $17MM Broncos extension will guarantee the Denver kicker $4MM in 2021, but Mike Klis of 9News notes the deal’s final three seasons are not guaranteed (Twitter link). McManus is due to earn base salaries of $3MM (2022), $3.75MM (’23) and $3.95MM (’24) over the course of the deal, which also came with a $2.5MM signing bonus. The Broncos have used McManus as their kicker since 2014 but are not committed to him beyond 2021.
  • Richie Incognito left Monday night’s Raiders win with an Achilles issue, but the veteran guard may not miss any time. Incognito aggravated a previous injury but did not suffer a tear, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. The Raiders were already down right tackle Trent Brown, due to a reportedly not serious calf injury, and backup tackle Sam Young against the Saints.

Chiefs To Sign Andy Reid, Brett Veach To Six-Year Deals

The Chiefs are nearing new six-year deals with head coach Andy Reid and GM Brett Veach, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). Once finalized, the Chiefs will have their chief architects under contract through the 2025 season. 

[RELATED: Chiefs’ Mike Pennel Suspended 2 Games]

The Chiefs dazzled the league last year en route to capturing the championship trophy. Reid and Veach have been laying the groundwork ever since they joined the organization in 2013. Reid has led to the Chiefs to the postseason in six of his seven seasons on the sideline and Veach has been a key part of the front office for that entire stretch. Starting out as a scout, Veach climbed the ranks to GM in 2017.

There’s no guarantee that Reid, 62, will finish out his new contract, though he says that he has no immediate plans to retire. He’s gone 77-35 across seven seasons with the Chiefs and another seven wins this season would move him past Paul Brown for sixth on the all-time wins list. Reid is currently the NFL’s fifth-oldest active HC — behind Pete Carroll, Bill BelichickBruce Arians and Mike Zimmer. This will be Reid’s 22nd season as a head coach, and it won’t be his last.

AFC West Rumors: Raiders, Simmons, Jones

From Cliff Branch to James Jett to Darrius Heyward-Bey (to name a few of many), the Raiders have been known for their speed affinity for decades. They surprised many by making Henry Ruggs the first wide receiver pick in this draft. Their owner was eyeing the Alabama deep threat for months leading up to the draft. Citing a lack of team speed for the past several years, Mark Davis said he pegged Ruggs as the first-rounder he wanted for six months going into this year’s draft, via Vic Tafur of The Athletic (subscription required). Chosen before Alabama teammate Jerry Jeudy and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, Ruggs did not eclipse 800 yards in a college season. And he spent time this offseason rehabbing a thigh injury he sustained two months ago while helping a friend move. However, Ruggs said Wednesday he is 100%, per Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area (on Twitter), as Raiders rookies prepare for the team’s strength and conditioning period.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • For the first time in five negotiations with franchise-tagged players, Broncos GM John Elway did not close a deal. Justin Simmons will play this season on the safety tag. Elway said discussions never came close to a deal, but the 10th-year GM believed his offer was “very, very fair.” The offer was believed to place Simmons among the five or six highest-paid safeties. Guaranteed money was an issue, however, with Elway noting the pandemic induced the Broncos to limit the guaranteed dollars in their proposal to Simmons (Twitter links via 9News’ Mike Klis). Elway, who said late last season Simmons would be a priority, still wants to extend the standout defensive back next year.
  • The Raiders are beginning their first season in Las Vegas, but the prospects of the NFL moving to Nevada surfaced in January 2016. Davis adds that Vegas was after the Raiders “for years” before those talks began. “We got our ass kicked in L.A., and we went back to Oakland with our tails between our legs. And then (Coliseum Authority executive director Scott) McKibben backtracked and tripled our lease, and it was total disrespect. It was like, how are we going to work with these people?” Davis said. “Vegas had been after us for years, but I told them I will only talk to you if Oakland and Los Angeles don’t happen.” The NFL in 2016 voted to send the Rams to Los Angeles and placed the Chargers ahead of the Raiders in the pecking order. The Raiders then spent three years as a lame-duck team in Oakland.
  • Chris Jones‘ contract trails both Fletcher Cox‘s 2016 extension ($17.1MM per year) and Grady Jarrett‘s pact in 2019 ($17MM AAV) in terms of two-year payouts, leading Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap to label it a Chiefs-friendly deal. Jones’ four-year, $80MM extension is essentially a two-year deal. The Chiefs, who did this deal without including a signing bonus, would incur no dead money by moving Jones in 2022. Through those two years, Jones will see $37.6MM — which is also well behind Aaron Donald‘s $60MM two-year total.

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Bucs Notes: Brady, TEs, OL, Free Agency

Tom Brady‘s transition to a new team in advance of his 21st NFL season has obviously been less than ideal, with the COVID-19 pandemic preventing the future Hall of Famer from working with teammates and coaches at the Buccaneers‘ facility. The first time the soon-to-be 43-year-old quarterback is expected to be permitted to enter his new team’s facilities will be training camp. But the Bucs do not plan to compensate for this by giving Brady more preseason work. Bruce Arians said Thursday he doubts Brady will need more preseason time to make up for the virtual offseason, per Greg Auman of The Athletic (on Twitter). Still, Brady’s preseason snaps figure to be more important than usual this year.

Here is the latest out of Tampa:

  • Arians has not gotten much out of the tight end position during his stay as head coach in Arizona and Tampa. That should soon change. The Bucs currently house an all-time tight end stable, with Rob Gronkowski joining the team’s O.J. HowardCameron Brate duo already regarded as one of the NFL’s best. Arians said the Bucs will use a two-tight end offense as their base this season (via Auman, on Twitter). Going with more “12 personnel” looks would give Howard and Brate more time on the field and potentially represent an effort to conserve Gronkowski, who retired partially because of injury issues last year. This also points to the Bucs giving stronger consideration to keeping all three tight ends rather than trading Howard or Brate. Arians even said he’s interested in three-tight end looks.
  • Tampa Bay is not expected to make a move to add interior offensive linemen to back up starters Ali Marpet, Alex Cappa and Ryan Jensen, Arians added (via Auman, on Twitter). The Bucs did not draft any guards or centers, but Arians likes what he has seen from backups Aaron Stinnie, Anthony Fabiano and Zack Bailey. A fifth-year blocker, Fabiano is now on his eighth team. Stinnie was a 2018 Titans UDFA; Bailey was a Bucs 2019 UDFA who spent much of last year on IR.
  • However, the Bucs are keeping multiple roster spots open for possible veteran additions. Arians said (via Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com, on Twitter) he and GM Jason Licht discussed saving room for veterans who would be more prepared to play than rookie UDFAs. With Brady on a two-year deal, Tampa Bay stockpiling vets would make sense.

Latest On NFL Rule Changes

The NFL discussed a set of rule changes on Thursday. Here is how the league opted to proceed:

  • A proposal to implement a fourth-and-15 play to replace the increasingly difficult onside kick was tabled, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. This proposal would give teams the option of eschewing kickoffs for a 15-yard conversion — on an untimed down — twice per game. This marks the second straight year the league tabled such a proposal. But teams were split this time around. The unofficial straw poll had 16 teams for and 16 against, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes (via Twitter). This rule, or something similar, will almost certainly be revisited again as some momentum now exists to adjust the onside kick.
  • The opposition to the fourth-and-15 proposal came largely from owners fearing it could be a bridge to eliminating the kickoff altogether, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. The NFL pushed back against that perception, viewing the potential rule change as merely a way to help teams’ comeback efforts — now that the no-running-start rule has worsened onside kick recovery odds.
  • Both sky judge proposals did not even make it to a vote, with each being withdrawn in advance of Thursday’s discussions, Pelissero notes. But the league did approve a preseason experiment that may lead to such a change. The approval will allow for increased communication between on-field officials and those in the booth during this preseason, and NFL executive VP for football operations Troy Vincent said (via Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com) it could be a bridge to adding a full-time booth official to each crew.
  • This preseason experiment partially stems from the NFL being concerned about having to hire 17 booth officials to act as sky judges, the Washington Post’s Mark Maske tweets. Fear of potential unintended consequences — as was the case in the one-and-done pass interference review system — prompted the league to scrap the sky judge proposals, per Florio. But the cost of hiring qualified booth officials almost certainly played a role, Florio adds.
  • Teams will have an additional IR spot this coming season. Three players can now return from IR.

NFL To Vote On Changes To IR Rules

League owners will vote next week on two major proposed changes to injured reserve rules, per Albert Breer of SI.com (Twitter link). The first would allow up to three players who have been placed on IR to return later in the season (currently, only two IR’d players are permitted to return). The second would make players who are placed on IR prior to final roster cutdowns eligible to return.

The first of those proposed changes is fairly self-explanatory, though it wasn’t that long ago that a player who was put on injured reserve was automatically ruled out for the rest of the season. In 2012, clubs were permitted to return one player from IR during the season, but they had to designate a specific player as a return candidate. In 2016, the rules were modified so that teams did not have to slap a “DTR” label on a specific player and could instead return any IR’d player they wanted. And in 2017, the league began allowing teams to bring back two players from injured reserve.

Throughout those changes, however, one thing has remained constant: in order to be eligible to return from IR, a player had to make his team’s final 53-man preseason roster. So we frequently saw situations like that of Kurt Coleman last year, who was cut by the Bills prior to final cutdowns just so that Buffalo could carry tight end Jason Croom on the 53-man and then place him on IR (thereby making him eligible to return later in the season). Buffalo re-signed Coleman the next day.

That type of borderline senseless roster maneuvering may soon be a thing of the past. Still, a player on IR will not be permitted to practice until six weeks after landing on injured reserve and cannot return to game action until his team has played eight games after he was put on IR.