Zay Jones

AFC Notes: Mason, Herndon, Foreman

Zack Martin just inked a massive extension with the Cowboys, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com wonders what effect Martin’s contract will have on Shaq Mason‘s future with the Patriots. Mason is not on the same level as Martin or Andrew Norwell — who signed a similarly large deal with the Jaguars this offseason — but he is still a very good guard and should command upwards of $10MM per year when he hits free agency at the end of the 2018 campaign. Reiss is skeptical that New England will pony up that much cash for a guard, so this could be Mason’s last year in Foxborough.

Reiss also observes that other key players, like DE Trey Flowers and K Stephen Gostkowski, are entering the last year of their respective contracts, but he does not offer an opinion as to how those negotiations will play out.

Now for more notes from the AFC:

  • More details have emerged regarding the arrest of Jets‘ rookie TE Chris Herndon. Herndon, a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, was charged with driving while intoxicated several weeks ago, and per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, an eyewitness told New Jersey State Police that an SUV believed to be driven by Herndon was traveling at least 100 mph. Herndon’s SUV flipped after colliding with another vehicle, which caught fire, and the SUV slid approximately 700 feet after initial contact. Eyewitness reports are notoriously shaky, but if this one is accurate, it will not bode well for Herndon, either from an NFL or legal perspective.
  • The Bills‘ WR corps is pretty thin overall, so second-year wideout Zay Jones — whom the team selected in the second round of the 2017 draft — is generally considered to have a stranglehold on Buffalo’s No. 2 wideout job opposite Kelvin Benjamin. However, Jones has dealt with some issues this offseason, as he was arrested in March and underwent knee surgery, and new GM Brandon Beane said the East Carolina product will not be handed anything. During an interview with WGR 550 (via Ryan Talbot of NewYorkUpstate.com), Beane said, “He’s not just going to necessarily go right to the top of the line. He’ll have to earn his way. Part of that will just be just getting his feel. He’s only played with Nathan Peterman. He has not got to play with Josh Allen or A.J. [McCarron] yet. So that bond there will just have to form.”
  • Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle provides an in-depth look at Texans RB D’Onta Foreman‘s recovery from a torn Achilles, which ended his rookie campaign prematurely in November. There is still no specific date for Foreman’s return, and it is unlikely he will be a full participant at the beginning of training camp next month (even the 2018 regular season opener is up in the air at this point). However, the former Texas standout remains confident that he will eventually regain the form that made him a 2017 third-round pick and the heir apparent to Lamar Miller.
  • The Ravens have some depth along their offensive line, part of which is last year’s fourth-round pick, Nico Siragusa. Siragusa suffered a brutal injury last August, as he tore his ACL, MCL, and PCL. Of course, that ended his rookie campaign before it began, but as Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun writes, Siragusa was able to fully participate in last week’s minicamp. He will compete for a backup role this year and could soon become a starting guard or center if he can remain healthy. Alex Lewis, who also missed the entire 2017 season, is expected to start somewhere along the O-line this year — either at left guard, center, or right tackle — but he was held out of minicamp due to back spasms. Head coach John Harbaugh said Lewis should be ready for training camp, but the Nebraska product’s injury history will be cause for concern until he can manage to stay out of the training room for an extended period of time.
  • Tyler Matakevich, a 2016 seventh-round pick, will be given every opportunity to win the Steelers‘ starting ILB job alongside Vince Williams, per Will Graves of the Associated Press. Pittsburgh has a gaping hole at that spot due to Ryan Shazier‘s horrific injury, but the team is confident Matakevich is ready to take the reins. He will need to fend off veteran Jon Bostic, whom the team signed this offseason.

Bills Notes: Jones, McDermott, Stadium

Bills wide receiver Zay Jones underwent knee surgery, head coach Sean McDermott told reporters. Jones will miss the remainder of the offseason program, but the good news is that the team believes he’ll be good to go in time for the start of the regular season.

The Bills are certainly hoping that Jones will be healthy come September given their lack of depth at wide receiver. After the departures of Jordan Matthews and Deonte Thompson this offseason, the Bills’ have an iffy group at WR beyond star Kelvin Benjamin. Veterans Andre Holmes, Jeremy Kerley, Kaelin Clay, and Rod Streater are fighting for roster spots along with late-round rookies Ray-Ray McCloud and Austin Proehl.

If Jones is in for a lengthier recovery than expected, the Bills could theoretically look into signing Dez Bryant to help fill the gap. However, GM Brandon Beane didn’t sound gung-ho about the idea back in April.

We have looked at Dez on tape, but I wouldn’t take it any further and I don’t know where that would go,” Beane said. “We’re looking to get better at all positions and receiver is one, so if we thought that was the right fit for us we would potentially pursue it.”

Here’s more out of Buffalo:

  • Bills owner Kim Pegula says the financial outlook for a new stadium does not look promising, as Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News writes. “I don’t even know if we can get there,” Pegula said. “I know fans in Buffalo don’t want higher ticket prices, they don’t want [personal seat licenses]. The state [of New York] doesn’t want to give you any money, the city doesn’t. … We don’t have a billion-and-a-half dollars sitting around. We used it to buy the team.” The Bills’ current lease expires in the summer of 2023, but the Bills can opt out in 2020. Given the Pegulas’ ties to Buffalo, it seems unlikely that the team would threaten to move, but it is a situation worth watching.
  • On Wednesday, former Bills offensive lineman Richie Incognito was placed on involuntary psychiatric hold by Florida police.

Bills Rumors: Draft, Beane, Jones

Bills GM Brandon Beane addressed reporters on Monday morning and discussed the team’s mindset heading into the draft as well as the status of wide receiver Zay Jones. Here’s a look at the highlights:

  • When asked if he would give up a first-round pick in 2019 to trade up in the 2018 draft, Beane said, “If it makes us a lot better, and if it’s a player that would be worthy of that, yes. We’ll do anything we can to make our roster better. I’m not locked in that I would or I wouldn’t. It would have to make sense and be a player that we really felt strongly about to do that,” (Twitter link via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com).
  • Don’t expect an intra-divisional trade between the Jets and Bills. At least, that’s what Beane says. “I don’t think [No.] 3 would be available if we were ever going to move up. I’m sure the Jets are happy there. Again, we’re just focused on 12. I don’t know the motivation for their move. You would have to ask them. Our focus is on 12 right now, and all the other picks we have, we’re excited about what we’re going to be able to get done,” (Twitter link via Rodak).
  • Beane said Zay Jones’ future with the Bills will not be by his bizarre incident from earlier this month (Twitter link via Rodak). In a strange event caught on camera, Jones was fully naked and acting erratically while his brother —Cayleb Jones of the Vikings — attempted to restrain him. Eventually, Jones kicked a hole through a glass window in Cayleb’s girlfriend’s apartment. The receiver was arrested, but the Los Angeles district attorney does not plan to file vandalism charges.

Extra Points: Panthers, Steelers, Giants

The Panthers are for sale, and the price has reportedly risen to more than $2.5 billion, according to Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg. For reference, the last NFL team to change hands — the Bills — reportedly went for $1.1 billion. The excessive price tag has caused at least one potential bidder, sports apparel mogul Michael Rubin, to drop out of the running, per Soshnick. However, a new suitor has emerged, as Alan Kestenbaum, CEO of private equity firm Bedrock Industries, has expressed interest in the Panther franchise, per Rick Rothacker and Katherine Peralta of the Charlotte Observer.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • The Los Angeles district attorney does not plan to file vandalism charges against Bills wide receiver Zay Jones following a bizarre incident which was caught on video earlier this week, reports Mike Rodak of ESPN.com (Twitter link), who adds insufficient evidence is available to press charges. Jones was arrested following a troubling entanglement in which he struggled with his brother — the Vikings’ Cayleb Jones — before kicking through a glass window. Buffalo selected Jones out of East Carolina in the second round of the 2017 draft. In his rookie campaign, Jones started 10 games and posted 27 receptions for 316 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Several teams have been in contact with free agent running back Alfred Blue, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Steelers, presumably in the market for a veteran backup to Le’Veon Bell, are one of those clubs, but it doesn’t appear as though Blue will be signing with Pittsburgh. Blue, 26, hit his high-water mark in 2015 by rushing for 698 yards in nine starts for the Texans, but the addition of Lamar Miller has forced Houston to scale back Blue’s role since then. In 2017, Blue played on 21% of the Texans’ offensive snaps but managed only 3.7 yards per carry.
  • The Giants are still searching for cornerback help after cutting Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie earlier this month, and they’re assessing the market for internal free agent Ross Cockrell, as Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com writes. Cockrell, whom New York acquired from Pittsburgh last September, started nine games for Big Blue in 2017. He finished first in Football Outsiders’ success rate, which measures cornerbacks on their ability to consistently stop opposing wideouts short of the sticks. Thus far, the Giants have agreed to terms with lower-tier defensive backs such as B.W. Webb, Teddy Williams, and Curtis Riley.
  • Although John Bowlen — son of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen — recently announced his intention to sell his minority stake in the club, he’s since agreed to sell a portion of his total ownership (which is roughly 30-35%) back to the team, according to Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. John Bowlen’s decision to sell wouldn’t have necessarily affected day-to-day operations of the Broncos, as Pat Bowlen — who stepped down as principal owner in 2014 due to Alzheimer’s disease — would have still held the majority of the club and be entitled to designate one of his other children as his successor.

Bills WR Zay Jones Arrested

Bills wide receiver Zay Jones has been arrested and charged with felony vandalism following an incident in Los Angeles Monday night, according to a report from TMZ Sports.

TMZ obtained security footage of what appears to be an extremely bizarre entanglement, one in which Jones is fully nude and behaving erratically all while his brother — the Vikings’ Cayleb Jones — attempts to restrain him. Zay Jones eventually kicked a hole through a glass window in Cayleb’s girlfriend’s apartment, and photos show glass and blood strewn about.

“We are aware of the incident involving Zay Jones,” the Bills said in a statement, per Kimberley A. Martin of the Washington Post (Twitter link). “We are still in the process of gathering more information on the matter. At this point, we will have no further comment.”

Buffalo selected Jones out of East Carolina in the second round of the 2017 draft. In his rookie campaign, Jones started 10 games and posted 27 receptions for 316 yards and two touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: McDaniels, Patriots, Z. Jones

Two of the Giants‘ top choices for their head coaching vacancy, Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, are reportedly set to accept jobs elsewhere. Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, however, says that Big Blue fans should not count out McDaniels just yet. One team source says the Giants have not been informed that McDaniels is out of the mix, and while it has been reported that McDaniels wants more control over personnel than New York is willing to allow, the team feels it can resolve that issue.

Nonetheless, Vacchiano concedes that Patricia is off the table, and if McDaniels does indeed take the Colts’ job, that leaves the Giants with Pat Shurmur and Steve Wilks as their top remaining targets. But Vacchiano says Shurmur appears to prefer the Cardinals’ gig, and Arizona is apparently prepared to offer it to him. So it appears that things may be coming full circle, with Wilks looking increasingly like New York’s next head coach.

Now let’s take a look at more notes out of the east:

  • Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) reports that Patriots owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick, and quarterback Tom Brady will meet this offseason to clear the air and to resolve whatever tensions exist among themselves. While reports of discord within the organization were likely overblown, Rapoport says there is indeed some tension within the triumvirate, and since Belichick and Brady are not going anywhere until they choose to leave, it makes sense that the three men would want to hash out their issues.
  • Bills WR Zay Jones reportedly played his rookie campaign with a torn labrum, and his father, former NFL linebacker Robert Jones, told Robert Quinn of the Bills Wire that his son will have surgery on Tuesday to repair the injury. Zay Jones finished the 2017 season with 27 catches for 316 yards and two touchdowns.
  • The Dolphins will not retain defensive line coach Terrell Williams, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Williams coached the team’s D-line for the past three seasons, and his unit experienced mixed results in 2017. Jackson adds that former offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen has indeed been reassigned to a new role within the organization, as was expected after Miami hired Dowell Loggains as its new OC earlier this month.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/18/17

The latest draft signings from around the NFL:

  • The Bills have signed second-round wide receiver Zay Jones, who’s the fourth of their six draft picks to ink his rookie deal. Jones caught an FBS-record 399 passes, including a ridiculous 158 last season, in four years at East Carolina. That production helped lead the Bills to trade up for Jones, who should be the wideout-needy club’s No. 2 WR after Sammy Watkins in 2017. Jones is now dealing with a knee injury, according to ESPN’s Mike Rodak, though it doesn’t seem particularly serious.
  • The Ravens have signed third-round linebacker Tim Williams (per Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun), meaning they now have their entire seven-player draft class under contract. Williams, the 78th overall pick, is coming off back-to-back seasons with at least nine sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss at Alabama. The Ravens’ hope is that both Williams and second-rounder Tyus Bowser will beef up a pass rush that finished just 24th in the league in sacks last season.
  • The Cardinals have announced the signing of third-round receiver Chad Williams, a former Grambling State standout. The 6-foot-1, 204-pound Williams went 98th overall to Arizona, whose non-Larry Fitzgerald receivers didn’t offer much production in 2016. Moreover, the 2017 campaign could be Fitzgerald’s last, while John Brown will be a free agent next offseason. Therefore, it was imperative for the Cardinals to invest a relatively high pick in a wideout.
  • The Browns have inked third-round defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, per a team announcement. Ogunjobi, who went 65th overall after a strong career at UNC-Charlotte, might start immediately in Cleveland alongside fellow D-tackle Danny Shelton.
  • The Patriots have signed former Arkansas defensive lineman Deatrich Wise, a fourth-rounder who was the 131st overall selection. Wise underwhelmed as a senior with the Razorbacks last season, when he posted 3.5 sacks after totaling eight in 2015, notes Lance Zierlein of NFL.com. However, the 6-5, 274-pounder possesses “rare physical attributes,” Zierlein writes.
  • The Colts have announced the signing of fourth-round defensive tackle Grover Stewart. Formerly with Albany State, Stewart went to Indianapolis with pick No. 144. He has the makings of a developmental project, according to Zierlein.
  • Jets fifth-round tight end Jordan Leggett, the 150th selection, is now under contract. Leggett racked up a combined 86 catches and 15 touchdowns over his final two seasons at Clemson. Given both the Jets’ woeful tight end production last year and their lack of offseason upgrades at the position, Leggett could be in line to make an impact as a rookie.

Bills Acquire 37th Pick From Rams

The Bills have acquired the 37th and 149th picks from the Rams in exchange for Nos. 44 and 91, tweets ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Buffalo will select East Carolina wide receiver Zay Jones. With the acquisition of pick 149, the Bills now have four fifth-rounders.

The 6-foot-1, 197-pound Jones could be a factor immediately for the Bills, who entered the draft sorely lacking at wideout after No. 1 man Sammy Watkins. Jones caught a whopping 399 passes during his four-year college career, including a ridiculous 158 last season. He also amassed 1,746 yards and hauled in eight scores in 2016.

Draft Notes: Bills, Kizer, Howard, Davis

The Bills may not like their current position in this draft. A day after we heard the franchise is looking to move down from its No. 10 overall perch, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report notes (via Twitter) the team is also gauging what it would take to move up further into the top 10.

Buffalo looms as one of the more intriguing spots because of its tenuous relationship with Tyrod Taylor, whom the team retained but on a similar prove-it basis. The Bills are thought to be high on Deshaun Watson, while another report pegged the team as being higher on Mitch Trubisky. The latter has gained steam on going No. 1 overall, but Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer noted he was unlikely to get past the Jets at No. 6 in the event the Browns didn’t use their top pick on him. The Jaguars are now also a threat to take a first-round quarterback, further complicating the Bills’ possible ambitions regarding this position.

Moving up, as the Bills did three years ago to acquire Sammy Watkins, would strengthen their ability to land Trubisky or Watson. But if both of them go early, moving down would obviously allow the team to collect assets and regroup.

Here’s more from the draft, continuing with some quarterback buzz.

  • DeShone Kizer has not been shy about expressing belief in his abilities, but league execs are increasingly skeptical of the former Notre Dame quarterback’s NFL potential. “He’s not as good as he should be because he’s not committed to the game,” an AFC executive told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He’s committed to building a brand. He wants all the things that come with being a starting quarterback but doesn’t want to put in the work.” An AFC exec referred to the 6-foot-4 passer as a “prima donna,” while another NFC exec was concerned about the Fighting Irish benching him at one point and that his second year as a starter generated a 4-8 record. Nine of the 16 NFL staffers the Journal Sentinel surveyed rated Kizer as the most likely bust in this class of QBs.
  • While at least three wide receivers are likely set to go in the first round, an NFC executive told McGinn this is the “It’s the worst wide receiver draft at the top I’ve seen in a long time.” Of the throng of personnel people polled, more of them preferred Corey Davis as the No. 1 wideout prospect. Behind the top three — Davis, Mike Williams and John Ross — personnel staffers and scouts placed East Carolina’s Zay Jones at No. 4. The Seahawks are reportedly doing work on Jones as a possible second-round pick.
  • However, this group is bullish on the tight end class. One AFC personnel man called O.J. Howard and David Njoku future NFL difference-makers because of their ability to block and do the expected work in the passing game. That exec added that as many as 10 tight ends could go in the first four rounds. Only five went in Rounds 1-4 last year, with 11 being selected in total. Howard earned praise as the runaway winner of the Journal Sentinel poll on tight ends, with an AFC exec saying the Alabama product is “as good as Greg Olsen.”

Draft Rumors: Lamp, Ross, Bengals, Hawks

The Dolphins have been looking for guard assistance for quite some time, and now that Laremy Tunsil will take over at left tackle, the team has an even bigger issue inside. This has put the Dolphins in the market for high-round help at guard, and Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com notes the team is “locked in” on Western Kentucky product Forrest Lamp with its first-round pick. The Dolphins did add Ted Larsen from the Bears, but guard remains the only offensive line position the team doesn’t have a long-term starter. Miami holds the draft’s No. 22 pick, and Pauline notes that defensive end resides as the other critical area the franchise wants to enhance. If a quality edge defender is on the board at 22, the Dolphins may pass and set their sights on a Day 2 guard, Pauline writes.

As for Lamp, Pauline hears the lowest he will drop will be the Falcons at No. 31. Atlanta lost Chris Chester to retirement to open a spot opposite Andy Levitre up front.

Here’s the latest coming from the 2017 draft prospect pool.

  • John Ross‘ medical history is causing some teams to drop him on their boards or remove the former Washington Huskies wideout from draftable lists entirely, Mike Mayock of NFL.com reports. Ross is currently recovering from shoulder surgery and underwent operations on both knees in 2015. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report listed the speedster as a possible Day 2 pick in light of these concerns.
  • However, the Bengals are hovering as a Ross suitor, Pauline reports. They have given Ross a clean bill of health, which looks to be the only issue between the receiver and a first-round selection. The Bengals, who pick at No. 9 (generally before Ross is being projected in mock drafts), took a wideout in the first round last year in Tyler Boyd. Boyd figures to have a bigger role in Cincinnati’s offense this season. The team also re-signed Brandon LaFell, crowding the receiver depth chart even before the draft.
  • East Carolina wideout Zay Jones is on the Seahawks‘ radar, per Pauline. They are expected to be prepared to take Jones in the second round, should the ex-Pirates pass-catcher fall to them at No. 58 overall. Todd McShay of ESPN.com (Insider link) places Jones as his fourth-best wide receiver prospect, and with three receivers potentially set to go in Round 1, that could be a stretch for Jones to make it to Seattle that late in Round 2. The Seahawks have taken two wideouts in the second round during this decade — Golden Tate and Paul Richardson.
  • Obi Melifonwu met with or auditioned for 14 teams, and just one — the Titans — viewed the Connecticut defensive back as a corner, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. The UConn safety talent blazed to a 4.40-second 40-yard dash clocking, making him an intriguing get either in the late first or early second round. In addition to the workout circuit, Wilson notes Melifonwu has attracted steady interest from the Ravens, Raiders, Colts and Jaguars. The Bengals attempted to schedule a workout with Melifonwu, but the popular commodity’s schedule didn’t have room.
  • An NFL personnel man and a scout believe the Packers‘ No. 29 pick will be coveted among teams antsy to snag one a quarterback. “I think there’s going to be some action there at the end of the first round,” the scout said, via Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “With these quarterbacks, they need a five-year contract because they’re not ready. I think there will be a lot of movement coming up [into the first round]. With the depth of this draft at defensive end and safety and corner and tight end, I would be looking to trade down.” The personnel man added that the quarterbacks are going to “drive this draft.” With players like Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes expected to go before the Packers pick at 29, it’s conceivable talents like Davis Webb or DeShone Kizer could be coveted at the end of the round.