Patriots, Browns Adjust Josh Gordon Trade

On Wednesday morning, Patriots coach Bill Belichick refused to acknowledge the completion of the Josh Gordon trade, even though it had already been announced by both teams and published on the NFL’s transactions wire. As it turns out, the two sides were still haggling over the exact terms of the trade. 

Initially, the Patriots agreed to send a fifth-round pick to the Browns in exchange for Gordon and a conditional seventh-round pick, with the condition being that the seventh-rounder would be conveyed only if Gordon was not active for ten games. Thanks to some last minute tinkering, the Patriots will receive the seventh-round pick regardless of how many games the wide receiver dresses for, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link).

Reading between the lines, it sounds as though the Browns buckled under the threat that the Patriots would back out of the trade if the conditions of the seventh-round pick weren’t 86’d. That may be an indicator that no other club was willing to best New England’s revised offer.

Now that the trade is officially official, the Patriots will have Gordon available for Sunday’s game against the Lions. They’ll also have an extra seventh-round pick in their arsenal, one that either belongs to the Jaguars or Steelers. It won’t be the Browns’ original seventh-round choice, because that was shipped out to Miami in the Jarvis Landry trade.

Seahawks Not Interested In Dez Bryant?

It doesn’t sound like Doug Baldwin‘s partial MCL tear will lead the Seahawks to sign Dez Bryant. When asked about the ex-Cowboys receiver, head coach Pete Carroll told reporters that he “like(s) the guys they have,” (Twitter link via Mike Vorel of The Seattle Times). 

Through two weeks, previously unknown tight end Will Dissly leads the Seahawks in receiving yards and touchdowns. Meanwhile, receivers Tyler Lockett and Brandon Marshall haven’t exactly set the world on fire. Still, Carroll isn’t panicking, and he apparently is not itching to add Bryant to the fold.

The Seahawks are clearly missing Baldwin, but they’re also facing bigger issues than their receiving personnel. Through two games, the Seahawks’ offensive line has been porous and unable to give Russell Wilson sufficient time in the pocket. On top of that, running backs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny have been unable to keep opposing defenses honest. Arguably, fixing those issues and getting Jaron Brown more involved in the offense would have a larger impact on the Seahawks’ passing offense than signing Bryant.

It’s hard to forecast Bryant’s future destination, but we can pretty much scratch a Cowboys reunion off of the list.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Rumors: Patriots, Cowboys, Bills

Reports of discord within the Patriots‘ organization are nothing new, but a new book by ESPN’s Ian O’Connor has shed even more light on the dynamic between head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. In “Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time,” O’Connor reports that Brady would “divorce” Belichick if he could, but feared alienating New England fans after the Patriots traded backup (and possible successor) Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers last season. “If you’re married 18 years to a grouchy person who gets under your skin and never compliments you, after a while you want to divorce him,” a source told O’Connor. Brady will return for yet another season with the Belichick and the Patriots after agreeing to a revised contract that includes multiple performance-based incentives.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • The Cowboys, perhaps unsurprisingly, don’t have any interest in re-signing veteran wide receiver Dez Bryant, as executive Stephen Jones said on 105.3 The Fan (Twitter link via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News). “Don’t necessarily see that at this moment, but we’re always looking for ways to improve,” Jones said. “Obviously we’re focused on the guys that are on our team at the moment.” Dallas is currently fielding arguably the league’s worst receiving corps, as complementary options such as Cole Beasley, Tavon Austin, Deonte Thompson, and Allen Hurns top the club’s depth chart. Bryant, though, wouldn’t be a clear improvement after a disappointing 2017 campaign. Now 29 years old, Bryant has been linked to multiple clubs this offseason, but only came close to a contact with the Browns, who could still opt to sign him.
  • Speaking of Bryant, the veteran receiver was a factor in Brice Butler re-signing with the Cowboys this week, per Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram, who notes Bryant told Butler to head back to Dallas if the opportunity presented itself. As Hill tweets, the Cowboys called Butler after a Week 1 loss to the Panthers, so his addition was in the works for awhile. Butler, who had spent his entire career in Dallas before signing with the Cardinals this spring, signed a two-year deal, per Calvin Watkins of The Athletic (Twitter link). He’ll earn the veteran minimum of $790K in 2018.
  • Before signing with the Vikings earlier this week, defensive tackle Tom Johnson drew interest from the Bills and Browns, according to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. Johnson, whose release from the Seahawks precipitated his free agency, was in fact close to signing with Buffalo before Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson — who led Johnson in Minnesota from 2014-17 — reached out. Seattle also expressed interest in re-signing Johnson, but his number of suitors allowed to him to a land a one-year, $1MM deal from the Vikings, one that includes $500K in incentives.

49ers Activate LB Reuben Foster

The 49ers have activated linebacker Reuben Foster from the suspended list and released offensive tackle Matt Tobin, the club announced today.

Foster never actually suffered any legal consequences as the result of several off-field incidents during the offseason, but the NFL still suspended him two games for violating the league’s conduct and substance abuse policies. The 31st overall pick in the 2017 draft, Foster was outstanding in his 10-game rookie season, posting 59 tackles in total. He should slide back in as San Francisco’s weak side linebacker while veteran Malcolm Smith moves to the strong side.

Tobin, 30, boasts 57 games of pro experience with the Eagles and Seahawks, but he’d been inactive for each of the 49ers’ first two games. He signed with the Patriots this offseason but was released during final cutdowns, and signed with the 49ers two days later.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/19/18

Today’s minor moves:

Los Angeles Rams

  • Activated from suspension: G Jamon Brown
  • Promoted from practice squad: WR KhaDarel Hodge
  • Placed on injured reserve: WR Mike Thomas

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Cardinals Work Out WR Kendall Wright

The Cardinals worked out Kendall Wright and other (as yet unidentified) free agent receivers this week, but don’t plan to sign any of the pass-catchers, head coach Steve Wilks told reporters, including Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com (Twitter link).

Wright inked a one-year, $1MM deal with the Vikings this spring that contained $400K guaranteed, but he was cut loose earlier this month. Scheduled to be Minnesota’s slot receiver between Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, Wright was beaten out by former first-round pick Laquon Treadwell for a starting spot. Given his lack of special teams prowess, Wright didn’t hold much appeal as a reserve for Minnesota.

Wright’s fit with the Cardinals also could have been suspect, as he’s played primarily in the slot throughout this career. In Arizona, that role is held by future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald. A former first-round pick, Wright spent five years with the Titans before landing with the Bears in 2017. The lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal passing attack, Wright posted a team-leading 59 receptions and 614 yards in his only season with Chicago.

Since being cut by the Vikings, Wright has auditioned for the Patriots, Redskins, and Jaguars.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Activate RB Aaron Jones

The Packers have activated running back Aaron Jones from the suspended list and waived cornerback Deante Burton, the club announced today.

Jones, 23, was handed a two-game ban for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy after an October 2017 arrest. A fifth-round pick in last year’s draft, Jones was excellent during his rookie campaign, averaging 5.5 yards per carry on 88 attempts. Among running backs with fewer than 100 carries, Jones finished first in DYAR (a representation of his value over a replacement level player) and second in DVOA (meaning he was effective on a per-play basis), per Football Outsiders.

Jones isn’t coming back to Green Bay as a starter despite his production a season ago. After Jones missed the tail end of the 2017 campaign with an MCL injury, fellow rookie Jamaal Williams took over as the Packers’ workhorse. In total, Williams handled 153 carries an averaged 3.6 yard per carry last year, and has shouldered the load through Green Bay’s first two games this season. With Ty Montgomery also in tow, Jones will be eased back into the club’s offensive gameplan.

Burton played receiver at Kansas State but converted to cornerback upon being signed as a Falcons undrafted free agent in 2017. He played in one game for Atlanta this year before being cut.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Sign WR Corey Coleman To Practice Squad

The Patriots have signed wide receiver Corey Coleman to their practice squad, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

New England originally signed Coleman to its 53-man roster earlier this month, but he was cut when the Patriots acquired another former Brown — the mercurial Josh Gordon — via trade on Monday. Given that he’s only accrued two NFL seasons, Coleman still has practice squad eligibility, and will be given the opportunity to develop with the Patriots in practice and in meetings.

Given the Patriots’ unsettled wide receiver depth chart, Coleman could still conceivably work his way back onto their active roster this season. With Julian Edelman suspended for two more games, New England’s list of pass-catchers includes only Chris Hogan, Gordon, Phillip Dorsett, and Cordarrelle Patterson (excluding special-teamer Matthew Slater).

Coleman, the 15th overall pick in the 2016 draft, didn’t produce during his two seasons with the Browns, but that was partly due his suffering a broken hand in each campaign. Cleveland moved on Coleman earlier this year, trading him to the Bills for a 2020 seventh-round pick, but Buffalo waived him before the regular season got underway.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/19/18

Here are Wednesday’s practice squad updates:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Detroit Lions

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

Oakland Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Jets Waive WR ArDarius Stewart

The Jets have waived wide receiver ArDarius Stewart, according to a club announcement. Stewart was set to return from a two-game PED suspension this week, but the Jets opted to cut Stewart instead of releasing another player to make room for him. 

Stewart, the Jets’ third-round pick in 2017, didn’t impress much as a rookie. He caught just six passes last year and, if not for his suspension, he probably would have been cut on Labor Day weekend.

The Jets also cut Chad Hansen earlier this month, so they’ve now dropped both of the receivers taken in the 2017 draft. The Jets’ WR group now consists of Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, Terrelle Pryor, Quincy Enunwa, Andre Roberts, and Charone Peake.

The Stewart-less Jets will be in action on Thursday night against the Browns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL News & NFL Rumors