Brian Costello of the New York Post tweets that Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold once again took the majority of snaps in the team’s practice today, and he says it “feels inevitable” that the No. 3 overall selection will be the Week 1 starter. Which means, of course, that Gang Green could look to move Teddy Bridgewater, whose name we have heard in trade rumors almost as soon as the Jets acquired him this offseason. Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv, though, believes Bridgewater will remain with the Jets throughout the season, unless another club’s starter gets hurt. If New York does deal Bridgewater, though, Vacchiano offers a list of teams who could be interested, including the Broncos, Jaguars, and Saints.
- Speaking of injuries, the Jets will be cautious with guard Brian Winters as he continues to recover from the abdomen issue he dealt with in 2017, per Rapoport (Twitter link). Winters played through the ailment last season, but New York has no interest of rushing him back this year, and he’s not expected to play in any preseason games. The 26-year-old Winters has made 56 starts for the Jets over the past five seasons, and last year graded as the league’s No. 59 guard among 78 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.
If it wasn’t apparent Thursday night, when Sam Darnold received his first preseason start, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv notes many in the Jets organization want the rookie to start in Week 1. Taking this route would likely mean Gang Green finding a trade partner for Teddy Bridgewater, and given the way he’s looked thus far, there are surely some teams who will be interested.
- More from Jackson, who writes that the Dolphins are unlikely trade for Bridgewater, despite their previous interest in him. The Jets QB is on a one-year deal worth $5MM and could make a lot more through incentives, so the Dolphins are unlikely to pay out that contract and give up a draft pick unless a big need develops. That need has yet to develop as Ryan Tannehill is healthy and David Fales continues to look solid in reserve.
Aside from Anthony Castonzo and Ryan Kelly, the Colts will deploy a retooled offensive line this season. They added some new parts by way of draft picks and free agents but are attempting an experiment at right tackle. Second-round guard Braden Smith has worked at right tackle this week, Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star notes.
This may spell trouble for Austin Howard’s chances of making the roster, with Keefer adding Indy brass is “clearly” not high on the veteran signing right now. The Colts are as of now slotting Matt Slauson at right guard, and with Smith previously serving as the free agent addition’s backup there, the team is trying him out on the outside — where less competition appears to exist.
Here’s more from around the NFL:
- Brandon Marshall’s played with more quarterbacks than most wide receivers of his caliber have, having now been on six teams. He’s not a lock to catch passes from Russell Wilson this season, but the 34-year-old wideout’s chances of making the Seahawks’ 53-man roster may be improving. Marshall and Wilson have developed a solid rapport over the past two weeks, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com writes. Marshall was only given $90K guaranteed and missed minicamp because of a hamstring injury, this coming after extensive rehab from ankle surgery. With Doug Baldwin out for the remainder of the preseason, Marshall’s seen plenty of reps with Seattle’s first-stringers, alongside Tyler Lockett and Jaron Brown, per Henderson.
- The Jets will have to find a new ace contract negotiator. Jets director of football administration Jackie Davidson is leaving the franchise, Brian Costello of the New York Post reports (on Twitter). Davidson negotiated contracts for the Jets. However, the team looks to have a replacement lined up. David Socie is set to replace Davidson, Costello adds. Socie worked under previous Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum, per Costello (on Twitter), and also spent time at the league office.
- One of the Vikings’ backups has encountered some off-the-field trouble. Anthony Barr’s reserve option, Antwione Williams, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor careless-driving charge, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Williams was arrested in May in Edina, Minn., on suspicion of drunken driving. He spent last season on the Vikings’ practice squad and signed a reserve/futures deal in January.
The Jets have placed offensive lineman Ben Ijalana on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, according to a team announcement. To take his place on the roster, the Jets signed center Gino Gradkowski.
Ijalana appeared in eleven games in 2017 but only played 56 offensive snaps after losing out on a starting job to Brandon Shell. However, in the previous season, he started 13 games and played 83% percent of the team’s snaps.
The injury is a tough blow, particularly when considering that left tackle Kelvin Beachum is out indefinitely with a foot injury. If Beachum misses games, the Jets will have to draw from a group of uninspiring tackles, including Brent Qvale and Antonio Garcia.
Gradkowski did not play in 2017, but he has 54 games of NFL experience under his belt with 20 starts. The bulk of his first-string experience came in 2013 when he started every game for the Ravens.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Jets would be willing to trade Teddy Bridgewater for the right price, Manish Mehta of the Daily News hears. However, there are some executives in the Jets’ front office that aren’t sold on the idea of moving the backup quarterback.
Sam Darnold figures to start in the Jets’ preseason game against the Redskins on Thursday night, a sign that they are confident in the rookie’s abilities. If he continues to impress, Darnold could wind up as the starter with Josh McCown on hand to serve as insurance. That leaves Bridgewater, who is on a one-year contract, without much of a role for Gang Green.
Still, the Jets face the Lions, Dolphins and Browns in the first eleven days of the season, and some believe that starting Darnold in that accelerated three-game set could be scarring for the rookie. In theory, Bridgewater could start instead, giving Darnold a chance to take over when the schedule resumes its normal pace. There’s also the fact that Bridgewater is well-liked in the Meadowlands – he has received rave reviews about his demeanor as well as his on-field performance.
If the Jets wind up dangling Bridgewater, they’ll have to find a way to get him on the field more in the preseason. Rival executives that spoke with Mehta say that they want to see more from the QB after he completed 7-of-8 passes in last week’s contest.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- Speaking of injuries, the unspecified injury Jets wide receiver Terrelle Pryor suffered in May was actually a broken ankle, per Cimini (Twitter links). It was a new break for Pryor, who also broke his ankle in 2017 with the Redskins (an injury which subsequently landed him on injured reserve). New York head coach Todd Bowles was apparently not pleased at Pryor’s disclosure, telling reporters that Pryor should “keep his mouth shut” with regard to injury news. Pryor, who posted only 20 receptions in 11 games with Washington last season, inked a one-year, $4.5MM with Gang Green that contains $2MM in full guarantees.
Kicker Cairo Santos didn’t play in the Jets‘ first preseason game and hasn’t been practicing as he deals with a chronic groin injury, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. This issue has come up for Santos in the past: in 2017, he missed most of training camp with the Chiefs with the same ailment, then subsequently aggravated the injury in Week 3, leading to his release. He latched on with the Bears, but the same groin problem forced Santos to injured reserve after he underwent a surgical procedure. While Santos calls his current regimen “a normal process,” New York isn’t going to keep two kickers on its 53-man squad, so Santos’ roster spot could be in danger as the regular season approaches. The Jets have just one other kicker on their roster (2016 undrafted free agent Taylor Bertolet), while free agent options include Nick Novak, Giorgio Tavecchio, Connor Barth, and Nick Folk.
- Jets linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin will miss another week with a hamstring injury, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Mauldin will wind up missing the first two preseason games of the year, and that’s a bad sign for his odds of making the roster. Over the weekend, we heard that the former third-round pick could be released sooner rather than later.
The Raiders and star defender Khalil Mack are embroiled in contract negotiations that could result in Mack being traded. If that happens, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com suggests that the Jets should pounce. Gang Green has little pass rushing talent at the moment, and the club has $82MM of projected cap room in 2019, with only one big contract (Leonard Williams) on the horizon. Oakland would demand at least a first-round pick in return, and in addition to negotiating a high-level trade, the Jets would also need to work out a long-term deal with Mack. Those types of deals are difficult to pull off, and it is still unlikely that the Raiders part with Mack, whom they can keep under club control through three more seasons if they so choose. However, if Oakland does begin entertaining offers, Cimini would not be surprised if the Jets are one of the first teams to jump on the phone.
- Jets OLB Lorenzo Mauldin is still around because of New York’s aforementioned dearth of pass rushers, but Mauldin, a 2015 third-round pick, has been dogged by injuries throughout his brief career, and he hasn’t been particularly effective even when he’s gotten on the field. As such, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweets that Mauldin could be cut sooner rather than later, and that New York could let him go with an injury settlement (Mauldin is currently dealing with a leg issue that kept him out of the team’s preseason opener).
- In a full-length piece, Mehta says that Brandon Copeland, a former UDFA out of UPenn who signed a one-year deal with the Jets this offseason after missing all of 2017, has been very impressive in camp and has been taking first-team reps over the past few days. Given the Jets’ pass rushing needs, Copeland has a real chance to get plenty of playing time this season.
- “Things aren’t looking great” for Juston Burris‘ roster chances, according to Matt Stypulkoski of NJ.com. The Jets’ fourth round pick in 2016, Burris hasn’t shown much through two seasons and appears likely to be cut at this point.
- “It wouldn’t be a total shock to see the Jets in the mix” if the Raiders decide to shop Khalil Mack, writes Stypulkoski. Stypulkoski writes that the Jets “are looking to bolster the pass rush” so it sounds like whether it’s Mack or someone else, the Jets may be making a move soon.