- Alabama State offensive tackle Tytus Howard met with the Jets today, reports Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com lauds Howard’s size (6’2′”, 322) and ability to “explode out of his stance,” but notes potential concerns about Howard’s level of competition in the FCS. Howard, who could be available for New York in either the second or third round, would be in contention to displace Jets tackles Kelvin Beachum and/or Brandon Shell, if not immediately than in the long-term.
- If the Cardinals and 49ers pass on Nick Bosa, the Jets are going to take him, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News offers. If both Bosa and Josh Allen remained on the board at No. 3, Mehta writes the Jets will take the Ohio State product. Although the Jets have been linked to trade-down scenarios, entering the draft without a second-round pick, Bosa would be the kind of impact pass rusher the team may not be able to pass up. The Jets are not believed to have used one of their 30 pre-draft visits on Bosa, but it’s not like a team that tried to spend $15MM per year to convert an off-ball linebacker into a pass rusher would not have interest in a player viewed by many as the best prospect in the draft.
Midway through a rather notable offseason, given the recent behind-the-curtain look at their previous power structure, the Packers are investigating some high-end quarterback prospects. They are obviously set at sports’ marquee position, but with Aaron Rodgers set to turn 36 by season’s end, Green Bay is at a similar point compared to when it last made a major quarterback investment. The Packers will host Drew Lock on a visit Tuesday, Terez Paylor of Yahoo.com reports (on Twitter). They also tried to set up a summit with Daniel Jones, but the parties’ schedules did not line up, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds (via Twitter). The Packers took Rodgers when Brett Favre was 36 and sat him for three years. While Green Bay pulling the trigger on a passer would be rather surprising, especially given Rodgers’ contract status, the team does have two first-round picks this year.
Here is the latest from the draft world, staying on the subject of quarterbacks:
- Lock will also meet with the Chargers, per Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com (on Twitter). Teams have ramped up their signal-caller-related preparation, in the event Kyler Murray does not go No. 1, according to Robinson, who notes some teams believe this year’s passers could slide a bit should Murray not be the Cardinals’ choice atop the draft. Some modest steam picked up on this notion earlier Monday.
- The Dolphins, who already met with Jones, will head to the Duke campus to work out the former Blue Devil starter, Rapoport reports (on Twitter). Teams only have a few more days to host prospects on “30” visits but can still work them out after that deadline passes. Miami will also host Michigan linebacker Devin Bush and Florida tackle Jawaan Taylor, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.
- Devin White‘s stock has risen during the pre-draft process, to the point he may be the rare off-ball linebacker to be picked in the top five. One of the teams holding such a selection, the Raiders, brought in White for a visit, Rapoport tweets. The Buccaneers, who hold pick No. 5, have been closely connected to the LSU ‘backer. The Raiders have the No. 4 overall pick. Oakland, which also holds the Nos. 24 and 27 selections, will meet with tight end Noah Fant, on Monday as well, Rapoport tweets. The Raiders lost their starting tight end of the past two seasons, Jared Cook, in free agency.
- For weeks, the Jets have been viewed as a team that would love to trade down. They are meeting with a prospect Tuesday that would support the fact this is a consideration. Ed Oliver will visit the Jets, per Schefter (on Twitter). While the defensive tackle is a surefire first-round talent, he has not been mocked as a player who would be a consideration at No. 3 overall.
- The Titans are visiting with defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, per Rapoport (on Twitter). This is the Notre Dame-developed defender’s second known visit, the first having come with the Saints recently. Tillery remains in rehab after surgery to repair a torn shoulder labrum.
- Not much has surfaced about which teams are researching an Andre Dillard pick. That has changed. The Washington State tackle prospect is visiting the Falcons on Monday and will meet with the Chargers later this week, Schefter tweets. Additionally, Schefter adds the first-round offensive line hopeful has already visited or worked out for a host of teams — the Giants, Jets, Dolphins, Ravens, Titans, Panthers, Vikings, Jaguars, Bills, Texans, Bengals, Packers, Redskins.
- Rich Cimini of ESPN.com believes the Jets‘ newest QB, former AAF passer Brandon Silvers, will have a legitimate chance to win the club’s backup QB job.
- In the same piece, Cimini expresses his belief that the Jets will select Alabama DT Quinnen Williams with the No. 3 overall selection if they don’t trade the pick. Cimini thinks Kentucky pass rusher Josh Allen fills a bigger need, but GM Mike Maccagnan cannot afford to miss on this pick, and Williams is a safer prospect who, like Allen, offers elite potential.
One of the biggest surprises of free agency this year came when linebacker Anthony Barr, who had agreed to sign with the Jets, suddenly reversed course and opted to re-sign with the Vikings for less money than he would have earned with Gang Green.
At the time the news broke, we knew only that Barr wanted to remain with Minnesota and that the Vikings had sweetened their offer to convince him to return. But in a lengthy and fascinating piece that is worth a full read, Courtney Cronin and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com detail exactly how Barr’s decision played out.
The ESPN scribes write that, when the legal tampering period opened on March 11, Barr had a few suitors, but the Jets quickly rose to the top of the list because of how much money they could offer. Barr had identified the Jets — who planned to capitalize on his athleticism as a blitzer and his ability to drop into coverage — as his top choice if he couldn’t remain with the Vikings. New York, which signed linebacker C.J. Mosley not long before Barr canceled his deal with the Jets, had every intention of bringing Mosley and Barr into the fold.
And as it turns out, New York’s offer was even higher than was initially reported. Per Cronin and Cimini, Barr’s agent, Ryan Williams, could tell that his client was very hesitant to accept the Jets’ pitch — in response to New York’s initial offers, Barr simply said, “where’s Minnesota?” — and Williams convinced the Jets to increase their offer to over $15MM per season, which Barr had indicated he would accept. But when Williams called Barr to tell him the Jets had met his asking price, Barr said, “I feel like I just made the worst mistake of my life.”
Barr did not want to back out of the Jets deal since he had given them his word, but Williams called Gang Green to let them know Barr was having second thoughts. Minnesota, meanwhile, was convinced it could not re-sign Barr because of its shortage of cap space, and rather than extending what it felt would be a disrespectful, low-ball offer, it stayed out of the sweepstakes entirely.
So the Vikings were very surprised to get a “frantic” call from Williams asking for the team’s best and final offer. Minnesota extended itself as far as it could go, the Jets offered to fly Barr out to New York to convince him to come to the Big Apple, and the decision was in Barr’s hands. Of course, he ultimately chose to accept Minnesota’s offer, and the excitement he felt when Williams told him he was back with the Vikings proves to him that he made the right choice.
Barr said, “I was trying to convince myself of something I knew that in my heart didn’t feel right, and I think if you follow the heart, I can live with the results.”
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
With the NFL draft less than two weeks away, the Jets are ramping up their draft efforts. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that the team is hosting Kentucky pass-rusher Josh Allen today. The team also had Iowa tight end Noah Fant in for a visit yesterday.
The interest in Allen isn’t much of a surprise, as the Jets were listed among the five teams that the linebacker would be visiting (along with the 49ers, Raiders, Giants and Lions). There were even some whispers during the defender’s pro day that he would ultimately be selected third-overall by the Jets. Allen clearly benefited from staying in school for his season year, registering 17 sacks this past season. He also finished the 2018 campaign with 56 tackles, five forced fumbles, and 21.5 tackles for loss.
Assuming Kyler Murray and Nick Bosa are off the board by the Jets’ third-overall pick, you could make an argument that Allen would be the best player available. The edge defender has generally been ranked alongside Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams in mock drafts and prospect rankings.
The interest in Fant is a bit surprising. While the tight end is generally considered to be one of the best prospects at his position (along with teammate T.J. Hockenson), there’s little chance the organization selects him with the third pick. Plus, while Fant’s draft stock is varied, it’s expected that if he’s not selected in the first round, he’d be an early-second-rounder. The Jets sent their second-rounder to the Colts in last year’s blockbuster, although they are armed with a pair of third-rounders. In other words, the Jets could easily make a trade to move up in the draft.
Fant was a touchdown machine at Iowa, hauling in 18 touchdowns between the 2017 and 2018 season. In New York, he’d provide Sam Darnold with another red zone target, and he’d team up with All-Rookie member Chris Herndon to form a formidable tight end duo.
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A look at the details on recent deals from around the NFL:
- Stephen Gostkowski, K (Patriots): Two years, $8.5MM (original story). $4.25MM each year, with cap numbers of $3.05MM (2019) and $5.45MM (2020). Twitter link via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.
- Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE (Patriots): One year. Worth $895K, only guarantee via $50K signing bonus. Veteran minimum salary of $805K with $40K in per-game roster bonuses. Cap number of $707K. Twitter link via Volin.
- Patrick Chung, S (Patriots): One-year extension. New “three-year” contract worth $12.9MM, with $6MM in new money. $4MM signing bonus. New 2019 cap number increases to $4.48MM. Twitter link via Albert Breer of TheMMQB and ESPN’s Mike Reiss.
- Ty Montgomery, WR/RB (Jets): One year. Minimum deal with $90K signing bonus/roster bonus. Twitter link via Manish Mehta of NYDN.
- While pass rusher looks like the Jets‘ biggest need, the team appears to believe cornerback resides higher in its deficiency queue than the offensive line, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes. The Jets made a bigger splash on their offensive front this offseason, in acquiring Kelechi Osemele, but did not make big bids for UFA centers. The Jets graded as Football Outsiders’ worst line, per the adjusted line yards metric, last season. New York lost Buster Skrine and has not made an effort to bring back Morris Claiborne. And buyer’s remorse may be setting in on the Jets’ Trumaine Johnson signing, pointing to Gang Green being in on corners come draft weekend.
Montgomery visited the Jets on Thursday, following Spencer Ware in doing so. The team evidently prefers Montgomery, who was scheduled to visit the Dolphins on Friday, per the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson (on Twitter).
The converted wide receiver is expected to be Le’Veon Bell‘s backup, Schefter writes, supplanting Eli McGuire and Trenton Cannon. While Montgomery has been prone to injuries, he will come to New York with fresh legs. While Bell has more than 1,200 career carries, Montgomery has logged 192.
While the 26-year-old Montgomery does not profile as a true RB2, the Jets’ backfield does gain some obvious pass-catching ability. He caught 44 passes for 348 yards in 2016, when the Packers moved him to running back because of injuries. Montgomery played in 15 games that season, averaging 5.9 yards per carry. The position change stuck, despite Montgomery keeping his wide receiver jersey number.
The former third-round pick fell out of favor with Green Bay last season, a fumbled kick return at the root of that ending. But the midseason castoff did average 5.5 yards per tote in Baltimore — albeit on 15 carries. McGuire posted 3.0 yards per handoff last year.
The Jets met with running back Spencer Ware on Wednesday, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Then, on Thursday, the club will host fellow free agent running back Ty Montgomery, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.
Ware previously met with the Colts and Lions, but left town without signing with either club. Ware first made noise in 2015 when he ran for 403 yards with the Chiefs and averaged 5.6 yards per carry in a limited sample. In 2016, he was the Chiefs’ starter and amassed 921 yards with a 4.3 yards-per-tote average. His usage fluctuated over the course of three healthy years in KC, but the 27-year-old’s career 4.7 YPC shows promise.
Ware could be a solid backup for Le’Veon Bell and the same goes for Montgomery, who came out of nowhere in 2016 to average 5.9 yards per carry for the Packers. Montgomery’s production, understandably, dropped after that, and the Packers dropped him from the roster with an October trade last year after his late game fumble cost them a chance at beating the Rams.
Either veteran could back up Bell, but the Jets could also find supporting RBs in this month’s draft.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.