Tagged in: Jets

New York Jets DE Carl Lawson expects to be ready for training camp after tearing Achilles last year

Nine months removed from Achilles surgery, New York Jets defensive end Carl Lawson won’t participate in OTA practices later this month, but he expects to be on the field for training camp in late July.

“I think I’ll be good to go, but it’s up to the organization and how they want to play it, what they want me doing and stuff like that,” Lawson said Wednesday on a Zoom call with reporters, his first interview since December.

“I’ll be ready to go when my number is called. Even when I was on one leg, I was ready to go.” Lawson is sprinting, according to coach Robert Saleh, but he’s still in the latter stages of his rehab.

The team will be cautious with Lawson, their marquee free-agent signing in 2021, which means there could be a ramp-up period once camp starts.

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The Jets had big expectations for Lawson after signing him to a three-year, $45 million contract, but he tore his Achilles last Aug. 20 in a joint practice with the Green Bay Packers.

He was finished before the season got started.

The defense struggled without him, finishing 32nd in yards allowed, 32nd in scoring and 26th in sacks.

This is a difficult injury for any player, let alone a pass-rusher who relies on first-step quickness, but Lawson is confident he can regain his old form.

“I’ve had major injuries before and I came back better,” said Lawson, who has rebounded from two ACL injuries. “This is different, but I don’t plan on not being better than I was. … But if I don’t, who knows? But I plan on being better than I was.”

Lawson dominated training camp before the injury, and he’s planning to go to school on that film. That, he believes, will provide a baseline for when he’s back on the field.

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New York Jets bring back veteran QB Joe Flacco in trade with Philadelphia Eagles

With Zach Wilson sidelined at least two matches with a sprained knee, the New York Jets secured quarterback insurance on Monday.

They re-acquired Joe Flacco in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, a source said. It cost the Jets a 2022 sixth-round conditional pick, which can improve to a fifth-round pick based on playing time for Flacco, who spent the 2020 season as the Jets’ backup under the previous coaching staff.

Mike White, who replaced Wilson in the second quarter of Sunday’s 54-13 loss to the New England Patriots, is poised to start Sunday versus the Cincinnati Bengals. But Flacco, 36, a former Super Bowl MVP with the Baltimore Ravens, gives insurance if White gets hurt or struggles.

White has no starting experience; his NFL debut was Sunday. The former Dallas Cowboys 2018 fifth-round pick completed 20 of 32 passes for 202 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions.

The Jets’ other option was to promote journeyman Josh Johnson from the practice squad, but he hasn’t played in a game since 2018.

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Wilson, who has a grade-2 PCL sprain, is expected to miss two to four weeks. Coach Robert Saleh stated there’s a “possibility” that Wilson could play Nov. 14 versus the Buffalo Bills.

Hours before the trade was finalized, Saleh gushed about his confidence in White.

“He’s a very calm man,” Saleh said. “He’s a great communicator, he’s got great command of the huddle. He’s got great command of the offense. He understands progression reads and how to go through a progression, get the ball where it needs to go. He understands how to slide in the pocket to throw instead of slide in the pocket to run. He doesn’t panic.”

Flacco, who signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Eagles, didn’t see any game action. Jalen Hurts has played every snap in seven starts. They also have former Jacksonville Jaguars starter Gardner Minshew on the bench, so they felt Flacco was expendable.

“Joe is just a great person to be around, a great pro to be around, had a phenomenal preseason and was really good for our (QB) room,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “But the opportunity arose for him to go and be able to contribute somewhere else and also for us to get a pick for that. But our time with Joe Flacco was really good.”

Sirianni also was asked if he would consider sitting Hurts to take a look at Minshew as the starter. He said, “No.” And then followed up by saying, “No, obviously I really like Gardner and I think he’s a good backup but I have a ton of faith in Jalen and he will be our starting quarterback.”

The Jets had some interest in re-signing Flacco at the start of free agency, but they opted not to bring in any experienced backups.

Flacco served as Sam Darnold’s primary backup last season, starting four games when Darnold went down with a shoulder injury. The Jets lost all four, as Flacco struggled in three of the four. His best game was a 262-yard, three-touchdown performance in a prime-time defeat against the New England Patriots.

Overall, Flacco completed 74 of 134 passes for 864 yards, with six touchdowns and three interceptions last season.

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New York Jets OL Alex Lewis, a former starter, decides to retire

New York Jets guard Alex Lewis, who walked off the practice field Aug. 5 with an apparent head injury, has decided to retire from the NFL, a source told ESPN on Wednesday.

By rule, Lewis, 29, was eliminated from playing for any team in 2021 when he was placed last week on the reserve/left squad list. He was aware of that possibility and wasn’t surprised when the Jets used that designation, the source said.

Lewis’ head injury wasn’t the reason he left the team, as the Jets suggested soon after his sudden departure. “He’s going through some things which are much greater than football right now,” coach Robert Saleh said on Aug. 7. “We’re just giving him a chance to kind of sort through it all.”

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Lewis’ retirement culminates a tumultuous year.

The former starter spent time last campaign on the non-football injury list as he sought medical help for an undisclosed condition. That came after a heated practice-field exchange with then-coach Adam Gase.

In the offseason, the Jets replaced Lewis by drafting guard Alijah Vera-Tucker in the first round. Lewis wasn’t happy, a source said, prompting him to skip the voluntary portion of the offseason program.

The Jets approached Lewis about a pay cut, and the two sides agreed to a reworked deal in May. His base salary was lowered from $5.8 million to $3 million, and the final year of his contact (2022) was voided, which would have allowed him to become a free agent.

In theory, Lewis could try a comeback in 2022, but “it remains to be seen whether he has any desire to play again,” the source said.

Lewis, a fourth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2016, played three years with them before being traded to the Jets in 2019. He did a solid job at left guard and was rewarded with a three-year, $18.6 million contract. He played in 44 career matches, with 39 starts.

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New York Jets’ Zach Wilson signs rookie deal after missing first 2 days of practice

It took longer than expected, but the New York Jets and quarterback Zach Wilson agreed to terms on his rookie contract Thursday.

The first-round pick and presumptive starter, who missed two days of practice as the two sides haggled over technicalities in the contract language, signed a four-year, $35.15 million contract — a slotted deal that is fully guaranteed.

It contains a $22.9 million signing bonus and a fifth-year team option, standard for all first-round picks.

Wilson, who took a red-eye from Los Angeles and arrived in New Jersey on Thursday morning, was the last unsigned first-round selection from the 2021 NFL draft.

The contract includes offset language and the signing bonus will be paid within 15 days, per a source, details that imply that the sides have compromised because those were the sticking points. Originally, the Jets wanted to defer payments into 2022.

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Coach Robert Saleh, speaking to reporters shortly before news of the deal broke, said he talked to Wilson early in the week.

The conversation was strictly about football, not contract-related, Saleh said. He said he wasn’t worried about the stalemate being a disruption to the team.

“It’s more concern for the kid,” Saleh said. “Every rep is important, so my concern is that it’s two days too many for him. But as far as the installs go and the way we’re preparing the rest of the team, that doesn’t concern me.

“But this young man has a chance to do something special around here that hasn’t been done in a while and every rep matters for him.”

Wilson benefited from a heavy workload in the spring. With no veterans on the roster, he took all the first-team reps.

There was an increased sense of urgency to strike a deal because the Jets are counting on him to be their opening-day starter, although they haven’t revealed that. The only other quarterbacks on the roster are James Morgan and Mike White, neither of whom has regular-season experience. Rookie contract disputes are unusual because the deals are slotted, but teams and agents sometimes haggle over certain clauses.

The Jets include an offset in every contract that has guaranteed money, which provides financial protection if they release the player before the contract is complete. An offset lets a team to cut a player before the end of his four-year contract is completed and have the remaining money reduced by the amount of his next contract.

This isn’t an unusual stance. It’s believed that 30 of the 32 teams use offsets in contracts. The exceptions are the Los Angeles Rams and the Jacksonville Jaguars, with the latter having signed No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence to a deal with no offsets.

Without an offset, a cut player collects the guarantee from his old team plus the money he receives from his new team — aka double dipping.

What complicated the Jets’ negotiation was that at least two of the five quarterbacks drafted in the first round received deals without full offsets — Lawrence and Justin Fields (No. 11 by the Chicago Bears). Fields received a partial offset.

Interestingly, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, the top pick in 2020 and represented by the same agency that negotiated Wilson’s contract, signed a contract that includes offset language.

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WR Jamison Crowder agrees to pay cut to remain with New York Jets

New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder, the team’s leading receiver the past two campaigns, evaded the possibility of being released by agreeing to a pay cut, a source confirmed Monday.

Crowder was due to make a non-guaranteed $10 million in base pay for 2021, the final year of a three-year, $28.5 million contract. Details of the renegotiated contract weren’t immediately available, but the new deal is anticipated to significantly lower his $11.4 million salary-cap charge.

The Jets are among the league leaders in cap space (about $27 million), but they approached Crowder recently about a reduction. Crowder, who turns 28 on Thursday, skipped the voluntary portion of the offseason as the two sides haggled over the contract. NFL Network first reported the agreement.

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The Jets’ mandatory minicamp starts Tuesday, and Crowder is expected to attend.

Coach Robert Saleh was optimistic that a deal would get done, saying 10 days ago that “Jamison’s definitely got a role here and we’re excited to have him.”

After signing receivers Corey Davis and Keelan Cole in free agency, and drafting Elijah Moore in the second round, the Jets had the leverage in talks with Crowder.

He led the team with 59 catches and 699 yards in 2020, but his production was down because he missed four matches due to leg injuries. The Jets also finished 32nd in total offense for the second straight year.

Even though Crowder is back, it will be interesting to see if his role diminishes in the regular season. Moore, selected 34th overall, has impressed the coaches in offseason practices.

Like Crowder, he’s a slot receiver. In another contract-related development, safety Marcus Maye reported to the facility Monday ahead of the minicamp. Maye, who signed his franchise-tag tender ($10.6 million) earlier in the offseason, skipped the voluntary practices as the two sides attempt to negotiate a long-term deal.

The deadline is July 15. If they can’t agree to a deal, Maye will play the 2021 season for the amount of the tender.

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RB Tevin Coleman first San Francisco 49ers free agent to join coach Robert Saleh’s New York Jets

Addressing their thin backfield, the New York Jets agreed to terms Wednesday with former San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman on a one-year deal that can be worth up to $2 million, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Coleman will be reunited with Jets coach Robert Saleh and several assistants, all of whom left San Francisco after the season. After a few failed attempts over the past week, Saleh finally landed a 49ers free agent.

Coleman joins a relatively unproven backfield that incorporates Ty Johnson, La’Mical Perine and Josh Adams, none of whom has rushed for more than 511 yards in a season.

There’s also a good chance the Jets will draft a running back. The Jets plan to run the 49ers’ offense under new coordinator Mike LaFleur, a former San Francisco assistant, so Coleman will be familiar with the scheme.

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Coleman’s best year was 2018 with the Atlanta Falcons, when he ran for 800 yards in a contract year.

He rushed for 544 yards on the 49ers’ NFC championship team in 2019, but 2020 was a washout because of injuries.

In Week 2 versus the Jets, Coleman suffered a sprained knee that landed him on injured reserve. He was one of several 49ers players to get injured that day at MetLife Stadium, prompting complaints from the team about the quality of the turf.

Coleman sprained a knee later in the season and wound up playing only 63 offensive snaps in eight matches. He was limited to 53 yards on 28 carries (1.9 average) and no touchdowns.

It will be a new-look backfield for the Jets, whose leading rusher last season was Frank Gore, 37, a free agent who might retire.

The Jets also made a move on defense, signing former Philadelphia Eagles pass-rusher Vinny Curry to a one-year, $1.3 million contact. Curry, who turns 33 on June 30, projects as a situational rusher.

He recorded three sacks and 10 quarterbacks hits in 11 games last season. In nine seasons, including eight with the Eagles, he has 32.5 career sacks.

The Jets, one of the most active teams in free agency, have signed 11 players.

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New York Jets DT Quinnen Williams’ breakout season ends with injury

New York Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who has established himself as one of the NFL’s top young linemen, is done for the season with a concussion and a neck injury.

Williams, 23, was placed on injured reserve Wednesday after clearing the league’s concussion protocol.

The concussion happened late in the third quarter of last Sunday’s stunning upset of the Los Angeles Rams, which likely cost the Jets the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

Williams, caught on camera as he walked to the locker room for an evaluation, was seen vomiting on the sideline. Williams, drafted third overall in 2019, was one of the few bright spots this campaign for the Jets (1-13).

After a lackluster rookie year, he became a disruptive presence on the defensive line. He leads the team in sacks (seven) and quarterback hits (14) and ranks among the league leaders in the major run-stopping metrics, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

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“On Sunday, you saw what kind of impact he had — a ton of TFLs [tackles for loss], was in their backfield and created pressure,” Gase stated.

Gase said Williams “kind of disappeared” in some games, “but it didn’t happen a lot this year.

Last year, I felt like there would be a couple of games in a row where you didn’t really feel him. But this year, I felt like the high majority of the game you felt him. If you were on the other team, you felt him whether you were playing quarterback or in the running game.”

Without Williams, the Jets’ run defense will be vulnerable Sunday versus the Cleveland Browns (10-4), whose third-ranked rushing attack is led by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

The Jets also placed inside linebacker Harvey Langi (neck) on IR. Between injuries, in-season trades and one opt-out, the Jets are down seven defensive starters from the unit that was projected at the start of training camp.

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Jets coach Adam Gase expects Le’Veon Bell to miss a couple of weeks

The Jets’ offense actually can get worse. They may be without versatile back Le’Veon Bell for at least two games.

Bell injured his hamstring late in the first half of Sunday’s season-opening 27-17 loss to the Bills. He tried to play through it, but Adam Gase pulled Bell out of the match early in the third quarter.

Gase stated on a Monday conference call that it could be “a couple weeks,” but the coach doesn’t want to put any timetable on how long Bell would be out.

“I just know what kind of shape he’s in and his work ethic and the way that he finds ways to play through injury and how he bounces back,” Gase said.

“I just wouldn’t be surprised if he came back quicker than anticipated. “I don’t want to put any kind of restrictions on him, being a guy that’s been around the league for quite a few years. Some of these guys find ways to be able to play through pain and play through injuries like this. I don’t want to say a longer time and then he’s going to be like, ‘What are you putting me in a box for?’”

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Hamstrings are always tricky injuries.

Rookie wide receiver Denzel Mims missed all of training camp with a hamstring issue and then was inactive Sunday after aggravating his other hamstring. Linebacker Avery Williamson didn’t practice or play last week due to a hamstring. Gase didn’t seem optimistic that Williamson would play this week.

Unless Bell heals rapidly and miraculously, the Jets will be heading into this Sunday’s home opener versus the NFC-champion 49ers with 37-year-old Frank Gore and Josh Adams as their running backs.

Gore was the Jets’ leading rusher Sunday, with 24 yards on six carries. The Jets gained only 52 yards rushing in a game they trailed 21-0 in the second quarter. Gore surely would welcome a bigger workload, especially against one of his former teams. He has shown he can be productive. But he’s not the weapon Bell is for the offense.

Bell played the first series of the third quarter, but then Gase removed him from the game. He said he was mad at himself for keeping Bell in there and risking further injury

“We talked after the game,” Gase said. “He knew how I felt.”

Now the Jets have to get ready to bounce back without one of their best weapons and versus one of the best defenses last year. “We cannot play like we did this last game,” Gase said. “We have to correct a lot of things very quickly. We have to get a lot better really fast.”

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WR Chris Hogan joins Jets, his fourth AFC East team

The New York Jets are apparently adding another veteran wide receiver for Sam Darnold to work with. On Sunday, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported that the Jets had agreed to terms with veteran wideout Chris Hogan on a new deal.

Hogan has been a constant in the AFC East, and has now spent time with all four teams. Hogan was most recently with the Carolina Panthers, but played in just seven games and made eight catches for 67 yards in 2019. He suffered a knee injury early in the campaign which placed him on injured reserve, but he did return to the active roster later in the year.

While Hogan spent time on the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad and spent four years with the Buffalo Bills, he will most likely be remembered for his time with the New England Patriots.

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Hogan collected two Super Bowls in three years with the Tom Brady and the Patriots, and owns the franchise record for most receiving yards in a playoff game — when he went off for 180 yards and two touchdowns versus the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game during the 2016 season.

In those three seasons with New England, Hogan caught 107 passes for 1,651 yards and 12 touchdowns. 

The former undrafted two-way player out of Monmouth has struggled to make an impact when not playing for the Patriots, but does get a chance with the Jets. New York lost former No. 1 wideout Robby Anderson in free agency, and while it signed Breshad Perriman and drafted Denzel Mims this offseason, both players are unproven.

Perriman secured a deal thanks to a late-season explosion he had for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin went down with injuries, and Mims is a rookie out of Baylor who was taken by New York in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Hogan, who turns 33 in October, has caught a total of 202 passes for 2,677 yards and 18 touchdowns in 95 career games. 

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Jets release veteran starting right guard Brian Winters

The New York Jets have released Brian Winters, who started at right guard until being sidelined by an injury last year and was the team’s longest-tenured player.

The timing of the release is surprising because general manager Joe Douglas said lately that Winters would be given a chance to go to training camp and compete for the starting job.

Winters was due to make a non-guaranteed $7.3 million in the final year of a four-year, $29 million contract. There will be no cap hit for the Jets; the entire $7.3 million comes off the books.

The Jets overhauled their offensive line in the offseason, including signing guard Greg Van Roten to a three-year deal.

Van Roten is expected to be the team’s starter at right guard this campaign.

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The Jets also re-signed starting left guard Alex Lewis and signed center Connor McGovern and tackle George Fant to multiyear contracts. In addition, the Jets used their first-round draft pick (11th overall) on offensive tackle Mekhi Becton.

A starter since his rookie year in 2013, Winters suffered a shoulder injury last training camp but started the regular season in his familiar right guard position and lasted nine matches before succumbing to the pain. He underwent surgery and was placed on injured reserve.

Winters, 29, is known for his toughness. In 2017, he missed only three games despite an abdominal tear, which required surgery after the season.

The following year, he didn’t miss a single snap on offense. He entered the league in 2013 as a third-round pick out of Kent State. He was second to running back Bilal Powell as the longest-tenured Jets on the 2019 team. Winters has appeared in 89 games, including 79 starts, over nine seasons.

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