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New York Jets’ Braxton Berrios could hit slot-machine jackpot as free agent – New York Jets Blog

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:

1. Do-it-all dynamo: Player evaluation is a tricky business. For every hyped prospect who underachieves like Denzel Mims, there’s a Braxton Berrios.

An afterthought at the start of the season, Berrios has played his way into the Jets’ future plans. His free agency will be one of the hot topics in the offseason, as the Jets try to re-sign one of the most unique players in their history.

“Obviously, we love Braxton,” coach Robert Saleh said. “I’ve always sat up here and said it’s our job as a coaching staff to make [general manager] Joe Douglas’ job as hard as possible with regards to re-signing people.”

Gauging his exact value isn’t easy because he’s a combo/gadget player, not a traditional wide receiver who has produced over a full season. For two-plus years, he was known as Jamison Crowder‘s backup in the slot, but he busted out of that mold in recent weeks and is a nice fit in Mike LaFleur’s offense because of his ability to run the jet sweep. The coaches love his intangibles.

So how much is that worth? One comparison is the New England PatriotsKendrick Bourne, who signed a three-year, $15 million deal last offseason. His 2019-2020 receiving numbers (79 catches, 1,025 yards) are similar to Berrios’ 2020-2021 numbers (83 and 825). Berrios could look for Cole Beasley money (four years, $29 million), based on the belief that his best days are ahead of him. The Buffalo Bills‘ slot receiver signed that deal in 2019 at the age of 30.

The wild card with Berrios, 26, is that he’s a standout on special teams. He leads the NFL in kickoff-return average, and he’d be second in punt returns if he had more attempts to qualify. That, no doubt, adds to his value.

With 46 receptions, Berrios finished second behind Crowder for the team lead. It’s too bad he’s not playing the finale — he’s out with a thigh bruise — because he would’ve had the chance to become the first receiver in Jets’ history to lead the team in catches and kickoff-return average. He could have also been only the second player to lead in catches, kickoff returns and punt returns. Bruce Harper, a running back, did it in 1980.

How much are the Jets willing to pay for that?

2. Gase guy: Jets fans may not want to hear this, but former coach Adam Gase was instrumental in bringing Berrios to the Jets when he was cut by the Patriots in 2019. That can be his good legacy, kind of the way former coach Rich Kotite had receiver Wayne Chrebet (580 catches for 7,365 yards and 41 touchdowns over 11 seasons after being undrafted in 1995).

3. 2022 free agents: The Jets have 21 players eligible for unrestricted free agency. Aside from Berrios, the top priority should be defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi, a solid run-stuffer. None of the others are must-haves. Right tackle Morgan Moses is worthy of a multiyear contract after a solid year, but they have tackles Mekhi Becton and George Fant under contract. Guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a nice midseason addition, could be back.

Safety Marcus Maye (remember him?) was good enough to get the franchise tag last year, but a lot has happened since then — a drunken-driving arrest (meaning a possible league suspension) and a torn Achilles tendon. I’d be surprised if Maye is back next year. A handful of players could land one-year returns, most notably running back Tevin Coleman and kicker Eddy Pineiro.

4. Four! Barring upsets, the Jets are virtually locked into the fourth overall pick in the 2022 draft, which presents some intriguing options. ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. expects defensive ends Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan) and Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon) and tackle Evan Neal (Alabama) to be the first three players off the board.

At four, Kiper likes safety Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame), cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (LSU) and wide receiver Jameson Williams (Alabama) as options for the Jets. To me, Hamilton is the most intriguing. Safeties usually don’t get picked that high — Jamal Adams (sixth overall) was an exception in 2017 — but Hamilton, listed at 6-foot-4, could be a safety-linebacker combo.

“This is a unique talent,” Kiper said on ESPN’s “Flight Deck” podcast. “He’s kind of an X factor player. He’s not a traditional safety. He’s much more of a do-it-all performer. He can be front seven, he can be in the back in terms of a centerfield role.”

If Douglas views Hamilton as more than a safety, and if Saleh can carve out a role for him, I could see the Jets taking him there. Saleh was a member of the Seattle Seahawks‘ staff for the “Legion of Boom.” You can bet he’d like to re-create that in New York.

Speaking of the Seahawks, their first-round pick (currently at No. 7) belongs to the Jets. It probably won’t go any higher, but could drop as low at 14th. Their game against the Arizona Cardinals is big for the Jets.

5. Looking ahead: The Jets’ 2022 schedule is locked in. Their non-divisional opponents are:

A quick takeaway: There could be significant quarterback upheaval among the away teams, all of whom have questions at the position. The future of Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson will be major offseason storylines.

6. Mosley money: Linebacker C.J. Mosley proved this season that he can be effective in Saleh’s 4-3 scheme, which should quiet the offseason talk about his future. Now that there’s a mutual comfort level, I wonder if the Jets might address his contract in the coming months.

His cap charge is a team-high $17.5 million, which includes a fully guaranteed $16 million in base salary. They can lower it by $10 million with a simple restructure, pushing money into 2023 and 2024. That’s not ideal, but, remember, the cap is supposed to make a big increase in 2023. That extra $10 million could really help in free agency.

7. Kid and the GOAT: Some people were critical of Brandin Echols for having his interception ball autographed by Tom Brady after last week’s game, but I think it was a cool gesture that illustrated the rookie’s respect for one of the all-time greats. Echols said he’s been watching Brady since he “started to realize what football was.” And it was nice of Brady to sign.

Believe it or not, they have something in common: Draft position. Brady was the 199th pick in the 2000 draft; Echols was 200th in the 2021 draft.

“I knew he was a sixth-rounder. I’m a sixth-rounder,” Echols said. “He overcame a lot of obstacles throughout his career. That’s what I’m hoping to do as I go on with my career.”

8. Heading west: It sounds like Zach Wilson‘s personal quarterback coach, John Beck, hired in November as an offensive assistant, is returning to private business in the offseason. It’s unclear whether he will be back for the 2022 season. Had he remained with the Jets in the offseason, he would’ve been prohibited by league rules from working with Wilson during the down period from January to April. This way, he can. Interesting.

9. Long shots: You would be hard-pressed to find any similarities between the current Jets and the 1992 Jets, but this game against the Bills reminds me of their ’92 game against them because of the massive point spread — 17 points then, 16 now.

Playing for fallen teammate Dennis Byrd, who was hospitalized after breaking his neck the previous week, the Jets stunned the Bills, 24-17. A tight end named Mark Boyer, reminded afterward of the long odds, gave me an all-time quote: “You can’t put a point spread on the human spirit.”

So you never know.

10. The last word: “If you’re scared to come here because you think you might lose, then don’t come. … If you want to be part of something special and believe in something special, then the door is open for you.” — Mosley on how he will recruit free agents

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Kansas City Chiefs fans, in nod to Bills Mafia, donate $255,017 to Buffalo children’s hospital

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Just days ago, the Kansas City Chiefs handed the Buffalo Bills one of the most heartbreaking losses in franchise history.

Chiefs fans, inspired by the fundraising spirit of Bills Mafia, have decided to turn their team’s big overtime win Sunday into a positive for the Buffalo community, raising $255,017 for Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo as of late Wednesday afternoon, per the hospital.

Beginning Tuesday, donations in increments of $13 began being sent to the hospital from Chiefs fans in honor of the 13 seconds it took for the Kansas City offense to drive down the field to tie the divisional-round playoff game at the end of regulation. The Chiefs went on to win 42-36 on the first drive of overtime.

The original idea from a Chiefs Kingdom Facebook group was to donate in $13 increments to quarterback Patrick Mahomes‘ charitable organization, the 15 and the Mahomies Foundation. That changed when Chiefs fans heard more about the Bills fans’ tradition of giving back to other teams; they instead direct their efforts to their opponent’s charity of choice.

The Oishei Children’s Hospital became closely connected with Bills quarterback Josh Allen after fans donated in $17 increments, totaling $1.1 million, in honor of Allen’s grandmother, Patricia Allen, who died last year. There is now a Patricia Allen Pediatric Recovery Wing in the hospital and the Patricia Allen Fund to benefit the critical care team and provide support for equipment, training, education and programs.

One of the most noteworthy examples of the Bills fans’ tradition came in 2017 when Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver Tyler Boyd connected for a game-winning touchdown over the Baltimore Ravens that led to the Bills clinching a playoff berth for the first time in 17 years.

In $17 increments, fans raised $442,000 for the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation. This year, Bills fans have led donation efforts in honor of cornerback Tre’Davious White tearing an ACL, giving back to the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana in his hometown, among others.

Last year, Bills fans donated to Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson‘s foundation after a playoff win over the Ravens.

While 13 seconds likely will never again have a positive association in Buffalo, fan bases turning a tough ending into a positive for a different community is an uplifting tradition.



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Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield taking break from ‘all social media for foreseeable future’

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CLEVELAND — As he recovers from shoulder surgery, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield plans to rest his thumbs as well.

Mayfield said he’s going to take a break from “all social media for the foreseeable future.”

Ironically, the polarizing QB went on his Instagram page Wednesday to announce his hiatus from tweeting and posting.

“Gotta do what’s best to focus on me, my family and loved ones,” Mayfield wrote. “Appreciate all the support. Time to get right.”

Mayfield concluded his message by also including a contact for anyone making business or marketing inquiries.

Mayfield recently concluded a dreadful, injury-filled fourth season with the Browns, who were among the NFL’s most disappointing teams. Cleveland went 8-9, missed the playoffs and dealt with drama, much of it involving Mayfield.

Late in the season, Mayfield went on Twitter to dispel a story about issues between him and coach Kevin Stefanski. He called the report “clickbait” and added that “many other Cleveland local media continue to be drama stirring reporters with no sources or facts.”

Mayfield’s wife, Emily, also used her Twitter platform to claim he received death threats. Mayfield downplayed those and described his attackers and critics on social media as “keyboard warriors.”

The 26-year-old Mayfield injured his left, non-throwing shoulder in Week 2 while trying to make a tackle and struggled all season. He recently underwent surgery in Los Angeles for a torn labrum and is expected to need more than four months to recover.

The team said he should begin light throwing in April.

Following the season, both Stefanski and Browns general manager Andrew Berry publicly supported Mayfield by saying they believe he will bounce back next season as their starter. However, it’s likely the team will at least explore other options at quarterback during this offseason.

Mayfield is under contract next season for $18.9 million after the team exercised his fifth-year option.

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Baltimore Ravens targeting Michigan Wolverines’ Mike Macdonald to be new DC

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The defensive coordinator who keyed Michigan‘s dramatic turnaround in 2021 is on the cusp of heading back to the NFL.

The Baltimore Ravens have targeted Michigan defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, a former Ravens assistant, to be John Harbaugh’s next defensive coordinator, sources told ESPN.

A deal is expected to be finalized in the upcoming days, according to sources. Macdonald has been replaced on the road recruiting by a graduate assistant coach, Dylan Roney, in preparation for his departure.

The Detroit Free Press first reported that the Ravens were targeting Macdonald.

This comes after Macdonald stabilized a defense that keyed a one-year turnaround for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, as the Wolverines went from 2-4 in 2020 to the College Football Playoff and a 12-2 record this past season.

Michigan’s scoring defense under Macdonald improved from No. 95 in 2020 with 34.5 points per game to No. 8 with 17.4 ppg. Michigan went on to beat Ohio State for the first time since 2011 and win the Big Ten for the first time since 2004.

Macdonald’s hire at Michigan proved to be one of the most impactful in all of college football last season. His schemes helped eliminate Michigan’s propensity to give up big plays under former defensive coordinator Don Brown. Under Macdonald, the Wolverines yielded 100 yards less per game in 2021, an average of 330.8 after giving up 434.3 the prior season.

Macdonald also helped launch the Heisman candidacy of defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who finished as a finalist for the award after finishing with 14 sacks and two forced fumbles.

Macdonald, 34, would become the youngest defensive coordinator in the Ravens’ 26-year history. Before leaving for Michigan last year, Macdonald spent seven years in Baltimore (2014-20), joining the Ravens in 2014 as an intern. He was Baltimore’s inside linebackers coach for three seasons (2018-20) and was considered the heir apparent for the Ravens defensive coordinator position before leaving for Michigan.

The Ravens fired Don “Wink” Martindale on Friday after the sides were unable to agree on a contract extension through 2023, a source said. Under Martindale, the Baltimore defense ranked in the top 10 in three of four seasons.

Macdonald would take over a Ravens defense that finished No. 25 in the NFL last season. That was Baltimore’s worst defensive ranking since it was 25th in 1997.

In 2018, Macdonald interviewed for the Ravens defensive coordinator position that eventually went to Martindale. Now, four years later, it appears Macdonald will get his chance to step into that role.

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