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Volume 22, #12 -- Wednesday Night, April 29th, 2020
QB Jarrett Stidham The NE Starter? Plus More

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Good Thursday to you.

It may be April but we've got a ton of NFL News and Notes so let's get to it.

J


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1. MIN - Justin Jefferson fits in well for Minnesota offense

Source: Vikings.com - Lindsey Young

Minnesota Vikings rookie WR Justin Jefferson, a first-round pick in the NFL Draft, is a 'great route runner' with 'great hands' and a 'big-time playmaker,' according to Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. 'His skill set fits us perfectly,' Spielman added. Head coach Mike Zimmer said Jefferson will 'fit in well' with the Vikings, noting he's a tough, competitive receiver who makes a lot of contested catches. Jefferson said he played outside most of his life until sliding inside to the slot role last year, which is a position often occupied by WR Adam Thielen. Jefferson said he'll play wherever the Vikings want him to moving forward.

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Jefferson wasn't as productive at LSU when he was out wide. Last year, Jefferson only ran five routes from out wide and had 109 catches (out of 111) from the slot. He's a better slot receiver but that's where Thielen is most of the time. We'll see how Jefferson responds if he's moved outside with the Vikings. Beating press coverage was a problem for him two years ago, thus the move inside to the slot where he could get off the line cleanly.

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2. NE - Jarret Stidham's chances increasing of being Pats starting QB

Source: ESPN.com - Mike Reiss

The New England Patriots are moving forward with the growing likelihood that QB Jarrett Stidham, a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, will be their starting quarterback entering the 2020 season, according to ESPN.com's Mike Reiss.

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The team seems to like Stidham and this year could be his chance to prove that he can be the next franchise quarterback. He was a fourth-round pick out of Auburn in 2019, but Stidham has first-round tools. In fact, he was considered a potential first-round pick before his final season (which wasn't great) in college. Perhaps the team has learned how to get the best out of the young quarterback.

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3. LVR - Henry Ruggs III adds explosion to Las Vegas offense

Source: ESPN.com - Paul Gutierrez

Las Vegas Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said rookie WR Henry Ruggs III stood out due to his speed (4.27 seconds at NFL Combine), which was a distinguishing factor of choosing him in the first round of the NFL Draft over other highly touted prospects. Mayock added Ruggs III's explosion and work ethic were also part of the decision. 'When you're in the division we're in and you look at Kansas City and you look at what they have on offense and what their explosion looks like, we needed to get faster and we think that his addition opens up our entire offense,' Mayock said of the selection. 'He can run the deep routes. He also gets the manufactured touches, the bubble screens, the jet sweeps. I think if you force defenses to roll coverage, it opens up our run game.' Mayock went on to note that defenses respecting deep routes also opens up underneath routes for TE Darren Waller.

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Ruggs can fly by defenders and take the top off the defense, that's what made him a favorite of the Raiders. He also can take short passes and turn them into long gains with that speed. Ruggs should be the No.1 receiver for the Raiders with Tyrell Williams on the opposite side and Hunter Renfrow in the slot.

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4. TB - Bucs believe Ke'Shawn Vaughn has three-down potential

Source: Nashville Post - Michael Gallagher

Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn feels like being drafted by the Bucs was a best-case scenario. 'To be in this situation where you have Tom Brady as your quarterback, who loves throwing check-down routes ... I feel like that's the best opportunity that I could ask for,' Vaughn said. Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said he thinks Vaughn is capable of being a three-down back. 'If you have a guy who can do multiple things, it makes him even more valuable to your team. We'll see how it goes. We have to get him here, and we'll get him in the mix, and we'll see how it all shakes out,' Licht said of his new running back.

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The team should believe that...because he does. Vaughn has home-run ability out of the backfield as both a runner and a pass-catcher. He was always looking for the big play -- sometimes to his detriment -- in college, and that should continue at the pro level. We'd like to see Vaughn start taking what the defense gives him a bit more often rather than dancing and juking to make a big play that may not happen. The discipline at the pro level is much greater on defense and Vaughn could use a little more North-South to his game.

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5. TB - Ke'Shawn Vaughn takes blocking seriously

Source: Buccaneers.com - Carmen Vitali

Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn said he is very comfortable in pass blocking. 'Now that I have Tom Brady as my quarterback, I know that I have to be even more serious about getting that done and taking that more seriously -- knowing who I have on certain plays, making sure my technique is good at all times because that man that's throwing the ball -- we need him at all times,' Vaughn said. General manager Jason Licht said Vaughn has good speed, can catch the ball and is good in space. Licht and head coach Bruce Arians were clear heading into the NFL Draft that they wanted a running back who could catch passes and fit in with their current backfield.

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Vaughn is a shifty runner who is always looking for a big play. He's solid as a pass blocker and has good hands. That makes him a three-down option for the Buccaneers. But let's be honest, he's going to have to convince Tom Brady and Bruce Arians he can do what's needed in pass protection. He's certainly a rookie running back Fantasy GMs should be monitoring closely in training camp.

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6. NE - Devin Asiasi brings physical style to Pats

Source: Boston.com - Jenna Ciccotelli

New England Patriots rookie TE Devin Asiasi sees the importance in run blocking as much as he does in catching passes. He said run blocking sets the tone for the entire game when you're physical early in the game.

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Asiasi is a steady performer as a pass-catcher. He's not flashy by any means, but Asiasi runs good routes and knows how to find the soft spot in a zone. He'll pair with fellow rookie TE Dalton Keene for the Patriots.

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7. WAS - Antonio Gandy-Golden may contribute quickly in Washington

Source: Redskins.com - Kyle Stackpole

Washington Redskins head coach Ron Rivera spoke highly of rookie WR Antonio Gandy-Golden, a fourth-round selection. Rivera believes Gandy-Golden can contribute in the red zone and work the middle of the field to keep chains moving. 'He can block, he's a guy that we feel can be a very physical blocker,' Rivera said. Due to that blocking ability along with his knack for making contested catches, the Redskins feel he can contribute immediately and be an ideal compliment to second-year WR Terry McLaurin.

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Washington is looking for someone opposite McLaurin and that may be the small-school prospect from Liberty. Gandy-Golden has excellent body control and athleticism to make crazy catches seem routine. He's a throw-it-up-and-go-get-it type of receiver who could become a favorite of the quarterback in the red zone.

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8. BUF - Jake Fromm to compete for backup role in Buffalo

Source: Gwinnett Daily Post - Jack Leo

Buffalo Bills rookie QB Jake Fromm, a fifth-round pick, said he plans to show up to work for Buffalo and do whatever he can do to help the team win. 'Every quarterback wants to be the starter. Then again, I have no idea exactly what I'm getting myself into,' Fromm said. Fromm is expected to compete for a backup role in Buffalo.

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Fromm could win the backup job behind Josh Allen this year. He's at best a Kirk Cousins-like quarterback but might only be a Colt McCoy in the NFL. That's more than fine for what the Bills need him to do and where they drafted him. Fromm is a good college quarterback who could stick around for a long time as a backup in the NFL.

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9. NO - QB Jameis Winston terms

Source: NFL Network - Tom Pelissero

Updating previous reports, New Orleans Saints QB Jameis Winston's one-year deal has a $952,000 base salary and a $148,000 signing bonus. He can earn $1.76 million in playing time incentives, $1.8 million in playoff playing time incentives and $40,000 Pro Bowl incentives. The deal is worth a base of $1.1 million with the potential for $4.7 million with incentives.

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Winston has one year to prove himself behind the scenes. He won't start unless there's an injury to Drew Brees. In fact, we could see Taysom Hill get more snaps than Winston in 2020. Hill was set for a larger role this season anyway, and that could include some time at quarterback.

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10. LAC - TE Hunter Henry unsure about new deal

Source: The Athletic - Daniel Popper

Los Angeles Chargers TE Hunter Henry said he is not sure how close he is to a long-term contract with the Chargers. Henry said the two sides were close earlier in the offseason, but the talks were delayed.

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Henry has the franchise tag for 2020 but something can get done before the mid-July deadline. We don't expect anything to be official until that deadline, but you never know if the two sides are agreeable to a deal before then.

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11. PHI - RB Corey Clement returning to Philly

Source: PhiladelphiaEagles.com

Free-agent RB Corey Clement (Eagles) agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles Wednesday, April 29. Financial terms were not disclosed.

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Clement landed on Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury in 2019 and just played four games total. He can work well as a runner and receiver out of the backfield but is just a reserve player who will find his normal spot at the back of the depth chart.

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12. TB - TE O.J. Howard's option picked up by Bucs

Source: The Athletic - Greg Auman

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked up the fifth-year option on TE O.J. Howard, which should pay him $6 million in 2021.

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The option is guaranteed only for injury. There was buzz about the team trading Howard away but that never came to fruition. Instead, they keep him and pick up his option for 2021. We'll see Howard mixed in with Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate in the Bucs TEBC.

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13. TEN - Darrynton Evans adds speed to Tennessee

Source: Nashville Post - Michael Gallagher

The Tennessee Titans added some lightning to their running game with the selection of RB Darrynton Evans in the third-round of the NFL Draft. Evans believes his speed and play style meshes well with RB Derrick Henry's style. 'I can change the pace of the game whether you need 80 yards on a quick play or just any kind of explosive plays. I just feel like I can get the job done and we can be a great little combination,' Evans said. Evans was clocked at 4.41 in the 40-yard dash at the combine and his one-cut ability makes him dangerous in the open field, as does his run-after-catch talents on screen plays. The team could also utilize Evans on special teams.

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Evans has speed for days but he's a bit of a 'rail' runner meaning that he's on a track and don't ask him to change direction. He doesn't win with elusiveness and instead is patient and balanced in what he does with the ball. We expect Evans to win the No.2 job for the Titans behind Derrick Henry.

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14. BUF - Gabriel Davis could be No. 4 receiver in Buffalo

Source: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle - Sal Maiorana

Buffalo Bills rookie WR Gabriel Davis, a fourth-round draft pick, will have an opportunity to become the team's No. 4 receiver behind Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley and John Brown. 'I'm a big, physical, smart receiver, can do it all, versatile and can make big plays,' Davis said of himself.

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Davis provides some big-play ability down the field due to his build-up speed and large catch radius. He logged 22 catches of 20-plus yards in 2019 and is a player Fantasy GMs need to monitor in dynasty formats.

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15. NE - Dalton Keene brings versatility to Pats

Source: Boston Globe - Christopher Price

New England Patriots rookie TE Dalton Keene brings versatility and toughness to the New England offense. Keene has lined up at multiple spots during his college career, including flush against the tackle, in the backfield and out wide. He is also known as a hard-nosed player, never shying away from running defenders over. According to the Boston Globe's Christopher Price, the ideal situation for Keene in 2020 would be a complementary role on offense while helping on special teams.

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Keene was one of the most versatile tight ends in this draft class. He can line up in-line, in the slot or out wide...and even in the backfield. Keene was a high school quarterback as a freshmen and might even throw a gadget pass here or there. He's a tough, hard-nosed player the Patriots should figure out multiple ways to use on offense.

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16. TEN - Battle for No. 2 RB in Tennessee

Source: Nashville Post - Michael Gallagher

Tennessee Titans rookie RB Darrynton Evans is expected to compete with RBs Dalyn Dawkins and Shaun Wilson for the No. 2 running back role behind starter Derrick Henry.

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We'll give the edge to Evans in this competition although training camp will tell who comes out on top. Evans is patient, balanced and fast as a runner. He's more of a rhythm runner or 'rail runner' than someone who is going to create on his own with moves and elusiveness.

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17. TEN - Competition at QB2 in Tennessee?

Source: The Tennessean - Erik Bacharach

Tennessee Titans rookie QB Cole McDonald, a seventh-round selection, will add competition at the backup quarterback position behind starter Ryan Tannehill. McDonald is viewed more as a developmental quarterback at this point. He'll compete with Logan Woodside.

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McDonald is an interesting developmental quarterback for the Titans. We should see him win the No.2 job behind Tannehill in training camp. Fantasy GMs in deep dynasty leagues should be monitoring his progress. McDonald loves to take chances with the football as a passer. That's admirable but he needs to dial that back a bit and be a little safer with the ball if he wants to make it in the NFL.

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18. BUF - Gabriel Davis brings size to Buffalo WRs

Source: Syracuse.com - Ryan Talbot

Buffalo Bills rookie WR Gabriel Davis, a fourth-round draft choice, has reliable hands and the ability go after the ball at 6-foot-2. While the Bills have a solid top-three receiver set, Ryan Talbot, of Syracuse.com, believes it would have been a mistake for the team not to add more depth in a receiver-rich draft class.

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Davis has an interesting size/speed combination. He has build-up speed which is not ideal, and he could struggle against more athletic coverage in the pros. It's good that Davis has a large catch radius and good 'my ball' mentality when the ball is in the air.

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19. NO - WR Emmanuel Sanders No. 2 receiver in Big Easy

Source: NOLA.com - Amie Just

New Orleans Saints WR Emmanuel Sanders will be the team's No. 2 wide receiver in 2020 and adds a big boost to the offense, which was lacking dependable production out of receivers not named Michael Thomas last year. After Thomas' 1,725 receiving yards, the next-best receiving output came from Ted Ginn Jr., who had just 421 yards receiving.

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Sanders could give the Saints two 1,000-yard receivers. He's not the player he used to be but Sanders works hard and fights for the ball. He's still got speed and quickness (plus savvy) to get open and can become a quarterback's best friend because he will go get passes others do not. Fantasy GMs should consider him a WR3 with upside for the 2020 season.

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20. PHI - Jalen Reagor best fit for Philly offense?

Source: Philadelphia Daily News - Paul Domowitch

Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said the team feels rookie WR Jalen Reagor best fits into their offensive scheme, which is why they passed on other receivers in favor of him during the NFL Draft. The team needed speed on the outside, which Reagor brings to the table.

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They passed on other receivers, which is fine given Reagor's fit, but they should have moved up in front of the Cowboys so they could've selected CeeDee Lamb. The fact that Lamb fell within range of the Eagles and they didn't make a move is a bit disheartening. Reagor is talented, but Lamb was arguably the most talented receiver in a class loaded with excellent WRs. There is a noticeable difference in the two with Lamb being the superior player.

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21. SEA - DeeJay Dallas could be third-down option in Seattle

Source: Seahawks.com - John Boyle

With both Seattle Seahawks RBs Chris Carson (hip) and Rashaad Penny (knee) coming off season-ending injuries, the team may be a bit thin at the position entering training camp. Enter rookie RB DeeJay Dallas, a fourth-round draft selection. Dallas adds versatility to the Seattle backfield, as he previously played wide receiver before converting to running back. Dallas also has experience as a punt and kick returner. He might be a decent fit for the team as a third-down back, but Dallas said he'll do whatever the team asks of him.

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Dallas could be the starter for the Seahawks if the other two don't stay healthy. The rookie from the Miami Hurricanes is versatile, powerful and talented. We're monitoring him in dynasty formats for sure, but there's a chance he could become relevant in re-draft leagues in 2020. Stay tuned.

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22. NE - Pats looking for young WRs to shine

Source: ESPN.com - Mike Reiss

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick expects his group of wide receivers to be 'very competitive' in 2020. 'I'm sure all our young players will improve in Year 2. Got a first-round pick on N'Keal [Harry] last year. Second-round pick on Mohamed [Sanu] -- that was really off this draft. Obviously have Julian [Edelman] and a number of other young players,' Belichick said. Julian Edelman, N'Keal Harry and Mohamed Sanu sit atop the team's depth chart entering the summer. The team also added WR Damiere Byrd during the offseason and return 2019 undrafted free agents Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski in addition to practice-squad receivers Devin Ross and Quincy Adeboyejo. Veteran WR Marqise Lee (Jaguars) also agreed to a one-year deal recently.

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The Patriots have names on the roster, and they've certainly invested premium picks to the position. It's now time for guys like Harry (and others) to elevate their games. We'll have a better idea about the pecking order for the Patriots in training camp.

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23. NO - WR Emmanuel Sanders contract details

Source: NOLA.com - Amie Just

Updating previous reports, New Orleans Saints WR Emmanuel Sanders will make $10 million guaranteed with his new squad. He'll have a $2 million base salary this year, which is fully guaranteed, and he received a $2 million signing bonus. His 2020 cap hit will be $4 million. In 2021, Sanders has a $6 million base salary, with a $2 million signing bonus, $2 million roster bonus and $10 million salary cap hit. There are an additional $1.5 million in incentives tied to receptions for both seasons. His deal also includes a 2022 season, but the deal voids, as reported, the last day of the 2021 NFL league year.

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Sanders is a great veteran presence for the Saints WR corps. They didn't have much behind Michael Thomas and now they get a threat in Sanders. He's not quite what he used to be, but Sanders is still fast and tough. He'll go for grabs other receivers don't want to get. He could perform like a WR3 with upside for Fantasy GMs in 2020.

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That'll do it for today, Folks. Thanks for reading and thanks for being part of Footballguys.

We'll see you tomorrow with the Update.

Peace,

J