AFC Notes: Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Patriots

     

Bills

  • Per NFL Media’s Michael Giardi, Bills HC Sean McDermott said they were looking at signing WR Kenny Stills before the injury to WR Cole Beasley: “Two separate conversations. Kenny is a player that Brandon (Beane) has had his eye on for a while.”
  • McDermott declined to say if QB Josh Allen or other starters would play or be rested: “We are going to keep our plans internal. We’re going to do what’s best for our football team.” (Barry Jackson)
  • The Bills are bringing in WR Tanner Gentry for a visit this week. (Aaron Wilson)

Dolphins

Playing for a berth in the playoffs this week would be enough pressure for anybody. But after Dolphins first-round QB Tua Tagovailoa was benched last week in a win against the Raiders, the door is open for him to be pulled again if he struggles in Week 17’s pivotal matchup against the Bills. That’s not weighing any extra on Tagovailoa though, even before the news of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s positive COVID-19 test came in. 

“I’d say for me there’s really no extra, added pressure,” Tagovailoa said via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. “The expectation for myself is very high in how I perform and how I go out there and try to lead the guys to victory. Obviously, this past weekend, I didn’t play to that standard. It’s more so me knowing that we’ve got to go out here and get the job done. If you can’t get the job done, then that’s on you. That’s on no one else.”

Last week wasn’t the first time Tagovailoa has been pulled for poor performance for Fitzpatrick after initially getting the starting job over him by surprise. However, none of those unique circumstances seem to have adversely impacted the locker room. 

“I think it’s awesome,” Jones said on NFL Media’s Good Morning Football. “It’s guys that really appreciate their role and how important they are to the team. Fitz is good. That’s probably the thing that had the biggest impact on me coming in, is just seeing how good Fitzpatrick is and his spirit. He’s a guy in the locker room that really uplifts everyone around, and it’s so rare to have that type of person in the locker room. Understand, he was probably benched, what, Week 4, Week 3, and you call on a guy in Week 16 to show up big time, and he does it without any ego, without any hard feelings. That’s hard to find at any level… To have a guy understand how important he is to this team and the future of this team.

“I just love seeing how they interact together, Coach Flo, Tua, Fitz. They just understand how important it is to the team. If one’s not doing so well, the other lifts the person up. Coach Flo isn’t scared to make decisions, and we all trust him, and we all understand that he’s the head coach and he makes the decision, and we’re all behind him 100 percent.”

  • Per NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero, Fitzpatrick’s positive test puts his status for the wildcard round next weekend if the Dolphins miss the playoffs in danger. The veteran will be out for a minimum of 10 days. 

Jets

The Jets are on the verge of finishing with the last-ranked offense for the second straight year under HC Adam Gase. For someone who was billed as a “brilliant offensive mind” just a couple of months ago by CEO Christopher Johnson, it’s bad news. And it’s probably why Gase will be fired next week as he hasn’t accomplished what he was hired to do. Gase was asked whether he worries if he’s damaged his reputation permanently. 

“I don’t know if ‘worry’ is the right word,” Gase said via ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “It pisses me off. If there’s one side of the ball I want to make sure is right, it would be that one. It has not happened, and that’s on me.”

  • Despite being activated from the NFI list, Jets G Alex Lewis probably won’t be active this week. (Cimini)

Patriots

  • The Athletic’s Jeff Howe expects the Patriots to add a veteran running back and a Day 3 pick to the position with the expectation of losing RB James White and possible RB Rex Burkhead
  • Howe points out the Patriots could save $4 million by cutting 34-year-old veteran WR Julian Edelman, who’s battled injuries the past two seasons. He expects the Patriots to be more interested in the second tier of receivers in free agency rather than the top. 
  • Tight end is another major area of need. Howe highlights Seahawks TE Greg Olsen, Rams TE Gerald Everett and Saints TE Jared Cook as some potential free agent upgrades. He also mentions Eagles TE Zach Ertz, Browns TE David Njoku and Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard as some viable trade candidates. 
  • With the coming cap crunch likely pushing out a number of solid veterans, Howe thinks the Patriots could add a number of bargains along the defensive line to revitalize the position. 
  • If Patriots LB Dont’a Hightower returns after opting out this year — which is still a big if — Howe writes the Patriots could be okay with the development from their current group at the position. 
  • The Patriots are bringing in DB Dee Virgin for a visit this week. (Aaron Wilson)
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