NFL Nation: Taylor Price

Free-agency review: Jaguars

March, 18, 2014
Mar 18
9:08
AM ET
Clemons
Most significant signing: The Jaguars have finished last in the NFL in sacks the past two seasons, so adding defensive end Chris Clemons, who has 58 career sacks, was a good move. The 32-year-old Clemons had just 4.5 sacks last season after compiling 33.5 from 2010 to 2012, but he was returning from a torn ACL he suffered during the 2012 playoffs. He's a speed rusher, which is something the Jaguars haven't had since Tony Brackens (1996-2003).

Most significant loss: There is still a chance the team can re-sign running back Maurice Jones-Drew, but it would be surprising at this point because the Jaguars signed Toby Gerhart last week. Jones-Drew is finding that the market for running backs isn't as lucrative as he hoped. The Jaguars aren't likely to re-sign tight end Allen Reisner or defensive tackles Brandon Deaderick and Kyle Love, but they didn't figure into the team's plans beyond 2013, anyway. Seattle signed receiver Taylor Price, who has missed the past two seasons with a foot injury.

Gerhart
Biggest surprise: The Jaguars needed to pursue a running back because of the uncertainty with Jones-Drew, but signing Gerhart was unexpected. It's a good fit, though, because Gerhart is exactly what the Jaguars wanted. He's young (he turns 27 later this month) and has low mileage (276 carries in five seasons). At 6-foot and 231 pounds, Gerhart is a physical, between-the-tackles runner who can give the Jaguars positive yardage on first down. The Jaguars averaged just 3.4 yards per rush on first down last season, the third-lowest total in the league.

What's next: The Jaguars aren't done in free agency. General manager David Caldwell said he'll let the market settle and then go bargain hunting, an approach that worked last year with defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks. Caldwell would like to add another guard or center, an outside linebacker and a big, physical receiver. Those spots will also likely be addressed in the draft because the Jaguars have 11 picks. Beefing up the defensive line and adding guard Zane Beadles gives the Jaguars flexibility in the draft. They aren't stuck drafting for need.

Free-agency series: Wide receivers

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26
12:00
PM ET
Here is the third of a 10-part series breaking down the Jaguars’ free-agency needs, position by position:

Wide receivers

Who’s on the roster: Justin Blackmon, Mike Brown, Chad Bumphis, Jeremy Ebert, Stephen Burton, Taylor Price, Denard Robinson, Jabin Sambrano, Ace Sanders, Cecil Shorts, Kerry Taylor, Lamaar Thomas and Stephen Williams.

Blackmon
Blackmon
Analysis: This position group is solid provided Blackmon is on the field. However, nobody knows when, or if, he’ll get back on the field. He is eligible to apply for reinstatement from his indefinite suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy just before the 2014 season begins. Even if he’s reinstated, there’s no guarantee he’ll avoid another suspension. He is clearly the Jaguars’ best receiver, catching 29 passes for 415 yards in the four games in which he played in 2013. Shorts has played well the past two seasons (121 catches for 1,756 yards), though he has missed five games because of injuries and missed the final three games of this past season and went on IR with a sports hernia. He’s not a No. 1 receiver, though, and had some trouble when he was thrust into that role when Blackmon was suspended. Taylor came on at the end of the season and is intriguing as a No. 4/5 receiver. Brown and Sanders, who caught 51 passes last season as a rookie, are dependable slot receivers. In addition to Shorts, Burton, Ebert, Price and Williams finished the season on injured reserve. Bumphis and Sambrano are on the practice squad. Price’s contract expires next month and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.

NFL free agents of interest: Hakeem Nicks, Eric Decker, Riley Cooper, Brandon Tate and Golden Tate.

Need meter: 5. The Jaguars could get by without adding a receiver in free agency, because it’s likely they’ll draft at least one. The position group needs an upgrade at the top end, but to get a big-time player the Jaguars will have to spend big-time money, and it doesn’t seem likely they’ll do that on a receiver. Regardless of whether it’s a free agent or a draft pick, it’s likely to be a bigger, more physical receiver, because that’s one thing the Jaguars lack. Burton (6-foot-1, 224 pounds) fits the description, but has just 15 catches in three seasons and battled a concussion much of last season.
The New England Patriots will have two new starting receivers in 2013. The defending AFC East champs let Wes Welker walk in free agency and cut veteran Brandon Lloyd. The pair combined for 192 receptions, 2,265 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

New England will go with a receiver-by-committee setup next season to replace the lost production. So far, the team signed receivers Danny Amendola, Michael Jenkins and Donald Jones in free agency. But will the Patriots add another receiver in the NFL draft?

The Patriots' track record of drafting receivers have been awful in recent years. It's the one position head coach Bill Belichick, who calls the shots in New England, has not been able to figure out.

New England's selections at receiver reads like a laundry list of draft busts. Taylor Price, Brandon Tate, Chad Jackson and P.K. Sam are among the many flops the Patriots have selected since 2004. The most productive receiver in that span, seventh-rounder Julian Edelman, was a converted quarterback and has 69 career receptions. Others, like Matthew Slater and Tate, developed into primarily special-teamers.

For some reason, Belichick simply does not have a good eye for drafting wide receivers. Is this the year Belichick and the Patriots change that trend?

New England holds the No. 29 overall pick and could be targeting a receiver in the first two rounds. Keenan Allen of Cal, Robert Woods of USC and Terrance Williams of Baylor are all possibilities.

Whoever the Patriots choose, New England wants its next rookie receiver has a more productive career than his predecessors.

Five things to look for tonight in the Jaguars game at Atlanta tonight:

Khan! He won’t take over the team until Jan., but Shahid Khan’s been approved by the league to buy the Jaguars. He will be at the Georgia Dome to watch his new team for the first time tonight, and NFL Network cameras are sure to find him. He was absolutely beaming as he participated in a news conference after approval, and he figures to start off all smiles at kickoff. But if things go badly for Jacksonville early, the expression under the mustache might change.

The defensive backs: Jacksonville is ridiculously thin in the secondary. Cornerbacks Ashton Youboty and undrafted rookie Kevin Rutland have both had some good moments. But surely Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and quarterback Matt Ryan see the potential to attack on the outside and win.

Points: The Jaguars hadn’t topped 20 points all season until they exploded for 41 last week in a romp against the Buccaneers. The Falcons are playing good scoring defense. In the past month they’ve given up 23, 17, 14 and 17.

The receivers: Both Mike Thomas and Cecil Shorts are out with injuries. With them, Blaine Gabbert’s got a super limited number of weapons. Without them we’ll see if newcomer Taylor Price and youngsters Jarett Dillard and Chastin West can make any plays. Mike Sheppard’s been working as the receivers coach for a couple weeks now, is he able to have a positive influence on this group?

Energy: High motor defensive end Jeremy Mincey qualifies as a tone-setter for the Jaguars. With a short turnaround and a road game, the team needs to show some hop against a team that’s primed to be a playoff entry. I’ll watch Mincey to see if he can provide the sort of early spark that could serve notice the Jaguars won’t go down easily.

AFC South Stock Watch

December, 6, 2011
12/06/11
1:00
PM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

1. The Jaguars’ ability to score points: OK, it’s not fair to say it's falling. It’s been poor all season and showed no sign of improving. The Jaguars came back from a 10-0 deficit against San Diego on Monday night to take a 14-10 lead. But once San Diego got more than 20 points, the game was over –- the Jaguars haven’t scored 21 points all season. And the Chargers were over 30 before the fourth quarter started on their way to a 38-14 victory. With Blaine Gabbert quarterbacking and Maurice Jones-Drew as the offensive centerpiece, this isn’t a team that can make much of a charge from behind.

Maurice Jones-Drew
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesThough Maurice Jones-Drew is solid, he doesn't much add to Jacksonville's quick-strike options.
2. The luck of Andre Johnson, Houston Texans receiver: For the second time this season, Johnson went down while running without taking any contact, victim of a hamstring injury. Last time cost him six games. This time it’s the other leg and doesn’t appear nearly as serious. Although the Texans are calling him day-to-day, they could again be without their top weapon in the passing game. Absent Johnson, teams can load up to stop Arian Foster and Ben Tate, taking their chances against rookie quarterback T.J. Yates as he looks to less-threatening downfield weapons.

3. Offensive line play in Indianapolis: The offensive line has actually played better much of this season than we could have reasonably expected, especially once the injuries started to pile up. Now it’s struggling with penalties and giving up sacks. In New England, the line accounted for four of the Colts’ five penalties with false starts and holding. With the minimal margin for error, they simply can’t afford that. A hold that might save a hit it one thing, but a false start is the sort of undisciplined stuff that gets bad teams killed.

RISING

1. Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans coach: He gave credit to offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp for a sleepless week working to get Yates ready and teach two new backups the system. But Kubiak calls the Texans' plays, and Yates made a solid showing in his first NFL start. Jim Harbaugh might run away with coach-of-the-year honors for his work turning San Francisco around, but that seems only slightly more improbable to me than what Houston’s doing considering its injuries. While defensive coordinator Wade Phillips gets a lot of credit for the transformation, here’s a small bid for giving Kubiak his fair share.

2. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans running back: He’s here a second week in a row after a second big game in a row, and this one came after he lost weight because he was so sick in the days leading up to the team’s trip to Buffalo. The Titans have waited and waited, and Johnson finally looks like he’s back to the form that earned him a giant contract after his holdout this summer. To make a push for a wild-card spot out of a division the Texans are very likely to win, the Titans will need more big contributions and explosive plays from Johnson. Everyone was getting blame when it was bad, as coach Mike Munchak pointed out, everyone should get some of the credit now.

3. Taylor Price, Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver: A third-round choice by the Patriots in 2010 out of Ohio University, he didn’t make a mark with receiver-needy New England. But the Jaguars are even more receiver-needy. They got him Monday with a waiver claim, and even if Price does nothing in the remainder of the season, he’s a good piece to add to the mix for the upcoming offseason. The 90th overall pick by a team that drafts well is definitely worth a look, and even if the team really addresses the position in free agency and the draft, Price could have an opportunity to stick in Jacksonville.

Camp Confidential: New England Patriots

August, 18, 2011
8/18/11
12:52
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Now in his 37th season, Bill Belichick owns the distinction of having the most NFL experience among current head coaches. That gives him a unique perspective on the evolution of the NFL.

“It’s changed through the years, a lot of things are different from when I started coaching, on a lot of levels -- players, technology, the equipment we use," he said. "That’s the way it is for all of us. Bob Dylan talked about that 50 years ago."

For Belichick and his fellow coaches, Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin'” is a perfect theme song for the 2011 season.

Coaches must adjust to new rules as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, which means there are no more two-a-day practices, fewer full-pad practices and expanded training-camp rosters. And when it comes to Belichick’s New England Patriots club, which he leads for a 12th season, another year has brought unexpected change.

Few saw the acquisitions of controversial defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth and high-profile wide receiver Chad Ochocinco coming. Their arrivals made the start of 2011 training camp different from the norm in New England.

Usually the focus would be squarely on quarterback Tom Brady as camp opened, but in this unusual year, the NFL’s 2010 Most Valuable Player was on the back burner as he returned from January surgery on his right foot.

Indeed, things have changed.

THREE HOT ISSUES

[+] EnlargeAlbert Haynesworth
Stew Milne/US PresswireWith a low price tag and modest salary, aquiring Albert Haynesworth was a low-risk move for the Patriots.
1. How does Haynesworth fit in? All eyes were on Haynesworth when he took the field for the first time July 31, and he didn’t disappoint.

The crowd cheered his arrival, which he acknowledged with a wave (almost like a baseball pitcher tipping his cap). Then he dominated a running drill. On the first play, he exploded through the line to blow up the play, which led to an eruption from the crowd. Haynesworth had a few other disruptive plays.

“It's going to be awesome. It's a refresher, and it kind of revived me, playing football again,” said Haynesworth, who was acquired for a fifth-round draft choice after two tumultuous seasons with the Redskins.

Haynesworth’s arrival could change the way the Patriots, who used a 3-4 alignment about 40 percent of the time last season, play defense. There have been more traditional four-man lines used in training camp, with linemen attacking more rather than controlling two gaps. Haynesworth would line up at tackle next to Pro Bowler Vince Wilfork in that type of plan.

The Patriots have managed Haynesworth’s health closely in camp, keeping him out of practice since Aug. 3. Although the reason Haynesworth is not practicing is not clear -- speculation is it’s simply maintenance of his troublesome knee -- Belichick doesn’t sound concerned.

"I think Albert has been great since he's been here,” he told WEEI sports radio Aug. 15. “He's worked hard. He's done more than really what we've asked him to do. He's put in a lot of extra time and a lot of extra effort to get back on the field, to study, to catch up on things from a playbook standpoint that's he a little behind on."

As for Haynesworth’s off-field issues, owner Robert Kraft explained how the organization developed a comfort level in acquiring him.

“I met with him, and I like the guy,” Kraft said. “He didn't come here for the money. He came here to be part of a team and win [and] I think in some ways to improve his reputation. So it's like a lot of meetings I have with these guys, I found him to be genuine and sincere. Now I hope he gets out on the field and does his thing.”

Haynesworth agreed to restructure his contract to consummate the trade. His new deal calls for him to earn a base salary of $1.5 million this season (he can earn more in incentives) before the salary spikes to $6.7 million in 2012. There was no signing bonus as part of the pact, making it a low-risk acquisition for the Patriots.

2. Will Ochocinco conform to the Patriot Way? On his first day on the practice field, Ochocinco tweeted, “It’s 1 thing to jump and be able to land on 2 feet but I had no idea I was landing in Heaven.”
He has quickly integrated himself into the mix, lining up in two-receiver packages with Wes Welker. Veteran Deion Branch joined the mix in three-wide looks.

[+] EnlargeTom Brady and Chad Ochocinco
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesChad Ochocinco is clearly still working on mastering the Patriots' offense.
Although there has been a higher-than-expected total of dropped passes, things have otherwise been smooth as Ochocinco has made the transition from Cincinnati to New England. The biggest challenges have been adjusting to offensive terminology that isn’t numbers-based (like the Bengals) and on-field communication with Brady through various signals.

“Once we’re on the field, there is no talking. I just look in his eyes and that’s it and that’s how we communicate,” said Ochocinco, who restructured his contract and received a $4.5 million signing bonus and base salaries of $1 million in 2011, $3 million in 2012 and $3 million in 2013. “That’s what I like about it here. [It’s] really, really cool.”

Patriots coaches and players have cited Ochocinco’s work ethic and passion for football on a daily basis, with some players laughing at the fun he has had off the field, which included attending a Red Sox/Yankees game and sitting in the front row along the third-base line, requesting a group hug from reporters and announcing that he would be living with a fan who had an Internet connection and Xbox for the first few weeks of the season.

In a classy move, second-year tight end Aaron Hernandez gave up his No. 85 for Ochocinco when the trade was consummated, the Patriots giving up fifth- and sixth-round draft choices in the move. Hernandez didn’t receive anything in return for the jersey swap, which set a positive tone.

3. Can Patriots get over playoff hump? Few would argue the Patriots aren’t top contenders for the Super Bowl. But those who don’t put them atop the list can make a strong case by pointing to their last three playoff games.

  • Feb. 3, 2008: Giants 17, Patriots 14. With the chance to close out their perfect season, the Patriots fall just short.
  • Jan. 10, 2010: Ravens 33, Patriots 14. A stunning home blowout in the wild-card round of the playoffs in which the Ravens stomped all over the Pats.
  • Jan. 16, 2011: Jets 28, Patriots 21. Having earned the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, the Patriots had a chance to bury the Jets early, but two first-quarter miscues halted the momentum. The Jets built confidence and stunned the Pats in the divisional round.

Simply put, the Patriots won’t be able to answer one of their biggest questions for at least five months.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Saying goodbye to veteran tight end Alge Crumpler. The Patriots were so pleased with the addition of Crumpler last season, and the role he played in mentoring 2010 draft picks Rob Gronkowski and Hernandez, they named him a captain a few weeks into the season.

Crumpler’s steadying presence in the locker room was considered key in righting one of the team’s trouble areas from 2009 -- a fractured locker room.

So it was surprising when the team released him a few days into training camp, turning the position over to Gronkowski (10 TDs in 2010), Hernandez and either rookie Lee Smith (fifth-round pick out of Marshall) or Will Yeatman (rookie free agent out of Maryland).

Crumpler played 53 percent of the offensive snaps last season, contributing mostly in the running game. Only three other offensive skill-position players were on the field more.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

[+] EnlargeRon Brace
AP Photo/Michael DwyerRon Brace hasn't been healthy enough in camp to seize a spot in the starting lineup.
It’s a tie between third-year defensive lineman Ron Brace and fifth-year safety Brandon Meriweather.

Brace is a 2009 second-round draft choice out of Boston College who is close to hitting a fork in the road of his NFL career.

For the second year in a row, he has opened camp on a reserve list, not ready to practice. With the team releasing longtime starter Ty Warren, the opportunity was there for Brace (6-foot-3, 330 pounds) to rise up the depth chart, but he hasn’t been able to seize the opportunity.

Meanwhile, the coaching staff seems to be sending a message to Meriweather, a two-time Pro Bowl safety. Meriweather played the entire first half of the preseason opener, even though the club’s other Pro Bowl players -- cornerback Devin McCourty, linebacker Jerod Mayo and Wilfork -- did not suit up for the game.

The team also offered free-agent safety Dashon Goldson a contract before Goldson re-signed with the 49ers, while Meriweather’s practice reps of late have been split with second-year player Sergio Brown.

OBSERVATION DECK

  • Great competition at backup quarterback between third-year man Brian Hoyer and rookie Ryan Mallett (third round, 74th overall). Hoyer has been the No. 2 the last two seasons after making the club as a rookie free agent out of Michigan State, and he has solid command of the complex offense. Meanwhile, Mallett’s arm strength and work ethic are notable. He often stays late after practice, working with offensive assistant George Godsey on the finer points of the position (e.g., footwork).
  • It has been a common occurrence to see Mallett carrying the shoulder pads of Tom Brady and Hoyer off the field after practice. Some humble pie for the highly touted signal-caller from Arkansas.
  • Belichick gets involved in a drill in which the goal is for quarterbacks to maintain their concentration and perfect their footwork while under duress, and Belichick creates that duress by firing a blocking pad at them. Belichick has cranked Hoyer and Mallett in the head. No 15-yard penalties for that in practice.
  • A lot of defensive linemen in camp. Counting hybrids, the Patriots have 20 in camp entering their second preseason game, and Belichick acknowledged to Sirius XM NFL radio that the team will probably keep more defensive linemen than linebackers this year.
  • Second-round draft choices Ras-I Dowling (cornerback, 33rd overall) and Shane Vereen (running back, 56th overall) pulled up with hamstrings issues after just one practice, and they haven’t practiced since. Both signed contracts late -- this could be filed under the “lockout effect.” When Vereen was on the field, his speed stood out.
  • Second-year receiver Taylor Price, whose chance to break through for a top spot at receiver was made more challenging by the acquisition of Ochocinco, is stating his case. He has had a solid camp and was the star of the preseason opener (5 catches, 105 yards and a TD). He said his next step is developing the trust of Brady that he’ll always be in the right spot. Right now, he looks like a solid No. 4 option.
  • The Patriots struggled to generate a pass rush off the edge in 2010. Veteran defensive ends Mark Anderson and Andre Carter have been solid in that area to this point, providing what looks to be an upgrade over Tully Banta-Cain, who was released.
  • First-round draft choice Nate Solder, the team’s left tackle of the future, has responded well to his crash course since joining the team a week into camp. He’s big (6-foot-8, 319 pounds) and sometimes struggles with an inside move, but the potential is easy to see.
  • Veteran cornerback Leigh Bodden has turned in a solid camp as he returns after missing the entire 2010 season with a torn rotator cuff. A starter at right cornerback opposite McCourty, Bodden has worked in the slot in sub packages, a role he last played in 2007 with the Browns. Bodden’s size (6-foot-1, 193) is a good fit there from a run-support and jamming-receivers perspective.
  • Don’t expect All-Pro left guard Logan Mankins to get too comfortable now that he has signed a six-year, $51 million contract extension. He looks like his typical nasty self on the field, and his early-camp battles with Haynesworth were a highlight.
  • The Patriots had a minor scare when Gronkowski was helped off the field Aug. 8. But he returned a few days later and looks primed to build off his impressive rookie campaign.
  • Sixth-year kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed the last half of the 2010 season with a torn right quadriceps muscle, but his recovery is on track. The right-footed kicker is not yet taking kickoffs -- UMass product Chris Koepplin is in camp to handle those duties -- but he looks strong on field goals. Gostkowski has hit from a long of 53 yards in practice and was good from 43 and 46 yards in the preseason opener.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rapid reaction from the Patriots' 47-12 win over the Jaguars in the preseason opener:

A night for backups. Bill Belichick sat several key players, quarterback Tom Brady; receivers Chad Ochocinco, Wes Welker and Deion Branch; defensive lineman Vince Wilfork; cornerback Devin McCourty and linebacker Jerod Mayo among them. This gave Belichick a chance to evaluate some younger players, while at the same time not rushing things with key personnel after just seven full-pad practices. You had to be a hard-core fan to sit through all of this one, but in all, it was a productive night for a first preseason game.

Taylor Price one of the big stories. The second-year receiver was excellent, the highlight play coming with a back-of-the-end-zone, fingertip, toe-tapping touchdown grab. Price later showed his speed on a long catch-and-run play. Price is behind Ochocinco, Branch and Welker on the depth chart, but he ensured that he's not in jeopardy of missing the final roster cut. Impressive night.

Quarterback situation looks sharp. Between Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett, the Patriots appear to have one of the best backup quarterback situations in the NFL. Both were impressive.

Rookie RB Stevan Ridley shines. Third-round pick Stevan Ridley showed up for camp on time and took advantage of extended reps as second-rounder Shane Vereen had yet to sign and veterans BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris could not yet practice. That showed tonight. Ridley's confidence and hard-charging style was evident on two touchdown runs and he showed good hands on a touchdown catch. Agents generally don't get a lot of praise, but Ridley's agent -- Andy Simms -- gets a tip of the cap from here. Simms is also the agent for McCourty and for two years in a row he's made sure his clients were there for the first day of practice, putting them in the best position to succeed.

Tough night for CBs Darius Butler and Jonathan Wilhite. Both played into the fourth quarter. That's a hard fall for Butler, the 2009 second-round pick was an opening-day starter last season. Butler and Wilhite look to be on the roster bubble.

Nate Solder passes first test. The first-round pick played the entire first half at left tackle. He was hardly noticed, which meant he did his job well.

Dane Fletcher a top performer on defense. The second-year linebacker started and led the defensive huddle. He finished with five tackles while delivering a bit hit in the process. A strong special teams player as a rookie (he made the club as a free agent), he showed he's ready if called upon as a middle linebacker in the event of injury to Brandon Spikes.

Rapid Reaction: Chad Ochocinco

July, 28, 2011
7/28/11
6:37
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In their second trade of the day, the Patriots have again made headlines by acquiring outspoken Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. The deal, according to ESPN senior NFL writer John Clayton, includes a restructured three-year contract that allows the six-time Pro Bowler to fit under the team's salary cap.

Despite Ochocinco's well-reported and candid personality, the veteran wide receiver has a good relationship with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. The two developed the bond at the Pro Bowl several years ago, and prior to a preseason game two seasons ago, microphones caught the two exchanging good-natured ribbing.

The 33-year old Ochocinco was a steady producer for the Bengals since being drafted in 2001. An ankle injury limited him to 14 games last season; he finished the season with 67 receptions for 831 yards and four touchdowns.

While no longer as dangerous a downfield threat as he was earlier in his career, Ochocinco, at 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, adds some size to a Patriots receiving corps lacking it following the departure of Randy Moss last October.

The risk for the Patriots here is seen as minimal. Ochocinco's headlines are considered to be more playful than incendiary. He has been hit with league fines for jocular touchdown celebrations, not legal problems or disciplinary issues.

In addition, for acquiring another top receiving threat for quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots only surrendered two late-round draft picks, while negotiating more manageable financial terms with Ochocinco.

For existing Patriots personnel, this trade will have the most impact on third-year receiver Brandon Tate and second-year receiver Taylor Price. Following the departure of Moss last season, Tate was unable to emerge as a receiving threat consistently for the offense, a role that will now likely be taken over in part by Ochocinco. Price's chances of adding sought-after playing time have also been reduced.

Will AFC East recycle Plaxico Burress?

March, 8, 2011
3/08/11
9:46
AM ET
Plaxico Burress is scheduled to get out of the pokey June 6.

That would give the former New York Giants receiver plenty of time to get on a roster and play a full season. If a labor standoff doesn't compress the summer workout schedule, Burress also would have a good chance to learn the new offense by opening day.

Would Burress be a fit in the AFC East?

Before we consider each team, let's project the kind of receiver Burress will be.

His 34th birthday is in August. He hasn't caught an NFL pass since November 2008. Even before he went to prison after accidentally shooting himself at a Manhattan nightclub, his average yards per catch diminished four straight years.

Still, he's 6-foot-5 and always a threat to sky over defensive backs.

"When you look at him on the field, the guy is tall," ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck said Monday. "He's got long arms. One of the things the Giants loved to do is they'd get on [the opponent's] 45 and take a shot. With the way the rules are set up in the National Football League, it's absolutely perfect for a guy like Plaxico Burress, whose got the long arms, got the reach, who understands how to use his body.

[+] EnlargePlaxico Burress
Chris Morrison/US PresswirePlaxico Burress will be 34 and playing for the first time since the 2008 season.
"He's not as fast as he was two years ago. He can still be effective and still can help somebody out if that team ends up trusting him."

Hasselbeck said Burress' employment prospects could be helped by Michael Vick's successful return from prison. Vick seemed to have grown from the experience. Maybe Burress did, too.

Next to Hasselbeck on the "NFL Live" set was former Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce, who claimed prison might have helped Burress in another way. Pierce won a Super Bowl ring after Burress caught the decisive touchdown to deny the New England Patriots' perfect season.

"He was in jail for two years, and that's a lot of time for that body to heal up," Pierce said. "Plaxico had some ankle, some knee injuries. You sit around for two years, your body starts to heal.

"There's some teams out there ... that would love to have his services."

The AFC East could be a destination. I reached out to Scouts Inc. analyst Matt Williamson for his thoughts on the four rosters and whether or not there would be room for a receiver like Burress.

"I really don't know what he will be able to provide," Williamson said. "He obviously will be the same size when he returns and should continue to use his big frame well, especially near the goal line. It is speculation as to what he will be like athletically, but I have to think that his big play ability and suddenness will be greatly compromised."

Buffalo Bills

Their receiving corps looks solid, but it can be upgraded. Lee Evans has been a disappointment, but defenses must account for him at all times. Steve Johnson had a breakout season with more than 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns. Roscoe Parrish had the best season of his career even though a broken wrist sidelined him after just eight games. Undrafted rookie David Nelson stepped up late in the year when injuries provided an opportunity. Interest in Burress: Low.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins have invested heavily in Brandon Marshall, and Burress probably offers a similar skill set at this stage. They are tall, possession receivers who don't stretch the field (anymore). The Dolphins also have their slot receiver in Davone Bess. While Burress could help the Dolphins' woeful red-zone offense, what they need is a speedster who can help Chad Henne blow the top of coverages on occasion and loosen things up for Marshall and Bess underneath. Interest in Burress: Medium.

New England Patriots

The Patriots, as Williamson noted, are in a similar situation as the Dolphins. The Patriots have Wes Welker and Deion Branch plus tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Their greatest need in the passing game is a lightning bolt to help Tom Brady keep defenses honest. Brandon Tate and Taylor Price are burners, but they are young and haven't established themselves as capable. Interest in Burress: Low.

New York Jets

The Jets seemingly present the greatest possibility for Burress in the AFC East. "That could be a fit," Williamson said. "I could see them taking the risk. And after free agency departures, Burress might be attractive. Plus, they are in win-now mode." Points well taken. The Jets might not be able to re-sign all of their free-agent receivers: Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith. General manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan have shown with Holmes, Edwards and Antonio Cromartie they're open to second chances. Interest in Burress: High.

Jets scratch Brad Smith; Hernandez to play

January, 16, 2011
1/16/11
3:47
PM ET

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New York Jets have scratched Brad Smith for Sunday's playoff game against the New England Patriots.

Smith was the Jets' top kickoff returner, bringing back two for touchdowns in the regular season. He also is a potent weapon in the run game as an option quarterback in their Wildcat-style offense.

Newsworthy for the Patriots is that tight end Aaron Hernandez is active after missing the last two regular-season games with a hip injury.

Here are the rest of Sunday's scratches:

New York Jets

New England Patriots

Seasons greetings from Orchard Park, N.Y.

December, 26, 2010
12/26/10
12:12
PM ET
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Cold, gray and windy is the forecast for Sunday's matchup between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills here at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Temperature at kickoff will be about 23 degrees, but it will feel like 9 degrees, with winds gusting up to 23 mph. The chance of snow is 50 percent.

New England could clinch the AFC East title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, while a victory over the Patriots would make Buffalo's season. The Bills have won four out of their past six games, including an overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Buffalo has lost 14 straight games to New England and 19 out of 20 in the series.

The inactives:

New England Patriots
Buffalo Bills

Jets at Patriots inactives

December, 6, 2010
12/06/10
8:23
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Here are the inactives for Monday night's game between the New York Jets and New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium.

New York Jets
New England Patriots

Colts at Patriots inactives

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
3:18
PM ET

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Here are the scratches for Sunday's game between the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium:

Indianapolis Colts

New England Patriots


Brett Favre will start, plus inactives

October, 31, 2010
10/31/10
3:15
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It's official. Brett Favre will start for the Minnesota Vikings against the New England Patriots on Sunday, extending his record streak to 292 games.

Here are the inactives:

Minnesota Vikings
New England Patriots

Ravens at Patriots inactives

October, 17, 2010
10/17/10
11:59
AM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Here are the inactives for Sunday's game between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium:

Baltimore Ravens
New England Patriots

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider

NFL SCOREBOARD