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Mark Sanchez Era comes to a close with Jets as AFC quarterback shuffle continues 03.21.14 at 9:04 pm ET
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Mark Sanchez was cut by the Jets Friday. (AP)

Mark Sanchez was cut by the Jets Friday. (AP)

The Jets decision to release Mark Sanchez and add Mike Vick brings this week’€™s quarterback carousel to an end.

Sanchez, who was a first-round pick of the Jets in 2009, was cut loose four days before a $2 million roster bonus was due to the USC product. He spent five years with New York, leading the Jets to back-to-back trips to the AFC title game in his first two seasons with the Jets. However, he was never able to hit the same heights, and sat out all of 2013 with a shoulder injury.

“I’€™d like to thank Mark for everything he’€™s done for this team and me personally,”€ Jets coach Rex Ryan said in a statement released by the team. “We were rookies together and had some early success, becoming the first rookie head coach and quarterback to go to back-to-back championship games. We experienced a lot together, and I really appreciate Mark. He’€™s a great player, a great teammate, and I wish him nothing but the best.”

The Jets later announced they had signed Vick, a veteran who lost his starting job with the Eagles midway through the 2013 campaign to youngster Nick Foles. Vick, 33, inked a one-year deal to (presumably) serve as the backup to Geno Smith.

“€œIt means a lot to have the chance to come in and play for a great organization that had a lot of success last year and being on the brink of doing some good things,” Vick told the Jets’€™ website Friday. “Maybe I can come here and be an asset whenever my number’€™s called. I’€™m excited, I’€™m elated, and I feel like this is a great opportunity for me and my family.”
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Read More: Geno Smith, Mark Sanchez, Matt Schaub, Mike Vick
Offseason updates on rest of AFC East 02.18.14 at 12:51 pm ET
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While we continue to view the world through a Patriots’€™ prism, here’€™s a quick update on what’€™s been going on in the rest of the AFC East this offseason:

Jets – New York started the offseason with a bang, announcing Rex Ryan landed a multiyear extension. But at the same time, the Jets have some tough calls to make on some veterans, including outside linebacker Calvin Pace. Then, there’€™s the question as to whether or not to release quarterback Mark Sanchez — per salary cap expert Joel Corry, the Jets will gain more than $8.3 million of cap room if they let him go before his $2 million roster bonus is due on March 25. (They’€™ll also get some more financial flexibility if they decide to part ways with wide receiver Santonio Holmes in mid-March.) If Sanchez is indeed gone, that will likely clear the decks for Geno Smith, who was involved in an off-field dustup involving a flight attendant on a Virgin America flight. However, GM John Idzik says he anticipates a competition at quarterback this season. On the other side of the ball, while the New York defense is pretty solid as a whole, they’€™ll almost certainly be the market for offensive skill position players this offseason either in the draft or free agency.

Bills – As is the case at this time of year, the biggest moves for Buffalo to this point in the offseason have come on the coaching staff — following the departure of Mike Pettine, the Bills have added Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator. They’€™ve also done some more sideline shuffling, including the addition of Rob Moore as receivers coach and Pepper Johnson as linebackers coach. Schwartz favors a 4-3 scheme, which means the Bills will have to tweak their personnel as a result, but on paper, the Buffalo defense is actually pretty well-positioned going into 2014. Led by linebacker Kiko Alonso and pass rushers Kyle Williams, Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes, the Bills led the league with 57 sacks, and were second in the league with 23 picks. They could add some depth in the secondary, particularly if defensive back Jairus Byrd leaves as a free agent. Buffalo also needs some help on the offensive line, as well as some help at tight end if Scott Chandler walks in free agency. The Bills reportedly have roughly $15 million under the cap, and will likely use some of that to put more offensive skill position players around quarterback EJ Manuel, who needs to make a sizable leap going into 2014 if the Bills are able to break through in the AFC East.

Dolphins – Where to start? Miami is a bit of a mess right now, as the franchise continues to deal with the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin saga. It remains to be seen if the Dolphins end up making changes on their coaching staff as a result of what’€™s happened, but they’€™ve already parted ways with GM Jeff Ireland, going with Dennis Hickey in his place. (They also fired offensive coordinator Mike Sherman after Miami’€™s offense finished 26th in the league with an average of 19.8 points per game. They hired Eagles quarterback coach Bill Lazor as the new OC.) Hickey will have roughly $17 million in cap space to deal with when free agency opens, and he will almost certainly focus on an offensive line that was struggling, even before the Incognito-Martin situation blew up — quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked 58 times in 2013, most in the league. From a big picture perspective, it will be interesting to watch the moves that Hickey, coach Joe Philbin and owner Stephen Ross will make this offseason in hopes of trying to repair the Dolphins rep this offseason.

Read More: Bill Lazor, Calvin Pace, Dennis Hickey, EJ Manuel
Fantasy Football: Week 9 waiver wire 10.29.13 at 10:18 am ET
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WEEI_FantasyFootball_2013_hdr_v6

Welcome to the Week 9 waiver wire. I know a lot of you are too busy enjoying the Red Sox to go digging in the fantasy weeds, so it’s probably a good thing (for you) that I’m a Mets fan. In the words of Tommy Callahan, “I got spare time.”

We had more injuries in Week 8, and that makes this upcoming week a challenge in terms of putting a team on the field, especially in deeper formats. I’ll do my best to give you ideas and options for all league types and sizes. For those of you playing in large formats, feel free to head over to Rotobahn.com, where I’ll be adding more targets throughout the day as I continue to work through last week’s game tape.

QUARTERBACKS

Andy Dalton, Bengals 

He’s already taken in 76 percent of Yahoo! leagues, but that leaves enough possibility to mention him. Dalton is on a serious hot streak over the last three games and is a solid QB1 in all leagues based on his production so far. The skill talent around him is simply outstanding. Add him if you can.

Alex Smith, Chiefs

He’s still available in 41 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and you can’t argue with his consistent production. Smith is coming off of his best fantasy week so far in Week 8, and he gets the Bills in Week 9. Add him if you need short- or long-term help at the position, but be wary of his Week 10 bye.

Jake Locker, Titans 

He’s past the bye and he’s healthy. Throw in the fact that the Titans have already played the worst part of their schedule and you have a player to own in 12-team formats. He’s also largely available, with a 17 percent ownership rate in Yahoo! leagues.

Terrelle Pryor, Raiders 

He got it done in a tough matchup last week. Granted, he got a lot of his points on a single play. Pryor has some solid matchup value in all formats with the Eagles and Giants on the schedule the next two weeks. He is available in 64 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Josh McCown, Bears 

He’ll be the man until Jay Cutler comes back. McCown can help you in deeper formats as a Cutler replacement or as bye week help. I thought he looked pretty good in relief against Washington in Week 7 — making some good throws and clean reads. The matchups the next two weeks are at Green Bay and home vs. Detroit. That’s not too bad, and you can get McCown in all but 4 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Geno Smith, Jets 

Geno was a “sit” in my Week 8 starts and sits column at WEEI, but he’s a reasonable play this week, at home vs. the Saints. The Jets will need to throw if they are going to compete, and hosting New Orleans is a far easier task than playing the Bengals on the road. Smith can help you in large formats if you’re in a jam, and you can still get him in 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Case Keenum, Texans 

Keenum will draw the start this week at home vs. the Colts.  He’s a player to add in large formats for sure, because he has a chance to take this gig for the rest of the season if he plays as well as he did in Week 7 at Kansas City. He’s available in 97 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

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Read More: Alex Smith, Andy Dalton, Case Keenum, Geno Smith
Fantasy Football: Week 8 starts, sits 10.25.13 at 11:26 am ET
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WEEI_FantasyFootball_2013_hdr_v6

Welcome to the Week 8 starts and sits. This is one ugly week, especially if you play in a big league with a weak waiver wire. With all the byes and all the injuries, there are a lot of fantasy GMs looking for answers. This week is more about finding options than eliminating them. For this reason, you’ll see more starts than usual and fewer sits. I’ll also make an effort to get into the lesser-known options. If you need more lineup clarity, go to Rotobahn.com for full Week 8 lineup rankings. We’ve got you covered.

QUARTERBACKS

STARTS

Tom Brady, Patriots vs. Dolphins

I have to say that I am a bit surprised by all the Brady doubters out there. I am sure there are less of them in the Boston area, but there’s more anti-Brady buzz then I have ever heard, and it might be time to use it to your benefit. I’ve made deals for Brady in two leagues this week. In both deals, the owner of the team trading with me thought they were getting a QB upgrade. I gave up Matt Stafford in one deal and Tony Romo in the other. In the Romo deal, I got back Eddie Lacy in addition to Brady, and all I had to throw back was Fred Jackson. I think I’ll end up winning both sides of that deal. In the Stafford deal, I got Matt Forte in addition to Brady, and I threw the guy T.Y. Hilton. I feel even better about that deal. The point is, in typical leagues, you might be able to get Brady below his true value. I expect him to post better numbers over the second half, and I am willing to gamble on it and buy low right now. I also like Brady a lot as a starter this week. He’s a QB1 in any league size.

Michael Vick, Eagles vs. Giants

He has some risk because of the re-injury factor. Hamstring recoveries always carry that risk. Still, this is a very nice home matchup, and it’s a big game for the Eagles and for Vick, who wants to re-stake his claim to the starter’s job. He’ll do what it takes to get the job done, and he’ll make some big plays to DeSean Jackson. He’s a QB1 in 12-team leagues.

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins at Patriots

Beggars can’t be too choosy this week, and though he may not be sexy, Tannehill will keep your team in the game. They let him throw the ball a lot, and we project them to be chasing the Patriots on the scoreboard, which means they should be throwing all game. Tannehill may not have a stellar day, but he should get you decent fantasy numbers.

Carson Palmer, Cardinals vs. Falcons

He’s had a tough time this year, but it’s not all his fault. The Cardinals have serious issues on the offensive line, and it probably will be some time in 2014 before coach Bruce Arians gets this offense where he really wants it to be. That said, Palmer has a solid matchup this week against an Atlanta defense that has been fantasy-friendly so far in 2013. He can help you if you are in a jam.

Alex Smith, Chiefs vs. Browns

Smith lacks upside this week and on most weeks. However, he does provide a nice floor, because the Chiefs offense has been consistent and he gets enough balls to the backs and with his feet to cobble together decent fantasy output. He can help you this week if you need a QB. He’s nothing sexy and a big game is unlikely, but he’ll be solid.

Terrelle Pryor, Raiders vs. Steelers

He lacks his typical upside, because the Steelers are disciplined on defense and cut down on big plays. That being said, Pryor is dynamic and he makes things happen one way or the other. He won’t run all over the Steelers like he might on some teams, and his receivers will have trouble getting behind the defense, but they will make their share of plays. Pryor is a viable option in 12-team leagues.

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Read More: Alex Smith, Carson Palmer, Fred Jackson, Geno Smith
Report: NFL fines Logan Ryan $10,000 for grabbing himself 10.24.13 at 11:07 am ET
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Logan Ryan

Logan Ryan

FOXBORO — The move by rookie Logan Ryan to grab himself in mid-air as he was falling into the end zone on his first career interception will cost him, according to a report from Pro Football Talk.

The website, quoting a league source, says the rookie will be fined $10,000 for the on-field gesture as he ended his pick-6 of Geno Smith.

Ryan, a third-round pick out of Rutgers, has been seeing more playing time with the hip injury to Aqib Talib. Last week, he played corner in nickel situations and his read of the Smith pass resulted in a 79-yard interception return in the first quarter that gave the Patriots a 14-7 lead.

The move by Ryan is not unique in NFL circles. Marshawn Lynch grabbed himself and fell into the end zone in the 2010 playoffs after he steamrolled Darren Sharper.

Read More: Geno Smith, Logan Ryan, New England Patriots, New York Jets
Papa Geno: Jets rookie QB accomplishes rare feat against Bill Belichick defense 10.21.13 at 10:39 am ET
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Geno Smith led the Jets to the overtime win Sunday. (AP)

Geno Smith led the Jets to the overtime win Sunday. (AP)

Geno Smith did something Sunday that no other quarterback has done against the Patriots over the last five seasons.

Rookie quarterbacks are now 4-7 in their last 11 starts against Bill Belichick, but in that span, Smith is the only  signal-caller to win his second game against the Patriots in his rookie season. Previously, Belichick had gotten the better of the first-year players, beating the likes of Ryan Tannehill and Mark Sanchez the second time he faced them when they were rookies. (Dating back to 2004, Belichick also managed to best Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlsberger in the AFC title game after the then-rookie beat the Patriots in the regular season.)

“He played well enough to win today,” Belichick said after the game when asked about Smith. “We’ll leave it at that.”

Here’s a look at what the rookies have done against the Patriots in their first season in the league.

2013: EJ Manuel (L): 18-for-27, 150 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Geno Smith (L): 15-for-35, 214 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT, sacked four times
Geno Smith (W): 17-for-33, 233 yards, 1 passing TD, 1 rushing TD, sacked four times

2012: Russell Wilson (W): 16-for-27, 293 yards, 3 TD, sacked twice
Andrew Luck (L): 27-for-50, 334 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT, sacked once
Ryan Tannehill (L): 13-for-29, 186 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, sacked three times
Ryan Tannehill (L): 20-for-35, 235 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, sacked seven times

2011: None

2010: Colt McCoy (W): 14-for-19, 174 yards, TD

2009: Mark Sanchez (W): 14-for-22, 163 yards, TD
Sanchez (L): 8-for-21, 136 yards, TD, 4 INT, sacked two times
Josh Freeman* (L): 2-for-4, 16 yards, sacked two times
* Freeman replaced ineffective Josh Johnson midway through fourth quarter

Smith followed the blueprint set down by the rookies who beat the Patriots the first time around:

• He wasn’t statistically overwhelming but managed (with one exception) to stay away from turnovers. Smith was a relatively pedestrian 17-for-33 for 233 yards, with one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown. The one pick he threw was relatively early and returned for a touchdown, his worst error of the day. But all in all, he did an excellent job managing the game, moving the chains nicely (the Jets were 11-for-21 on third down) and keeping his team in positive-yardage situations. (His pick marked the first time a rookie quarterback threw an interception against Belichick and managed to come out of the game with a win.)

• He was smart enough to put the ball in the hands of his playmakers. Wide receivers Jeremy Kerley (eight catches on 10 targets for 97 yards and a touchdown) and David Nelson (four catches on seven targets for 80 yards) and running back Chris Ivory (a whopping 34 carries for 104 yards) did the bulk of the work for Smith. Ivory’s performance marked the first time all season that an opposing running back topped 100 yards.

• He had the good fortune to be playing at home. No rookie quarterback — in his first or second start in his initial year in the league — has ever beaten Belichick in Foxboro over the last decade. From Smith to Wilson (2012) to McCoy (2010) to Sanchez (2009) to Roethlisberger (2004), all were away from Foxboro when they beat Belichick and the Patriots.

• And while the point total may cause folks to disagree, he did get a very good situational performance out of his defense. The Jets held the Patriots to 1-for-12 on third down, Brady failed to complete at least 50 percent of his passes for the second time in three games, New England was held under 100 yards on the ground, and the Patriots were held without a touchdown for the last 35 minutes of the game.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Geno Smith,
Fantasy Football: Week 7 starts, sits 10.18.13 at 10:37 am ET
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WEEI_FantasyFootball_2013_hdr_v6

Welcome to the Week 7 starts and sits. I’ll be back later today with Jim Hackett for the Fantasy Football Podcast. Check it out in our audio on demand section. For those of you looking for further lineup clarity, feel free to head over to Rotobahn, where we do full weekly positional rankings and update them every Saturday. And, don’t forget to join me here at WEEI on Sunday mornings for our weekly chat for all of your lineup questions.

QUARTERBACKS

STARTS

Jay Cutler, Bears at Redskins

Cutler is becoming a weekly play, and his offense is supporting him well. The pass protection is the key, but so is the play of his receivers. With Alshon Jeffery stepping up and with the excellent play of new tight end Martellus Bennett, the Bears offense has more than just Brandon Marshall. Cutler should do well this weekend in Washington.

Nick Foles, Eagles vs. Cowboys

He may or may not have the starting gig for the remainder of the season, but he is a very strong play at home vs. Dallas. The Cowboys are giving up consistent fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

Eli Manning, Giants vs. Vikings 

Yes, I know. The idea of playing Eli Manning right now is unsettling. I get it. The thing is, he should do very well at home vs. a Vikings team that has been a get-well matchup for  passers all year, including Cam Newton in Week 6. Manning may not be a QB1 in 12-team leagues this week, but he’s a solid option if you are looking for answers. He’s going to have a lot of open receivers.

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins vs. Bills

He’s a playable option in 12-team leagues if you are looking for an option. The Bills should be a bit better vs. the pass this week as they are finally getting healthy on the back end, but Miami throws the ball getting off the team bus, so you’ll have volume on your side. Make Miami’s refusal to run the ball work for you.

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. Ravens

If you are in need this week, Big Ben makes a serviceable option, even in a tough matchup. Roethlisberger’s teammates have taken their games up a notch and the Steelers have welcomed back both tight end Heath Miller and starting tailback Le’Veon Bell. That has helped out a lot.

SITS

Geno Smith, Jets vs. Patriots

Smith has shown to have some moxie and some fantasy upside when the matchup is right. That being said, I don’t think the matchup is good enough to bet on this weekend. The Patriots have injury issues on defense, but it’s going to set up more opportunities on the ground than through the air.

Alex Smith, Chiefs vs. Texans

Smith is a system guy and he’s doing a nice job, but he is unlikely to post the kind of fantasy numbers that will help your team, especially against a stingy pass defense like the Texans.

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Read More: Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Geno Smith, Jay Cutler
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