Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, New York Jets offensive lineman Leo Kolomatangi has opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. He is the first member of the Jets to opt-out of a potential upcoming season.
The 26-year-old blocker entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2017. He spent two years in the Detroit Lions’ system before joining the Jets’ practice squad last October. Kolomatangi was later promoted to the active roster in November, though he did not appear in any games. The Jets re-signed Kolomatangi in April.
Kolomatangi has been working in Hawaii this offseason, forming the Hawaii Towards Zero program, which, according to its mission statement, focuses “on achieving ZERO cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Hawaii” and to “restore what our lives once were, in a safe and new way”. The Fort Worth native spent his college days at the University of Hawaii, where he helped the Rainbow Warriors end a six-year bowl drought with a victory over Middle Tennessee in the 2016 Hawaii Bowl.
“I am with Hawaii Towards Zero because I feel this is the least I can do for a state and a people that have impacted my life so much,” Kolomatangi says on the organization’s site.
With Kolomatangi’s opt-out, the Jets are down to 85 players on their active roster after two other moves relating to the current health crisis. The Jets are also set to place rookie cornerbacks Bryce Hall and Shyheim Carter were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Hall was chosen in the fifth round of April’s draft while Carter is an undrafted free agent. Teams are set to cut down to 80 players by August 16.
Placement on the reserve/COVID-19 list does not necessarily mean a positive test, as placement could mean mere contact with someone who tested positive.
Football is back! The New York Giants officially reported to training camp on Tuesday, marking the beginning of the 2020 NFL season. Veterans reported to training camp today as the team does its first wave of COVID-19 testing. This will be a crucial season for the Giants as they enter the year with a brand new coaching staff and a revamped roster.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no preseason this year, making training camp that much more important. Many of those players who standout in the preseason to earn their roster spots will not be afforded such an opportunity this year. Instead, the Giants’ new coaching staff will have to gauge their players’ talents in training camp alone.
With that being the case, who are the top players, or what are the top positions to watch during training camp in 2020?
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The New York Giants have agreed to terms with the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, offensive tackle Andrew Thomas. The Giants and Thomas are in agreement on a four-year, fully guaranteed $32.345M contract with a $21.1M signing bonus, according to Ian Rapoport.
Andrew Thomas, the three-year starter out of Georgia, is the fourth top-five pick to get his deal done. Thomas will take a physical today then sign the contract.
The New York Giants desperately needed an upgrade at offensive tackle this offseason. Last season, the Giants’ starting offensive tackles allowed a combined 96 pressures. Nate Solder accounted for 56 of those pressures and also allowed 11 sacks on the season. Andrew Thomas is now in a contractual agreement to be the Giants’ left tackle of the future.
Andrew Thomas played 1,075 pass-block snaps in his collegiate career. On those snaps, Thomas allowed only 37 total pressures. He also has not allowed more than 2 pressures in a game since 2017 (his freshman season at right tackle).
The Giants report to training camp tomorrow. New York is working to get its entire rookie draft class under contract. Sixth-round pick Cam Brown signed his rookie contract earlier today. Seventh-round pick Tae Crowder has also signed. TJ Brunson, Matt Peart, and Darnay Holmes have also agreed to terms with the Giants. There are only a few rookies left for the Giants to sign, including second-round pick Xavier McKinney. Expect to see the Giants complete these deals with their rookies very soon.
The New York Giants have had two key players on their roster dealing with legal trouble this offseason. The first of the two, cornerback DeAndre Baker, was arrested earlier this offseason after being accused of committing armed robbery. The case has had numerous developments arise since it began in May but Baker has not yet been found guilty or innocent.
Upon hearing the news of Baker’s accusations, the Giants asked him to distance himself from the team’s virtual meetings. Baker has been training on his own since then and has not been given permission to join virtual meetings for the entirety of the offseason.
Rosas And Baker To Report To Camp
According to a new report by the New York Post, Rosas and Baker’s time away from the team is about to end. Paul Schwartz and Ryan Dunleavy report that the Giants have not told DeAndre Baker or Aldrick Rosas to stay away from training camp, so they are both planning on attending. Training camp begins on Tuesday for the Giants.
Neither DeAndre Baker nor Aldrick Rosas has had their legal situations resolved yet. Baker’s attorney Patrick Patel is “hopeful of a dismissal soon” and stated that the case is “pending.” The NY Post also reports that Rosas “has an arraignment hearing Sept. 4 that does not require an in-person appearance” which allows him to be with the team at training camp until the case is resolved.
In the United States of America, you are innocent until proven guilty. The Giants are doing the right thing by allowing their players to participate in training camp, despite their pending legal situations.
Both players struggled in the 2019 regular season. With no preseason in 2020, this summer’s training camp could be crucial for each player’s future in the league. Luckily for Baker and Rosas, they are officially receiving the opportunity to prove themselves on the field, starting next week.
For these five New York Jets, 2020 could provide the ultimate football reward of longevity or set their careers into a tailspin.
If and when the 2020 NFL season commences, every single one of its participants will be dealing with at least a modicum of uncertainty. The feelings perhaps increase threefold if you’re the New York Jets, a team seeing to end a playoff drought that’s approaching a decade.
New York is one of several AFC squads looking to take advantage of expanded playoff capital. Topping the perennial division winners in New England will still be a challenge and the Buffalo Bills have set themselves up to steal the throne. The Jets will be inserted into a crowded conference playoff picture, one packed to the brim with established contenders and even more up-and-comers.
For these five individual cases, however, 2020 could be a year of their own personal playoff, one that could make or break their professional careers…
RB Le’veon Bell
The role of the modern NFL running back continues to be debated. Derrick Henry, the primary energizer behind the Tennessee Titans’ AFC title game trek, had to wait until the final hour to get a deal beyond his April franchise tag. One look at the league’s rushing leaders from as recent as 2017 should tell the story perfectly. Each of the top eight rushers from that season (including leader Kareem Hunt, who was released by Kansas City after a domestic violence incident) are no longer with the team they accomplished their marks with. That includes Bell and the 1,291 yards he tallied as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
To Bell’s credit, he has openly acknowledged the disasters of 2019, which saw him fall to full-season career-lows in nearly all major rushing categories. Accompanying these acknowledgments are promises to return to his Pittsburgh form. Bell has also been a bit of a peacemaker in the Jamal Adams situation, being able to speak his mind while also providing Jets fans reassurances during a recent interview with Hot 97. It follows up a season where he dealt with trade rumors by repeatedly expressing his loyalty to green.
Soon it’ll be time to back these claims up on the field. The Jets spent a fortune on blocking this season, to help not one but two backfield saviors. Only adding to Bell’s New York plight is the fact that the Jets are set to save $9.5 million if they release him next offseason. 2020 could set Bell up for the rest of his career…for better or worse.
Perhaps under the radar because of Adams’ antics, Maye has shown flashes of strong potential. Pro Football Focus had him among the top 20 safeties last season, which served as a perfect reintroduction to football after Maye missed a good portion of 2018 with injuries. Added to Maye’s plate are looming contract negotiations. Whether it comes from the Jets or elsewhere, Maye can earn himself the big bucks with a strong outing, especially in a future free agent class that also includes Justin Simmons and Budda Baker.
WR Breshad Perriman
Almost every veteran receiver seems to have that one game in which they were untouchable. Who could forget Queens native Kevin Ogletree’s Wednesday night heroics for Dallas in the 2012 opener against the Giants or the sight of Kevin Curtis compiling 221 yards in those garish Philadelphia throwbacks? Stephone Paige is one of six players in NFL history to record 300 yards in a game…that occasion was one of only 12 times he reached triple digits in a 125-game NFL career.
Perriman was able to stretch his one shining moment into a month. The former first-round pick struggled to find a role in Baltimore but rose to the occasion for a woebegone Buccaneers team when Mike Evans missed the final portions of the season. He scored five touchdowns over the final four weeks of the season and broke triple digits in yardage in the latter trio. Brought in on one of many of Joe Douglas’ “prove-it” deals, Perriman will immediately face the challenges of a top receiver. If he succeeds in this role, his career can enjoy a Sammy Watkins-like second wind. The scary alternative potentially resides on the Jets roster in the form of Josh Doctson…a former first-round pick who will have to fight to keep his NFL dream alive in training camp.
LB Avery Williamson
A shortened, or outright canceled, preseason may hurt the Jets, but they can at least avoid scenarios like the one that saw them lose Williamson to a season-long injury during an exhibition visit to Atlanta. Despite sizable cap savings attached to his release, Williamson has been afforded a chance to win back his roster spot, despite the Jets adding Patrick Onwuasor in free agency and enjoying the ride of rookie backup Blake Cashman once Williamson was lost.
Having turned 28 in March, Williamson will not only be looking for a chance to prove he can return to form after a devastating injury but 2020 will also map out his future. If he struggles during his camp endeavors, the Jets could potentially be tantalized by $6.5 million in cap savings and reliable veteran depth in Neville Hewitt and James Burgess (each of whom was re-signed).
OL Brian Winters
Getting the vote of confidence from management often seems to spell doom for an incumbent coach, but the concept seems to hold more water when it comes to a player. Winters is the longest-tenured Jet on the roster (joining the team as a third-round pick out of Kent State in 2013) and, like Harrison, is one of the few offensive leftovers from Darnold’s arrival. Many thought the corresponding $7 million in cap space would lead to Winters’ release this offseason, but general manager Joe Douglas dispelled the notion.
“You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a better teammate, a tougher guy than Brian Winters,” Douglas said in February, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. “I’ve heard a lot of optimism and positives about his rehab. So again, seeing him around the locker room, you know, it’s always good to see Brian. He’s got a big smile on his face and he’s an outstanding Jet.”
Those words appear to have afforded Winters, who turned 29 two weeks ago, another green opportunity. The ball’s now in his court in terms of taking advantage of it.
These positional battles will be especially crucial for the New York Jets to figure out, especially with a potential lack of preseason games.
If the NFL has its way, the New York Jets and their gridiron brethren are making their way to summer camp.
While several notable players have voiced concerns, the league has nonetheless put out a plan that would commence training camp on July 28. Jets proceedings would take place at One Jets Drive in Florham Park, which would be hosting its sixth summer tune-up. The number of preseason games remains a point of contention among the league and the players’ association, thought the Jets’ exhibition opener on August 13 against the Giants has yet to be officially canceled.
But with a shortened slate almost all but assured, training camp takes on greater importance. Games may be the primary source of fans watching depth chart and roster battles, but camp exploits are going to be more important than ever, especially for a team looking for chemistry and coherence.
Where will the most intriguing battles be? ESM investigates…
Right: Chuma Edoga/Brian Winters/Greg Van Roten/George Fant
Left: Alex Lewis/Cameron Clark
Protecting Sam Darnold’s blindside was one of the biggest offseason priorities. The Jets came through via the selection of Louisville’s Mekhi Becton at 11th overall in April’s draft. But big questions remain on the other side.
The veteran Winters, the longest-tenured green player on the New York roster, will probably be fighting for a roster spot. His release is accompanied by cap savings of over $7 million, but management seemed more than happy to give the guard another chance.
“(He’s) a guy that just battled, battled his tail off all year after injuring his shoulder in the preseason and fighting through,” general manager Joe Douglas said in February, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a better teammate, a tougher guy than Brian Winters.”
Winters’ journey to maintain his role in the starting lineup faces a major challenge with the arrival of Chaminade High School alum Van Roten, who served as Cam Newton’s security in Carolina over the last three seasons. The arrivals of Van Roten, who can also play tackle, and Fant also raise some heat on Edoga, who was thrust into a starting role due to injuries last season.
Even with the arrival of the dominant Becton, Darnold’s blindside isn’t fully safe. Becton seems set on the outside, but there are major reservations on the interior. Alex Lewis (pictured) may be the name currently penciled in on the depth chart, but he has (understandably) shown some concerns about partaking in the season and could be an opt-out if and when we get to that point. It could be a chance for day three choice Cameron Clark, the pride of the Charlotte 49ers, to work his way into the starting five.
The Jets have been placed in a fortuitous, yet responsibility-laden position where they have not one but two backfield saviors in the forms of Darnold and Le’veon Bell. They’ve started the long arduous process with the drafting of Becton and spending their offseason money on experienced veterans. But as this logjam on the line shows that their work is far from over.
Primary Spell RB
Frank Gore vs. La’Mical Perine
Bell has vowed to right the wrongs of 2019. Reliable rushing assistance will help him attain that goal and help has been obtained from opposite ends of the football experience spectrum.
Bilal Powell and Ty Montgomery were not retained, their roles filled by the rookie Perine (pictured) and Gore, who’s anything but. Even in his advanced age, Gore has proven himself useful while playing AFC East bingo. His 4.1 average over the past two seasons with Buffalo and Miami would not only be highest on the Jets last season but also ranks in the top 20 amongst running backs with at least 300 carries over the last two seasons. Gore also has the advantage of working in an Adam Gase system during his 2018 exploits with the Dolphins.
The Jets, however, also have plans for Perine, their fourth-round pick out of Florida.
“We all like his skill set. He’s one of those guys that’s able to do all three phases that you look for a running back to do: be able to run the football, be able to be involved in the passing game, be able to protect,” Gase said of the former Gator, per Demetrius Harvey of Sports Illustrated. “I think we are getting a guy, too, that is very hungry, that is going to be playing with a chip on his shoulder. He obviously was surprised that he lasted to the pick he lasted, and anytime that we can get guys that are coming in like that, that’s a good thing for us.”
This isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for both Gore and Perine on the team. But it’ll be interesting to see which one gets more opportunities if and when training camp commences.
Avery Williamson/Blake Cashman/Patrick Onwuasor
A shortened or eliminated preseason might wind up helping the Jets in the sense that they would avoid situations like that of Avery Williamson’s last season. The veteran suffered a torn ACL in an exhibition in Atlanta and wound up missing the entire 2019 season. Cashman, a fourth-round pick out of Minnesota, filled in very well in Williamson’s absence before suffering a season-ending injury himself. Further depth came in the form of ex-Baltimore Raven Onwuasor while Neville Hewitt and James Burgess were also re-signed.
Releasing Williamson would’ve saved the Jets $4.5 million in cap, but he was nonetheless retained for another go at it. Whatever work the Jets get in this summer will be absolutely vital for Williamson, currently at the top of the depth chart in one of the Jets’ deepest position groups. If Williamson has made one thing clear this offseason, it’s that he’s not going down without a fight.
“I definitely want to go in being a leader on the defense and just knowing that I’m going to make plays,” Williamson said to Olivia Landis in a video on the team’s official site. “That’s what I did my first year with the Jets and I’m ready to continue that. Once we get back as a group, just going out in camp and proving myself again and showing them that I still have that same fire and the same ability to make those big plays.”
Sam Ficken vs. Brett Maher
When you’re a team that struggles to consistently enter the end zone, a good kicker is a must. The Jets have attempted 63 field goals over the last two seasons (tied for seventh-most in the NFL). That issue was easy to tolerate with Pro Bowler Jason Myers at the boot, but the team went through four different kickers after he left for Seattle. Ficken was retained after being the last of these legs, while Maher was added from Dallas shortly after season’s end. Their percentages were at the literal bottom of the league’s qualified rankings.
Ficken (70.4 percent) was nonetheless retained, his case perhaps helped by a pair of ten-point games in December victories over Miami and Pittsburgh. Maher (66 percent) is perhaps the most notable Jekyll and Hyde case in recent NFL memory, offsetting 60-yard gems with 30-yard flops (sometimes in the same game, like the Cowboys’ October loss to the Jets in East Rutherford). Having a reliable kicker will be vital, creating a safety blanket for a growing offense.
Jabrill Peppers was a turnover machine last season. Peppers played in 11 games and forced 4 total turnovers (3 forced fumbles and 1 pick-six). Jabrill also totaled an impressive 76 combined tackles and 5 tackles for loss.
2019 estimated stats: 16 games — 110 combined tackles, 7 TFL, 3 QB hits, 7 PD, 4 FF, 1 INT – Alexander Wilson of ESM
If Peppers is healthy for a full 16 games in 2020, he has serious Pro Bowl potential. Especially now that the Giants have talented players surrounding Peppers and a new and improved defensive scheme for him to thrive in.
Darnay Holmes could also be in line for a big season. The rookie cornerback out of UCLA was a talented player during his time in college. Darnay played outside cornerback but, due to his size, he will likely play slot cornerback with the Giants. Holmes will have the opportunity to take reps at both positions during training camp so the Giants’ coaching staff can determine which position suits him best.
Video of Darnay Holmes practicing with and learning from Jabrill Peppers is exciting for Giants fans. Peppers is a young leader on the Giants’ defense that will likely don a captain’s patch in 2020. Slot cornerback has been a position of weakness for the Giants recently and Darnay Holmes could be the player to fix that.
New York Knicks coach David Fizdale is looking for relentless competition for positions 1-3 on the Knicks. The 4th spot is solidified with an improved electrifying lefty powerhouse power forward Julius Randle. The 5th spot is solidified with shot-blocking, lob catching, and defensive terror Mitchell Robinson. High flying point guard Dennis Smith Jr., and small forward Kevin Knox will have a battle on their hands against others for their respective positions at point guard and small forward. The shooting guard position is up for grabs for the likes of RJ Barrett, Damyean Dotson, and Allonzo Trier. Marcus Morris will be in the mix battling for that small forward spot for sure.
Fizdale’s not granting nods to anybody other than Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson. Everybody else is going to have to fight for it in training camp. There’ll be no handouts. If a player gets a starting spot, it will basically mean that player earned it!
David Fizdale is trying his best not to contradict the culture. In this current New York Knick culture of defense and offensive attacking styles, everything is really about “You keep what you kill.” Fizdale wants the young Knicks to have an aggressive killer attitude on both ends of the court and go into training camp trying to kill everything and build a killer instinct past Knick teams wholeheartedly lacked.
When Fizdale got hired back in 2018, he possessed the same mindset heading into last offseason training camp after the impressive Summer League showings from Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox, and Allonzo Trier. This season after some decent Summer League showings from RJ Barrett, Ignas Brazdeikis, and an infusion of veteran and star talent, the competition in training camp will be really fierce and mighty.
The starters for the New York Knicks will be battle-tested and ready for war in the open Eastern Conference this upcoming season starting Wednesday, October 23rd in a road game against a cut-throat San Antonio Spurs team looking for sweet revenge on their home floor after being embarrassed during the last meeting in Madison Square Garden back in February 24th, 2018. Will the New York Knicks turn potential into reality and get their first win on the road next season in San Antonio? It surely will be televised.