Dolphins Rumors

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Dolphins, Jets, Gase

Prior to being selected by the Patriots in the third round of the 2016 draft, quarterback Jacoby Brissett wanted nothing to do with New England.

“I honestly did not want to be there,” Brissett said on the McCourty twins’ podcast (via Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston). “When I took my visit there — my pre-draft visit — I was like, ‘Hell no. If one team drafts me, it better not be them.’

“And I’ll never forget, (offensive coordinator) Josh (McDaniels) called me on the phone on draft night and I didn’t have his number saved. That’s how bad it was. I didn’t even have his number saved in my phone. I was like, ‘Damn, man.'”

You can’t necessarily blame Brissett for feeling that way. Besides having to play behind one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Tom Brady, the rookie QB was also behind former second-rounder Jimmy Garoppolo on the depth chart. Due to suspensions and injuries to his teammates, Brissett ended up seeing time in three games (two starts) during his rookie campaign. The following year, the Patriots shipped Brissett to the Colts in exchange for wideout Phillip Dorsett.

“Honestly, that was my wake-up to the NFL, was being traded and then the next week, you’re out there in a game,” Brissett added. “It was like, ‘We don’t care how long you’ve been here. You’d better know how to play.”

Let’s check out some more notes from the AFC East…

  • Speaking of Patriots quarterbacks, Cam Newton is in New England to complete his physical and finalize his one-year deal, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The reporter notes that the Patriots are confident in the quarterback’s “condition” and aren’t anticipating any issues with the physical. Injuries limited Newton to only a pair of games in 2019, forcing him to settle for a one-year, $1.75MM deal with New England.
  • If the Dolphins are forced to trim their training camp roster, then Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald points to a handful of undrafted rookies who could get cut, including offensive linemen Jonathan Hubbard, Nick Kaltmayer, and Donell Stanley. Jackson also opines that a handful of veterans could be sent packing, a group that includes offensive linemen Adam Pankey and Keaton Sutherland, quarterback Jake Rudock, fullback Chandler Cox, and receivers Ricardo Louis and Mack Hollins.
  • Connor Hughes of The Athletic did a somewhat similar exercise with the Jets, as he explored which players could be traded if New York gets off to a sluggish start. The writer points to wideout Breshad Perriman, linebacker Avery Williamson, running back Le’Veon Bell, defensive end Henry Anderson, and safety Marcus Maye as potential trade candidates.
  • While Hughes believes that Adam Gase has received some underserved criticism during his tenure in New York, the writer also can’t envision the Jets head coach keeping his job if the team finishes with seven or fewer wins. Of course, there are plenty of scenarios where the Jets struggle and Gase does keep his job, especially if quarterback Sam Darnold misses more time in 2020.

Latest On Dolphins, Raekwon McMillan

The Dolphins haven’t ruled out an extension for Raekwon McMillan, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hears. It’s likely that the linebacker’s negotiations – like many around the NFL – have been held up due to the pandemic and uncertainty about the 2021 salary cap. However, the Jackson hears that the Dolphins appreciate what McMillan brings to the table and they’d be interested in continuing his stay.

[RELATED: No Suspension For Dolphins’ Xavien Howard]

In 2019, McMillan ranked as the Dolphins’ best defensive player, according to Pro Football Focus. The Dolphins have already extended players like DeVante Parker, Jesse Davis, Allen Hurns, and Jakeem Grant, so it stands to reason that they would want to lock down McMillan.

On the flipside, McMillan isn’t great in pass coverage. The Dolphins recognize his limitations, which is why he’s expected to be used mostly on run downs this year. That’s not exactly a great platform for a free agent linebacker, so McMillan would probably like to secure the bag before the season starts.

Jackson hears that the Dolphins are in a similar place with defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, who has one year remaining on his original rookie deal. Last year, the former fifth-round pick made more stops within 2 yards of the line than any other defensive tackle in the NFL. This year, he’s set to earn $2.1MM before reaching the open market.

In both cases, the potential cap decrease is a major factor. Before the pandemic, the Dolphins expected to have ~$60MM in cap room for 2021. Now, that space could be completely wiped out.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Newton, Tua, Fins, Bills

The Patriots made a big splash last night when they signed former league MVP Cam Newton to a one-year contract. The assumption is that Newton will be the team’s starting signal-caller, but Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network says the Pats made no promises in that regard. Still, while there is technically an open competition between Newton and second-year pro Jarrett Stidham, it would be stunning if Newton did not win the job (video link). Garafolo also points out that Newton still has to pass a physical, but the Patriots are confident he will do so.

Garafolo also passes along a fun fact (via Twitter): New England is the third team in NFL history to lose one MVP and sign another in the same offseason. The 2000 Dolphins parted ways with Dan Marino and brought in Thurman Thomas, and the 2005 Cardinals bid farewell to Emmitt Smith and signed Kurt Warner.

Now for more from the AFC East:

  • The Dolphins drafted Tua Tagovailoa with the belief that he will be the franchise signal-caller the team has been seeking for the past 20 years. He may not start right away, but Albert Breer of SI.com believes the southpaw will be put into the starting lineup at some point this season. While the 2020 Dolphins should be an improved squad over last year’s iteration, Miami is still probably at least a year away from playoff contention, so the team will have no reason to keep Tagovailoa on the sidelines for the entire campaign.
  • Miami is set at the LG and C spots with Ereck Flowers and Ted Karras, respectively. Beyond that, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald says the Dolphins are still undecided as to whether second-round rookie Robert Hunt would be a better fit at RG or RT in 2020. If Hunt gets a shot at RT and performs well, that could bump 2019 starter Jesse Davis back to the interior or to the bench. Meanwhile, Michael Deiter will compete for the starting RG and backup C slots.
  • In the same piece linked above, Jackson notes that the Dolphins are working out WR Gary Jennings in the slot — where he thrived in college — and on the outside. Jennings was a fourth-round pick of the Seahawks in 2019, but Seattle waived him in November and Miami scooped him up. He played in just one game for the ‘Fins before getting hurt, but his draft pedigree and upside will give him a good chance to make the club as the fifth or sixth WR.
  • In a minor trade last summer, the Bills acquired OL Ryan Bates from the Eagles in exchange for DE Eli Harold. Philadelphia subsequently cut Harold, but Buffalo hung on to Bates, who was active for nine games. Per Adam Caplan of InsideTheBirds.com, the Bills view Bates, a 2019 UDFA, as a viable right tackle, guard, and center, so they expect him to be a key backup in 2020 who may take on a bigger role down the road.
  • Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic, meanwhile, views Bates as a potential trade candidate. Buscaglia also looks at a few other players that the Bills could put on the trade market, a list headed by WR Robert Foster and TE Jason Croom.

Xavien Howard Will Not Face Suspension

The Dolphins have extensive resources devoted to the cornerback position, having added impact free agent Byron Jones and used a first-round pick on Noah Igbinoghene. The team will be able to pair those two with its top holdover corner throughout the season.

Xavien Howard, who saw a domestic battery charge dropped this offseason, will not be suspended, Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post reports. The five-year veteran defender was arrested in December for an alleged incident involving his fiancee.

In Howard and Jones, the Dolphins have two of the three highest-paid corners in the league. The former has spent his entire career in Miami. Howard has not played since last October. The Dolphins shelved him on IR in October after he sustained a knee injury. Howard, however, did not suffer a ligament tear.

Howard was a Pro Bowler in 2018, having led the NFL with seven interceptions. Months later, the Dolphins made him the NFL’s highest-paid cornerback with a five-year, $76.5MM extension.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins, Austin Jackson Agree To Terms

The Dolphins agreed to terms with the second of their three first-round picks. Tackle Austin Jackson signed his rookie deal, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

This unusual offseason has seen teams drag their feet on rookie agreements, but the Dolphins are barreling ahead. They have signed both Jackson and Tua Tagovailoa and also agreed to terms with second-round pick Raekwon Davis. Jackson is only the third 2020 first-rounder to sign, joining Tagovailoa and Panthers defensive lineman Derrick Brown.

Both Jackson and Tagovailoa can be categorized as developmental projects who may be eased into work in the pros. Miami used the No. 18 overall pick on Jackson, who has yet to turn 21. Jackson was a two-year starter at USC and projects as Miami’s long-term option at left tackle. While he will not be Tagovailoa’s blind-side protector, with Miami’s QB-in-training being a southpaw, Jackson still represents a significant investment for the Dolphins.

The Jackson pick came less than a year after the Dolphins traded 2016 first-round pick Laremy Tunsil to Houston. Tunsil is now the league’s highest-paid tackle by a wide margin. Jackson’s $13.6MM slot deal runs through 2023, with the team holding an option to extend it through 2024.

The Dolphins have been active in signing picks. Although their third first-rounder — No. 30 overall selection Noah Igbinoghene — remains unsigned, the Dolphins need only to sign he and second-round O-lineman Robert Hunt to wrap up their draft class.

1-5: Tua Tagovailoa, QB (Alabama): Signed
1-18: Austin Jackson, T (Miami): Signed
1-30: Noah Igbinoghene, CB (Auburn)
2-39: Robert Hunt, OL (Louisiana)
2-56: Raekwon Davis, DL (Alabama): Signed
3-70: Brandon Jones, S (Texas): Signed
4-111: Solomon Kindley, OL (Georgia): Signed
5-154: Jason Strowbridge, DT (UNC): Signed
5-164: Curtis Weaver, DE (Boise State): Signed
6-185: Blake Ferguson, LS (LSU): Signed
7-246: Malcolm Perry, WR/RB (Navy): Signed

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Sign Rookie RB Malcolm Perry

The Dolphins have signed seventh-round pick Malcolm Perry, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The fleet-footed quarterback out of Navy is expected to play running back as a pro. 

Last year, Perry racked up 2,017 yards for the Midshipmen, who run a variation of the triple-option. He was listed as a QB, but Perry only threw for ~1,000 yards in 2019 while spending a good chunk of snaps in the “A-back position” – in essence, that means lining up as a running back.

Perry’s versatility should come in handy for the Dolphins, though they’ll have to carve out practice reps as a receiver. The feeling is that Perry’s athleticism will lend itself well to WR assignments, but he had just 22 catches in college and zero receptions last year.

The Dolphins have now inked the majority of their gargangtuan draft class. Here’s the full rundown, via PFR’s tracker:

1-5: Tua Tagovailoa, QB (Alabama): Signed
1-18: Austin Jackson, T (Miami)
1-30: Noah Igbinoghene, CB (Auburn)
2-39: Robert Hunt, OL (Louisiana)
2-56: Raekwon Davis, DL (Alabama): Signed
3-70: Brandon Jones, S (Texas): Signed
4-111: Solomon Kindley, OL (Georgia): Signed
5-154: Jason Strowbridge, DT (UNC): Signed
5-164: Curtis Weaver, DE (Boise State): Signed
6-185: Blake Ferguson, LS (LSU): Signed
7-246: Malcolm Perry, WR/RB (Navy): Signed

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Bell, Patriots, Dolphins

The Jets missed on many of their top targets this year, but they did manage some upgrades to the offensive line. Coming off of his worst season ever, Le’Veon Bell is excited about having improved protection up front. “Can’t wait,” Bell told ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler with Bart Scott-esque enthusiasm.

The Jets’ new-look offensive line will feature first-round pick Mekhi Becton and newcomers Connor McGovern, Greg Van Roten, and George Fant. Between the three free agent deals and the re-signing of Alex Lewis, the Jets dropped $80MM to fortify their O-Line. They also bypassed this year’s top wide receivers to select Becton, a nightmare for defenders and pickup trucks alike. The Jets hope this will all result in a more reliable pocket for Sam Darnold and larger holes for Bell to run through. In 2019, Bell averaged just 3.2 yards per carry and didn’t get much yardage off of his 66 catches.

Here’s more out of the AFC East:

  • Joe Flacco‘s one-year, $1.5MM Jets deal includes $550K guaranteed, as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The full breakdown gives the quarterback $1.05MM in base pay, a total of $450K in per-game active roster bonuses, and the opportunity to earn another $3MM through incentives. The Jets have been encouraged by Flacco’s progress as he works his way back from neck surgery, though the QB admits that he won’t be ready for the season opener. If Flacco’s recovery stalls, they’ll be able to escape the deal fairly easily.
  • The Dolphins are nowhere near ready to give up on quarterback Josh Rosen, according to a source who spoke with Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Rosen was a disappointment in his six appearances (three starts) last year, but the ‘Fins source says he showed some promise in practice towards the end of the year. Another factor: The Dolphins probably don’t want to trade Rosen for pennies on the dollar one year after coughing up a second-round pick for him.
  • Will Hastings‘ relationship with quarterback Jarrett Stidham could help his chances of making the Patriots‘ roster as their slot receiver. Still, the Pats have other options to consider alongside the UDFA out of Auburn, as Doug Kyed of NESN writes. They could change their slot philosophy entirely, utilizing a bigger WR like Jakobi Meyers or Mohamed Sanu on the inside. They could also lean more on two-tight end sets with rookies Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi in the fold, sacrificing speed for better blocking.

Dolphins S Bobby McCain Expects To Be Ready For Week 1

Dolphins safety Bobby McCain saw his 2019 campaign cut short by a shoulder injury, and he subsequently underwent surgery. Per Barry Jackson and Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald, McCain’s recovery is going well, and he plans to be ready for the start of the 2020 season.

As Jackson and Beasley note, McCain is likely to remain at safety. The 2015 fifth-rounder spent the first four years of his career at cornerback, but he converted to safety last season and held up reasonably well in coverage. In nine games (eight starts), he recorded 25 tackles and two interceptions.

For his part, McCain is willing to play anywhere. “It’s not my decision to make decisions,” he said. “My job is just to play football. So you know I love playing football. I love doing what I do. I am able to do it all.”

McCain also indicated that, even though safety is generally a more physical position than corner, he is not worried about another injury. “You can get hurt doing anything, making a simple tackle,” he said. “Sometimes the easiest plays to make are the ones that hurt the most. It’s just football. Things happen.”

Miami is deeper at corner than it is at safety, which is one of the reasons why McCain is likely to stay put in 2020. The Dolphins did select Texas safety Brandon Jones in the third round of this year’s draft, but the starting FS job appears to be McCain’s for now.

Pursuant to the four-year, $27MM extension McCain signed in June 2018, he is due a base salary of $6.4MM this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Rosen, Patriots

The Dolphins might be receiving some interest in Josh Rosen, but they’re probably not in a rush to trade him, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes. Rosen is slated to count for just $2.17MM against the cap and GM Chris Grier would be admitting defeat by trading the former first-round pick for substantially less than he gave up for him. In 2019, the Dolphins shipped a second-round pick plus a fifth-round choice to the Cardinals for Rosen. Right now, there’s no way they’d get anything close to a Round 2 selection in return.

Instead, Salguero expects the Dolphins to wait things out and see if his value improves with time. A QB injury elsewhere coupled with a solid preseason from the former No. 10 overall pick could get the job done. In the meantime, the Dolphins will focus on Tua Tagovailoa – their latest quarterback of the future – and proven veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • In his final season under contract with the DolphinsRaekwon McMillan is expected to be used mostly on run downs, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. That’s not an ideal platform for the linebacker, who has had limited opportunities to show his stuff. As a second-round pick in 2017, McMillan was set to start before a preseason ACL injury robbed him of his first pro season. In 2018, he started in every game and saw 831 snaps, but in 2019 he saw just 515 snaps and missed a chunk of the year. Jerome Baker and Kyle Van Noy are likely to be the Dolphins’ two leading LBs, ahead of McMillan.
  • The Patriots‘ offensive line seems more or less set, but Jeff Howe of The Athletic wonders if Marcus Cannon‘s recent change in representation is a sign that the club has approached him about reworking his contract. The right tackle took a step back in 2019 and he’s set to count for $9.6MM in 2020. If the Patriots want Cannon to take a pay cut that isn’t suitable for the veteran, a summer shakeup could be on the way.
  • New Jets quarterback Joe Flacco has been cleared to throw, but he won’t be ready for Week 1 against the Bills.

AFC East Notes: O’Shea, Warford, Ryan

The Dolphins fired former OC Chad O’Shea after just one season in his post, and the move surprised many at the time. After all, Miami’s offense wasn’t exactly brimming with talent, but O’Shea’s unit actually ranked in the top-10 in passing offense and top-15 in scoring offense after QB Ryan Fitzpatrick reentered the starting lineup in Week 7.

We had previously heard that O’Shea’s offense was overly complex for the young Dolphins talent, but as Barry Jackson, Adam H. Beasley, and Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald write, the term “overly complex” may not be strong enough.

O’Shea, who brought in elements of the Patriots’ notoriously difficult offensive system after spending 10 years as New England’s WRs coach, tried to install especially advanced and complicated portions of the Pats’ scheme, which went over the heads of his new charges in Miami. And though he can’t be faulted for trying to replicate an offense that has thrived for years, players complained that he was a terrible teacher to boot, with one player calling his instruction during film study a “disaster.”

Head coach Brian Flores had O’Shea pulled out of his exit meeting with Fitzpatrick to advise him of his dismissal. O’Shea was reportedly blindsided by the news, and Fitzpatrick was apparently taken aback as well. It’s unknown if Flores asked Fitzpatrick about Chan Gailey — who was immediately hired as O’Shea’s replacement — prior to O’Shea’s firing. Fitzpatrick has played under Gailey for five seasons.

Let’s round up several more items from the AFC East:

  • In his most recent mailbag, Connor Hughes of The Athletic says the Jets should pursue former Saints guard Larry Warford, who was released by New Orleans earlier this month. Hughes believes Warford would represent an upgrade over incumbent RG Brian Winters — whose release would create a cap savings of $7MM — but he does not get the sense the Jets are interested. Warford does not fit the mold of the athletic, quick O-linemen that head coach Adam Gase wants in his system.
  • Hughes also notes that while the Jets are definitely interested in free agent corner Logan Ryan, Ryan will have to come off his current $10MM/year ask in order to reach an accord with Gang Green. We recently heard that New York believes it will sign Ryan, and it seems as if no team is willing to touch the $10MM sticker price at this point.
  • The Patriots have a talented crop of undrafted free agents, and their UDFA wideouts are particularly intriguing. Doug Kyed of NESN.com believes Miami product Jeff Thomas has the best chance to make the team, though Will Hastings — who received a salary guarantee of $57.5K and who served as Jarrett Stidham‘s slot receiver at Auburn — also has a good shot.