AFC East Notes: Tannehill, Campbell, Whaley

With the Senior Bowl wrapped up and all four AFC East teams in offseason mode as Super Bowl 50 nears, let’s look at the latest news coming out of the division, starting with the Dolphins.

  • Ryan Tannehill‘s inconsistency notwithstanding, Mike Tannenbaum‘s seen enough from the fifth-year quarterback to avoid spending a draft pick or signing a free agent for legitimate competition, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. This isn’t too surprising. Miami gave Tannehill $77MM in new money last May to be their franchise quarterback, and ending a year that began with playoff expectations at 6-10, the team has other pressing needs.
  • The Dolphins have quite a few issues to sort out over the coming offseason, but chief among them will be overhauling their linebacking unit, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Kelvin Sheppard proved enough at middle linebacker, but per Salguero, the club is aware that it needs an upgrade at that spot. Further, Miami is likely to replace one of its two outside linebackers, with Koa Misi being the most obvious candidate to be cut given his 2016 cap charge of roughly $4.88MM (the Dolphins could save $4.3MM by making him a post-June 1 release). For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus graded Misi as the highest of Miami’s three ‘backers (No. 21), while Jelani Jenkins and Sheppard rated Nos. 38 and 84, respectively, among 97 qualifiers.
  • Although interim coach Dan Campbell reportedly did not take losing out to Adam Gase with the Dolphins well, the team’s interim coach last season still could have joined Gase’s staff but instead chose to join the Saints’ staff as assistant head coach/tight ends coach, Jackson writes. The Dolphins, however, prevented multiple teams from hiring special teams coach Darren Rizzi.
  • The Bears denied outside linebackers coach Clint Hurtt to speak with Gase about becoming the Dolphins’ defensive line coach, Jackson reports, but Hurtt coming to Miami once his contract expires after this season could still be on the table. A former Miami Hurricanes assistant, Hurtt would be an attractive option, per Jackson, if the Fins’ front falters under Terrell Williams, who got the job after Chicago chose to block Hurtt’s path.
  • One GM told Lisa Wilson of the Buffalo News the Bills are trapped in “8-8 limbo” without certainty at quarterback and little money to spend this offseason. Another informed the reporter he applauded the team’s patience regarding Doug Whaley and resisting the urge to start over as many teams do in the Bills’ situation. Owners of the longest NFL playoff drought, the Bills are currently $3.4MM over the salary cap, per OverTheCap, but have strung together their most wins in a two-year span (17) since 1999-2000, the former season representing Buffalo’s last playoff advancement. Tyrod Taylor will also only count $3.13MM against the Bills’ cap next season.
  • Whaley also justified bringing in embattled veteran DC Rob Ryan as an assistant to help enhance Rex Ryan‘s productivity while helping unite the brothers against their critics. “If you look at it, Rob and Rex, they’ve had some troubles,” Whaley told media, including Wilson. “Their name is kind of like, ‘Hey, they’re the Ryans, what happened to their defense?’ So why not bring in your brother and try to reclaim that name? That’s the way I look at it. And who’s going to have your back more than your brother? I think it’s a positive. I know it’s a positive. Everybody in the building feels it’s a positive. It’s a positive for Rex, too. It can help him expand his horizons as the head coach and get into some other things.”

Dallas Robinson contributed to this report

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