AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Pats, Jets, Robinson

The Dolphins were never mentioned as a suitor for cornerback Sean Smith during the free agent period, but Smith’s agent met with Miami general manager Mike Tannenbaum in the spring and pitched his client to the club, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. The Fins, who originally drafted Smith in 2009, weren’t interested in reuniting with the veteran defensive back, who ultimately signed with the Raiders for nearly $10MM annually. Passing on Smith was a mistake, opines Salguero, who adds that Miami is still looking for a press cornerback opposite Byron Maxwell, where the leading contenders for playing time are Xavien Howard, Tony Lippett, and recent signee Rashaan Melvin. Another defensive back could be on the way, as the Dolphins worked out former Bear Al Louis-Jean today, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Let’s take a look at more from the AFC East:

  • Given that they’ll enter next offeason with more than $60MM in cap space, there’s no reason the Patriots can’t reach extensions with a decent number of their defensive free agents, explains Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. Linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins are the high-profile names, and New England could use the franchise tag to retain at least one of that duo. Defensive end Jabaal Sheard is also heading for free agency, while Malcolm Butler will be a restricted free agent. Further down the list, defensive backs Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan and defensive linemen Rob Ninkovich, Chris Long, and Terrance Knighton will all see their contracts expire.
  • Now that the Jets have re-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick, the conventional wisdom states that the club won’t carry Fitz, Geno Smith, Bryce Petty, and Christian Hackenberg on the 53-man roster, but head coach Todd Bowles downplayed that notion, telling Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk it’s “conceivable” that New York brings all four signal-callers to Week 1. However, as Florio notes, Bowles’ stance could merely be posturing in the hopes that another team will offer to trade for one of Gang Green’s reserve quarterbacks.
  • Jets owner Woody Johnson doesn’t appear to have meddled in contract negotiations with Fitzpatrick, as Darryl Slater of writes. “…Woody is knowledgeable of what’s going on,” said general manager Mike Maccagnan. “From a negotiation standpoint and all that stuff, we communicate with him because he owns the team and he runs the team, but he lets us do our jobs and hopefully do it well.” 
  • Running back Khiry Robinson isn’t close to appearing in Jets camp as he recovers from a broken leg, tweets Rich Cimini of Robinson, 26, fractured his leg in November and was subsequently non-tendered by the Saints in the spring. He agreed to a one-year deal with New York that includes $80K guaranteed and $370K in per-game roster bonuses, so Robinson will be missing out on a decent chunk of money every time he misses a regular season contest.

Ben Levine contributed to this post.

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