Big changes have occurred in Miami, and more are coming. The Dolphins are expected to shed the contracts of Ryan Tannehill, Robert Quinn, Andre Branch and Josh Sitton (and perhaps more notable names). But the rebuilding team may look to add an impact player familiar with Brian Flores‘ philosophies. The buzz in Indianapolis has led DraftAnalyst.com’s Tony Pauline to call the Dolphins the favorites for Trey Flowers, a prospective UFA who helped the Patriots reach the past three Super Bowls. New England’s top pass rusher may stand to benefit from the likely franchise tags the Cowboys, Texans, Seahawks and Chiefs apply to DeMarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney, Frank Clark and Dee Ford. This marketplace could place Flowers in position to push for a near-$20MM-AAV deal, despite sack numbers that don’t correspond with such a pact. However, the Patriots will make a strong attempt to retain their top edge defender. It may take an atypical Patriots contract to keep him, though.
Here is Thursday’s latest coming out of the AFC East (via Indianapolis):
- Shifting to the Jets, they again need cornerback help. Buster Skrine, the lowest-profile name in Mike Maccagnan‘s 2015 spending spree that brought Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie to New York, played out his four-year contract. Morris Claiborne‘s second one-year Jets deal is also expiring. (And Gang Green is having buyer’s remorse on Trumaine Johnson.) The Jets are looking at a slot corner to replace Skrine, and Pauline notes they are high on Bears UFA-to-be Bryce Callahan. Prior to going down with an injury, Callahan was operating as a top-tier slot corner and helping the NFL’s No. 1 DVOA defense.
- Additionally, the Jets will examine the first- and second-tier edge rushers in free agency, per Pauline. If they are able to land one, that may intensify the team’s desire to trade down. The Jets do not own a second-round pick. However, they do now have more than $100MM in cap space. If the big four edge rushers are all tagged, Flowers, Brandon Graham, Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith and Ziggy Ansah profile as the next-best crew. The Jets will obviously be able to outmuscle other buyers for their preference, so the team — a strong Khalil Mack bidder last year — will be a key presence on this front come March.
- Chris Hogan did not produce for the Patriots the way he did during the 2017 and ’18 seasons, but he is drawing interest as free agency nears, Doug Kyed of NESN.com notes. The 30-year-old wideout struggled in the playoffs, at least compared to his strong performances at key moments for the previous two Patriot teams he was on, but posted 532 regular-season receiving yards, despite Josh Gordon diminishing his role. And this is not a particularly loaded wideout free agent class. Teams might be eyeing Hogan as a second-tier option come March.
- On the subject of receivers, the Bills may not feel the need to chase big-ticket wideout options. Brandon Beane has said their offense can survive without a surefire No. 1 wideout, but the third-year GM may be looking for a new slot receiver, per Joe Buscaglia of WKBW.com. Broncos castoff Isaiah McKenzie saw time there toward the end of last season. Buffalo has one of the least inspiring receiving corps at this point. It would be a surprise if the Bills did not make attempts to augment their receiver situation in free agency and the draft.
- Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones hired a new agent, according to ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss (Twitter link). He is a restricted free agent, one whom Kyed opines may need to be given a second-round tender.