Extra Points: Dolphins, Samuels, USFL

Dolphins receivers Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns both opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. Both are now back in Miami for 2021, and both say they don’t regret their decisions to opt out, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. “There was never a time I second-guessed” the decision to opt out, Hurns said. Each player’s contract tolled, and each has a little over $1MM in guaranteed money for this season, but Jackson writes that they’re both fighting for roster spots. Wilson looked great after first joining the Dolphins in 2018, but a serious hip injury knocked him out after only seven games.

He came back in 2019, but wasn’t the same as he dealt with injuries. “I wasn’t comfortable doing things that [2019] year [but] I feel great right now — my whole body, including the hip,” Wilson said. Jackson writes that Wilson and Hurns have both looked sharp so far in practices after the time off. “They’re both in good shape,” said Dolphins coach Brian Flores.There’s always a little rust from any player after having some time off, but I think they look really good.” With DeVante Parker, Will Fuller, and rookie first-rounder Jaylen Waddle at the top of the depth chart, it won’t be easy to get their old playing time back.

Here’s more from around the NFL as the offseason chugs along:

  • Speaking of players unlikely to get their 2019 playing time back, things don’t appear to be going well for Jaylen Samuels in Pittsburgh. After the Steelers drafted running back Najee Harris in the first round, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic writes that it’s “difficult to envision a scenario” where Samuels makes the team. Kaboly thinks Kalen Ballage and Benny Snell are battling it out for the last running back spot. The Steelers drafted Samuels in the fifth-round back in 2018, and he started three games as a rookie then four in 2019. He played a sizable hybrid role in 2019 as Ben Roethlisberger was sidelined with an elbow injury, rushing 66 times, reeling in 47 receptions for 305 yards, and even attempting five passes. But the NC State product fell out of favor with Mike Tomlin last year, only carrying the ball nine times and getting nine catches. Now it sounds like Samuels, who will turn 25 next month, will need to jump-start his career elsewhere.
  • The AAF, the XFL, The Spring League. The list of attempted NFL offseason football leagues has grown seemingly endless in recent years, and a new one is trying to throw their hat in the ring. That’s right, the USFL is attempting a re-launch, via ESPN.com News Wire. Owners like Dwayne Johnson purchased the league out of bankruptcy in 2020. The ill-fated USFL, which originally ran from 1983-85, is hoping to start play again in 2022. Their press release claimed they’ll have a minimum of eight teams and will “deliver high-quality, innovative professional football to fans.” They apparently have a broadcasting partnership set up with Fox Sports. These leagues are always long-shots, but the original USFL did attract some big-name star players like Herschel Walker, and with names like Johnson now involved, it’s possible they could overcome the odds.
  • Speaking of non-NFL football leagues, a former high profile college passer is headed to the CFL. Former Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson has signed with the BC Lions of the CFL, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Patterson came to prominence when he became Ole Miss’ starter as a true freshman, and then later transferred to Michigan and had some tumultuous years under Jim Harbaugh. He signed with the Chiefs as an UDFA in 2020, but didn’t come particularly close to making the team.
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