Dolphins Not Expecting Byron Jones To Play This Season

It appears 2022 will be a lost year for Byron Jones. While Mike McDaniel stopped short of fully declaring the veteran cornerback will be shut down, the first-year Dolphins HC said a Jones return this season is unlikely.

Sidelined since a March surgery to address ankle and Achilles issues, Jones has continually seen his timetable moved back. The Dolphins were initially expecting him back well before training camp, and McDaniel said at multiple points during the season a return was in play. But the former first-round pick has not been ready to practice. The team’s stance has changed, with McDaniel indicating Monday (via the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, on Twitter) it will be viewed as a bonus if Jones — stationed on the Dolphins’ reserve/PUP list throughout the season — suits up.

The Dolphins have already lost veteran corner Nik Needham to a season-ending injury, but it has obviously been surprising Jones never returned from a surgery viewed at the time as routine. Coming into this season, the former Cowboys first-round pick had never missed more than two games in a season. His status going forward will be something to monitor.

Jones, 30, teamed with Xavien Howard to form one of the league’s higher-profile cornerback tandems over the past two seasons. Although the converted safety has not lived up to his then-corner-record contract — five years, $82.5MM, authorized in March 2020 — his absence has still hurt the Dolphins this season.

Jones is counting only $1.12MM against Miami’s cap this year, thanks to an offseason restructure. The contract adjustment added void years in 2025 and ’26, and Jones is on the Dolphins’ books at $18.9MM and $18.8MM in 2023 and ’24, respectively. Releasing Jones without designating him as a post-June 1 cut would cost the Dolphins $14.8MM in 2023. Teams can designate two players as post-June 1 cuts per offseason.

Miami allowed Justin Herbert to complete a career-high 39 passes Sunday night and now ranks 22nd against the pass this season. The team has used rookie UDFA Kader Kohou as its top Howard sidekick. Pro Football Focus ranks Kohou as its No. 30 overall corner, opening the door to a longer-term first-string run for the Texas A&M Commerce alum.

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