While the Dolphins picked up Tua Tagovailoa‘s fifth-year option early this offseason, they have long been expected to pass on the 2024 guarantees for their other two 2020 first-round picks. The team will officially head in that direction soon.
Near the deadline for teams to decide on 2020 first-rounders’ options, the Dolphins will pass on the options for tackle Austin Jackson and cornerback Noah Igbinoghene, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Jackson would have been tied to a $14.18MM salary — Tier 3 for tackles on the four-tier option structure — while Igbinoghene would have seen a fully guaranteed $11.51MM (Tier 4 for corners) had the Dolphins exercised his option. Both players are now in contract years.
Igbinoghene is far from certain to even stay on Miami’s roster this coming season, but the team still has big plans for Jackson. Despite the USC alum’s ankle injury costing him 15 games in 2022, the Dolphins are still eyeing him as their right tackle starter. The team has moved Jackson around its line, shuttling him from left tackle to guard to right tackle in three offseasons. This will be the first time Jackson will work at the same position in consecutive offseasons as a pro.
Although the Dolphins did not draft a tackle until Round 7, the team expressed interest in veteran George Fant earlier this offseason. With the deadline for signings to affect teams’ 2024 compensatory formulas in the rearview mirror, the Dolphins are freer to proceed with a veteran addition. Brandon Shell, who became the team’s primary Jackson replacement despite signing in-season, is also a free agent.
The Dolphins drafted Jackson 18th overall to replace Laremy Tunsil, whom they traded to the Texans in a late-summer blockbuster in 2019. Tunsil has remained one of the league’s top left tackles and has since signed two Houston extensions. After not seeing enough from Jackson at that position, the Dolphins gave Terron Armstead a long-term deal. Jackson started 12 games as a rookie, primarily working as Miami’s left tackle, and finished his second season as the team’s left guard. Moved to right tackle in 2022, the 23-year-old blocker suffered an ankle injury in Week 1 and was unable to overcome it.
Miami’s Igbinoghene pick — at No. 30 overall — surprised in the moment. The Auburn alum was ticketed to win the slot corner job alongside Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, but he has not shown enough to stay on the field. Igbinoghene, 24, has played only 603 career defensive snaps. Even with Jones unavailable for all of last season, the former SEC defender managed just 238 snaps. The Dolphins also used their top draft choice (No. 51) on a corner, South Carolina’s Cam Smith.