A.J. Derby

Dolphins Notes: Draft, Drake, Grant, Derby

The Dolphins lost another game in Week 16 and now sit on the brink of getting a top 10 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. However, the best players in this class do not line up very well with the needs of the organization, opines Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

Jackson proclaims that if Miami loses to a playoff contending Bills team this coming Sunday, the team won’t necessarily have a clear player they are targeting in that range of the draft. According to Jackson, the team’s two biggest needs are linebacker and tight end, but no prospect is available at those positions who would warrant that type of draft slot.

Jackson notes that the team could potentially go with Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams should the front office move on from right tackle Ja’Wuan James, but that’s far from a certainty. LSU pass rusher Arden Key could also be useful weapon on the defensive side of the ball, but there’s not a true need in that area either. Jackson speculates that Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith could be a fit if he can help increase his stock with a successful draft preparation process.

Finally, the writer also throws cold water on the idea of replacing Ryan Tannehill because of the Dolphins substantial financial investment in him, even though he will be returning from a knee injury he suffered this past training camp . It would seem that while the Dolphins have been losing enough to move up the draft board, trading down may be the best option because of the lack of a fit in the upper portion of the draft.

Here’s more notes on the Dolphins from Jackson’s column:

  • Even after trading Jay Ajayi, running back does not seem like a major area of need for the Dolphins entering the offseason. Second-year tailback Kenyan Drake has shined with Ajayi gone and Damien Williams recovering from injury. He played all but three snaps in the team’s loss to the Chiefs in Week 16 and ranks fourth among all running backs with 369 yards after contact. The 23-year-old has averaged over 4.5 yards per carry over his last four contests, and has made a difference in the passing game as well. With his productive late season performance, he seems primed to enter 2018 as the Dolphins surefire number one back.
  • Wide receiver Jakeem Grant often gets lost in the shuffle behind the likes of Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker. However, the second-year wideout managed to catch four balls for over 100 yards in last Sunday’s matchup. He’s only played in 10.4% of the team’s snaps this season, which makes sense because of the Dolphins deep receiving corps. But, Landry is set to hit the open market this offseason, so Grant could be auditioning for a bigger role in 2018 should the team’s star wideout move on.
  • Grant wasn’t the only little used player to get increased reps in Week 16. Miami saw two new faces get a lot of action vs. the Chiefs as well. Tight end A.J. Derby, whom the team claimed from the Broncos, was targeted five times. Although, he only managed one catch in the contest. Cornerback Torry McTyer played in 61 of the defense’s 83 snaps before he was taken out of the game due to injury. McTyer was signed by the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent last offseason and could be in-line for a further audition in Week 17 should he be heathy enough to play. Miami needs more tight ends and defensive backs for next season, so Derby and McTyer could get another shot to impress in the team’s regular season finale this weekend.

 

Dolphins Claim TE A.J. Derby

The Dolphins have claimed tight end A.J. Derby off of waivers, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Derby was cut by the Broncos on Tuesday, putting him on the waiver wire for the league’s other 31 teams. A.J. Derby (vertical)

Derby, 26, was traded from the Patriots to the Broncos last season in exchange for a fifth-round pick. He was in the midst of a quietly productive year and was leading Denver tight ends in receptions before he was released in November. In nine games (one start), Derby had 19 catches for 224 yards and two scores.

The Dolphins are effectively out of the playoff chase with a 4-7 record, but this will give them a chance to closely evaluate Derby for the 2018 roster. The former fifth-round pick is under contract through 2018 with a dirt cheap $705K cap number for next year.

Derby is the second ex-Broncos tight end to wind up in Miami, joining starter Julius Thomas.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/28/17

Here are today’s minor moves.

Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears

Denver Broncos

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

New England Patriots

Oakland Raiders

  • Signed: WR Isaac Whitney

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Broncos Waived/Injured TE A.J. Derby

In a bit of a surprising move, the Broncos have swapped tight ends. According to Mike Klis of 9News in Denver (via Twitter), the team has waived/injured A.J. Derby and promoted Austin Traylor from the practice squad. Derby had been struggling with a shoulder injury and wasn’t expected to play this weekend.

A.J. DerbyDerby, a 2015 sixth-round pick, was traded from the Patriots to the Broncos last season in exchange for a fifth-round pick. After a lackluster start to his tenure in Denver, the 26-year-old was beginning to come into his own in 2017. In nine games (one start), he had hauled in 19 receptions for 224 yards and two touchdowns, tops among Broncos tight ends.

Traylor has yet to play in an NFL game, although the 24-year-old is listed at 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds. Klis tweets that while Derby is the superior receiver, Traylor “is more physical.” Ultimately, the reporter believes this move is another attempt by general manager John Elway to send a “strong message” to his team. For the time being, Traylor will slot in behind Virgil Green and Jeff Heuerman on the depth chart, and he should also get some reps on special teams.

“He’s done a great job,” said offensive coordinator Mike McCoy (via Jon Heath of Broncos Wire). “The role that he’s been in up to this point in time in the season, he just does what we ask him to do whether it’s in the kicking game, whether it’s scout team for the defense or whether he steps in and took plenty of reps on offense. He just does it one way. He works extremely hard, so I’m very pleased with where he’s at.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Jets, Darnold, Rosen, Fuller, Broncos TE’s, Williams

While the game probably will not effect the College Football Playoff, USC vs. UCLA will certainly have a ton of NFL Draft implications. Both starting quarterbacks, Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen, are considered two of the best QB draft prospects eligible for the 2018 NFL Draft, and will try to outshine each other during Saturday’s contest. The hyped matchup will be attended by 20 teams in some form, including the QB needy Jets, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Jets were most recently connected to Wyoming signal caller Josh Allen, although Allen’s draft status has taken a big hit because of some early season struggles vs. top level collegiate defenses. New York’s season has gone a bit better than many expected, but they still have a long-term need at the QB position with Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty not looking like the long-term answer. The Jets, along with many other scouting departments will definitely get a good comparison of two of the top signal callers in all of college football in Los Angeles this weekend.

  • The Texans have faced a number of injuries to key players including J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and most recently quarterback Deshaun Watson. Now another playmaker who missed time early in the season will be forced to the sidelines again. Big play receiver Will Fuller will miss Sunday’s game with a rib injury, according Houston’s official injury report released on Friday afternoon. This leaves the team without another weapon for now starter Tom Savage and puts added pressure on DeAndre Hopkins to make contested plays due to increased attention from the defensive backs. Fuller missed the Texans first three games with a broken collarbone, but has since caught an impressive seven touchdowns in the past six games. Bruce Ellington is the next man up on the depth chart to try and replace Fuller’s downfield threat ability.
  • The Broncos have just one tight end on the roster entering the weekend for this Sunday’s game against the Bengals. Both A.J. Derby and Jeff Heuerman have been ruled out, which leaves Virgil Green as the lone name left on the depth chart, according to Mike Klis of 9news.com. Derby is recovering from a shoulder injury that he suffered this past Sunday night and Heuerman is dealing with a knee injury. It should be noted that no Broncos tight end has been a huge factor in the team’s offense, with Denver mostly relying on the receiving combo of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to move the football through the air. Klis does note that the team is expected to call up practice squad tight end Austin Traylor to take snaps as the team’s number two, adding that interestingly an unknown offensive lineman could work as the Broncos number three option if need be.
  • In order for the Browns to activate wide receiver Corey Coleman, they opted to waive fellow wideout Kasen Williams. The team has learned that Williams has passed through waivers and is free to sign with any practice squad he chooses, tweets Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times. The 25 year-old receiver first latched on with the Seattle back in 2015, but appeared in seven games with Cleveland so far this season.

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Alonso, Jets, Patriots

The Dolphins are hoping to keep linebacker Kiko Alonso for the 2017 season, but are wary that he may receive an “uncomfortably high offer” as a restricted free agent next March, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Because Alonso spent his entire sophomore season on the NFI list, he won’t be eligible for unrestricted free agency until 2018, and Miami could re-sign him via a RFA tender. A first-round tender will likely cost ~$4MM, but that could be a price the Dolphins are willing to pay. In his first season in Miami, Alonso has started all seven games while posting 34 tackles and two fumble recoveries.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Dion Jordan told Jackson that his second knee procedure was a result of “trying to too hard to come back too soon,” and also admitted that he isn’t sure when he’ll be back on the field (though Jordan does think he can return during the 2016 season). Jordan, who now sits at 275 pounds, is fully committed to playing defensive end for the Dolphins, and realizes that outside linebacker isn’t an option at his current weight. The 26-year-old is on the non-football injury list at the moment, and Miami hasn’t given any hint that Jordan is still in their plans for this season, or beyond.
  • While the Jets have received trade interest in defensive end Sheldon Richardson, as least one source tells Kimberley A. Martin of Newsday that Richardson is unlikely to moved. “He is a two-strike guy, so [the Jets] won’t get what they want,” the source told Martin (referencing Richardson’s suspensions), but did confirm the pass-rusher’s name “is out there.” Richardson himself also commented on the rumors, and didn’t seemed surprised his name was being bandied about. “It’s big business. That’s what it is,” he told Martin. “We’ve got a surplus of defensive linemen that are capable of being starters. And they drafted [Leonard Williams], paid [Muhammad Wilkerson]…So we’ll see.”
  • The Patriots had discussed an A.J. Derby trade with the Broncos before the regular season began, so the two side had a basis on which to build when they ultimately struck a deal to send the tight end to Denver last week, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. The Broncos had been interested in Derby as far back as the 2015 draft, but New England wasn’t ready to move him earlier this year. The Patriots were able to recoup a fifth-round pick for Derby, which Reiss reports was viewed as a strong return around the league.

Patriots Trade TE A.J. Derby To Broncos

The Broncos acquired tight end A.J. Derby from the Patriots, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). New England will receive a 2017 fifth-round pick in the swap. Denver has confirmed the deal via press release. A.J. Derby (vertical)

[RELATED: Patriots Acquire LB Kyle Van Noy From Lions]

Tight end has been a weak spot for Denver this season. Derby, who is technically still a rookie, could see playing time right away for the Broncos.

A.J. is a young tight end who can help us immediately,” said Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway. “He has tremendous upside and will fit in well on our team.”

So far this year, Derby has only been on the field for 36 snaps. That’s understandable considering that he is playing behind both Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. In the preseason, Derby caught 15 passes for 189 yards and one score.

Derby was a sixth-round pick by New England in the 2015 draft. Unfortunately, he had to be placed on IR last year and missed his entire rookie season. The 6’5″, 225 pound tight end had 22 catches, 303 receiving yards, and three touchdowns in his final year at Arkansas. Prior to that, Derby was a quarterback for the Razorbacks.

Of course, this marks the Patriots’ second trade of the day. Earlier this afternoon, the Pats sent a draft pick to the Lions in exchange for linebacker Kyle Van Noy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Eye QB Signing As Last Resort

Riding high after a dominant Week 3 win despite the involvement of a rookie third-string quarterback, the Patriots do not plan to deviate from how they’ve approached their most important position this season. Well, if they can help it.

The Patriots will sign a quarterback before Week 4 only as a last-resort measure, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. They view the roster spot as valuable and don’t want to send a player to waivers or free agency, depending on service time, unless it’s absolutely necessary.

New England’s already vanquished two 2015 playoff teams without Tom Brady and has used both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett to do so. Respective shoulder and thumb injuries leave Garoppolo and Brissett questionable to be ready for the Pats’ Week 4 Bills tilt — the team’s final game before Brady is eligible to return from his suspension.

Conflicting reports have emerged about the respective availability of Brady’s backups, with one indicating the team expects both to be able to suit up and another suggesting the team is hopeful at least one will.

Florio notes if word comes in Monday that gives a firm indication neither player will be ready to play by next weekend, the team could look to sign a quarterback. The Patriots brought in T.J. Yates and Sean Renfree last week but opted to sign neither. With it being unlikely the Pats would rule out either passer that early in the week, the team could again look to take its chances with Julian Edelman as a possible emergency quarterback.

Although, the former Kent State passer isn’t the only non-quarterback on New England’s roster with high-level signal-calling experience, as Florio points out. Second-year tight end A.J. Derby played quarterback at three schools — Iowa, Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, and Arkansas — before being moved to tight end later during his Razorbacks stay. Edelman, though, has been in this system for eight seasons, and Derby threw just 42 passes in Division I competition. Despite his standing as a running quarterback, Edelman threw 706 in three seasons with the Golden Flashes.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/6/15

Here are Thursday’s minor transactions from around the NFL, with the latest moves added to the top of the page throughout the day:

  • The Broncos have re-signed nose tackle Sione Fua for another stint in Denver, per Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Twitter link). The former third-round pick, who played for Cleveland last season, last spent time with the Broncos in 2013. Denver waived punter Karl Schmitz in a corresponding move. The Broncos have also reached an injury settlement with rookie offensive tackle Connor Rains, removing him from their IR, tweets Mike Klis of 9News.
  • The Buccaneers have signed former Arena League quarterback Sammuel Lamur, the team announced today in a press release. Lamur, the brother of Bengals linebacker Emmanuel Lamur, will be moved to linebacker in Bucs camp.
  • The Titans have made a change in their secondary, signing safety Josh Aubrey and waiving safety Cody Prewitt with an injured designation, per a team release.
  • The Cowboys swapped one tight end for another this week, signing Brandon Barden and cutting Ray Hamilton, tweets Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. As Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post tweets, the club also moved linebacker Justin Anderson and offensive lineman Reshod Fortenberry to its injured reserve list.
  • Patriots tight end A.J. Derby and Eagles outside linebacker Travis Long landed on their respective teams’ injured reserve lists after going unclaimed on waivers, according to Wilson (via Twitter).
  • The Panthers have moved retired offensive tackle Jonathan Martin from the reserve/retired list to the reserve/did not report list, tweets Wilson.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/4/15

Tonight’s minor moves..

  • The Eagles waived/injured linebacker Travis Long, who tore his ACL yesterday, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. If unclaimed, he’ll revert to the team’s IR list.
  • The Patriots waived A.J. Derby, a sixth-round pick out of Arkansas, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets.
  • The Jets signed receiver Arthur Williams and waived receiver Jarrod West, as Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweets.
  • The Dolphins were awarded wide receiver Kevin Cone off waivers from the Browns, James Walker of ESPN.com tweets. They also cut guard Dionte Savage.
  • The Patriots announced that they have signed linebacker L.J. Fort, linebacker Cameron Gordon, fullback Eric Kettani, and defensive lineman A.J. Pataiali’I.
  • Panthers wide receiver Stephen Hill officially cleared waivers and has been placed on the team’s IR, Jonathan Jones of The Observer tweets.
  • The Lions have filled their last roster spot with the signing of cornerback Ethan Davis out of Troy, Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com tweets.
  • The Cardinals cut cornerback Damond Smith while signing cornerback Jonte Green, Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com tweets.
  • The Chargers announced that they signed corner Jordan Mabin and released receiver Demetrius Wilson.
  • The Eagles announced that they released wide receiver Devante Davis while signing fellow wideout Josh Reese.
  • The Lions cut Jerell Harris, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com tweets.