The Patriotsmade a big splash last night when they signed former league MVP Cam Newtonto a one-year contract. The assumption is that Newton will be the team’s starting signal-caller, but Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network says the Pats made no promises in that regard. Still, while there is technically an open competition between Newton and second-year pro Jarrett Stidham, it would be stunning if Newton did not win the job (video link). Garafolo also points out that Newton still has to pass a physical, but the Patriots are confident he will do so.
Garafolo also passes along a fun fact (via Twitter): New England is the third team in NFL history to lose one MVP and sign another in the same offseason. The 2000 Dolphins parted ways with Dan Marino and brought in Thurman Thomas, and the 2005 Cardinals bid farewell to Emmitt Smith and signed Kurt Warner.
Now for more from the AFC East:
The Dolphins drafted Tua Tagovailoawith the belief that he will be the franchise signal-caller the team has been seeking for the past 20 years. He may not start right away, but Albert Breer of SI.com believes the southpaw will be put into the starting lineup at some point this season. While the 2020 Dolphins should be an improved squad over last year’s iteration, Miami is still probably at least a year away from playoff contention, so the team will have no reason to keep Tagovailoa on the sidelines for the entire campaign.
Miami is set at the LG and C spots with Ereck Flowers and Ted Karras, respectively. Beyond that, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald says the Dolphins are still undecided as to whether second-round rookie Robert Hunt would be a better fit at RG or RT in 2020. If Hunt gets a shot at RT and performs well, that could bump 2019 starter Jesse Davis back to the interior or to the bench. Meanwhile, Michael Deiter will compete for the starting RG and backup C slots.
In the same piece linked above, Jackson notes that the Dolphins are working out WR Gary Jennings in the slot — where he thrived in college — and on the outside. Jennings was a fourth-round pick of the Seahawks in 2019, but Seattle waived him in November and Miami scooped him up. He played in just one game for the ‘Fins before getting hurt, but his draft pedigree and upside will give him a good chance to make the club as the fifth or sixth WR.
In a minor trade last summer, the Bills acquired OL Ryan Bates from the Eagles in exchange for DE Eli Harold. Philadelphia subsequently cut Harold, but Buffalo hung on to Bates, who was active for nine games. Per Adam Caplan of InsideTheBirds.com, the Bills view Bates, a 2019 UDFA, as a viable right tackle, guard, and center, so they expect him to be a key backup in 2020 who may take on a bigger role down the road.
The two longest-tenured Dolphin defenders will finish their seasons on injured reserve. Miami placed safeties Reshad Jones and Bobby McCain on IR, where they will join cornerback Xavien Howard.
This strips the Dolphins’ secondary of two key veterans — in a year that’s seen numerous Miami vets depart or head to IR — and creates questions about Jones’ future with the franchise. Jones is by far the Dolphins’ longest-tenured player, at 10 years, but he was a trade candidate throughout this offseason.
A chest injury cost Jones four games this season, but he returned for the Dolphins’ Week 11 matchup against the Bills. Against the Browns, the Dolphins will deploy a skeleton crew featuring Eric Rowe and a host of young players. McCain suffered a shoulder injury against Buffalo.
The Dolphins gave Jones a $12MM-per-year extension in March 2017; the two-time Pro Bowler’s play since, however, has not quite lived up to that price. Jones will turn 32 in February and stands to count $15.6MM toward Miami’s 2020 cap. The Dolphins could save nearly $8MM by releasing Jones next year, though that move would cost them almost as much in dead-money charges.
Miami offered Jones to Pittsburgh before sending Minkah Fitzpatrick there this year, but the former’s high salary impeded trade talks this offseason. For a Dolphins team that’s made no secret of a full-scale rebuild, as the exits of most of the franchise’s previous core have shown, it will likely not have an issue jettisoning Jones next year.
McCain has started eight games for Miami this season and 40 since joining the team as a 2015 fifth-round pick. He’s attached to a four-year, $27MM extension the Dolphins gave him in 2018. With only $5.5MM in 2020 salary due, the 26-year-old defender has a better chance of returning next season.
The Dolphins added safety help by signing ex-49ers starter Adrian Colbert off the Seahawks’ practice squad. They also placed 2019 Seahawks wide receiver draftee Gary Jennings on IR.
November 8th, 2019 at 9:28pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
The Seahawks waived rookie fourth-round pick Gary Jennings earlier this week, and many immediately speculated the Dolphins would claim the young receiver. That’s exactly what happened, and Miami was awarded the West Virginia product. If they hadn’t submitted a claim Jennings wouldn’t have tumbled very far though, as the Giants put in a claim for him as well, a source told Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Giants are obviously toward the top of the waiver priority, and just barely missed him. With Sterling Shepard on the shelf for the foreseeable future, their interest makes plenty of sense. Jennings never appeared in a game for Seattle, and will likely see some run with the Dolphins, especially after Preston Williams‘ ACL tear.
Here’s more from the NFC on a quiet Friday night:
Even without Cam Newton the Panthers are right in the thick of the playoff race, so they have to start thinking about some late-season moves. Carolina is apparently looking for a boost to their receiving corp, as the team plans on using one of their two injured reserve-return slots on receiver Chris Hogan, according to Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. Rodrigue notes that Hogan was out on the practice field on Wednesday. Hogan only had three catches through four games with his new team before getting put on IR.
Speaking of late-season returns, Seahawks rookie Demarcus Christmas won’t be making one. Seattle declined to activate the defensive lineman off the PUP list meaning he will miss the rest of the season, according to Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times (Twitter link). The Seahawks drafted the Florida State product in the sixth-round back in April, and he’ll officially be getting a redshirt year. Since he’s on PUP he isn’t allowed to practice, which means he’ll have a lot of catching up to do as he tries to crack the team next offseason.
Alvin Kamara is officially back. Saints head coach Sean Payton announced Thursday that he expects to have his star running back on the field when New Orleans hosts the Falcons. Kamara has missed his team’s past two games as he dealt with knee and ankle issues. This will be the first time that Drew Brees and Kamara have shared the field since back in Week 2.