Jacoby Brissett

Dolphins Activate QB Tua Tagovailoa Off IR

Tua Tagovailoa is officially back. The Dolphins have activated the quarterback off injured reserve. While Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com observes that Tagovailoa is listed as questionable, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets that the QB will start tomorrow in London.

Tua hasn’t played since suffering a rib injury during Miami’s Week 2 loss to the Bills. He was placed on IR in late September, and he was designated to return from IR earlier this week. While the QB got a week of practice under his belt, it was still uncertain if the organization would fly the former first-round pick across the Atlantic Ocean in order to play the winless Jaguars in London tomorrow. Ultimately, it sounds like Tagovailoa will be under center for his squad at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The former fifth-overall pick started nine of his 10 games last season, completing 64.1-percent of his passes for 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns, and only five interceptions. He also added another 109 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. He threw a touchdown and rushed for another during the Dolphins’ Week 1 victory over the Patriots, and he completed one of his four pass attempts in Week 2 before exiting.

Jacoby Brissett has been filling in as the starting QB in Tua’s absence, throwing four touchdowns in three starts.

The Dolphins made two additional moves this morning, promoting wideouts Isaiah Ford and Kirk Merritt from the practice squad.

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NFL Contract Details: Jones, Floyd, Williams, QBs

Some assorted contract details from around the NFL:

  • RB Aaron Jones, Packers: Four years, $48MM, including $20MM over first two years. $7MM roster bonus in 2023. Owed $16MM in 2023 and $12MM in 2024. Via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero on Twitter.
  • LB Leonard Floyd, Rams: Four years, $64MM, including $32.5MM guaranteed. $14MM signing bonus. Salaries: $2MM (2021, fully guaranteed), $16.5MM (2022, fully guaranteed), $15.5MM (2023), $16MM (2024). Via Pelissero on Twitter.
  • DE Leonard Williams, Giants: Three years, $63MM, including $45MM. $22.5MM signing bonus. Salaries: $3.5MM (2021, fully guaranteed), $19MM (2022, fully guaranteed), $18MM (2023). Cap charges: $11MM (2021), $26.5MM (2022), $25.5MM (2023). Via Manish Mehta on Twitter.
  • QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Washington: One year, $10MM, including $6MM guaranteed. Max value of $12MM. $6MM signing bonus. $3MM base salary, $1MM per-game roster bonuses. Up to $2MM in incentives. Via Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post on Twitter.
  • QB Jacoby Brissett, Dolphins: One year, $5MM, including $2.5MM guaranteed. $2.5MM signing bonus, up to $2.5MM in incentives. Via Pelissero on Twitter.
  • QB Andy Dalton, Bears: One year, $10MM. $7MM signing bonus, $3MM base salary, up to $3MM in incentives. Via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle on Twitter.
  • LB Carl Lawson, Jets: Three years, $45MM, including $30MM guaranteed. $1MM signing bonus. Salaries: $6.2MM (2021, plus $7.8MM roster bonus), $15MM (2022), $15MM (2023). Cap charges: $14.3MM (2021), $15.3MM (2022), $15.3MM (2023). Up to $800K in sack incentives each year. Via Mehta on Twitter.

Dolphins To Sign Jacoby Brissett

The quarterback market is really starting to heat up now. Just moments after news broke about Andy Dalton signing with the Bears, we’ve got word of Jacoby Brissett‘s next destination.

Brissett will be signing a one-year contract with the Dolphins, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The former Patriots and Colts quarterback will sign for a guaranteed $5MM, according to the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin (on Twitter). The deal can max out at $7MM.

Ryan Fitzpatrick left for Washington last night, and Miami wasted no time in finding their new veteran backup for Tua Tagovailoa. After all the controversy last season from the Fitz/Tua flips that Brian Flores initiated, it’s a little eyebrow-raising to see them go with another high profile player behind Tagovailoa.

If Tua falters in his second season, Flores will once again have another player with lots of starting experience waiting in the wings behind him. The Dolphins have sought to establish themselves as committed to Tagovailoa ever since the season ended, amid lots of speculation that they’d try to make a move for Deshaun Watson.

Brissett’s time in Indy came to an end with the Colts trading for Carson Wentz earlier this offseason. After a shoulder injury to Andrew Luck in 2017, the Colts traded with the Patriots for Brissett and he started 15 games for them that year. In 2018 he backed up Luck but after Luck’s sudden retirement, he again started 15 games for them in 2019.

His play in 2019 was subpar, causing the Colts to go out and sign Philip Rivers last offseason, once again relegating Brissett to clipboard-holding duties. In his last season as the starter he had 18 touchdowns and only six interceptions, but averaged just 6.6 yards per attempt as he was often too conservative with the ball and failed to push it down the field.

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Latest On Patriots’ QB Outlook

We heard at the beginning of January that the Patriots and quarterback Cam Newton were unlikely to reunite in 2021, but a report from earlier this week suggested that the the door is not closed on a Newton return to Foxborough next season. And multiple sources tell Ben Volin of the Boston Globe that they would not be surprised to see the Pats re-sign the 2015 league MVP.

After all, HC Bill Belichick reportedly loved coaching Newton, and Volin hears that even after the 2020 campaign, Belichick has raved about the effort that Newton put forth last season. He is concerned about Newton’s arm strength — which is understandable given the 31-year-old’s disappointing passing performance during his first season with New England — but he appears open to continuing the relationship just the same. Newton, meanwhile, has been similarly candid about how much he enjoyed playing for the Pats, so if the two sides can agree to another inexpensive contract, a re-up could be in the cards.

Of course, the club has also had conversations about every quarterback in the league that could be available via trade, and the expectation remains that the Pats will select a QB in the early rounds of this year’s draft (perhaps with their No. 15 overall selection). So if Newton comes back, it obviously won’t be as anything more than a bridge option to a younger passer, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com suggests that the team could even re-sign Newton and pair him with another veteran.

If New England goes that route, one obvious option would be to re-sign longtime Patriot Brian Hoyer, as Volin notes. Volin also believes that Mitchell Trubisky could be on the Pats’ radar, and at this point in their respective careers, Trubisky certainly appears to have a higher ceiling than Newton. Some have connected the dots between New England and former Belichick draftee Jacoby Brissett, but Volin sees a Brissett signing as unlikely since he did not “click” with Belichick and OC Josh McDaniels before he was dealt to the Colts in 2017. Assuming the Patriots do end up adding two QBs this offseason, Jarrett Stidham‘s roster status will be very much in doubt.

One collegiate signal-caller that has been routinely mocked to the Patriots is Alabama QB Mac Jones. As Reiss notes in the piece linked above, former New England OC Charlie Weis was effusive in his praise of Jones, and Weis sees him as a perfect fit in the Pats’ offense. Though he is not as athletic as some of the other passers in this year’s class, Jones is more than capable of moving around in the pocket and can make accurate throws to every part of the field.

If the Pats really want Jones, though, they may have to trade up from the No. 15 pick. His stock is rising, and ESPN draftniks Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay both believe he will be off the board by the time New England is on the clock.

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Colts Notes: QBs, Hilton, Pascal, Houston

The Colts are hunting for a quarterback following the retirement of Philip Rivers, but at least one individual believes the replacement is already on the roster. Jacob Eason recently told Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star that it’s “realistic as soon as possible” for him to compete for the Colts starting quarterback gig.

“I got a lot of work ahead of me, a lot of areas to improve and grow, but if the opportunity presents itself, I’m going to put my best foot forward and give you the best shot I can,” Eason said.

Following a standout career at Washington, Eason was a fourth-round pick by the Colts in this past year’s draft. While the rookie didn’t see the field during his first NFL season, he was able to garner the praise of GM Chris Ballard and former quarterbacks coach (and current offensive coordinator) Marcus Brady.

“I didn’t have that many opportunities to go out there and prove myself and show what I can do to these coaches and this team,” Eason said. “But there were moments in training camp where I was given the opportunity to go play and do my thing, and I did that.”

Let’s check out some more notes out of Indy…

  • Speaking of quarterbacks, Ballard kept the door open on retaining backup QB Jacoby Brissett. “We like Jacoby,’’ Ballard said (via Mike Chappell of Fox59.com). “We’ve got to let that work out.’’ The 28-year-old has alternated between being a starting QB and backup QB during his four seasons with Indianapolis. Following a 2019 campaign that saw Brissett complete 60.9-percent of his passes while tossing 18 touchdowns in 15 starts, the quarterback was limited to only 48 offensive snaps in 2020. The former third-round is set to hit free agency this offseason.
  • The Colts have interest in retaining a pair of free agent wideouts. Ballard said he believes veteran T.Y. Hilton can still play a significant role, and he noted the market will dictate whether the receiver returns to Indianapolis (via Kevin Bowen of 1075 The Fan on Twitter). Hilton finished the 2020 season having hauled in 56 receptions for 762 yards and five touchdowns. Meanwhile, Ballard hinted that the organization will be bringing back restricted free agent receiver Zach Pascal, presumably via a tender (via Bowen). Pascal had a career year for the Colts, surpassing or tying career highs in receptions (44), receiving yards (629), and touchdowns (five).
  • Ballard also attributed Justin Houston‘s future in Indianapolis to the “market,” per Bowen on Twitter. Following an eight-year stint with the Chiefs, Houston joined the Colts on a two-year, $24MM deal prior to the 2019 season. In two seasons with the Colts, the 32-year-old has collected 69 tackles and 19 sacks in 32 starts.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Dolphins, Jets, Gase

Prior to being selected by the Patriots in the third round of the 2016 draft, quarterback Jacoby Brissett wanted nothing to do with New England.

“I honestly did not want to be there,” Brissett said on the McCourty twins’ podcast (via Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston). “When I took my visit there — my pre-draft visit — I was like, ‘Hell no. If one team drafts me, it better not be them.’

“And I’ll never forget, (offensive coordinator) Josh (McDaniels) called me on the phone on draft night and I didn’t have his number saved. That’s how bad it was. I didn’t even have his number saved in my phone. I was like, ‘Damn, man.'”

You can’t necessarily blame Brissett for feeling that way. Besides having to play behind one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Tom Brady, the rookie QB was also behind former second-rounder Jimmy Garoppolo on the depth chart. Due to suspensions and injuries to his teammates, Brissett ended up seeing time in three games (two starts) during his rookie campaign. The following year, the Patriots shipped Brissett to the Colts in exchange for wideout Phillip Dorsett.

“Honestly, that was my wake-up to the NFL, was being traded and then the next week, you’re out there in a game,” Brissett added. “It was like, ‘We don’t care how long you’ve been here. You’d better know how to play.”

Let’s check out some more notes from the AFC East…

  • Speaking of Patriots quarterbacks, Cam Newton is in New England to complete his physical and finalize his one-year deal, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The reporter notes that the Patriots are confident in the quarterback’s “condition” and aren’t anticipating any issues with the physical. Injuries limited Newton to only a pair of games in 2019, forcing him to settle for a one-year, $1.75MM deal with New England.
  • If the Dolphins are forced to trim their training camp roster, then Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald points to a handful of undrafted rookies who could get cut, including offensive linemen Jonathan Hubbard, Nick Kaltmayer, and Donell Stanley. Jackson also opines that a handful of veterans could be sent packing, a group that includes offensive linemen Adam Pankey and Keaton Sutherland, quarterback Jake Rudock, fullback Chandler Cox, and receivers Ricardo Louis and Mack Hollins.
  • Connor Hughes of The Athletic did a somewhat similar exercise with the Jets, as he explored which players could be traded if New York gets off to a sluggish start. The writer points to wideout Breshad Perriman, linebacker Avery Williamson, running back Le’Veon Bell, defensive end Henry Anderson, and safety Marcus Maye as potential trade candidates.
  • While Hughes believes that Adam Gase has received some underserved criticism during his tenure in New York, the writer also can’t envision the Jets head coach keeping his job if the team finishes with seven or fewer wins. Of course, there are plenty of scenarios where the Jets struggle and Gase does keep his job, especially if quarterback Sam Darnold misses more time in 2020.

Draft QB Rumors: Bolts, Raiders, Pats

Let’s round up some of the recent QB-related rumors that are swirling in advance of Thursday’s draft:

  • The Chargers hold the No. 6 overall pick and are not inclined to trade up from that spot, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. The Bolts are fans of both Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa, and it seems almost certain that at least one of those passers will be available when Los Angeles is on the clock. The team could still go in a non-QB direction with the No. 6 pick, but it would be difficult to pass up a franchise-altering talent at the most important position in sports, especially since the Chargers will probably not be picking nearly as high in 2021.
  • Although the Raiders have Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota on the roster, La Canfora hears that the club could make a play for a QB with one of their two first-round picks. Las Vegas holds the No. 12 and No. 19 overall selections, and JLC believes the team could target a CB with the No. 12 pick and go after a QB like Tagovailoa — if he falls that far — or Jordan Love with the No. 19 pick. While the Raiders need a receiver and don’t have a second-round selection, this year’s draft is deep enough at WR that Las Vegas could still find an impact player with one of its three third-round choices.
  • The Patriots are in the market for a collegiate signal-caller, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says it’s a question of “when,” not “if”, New England drafts a QB this week. We recently heard that the Pats would find a passer in either the first round or middle rounds, and if a player like Herbert or Tagovailoa should start to slide, it would not be surprising to see them pull the trigger. Coincidentally, new personnel consultant Eliot Wolf was a Packers staffer in 2005, when Green Bay was the beneficiary of Aaron Rodgers‘ famous draft-day slide.
  • ESPN’s Matt Bowen wrote before last year’s draft that Jarrett Stidham was the QB that represented the best fit for the Patriots, and the Pats ultimately selected Stidham with a fourth-round pick. Bowen believes the rookie signal-caller that makes the most sense for New England this year is Washington’s Jacob Eason (subscription required). Eason profiles as a Day 2 pick, so he would not be the Pats’ target with their No. 23 overall choice, but he may be off the board by the time New England is on the clock again at No. 87.
  • Colts GM Chris Ballard will not force a QB pick in this year’s draft, though Indy has been linked to rookie passers. The team could select a signal-caller like Eason with one of its second-round choices, though the Colts remain high on Jacoby Brissett. It may seem unlikely, but Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star says the team continues to insist that it could forgo a quarterback in the 2020 draft and look to bring Brissett back in 2021.

Colts Notes: Brady, Rivers, Brissett, Vinatieri

We heard last week that Tom Brady‘s camp had expressed interest in the Colts, but that the interest wasn’t mutual as Indy opted to roll with Philip Rivers. But Indianapolis at least looked into the opportunity, as head coach Frank Reich revealed in a video news conference Tuesday, via Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star. “I watched all of his tape from the last two years,” Reich said. “I think he’s still playing at a super-, super-high level. We know he’s the best of all time for a reason.” Still it wasn’t enough to move him in a different direction, as Reich said “we really felt like Philip was the right guy for us.”

For us, we got the guy we thought was the right fit,” he explained. “I don’t know if I’d say (Brady) wasn’t a fit. There’s always a fit when you have a great player, when you have maybe the best player of all time. There’s a lot of factors that go into these things.” One of those factors is of course Reich’s familiarity with Rivers, who he coached with the Chargers. Brady was likely attracted to the Colts’ coaching staff and offensive line, although things worked out alright for him with Tampa Bay. Still, the fact that the Colts explicitly chose Rivers over Brady is interesting.

Here’s more from Lucas Oil Stadium:

  • Reich reiterated that he didn’t feel like Rivers had lost anything physically, and called it a “crazy unique opportunity” to link back up with his old pupil, per Mike Wells of ESPN.com. “Just being there on the inside in the three years that I was and knowing the quarterback position like I do, I was so confident physically he was the right player and he had not lost anything,” Reich said Tuesday. “I didn’t notice any physical gifts diminishing.” He continued to rave about his new signal-caller, saying “when I tell you he’s elite intellectually, he’s at the top. There are a group of guys in the football world I would put in that category, not everybody gets those gifts. He has them.” Rivers will turn 39 in December and is coming off a down year, but he was one of the best quarterbacks in the league in 2018. Not having to play 16 road games per year like he did in Los Angeles should help.
  • The acquisition of Rivers is sending Jacoby Brissett to the bench, and Reich spoke about him for the first time. “Honestly, he wasn’t happy about it,” Reich said after revealing he called Brissett shortly before they announced the signing of Rivers, via Wells. “But he’s a great teammate and a great leader, and I’m sure he’ll be good. Even though Jacoby isn’t a starter, but there’s nothing saying he can’t play,” he said. “We’re wide open. (Offensive coordinator) Nick (Sirianni) and I have been talking: What does it look like if Jacoby plays five plays a game? Seven plays a game? We’re open to that.” Brissett now has a $21.4MM cap hit to be a backup, so it makes sense they’d want to utilize him somehow.
  • Adam Vinatieri struggled mightily last season before being shutdown with a knee injury and having surgery. But despite now being 47, the legendary kicker is still contemplating playing another season, according to Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star. Reich said that he had seen Vinatieri at the facility rehabbing before COVID-19 closed it. “(We plan) to have a sitdown with Adam and see where he’s at once he’s a little further along in that process,” Reich said. Reich said Vinatieri hasn’t yet made a decision on whether or not to retire. If he decides to keep playing, it’s entirely possible he’ll have to find a new team. Reich and general manager Chris Ballard caught some flak for sticking with Vinatieri so long when he was struggling, and their replacement Chase McLaughlin played well down the stretch. Vinatieri missed eight field goals and six extra points before getting shutdown with four games to go last year. When he underwent surgery, he said he wanted to keep the hope for a 25th season alive.

Colts Plan To Keep Jacoby Brissett

Despite Philip Rivers, Jacoby Brissett and Andrew Luck (dead money) accounting for more than $53MM on the Colts’ 2020 payroll, the team plans to keep its recently demoted quarterback.

Brissett remains in the Colts’ plans for 2020, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Colts released Brian Hoyer minutes ago and now have Rivers at a $25MM price. Brissett is due a $7MM guarantee Sunday, but Fowler notes the team plans to retain the fifth-year passer to play behind Rivers.

After Luck’s retirement, the Colts gave Brissett a two-year, $30MM deal. He is set to count $21.4MM against Indianapolis’ cap next season. The Colts saw Brissett improve mightily from his 2017 performance, but after Jim Irsay said all options were on the table this offseason, the team signed Rivers. Brissett will return to the QB2 role he played in 2018. Rivers has never missed a start since taking the Chargers’ reins at the 2006 season’s outset.

The Colts rejected multiple trade offers for Brissett in 2018, and Irsay said that year he would be unlikely to trade the former Patriots draftee for a first-round pick. Chris Ballard and Frank Reich came out in support of Brissett after Luck’s healthy 2018 season, and the Colts have one of the league’s best backup quarterbacks in the fold — albeit at a higher-than-usual rate.

With the Colts still in need of a long-term answer, it is unclear how they will proceed with Brissett beyond 2020. But for now, it looks like he will be a high-priced backup and play a fourth year in Indianapolis.

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Jim Irsay On Luck, QBs, Castonzo, RBs

After Andrew Luck‘s retirement created the most uncertainty the Colts have faced at the quarterback position since Peyton Manning‘s career-threatening injury in 2011, they now project to be one of the key players in this offseason’s complex quarterback derby.

Presenting a quarterback market that features Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Teddy Bridgewater as free agents — along with nominal UFAs Drew Brees and Dak Prescott — to go with Cam Newton and Andy Dalton as likely trade chips, 2020 brings unusual uncertainty at the NFL’s glamour position.

Colts owner Jim Irsay addressed several topics Sunday but focused on the quarterback position, where the team’s current starter — Jacoby Brissett — is not a lock to stay in that role.

I won’t talk about specific players; I would just say all options are open,” Irsay said, via Mike Chappell of Fox 59. “We have challenged each other to keep the ancient enemy of rationalization out of the room. The quarterback position, the three of us (Irsay, GM Chris Ballard and HC Frank Reich) will make it. We have to. It’s too big of a decision. All options are on the table. I’ve never quite seen a year when this was so unusual if you will. It’s exciting. I look at it as a challenge.”

The Colts, who hold this year’s No. 13 overall selection, have also been linked to making a first-round quarterback pick. While calling Indianapolis’ Brissett-Brian Hoyer depth chart “better than probably half the league,” Irsay will keep the draft avenue open. Although, the Colts are extremely unlikely to be in position to draft one of this year’s top three quarterback prospects at No. 13.

We’ll keep evaluating that position. I know we’ll find the right answer and Jacoby can have a much higher ceiling that he has now. That’s a possibility,” Irsay said. “We could draft someone. That’s a possibility. Doesn’t have to be the first round. There’s a lot of good players out there.

“I know we were going to take Russell Wilson the year (2012) we took Andrew in the fourth round, but he was gone in the third. We would have taken him, but that’s a long story.”

As for who will be Brissett or his replacement’s blindside protector, Irsay is confident Anthony Castonzo will be back. The nine-year veteran is considering retirement. Ballard believes the former first-round pick has several years left in the tank.

“I haven’t talked to Anthony personally, but he’s a Pro Bowl left tackle and we want him to come back,” Irsay said. “I think there’s a strong likelihood that he will, but I think Chris will have more on that in the coming weeks.”

Irsay added that the Colts have not discussed an extension for Marlon Mack. While indicating the Colts like Mack and want him to stay beyond his 2020 contract year, the longtime owner mentioned how much the organization likes 2018 draftees Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines.

Lastly, Irsay did get around to Luck. The owner said both Ballard and Reich still have dinner with the retired passer and that he has not given up on the prospect of the former No. 1 overall pick returning to the Colts at some point.

I try to make the argument (with him) also, ‘What about the $700MM (seems high) you’re leaving on the table?‘” Irsay said, after noting he respects Luck’s decision to retire. “I think we’ll have an outstanding decade, and I think Andrew will have an outstanding life. Will those things meet? It’s very possible, but it’s also not possible. … We have to go on with the assumption that he’s not going to be back. If he comes back, that’s easy.”

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