Jakeem Grant

AFC East Rumors: Williams, Jets, Dolphins

The Patriots appear to be putting their cornerback depth to good use. One of the Pats’ corners, Joejuan Williams, is now attending meetings exclusively as a safety, Michael Giardi of NFL.com tweets. New England’s 2019 second-round pick, Williams only played 80 defensive snaps as a rookie. But the Vanderbilt product was stuck behind the likes of Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty and Jonathan Jones. Those three are back in 2020, but the Pats’ safety group looks considerably different.

The team’s longtime Devin McCourtyPatrick ChungDuron Harmon trio is down to just McCourty, though the Pats did sign former Charger Adrian Phillips and drafted Kyle Dugger in Round 2. Dugger, however, played at a Division II school and has not had much time this offseason for on-field work. At 6-foot-3, 212 pounds, Williams has the size to transition to safety. The Pats frequently used three safeties in coverage over the past several years.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Le’Veon Bell has not enjoyed a quality training camp, with Brian Costello of the New York Post rating the Jets‘ starting running back as the team’s third-most impressive back in camp — behind Frank Gore and rookie fourth-rounder La’Mical Perine. Bell enjoyed his worst season in 2019, but the Jets featured a bottom-tier offensive line. They have since made several upgrade attempts. The Jets have Bell under contract for three more seasons, but just one of them features guaranteed money. Bell, 28, is set to count $15.5MM against the Jets’ cap this season.
  • More than a week after bringing Donte Moncrief in for a workout, the Jets again summoned the wideout to their facility. Moncrief visited the Jets on Friday. This comes after the former third-round pick and veteran auxiliary wide receiver met with the 49ers. San Francisco went in a different direction, however. The 6-4 target amassed 668 receiving yards with the 2018 Jaguars but did not make an impact with the Steelers or Panthers last season.
  • The Jets’ wideout interest stems partially from being without Denzel Mims. The second-round rookie has missed all of the team’s work in pads, with The Athletic’s Connor Hughes noting Mims is not yet doing individual drills (subscription required). Mims suffered the injury during the team’s ramp-up period earlier this month. With 2020 already presenting unfavorable circumstances for rookies, Mims may well face an uphill battle to be an early-season contributor.
  • Dolphins first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene is competing with Jakeem Grant and recent addition Chester Rogers for return jobs, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. A cornerback out of Auburn, Igbinoghene notched two kick-return touchdowns in college. He did not return any punts at Auburn, however, so this would seemingly leave the punt-return competition to the two veterans. The elusive Grant has four NFL return TDs, including two on punt returns.
  • Fellow Dolphins rookie Solomon Kindley still has a chance to be one of the team’s starting guards, with Jackson noting that the fourth-round rookie may be a bit ahead of second-round O-lineman Robert Hunt. The Dolphins still view Hunt as a player who could contribute at both guard and tackle, while Kindley — the No. 111 overall pick out of Georgia — is showing well at right guard. The Dolphins signed Ereck Flowers to play left guard this offseason, and guard-tackle hybrid Jesse Davis may be set to again open as the team’s right tackle.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Gronk, Jets

On Super Bowl week, former Patriots star Rob Gronkowski explained just how dejected he was during his final season on the field.

I 100 percent lost a step (in my last year). I actually lost like three steps some games,” Gronk told Barstool Sports (Twitter link via WEEI’s Ryan Hannable). “I didn’t even want to be out there on the field. I was like, ‘Yo, I feel like complete ass. Coach, put Dwayne (Allen) in, I don’t even care.’ I was at that point.”

Gronk is retired, for now, but he continues to leave the door open, in case his motivation returns. The tight end’s latest comments shed some light on his mindset in his final games, however, so it might take a lot for Gronkowski to lace ’em up again.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

Dolphins Place WR Jakeem Grant On IR

The ankle injury Jakeem Grant sustained will end his season. The Dolphins placed Jakeem Grant on IR on Wednesday and promoted fellow wide receiver Isaiah Ford from their practice squad to fill his roster spot.

One of the NFL’s shiftiest players, Grant has primarily served as Miami’s return man. He has four return touchdowns in four seasons, including a kick-return score this season. Grant played in 10 of the Dolphins’ 11 games but will finish a second straight season on IR.

Miami’s reconstructed front office saw enough from Grant during his first three seasons to extend him over the summer. The 5-foot-7 wideout is signed through the 2023 season via the four-year, $19.7MM re-up he inked in August. One of many Dolphins veteran wideouts signed beyond this season, the former sixth-round pick will finish this season with 19 receptions for 164 yards.

Grant joined Albert Wilson in suffering injuries Sunday in Cleveland and will join Preston Williams on Miami’s IR list. A 2017 seventh-round pick, Ford played three games earlier this season for the Dolphins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Colts, Dolphins, JPP, Broncos

The Colts are expecting Devin Funchess to return soon, but head coach Frank Reich didn’t want to say anything definitive when talking with reporters on Monday.

“Yeah, we’re gonna monitor him as we go,” Reich said (via Andrew Walker of the team’s website). “You know, we’ve already talked about his injury a bunch; I mean we’ve gotta make sure that thing’s 100 percent healed, so we’ll monitor it this week and see how it goes.”

Reich did note that wideout T.Y. Hilton didn’t suffer a setback with his calf injury during Thursday’s night loss to the Texans, and he also revealed that receiver Parris Campbell could return this week from a fractured hand. Running back Marlon Mack won’t play this weekend against the Titans, according to the head coach.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • The Dolphins will likely be on the hunt for wide receiver help, according to ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe (via Twitter). Jakeem Grant (ankle) and Albert Wilson (rib) both suffered injuries during Sunday’s loss to the Browns, leaving the team with only two healthy receivers in DeVante Parker and Allen Hurns. Head coach Brian Flores noted that he’s uncertain if Grant or Wilson would end up missing the rest of the season due to their injuries (via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald).
  • Buccaneers linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul played 76-percent of his team’s defensive snaps this weekend, earning him another $600K. As Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets, the veteran has already earned $3MM in bonuses in five games, and he could earn another $3MM through his team’s final five games. Pierre-Paul has a $3MM base salary this season.
  • Take this for what it’s worth, but Vic Fangio told reporters that Broncos quarterback Drew Lock could “possibly” be on the roster this Sunday and could “possibly” start vs. the Chargers (via Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post on Twitter). The second-round rookie has been on the IR since September, but he was designated to return earlier this month.
  • Former NFL running back Karlos Williams has signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL, the team announced on Twitter. Williams ran for 517 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie, but he was later slapped with three separate suspensions. The 26-year-old was reinstated from his indefinite suspension last February, and he’s finally found his next gig.

Dolphins Notes: Clowney, Grant, Alonso

The Dolphins believe they are the favorites to land Texans star Jadeveon Clowney, but Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com believes that Miami would have to increase Clowney’s tag number (currently just under $16MM) to something in the $20MM+ range to land the former No. 1 overall pick (Twitter link). Fitzgerald suggests that the Dolphins may not be interested in giving Clowney the long-term deal he wants and could be looking to trade a second-round pick for Clowney this year and flipping him for a first-rounder next year.

Let’s take a quick swing around South Beach:

  • Wide receiver Jakeem Grant‘s extension was reported as a four-year, $24MM pact, but NFL Insider Adam Caplan says the base value is actually $19.7MM (Twitter link). The total value could increase to $24MM with Pro Bowl incentives. The contract includes $7.5MM in guaranteed money, only $3.72MM of which is fully guaranteed.
  • The Dolphins are said to be shopping linebacker Kiko Alonso, though rival teams expect him to be cut. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes that head coach Brian Flores was non-committal when asked about the status of Alonso and tight end Dwayne Allen, both of whom have battled injuries this summer. Alonso returned to practice on a limited basis Sunday, and while Jackson says Miami could very well keep him around in 2019, it would not be surprising if both Alonso and Allen were released.
  • More from Jackson, who suggests that edge rusher Nate Orchard is on the roster bubble. Though Flores didn’t elaborate, he said “this will be a big week” for Orchard. It sounds as if one of last year’s “Hard Knocks” stars could find his way onto the 53-man roster with a strong performance in Miami’s last preseason game.
  • The Dolphins’ QB competition between Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick remains open.

Dolphins To Sign Jakeem Grant To Extension

The Dolphins have agreed to a four-year contract extension with wide receiver Jakeem Grant, a source tells Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). The deal will keep Grant under club control through 2023.

The fresh deal will be worth up to $24MM, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). That means Grant will make just $6MM per year, despite having only 34 career catches for 471 yards across three seasons.

Grant is, at best, the No. 4 wide receiver on Miami’s depth chart at the moment, but most of his value comes from his return ability. The 2016 sixth-rounder has returned 59 punts and 58 kickoffs over his first three years in the league, and he took a punt and a kickoff to the house last year. The 16.3 yards-per-return he provided across 14 punt returns in 2018 is a stellar mark, as was his 29.7 yards-per return average on kickoffs.

The Texas Tech product is diminutive, checking in at 5-7, 171. But he is shifty and quick, and those skills do allow him to be an occasional threat in the passing game as well. He has two receiving touchdowns in each of the past two seasons, with a 65-yard strike in 2017 and a 52-yard score in 2018.

Grant had been battling a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined over the past several weeks, but he returned to practice Monday, and the Dolphins apparently believe he is back to full health. His rookie contract expires at the end of the 2019 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Bell, Bills, Flores

The Bell has rung. As Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets, Le’Veon Bell has arrived at the Jets‘ facility in advance of tomorrow’s mandatory minicamp. There was never a chance that Bell would fail to show up for minicamp, but given the drama that has followed him from Pittsburgh to New York, it’s still noteworthy, if for no other reason than to see how he will interact with new head coach Adam Gase.

Now for several more items from the AFC East:

  • Speaking at Jim Kelly‘s annual charity golf tournament this morning, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he believes that a new stadium is essential to the stability of a franchise (via Matthew Fairburn of The Athletic). With respect to the Bills specifically, Goodell made it very clear that team ownership will need to address the club’s stadium situation at some point in the near future to keep the Bills in Buffalo. Goodell has made similar remarks in the past, but the article — which includes more of Goodell’s comments — are well worth a read for Bills fans, as it also details the unique challenges that ownership faces in meeting Goodell’s demands.
  • Brian Flores is making a strong first impression with the Dolphins, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. A number of players are less than keen on the old-school mentality and the demanding nature of the new coaching staff, but others are enjoying it, and Flores himself has drawn rave reviews. Players have lauded the rookie head coach both publicly and privately, which is a bit more meaningful for Flores than it might be for another HC. The Dolphins are in full rebuild mode, so Flores will be judged not necessarily on wins and losses — at least not for a year or two — but on how his players respond to him and compete for him.
  • In the same piece linked above, Jackson notes that the Dolphins are taking a wait-and-see approach with several players entering the final years of their contracts like RB Kenyan Drake and WR Jakeem Grant.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/28/18

Today’s minor moves:

Green Bay Packers

Miami Dolphins

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dolphins WR Jakeem Grant Done For Season

Dolphins wideout Jakeem Grant will be placed on injured reserve after suffering an Achilles injury in Week 10, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.

Grant didn’t suffer a ruptured Achilles, which would have required him to undergo a comprehensive operation that could have knocked him out for 10-12 months, per Salguero. Instead, Grant underwent a separate, less-invasive procedure which should allow him to return for 2019 training camp.

Grant, 26, took on a larger role in Week 8 due to injuries on the Dolphins’ receiver depth chart, managing eight targets while Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson were sidelined. Stills is now back in the fold, but Wilson has since been placed on injured reserve. Miami still has other options at the receiver position, however, including Danny Amendola, DeVante Parker, Leonte Carroo, and the recently-signed Brice Butler.

While Grant wasn’t a key player on offense, his loss will be strongly felt on special teams, where Grant was Miami’s No. 1 kick and punt returner. Grant had managed 16.3 yards per punt and 29.7 yards per return this season, both of which are among the best figures in the NFL. Additionally, Football Outsiders ranks the Dolphins’ punt return unit as the league’s second-most efficient, while the club is fourth in FO’s kick return metrics.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.