Jesse Davis

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Bell, Dolphins

Add the Patriots to the list of teams who were high on promising Redskins wideout Terry McLaurin. In addition to the Raiders, the Patriots were intrigued by the Ohio State alum, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes. The Pats considered McLaurin with the No. 73 pick but instead dealt the selection to the Bears in exchange for a 2020 fourth-round choice and drafted Damien Harris at No. 87. Washington nabbed McLaurin at No. 76, and he’s become the team’s top wideout. Part of the reason the Patriots sought the ex-Buckeye was his potential for special teams work, responsibilities he might not become too familiar with due to his high-value role in Washington.

Here’s the Week 6 latest out of the AFC East, moving from one might-have-been Patriot to one of the longest-tenured players in franchise history:

  • Stephen Gostkowski is under contract through the 2020 season, but with his salary rising from $1.1MM to $3.5MM, Reiss adds that the Patriots will examine that figure and determine if it’s worth it to bring the veteran back. The team also stands to look at other options in the draft. The Pats have not drafted a kicker since taking Gostkowski in the 2006 fourth round. New England made a change at punter this year, moving from longtime incumbent Ryan Allen to fifth-round rookie Jake Bailey. Gostkowski will be recovering from hip surgery but would surely generate interest elsewhere if the Patriots jettison him.
  • Le’Veon Bell‘s 2018 absence stemmed largely from fear the Steelers would continue to overwork him and thus diminish his value on the 2019 market. Bell is on pace for 299 carries, which would be his second-highest single-season total. However, now that he’s secured $28MM in guarantees, the Jets starter is not worried about workload issues, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. Bell is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry on a shaky Jets offense.
  • Do not look for the 0-4 Dolphins to cut Josh Rosen‘s audition short. Brian Flores said (via the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, on Twitter) his quarterback situation is “settled” for the rest of 2019, with Rosen set to keep the job that once belonged to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Rosen played well in the first half against the Chargers, and even though the Dolphins have been outscored 81-0 in four second halves this season, the 2018 No. 10 overall pick does not have to worry about looking over his shoulder.
  • It does not sound like one of Rosen’s former Cardinals teammates, Robert Nkemdiche, is ready to return from the Dolphins’ PUP list. But Miami DC Patrick Graham expects the defensive tackle to be back on the field by early November, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Nkemdiche’s 2018 season ended because of an ACL tear.
  • Look for running back Mark Walton and tackle Isaiah Prince to see more time for the rebuilding Dolphins soon, with Jackson noting Miami’s staff wants to integrate Walton into its Kenyan DrakeKalen Ballage rotation and was impressed by some of Prince’s Week 4 start against the Chargers. While Jesse Davis is back at practice this week after missing the Bolts game, pointing to his return at left tackle, the Dolphins figure to get Prince — a sixth-round rookie — plenty of reps this season on the right side as they continue in evaluation mode.

Dolphins Sign OL Jesse Davis To Extension

Dolphins offensive lineman Jesse Davis has earned a nice pay increase. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that Miami has signed the 27-year-old to a three-year, $15MM extension. The deal includes $8.5MM guaranteed. As an exclusive rights free agent, Davis will earn a $645K salary in 2019.

The 2015 undrafted free agent out of Idaho spent the first year-plus of his career with the Seahawks and Jets before finally finding a home in Miami. He made the Dolphins’ 53-man roster following the 2017 preseason, and he’s proceeded to appear in 32 games (26 starts) over the past two seasons.

As ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe tweets, the coaching staff is especially happy with Davis’ versatility. The lineman started as a swing guard before earning a starting guard spot, and he’s also seen reps at right tackle. In fact, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald predicts that Davis will ultimately start at left tackle for the team’s season opener.

Dolphins Notes: Mills, Drake, Ledbetter

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald passes along a veritable treasure trove of notes for Dolphins fans today, so let’s dive right in:

  • Although free agent acquisition Jordan Mills was disappointing in minicamp and was replaced at right tackle by Jesse Davis, Jackson says the Dolphins are still very much open to having Mills man the RT position. The club will give him a chance to redeem himself in training camp and may elect to keep Davis at guard, where he played last year. Zach Sterup is also in the mix for the right tackle job.
  • Jackson believes that running back Kenyan Drake has been woefully underutilized to date and that he should be getting 12 to 18 carries a game. Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics support Jackson’s opinion, citing Drake’s ability to win after early contact and force missed tackles. However, PFF also says Kalen Ballage should serve as Miami’s primary third-down/receiving back, which Jackson’s eye test does not support. Jackson says Ballage looked “unnatural” as a receiver out of the backfield during the club’s offseason program, and he even says the embattled Mark Walton could be the Dolphins’ best receiving back. Drake and Ballage will have plenty of opportunity to prove their worth in 2019, which is an especially crucial year for Drake, a 2020 free agent.
  • UDFAs often have a better chance of cracking the roster of a rebuilding team like the Dolphins then they would on a club with playoff aspirations, and Jackson says Miami hopes at least one of the its undrafted defensive linemen — Dewayne Hendrix and Jonathan Ledbetter — will make the cut. Ledbetter, one of the best collegiate DEs at stopping the run, is attempting to diversify his game by refining his pass rush skills.
  • The team also has several UDFA cornerbacks that merit some attention, and the new coaching staff had plenty of luck developing that type of prospect in New England. 2018 UDFA Jalen Davis flashed in minicamp this year, and while the Dolphins have taken a look at him both outside the numbers and in the slot, his size (5-10, 185) may make him better-suited to a slot role.

East Rumors: Witten, Mills, Patriots, Giants

With minicamps having concluded, we are now in NFL’s true offseason. However, teams use this downtime to size up their rosters and determine which, if any, moves need to be made. Here is how some of the East franchises’ rosters look going into the break:

  • At first, Jason Witten‘s unretirement was believed to be centered around a part-time on-field role and for off-field leadership. But after the Cowboys‘ offseason program, Todd Archer of ESPN.com insists the 37-year-old tight end will play far more than the 25-snap role loosely pegged for the one-year ESPNer upon his return. Witten caught at least 60 passes from 2004-17, so it can be expected the Cowboys want to see him provide Dak Prescott with as much of a short- and mid-range option as he can handle in his comeback year. Backup Blake Jarwin (27 catches, 307 yards in 2018) did grade as Pro Football Focus’ No. 25 tight end last season, so it’s logical the team will use him plenty.
  • The Dolphins‘ initial hope was to slot former Bills starter Jordan Mills at the right tackle spot Ja’Wuan James‘ departure vacated, but that has not gone so well. Mills did not fare well during much of Miami’s minicamp, according to ESPN.com’s Cameron Wolfe, who writes Mills (48 starts as Buffalo’s right tackle since 2016) was “regularly exposed” during workouts. While it’s hard to tell how linemen are performing until the pads come on, and this Mills update runs counter to a report indicating right tackle was his job to lose. But Wolfe adds Jesse Davis replaced Mills during some practice sessions. The Dolphins would save $2MM by releasing Mills, who has started 82 games in six seasons.
  • Despite not his nomadic stretch since his Chargers days, Dontrelle Inman fared well as a Colts supporting-caster last season. He graded as one of the best part-time wideouts in the league, per Football Outsiders. But Jeff Howe and Nick Underhill of The Athletic leave the 30-year-old receiver off their Patriots‘ 53-man roster projection (subscription required), even in predicting Demaryius Thomas starts the season on the PUP list. The duo only have four true wideouts (Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Maurice Harris, Phillip Dorsett) making the Pats’ roster, with Matthew Slater long used as a pure special-teamer. The Pats guaranteed Inman $300K.
  • The first post-Odell Beckham Jr. Giants receiving corps features clear-cut starters in Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate, but a Day 3 rookie may have an outside shot at being New York’s WR3. While Corey Coleman stands as Big Blue’s current No. 3 wideout, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes fifth-round pick Darius Slayton (Auburn) has a decent chance to supplant him. Pat Shurmur called Slayton the team’s most improved player this offseason, and Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com added the team seeks a downfield threat to team with Tate and Shepard. Slayton averaged at least 19 yards per catch in each of his three Auburn seasons.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/3/19

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Cleveland Browns

Green Bay Packers

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Re-signed (ERFA): WR Marcus Kemp
  • Waived: CB Step Durham

New York Giants

New York Jets

Miami Dolphins

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/6/19

Here are today’s restricted free agent and exclusive-rights free agent tender decisions:

RFAs

Tendered at original-round level:

ERFAs

Tendered:

Non-tendered:

Ja’Wuan James Facing Season-Ending Injury?

Ja’Wuan James won’t play in the Dolphins’ Week 10 game against the Panthers on Monday night, and it’s possible the right tackle will miss the rest of the season.

Adam Gase said Friday (via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald) the fourth-year blocker could miss the rest of the season due to a hamstring injury. Ian Rapoport (Twitter link) said James is out indefinitely. Salguero notes the Dolphins are seeking out opinions from multiple doctors.

James has played in each of Miami’s eight games, and Gase described his play as being good in some of them. This injury is significant because of James’ contract status. The 2014 first-round pick has a fifth-year option of $9.341MM, but the Dolphins can cut bait on that amount before the start of the 2018 league year.

These options are guaranteed for injury only, so James would have to pass a physical for the team to jettison him free of charge. With that deadline nearly five months away, it would stand to reason James could recover from a hamstring malady by decision time.

Of course, the Dolphins don’t have a next-in-line right tackle to potentially replace James, and UFA solutions aren’t cheap. Dolphins OC Clyde Christensen said (via the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson) the cap has limited the Dolphins’ ability to bring in a reliable backup to James; Miami holds barely $1MM in cap room. Former UDFA Jesse Davis will make his first start at right tackle on Monday. Davis has started two games at guard but will move to take James’ spot after Ted Larsen returned off IR.

James started 16 games in both 2014 and ’16 but played in only seven in 2015. A toe injury ended James’ sophomore NFL season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/10/17

Today’s minor moves:

Reserve/Futures Contracts

Miami Dolphins

San Diego Chargers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Practice Squad

Dallas Cowboys

NFL Workout Updates: 11/22/16

Tuesday is workout day in the NFL, and today was no different. Due to the sheer volume of today’s auditions, we’ll split up the reports by conference:

NFC

AFC

Zach Links contributed to this post.

NFL Workout Updates: 11/1/16

Tuesday is workout day in the NFL, and today was no different. Due to the sheer volume of today’s auditions, we’ll split up the reports by conference:

AFC

NFC