Jordan Mills

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.

AFC Notes: Patriots, Harry, Dolphins, Mills, Ravens, Snead

There was a lot of talk this offseason about how the Patriots’ receiving corp was looking a little thin. Chris Hogan left in free agency and Rob Gronkowski retired, so Tom Brady‘s group of pass-catchers was a bit depleted. New England moved swiftly to address the issue, taking N’Keal Harry out of Arizona State in the first round of last month’s draft. They nabbed Harry at 32nd overall, but they apparently would’ve been willing to take him much higher.

Bill Belichick told Todd Graham, one of Harry’s former college coaches, that the team “had him graded a lot higher than where he was taken in the first round,” per Jeff Howe of The Athletic. Graham spoke to Belichick the night of the draft, and the Patriots coach told him they “were so fortunate that he was still there.” It’s the first time in Belichick’s 19 years at the helm in New England that they’ve taken a receiver in the first round, so they clearly had to be very high on him.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • The Dolphins are rebuilding, whether they want to admit it or not. We still don’t know whether Josh Rosen or Ryan Fitzpatrick will win the starting quarterback job, but we do have a bit more clarity as to who will be one of their starting tackles. Jordan Mills “has come on in the past week and the job is clearly his to lose,” at right tackle, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The Dolphins let Ja’Wuan James walk in free agency, meaning they need a new starter opposite Laremy Tunsil, and it looks like Mills is going to be the guy. Mills started all 16 games each of the last three seasons for the Bills, but Buffalo didn’t have much interest in retaining him. He had a poor season last year, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 70th-best tackle. He signed a one-year, $3MM deal with Miami just a few weeks ago.
  • The Ravens’ receiving corp is going to look a lot different in 2019, as they made a lot of changes in preparation for Lamar Jackson‘s first full season as the starter. They let John Brown and Michael Crabtree walk in free agency, and drafted two new receivers in the first three rounds last month. They’ll need some veterans to provide some stability with all the young guys around, and one of the vets they’re reportedly counting on to step up this year is Willie Snead. Unfortunately Snead hasn’t been able to be a full-go this offseason, as he had surgery on his finger after the season ended, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link). Zrebiec writes that the Ravens are “taking it easy with him.” Snead had a productive year last season, finishing with 62 catches for 651 yards and a touchdown.

Dolphins To Sign OT Jordan Mills

Former Bills’ tackle Jordan Mills will sign a one-year, $3MM deal with the Dolphins, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). The Dolphins wisely waited until after May 7 to ink Mills, which means that his arrival won’t affect the club’s 2020 compensatory draft pick formula.

[RELATED: Dolphins Interested In Nick Perry]

The Bills didn’t see a place for Mills as they overhauled their offensive line this offseason, but the Dolphins are curious to see what he can do. He offers tons of starting experience – he’s made 16 starts in each of the last three seasons with 82 starts in total – yet comes to Miami at a reserve’s pay rate.

The Dolphins could certainly use the additional front five protection after losing Ja’Wuan James in free agency to the Broncos. In fact, they can use talent in general, though skeptics say the Dolphins are aiming to tank in 2019 with an eye on the 2020 draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Interested In Nick Perry

The Dolphins have made overtures to free agent edge rusher Nick Perry, according to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. Perry, unlike other veteran free agents, would not count against the Dolphins’ 2020 compensatory pick formula. 

The Packers ate a considerable amount of dead money to move Perry’s deal off their books in March and revamped their outside linebacker corps by signing Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith. Ending the past two seasons on IR, Perry did not live up to the deal he signed with Green Bay in 2017. But, the 29-year-old pass rusher is said to be fully healthy for the first time in months.

Perry has never played 16 games in a season, but prior to the 2018 campaign that saw him miss seven games, the former first-round pick had played in at least 12 from 2014-17. He finished with 18 sacks between the 2016 and ’17 seasons and would profile as a reasonable upgrade for Miami. In fact, he may be the best remaining edge rusher left, save for Ezekiel Ansah.

Perry would make sense for the Dolphins – Patrick Graham, the Dolphins’ new defensive coordinator, was Perry’s position coach in Green Bay last year. Meanwhile, the Dolphins have to reload after losing both Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn.

With that in mind, Beasley also says that former Bills defender Jordan Mills is a player to watch for the Dolphins. Mills would impact the Dolphins’ comp pick formula, so Miami may not ramp things up on that front until the end of the week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals To Meet With Jordan Mills

Tackle Jordan Mills will meet with the Bengals on Monday and Tuesday, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Mills visited the Texans earlier this month, but outside of that, it has been a quiet offseason for the veteran. 

Mills, 28, started in every possible game for the Bills over the last three seasons. However, the advanced metrics have never been fond of his work. In 2018, he ranked as the No. 70 tackle in the NFL out of 80 qualified players, according to Pro Football Focus.

The Bengals’ depth chart at tackle is looking thin with Cordy Glenn, Bobby Hart, and Kent Perkins as the only outside blockers under contract. The club is also expected to fortify the position in the draft given Hart’s struggles at right tackle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans To Meet With A.J. McCarron

The Texans are keeping themselves busy in the second week of free agency. On Monday, the Texans will meet with quarterback A.J. McCarron, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). 

Furthermore, the Texans have some interest in former Raiders tackle Donald Penn, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. They’ll also meet with former Bills tackle Jordan Mills on Monday, a source tells Mike Florio of PFT (Twitter link).

Earlier this offseason, the Raiders said they’d be keeping McCarron in the fold for 2019. However, they had a change of heart along the way (or, they weren’t being entirely truthful about their intentions) and released the QB earlier this month.

It has been a strange few years for McCarron. In 2015, he started a few games in Andy Dalton‘s stead and showed some promise. Then, last March, he appeared to finally be on his way towards becoming a bonafide NFL starter when he hooked on with the Bills. Ultimately, he did not impress in his competition alongside Nathan Peterman and Josh Allen and was shipped to the Raiders. For the bulk of 2018, he held the clipboard and watched Derek Carr go 4-12 in his 16 starts.

McCarron could be a logical fit for the Texans, who may be looking for a new No. 2 behind Deshaun Watson. Last year, Brandon Weeden and Joe Webb served as Watson’s understudies, but both are free agents.

Penn, meanwhile, saw his Raiders run end over the weekend. The Raiders are moving forward with high-priced pickup Trent Brown, but Penn indicated that he plans to continue playing. The Texans, who have been forced to make adjustments on the fly at tackle, could be intently interested in adding someone with Penn’s pedigree.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills To Re-Sign Jordan Mills

The Bills have agreed to re-sign offensive tackle Jordan Mills to a two-year, $4MM contract, tweets Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.Jordan Mills (Vertical)

Serving as Buffalo’s full-time right tackle in 2016, Mills started all 16 games and graded as the league’s No. 64 offensive tackle among 78 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. The Bills originally signed Mills off Detroit’s practice squad in October 2015, and he’s become a productive player in Buffalo. A former fifth-round pick, Mills has 50 career starts under his belt, all of those coming with the Bills and the Bears (with whom Mills began his NFL tenure).

The Bills’ offensive line, which paved the way for the league’s No. 1 DVOA-rated rushing attack, should return the same five members from left-to-right: Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, Eric Wood, John Miller, and Mills.

Minor NFL Transactions: 3/30/16

Here are the latest minor signings, cuts, and other transactions from around the NFL:

  • The Bills have officially re-signed offensive tackle Jordan Mills, the club confirmed in a press release. Mills had been a restricted free agent, having received a low-end $1.671MM tender from Buffalo — he has now formally signed that tender.
  • The Chargers are signing former UNC quarterback Bryn Renner after working him out along with some other signal-callers today, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Renner has spent time with Denver, Baltimore, and Tennessee, though his stints with those clubs came primarily during training camp or as a practice-squad player.
  • The Colts announced today in a press release that they’ve signed free agent tight end Mike McFarland and waived offensive tackle Pierce Burton. McFarland joined the Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2015, but was placed on injured reserve before the end of the 2015 preseason.
  • Mike Chappell of Fox59/CBS4 tweets that the Colts have also waived cornerback Josh Mitchell, who spent the 2015 season on the injured reserve list. Mitchell signed with Indianapolis as an undrafted free agent out of Nebraska last May, but he landed on IR later that month.

RFA Tender Signings & Decisions: 3/7/16

When teams assign first- or second-round tenders to their restricted free agents, or when those RFAs accept the tender, we’ll devote full news stories to those moves. For news concerning everyone else getting the lower tenders, we’ll round it up in the space below, with the latest updates added to the top of the list throughout the day….

  • Fullback James Develin announced that he is returning to the Patriots on a one-year deal, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. The Patriots did not plan to tender Develin an offer at $1.6MM, so the two sides worked out a reduced one-year pact (link).
  • Defensive tackle Stefan Charles will not be tendered an offer by the Bills, per John Kryk of The Toronto Sun (on Twitter). Defensive tackle Corbin Bryant, wide receiver Chris Hogan, and tackle Jordan Mills were tendered offers, however. There could be some teams interested in Hogan, Tyler Dunne of The Buffalo News tweets, and that low tender might not ward of interested clubs.
  • Washington has tendered a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Duke Ihenacho, a source tells John Keim of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
  • Fullback Jorvorskie Lane will not be getting a tender from the Buccaneers, Greg Auman of The Tampa Bay Times tweets.
  • The Panthers will not tender defensive end Frank Alexander an offer or re-sign him, a source tells Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer (on Twitter). Alexander must sit out until November thanks to his third drug suspension.