Mark Walton

Charges Dropped For RB Mark Walton

Running back Mark Walton‘s charge of aggravated battery of a pregnant woman has been dropped by the state of Florida, lawyer Micahel Gottlieb tells NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). However, the free agent is not out of the woods with the NFL. The league’s public relations department tells RapSheet that “the matter remains under review.” 

Per league rules, players can still be suspended, fined, or otherwise penalized for off-the-field matters, even when the legal system declines to pursue them in court. Currently without a team, Walton will likely have to wait for the NFL to render its verdict before receiving any offers. Even if he somehow avoids suspension, he’ll have a hard time finding work.

In November, Walton was arrested after allegedly punching a woman shortly after learning that she was pregnant with his child. This wasn’t Walton’s first run-in with the law, either. Earlier in 2019, he was arrested three times inside of just a few months. Then, this past February, Walton was cuffed following a verbal argument with that same woman. There was no physical contact, but the encounter violated the restraining order placed him.

The Dolphins cut Walton after his November arrest. Up until that point, the 23-year-old was averaging 3.8 yards per carry on the year and scored three receiving touchdowns.

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Extra Points: CBA, RB Market, Walton, Smith

We got a new update on many of the details surrounding the new collective bargaining agreement, and now we have an update on the timeline. Attorneys from the league office will meet with NFLPA attorneys early next week in DC, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link).Those sides expect to have a final draft ready by late next week, and it will be sent out from there. Graziano reports that the NFLPA is still working out how the voting will take place from the full membership, and that the union is estimating 2-2.5 weeks until the voting process is complete. As such, it sounds like it’s going to be a little while before we know an answer one way or the other, and hopes that it would get done by next week were unrealistic. We’ll continue to keep you posted.

Here’s more from around the league as the combine continues:

  • Several teams have signed running backs to massive contracts in recent years, and then nearly immediately regretted it. Most notably, David Johnson and Todd Gurley received huge extensions from the Cardinals and Rams respectively before regressing sharply. Other teams appear to be taking note of that trend, and it looks like they’ll be acting accordingly. “The running backs slated to be free agents in a few weeks will not be getting paid huge contracts,” sources told Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com. Accordingly, Pauline writes that many around the league now expect it to be easier for the Titans to re-sign impending free agent Derrick Henry, since there won’t be as much competition for his services as some might have thought. Le’Veon Bell is another runner who recently signed a big deal before failing to live up to expectations, and it will be very interesting to see what the market looks like when free agency opens in a few weeks.
  • Mark Walton seemingly can’t stay out of trouble. The embattled running back was arrested following a verbal incident with the mother of his child, according to 7 News Miami. There was no physical contact this time, but Walton violated the terms of a restraining order against him. He was released by the Dolphins in November after a domestic violence arrest. The former Miami star had started to break out with the Dolphins, becoming their starting running back before the ugly arrest. He was originally drafted by the Bengals but was cut by Cincy after three offseason arrests for more minor offenses. He’s likely facing a suspension, and it’s hard to see him playing in the league any time soon.
  • Former Browns defensive lineman Chris Smith is looking to make a comeback. Smith’s girlfriend was tragically killed in a car accident last year, leaving Smith as a single father of their child. Not long after the incident the Browns released him, and he spent the rest of the year out of football. Smith is now “feeling better and ready to resume his career” and will look to sign with a team, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Smith entered the league in 2014 and has spent time with the Jaguars and Bengals as well. He appeared in all 16 games for the Browns in 2018, starting two.

 

Mark Walton Arrested For Domestic Violence

The Dolphins cut running back Mark Walton earlier this morning, and now we know why. Miami alluded to a new legal issue in their brief statement announcing the waiving, and it turns out it’s quite serious.

Walton was arrested early this morning and accused of “punching a woman ‘several times in the face and head,’” according to Andy Slate of Fox Sports Radio (Twitter link). Slater reports that the woman is pregnant and that Walton is the father. Walton was officially charged with aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, tweets Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com. Walton just found out he was the father on Sunday, tweets Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. This is far from Walton’s first off-field incident, as he was arrested three times in a span of just a few months earlier this year.

Walton is currently serving a four-game suspension as a result of those arrests. Miami knew Walton was facing a suspension when they signed him, and they issued a statement sticking by him when he was hit with the ban. Walton’s previous arrests were relatively minor, and obviously this is by far the most serious.

If the initial charges prove to be true, Walton is certainly looking at a lengthy suspension and it’s quite possible his NFL career is over. The former University of Miami star had become the Dolphins’ unquestioned starter in the wake of the Kenyan Drake trade, and that might turn out to be the only significant action of his briefly promising career. Walton was drafted by the Bengals in the fourth-round back in 2018, and was released after his string of arrests. More details will likely trickle out soon, and we’ll keep you posted.

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Dolphins Cut Mark Walton

The Dolphins are moving on from running back Mark Walton, they announced on Twitter. Walton was apparently involved in another as of yet undisclosed legal incident.

“We were made aware of a police matter earlier this morning regarding Mark Walton. We hold our players to a high standard and take these matters very seriously. We will have no further comment at this time,” GM Chris Grier said in a brief statement. Walton has had a ton of off-field issues during his short career, so this isn’t the most shocking news. Walton was recently suspended four games for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.

Walton had been arrested three times in a span of just a few months earlier this year, which ultimately led to the suspension. The Dolphins issued a statement sticking by him and saying he’d be welcomed back to the team after serving the suspension, but obviously something new happened while he was away from the franchise. Walton was drafted in the fourth-round by the Bengals back in 2018, but was cut after just one season in Cincinnati following his arrests.

The former University of Miami star came home to play for the Dolphins, and looked pretty good. He started to get more and more touches, and was for a brief period the undisputed starter after they traded away Kenyan Drake. Walton will likely get another shot from someone depending on how serious this new issue is, but he might have to wait until 2020. He still has two games left on his suspension. Second-year player Kalen Ballage will continue to filling in as the starter, with rookies Patrick Laird and Myles Gaskin filling in behind him. Ballage has struggled mightily, so he might start to lose playing time soon.

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Mark Walton Receives Four-Game Ban

Hours after news of Preston Williams‘ ACL tear surfaced, the Dolphins will lose another key piece of their offense. Mark Walton received a four-game suspension for violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy.

Miami turned to Walton in recent weeks, and the former Cincinnati draft pick was set to play a big role following the Kenyan Drake trade. Walton was arrested three times in the span of three months earlier this year, and this suspension stems from those incidents, according to multiple reports. The Bengals drafted Walton in the fourth-round last year, but he played sparingly as a rookie. Cincinnati cut him back in April after his third and final arrest.

He quickly went back home, and the former University of Miami star signed with the Dolphins back in May. He steadily climbed the depth chart, and recently established himself as the team’s starter. The team was aware Walton was likely going to be suspended before they traded Drake so this isn’t a surprise to them, tweets Adam Beasley of The Miami Herald. The Dolphins issued a statement on Twitter from head coach Brian Flores, who said Walton has done everything they’ve asked of him and that he’ll be welcomed back to the team when his suspension is over.

As a result of the ban, Walton will forfeit $116K of his $495K rookie salary, according to a tweet from Spotrac. He had picked up at least 11 carries in each of the team’s past three games, and had 15 touches in their win over the Jets on Sunday. With Walton sidelined, it’ll be Kalen Ballage‘s time to shine. The 2018 fourth-round pick from Arizona State should slide into the starting role, and rookies Myles Gaskin and Patrick Laird will compete for snaps as well. Laird went undrafted out of Cal, while Gaskin was a seventh-round pick from Washington.

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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 Notes: Alonso, Hurns, Walton

The Dolphins are on the goal line for a new deal with wide receiver Jakeem Grant. When finalized, the new four-year deal will take Grant through the 2023 season, giving the Fins serious ability and stability on special teams.

Though he only ranks as the team’s WR4, Grant averaged 13.6 yards per punt return and 29.7 yards per return on kickoffs. The Dolphins might not be a world-class team in 2019, but they’ll have one of the game’s best return weapons for years to come.

Here’s the latest from Miami:

  • The Dolphins’ roster crunch will be an interesting one to monitor, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. Among the vets that could be dropped: wide receivers Allen Hurns and Isaiah Ford, linebackers Kiko Alonso and Raekwon McMillan, and right tackle Jordan Mills. An Alonso release, of course, would be a shock, though a club source declined to assure Jackson of his job security. Releasing Alonso would carry $8.2MM in dead money with just $25K in cap savings, but would save Miami $4MM in cash. Meanwhile, trading Alonso would save $7MM against the cap with just $1.3MM in dead money. Despite his past accomplishments, trading Alonso would be no easy task – the team acquiring him would be on the hook for his entire $6.5MM base salary, including the $2.5MM that became guaranteed in March.
  • Dolphins running back Mark Walton will serve no further jail time for his three 2019 arrests, as Barry Jackson and Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald write. Under the terms of his plea deal, Walton will be under six months of non-reporting administrative probation and must take four hours of driving school after pleading guilty to reckless driving. Still, an NFL suspension remains possible.
  • Both Mills and left guard Chris Reed have been bumped from the first-string unit in practice, according to Jackson and Beasley. That’s a bad sign for Mills’ job security and perhaps a bad sign for Reed’s future with the team. The Dolphins, in theory, could cut Reed to save $1.2MM against just $500K in dead money. Meanwhile, his $1.425MM option year for 2020 includes no guarantees.

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: Norman, Jets, Dolphins

As teams continue studying their respective rosters during OTA sessions, here is where some of the franchises in the East divisions stand:

  • While Josh Norman has not lived up to the contract that pays him $15MM per year, the Redskins do not appear to be planning anything radical regarding his employment. The team has not engaged in discussions on a possible post-June 1 Norman release, J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington writes. Washington would save $11MM by cutting the 31-year-old cornerback, who graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 50 corner last season, but old-school post-June 1 releases do not occur often anymore. The Redskins’ corner corps would obviously take a hit without Norman. Two seasons remain on Norman’s deal.
  • The Jets wrapped up their interview with Saints exec Terry Fontenot. They will begin their Joe Douglas meetings tonight and continue them on Sunday, per ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini (on Twitter). Douglas remains Adam Gase‘s preferred hire, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweets, adding there does not seem to be a big chance CEO Christopher Johnson goes in a different direction.
  • Mark Walton is facing three pending legal cases but remains in contention for a Dolphins backup job. Two of the running back’s hearings will occur this week. In one of those, a Wednesday matter that overlaps with Dolphins minicamp, his attorney will be making a court appearance for him to allow the embattled ex-Bengal to practice with his new team, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald notes. Walton is trying to secure Miami’s No. 3 running back job, behind Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage. Miami drafted Washington alum Myles Gaskin in Round 7 and picked up former Chargers back Kenneth Farrow earlier this year.
  • In addition to the ACL tear Reuben Foster suffered, the former first-round pick also must rehab LCL damage.
  • Ezekiel Elliott‘s run-in with a security officer at a Las Vegas concert could produce another suspension for the Cowboys’ two-time rushing champion.

Dolphins Sign Mark Walton

The Dolphins auditioned running back Mark Walton several days ago, and they apparently liked what they saw. Per Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com (via Twitter), Miami has given Walton a contract.

The Bengals cut Walton in April after he was arrested for the third time in three months. But Cincinnati used a fourth-round pick on Walton in 2018, so even if he faces a suspension of some sort for his legal troubles, the rebuilding Dolphins — who don’t need Walton to contribute right away — may have found good value.

Assuming Walton sticks around, he should have an opportunity to carve out a role in Miami’s backfield along with Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage. He tallied just 34 yards off of 14 carries as a rookie, but he rattled off 1,100 yards and scored 14 TDs as a sophomore with the Hurricanes, which offers a glimpse of his potential.

In addition to Walton, the Dolphins have also signed fellow tryout players CB Jamar Summers and C Kirk Barron.

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