Dolphins Rumors

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/5/22

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

A number of players who were placed on IR after the preseason and prior to the regular season returned to practice today. These players will have a three-week practice window until they have to be activated to the active roster. Otherwise, they’ll be ineligible to return this season.

One of the most surprising returns is Cardinals cornerback Antonio Hamilton. The former undrafted free agent rode a strong preseason to a potential starting gig, but he was sidelined with second-degree burns after spilling hot oil on his legs and feet. Kliff Kingsbury previously said an early-October return may be a “little aggressive” (per ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss on Twitter), but the cornerback ended up working his way back to practice.

Dolphins HC: Byron Jones’ Rehab Not Progressing Like Team Hoped

On a day in which many teams are designating IR-, PUP- or NFI-stationed players for return, the Dolphins are standing pat with Byron Jones. The high-priced corner will remain on the team’s PUP list, and Mike McDaniel‘s reasoning provides more cause for concern.

The rookie Dolphins HC said Jones is not progressing “as fast as we’d hoped” in his recovery from offseason Achilles surgery, Marcel Louis-Jacques of ESPN.com tweets. Jones has been on the shelf since early March, when he underwent a surgery that was not supposed to sideline him for nearly as long as it has.

Jones, 30, entered this season having made 30 out of a possible 33 starts with the Dolphins. Miami gave Jones a then-cornerback-record $16.5MM-per-year contract during the 2020 free agency period. That deal led to an issue with Xavien Howard, who has since seen the team redo his contract, and it has not keyed the coverage success the Dolphins hoped. Now, the longest stretch of Jones unavailability is ongoing. The UConn product missed just one game during his five-year Cowboys stay.

Jones’ surgery was believed to require a two-month recovery timetable, but the offseason came and went without practice work commencing. We have now hit the seven-month mark here, but it does not look like the former Cowboys first-round pick will be coming off the Dolphins’ reserve/PUP list this week. Once the Dolphins open Jones’ practice window, he has 21 days to be activated or revert to season-ending IR. Jones, who reworked his contract this offseason, is signed through 2024.

Howard and Nik Needham have been Miami’s primary corners, and despite the team investing a 2020 first-round pick in Noah Igbinoghene, rookie UDFA Kader Kohou has worked as the team’s third corner in Jones’ absence. An Ivory Coast native out of Texas A&M-Commerce, Kohou has started the past two Dolphins games. Howard is uncertain for Miami’s Week 5 game due to a groin injury.

NFL Workouts: Dolphins, Lions, Kindley

In light of the recent injuries to starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and the prospect that he could miss some time, the Dolphins worked out three quarterbacks today, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. Ben DiNucci, Jake Fromm, and Reid Sinnett all auditioned in Miami for the depth spot.

DiNucci has some experience helping out in a tough spot from his time with the Cowboys two years ago when both starting quarterback Dak Prescott and backup Andy Dalton were injured. He got one opportunity to start against the Eagles before being benched for the winner of a Cooper RushGarrett Gilbert battle.

Fromm has had a bit of trouble finding the success he enjoyed in college at the NFL-level. Since being drafted in 2020, Fromm has served as a backup for the Bills and Giants. He got two starts while with the Giants that delivered uninspiring returns.

Sinnett has no regular season in-game experience, but he has spent time previously with the Dolphins. Miami ended going with familiarity, signing Sinnett to their practice squad. This is all a practice in contingencies as the Dolphins can still rely on backup quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson.

Here are a few other workout notes from across the NFL, starting with a bunch of kickers:

  • The Lions are dealing with a combination of injuries and struggles at kicker. Austin Seibert is dealing with a right groin injury and the kicker brought in to replace him, Dominik Eberle, missed two extra points last weekend. Detroit brought in Lirim Hajrullahu for a tryout today, according to Wilson.
  • The Giants brought in offensive lineman Solomon Kindley for a visit today, according to Wilson. Kindley started much of his rookie season at right guard for the Dolphins, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2020. His workload decreased in Year 2 down to only two starts before he was eventually waived just prior to the 2022 regular season. New York is likely reaching out due to injuries that seventh-overall pick Evan Neal is dealing with. Kindley doesn’t have much experience at tackle, but he can provide the offensive line with a little more depth that can allow for some flexibility.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 10/3/22

Here’s the practice squad moves from around the league today:

Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills

Cleveland Browns

Kansas City Chiefs

Miami Dolphins

  • Signed: QB Reid Sinnett

New England Patriots

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa Out For Week 5; Teddy Bridgewater To Start

Tua Tagovailoa has been at the center of concussion discussions around the league in recent days, and the Dolphins have made an unsurprising decision with the quarterback. Head coach Mike McDaniel announced on Monday that Tagovailoa will not play in Miami’s Week 5 game, meaning that veteran backup Teddy Bridgewater will get the start. 

“I can comfortably say he’ll be out for this game against the Jets, but anything beyond that, we’re just focused on making sure he’s at optimal health and then crossing that bridge,” McDaniel said, via Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer (Twitter link). “So it’s a little early for definitive timelines.”

Tagovailoa was carted off the field during last Thursday’s game against the Bengals with a concussion. That, in turn, came four days after he suffered what he and the team termed a back injury which caused him to notably stumble. An investigation into the team’s handling of the situation remains ongoing, but it has already had notable consequences.

The unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant who was involved in the 24-year-old’s case has been terminated by the NFLPA. In addition, changes are being finalized to the league’s concussion protocols which are aimed at avoiding a repeat of his situation. In the meantime, attention is turning to Tagovailoa’s long-term health.

McDaniel reiterated his confidence in the team’s medical staff, adding that their decision on Tagovailoa’s return will depend on the new protocols, which could take effect as early as this week (Twitter links via Adam Beasley of Pro Football Network). With the timeline for his return uncertain, it remains to be seen if the Alabama alum will be placed on IR.

For at least this week, though, Bridgewater will prepare for his first start in Miami. The 29-year-old threw for 193 yards, one touchdown and one interception in relief of Tagovailoa on Thursday. The game against the Jets will mark his first start since his one-year stints as a stop-gap with the Panthers in 2020 and the Broncos in 2021. Known for his consistent, if underwhelming, levels of production, his ability to lead a much-improved Dolphins offense will be worth watching.

Backing up Bridgewater will be seventh-round rookie Skylar Thompson, who impressed during training camp and the preseason. The Dolphins also added extra depth behind them, by re-signing former UDFA Reid Sinnett to the practice squad.

Latest On Amended Concussion Protocols

The league is inching closer to officially amending its concussion protocol, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. The update, provided by NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills, reports that the NFL and the Players Association are “still discussing final language and unintended consequences” of the new concussion protocol. 

The assumption is that the changes that require specific language to avoid unintended consequences would be the ongoing discussions over “gross motor instability” and its interpretation. Unchanged, the current protocols allow what happened with Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. In Tagovailoa’s situation, the team was able to pinpoint a back injury as the source of Tagovailoa’s stumbling, allowing him to return to the game despite the fact that he underwent concussion protocols in the days after the game leading up to the Thursday night contest.

The amended protocols would not allow the stumbling to be assigned to an injury that would permit a player to return to a game. Instead, any displayed gross motor instability would result in a player being removed from a game. While it sounds like that could set a dangerous precedent wherein anybody who trips and falls is taken out of the game, that’s exactly why the NFLPA and the league are spending so much time on the language to avoid “unintended consequences.”

The amendment is also intended to err on the conservative side. Dr. Sills was quoted saying, “Our goal is to get them out and not let them play.” He emphasized that, despite the firing of the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant that cleared Tagovailoa to return from his first injury, the team physicians “have the final say in diagnosing concussions and return to play.” He also posits that there is “no team doctor anywhere in the league who’s going with a differing opinion.”

Dr. Sills put forth that the new protocols could go into effect as soon as Week 5 of this season. He cautioned, though, that there should be an emphasis on educating how to apply the new protocol consistently league-wide: from team physicians to UNC’s to certified athletic trainers who are employed to spot potential head trauma.

As for Tagovailoa’s case and the investigation into the situation, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Tagovailoa is expected to be interviewed about the sequence of events last week. Schefter reports also that the investigation is expected to continue for another week or two and that the results of the investigation are still expected to be announced “almost immediately after” the investigation has concluded.

NFL, NFLPA Agree To Amend Concussion Protocols

In the wake of the controversy surrounding Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the team’s handling of his injuries this week, the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to make changes to the league’s in-game concussion protocols.

A joint statement released on Saturday reads, “The joint NFL-NFLPA investigation into the application of the Concussion Protocol involving Miami Dolphins’ quarterback Tua Tagovailoa remains ongoing. Therefore, we have not made any conclusions about medical errors or protocol violations.”

While that remains true, the investigation has already led to the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant involved in Tagovailoa’s case being terminated by the player’s union. A number of “mistakes” were cited as the reason that action was taken; adding more detail on that front, Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network report that the UNC was fired due to “his failure to understand his role and hostility during the investigation process.”

At the center of the controversy is the fact that, under current protocols, the matter of “gross motor instability” being showed by players is subject to interpretation with respect to its cause. In Tagovailoa’s case on Sunday, his notable stumble after taking a hit was ultimately deemed a back injury, rather than a concussion. After the amended protocols come into effect, however, any player demonstrating a similar loss of balance will automatically be ruled out, regardless of team medical staff’s determinations on the specifics of an injury.

“The NFL and the NFLPA agree that modifications to the Concussion Protocol are needed to enhance player safety,” the statement continues. It adds that the league and union “share a strong appreciation for the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants who contribute their time and expertise to our game solely to advance player safety. This program has made our game safer for the athletes who play if for the past twelve seasons.”

The amendments are expected to be formally ratified in the coming days, and could take effect in time for Week 5. Over the course of the remaining games on this week’s slate, though, teams will no doubt proceed with enhanced caution in the event of any head injuries which take place.

Rapoport and Pelissero add, meanwhile, that Tagovailoa (who has been in concussion protocol since being carted off the field on Thursday) has undergone a series of tests, all of which have “come back clean.” By the time he is cleared to return, new regulations will likely officially be in place to try and ensure a repeat of his situation does not occur.

Latest On NFLPA Investigation Into Tua Tagovailoa Concussion Protocol

The NFLPA’s investigation into the handling of Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa last Sunday is still ongoing, but its first major development appears to have taken place. The union has terminated the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant who was among the personnel who cleared Tagovailoa to return to the Week 3 game against the Bills, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk

Tagovailoa notably stumbled after a hit from Bills linebacker Matt Milano, but ultimately cleared concussion protocol and finished the contest. Not long after the game, it was revealed that the NFLPA would open a formal investigation into the team’s compliance with NFL policies regarding concussion checks; of particular importance was the matter of whether Tagovailoa’s imbalance was neurologically caused, something which would have disqualified him from being allowed to return.

That process involved interviews with both the UNC and the Dolphins’ team physician, which took place yesterday (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero). Per CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones, the former was found to have made “several mistakes” while clearing Tagovailoa to return in the second half of Sunday’s game (Twitter link). Both the Alabama alum himself and head coach Mike McDaniel remarked that a back injury was the cause of his discomfort, though he was tested for concussion symptoms every day in the build-up to Thursday’s matchup against the Bengals.

In that game, Tagovailoa’s head hit the turf after being sacked, and he was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital. Since diagnosed with a concussion, the injury (and the questions surrounding his health leading up to the game) has led NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith to threaten legal action against the medical personnel involved in this situation.

The fact that the UNC has been fired stands in stark contrast to the early indication that the Dolphins were fully compliant with league protocols. Further investigation will take place, though the emphasis will remain on the actions of those involved, as opposed to the strength of the protocols themselves (Twitter link via Mark Maske of the Washington Post). With the final outcome of the probe set to be made public, more is yet to come in this story.

Latest On Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa

9:50pm: There were a number of updates throughout the first full day following the second in-game injury to Tagovailoa. Just after noon today, McDaniel informed the media that Tagovailoa was experiencing a headache and, as an extra precaution, was taken to undergo another MRI, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Jackson updated his followers following the testing that revealed “nothing serious/alarming.” He went on the clarify that while every head injury is a serious concern, there was “nothing discovered in testing that would create new concerns about whether he should resume playing football,” noting that, right now, the only barrier to Tagovailoa’s return to the field is the NFL’s five-step concussion protocol.

Retired center and second-term NFLPA President J.C. Tretter released a statement on Twitter around midday today. He explained that the Players Association initiated their investigation because Tagovailoa was permitted to return despite displaying what Tretter called “‘no-go’ symptoms.” He went on to say that, while there admittedly is not “an objective and validated method” for diagnosing brain injuries, the league should err on the side of caution and player safety and work towards eliminating the potential for human error.

The chief medical officer of the NFL, Dr. Allen Sills, laid out what he knew of Tagovailoa’s treatment before the Thursday night game, according to Tom Pelissero and Judy Battista of NFL Network. He explained that Tagovailoa “was checked for concussion symptoms every day” from Sunday until the game on Thursday and that an “independent neuro expert had to clear him.” The NFLPA will verify this information and use it to inform their determinations. Pelissero added that once the review has concluded, “the results will be released publicly.”

8:58am: Tua Tagovailoa was at the heart of controversy and speculation heading into last night’s game, and his health status remains a major talking point today. The Dolphins QB was sacked, then suffered a head injury which left him on the ground for several minutes. He was ultimately stretchered off the field and taken to a local hospital, where he was alert and had full movement in his extremities. 

The episode would have been noteworthy in its own regard, but was doubly so given the hit Tagovailoa sustained on Sunday which caused him to stumble and briefly leave the game. The team’s handling of his situation has since become the subject of an NFLPA investigation, which is ongoing. While it appears at this point that the Dolphins correctly followed concussion protocol in that instance, the fact that the 24-year-old suffered a major injury after playing on a short week has drawn the ire of the player’s union.

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith texted a message to current and former association members, via Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, which reads, “We insisted on these rules to avoid exactly this scenario. We will pursue every legal option, including making referrals against the doctors to licensing agencies and the team that is obligated to keep our players safe.”

When asked about the potential connection between the two injuries and the team’s decision to play Tagovailoa in spite of the quick turnaround, head coach Mike McDaniel reiterated his confidence in the Alabama product’s recovery from Sunday’s game and the team’s compliance with concussion-related procedures. He said, via NFL.com’s Grant Gordon“I don’t think that an injury from last week made him fall the same way this week, but yeah, I do not have any, like absolutely zero patience for, or will ever put a player in position for them to be in harm’s way.

“There’s an independent specialist that specializes in specialty brain matter, so for me, as long as I’m coaching here, I’m not going to fudge that whole situation… People don’t vary or stray [from protocol]; we don’t mess with that, we never have as long as I’ve been head coach, so it’d never be an issue that you guys have to worry about.”

Tagovailoa travelled back to Miami with the team while wearing a neck brace, per Josina Anderson of CBS Sports (Twitter link). She adds that initial scans showed nothing broken in his neck or spine, and that he will undergo an MRI after arrival. While his short-and long-term recovery timetable will be worth monitoring, this situation will also be underscored by other storylines for the foreseeable future.

2022 NFL Cap Space, By Team

As we exit September, trade rumors will become a steady NFL topic. This year’s deadline falls on Nov. 1. That will return cap-space discussions to the forefront. Here is how every team stacks up financially going into October, via Over The Cap.

  1. Cleveland Browns: $35.94MM
  2. Philadelphia Eagles: $10.89MM
  3. Denver Broncos: $10.67MM
  4. Carolina Panthers: $10.47MM
  5. Las Vegas Raiders: $10.35MM
  6. Dallas Cowboys: $9.25MM
  7. Pittsburgh Steelers: $8.64MM
  8. Green Bay Packers: $8.57MM
  9. Indianapolis Colts: $7.97MM
  10. Atlanta Falcons: $7.92MM
  11. New York Jets: $6.97MM
  12. Chicago Bears: $6.84MM
  13. San Francisco 49ers: $6.75MM
  14. Miami Dolphins: $6.51MM
  15. Arizona Cardinals: $6.25MM
  16. Los Angeles Chargers: $5.83MM
  17. New York Giants: $5.49MM
  18. Jacksonville Jaguars: $5.41MM
  19. Los Angeles Rams: $5.38MM
  20. Baltimore Ravens: $4.51MM
  21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $3.87MM
  22. New England Patriots: $3.5MM
  23. Cincinnati Bengals: $3.16MM
  24. New Orleans Saints: $2.86MM
  25. Detroit Lions: $2.64MM
  26. Washington Commanders: $2.58MM
  27. Buffalo Bills: $2.44MM
  28. Tennessee Titans: $2.41MM
  29. Seattle Seahawks: $2.28MM
  30. Kansas City Chiefs: $2.12MM
  31. Houston Texans: $1.64MM
  32. Minnesota Vikings: $1.47MM

The Eagles’ number is certainly far closer to the Vikings’ last-place figure than what the Browns have stockpiled. Cleveland would stand to have room to augment its 2022 roster, via a patient free agent or a trade. That could depend on where Jacoby Brissett has the team stationed going into the Nov. 1 deadline. But the Browns also appear to be preparing for their Deshaun Watson future. Watson’s unprecedented contract spikes from a $9.4MM cap number (2022) to a record-shattering $54.99MM numbers from 2023-26. As that reality awaits, the Browns rolling over cap space to 2023 would be prudent.

With Sterling Shepard‘s ACL tear moving the veteran wide receiver to IR, the Giants will need to both cover that cost ($6.3MM) and add a contract to fill the roster spot. Every team will go through versions of that issue this season, as injuries pile up. The Giants are prepared to eat a significant chunk of Kenny Golladay‘s 2022 base salary ($13MM) to move him, eyeing an escape from his $4.5MM 2023 guarantee. No takers have emerged, though it will be interesting to see if a market for the former Pro Bowler forms once injuries affect more teams’ receiver situations.

Since their Jimmy Garoppolo restructure, the 49ers agreed to a two-year extension with Dre Greenlaw. The team is not expected to extend Nick Bosa until 2023, however. The Texans, Falcons, Bears and Eagles all sit north of $60MM in dead money, meaning more than a quarter of their respective cap space is tied to players no longer on the roster. Watson, Matt Ryan and Khalil Mack are responsible for massive dead-money hits on the Houston, Atlanta and Chicago payrolls. Philadelphia still has Alshon Jeffery, Malik Jackson and Brandon Brooks dead money on its cap sheet.