1:25pm: Not so fast. This transaction is not expected to commence immediately. Miami is now expected to first attempt to trade Van Noy, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). While Van Noy has been an effective pass rusher under Flores and Bill Belichick, moving a $12.75MM-per-year contract will be difficult in this cap climate.
12:59pm: The Dolphins are set to release linebacker Kyle Van Noy, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). The linebacker joined the Dolphins on a four-year, $51MM deal just last year.
“I am surprised and disappointed in their decision,” Van Noy said in a statement confirming the news. “As a captain, I gave my all to the team. I fought through a painful hip injury during the season, including spending a night in the hospital after a game. I was brought there to be a leader and I know my teammates looked up to and respected me. I am looking forward to making an impact o my next team, on and off the field.”
Van Noy barely played his first couple of years in the league. Then, he broke out after the Lions traded him to the Patriots. In 2019, he notched 6.5 sacks and served as a key part of the Patriots’ defense. Even though the Dolphins weren’t positioned as contenders in 2020, they saw Van Noy as a long-term cornerstone.
The veteran logged 69 tackles, six sacks, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries in 14 games for the Dolphins. However, he was the victim of the team’s cap crunch. Rather than carrying his $13.9MM hit, they’ll save approximately $9.78MM on the books. Van Noy’s 2021 salary would have become fully guaranteed on Day 3 of the 2021 league year.
Miami revamped its pass rush by signing Van Noy, Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah last year. The signings helped Brian Flores‘ team contend for the playoffs in one of the more competitive years in AFC history. But with the salary cap expected to be reduced for the 2021 league year, teams are being forced to shed veterans at a higher-than-usual rate. While the Dolphins did not necessarily need to make this move, having $22MM-plus in cap space coming into Tuesday, they will create considerable funds in a buyer’s market by doing so.
According to Jackson, the Dolphins have told Karras that they want him back next season. The offensive lineman joined the Dolphins last offseason, and he proceeded to start all 16 games for Miami, playing on all 1,067 of their offensive snaps. The 27-year-old had spent the previous four years with the Patriots, winning a pair of Super Bowls. After starting only five games through his first three seasons in the NFL, Karras started 15 games for New England in 2019.
Godchaux was limited to only five games in 2020 thanks to a biceps injury, but the former fifth-rounder started all 32 games for Miami between the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Jackson notes that the organization would like to retain the 26-year-old, but financials could complicate the negotiations. Jackson passed along a quote from agent Drew Rosenhaus, who acknowledged that the Dolphins may not be able to afford his client after they “invested” in the likes of Christian Wilkins, Raekwon Davis, and Zach Sieler.
“Davon is one of the most talented defensive tackles, I believe, and the Dolphins would have to be able to compensate him in that capacity,” Rosenhaus said (via Jackson). “I’m not sure that they will, given the talent they have on the team. We’ll see if the Dolphins are able to step up and be competitive with other teams that may not have as much talent at the defensive tackle position.”
New Texans GM Nick Caserio is dug in against the prospect of trading Watson, according to NBC Sports’ Peter King. With the Texans not viewing free agency as a deadline to make a deal, a resolution does not appear imminent. With teams pursuing Watson potentially moving to other options in the near future, it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the days leading up to the new league year.
Thus far, the Texans have not budged. Caserio and Cal McNair have issued multiple statements indicating they want Watson back under center in Houston next season. In holding Watson’s rights, the Texans certainly have leverage. Trading Watson later in the offseason may affect his assimilation with his next team and affect that team’s 2021 roster plan, though that might be a small factor here. And Watson could be fined more than $20MM this year if he is truly committed to never playing for the Texans again, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
By waiting until after the draft, the Texans would put themselves in danger of downgrading significantly at quarterback and doing so without collecting the kind of trade package that would help kickstart a rebuild. Thanks to their Laremy Tunsil/Kenny Stills trade, the Texans are without 2021 first- and second-round picks. And they may be set to let Will Fuller walk; prior to his trade request, Watson wanted the Texans to retain Fuller. While they would stand to recoup these and much more were they to unload Watson, he remains a Texan for the time being. Where will he be when the season starts?
Although the Texans might not even view the draft as a loose deadline to trade their three-time Pro Bowl passer, the Jets and Dolphins’ draft arsenals would be enticing. Both pick in the top three this year — the Jets at No. 2, the Dolphins third — and hold extra Round 1 picks (the Dolphins at No. 18, the Jets at 23). The Dolphins also have two second-round picks this year, while the Jets have two 2022 first-rounders from the Jamal Adams trade. Watson is believed to be a Robert Saleh fan, but subsequent reports have emerged indicating he would favor a deal to Miami over New York.
The Dolphins and Jets have QBs they could send to Houston, in Tua Tagovailoa and Sam Darnold, and these incumbent options would hold more appeal compared to the passers the Broncos and Panthers could send over. However, Watson has a no-trade clause, and both Carolina and Denver outflank the two AFC East squads at the skill positions.
It is not known how aggressive the 49ers will be, but they did discuss Stafford with the Lions. No offer emerged, however. They have made statements indicating they are fine with Jimmy Garoppolo returning, but Stafford discussions certainly point to San Francisco being interested in a Watson swap. The 49ers’ plan, as of late February, would be either making a Watson-level splash or trot out Garoppolo again. While the Broncos are on Watson’s list of approved destinations, the 49ers may well be ahead of them on said list.
Who are the key dark-horse teams to monitor here? The Raiders have been mentioned as a potential suitor. Of course, they have since been named one of Russell Wilson‘s four acceptable destinations. How much should Watson fetch in a trade? Vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.
After sitting out the 2020 season, Albert Wilson‘s future in Miami is apparently in doubt. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins wideout “isn’t expecting the Dolphins to automatically plug him into a significant role in 2021.” In fact, Wilson’s camp is uncertain if he’ll make it to training camp at all.
The Dolphins front office wouldn’t see a whole lot of financial relief by simply cutting Wilson. As Jackson points out, releasing the receiver would save the team $2.9MM against the cap, but they’d also be left with $2.3MM in dead money. The 28-year-old will be entering the final year of the three-year, $24MM pact he signed with Miami back in 2018.
Considering the limited financial ramifications, moving on from Wilson would be merely be part of the team’s continued quest to get younger. With DeVante Parker and tight end Mike Gesicki leading the team in targets, Wilson would be relegated to competing with the likes of Preston Williams (23 years old) and Isaiah Ford (25 years old) for a spot on the depth chart. The Dolphins could also easily add to the receiving corps via the draft, further reducing Wilson’s role.
Wilson has struggled with injuries throughout his career, appearing in 16 games only once. As a result, he’s been unable to truly establish himself as a top-two receiver on any of his teams. His best season came in 2017 with the Chiefs, when he hauled in 42 receptions for 554 yards and three scores. In 2019, he finished with 43 catches for 351 yards.
The Seahawks have run into a seminal issue with their franchise quarterback, with trade destinations coming out Thursday. At this point, Russell Wilson does not expect the Seahawks to trade him, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets, though multiple NFL executives believe the team will make the decorated quarterback available.
This rift between Wilson and the team stems from several factors. A central component in Wilson’s frustration is Pete Carroll‘s insistence on an offense that features the run more than most NFL attacks do, and The Athletic’s Michael-Shawn Dugar, Mike Sando and Jayson Jenks report Wilson and Carroll have clashed over the past several months on both the Seahawks’ philosophy and personnel (subscription required).
Following a midseason stretch that featured seven Wilson turnovers in two losses, the Seahawks reverted to a more balanced offense. They then finished the regular season with wins in six of their final seven games to post a 12-4 record — the team’s best mark since 2014. Prior to the turnaround, however, Seahawks coaches dismissed Wilson’s ideas for how to repair a suddenly ailing offense, according to The Athletic. This led to Wilson storming out of a meeting.
Wilson fell well off the MVP pace on which he started the season, after he threw 26 touchdown passes in Seattle’s first seven games, and closed the year with an 11-for-27 performance against the Rams in a wild-card loss. After the season, Wilson expressed dissatisfaction with the Seahawks’ offensive line plan publicly. But that came after the nine-year veteran went to Carroll on this matter — one that had bothered him for years. Carroll’s insufficient response to Wilson’s O-line-related concerns, in the 32-year-old passer’s eyes set off the public commentary that has led to trade rumors, per The Athletic.
The Seahawks have not put a tremendous amount of resources into their offensive line in recent years, and Wilson has taken 394 sacks — the most by any quarterback through his first nine seasons. QBs, of course, bear responsibility for sacks alongside offensive linemen.
Past flirtations with trades or other quarterbacks have pushed this situation to this point as well. The Seahawks’ trade talks with the Browns in 2018 — however brief they were — led to Wilson’s 2019 extension containing a no-trade clause. GM John Schneider being on-hand for Josh Allen‘s pro day factored into Wilson’s situation as well, and The Athletic adds that Schneider’s fascination with Patrick Mahomes would have led to the Seahawks taking him had he fallen to them at No. 26 — an unrealistic scenario based on the future MVP’s pre-draft rise — in the 2017 draft. The Cardinals and Saints were prepared to draft Mahomes ahead of the Seahawks.
Beyond the four teams that Wilson’s agent mentioned today as trade destinations his client would approve — the Bears, Cowboys, Saints and Raiders — The Athletic’s report indicated Wilson’s camp discussed trades to the Dolphins and Jets with the Seahawks. Considering both teams’ draft capital and their respective links to Deshaun Watson, it makes sense they would be connected to Wilson as well. It is certainly notable that they were omitted in Mark Rodgers’ Thursday comments, however. The Seahawks have yet to approach Wilson about any potential trades, Fowler notes.
Wilson’s $35MM-per-year contract runs through the 2023 season. It would tag the Seahawks a record $39MM in dead money were they to trade Wilson before June 1, per Spotrac (on Twitter), with a post-June 1 trade defraying $26MM of the hit to 2022. To avoid such a scenario becoming the lead trade in a seismic offseason for quarterback movement, the Seahawks and Wilson may have some fence-mending to do in the coming weeks.
Jones could certainly help in multiple areas, having excelled in four seasons with the Packers. The Dolphins are on Jones’ list, Jackson notes. As an up-and-coming team in a market that regularly attracts free agents, this should not be especially surprising.
Green Bay has until March 15 to negotiate exclusively with Jones. Given his pedigree as likely the top back available, the standout runner may well have a deal in place before the legal tampering period concludes. The new league year begins March 17.
The Packers and Jones went through extensive negotiations last year but could not hammer out a deal. Jones changed agents during this process. While the Packers are believed to have offered their starting back a deal that paid him north of $12MM annually, that offer was low on fully guaranteed money.
The Dolphins are also interested in bolstering their receiving corps. They are believed to be targeting both slot and boundary wide receivers, with names like Marvin Jones and T.Y. Hilton on their radar. It would be interesting to see Miami devote considerable funding to its running back spot, given the team’s needs at wide receiver. The Dolphins also return Myles Gaskin, who showed promise last season. Matt Breida is on track for free agency. While Miami has avenues to increasing its cap-space figure, the team has just more than $20MM as of Tuesday. That figure sits 10th in the league, per OverTheCap.
Although the Dolphins have been connected to aDeshaun Watson trade — which would cost tremendous draft capital — they could easily acquire a top running back prospect in the draft. The Dolphins hold four picks in the draft’s first two rounds.
In three of his four seasons, Jones has averaged 5.5 yards per carry. While he did not make the Pro Bowl in 2019, when he led the NFL with 19 touchdowns, Jones’ second straight 1,000-yard season did garner him such acclaim last season. Jones (1,104 rushing yards) averaged a career-high 78.4 yards per game in 2020. The Packers have both he and Jamaal Williams on track for free agency, with Williams likely to hit the market. The team also has All-Pro center Corey Linsley weeks away from the open market, making for a pivotal negotiating stretch for the NFC North champions.
The Dunwoody, Georgia police department announced Monday that they’ve closed the case, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. According to the report yesterday somebody fired a shot into Bilbo’s house, and although Howard wasn’t suspected as the shooter police did request to interview him several times but he declined. Bilbo no longer represents Howard, but he negotiated his big five-year extension with Miami in 2019.
Jackson does not that while the police department said the case is now inactive, they could reopen it in the future if more information comes to light. It’s a good thing this drama has been mostly cleared up, since Howard has enough on his plate this offseason.
Howard was a first-team All-Pro this past season and legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate. He’s become arguably the NFL’s top ballhawk, leading the league with ten interceptions in 2020. A knee injury cost him most of the 2019 season, but he was an All-Pro in 2018 too and is still only 27.
Even with the recent drama, there will likely be no shortage of suitors if the Dolphins do decide to trade him. Wherever he’s playing in 2021 though, it sounds like he’s going to want to be the highest-paid corner in the NFL.
Although the Dolphins have not signed a single player to a standard 2021 contract this month, the club has still lost about $8MM in cap space, as Barry Jackson and Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald report. That’s because a few players hit incentives in their contracts that increased their 2021 cap charges.
For instance, WR DeVante Parker‘s 2021 cap number increased from $11MM to $12MM, while safety Eric Rowe‘s number grew from $5.05MM to $6.05MM. As such, Miami now has $25.4MM of cap space, assuming the cap floor of $180MM does not increase.
That’s not an insignificant amount of wiggle room, but the Dolphins do have a number of high-value draft picks, including the Nos. 3 and 18 overall selections and two second-round choices. If they keep all of those picks, Miami would need to allocate about $11.9MM for its draft class, per Jackson and Beasley. That doesn’t leave a ton of space for the team to conduct the rest of its offseason business.
After all, the ‘Fins will need to sign a wide receiver, a backup QB, and several linebackers, and they will also need to re-sign C Ted Karras or acquire a new center (though Jackson and Beasley say the club is high on Wisconsin-Whitewater OL Quinn Meinerz, Miami is not going to deploy a D-III rookie as its starting pivot).
The Dolphins do have plenty of options to create additional room, including cutting safety Bobby McCain or restructuring the contract of linebacker Kyle Van Noy. And the situation would be completely altered if the club were to trade for Texans QB Deshaun Watson, which appears to be a legitimate possibility.
Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard appears in an official incident report concerning a shooting at the home of his former agent, Damarius Bilbo, which happened in June 2020. Howard’s name is misspelled in the report, but it is clear that he is the person being referenced (though his name appears without explanation or context).
Pro Football Talk first obtained the report from Dunwoody (GA) authorities several days ago. In it, we learn that on June 29, someone fired a bullet into Bilbo’s home. Bilbo was not home at the time, but his wife and 12-year-old son were. The son told police that he saw a gold sedan pull up to the front of the house, that he saw a black male wearing a hoodie exit the vehicle and walk onto the lawn, and that the person jumped back into the vehicle after a shot was fired through a window.
Luckily, no one was injured, and the investigation is ongoing. Howard’s name appears on the “Additional Name List” on the second page of the report, but as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets, Howard is not suspected of firing the gun. Jackson adds in a full-length piece that Howard is also not believed to have been in the vehicle. However, police have requested interviews on several occasions, which Howard declined.
Howard declined the first interview request back in August, saying that he was dealing with COVID-19. The most recent request was made within the last few weeks.
Howard’s attorney, Darren Heitner, said, “Xavien was not involved in this incident and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise.” At this point, that certainly seems accurate, as Howard’s only connection to the incident appears to be his former business relationship with Bilbo and his association to other individuals who were listed as “Additional Names.” Both the Pro Football Talk report and the Jackson article provide further info if you want to dive deeper.
Bilbo represented Howard until the two had a business dispute in October, but it was Bilbo who negotiated Howard’s five-year, $75.3MM extension in 2019, which made Howard the highest-paid CB in the league at the time. Howard just turned in the finest season of his career and was in the running for Defensive Player of the Year honors, and as such, he is seeking a renegotiation of his contract (even though he is under club control through 2024). Jackson wonders if the Dolphins will use this incident as a reason to reject such a renegotiation, but recent reports have indicated that Howard will ask for a trade if he does not get a raise.
As Jackson writes, it’s unclear if the NFL will investigate this matter. For now, the Dolphins, Bilbo, and Dunwoody police have declined to comment.
While the Dolphins have been connected to Deshaun Watson for weeks, indications Miami plans to pursue the dissatisfied Houston quarterback have been elusive. But the Dolphins, as should be expected, are going to be interested if this offseason’s top trade target hits the trade block.
Despite having pined for Tagovailoa for nearly two years, the Dolphins make sense as a Watson spot. They have two first-round picks (Nos. 3 and 18) and two second-rounders this year. Though Eric Studesville and George Godsey are the team’s third and fourth offensive coordinators during Brian Flores‘ three-year tenure, Miami’s head coach and GM are not on the hot seat. And the team has made tremendous progress since starting a full-on rebuild in 2019.
Miami’s built-in recruiting advantages frequently attract free agents, and Watson would profile as one of the top trade targets in NFL history. It could take three first-round picks to acquire the three-time Pro Bowler, and Tagovailoa could head to Houston in such a swap. However, the timing of the deal would affect the Dolphins. If the Texans stick to their guns and hang onto Watson into the summer, the Dolphins lose a key bargaining chip. Miami’s best chance of acquiring Watson would be before a draft in which it holds two of the first 18 selections.
Cal McNair and Nick Caseriohave insisted Watson is not going anywhere, but the recently extended QB has given no indication he plans to make nice with his rebuilding team. With the Dolphins and Jets holding two first-round picks and the Panthers and Broncos, respectively, in possession of top-10 choices, the Texans would have a better idea of a strong Watson return if they dealt him before the draft. Though, it is certainly understandable the Texans would prefer to exhaust every avenue before parting ways with the most talented quarterback in franchise history.