Dolphins Rumors

Dolphins Notes: Wilson, Jones, Kilgore

Albert Wilson started his Dolphins career off with a bang in 2018, but a serious hip injury quickly derailed his momentum. He wasn’t the same player this past year, and ended up racking up only 351 yards and one touchdown in 13 games. Wilson has one more year left on his deal at $9.5MM, but it’s entirely non-guaranteed. The blazing fast slot receiver has shown a lot of flashes, but that’s a hefty price tag for any slot receiver. To that end, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes that Miami is “likely to discuss a restructuring in the weeks ahead.”

It sounds like Wilson is going to have to accept a pay-cut if he wants to stay in Miami for 2020. Wilson did start to make a case for himself down the stretch, gaining at least 59 yards in each of their last three games. Unfortunately, he hadn’t topped 33 yards in any game before that. Wilson signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent back in 2014, and slowly started to breakout in Kansas City. He’s never produced huge numbers, but the Dolphins placed a huge bet on his potential.

Here’s more from Miami:

  • Speaking of players who might have to take pay-cuts, Jackson writes that Reshad Jones “returning under his current contract is inconceivable.” Jones is due $11.5MM in 2020, but only $2MM of that is guaranteed. Jackson writes that as of right now their plan is to start Bobby McCain and Eric Rowe at safety, but that Jones returning on a “restructured deal isn’t entirely out of the question.” Jones made the Pro Bowl in 2017, but his relationship with the franchise quickly deteriorated and for a while it looked like a divorce was inevitable. He had a falling out with Adam Gase but was apparently able to patch things over with new head coach Brian Flores, and Jones said back in September that he wanted to stay with the Dolphins for the long haul.
  • Another Dolphins starter on the chopping block is center Daniel Kilgore. Kilgore is due a non-guaranteed $3.1MM, and Miami can cut him right before the start of the season with no cap penalty. Jackson expects the team to look for an upgrade at center this offseason, and he points out that GM Chris Grier was recently non-committal about his status. Jackson indicates that the ‘Phins will be completely revamping their O-line this offseason, which isn’t surprising considering the beatings that Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen were taking last year.
  • In case you missed it, the Dolphins are prepared to move up in the draft.

Dolphins Hire New DBs Coach

  • Finally, the Dolphins are hiring a new defensive backs coach in Gerald Alexander, as Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald tweets. Alexander is coming from the college ranks, where he served as the defensive backs coach at Cal for the past few seasons. Alexander was briefly with the Dolphins as a safety during his playing days back in 2011. Miami had the vacancy after they promoted Josh Boyer to defensive coordinator following Patrick Graham’s departure.

Dolphins Expect Ryan Fitzpatrick Return

The Dolphins “fully expect” to see quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick back on the field in 2020, GM Chris Grier told reporters this week. This jibes with previous comments from the GM, who earlier this month said that the plan “right now” is for FitzMagic and Josh Rosen to stay in the fold. 

The Dolphins will almost certainly select their QB of their future early in the draft, but in any circumstance, they’d love to have the veteran back. In 2019, Fitzpatrick was a bright spot for the Fins in an otherwise rocky year. The 37-year-old would be the perfect bridge for a young QB and his $8MM salary for 2020 would not be cost-prohibitive – particularly since the Dolphins have ample cap room heading into March.

Fitzpatrick has indicated that it would be difficult for him to walk away from football this year and his bond with the organization is evident. It all adds up to an obvious match, though the same can’t be said for Rosen, a former first-round pick who has yet to make a dent at the pro level.

Last year, Fitz threw for 3,529 passing yards with 20 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He also helped the club end the year on a high note with back-to-back wins over the Bengals and Patriots.

The Dolphins will go into the draft with an absolute stockpile of draft capital, giving them the ability to move up for a signal caller that might not be available at No. 5 overall. However the QB room shakes out, we know this much – the offense will be guided by Chan Gailey, who was hired to replace Chad O’Shea on New Year’s Eve.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Prepared To Move Up In Draft?

If the Dolphins want to move up to the No. 1 pick for LSU’s Joe Burrow – or to another pick for any other player – they’ll have the ammunition to get a deal done. This week, GM Chris Grier, who has a bevy of picks this year, publicly acknowledged the potential for a big jump on the board. 

At the same time, Grier pointed out what we all know – around this time of year, teams are eager to spread information that benefits them in order to drum up leverage. In other words, the Dolphins almost certainly want to come away with their quarterback of the future in this year’s draft, but their eagerness to land Burrow or any of this year’s other signal callers might be overstated.

Alabama star Tua Tagovailoa is among the prized QBs in this year’s crop and many have connected the dots between him and the Fins. For what it’s worth, Grier says he doesn’t feel pressured to roll the dice on the one-time consensus top prospect who has serious question marks due to his hip injury.

We’ll evaluate him just like every player,” Grier said. “When people were talking about [us taking him], we said we weren’t tanking. We were trying to win and build. And so to say one player was attached to us, you can’t control what fans and people in the media say. So there’s no pressure for us. The pressure for us is to find the right guy to be the quarterback for the Dolphins, whether it’s him or someone else. That’s the pressure. Finding the right guy to lead the organization.”

For now, the Dolphins are slated to pick at No. 5 where Tagovailoa and other top QBs besides Burrow will be available. After that, they’re up again at Nos. 18 and 26.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins To Pursue Patriots FAs

  • Patriots free agents Devin McCourty, Joe Thuney and Kyle Van Noy will likely have many suitors. One is expected to be the Dolphins, with Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writing that Brian Flores holds McCourty in high regard and that the team will pursue Thuney and Van Noy. All three are unrestricted free agents-to-be. Van Noy and McCourty played under Flores during his time as de facto Patriots defensive coordinator (2018), linebackers coach (2016-17) and safeties coach (2012-15). Van Noy and Thuney may price themselves out of New England.
  • Raekwon McMillan‘s 2019 season also helped sell the Dolphins on his long-term stock, Jackson adds. The Dolphins are interested in keeping the linebacker around long-term. McMillan rated as an upper-echelon linebacker, per Pro Football Focus, this season and became extension-eligible at season’s end. Under the Flores-Chris Grier setup, the Dolphins have already extended a few holdovers from the previous regime.

Dolphins Considering Joe Burrow Trade-Up?

Considering how their season started, the Dolphins surprised most by winning five games. As a result, the first of their three first-round picks comes in at No. 5. But the team long expected to draft a quarterback high this year is intrigued by the top prospect available.

The Dolphins covet Joe Burrow, per Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, who adds owner Stephen Ross is driving the bandwagon for the player expected to go No. 1 overall. This obviously may be academic, with the Bengals also needing a quarterback and fans of the LSU record-setter as well. The Bengals have backtracked on a report they will not trade the top pick, however.

It would take a massive trade haul for the Dolphins to move up to No. 1, but they do have the necessary draft capital to make such a move. The Dolphins also hold the Nos. 18 and 26 picks. However, it is quite possible Tua Tagovailoa — long linked to the Dolphins — will be available at No. 5. The Alabama quarterback has hovered as a top prospect for far longer than Burrow, and the Dolphins may embrace adding him for no extra cost rather than using their draft war chest for a Burrow move.

Miami started 0-7 but rallied to win five of its final nine games, moving the team into a less certain spot to land a quarterback. As it stands now, the rebuilding team may need to pay close attention to the respective draft stocks of Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert. Other interested teams will surely consider moving into the Nos. 2-4 spots — occupied currently by the Redskins, Lions and Giants — to trade in front of a franchise known to be fixated on passers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jim Caldwell To Leave Dolphins

Joe Judge‘s first Giants staff will feature Jason Garrett overseeing the offense and Jerry Schuplinski as quarterbacks coach. The Giants are hiring the former Patriots and Dolphins assistant quarterbacks coach, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post notes. Brian Flores could have blocked the move but opted not to. This will be Schuplinski’s first stint as a franchise’s top quarterbacks coach. He and Garrett have not worked together, but Judge and Schuplinski coached together in New England from 2013-18. The latter’s NFL career began in 2013, after he spent 13 years coaching at alma mater John Carroll, a Cleveland-area high school (Trinity) and Cleveland-based Division III college Case Western Reserve. Schuplinski helped Ryan Fitzpatrick to some surprising performances this season, given the offensive line and backfield situation with which the veteran quarterback was saddled, and will now play a key role in developing Daniel Jones.

  • After taking a leave of absence from Flores’ staff before the season began, Dolphins assistant Jim Caldwell did not coach during the team’s season. And the former Colts and Lions HC will not return to the Dolphins’ staff, Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com notes. Caldwell, who stepped away for medical reasons, is back to full health and wants to coach again. He was recently mentioned in connection to the Eagles’ OC job.

Dolphins Add To Coaching Staff

The 2020 Dolphins will have two new coordinators, but in addition to the previously revealed Chan GaileyJosh Boyer OC-DC setup, the rebuilding team will bring in some new position coaches as well.

Steve Marshall will become the Dolphins’ third offensive line coach in two years, while Curt Kuntz and Austin Clark will come aboard as assistant defensive backs and outside linebackers coaches, respectively. None of Miami’s new assistants coached in the NFL this season.

Marshall will join Brian Flores‘ staff, following Pat Flaherty and Dave DeGuglielmo in the role. Both spent time as the Dolphins’ O-line coach last year. Marshall coached in the Alliance of American Football last year; his most recent NFL work came as Jets O-line coach from 2015-17. Marshall also spent time with the Packers, Texans and Browns while previously serving as offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech, Texas A&M and North Carolina.

Kuntz will make an interesting rise, having spent the past eight years as the head coach at Struthers (Ohio) High School. Bill Belichick‘s father, former Navy scout Steve Belichick, attended Struthers. This loose Patriots connection makes sense on Flores’ staff. Clark, 30, spent the past two seasons on Lovie Smith‘s Illinois staff. This will be Clark’s first NFL gig.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Hire Dolphins Coach Matt Lombardi

  • Dolphins quality control coach Matt Lombardi will be taking a promotion with the Panthers, reports Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (via Twitter). Lombardi was hired last winter and spent one season in the role. We learned earlier this evening that the Panthers had also poached Colts defensive line coach Mike Phair.

Dolphins Hire Anthony Campanile

The Giants have interviewed both former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and incumbent offensive coordinator Mike Shula for their vacant OC position, but new head coach Joe Judge may have a few other names in mind, as well. Judge is interested in speaking to ex-Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens and former Dolphins OC Chad O’Shea about positions on his staff, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. Kitchens served as the Browns’ offensive play-caller during the latter portion of the 2018 campaign before becoming head coach in 2019, while O’Shea lasted only one year in Miami. Both could presumably also be considered as position coaches on Judge’s staff.

  • Michigan linebackers coach Anthony Campanile is joining the Dolphins‘ staff in an as-yet unspecified role, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Campanile recently turned down an opportunity to become the defensive coordinator at Rutgets, per Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).