Christian Barmore

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Wilson, Patriots

Byron Jones is moving toward a lost season, but the Dolphins are not giving up hope on the eighth-year defender. Mike McDaniel did confirm Jones is still not ready to practice due to the ankle and Achilles operation he underwent in March. While the high-priced cornerback was expected to be ready for training camp, it has obviously brought concern he remains on the shelf into Thanksgiving week. McDaniel said this week he is optimistic Jones will, in fact, suit up at some point this season, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes.

The Dolphins have been without Jones and Nik Needham, given a second-round RFA tender to stay in Miami this year, for weeks. Needham is out for the season. Jones’ absence — by far his longest as a pro — has left the 7-3 team shorthanded at corner. It will be interesting to see if Jones can indeed contribute for the Fins this season. By restructuring Jones’ five-year, $82.5MM deal this offseason, the Dolphins added some future dead money to the contract — in the event they want to move on before its conclusion.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Faced with the prospect of a second-year demotion, Zach Wilson may be losing some support in the Jets locker room. Wilson indicated he did not feel his 9-for-22, 77-yard passing performance against the Patriots let the team’s defense down, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes those remarks upset some defenders. The former No. 2 overall pick piloted an offense that totaled 103 yards against the Pats — the fourth-fewest in Jets history — months after a Wilson-led attack set a franchise record with 53 yards in Week 18 of last season. Monday marked the first time Saleh has threatened to bench Wilson, who earned his job back following each of his knee injuries over the past two seasons. Wilson ranks 23rd in QBR (45.1) but is second-to-last in passer rating (72.6).
  • The Patriots placed Christian Barmore on IR last week, but Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter) the team expects him to return later this season. The second-year defensive tackle has battled knee inflammation for weeks. Surgery is not on the agenda here, per Schefter, who adds New England anticipates Barmore returning after the four-week IR minimum. He is eligible to come back in Week 15.
  • Joining Jones on the injury front, Trey Flowers is unlikely to come off the Dolphins‘ IR list for a bit. McDaniel said (via Jackson) Flowers is not close to returning from the foot injury that sidelined him in mid-October. Flowers is eligible to return from IR this week, but it cannot be assumed he comes off IR this season. The Dolphins do have six injury activations remaining, however, providing some flexibility even when factoring in the Jones situation. Flowers, who sat in free agency for months prior to his Dolphins agreement, played just 65 defensive snaps with his new team this season. Injuries hindered Flowers significantly in Detroit as well. The Dolphins have both he and Emmanuel Ogbah out of the equation at defensive end.
  • Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona said he would like to see his position more respected, salary-wise, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com posits this could affect how Cardona approaches his free agency. Cardona would have his work cut out for him if he takes such a stance. Long snappers are the league’s lowest-paid players, with each earning the league minimum or just north of that. Browns snapper Charley Hughlett signed an extension this year that made him the league’s highest-paid snapper — at $1.4MM per year.

Patriots Place DT Christian Barmore On IR

The Patriots appeared to be close to having a starter on their defensive interior available soon, but things have quickly taken a significant turn. Christian Barmore has been placed on IR, per a team announcement.

The 23-year-old has been sidelined since Week 6 due to a knee injury. That cost him New England’s three contests before their bye week, but a return had been expected soon. Indeed, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes that Barmore appeared to be on track to play this Sunday against the Jets until being rule out earlier today (Twitter link).

A second-round pick in 2021, Barmore appeared in all 17 games as a rookie; though he officially only started two of those contests, he logged a 55% snap share. That figure sits at 53% in 2022, though a breakthrough in the pass-rush department has yet to take place at the NFL level. Barmore has 2.5 sacks across his 23 games in New England, after he exploded with 8.0 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss in his final season at Alabama.

By being placed on IR, Barmore will now miss at least another four weeks. New England has six of their allotted eight activations remaining, though they have a list of players who will use up some of that total including quarterback Brian Hoyer and running back Ty Montgomery.

In Barmore’s continued absence, the Patriots will carry on with the likes of Deatrich WiseDavon Godchaux, Lawrence Guy and Carl Davis along the defensive interior. While that front has surrendered over 120 yards per game on the ground, it has contributed to the unit’s overall performance in allowing the sixth-fewest points per game (18.4).

Sitting in fourth in the highly-competitive AFC East, the 5-4 Patriots’ playoff hopes will be greatly affected by the outcome of Sunday’s game. They will not have their highly-touted d-lineman available, though, and his development will have taken another hit by the time the calendar flips to December.

Patriots Sign Christian Barmore

The Patriots have inked defensive tackle Christian Barmore, per a club announcement. As the No. 38 overall pick, Barmore will earn $8.5MM on his four-year contract. 

Barmore skipped two years of Alabama eligibility to go pro, joining fellow underclassmen Jaylen Waddle, Patrick Surtain II, and Mac Jones in the 2021 NFL Draft pool. After taking Jones in Round 1, the Pats shipped pick Nos. 46, 122 and 139 to the Bengals for No. 38, where they grabbed Barmore.

Barmore, the defensive MVP of the National Championship Game, notched 37 tackles, eight sacks, and three forced fumbles last year. He finished 2020 as Pro Football Focus’ top-ranked interior lineman in college and seemed to be on track for the first round. For one reason or another, he slipped, leading him to Bill Belichick & Co. in the second round.

With Barmore in the fold, the Patriots now have their entire 2021 draft class signed. Here’s the full breakdown:

Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II, Jaylen Waddle, Mac Jones To Enter Draft

Days after a lopsided national championship victory, Alabama will see several of its starters make the expected jump to the NFL. Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, cornerback Patrick Surtain II, quarterback Mac Jones and defensive tackle Christian Barmore announced Thursday they will enter the 2021 draft.

All four are projected first-round picks, according to ESPN.com’s Todd McShay. Surtain, Jones and Waddle will respectively forgo their senior seasons, while Barmore will leave two Crimson Tide years on the table. Surtain and Waddle have appeared in first-round mocks for a while now; it is not out of the question both join Heisman winner DeVonta Smith as top-10 picks.

Waddle will land alongside Smith and LSU opt-out Ja’Marr Chase atop the receiver prospects in what is expected to be another deep wideout class. While Waddle saw an ankle fracture interrupt his final Alabama season, he suited up against Ohio State — albeit at far less than 100% — and should be expected to go off the board fairly early in the draft. Smith and Waddle, who averaged 21.1 yards per catch this season, will follow ex-Crimson Tide teammates Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy as first-round prospects. Waddle is not certain to be ready for the Combine or pre-draft workouts, however.

An All-American as a junior, Surtain finished with a career-high nine passes defensed this season. He will follow his father, Patrick Surtain, into the pros. The elder Surtain was a longtime NFL corner who became a Dolphins second-round pick in 1998. McShay has the younger Surtain and Barmore going off the board at 10th and 27th overall, respectively. The latter recorded eight sacks this season.

At Alabama during Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa‘s starting tenures, Jones took over late last season after Tagovailoa’s hip injury. Despite the COVID-19-altered season limiting Alabama to 13 games total, Jones set a program record with 4,500 passing yards and finished with a 77% completion rate and a 41-4 TD-INT ratio. He will join Trevor Lawrence, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, BYU’s Zach Wilson and (likely) Ohio State’s Justin Fields as surefire Round 1 prospects.