DeShon Elliott

Dolphins Name Mike White Backup QB; DeShon Elliott To Start At S

When Mike White was signed to a two-year deal including $4.5MM in guaranteed money, it seemed inevitable he would start the season as the Dolphins’ backup quarterback. After a noteworthy training camp competition, the veteran has indeed landed the QB2 gig.

Head coach Mike McDaniel indicated (via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald) that White won out the backup spot over 2022 seventh-rounder Skylar Thompson. The latter had impressed during training camp to the point where he was believed to have a lead on White at one point. In the end, though, Miami has elected to go with the more experienced option, one who acquired with a larger financial investment than the team expected to make with respect to Tua Tagovailoa insurance policies.

The former No. 5 pick’s injury history has made the backup and third-string QB spots ones worth plenty of attention as his long-term future with the team remains uncertain. White, who took over from Zach Wilson as the Jets’ starter last season and dealt with a rib injury through much of the campaign, did enough to convince the Dolphins to let Teddy Bridgewater depart in free agency. Thompson started Miami’s playoff loss to the Bills in his rookie season, though, and he did enough in the summer to maintain a roster spot.

“This was a difficult one,” McDaniel said of the decision, via Adam Beasley of Pro Football Network“We learned the hard way that you need available players on a roster just in general, and I thought Mike White and Skylar competed all the way until the last rep. And when it really came down to it, I thought they both made just cases.”

McDaniel added that White’s experience helped him edge out the gig over Thompson, who will be eligible to dress as the team’s emergency third QB this season without counting toward the gameday roster. Both passers put up less-than-stellar numbers in the preseason, though, so changes to the pecking order could take place as the campaign progresses.

In other Dolphins lineup news, safety DeShon Elliott will begin the campaign as a starter, Jackson notes. The 26-year-old has started 35 of his 42 career games, split between the Ravens and Lions. Elliott has battled numerous injuries in his career, something which limited his market in free agency. Attached to a one-year, $1.77MM Dolphins pact, the former sixth-rounder will see time alongside Jevon Holland on the backend of a Miami defense expected to take a step forward in 2023. Play in the secondary will go a long way in determining the unit’s success, and Elliott could earn himself a more lucrative deal next offseason with a healthy and productive season.

Brandon Jones, DeShon Elliott To Vie For Dolphins S Job

In Jevon Holland, the Dolphins have a locked-in safety starter. The 2021 second-round pick has become one of the NFL’s better back-line defenders. As Vic Fangio prepares for his first training camp as Miami’s defensive coordinator, a key question will involve the other safety position.

The Dolphins did not operate aggressively in free agency here, likely for multiple reasons. One of them: a belief in Brandon Jones. The fourth-year safety is coming off a torn ACL, but the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson notes the team is high enough on the returning starter it did not pursue a high- or mid-level contract with a veteran safety.

A 2020 third-round pick, Jones has started 24 career games — including 20 over the past two seasons — and formed a promising tandem with Holland. But the Dolphins did not stand down entirely in free agency. The team did not make a notable offer to Jordan Poyer, per Jackson, despite the Bills safety being intrigued by a warm-weather city with a friendlier tax code. (Poyer re-signed with the Bills.) But Miami did sign former Baltimore and Detroit safety DeShon Elliott, adding the fifth-year veteran for just $1.77MM.

These two will vie for the position alongside Holland, per Jackson. Both players are coming off injuries. Jones’ ACL tear occurred in Week 7, while Elliott played through a shoulder injury to close his 2022 Lions run. The shoulder problem limited Elliott this offseason as well, but the former sixth-round pick is expected to be fine for the start of Miami’s regular season. As such, he poses a threat to Jones’ job in the latter’s contract year.

Jones, 25, and Elliott, 26, were teammates at Texas in the late 2010s. The latter has started 35 career games, earning a job alongside Chuck Clark. Elliott started 16 games for the Ravens in 2020 and six in 2021; the Lions gave Elliott 13 starts last season. Of course, Detroit struggled on defense for much of the season and has since overhauled its secondary. This will lead Elliott — Pro Football Focus’ No. 45 overall safety last season — into Fangio’s scheme.

PFF rated Jones 64th overall in 2022, though his coverage stats revealed improvement in that area. Prior to the knee injury, the plus blitzer (five sacks in 2021) held a 62.5% completion rate allowed as the closest defender and allowed a 78.0 passer rating. Both marks were significantly better than Jones’ 2021 coverage performance, though Fangio’s zone-based system will mark a change from a Josh Boyer scheme that capitalized on Jones’ blitzing skill.

The Dolphins have Holland signed to his rookie deal through the 2024 season. With two big-ticket cornerback contracts on their books (for Xavien Howard and trade acquisition Jalen Ramsey), that will prove important. The team also used its top draft choice (No. 51 overall) on former South Carolina nickel Cam Smith. With big investments at four of their five DB spots, the Dolphins will count on low-cost production from the other post. The loser of the ex-Longhorns’ competition will represent quality depth.

Dolphins Rumors: TEs, Elliott, Punter Competition

The Dolphins didn’t use their tight ends much in the receiving game last year and only really used two tight ends a majority of the time. With half of that duo, Mike Gesicki, departing in free agency this offseason, many were curious how Miami would address the sudden hole on their roster.

The Dolphins return Durham Smythe, who was mainly used as a blocker in their scheme last year, recording only 15 receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown. Smythe has had more productive seasons in the prior two years, but he still is more feared as a blocker than a receiver. The team also added two veteran free agents in Tyler Kroft and Eric Saubert in the last few months.

None of the three will threaten to provide Miami with a top receiving tight end in the NFL, but with the team’s embarrassment of riches at wide receiver, that’s hardly necessary. The veteran trio should do plenty to perform the duties asked of tight ends in the Dolphins’ offense, while Miami will look to two rookies to perhaps provide some receiving ability to the position room.

The Dolphins used one of their few draft picks on Stanford wide receiver Elijah Higgins in the sixth round. Higgins, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, will be making the switch to tight end at the NFL level. Higgins told Jackson that 28 of 32 NFL teams saw him as a tight end at the next level, despite his never having played the position before. At 6-foot-3, 238 pounds, Higgins has decent size, needing to gain a few pounds, but had strong production with 1,204 receiving yards and six touchdowns for the Cardinal in the last two years.

Undrafted rookie Julian Hill out of Campbell had a strong final year of production, as well. He ended up with 659 yards and five touchdowns in his fifth year with the Camels. The Dolphins had considered looking into the tight end position in the early rounds of the draft, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, but they ultimately decided to utilize the free agent market and lower-graded rookies.

They also have the option to re-sign veteran Adam Shaheen who spent his contract year on injured reserve last year. Coming off of knee surgery, Shaheen told Jackson that he “would love to remain with the Dolphins.” For now, though, it seems Miami is content moving forwards with Smythe, Kroft, Saubert, Higgins, Hill, and developmental project Tanner Conner.

Here are a few other rumors coming out of South Beach:

  • The Dolphins made a strong offseason addition in former Ravens and Lions safety DeShon Elliott back in March. The former sixth-round pick developed into a starter in Baltimore but struggled with injuries. His injury struggles continued in Detroit when he missed two late-season games with a shoulder injury before toughing it out in the season finale to eliminate the Packers from postseason contention. Elliott may not return for mandatory minicamp, but according to Jackson, he is expected to be ready for the regular season.
  • After allowing their one-year rental punter, Thomas Morstead, to walk in free agency, Miami signed former division rival Jake Bailey. Bailey missed some time last year due to injury and some team-enforced discipline, so it’s not much of a surprise that the Dolphins brought in some competition for the young specialist. We speculated that undrafted Oklahoma rookie Michael Turk would provide some camp competition for Bailey, and Jackson confirmed as much in a recent report. The Dolphins were eager to bring Turk in, signing the former Sooner soon after the draft ended despite Turk enticing six other NFL offers.

Dolphins To Sign S DeShon Elliott

Another new arrival is expected in Miami’s secondary. The Dolphins have agreed to terms on a deal with safety DeShon Elliott, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Josina Anderson of CBS Sports tweets that it is a one-year contract.

The 25-year-old hit the open market for the first time in his career last offseason, following an injury-plagued start to his career in Baltimore. Elliott flashed potential as a starting-caliber producer on the backend when healthy, though, making 109 tackles and adding 3.5 sacks in the three seasons he played with the Ravens.

That earned him a one-year deal from the Lions last April, with a value of $1.1MM. The Texas alum’ market was hampered by his injury troubles, which cost him his entire rookie season. His struggles defending the pass relative to his effectiveness as a run-stopper also limited his value on the open market. In his debut season in the Motor City, Elliott was a full-time starter across 14 games, the second-highest number of contests he has been able to suit up for in his NFL career.

The former sixth-rounder totaled a career-high 96 tackles with the Lions, adding one interception and a forced fumble. In terms of completion percentage (81.6%) and passer rating (125.3) allowed, however, Elliott had the worst season of his career to date. In general, he was also a key member of a Lions defense which significantly hampered the team’s performance, and has already resulted in changes in the secondary.

In Miami, Elliott will join a defense which likewise was tapped for upgrades in the offseason. One has already taken place with the acquisition of All-Pro corner Jalen Ramsey, who should help new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio lead the team to a rebound on the backend. Elliott will be joined by Jevon Holland and Brandon Jones near the top of the Dolphins safety depth chart as he makes his return to the AFC.

Lions, S DeShon Elliott Agree To Deal

DeShon Elliott visited the Lions on Wednesday; the meeting produced an agreement. The former Ravens safety will join the Lions on a one-year contract, Ian Rapoport of tweets. Elliott’s deal could max out at $3.65MM, USA Today’s Josina Anderson tweets.

A sixth-round 2018 draftee, Elliott became a full-time starter after the Ravens’ Earl Thomas experiment went south before the 2020 season. Elliott started 22 games with Baltimore beginning with that 2020 slate, a 16-start year for the ex-Texas Longhorn. Elliott will join a Lions team that recently re-signed Tracy Walker.

Elliott made 80 tackles, recorded 2.5 sacks and forced two fumbles during the 2020 season. He is coming off an injury-marred 2021 slate. The soon-to-be 25-year-old defender suffered pectoral and bicep tears midway through last season, shutting him down for the year. This continued an injury-riddled slate for a Ravens secondary that also lost Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey. Elliott also spent his entire rookie season on IR.

Baltimore signaled it was moving on from Elliott with its latest big-ticket safety signing — a five-year deal with Marcus Williams. Not typically a big-spending team in free agency, the Ravens have made exceptions at safety. Williams follows Thomas, Tony Jefferson and Eric Weddle as Raven signings at the position since 2016. The Elliott-Chuck Clark pairing represented a deviation from the organization’s big-name strategy at safety.

This Elliott agreement may also mean the Lions’ visit with Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton will not lead to a rare top-two safety investment in the draft. The Lions scheduled a visit with Hamilton for this week, though the former Fighting Irish defender is not viewed as likely to be chosen second overall. Detroit now has Elliott, Walker and 17-game 2021 starter Will Harris under contract at safety.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/8/21

Today’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

Seattle Seahawks

Ravens’ DeShon Elliott Done For Year

Ravens defensive back DeShon Elliott is believed to be done for the year, according to head coach John Harbaugh (Twitter link via Jamison Hensley of Elliott will be placed on season-ending injured reserve later this week, opening up a spot on the 53-man roster.

Elliott was forced out of Sunday’s game and later diagnosed with torn pectoral and a torn bicep. It’s a bad blow for the Ravens, who have been using the 24-year-old as a starter since last year. Elliott’s season will end with 23 tackles, one sack, and three tackles for loss in six games.

The timing is especially rough for Elliott since he’ll be out of contract in March. With a repeat of 2020 — a year with 80 stops, 2.5 sacks, and 16 starts — he could have been in line for a major payday.

The Ravens went on to beat the Vikings 34-31 in overtime, advancing to 6-2 on the year. They’ll try and keep the momentum going without Elliott — or much of a break — when they play the Dolphins on Thursday night.

NFL Distributes Performance-Based Payouts

Since 2002, the NFL’s performance-based pay system has rewarded low-salary players who exceed their expected playing time. This year, due to the pandemic, the league and the players’ union negotiated a gradual payout schedule, one that will meter out the money between now and 2024.

All in all, the league divested $8.5MM per club. This year’s top earner is Buccaneers guard Alex Cappa, a 2018 third-round pick who played every single snap for the eventual champs. Cappa will now receive an extra $622K on top of his $750K base salary for 2021. Per the union’s records, 25 other players also topped $500K, including Cardinals tackle Kelvin Beachum ($604K), Bills cornerback Taron Johnson ($579K), Rams guard Austin Corbett ($573K), Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye ($572K), Bears tackle Germain Ifedi ($571K), Steelers offensive lineman Chukwuma Okorafor ($568K), Vikings offensive lineman Dakota Dozier ($561K), Ravens safety DeShon Elliott ($557K) and Bucs safety Jordan Whitehead ($555K).

The full list, going team-by-team, can be found here, courtesy of the NFLPA.

Ravens Activate 6 Players From Reserve/COVID-19 List

Ahead of a key AFC matchup against the Colts, the Ravens will have a handful of defenders back. They activated six players off their reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday.

Patrick Queen, DeShon Elliott and L.J. Fort are poised to return to Baltimore’s starting lineup after the team activated the defenders from the COVID list. Each was deemed a high-risk close contact to All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who tested positive for the coronavirus and remains on the COVID list.

Linebacker Tyus Bowser, cornerback Terrell Bonds and linebacker Malik Harrison also came off the Ravens’ COVID list Saturday. Matt Judon came off the list earlier this week.

Humphrey will miss Week 9’s Baltimore-Indianapolis game, but the Ravens having several of their starters back will put them in better position to bounce back after their loss to the Steelers. Baltimore’s defense ranks fifth in DVOA, sitting first against the run.

The Ravens promoted Bonds, a second-year player out of Tennessee State, and linebacker Kristian Welch to their active roster. They also promoted safety Geno Stone as Humphrey’s COVID replacement. They placed wide receiver Chris Moore on IR due to a thigh injury.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/3/20

Today’s minor NFL transactions:

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

New England Patriots

New York Giants

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Tennessee Titans