Raekwon McMillan

Latest On Patriots’ Offseason Priorities

The post-Tom Brady era in New England has seen plenty of change both in terms of players and coaching personnel. As ESPN’s Mike Reiss writes, the Patriots have a number of important decisions to make on their roster, leaving them with a relatively clearly-defined list of positional priorities. 

Reiss lists inside linebacker, cornerback and wide receiver – in that order – as the three positions that should be the primary focus this offseason. The incumbent starters at the first on that list, Dont’a Hightower and Ja’Whaun Bentley, are pending free agents, while Raekwon McMillan is coming off of a torn ACL. The position is the one on defense where the overall need to get younger and faster is perhaps the greatest, so youth could very well be preferred to experience there.

The same could hold true at cornerback, where the team likely faces its most important decision. J.C. Jackson is a pending free agent, and could be in line for a large payday. In the last two seasons, the 26-year-old has totalled 17 interceptions and 37 pass breakups. In coverage, he hasn’t allowed a completion percentage above 59% or a passer rating over 66.5 in his four years with New England. His play after Stephon Gilmore was traded to Carolina proved his value to the Patriots, or any number of free agent suitors.

The Patriots may be well positioned to replace the Pro Bowler, or add some vital depth behind him if he is retained, via the draft. As Reiss notes, cornerback is considered one of the strongest positions in this year’s class, so an impactful addition could be made in April. The team will likely be looking to do the same with their wide receivers.

The signings of Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne have added experience and depth to the Patriots’ pass-catching core, but, as Reiss writes, the addition of a true No. 1 “would be ideal”. New England was reportedly close to signing Odell Beckham Jr. before he ultimately went to L.A.; adding someone of his caliber, along with increased production from 2021 free agent signing tight end Jonnu Smith would go a long way in quarterback Mac Jones‘ development. Pending restricted free agent Jakobi Meyers, meanwhile, is likely to receive an extension, or at least a second-round tender, according to Reiss.

With plenty of questions surrounding the team’s coaching staff – and, to a lesser extent, the front office – the moves New England makes with their free agents will dictate much of their success in attempting to return to Super Bowl contention.

AFC East Notes: Maye, Bills, Dolphins, Pats

Playing on the franchise tag, Marcus Maye continues to be viewed as on the way out for the Jets. Whether his exit will come via deadline trade or in free agency next year remains to be seen, but Dan Graziano of ESPN.com notes there is interest in the fifth-year safety ahead of the Nov. 2 deadline. While Maye’s $10.6MM franchise tag salary is prohibitive, he is a fifth-year starter who could be an impact rental player. A team acquiring Maye also would allow for exclusive negotiating rights between season’s end and free agency, though Maye giving the 2022 market a try after being tagged would make sense. Maye said last week he has not requested a trade, but contentious negotiations with the Jets did not produce a summer deal. And Maye’s DUI arrest may only further distance him from the Jets, whom he did not inform about the arrest for months after the fact.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Going into the 2021 free agency period, the Dolphins‘ regret from their 2020 spending spree influenced a quieter tour through this year’s market, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. The pandemic-reduced salary cap impacted Miami, like it did all teams, but the Dolphins spent just $25.4MM in guarantees this year. They allocated $147.2MM in total contracts in 2020, and the results helped lead the team to its 1-6 place. Byron Jones has not lived up to his then-record deal, and the Dolphins moved on from Shaq Lawson, Kyle Van Noy and Ereck Flowers after one season.
  • Bills defensive ends Mario Addison and Jerry Hughes have been discussed as trade targets around the league, per Graziano. Buffalo has done well to bolster its defensive line, and Addison and Hughes are 30-somethings in contract years. That said, it is difficult to see the Bills parting with either given their status as Super Bowl contenders. Hughes, 33, has started every game for Buffalo this year — his eighth as a Bills first-stringer — while first-rounder Gregory Rousseau has displaced Addison as a starter. Addison, 34, and Hughes have combined for just 1.5 sacks, but each certainly helps Buffalo with D-line depth.
  • The contract the Patriots gave ex-Lions second-rounder Jahlani Tavai runs through the 2022 season, according to ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss, who writes the ex-Day 2 pick is likely being evaluated for a bigger role next season. The Patriots have Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jamie Collins on expiring contracts, giving Tavai a chance to grow from a seldom-used defender to a more prominent player in 2022. Tavai is set to make just $965K next year.
  • The extension the Patriots gave ex-Dolphins starter Raekwon McMillan calls for a $1MM base salary in 2022, per Reiss, who adds the Pats included $300K in playing-time incentives for the rehabbing linebacker. McMillan tore an ACL early in Pats camp but will have a shot to make next year’s team. The Pats included a $50K roster bonus for McMillan, if he remains with the team March 22.

Patriots Extend LB Raekwon McMillan

Raekwon McMillan won’t see the field this season, but the Patriots linebacker still got a deal for next year. New England has signed McMillan to a one-year extension, keeping the player with the team through at least the 2022 campaign, per ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter).

McMillan joined the Patriots this offseason, and it sounded like he was going to carve out a role on the team’s defense (per ESPN’s Mike Reiss on Twitter). However, he suffered a torn ACL during training camp that knocked him out of action for the entire 2021 season. The 25-year-old will still have a year to pick up the team’s playbook, and he’ll be able to compete for a spot on next year’s roster.

McMillan was a second-round pick back in 2017, but his rookie season was wiped out thanks to a torn ACL. He was relatively productive in two healthy seasons with the Dolphins, collecting 177 tackles, eight tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles.

He was traded to the Raiders prior to the 2020 season, and he finished his lone season in Vegas with 27 tackles and one forced fumble in 16 games (four starts).

Patriots’ Raekwon McMillan Tears ACL

Patriots linebacker Raekwon McMillan tore his ACL while practicing earlier this week (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). That marks the second ACL tear of McMillan’s career and the end of his 2021 season. is the second torn ACL for the former #Dolphins 2nd round pick, but this time on the other knee. 

This time around, it’s McMillan’s other knee. It’s another frustrating setback for the former Dolphins second-round pick who was once ticketed for a sizable role in Miami’s front seven.

McMillan spent the early part of his career with the Dolphins before being shipped to the Raiders in August of 2020. He came off the bench in most games, finishing the year with 27 stops and one forced fumble.

Before that, he flashed at times in South Beach and even ranked as the Dolphins’ best defensive player in 2019, per to Pro Football Focus. The Dolphins considered a long-term extension for him at one point but, ultimately, they were unwilling to commit, especially at the height of the pandemic.

Despite his ups, downs, and suspect pass coverage, the Patriots were excited to add him on a one-year deal earlier this year. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to join fellow newcomer Matt Judon in the LB group – at least, not until 2022.

Patriots To Sign LB Raekwon McMillan

The Patriots aren’t done shopping. On Friday, Bill Belichick & Co. agreed to sign linebacker Raekwon McMillan to a one-year deal (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). 

[RELATED: Patriots Bring Back David Andrews]

McMillan spent the early part of his career with the Dolphins before being shipped to the Raiders last August. He came off the bench in most games, finishing the year with 27 stops and one forced fumble.

The hard-hitting linebacker came into the league as a second-round pick in 2017. He flashed at times and even ranked as Miami’s best defensive player in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus. The Dolphins considered a long-term extension for him at one point but, ultimately, they were unwilling to commit. The timing wasn’t great either — talks petered out amidst the pandemic.

McMillan’s pass coverage is suspect, but he’s a solid run-blocker who should see time in the Patriots’ rotation. He’ll be joined by fellow new arrival Matt Judon in that group, along with scores of other fresh faces in the locker room.

Dolphins Trade LB Raekwon McMillan To Raiders

The Dolphins have agreed to trade linebacker Raekwon McMillan to the Raiders, according to a source who spoke with Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (on Twitter). In exchange, the Raiders are sending a 2021 fourth-round pick to Miami, but they’ll also receive a 2021 fifth-round pick along with McMillan (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). 

[RELATED: Raiders’ Tyrell Williams Battling Labrum Tear]

In 2019, McMillan ranked as the Dolphins’ best defensive player, according to Pro Football Focus. Earlier this year, the Dolphins were said to be considering an extension for McMillan, but the pandemic threw a wrench into those talks. The Dolphins also had their doubts about McMillan’s pass coverage, and they were planning to mostly use him on run downs this year. DeVante Parker, Jesse Davis, Allen Hurns, and Jakeem Grant all received extensions recently, but the Dolphins ultimately did not want to lock down the young ‘backer.

McMillan, who has one year and $1.1MM left on his deal, will now try to make his case in Las Vegas. There, he’ll support a revamped linebacker group that previously had depth concerns, despite the additions of Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski.

McMillan wasn’t the right fit for Brian Flores‘ 3-4 hybrid scheme, but he could fare better with Jon Gruden. He comes to the Raiders with ample experience, having started 28 of his 29 games since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2017.

Latest On Dolphins, Raekwon McMillan

The Dolphins haven’t ruled out an extension for Raekwon McMillan, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hears. It’s likely that the linebacker’s negotiations – like many around the NFL – have been held up due to the pandemic and uncertainty about the 2021 salary cap. However, the Jackson hears that the Dolphins appreciate what McMillan brings to the table and they’d be interested in continuing his stay.

[RELATED: No Suspension For Dolphins’ Xavien Howard]

In 2019, McMillan ranked as the Dolphins’ best defensive player, according to Pro Football Focus. The Dolphins have already extended players like DeVante Parker, Jesse Davis, Allen Hurns, and Jakeem Grant, so it stands to reason that they would want to lock down McMillan.

On the flipside, McMillan isn’t great in pass coverage. The Dolphins recognize his limitations, which is why he’s expected to be used mostly on run downs this year. That’s not exactly a great platform for a free agent linebacker, so McMillan would probably like to secure the bag before the season starts.

Jackson hears that the Dolphins are in a similar place with defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, who has one year remaining on his original rookie deal. Last year, the former fifth-round pick made more stops within 2 yards of the line than any other defensive tackle in the NFL. This year, he’s set to earn $2.1MM before reaching the open market.

In both cases, the potential cap decrease is a major factor. Before the pandemic, the Dolphins expected to have ~$60MM in cap room for 2021. Now, that space could be completely wiped out.

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Rosen, Patriots

The Dolphins might be receiving some interest in Josh Rosen, but they’re probably not in a rush to trade him, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes. Rosen is slated to count for just $2.17MM against the cap and GM Chris Grier would be admitting defeat by trading the former first-round pick for substantially less than he gave up for him. In 2019, the Dolphins shipped a second-round pick plus a fifth-round choice to the Cardinals for Rosen. Right now, there’s no way they’d get anything close to a Round 2 selection in return.

Instead, Salguero expects the Dolphins to wait things out and see if his value improves with time. A QB injury elsewhere coupled with a solid preseason from the former No. 10 overall pick could get the job done. In the meantime, the Dolphins will focus on Tua Tagovailoa – their latest quarterback of the future – and proven veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • In his final season under contract with the DolphinsRaekwon McMillan is expected to be used mostly on run downs, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. That’s not an ideal platform for the linebacker, who has had limited opportunities to show his stuff. As a second-round pick in 2017, McMillan was set to start before a preseason ACL injury robbed him of his first pro season. In 2018, he started in every game and saw 831 snaps, but in 2019 he saw just 515 snaps and missed a chunk of the year. Jerome Baker and Kyle Van Noy are likely to be the Dolphins’ two leading LBs, ahead of McMillan.
  • The Patriots‘ offensive line seems more or less set, but Jeff Howe of The Athletic wonders if Marcus Cannon‘s recent change in representation is a sign that the club has approached him about reworking his contract. The right tackle took a step back in 2019 and he’s set to count for $9.6MM in 2020. If the Patriots want Cannon to take a pay cut that isn’t suitable for the veteran, a summer shakeup could be on the way.
  • New Jets quarterback Joe Flacco has been cleared to throw, but he won’t be ready for Week 1 against the Bills.

Extra Points: Brady, Dalton, Dolphins, Lions

Tom Brady news figures to be a rather common occurrence in this unusual offseason for the 20-year Patriots passer. Set for free agency for the first time, Brady is not expected to re-sign with the Patriots before free agency opens. The Chargers have surfaced again, with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports noting that Brady will have the Bolts atop his list — if, in fact, he decides to leave New England. This is not the first Brady-Chargers link, but JLC adds that the 42-year-old quarterback would have a short list if he did legitimately decide to test free agency. The Chargers’ Los Angeles headquarters, which have not been especially beneficial to the franchise thus far, would appeal to Brady. The future Hall of Famer holds offseason workouts at USC and has previously lived in L.A. The Chargers are set to move into their new stadium, along with the Rams. Brady would certainly help on this front, with the team struggling to generate attention in its new market.

Here is the latest from around the league:

  • Andy Dalton and new Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor remain close, and JLC can envision this being a factor in how the quarterback dominoes fall during what could be a complex offseason at sports’ marquee position. Dalton “loved” playing for Lazor during his time as Bengals QBs coach and OC, per JLC. Although the Bears have committed to starting Mitchell Trubisky next season, he certainly has not lived up to his No. 2 overall draft slot and could be pushed like 2015 No. 2 pick Marcus Mariota was this season.
  • 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.
  • Damon Harrison revealed at the regular season’s end he is considering retirement, and the Lions are still waiting. They will likely not know Snacks’ plans for at least another few weeks, per the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett. Thanks to the one-year add-on the Lions gave him in August, Harrison is under contract through 2021.
  • The Lions are expected to promote defensive assistant Steve Gregory to secondary coach, Birkett adds. The Lions hired Gregory, who played under Matt Patricia in New England, in 2018. Detroit fired DBs coach Brian Stewart after the season.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/17/19

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

  • Promoted from practice squad: DB Aljiah Holder

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans