Robert Hunt

Panthers To Add G Robert Hunt

Rumored to be chasing guards, the Panthers are paying up to help Bryce Young protection in the quarterback’s second season. They are preparing a $100MM payment to fill this need.

Robert Hunt is headed to Charlotte, per’s Adam Schefter and Jeremy Fowler, and’s Mike Garafolo reveals what it will cost. Hunt is signing a five-year, $100MM deal. A three-year Dolphins guard starter, Hunt becomes only the fourth guard in NFL history to sign a deal for at least $20MM per year. Part of Hunt’s guarantee will come via a $26.5MM signing bonus, Garafolo adds.

The Dolphins’ free agents have led the way on Day 1 of the legal tampering period. Miami was preparing to lose both Hunt and Christian Wilkins; both players have received deals near the top of their positions’ markets. Hunt will slide in as an upgrade at guard for a Panthers team that saw both its guard starters — Brady Christensen, Austin Corbett — suffer season-ending injuries last year.

These injuries were among the issues that plagued Young during his rough rookie season. The Panthers will give their diminutive quarterback a better chance by helping to protect him from inside pressure, which was a common problem during the No. 1 pick’s debut. Hunt is going into his age-28 season, making it rather important he was able to cash in this year — after the cap spike created a friendlier market.

A 2020 second-round pick, Hunt slid from right tackle to right guard in 2021 and became the Dolphins’ most consistent O-lineman. As Miami moved more players around and saw other blockers suffer injuries in this span, Hunt chugged along. That said, Hunt did aggravate a hamstring injury and miss seven games last season. But the Louisiana alum started all 34 games from 2021-22. Hunt goes 330 pounds, giving the Panthers an imposing presence as they reconstruct their line in Dave Canales‘ first year.

Pro Football Focus slotted Hunt as a top-12 guard in each of the past two seasons; he played a big role in helping Mike McDaniel‘s offense ignite. The Panthers will pay up to see if he can help Young begin a real development effort, after last season saw those hopes encounter early turbulence.

Dolphins Re-Sign G Robert Jones

The Dolphins have lots of contracts to address on the offensive line this offseason, and they’ll start with re-signing offensive guard Robert Jones, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. The third-year undrafted lineman out of Middle Tennessee State is set to return to Miami on a new one-year deal.

Jones has proven to be a valuable backup for the Dolphins over the past three seasons. Though never designated as a full-time starter on the offensive line, Jones has made 13 starts in 32 game appearances. Most recently, he filled in for an injured Isaiah Wynn this year, which graded out as an improvement, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). With starting guard Robert Hunt expected to earn a massive payday elsewhere, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Jones should return as a strong option to step into a full-time starting role in 2024.

While Miami still needs to deal with the expiring contracts of Hunt and center Connor Williams, they did receive some good news concerning starting left tackle Terron Armstead. Though Armstead was undecided on whether or not to hang up his cleats, a return to the field in 2024 has been trending. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, things continue to move in the right direction for Armstead to play next season. Armstead and Miami are even close to finalizing a new adjusted contract to reduce his cap hit in 2024. It’s not done yet but should reportedly be done soon.

With Jones and Armstead expected back and right tackle Austin Jackson under contract through the 2026 season, the Dolphins are set with three possible starters heading into next year. Decisions on Hunt and Williams should come soon, allowing the team to make plans on how to move forward with or without them.

Dolphins Unlikely To Retain G Robert Hunt, DT Christian Wilkins; CB Xavien Howard Will Not Return

As of Friday afternoon, the Dolphins are still $20MM over the cap. They will not pick up any savings from the Xavien Howard post-June 1 cut for months, meaning more moves will need to transpire for the team to move under the 2024 salary ceiling.

This will affect how the Dolphins proceed with their top two free agents. Barring an 11th-hour change, both Robert Hunt and Christian Wilkins look to be headed out the door. Each will be a candidate to land a near-top-market deal at their respective positions, and it does not look like the Dolphins will be prepared to match such an offer.

[RELATED: 2024 NFL Top 50 Free Agents]

Hunt’s return looks unlikely due to the salary he will command, per the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson. Kevin Dotson‘s $16MM-per-year Rams deal (feat. $32MM guaranteed) may set the floor for Hunt, who has been a more consistent player. The Dolphins have maintained a good relationship with Hunt’s camp during this process, Jackson adds, but the market will probably push them out of the bidding. The parties discussed an extension months ago, but with the Dolphins paying Austin Jackson along with Terron Armstead, Hunt is probably on his way out.

Moved from right tackle to right guard in 2021, the former second-round pick has played well inside. As injuries and position changes (along with an O-line coach carousel) continued to take place over the past three years in Miami, Hunt was probably the team’s most reliable O-lineman. But with a top-10 guard contract likely, the Dolphins will face the prospect of replacing both their starting guards and starting center. Connor Williams is also a UFA-to-be, and while he is coming off a December ACL tear, he played well on a two-year Dolphins deal and should garner extensive interest regardless.

The Dolphins are believed to still be trying to keep Wilkins, effectively revealing a priority queue with Hunt at No. 2, but the price point will presumably move them out of the running. Wilkins should be expected to command an average salary in the $24-$25MM range, ESPN’s Adam Schefter said recently. The Dolphins offered the 2019 first-round pick top-10 DT money last year, before the sides broke off talks ahead of the season, but Jackson adds the team has not shown it is comfortable going to the $25MM-AAV place to retain Wilkins.

ESPN’s run stop win rate ranked Wilkins in the top two in 2021 and ’22, and after the Dolphins were hesitant to go to the Quinnen WilliamsDexter LawrenceDaron PayneJeffery Simmons level with their offer due to Wilkins’ modest sack production (11.5 from 2019-22), the Clemson alum ripped off a nine-sack contract year. He is set to cash in, with teams like the Texans and Vikings expected to be in on the bidding. In that likely event, the Dolphins will be tasked with replacing a five-year starter.

Elsewhere on Miami’s depth chart, no Dolphins-Howard reunion — one GM Chris Grier floated as a possibility — will come to pass. Regarding a return to Miami at a reduced rate, the former All-Pro cornerback said (during a 560 WQAM interview) “that door is closed.” Howard expressed a similar sentiment earlier this offseason when asked if he would take a pay cut to stay. That said, the soon-to-be 31-year-old corner will need to play the 2024 season at a lower rate compared to the big-ticket deal — which included $50.6MM in new money — the Dolphins gave him after the Byron Jones deal prompted the ballhawk to gripe about his own contract in the early 2020s.

Terron Armstead Undecided On Playing In 2024; Dolphins, G Robert Hunt Discussed Extension

Terron Armstead is tied to a five-year, $75MM contract, but the Dolphins do not yet have assurances their Pro Bowl left tackle will come back for a third year in Miami. Armstead stopped short of guaranteeing he would return in 2024.

The 11-year veteran said he remains in pursuit of a Super Bowl ring but added (via’s Adam Beasley) he would not push his body beyond its limits. Armstead has remained an effective tackle when available, but the ex-Saints mainstay has continued to deal with various injuries since changing teams in 2022.

Armstead, 32, missed seven games this season and four games in 2022. He has never played 16 games in a season and has missed 59 contests over the course of his career. Armstead landed on IR due to a knee injury and dealt with multiple knee maladies during his second year in Miami. He later missed time because of quad trouble. Last year, myriad maladies affected Armstead, though he was still effective for a Dolphins team that closed the season with its third-string quarterback (Skylar Thompson) making starts.

While Tua Tagovailoa made it through this season healthy, the Dolphins were forced to use several O-line combinations to account for injuries to all five starters at points. Left guard Isaiah Wynn and center Connor Williams suffered season-ending injuries, and Armstead joined right guard Robert Hunt in missing seven games.

Armstead and right tackle Austin Jackson are locked up through 2026, with the team’s right tackle signing a $12MM-per-year extension late in the season. Armstead is due a $13.25MM base salary in 2024. Neither tackle’s pact puts him in the top 10 at his respective position, giving the Dolphins good value. Due to the $19MM-plus in prorated bonus money on Miami’s books through 2026, Armstead retiring would be costly for the Dolphins. But we appear a ways away from the five-time Pro Bowler making a decision.

Hunt and Williams are both due for free agency in March. Dolphins GM Chris Grier praised Williams, who angled for a new contract this past offseason, but stopped short of indicating the center — who played out a two-year, $14MM deal — was a priority to retain. Williams suffering an early-December ACL tear will damage his free agency value. Hunt does appear higher on Miami’s priority list. Grier said the team discussed an extension with the talented guard during the season.

As of September, no Hunt discussions had taken place. But it appears the Dolphins are interested in having three O-linemen on veteran accords. A nagging hamstring injury caused Hunt, 27, to miss nearly half the season. But the three-year guard starter has been effective when healthy; he would be one of the top O-linemen available in free agency. Grier pointed to Hunt hitting the market but indicated the team still wants him back.

I’m happy for Rob. He got back at the end of the year for us,” Grier said (via the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson). “Rob has earned the right to be a free agent; we had a conversation with him during the season. We’ll see what happens. We would like him to be here.”

Hunt stands to join Jonah Jackson (Lions), Damien Lewis (Seahawks) and Ezra Cleveland (Jaguars) as key first-time free agents at guard, with guard/tackle Michael Onwenu (Patriots) also profiling as an option for teams in need of interior help. It will be interesting to see if the Dolphins’ Jackson contract — agreed to in December — affects the team’s interest in paying Hunt market value.

AFC East Notes: Bills, Patriots, Eichenberg

Buffalo-Kansas City has been one of the 2020s’ defining NFL rivalries. The AFC squads have played five times this decade, twice in the playoffs, with the Chiefs’ two postseason wins playing a role in the Bills‘ roster construction. The AFC powers’ plans intersected during the 2022 first round as well. When the Chiefs moved up from No. 29 to No. 21 in the ’22 first round, they took the player the Bills eyed. The Bills sought Trent McDuffie with their top pick last year, per’s Albert Breer, but the Chiefs were able to make a deal with the Patriots to move in front of Buffalo.

The fallout from this miss became costly for the Bills, whose subsequent trade-up — from No. 25 to No. 23 — produced Kaiir Elam, who has been unable to earn steady playing time. As Elam has vacillated between backup or emergency starter and healthy scratch, McDuffie has progressed in Kansas City. Pro Football Focus rates McDuffie eighth overall among corners; the Washington product has been a central part of the Chiefs’ defensive improvement this season.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • The Patriots opted not to sell at the trade deadline, keeping the door open for longer-term futures with some of their contract-year players. New England held onto Josh Uche, Michael Onwenu and Kyle Dugger despite interest coming in before the deadline. Dugger has become a player teams are monitoring ahead of free agency, with’s Jeremy Fowler noting some teams view the Division II alum as the 2024 UFA class’ second-best safety — behind the Buccaneers’ Antoine Winfield Jr. This year’s safety market producing only one contract north of $8MM per year (Jessie Bates‘ outlier $16MM-AAV accord) could impact Dugger, but it is clear the former second-round pick will be costly for the Pats to retain.
  • Benched in Week 9 and left in the States ahead of the Patriots’ Week 10 Germany trip, J.C. Jackson was initially believed to have arrived late at the team hotel the night before the Pats-Commanders game. But the recently reacquired corner did not show up at all that night,’s Mike Reiss notes. Jack Jones missed curfew as well, but Reiss adds the since-waived corner did surface later. Both players were benched for Week 9, and despite Jackson’s unavailability, the Patriots further limited Jones against the Colts. Jackson is expected to remain with the Pats, but the ballhawk has not escaped the rough patch that began last year in Los Angeles.
  • Trent Brown did not make the trip to Frankfurt for personal reasons, and Reiss adds the veteran tackle’s missed game will affect his recently reworked contract. Including $88K per game in roster bonuses, the Patriots set playing-time thresholds for additional Brown escalators as well. The starting LT would collect $1MM for playing 75% of the team’s offensive snaps this season. Hovering at 75% after Week 9, Brown has now missed two games. The low end of this incentive structure is 65%, which Reiss notes will pay out $750K. He would receive another $750K by hitting the 70% snap barrier.
  • Dolphins contract-year guard Robert Hunt will miss a second straight game due to a hamstring injury. As a result, Liam Eichenberg will complete a rare NFL feat. The 2021 second-round pick began the week practicing at left guard, his primary 2022 position, but the swingman moved to right guard midway through practice this week, the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson notes. The Dolphins view Eichenberg as more comfortable there. Once Eichenberg replaces Hunt on Sunday, he will have started at all five O-line positions as a pro. While the converted tackle could not retain his LG job to start this season, having accomplished this O-line tour of sorts in his third season is certainly noteworthy. Lester Cotton will start at left guard for the Dolphins, who are uncertain to have LG first-stringer Isaiah Wynn back this season.

Extensions For OLB Andrew Van Ginkel, RG Robert Hunt On Dolphins’ Radar

Much of the Dolphins’ success this season has been attributed to a roster featuring a number of high-profile players. Less heralded contributors have played a role as well, though, and a few of them could have new contracts in place down the road.

In a breakdown of potential extension candidates, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald identifies edge rusher Andrew Van Ginkel and right guard Robert Hunt as names to watch. Both players are set to reach free agency in the spring, with the former having inked a one-year deal this past March to remain in Miami and the latter playing out the final season of his rookie contract.

Van Ginkel signed for $2.65MM to stay in South Beach, but he will be in line for a raise on his next deal. The 28-year-old has fit in well in defensive coordinator Vic Fangio‘s scheme, and it has him on track to put up career-best numbers. While logging a defensive snap share of 62% this year, Van Ginkel has posted 35 tackles, 10 quarterback hits and four sacks. His personal best in the latter department is 5.5, so a new mark should be established soon.

Pass rush efficiency has been a contributing factor in Van Ginkel’s impressive 89.8 PFF grade, by far the highest of his career. The former fifth-rounder has been credited with 22 QB pressures, making him an integral part of a Dolphins edge contingent led by Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips. The latter two have term remaining on their contracts, so it will be interesting to see how willing Miami is to make a lucrative investment in Van Ginkel during the offseason.

Hunt, 27, has thrived since being moved from tackle to guard following his rookie season. The former second-rounder played over 1,000 snaps in 2021 and ’22, and he has delivered a strong showing in pass protection along with his usual consistent performances in the run game this year. Hunt has earned a top-10 PFF grade (73.4) amongst guards in 2023, in part due to allowing just one sack and four pressures in eight games so far.

The Louisiana alum is thus a logical candidate for a multi-year deal in the near future. Miami has faced a number of questions and injuries along the offensive line, so securing a full-time starter at any spot for the long term would be a welcomed development. Miami has a number of important financial decisions to make over the coming months, however, and both quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins are in need of new pacts for 2024. Contract talks for that pair will not take place until after the season.

As Jackson notes, nothing is imminent for either Van Ginkel or Hunt. Given their high level of play to date, however, it would come as little surprise if an agreement were to be reached with at least one of them before the start of the 2024 campaign. The Dolphins are currently projected to be over the cap ahead of the new league year in March, so their financial plan will be worth watching closely over the coming months.

Dolphins Activate Terron Armstead From IR

After being designated to return from injured reserve and returning to practice three days ago, Dolphins offensive tackle Terron Armstead has been activated off of IR for Week 9, according to a post from the team’s X account. Armstead should now be able to start against the Chiefs in Frankfurt tomorrow morning.

Following a nine-year stint in New Orleans to begin his career, Armstead earned a five-year, $75MM deal (up to $87.5MM) from the Dolphins in 2022. He missed a chunk of games last year while dealing with a pectoral strain but still earned a Pro Bowl nod, the fourth of his career. He graded as Pro Football Focus’ 15th-best offensive tackle among 81 qualifying players. Armstead has missed the last four games while recovering from a knee injury that required an IR stint.

Armstead’s return couldn’t have come at a better time for Miami. At one point in last week’s win over the Patriots, the Dolphins were down four starters on the offensive line. Right guard Robert Hunt has been declared out for tomorrow’s game after being classified as day-to-day. Center Connor Williams is still coming along slowly and joins Armstead with a questionable tag heading into the matchup of the two AFC division leaders.

In order to make room for Armstead on the roster, the Dolphins waived defensive tackle Brandon Pili. The undrafted rookie out of USC found playing time in the team’s first four games of the year but hasn’t appeared in the four games since.

Dolphins OL Terron Armstead Returns To Practice

The Dolphins should soon be getting a significant boost to their offensive line. Coach Mike McDaniel told reporters that offensive tackle Terron Armstead has returned to practice (via Pro Football Network’s Adam Beasley).

Armstead has missed the last four games while recovering from a knee injury that required an IR stint. He’s eligible to be activated from injured reserve at any time, and the Dolphins will now have 21 days to make the move.

“We’ll see how he responds to the effort and we’ll assess that the next day and do the same the following day,” McDaniel said (via Daniel Oyefusi of the Miami Herald).

Following a nine-year stint in New Orleans to begin his career, Armstead earned a five-year, $75MM deal (up to $87.5MM) from the Dolphins in 2022. He missed a chunk of games last year while dealing with a pectoral strain but still earned a Pro Bowl nod, the fourth of his career. He graded as Pro Football Focus’ 15th-best offensive tackle among 81 qualifying players.

As Oyefusi notes, the Dolphins were down four offensive line starters at one point during last weekend’s game against the Patriots. The Dolphins continue to bring center Connor Williams along slowly, while right guard Robert Hunt is day to day after suffering a hamstring injury vs. New England. While it might not happen this weekend in Germany, Miami should soon have most of their starting OL back in the lineup.

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Jets, Thornton

The 2019 draft produced several long-running partnerships between defensive tackles and the teams that chose them in the first round. Four of the six DTs selected in Round 1 that year signed extensions this offseason. Quinnen Williams, Ed Oliver, Dexter Lawrence and Jeffery Simmons have new deals in hand. Jerry Tillery did not work out for the Chargers, but he was the only first-round DT from the ’19 class not to negotiate an extension this offseason. Christian Wilkins spent months discussing a deal with the Dolphins, but the sides have tabled matters to 2024, when the former No. 13 overall pick will be on the cusp of free agency.

Guarantees represented a sticking point for Wilkins, but Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald offers that the Dolphins appeared to be skittish about authorizing a Williams-level deal for a player without much in the way of sack production. Wilkins’ camp undoubtedly pushed for terms in the Williams-Lawrence-Simmons-Daron Payne neighborhood ($22.5-$24MM per year), as the Clemson alum led all DTs with 98 tackles last season. Wilkins, who produced 89 tackles in 2021, has never topped 4.5 sacks in a season. He has also eclipsed seven QB hits in just one of his four NFL slates (13 in 2021). Wilkins has not requested a trade, per Jackson, and the Dolphins — despite trade interest emerging — are not interested in moving him.

The Dolphins will have the option of franchise-tagging Wilkins next year. The Commanders used the tag as a bridge to a Payne deal, but the D-tackle tag number will likely come in north of $20MM in 2024. The Dolphins are currently projected to be $27MM over the cap next year (29th in the league), though much will obviously change between now and then. Here is the latest from the AFC East:

Dolphins Expect Austin Jackson To Remain Right Tackle Starter

The Dolphins have given Austin Jackson chances at a few spots on their offensive line. Most recently, they plugged the 2020 first-round pick into their lineup at right tackle. But an injury nixed that opportunity and moved Jackson to a career crossroads of sorts.

Although Jackson played in just two games last season, GM Chris Grier said Wednesday the Dolphins still view the USC product as their starting right tackle. The draft can change teams’ situations, but this follows a report from the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson that indicated the fourth-year blocker indeed remains in play to be the Dolphins’ right-edge starter.

[RELATED: Dolphins Not Expected To Pick Up Austin Jackson’s Fifth-Year Option]

Austin Jackson’s Week 1 ankle injury last season essentially wiped out his third NFL campaign; he wound up playing in just two contests and 84 total snaps. The Dolphins ended up needing to use an in-season free agent pickup — ex-Jets and Seahawks starter Brandon Shell — as their primary right tackle. Shell, who started 11 games last season, also missed time due to injury. Subsequent signing Eric Fisher did not stay healthy long enough to play in a game for the team.

Tua Tagovailoa being both the only current left-handed starting QB and coming off a multi-concussion season amplifies the importance of Miami’s right tackle gig. The Dolphins need to bring in competition for Austin Jackson, Barry Jackson adds, but the veteran writer points to a post-draft free agent signing rather than the team using its top pick (No. 51 overall) on this position.

As far as free agents go, multiyear Jets starter George Fant remains available. So does Cameron Fleming, who spent a chunk of last season as the Broncos’ right tackle starter. Shell is also currently unsigned. Seeing how the Bengals’ situation shakes out could be prudent for the Dolphins as well. Jonah Williams has not generated too much trade interest and does not want to play right tackle, but incumbent starter La’el Collins could lose his job if Williams returns and wins a competition to start opposite Orlando Brown Jr. While Collins, 29, is coming off a December ACL tear, the longtime Cowboys starter figures to have some run left once he recovers.

Jackson, 23, keeping the gig would mark his first chance to stay in the same role for two straight years. The Dolphins have used Jackson at guard and left tackle. He worked primarily at guard in 2021, starting 16 games. The team also has flexibility in guards Robert Hunt and Liam Eichenberg. Both have tackle experience, with Hunt starting his career at right tackle. As the Dolphins continue to search for post-Ja’Wuan James right tackle stability, Grier said the team plans to keep Hunt at guard. The former second-round pick is going into a contract year.