Robert Nkemdiche

Dolphins Waive Robert Nkemdiche

The Robert Nkemdiche experiment in Miami is done. The Dolphins are waiving the young defensive tackle, sources told Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Nkemdiche is hitting the waiver wire after appearing in just two games with Miami, in which he played very limited snaps. When he originally signed with the team back in August there was a lot of talk about the former first-rounder jumpstarting his career, but that clearly never materialized. He started the season on the PUP list as he recovered from an ACL tear, and was activated less than two weeks ago. “Tardiness was a bit of an issue” for him in Miami, sources told Garafolo (Twitter link).

That’s certainly not a good sign for Nkemdiche’s future employment prospects, as he has faced questions about his conditioning and motivation in the past. The Cardinals drafted the Ole Miss product 29th overall back in 2016, and it didn’t take him too long to flame out in the desert.

The consensus top overall recruit coming out of high school in 2013, Nkemdiche has never lived up to his potential. Due to his youth and pedigree he’ll likely get scooped up by somebody, but he’s running out of chances. He was also arrested back in June. Through three seasons in Arizona, he only started six games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Activate DE Robert Nkemdiche

Robert Nkemdiche‘s second chance could begin Monday night. The Dolphins activated the former first-round pick from their PUP list.

Nkemdiche suffered an ACL last season and reported to Cardinals camp in less-than-ideal shape. The Cardinals cut him, and the Dolphins took a flier. The interior defender returned to practice earlier this month.

The former No. 1 overall high school recruit will join a Dolphins front that has just seven sacks this season. Nkemdiche recorded 4.5 sacks last season, though it should be noted he did not register any between the 2016-17 slates. The Ole Miss product profiles as a defensive tackle in the Dolphins’ 4-3 scheme.

The Dolphins will now have four first-round picks on their defensive front, with Nkemdiche joining Christian Wilkins and 2017 Round 1 selections Charles Harris and Taco Charlton.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Players Returning From IR/PUP

Now that we’re approaching the midway point of the regular season, players on various injury lists are now able to begin to return to practice and, eventually, return to game action. Here’s the list of players coming back to practice this week while on injured reserve or physically unable to perform list, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets:

Players on the PUP list are only required to miss six weeks of the regular season, so every player listed above with the exception of Sternberger could technically be activated this weekend. Sternberger has officially been designated as one of Green Bay’s IR/return players, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Because he was originally placed on IR, Sternberger — a third-round rookie — will be absent for at least two more weeks.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Bell, Dolphins

Add the Patriots to the list of teams who were high on promising Redskins wideout Terry McLaurin. In addition to the Raiders, the Patriots were intrigued by the Ohio State alum, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes. The Pats considered McLaurin with the No. 73 pick but instead dealt the selection to the Bears in exchange for a 2020 fourth-round choice and drafted Damien Harris at No. 87. Washington nabbed McLaurin at No. 76, and he’s become the team’s top wideout. Part of the reason the Patriots sought the ex-Buckeye was his potential for special teams work, responsibilities he might not become too familiar with due to his high-value role in Washington.

Here’s the Week 6 latest out of the AFC East, moving from one might-have-been Patriot to one of the longest-tenured players in franchise history:

  • Stephen Gostkowski is under contract through the 2020 season, but with his salary rising from $1.1MM to $3.5MM, Reiss adds that the Patriots will examine that figure and determine if it’s worth it to bring the veteran back. The team also stands to look at other options in the draft. The Pats have not drafted a kicker since taking Gostkowski in the 2006 fourth round. New England made a change at punter this year, moving from longtime incumbent Ryan Allen to fifth-round rookie Jake Bailey. Gostkowski will be recovering from hip surgery but would surely generate interest elsewhere if the Patriots jettison him.
  • Le’Veon Bell‘s 2018 absence stemmed largely from fear the Steelers would continue to overwork him and thus diminish his value on the 2019 market. Bell is on pace for 299 carries, which would be his second-highest single-season total. However, now that he’s secured $28MM in guarantees, the Jets starter is not worried about workload issues, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. Bell is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry on a shaky Jets offense.
  • Do not look for the 0-4 Dolphins to cut Josh Rosen‘s audition short. Brian Flores said (via the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, on Twitter) his quarterback situation is “settled” for the rest of 2019, with Rosen set to keep the job that once belonged to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Rosen played well in the first half against the Chargers, and even though the Dolphins have been outscored 81-0 in four second halves this season, the 2018 No. 10 overall pick does not have to worry about looking over his shoulder.
  • It does not sound like one of Rosen’s former Cardinals teammates, Robert Nkemdiche, is ready to return from the Dolphins’ PUP list. But Miami DC Patrick Graham expects the defensive tackle to be back on the field by early November, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Nkemdiche’s 2018 season ended because of an ACL tear.
  • Look for running back Mark Walton and tackle Isaiah Prince to see more time for the rebuilding Dolphins soon, with Jackson noting Miami’s staff wants to integrate Walton into its Kenyan DrakeKalen Ballage rotation and was impressed by some of Prince’s Week 4 start against the Chargers. While Jesse Davis is back at practice this week after missing the Bolts game, pointing to his return at left tackle, the Dolphins figure to get Prince — a sixth-round rookie — plenty of reps this season on the right side as they continue in evaluation mode.

Dolphins Sign DT Robert Nkemdiche

The Dolphins announced that they’ve signed free agent defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche to a one-year deal and placed him on the active/physically unable to perform list. The pact is worth $1.19MM, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Nkemdiche, who was selected 29th overall by the Cardinals in 2016, was cut by Arizona in late July. He was quickly linked to the Dolphins, who were reportedly making “preliminary due diligence inquiry calls” on the former first-round pick. Miami left tackle Laremy Tunsil, a teammate of Nkemdiche at Ole Miss, was a “big advocate” for signing the interior defender, tweets Mike Garafolo of NFL.com.

In the midst of a rebuilding phase, the Dolphins can afford to take a chance on Nkemdiche, a player that clearly boasts talent but comes with question marks. Effort issues dogged Nkemdiche during his time in Arizona, and he reportedly showed up to training camp out of shape. Additionally, he’s facing a possible suspension due to a June arrest.

Still recovering from a December torn ACL, Nkemdiche won’t be able to practice with the Dolphins until he’s removed from the active/PUP list. It’s possible that he’ll be placed on the reserve/PUP list once the regular season begins, which would force him to miss the first six weeks of the year. When he is healthy, Nkemdiche will compete with first-round pick Christian Wilkins, Davon Godchaux, Akeem Spence, Vincent Taylor, and others for playing time on Miami’s defensive line.

Nkemdiche, who won’t turn 25 years old until September, appeared in only 27 out of a possible 48 games during his three-year run with the Cardinals, with injuries reducing his chances at playing time. Last season, he played in 10 games (six starts) before tearing his ACL, posting 4.5 sacks on 426 snaps. Among the 130 defensive tackles with at least 20% playtime in 2018, Nkemdiche ranked a lowly 114th in Pro Football Focus’ grades.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Interested In Robert Nkemdiche

The Dolphins are among teams that have made “preliminary due diligence inquiry calls” on Robert Nkemdiche, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (on Twitter) hears. Nkemdiche, a former first round pick of the Cardinals, was released this week and cleared waivers, making him a free agent. 

Nkemdiche is an interesting case. He has loads of potential, but is still recovering from a torn ACL in December. The good news is that he is expected to be ready for action in September and likely wouldn’t cost much for the Dolphins or any other interested club. In the case of the Dolphins, a multi-year deal (or, a deal with a team option for the 2020 season) would make lots of sense, given their ongoing rebuilding efforts.

The 24-year-old defensive lineman (25 in September), had no sacks until last season when he registered 4.5 QB takedowns. Injuries have been a constant for him – the Mississippi product has only appeared in 27 games over three years for Arizona.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: QBs, Cap, Sanders, Nkemdiche

The latest installment of Mike Sando’s annual quarterback tiers emerged recently, via The Athletic (subscription required). While Russell Wilson ascended into Tier 1 for the first time, evaluators are much less bullish on two of his top dual-threat brethren. Both Cam Newton and Dak Prescott come in on Tier 3, with the shoulder injuries the Panthers passer has suffered in recent years dropping him off his previous Tier 2 placement. The anonymous voter panel, comprised of executives and coaches, placed Newton as the league’s No. 15 quarterback and the Cowboys‘ fourth-year pilot at No. 17. In a separate piece, Sando notes no Tier 3 quarterback who has been paid as a top-10 passer, which seems likely for Prescott by Week 1, has taken his team to the playoffs that season. Newton has two years remaining on his Panthers-friendly deal. Tier 2 quarterbacks, per past Sando surveys, were 8-for-29 in guiding teams to the playoffs with top-10 APY figures since 2014.

Here is the latest from around the league:

  • One of the topics brought up in this year’s CBA talks: the spending floor. Currently, teams are required to spend 89% of their cap over a four-year period. The NFLPA has proposed forcing teams to spend more, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com notes. One of the proposals floated would increase that 89% threshold to 95%; another would involve reducing the number of years factored into these spending equations from four to two. There is no policy in place mandating teams spend a certain amount each year, only through four-year windows.
  • One issue that will likely change in the new CBA, per Graziano: the league’s marijuana policy. The NFL has already softened its stance on marijuana, through a 2014 change, and has now formed a committee to study alternative pain-management techniques. This points to more leniency on the weed front.
  • No team was willing to take on Robert Nkemdiche‘s first-round contract the Cardinals just shed. The 2016 first-round pick cleared waivers Monday and is now in free agency. The former No. 1 overall recruit reported to Cardinals camp in less-than-ideal shape and is coming off a season marred by a torn ACL. It may be a long road back for the 24-year-old defensive lineman, who did register 4.5 sacks (the first QB drops of his career) last season.
  • Emmanuel Sanders returned to 11-on-11 work at Broncos camp Monday, per Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (on Twitter). This marked the first such participation for the 32-year-old wide receiver since before his Achilles tear last December. The Broncos did not stick Sanders on their active/PUP list to start training camp, and with more than five weeks remaining before Week 1, it appears a good bet the 10th-year wideout, barring a setback, will be ready to start the season on time.

Cardinals Release Robert Nkemdiche

Robert Nkemdiche‘s time with Arizona is officially over. The Cardinals announced they were releasing the former first-round defensive lineman on Saturday night. 

The move is hardly surprising, as the writing has been on the wall for a while now. The Cardinals drafted Nkemdiche 29th overall back in 2016, and he never panned out. Nkemdiche was the top recruit in the nation coming out of high school a handful of years ago, and he didn’t quite live up to the hype at Ole Miss either. Nkemdiche was due a roster bonus this week, so the timing makes sense.

The defensive lineman is coming off an ACL tear, and we heard just yesterday that he showed up to camp out of shape, which was likely the final straw. Nkemdiche’s health will determine how much cap space the Cards will save with this move, as we’ve heard that he could be able to recoup more of his money if he qualifies for the CBA’s injury protection. Making matters even worse for Nkemdiche, he’s facing a possible suspension stemming from a June arrest.

Still, because of his draft pedigree, Nkemdiche will likely resurface somewhere relatively quickly. He’ll be labeled as a bust for now though unless he’s able to reinvent himself elsewhere, as he only appeared in 27 games over three years for Arizona. He made just six starts during his time in the desert, all of which came last year. He finished 2018 with 32 tackles and 4.5 sacks, the first sacks of his NFL career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Thomas, Saints, Elliott, Cowboys, Nkemdiche, Cardinals, Daniels

We heard earlier today that the Saints were close to getting a deal done with receiver Michael Thomas, but it apparently hasn’t been the smoothest process. Saints GM Mickey Loomis has been frustrated with the negotiations, sources told Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). “The Saints have offered to make Thomas the highest paid wideout in the NFL, with a contract that solidly exceeds Odell Beckham Jr. Loomis feels it’s a great offer w/ great structure,” Robinson writes. Loomis seems to feel like an agreement should’ve been reached by now, but Thomas’ camp is clearly still holding out for something more. Meanwhile, Thomas will continue to stay away from training camp as he awaits his new contract.

Saints coach Sean Payton addressed the media after practice today, and said he isn’t worried about the fact Thomas isn’t at camp (Twitter video link). Payton seemed confident that he’ll be back before too long, saying he’s “optimistic it’ll get done soon.” The most recent reporting suggests the Ohio State product will be getting $19-20MM annually. Thomas has established himself as one of the league’s best receivers the past couple of years, and New Orleans’ offense relies on him heavily. Thomas has the most receptions ever for a player through his first three years, and it sounds like it’s only a matter of time before the Saints break the bank for him.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Speaking of players looking to get paid, Ezekiel Elliott is remaining away from the Cowboys as he seeks a new deal. Head coach Jason Garrett had said he expected Elliott to show up on time, but then he didn’t. The good news is the two sides are apparently still talking. The Cowboys “held contract discussions with Elliott’s agent” on Thursday night, a source told Calvin Watkins of The Dallas Morning News. Unfortunately the conversation didn’t lead anywhere, as Watkins reports that “talks remain stale.” Elliott is reportedly looking to eclipse the deal Todd Gurley got from the Rams, and it’s unclear if the Cowboys are going to meet that asking price. Dallas has a lot on their plate with extensions due for several players, and it’ll be interesting to watch how this unfolds.
  • Former first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche doesn’t appear to be making a good impression with the Cardinals’ new coaching staff. The 29th overall pick in the 2016 draft is coming off an ACL tear, and head coach Kliff Kingsbury said the Ole Miss product showed up to camp out of shape, per Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link). Somers adds that Nkemdiche “apparently neglected his overall physical condition while rehabbing from ACL.” Nkemdiche is already on thin ice, and this certainly isn’t going to help his case. We’ve heard that he’s likely to be cut, and he’s also facing a likely suspension for a June arrest. He’s only started six games in his three years in the league, and is looking like a bust.
  • Mike Daniels signed with the Lions after visiting Detroit and Cleveland, and those were far from the only two teams interested. 13 teams called about the former Packer, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Daniels got a $9.1MM deal from the Lions, and Rapsheet reports that four other teams “were willing to do that deal or better,” but that Daniels wanted to play for Matt Patricia as well as the opportunity to play against Green Bay twice a year. Daniels is still only 30, and could prove to be a nice addition for Detroit’s defense.

NFC Notes: Elliott, Cards, Redskins, Giants

Adding some additional spice to the Ezekiel ElliottCowboys situation, the running back may be making plans to be unavailable when his team convenes for training camp. While it is still uncertain if Elliott will indeed hold out, a source informed Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk the two-time rushing champion plans to leave the country in the coming days. Extension-eligible since January, Elliott is considering staying away from Cowboys camp due to his contract. The coming days were expected to be key for the Cowboys and Elliott, but the running back’s travel plans may affect these proceedings.

The Cowboys have prioritized extensions for Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, both entering contract years, and have been rumored to be considering a future without an Elliott extension. The 24-year-old star has until August 6 to report to camp in order to accrue a fourth year toward free agency, so any holdout past that date would be quite bold. But withholding services from a team whose offense revolves around him could be a game plan for Elliott, regardless of the free agency-related date.

Here is the latest out of the NFC:

  • The Cardinals will begin camp without some notable veterans. Robert Nkemdiche, Charles Clay, Brooks Reed, Max Garcia and Brandon Williams on their active/PUP list, the team announced. Clay and Nkemdiche have been battling knee injuries, the latter’s stemming from a December torn ACL. A four-year Broncos guard, Garcia tore his ACL last season as well. Hip and back problems currently limit Reed and Williams, respectively. All players placed on the active/PUP list can return at any point in camp.
  • The Redskins tabbed Reuben Foster to be a three-down linebacker for them, but following his ACL tear, the team does not have a surefire full-time linebacker. While J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington notes Mason Foster will reprise his role as a starter, it is not certain if he will play consistently in nickel sets. Pro Football Focus did not grade Foster as a solid coverage ‘backer last season. However, the Redskins may have a nickel answer in third-year man Josh Harvey-Clemons. The team plans to use the former Louisville safety as a passing-downs linebacker, Finlay adds. A former seventh-round pick, Harvey-Clemons played just 196 snaps last season.
  • Despite the minicamp Darius Slayton buzz, Corey Coleman may still have the inside track on the Giants‘ No. 3 wide receiver job. Coleman’s first-round pedigree and his progress as a Giant gives him the edge over the likes of Slayton, Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes. During games, Coleman has not shown much since early in his rookie year. He caught five passes for 71 yards with the 2018 Giants.