The Dolphins have released defensive tackle Vincent Taylor, per a team announcement. To take his place, the club signed fellow DT John Jenkins. Meanwhile, the Dolphins also inked long snapper Taybor Pepper, which seals the end of John Denney‘s storied run with the team.
Taylor only played in eight games last year as a reserve before a foot injury knocked him out for the second half of the season. But, when he was on the field, he was one of the Dolphins’ most effective interior defensive linemen. Taylor, who tallied 27 tackles and two sacks, will now look for work elsewhere.
The Dolphins cut Denney on Monday afternoon, but there was some speculation that he could be brought back after some roster juggling. That, apparently, won’t be the case. The 40-year-old is out in Miami and a player 15 years his junior is taking his place.
The 24-year-old was carted off the field with a foot injury during Thursday’s loss to the Texans, and the ailment will presumably keep him off the field for the rest of the season. The Dolphins have already designated offensive lineman Jake Brendel and linebacker Mike Hull to return from the IR, so Taylor’s only hope of playing again this season is an injury settlement (and a contract from another team).
The 2017 sixth-round pick had emerged as one of Miami’s most reliable defensive linemen this season, compiling 27 tackles and a pair of sacks in eight games off the bench. Pro Football Focus was particularly fond of his performance this season, ranking him 24th among 109 interior defenders.
The Dolphins have already added some reinforcement at the position, as they signed Ziggy Hood earlier today. The former Redskins starter should have a chance to contribute right away for Miami, as he’ll join starters Davon Godchaux and Akeem Spence as the only healthy defensive tackles on the active roster.
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The Alliance of American Football is set to debut this winter. While the league is expected to provide an alternative for NFL fans, founder Charlie Ebersol said they aren’t intending to put their counterpart out of business.
“It’s a positive relationship,” Ebersol told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. “One of the reasons that we made the contract the way we do for the players where they have an out to go to back to the NFL is because we recognize the fact just like the MLS recognizes the fact that the Premier League is ultimately gonna pay players more and put them on a bigger stage than the MLS will. They support that. We support the same concepts. I think that it’s a foolish to try to pick a fight with a $150 billion business when you’re starting up and when you’re also not competing. I mean none of my content touches any of their content. Ultimately, it’s a complementary, positive relationship.”
Ebersol touched on several additional points during the interview, including the ability for players to switch to the NFL should they receive an offer.
Let’s take a look at some other notes from around the NFL…
- Dolphins second-round tight end Mike Gesicki has yet to impress during the media portions of practices. While the Penn State product clearly has some work to do, it sounds like Miami’s coaching staff is optimistic about the prospect’s future in the NFL. “Mike is a little bit unique,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains told Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald. “[Durham Smythe] is a ‘Y’ and Mike G is more of a … We’ve got to find out exactly what he can and can’t do and what he can and can’t handle early. As the season goes and the offseason goes and training camp, his package will expand and his routes will expand as we found out what he can and can’t do.” To start the season, Gesicki is expected to backup A.J. Derby.
- Beasley writes that filling Ndamukong Suh‘s role is easier said than done. However, several Dolphins players could be ready for the challenge, and the writer specifically points to 2017 third-rounder Vincent Taylor. “It’s hard losing a guy like Suh just knowing what he’s capable of doing; but at the end of the day, it’s a business decision,” Taylor said. “I know all of the things when I was coming in, what he taught me, so I learned some of the things that he taught me.”
- The Broncos declined to pick up Shane Ray‘s fifth-year option. As a result, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post believes the injured linebacker should take as long as he needs to recover from wrist surgery. The writer explains that returning early and re-aggravating the injury could hurt Ray’s market value. However, if the linebacker is productive and healthy in a lesser playing sample, he still might be able to secure a lucrative contract. The 2015 first-rounder had a disappointing season in 2017, compiling only 16 tackles and one sack in eight games (seven starts).
- O’Halloran also observes that Broncos tight end Jake Butt has been an offensive standout during practices. “It’s our responsibility as tight ends and slot (receivers) to win one-on-one match-ups on the inside,” he said. “We’ve got to make plays when our number is called to take a little bit of pressure off those guys (Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders) on the outside.” Butt could end up with the starting gig in Denver, but he’ll have to compete with a grouping that includes Jeff Heuerman and Troy Fumagalli.
Will Tyrod Taylor be the Bills‘ starting quarterback in 2018? That’s not happening unless he guides Buffalo to the playoffs, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com argues, and that appears to be a longshot. The Bills are already armed with two first-round picks in 2018 and that could give them the needed ammunition to get a top talent in the 2018 draft class like Sam Darnold or Josh Allen.
Taylor agreed to a restructured deal with the Bills this offseason, giving him a two-year, $30.5MM pact. However, the structure of the new deal guarantees him little beyond 2017. Only $1MM of his $10MM salary in 2018 is guaranteed and he’ll be due a $6MM roster bonus early on in the 2018 league year. If the Bills want to go in a new direction after this season, they can cut ties with him without much financial penalty.
Here’s more from the AFC East:
- Aside from Stephon Gilmore, Mike Gillislee could have the highest impact of any Patriots free agent this year, ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss opines. However, he’s not sure as to whether the former Bills running back will be a clear upgrade over LeGarrette Blount. He’ll have support from Rex Burkhead (a fellow free agent addition), James White, Dion Lewis, and maybe D.J. Foster, but Gillislee will be the running back charged with replacing Blount’s production.
- The Dolphins are considering sixth round pick Vincent Taylor as an option for the No. 3 defensive tackle role, but there are doubts about whether he is ready for such responsibilities. “I think [fifth-round pick Davon] Godchaux will be a solid rotational guy. But I thought Taylor stunk,” one AFC executive tells Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. “I gave him a free agent grade. Stiff as hell. Just wasn’t that good a player.” Jackson continues to indicate that the No. 3 DT spot is a problem area for Miami, though they have yet to make a play for any of the available veterans at the position. If they can’t find a clear winner among journeyman Nick Williams, Lawrence Okoye, Godchaux, or Taylor, they might rethink that stance.
- Beyond receiver, the Dolphins‘ best bottom of the roster competition is at defensive back, Jackson writes. Walt Aikens, who can play both safety and corner, is the frontrunner for a spot. After him, there’s Jordan Lucas, undrafted rookie Maurice Smith, Lafayette Pitts, and A.J. Hendy competing for either one job or two jobs. It will be two jobs up for grabs if the Dolphins opt for ten defensive backs in total during T.J. McDonald’s eight-game suspension.
The Dolphins have locked up the majority of their seven-player draft class, announcing deals with second-round linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Ohio State), third-round cornerback Cordrea Tankersley (Clemson), fifth-round offensive lineman Isaac Asiata (Utah), sixth-round defensive tackle Vincent Taylor (Oklahoma State) and seventh-round wide receiver Isaiah Ford (Virginia Tech).
The most significant signing of the group is clearly McMillan, who was a three-year standout at Ohio State. As the 54th overall pick, McMillan is in line for a four-year contract worth $4,697,532, including a $1,556,388 signing bonus, per Over the Cap. After starring as an inside linebacker as a member of the Buckeyes, with whom he eclipsed the 100-tackle mark in each of the two previous seasons, it’s unclear where McMillan will line up as an NFL rookie. The Dolphins already have a veteran middle man in free agent pickup Lawrence Timmons, so McMillan could join Kiko Alonso on the outside of a remade linebacker corps in 2017.
McMillan represents one of five defensive draft picks by Miami, whose ‘D’ finished last season a below-average 19th in DVOA. The team’s most notable rookie is Missouri defensive end Charles Harris, the 22nd overall selection. He and fifth-round defensive tackle Davon Godchaux are the only Dolphins draftees without contracts.
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