Walt Aikens

Dolphins Re-Sign Walt Aikens

Walt Aikens is re-signing with the Dolphins on a two-year deal, a league source tells Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (on Twitter). The defensive back is now under contract with Miami through the 2019 season.

Aikens played in all 16 games last season in a backup role and tallied a forced fumble and two tackles without an interception. Aikens was the only member of the Dolphins’ cornerbacks group that was set to become an unrestricted free agent. The 26-year-old still has the likes of Cordrea Tankersley, Reshad Jones, Bobby McCain and Trae Elston in front of him on the depth chart and under contract for next season.

The Dolphins took Aikens in the fourth round of the 2014 draft out of Liberty and he’s missed just two games over his four-year career while making five starts — all coming in 2016. Miami still has a need to address at safety as Nate Allen is due to become a free agent this offseason.

While the Dolphins’ secondary looks like it will remain intact for the most part, the same can’t be said for the team’s front seven. That starts with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who was released Monday, and linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who’s expected to be cut before the new league year begins Wednesday. Middle linebacker Koa Misi is also set to become an unrestricted free agent.

AFC East Notes: Bills, Dolphins, Patriots

With free agent signee T.J. Yates the favorite to act as the Bills‘ backup quarterback behind Tyrod Taylor, and fifth-round pick Nathan Peterman now in tow, Cardale Jones — a fourth-round selection just a year ago — is not a lock to make the Buffalo roster, as Mike Rodak of ESPN.com writes. The Bills are unlikely to keep four signal-callers in 2017, meaning Jones could be the odd man out. “You kind of sit around all day, try to go in there. You wait on your opportunity all day,” Jones said. “Your number is called, and you kind of didn’t take advantage of it.” Jones, 24, appeared in only one game in 2016 (the season finale), during which he completed six of 11 attempts for 96 yards and one interception. For what it’s worth, Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott said Thursday that Jones is “absolutely in the mix” for a roster spot, tweets Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Searching for versatility in their defensive backfield, the Dolphins haven’t yet decided whether Walt Aikens will play cornerback or safety, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald details. “[Aikens] is a big athlete,” said defensive coordinator Matt Burke. “He’s obviously a huge asset to us on (special) teams. We like having a versatile player in that role on the roster, so Walt has done a good job. Again, we’re trying to put him maybe in a spot that he’s not as comfortable and see how he responds, and he’s done a good job working for us so far.” No matter where the 25-year-old Aikens lands position-wise, he’s likely to act as a reserve, as he saw only 15 defensive snaps in 2016. But as Burke suggested, Aikens is a key special teams player, as he played on nearly 80% of the Dolphins’ ST snaps last year.
  • The Patriots auditioned a number of special teams players last week, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, who reports punters Spencer Lanning and Drew Butler, kicker Adam Griffith, and long snapper Cole Mazza recently worked out for New England. Lanning hasn’t seen an NFL field since 2015, but does offer experience, as he was the Browns’ regular punter from 2013-14. He worked out for the Saints last summer. Butler, meanwhile, appeared in 54 games over four seasons with the Cardinals, but was waived on two separate occasions last year.
  • Former Dolphins executive Dawn Aponte has been hired as the NFL’s chief administrator of football operations, reports Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal (Twitter link). Aponte, who had also spent time with the Browns and Jets, left Miami’s front office in September to work for Dolphins owner Stephen Ross‘ Drone Racing League. Per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk, Aponte will now report to vice president of football operations Troy Vincent in the league office.

Extra Points: Rice, Russell, Daniels, Manziel

  • Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report (on Twitter) hears that a multi-game suspension for Ravens running back Ray Rice is likely, and one source says that the punishment will be “extremely significant.”
  • Broncos director of player personnel Matt Russell was sentenced to seven months in jail after pleading guilty to DUI, among other charges (Denver Post story here). Russell, who was arrested last July, served a suspension and returned to his job in September.
  • Pro Football Focus tabbed defensive lineman Mike Daniels as the Packers’ “Secret Superstar.”
  • In an “Offseason Notebook” piece, Adam Hoge of 670 AM/CBSChicago.com referenced an interview Bears GM Phil Emery did on the station in which he said former Canadian League star Chris Williams was the frontrunner for the team’s open kick returner job. Williams was signed late last season off the Saints practice squad, and Bears special teams coach Joe DeCamillis said he heard from members of the New Orleans staff who were disappointed to lose Williams, whom Emery believes has talent commensurate with mid-round draft picks.
  • An anonymous executive envisions Browns rookie QB Johnny Manziel developing into a Jeff Garcia type whose mobility fits well in a West Coast, zone-blocking system, shares Dan Hanzus on NFL.com.
  • Lions 2013 seventh-rounder Michael Williams is converting from tight end to offensive tackle, writes Dave Birkett in the Detroit Free Press. Williams (6-6, 270) was drafted as a blocking tight end and missed last season because of a broken hand.
  • The agent for Dolphins fourth-round cornerback Walt Aikens, Daniel Frid, tweeted out a picture of the Liberty product signing his contract. Aikens had interest from a number of clubs prior to the draft. He met with the Colts, Packers, Bengals, Chiefs, and Buccaneers and worked out for Cowboys and Jaguars.
  • The Dolphins brought in 36 tryout players for their rookie minicamp, tweets Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Aikens, Lawrence

University of Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is visiting Jets tomorrow, reports Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). The team is in desperate need of a playmaker at the position, as Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow struggled to provide a consistent option at tight end in 2013.

  • Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo visited the Jets today, reports Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter). The team could be interested in the signal-caller, should he be available in the second round.
  • Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will be visiting the Jets tomorrow, reports Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter). Clinton-Dix has visited the Pats and Eagles earlier this offseason.
  • The Dolphins are interested in Liberty cornerback Walt Aikens, writes Kevin Lerner of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The Dolphins need to add to their secondary, and were impressed by Aikens during Senior Bowl practices.
  • The Patriots had a pre-draft visit lined up for Demarcus Lawrence, but decided to cancel it, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. The defensive end/outside linebacker could go off the board within the top 50 picks.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Draft Visits: Matthews, Colts, Aikens, Bills

The Texans continue to do their due diligence on every player near the top of the draft board, as they’re set to host Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews for a visit this week, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk suggests that the Texans’ myriad pre-draft visits with top prospects could be designed to keep teams guessing about which player Houston actually wants, laying the groundwork to potentially trade down from No. 1. Meanwhile, Rapoport adds (via Twitter) that Matthews will visit the Falcons before heading to Houston later in the week for his Texans visit.

Here are a few more miscellaneous draft notes, as we inch a little closer to May 8:

  • After meeting with the Dolphins on Monday, Clemson wideout Martavis Bryant is visiting the Colts today, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. Wilson also adds the Panthers and Steelers to the list of clubs that have hosted Bryant for visits so far.
  • In a separate NFP report, Wilson provides an update on Liberty cornerback Walt Aikens, who is visiting the Colts, Packers, and Bengals this week. According to Wilson, in addition to previously reported visits and workouts, Aikens has also visited the Dolphins, Chiefs, and Buccaneers, and worked out for Cowboys and Jaguars.
  • According to Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago (via Twitter), the Bears traveled to Los Angeles late last month to conduct a private workout with UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr.
  • The Bills hosted Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans, USC offensive lineman Marcus Martin and Georgia Southern running back Jerick McKinnon today, says Mike Rodak of ESPN.com (Twitter links).
  • Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton has visited with a long list of teams, including the Patriots, Cardinals, Rams, and Lions, tweets ESPN.com’s Adam Caplan.
  • Auburn cornerback Chris Davis worked out for the Falcons, Colts, and Patriots, among other clubs, according to Caplan (via Twitter).

AFC South Notes: Manziel, Jaguars, Robinson

In an interview with Chris Russo on SiriusXM earlier today, Jaguars coach Gus Bradley was complimentary of several top draft prospects, including the controversial Johnny Manziel, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union writes. “You know me — I love spirit. We drafted guys last year like Ace Sanders and Denard Robinson and Jonathan Cyprien, guys who have a lot of energy and spirit,” Bradley said. “And when I went to see Johnny work out and watched his tape, he plays with that same sense of spirit and he showed it off at his Pro Day. To talk to him and visit with him one-on-one, he’s very passionate about the game, very competitive and very unique.

  • The Texans, who continue to consider all possible options for the No. 1 pick, will host Auburn tackle Greg Robinson for a pre-draft visit next week, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (via Twitter). We mentioned Robinson as an outside possibility for Houston when we asked this morning what the team should do with the first overall pick.
  • Washington State safety Deone Bucannon visited the Colts for the past two days and began a two-day visit with the Patriots today, a league source tells Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. After that, it’s the Eagles, Jets, and Giants for the hard-hitting All-American.
  • Liberty cornerback Walt Aikens is set to visit the Jaguars, tweets O’Halloran. Aikens visited with the Bills late last week.
  • The Texans are referring to the newly-signed Ricardo Mathews as a nose tackle and not a defensive end, notes James Palmer of CSNHouston.com (via Twitter).

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

East Notes: Revis, Roberts, Bills, Giants, Jets

Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap wonders what the Patriots‘ offseason might have looked like if Darrelle Revis hadn’t become available. Of course, the Pats have never been the type of team to commit major money and years to a cornerback. However, with Revis willing to sign was it essentially a one-year deal with a franchise tender, New England was able to add a top flight talent on a low-risk move. All things considered, the Pats didn’t have a ton of room to work with this winter and came away with two major upgrades for their secondary in Revis and Brandon Browner and Fitzgerald gives them the appropriate credit. Here’s more from the AFC and NFC East..

  • Andre Roberts thought he was going to step into the No. 2 receiver role for the Redskins when he signed with them this offseason, but the arrival of DeSean Jackson has put that into serious doubt, writes ESPN.com’s John Keim. The 26-year-old was frustrated by his role after four seasons with the Cardinals but he might be facing more of the same in D.C. with Jackson and Pierre Garcon in the fold.
  • The Bills hosted Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde, Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and Liberty cornerback Walt Aikens today, writes Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com.
  • In addition to the Buccaneers, former Boston College and Florida lineman Matt Patchan told Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter) that he has already worked out for the Patriots. Patchan’s next trip is to the 49ers on Monday.
  • Albany State offensive tackle Kadeem Williams met with Giants coach Tom Coughlin after his workout today, tweets Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. His next workout will be with the Meadlowlands’ other tenants, the Jets. Williams worked out for the Buccaneers and Chargers in late March.
  • Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News doesn’t expect nose tackle Josh Brent to be back with the Cowboys in 2014, but he says that the possiblity is not completely closed. If the Cowboys don’t get what they want in the draft and still find themselves thin at the defensive line, it could still be in the cards. Brent, of course, hasn’t been on the field since 2012 following the tragic car accident that claimed Jerry Brown.

Draft Notes: Savage, Lions, Bills, Falcons

With the 2014 NFL draft now just five weeks away, you can expect at least one round of draft updates per day from us, and often it’ll be more. Here’s Thursday’s afternoon updates on a few prospects and the NFL teams that are eyeing them:

  • The stock of Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage is on the rise, according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com, who says Savage has had workouts with nine NFL teams so far and has another seven scheduled for this month (Twitter links).
  • Martavis Bryant certainly isn’t the biggest name among the Clemson receivers in this year’s draft class, but he seems to be drawing some interest from the Lions, who hosted him for a pre-draft visit today, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).
  • The Bills announced two more pre-draft visits today, revealing that Clemson defensive back Bashaud Breeland and Duke cornerback Ross Cockrell were in town on Thursday.
  • Speaking of Breeland, Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net (Twitter link) hears that the Falcons are high on the Clemson DB. Pauline adds that the team is at Liberty University today, working out cornerbacks Walt Aikens and Kevin Fogg.
  • Kansas State safety Ty Zimmerman recently met with Falcons defensive backs coach Joe Danna, tweets Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com.
  • Middle Tennessee State defensive tackle Jimmy Staten will visit the Chargers next week, reports Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post.
  • The cousin of Cardinals running back Andre Ellington, South Carolina wide receiver Bruce Ellington, has a pre-draft visit scheduled with the Cards, tweets Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic.