Will Fuller

AFC East Notes: Watson, White, Pats

The much-discussed Deshaun Watson trade between the Dolphins and Texans never came to fruition, in part because Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wanted Watson to settle the 22 civil suits that have been brought against him. As Jeff Howe of The Athletic writes, Ross also wanted to speak with Watson directly and requested permission to do so, but because there was no chance that Watson’s legal situation would be resolved by the November 2 trade deadline, there was no point in having a conversation just yet.

However, if Houston and Miami reopen talks this offseason, it seems that a sit-down between Ross and Watson will be necessary before a deal can be struck.

Now for more from the AFC East, starting with another item out of South Beach:

  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wonders if the Dolphins will consider parting ways with WR DeVante Parker this offseason. Though Parker has been effective when he has been on the field in 2021, he is now on IR and has played in just five games this year. Plus, the ‘Fins could save $6.2MM by making him a post-June 1 cut, though that would leave the club with even more work to do to address the receiving corps, as Will Fuller and Albert Wilson are not expected to be back. Jackson does believe Mack Hollins will be retained.
  • Jets QB Mike White, who led the club to a surprising win over the Bengals in Week 8 and who was playing well in New York’s Week 9 loss to the Colts before he was forced out with an early injury, is hugely popular in the Gang Green locker room, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. White’s journey and attitude have earned the respect of his teammates and have energized the building, and as Cimini writes in a separate piece, the 2018 fifth-rounder may have already made himself a nice chunk of change. He is playing the 2021 season on a one-year, $850K contract, but he will become a restricted free agent at season’s end. He should at least be in line for an original-round tender of $2.4MM, and he could force the Jets to tender him at the second-round level, which would net him $3.9MM.
  • It certainly didn’t create many headlines, but the Patriots plucked LB Calvin Munson off the Dolphins‘ practice squad several weeks ago. The 26-year-old has only seen action on special teams with his new club, but New England clearly thinks highly of him. Per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, the Pats gave Munson a contract that runs though 2022 and that included a bit of a pay bump. A number of the Patriots’ off-ball linebackers are slated for free agency at the end of the year, so Munson could have a shot at more significant playing time next season.
  • Patriots DL Byron Cowart opened the season on the reserve/PUP list. Though he returned to practice in October, the 21-day window for activating him off the PUP list has expired, as veteran NFL writer Aaron Wilson tweets. As such, Cowart, who started 14 games last year, will be forced to miss the entire 2021 campaign.

Dolphins To Place Will Fuller On IR

The Dolphins are placing Will Fuller on the injured reserve list with a broken finger (Twitter link via Cameron Wolfe of NFL.com). It’s a short-term malady, but it’s undoubtedly frustrating for the oft-injured wide receiver. 

Fuller broke his finger during Sunday’s loss to the Colts. Even before this, he already missed 29 regular season games, including two in 2021. He was suspended for Week 1 due to PEDs and was out for a non-injury-related reason in Week 2.

The Dolphins had (and still have) high hopes for Fuller, who enjoyed his best season to date in 2020. After he notched 879 receiving yards and career-high eight scores, the ‘Fins signed the 27-year-old to a one-year, $10.6MM deal. In his two games so far, he’s got four catches for 26 yards.

The Dolphins offense is hurting at the moment with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa also on injured reserve. With Fuller out of the lineup, backup QB Jacoby Brissett will be targeting the likes of sixth-overall pick Jaylen Waddle, DeVante Parker, and 2020 opt-out Albert Wilson.

Sunday’s loss dropped the Dolphins to 1-3 on the year. They’ll look to rebound on Sunday against the defending champs in Tampa.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins WR Will Fuller Out With Broken Finger

Will Fuller has had a tough time avoiding injuries during his career, and the wideout is dealing with a new ailment. Fuller broke a finger during yesterday’s loss to the Colts “and is expected to be week-to-week,” reports NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter).

Fuller has missed a long list of games throughout his career (29 regular season contests, to be exact). That includes two games earlier this season; Fuller missed Week 1 while serving a suspension, and he missed the next game due to a non-injury-related reason. Now, he’ll miss at least another game thanks to a broken finger.

Fuller inked a one-year, $10.6MM deal with the Dolphins this past offseason. The 27-year-old was coming off his best professional season, as he finished with a career-high 879 receiving yards and career-high eight scores in only 11 games with the Texans. Through two games this season, the receiver has hauled in only four receptions for 26 yards.

The Dolphins offense is hurting at the moment with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa sitting on injured reserve. With Fuller out of the lineup, backup QB Jacoby Brissett will be targeting the likes of sixth-overall pick Jaylen Waddle, DeVante Parker, and 2020 opt-out Albert Wilson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins WR Will Fuller Returns To Team

Will Fuller is back in Miami. The offseason acquisition has returned to the team, coach Brian Flores said today (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter).

This means the veteran wideout should be ready to make his Dolphins debut this weekend in Las Vegas. Fuller missed Week 1 thanks to a now-completed PED suspension. He was expected to play in Week 2, but he was ruled out for a non-injury-related reason. We never got a definitive explanation for Fuller’s absence yesterday, but Flores made it clear that the receiver had the organiation’s support.

After spending the first five seasons of his career with the Texans, Fuller inked a one-year, $10.6MM deal with the Dolphins this past offseason. The 27-year-old is coming off his best professional season, as he finished with a career-high 879 receiving yards and career-high eight scores in only 11 games. Fuller, of course, has missed a number of games throughout his career, with Sunday’s absence being his 29th missed game since entering the league in 2016.

In Miami, he’ll provide the up-and-coming offense with another electric option. Besides signing Fuller, the team also selected Jaylen Waddle sixth overall, pairing the two new additions with DeVante Parker and 2020 opt-out Albert Wilson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins’ Will Fuller To Miss Week 2

Will Fuller‘s Dolphins debut is again on hold. For a second straight week, the veteran wide receiver will miss a game for a non-injury-related reason.

The Dolphins will be without their new deep threat against the Bills due to what Brian Flores called a personal matter. Fuller missed Miami’s Week 1 game because of a PED suspension that is now complete. The recently signed pass catcher practiced Wednesday but was absent for Thursday and Friday’s Dolphins workouts.

He has my support. Things happen,” Flores said, via ESPN.com’s Marcel Louis-Jacques. “When they happen, they’re not part of normal every day, it’s a surprise from that standpoint. He’s dealing with it.”

After five seasons with the Texans, Fuller signed a one-year, $10.6MM deal with the Dolphins. Absences have plagued the talented receiver throughout his career, however. Sunday will be Fuller’s 29th missed game since coming into the league a 2016 first-round pick. Injuries caused Fuller’s run of absences from 2016-19. He began serving a six-game PED ban in Week 13 of last season.

Fuller is coming off his best season. Despite playing in just 11 games, he totaled a career-high 879 receiving yards and eight touchdown catches (also a career-best total) in his final Houston slate. How the Notre Dame product builds on that this year will determine if he can land a long-term contract from the Dolphins or another team as a 2022 free agent.

Miami made Fuller a key piece of its offseason receiver revamp effort. After rolling out a shorthanded receiving corps last season, the Dolphins signed Fuller and drafted Jaylen Waddle sixth overall. They also have Albert Wilson back from a 2020 opt-out. The team will not see this trio and DeVante Parker together until at least Week 3.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Contract Details: Fuller, Ford, Barr, Pats

As free agency’s second wave continues, here are the latest contract details from around the league:

  • 49ers DE Dee Ford: Two years, $24MM. $11.6MM guaranteed, with $4.6MM of that sum due in 2022, David Lombardi and Matt Barrows of The Athletic note (subscription required). Ford’s 2021 guarantees ($7MM) include a $4MM base salary. Ford’s contract also includes a void year (2023).
  • Dolphins WR Will Fuller: One year, $10.63MM. Contract maxes out at $13.63MM, with $3MM available in performance-based incentives, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Fuller will receive a $9.6MM signing bonus and is due a $990K base salary.
  • Vikings LB Anthony Barr: One year, fully guaranteed $9.4MM. $8.4MM signing bonus, $1MM base salary. Barr’s cap number will drop to $6.1MM. Contract includes $3MM in sack-based incentives and features two void years, per the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling (all Twitter links).
  • Patriots T Trent Brown: Fully guaranteed $6.5MM base salary, up to $2MM in per-game roster bonuses, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Contract can climb to $11MM based on the roster bonuses, $1MM for 90% playing time, $1MM for a Pro Bowl nod and $500K in weight incentives. Brown must stay under 380 pounds, Vic Tafur of The Athletic tweets.
  • Bills DE Mario Addison: $4.1MM base salary in 2021, $3.25MM of that is guaranteed, Matthew Fairburn of The Athletic tweets. Addison is also due a $1.9MM roster bonus. His contract will now void after 2021.
  • Colts T Sam Tevi: One year, $2.51MM. $1MM guaranteed, $1.5MM base salary. The deal also includes $1MM in playing-time incentives, Wilson tweets.

Dolphins, WR Will Fuller Agree To Terms

Long rumored to be targeting wide receivers in free agency, the Dolphins made a big move Thursday. They are signing former Texans wideout Will Fuller, Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com report (on Twitter).

Fuller agreed to a one-year deal to join the Dolphins, and Rapoport tweets that pact will include more than $10MM. Incentives are present in the deal as well, Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com tweets. While Fuller’s PED suspension will prevent him from playing in Week 1 next season, he represents an upgrade for a Dolphins team that did not have much in the way of receiver depth in 2020.

Although the former first-round pick battled injuries from 2016-19, never eclipsing the 14-game mark in any of those seasons, Fuller stayed healthy during his contract year. One of the NFL’s premier deep threats, Fuller established new career-high marks — 879 receiving yards, 16.6 yards per catch, eight touchdowns — despite only playing in 11 games.

The Dolphins are believed to be targeting both an outside receiver and a slot threat, but Fuller represents a promising start to the team’s 2021 plans at this position. Deshaun Watson‘s QB rating was noticeably higher with Fuller in the lineup than it was without him, and prior to the Pro Bowl passer requesting a trade, was lobbying for the Texans to re-sign the wideout. The Texans opted not to use their franchise tag on Fuller, who will bet on himself via this one-year deal. With Watson on the Miami radar, this Fuller signing should trip some alarms on the trade front.

Fuller has suffered a broken collarbone, a torn ACL and multiple hamstring injuries as a pro. The ACL tear occurred in 2018, and Fuller’s 2020 would support that he has fully recovered from the severe knee malady. Fuller will join DeVante Parker in Miami, with the Dolphins potentially prepared to add an impact slot player to help Tua Tagovailoa (or Watson) as well.

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Texans Will Not Tag Will Fuller

Will Fuller may be close to a lock to leave Houston now. The Texans do not intend to use their franchise tag on the five-year veteran wide receiver, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets.

A Wednesday report indicated a no-tag scenario meant a likely Fuller exit, though the Texans would like to keep him. The promising but inconsistent deep threat now seems like he will be coveted in free agency, but there are certainly some red flags for teams to consider.

With Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay and Chris Godwin on the tag radar, the likes of Fuller, JuJu Smith-Schuster and others figure to climb within teams’ priority queues in free agency. Fuller has delivered an unreliable five seasons with the Texans, having not played more than 11 games in a season since his 2016 rookie slate.

Due to the PED suspension the NFL slapped him with last year, Fuller will miss the 2021 season opener as well. However, the 26-year-old target was having his best season prior to the ban. Fuller posted career highs in receiving yards (879) and touchdowns (eight) in 2020, and the injury-prone player played in the Texans’ first 11 games.

Fuller leaving will continue a high-turnover period for the Texans’ receiving corps. The Texans traded for Kenny Stills in 2019 and cut him last year. Sandwiched in between these transactions: the trade of DeAndre Hopkins, the Randall Cobb signing and the Brandin Cooks trade. Houston has Cobb and Cooks under contract for 2021, but the hiring of Nick Caserio as GM complicates Texan holdovers’ statuses.

Deshaun Watson lobbied the Texans to retain Fuller late last year, but the quarterback has since let it be known he wants to be traded. It seems highly unlikely Watson has followed through on his effort to ensure Fuller stays in Houston.

That’s very important,” Watson said of the Texans re-signing Fuller. “That’s definitely one guy that I’m going to be working on this last month and offseason, for sure. Will’s my brother. The whole organization knows that tooAnd you know, make sure that we get him back for next year, especially in this organization.”

Watson’s meeting with new Texans HC David Culley has not prompted him to retract his trade request. A year after the Texans entered the offseason with Watson, Hopkins and Fuller, the team may be without both receivers and have a quarterback intent on following them out the door.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Unlikely To Retain Will Fuller

Texans wideout Will Fuller will miss Week 1 of the 2021 regular season thanks to the six-game PED suspension he was handed in November, but he is still one of the more intriguing receivers set for unrestricted free agency in March. That is especially true since players like Kenny Golladay and Chris Godwin are looking increasingly likely to remain with their current clubs, which pushes Fuller higher up the wish-list for receiver-needy teams.

And as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle writes, it sounds as if Fuller will indeed hit the open market. Fuller and QB Deshaun Watson enjoy a close friendship, and considering Watson’s relationship with the team at the moment, Wilson says Fuller will not be back in Houston unless he is hit with the franchise tag (a reconciliation between the Texans and Watson could change that, but the situation appears unsalvageable). However, multiple league sources say they do not expect Houston to use the tag on Fuller, even though the club would like to have him back.

After all, the Texans are just $3.9MM under the cap at the moment, and while restructures and releasing players like RB David Johnson will give them some additional space, it might not be enough to carry Fuller on a ~$16MM franchise tag. Instead, the team might continue to roll with Brandin Cooks — who flourished during Fuller’s suspension — along with Randall Cobb and younger players Keke Coutee and Chad Hansen.

Spotrac indicates that Fuller is in line for a four-year contract worth $67.8MM, which seems about right. The $16.9MM average would put Fuller in the top-10 of the WR market, and though he has struggled with injuries throughout his pro career, he was finally on track to play a full 16-game season for the first time before he was suspended (for what it’s worth, he said he violated the league’s PED policy only because he took medication that the prescribing physician believed to be approved by the NFL).

His speed and explosiveness would be an asset to most any receiving corps, so while the injury history is a concern, he should not be lacking for suitors. Last season, he was on pace for nearly 1,300 receiving yards and double-digit TDs. His 16.6 yard-per-reception average was a career-high and is reflective of his big-play ability.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Texans, Rivers, Tua, Bolles, Jets

Following the trade deadline, Deshaun Watson revealed how much of an issue a Will Fuller trade would have caused for him. Now, the Texans quarterback does not want Week 12 to have been his final game throwing to the deep threat. Despite Fuller’s six-game PED suspension set to drag into next year, Watson wants the Texans to bring back the impending free agent.

That’s very important,” Watson said of the Texans re-signing Fuller, via ESPN.com’s Sarah Barshop. “That’s definitely one guy that I’m going to be working on this last month and offseason, for sure. Will’s my brother. The whole organization knows that tooAnd you know, make sure that we get him back for next year, especially in this organization.”

A 2016 first-round pick, Fuller has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career. He did in his contract year and was on pace to venture well into four-digit yardage territory. The 26-year-old receiver finished his shortened season with 53 receptions for 879 yards and eight touchdowns — all career-high numbers — and will be one of the top free agents in 2021. The Texans will have exclusive negotiating rights with Fuller until the legal tampering period begins in mid-March.

Here is the latest from the AFC, shifting first to Houston’s Week 13 opponent:

  • Philip Rivers has not missed a game due to injury as a pro, having made 235 straight starts since the Chargers let Drew Brees defect to the Saints in 2006. But Rivers appeared on the Colts‘ injury report this week, being reduced to a limited practice Thursday because of a toe malady. Praising Rivers’ toughness, Quenton Nelson revealed (via the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson and Jim Ayello) the 17th-year quarterback is playing through a “really bad” foot problem presently. Rivers said he has no concerns about being able to play in Week 13.
  • Also expecting to play Sunday: Dolphins rookie Tua Tagovailoa. After Brian Flores said Tagovailoa was “very close” to being able to play against the Jets, the first-round passer expects to start this weekend against the Bengals, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald notes. Although Tua struggled in Denver and was benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick, Flores said the job is the rookie’s when he is medically cleared. Tagovailoa has been limited in both Miami practices this week.
  • Garett Bolles‘ belated breakout resulted in a big payday from the Broncos, who went from not picking up the once-embattled left tackle’s fifth-year option to signing him to a four-year, $68MM deal. That contract contains $38MM guaranteed and $21MM fully guaranteed over the first two years, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Although the $17MM-per-year figure places Bolles as the NFL’s sixth-highest-paid tackle, the full guarantee is more in line with his uneven performance through three-plus seasons. That number ranks 20th among tackles and comes in $43MM south of what the Ravens recently gave Ronnie Stanley in full guarantees.
  • More weirdness out of New York. Jets guard starter Alex Lewis did not play against the Dolphins last week, and Adam Gase said the absence was not injury-related. This may stem from a dustup between Lewis and Gase. The second-year Jets HC indicated the two had a “conversation” but stopped short of calling it a verbal altercation, SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano notes (Twitter links). Gase did not confirm if Lewis will return in Week 13. A 2019 trade acquisition, Lewis signed a three-year deal to return to the Jets in March.