As the offseason rolls on through early May, one thing to keep an eye on is the list of prominent free agents still available, who for whatever reason, may suddenly get a deal with a new club. And arguably the biggest name remaining on the free-agent list is a guy that could still end up back where he was playing in South Florida, just two seasons ago.
Ndamukong Suh (above), who when last we saw him was in Superbowl 53 after signing a one-year free agent deal with the L.A. Rams last year, is still available after the Rams chose not to re-sign him this past March. And of course, Suh has ties to the Dolphins from signing a lucrative deal back in in 2015 to come to Miami. He made over $59 million in just three seasons in South Florida before his 2017 price tag was just too large and the Dolphins were in too big a need of salary cap space.
Suh would obviously come at a bargain, at this point, after collecting that kind of big money from Miami and also $14.5 million in his one season in L.A. One would think, Suh would be willing to play for a team (especially a contender) for about half that 2018 salary.
The real question is: even though owner Stephen Ross and GM Chris Grier who were part of the contingent that landed Suh four years ago would be fond of him, what do new coach Brian Flores and his new defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham, really think?
This is especially, after the Dolphins drafted Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins in the first round, and that might indicate they don’t need a free agent, even at a discount, at the same position.
Intriguing speculation from across the state is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be interested in Suh at a reduced price. This is after they decide what to do with the contract of six time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, Gerald McCoy.
McCoy is slated to make $13 million, but non-guaranteed, this season. And, it’s believed that the Bucs are forcing McCoy to decide whether he will accept a pay-cut to continue to play for them or not. Again, Suh may be willing to play for that pay cut price and slide right into McCoy’s position.
Also adding to the intrigue on free agents is that on Wednesday, the Seahawks signed Detroit pass-rushing defensive end Ziggy Ansah. Ansah got a team-friendly one-year deal, but does have question marks about an injured shoulder for the start of the 2019 season.
And, there are other veterans that are watching and waiting all of this out, as well. That includes former Eagles and Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi who remains unsigned as of May. Miami infamously traded Ajayi in October of 2017 to Philly and he became the Eagles top back, as they won Superbowl 52. Ajayi did suffer an ACL injury last season but is expected to be fully recovered by this fall. And, same with Suh and Ansah, he would come at a discount to a team, now.
If the Dolphins or another team is looking for veteran wide receiver help, then former Ravens and 49ers star Michael Crabtree is also not only available, but affordable. And, another interesting name to keep an eye on is former Patriots and Saints tight end Benjamin Watson.
Watson had originally expressed a desire to retire rather than re-sign with New Orleans. However, on Thursday morning ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Watson is having second thoughts and may play at least one more season:
Former Saints’ TE Benjamin Watson, who had intended to retire, is in New England today visiting with the Patriots, per source. Watson also is considering the Chiefs, Bills and 49ers. His retirement didn’t last long.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 9, 2019
Schefter’s tweet says Watson is slated to visit the New England Patriots. And of course, he previously played in New England, when Flores was there and new Miami offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea was also there.
Yes, it’s a long shot that the Dolphins would be interested in Watson, but they do have two young tight ends that they drafted a year ago in Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe that could learn from him. Still, Miami also signed veteran TE Dwayne Allen in free agency earlier grabbing him away from the Colts.
One final factor is, that as of Wednesday, any free agents signed waiting all the way into the season no longer require the signing team to give the players previous team draft pick compensation.
That’s why Seattle did their deal with Ansah and others may follow soon, too.
Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa present to start NFL combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is getting underway in Indianapolis this week and on Monday morning, one of the prized quarterbacks that will be available early in the first round of the draft was there for official measurements and to meet with teams.
Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, whose season ended with a fractured hip last November, is on the road to recovery and he was officially measured and also, met with numerous teams that are looking at the possibility of drafting him:
Tua Tagovailoa measured at 6-0, 217 pounds at the NFL combine today. Left throwing hand at 10”
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) February 24, 2020
In addition to not only the injured hip, but also a history of high ankle sprain problems, Tagovailoa has got to answer critics on his size. At just 6 – 0 feet there will be concerns about his ability to clearly see downfield through the massive bodies on NFL Sundays.
However, this can be combated by moving him around out of the pocket and that’s something that Alabama was successful at doing over his three years as well.
As we wrote recently, Tagovailoa was injured in Alabama’s 10th game of the season suffering a fractured hip on a sack late in the first half at Mississippi State. He missed the Tide’s final two regular-season games and then, their Citrus Bowl win January 1st, over Michigan
He came to Alabama from Hawaii and the same high school as Marcus Mariota, having thrown for over 8,000 yards which at that time was a Hawaii High School record. And, he had a career of 84 passing and 27 rushing touchdowns in three seasons.
Tua burst onto the scene nationally, when he relieved Jalen Hurts in the second half and overtime of Alabama’s thrilling title game win over Georgia in the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship Game. Tagovailoa threw the game-winning touchdown pass on the first overtime possession, as Alabama celebrated their fifth National Title in nine seasons under Saban.
In his second season at the helm in the 2018 regular season, Tagovailoa was named second-team AP All-American and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, as the Tide reached the National Title game, again, before being beaten soundly by Clemson 12 months ago.
As this junior season unfolded, Tagovailoa was named almost became synonymous with the Dolphins, who started the season horribly at 0 – 7 and the moniker “Tank for Tua” began to gain momentum in South Florida.
Tagovailoa is obviously on the Dolphins list to look at strongly to select in the top five in the draft and currently, Miami is slated to pick fifth.
It is expected that Tagovailoa will work out for teams probably later in March or maybe even, early April at the Tide’s facility in Tuscaloosa, prior to the NFL draft coming to Las Vegas.
Colorado announced hire of Dolphins assistant Dorrel Sunday
Former UCLA coach and recently promoted Dolphins assistant Karl Dorrell is headed back to college, as the new head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes.
The school confirmed Dorrell’s hire on Sunday evening with a five-year contract to take over their Big 12 program:
We'd like to officially introduce you to our new HC, Karl Dorrell.
— Colorado Buffaloes Football (@CUBuffsFootball) February 23, 2020
The Buffaloes have been seeking a head coach since there coach Mel Tucker abruptly left to take the Michigan State job earlier this month.
Dorrell came to the dolphins with Brian Flores this past season, as wide receiver coach and earlier last week was promoted to assistant head coach for the upcoming season. Miami’s top receiver, DeVante Parker, blossomed under Dorrell’s tutelage as the year went on. He finished the season with 72 catches for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns becoming the favorite target of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Dorrel is the latest Dolphins assistant on the move. Flores fired the offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea he brought with him from New England. And, his defensive coordinator Patrick Graham left to take the same job with the Giants.
Dorrell had also been the Dolphins receivers coach, previously from 2008 – 10 and then, their quarterbacks coach in 2011 under the late Tony Sparano.
“I am excited that Karl Dorrell has agreed to become our head football coach,” George said. “Karl has had great success as a college coach, both as a head coach and an assistant, and he knows the Pac-12 Conference and West Coast well. It was important that our next coach have CU ties, and Karl has those ties having worked at CU twice previously. Karl shares my passion for Colorado and our vision for winning championships. He will be a tremendous mentor and role model for our student-athletes, and he will provide great leadership for our program going forward.”
The CU Board of Regents still have to approve Dorrell’s contract, which will be $18 million for five seasons.
Dorrell had previously been on Colorado staffs two other times in his career, including most recently as offensive coordinator under Rick Neuheisel from 1995- 98.
Dorrell was named head coach of his alma mater UCLA in 2003, where he lasted five seasons and went to a bowl game every year finishing with a career 35 – 27 record before being fired after the 2007 season.
Dorrell had previously been receivers coach for the New York Jets 2015 – 18 under Todd Bowles (above) and two of his receivers had made the Pro Bowl during his time there.
Colorado picked Dorrell from an interview process that also included former Buffaloes player and Kansas City Super Bowl offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, who interviewed and was under strong consideration.