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.
Sunday sees Dolphins and Jaguars back in action
Two of the state NFL teams will be in action Sunday afternoon and both or trying to avoid 0- 2 for different reasons.
First, you have the Jaguars, who already resemble a “M.A.S.H. Unit” of injuries, as they head to Houston to play the Texans in an AFC South showdown. The excitement of the addition of free-agent quarterback Nick Foles lasted exactly part of one quarter last Sunday against the Chiefs. That’s when Foles suffered a broken clavicle and a report Sunday says he will not be back until at least week 11 with the injury:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 15, 2019
That means that backup quarterback Gardner Minshew, a rookie 6th round pick out of Washington State, will now lead the Jaguars at least in the short-term. Minshew was very effective last week completing a high percentage of passes and moving the offense. Jacksonville also made a trade earlier in the week for Steelers backup QB Joshua Dobbs, but it’s not expected he will be able to contribute today.
Besides the Foles injury, the Jaguars will be without their top pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue, who suffered a hamstring strain in the lost to KC. The team will also be without left tackle Cam Robinson for the second straight game, as he suffered an injured knee in practice prior to the opener. The team also has ruled out defensive back A.J. Bouye and receiver Marqise Lee with injuries prior to this game.
The good news is the Texans are on a short week having lost an emotional, heartbreaking last second game to the Saints Monday night. Quarterback Deshaun Watson was also banged up, including an injured back off his first-half touchdown run. Still, the Texans will test the Jaguars pass defense the same way the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes did last week.
Meanwhile, in South Florida, the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots travel to take on the spiraling downward Dolphins. Miami was embarrassed 59 – 10 by Baltimore last week. And, that defeat now apparently has numerous players on the current roster wanting to be somewhere else, just as the Dolphins have gotten rid of most of their high-priced veterans already.
Controversial wide receiver Antonio Brown will apparently be active for New England for this game. Brown is being accused of sexual assault in a civil complaint that the NFL is investigating. However, the league took no action on keeping Brown from playing today and he did travel with the team.
The Dolphins do have some consolation in that under previous coaching staffs, they have won six of the last seven meetings against New England at Hard Rock Stadium. However, Miami’s got to find some kind of offense with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the backfield of Kenyan Drake and Kallen Ballage, to have any chance against the Pats.
Report- NFL will allow Antonio Brown to play for Pats Sunday
Despite all the drama surrounding him, it does appear that new Patriots WR Antonio Brown will be allowed by the NFL to make his Pats debut Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium against the Dolphins. That is, if the Patriots intend to have active and playing.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported early Friday afternoon that the nine year veteran acquired by New England last weekend after his volatile off season in Oakland led to his release last Saturday, would not be put on the “Commissioner’s Exempt List,” as a form of paid suspension, while sexual assault allegations are investigated:
More on the NFL not placing Patriots’ WR Antonio Brown on the commissioner's exempt list at this point, making him eligible to play Sunday against the Dolphins:https://t.co/89089aQkaK
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 13, 2019
Schefter reiterated that while the NFL has launched an investigation into the charges against Brown, after a civil lawsuit was filed in South Florida earlier this week, there is no criminal proceeding, yet and they will take the process in steps.
The lawsuit alleges that Brown inappropriately touched, committed a lewd sex act and then eventually, raped a 28 year old personal trainer, identified as Brittney Taylor, a former college classmate of Brown’s at Central Michigan, in three separate incidences from 2017-18.
That revelation was something that the NFL, and the Patriots, as well, did not know about, when Brown was signed Monday after he was released by the Oakland Raiders. Taylor is scheduled to meet with the NFL next week to give her version of the events.
Brown has been at Patriots practice on Wednesday and Thursday wearing jersey number #1 (above) during the portion of the practice that was open to the media. His lawyer, Darren Heitner, has publicly disputed the civil suit charges and told the media that Brown and Taylor “had a consensual relationship” in the past.
On Friday, Pats coach Bill Belichick refused to confirm whether Brown would make his debut against Miami or not on Sunday. Giving the non-answer on Brown’s status to play, “We’ll do what’s best for the team.”
He further told the New England media that Brown has; “long way to go, obviously. Not familiar with our offense. The systems he’s been in have been quite different. He’s working hard to pick it up and we’re working hard to get it to him.”
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