AFC East Notes: Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Patriots

     

Bills

Dolphins

NFL teams will often avoid investing too much cap space into one position, aside from quarterback, to maintain flexibility in building their roster. The Dolphins are in a different position after their apparent tank in 2019. After extending CB Xavien Howard to a market-setting contract last summer, the Dolphins made it two years in a row by signing CB Byron Jones to a five-year, $82 million deal that made Jones the highest-paid corner by average annual salary. The goal is to create a secondary with “no weak links” that can match up against anyone. 

“That’s what we’re trying to create in our defensive secondary and really the entire team, is to build a team where there are no weaknesses, where we can just guard up,” Jones said via ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe. “We can create matchups that are difficult for receivers and quarterbacks.”

  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald does not think the Dolphins will make another big spending splash in free-agency given they only have $24.6 million in cap space.
  • Although reports indicated Miami had $33.4 million in cap space, Jackson’s sources have said the real numbers are around $24.6 million after accounting for the cap charges of CB Byron Jones, OLB Kyle Van Noy, and OT Ereck Flowers
  • Jackson notes the Dolphins should have just $7 million to spend, given they’ll require around $16 million to sign all 14 of their picks in this year’s draft and another $2 million to fill their practice squad.
  • Jackson could see the Dolphins using their available cap to sign a “relatively cheap” free agent after the draft or find a “value free-agent” if there is an injury during training camp. 
  • As for why the Dolphins have not released WR Albert Wilson to free up $9.5 million, Jackson writes Wilson isn’t owed any money within the next five months and Miami is encouraged by how he played in 2019 and doesn’t feel the need to add cap space at this time. 
  • The Athletic’s Connor Hughes reports the Dolphins expressed interest in G Greg Van Roten before ultimately electing to sign Flowers. 
  • According to Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, Utah State QB Jordan Love has connected with a number of teams, including the Dolphins, ahead of the draft. 

Jets

New Jets G Greg Van Roten grew up on Long Island rooting for the Jets like his dad and grandfather, even dressing up as a Jets player for Halloween. His NFL dream hasn’t been easy, though, as Van Roten has bounced from team to team, even spending two years in the CFL, before turning a shot as a camp body with the Panthers into a starting job. As an unrestricted free agent, Van Roten had offers from a number of other teams, but the chance to come back to the Jets was too much to pass on, even if he could have done better than the three-year, $10.5 million deal he signed.  

“I know a lot of people chase the money,” Van Roten said via the Athletic’s Connor Hughes. “I understand that. But I wanted to go somewhere where they wanted me and I was valued. It says a lot that they showed so much interest early on. They were the first team we heard from, and they stuck with us day in and day out to check in throughout the process.”

“I feel like I’m 26 in NFL years, and I hope I get to play four, five, six more years. We’ll see,” Van Roten added. “This is a crazy game, and anything can happen. If I’m healthy and able, I want to play as long as I can. For it to be with the Jets? It would be incredible.”

Patriots

  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe thinks the Patriots should explore a trade for CB Stephon Gilmore. Volin points out New England is deep at corner and could potentially get a first-round pick back for Gilmore who will turn 30 this fall. 
  • Volin thinks the Patriots will stand pat with WR Julian Edelman and LB Dont’a Hightower. Neither have much trade value and are valuable leaders to help the team transition. However, Volin doesn’t believe the Patriots should restructure or extend either. 
  • Patriots G Joe Thuney is a logical extension candidate, as he’s currently franchise-tagged and carries a cap hit of $14.871 million in 2020. Volin adds a trade of Thuney could also be an option, perhaps for a second-round pick. 
  • Volin notes Patriots OT Marcus Cannon recently switched agents, which could indicate the veteran thinks he’ll be released or have to negotiate a pay cut. New England can save $4.5 million by releasing Cannon, $7 million if he’s designated a June 1 cut. 
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