AFC Notes: Dolphins, Jets, Patriots

     

Dolphins

  • Dolphins GM Chris Grier committed to first-round QB Tua Tagovailoa as the team’s starter in 2021. He did not answer a question about drafting a quarterback at No. 3 overall though because it fell into the “draft strategy” category: “I’m very happy with Tua. He’s our starting quarterback.” (Jackson)
  • Grier said what Tagovailoa and Dolphins HC Brian Flores were able to do this season should be seen as impressive: “There’s no question Brian is Coach of the Year. To win 10 games with what we had and a rookie quarterback…Brian and his staff did an unbelievable job.” (Tolentino)
  • Grier was asked about adding receivers this offseason: “We always talk about upgrading the roster in all areas. Obviously having playmakers on offense and defense is what great teams have. We’ll continue to do that here addressing issues on both sides of the ball.” (Josh Tolentino)
  • As for the offensive line, Flores said the group “made a lot of improvement but these next 4, 5, 6 weeks as a staff we’re going to evaluate everything.” (Tolentino)
  • Flores told reporters the team would have to evaluate everything and he didn’t want to talk about impending free agents when asked about Fitzpatrick. (Jackson)
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald believes it would be irresponsible to pay QB Ryan Fitzpatrick $7 million per year as a backup if the team plans to draft another quarterback or at the very least sign one in free agency.
  • Jackson proposes that the team could potentially re-sign Fitzpatrick as backup and draft a quarterback at No. 3 overall, then possibly trade Tagovailoa or the rookie after they have a better chance to evaluate them in training camp.
  • Jackson says the best decision would be for the team to trade down with a team like the Falcons or Bengals and draft a player who can help them on offense such as Alabama WR DeVonta Smith, LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase, and Oregon LT Penei Sewell.
  • The Bengals may be willing to trade with the Dolphins in order to ensure they acquire Sewell, who could protect QB Joe Burrow, and there are also several teams in the top ten including the Eagles, Lions, Panthers, and Broncos that may fall in love with a top quarterback prospect and trade up in order to make a change at the position.

Jets

The split between the Jets offense and defense got a lot of attention earlier this season when DC Gregg Williams was fired and the dynamics of the coaching staff were exposed. With their next hire, Jets CEO Christopher Johnson hopes to get a head coach for the entire team and not either side of the ball. 

“I don’t much like the term CEO either, but it does describe what we’re looking for,” Johnson said via Pro Football Talk. “We want a head coach that coaches the entire team, end-to-end, and his staff. You don’t have to be offensive, you don’t have to be defensive, this is a coach for the entire team and that’s very important to us looking forward.”

  • Jets GM Joe Douglas has known former HC Adam Gase for a long time, so firing him was hard: “I wanted nothing more than for us to succeed here together. This was hard for me.” (Ralph Vacchiano)
  • Douglas acknowledged some of Gase’s failings fall on him for poor roster construction: “I certainly could have done a better job putting this roster together.” (Connor Hughes)
  • However, he added the cupboard isn’t bare: “I think there’s a lot of good pieces here. I think there’s some good, young, core players. I think it’s our responsibility to build around the pieces we have in place.” (Vacchiano)
  • Douglas didn’t necessarily commit to Jets QB Sam Darnold as the team’s starter in 2021: “We’ve got a lot of decisions to make. I think that Sam’s going to be a great quarterback. I think Sam has a very bright future in this league. I’m excited about Sam.” (Vacchiano)
  • Darnold appeared to regress this past season but Douglas said the roster deficiencies should be factored in: “I think Sam faced a lot of obstacles this year as did everybody. Frankly, we had quite a few injuries on the offensive line, at wide receiver. It was hard for our offense to build the chemistry to sustain success.” (Vacchiano)
  • Douglas called Jets S Marcus Maye a “priority” for the team to re-sign. (Hughes)

Patriots

Patriots star special teamer Matthew Slater is under contract for one more season in 2021. But just like he did last year, the 35-year-old will take some time to discuss his next steps with his family before making a final decision. 

“I’m at a point in my career now where I don’t know how much football I have left and I think as a young guy I was always thinking about the next season, the career you hope to have,” Slater said via Mike Dussault of the team’s website. “Now, obviously, I’m on the back nine. I think you appreciate it a little more, I know that I do. My emotions when I think back on it are filled with gratitude and I’m just thankful for the opportunity I had to play another year. Thankful for my health and just teammates, experiences, everything, I’m really grateful for them.”

  • The Athletic’s Jeff Howe says the Patriots have not made a final decision on QB Cam Newton‘s future with the team yet. 
  • He adds if the Patriots want to trade up for a quarterback, it’s likely going to cost them their first-round pick in 2022 given they’re slated to pick No. 15. 
  • Jason La Canfora adds that the odds of Patriots’ Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio being back in New England are “slim to none.”
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