AFC Notes: Ryan Bates, Kyle Dugger, Bills, Dolphins, Patriots


Bills OL Ryan Bates said he’s maintained his position that he wants to return to Buffalo.

I don’t want to go anywhere else,” Bates said, via Buffalo News. “I want to stay here. I don’t keep that a secret.


  • According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Dolphins are hiring Ronnie Bradford as their senior ST assistant on HC Mike McDaniel’s staff for 2024. Bradford spent the last three seasons at Montana including last year as their DC, and he’s been coaching since 2003 after a 10-year NFL career.
  • Jeremy Fowler of ESPN cites DE Emmanuel Ogbah and CB Xavien Howard as potential release options to help the Dolphins save money. They would save $13.7 million by releasing Ogbah and $18.5 million by releasing Howard, but Fowler says impact corners are “hard to find.”
  • With DT Christian Wilkins set to be an unrestricted free agent, Fowler calls the franchise tag “an option” for him.


Patriots S Kyle Dugger is poised to be a free agent for the first time in his career, along with several other notable players from New England’s 2020 draft class. It’ll be interesting to see how the team proceeds, as in the past HC Bill Belichick was always willing to play hardball and let talented players walk if he didn’t think he was getting good value on a deal. So far, New England and Dugger haven’t been able to work out an extension and now he’s on the cusp of becoming an unrestricted free agent. There’s no real reason for Dugger to discount his price for the Patriots. 

“When he came in as a rookie, I would say overall you walked away at that point and said, ‘They may have found a foundational piece. This should be good for the team,'” former Patriots S Devin McCourty said via ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “I think sometimes you hope those deals get done sooner than later, and the way I always approached it is that if I had to play every snap and assume all the risk, I’m not going to cut myself short [as a player]. I’m going to use all the leverage I have to get the best deal I can possibly get.”

McCourty added a key factor will be the Patriots’ vision for Dugger as a player. While there’s a lot of change in New England, Patriots HC Jerod Mayo and DC DeMarcus Covington have been with the team for the past several years, so there’s a lot of familiarity with Dugger’s skillset. Dugger has rare athleticism at 6-2 and 222 pounds, but McCourty thinks he’s better closer to the line of scrimmage than deep in the secondary, which is what he did more of in 2023. 

“I remember a coach told me that the goal for any great player is to be consistent and then have those other plays you make that not many people can make,” said McCourty. “I would put Dugger up there with some of the top players when it comes to making plays that you say, ‘How the hell did he just do that?’ I think that is what is great about his game.

“The second part is physicality. A couple of seasons ago, he might be waiting for a tight end who was chipping, and receivers like Amon-Ra St. Brown or Garrett Wilson would run a route next to him, so he jumps out and hits them with his shoulder and they go flying. Or when he comes downhill and hits linemen and knocks them on their butts. He has that ability to be as good as any safety in the NFL doing that.”

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