AFC Notes: Tua Tagovailoa, Mecole Hardman, Mike Onwenu, Dolphins, Jets, Patriots


  • Dolphins HC Mike McDaniel said he’s “absolutely” optimistic that a Tua Tagovailoa contract extension will happen this offseason. McDaniel added that he’s “very encouraged” about where things currently stand in regards to a new deal for Tagovailo. (Adam Beasley)
  • McDaniel says he wasn’t expecting DC Vic Fangio departure during the season. However, after they evaluated the team at the end of the year, they had extensive conversations and both sides felt it was best to mutually part ways. (Joe Schad)
  • As for LT Terron Armstead, McDaniel suggested that they have not heard for certain whether he’s returning for the 2024 season, but he hinted that a resolution will come soon. (Adam Beasley)
  • McDaniel made it clear that they want impending free agent DL Christian Wilkins back in Miami. (Adam Beasley)
  • Kansas DE Austin Booker said his formal Combine interview with the Dolphins was one of his favorites. (Dane Brugler)
  • Washington DE Bralen Trice had formal Combine interviews with 12 teams including the Dolphins. (David Newton) 


  • When appearing on The Pivot Podcast, Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman opened up on what led him to be traded from the Jets to Kansas City. He described refusing to do punt returns in Week 4 because he felt ST coordinator Brant Boyer “misled” him about the punt-returning job in training camp and didn’t have enough time to prepare when asked to step in for Xavier Gipson during Week 4’s game against the Chiefs, via Rich Cimini. 
  • Hardman mentioned he was dealing with a hyperextended pinky finger and HC Robert Saleh tried to convince him to catch punt returns. However, Hardman rebuffed due to his unstable relationship with Boyer: “I’m not catching for that man (Boyer).”
  • Hardman admits he was already “checked out” by Week 4’s game and told GM Brett Veach and Patrick Mahomes to get a trade done: “I was so checked out, like, it was over with. I had already talked to (KC GM Brett) Veach and Pat (Mahomes), like, ‘Come get me.’” 
  • Hardman thinks his fallout with the Jets was because they lied to him on his usage going into the season: “It’s the lies and the way they handled me. I didn’t like it at all.” 
  • As for the Jets’ culture under OC Nathaniel Hackett, Hardman coined it Aaron Rodgers‘ show but there’s no set standard for their offense: “You just got a new (offensive) coaching staff that came in and there’s no standard there. Everybody does what they want to do. Granted, the defense has more of a stabilized standard with the coaching staff on that side, so the defense has a standard. But the offense is just like, ‘We’ll just figure it out. It’s Aaron’s show. Let Aaron do what Aaron does.’ Then when Aaron goes down, it’s like we don’t know what to do.”
  • Jets GM Joe Douglas said Hardman’s comments “resonated” with them when asked if they’ll push the league to investigate Kansas City for tampering: “Those are comments that definitely resonated with us,” via Brian Costello. 
  • Connor Hughes of SNY reports there’s a “validated belief” that Chiefs WR and former Jets WR Mecole Hardman leaked gameplans to the Eagles and Chiefs because he was irritated with his lack of involvement in New York’s offense. 


  • Patriots executive Eliot Wolf said impending free agent OL Mike Onwenu changing his representation won’t prevent them from pursuing an extension and they are still interested in re-signing him: “It doesn’t impact us. Mike is a core player for us. It’s no secret we want to try to keep Mike, and it will just be a little bit of a wrinkle dealing with him. Mike is really smart, he’s introspective, he’s thoughtful, and he understands; he knows what he wants, which is always good when you’re dealing with a player. He’s certainly someone we view as a cornerstone for us.” (Mike Reiss)
  • Patriots HC Jerod Mayo said they plan on taking a different approach to coaching than former HC Bill Belichick: “Look, it’s going to be different. At the same time, I would say Bill did a great job for a long period of time. I don’t want you guys to take this as, because we’re changing, shots at the previous regime. In saying that, we will do it differently. It’ll feel different, but at the end of the day we would like to replicate the success that the prior regime had. I learned a lot from Bill and also his staff. But now, we’ll see what this chapter looks like in the franchise.” (Mark Daniels)
  • As for whether they will use the franchise tag on Onwenu or S Kyle Dugger, Mayo said it is “always an option” but would like to keep them around long term: “That’s always an option. That’s always an option, but at the same time with guys like that, you want those guys to be happy. You want them to be here for the long term, so that’s the plan.” (Daniels)
  • New England currently has $78,070,006 in available cap space. When asked about their potential spending, Mayo said it’s difficult to build a sustainable team through free agency but would like to add some pieces on the open market: “It’s hard to build a sustainable team through free agency but you do want those pieces that you can plug in.” (Chad Graff)

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