Miami Dolphins Agree to Extension with Xavien Howard

Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard
Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins have agreed to a contract extension with cornerback Xavien Howard, per his agent.

Contract terms

The deal will keep the disgruntled Howard in Miami for an additional five years and give Howard an additional $50+ million in new money. The deal also reportedly contains the most guaranteed money for a cornerback in NFL history.

A step in the right direction

The Dolphins have clearly gone into “all-in” mode this off-season. It started with a revamp of the coaching staff, spurred by new head coach Mike McDaniel.

McDaniel promises to bring a fresh, new offense to the team. One that should maximize the talents of third-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

From a personnel standpoint, the Dolphins “all-in” approach has seen the team add Terron Armstead, Connor Williams, Raheem Mostert, Chase Edmonds, Cedrick Wilson, and Trent Sherfield in free agency to help bolster a struggling offense and implement McDaniel’s system.

The off-season also brought former Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill to Miami in a blockbuster trade. It’s clear the Dolphins think their time is now.

In hindsight, all the moves on the offense were going to ring hollow if Howard wasn’t wrapped up long-term. The two sides had their dispute last off-season.

What it means

In exchange for Howard signing a one-year extension, the two sides agreed to come back to the table this off-season and once again attempt to get the young star manning the Dolphins defensive backfield for years to come.

Today, those efforts have come to fruition. This extension with Xavien Howard is the feather in the Miami Dolphins cap that is the 2022 NFL free agency period.

Now, the team – and fans – can fully turn their attention to the NFL Draft. Miami doesn’t have a pick in the first two rounds, but there should be plenty of excitement around the event nonetheless.

A new era has come to South Florida as the team is finally starting to keep their developed talent. Xavien Howard’s contract extension is a step in the right direction.

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Free Agency Week 2: The Raiders continue adding depth to their roster

Former Seahawks TE Jacob Hollister was signed by the Raiders in free agency
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Last week, the Raiders made a few big splashes in free agency. They signed Pro-Bowl linebacker and Super Bowl champion Chandler Jones, All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams, and added many more game-changing pieces to their roster. Heading into week two, the focus seemed to be continuing to add depth behind their impressive starting players.

More offensive additions

Las Vegas opened week two of free agency by signing a QB, Garret Gilbert. Gilbert is highly familiar with the Raiders’ new front office after spending time on the Patriots and Raiders practice squads previously. He is heading into his ninth year in the league. Gilbert is in line to back up Derek Carr, as they are the only two QBs on the Raiders roster currently.

Josh McDaniels is famous for loving his tight ends and that can be seen clearly in what he has done during his time in Las Vegas already. The Raiders headed into free agency with TEs Darren Waller, Foster Moreau, and Nick Bowers on the roster. This week, they added Jacob Hollister to that list. Hollister is a sixth-year veteran coming off his lone season for the Jaguars. He has 83 career receptions for 707 yards and seven touchdowns, per Pro Football Reference.

Last week, the Silver and Black added one of the best wide receivers in the league when they traded for Davante Adams. This week, they added some depth at wide receiver by signing Demarcus Robinson. Robinson spent the previous six seasons with AFC West rival the Kansas City Chiefs. He is coming off a season with 264 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Robinson inked a 1-year contract on Tuesday.

Defense is still the focus

In 2021, the Raider’s defense was much improved over the last three seasons. They ended the year ranked 26th  per PFT. This is a significant improvement from 2020 and 2019 when they ranked 31st. To continue their upward trend, they knew they needed to add some force to their roster this offseason. Chandler Jones and Rock Ya-Sin were the first dominoes to fall, but they aren’t anywhere close to done.

After releasing Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski, the Las Vegas linebacker corps was looking thin. They addressed that this week with the additions of Micah Kiser and Kyler Fackrell. Fackrell joins the Raiders after one season with the Chargers, in which he appeared in 13 games. Kiser spent the 2021 season with both the Broncos and Rams, appearing in 11 total games throughout the season.

Along with LB, the Raider’s interior defensive line was lacking. They had a whopping four defensive tackles hit the open market after the 2021 season, and they haven’t brought back any of them. On Tuesday, they partially addressed this need with the addition of DT Kyle Peko. Peko spent 2021 with the AFC’s top seed, the Titans. He appeared in eight games, starting three. 2021 was his best season and now he gets the chance to improve in the Silver and Black.

As free agency trucks along, the Raiders have roughly $15 million left in cap space. Their big-name signings may be done, but look for Dave Ziegler and McDaniels to continue adding depth before the 2022 NFL Draft begins on April 28th.

Taven Bryan Signs With Browns

The Browns have signed Taven Bryan to a 1-year deal worth up to $5 million. Bryan was a first round pick by the Jaguars in the 2018 NFL Draft. He is entering his age 26 season. Bryan has been a disappointment in his time with the Jaguars, but has enough athleticism to make it worth the low-risk contract.

Former Jaguars defensive tackle Taven Bryan signs with the Cleveland Browns
Photo Credit: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

NFL Production

Taven Bryan has had a very odd career — his production has been up and down. He is best as a pass rusher. Last season, he had two sacks and 12 other pressures on 176 pass rush snaps. His overall PFF grade was a 56.4, with a run defense grade of 44.4 and a pass rush grade of 66.8. Last year was his worst season, and also the least amount of snaps he’d ever played. His best season was 2019, where he had two sacks and 23 other pressures, as well as his highest ever PFF grade at 75.5.

Athleticism

Taven Bryan is a freak athlete. He had great testing numbers at the NFL Combine, not only in terms of speed, but also explosiveness and change of direction. He has good height at 6’5″, but is a bit underweight, being just 295lbs last year. Bryan and also has short arms at just 32.75″. His athleticism is good enough to make him a good dart throw.

Taven Bryan RAS Card
RAS Card for Taven Bryan from ras.football, courtesy of Kent Lee Platte

How Taven Bryan Fits With the Browns

The Browns are in desperate need of help on the interior of the defensive line, and Taven Bryan can help alleviate that need. Bryan will play 3-tech. Currently, Jordan Elliott is the starting 3-tech. Last year’s 4th round pick Tommy Togiai is the only other defensive tackle who is slotted in as the 1-tech.

Bryan has more experience and athleticism than either of these guys, but has not been good during that experience. He can be a rotational player who is best as a pass rusher and can play on some special teams units. All in all, Bryan is not an answer, but a good piece to fill in the back-end of the defensive tackle room.

Ravens Agree to Terms With S Marcus Williams

Ravens ink safety Marcus Williams to a 5-year, $70 million deal in Baltimore’s first big move of the offseason.

Former Saints safety Marcus Williams has signed with the Baltimore Ravens
Photo Credit: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

In Baltimore’s first move of free agency, the Ravens made a massive splash by inking former New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams to a 5-year, $70 million contract.

The $70 million deal includes $37 million guaranteed, with $31 million paid out within the first year of the contract. The front loaded contract means the Ravens won’t take much of a cap hit down the line should Baltimore choose to release Williams.

Marcus Williams Provides Ravens an Instant Upgrade

Williams is a massive upgrade for a big position of need for the Ravens. Baltimore’s pass defense ranked dead last in the league last season so reinforcements were needed. Though injuries robbed the secondary of much of its talent, the Ravens still play one of the best passing attacks in the league in Cincinnati twice a year.

Marcus Williams is widely viewed around the league as one of the top ascending players in the league. Williams was routinely listed as one of the top free agents in the open market. Williams has been a stalwart for the New Orleans defense and a difference maker for the Saints in every facet of the game. A true ball-hawk, Williams has 15 career interceptions since entering the league in 2017. He is clearly a threat to force a turnover every time the ball is in the air.

It is that kind of turnover making threat the Ravens have been looking for since the departure of Ed Reed. Baltimore has invested heavily into its secondary over the last few years but a true, rangy, play-making safety has been a big missing piece for the Ravens.

At only 25 years old, Williams is a young player with plenty of football ahead of him. While he has been tremendous in New Orleans, it can be argued that Williams has only scratched the surface of his true potential. A scary thought is that Williams still has room to grow — and he will get to do that in Baltimore.

What Williams’ Signing Means for Ravens Secondary

The arrival of Marcus Williams means big things for the Ravens secondary. Chuck Clark can remain in his more traditional strong safety role that he excels at. Brandon Stephens, a 2021 3rd round pick, can slide into the third safety spot, which is his most ideal role. Stephens is a versatile piece that can be used all over the field and with Williams manning one of the high safeties spots, that frees up Stephens to be used wherever he is needed.

This signing, though large at first glance, is a coup for the Ravens. Still trying to right the wrongs of the Earl Thomas contract, the Ravens may have finally done so. Williams is a young, ascending player who is already seen as one of the best at his position. The Ravens filled a big void with their first free agent signing of the year.

Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft 1.0

Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft
Photo Credit: Sam Greene/The Enquirer

The unofficial first day of NFL free agency was a busy one for the Cincinnati Bengals. Looking at the moves the team made (along with the news that C.J. Uzomah has agreed to sign with the Jets) I thought I’d turn to the PFF Mock Draft Simulator and take a shot at a seven-round Cincinnati Bengals mock draft.

I tinkered with the defaults, adding one click to the Public vs PFF Board, the Care for Positional Value, and Randomness. Let’s see what we we can come up with for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft First Four Rounds

First Round (Pick 31): Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida All the worthy tackles were off the board with the 31st pick. If I wanted to, I could have traded the pick – but I didn’t. Elam is a physical corner who can learn from Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton, and Eli Apple. It is never bad to have depth on the corners.

Second Round (Pick 63): Darian Kinnard, OT, Kentucky Kinnard is listed as a tackle, but he could play guard as well. Give Kinnard a shot at tackle and consider him insurance at guard.

Third Round (Pick 95): Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State With Uzomah leaving for New York, tight end suddenly became a position of need. Is this a reach? Not necessarily. Ruckert is a good blocker and has a knack for getting open. His presence and blocking ability makes play action effective, potentially helping in the red zone.

Fourth Round (Pick 133): Sterling Weatherford, S, Miami of Ohio I like taking a safety here to learn from Jesse Bates III and Vonn Bell. Weatherford is a big hitter and he could develop into an excellent tackler — but he could also become no more than a special teams contributor.

Fourth Round (Pick 137): Tyreke Smith, ED, Ohio State Caveat: There was a trade on the board, but this a no-trade mock. Am I an Ohio State fan? Yes. Was this pick influenced by my fandom? Perhaps. However, Smith is a good rusher and can drop into pass coverage when needed. Yes, the Bengals have good edge players (Trey Hendrickson, Sam Hubbard, and the injured Joseph Ossai), but Smith could be seen as an insurance policy and a contributor on defense.

Rounds Five Through Seven

Fifth Round (Pick 172): Marquan McCall, DI, Kentucky McCall is more of a true nose tackle. That said, he should be able to move around on the defensive line and stabilize the interior.

Sixth Round (Pick 208): Matt Araiza, P, San Diego State It wouldn’t be a Bengals draft without taking a specialist, would it? I honestly tried not to take Araiza here but his potential contributions outweighed people making fun of me.

Seventh Round (Pick 222): Cade Mays, T, Tennessee A four-year starter between Georgia and Tennessee? Sign me up. He could prove a starter in a few years, and a great value.

Seventh Round (Pick 248): Cameron Latu, TE, Alabama A little more potential depth in the tight end room. This is a developmental pick.

Overall grade from PFF – B-: The two best picks were Kinnard and Mays, earning “A” grades. The Ruckert and Araiza picks earned “D+” grades, but I think they will both pan out. I’ll take another stab after free agency is over and see how I do then.