By: Brandon Liguori
Fix the offensive and defensive lines, draft the franchise-changing quarterback in April and hope for a successful, injury-free football season. These three tasks seem simple yet are quite difficult.
As the 2020 new league year officially began last Wednesday at 4 p.m., the Miami Dolphins made it official, signing Ereck Flowers to a three-year deal, Shaq Lawson to a three-year contract, Kyle Van Noy to a 4-year deal, Byron Jones to a five-year contract, Jordan Howard to a two-year deal, Clayton Fejedelem to a three-year deal, Emmanuel Ogbah to a two-year deal, Ted Karras to a one-year deal, Kamu Grugier-Hill to a one-year deal and Elandon Roberts to a one-year deal.
Three former Patriots (Van Noy, Karras, Roberts) will reunite with current head coach Brian Flores this upcoming season, who spent his entire coaching career in New England. Flowers, the former Miami Hurricane, spent four seasons with the New York Giants, before playing one season in Washington.
Starting all 16 games a season ago for the Redskins, Flowers is positioned to hold the starting left guard spot for Miami in 2020. Lawson, who was mainly a backup during his four seasons in Buffalo, will compete for a starting spot on the defensive side of the football.
Van Noy, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots, will likely share linebacker duties with Ohio State products Jerome Baker and Raekwon McMillan, but has the potential to play any position on the defensive side. A year after Xavien Howard received the highest-paid contract for a cornerback, the Dolphins will pay Byron Jones $82.5 million over the next five years.
Miami, however, hopes Howard can stay on the field on a consistent basis, as the former 2018 Pro-Bowler has missed 15 games over the past two seasons due to knee injuries. Miami’s ground game as a team in 2019 was one to forget, allowing them to grab Howard, the former Philadelphia Eagle who sustained a shoulder injury that cut his 2019 season short.
Howard will likely handle the running back duties in 2020, as Kenyan Drake was shipped to the Arizona Cardinals a season ago and Kalen Ballage struggled heavily, but do not be surprised if Miami uses a first or even second-round selection on a highly-graded running back, as the Dolphins hold five total picks within the first two rounds.
This morning, when speaking to media members, Howard said he is “back 100%” from his shoulder injury. C Ted Karras, who worked with Tom Brady his entire career, will get a chance to work with Ryan Fitzpatrick and/or if Miami decides to draft Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa or any other quarterback left on the board.
Karras said this morning he received a couple of offers from other teams but was ultimately drawn to the Dolphins in part because of Brian Flores. All of Miami’s newest FA signings shared a mutual love and respect for Flores, who showed promise in his first full season as a professional head coach. Yes, the Dolphins opened the season 0-7 but concluded with five wins in their final nine games with practically a practice squad-like roster.
As Tom Brady’s historic 20-year run with Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots came to a surprising close, moving to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the message now becomes clear: the AFC East is officially a wide-open division.
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