Sun Nov 10 10:25am ET
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Brian Hoyer (2) takes a snap against the Pittsburgh Steelers after Jacoby Brissett was injured in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
New York Jets outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins (48) sacks Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich throws the challenge flag during the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers in an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Brian Hoyer (2) looks to pass as Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Javon Hargrave (79) rushes in the second half of an NFL football game , Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Miami Dolphins defensive back Chris Lammons, left, hugs head coach Brian Flores, center, after an NFL football game against New York Jets, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) scrambles away from Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Terrell Edmunds (34) in the first half of an NFL football game , Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Miami Dolphins defensive back Nik Needham (40) celebrates with Miami Dolphins linebacker Sam Eguavoen (49) after he sacked New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett won't be playing against the Dolphins because of an ailing knee.
The late scratch Saturday means Brian Hoyer will make his first start in more than two years.
But Miami coach Brian Flores doesn't need to scramble through game tape for a scouting report. He saw up close for the better part of the last two seasons when both were with New England.
Hoyer, who finished last week's game after Brissett was injured, knows what he's up against in Flores.
''Brian Flores is an incredible coach. I've known him since my rookie year,'' said. ''I was away from him and then I came back to see him as the defensive coordinator. I know their offensive staff and their scheme.''
The Colts (5-3) have plenty at stake Sunday.
They have struggled to score the past two weeks and their vaunted offensive line has allowed nine sacks during the span. Penalties have been costly and so have special team miscues. And now Indy has lost Brissett , who sprained the medial collateral ligament of his left knee in last weekend's loss at Pittsburgh . The defeat knocked the Colts out of the AFC South lead.
''This business is brutal,'' Colts coach Frank Reich said. ''You lose and you feel the sting of it and you feel like your back is against the wall and we have to respond.''
Flores has faced the same scenario - seven times this season.
It's a stark contrast from his days of routine victory celebrations in New England, for whom he was a longtime assistant. Instead, he's running the rebuilding Dolphins (1-7) who are trying to build momentum after their first win last week.
But Flores knows it will be a tough task against a quarterback who earned his respect backing up Tom Brady.
''He is as smart as they come at the quarterback position,'' Flores said. ''He understands defense, has been in a few different systems and understands different ways to protect, to schematically put together different concepts. He and I would go back and forth, talk about defense, talk about offense, talk about protections, talk about route concepts - another impressive guy.''
WELCOME TO THE CLUB
Three-time All-Pro defensive end Dwight Freeney returns to Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday - becoming the 16th member of the Colts' Ring of Honor.
Freeney played 11 seasons in Indianapolis, becoming the franchise's career sacks leader with 107+, and was part of the Colts' 2006 Super Bowl winning team. He ranks second on the Colts' career list, behind bookend rusher Robert Mathis, now an assistant on Reich's staff.
Former general manager Bill Polian selected Freeney in the first round of the 2002 draft, when critics described the selection as a ''reach.'' But Freeney and his trademark spin move quickly became part of Colts lore.
''What did I learn from him? I learned not to spiral into a hole when you get beat because he used to pretty much have his way with me,'' longtime left tackle Anthony Castonzo said. ''I just thank God I never had to play against him in a game.''
The Dolphins have lost four of their best players in the last two weeks.
Top cornerback Xavien Howard and leading receiver Preston Williams suffered season-ending knee injuries. Running back Kenyan Drake was traded, and his replacement, Mark Walton, begins a four-game suspension this week after a no-contest plea to a misdemeanor weapons charge last offseason.
Only two starters have played in every game this season - receiver DeVante Parker and left guard Michael Deiter.
The Colts hope Freeney's induction won't be the only major milestone they hit Sunday. They need one more victory to reach 300 in the franchise's Indianapolis era.
And Adam Vinatieri needs three field goal attempts to break Morten Andersen's league record (709), eight points to become the first Colts player to score 1,500, and one extra point to become the first player in franchise history with 500.
SPUTTERING GROUND GAME
With Walton out, Kalen Ballage is expected to start Sunday. The second-year pro is averaging 2.0 yards on 35 carries this season, and Miami's average of 3.1 yards is the NFL's worst.
''I hear the stats; I know what they are,'' Flores said. ''Everyone is involved in the run game - backs, tight ends, receivers. I can pull up 20 runs right here today where if a receiver makes a block, it's a much longer run, and that average jumps a little bit. We all have to be better.''
Ballage believes he'll benefit from a bigger workload.
''I've played all right,'' he said. ''Opportunities have been slim. Moving forward, it's about getting in there and getting a rhythm and being able to touch the ball more.''
Houston Texans WR Randall Cobb said he feels better than he has in at least five years after focusing on improving his hamstring strength during his time with the Dallas Cowboys.
Fantasy Spin: Cobb's 828 yards last year were his most since 2015, and he averaged a career-high 15.1 yards per reception. Following the surprising trade of DeAndre Hopkins, Cobb could find himself a key part of the Houston passing game.
The Baltimore Ravens agreed to a one-year, $3 million fully guaranteed deal with defensive end Derek Wolfe on Saturday. Wolfe can earn $3 million more in incentives. He chose Baltimore over the Texans. One of the strongest defenses in the league gets even stronger on their defensive line with the Wolfe signing. The 30-year-old was a second-round pick of the Broncos in 2012. Despite playing in just 12 games due to injury in 2019, he racked up a career-high seven sacks while recording 34 tackles (23 solo), eight tackles for loss, 12 QB hits and one forced fumble. Wolfe can be effective in doses for Baltimore, but he isn't all that attractive in IDP leagues, especially at his age.
Free-agent DT Mike Daniels (Lions) was talking with the Baltimore Ravens before the Ravens decided to sign DE Derek Wolfe.
Unrestricted free-agent DE Derek Wolfe (Broncos) reached an agreement with the Baltimore Ravens to sign a one-year deal worth up to $6 million, a source said Saturday, March 28.
The Kansas City Chiefs are re-signing wide receiver Demarcus Robinson to an undisclosed one-year deal on Saturday, according to a source. Robinson had the best season of his career in 2019, catching 32 passes for 449 yards (14 yards per catch) and four touchdowns in 16 games (10 starts). The former fourth-round pick in 2016 plays in one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL with Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes throwing him the ball, but he's also behind Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman in the receiving pecking order. Watkins may not be back and Robinson can provide some big games, but those games will continue to be hard to predict as a fantasy owner. He'll be most useful as receiver depth in deeper leagues.
Unrestricted free-agent WR Demarcus Robinson (Chiefs) will re-sign with the Kansas City Chiefs on a one-year deal, a source said Saturday, March 28. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Fantasy Spin: It seemed like Robinson, 25, may have had a market elsewhere, but returning to the Chiefs on a one-year deal could position him for a better run at free agency in 2021. Robinson showed capable of being a capable fill-in for the Chiefs early in the year when Tyreek Hill was injured. A Week 2 explosion vs. the Oakland Raiders (6-172-2) accounted for 38 percent of his total receiving yardage on the year and half of Robinson's touchdown production. The chances to flash will be there, but his fantasy football worth is zero without an injury to Hill or Sammy Watkins. It is still possible the latter is released due to carrying a $21 million cap hit, which would make Robinson a draftable option. Monitor how KC handles Watkins' contract situation in the coming weeks.
Updating a previous report, Green Bay Packers WR Devin Funchess received a one-year, $2.5 million contract, which includes a $1 million signing bonus, $1.2 base salary, $50,000 workout bonus and $15,625 each game active. The deal also contains another $3.75 million in incentives, bringing the max to $6.25 million.
Free-agent CB Ryan Smith on Saturday, March 28, was re-signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Terms of the deal were not immediately available.
San Francisco 49ers RB Matt Breida is a potential candidate to be traded, in the opinion of Spotrac.com.
Fantasy Spin: Breida saw a decline from his career numbers of 2018 (1,075 total yards, five TDs), totaling 743 yards and two scores last season. More alarmingly, he only had nine rushing attempts for 19 yards during the Niners' three-game ground-heavy run to the Super Bowl and with San Fran already rostering Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson and possibly getting Jerick McKinnon back after a pair of seasons missed to injury, don't be surprised to see Breida dealt.
Carolina Panthers WR Curtis Samuel is a potential candidate to be traded, according to a list put out by Spotrac.com.
Fantasy Spin: Samuel's receptions, touch count and yards from scrimmage have gone up in each of his three seasons, resulting in a 73-touch, 757-yard-7-TD stat line last season, but now with the Panthers adding another speedy weapon in free-agent WR Robby Anderson, Samuel may indeed be expendable. He's a WR4 currently, but could bump up a level if traded to the right team.
The Denver Broncos re-signed defensive lineman Shelby Harris to a one-year deal that includes $2.5 million in guarantees on Saturday, according to a source. Harris can make up to $3.25 million with incentives. Denver's D-line should be pretty imposing in 2020 with Bradley Chubb, Von Miller, Jurrell Casey and Harris all in the fold. The 28-year-old former seventh-round pick of the Raiders in 2014 had a career-high six sacks in 2019, including 49 tackles (28 solo), eight tackles for loss, six QB hits, nine passes defensed and one forced fumble in all 16 games. He was a nuisance on the interior against opposing signal-callers, mainly deflecting passes at the line of scrimmage.
Free-agent defensive end Michael Bennett said that he wants to play in 2020, according to a source. Bennett played for both the Patriots and Cowboys last season and had 6.5 sacks, 32 tackles (24 solo), 14 tackles for loss and 15 QB hits in 16 games (one start). He's entering his age-35 season, so Bennett doesn't have a whole lot left, but he can still be productive in a rotational role and can provide veteran leadership to a locker room. Bennett spent five years with the Seahawks from 2013 to 2017 and wouldn't mind returning to Seattle to finish up his career. He had his best seasons with the Seahawks, making three straight Pro Bowls from 2015-17.
Along with Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, the Eagles picked up the 2021 options on quarterback Carson Wentz, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, defensive end Brandon Graham and offensive guard Isaac Seumalo on Friday. All the moves were procedural. Wentz is scheduled to make $1.38 million and $15.4 million in base salaries the next two seasons as part of the four-year, $128 million extension he signed last year. He has been injury prone so far in his career, but he completed 63.9 percent of his passes for 4,039 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions with a barren receiver corps in 2019. Jeffery had surgery for a Lisfranc foot injury and played in only 10 games last year, catching 43 passes for 490 yards and four touchdowns. He's become less dependable for fantasy owners heading into his age-30 season.
Free-agent TE Eric Tomlinson (Raiders) is signing with the New York Giants, the team announced Saturday, March 28.
The Philadelphia Eagles have exercised the contract option of DL Malik Jackson. He had a $2.4 million option that had to be exercised or his 2020 salary would have increased to $10 million; instead, he will earn a base salary of $1.05 million this year.
Free-agent DE Michael Bennett (Cowboys) is interested in playing during the 2020 season, according to a source.
The Denver Broncos re-signed free-agent DL Shelby Harris to a one-year contract Saturday, March 28. The deal includes $2.5 million in guaranteed money and has a maximum value of $3.25 million, according to a source.
Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton could remain with the team for the 2020 season, and 'all options are still on the table' for the quarterback, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
Fantasy Spin: Dalton has been the subject of trade rumors, but the Bengals continue to sit on the veteran quarterback. There is still a chance he is moved before the start of the season, but with Cincinnati expected to draft Joe Burrow with the No. 1, it seems unlikely Dalton would be starting if he is a still a Bengal come Week 1.
Free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney isn't close to signing with a team in free agency, according to a few sources. A growing thought around the league is that Clowney could wait a while to find his new team, perhaps into training camp this summer. He hasn't gotten offers anywhere close to what he wants, which is a multi-year deal in the $20 million a season range. Instead, the consensus is that the Seahawks' offer to re-sign him was in the $13-15 million per-year range. The pass-rusher had only three sacks in 2019 and has a long injury history, which makes things more problematic with the current restrictions on physicals due to the coronavirus. Clowney can be a difference-maker when healthy, but he's a wild card because of his injury history and lack of a double-digit sack season.