NFL teams were officially allowed to begin negotiating deals with free agents on Monday, and although no moves can become official until Wednesday afternoon’s new league season formally opens, the Miami Dolphins have already seen turnover.
On day one, Miami signed just one player but saw three free agents sign elsewhere. The biggest name departing the Dolphins? Backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Ryan Fitzpatrick Signs One-Year Deal with Washington
After completing a two-year deal, Fitzpatrick signed a new one-year contract late Monday night with the Washington Football Team. This will be Fitzpatrick’s ninth NFL team and the one-year contract guarantees him not only $10 million dollars, but a realistic chance to be a starter.
Fitzpatrick lost his starting job in near-shocking fashion during the 2020-21 season to rookie Tua Tagovailoa after Miami’s bye week was moved up due to rescheduling because of COVID-19. He was publicly emotional and professionally voiced his displeasure with the move after helping to turn Miami’s season around, including a statement Thursday Night Football win over the Jacksonville Jaguars where he completed 90-percent of his passes.
The 38-year-old veteran made it clear that he wanted to continue playing in the league, but as a starter.
The Dolphins were not expected to re-sign Fitzpatrick unless he did not find a home on another team.
Fitzpatrick Leaves Miami with Multiple Memorable Comeback Wins
Fitzpatrick will leave Miami with a passer rating of 89 after 20 starts and officially playing in 24 games. He tossed 33 total touchdowns for the club and led them to numerous comeback wins. The most notable include the 2019-20 season finale upset in Foxborough to knock the New England Patriots out of a first-round bye, the Dolphins’ first win in Gillette Stadium in 2008, and the improbable final-seconds victory against the Las Vegas Raiders this season with his completion to wide receiver Mack Hollins while being slammed to the ground by his facemask to set up kicker Jason Sanders for the game-winning kick.
Finally, Fitzpatrick led Miami to an improbable 5-11 season after the Dolphins began 0-7 with one of the worst point differentials in NFL history when they were beginning to rebuild their roster. With a band of almost-nobodies, he developed WR DeVante Parker and helped him achieve his best season in his career. After saying he introduced himself to players in the huddle of Friday’s practice before the season opener, Fitzpatrick was well-known by the season’s end.
Fitzpatrick is expected to compete with Washington’s QB Taylor Heinicke for the starting job for 2021-22, but is currently listed as its starter on its official depth chart. Washington recently re-signed Heinicke to a two-year, $8.75 million dollar contract after the QB started the team’s Wild Card playoff game in place of injured starter Alex Smith. Heinicke nearly helped upset the eventual Super Bowl Champions Tampa Bay. Kyle Allen is currently the No. 3 QB on Washington’s roster.
Other News: Miami Signs Special Teamer Cethan Carter from Cincinnati
Miami’s only day one signing was former Cincinnati Bengal fullback/tight end/special teamer Cethan Carter on a three-year deal. The move is mainly to help with special teams depth.
Carter’s three-year deal is worth $8.25 million but could climb to $8.7 million with incentives. However, only $2.7 million is guaranteed.
Carter has missed just two games in his three-year career, an important thing head coach Brian Flores and General Manager Chris Grier have been looking for since the duo has worked together to rebuild the team.
Dolphins Lose Davon Godchaux, Kamu Grugier-Hill to New England, Houston
Nose tackle Davon Godchaux, a former Walter Payton Man-of-the-Year nominee from Miami, had his 2020-21 season cut short after a biceps injury that required season-ending surgery. In a contract year that he needed to further solidify why he should be on the Dolphins’ roster, the odds were against Godchaux to re-sign.
New England Overpays for Godchaux
The Dolphins were right.
Godchaux ended up signing with New England, who overpaid him, on a two-year, $16 million dollar deal with $9 million fully guaranteed.
The former fifth-round pick finished his Dolphins career with 179 tackles and three sacks in 52 games.
Grugier-Hill Comes Off the Board Quickly on Day One
Additionally, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill was also quickly snagged.
After an underwhelming one season in Miami, the Houston Texans scooped him for at least one year. They too gave him a one-year deal worth $3.25 million dollars.
Grugier-Hill mainly appeared on special teams for the Dolphins after coming over from the Philadelphia Eagles. He filled in at LB only when Miami had defensive injuries, but didn’t play up to potential. He had just 28 tackles and one for a loss.