Parker Gabriel, Broncos beat reporter: OK, Ryan, the NFL scouting combine is off and running. Denver, of course, is in the quarterback market. Could be via draft, free agency, trade or some combination. We’ll hear from the 2024 class later in the week, but what’s also interesting is several dominoes could fall this week — or at least be primed to fall — and impact Sean Payton’s quest to find a franchise quarterback. At some point (likely next week), Denver will finalize its plan to release Russell Wilson. That will be a big in-house domino, but it’s widely expected. On Wednesday, the Jets confirmed they’re letting Zach Wilson look for a trade partner. Not exactly earth-shattering, but hey, it’s a domino. What other moves on the quarterback market are you watching this week and in the days before free agency?
Ryan McFadden, Broncos beat reporter: One QB I’m watching is Chicago’s Justin Fields. The Bears are in an interesting spot with an opportunity to select USC’s Caleb Williams with the first pick. Fields has shown the ability to be an effective starter, but will the Bears really pass on Williams? Could Fields be an option for the Broncos if they don’t? That might be difficult if Denver is wary of trading away more picks after the Wilson debacle. But I like Fields and am interested to see what his future holds. Baker Mayfield’s played himself into a sizable contract and I’m curious what the market will look like for Kirk Cousins after his return from a torn Achilles. Sam Howell is one quarterback who doesn’t get talked about and could be on the move. The Commanders have the second overall pick and may take North Carolina’s Drake Maye or LSU’s Jayden Daniels. If the Commanders decide to take a quarterback, do they keep Howell as a backup? Howell gave Denver problems in Week 2, but he finished 2023 with 21 interceptions.
Gabriel: Howell and New England’s Mac Jones could end up both available in addition to Wilson. Not a scintillating group, but the bottom line is if the Broncos want to get greedy, they’re hoping the teams ahead in the draft address the quarterback position in other ways. Denver would probably be very happy if Kirk Cousins returns to Minnesota (No. 11 pick) and Chicago trades Fields to Atlanta (No. 8 pick) or New England (No. 3), right? Or maybe Russell Wilson ends up in one of those places. Maybe the Las Vegas Raiders (lurking one spot behind Denver at No. 13) make a similar move for a signal-caller after jettisoning Jimmy Garoppolo. It’s far from a sure bet that signing Wilson or Cousins, each 35 years old and selected in the third and fourth rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft, respectively, would take a team out of the picture for drafting a quarterback. If you’re Denver, though, you want those teams at least thinking about other positions in the first round.
INDIANAPOLIS — Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier spoke to a small gathering of South Florida media members Wednesday from the NFL scouting combine.
As draft prospects test throughout the week, team executives and player agents engage in constant talks in Indianapolis with free agency two weeks away. A high-priority item for the Dolphins is to strike a long-term contract extension with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, something coach Mike McDaniel said Tuesday he hopes happens.
“We’ve been in communication since the offseason began. I’m going to talk to his agent here this week,” said Grier, as Tagovailoa is set to enter the fifth and final season of his rookie contract in 2024. “Our goal is to try and see if we can get something done. (Agent Ryan Williams) has been great. Tua’s been great. So we’ll see, but no timeline on it. At the end of the day, you know how these deals get done. They’re complicated deals.”
Grier would not delve deeper into negotiations between he and his quarterback’s agent, but he, like McDaniel, said the Dolphins are hopeful of reaching a deal. He added concussion history would not factor into any decisions, as Tagovailoa completed a full season healthy for the first time in his career.
Miami’s top personnel decision-maker touched on defensive tackle Christian Wilkins’ status as the team’s 2019 first-round draft pick enters free agency. The Dolphins can also choose to place Wilkins on the franchise tag, which costs $22.1 million against the 2024 salary cap at Wilkins’ position.
Grier, at his end-of-season news conference in January, said Wilkins has “earned the right to be a free agent.”
“I think all options are on the table for us,” Grier said Wednesday. “I’m going to meet with Christian’s agent here this week. We’ve had good conversations, but I’m just being very transparent with it. He has earned it. He had a great season, and so, we’ll see what happens here as we talk over the next couple of weeks.”
Wilkins and the Dolphins negotiated last offseason and up until training camp in 2023 before Wilkins put contract talks on the backburner to focus on the season. A stout run defender his first four seasons, Wilkins added an interior pass rush last year, recording a career-high nine sacks.
“We had conversations, and we were close on a deal last offseason and it didn’t come together,” Grier said. “For us, we know what Christian is, the type of person and player, what he brings to the organization.”
The GM said he feels comfortable with the flexibility the team has this offseason, even as it’s currently about $29 million over the salary cap after the release of defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. The Dolphins can still easily get back into the green by restructuring high-priced contracts like those of wide receiver Tyreek Hill, cornerback Jalen Ramsey and outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, converting their base salary into prorated bonuses that spread out the financial burden over future seasons.
Possibly on Miami’s chopping block this offseason is linebacker Jerome Baker, who has no more guaranteed money on his contract and can either be asked to take less or outright released for $9.8 million in cap savings.
“We’d love to have Baker here,” Grier said, adding that discussions with new defensive coaching staff will play a role in Baker’s fate with the team.
Miami is also set to free up $18.5 million once June arrives, with cornerback Xavien Howard set to be released with a post-June 1 designation at the start of the new league year March 13.
“That was a tough one. Xavien and I had a long conversation because he was the second player I drafted here in 2016,” Grier said. “He and I had been through a lot of stuff. We were just talking about how proud I was.”
The GM added he’s not closing the door entirely on the cornerback who spent eight seasons in Miami possibly coming back at some point.
The 2024 salary cap was announced last week to be $255.4 million, significantly higher than expected. Players could potentially move their price tag up with that knowledge.
Grier said executive Brandon Shore and his team are generally pretty good about forecasting future salary cap figures, but they did not have it going as high as it did.
“It was good, but, end of the day, you can’t let that drive your decisions, still,” Grier said.
With that money, the Dolphins will also have to consider how many interior offensive linemen they can bring back as they have last year’s starting center plus three guards, one being the highly regarded Robert Hunt, entering free agency.
“I love Robert,” Grier said. “He’s a good kid. He works hard. He wants to be good.”
The GM said center Connor Williams is focusing on rehabbing his torn ACL before engaging in contract talks this offseason.
Dolphins left tackle Terron Armstead is contemplating retirement this offseason. Grier said he asked him to let the team know his intentions by the start of the league year and free agency.
“We’re preparing either way,” Grier said.
The Dolphins also have a key offseason in addressing the edge defender position. Outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel, who is still recovering from a foot injury, is a free agent, while fellow edge rushers Jaelan Phillips (Achilles) and Chubb (knee) are coming off serious season-ending injuries.
Grier did not commit to selecting a prospect with his first-round pick, No. 21 overall, in the late April draft.
“I think you have to be open to everything,” he said.
Grier mentioned moving up, moving down or trading for “a player that’s a home run for us” as possibilities. The Dolphins have not made a first-round selection since 2021, when they took wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and later Phillips in the opening round. Grier said Wednesday Miami is not going to trade Waddle this offseason.
Varsity Weekly: spotlight on FHSAA wrestling championships; track, baseball, softball, lacrosse expl
Six Orlando area boys ranked No. 1 in their weight class hope to pin down FHSAA championships at this week’s Individual Bracket Tournament (IBT) wrestling state meet at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.
The tournaments, which includes boys and girls, open Thursday with first round matches starting at 12:30 p.m.
In Class 3A, Osceola has two No. 1 seniors sitting at No. 1 in the latest KabraWrestling.com rankings updated Sunday following regional meets.
Anderson Heap (54-5 record) goes for a third consecutive state title while sitting atop the 150-pound rankings and Gunner Holland (44-6) aims for his third title in four years at 175.
Holland finished third last year while competing with torn ligaments in one hand.
Harmony has the other 3A No. 1 in Shawn McCallister (43-1) sitting at the top of the heap at 157 pounds – pun intended. McCallister beat Heap in the Orange Belt Conference Championship meet. Heap was wrestling up a weight division.
In 2A, the wrestler who accounted for McCallister’s only loss is among three top-ranked boys from Winter Springs.
Jaydon Robinson, a senior who transferred in from Homewood-Flossmoor High School in Illinois, is No. 1 at 144 pounds with a 47-2 record. He wrestled up a class in the Cousins Milton Winter Invitational at St. Cloud and defeated McCallister in a 150-pound match.
Robinson’s only losses came at the prestigious Walsh Ironman tournament in Ohio.
Winter Springs senior Elijah Penton went undefeated as a 170-pound state champ. He is 44-5 this season with five quality losses as 2A’s top-ranked 175 pounder. Three defeats came at the Ironman. Another came against a Georgia standout , and the other was vs. Holland in four overtimes at Osceola’s Knockout Christmas Classic.
The Bears’ other No. 1 is senior Ryan Phillips (34-6) at 138 pounds. He was ranked second before defeating previous No. 1 Christian Fretwell of Lake Gibson in a regional semifinal. Phillips placed third at last year’s state finals.
Wrestling is scheduled to begin at 9:15 a.m. on Friday, with semifinal bouts set for 1:30 p.m., followed by consolation matches. Action continues at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, leading up to finalist introductions at 3:15 p.m. and championship matches at 4:15.
Admission is $11 per day if purchased in advance via Ticketmaster and $11 the day of.
Here are top area wrestlers to watch. They are listed with their KabraWrestling.com ranking and weight class:
2 Nathan Lyttle, Harmony 106
2 Adaias Ortiz, Osceola 113
2 Nikolas Blake, Hagerty 138
1 Anderson Heap, Osceola 150
1 Shawn McCallister Harmony, 157
1 Gunner Holland, Osceola 175
2 Jermael Paul, Evans 285
1 Ryan Phillips, Winter Springs 138
1 Jaydon Robinson, Winter Springs 144
1 Elijah Penton, Winter Springs 175
Girls (one class)
3 Matie Coutinho, Freedom 105
3 Delialah Betances, Liberty 120
3 Bry Kaminsky, Orange City University 130
3 Chloe Shull. Timber Creek 155
2 Jada Jones, Apopka 190
3 Emari Brown, Harmony 190
3 Rotchiva Clermont, Freedom 235
Host Lake Brantley won its Big Blue Bonanza tournament for the second time in three seasons last week as the high school baseball season opened.
The Patriots (3-1) won 5-2 vs. Mount Dora Christian (3-1) on Friday in the championship game.
Senior Isaac Padilla went 3-for-3 with a double and 2 RBI. Sophomore Justis Mike was 2-for-3 with a stolen base and 2 runs scored.
Padilla and Mike combined to go 10-for-17 at the plate in three tournament games. Brantley pitchers for 26 strikeouts and 6 hits allowed in 20 innings.
Lake Brantley also recorded a 1-0 win vs. Apopka and 10-0 win in six innings vs. East River in the tournament before tasting its first defeat in a 2-1 loss in eight innings against Oviedo (3-1) on Tuesday.
Oviedo’s Robbie Mitchell struck out 8 and allowed no hits in five innings in a pitchers duel against Nick Burgos, who fanned 9 in five innings. The Lions won on a hit by Kyle Ball that scored Braden Minnetto and Henry Alarcon
Mount Dora Christian rolled past Windermere High (2-1) in six innings during a 13-1 Big Blue semifinal win. Justin Earle went 1-for-2 with 2 walks, 2 stolen bases, 2 RBI and 3 runs scored. He also struck out two batters in 1⅓ innings pitched.
The Hurricane also posted a wild 17-11 win against Lyman on Tuesday night.
Markel Jones, who won large-school state titles in both the 110- and 400-meter hurdles as a Lake Mary senior last spring, helped USF win the American Conference indoor track and field championship for the first time on Saturday. He won the 60-meter hurdles final in a school-record time of 7.81 seconds.
Bishop Moore product Marc Morrison, a junior at UConn, repeated as the Big East indoor long jump champion with a leap of 24 feet, 10 inches (7.59) meters. He was the 2A state champ as a Hornets senior in 2021.
Both Jones and Morrison ran track and played football in high school.
• Bishop Moore alum Olivia Miller, now a UF freshman, became the first Gators softball pitcher to throw two perfect games in a season when she shut down Lafayette in a five-inning 21-0 home victory.
• Emilie Escalara’s three-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth gave Winter Springs (2-0) an 8-5 softball win against Oviedo.
‘• Parker Perales, a Lake Brantley junior, scored his 100th career boys lacrosse goal in the Patriots (2-2) 12-8 win against Windermere High last week.
• Reigning state lacrosse champ Lake Mary, 24-0 last season, routed Brantley 21-1 on Monday and is off to a 5-0 start going into some challenging games this week.
Varsity Content Editor Buddy Collings can be reached by email at email@example.com.
INDIANAPOLIS — The Miami Dolphins have no intentions of trading wide receiver Jaylen Waddle this offseason.
Dolphins general manager Chris Grier made that much clear while speaking with a small group of South Florida media members at the NFL scouting combine Wednesday afternoon.
“As I said in the middle of the season, no thoughts of trading Jaylen Waddle,” Grier said. “We want him here for a long time, and we think he’s a big part of our now and our future here. He’s a great person on and off the field, and we still think, as good as he is, he still has runway to keep getting better.”
Waddle’s name has recently been brought up from as a trade possibility because ESPN analyst Mike Tannenbaum, the former Jets general manager and Dolphins vice president of football operations, created a hypothetical deal between Miami and the Kansas City Chiefs that he felt would make sense for both sides. Tannenbaum concocted a scenario where the Dolphins trade Waddle in exchange for standout Chiefs cornerback Trent McDuffie.
Waddle’s name had also circulated in trade rumors ahead of the past season, as a potential piece the Dolphins could send to the Indianapolis Colts for running back Jonathan Taylor.
Speaking Aug. 30, as Miami made its cuts for an initial 53-man roster for the 2023 season, Grier said it was nothing more than “exploratory talks.”
“I can say there was no exchange of offers from either one of us,” Grier said then. “It was just general talks. So a lot of the stuff reported, I could tell you guys that 95 percent of it’s wrong. So we’ve had some discussions, but it’s no different than any player that’s ever released or available that we know about and have a discussion with the GM about it.”
Pressed further, Grier said of Waddle over the Taylor trade speculation: “Jaylen Waddle would not be available to anybody. It wouldn’t matter who they called about.”
As Tannenbaum’s idea picked up steam on social media last week, it got a reaction out of fellow Dolphins standout wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
“I’m all the way in Greece right now and I get on Twitter to see people talking crazy about dolphin football,” Hill wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“My boy Waddle is the future,” Hill continued in another post. “He is better than I was at this point in his career and for people in this fan base to want to trade him is ludicrous.
Hill added: “Him and (quarterback) Tua (Tagovailoa) was special before me and will be special after I leave.”
Waddle was a Dolphins first-round selection in the 2021 draft, taken with the No. 6 overall pick. Since, he has posted more than 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first three NFL seasons.
Hill’s latest incident
Grier offered his reaction as Hill is in the news again this week for off-the-field trouble. A popular female social media influencer is suing him for allegedly breaking her leg when he charged into her performing a football drill at his Southwest Ranches home.
“We were made aware of it,” Grier said. “We were in communication with NFL security, so really can’t comment on any of that until all that stuff gets — we get all our information and find out what happened. But, for us, Tyreek has been a good addition for us, but in terms of the off-field stuff, we’ll get all the information before we can really comment on it.”
The alleged incident with model Sophie Hall occurred June 28.
Hill has a history of assault allegations. On June 18, he was accused of slapping a fishing charter company employee at a marina in Haulover Park, then offering him $200 and apologizing, according to a Miami-Dade Police report.
In 2019, Hill was suspended from the Kansas City Chiefs amid allegations that he had physically abused his son. In 2014, he was arrested on domestic violence charges while at Oklahoma State and pleaded guilty to abusing and choking former fiancée Crystal Espinal, who was pregnant at the time.
Will young players like Damari Brown, Zaquan Patterson get big roles? Six Hurricanes defensive playe
Hurricanes spring football begins on Monday, and the excitement is building.
Even though Miami’s season ended on a sour note with a loss to Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl, there are many reasons to be optimistic about the Hurricanes’ chances in 2024.
Key returnees and major additions have Miami looking like a challenger in the new-look ACC this year, and spring practice is the first time players and coaches can work together consistently after the offseason.
On Monday, we looked at five key storylines to follow during Miami’s spring practice. On Tuesday, we covered five offensive players who are worth keeping an eye on this spring. Here is a look at five defensive players to watch in March and April:
1. Francisco Mauigoa
Mauigoa, the older brother of standout offensive lineman Francis Mauigoa, was a breakout star on the Hurricanes’ defense last year. Playing middle linebacker in Lance Guidry’s defense, Mauigoa led Miami in tackles (82) tackles for loss (18) and quarterback hits (seven). He also tied for the team lead with 7.5 sacks. For his efforts, he was named to the All-ACC second team by the conference and the Associated Press. Now in his second season with the Hurricanes, Mauigoa is an established star and leader. It will be intriguing to see how he develops as a key player in this defense in his second year playing in it.
2. Damari Brown
Brown came to UM last year as a highly touted four-star cornerback out of American Heritage. Brown came with his brother, Davonte, but the elder Brown transferred to Florida State in the offseason. The younger Brown is still at Miami, and with Jaden Davis’ graduation, he has a chance to lock down the second starting cornerback spot. Brown played 331 snaps in nine games, making 14 tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss without an interception. Pro Football Focus gave him a 63 defensive grade last season, and now is the time to see if he can make a sizable jump in development going into his sophomore year.
3. C.J. Clark and Marley Cook
Cook and Clark are bunched together because they are both transfer defensive tackles who will have opportunities to take over where Branson Deen and Leonard Taylor III left off. Clark arrives from ACC rival N.C. State, where he notched 22 tackles, four tackles for loss and one sack. Cook, who transferred from Middle Tennessee State, had 22 tackles and a sack last season. Both players have a shot to compete for a starting role in critical spots on UM’s defensive line.
4. Jadais Richard
Richard transferred from Vanderbilt to Miami last year and saw some time on the field in his first year at UM. Richard played 187 snaps, primarily playing as a wide cornerback, making 14 tackles in 11 games. However, Hurricanes coaches have touted his ability to play multiple positions, including slot cornerback and safety. With both safeties departing for the NFL and Davis and slot cornerback Te’Cory Couch graduating, there are open spots in the secondary that Richard can compete for.
5. Zaquan Patterson
Patterson is one of the top defensive prospects in the Hurricanes’ 2024 class. Patterson was a star at Hollywood’s Chaminade-Madonna, which has sent several players to Miami recently. Patterson, who was rated a four-star prospect and the No. 6 safety in the class, had 49 tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack, 10 pass breakups and seven interceptions as a senior while helping lead Chaminade to a third straight state championship. Patterson also developed another standout skill while in high school: He became an excellent special teams player, blocking numerous punts during his high school career. With safeties Kamren Kinchens and James Williams departing for the NFL and Patterson enrolling early, the Chaminade star could get on the field quickly at UM.