The Miami Dolphins are giving defensive back Eric Rowe a three-year, $18 million contract extension, locking up a player who has thrived since his move from cornerback to safety six weeks ago.
The deal includes more than $7 million in guaranteed money, according to a source.
Rowe — who is playing on a one-year, $3.75 million contract — has done excellent work, particularly in pass coverage, since his move to safety, where Miami has been decimated by injuries.
Against Philadelphia on Sunday, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz failed to catch either pass thrown to him with Rowe in coverage, with Rowe knocking the ball away from Ertz to prevent a late touchdown. His metrics have been outstanding against tight ends.
Coach Brian Flores, who worked with Rowe in New England the previous three seasons, has consistently praised Rowe’s skill set and willingness to do anything asked of him.
Rowe said last week that contract negotiations were ongoing and he was hoping to stay with the Dolphins long-term. He said he still sees himself as a cornerback playing safety but would be fine playing either position. And the way he has handled safety, he could emerge as the starter there next season, potentially alongside Bobby McCain.
Rowe, 27, has 59 tackles and seven passes defended in 11 games. A former second-round draft choice of the Eagles, he played his rookie season with Philadelphia in 2015, then the next three in New England.
Rowe has done excellent work in coverage this season, especially on tight ends, and that continued Sunday against the Eagles.
Since August, the Dolphins have given contract extensions to four players who would have otherwise been free agents next spring. Offensive lineman Jesse Davis and receivers Jakeem Grant and Allen Hurns were the others.
Flores had no update on injured running back Kalen Ballage on Monday, but reading between the lines, it sure seems as though the Dolphins are not expecting Ballage back this week, if at all this season.
Ballage was carted into the locker room after suffering what the team announced as a leg injury.
“We’re still going through the evaluation process with him,” Flores said. “He did get dinged yesterday. We’ll see how that progresses throughout the course of the week. No official word on that.”
If he’s done, that means the Dolphins locker room has lost their top three running backs for vastly different reasons. The team traded Kenyan Drake to the Cardinals in late October. Mark Walton was cut after a domestic violence arrest. And now Ballage is hurt.
With Ballage leaving early with the leg injury after 11 snaps, Patrick Laird (five yards and a touchdown on 10 carries plus 43 yards on four catches) played 43 of Miami’s 72 offensive snaps, with Myles Gaskin (two carries for 20 yards) logging 16. The Dolphins went with fullback Chandler Cox for 11 of Miami’s 72 offensive snaps.
If Ballage cannot play Sunday against the Jets, the Dolphins would go with some combination of Laird, Gaskin and De’Lance Turner from scrimmage.
Laird and Gaskin have “prepared as if they’re starting the entire year. From that standpoint, they’ve done a really good job, and I think they’ll be ready to go. I’m confident those two will be able to get that going.”
▪ Former first-round pick Charles Harris’ playing time has progressively diminished throughout the season, and the defensive end-turned-linebacker played a season-low nine snaps on Sunday, fewer than the 14 logged by rookie linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel in his second game since being activated off injured reserve.
▪ With Bobby McCain and Reshad Jones on injured reserve and Steven Parker sidelined by an ankle injury, the Dolphins gave safety Adrian Colbert 70 snaps alongside Eric Rowe, who played all 71 defensive snaps. Montre Hartage, promoted from the practice squad, played 20 snaps, and both Colbert and Hartage allowed touchdowns in pass coverage, Colbert against Alshon Jeffery and Hartage against Miles Sanders.
▪ Pro Football Focus gave Parker, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and tight end Mike Gesicki the top three grades on Miami’s offense. Guard Shaq Calhoun was given the worst grade on offense; he allowed five quarterback pressures and a sack. Left tackle Julien Davenport, who missed three snaps with an injury, allowed two sacks and five pressures.
▪ Among players who logged at least 10 snaps, PFF gave the Dolphins’ top grades on defense to defensive lineman John Jenkins, linebacker Sam Eguavoen (had a sack) and Rowe. PFF gave Miami’s worst defensive grades to linebacker Jerome Baker and Wiltz.