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AFC Notes: Dolphins, Steelers, Jaguars

Fantasy Football
December 19, 2015

The Dolphins will watch the playoffs from their couches for the seventh straight season largely because they’ve cycled through various underwhelming choices at head coach and quarterback during that span. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald offers a solution for each spot: Sean Payton and Drew Brees.

Both Payton and Brees are still under contract in New Orleans beyond this season (Payton for two years, Brees for one), but there are rumblings that Payton will search for another job during the offseason. Thus, he could end up in Miami – which isn’t expected to promote interim head coach Dan Campbell. Should Payton attempt to take a position elsewhere, the Saints will expect compensation for him. If the Dolphins ends up as Payton’s next team, Salguero believes they should be willing to package as much as a first-round pick in 2016, a first-rounder in ’17, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill to ensure that the Saints put Brees in the deal with Payton.

Salguero’s proposal would make sense for the Saints, who are in cap jail and nowhere near contention. They’d get Tannehill – who has shown potential, is nine years younger than Brees (37 in January), and under team control through 2020 – and a couple of valuable draft choices to aid in a rebuild. The Dolphins would be surrendering a boatload in hopes of ending their playoff drought, but Salguero thinks owner Stephen Ross would be a proponent of such a move because Ross has tried something similar in the past. As Salguero details, Ross attempted to hire then-Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh in 2011 and wanted Harbaugh to convince his QB, Andrew Luck, to enter the draft. It didn’t work then, but Salguero sees his idea as a win-win for both Ross’ Dolphins and the Saints.

In the event Salguero’s suggestion becomes a reality, it would mean Brees finally ends up in a Dolphins uniform – something that nearly happened almost a decade ago. Instead the team traded for Daunte Culpepper, whose time in Miami was a failure. On the other hand, Brees became a Super Bowl winner and a Hall of Fame lock in New Orleans.

More from the AFC:

  • The 8-5 Steelers are currently on the outside of the AFC playoff picture, but they might end up as the conference’s scariest team if they get into the postseason, Bob McManaman of the AZCentral.com opines. The Steelers are getting hot at the right time, having averaged 35 points per game and nearly 500 yards per contest over their last five, and this year’s AFC powers have looked vulnerable of late. New England has come back to earth somewhat thanks to injury issues, while Cincinnati may have lost star quarterback Andy Dalton for the season and Denver doesn’t appear to have a solution under center. All of that could open the door for the Steelers to ultimately make their first Super Bowl appearance since 2010-11.
  • The concussion protocol the NFL established in 2013 is garnering positive reviews from the Steelers, who say it protects them from themselves, Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. “If you leave it up to us, there’s never nothing wrong with us,” cornerback William Gay stated, implying that he and his fellow players will always look for an excuse to stay in a game. With the concussion protocol in place, though, that can’t happen anymore. Said fullback Will Johnson, “I have trust in their concussion protocol and that they are going to make sure that I am completely safe before they let me go out and participate. I’ve always felt comfortable. I know it is a hot topic of conversation right now, but I have never had a problem.”
  • Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley‘s decision in 2013 to retain receivers coach Jerry Sullivan, a holdover from the prior staff, is paying off, according to Ryan O’Halloran of Jacksonville.com. Sullivan deserves at least some credit for helping turn a pair of second-year wideouts – Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns – into big-time threats, especially given that neither was a first-round pick. Robinson was a second-rounder, and Hurns somehow went undrafted. The two have combined for 127 catches, 1,900-plus yards and 20 touchdowns this season. “On Sundays, he’s like the voice in my head,” Robinson said of Sullivan.

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