Dolphins extend O’Leary’s contract
In the weeks after the Dolphins signed former Bills tight end Nick O’Leary to their practice squad on Sept. 20, coach Adam Gase said more players asked him when O’Leary would be promoted to the 53-man roster than any practice squad player he has ever been around.
O’Leary rewarded the Dolphins with solid allaround play during the past two months, and the Dolphins rewarded O’Leary on Saturday by extending his contract through 2019. He will make $1.5 million next season, with $500,000 guaranteed.
The deal was agreed to, but not yet signed, as of early Saturday afternoon.
O’Leary has seven receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown in seven games, including four starts, since he was promoted to the 53-man roster on Oct. 5.
He was unemployed for nearly three weeks after being cut Sept. 1 by the Bills, who selected him in the sixth round of the 2015 draft out of Florida State. O’Leary, the grandson of golf legend Jack Nicklaus, had 32 catches for 473 yards and two touchdowns in three years with the
O’Leary, who attended Dwyer High in Palm Beach Gardens, this season is rated 22nd among 69 tight ends by Pro Football Focus.
“He does everything well,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said.
O’Leary’s signing gives the Dolphins three in- expensive tight ends under contract for 2019. Mike Gesicki, the team’s second-round pick in April’s draft is set to make $780,542 next season, while Durham Smythe, the team’s fourth-round rookie, will make $570,000.
A.J. Derby, who has played in four games and dealt with a foot injury much of the year, will be a free agent after the season, as will MarQueis Gray, who was the projected starter in August before sustaining a torn Achilles in a practice days before the regular-season opener.
Speaking of O’Leary, Gesicki, Gray and Derby, Gase said last week: “I like all four of those guys. Every week is a tough decision. If they’re all four healthy, that’s a tough decision. You almost want to figure out, how do I get them all up? Because they all can do something offen- sively. They all can do special teams stuff. There’s a lot of value in that room.”
But the Dolphins haven’t gotten big receiving numbers from the position. In addition to O’Leary’s seven catches for 77 yards, Gesicki has 18 receptions for 156 yards, Derby three for 48 and Smythe two for 27.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR CHIEFS?
Kareem Hunt went from the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice field to looking for a job in about six hours, a spectacular fall for the NFL’s reigning rushing champion.
The Pro Bowl running back had been preparing for a game at Oakland when, unbeknownst to him, a months-old video surfaced online. The footage from a Cleveland hotel security camera showed Hunt shoving and kicking a woman, with police ultimately responding. No charges were filed.
The Chiefs immediately sent Hunt home as the video from TMZ ripped across social media. An organization that prides itself on providing second chances said in a statement late Friday it had released the 23-year-old star.
The question now for both the Chiefs and Hunt is simple: What’s next?
The Chiefs (9-2) are barreling toward the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, and the loss of their leading rusher is substantial. Hunt already had run for more than 800 yards and had 14 total touchdowns, helping Kansas City form one of the league’s most dynamic offenses.
His ability to churn out yards on the ground helped the Chiefs put away several games. His ability to catch passes out of the backfield had been just as useful.
Yet the falloff to Spencer Ware isn’t that significant.
The Chiefs’ backup was the unquestioned starter heading into last season, even after the team made Hunt their third-round pick. It wasn’t until Ware — whose skill-set closely mirrors that of Hunt — went down with a seasonending knee injury in the preseason that the rookie took over.
“There was a question whether he would be able to come back from that injury. It was a pretty tough injury to come back from,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said recently. “The last couple weeks he has played good football. You can see where he is more confident each week here.”
Dolphins tight end Nick O’Leary (83) celebrates his first quarter-touchdown with Danny Amendola on Oct. 14