Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition
Bailey in as Morstead exits
The Miami Dolphins have signed New England Patriots punter Jake Bailey, the team announced Friday afternoon.
The development came after an ESPN report earlier Friday of a Bailey visit with Miami. All the while, veteran punter Thomas Morstead, who played for the Dolphins in 2022, announced on Twitter he’s joining the New York Jets in free agency.
Bailey had an All-Pro and Pro Bowl season in 2020 and is considered among the league’s best. He has a 45.9 yards-per-punt average in his career with 45.9 percent of his punts landing inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
Bailey signed a four-year contract for $13.5 million with the Patriots last offseason, but while on injured reserve, he was placed on the suspended list late last season, voiding his guarantees. Bailey’s agent, Doug Hendrickson, filed a grievance contesting the suspension.
“While Jake Bailey was on IR, he never missed a single treatment, meeting or practice,” Hendrickson said in a statement released at the time. “He was hoping to come off IR to play last weekend, but Jake was informed he was being suspended these last two games. This comes as a surprise given his full participation during injury reserve. We have filed a grievance to fight this unknown suspension.”
Before the suspension, Bailey was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 19 with a back ailment. He had 35.1 net yards per punt in his nine games last season, down from a 42.0-yard average in 2021. He averaged a whopping 45.6 net yards in his All-Pro season of 2020.
Morstead, in an otherwise disappointing special teams unit for the Dolphins in 2022 that returns coordinator Danny Crossman, stood out with 28 punts landing inside the 20-yard line in 2022, the second-highest total of his career. The longtime New Orleans Saint turned 37 on March 8 and now returns to the Jets, where he played seven games in 2021 in a season where he split time with the Atlanta Falcons.
The Patriots landed former Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki in free agency earlier Friday. But in the constant intra-division movement of the AFC East, the Dolphins, along with Bailey, have brought in three former Jets as free agents — quarterback Mike White, wide receiver Braxton Berrios and offensive lineman Dan Feeney.
Not done at LB? With former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush Jr. headed to the Seattle Seahawks, a league source told the South Florida Sun Sentinel the Dolphins were in communication with Bush and offered him less than Seattle.
It’s an indication Miami is still looking for a linebacker after reaching deals with David Long of the Tennessee Titans and Duke Riley, who is returning to the Dolphins. The source said the offer came after agreements with Long and Riley.
Bobby Wagner, an eight-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro who was teammates with new Dolphins star cornerback Jalen Ramsey last season with the Los Angeles Rams, headlines the list of names still available at linebacker. Lavonte David remained with the Buccaneers, and Eric Kendricks went from the Vikings to the Chargers.
Kohou earns payday: Dolphins cornerback Kader Kohou got $705,584 in compensation through the NFL’s performance-based pay distribution program, the league announced Friday.
Kohou, after going undrafted last year out of Texas A&M-Commerce, significantly outperformed that status by starting 13 games as a rookie with 72 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and 10 pass deflections. His share of the NFL’s $336 million pool for the program, which benefits players whose playing time exceeded their salary levels, ranked 14th in the league. Philadelphia Eagles safety Marcus Epps was the top beneficiary, making an extra $880,384.
Kohou’s pay is added on to the $715,000 he earned in 2022 with the team.