One by one, the Dolphins’ loaded 2016 draft class is getting paid.
The latest: Jakeem Grant, who on Wednesday signed a four-year, $24 million contract extension that will keep the dynamic receiver and returner in Miami through the 2023 season
In other words, Grant is in line for a big raise over the $720,000 in base salary he was due this season. Grant was entering the final year of his rookie contract, and would have been a free agent in March without a new deal.
The deal makes Grant the second member of his draft class to land a long-term extension in the past four months. Cornerback Xavien Howard signed a five-year, $75.3 million extension in May. And the Dolphins at some point are expected to pursue a long-term deal with left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who will earn around $10 million in 2020 after the Dolphins picked up his fifth-year option.
The Dolphins prioritized locking down the 5-foot-6 Grant not necessarily because of the stats he’s put up, but because of the player they believe he can become. Grant has 34 catches in three NFL seasons, but has made those catches count, scoring four touchdowns and averaging 13.9 yards per reception.
Plus Grant, who ran a sub-4.4 40-yard dash at Texas Tech’s pro day back in 2016, has three return touchdowns in his career, including a 102-yard kickoff return in 2018 that was the longest in the league.
Grant was so dynamic on special teams a year ago, he earned All-Pro votes despite missing the season’s final six games with a calf injury that needed surgery to repair.
Grant’s calf fully healed, but he has been dealing with a minor hamstring injury that kept him out of the first two preseason games. He returned to practice this week.
Thursday night’s preseason game against the Jaguars might be the last time we see Josh Rosen on the field for a while.
Even if Brian Flores, as most expect, names Ryan Fitzpatrick the starter in the coming days, it would not be unusual for him to sit both of his top two quarterbacks for the preseason finale.
So Rosen’s next game action might not be until the regular season — if it comes at all in 2019.
Would sitting on the bench give Rosen a greater hunger to play, as Dolphins coach Brian Flores suggested Tuesday?
“I don’t need any additional drive or hunger,” he said. “I’ve got plenty chips on my shoulder. I’m just trying to be the best player that I can be. I’ve sort of reshaped my focus and how I approach the game a lot, basically since the end of last year. I’ve tried to reign in the focus more on me and what I do every day and how I can help the team and becoming the best quarterback that I can be.
“Because a lot of the, ‘This guy played right away. This guy sat. This guy won a Super Bowl. This guy didn’t. This guy busted,’ it’s sort of extra information that I don’t really need in my life right now,” Rosen continued. “Really, my goal is to perform the best that I can this preseason game and the next game perform the best that I can that preseason game, let the cards fall as they may and let the important people make the decisions that they have to.””
Rosen has been a national curiosity since his high school days, and that noise only grew when he became the first freshman quarterback to start a season opener at UCLA ever. He all but acknowledged Tuesday that the attention surrounding him wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
“I didn’t change how I approached the game,” Rosen said. “I changed how I approached my day-to-day and tried to focus more day-to-day, day-by-day, as opposed to month-to-month, year-to-year. I think you can get caught up in not worrying enough about the little things if you’re constantly looking so far ahead, and it’s worked very well for me so far. I think I’ve made some pretty good progress since I’ve gotten here and I’m going to continue to progress and once coach thinks that I’m good enough to go, I’ll be ready to go.”