SALT LAKE CITY — One week ago, as the legal tampering period opened for the start of the new NFL league year and its subsequent free-agency period, news quickly broke that former BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy would be playing for a new team, the Miami Dolphins, in 2020.
Van Noy, after 3 1/2 seasons playing for Bill Belichick in New England, was headed to Miami on a reported four-year, $51 million deal, with $30 million guaranteed, per NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport.
It’s a signing that’s largely been praised by national media, with some questions surrounding the price tag it cost the Dolphins to bring in Van Noy.
It’s the second time Van Noy has changed teams in his NFL career. The first time came in 2016, when the Detroit Lions, who drafted him in 2014, traded Van Noy and a seventh-round pick to the Patriots for a sixth-round pick. Since then, Van Noy became a key component in Belichick’s defense, accounting for 221 tackles and 15.5 sacks, including a career-best 6.5 last year, over the past three seasons while earning a pair of Super Bowl rings.
Van Noy’s already shared a photo showing what he will look like in the Dolphins uniform, writing on Twitter, “Its official!! Lookin fire already ... can’t wait to get it rocking at the Hard Rock Stadium!”
Part of the optimism surrounding Van Noy’s arrival in Miami is he will be reunited with second-year Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, his position coach in New England who also handled defensive play-calling duties in 2018.
Miami Herald’s Davis Wilson emphasized the positives of bringing in someone familiar with Flores’ defense.
“Van Noy’s best years came after he was paired up with Flores for the first time and he thrived whenever he was playing within the set of philosophies New England — and Flores — emphasizes,” Wilson wrote.
“Miami is paying a hefty price to make Van Noy a centerpiece of its front seven. If there’s anyone who can make him worth it, Flores is best suited.”
Dolphins team columnist Andy Cohen echoed those sentiments.
“This is my favorite signing so far and it makes sense every way you look at it. Van Noy played for Brian Flores in 2018 with the Patriots so the Dolphins know exactly what they’re getting, which is a highly intelligent, highly productive player who is as disruptive as he is effective,” Cohen wrote.
ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe highlighted Van Noy’s versatility as a linebacker and edge rusher, while cautioning a regression may occur.
“Van Noy also isn’t a true edge rusher — he has just 15.5 career sacks — and it’s a big investment for a player who excelled by making the most of how he was used in a particular scheme,” Wolfe wrote.
Van Noy’s new four-year contract will pay him an average of $12.75 million. His previous contract, a two-year deal with New England, totaled $11.7 million, per Spotrac.
The New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy assessed every NFL team’s first week of free agency and gave the Dolphins an A- for their work: “A shopping spree (some overspending) resulted in a much better man-to-man defense led by Byron Jones, Kyle Van Noy and Shaq Lawson.”
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell was the most critical of Van Noy’s signing and the sizable pay increase, giving the move a C grade. He praised Belichick for his work in taking Van Noy back in 2016, off a lackluster 21⁄2 years in Detroit, and turning him into an effective inside linebacker who could also rush the passer, setting up this kind of free-agency payday.
“It’s a lot of money for a guy who would have probably come in closer to $10 million per year if he had been playing for a different team,” Barnwell wrote. “This is really a one-year, $15 million deal with Van Noy’s 2021 and 2022 base salaries guaranteed only for injury, which gives the Dolphins more flexibility if they want to get out of the contract. At that one-year price, though, Van Noy is basically going to have to repeat his 2019 season and produce as both a pass-rusher and a coverage linebacker.”