Brian Flores is gone, but the New England-to-Miami pipeline lives on.
Defensive back D’Angelo Ross became the latest player to hop on that train Tuesday, signing a reserve/future contract with the Dolphins after spending the last three seasons with the Patriots.
That Ross didn’t receive a futures deal from his now-former employer was a mild surprise. Having initially joined the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2019, the 25-year-old spent his rookie year on injured reserve and nearly two full seasons on New England’s practice squad before finally making his regular-season NFL debut last month.
The Patriots elevated Ross to their gameday roster for each of their final four games, twice playing him over cornerbacks Joejuan Williams and Shaun Wade, who were healthy scratches in Weeks 16 and 17. Ross was a bit player in three of those contests but logged 46 defensive snaps in the Patriots’ regular-season finale — a 33-24 loss in Miami.
“D’Angelo is a really smart player,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in early January. “On scout team, he plays basically every position in the secondary. He has a really good understanding of what to do and techniques to do it in. He’s gained a lot of confidence of the coaching staff and his teammates based on his work ethic, his consistency and dependability on a daily basis.”
Veteran safety Adrian Phillips said the Patriots felt comfortable when Ross was on the field.
“You don’t have to worry about giving him a check because he already knows the check, he already knows how the situation is going to play out and he goes out there and gets the job done,” Phillips said before Week 18.
Despite that late-season praise, New England did not offer Ross a future contract, per Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal. He now will compete for a spot with the Dolphins, who had four ex-Patriots defensive backs (Jason McCourty, Eric Rowe, Justin Coleman and Jamal Perry) on their roster this season.
Miami fired Flores, a former longtime Patriots assistant, from his head-coaching position earlier this month.
The Patriots signed six players to future contracts last week: wide receivers Kristian Wilkerson, Tre Nixon and Malcolm Perry, running back Devine Ozigbo, offensive lineman Will Sherman and kicker Quinn Nordin. The contracts of 12 New England practice squadders, including Ross, expired Monday, though the team subsequently re-signed defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale to a future deal.
Improving their cornerback depth should be high on the Patriots’ list of offseason priorities.