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Examining the roster ties between Patriots, Dolphins ahead of Week 17

From IR to 53, eight ex-Patriots reside on the Dolphins’ defensive side of the ball.

Miami Dolphins v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins will revisit Gillette Stadium on the final Sunday of 2019.

And a rolodex of names from the New England Patriots’ past will do the same.

But the names go beyond a coaching staff that includes Brian Flores, Chad O’Shea, Dave DeGuglielmo, George Godsey, Jerry Schuplinski, Tiquan Underwood, Patrick Graham and Josh Boyer.

Eight former Patriots players can be found between Miami’s active roster, practice squad and injured reserve as the 1 p.m. ET kickoff nears.

All on the defensive side of the ball.

One signed a futures contract last February. Another signed as an unrestricted free agent in March. A pair were claimed off waivers from New England on Labor Day weekend. Another pair agreed to exit the scout team in Foxborough for the 53-man roster in Miami Gardens this December. And only a pair didn’t travel directly from one side of the AFC East to the other.

Here’s a glance through the on-field ties between New England and Miami.


Trent Harris, linebacker – The Dolphins were awarded Harris, a Miami Hurricanes product, following the 2019 preseason. Harris had spent the entirety of his rookie year on the Patriots’ practice squad after signing as an undrafted free agent, and has since spent the entirety of his sophomore year on the Dolphins’ 53-man roster. He’s appeared in 10 games for the defensive front, logging two starts as well as 16 tackles and his first career forced fumble. Harris had previously notched 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble over six games of preseason play for New England.

Calvin Munson, linebacker – Part of New England’s practice squad since October 2018, Munson exited for the Miami active roster midway through December. The San Diego State linebacker originally entered the league with the New York Giants in 2017, and checked into 14 games to collect 60 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble as a UDFA in East Rutherford. Munson collected another 16 tackles during his 2019 preseason case with the Patriots, starting two contests. He’d make his initial Dolphins start in Week 16. Four tackles followed.

Nate Brooks, cornerback – A week before Munson agreed to join the Dolphins’ 53-man roster, Brooks took the same route. The rookie defensive back out of North Texas had been a member of New England’s scout team since September. Prior to then, Brooks spent the spring and summer with the Arizona Cardinals. He’d post 14 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble for the Cardinals in exhibition action. Brooks has since posted eight tackles and a pass breakup over two weeks in Miami, along with NFL start No. 1.

Jomal Wiltz, cornerback – As Miami’s new coaching staff took shape following Super Bowl LIII, Wiltz became the initial ex-Patriot to follow. The Dolphins signed Wiltz, who had worked all of 2017 and 2018 on the New England practice squad, to a futures contract in February. The move has seen Wiltz earn a place on the Dolphins’ 53-man roster and make his first six of NFL starts. The 25-year-old corner out of Iowa State has eclipsed the 50-tackle mark, picked off one pass and nears 40 percent of Miami’s snaps on special teams.

Aqib Talib, cornerback – The Dolphins acquired Talib, on injured reserve due to a rib injury, from the Los Angeles Rams along with a 2020 fifth-round pick at the trade deadline. Two non-guaranteed years remain on the veteran cornerback’s $57 million contract. It was a contract that Talib signed with the Denver Broncos in 2014 free agency after a season-plus with the Patriots. Talib started 18 games while in New England, forcing one fumble, intercepting five passes, defending a total of 16, and returning one for a touchdown.

Ryan Lewis, cornerback – The Patriots had signed Lewis to the practice squad a week into the 2017 regular season. There the undrafted cornerback out of Pittsburgh remained through Super Bowl LII before reaching a futures deal. Lewis, currently on injured reserve, played in three preseason games for New England in 2018 before being claimed at the roster cutdown by the Buffalo Bills. Stints with the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles followed. The Dolphins then claimed Lewis in October. Lewis intercepted his first career pass and recorded 24 tackles before landing on IR.

Ken Webster, cornerback – New England’s war room filled out Webster’s draft card in April. The Ole Miss DB, taken at No. 252 overall, proceeded to total 10 tackles and a pass deflection during his preseason showing. The Dolphins claimed Webster as the calendar turned to September. The rookie seventh-rounder appeared in eight games, with five starts, before being placed on Miami’s injured reserve. Webster had been in on 19 tackles and one pass breakup prior to then.

Eric Rowe, safety – To open the final month of the regular season, The Dolphins signed Rowe to a three-year, $18 million extension that runs through 2022. Rowe has gone from cornerback to safety for the Dolphins after operating at both for the Utah Utes. He’s started 14 games in all this campaign, playing the second-most snaps on the Miami defense while more than doubling his career high in tackles. The Dolphins first signed Rowe to a one-year pact in March. He accrued the previous three campaigns with New England after being acquired from Philadelphia in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick.


Brandon Bolden, running back – For 16 games, Bolden was a Dolphin. One who scored two touchdowns against the Patriots last December. But by March, Bolden had circled back to the organization he broke into the league with as an undrafted rookie in 2012. Since then, Bolden has handled 15 carries, nine catches, 179 yards and a career-best four TDs on offense. The four-down back out of Mississippi has also served as New England’s kickoff returner. And on special teams, Bolden stands with a blocked punt, a forced fumble and a snap rate that ranks second to only eight-time Pro Bowler Matthew Slater.