DAVIE, Fla. — The Miami Dolphins announced they have signed versatile defensive back Eric Rowe to a three-year contract extension. A source tells ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the deal is worth $18 million, with $7 million guaranteed.
Rowe made an early-October transition from cornerback to safety that has worked out extremely well. Rowe’s versatile skill set has allowed him to play in the box and in coverage at times, but his most prominent role has been in minimizing tight ends.
In Sunday’s 37-31 upset win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Rowe excelled in his role, helping keep Zach Ertz to what the tight end told reporters was “one of the worst games he’s ever played in.” Ertz finished with three catches for 24 yards, and Rowe broke up a key touchdown late in the game as the Eagles were attempting to mount a comeback.
“I thought Eric played well. Tough matchup, we know Ertz is a very good player — one of the top if not the top tight end in the league. I thought Eric did a good job,” coach Brian Flores said. “Collectively as a team we tried to hit him and disrupt him as much as possible. Eric played a big role in that.”
Rowe has assumed the starting spot that belonged to Minkah Fitzpatrick until he was traded in September. Rowe is one of several low-key Dolphins signings and waiver claims that have worked out better than initially expected. He appears to have the inside track for one of Miami’s starting safety spots next season.
“The main thing is the selflessness of Eric. He’s willing to do whatever we need [him] to do to help us win. It starts there,” defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said. “He’s a guy who’s been a hard worker in this league — a diligent worker — and he’s smart. He can tackle. He’s tough, and he provides us with an advantage in terms of size, his length, combination of speed; you put that on a tight end in terms of coverage, that helps out a lot. It’s a different skill set than dealing with a linebacker. Then he also provides us with some flexibility because he can do corner skills, safety skills, set the edge — he can do a bunch of things.”
It’s the fourth extension the Dolphins have done since August, making it a priority to lock up young players they view as part of their long-term future. Receivers Jakeem Grant and Allen Hurns and offensive lineman Jesse Davis were recipients of multiyear extensions.
Rowe, a 2015 second-round pick by the Eagles, spent the past three seasons with the New England Patriots along with Flores. Rowe missed 15 games over his tenure with the Patriots largely due to injury and spent this season bouncing back from that injury.
This season, Rowe has seven pass deflections and a career-high 59 tackles. He’s been integral on a Dolphins team that has won three of its past five games, turning around the narrative about the team.
Rowe signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Dolphins in March and spoke often about finding a team where he could be for a long time. That could be Miami, a place where he is under contract through 2022.