Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dolphins Add Former CFL Pass Rusher Tearrius George

A day after re-signing seven of their own practice squad players for 2009, the Dolphins added their first fresh face of the new year by claiming linebacker Tearrius George off waivers from the New Orleans Saints on Jan. 6.

Undrafted out of Kansas State in 2006, George has spent time with the New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys and Saints in the NFL while playing for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League in 2007.

Background

George (6-4, 250) began his collegiate career at L.A. Valley Community College, playing two seasons and earning all-conference honors. He then transferred to Kansas State prior to the 2004 season.

As a junior at Kansas State in 2004, George appeared in 10 games for the Wildcats including five starts and recorded 21 tackles (11 solo), six tackles for a loss and three sacks. He then appeared in 11 games as a senior in 2005, recording 27 tackles (six for a loss), four sacks, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.

After going undrafted in the 2006 NFL Draft, George was signed by the New York Jets on May 15. However, he was waived by the team just a day later and eventually signed with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.

During his rookie season with the Stampeders in 2007, George recorded 33 tackles while leading the team in both tackles for a loss (four) and sacks (eight). He also recovered one fumble on the season.

George signed with the Dallas Cowboys in early 2008 and participated in training camp with the team. Attempting to make the team as an outside linebacker in the team's 3-4 scheme, George recorded seven tackles during the preseason and had two sacks against the Minnesota Vikings in the preseason finale. However, Dallas waived George during final cuts on Aug. 30.

George was re-signed to the Cowboys' practice squad to begin the 2008 season and remained there until Dec. 4 when he was signed to the active roster of the New Orleans Saints. (Coincidentally, the Saints also signed linebacker Rob Ninkovich off the Dolphins' practice squad the same day.) George did not appear in any games with the Saints and was eventually waived on Dec. 28.

By adding him off waivers, the Dolphins will take on the two-year contact George signed with the Saints in December. He will have a base salary of $385,000 in 2009, after which time he will become an exclusive-rights free agent in the 2010 offseason.

Analysis

George was almost listed in my Six Potential Cowboys Cuts to Watch entry from August, but instead I went with fellow linebacker Darrell Robertson. He just seemed like a guy the Dolphins would be interested in based on his potential as a 3-4 pass rusher.

George doesn't have great timed speed (he ran in the 4.8-4.9 range in the forty before the draft) but he plays fast. He has good acceleration and burst off the line and can be a dominant pass rusher at times. On the down side, George can sometimes have trouble shedding blocks and could benefit from being more physical.

George is now one of five outside linebackers under contract with the Dolphins, joining Joey Porter, Matt Roth, Charlie Anderson and Erik Walden. The Dolphins also have Quentin Moses, an exclusive-rights free agent, who I imagine will be tendered and re-signed later in the offseason.

As it stands now, George has a solid shot at earning a backup job for the Dolphins at outside linebacker. He can certainly give Walden and Moses a run for their money and has had a more productive career at the pro level to this point. However, it seems likely the Dolphins will add more bodies (and potentially even use a high pick on the position) before camp so George will have much more competition by the time July rolls around.

This is a good signing for the Dolphins, though it's important to not get carried away. George wasn't very productive in college and has yet to establish himself in the NFL. He did have a solid rookie season in the CFL and certainly has the tools to be a 3-4 pass rusher, but he still has a long way to go and is by no means a lock to make the Dolphins' roster.