Sunday, September 6, 2009

Dolphins place David Matin on I.R., claim Davon Drew

Final cuts may have come and gone, but that doesn't mean the Miami Dolphins were finished shaping their roster for the 2009 season.

In a somewhat surprising move, the Dolphins have placed veteran tight end David Martin on season-ending injured reserve, while claiming rookie tight end Davon Drew off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens.

David Martin

A sixth-round pick out of Tennessee in 2001, Martin spent six seasons with the Green Bay Packers, primarily as a backup to starter Bubba Franks. Martin caught 87 passes for 766 yards and nine touchdowns through the 2006 season before becoming an unrestricted free agent.

Martin signed a three-year contract with the Miami Dolphins in 2007 after the team released starting tight end Randy McMichael. However, Martin was a disappointment in his first year with the team, catching just 34 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns as the Dolphins went a league-worst 1-15 on the season.

Despite being relegated to the No. 2 spot behind Anthony Fasano in 2008, Martin had a career year and set highs in receptions (34), yards (450) and touchdowns (3).

Martin battled a sports hernia and knee injury during the 2009 offseason, but participated in all four of the team's preseason games, catching two passes for 12 yards.

There had been conflicting reports about what exactly the Dolphins did with Martin, as some said he was released with an injury settlement and some say he was waived/injured. We now know he has been placed on injured reserve, though an injury settlement is still possible if he becomes healthy and the team is willing to let him go elsewhere. They did the same thing with cornerback Michael Lehan in 2008.

Regardless of whether or not he spends the entire season on I.R., Martin's days with the Dolphins are likely numbered as he is in the final year of his deal and will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.

Davon Drew

A North Carolina native, Drew spent his first two years at East Carolina as a quarterback, red-shirting in 2004 and failing to see game action as a reserve in 2005.

Upon converting to tight end as a red-shirt sophomore in 2006, Drew earned third-team All-Conference USA honors after catching 16 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns. He followed that up with an honorable mention all-conference selection as a junior in 2007.

Drew experienced a breakout season as a senior in 2008, catching 43 passes for 695 yards and three touchdowns. He once again earned honorable mention All-Conference USA honors.

The Baltimore Ravens selected Drew in the fifth round (149th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft—12 spots before the Dolphins draft tight end John Nalbone.

Drew played in three preseason games for the Ravens in 2009, catching one pass for six yards. He was waived by the team during final cuts and claimed off waivers by Miami the following day.

Drew will wear No. 85 in Miami, which was not worn by any player during training camp.

Analysis

It's disappointing to see Martin's time in Miami come to an end. After a horrendous performance in 2007 (a team-wide epidemic), Martin really rebounded and was a strong player with the Dolphins in 2008, seemingly always making plays and coming up with the clutch catch.

That being said, Martin wasn't really going to ever be a starter in Miami and was unlikely to be re-signed in the offseason anyway.

As for Drew, he's a solid pickup and a decent H-back prospect. He has good speed and athleticism for his size with somewhat of a big receiver build and should develop into an adequate receiving tight end. He needs to refine his blocking technique, but won't be asked to do a lot for Miami early on. He's also reportedly a good special teams player, of which Miami can't get enough these days.

Drew's addition once again gives the Dolphins four tight ends, and it seems unlikely the team will carry that many into the regular season. The Dolphins reportedly wanted to waive fifth-rounder John Nalbone yesterday, but waived offensive tackle Nate Garner instead for fear Nalbone wouldn't pass through waivers.

Now, with three young tight end prospects and only two needed on the active roster, the Dolphins might be willing to let one go and take their chances on him clearing waivers. There's always a chance the team that would have claimed Nalbone on Sunday has already filled that spot with someone else (the Jets claimed Matthew Mulligan off waivers) and won't put in a claim for Nalbone at this point in time.

I expect Joey Haynos will be featured as the No. 2 tight end behind Anthony Fasano, while Drew and Nalbone will battle it out this week in practice for the third tight end job. The Dolphins might waive one before the season opener or they might do it soon after, but either way I don't see Miami carrying four tight ends on the active roster all season.

If I had to guess, I'd say Nalbone will be waived soon and they'll try to slip him to the practice squad. It's always possible Miami liked Drew over Nalbone in the draft and simply took Nalbone because Drew was already gone, and if that's the case their attachment to Nalbone may now have dwindled.