Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dolphins waive '08 fourth-round pick Shawn Murphy; Sign OT Lydon Murtha

The Miami Dolphins announced Tuesday they have waived second-year guard Shawn Murphy and signed rookie offensive tackle Lydon Murtha.

A fourth-round pick out of Utah State in 2008, Murphy was inactive for all 22 games with the Dolphins since entering the NFL last season.

Murtha was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of Nebraska and had spent the entire regular season to date on the Lions' practice squad.


A Homestead, Fla. native, Murtha redshirted at the University of Nebraska in 2004 after suffering a leg injury during the spring.

Murtha appeared in 23 games for the Cornhuskers over the next two years, starting six of them at left tackle while serving as a top reserve lineman for the rest.

As a junior in 2007, Murtha started eight games at right tackle before being sidelined with an injury.

Murtha earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors for the second consecutive season as a senior in 2008 after starting eight games and helping Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz set the school record for passing yards in a season.

Murtha was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the seventh round (223rd overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft. He appeared in three of the team's four preseason games this year, but was waived during final cuts on Sept. 5.

Murtha had spent the 2009 regular season on the Lions' practice squad. Because he was signed directly off the practice squad by the Dolphins, he must remain on the active roster for at least three weeks.

Murtha likely signed a two- or three-year contract with the Dolphins for the league minimum. He will don No. 76 in Miami.


Some seem to be surprised by the waiving of Murphy, but I'm not one of them. The only thing that surprises me about his time in Miami is that it lasted as long as it did.

People made excuses for Murphy since he was drafted by the Dolphins in the fourth round of last year's draft. But the simple reality is, he was a mid-round pick with plenty of college experience and never even gained consideration for playing time during his rookie season.

That wouldn't be so bad if the Dolphins had had a mainstay at the right guard spot. But Donald Thomas—a sixth-rounder in the same draft that walked on to the UConn football team and didn't play ball in high school—was able to come in as a rookie and earn the starting job out of camp, while Murphy was relegated to the bench.

Then, when Thomas went down following the 2008 season opener, the Dolphins tried almost everyone they could find (with little success, mind you) and still never gave Murphy a shot. They started one player they picked up off waivers right before the season (Andy Alleman) and another they signed in the middle of the season (Evan Mathis). But nope, no Murphy.

In 2009, it was my firm belief that Murphy was still on the team only because of his draft status, and that he would have one more camp and preseason to prove his value before the team parted ways with him. I was slightly surprised when he opened camp as the "favorite" at right guard even with Thomas' injury, but I never believed for a second Murphy actually had a chance to beat out a healthy Thomas for the job.

It took a little longer than expected with Murphy surviving final cuts, but he again was inactive for every game this season. The Dolphins finally decided his progress just wasn't enough, and parted ways with the highest draft pick bust of the Parcells-Ireland-Sparano era to date.

Murphy will pass through waivers on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, after which time he will become an unrestricted free agent if unclaimed. My guess is he lands on another team's practice squad, as he's not really worth an active roster spot at this point, but could be worth a look-see as a developmental candidate.

It's always possible the Dolphins could re-sign Murphy to the practice squad if he clears waivers, but it's unknown at this point if either party would be interested in such an arrangement. Armando Salguero wrote yesterday about some potential bitterness on Murphy's end, so this split could very well be permanent.

As for Murtha, while he appears to be a better prospect than Murphy, he's still a long way from contributing and may never do so. He has prototypical size, good athleticism and a solid college résumé, but injuries plagued him throughout his amateur career and it's hard to imagine those things ever completely going away.

In the short term, Murtha will likely be inactive on game days and not on the 45-man roster that dresses. He'll likely work behind second-year man Nate Garner at right tackle, though one could be waived and relegated to the practice squad at some point in the near future. Keep in mind, Murtha must remain on the Dolphins' active 53-man roster at least three weeks since he was signed off another team's practice squad.