Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Linebackers Brown, Sidbury, Williams on Dolphins' radar

The reports of draft prospect workouts keeping rolling it, and so do my updates. Three more players drawing interest from the Dolphins are linebackers Cody Brown (UConn), Lawrence Sidbury, Jr. (Richmond) and Jason Williams (Western Illinois).

Cody Brown

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that Connecticut defensive end Cody Brown will have a private workout with the Dolphins on April 10.

The 6-foot-2, 244-pound Brown finished his collegiate career with 24 sacks in 42 games for the Huskies. He recorded a career-high 11 sacks as a senior in 2008 on his way to first-team All-Big East honors.

A quality pass rusher, Brown will be strongly considered by the Dolphins in Round 2 as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Lawrence Sidbury, Jr.

The Dolphins were reportedly represented when defensive end Lawrence Sidbury, Jr. worked out at Richmond's Pro Day on March 19.

Per NFL.com, the Dolphins' linebackers coach (presumably outside linebackers coach Jim Reid) was in attendance.

Sidbury racked up 20 sacks with the Spiders, including a career-high 11 as a senior. He will be considered by the Dolphins in Rounds 2 and 3 as a pass-rushing outside linebacker prospect.

Jason Williams

NFLDraftBible.com reports the Dolphins will conduct a private workout with Western Illinois linebacker Jason Williams this week.

Williams (6-3, 235) finished his collegiate career with 289 tackles (46.5 for a loss), 15 sacks and one interception. His best season came as a junior in 2007, when he recorded 107 tackles and eight sacks for the Leathernecks.

Williams is a potential mid-to-late round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. He projects as a insider linebacker in the Dolphins' 3-4.

Monday, March 30, 2009

TE Jared Cook works out for Dolphins

Tight end prospect Jared Cook has already completed a private workout with the Miami Dolphins, per Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Cook left South Carolina following his junior season in 2008, declaring for the 2009 NFL Draft. He finished his collegiate career with 73 catches for 1,107 yards and seven touchdowns in three seasons as a tight end and wide receiver for the Gamecocks.

The 6-foot-4, 246-pound Cook is one of the top tight end prospects in the 2009 draft, along with Oklahoma State's Brandon Pettigrew and Shawn Nelson of Southern Miss. He possesses great speed and athleticism and might be the best pure receiving tight end in the draft, although he is lacking as a blocker.

Cook has a chance to sneak into Round 1 if everything goes just right, but he's more likely a second- or third-round pick. He's someone the Dolphins will surely consider in Round 2, as both of the team's top two tight ends - Anthony Fasano and David Martin - are entering contract years.

Preseason opponents revealed; Dolphins desperate to move Beck; Derenthal to work out

The NFL released a halfway complete preseason schedule today, with all teams' opponents and weeks they play them. Specific dates and times will follow, but for now this is what we know of the Dolphins' preseason schedule:
  • Aug. 14-18 - vs. Jaguars
  • Aug. 22-23 - vs. Panthers
  • Aug. 27 (on FOX) - at Tampa Bay
  • Sept. 3-4 - at New Orleans
No surprises here. Only difference from recent years is the addition of Carolina and absence of Kansas City, but we still have the two other Florida teams like always and in general always stay close to home. That's typically how they do it.

As an Atlanta native, I'm glad to see we have one game on national television, which ensures the place I watch the games here in Georgia won't have to use a sling box or try and pick up a Miami satellite feed in order to see the game.

Beck available for any amount


ESPN's John Clayton (via Rotoworld since I don't pay for ESPN Insider) reports Dolphins third-string quarterback and 2007 second-round pick is available to teams for any amount and teams "need only make an offer."

This is no surprise since Beck has no future in Miami as a Cameron draft pick. It'd be nice if the Dolphins could trade him for a conditional seventh-rounder, but clearly teams don't think much of him and the Dolphins don't have much leverage.

In all honesty, it wouldn't surprise me to see a quarterback drafted in the mid-to-late rounds and/or signed as a rookie free agent to compete with Beck for the third-string job. If Miami can't trade him and can find their own third-stringer to develop as Chad Henne's backup, Beck's not safe in Miami.

Temple's Derenthal to work out for Dolphins

KFFL.com reports that Temple center Alex Derenthal will work out for the Dolphins. A second-team All-MAC selection in 2008, Derenthal started all 47 possible games for the Owls during his collegiate career after redshirting in 2005.

Despite his impressive college resume, Derenthal is limited physically and is an extremely borderline pro prospect. In fact, NFL Draft Scout has him as the 719th overall prospect. Not that there are roughly 250 picks in the draft, so essentially this guy has about the same shot of getting drafted as I do.

If Derenthal makes it into a camp (and even that's not a guarantee) he'll have an uphill battle competing for a backup gig.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Britton, Allen, Skuta draw interest from Dolphins

Man will I be glad when the NFL Draft comes and goes so I can stop having to post updates on prospect workouts! Just kidding, I love you all.

Eben Britton

The Dolphins have held a private workout with Arizona offensive tackle Eben Britton, per Ed Thompson of Scout.com.

Britton headlines the second tier of tackles in this year's draft, just below the elites like Jason Smith, Eugene Monroe, Andre Smith and Michal Oher. Britton is a likely late first-round pick.

However, even with the 25th overall pick toward the end of Round 1, Britton is very unlikely to land with the Dolphins. Wide receiver, outside linebacker and cornerback are the team's top priotrities, while the team's two offensive tackles are set in Jake Long and Vernon Carey.

Russell Allen

Thompson also reported the Dolphins met privately with San Diego State linebacker Russell Allen.

An outside linebacker in college, Allen led the Aztecs with 107 tackles as a senior in 2008 while also adding 2.5 sacks.

Allen is a potential late-round selection in this year's draft, though in my experience decent college linebackers tend to be undervalued and players on Allen's level often go undrafted (a la Maryland's Erin Henderson and Illinois' J Leman last year).

Should Allen go undrafted, he's likely to be someone Miami would be interested in as an undrafted free agent. Were he to sign with Miami, Allen would play inside linebacker in the team's 3-4 scheme and compete on special teams.

Dan Skuta

NFLDraftBible.com reported that the Dolphins showed interest in Grand Valley State defensive end Dan Skuta in January's Cactus Bowl, the NCAA Division II postseason all-star game.

Skuta finished his collegiate career with 57 tackles for a loss and 34 sacks, including 23 sacks during his final two seasons. The 6-2, 249-pound Skuta ran a 4.62 40-yard dash at GVSU's Pro Day.

Skuta's stock is on the rise but he is still likely go to undrafted in April's draft. However, Miami is sure to add a few pass rushers between the draft and undrafted free agency, and Skuta seems like a quality prospect. He would stand up and play outside linebacker in Miami's 3-4.

CB Vontae Davis meets with Dolphins

A guaranteed first-round pick in April's draft, Illinois cornerback Vontae Davis reportedly spent last Friday visiting with members of the Dolphins' coaching staff. Among those in attendance were vice president Bill Parcells, general manager Jeff Ireland, defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, secondary coach Todd Bowles and wide receivers coach Karl Dorrell.

Davis is widely regarded as a top-two cornerback in this year's draft and may even be the top prospect if teams feel Ohio State corner Malcolm Jenkins' speed relegates him to safety.

Davis may not even be around when the Dolphins pick at No. 25 and could feasibly go as high as No. 14 to New Orleans. Beyond that, teams like Houston (15), Chicago (18), Detroit (20), Minnesota (22), New England (23) and Atlanta (24) could all use a cornerback like Davis. (Then again, what team couldn't?)

Should Davis fall to the Dolphins at 25, he is definitely someone the Dolphins will consider grabbing. Along with wide receiver and outside linebacker, cornerback is one of the Dolphins' top needs and might have to jump on Davis if he's there.

If that were to happen, it would be a great move to pick up Davis. Starter Will Allen is entering a contract year and free agent acquisition Eric Green isn't entirely proven. Davis the potential shutdown corner the Dolphins need.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More draft prospect workout updates

With the 2009 NFL Draft now less than a month away, the Dolphins are hard at work scouting and workout out potential prospects. Here are some of the recent news items I've seen regarding the Dolphins' workouts, along with some info and analysis:

WR Percy Harvin, WR Louis Murphy and TE Cornelius Ingram (Florida)

Per the Miami Herald, the Dolphins worked out wide receivers Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy along with tight end Cornelius Ingram while visiting the University of Florida.

The explosive Harvin is pretty much a lock to be selected in the first round, possibly before Miami even goes in the clock. However, he's more of a speedster anyway and not really an ideal fit for the Dolphins.

The 6-2, 200-pound Murphy seems a more likely fit for the Dolphins and is someone they'll strongly consider in the second and third rounds.

Ingram, who missed his senior year with a torn ACL, has regained his athleticism and is likely to be seleted in the first three rounds. Though tight end isn't an immediate need for Miami, starter Anthony Fasano and backup David Martin are both entering contract years so drafting a tight end may be more likely than you'd expect.

Also of note from this article is the fact that Dolphins backup quarterback Chad Henne accompanied team officials on the trip and threw to the draft prospects. The Dolphins likely want to see Henne throw as much as possible, as any players the Dolphins draft this year will likely be catching passes from Henne as a starter in 2010.

WR Hakeem Nicks, WR Brooks Foster, TE Richard Quinn and SS Trimane Goddard (North Carolina)

Per a Palm Beach Post blog entry, Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano spent the weekend at UNC working out these four players.

Nicks is a potential late first-rounder, though a recent weight gain (16 pounds since the Combine) has some teams concerned. A potential mid-rounder, Foster is the second of three Tar Heels wideouts (along with Nicks and Brandon Tate) who will likely be draft this April.

Meanwhile, Goddard is a potential late-round sleeper, and Quinn will be lucky to be drafted.

CB Darius Butler (Connecticut)

According to ProFootballTalk.com, the Dolphins will hold a private workout with Connecticut cornerback Darius Butler.

Regarded as a top-five player at his position in this year's draft, Butler is a potential late first-round pick after posting a 4.38 40-yard dash at his Pro Day. He's a strong possibility for Miami should they decide to go corner in Round 1.

FS Louis Delmas (Western Michigan)

The top safety in this year's draft, Delmas will reportedly conduct a private workout with the Dolphins.

A likely second-round pick and one of my favorite players in this year's draft, Delmas was a guy I really wanted Miami to get before they signed Gibril Wilson. Although drafting Delmas is still possible and would be a good pickup, Wilson's presence makes it far less likely to happen.

LBs Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga and Clay Matthews (Southern California)

Per Scout.com, the Dolphins worked out the three Trojan 'backers this past week.

All three are potential first-round picks, though Cushing and Matthews make more sense for Miami due to their ability to play outside, which is the team's greater need. I expect Cushing to go in the first half of Round 1 with Rey Maualuga close behind. Matthews is the most likely of the three to land in Miami in my opinion.

LB David Veikune (Hawaii)

While on the west coast scouting the above USC linebackers, the Dolphins also worked out Hawaii defensive end David Veikune.

The originally expected to go in the mid-to-late rounds, Veikune has seen his stock rise and could potentially go in the first three rounds of the draft. He would stand up and play outside linebacker in Miami's 3-4.

LB Connor Barwin (Cincinnati)

Per PFT, Barwin has already worked out for the Miami Dolphins.

An NFL prospect as a 4-3 defensive end, 3-4 outside linebacker and tight end, Barwin is one of this year's fastest rising players and is a potential second-round pick. Barwin, who ran a 4.5 40-yard dash this offseason, is a strong possibility for the Dolphins in Round 2 as the team looks to upgrade it's pass rush.

CB Don Carey (Norfolk State)

According to PFT, Dolphins secondary coach Todd Bowles traveled to Carey's Pro Day a day early to meet with the cornerback propect. Bowles also reportedly ran Carey's workout the following day.

Carey ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. He is a potential mid-to-late-round pick in April's draft and is someone the Dolphins will definitely keep an eye on.

CB Greg Toler (St. Paul)

The Dolphins held a private workout with St. Paul cornerback Greg Toler last week.

A potential mid-to-late-round pick, Toler is regarded as a top sleeper in this year's draft. He's definitely someone the Dolphins will consider given their need at the cornerback position.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dolphins work out WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, other Maryland prospects

Accoding to NFLDraftBible.com, Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland and head coach Tony Sparano conducted private workouts with four former Maryland Terrapins, including likely-first round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Draft Countdown's fourth-best wideout prospect, Heyward-Bey (6-2, 210) ran a 4.3 40-yard dash at Februay's scouting combine. He is expected to go in the latter half of the first round in next month's draft and would be a likely target for the Dolphins should they decide to take a receiver.

Also worked out by the Dolphins were Maryland tight end Dan Gronkowski, offensive tackle Dane Randolph and center Edwin Williams. Gronkowski and Randolph are likely to be undrafted in the 2009 NFL Draft, while Williams is a potential late-round selection.

The Dolphins are also scheduled to work out Maryland linebacker Moises Fokou today.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dolphins to work out LB prospect Moises Fokou

Former University of Maryland linebacker and 2009 NFL Draft prospect Moises Fokou will reportedly work out for the Miami Dolphins on Friday, Mar. 27, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times via KFFL.com.

Foise (6-1, 233) began his collegiate career at Frostburg State before sitting out in 2004 in order to transfer to Maryland. He played three seasons for the Terrapins, recording 182 tackles (20.5 for a loss), seven sacks and one interceptions in 39 games.

Per Scott Wright of DraftCountdown.com, Fokou is the No. 16 outside linebacker prospect in the 2009 NFL Draft and is projected as a late-round selection or undrafted free agent. He would play inside linebacker in Miami's 3-4 defense and would likely focus on special teams.

Dolphins acquire DE Tony McDaniel fom Jaguars

Although the Dolphins organization is big on keeping and acquiring draft picks, the team apparently felt Tony McDaniel was just too good to pass up, deciding to ship their own seventh-round pick (232nd overall) to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for the fourth-year defensive lineman.

Background

A Columbia, S.C. native, McDaniel played three seasons at the University of Tennessee before declaring for the NFL draft following his junior campaign. He finished his collegiate career with 33 tackles (six for a loss) and one sack.

Undrafted in the 2006 NFL Draft, McDaniel signed as an undrafted free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars and went on to make the active roster. He appeared in 11 games as a reserve defensive tackle as a rookie, recording 16 tackles, a sack and two pass deflections.

McDaniel appeared in four games for the Jaguars in 2007 before breaking his wrist in an October contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The injury landed him on season-ending injured reserve as he finished the season with five tackles.

In 2008, McDaniel appeared in 10 games for the Jaguars, including his first three NFL starts. He recorded 16 tackles, half a sack and two pass deflections on the season. A toe injury in December landed McDaniel on injured reserve once again.

The Miami Dolphins acquired McDaniel from the Jaguars on March 19, 2009. He will wear No. 78 (most recently worn by guard Pedro Sosa in the preseason) and will compete with Lionel Dotson and Rodrique Wright for a reserve defensive end spot in the Dolphins' 3-4 scheme.

McDaniel has two years remaining on his contract, with base salaries of $1 million (2009) and $1.855 million (2010).

Analysis

This is a good move for the Dolphins, who simply decided not to wait to use one of their three seventh-round picks in April's NFL draft. Essentially, the Dolphins chose to take a 24-year-old with three years of NFL experience to compete for a backup job at defensive end, rather than use the pick on a rookie.

McDaniel possesses great size for a 3-4 defensive end at 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds. He's strong with great agility and athleticism. The lanky defensive lineman doesn't quite have the bulk to be a 3-4 nose tackle, though he could probably play it if needed.

On the downside, McDaniel has battled wrist, hip, knee and toe injuries in his three seasons as a pro and failed to progress as Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio had hoped. He might never be a starter in the NFL and, though he has a good shot at making the Dolphins in 2009, he's certainly no lock.

All in all, this is a solid, low-risk trade for the Dolphins. McDaniel won't be asked to do much with Miami's top three ends—Kendall Langford, Phillip Merling and Randy Starks—all set in stone. He's still young with a bit of upside, providing healthy competition to Lionel Dotson and Rodrique Wright in camp just as a seventh-rounder would have done.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Full 2009 NFL Draft order revealed; Fasano and Ndukwe pocket extra cash

Now that compensatory selections have been handed out, we can find out exactly where Miami will be picking in each round. We already knew Rounds 1-3 for certain, but with compensatory picks finishing round the final five rounds we were unable to exactly determine where we'd be picking in Round 4-7.

Per NFL.com, these are the Dolphins' current selections in the 2009 NFL Draft:
  • Round 1, Pick 25
  • Round 2, Pick 44 (from Washington Jason Taylor deal)
  • Round 2, Pick 56
  • Round 3, Pick 87
  • Round 4, Pick 108 (from Oakland in Samson Satele deal)
  • Round 5, Pick 161
  • Round 6, Pick 181 (from Oakland in Samson Satele deal)
  • Round 7, Pick 214 (from Cleveland in Travis Daniels deal)
  • Round 7, Pick 237 (from Carolina in Josh McCown deal)
*Note: Our own seventh-round pick, No. 232, was the one sent to Jacksonville in the deal for defensive end Tony McDaniel.



Two Dolphins players received extra money from the league's performance-based play system, which hands out bonuses to players whose playing time and/or performance outperforms their contracts.

Guard Ike Ndukwe received an extra $266,192 from the system, while tight end Anthony Fasano pocketed $253,769.

It's no surprise to see Ndukwe earn extra money, as he went on to start 15 games for the Dolphins at right guard on a minimum salary. Meanwhile, Fasano caught 34 passes for 454 yards and seven touchdowns on a $445,000 base salary.

Satele trade a win-win-win situation

When the Dolphins signed free agent center Jake Grove earlier this month, the writing was on the wall for incumbent Samson Satele. There was talk about Satele moving to right guard to compete for a job there, but it was obvious throughout last season that he was not a good fit for the Dolphins and didn't have much of a future in Miami.

That notion came to fruition Monday as the Dolphins traded Satele to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for a sixth-round pick and a swap of fourth-round picks in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Dolphins fans call it another wasted second-round pick, and perhaps that's true from one point of view, but we're not talking about Eddie Moore here. Make no mistake, Satele is a talented player and was a pleasant surprise as a rookie in an otherwise painful 2007 season.

But when new regimes take over in an organization, even talented players can be phased out because they weren't hand-picked by the new staff or just aren't good fits. This was certainly the case for Satele, a talented, experienced young player who just wasn't a good fit in the offense brought to Miami by Tony Sparano.

Here is why this trade was best for all parties involved.

Miami Dolphins

Signing Jake Grove was a questionable move, to be sure. $29.5 million is a lot of money to give a center, especially one that will soon be 30 years old and has a lengthy injury history.

Still, Grove is undoubtedly a better fit for the Dolphins than Satele. Though similar in size, Grove is stronger, more aggressive, and is better suited to handle big 3-4 nose tackles in Miami's power-blocking scheme. The Dolphins have two of the NFL's best nose tackles in their division in the Jets' Kris Jenkins and New England's Vince Wilfork, and we all know Marcus Stroud in Buffalo is no slouch either.

Quite simply, while both talented players, Grove is a better fit for the Dolphins' blocking scheme, and is thus the right choice for the team. In that event, it makes sense to get anything you can for the guy you don't want or need, and that's just what the Dolphins did.

But draft picks are highly valued in the NFL. New England traded a potential franchise quarterback (Matt Cassel) and Pro Bowl linebacker (Mike Vrabel) to Kansas City for just a second-round pick. Talented linebacker Jonathan Vilma was shipped to New Orleans for a third-round pick. Randy Moss—one of the best receivers to ever play the game—went to New England for a fourth-rounder.

While it would be nice to get a high-to-mid-round pick in return for the 2007 second-rounder, it simply wasn't realistic. A sixth-rounder and a swap of fourth-round picks for Satele may not seem like much, but anything is better than a player you have no desire to utilize in the future. Thus, the Dolphins were wise to get what they could for Satele.

Oakland Raiders

With the departure of Grove to Miami, the Raiders obviously had a vacancy at center. 34-year-old John Wade is on the back end of his career and isn't someone you ideally want starting. Meanwhile, 2006 seventh-rounder Chris Morris has limited experience with just one start in three seasons.

In Satele, the Raiders gain a talented 24-year-old who has already started 32 regular season games in his first two pro seasons. He provides the durability Grove failed to show in Oakland, as well as tremendous athleticism and footwork—important traits for Oakland's zone-blocking scheme.

In this scheme, size and strength take a backseat to speed, athleticism, footwork and technique–some of Satele's best attributes. A misfit in Miami, Satele is a perfect fit in Oakland, and thus a great acquisition for the team.

Samson Satele

I expect no one is happier about this move than Satele himself. According to those that have spoken to him, Satele is glad to be out of Miami and excited to be heading to the west coast, which is closer to his home state of Hawaii. Of course, you can't blame Satele for wanting out, as no one wants to be where they are not wanted.

All in all, this trade benefited everyone involved. The Dolphins stockpiled more picks for a player they didn't want. The Raiders got a talented young center ideally fit for their scheme. Satele moved closer to home and to a team that wanted him.

As a Dolphins fan, I'm disappointed Satele didn't work out in Miami, but I still think quite highly of him and expect him to very well in Oakland, just as I expect good things from Grove in Miami.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Update: Satele dealt for sixth-rounder and swap of undisclosed picks

ESPN's Len Pasquarelli is reporting the trade sending center Samson Satele to the Oakland Raiders will net the Dolphins a sixth-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, as well as a swap of picks in an undisclosed round.

The swap of picks obviously benefits the Dolphins, as the 5-11 Raiders obviously pick higher in each round than the 11-5 Dolphins.

This is about what I expected from the trade, as a mid-round pick seemed unrealistic given Satele's lack of future in Miami. This trade was about stockpiling draft picks, not netting a huge score in return for Satele.

I'll have an article analyzing this move and an updated projected depth chart up later today, so check back for those!

Update II: The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is reporting the swap of picks will occur in the fourth round, with Miami moving up to the eighth pick in the round and Oakland moving down to 26th.

Update III: The Miami Dolphins' official roster has been updated, and Grove has switched from No. 60 to Satele's No. 64. Grove previously work 64 in Oakland.

Breaking News: Samson Satele traded to Raiders

In a not-so-surprising move, the Dolphins have reportedly traded third-year center Samson Satele to the Oakland Raiders. The Palm Beach Post broke the story early Monday morning.

The compensation Miami will receive from Oakland not yet been disclosed, though it's most likely a late-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. It'd be nice to get a mid-rounder, maybe a fourth or fifth, but that might be unrealistic.

Coincidentally, Satele will replace new Dolphins center Jake Grove in Oakland. Grove signed with Miami this offseason as a free agent from Oakland to replace Satele, who had reportedly fallen out of favor with the Dolphins' staff.

I'll have more on this move in the coming days, so stay tuned.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

ERFA Ike Ndukwe re-signed; Heerspink lands with Rams

The Dolphins retained one of their most versatile reserve linemen on March 20, re-signing Ike Ndukwe to a one-year contract.

As an exclusive-rights free agent who had been tendered a contract offer by the Dolphins, Ndukwe could not negotiate with other teams and had to re-sign with Miami or not play football.

The Dolphins' starting right guard for 15 games in 2008 after rookie Donald Thomas went down in the season opener, Ndukwe was shaky to say the least and the team was looking for possible replacements throughout the season.

Nevertheless, the big-bodied Ndukwe has the versatility to play every position on the line and is worth retaining one a one-year deal at a next-to-nothing price. He'll compete with Joe Berger and Andy Alleman, among others, for a reserve interior lineman position in 2009.

With the re-signing of Ndukwe, the Dolphins have one unsigned exclusive-rights free agent remaining in linebacker Quentin Moses. ERFA wideout Brandon London was retained earlier this offseason, while tight end Aaron Halterman was not tendered a contract offer and is now an unrestricted free agent.

Heerspink lands with Rams

The St. Louis Rams inked a deal with former Dolphins offensive lineman Daren Heerspink on March 19.

Undrafted out of Portland State in 2008, Heerspink went to camp with the Dolphins but was released during final cuts. He was out of football until being re-signed to the team's practice squad on Dec. 11, where he remained through the end of the season.

Heerspink was the only of Miami's eight practice squad players to not be re-signed in January.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Jake Grove and Eric Green: Contract Breakdowns and Football Analysis

The Dolphins have made two potentially significant signings in recent weeks, adding center Jake Grove and cornerback Eric Green via free agency.

Neither has come without its share of complaints from Dolphins fans. The Grove signing has some fans troubled, not just because they like Samson Satele but also because of Grove's age, injury history and money he received.

Meanwhile, Eric Green certainly addresses a need position, but he's not the most exciting name and certainly hasn't shown he can be a long-term NFL starter at cornerback.

In the following article, I examine the signings of Grove and Green from a football standpoint as well as a financial one.

Jake Grove

A Rimington Trophy winner as college football's best center during his time at Virginia Tech, Grove was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the second round (45th overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft.

In five seasons in Oakland, Grove appeared in 54 games and started 46. He started a career-high 16 games for the Raiders in 2006.

Contract Breakdown

Grove signed a five-year, $29.5 million contract with the Dolphins on March 2. The deal reportedly includes $14.5 million in guaranteed money. His base salaries throughout the contract are as follows:
  • 2009: $2 million
  • 2010: $2.66 million
  • 2011: $3.32 million
  • 2012: $3.94 million
  • 2013: $3.08 million
  • Total: $15 million
No mysteries here. We have a total contract value of $29.5 million. We then have $15 million in base salaries and $14.5 million guaranteed. Adds up perfectly.

This is a good bit of money to pay Grove, so it's clear the team plans for him to be a key part of the offensive line in the coming years. Let's take a look at the signing from a football aspect.

Analysis

While Samson Satele's struggles in 2008 were well-documented, many Dolphins fans didn't consider center to be a big need position this offseason. Thus, plenty of fans were surprised when the Dolphins inked Grove to a big-money contract.

On the surface, Grove doesn't seem like much of an upgrade and certainly not one worth all that cash. He has a long history of injury problems, playing in all 16 games just one season out of five and missing a total of 26 games in five years. He also has similar size (6-4, 300) to Satele (6-3, 300) and the biggest complaint about Satele is not being strong enough to handle the bigger nose tackles.

Still, Grove is stronger and a much more physical and aggressive player, which gives him the edge over Satele in matchups versus the Vince Wilforks of the league. He's a proven lineman and capable starter who no doubt upgrades the Dolphins' line - a unit that had struggles at two spots throughout last season.

Though Grove has experience at guard and the right guard was a problem spot in 2008, it seems Grove is indeed being brought in to play center. There's speculation Satele could be given a chance to move to right guard and compete with Donald Thomas, though I suspect the organization likes Thomas better and would give him the edge. Don't be surprised to see Satele dealt before camp, possibly on draft day.



Eric Green

A third-round pick out of Virginia Tech in 2005, Green appeared in 51 games for the Cardinals (33 starts) in four pro seasons and recorded 167 tackles, two interceptions and 30 pass deflections. He started a career-high 11 games in 2007 and racked up 51 tackles and eight pass deflections.

As a restricted free agent in the 2008 offseason, Brown received a first-round tender offer from the Cardinals and was re-signed. A knee injury, coupled with the emergence of rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, limited Green to 13 games and nine starts in 2008.

Contract Breakdown

Per Rotoworld.com, Green signed a two-year, $6 million contract with the Dolphin on March 12. These are his bas salaries:
  • 2009: $1.2 million
  • 2010: $1.65 million
  • Total: $2.85 million
Given that his base salaries make up less than half of the total value of the deal, it's likely Green received a decent signing bonus. However, this short-term contract still isn't very expensive and is certainly a manageable one for the Dolphins. This is classic third corner money and isn't a heavy investment should Green not win a starting job and/or perform well.

Analysis

Cornerback was certainly a need for the Dolphin this offseason after losing Andre' Goodman in free agency. After Will Allen, the Dolphins had a few dime backs (Nathan Jones and Joey Thomas) and a couple camp bodies (Will Billingsley and Scorpio Babers). Somebody, anybody, would have been a good addition.

Given Green's signing, it's obvious the Dolphins weren't willing to shell out big money for a corner like Domonique Foxworth, Jabari Greer and Bryant McFadden. Truth be told, that's probably a good thing because while corner was a need, none of those player are really worth the money they received. I'm in definite agreement with the Dolphins that you don't overpay for player just because you have a need at his position.

In Green, the Dolphins get a young, experienced and physical cornerback with good ball skills. He's not a quality starter at this point and isn't even a lock to start for the Dolphins, but he's certainly an upgrade over every corner on the team not named Will Allen and thus improves the secondary.

Of course, Green's signing does not mean the Dolphins won't take a cornerback high in the draft. I'd wager cornerback gets addressed by Miami within the first three rounds of the draft, and I myself am predicting one of the team's two second-round picks will be used on the position. While Green will have a leg up on the rookie to start in 2009 due to his experience, he'll certainly be pushed.

I understand Dolphins fans aren't too excited about Green and would prefer a bigger name/more proven player. However, before you get down on the signing of a 27-year-old cornerback with starting experience and a so-so career to this point, just remember the Dolphins signed a quite similar player in the 2006 offseason: Andre' Goodman.

As we all know, Goodman had a career year in 2008, and while he deserves a lot of credit, so do the Dolphins. Nick Saban deserves credit for bringing him in, and Bill Parcells, Tony Sparano and Todd Bowles deserve credit for coaching him up to the level at which he played last season. Green might not be the sexiest free agent addition, but we should have faith in a coaching staff that has shown they can get the most out of their players.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Breaking News: Dolphins acquire DT Tony McDaniel from Jaguars

Clearly not wanting to wait until April to use all their draft picks, ESPN's John Clayton reported Thursday that the Dolphins have sent one of their three seventh-round picks in the 2009 NFL Draft to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for defensive tackle Tony McDaniel.

Undrafted out of Tennessee in 2006, McDaniel (6-7, 310) has appeared in 25 games for the Jaguars as a reserve defensive lineman over the last three season. He has recorded 37 tackles, 1.5 sacks and four pass deflections in his career.

I'll have more on this acquisition later today, so stay tuned!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Draft prospects Barnes and Joseph to visit Dolphins; Tennessee next stop for Faggins

As the 2009 NFL Draft rapidly approaches, the Dolphins are setting up private workouts with eligible prospects. Two such players are Maryland cornerback Kevin Barnes and Florida Atlantic linebacker Frantz Joseph.

According to ProFootballTalk.com, Barnes will visit the Dolphins on March 27, following a visit with the Broncos and preceding visits with the Ravens and Eagles. Per NFLDraftBible.com via KFFL.com, Joseph will be visiting Miami on April 10.

The 6-0, 190-pound Barnes recorded six interceptions in his last two seasons with the Terrapins. He is ranked as the 10th-best cornerback prospect on Scott Wright's Draft Countdown and could go as early as the third round in April's draft. In Miami, he would compete for a starting cornerback job with the likes of Eric Green.

A Fort Lauderdale native, Joseph (6-3, 235) originally attended Boston College before transferring to Florida Atlantic and earning All-Sun Belt honors. As a senior in 2008, Joseph led the Owls with 154 tackles–52 more than anyone on the team. He is a projected as a fifth-round selection and would be a backup inside linebacker and special teams player in Miami.


CB DeMarcus Faggins visits Titans

Updating a previous story, free agent cornerback DeMarcus Faggins is visiting the Tennessee Titans on Thursday, March 18. A seven-year veteran out of Kansas State, the former Texans defensive back visited the Dolphins yesterday. Cornerback Eric Green visited Tennessee after his visit with the Dolphin before eventually landing in Miami.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

CB DeMarcus Faggins visits Dolphins

As I suspected, the signing of cornerback Eric Green didn't necessarily mean the Dolphins were finished addressing the position in free agency. The team hosted free agent cornerback DeMarcus Faggins (Texans) for a visit Wednesday, March 18.

An original member of the Houston expansion franchise in 2002, Faggins, 29, was drafted by the Texans in the sixth round out of Kansas State. The 5-10, 178-pound Faggins has appeared in 82 games (36 starts) and has recorded 216 tackles, five interceptions and 31 pass deflections in his seven-year career.

Given that the official website has a story on Faggins' visit, don't be surprised to see him signed in the coming days. While the prospect of signing Faggins isn't something to get excited about, it's certainly good to add bodies to the position to promote competition. Faggins probably isn't starting material, but he's certainly better than Joey Thomas, Will Billingsley and Scorpio Babers.

Given the signing of Eric Green, the interest in Faggins and the apparent lack of interest in bigger names on the market, it seems the Dolphins are content coaching up decent players and making up for talent at corner with a good pass rush. Regardless of whether or not Miami signs Faggins or any other corners this offseason, expect the Dolphins to still take a player at the position early in April's draft.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Former Dolphins find work

The Dolphins didn't sign any free agents today, but a few of their former players did find new homes in the NFL.

Center Al Johnson, who spent part of last season with the Dolphins before becoming an unrestricted free agent this offseason, has signed with the New England Patriots. Johnson, who appeared in four games as a reserve for Miami in 2008, will likely compete for a backup interior line job with the likes of Russ Hochstein, Stephen Neal, Billy Yates and Dan Connolly.

Johnson is the third of Miami's unrestricted free agents to sign with a new team, following cornerback Andre' Goodman and safety Renaldo Hill - both of whom left for Denver. The team has two remaining unsigned UFAs - wide receive Tab Perry and linebacker Derek Smith - though neither is likely to be re-signed.

Also signing a contract was linebacker Mark Washington, who inked a new deal with the San Francisco 49ers. Originally signed by the Niners as an undrafted free agent out of Texas State in 2007, Washington was signed by Miami in November 2007 and appeared in three games with the club, recording one tackle. He was waived in April 2008 and has been out of football since.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Breaking News: Dolphins sign CB Eric Green

The Dolphins moved a step closer to filling the void left by cornerback Andre' Goodman today, signing free agent Eric Green to a multi-year contract. Green had initially visited the Dolphins on March 4.

A Florida native, Green was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the second round out of Virginia Tech in 2005. He has appeared in 51 games in his career, recording 167 tackles, two interceptions and 30 pass deflections.

Green fills a huge need for the Dolphins, who are without a starting cornerback after Andre' Goodman left for Denver earlier this offseason. Fittingly, Green has chosen to wear Goodman's No. 21 in Miami

While Green is no lock to start opposite Will Allen and will surely face competition from one or more rookies and possibly another veteran addition, he's currently a huge upgrade from the likes of Jason Allen, Joey Thomas and Nathan Jones.

Stay tuned, as I'll have more on Green's contract and his impact on the Dolphins in the coming days.

Breaking down the contracts of Bell, Carey and Crowder

Sorry for the delay in this content. I've had a busy Spring Break between recreation and school work. But I want you to know that I am committed to posting content more consistently and more frequently from now on.

Just like I did with Gibril Wilson and Joe Berger, I thought it'd be a good idea to take a closer look at the new contracts signed by safety Yeremiah Bell, offensive tackle Vernon Carey and linebacker Channing Crowder. I personally find these types of articles quite interesting and I hope you do as well.

I forgot to mention in the Berger/Wilson article that when talking about Wilson's cap hits, that only applies if the Collective Bargaining Agreement is extended beyond 2010 and the salary cap remains in place. Obviously if there is no cap, none of the cap hit talk applies.

Yeremiah Bell

Miami's leading tackler in 2008, Bell signed a four-year, $20 million contract with the Dolphins on the eve of free agency. The deal included $10 million in guaranteed money. Here are the base salaries:
  • 2009: $2.55 million
  • 2010: $1.85 million
  • 2011: $3.7 million
  • 2012: $4.3 million
  • Total: $12.4 million
That leaves $7.6 million outside of base salary money. It's kind of funny that his second year base salary drops significantly from the first year, but it's nothing that out of the ordinary.

As for the contract itself, it's a fair amount of money but not enormous. I wouldn't say Miami overpaid for Bell, because while he is somewhat one-dimensional as a safety he's a strong contributor on defense and is a key member of the secondary. This is a manageable contract that he could quite possibly play out without a restructuring or release, barring a steep drop in play or long-term injury.

(Note: A Dolphins fan recently pointed out this CBS Sports article, which states Bell received a $6 million signing bonus and will have a $14 million roster bonus due next offseason. The latter would obviously make this deal essentially a one-year pact, since the team would either renegotiate to avoid the bonus or release him outright.

Considering the deal is reportedly worth $20 million total and contains over $12 million in base salaries, I'm skeptical about this reported $20 million in bonus money. I'll let you know if I can clear this up, but for now I'm inclined to believe he is mistaken.)


Vernon Carey

A first-round pick in 2004, Carey was locked up by the Dolphins to a six-year, $42 million extension on Feb. 20 with $14 million guaranteed. He will continue to start for the Dolphins at right tackle opposite Jake Long.

While I wanted to re-sign Carey because he's a solid right tackle and he keeps some consistency on the line, I was hoping the Dolphins wouldn't overpay him and it seems they somewhat did. Carey's only a decent tackle and this is pretty significant money.

Truth be told, I think Carey might be a great NFL guard but this contract would be pretty large for that position. Plus, the Dolphins have no one to take his spot at right tackle so he's not going anywhere any time soon.

Anyway, as you might recall, I was initially perplexed at the reports of it being a six-year deal when the NFLPA had it only as a five-year contract. I asked the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero to look into it, and while he initially said he couldn't get anyone to give him a straight answer, he did recently post base salaries for Carey's contract for all six years. They are:
  • 2009: $800,000
  • 2010: $950,000
  • 2011: $4.15 million
  • 2012: $5.05 million
  • 2013: $5.65 million
  • 2014: $4.95 million
  • Total: $21.55 million
According to Salguero, Carey will also receive a $12 million signing bonus and $2 million roster bonus. There is also apparently a $200,000 workout bonus in 2009.

If you add up the base salaries, $14 million guaranteed and $200,000 workout bonus, you get a sum of $35.75 million. This is of course $6.25 million short of the reported $42 million total contract value. The remaining money is probably found in the form of bonuses/incentives throughout the contract.

Channing Crowder

If you've read this site at all, you know what I think about Crowder. He's a good tackler and a solid player, but he's not a play-maker and he's not irreplaceable either. When it came to Crowder entering free agency, I wasn't against re-signing him but I didn't want him gone either. I just didn't way to overpay for him.

Well as it turns out, the Dolphins didn't over pay at all. Here are Crowder's base salaries over the next three seasons:
  • 2009: $1.5 million
  • 2010: $2.1 million
  • 2011: $2.5 million
This is nothing! Not for a starting middle linebacker who racked up over 100 tackles last season. Regardless of what kind of bonus money Crowder received, this contract is very favorable for the Dolphins. This deal pales in comparison to ones the team gave out to Vernon Carey, Yeremiah Bell, Gibril Wilson and Jake Grove! Heck, it's closer on average to Joe Berger's deal than it is to Wilson's!

My guess? Crowder's agent spoke to some teams before free agency began to gauge the market for his client (not allowed, but happens all the time) and he didn't like what he heard. So they decide to re-sign with Miami for a few more years and hopefully build up his stock a little bit before he re-enters the market at the age of 28.

I suppose other teams felt the same way as I do about Crowder. He's not a Bart Scott that's worth huge money in free agency. He's just a decent linebacker who makes a lot of tackles. The thing is, those aren't terribly hard to find and thus teams aren't willing to pay a lot for them. All in all, things worked out well for Miami here because they keep a good linebacker at a cheap price.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Draft Countdown updates its mock draft

Scott Wright's Draft Countdown has updated their mock as of March 10, and let me just say I hope things don't go for the Dolphins as he's predicting right now.

Now don't get my wrong, this is not slight on Wright. (That rhymes!) Wright is a great draft expert and he always makes clear with his mock drafts/rankings that they aren't where he thinks guys should go, but rather simply where he thinks they will go.

Here are Wright's predictions for Miami's first three picks (our first-rounder and two second-rounders) as of yesterday, accompanied by my reactions:

Round 1, Pick 25: Clay Matthews, LB, Southern California

This wouldn't be my first pick, but it's not one I'd be surprised to see. Matthews is a talented linebacker and a great worker, and he would certainly upgrade Miami's pass rush. The team is known to be looking for help there as Matt Roth is mediocre and Cameron Wake is a huge question mark. Aging Pro Bowler Joey Porter still has the talent, but he's really all Miami's got when it comes to rushing the passer consistently.

In place of Matthews, I'd prefer to see a wideout like Darrius Heyward-Bey or Hakeem Nicks if available. (Wright has Heyward-Bey to the Bears at 18, before Miami picks, and Nicks to the Giants at 29.) Based on who Wright has going after Miami's pick, I'd ideally take Illinois cornerback Vontae Davis, who is going to Baltimore with the pick after ours in this mock.

Round 2, Pick 44: Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut

This would be a great pick here, as Butler is a great athlete and cornerback is certainly a need position with the departure of Andre' Goodman in free agency. If we don't go corner in Round 1, we almost certanly will in Round 2 and this would be a fine choice.

If we ended up taking someone like Vontae Davis in 1 (or were going to use our other second-rounder on a corner rather than this one) I wouldn't mind seeing someone like Ohio State wideout Brian Robiskie. A pass-rusher is also possible sometime in this round.

Round 2, Pick 56: Pat White, QB/WR, West Virginia

No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Did I mention no? This would be an absolutely awful pick and I would be very upset if Miami went this route here. This is one point where Wright actually makes a mistake, rather than just a prediction I don't care for. In his explanation for this move, Wright says:
"Will take the "Wildcat" to a new level..."
Since the Dolphins unveiled the wildcat against New England in Week 3, the media and fans have been making too big a deal of the thing. Yes, it was quite successful it's first few games. But the facts are that 1) it is only a very small part of our offense; and 2) it wasn't really that successful most of the time after those games against New England and San Diego.

The wildcat formation is not our offense. It's just one formation we occasionally use, like any other. We are not drafting a player solely to utilize in one formation in the second round, especially someone like Pat White who has waste written all over him.

White's problem is that he refuses to fully embrace the wideout position, which is where he's destined to play in the NFL. I don't care how good he looked in the Senior Bowl or NFL Scouting Combine - he's not going to be an NFL quarterback. His best bet to make a career in the NFL (and some money) is at receiver, and if his heart isn't into that and he's not worth taking nearly this high.

Wright himself had a great blog entry on March 5 that compares White to Eric Crouch. He uses Antwaan Randle El as an example of a college quarterback that showed he was committed to working as a wideout from the moment his collegiate career ended. White, while possibly more talented than Crouch, is like the former Nebraska quarterback because his heart is set on playing quarterback. This will cause his progression as a wideout to suffer, as it did with Crouch.

Would I take White in the fourth or fifth round? Sure. But I would never use a second-round pick on a guy destined for a position he doesn't want to play, and I don't believe Parcells would either. That just has 'mistake' written all over it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cameron Wake takes my advice

The Dolphins' official roster has been updated again, and new outside linebacker Cameron Wake has already changed his number.

Initially issued No. 59, Wake has switched to No. 91 - the number he wore for the BC Lions in the CFL. No. 91 had previously been worn by defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday since he joined the team in 2005, but the team released Holliday last week, opening up the number for Wake.

As you may recall when I reported on new player numbers in late February, I expressed my disappointment that Wake had received a 50s number rather than a 90s one. I felt a 90s number would be much more bad-ass for Wake. I think it's pretty obvious that statement of mine influenced his decision. :-D

Bodden the latest corner off the market

The cornerback market got a little thinner today as free agent Leigh Bodden signed a one-year deal with the New England Patriots.

Bodden, 27, was a breakout player for the Cleveland Browns before being traded to Detroit last offseason in the deal that sent nose tackle Shaun Rogers to Cleveland. Bodden recorded 73 tackles, three forced fumbles and an interception in his lone season with the Lions.

As you know, the Dolphin are in need of a starting corner opposite Will Allen after Andre' Goodman left for Denver in free agency. The team visited with Cardinals free agent Eric Green (still available) last week and showed interest in Steelers free agent Bryant McFadden before he signed with Arizona.

Ex-Dolphin Daniels heads to KC

Former Dolphins cornerback Travis Daniels has signed a free agent contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.

A fourth-round pick by the Dolphins out of LSU in 2005, Daniels played three seasons with the Dolphins before being traded to Cleveland in August 2008 in exchange for a seventh-round pick in the upcoming 2009 NFL Draft.

It's no surprise to see Daniels go to Kansas City. New general manager Scott Pioli has a history with former Dolphins head coach Nick Saban when the two were with the Browns in the early '90s. Saban coached Daniels at LSU and drafted him when he was head coach of the Dolphins.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Bryant McFadden Lands with Cardinals

Dolphins fans hoping the team would land free agent cornerback Bryant McFadden (and I count myself among those fans) will be disappointed to learn that the Steelers free agent has signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals.

The 27-year-old McFadden received a two-year, $10 million contract from Arizona with $5 million guaranteed. A second-round pick out of Florida State in 2005, McFadden has 135 tackles, two sacks, seven interceptions and 28 pass deflections in four pro seasons.

The Dolphins are still searching for a starting cornerback to team with Will Allen after Andre' Goodman left for Denver in free agency. Notable cornerbacks remaining on the free agent market include Chris McAlister (Ravens), Leigh Bodden (Lions), Eric Green (Cardinals), Karl Paymah (Broncos), Deltha O'Neal (Patriots), Leigh Torrence (Saints) and Ty Law (Jets). Green visited the Dolphins on Monday, March 4.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Miami Dolphins' Roster Moves: The Two Sides of the Coin

Though I typically do an article for every roster move complete with extensive background info and analysis, there have simply been too many transactions in the past few weeks to cover all of them in that format.

Instead, I will going to briefly cover each re-signing and free agent signing with a few sentences of analysis. For each, I will cover the advantages of the signing as well as the disadvantages. You could look at this as sort of a cop-out, but the way I see it all moves have two sides and I'm going to examine a little of each.

Covered in this article are the re-signings of Vernon Carey, Channing Crowder and Yeremiah Bell, plus the free-agent signings of Gibril Wilson and Joe Berger.

As for Miami's most recent signing - center Jake Grove - I will cover that move as I normally do transactions with it's own separate article in the near future.

Additionally, I will break down the contracts of Carey, Crowder, Bell and Grove in the coming days like I did with Wilson and Berger.

Vernon Carey

Positives: With changes coming at center and both guards coming off season-ending injuries (plus one of them being unproven as well), it was important for Miami to retain Carey as their starting right tackle opposite Jake Long. The big-bodied Carey is a solid player who is best suited for the right side.

Negatives: In an effort to retain some consistency on the offensive line, the Dolphins significantly overpaid for Carey. A mediocre left tackle and a decent right tackle at best, Carey probably isn't worth the six-year, $42 million contract he received from the Dolphins.

Channing Crowder

Positives: Crowder is a young, talented player who is a sure tackler. He already has plenty of starting experience at a very young age and has plenty of football ahead of him. He's also a terrific leader both in the locker room and on the field, and the rest of the defense benefits from his presence. The Dolphins also locked him up to a relatively inexpensive deal, as I'll examine tomorrow when I break down his contract.

Negatives: While a good tackler, that's about the extent of Crowder's abilities. He's so-so in coverage and lacks play-making ability. He essentially cannot be counted on to record sacks, interceptions or forced fumbles.

Yeremiah Bell

Positives: Quite simply, Bell was the Dolphins' best tackler in 2008. He was always around the ball and could always be counted on to make the key tackle or deliver the big hit. The Dolphins lucked out with his 2007 injury and were able to keep him cheap last year. Fortunately, he proved to the new front office that he was worth a long-term deal and they rewarded him accordingly.

Negatives: While Bell is a great tackler and an excellent hitter, he's not as great in pass coverage and doesn't really record interceptions. He also has some injury problems in his past despite a healthy 2008, so there is some cause for concern given his big four-year deal.

Gibril Wilson

Positives: Wilson brings with him plenty of starting experience at both tackle positions, including a start at free safety for the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. He's a good hitter who is also solid in coverage. While Renaldo Hill was sufficient at free safety in 2008, Wilson is certainly an upgrade and gives the Dolphins a good tandem of safeties for the future.

Negatives: Wilson is a little like Bell in that he's more of a hard hitter than a cover guy, and ideally you'd like to have your safeties complement one another rather than be so similar. The Dolphins also gave Wilson a huge contract despite the fact he was cut by Oakland just one season into an even bigger deal. The Dolphins may be set at safety, but they also have tied up a gigantic amount of money in the position in the over the next few years.

Joe Berger

Positives: Most of Berger's positives come in the form of experience. First, he has played all across the line, from tackle in college to center and guard in the pros. He also has familiarity with the coaching staff from his time in Dallas, where head coach Tony Sparano was his line coach. Berger has the potential to be a quality reserve lineman.

Negatives: It's hard to find a negative when the guy isn't really going to be counted on to do much. Essentially, the guy just isn't starting material and isn't even a lock to make the team as a backup depending on how the rest of the offseason unfolds.

CB Eric Green Visits Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins announced today that they hosted free agent cornerback Eric Green on Monday, March 4.

A third-round pick out of Virginia Tech in 2005, The 5-11, 196-pound Green has started 33 of the 51 games in which he has played over four seasons with the Cardinals. He has 167 tackles, two interceptions and 30 pass deflections in his career.

I for one am excited to hear about the visit. While not a sure starter, Green still has room to grow as he's still young (26) with great tools and athleticism.

Furthermore, he would easily be an upgrade over all of the Dolphins' cornerbacks behind Will Allen. The team certainly has a hole in the starting lineup at corner with the departure of Andre' Goodman. As you may recall, I mentioned Green as a potential signing in my cornerback offseason preview video.

I'm willing to bet Green's signing will be announced tomorrow, given that the official site posted a story about his free-agent visit which doesn't always happen.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Gibril Wilson and Joe Berger Contract Details

The NFLPA has updated their database and we now have some more details on the contracts signed by guard Joe Berger and safety Gibril Wilson. We'll start with Wilson, as his contract is significantly larger and thus has more of an impact on the team's roster.

Gibril Wilson

Wilson signed a five-year, $27.5 million contract with the Dolphins on Feb. 26. The deal included $8 million guaranteed. Here are his base salaries throughout the contract:
  • 2009: $950,000
  • 2010: $3.85 million
  • 2011: $4.45 million
  • 2012: $5.05 million
  • 2013: $5.35 million
  • Total: $19.65 million
If the $8 million guaranteed was a signing bonus, that added to the base salaries gives us $27.65 million, which is very close to the reported contract total.

Though it's certainly more complex than this, we can get an idea of Wilson's cap hits each year by dividing the $8 million bonus by five ($1.6 million) and adding that number to each base salary. Those totals should roughly be his cap hit for each year. Here's how that breaks down:
  • 2009: $950,000 + $1.6 million = $2.55 million
  • 2010: $3.85 million + $1.6 million = $5.45 million
  • 2011: $4.45 million + $1.6 million = $6.05 million
  • 2012: $5.05 million + $1.6 million = $6.65 million
  • 2013: $5.35 million + $1.6 million = $6.95 million
  • Total: $19.65 million + $8 million = $27.65 million
Though he surely won't play out the contract without a restructuring or release, it's quite a lot of money tied up at the safety spot, especially when you consider the new deal they gave Yeremiah Bell. Here's hoping Wilson earns it.

Joe Berger

After being the busiest team on the first day of free agency a year ago, the Dolphins opened this signing period fairly quietly with a lone inexpensive signing.

A four-year veteran who played for the Dolphins in 2005-2006 before joining the Dallas Cowboys, Berger signed a three-year deal with the Dolphins on Feb. 27. Here are his base salaries:
  • 2009: $675,000
  • 2010: $700,000
  • 2011: $800,000
  • Total: $2.175 million
There aren't minimum salaries, but they aren't far from them. For reference, the minimum salaries for a player of Berger's experience over the next three seasons would be:
  • 2009: $620,000
  • 2010: $635,000
  • 2011: $650,000
If I had to guess, I'd say Berger got a signing bonus in the $600,000-$800,000 range to push the total deal close to $3 million over three seasons.

Given the size of Berger's contract, I'd say he's almost certainly being brought in to be a backup lineman despite any reports he could push for a starting job. He's a strong candidate to make the squad as a top reserve given his versatility and experience with the coaching staff, but he could also just as easily be a cut at the end of the preseason (a la Keith Davis).

As always, the Projected Depth Chart and Salary Info files have been updated following these moves.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Dolphins Release DE Vonnie Holliday

I received some flack for saying I'd release Vonnie Holliday in my 2009 offseason plan, but it seems the Dolphins agreed. According the Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins have informed Holliday he will be released after the veteran refused to take a pay cut.

Though I'm a huge Holliday fan and I'm disappointed to say him go, I can't say I'm surprised and I certainly understand the move. While still a productive player, a team leader and a great veteran mentor, Holliday's 2009 salary simply wasn't worth keeping with so much depth and talent at the position.

With the release of Holliday, Randy Starks and Phillip Merling look to see more playing time opposite Kendall Langford on the defensive line. The team also hopes for 2008 seventh-rounder Lionel Dotson to push for playing time in 2009.

2009 Offseason Preview: Quarterback & Running Back

Well, it just occurred to me that in all the commotion over free agency, I forgot to post my last two offseason preview videos. So, without further ado, here are my offseason preview videos for the quarterback and running back positions. Enjoy!

Running Back



Quarterback

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Broncos Sign CB Andre' Goodman

The Dolphins have lost a key member of their secondary today as the Denver Broncos signed free agent cornerback Andre' Goodman to a multi-year contract.

A seven-year veteran, the 30-year-old Goodman spent the past three seasons with the Dolphins after spending the first four years of his career with the Detroit Lions. In 2008, he led the Dolphins with five interceptions and also racked up 19 pass deflections.

Goodman is the second free agent defensive back of the Dolphins' to join the Broncos. Free safety Renaldo Hill inked a four-year deal with the team on Feb.27.

It's no surprise the Broncos were the ones to sign Goodman and Hill. New head coach Josh McDaniels has plenty of experience facing the two as an assistant for the New England Patriots.

I'm pretty disappointed the team was unable to retain Goodman's services. Although he's getting up there in years, he was coming off a career year and was a fantastic corner in 2008.

The Dolphins also really don't have any depth at the position behind starter Will Allen. The team has Nathan Jones, Joey Thomas, Jason Allen, Will Billingsley and Scorpio Babers under contract, though none of those players really have the ability to start.