Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dolphins get three more draft picks under contract

The Miami Dolphins are halfway home in terms of signing their 2010 draft picks, having inked three more of their rookies to bring the total signed to four.

Joining seventh-round linebacker Chris McCoy, who became the Dolphins' first draft pick to sign on June 15, are fourth-round linebacker A. J. Edds, fifth-round cornerback Nolan Carroll, and seventh-round linebacker Austin Spitler.

All players received four-year deals from the team with base salaries of $320,000 in 2010, $405,000 in 2011, $490,000 in 2012, and $575,000 in 2013.

Additionally, Edds received a signing bonus of $477,000; Carroll received a signing bonus of roughly $191,000; and Spitler brought in around $40,00 in upfront money.

Edds and Spitler are expected to compete for reserve linebacker spots and jobs on special teams, though Edds is far more likely to make the active roster in 2010 and have a significant role on defense.

Meanwhile, Carroll will be groomed as the nickel back of the future while competing with Jason Allen and Evan Oglesby for a roster spot. He could also factor into the return game.

Left unsigned are first-round defensive end Jared Odrick, second-round linebacker Koa Misi, third-round guard John Jerry, and fifth-round safety Reshad Jones.

The Dolphins will open their training camp July 30 in Davie, Fla.


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Thursday, June 24, 2010

No apology necessary, Nick Saban

Multiple local media outlets have written about a recent apology offered by former Miami Dolphins head coach Nick Saban regarding his tumultuous exit from the team following the 2006 season.

Saban, who joined the Dolphins as head coach on a mega-money deal in 2005 after a successful coaching stint at LSU, was rumored to be considering a job with the Alabama Crimson Tide during the second half of Dolphins' rough season in 2006.

Although he initially denied any interest in his part, Saban eventually bolted for Tuscaloosa not long after the Dolphins' season ended.

No man was hated more in Miami than Saban after his departure, and three years later, many Dolphins fans still harbor feelings of anger, resentment and even hatred toward the team's former head coach.

In his recent apology, Saban expressed regret for how the situation played out in Miami, calling it a "professional mishandling" and saying he should not have answered any questions on the topic of Alabama during the season.

I'm sure the news of this apology struck most Dolphins fans as too little too late, and I expect it won't do much at all to change his perception in the eyes of many.

However, I fall on the complete other side of the fence. Not only have I harbored no resentment toward Saban since he left Miami, but I have always felt he handled the situation as best he could. I also believe he never owed us an apology in the first place.

As I see it, there are two reasons Dolphins fans hate Saban. First, because they think he "abandoned" the team. And second, because he "lied to our faces" about not being interested in the Alabama job when he was still coaching the Dolphins.

The first item, while unfortunate, is really no one's fault. Saban joined the Dolphins in 2005 because he wanted the job. When he left in 2007, it was because he didn't want it anymore. He wanted to go back to the college ranks, where he was obviously more comfortable and better-suited.

That being the case, there was nothing he could do but leave. Saban couldn't change the fact that he'd made a mistake by joining the Dolphins, nor could he change the fact that his heart was no longer in the job.

This isn't the Catholic Church. The best thing for all parties involved at that point was a divorce. Saban shouldn't be in Miami if he didn't want to be, and should the Dolphins really want Saban as their head coach if they know he doesn't want to be there?

Then we have the infamous lie. In front of the Dolphins media in December 21, 2006, Saban, after repeated questions, declared, "I am not going to be the Alabama coach."

Of course, Saban says he technically didn't lie when he made that statement, as he has always maintained that he talked to the school and considered the job only the season had ended.

This is probably not the case, but even if he did flat-out lie to everyone, I do not believe it was wrong. In fact, I think it was absolutely the right thing to do, and in the best interest of the Dolphins.

As I'm sure you recall, prior to Saban's declaration, he'd been hounded with questions day after day and week after week by reporters asking if he were considering the Alabama job. It quickly turned into a distraction, and that sort of thing is never good for an team during an NFL season.

At that point, Saban had a few options. He could take the Bobby Petrino route, bolting mid-season with no regard for the welfare of the team he was leaving. He could admit he was considering the job but commit to finishing the season in Miami, although this certainly would have led to pandemonium.

Or, he could lie. By declaring absolutely no interest in the Alabama job, Saban could do everything in his power to effectively end any distraction to the Dolphins' team and focus on finishing out his commitment to the team's 2006 season.

So lie is what he did, and it was the right thing to do. It might have hurt some feelings later when he turned around and took the Alabama job after the season, but there is absolutely no denying that trying to quell the rumors and distractions was in the best interest of the team at the time.

The Saban situation in Miami wasn't fun for anyone, himself included. He never came the Dolphins with the intent to leave them in a bind after two seasons. He obviously made a mistake leaving the college ranks, and I'm sure even he would tell you that.

But there is no reason in my eyes to harbor ill feelings toward the guy. He has every right to change his mind about being in Miami, just as you have every right to break up with someone or get a divorce if that's how you feel.

And if Saban did feel that way, as was obviously the case, do you really want him coaching your favorite team anyway?

The other important thing to remember about all this is that good things do often come out bad. Would you trade Bill Parcells, Tony Sparano, Chad Henne, Randy Starks, Karlos Dansby, and all the other things good about the current Miami Dolphins to have Saban back? A Nick Saban that would probably be feeling miserable, stuck, and wanting out?

If not, then there's no reason to be upset about Saban's departure. It was an unfortunate situation, but it was unavoidable and no one's fault.

I appreciate the apology, Nick, but with all due respect, it wasn't necessary. Things worked out for everyone.


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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Miami Dolphins: June 22 News & Notes

  • ESPN's John Clayton believes running back Ricky Williams is more likely to return to the Dolphins in 2011 than Ronnie Brown. Both players are unrestricted free agents next offseason, but Clayton believes Brown's asking price could be too high. I'm inclined to agree, as Brown is a talented back but is rapidly approaching 30 and has had trouble staying healthy in recent years. Neither player is a strong candidate for a long-term deal, but Williams could provide the less expensive short-term option.
  • The Dolphins recently lost a ruling in their attempt to recover bonus money paid on two players that left the team before training camp began last year. Offensive tackle SirVincent Rogers and tight end Jared Bronson received signing bonuses of $8,000 and $7,000 respectively, but neither stuck around to try and make the squad. A Houston alum, Rogers opted to retire in early August and return to school, while Bronson simply did not show up for training camp. Bronson hasn't been heard from since, while Rogers ended up returning to the team in February 2010, only to be waived less than a month later.
  • Updating a previous report, the Dolphins are confirmed to be attending ex-BYU running back Harvey Unga's private workout in June 8. Unga, who withdrew earlier in the year for an undisclosed violation of the school's honor code, will be eligible for the NFL supplemental draft on July 15.
  • Dolphins prized acquisition Brandon Marshall hasn't made an impact for the team yet, but he should give Madden NFL 11 players a great new weapon. Marshall is the third-highest rated wide receiver in EA's next offering of the franchise, coming in at a 96 overall. Only Houston's Andre Johnson (98) and Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald (97) are rated higher, with players like Randy Moss (95), Roddy White (93), DeSean Jackson (91), Calvin Johnson (91), and Wes Welker (91) trailing behind.
  • Former Dolphins quarterback Cleo Lemon has been named the starting quarterback to begin the Toronto Argonauts' 2010 season in the Canadian Football League. A six-year NFL veteran, Lemon spent three seasons with the Dolphins from 2005 to 2007. He is perhaps best known for his 64-yard touchdown pass to Greg Camarillo in overtime against the Baltimore Ravens, which secured the Dolphins their only victory in a 1-15 season. Lemon last played in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2008, and was released by the Ravens prior to the 2009 regular season.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dolphins interested in ex-BYU running back Harvey Unga

April's draft has passed and the team has already signed a handful of undrafted free agents, but the Miami Dolphins might not be finished adding players from the college ranks just yet.

According to Rams sideline reporter Brian Stull of 101 ESPN in St. Louis, the Dolphins are reportedly one of the teams that is "very interested" in former BYU running back Harvey Unga.

Unga, who voluntarily withdrew from the university along with his girlfriend in April after an undisclosed violation of the school's strict honor code, will be available in this year's supplemental draft to be held July 15.

BYU's all-time leading rusher with 3,455 yards, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Unga is slated to work out for at least 14 NFL teams a week before the supplemental draft on July 8.

Despite being seemingly set at running back in 2010, it's not surprising the Dolphins have shown an interest in Unga.

Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are both slated for unrestricted free agency in 2011, while Patrick Cobbs is better suited for a situational role and Lex Hilliard is still largely unproven with questionable upside.

A bruising ball-carrier, Unga fits perfectly in the team's power rushing attack and could be utilized in a role similar to that of Marion Barber III in Dallas.

However, Unga could go as high as the fourth round in the supplemental draft, which is a fairly steep price to pay for a running back that has a lot of tread on his tires and a somewhat concerning injury history.

The supplemental draft, which began in 1977, worked like a silent auction and allows teams to bid on available prospects with draft picks in the following year's draft.

Typically, players in the draft have been declared academically ineligible or have been kicked off their college team for one reason or another.

The Dolphins have selected just one player in the 33-year history of the supplemental draft—USC defensive tackle Manuel Wright in 2005.

In a troubled two seasons with the Dolphins, Wright appeared in just three games and recorded four tackles and a sack before his release on May 1, 2007.


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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dolphins extend contracts of John Denney, Brandon Fields

The same week they signed special teams linebacker Tim Dobbins to a two-year extension, the Miami Dolphins have extended the contracts of two more special teams players in long snapper John Denney and punter Brandon Fields.

Both players were entering contract years in 2010, with Denney slated for unrestricted free agency and Fields for restricted free agency next offseason.

Fields receives an increase on his 2010 base salary from $550,000 to $598,000, while also adding base salaries of $726,000 in 2011 and $864,000 in 2012. Denney's 2010 base salary stays put at $635,000, but he'll have an additional three years tacked onto his contract with base salaries of $700,000 in 2011, $835,000 in 2012, and $860,000 in 2013.

The new deals, which also likely included some guaranteed money up front, will allow the Dolphins to retain two young, quality players while providing continuity in the kicking game.

In addition to their contributions on punts, Denney and Fields also serve as the long snapper and holder, respectively, for Dolphins placekicker Dan Carpenter on field goals and extra points.

An undrafted free agent out of BYU in 2005, Denney has appeared in all 80 regular season games for the Dolphins over five pro seasons.

Fields, who was selected by the Dolphins in the seventh round out of Michigan State in 2007, is coming off a career season in 2009 that saw him set personal bests in punting average, net average, and punt downed inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

Analysis

This deals obviously work out well for both sides, as it allows the team to focus on other areas going forward knowing they don't have to worry about any of the three special teams positions.

Instead of having their punter and long snapper heading into the season worrying about their job security, the team made investments in both players.

Happy long snapper and punters are productive long snappers and punters, and keeping their core special teams trio intact is definitely a good thing.


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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dolphins sign ILB Tim Dobbins to two-year extension

Linebacker Tim Dobbins hasn't even been with the Miami Dolphins two months, but the team has made arrangements to have him around at least another two years.

Dobbins, who was acquired in a draft-day trade with the San Diego Chargers that eventually landed Miami it's first- and second-round picks, has received a two-year extension by the Dolphins that will keep him with the team through the 2012 season.

Dobbins, who signed a one-year, $1.176 million tender with the Chargers as a restricted free agent in mid-April, received a $100,000 increase to his 2010 salary with the extension.

Additionally, Dobbins will have base salaries of $1.7 million in 2011 and $1.9 million in 2012, after which time he will head to unrestricted free agency.

Originally a fifth-round pick with the Chargers out of Iowa State in 2006, Dobbins has primarily served as a special teams player and reserve inside linebacker during his first four pro seasons.

In 30 games over the last two seasons, Dobbins has totaled 112 tackles, one sack, two interceptions, and four forced fumbles.

Originally assumed to be a special team throw-in to a deal that included two first-round picks and six pick total, Dobbins has received high praise from Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano.

With Channing Crowder coming off his worst season and slated for a diminished starting role in Akin Ayodele's MOE linebacker spot, Dobbins is a real threat to push for significant playing time on defense.

Linebacker Reggie Torbor has been released and Dolphins' fourth-round pick A. J. Edds is better suited as Karlos Dansby's backup at MIKE linebacker due to his coverage skills, so the door is open for Dobbins to compete directly with Crowder.

While he probably will have a significant role on special teams, the Dolphins obviously like something about Dobbins and clearly aren't committed to Crowder as a long-term starter on defense, so expect Dobbins to get every chance to win the starting job opposite Dansby.

Chris McCoy contract details

The Dolphins signed the first of their eight draft picks on Monday, inking linebacker Chris McCoy to a four-year deal.

In addition to what was likely a slotted signing bonus based on his draft spot, McCoy received minimum base salaries of $320,000 in 2010, $405,000 in 2011, $490,000 in 2012, and $575,000 in 2013.

Assuming there is no extension to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, McCoy will be slated for two years of restricted free agency following the expiration of his rookie contract.

A seventh-round pick out of Middle Tennessee State, McCoy is expected to compete for a reserve outside linebacker spot in 2010.


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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dolphins sign seventh-round pick Chris McCoy; waive OLB Brian Johnston

The Miami Dolphins have signed the first of their eight draft picks in 2010, inking outside linebacker Chris McCoy to a four-year contract Monday.

McCoy (6-2, 245) was one of two outside linebackers selected by the Dolphins in April, along with second-rounder Koa Misi of Utah.

The 2009 Sun Belt Co-Defensive Player of the Year, McCoy is one of six outside linebackers competing for what will likely be five spots at the position.

McCoy's biggest competition will be Quentin Moses and Erik Walden, who have largely served special teams roles in recent years. It's on special teams that McCoy will have to excel.

Should McCoy not make the 53-man roster out of the gate, he will likely be a strong candidate for the practice squad.

The move comes four days after the Dolphins waived outside linebacker Brian Johnston, who was signed to a future contract by the team in January. Johnston had recently missed a handful of organized team activities with an excused absence.

With the moves, the Dolphins now have 72 players active, one unsigned free agent (running back Ronnie Brown), and seven unsigned draft picks.

As always, you can check out my updated projected depth chart here.


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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dolphins re-sign TE Anthony Fasano

The Dolphins have inked one of their two remaining restricted free agents, as starting tight end Anthony Fasano signed his one-year tender offer Wednesday.

Fasano, who will receive $1.759 million in 2010, risked having his tender amount lowered if he didn't re-sign by June 15.

The Dolphins' starting tight end the past two seasons, Fasano was one of more than 200 players negatively affected by the lack of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement this offseason.

With just four years of NFL service, Fasano was forced into restricted free agency in the 2010 offseason. Unrestricted free agency required just four years of NFL service under the old CBA.

Acquired along with linebacker Akin Ayodele from the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a 2008 fourth-round pick (eventually dealt to Oakland and used on safety Tyvon Branch), Fasano had a breakout season in 2010 with career highs in receptions (34), receiving yards (454) and touchdowns (7).

However, Fasano dealt with some bad drops early in the 2010 season and moved into a larger blocking role in the Dolphins' offense, finishing the season with just 31 catches for 339 yards and two touchdowns.

With no tight ends added by the Dolphins this offseason, Fasano should be able to hold off Joey Haynos for the starting job this season.

He'll have an extra incentive to perform, as Fasano will still be a restricted free agent again in 2011. With no CBA, six years are now required to be an unrestricted free agent.

With Fasano under contract, starting running back Ronnie Brown is the only remaining unsigned restricted free agent. He is expected to sign in the coming days.


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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Miami Dolphins Alumni Update: May 2010

Here are all the pro football transactions involving former members of the Miami Dolphins for the month of May 2010:
  • May 3 — The Washington Redskins placed wide receiver James Robinson on waivers. Robinson spent part of the 2009 season on the Dolphins' practice squad before being released on Nov. 4.
  • May 6 — The Kansas City Chiefs waived/injured wide receiver Chandler Williams.Williams spent the 2007 season on the Dolphins' practice squad and was re-signed the following offseason, only to be waived in April.
  • May 7 — The New York Giants re-signed restricted free agent wide receiver Derek Hagan to a one-year contract. The Dolphins' third-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, Hagan recorded 53 catches, 645 yards, and three touchdowns in 2+ years with the team.
  • May 7 — The Kansas City Chiefs place wide receiver Chandler Williams on injured reserve.
  • May 8 — The Hartford Colonials (UFL) signed linebacker Danny Lansanah to a contract. Lansanah spent most of September on the Dolphins' practice squad.
  • May 11 — The Cincinnati Bengals signed safety Gibril Wilson to a contract.
  • May 17 — The Washington Redskins signed defensive end Vonnie Holliday to a one-year contract. In 60 games (59 starts) with the Dolphins from 2005 to 2008, Holliday totaled 145 tackles, 17.5 sacks, one forced fumble, four fumble recoveries, and two interceptions.
  • May 17 — The Arizona Rattlers (AFL) activated wide receiver Todd Devoe from injured reserve. Devoe spent two weeks on the Dolphins' practice squad in Sept. 2004.
  • May 18 — The Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL) released linebacker Jim Maxwell. Maxwell played in eight games with the Dolphins in 2006, recording four tackles.
  • May 19 — The Denver Broncos placed guard Matt McChesney on the reserve/retired list. McChesney played in game for the Dolphins in 2008 but finished the season on injured reserve and was released the following offseason.
  • May 19 — The Orlando Predators (AFL) signed wide receiver Bobby Sippio to a contract. Sippio spent part of the 2004 season with the Dolphins on injured reserve, but never played in a game with the team.

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