Sunday, August 28, 2011

Dolphins sign safety Gerald Alexander, waive linebacker Mike Rivera

The Miami Dolphins have to make two roster moves to get down to 80 players by Tuesday's deadline, but that didn't stop them from making a roster addition with Sunday's signing of veteran safety Gerald Alexander.

The news was actually broken by Alexander himself, who tweeted the news Sunday afternoon. NFL.com and other media outlets have since reported the signing.

In addition, the Dolphins have waived/injured inside linebacker Mike Rivera. If he passes through waivers, he will revert to the team's injured reserve list, with an outright release with an injury settlement to follow.

With the swap, the Dolphins' roster remains at 82 players. NFL teams must get down to 80 players on the active roster by Tuesday afternoon.


Background

After redshirting at Boise State in 2002, Alexander played three seasons at cornerback before moving to safety as a senior in 2006. He earned All-WAC honors all four seasons, finishing his collegiate career with 161 tackles, nine interceptions, and 33 pass deflections in 51 games (38 starts).

Selected in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, Alexander opened all 16 games at free safety as a rookie and recorded 82 tackles, two sacks, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions, and seven pass deflections.

Alexander was relegated to a backup role behind Daniel Bullocks in 2008, appearing in five games (one start) and recording seven tackles before suffering a fractured vertebrae in his neck and landing on injured reserve.

After the Lions traded Alexander to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for wide receiver Dennis Northcutt in June 2009, he played a significant role on defense with 15 games played (10 starts) at strong safety. He totaled 55 tackles, three forced fumbles, and two interceptions.

The Jaguars released Alexander during final cuts in 2010, but he was re-signed in late September due to injury. He started three games and recorded 16 tackles and three pass deflections before being released again on Oct. 19. The Carolina Panthers signed him to a contract in late November, but he did not record any tackles in two games with the team.

According to Alexander's twitter account, he will be learning both safety positions with the Dolphins (he's started at both spots in the NFL already) and will wear No. 40.


Analysis

The 6-foot-2, 209-pound Alexander represents a nice depth signing for the Dolphins, albeit one that is not guaranteed a roster spot. He has experience starting at both safety spots in the NFL and could be a serviceable backup in the secondary if he were to make the team.

The 27-year-old Alexander's previous track record consists mainly of struggles in a starting role, but his experience and versatility are nice to have in a backup. Tyrone Culver got dinged up in Saturday's game against Tampa Bay and offers little upside of his own, so Alexander absolutely has a chance to stick around.

Despite his experience at both safety spots, expect Alexander to work behind Yeremiah Bell at strong safety due to Culver's injury, with extreme long-shot Mark Restelli to be waived between now and final cuts.

Alexander doesn't have much time to impress the coaching staff, but the team knows he can play in the NFL. His chances really depend on Culver's health and whether or not the Dolphins feel Alexander may represent a slight upgrade off the bench.

As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.


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