Monday, September 5, 2011

Dolphins cut Joe Berger, A. J. Edds; sign two veterans

In what I would consider the most shocking move made by the Dolphins over the past week, the Miami Dolphins have waived second-year linebacker A. J. Edds. Veteran lineman Joe Berger also had his contract terminated.

Selected in the fourth round of last year's draft out of Iowa, Edds missed his entire rookie season with a torn ACL but returned strong in the 2011 preseason with 18 tackles and a sack. Berger struggled as the Dolphins' starting center in 2010 and had lost his job to rookie first-rounder Mike Pouncey.

Taking their spots on the Dolphins' roster will be tight end Dante Rosario—most recently of the Denver Broncos—and offensive lineman Ryan Cook, who was released by the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday. They will wear No. 81 and No. 62, respectively.

Dante Rosario

Rosario attended the University of Oregon, where he appeared in 49 games (27 starts) over four seasons at tight end and fullback. He totaled 94 receptions, 1,003 yards and 11 touchdowns during his career and earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors, as well as the Ducks' best special teams player award, as a senior.

Selected by the Carolina Panthers in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Rosario appeared in all 16 games as a rookie and caught two touchdowns, including one from current Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore.

Rosario spent the next three seasons splitting time with Jeff King in the Panthers' tight end duo. He set a career-high in receiving yards (313) and tied his high in touchdowns (2) in 2009, and set a new personal best in receptions last season with 32.

A free agent in the 2011 offseason, Rosario signed with the Denver Broncos as a free agent. He failed to record a catch in all four preseason games and was released during final cuts in favor of Daniel Fells and rookies Virgil Green and Julius Thomas.

Ryan Cook

An Albuquerque native, Cook walked on at the University of New Mexico in 2002 and went on to appear in 49 games with 44 starts. He earned first-team All-Mountain West honors each of his final three seasons.

A second-round pick by the Minnesota Vikings in 2006, Cook appeared in six games as a rookie and started the final three at right tackle. He opened all 16 games at the same spot in 2007, helping running back Adrian Peterson become the first rookie with multiple 200-yard rushing games.

Cook opened 14 of 16 games at right tackle in 2008, as well as his first playoff appearance in a Wild Card game against the Eagles. However, he was relegated to a reserve role in 2009 and did not start a game in 16 appearances.

Despite entering the 2010 season as a backup yet again, Cook made seven starts due to multiple injuries on the Vikings' offensive line, including one at center and six at right guard.


Make no mistake—I'm fine with three of these four moves. For starters, I expected Berger to be released at this point all offseason and projected him to be let go during final cuts, so I was just two days late on that one. He'd shown he couldn't handle a starting job in 2010 and wasn't worth keeping as a backup with no upside at $1.5 million in 2011 when the team has other backup center options.

I also like the Rosario and Cook signings. It concerns me a bit that Rosario was unable to crack a roster manned by his former coach in Carolina, John Fox. That being said, he's shown flashes as a receiving tight end in four previous NFL seasons and is also a contributor on special teams, so I welcome the depth behind Anthony Fasano.

It will be interesting to see how the depth chart shakes out, because I doubt the team keeps four tight ends very long. Jeron Mastrud is certainly not a lock to stick around, and newcomer Will Yeatman will need to prove he's worth keeping in a hurry.

Cook is an interesting guy because he began his career as a tackle (and started quite a few games there) before working primarily inside in recent years and starting games at both center and guard. Needless to say, he's a versatile guy and that's a feature the Dolphins should like.

While I don't think he's being brought in to challenge for a starting job, it's nice to know Cook has that experience. Fans may see his starts at right tackle and hope he can supplant Marc Colombo there, but I don't see it happening. Cook will probably be working inside for the Dolphins and may even become the primary backup to Pouncey.

My biggest issue with these roster moves is the departure of Edds. If you had asked me yesterday, I would have told you I thought Edds was locked in as the Dolphins' top backup inside linebacker, and may even see time in the regular season due to his strong preseason and good cover skills. Boy, how wrong I was.

I personally cannot understand letting Edds go when guys like Marlon Moore, Jeron Mastrud, and John Jerry remain with the team. I realize Edds is the only inside linebacker the Dolphins had eligible for the practice squad, but I would much rather have gotten rid of Austin Spitler or Marvin Mitchell.

Speaking of the practice squad, don't expect Edds to be back on it eligible or not. Edds is coming off a good preseason and was a quality draft prospect last year, so there are sure to be numerous interested teams. I fully expect Edds to be claimed off waivers by tomorrow, which means the Dolphins could lose him for good. That does not make me happy.

As for the now  Edds-less Dolphins, expect Mitchell to assume the primary backup job behind Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett due to his experience. Spitler may push for time in that role, but I really could see either of these backups let go for another special-teamer at some point this year.

Maybe the Dolphins know something we don't, and maybe the Dolphins will luck out and get Edds back on the practice squad. But from my perspective, I don't see that happening, and that's why this is such a puzzling and risky move.

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

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