Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dolphins add free agent NT Ronald Fields

The Miami Dolphins' deep defensive line just got deeper, as the team has signed free agent nose tackle Ronald Fields to an undisclosed contract.

I'm proud to say that Fields was one of the players mentioned on my offseason plan article from April, as he was a natural fit given the Dolphins' need for depth at the position and his experience with Dolphins' defensive coordinator Mike Nolan in both Denver and San Francisco.

The signing gives the Dolphins 81 spots spoken for on their 90-man expanded training camp roster. Fields will not be able to practice until Aug. 4 due to the new CBA.


Background

A 36-game starter at Mississippi State, Fields earned first-team All-SEC honors as a senior and was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL Draft under first-year head coach Mike Nolan.

After playing sparingly as a rookie, Fields appeared in 13 games in 2006 including nine starts, recording 28 tackles and a pass deflection. He spent the following two seasons backing up highly-regarded nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, totaling 40 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble during that span.

Fields followed Nolan to Denver in 2009, signing with the Broncos as an unrestricted free agent. He opened all 16 games for the team that season, recording 37 tackles on the team's seventh-ranked rushing defense.

In May 2010, Fields was arrested on a misdemeanor weapons charge in Houston. He was relegated to a backup role that season when Nolan left for Miami, starting none of the 16 games in which he appeared and recording 22 tackles.


Analysis

This may not be a huge splash in free agency, but this is an excellent depth signing for the Dolphins and is one that you could have seen coming a mile (or Mile High, heyoooo) away.

Fields (6-2, 314) is a longtime pupil of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, having been drafted by Nolan in 2005, following him to Denver in 2009 and playing the first five seasons of his professional career under the man until he was hired by the Dolphins last season.

While Fields is far from an elite nose tackle and really what I'd call a borderline starter, his starting experience should provide useful and he is a significant upgrade behind Paul Soliai. In fact, his signing might mean that not one of Chris Baker, Ryan Baker, or rookie Frank Kearse will make the team, given that someone like Tony McDaniel can serve as an emergency nose tackle.

To a lesser extent, Fields also provides some insurance and leverage for the Dolphins if contract negotiations with franchise player Soliai were to get ugly.

I won't say Fields is an absolute lock to make the team given what happened to Marques Douglas and Charles Grant before last season, but barring a big surprise, he should be Soliai's top backup in 2011 and potentially beyond.

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


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Dolphins place Jake Long on PUP list

The Miami Dolphins have placed Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jake Long on the Active/Physically-Unable-to-Perform list, according to a report.

Despite playing in all 16 games and earning his third consecutive Pro Bowl selection, the former first-overall pick dealt with knee and shoulder injuries in 2010, and participated on the Dolphins' players-only workouts during the lockout this offseason.

With Long out, players like Lydon Murtha, Matt Kopa, and James Marten will probably see time at left tackle in training camp. Obviously, the Dolphins are hoping Long, who hasn't missed a season in his three-year career, won't miss any extended time, because they lack a suitable replacement on their roster.

But there's no reason to panic here, as this is simply a procedural move to allow the team to place Long on the Reserve/PUP list to open the regular season if he were to suffer any kind of setback.

To be eligible for the Reserve/PUP list, players must be placed on that list before training camp begins. On the Active/PUP, Long still counts against the team's active roster and salary cap, and can participate in conditioning drills but not any football drills.

When deemed healthy, Long can be activated at any time and return to the practice field between now and the regular season. However, if he is moved to the Reserve/PUP list to begin the regular season, he will be forced to miss the first six weeks of the season.

So, as I said, this is not a real cause for concern, as Long can be activated literally any day and could theoretically be back tomorrow. This move is not an indication that he won't be healthy for the regular season, but rather just the Dolphins covering their bases since he was dinged up at the start of camp.


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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dolphins agree to terms wtih first-rounder Mike Pouncey

The Miami Dolphins have finally gotten all their 2011 draft picks under contract, as Pro Football Talk reported Saturday night that the team had agreed to terms on a four-year deal with rookie center Mike Pouncey, who was taken 15th overall back in April.

Based on the contracts received by players selected near Pouncey, such as the Detroit Lions' Nick Fairley (No. 13) and the Washington Redskins' Ryan Kerrigan (No. 16) I would estimate Pouncey's four-year contract will be fully guaranteed and worth roughly $9.3 million, with a signing bonus in the neighborhood of $5 million.

As with all other first-round contract following the new CBA, the contract will also include a fifth-year team option that can be picked up by the third year of the deal. The fifth-year salary will call for a significant raise based on the average of the top salaries at the player's position.

Pouncey, who will wear No. 63, joins the Dolphins' five other draft picks already under contract and should be available for the first fully-padded practice of training camp Sunday.

While he might have to work his way up the depth chart in training camp, expectations are that the rookie Pouncey will be the team's starting center when the regular season rolls around in September. His twin brother, Maurkice, was selected to the Pro Bowl last season after being taken in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Richie Incognito looks to be staying at left guard barring a free agent pickup, but incumbent center Joe Berger struggled mightily last season and will have great difficulty holding off Pouncey.

Despite a good showing in relief of Jake Grove in 2009, Berger showed in 2010 that he is best suited for a backup role, and it's possible he could lose his roster spot entirely if he falls out of the starting lineup. The team knows Incognito can back up the center spot, and Nate Garner has also seen spot duty there.

The Dolphins now have 76 players under contract, as well as four restricted or exclusive-rights free agents that have yet to be re-signed. This would leave the team with 10 open spots on their 90-man expanded training camp roster.

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


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Friday, July 29, 2011

Dolphins sign linebacker Kevin Burnett, release Channing Crowder

The Miami Dolphins have parted ways with one of their most vocal leaders, surprisingly releasing veteran linebacker Channing Crowder following the team's first day of practice in training camp Friday.

Signed to a three-year, $20 million contract in 2009, Crowder was due to make $5 million this season before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2012.

Just as quickly as Crowder as shown the door, he replacement was brought in, as reports indicate the Dolphins have signed free agent linebacker Kevin Burnett.

Despite reports to the contrary, the Miami Herald's Jeff Darlington reports Burnett's deal is for four years rather than five. Additionally, Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post indicates the contract has a total value of $21 million with $9.8 million guaranteed.

The Dolphins now have 75 players on the active roster, in addition to four restricted or exclusive-rights free agents and one unsigned rookie draft pick in Mike Pouncey. Wide receiver Clyde Gates and running back Daniel Thomas signed his four-year deal Friday.


Background

An Inglewood, Calif. native, Burnett was a team captain for the Tennessee Volunteers and was a first-team All-SEC selection as a senior in 2004. He was selected in the second round (42nd overall) by the Dallas Cowboys, led by head coach Bill Parcells.

Despite being selected on the draft's first day, Burnett failed to establish himself as a significant contributor on the Cowboys' defense. Burnett did not start a game during his first two seasons and start only four between the 2007 and 2008 seasons, recording 135 tackles, four sacks, and four forced fumbles during his time in Dallas.

An unrestricted free agent in 2009, Burnett signed a two-year deal with the San Diego Chargers. Injuries allowed him to play in just 11 games that season including seven starts, but he impressed and established career highs in tackle (66) and sacks (2.5).

Burnett became a full-time starter in 2010, opening all 16 games and posting a career year on the league's top defense in yards allowed, racking up 95 tackles, six sacks, two forced fumbles, five pass deflections, two interceptions, and a defensive touchdown.


Analysis

This move may have come as a disappointment to many Dolphins (and by extension, Gators) fans, but the reality is that the team significantly upgraded here and replaced a pretty mediocre linebacker with a pretty darn good one.

There's no denying that Crowder was an entertaining personality, a leader in the locker room, and did an excellent job of calling the plays on defense and getting his teammates in position. That being said, the production just hasn't been there the past few years, as indicated by his 3.8 tackles per game over the past two seasons.

Not only that, but Crowder has never been a playmaker during his professional career, totaling just 2.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and one interception in 82 career games over six seasons.

Now Crowder supporters will continue to cite his leadership and point out that the defense was much better with him on the field than off it, but I'd say that's more of a reflection of Tim Dobbins' and Bobby Carpenter's lack of ability than an indication of Crowder's talent.

Admittedly, Burnett's career got off to a slow start and it's fair to wonder if he's a one-year wonder. That being said, his production in 2010 is undeniable and if anyone had reason to be concerned over his time in Dallas, it'd be the guys that saw it first hand for three seasons in Ireland and Sparano.

Burnett should fit right in as the starting MOE linebacker in the Dolphins' 3-4, playing alongside the team's prized free agent acquisition from last season in Karlos Dansby.

I don't expect much more, if any, turnover among the Dolphins' starters on defense, but there is no question the team upgrade a position here on a unit that already ranked among the league's best last season.

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


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Dolphins sign quarterback Matt Moore to two-year deal

It probably wasn't the quarterback everyone was hoping for, but the Miami Dolphins did add a veteran signal-caller Thursday in the form of former Carolina Panthers quarterback Matt Moore. The signing was originally reported by OregonLive.com and has since been confirmed by the local Miami media.

In Miami, Moore should at least compete for the Dolphins' starting job or potentially provide a veteran backup in the No. 2 spot. Moore will receive a two-year contract worth $5 million and a potential value of $7.5 million based on playing time.

The Dolphins now have four quarterbacks on the roster, as Moore joins Chad Henne, Tom Brandstater, and undrafted rookie Pat Devlin.


Background

Moore saw action as a true freshman at UCLA in 2002 due to injuries, and opened the 2003 season as the Bruins' starter before a combination of injuries and ineffectiveness sidelined him.

After a year away from football while attending College of the Canyons, Moore a transferred to Oregon State and became the team's starting quarterback. He finished his career with the Beavers with 5,733 yards, 29 touchdowns, and 26 interceptions, earning honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors and the MVP award in the Sun Bowl as a senior in 2006.

Undrafted in the 2007 NFL Draft, Moore was by a Dallas Cowboys staff that included current general manager Jeff Ireland and head coach Tony Sparano. However, he was claimed off waivers by the Panthers after final cuts and ended up appearing in nine games in relief of Vinny Testaverde and David Carr, throwing for 730 yards and three touchdowns against five interceptions.

A broken fibula suffered in the preseason caused Moore to miss the Panthers' first four games in 2008, and he spent the remaining 12 as the inactive third-string quarterback as he failed to appear in a game that season.

Moore appeared in seven games for the Panthers in 2009, including starts in the final five after Jake Delhomme suffered a broken finger. On the season, Moore posted a passer rating of 98.5 as he threw for 1,053 yards and eight touchdowns with just two interceptions.

A restricted free agent in the 2010 offseason, Moore was retained on the highest tender of a first- and a third-round pick, giving him a salary that season of $3.043 million. Expected to replace Delhomme as the Panthers' starter, but bounced in and of the the starting lineup.

Moore was initially replaced by rookie Jimmy Clausen after a concussion in the season opener, reclaiming the job in October only to suffer a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 9, finishing the season with 857 yards and five touchdowns with 10 interceptions.


Analysis

Moore may not be the sexiest name out there and he is by no means a savior at quarterback for the Dolphins, but this is a good signing for the team from a few different vantage points.

If you're looking purely at the Dolphins' roster, a quarterback with some NFL experience was needed to either challenge or back up Henne, because there was no way the Dolphins were ever going to fill their depth chart out with two guys that haven't played in a game in Brandstater and Devlin.

In that sense, Moore is absolutely a quality backup to have. While he hasn't taken advantage of his opportunities as a starter, he has plenty of pro experience and also performed quite well down the stretch in 2009. His arm and accuracy are sufficient for the most part.

Don't think, however, the Dolphins are out of the running for Kyle Orton just because they signed Moore, as some would have you believe.

If you'll recall in 2008, the Dolphins signed Josh McCown to be the short-term starter, only to trade him in the preseason once they signed Chad Pennington.

While I'm not saying it will happen, there is no reason to believe the team wouldn't consider Orton if Denver lowers their asking price or he were to eventually be cut. The presence of Moore on the Dolphins gives the team leverage in trade talks with the Broncos, who now have less of an immediate need for Orton.

But while the Dolphins would almost certainly be acquiring Orton to start him, I don't think the same can be said for Moore. I don't see anything in Moore's game that gives him the edge over Henne, and I have to expect that if Moore stays, he'll end up being the backup.

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


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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dolphins acquire running back Reggie Bush from Saints

The Miami Dolphins have made their first big splash of the 2011 offseason, acquiring dynamic running back and returner Reggie Bush from the New Orleans Saints in exchange for safety Jonathon Amaya and an undisclosed late-round draft pick.

As a condition of the trade, Bush also agreed to a new two-year contract with the Dolphins that will pay him $9.75 million. The deal includes base salaries of $2.5 million in 2011 and $4.5 million in 2012, as well as a $275,000 workout bonus in the final year. His original contract with the Saints called for him to be paid roughly $11.8 million this season.

Bush joins second-round rookie Daniel Thomas in the Dolphins' new-look backfield as the team looks to replace veteran free agents Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, who may very well be heading elsewhere.

The Dolphins also have exclusive-rights free agents Lex Hilliard and Kory Sheets and undrafted rookie Nic Grigsby to compete for backup running back spots.

With the acquisition of Bush and today's three draft pick signings, the Dolphins now have 71 players under contract. They have 80 of the 90 spots on their active roster spoken for when you add in Tony McDaniel, Jason Trusnik, the team's four restricted or exclusive-rights free agents, and the three remaining unsigned draft picks.


Background

A star prep running back from La Mesa, Calif., Bush was recruited by Pete Carroll to the University of Southern California. He made an immediate impact for the Trojans, earning Freshman All-American honors leading the Pac-10 in kickoff returns while setting the freshman school record for all-purpose yards.

Bush continued his dominance in 2004, as he rushed for 908 yards and six touchdowns, caught 43 passes for 509 yards and seven touchdowns, and even threw for another on a 52-yard pass. He became the first Trojan since Marcus Allen to lead the conference in all-purpose yards.

As a junior in 2005, Bush's dominance elevated to a whole new level. He rushed for 1,740 yards and 16 touchdowns on an 8.7 average and added 481 yards and two touchdowns receiving. He was a consensus All-American for the second consecutive year and also won numerous postseason awards, including the Doak Walker Award, Walter Camp Award, and the Heisman Trophy, beating out Texas quarterback Vince Young. The latter would later be forfeited in 2010 after allegations of improper benefits he received while at USC.

Bush declared for the 2006 NFL Draft following his junior season and was expected by many to be taken first overall by the Houston Texans. However, the Texans instead chose to select NC State defensive end Mario Williams, leaving Bush for the New Orleans Saints with the second overall pick.

Signed to a six-year contract with a maximum value of $62 million, Bush rushed for just 565 yards on a 3.6 average as a rookie, but did manage to catch 88 passes for 742 yards. His rushing total increased to 581 yards in 2007, but his reception total dipped to 73 and his receiving yards decreased dramatically to 417.

Bush returned two punts for touchdowns in a 2008 game against the Minnesota Vikings, and finished the season with 404 yards rushing and 440 yards receiving in 10 games as he missed time with a sprained MCL.

Despite setting career highs in offensive touchdowns (8) and rushing average (5.6), Bush carried the ball only 70 times and amassed 390 yards. He was held mostly in-check in the Saints' Super Bowl XLIV victory over the Indianapolis Colts, although he did caught a touchdown pass late in the game.

Bush's injury problems followed him into the 2010 season, as he suffered a broken bone in his leg returning a punt and missed eight games between September and November. He set career lows in nearly every offensive category as 2010 also became his first season without rushing for a touchdown.

Bush's release was widely speculated leading up to the 2011 offseason, as his salary for the season was to approach $12 million and the team had focused their attention on other backs, re-signing Pierre Thomas to an extension and using a first-round pick on Alabama's Mark Ingram.


Analysis

Bush has certainly gotten a lot of flak during his career, from the allegations at USC to his extravagant personal life, to on-the-field problems like durability concerns and lack of production as a runner.

All that being said, I think this is an absolutely fantastic move for the Dolphins and I really don't see any reason to not like it. They're not paying him very much money, especially when you consider Daniel Thomas is going to be playing for peanuts on a rookie contract.

And, while it's disappointing to see Amaya go in the deal after how good he was on special teams last year (15 tackles in 10 games), the fact remains that he was just that—a special teamer. As good as he was, he was still replaceable and you can't compare the impact he had to the one Bush could make.

Reports have said that Bush has been assured he will be "the man" in Miami, but don't expect him to get more than 10-12 touches a game on offense. The team drafted Thomas to be the workhorse and may even add a veteran backup like Marion Barber to handle the load if the rookie stumbles or gets hurt.

What the Dolphins will do with Bush is give him the occasional carry, throw to him a lot of the backfield or even lined up at receiver, and potentially use him on punt returns. The latter would give the Dolphins the home-run threat they've lacked since they traded Ted Ginn, Jr., as we all know that Davone Bess is little more than a cadaver on returns.

Bush may never silence all his critics and he may never truly live up to the No. 2 pick used to select him in 2006, but that certainly doesn't mean he can't be an impact player for the Dolphins.

The reality is that, for a good special-teams player, a late draft pick, and less than $10 million over two seasons (or, to put it another way, less than Gibril Wilson (embarrassingly pictured) made for the Dolphins in 2009), the Dolphins acquired one of the most physically-gifted players in the NFL and a dynamic weapon that can change a game in multiple ways.

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


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Dolphins sign draft picks Charles Clay, Frank Kearse, Jimmy Wison to deals

The Miami Dolphins have agreed to terms with three of their six draft picks, signing sixth-round fullback/tight end Charles Clay, seventh-round nose tackle Frank Kearse, and seventh-round safety Jimmy Wilson to four-year contracts Thursday.

Financial terms have not yet been disclosed for any of the Dolphins' signings, but I will have more on that when the information becomes available. For now, we can get an idea of what each player signed for by looking at the signed picks of other teams drafted near them.
  • Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell, who was chosen at pick No. 173 one spot before Clay, received a $2.15 million contract with a $113,452 signing bonus.
  • Saints defensive end Greg Romeus, who was chosen at pick No. 226 five spots before Kearse and nine spots before, received a $2.08 million contract with a $50,000 signing bonus.
  • Buccaneers tight end Daniel Hardy, who was chosen at pick No. 238 three spots after Wilson, received a $45,900 signing bonus.

The signings give the Dolphins 71 players on the active roster, not including the team's four restricted or exclusive-rights free agents, Tony McDaniel and Jason Trusnik, who can all officially sign tomorrow.
 
Of these three, Clay seems most likely to make have an impact as a rookie, as he provides a versatile threat out of the backfield and will likely be moved around from fullback to tight end. In my view, he could be a growing threat on Lousaka Polite's roster spot.

Kearse and Wilson, meanwhile, both enter positions with pretty good depth at nose tackle and free safety, respectively. I wouldn't rule out either in making the roster, but I think the practice squad is a better bet for both at this point.

With the new Collective Bargaining Agreement making the signing of draft picks substantially easier, the Dolphins were able to get these deals done despite their other dealings around the league and now have just three picks left unsigned. The Dolphins expect their first three picks of the draft—center Mike Pouncey, running back Daniel Thomas, and wide receiver Clyde Gates—to be signed by Friday.


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Dolphins' 2011 rookie class assigned jersey numbers

The Miami Dolphins have assigned jersey numbers to both their drafted and undrafted rookies, and the news arrives without the controversy that accompanied last year's assignments when A. J. Edds was initially issued Zach Thomas' No. 54.

Below are the jersey numbers for the Dolphins' six rookie draft picks:
  • C Mike Pouncey — 63
  • RB Daniel Thomas — 33
  • WR Clyde Gates — 83
  • FB/TE Charles Clay — 31
  • NT Frank Kearse — 66
  • FS Jimmy Wilson — 35

Just as an aside, the Dolphins' fourth-round pick Edmond Gates has apparently requested to be known as 'Clyde' so please take note for those of you scoring at home.

While the jersey number assignments rarely give us any insight into what a player might do on the field, the one thing I think is telling is Clay's No. 31. If he were considered a true tight end, he would have received a number in the 80s or potentially in the 40s. By taking a 30s number, I feel even more confident in my belief that he's going to be worked in more of a fullback-type role. Watch your back, Lousaka Polite.

Additionally, here are the numbers assigned to the Dolphins' nine undrafted rookie free agents:
  • QB Pat Devlin — 9
  • RB Nic Grigsby — 42
  • WR Phillip Livas — 85
  • TE Brett Brackett — 84
  • OG Garrett Chisolm — 60
  • OT D. J. Jones — 71
  • DE Johnny Jones — 62
  • OLB Jonathan Freeny — 49
  • OLB Quinton Spears — 48
  • CB Vince Agnew — 41
  • CB Jose Perez — 43
Freeny and Spears receive non-typical linebacker numbers in the 40s, which would likely change if either were to make the team's active roster in the regular season.

Meanwhile, one thing that interests me is Jones' No. 71, which to my understanding was being worn by 2010 practice squad offensive tackle James Marten. Multiple numbers in training camp are not uncommon, but they are never on the same side of the ball. Possible explanations are that Marten is to be cut, failed his physical, or simply changed numbers.

Right now, the only Dolphins' jersey number I do not know is that of Lionel Dotson. He initially wore No. 71 with the Dolphins but as we know that is now taken. He also wore No. 95 during a stint last year before he landed on injured reserve, but that has since been taken by nose tackle Chris Baker.


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Dolphins add undrafted rookies Johnny Jones, Quinton Spears

The Miami Dolphins have released their official list of signed undrafted free agents, and two more names can be added to the original nine, bringing the total to 11.

Joining the previously discussed nine undrafted rookies will be defensive lineman Johnny Jones (Marshall) and outside linebacker Quinton Spears (Prairie View A&M).

The signings give the Dolphins 68 players under contract, added to which will be the team's six unsigned draft picks and soon-to-be-re-signed defensive end Tony McDaniel. This would give the team 15 open spots on their 90-man training camp roster.


Johnny Jones

A Clewiston, Fla. native, Jones was a second-team all-state selection as a high school senior before heading to Marshall. He played sparingly as a freshman before starting 11 of 12 games as a sophomore and recording 19 tackles, two sacks, and two blocked kicks.

After starting only two of 12 games as a junior, Jones appeared in eight games as a senior with three starts, recording four tackles on the season.


Quinton Spears

A highly-productive player two-way player in high school, Spears' senior season was derailed by a torn meniscus and the offers from bigger colleges stopped coming. He decided to attend Division I-FCS Prairie View A&M in Texas.

Spears excelled as a pass rusher for the Panthers, earning all-SWAC honors three times and All-American honors twice. As a senior, he totaled 70 tackles (nine for a loss), 4.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and three blocked kicks.


Analysis

I'm inclined to believe that Jones is solely a camp body that was on the Dolphins' radar because he's a local Florida product, seeing as how his collegiate career is fairly unimpressive and he wasn't even a starter or big-time contributor aside from his junior season.

I cannot be sure where Jones will project in the Dolphins' 3-4 scheme at 6-foot-4 and 307 pounds, but my guess is that he'll work at right end behind Randy Starks, Jared Odrick, and Rob Rose, while also playing inside on passing downs.

As for Spears, he clearly projects as a pass-rushing outside linebacker in the Dolphins' 3-4 scheme, and he has the speed and agility to do so with some success. However, at a lean 220 pounds at 6-4, he'll probably need to bulk up some to handle the physicality of the NFL game.

You also have to expect that Spears, who was a solid but not dominant player at a relatively small school, will need quite a bit of time refining his technique at the pro level. Thus, expect him to compete for a practice squad spot in 2011 rather than one on the active roster.

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


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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dolphins re-sign DE Tony McDaniel, add LB Jason Trusnik

The Miami Dolphins have retained a key piece of their defensive line and added their first unrestricted free agent of the offseason, re-signing defensive end Tony McDaniel to a two-year deal and agreeing to terms with former Browns and Jets linebacker Jason Trusnik.

McDaniel receives a two-year, $6 million contract to remain in Miami through 2012, while Trusnik also receives a two-year deal with with undisclosed contract terms.

The additions, which can't become official until Friday, give the Dolphins 68 players on their active roster, not including six unsigned draft picks and four restricted/exclusive-rights free agents that will be retained.

NFL rosters have been expanded to 90 players for the 2011 preseason.


Tony McDaniel

McDaniel played three seasons at the University of Tennessee before declaring for the 2006 NFL Draft. He was undrafted, instead signing as a free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In three seasons with the Jaguars, McDaniel appeared in 25 games (three starts), totaling 37 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and four pass deflections. He was traded to the Dolphins in March 2009 for a seventh-round pick, which was eventually sent to the New England Patriots and used on wide receiver Julian Edelman.

After a pretty unspectacular first season with the Dolphins, McDaniel was forced into a bigger rotational role following injuries to Phillip Merling and Jared Odrick. The 2010 season saw McDaniel set career highs in tackles (36), sacks (2.5) and pass deflections (4) as one of the better 3-4 defensive linemen in the game.


Jason Trusnik

Trusnik (6-4, 250) starred at Ohio Northern University, where he totaled 44.5 career sacks and 277 tackles, including 90.5 for a loss. He was signed by the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent in 2007 and split time between the practice squad and active roster, appearing in six games and recording eight tackles before landing on injured reserve with a foot injury.

After beginning 2008 training camp on the PUP list, Trusnik went on to appear in seven games and record 10 tackles. He added six tackles in four games in 2009 before being traded to the Cleveland Browns in the October deal that sent Braylon Edwards to the Jets. Trusnik appeared in 12 games for the Browns that season including 10 starts, recording 56 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

Splitting time between special teams and both inside and outside linebacker in 2010, Trusnik appeared in all 16 games (five starts) and racked up 24 tackles and a sack.

Word of Trusnik's deal with the Dolphins was initially broken by a few of his family members on twitter, but the signing has since been confirmed by Jeff Darlington of the Miami Herald.


Analysis

In all honesty, I'm surprised the Dolphins were able to re-sign McDaniel and that there wasn't a bigger market for his services. It's possible he took less money to remain in Miami, but I would have expected him to be able to get more money and a true starting role with another team.

While the Dolphins would have been deep on the defensive line even if McDaniel had bolted, his return solidifies the unit even more and is nothing but beneficial. He has the ability to play nose tackle when Paul Soliai needs a breather and he is more than capable of holding his own at defensive end, making him a versatile backup to have.


His return also gives the Dolphins a bit of wiggle room in case they want to trade one of their other lineman, as suggested by Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post. With McDaniel back and Jared Odrick healthy, it's possible the team could view someone like Phillip Merling as expendable and use him as a potential trade chip.

As for Trusnik, he's certainly not the big free agency splash everyone was hoping for and still might get at some point in the next week, but he's likely a cheap addition and adds depth at a need position.

Trusnik, who worked with pass rush coach Bryan Cox in both New York and Cleveland, also has experience facing Brian Daboll's offense in practices and has played for former Jets and Browns head coach Eric Mangini, who was reportedly advising the Dolphins in January.

The Dolphins will likely use Trusnik as depth at both inside and outside linebacker, where he has experience in the 3-4 scheme. However, he doesn't offer much upside on defense and won't be a lock to make the roster.

Trusnik's experience with his position coach and the team's current lack of depth at outside linebacker should benefit him, and the Dolphins will hope he can be a centerpiece of the special teams unit under Darren Rizzi.

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


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Dolphins may have interest in Marion Barber; Thigpen heads to Buffalo

The Dallas-to-Miami pipeline has been well-established since Jeff Ireland, Tony Sparano and the rest arrived from Big D as numerous former Cowboys players have brought their talents to South Beach since 2008.

That trend may continue into 2011, as ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the Dolphins could have interest in running back Marion Barber if and when he is released by the Cowboys. Teams can begin releasing players at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Releasing Barber will save the Cowboys roughly $4.75 million against the 2011 salary cap. The 28-year-old is coming off a season that saw him rush for just 374 yards on a career-worst 3.3 average.

While the Cowboys are looking to make room for a young backfield including Felix Jones, Tashard Choice, and rookie DeMarco Murray, the Dolphins are aiming to fill theirs out as they currently have zero running backs under contract.

The Dolphins have rookie second-rounder Daniel Thomas to carry some of the load, and they will retain exclusive-rights free agents Lex Hilliard and Kory Sheets as competition for depth.

However, the team will also need someone to split time with Thomas so that the rookie does not get overworked, and this may or may not be the same roster addition that will fill the potential "complementary back" role.

It's possible the team could look to sign a Reggie Bush or Darren Sproles type to add a dynamic receiving element out of the backfield, but that wouldn't necessarily preclude them from picking up someone like Barber as insurance for Thomas as well.

Obviously, Barber is coming off a down year and one has to wonder if the physical style of play that made him so successful earlier in his career has finally taken its toll on his body.

However, if he can be added relatively cheaply, I see absolutely no issue with picking up Barber as a part-time thumper and potential goal-line back.

Another name to keep in mind when it comes to soon-to-be-released Cowboys is guard Leonard Davis, who made the Pro Bowl under then line coach Sparano in 2007 and could be a potential upgrade at either guard spot for the Dolphins.


Thigpen agrees to terms with Bills

Those fans hoping to see Tyler Thigpen's mobility and fiery on-field demeanor compete with Chad Henne for a starting job in Miami can give up hope.

As expected, Thigpen agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Buffalo Bills in a move that was widely speculated even before the lockout ended, including in an article I wrote last week.

The move reunites him with current Bills head coach Chan Gailey, who was the quarterback's offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008 in what remains Thigpen's most productive season yet.

In Buffalo, Thigpen will likely slide in as the No. 2 quarterback behind Ryan Fitzpatrick. While Thigpen desires an opportunity to start and likely believes it could happen in Buffalo, it's hard to imagine him beating out a healthy Fitzpatrick after he threw for 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2010.

As for the Dolphins, it is almost certain that they will add a veteran to push Henne for the starting job, with the Broncos' Kyle Orton and Titans' Vince Young seemingly the most likely candidates.

Practice squad holdover Tom Brandstater and undrafted rookie Pat Devlin are expected to compete for the team's No. 3 job.


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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dolphins sign QB Pat Devlin, eight other undrafted free agents

We're finally back in the season of NFL transactions, and the first order of business for all 32 teams is to sign those players not selected in April's 2011 NFL Draft.

While reports of signings are notoriously sketchy and difficult to confirm, the best I can gather at this point indicates the Dolphins have signed nine rookie free agents thus far. According to Omar Kelly, the Dolphins intend to sign roughly 11 undrafted free agents total.

As of now, the Dolphins have reportedly signed or agreed to terms with the following nine players: quarterback Pat Devlin (Delaware), running back Nic Grigsby (Arizona), wide receiver/kick returner Phillip Livas (Louisiana Tech), tight end Brett Brackett (Penn State), guard Garrett Chisolm (South Carolina), tackle D. J. Jones (Nebraska), outside linebacker Jonathan Freeny (Rutgers), and cornerbacks Vince Agnew (Central Michigan) and Jose Perez (San Diego State).

The signings would give the Dolphins 66 players under contract, not including the four restricted/exclusive rights free agents and the six unsigned draft picks, for a total of 76. That would leave the Dolphins with 14 spots on their expanded 90-man roster to add any more undrafted rookies, sign NFL free agents, and acquire players via trade.

I'll have more on the undrafted rookies as additional information comes out and reports are confirmed, but for now, here is some background info on each player as well as some idea what to look for in their quests to make the Dolphins' roster.




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Monday, July 25, 2011

Stay tuned to twitter as news of undrafted rookie signings emerges!

According to a report from ESPN's John Clayton, the NFL has given teams permission to negotiate with undrafted rookie free agents Monday night rather than on Tuesday.

That being the case, all 32 NFL teams are scrambling to ink these prospects, including the Dolphins, who have reportedly already worked out deals with Rutgers outside linebacker Jonathan Freeny and Arizona running back Nic Grigsby.

However, since it's approaching midnight, I don't have the time to go into length on these signings at the time, and I know there are just going to be more to write about tomorrow, I'm going to hold off on any full-fledged articles for tonight.

To follow all the Dolphins' breaking news, keep following my twitter here as well as my Miami Dolphins follow list here!

Friday, July 22, 2011

What kind of impact will the Dolphins' rookies have in 2011?

Without any sort of free agency or the ability to make trades or sign undrafted rookies yet, the Dolphins' only new additions this offseason (albeit unsigned additions) are those six players selected in April's 2011 NFL Draft.

Unfortunately for the Dolphins and the rest of the NFL, the lockout-shortened offseason has put a huge dent in the plans to utilize their rookies, as most have been left without playbooks since the draft and all have been without the benefit of true organized team activities.

So just how much will the Dolphins get out of their 2011 rookies and what can we expect to see from them in the coming months?

In this article, I'll take a look at each Dolphins' draft pick and predict with the fearlessness of Khal Drogo the kind of numbers their produce in 2011...


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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Where will the Miami Dolphins' free agents end up?

NFL free agency appears to be rapidly approaching, and once that happens you'll see hundreds of players, including a handful of former Miami Dolphins, changing teams and donning new uniforms for the 2011 season.

But where will those Dolphins with expiring contracts end up? Who (if anyone) will be retained and stay in Miami, and who will be starting a new chapter in their NFL career?

Excluding the Dolphins' two restricted free agents (Nate Garner, Joey Haynos) and three exclusive-rights free agents (Lex Hilliard, Lydon Murtha, Kory Sheets), who I all expect back with the Dolphins in 2011, I think we could be looking at quite a changeover when it comes to the Dolphins' free agents.

So who will end up where? It's impossible to say for sure, but I'll do my best to fearlessly predict where each of the Dolphins' unrestricted free agents ends up, as well as explain my rationale in placing a player where I did.

Obviously, this is going to be an extremely difficult exercise, and I'll be happy if I get even one of these predictions correct. Still, it's certainly fun to speculate, so let's get to it...



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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

An updated look at the Dolphins' free agents

There seems to be light at the NFL lockout tunnel, and that means we might have a rapid-fire offseason at some point this month. Free agency, trades, the ability to sign draft picks and undrafted free agents and more will all open up, creating a flurry of moves as teams scramble to prepare for the 2011 season.

With free agency potentially not that far off, I felt now would be a good time to revisit the Dolphins' current list of free agents, including some whose exact free agency status could be affected by the impending new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

I don't expect the players to cave on the issue of the number of seasons to reach unrestricted free agency, so expect things to revert to the pre-2010 rules of four-year veterans hitting the open market, as opposed to the no-cap 2010 rules requiring six seasons.

Restricted free agency would still apply to three-year veterans, while exclusive-rights free agents would include those with zero to two years of experience. Such players have no negotiating rights with other teams so long as their original clubs tenders them a contract offer.


RB Ronnie Brown (UFA)

The second overall pick in a notoriously poor 2005 draft class, Brown has been a solid all-around running back in his time with the Dolphins. He's been paired with Ricky Williams for most of his career through no fault of his own, and has flourished at times despite numerous nagging injuries. He was at his best under Cam Cameron's offensive tutelage in 2007, when he led the NFL in yards from scrimmage through seven weeks before a torn ACL ended his season.

While Brown is certainly a capable starting running back, it seems unlikely he'll return given the Dolphins' addition of Daniel Thomas in the second round of April's draft. While the Dolphins have shown they aren't opposed to a two-back system with similar players, the good money is on the team looking for a true complementary back to the workhorse that will be Thomas.

As big a fan as I am of Brown's, the justification just isn't there to give big money to a running back with his injury history rapidly approaching age 30. I expect Brown to be starting or at least sharing a role somewhere in 2011, but I don't think it will be in Miami.


Patrick Cobbs (UFA)

A Tony Sparano favorite and 2010 team captain, Cobbs has impressed with his work ethic and versatility. While he certainly isn't the back you want carrying the load on offense, he's been excellent on special teams and has had his moments in the sun as a receiver out of the backfield. You also can't discount the impact he has on his teammates.

That being said, the Dolphins surprisingly didn't tender him a contract as a potential restricted free agent, which says a lot about how little they value retaining him. While Cobbs is likely to be unrestricted as a five-year veteran, I think it speaks volumes that they didn't tender him just in case the 2010 rules were to apply (as they did with Tyler Thigpen).

While I certainly don't think we'll see Lex Hilliard or Kory Sheets in a significant role in 2011, it seems likely the Dolphins will sign a true No. 2 back via free agency and will hold a competition among younger players for the No. 3 job, leaving Cobbs to find a new home entirely.


G/T Nate Garner (RFA)

Despite spending all of 2010 on injured reserve with a lingering foot injury, Garner enters training camp as what I would consider the favorite to start at right guard. Of course, a lot of things could change that, not the least of which being the progression of 2010 third-rounder John Jerry or the addition of a quality free agent like Justin Blalock, Davin Joseph, or Marshal Yanda.

While Garner certainly held his own as a part-time starter in 2009, I strongly question his overall upside and I would prefer someone else win the job. (Signing Blalock and moving Richie Incognito to right guard would be my ideal scenario.) Garner has played or practiced at every offensive line position in his two-plus years with the Dolphins, making him an ideal guy to have off the bench.


TE Joey Haynos (RFA)

The Dolphins' No. 3 tight end in 2008 and primary backup 2009, Haynos spent the entire 2010 season on injured reserve with a Lisfranc fracture. While Haynos was certainly no stud when he was on the field, the Dolphins sorely missed him in 2010 as they mixed and matched a handful of late-round and undrafted rookies in the No. 2 tight end role, with practically no success.

While the Dolphins did not tender Haynos a contract as a restricted free agent, it seems likely they will have interest in bringing him back now that he is fully healed and can be re-signed for cheaper than the tender offer would have been. If healthy, you'd have to consider him the favorite to back up Anthony Fasano again, which would be a minor boost to the team's offense.


RB Lex Hilliard (ERFA)

A sixth-round pick by the Dolphins in 2008, Hilliard spent his rookie season on the practice squad and saw brief action in late 2009 due to injuries to multiple running backs. Upon the return of a healthy Patrick Cobbs in 2010, Hilliard caught just one pass for three yards and did not register a carry.

While Hilliard has been a fan favorite over the past few preseasons among desperate Dolphins fans, the reality is that his upside is significantly limited and it speaks volumes the team didn't give him a single carry in 2010. He'll be retained as an exclusive-rights free agent because he will be cheap and is a beast on special teams, but look for the Dolphins to do everything they can to bury him on the offensive depth chart.


DE Tony McDaniel (UFA)

McDaniel was acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009 for the bargain of a seventh-round pick. (Fun fact: the pick Miami sent to Jacksonville was eventually swapped to the New England Patriots, who selected quarterback-turned-wide receiver Julian Edelman.) The trade worked out quite nicely for the Dolphins, however, as they've gotten two years of quality backup and spot-starter play from McDaniel.

Coming off a career year with 36 tackles and 2.5 sacks, look for McDaniel to price himself out of Miami's range and land a starting gig elsewhere. With so much depth at defensive end added in recent drafts, Randy Starks returning, and the huge payout to nose tackle Paul Soliai via the franchise tag, it seems almost certain the Dolphins will have to let McDaniel walk.


G/T Pat McQuistan (UFA)

Acquired toward the end of the preseason from the Dallas Cowboys, McQuistan was pressed into the first starting duty of his five-year career due to injuries and poor play and injuries along the Dolphins' offensive line. In all, he appeared in 16 games and started eight of them, with pretty minimal success.

McQuistan was desired by the Dolphins staff due to their experience with him in Dallas and his ability to play both guard and tackle, but he's probably peaked at age 28 and is by no means someone that is vital to re-sign. He may garner consideration to be brought back for a backup job, but my guess is both parties will move on as the Dolphins try to improve their offensive line depth.


OLB Quentin Moses (UFA)

A disappointing third-round pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2007, Moses eventually landed in Miami as a rookie and has since served as a reserve defensive end and later outside linebacker. With 35 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 44 career game spread across four seasons, I've long been confused as to why this bust, who also does not contribute on special teams, has remained with the Dolphins as long as he has.

Now an unrestricted free agent, one has to imagine the Dolphins will finally move on and search for depth with some upside in place of Moses. The only thing working in his favor is the lockout-shortened offseason could make teams more hesitant about using newcomers for depth, but let us all hope that some other team offers Moses more money in the faint hope they can salvage the talent he displayed in college.


OT Lydon Murtha (ERFA)

Added off the Lions' practice squad in 2009 and placed on injured reserve shortly thereafter, Murtha secured the Dolphins' top backup tackle job in 2010 and wound up starting four games after Vernon Carey went down with an injury late last season.

While Murtha didn't play particularly well and also had some big miscues on special teams, he will be extremely inexpensive to retain and will almost certainly be back as Carey's backup again in 2011. Just don't expect much more contribution than that.


QB Chad Pennington (UFA)

A godsend in the Dolphins' 2008 AFC East title run, shoulder injuries knocked Pennington out in 2009 and again in 2010 just two passes into the game after the benching of Chad Henne. A torn ACL suffered this offseason will almost certainly keep him out into the 2011 season, meaning the odds of him playing for anyone are relatively zero.

As good of a quarterback as he was when healthy and as high as his football IQ is, the simple reality is that the 35-year-old Pennington can no longer be trusted as an NFL starter or even as a primary backup. To ever again put your season's hopes on him after his numerous shoulder injuries would be quite foolish, and I don't expect the Dolphins or any other team to do so.

Expect to see Pennington in the broadcast booth and eventually on the sideline as an NFL head coach, but you won't see him as the veteran presence at the quarterback position for the Dolphins.


C/G Cory Procter (UFA)

Another former Cowboys lineman brought over by Jeff Ireland, Procter was a serviceable backup at guard and center before terrible luck landed him on injured reserve with a torn ACL midway through the 2010 season.

Turning 29 this offseason, Procter has the experience and versatility you look for in a backup lineman, but his recovery will be slow and he lacks any real upside to make him a must-sign. The Dolphins have a handful of other players to back up likely starting center Mike Pouncey, so I don't think we'll see Procter in camp with the team.


RB Kory Sheets (UFA)

Signed off the 49ers' practice squad as an undrafted rookie in 2009, Sheets was hoping to use his blazing speed to earn a role on special teams before a torn Achilles' tendon wiped out his 2010 season.

Assuming he can return to form, Sheets has the most best speed and agility of the Dolphins' current running backs and does have a nice college résumé, but there really is no indication that the pro talent is there. Unless you're president of the Kory Sheets Fan Club, Omar Kelly, you should consider Sheets a long shot to make the team in 2011.


QB Tyler Thigpen (UFA)

It seems every year since the retirement of Dan Marino, Dolphins fans have been clamoring for the backup quarterback to start as the team has struggled to find a capable starter. Thigpen was the winner in the "grass is greener" sweepstakes in 2010, as fans cited his solid 2008 season with the Chiefs and his superior athletic ability as reasons why he should supplant Chad Henne.

The reality is that Thigpen is hardly starter material, as indicated by the lack of a trade market last offseason and the team's hesitance to give him much of a shot in 2010. The team played it safe and tendered him as a restricted free agent earlier this year, but he will end up unrestricted and will almost certainly seek out a better opportunity elsewhere.


RB Ricky Williams (UFA)

Aside from some bouts with a fumbling problem, Williams has been a talented, steady producer for the Dolphins since he got over the whole suspended/retirement thing. However, he didn't enter the offseason on good terms by criticizing the franchise and the coaching methods utilized by Tony Sparano.

While I won't say there is no chance Williams will return, I think it's pretty unlikely unless the Dolphins simply want more experienced depth behind Thomas and a bigger name free agent. Williams' free agent market would also have to be pretty bare, and I expect the relatively fresh 34-year-old to at least be able to land a platoon deal.

In all likelihood, one of the most polarizing figures in franchise history and the man that produced the best single-season rushing performance has likely played his last down for the Dolphins as the team continues to overhaul their backfield.


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Monday, July 18, 2011

Miami Dolphins Alumni Update: June 2011

These are all the pro football transactions involving for Miami Dolphins players in June 2011:

  • June 7 — The Virginia Destroyers (UFL) signed running back Clifton Smith to a contract. Smith appeared in two games for the Dolphins in September 2010, returning three kickoffs for 52 yards and two punts for nine yards.
  • June 8 — The Orlando Predators (AFL) placed offensive lineman Julius Wilson on the Suspended list. Wilson signed with the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2007 and spent the entire season on the practice squad. He was waived in July 2008 after failing his conditioning test.
  • June 8 — The Pittsburgh Power (AFL) placed offensive lineman Mike Byrne on the Suspended list. Byrne attended training camp with the Dolphins in 2008, but was waived during final cuts.
  • June 9 — The Calgary Stampeders (CFL) released defensive back Scorpio Babers. Babers spent part of the 2008 season on the Dolphins' practice squad.
  • June 9 — The Omaha Nighthawks (UFL) added offensive lineman Julius Wilson to the Reserve/Unsigned list.
  • June 13 — The Orlando Predators (AFL) activated offensive lineman Julius Wilson from the Suspended list.
  • June 13 — The Pittsburgh Power (AFL) activated offensive lineman Mike Byrne from the Suspended list. 
  • June 14 —The Omaha Nighthawks (UFL) removed defensive end Brian Johnston and offensive lineman Julius Wilson from the Reserve/Unsigned list. Johnston spent part of the 2010 offseason with the team but was waived before training camp.
  • June 20 — The Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL) transferred defensive back Courtney Bryan to the Suspended list. Bryan appeared in 19 games for the Dolphins over the 2007 and 2008 seasons, recording 14 tackles.
  • June 20 — The Toronto Argonauts (CFL) released wide receivers Todd Lowber and P. K. Sam. Lowber was signed to the Dolphins' practice squad in November 2008 and earned a future contract in 2009, but waived on June 1. Sam spent part of the 2006 season on the Dolphins' practice squad and played in NFL Europa for the team in 2007 before being released during final cuts.
  • June 20 — The Sacramento Mountain Lions (UFL) signed offensive lineman Matt Spanos to a contract. Spanos spent 2008 training camp with the Dolphins after signing as an undrafted free agent from USC.
  • June 25 — The Calgary Stampeders (CFL) transferred offensive lineman Dimitri Tsoumpas to the injured list. A CFL All-Star, Tsoumpas signed with the Dolphins in January 2010 but was waived in late July.
  • June 25 — The Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL) released defensive lineman Rodrique Wright. A seventh-round pick by the Dolphins out of Texas in 2006, Wright appeared in 13 games (nine starts) over three seasons with the team, recording 28 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
  • June 25 — The Toronto Argonauts (CFL) released wide receiver James Robinson. Robinson spent part of the 2009 season on the Dolphins' practice squad before being released on Nov. 4.
  • June 28 — The Virginia Destroyers (UFL) signed quarterback Pat White to a contract. A second-round pick in 2009, White was 0-for-5 passing as a rookie with 81 rushing yards and one fumble on 21 carries. He was waived prior to the 2010 season.
  • June 29 — The Jacksonville Sharks (AFL) activated defensive back Scorpio Babers from the Other League/Exempt list and placed him on the Refused to Report list.
  • June 29 — The Omaha Nighthawks (UFL) signed linebacker Morlon Greenwood and offensive lineman Joe Toledo to contracts. Originally selected by the Dolphins in the third round in 2001 out of Syracuse, Greenwood totaled 298 tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries in 62 games over four seasons with the team. The Dolphins' fourth-round pick in 2006, Toledo did not appear a game in two seasons with the Dolphins.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Will the Dolphins pursue Reggie Bush?

Former No. 2 overall pick Reggie Bush is expected to be released by the New Orleans Saints this offseason in lieu of an $11.8 million salary in 2011, and NFL Network's Jason La Canfora recently suggested that the Miami Dolphins might be the most likely landing spot.

According to La Canfora, the Dolphins "might actually set the market" for Reggie Bush, with the Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams named as two other teams that may be competing for his services.

While it's hard to know just how much of what La Canfora is saying is speculation as opposing to inside information, a Bush-Dolphins union does make quite a lot of sense and is absolutely something I could see happening when the free agent market eventually opens.

The Dolphins have been linked repeatedly to the likes of Darren Sproles as a potential third-down, change-of-pace back to complement likely workhorse Daniel Thomas, who was selected in the second round of April's draft.

They'd be getting a similar role player in Bush, albeit a more expensive one. Despite Bush failing to live up to expectations as such a high draft pick, he is widely regarded as a versatile and dynamic playmaker with top-notch physical tools.

I for one have always been a fan of Bush (stop snickering), and would be in favor of the Dolphins handing him a substantial contract. If he can add a dynamic element to the Dolphins running and passing games, as well as on punt returns, he will be well worth the investment.

The Dolphins certainly have the money to spend on a running back, with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams now off the books and the rookie Thomas likely headed for a very inexpensive three- or four-year contract.

If the Dolphins are going to give Chad Henne one more year to prove himself—which appears more and more likely given how long the lockout has lasted—they would be wise to surround their quarterback with as many tools as possible to help him succeed.

With a great defense, a strong receiving corps, a (hopefully) improved offensive line, and what could be a terrific set of complementary backs, it's not hard to imagine the Dolphins at least being competitive in 2011.


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