Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dolphins sign linebacker Gary Guyton, former hoopster Les Brown

Despite having just over $6 million in salary cap space (and hopefully that means some well-deserved extensions are coming!), the Miami Dolphins continue to add to their offseason roster with the signings of linebacker Gary Guyton and tight end prospect Les Brown on Friday.

The 26-year-old Guyton was one of four linebackers to work out for the Dolphins earlier this week, joining Jonathan Goff, Quentin Groves and Bryan Kehl. Guyton started 32 games for the Patriots over the past four seasons.

Guyton signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins, which will make him an unrestricted free agent next offseason. Meanwhile, Brown inked a three-year deal with the Dolphins that if played out would make him a restricted free agent in the 2015 offseason. Keep track of all the Dolphins' future free agents here.

The Dolphins now have 64 players under contract on the 80-man offseason roster. The team has eight picks in the 2012 NFL Draft and will likely spent the rest of their offseason roster on undrafted free agents.


Gary Guyton

Guyton spent his final two seasons at Georgia Tech as a starting linebacker, working on the strong side as a junior and the weak side as a senior. In 2007, he capped off his collegiate career with 78 tackles (13.5 for a loss) and five sacks.

Despite an impressive 4.47 forty time in pre-draft workouts, Guyton went undrafted in 2008 and signed with the New England Patriots. He appeared in 15 games (two starts) as a rookie working as a special-teamer and backup linebacker, recording 34 tackles and three pass deflections.

In 2009, Guyton earned a starting inside linebacker spot alongside Jerod Mayo on the Patriots' 3-4 scheme. Despite totaling 85 tackles, 1.5 sacks and four pass deflections in 16 starts, Guyton graded out as a below-average starter and struggled in coverage.

Upon the arrival of Brandon Spikes in 2010, Guyton was moved back to more of a reserve role with eight starts that season and just six starts in 2011. During that span, he combined for 110 tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble, three interceptions and seven pass deflections.


Les Brown

Brown's path to the NFL differs quite a bit from most. Originally a wide receiver at Highland High School in Salt Lake City, Brown had scholarship offers from schools including BYU, Colorado State, Oregon and Washington State, but instead chose to focus on basketball.

After starting 34 of 35 games as a junior at NAIA Westminster College, Brown chose to leave the basketball team and take a full-time job as an accountant at Huntsman Gay Global Capital—a private equity investment firm.

Brown worked at Huntsman Gay for two years before deciding to give football a try. Because his two brothers were on the BYU football team, Brown was allowed to work out at the team's pro day on March 29. It was there that he drew the attention of NFL scouts after Brown, measuring in at 6-foot-4 and 238 pounds, ran a 4.44 forty along with a 39-inch vertical leap and 10-3 broad jump.

After drawing interest from numerous teams including the Chiefs, Jaguars, Patriots and Raiders, Brown inked a deal with the Dolphins on April 13.


Analysis

An impressive physical specimen with great athleticism to go along with his 6-foot-3, 245-pound frame, Guyton failed to maintain a starting role with the Patriots and reportedly struggled in coverage. A source with first-hand knowledge told me "he's the slowest 4.4 runner ever" which seems to indicate that his raw measurables don't entirely translate to the field.

As things stand, I'd project Guyton to start somewhere in the Dolphins' new 4-3 scheme alongside Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett, although where all of them will slot in is really anyone's guess at this point. However, Guyton's no lock to start and the Dolphins will almost certainly explore other options in the draft, as Guyton profiles more as a top backup than a starter.

That being said, it's nice to have a guy with Guyton's athleticism and experience, and it's possible the Dolphins feel the new staff—specifically linebackers coach George Edwards—can get more production out of him than the Patriots did. At the very least, he provides an upgrade over disappointing starter Koa Misi.

As for Brown, it's important not to get overly excited about a guy that hasn't played football above the high school level and hasn't played at all since 2005. He's clearly got some drive to go along with his impressive physical tools, but there are plenty of 4.4 guys out there that simply don't have what it takes to be NFL players.

While the Dolphins might be looking for a new style of tight end under Joe Philbin, Brown should be considered an extreme long shot to make the final roster. For every Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez and Jimmy Graham that found success moving from the hard court to the gridiron, there are hundreds of guys that never even came close to making it.

With these two signings, my guess is the Dolphins have to have somewhere around $5 million in cap space, and possibly even less than that. A Cameron Wake extension is going to eat up more space and honestly they probably couldn't even do it at the moment with the way their financial situation is, so extending Jake Long or trimming more salaries (like Tony McDaniel and his $3 million price tag) to create room might be necessary.

Check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.


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