Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dolphins sign FB Ryan Mahaffey, waive two undrafted rookies

Despite the signing of fullback Jorvorskie Lane just one week ago, the Miami Dolphins have added another player at the lead blocker position in free agent Ryan Mahaffey.

Surprisingly, Lane remains on the roster while center Terence Brown and wide receiver Derek Moye, who were signed as an undrafted rookie free agents in May, were placed on waivers. The moves give the Dolphins 87 players under contract and three unsigned draft picks to round out the 90-man offseason roster.

Mahaffey will wear No. 6 for the Dolphins, which is allowed during training camp and the preseason. During the regular season, fullbacks must wear a number between 20 and 49.

In other ever-important jersey number news, newly-signed wide receiver Chad Ochocinco will wear his traditional No. 85, with rookie receiver Rishard Matthews taking Moye's No. 86.


Background

A Des Moines native, Mahaffey started 43 of 51 games played at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. Working as a tight end and fullback, Mahaffey was a second-team All-MVFC selection in 2008 and finished his career with 25 receptions for 227 yards and six touchdowns.

Delayed from joining an NFL team due to last year's lockout, Mahaffey went undrafted in April and was signed by the Baltimore Ravens on July 28. He played in all four of the team's preseason contests and caught one pass for four yards, but was waived during final cuts on Sept. 3 and re-signed to the practice squad.

On Nov. 17, Mahaffey was signed off the Ravens' practice squad to the active roster of the Indianapolis Colts. He made his NFL debut 10 days later, catching one pass for five yards but suffering a concussion during the game. For the season, Mahaffey appeared in five games and caught one pass, playing 30 offensive snaps and recording one tackle on special teams.

Mahaffey was waived by the Colts on May 29 with the signing of offensive tackle George Foster.

Update (6/13): Mahaffey signed a two-year deal with the Dolphins with base salaries of $465,000 in 2012 and $555,000 in 2013. If he were to play out the deal, he would be a restricted free agent in the 2014 offseason.


Analysis

Mahaffey's signing gives the Dolphins four fullback types on the roster. He joins projected starter and H-back type Charles Clay, the recently-signed Jorvorskie Lane, and former CFL standout Jerome Messam, who recently underwent a second knee surgery after an injury in Canada last season.

The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Mahaffey showed some solid receiving skills in college, but he doesn't possess the athleticism to be a tight end at the pro level. He also doesn't offer anything as a ball carrier with only one carry at UNI and none in the NFL.

Where Mahaffey will need to excel to make the Dolphins' roster will be on special teams, although he didn't particularly shine there in Indianapolis. It seems unlikely he'll show enough as a lead blocker to earn a role in the Dolphins' offense in 2012, and he's a long shot to make the team at all.

I find it interesting the Dolphins added Mahaffey and kept Lane, however, as the Dolphins have four fullbacks on the roster and still have three healthy for practice purposes even if Messam is out with a knee injury. Clay is versatile and will move around the offense, but two extra fullbacks still seems like overkill.

With Brown's release, veteran Ryan Cook is the only pure center on the roster behind starter Mike Pouncey. Starting left guard Richie Incognito and versatile backup Nate Garner also have center experience.

As for Moye, it's possible the Dolphins were concerned the lanky 6-foot-5 receiver doesn't have the bulk for the NFL game. The team still have 10 receivers on the roster vying for five or six spots.

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


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