Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Dolphins place cornerback Richard Marshall on IR, claim Brandon McDonald

The Miami Dolphins were torched in Week 9 for 433 yards by Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, but secondary relief won't be coming in the form of starting cornerback Richard Marshall, who has been out since Week 4 with a back injury.

The Dolphins ended Marshall's season today by placing the seven-year veteran on injured reserve. Marshall, who signed a three-year, $16 million contract with the Dolphins in the offseason after stints with the Panthers and Cardinals, finishes his first season in Miami with 18 tackles, an interception and five pass deflections in four starts.

Cornerback Brandon McDonald was claimed off waivers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to make room for Marshall. McDonald joins Bryan McCann as the second cornerback added by the Dolphins in as many days.

Undrafted rookie De'Andre Presley, who was waived Tuesday to make room for McCann, cleared waivers Wednesday and was re-signed to the practice squad on Thursday.


Background

McDonald initially played at Jones County Junior College in his native Mississippi before playing his final two seasons at Memphis. He was drafted in the fifth round (140th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.

After working primarily as a backup during his rookie season, McDonald started 15 of 16 games in 2008 and totaled 75 tackles, five interceptions and 17 pass deflections. He opened 10 of 16 games the following years and recorded 55 tackles and an interception, earning positive marks from Pro Football Focus both seasons.

McDonald was waived during final cuts in 2010 and claimed off waivers by the Arizona Cardinals. He played in just two games before being waived on Oct. 26. The Detroit Lions claimed him off waivers and allowed him to play in six games that season, including two starts.

In 2011, McDonald appeared in 13 games as a reserve and recorded 19 tackles and two pass deflections. The season included a stint as a free agent, as Detroit waived him on Dec. 9 only to re-sign him on Dec. 22.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed McDonald in late August, keeping him on the active roster until his release on Nov. 6. McDonald struggled mightily in coverage for the Bucs while starting two of eight contests and recording his ninth career interception.

Because the Dolphins claimed McDonald off waivers, they will inherit his one-year, $700,000 originally signed with Tampa Bay. If he remains on the team through the remainder of the season, he will be an unrestricted free agent in the 2013 offseason.


Analysis

It's unfortunate to lose Marshall, who at least had NFL starting experience even if he hadn't been a highly productive corner with the Dolphins yet. That being said, the team has been able to win some games without him and they are at least getting to take a longer look at some of the younger corners.

Despite the back injury and uninspiring production before it, I'd expect Marshall to return to the Dolphins in 2013. Sean Smith is an unrestricted free agent and will likely be seeking a nice pay day, so the Dolphins could use Marshall even if they do address the position in the draft or free agency.

After some solid moments in Cleveland early in his career (and some laughable arrogance when he called out then-Bengals receiver Terrell Owens on Twitter), McDonald has progressed to journeyman status at age 27 and seems to be struggling to find consistency in coverage.

His 31 career starts are welcome experience given the loss of Richard Marshall for the rest of the season, but it will take a serious turnaround for McDonald to have a positive impact for the Dolphins on defense and it's certainly not something I would bank on.

Like I said with the McCann signing yesterday, this move isn't going to fix the Dolphins' secondary problems. The reality is they need Smith needs to play like a No. 1 corner and the Dolphins need to get more from youngsters Nolan Carroll and Jimmy Wilson.