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.


Discuss this article in the comments below or on the forum here!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Chad Ochocinco bringing his talents to South Beach

Since the Miami Dolphins traded Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears in March, all the talk of the offseason is how the team is lacking a true No. 1 receiver. Whether or not Chad Ochocinco is still a No. 1 receiver is certainly debatable, but the Dolphins have indeed signed the former Pro Bowler to a one-year contract.

A move first reported on Ochocinco's own website, the move has since been confirmed by media outlets and comes just four days after his release from the Patriots, who cut the veteran receiver after just one season in New England.

The Dolphins don't have to make a corresponding move to make room for Ochocinco, as his signing gives them 88 players on the 90-man offseason roster. They will, however, now need to clear a spot to sign all three of their draft picks.

The signing should also appeal to HBO's Hard Knocks, which announced last week it would be featuring the Dolphins during training camp in 2012. Ochocinco previously went through the Hard Knocks routine with the Bengals in 2009.


Background

A Miami native, Ochocinco (then Chad Johnson) began his collegiate career at Santa Monica College playing alongside future Panthers' receiver Steve Smith. Ochocinco later transferred to Oregon State and helped the team win the Fiesta Bowl over Notre Dame.

Selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft, Ochocino caught 28 passes for 329 yards as a rookie before breaking out in 2002 with 69 catches for for 1,166 yards and five touchdowns.

In 2003, Ochocinco set a franchise record with 1,355 receiving yards and earned the first of five consecutive Pro Bowl selections. He would go on to break his own record twice more and led the AFC in receiving for four seasons from 2003 to 2006.

After the 2008 season that saw him post the worst numbers (53 receptions, 540 yards) since his rookie year, Ochocinco rebounded in 2009 with 1,047 yards and nine scores to earn his sixth career Pro Bowl berth. He caught 67 passes for 831 yards and four scores in his final season in Cincinnati in 2010.

In July 2011, Ochocinco was acquired by the Patriots for two late-round draft choices and agreed to restructure his contract to a three-year deal worth $6.35 million. Despite his previous success the Patriots' high-powered offense, Ochocinco failed to become a factor with only three starts and 15 receptions for 276 yards and a score.


Analysis

When it was first suggested that Ochocinco could be a target for the Dolphins, I couldn't bring myself to rule it out. I don't particularly care for the guy or his antics, but he was certainly an intriguing and inexpensive option to bolster the team's receiving corps in the short term.

Even if you don't like Ochocinco, there's little reason to be upset about this move because he likely received a one-year contract for the veteran minimum with few guarantees. While I'd expect Ochocinco to make the roster and start for Miami in 2012, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he doesn't make the team at all.

While he isn't quite the franchise receiver he once was in Cincinnati and his ability to separate has waned, Ochocinco still does have the talent to be a 1,000-yard receiver as a No. 1 option if he can keep himself motivated and not cause problems in the locker room. If the 34-year-old Ochocinco is smart, he has to realize this might be his last chance to prevent his career from going the way of Terrell Owens.

Assuming Ochocinco does make the team and does start (he wouldn't make the team as a backup but would just be released instead), his presence hurts the competition of all the fringe receivers competing for a final fifth or sixth spot in the receiving corps.

The Dolphins would likely be set with Ochocinco, Brian Hartline, Davone Bess and Clyde Gates as the top four, meaning the bunch vying for the one or two final spot(s) would include an underwhelming veteran (Legedu Naanee), former undrafted players Marlon Moore and Roberto Wallace, two late-round draft picks (B. J. Cunningham and Rishard Matthews), a perpetual practice-squadder in Julius Pruitt, an ex-lacrosse player (Chris Hogan) and undrafted rookies Jeff Fuller and Derek Moye.

If Omar Kelly's OTA reports are to be believed, Naanee is having an impressive showing thus far. However, I find it unlikely the the team would keep him as the No. 4 or 5 receiver over younger players that haven't had as much time to prove themselves as Naanee, who has largely failed in that regard.

My best guess is that the team would keep a standout special-teamer (Wallace is the most proven in that arena but some of the newcomers could challenge) and/or one of the rookies—specially, Cunningham, Matthews, or Fuller, who played for offensive coordinator Mike Sherman at Texas A&M and has a bit of upside.

Perhaps most importantly (not really), rookie Rishard Matthews has been assigned No. 85, so Ochocinco will have to work out some sort of deal if he wants to don his traditional number for training camp.

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


Discuss this article in the comments below or on the forum here!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dolphins sign former Texas A&M fullback Jorvorskie Lane

The Miami Dolphins added their third former Texas A&M player of the offseason this week, signing free agent fullback Jorvorskie Lane to a three-year contract.

Lane joins first-round quarterback Ryan Tannehill and undrafted rookie receiver Jeff Fuller as the third ex-Aggies player on Miami's roster, with all three playing under Dolphins' offensive coordinator Mike Sherman when he was the head coach at Texas A&M.

The signing of Lane gives the Dolphins 87 players under contract on their 90-man offseason roster. Those remaining three spots will be taken by unsigned rookies Tannehill, defensive end Olivier Vernon and tight end Michael Egnew.


Background

A Lufkin, Tex. native, Lane made an immediate impact at Texas A&M upon his arrival in 2005, rushing for 595 yards and nine touchdowns.

Weighing between 260 and 280 pounds, Lane totaled 725 yards and a career-high 19 touchdowns in 2006 before amassing 780 yards and 16 more touchdowns in the ground as a junior in 2007.

Upon Mike Sherman's arrival in 2008, Lane was moved to fullback and totaled just 93 rushing yards and five touchdowns as a senior, finishing his career with a school record 49 rushing touchdowns. A poor showing at the East-West Shrine Game damaged his stock even further and, coupled with concerns about his weight, caused Lane to go undrafted and unsigned in 2009.

In 2010, Lane played for the West Texas Roughnecks of the Indoor Football League, totaling 326 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns. Lane is actually the second player from the IFL's Roughnecks to be signed by the Dolphins, joining current Redskins wideout Anthony Armstrong.

Lane participated in Texas A&M's Pro Day in 2011 and signed with the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League for the 2012 season, but was placed on the refused-to-report list in February.

In addition to Lane's connections to Sherman in Miami, he's also the paternal half-brother of Packers' tight end Jermichael Finley, who worked with by Dolphins' head coach Joe Philbin in Green Bay.


Analysis

Lane gives the Dolphins more of a traditional fullback to work behind H-back Charles Clay. Rookie CFL star Jerome Messam is out for the time being after undergoing a second surgery on his knee in May.

That being said, Lane is the definition of a camp body and is an extreme long shot to make the active roster. He was a fairly capable tailback at the collegiate level, but he's nothing more than a blocker/short-yardage back in the pros and that kind of fullback is a dying breed in the NFL.

Lane's weight has pushed 300 pounds at times and he simply doesn't offer the athleticism or agility to be a productive NFL rusher, even as a Jerome Bettis type. It also seems likely to prevent him from being a real impact on special teams, which would help his chances of making the roster.

More likely, the signing of Lane is a favor from an old coach in Sherman and gives the Dolphins a practice body at fullback with Messam out and Clay moving around the offense. But don't expect to see Lane on the roster come September and don't be surprised if he doesn't even make it to training camp.

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


Discuss this article in the comments below or on the forum here!