Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dolphins re-sign six to future contracts

Yes yes, I've come out of retirement. Not just for an article on roster bubble players signing future contracts like the one below, but for the end of freaking time! I just couldn't stay away, and if choking away two consecutive games and a playoff berth against inferior opponents doesn't get you excited about Dolphins football, what will?! On to the news...

Jeff Ireland's tenure as Dolphins general manager may not (hopefully not?) last much longer, but for the time being he is making traditional moves for this point in the year, and that means re-signing practice squad players to future deals to bring back for offseason workouts and training camp.

Six such players were re-signed by the Dolphins this week, including defensive tackle Isaako Aaitui, running back Cameron Marshall, tight end Kyle Miller, fullback/tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi, wide receiver Ryan Spadola and offensive tackle Jason Weaver.

The remaining two players from the Dolphins' practice squad—linebacker Josh Kaddu and wide receiver Reggie Dunn—have not been re-signed by the team as of Thursday. Kaddu was a fifth-round pick out of Oregon in 2012 and played in 5 games for the team before being waived in October, while Dunn was an undrafted rookie from Utah that was signed on Dec. 23.

DT Issako Aaitui

Back for his second go-round with the Dolphins in 2013, Aaitui was a great story in 2012 training camp when he nearly made the the Dolphins' roster and then was claimed by the Jets after final cuts, only to tear his ACL in his first practice with New York and miss the entire season.

He signed with the Saints this offseason but failed to latch on and eventually re-joined the Dolphins' practice squad. He played in four games after a promotion to the active roster in October, but was later waived and finished out the season on the practice squad.

Aaitui has always been a serviceable backup nose tackle and should have no problem sticking on the offseason roster with Randy Starks and Paul Soliai unsigned as free agents. Making the active roster is another story for Aaitui, however.

RB Cameron Marshall

Undrafted out of Arizona State in 2013 where he rushed for over 1,600 yards and 27 touchdowns over his final two seasons, Marshall attended training camp with the Dolphins but was hampered by a hamstring injury and spent the season on the practice squad.

Marshal currently slots in 5th on the running back depth chart and I wouldn't expect him to climb much higher barring a breakout performance in offseason workouts. He's more camp fodder than anything else.

TE Kyle Miller

Miller went undrafted in 2012 out of Mount Union and spent time with the Jaguars and Colts before being claimed off waivers by the Dolphins midway through his rookie season. He spent the entire 2013 season on the practice squad after losing a training camp battle with former third-round pick Michael Egnew.

All three of the Dolphins' top tight ends remain under contract (Dustin Keller is a free agent), so Miller is once again on the outside looking in for a roster spot in 2014.

FB/TE Emmanuel Ogbuehi

A fellow Georgia State alum, Ogbuehi went undrafted in 2013 and spent training camp with the Washington Redskins. He initially worked out for the Dolphins in September, but remained unsigned until joining the team's practice squad during the final months of the season.

I'm unsure at this point if Ogbuehi is working more at fullback or tight end, but the former wouldn't surprise me given the bodies at tight end and the way Egnew was utilized in the backfield this year as well. Regardless of the position, Ogbuehi is an extreme long shot in 2014.

WR Ryan Spadola

Spadola was a standout receiver at Lehigh before going undrafted in 2013 and signing with the New York Jets. He appeared in three games for the team as a special-teamer before his release and soon after signed to the Dolphins' practice squad. A one-game stint on Miami's active roster (Week 9 vs the Bengals) was book-ended by another stint on the practice squad.

Currently, Spadola slots in as the Dolphins' sixth receiver out of six, if you ignore Brandon Gibson's knee injury and include restricted free agent Armon Binns (also recovering from a knee injury). The top of the depth chart is set at the position, which will leave Spadola fighting with numerous additions over the offseason for a special teams role.

OT Jason Weaver
An All-Conference right tackle at Southern Miss, Weaver was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013 but was waived before the preseason. After a brief stint with the Bengals, Weaver spent the entire regular season on the Dolphins' practice squad.

Right side or left, Weaver currently projects as nothing more than a backup tackle even when taking the team's current free agents into consideration. It's safe to say the position will be a focal point for the Dolphins in 2014, making Weaver's chances of cracking the roster even slimmer.