- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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These are all players who started at cornerback opposite Pro Bowler Brent Grimes in the past two seasons.
The Dolphins continued their roster purge Monday by releasing Finnegan, who signed a two-year, $11 million contract last season. The move makes sense from the standpoint it saves the team $5.475 million in cap space to pursue free agents. Finnegan also started 12 games and was up and down last season.
However, Miami's trend of rotating starting cornerbacks every year is troubling. Cutting Finnegan guarantees the Dolphins will have their third starting cornerback opposite Grimes in Week 1 in the past three years. The Dolphins have tried veterans (Patterson, Finnegan), they've tried going young (Taylor) and something in between (Carroll). Yet, nothing has panned out.
Miami needs to find a stable, No. 2 cornerback this offseason via free agency or the draft. Grimes is one of the top cornerbacks in football, but teams will continue to test the other side until the Dolphins find a long-term solution. Miami was sixth in pass defense last season but struggled at times in key moments, especially against top quarterbacks such as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning.
The solution could come from using a first-round draft pick. The Dolphins own the No. 14 overall pick and have a shot at top-rated cornerback prospects Trae Waynes of Michigan State and Kevin Johnson of Wake Forest. In fact, ESPN draft expert Todd McShay projected Johnson to Miami in his latest mock draft.
The Dolphins also could look to free agency, where expensive players such as Byron Maxwell, Kareem Jackson and Antonio Cromartie are available. Another option is to stay in house with Taylor or Will Davis, who were second- and third-round picks in 2013, respectively. This will be a challenging decision for Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey and new vice president Mike Tannenbaum.
But what the Dolphins cannot do is sign another one-year band-aid at cornerback. The goal for Miami this offseason should be to avoid searching for a fourth starting cornerback in four years in 2016.