NFL Nation: Brent Grimes

TAMPA, Fla. – Mike Evans had to be the happiest person that Saturday night’s game with the Miami Dolphins was only a preseason contest.

Evans
The rookie wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a play that looked like it was heading for a highlight reel but instead might end up on a bloopers show.

In the second quarter, Evans caught a short pass from Mike Glennon and bounced off a would-be tackler. Evans seemed destined for the end zone, but something got in the way. Miami cornerback Brent Grimes stripped the ball from Evans at the 1-yard line. A play that should have resulted in a touchdown turned into a touchback.

“It was a rookie mistake,’’ Evans said after Tampa Bay’s 20-14 loss. “I had the ball on my inside arm and I didn’t anticipate him. It was a good play by him. I should have had the ball in my outside arm.’’

“We can correct that,’’ coach Lovie Smith said.

But Evans obviously has been making a good impression in practices. He had been behind Chris Owusu on the depth chart. But Evans got the start over Owusu on Saturday. The Bucs don’t expect Evans to make the same mistake again.

“I don’t think we have to have any conversations,’’ quarterback Josh McCown said. “As unfortunate as that is, it’s the best teacher.’’

Observation Deck: Miami Dolphins

August, 16, 2014
Aug 16
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The Miami Dolphins knew they were in for a tough test offensively Saturday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Miami's first-team offense was nearly perfect in one touchdown drive against the mediocre Atlanta Flacons’ defense last week. But Tampa Bay has defensive talent at a lot of positions, and the Dolphins’ offense would be on the field longer.

The result was a mixed bag for Miami's starting offense during a 20-14 win over Tampa Bay. The first-team offense produced three points in three drives. The other two resulted in a punt and a lost fumble by starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The good news is Tannehill threw the football well. He was 9-of-14 passing for 110 yards.

Tampa Bay’s defense was able to expose some things needed to improve in Miami's new offense under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Here are some other thoughts on the Dolphins' second preseason game:
  • Dolphins starting right guard Dallas Thomas struggled mightily. Thomas had the tough task of Tampa Bay Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Thomas gave up a sack and fumble to McCoy in the first half, another hit on Tannehill and a tackle for loss. Thomas also had a false start in the second quarter when McCoy was not in the game. Questions will certainly arise whether Thomas can handle the starting job for 16 games. Miami has other options to explore if Thomas continues to struggle. Rookie third-round pick Billy Turner and veteran free-agent signing Shelley Smith could get another look next week in practice.
  • Miami’s running game also remains a cause for concern. Starting running back Lamar Miller rushed for just 3 yards on three carries. He had just 11 yards on four carries last week against Atlanta. Miami is getting little push from its offensive line in the running game. In the first half when starters and key backups played, the Dolphins rushed for minus-5 yards on nine carries.
  • It is only the preseason, but Dolphins starting cornerback Brent Grimes produced one of the best plays of the exhibition season. Tampa Bay rookie receiver Mike Evans made a strong catch over the middle and broke through a tackle attempt by Miami safety Jimmy Wilson. Evans appeared on his way to a touchdown, but Grimes hustled from the opposite sideline to force a fumble before Evans reached the end zone. After review, the Dolphins were awarded the football via a touchback. For a Pro Bowl cornerback to hustle that much in a preseason game says a lot about Grimes.
  • The Dolphins showed off their depth at receiver. Backups Brandon Gibson, Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews and Damian Williams all made their presence felt against Tampa Bay. This foursome combined for nine receptions and one touchdown catch. Miami might want to consider trading one of its lower-level receivers in order to gain depth at another position.
  • Miami backup quarterback Matt Moore virtually locked up the No. 2 quarterback job Saturday night. Moore was 13-of-19 passing for 158 yards and a touchdown. He threw a nice touchdown pass to the corner of the end zone to Matthews before halftime. The Dolphins signed veteran quarterback Brady Quinn this week to push Moore. Quinn was the third quarterback Saturday and was 4-of-4 passing for 22 yards.

Dolphins Camp Report: Day 15

August, 14, 2014
Aug 14
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DAVIE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Miami Dolphins training camp:
  • Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace expects to make his 2014 debut Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Wallace missed last week’s preseason opener due to a hamstring injury but has practiced all this week. The speed is still there. Wallace caught a pretty deep ball from quarterback Ryan Tannehill in practice Thursday over Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes in one-on-one drills. Tannehill and Wallace were criticized last year for not making enough big plays. “Me, personally, I always tell you I don’t care about what nobody says,” Wallace said of the critics. “I know how hard we work every single day. I feel like it’s going to come, it’s going to happen for us.”
  • Miami tailback Knowshon Moreno practiced for a full week, but his status remains up in the air for Saturday. Moreno recently got off the physically unable to perform list and participated in team drills for the first time this week. Although he doesn’t look 100 percent, Moreno made some nice runs and showed solid hands. But the goal is to have him ready for the regular season. “I think [in] the running game, he’s starting to look like his old self,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin. “I don’t know about the passing game just yet.”
  • Dolphins rookie linebacker Jordan Tripp is making an impression. Tripp was used a lot Thursday on the second team – both in base and nickel defenses. Tripp had a fumble and recovery for a touchdown in Miami’s scrimmage and nearly had an interception against the Atlanta Falcons last week. The rookie fifth-round draft pick appears to be a strong candidate for the 53-man roster.
  • Another rookie who is making plays is undrafted running back Damien Williams. He has about two weeks to continue to push for a roster spot. Williams caught a long touchdown pass from Tannehill on a wheel route Thursday and made darting runs in camp. “Playing in the NFL, you gotta make plays, you want to make plays,” Williams said. “My main priority is getting in the end zone.”
  • This was the final official session of training camp. The Dolphins will take the day off Friday in order to travel before Saturday’s game against the Buccaneers. Miami will return to the practice field on Monday.

W2W4: Miami Dolphins

August, 8, 2014
Aug 8
12:00
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The Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons open the preseason Friday night at the Georgia Dome.

1. Lazor focus: Much has been made this offseason and in training camp about offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s new scheme. Dolphins players and coaches have praised Lazor for the job he’s done with Miami’s offense, and Friday is the first time everyone gets to see it in a game situation. Lazor arrived in Miami this season after a stint with Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles. The Dolphins are adding many of the concepts from Kelly’s high-powered offense. Does Miami have the personnel to pull it off? It’s been up and down early in training camp. But performing well against Atlanta will give Miami’s offense some confidence.

2. Tannehill kicks off Year 3: Just as Lazor’s offense will be in focus, a lot of eyes will be on Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, as well. The third-year quarterback is 15-17 as a starter and enters a make-or-break season. Tannehill is learning a new offense and could use some early momentum in the preseason opener. He was inconsistent this week in training camp. Tannehill threw seven interceptions in the past three practices. Tannehill is not expected to play much more than two or three series on Friday.

3. Familiar faces: It’s just a preseason game, so don’t expect regular-season intensity. However, it is worth noting Miami will face former longtime Dolphins defensive tackle Paul Soliai for the first time. Soliai spent seven years with the Dolphins from 2007-13 and wanted to stay in Miami this offseason as a free agent. However, the Dolphins disagreed on Soliai’s value and the Falcons signed him to a $33 million contract. Soliai could be motivated to perform well in his limited playing time. Friday also marks the return to Atlanta for Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes. He played against the Falcons last year in the regular season in Miami.

Dolphins Camp Report: Day 10

August, 5, 2014
Aug 5
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DAVIE, Fla. – A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Miami Dolphins training camp:


  • There were questions coming into the season with how much veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan has left in the tank. Miami’s free-agent pickup signed a two-year contract after a pair of down years with the St. Louis Rams. But Finnegan has had a solid training camp and Tuesday was his best day. He had three interceptions -- two off quarterback Ryan Tannehill and one off Matt Moore – to cap a strong practice. Finnegan is solidifying a starting cornerback job opposite Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes. “He got a lot left in the tank,” Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace. “He’s a really smart guy. He knows how to play the combinations of routes. He’s seen every combination you can possibly bring. He’s a smart guy and takes chances.”
  • It was another rough day for Miami’s offense overall. Tannehill and Moore combined for five interceptions. Tannehill was picked by Finnegan (twice) and Grimes (once). Moore's picks also were to Finnegan and Grimes. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said the turnovers are not what the team wants, but he’s trying not to get too high or too low with practices. On the flip side, the defense was terrific and easily won the practice against the offense.
  • The Dolphins added several key players to their injury list on Tuesday. Starting defensive end Olivier Vernon (back), running back Daniel Thomas (hamstring) and tight end Michael Egnew (concussion) all will miss multiple practices, according to the team. It’s also unlikely any of these players will participate in Friday’s exhibition against the Atlanta Falcons.
  • With Vernon out, Miami 2013 first-round pick and backup defensive end Dion Jordan has received first-team reps this week. It appears Jordan most likely will get his first career start -- albeit in the preseason -- Friday against the Falcons. This is a good opportunity for Jordan, who had a non-descript rookie year and will be suspended the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Still, Jordan is having a solid camp and continues to make plays in practice.
  • The Dolphins will return to practice Wednesday at 8 a.m. ET for their final practice of the week. Miami will have a travel day on Thursday and take the field Friday for its preseason opener against the Falcons.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Here is the tricky part about training camp: The practices are informative, but you don't want to overrate them.

That thought process certainly comes into play this week with Miami Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He has six interceptions – yes, six – in the past two practices heading into Friday's preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons.

Tannehill threw three interceptions for the second consecutive practice on Tuesday. He had a trio of turnovers to Miami starting cornerback Cortland Finnegan and Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes. Tannehill nearly threw a fourth interception in team drills, but Grimes dropped the pass. Grimes later did pushups on the sideline after the missed opportunity.

Add in the fact that Tannehill also threw three interceptions on Monday and, at the very least, it raises some eyebrows.

"Obviously, offensively, we don't want to have those in a ballgame," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said of the interceptions. “But you can't get too high or too low in the middle of a practice because it can taint your image. ... There were too many interceptions, however, I thought they responded well later in the practice and worked through it."

Tannehill said one of his interceptions Tuesday to Finnegan was a "brain fart" and the other was inside the bubble early in practice when the offense wasn't warmed up.

The Dolphins wrapped up their installation phase on offense and defense Tuesday. But according to Tannehill, the team is still experimenting and it led to several of his six turnovers Monday and Tuesday.

"It's a combination of a bunch of stuff," Tannehill said. "Some throws we're trying to just make in practice to see if it’s something we want to move on with during the season. We have other answers on the play. But the coaching staff wants to take a look at some throws on different coverages to see if we can complete them.

"I think we've come to the conclusion that we're going to move onto another route.”

Tannehill is learning a new offense for the first time since college under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. It is a demanding, uptempo scheme where much is expected from the quarterback. Growing pains are expected for Tannehill, especially in training camp.

But the truth is this is a big Year 3 for the Dolphins' starting quarterback when everything will be monitored closely. Tannehill's past two practices were certainly worth noting, and many will be curious to see how he responds Friday in his first live action of the preseason.

A strong preseason debut is the easiest way to erase a poor week of practice from Tannehill.

Dolphins Camp Report: Day 7

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
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DAVIE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Miami Dolphins training camp:
  • It was a semi-light day at Dolphins camp. Miami has its annual team scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday. Therefore, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin gave many of his veterans a light day of work. Veterans such as defensive end Cameron Wake, cornerback Brent Grimes, left tackle Branden Albert, guard Daryn Colledge and safety Louis Delmas dressed but did not take part in team drills and most individual drills. Friday wrapped a physical week of practice where the Dolphins had three sessions in full pads.
  • Dolphins backup receiver Rishard Matthews continued his solid week with another strong practice on Friday. Matthews made a series of nice catches in team and one-on-one drills. Matthews received increased reps after Mike Wallace rested this week with a hamstring injury. Matthews is on the roster bubble this summer because the Dolphins are very deep at that position. Matthews is battling with veteran Brandon Gibson and rookie second-round pick Jarvis Landry for the slot-receiver position.
  • This was the first practice out of several where the Dolphins didn’t have issues with the snap. Since Tuesday, Miami centers Nate Garner, David Arkin and Shelley Smith all had botched snaps throughout the week. Friday’s practice was clean in that regard. Also, backup center Nate Garner returned to practice from an ankle injury. However, he did not participate in team drills.
  • More on the injury front, quarterback Matt Moore hurt his shoulder this week and will miss multiple practices. He will not play in Saturday’s scrimmage. The same goes for rookie receiver Matt Hazel (concussion) and linebacker Tariq Edwards (knee).
  • Here is the Dolphins’ weekend schedule: Miami will hold its annual scrimmage Saturday at 9:30 a.m. ET at Sun Life Stadium. Then, the Dolphins will take the day off Sunday. Their first preseason game is Aug. 8 against the Atlanta Falcons.

Miami Dolphins' projected roster

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
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Examining the Miami Dolphins’ roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)


The only question here is whether Devlin can hold off undrafted rookie Brock Jensen for the No. 3 quarterback job. Neither quarterback stood out in the offseason, but Devlin has the slight edge because of experience.

RUNNING BACKS (3)

The Dolphins would like to have someone step up and challenge Thomas. Undrafted rookie Damien Williams from Oklahoma could be a sleeper to watch. But it's too premature to put Williams on the 53-man roster over the veteran Thomas before the pads come on.

RECEIVERS (6)

This is a deep group with a lot of competition. Williams will be pushed for the final spot by Armon Binns and rookie Matt Hazel, who is practice-squad-eligible.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

New Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor uses some two-tight-end sets. So there might be room for a fourth player such as Dion Sims. But we are sticking with three for now.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)
Pouncey’s hip injury puts a major dent in this much-maligned group to start the season. Miami will have five new starters in Week 1.

DEFENSIVE LINE (8)

This is the strongest area of the team. The Dolphins can come at opponents in waves in the trenches.

LINEBACKERS (7)

This group must improve its play from 2013. The Misi experiment at middle linebacker is particularly important to watch.

CORNERBACKS (6)

This is a solid mix of youth and experience. As long as second-year players Taylor and Davis come of age and Finnegan stays healthy, the depth will be improved from a year ago.

SAFETIES (4)

This group is all about position flexibility. All four players must be able to play back in coverage and closer to the line of scrimmage in defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle’s scheme.

SPECIALISTS (3)

This trio will remain the same for the second straight year.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins second-year cornerback Jamar Taylor looks quicker and more explosive than he did a year ago. For the first time in his NFL career, he enters offseason workouts 100 percent healthy.

The Dolphins drafted Taylor in the second round last year despite a pre-draft kidney ailment and subsequent sports hernia that kept him out for most of the offseason. Taylor spent the regular season fighting off injuries and trying to earn playing time. He finished with just 40 snaps on defense.

[+] EnlargeJamar Taylor
Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY SportsJamar Taylor is looking to bounce back from an injury-marred rookie season.
But Taylor enters his second year with the Dolphins a more confident player. Taylor has a chance to earn a role on the defense and is out to prove he can live up to his pre-draft billing.

“It's getting there. He's definitely coming back out,” Taylor said recently during organized team activities (OTAs). “That person ya'll seen talk a lot, it's getting there. But I got to learn. I got to crawl before I can walk. I'm out here trying to pick these older guys' brain.”

Taylor is surrounded by veterans in the secondary such as safety Louis Delmas and cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan. Finnegan happens to be Taylor's biggest competition for a starting job this summer. The Dolphins are having a three-way battle between Taylor, Finnegan and Will Davis for the right to start at cornerback opposite Grimes.

If Taylor can win a starting job -- or even the nickel cornerback role -- it will be a sizable turnaround from last season.

“I think it's more motivation for myself. I have high expectations of myself,” Taylor said. “I can't really worry about what everyone else thinks, as long as I get the respect of my teammates, my coaches and myself.”

Last year wasn't just a poor start for Taylor. The entire 2013 Dolphins draft class had little production. Miami had the third-fewest snaps (1,126) by a rookie class in the NFL last year. Only the AFC champion Denver Broncos (1,066 snaps) and Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks (1,111 snaps) had less production from their rookies.

The Dolphins are hoping players such as Taylor, Davis, defensive end Dion Jordan and guard Dallas Thomas all can make the jump in Year 2 and find significant roles on the team this season.

“I think it was a learning experience for all of us,” Taylor said. “We all came here on our high horse and we got humbled real quick. I think we got to keep working. I expect all of us to do good, keep learning, play fast and compete.”
Cortland Finnegan admits he had a down year with the St. Louis Rams in 2013. The veteran cornerback battled through injuries and inconsistent play that limited him to just seven games and one interception.

Finnegan
The poor year eventually led to Finnegan getting released by the Rams this offseason. However, he quickly found a home Friday with the Miami Dolphins, who were searching for a veteran presence to add to their secondary.

Finnegan, 30, is the early favorite to start opposite Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes. It could be a formidable duo if Finnegan can return to the old form that he had with the Tennessee Titans. Somewhere, that got lost during his stint in St. Louis.

“I play with an edge, and I’ve learned to control that throughout the years with the fines going down,” Finnegan explained during his teleconference Friday with the Miami media. “At the same time I want to bring that same tenacity and spunk that I had that maybe I was missing. I know a lot of people said maybe something was missing. Maybe that’s what it was.”

Finnegan, at his best, was one of the most physical cornerbacks in the NFL. He was an aggressor who often got in the heads of receivers.

A starting cornerback job is wide open in Miami. Finnegan will compete with 2013 draft picks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis in training camp. Taylor and Davis had injury-plagued seasons and will be hungry to earn bigger roles with the team in 2014.

Finnegan has a lot to prove with his new Dolphins team, as well.

“I’m going to work,” Finnegan said. “Nothing was ever given to me, and I don’t want it. I want to come in and compete for any job of that magnitude. I hope the younger guys are coming in to compete.”

Finnegan said he’s out to prove he has something left in the tank. His inconsistent play last season has many wondering if he’s hit a wall. The Dolphins signing Finnegan to a two-year contract shows the coaching staff believes last season was an aberration.

Finnegan said he expects to be “110 percent” by organized team activities in the spring.

“Now it’s a clean slate,” Finnegan said. “I’m on a new team with great coaches. I have to let my play do the talking.”
The Miami Dolphins have made several quality moves already in free agency. But there remains a gaping hole at cornerback opposite Pro Bowler Brent Grimes.

Taylor
Davis
Can a pair of 2013 draft picks fill that void?

Former second-round pick Jamar Taylor and third-round pick Will Davis will be provided a chance to fill significant roles with the Dolphins in 2014. Both had redshirt rookie years last season. Taylor and Davis both battled various injuries early in the season and couldn’t work their way into the rotation.

But the Dolphins, via their recent roster moves, are making it clear that Taylor and Davis will be provided a clean slate this season. Miami cut veteran starter Dimitri Patterson last week to save $5 million on its salary cap. The Dolphins also allowed veteran Nolan Carroll to walk in free agency. Carroll signed Thursday with the Philadelphia Eagles. Between Patterson and Carroll, Miami lost seven total interceptions from last season.

Taylor and Davis were highly-touted players entering last year’s draft who have potential. Taylor was a playmaker at Boise State who was considered by many to be a first-round prospect. But health issues leading up to the draft dropped Taylor to the second round. Miami felt it got value in Taylor, but his issues and injuries carried into training camp and the early portion of the season. Taylor got playing time sparingly late in the season, but he didn't get enough reps to show what he can do.

Davis is a ballhawk who showed flashes in training camp. He unofficially led the Dolphins in interceptions during training camp practices. As a member of the scout defense, Davis picked off Miami starting cornerback Ryan Tannehill three times in summer practices, which opened some eyes. Davis also had an interception in the preseason against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But a toe injury late in the preseason put him behind and he never found a consistent spot in the rotation.

Miami is hosting veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan Friday. That is a sign the team is looking for another veteran presence to add to the mix. But the Dolphins also are hoping one -- or both -- of their young cornerbacks steps up this year.
It only took a few minutes on a conference call to know what type of player the Miami Dolphins were getting when they signed free-agent safety Louis Delmas.

I asked Delmas Monday night to describe his game. His response was intriguing.

Delmas
"It's like turning on the TV and watching a car race, and that one dude who leads the race goes ahead and runs into that brick wall full speed and actually breaks that brick wall," Delmas responded. "That's what I'm here for."

Delmas is a big hitter. He's an enforcer. In his words, "I like to bang."

In other words, Delmas is just what the Dolphins need in their secondary.

The Dolphins were ranked 21st in total defense last season. They had talent, but the defense at times looked pedestrian and lacked the consistent fire and energy it takes to carry a team.

Delmas brings some of that passion and intimidation to Miami. He's one of the biggest hitters in the NFL and will replace outgoing free-agent starter Chris Clemons, who was up and down last season. Delmas has been on Miami's radar for at least a week following his release from the Detroit Lions. He recorded 64 tackles and three interceptions last season in Detriot.

"This is a player that plays with great passion and love for the game," Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said. "He's a physical presence and has playmaking ability. We feel like he will bring a lot of things to the table as a Miami Dolphin."

Delmas, 26, is banking on himself in 2014. His physical style has resulted in injuries, which is why Miami signed Delmas to a one-year "show me" contract.

The Dolphins did the same thing with cornerback Brent Grimes last year following an Achilles injury. Grimes made the Pro Bowl following the 2013 season and Miami signed him to a four-year, $32 million extension last week. The Dolphins are hoping Delmas also has a big year.

"I have a lot to prove to myself," Delmas said. "I have a lot to prove to my fans, a lot to prove to my family in my backyard and a lot to prove to this organization. How will I do that? By coming here being myself."

The Miami Dolphins have more than $30 million in salary cap space and are expected to be major players in free agency for the second year in a row. Offensive line is an obvious area of need, but what about the safety position?

Should the Dolphins take the plunge with free-agent safety Jairus Byrd?

The former three-time Pro Bowler is one of the best players on the market and won’t come cheap. A source informed ESPN.com's Dolphins page Monday that Byrd is seeking a contract in the range of $9 million per season. That number would make him the second highest-paid safety in the NFL behind Eric Berry, who has a six-year, $60 million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The NFL Network reported over the weekend that Miami and the St. Louis Rams are among the teams expressing interest in Byrd. He is a dynamic playmaker who has 22 career interceptions with the Buffalo Bills. Byrd also had plenty of success against the Dolphins in the AFC East.

Signing Byrd would fill a need in Miami’s secondary and take away a top defensive player from a division rival. That is a win-win for the Dolphins. However, Miami has been on a spending spree since last year. The Dolphins recently shelled out $29.3 million contract for safety Reshad Jones last season and a $32 million contract for Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes last week. Adding Byrd could allocate $100 million or more into Miami’s starting secondary, which is a significant investment.

The Dolphins have other well-defined needs such as offensive tackle, guard and defensive tackle. These are not sexy positions, but they must be addressed if Miami wants to improve on last year's 8-8 record.

Potentially signing Byrd would make a huge splash for the Dolphins. But it does not come without financial risks.
Tarell Brown tweeted Sunday morning about getting a massage and of his plan to barbecue. Brown has reason to be in a festive mood.

Brown
There is reason to believe the cornerback market will be robust in free agency a year after the market struggled. Green Bay re-signed cornerback Sam Shields to a whopping four-year, $39 million deal Saturday. Miami recently signed Brent Grimes, who suffered in free agency last year, to a big extension as well.

If that trend continues, Brown should benefit when free agency starts Tuesday. While the cornerback position is filled with some strong players, ESPN analyst Bill Polian ranks Brown at the top of the available players at the position.

If just one NFL team agrees with Polian, the 49ers will have difficulty keeping him. The 49ers want Brown back, but they will likely not be willing to give him a huge deal with bigger contracts on the horizon for the team. If Brown signs elsewhere, the team will likely have Chris Culliver, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, compete for a starting job. The 49ers would also likely have to add an inexpensive veteran and use an early draft pick on a cornerback.

Quick takes: Aqib Talib

March, 9, 2014
Mar 9
12:00
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  • Yes, the Washington Redskins are interested in New England cornerback Aqib Talib, who will be a free agent Tuesday. They were among the teams that contacted him, but this is clearly no surprise. I’m not sure of a Redskins beat reporter who didn’t speculate on this possibility. But they have contacted a number of players, or, more accurately, their agents: (among them based on reports: tackle Anthony Collins; safety Mike Mitchell, who was among the first contacted; and defensive lineman Arthur Jones). All of these make sense and have been speculated about, but they won’t sign them all. Collins, for example, would be a good right tackle, but I’d imagine he’ll get paid as a left tackle.
  • [+] EnlargeAqib Talib
    AP Photo/Damian StrohmeyerFree agent Aqib Talib would give the Redskins three cornerbacks capable of starting.
    It doesn’t mean they will sign him, but with the connections between Talib and Redskins secondary coach Raheem Morris, it makes sense the Redskins would be interested. That and the fact that they need another cornerback. The Redskins' third corner last season was David Amerson, who played 67 percent of the defensive snaps.
  • There is a lot to like about Talib. He’s a good cornerback and has transformed his reputation playing in New England. I remember being told when he was in Tampa Bay that he was a guy who wanted to be a leader, but really didn’t know how and that he wasn’t a bad guy but acted improperly. With the Patriots, that leadership side emerged.
  • But this is big: Would that side continue in Washington? Or was it a function of being in an environment such as New England’s? I’m not blaming Morris, because I wasn’t there, but under his leadership as Tampa's head coach Talib had issues. It could simply be because he was young. I don’t know. I do remember the Redskins having issues with Talib before he was drafted. After Morris was fired, numerous reports cited that things were too lax. Morris is not in charge here, but was that why Talib struggled there or was he just young? I'm not smart enough to say, nor do I know Talib at all, other than talking to people and reading reports.
  • That said, it sure seems the combination of a stable environment, a strong head coach and a solid organization helped Talib. He learned what it took to be a successful pro. The Redskins have a first-year head coach and an organization that has much to prove. That does not mean Talib would revert to bad habits, but this difference is worth discussing.
  • Talib has size (6-foot-1), can play physical and move inside and out. Every team needs three cornerbacks capable of starting, and the Redskins would have that. How good some of those cornerbacks are can be debated. But Talib’s ability to play inside and out would be welcomed. The Redskins don’t have a third cornerback you can count on right now. Of course, it’s still just March.
  • The Pro Bowl is a popularity contest, but Talib has made just one (this year). Take that for what it’s worth.
  • But if it’s going to take big money to sign Talib, then you must have buyer beware. For comparison, Sam Shields' Green Bay deal was four years, $39 million; but he’s two years younger than Talib. Brent Grimes re-upped with Miami for four years and $32 million with $16 million guaranteed. He'll be 31 in July and has played in every game in three of the past five seasons, but appeared in a combined 13 games the other two years. Of course, I’d want to see the breakdown of Shields’ contract first, before knowing how to use it as a guide.
  • Another aspect, and this is rather big: Talib’s injury history. He hasn’t played more than 13 games since 2009. It’s tough to justify a big contract for someone with this history. Players don’t become more durable as they get older (he's 28). I don’t think I’d jump out and give him a big deal at the start of free agency (of course, this depends on what sort of deal it is). This one will require discipline on the part of the Redskins. I think we'll learn something about them based on how this unfolds.

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