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Dolphins to release Phillip Merling

The Dolphins are expected to release defensive end Phillip Merling before the draft and perhaps as early as today, a source is telling me this morning.

The story was first reported by Jeff Darlington of NFL.com.

No exact reason for the release was given to me. The move does clear $1.26 million in cap space for Miami. It also sets up the team to possibly take a defensive end in the coming draft. I reported over the weekend that Mississippi State defensive lineman Fletcher Cox is on Miami's radar and could be the Dolphins first-round pick.

Merling can now go down in Dolphins history as a bust. He was a second-round pick in 2008 but because he was the No. 32 overall selection that year, he could have easily been considered as a first rounder.

Regardless of his status, Merling has been a disappointment. He missed most of 2010 after tearing his Achilles' while jogging on his own. He was always in the cross-hairs of coaches who complained he did not practice hard enough often enough. He has been missing the current offseason workouts.

And he didn't exactly produce on game days, either. Fact is Merling's rookie year was probably his most promising. collecting 26 tackles, an interception, a sack and a fumble recovery.

Last season Merling had a total of four tackles which was only one more tackle than the year before when he played only five games and collected three tackles.

Seven tackles in two seasons will get you cut every time.