9:30 a.m. Tuesday: Five days after releasing quarterback Josh Freeman, the Dolphins re-signed him. So why the change of heart?
The Dolphins wanted to keep him all along, but because of a clause in his contract, the Dolphins are at less risk financially by doing it this way: cutting him and then re-signing him. That eliminated a financial obligation that Miami otherwise would have had.
Freeman still remains a long shot to make the roster, with the Dolphins probably having room for only two quarterbacks (Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore). Moore already has been paid a $1.6 million bonus and there's no indication that he is at any risk.
Freeman will hope to impress other teams during preseason games. McLeod Bethel Thompson is the fourth quarterback on the roster.
Miami has 88 players under contract and is looking at other players to fill the two remaining spots.
5 p.m. Dolphins update: The Dolphins released receiver Nigel King, an undrafted rookie free agent who caught 30 passes for 537 yards for Kansas last season. Miami's roster stands at 87 and the Dolphins are exploring candidates to fill some or all of the three open spots, with veteran free agent guard Evan Mathis among those still in play.
8 p.m. Heat update: According to two people involved, the Heat has changed James Ennis' contract so that half of his contract does not become guaranteed on Saturday and the other half on Dec. 15, which is how the contract was originally structured.
Instead, his entire $845,000 salary will become guaranteed on the first day of the regular season if he's on the team. If he's not on the team that day, he gets nothing.
That gives Miami more time to evaluate him to make sure his poor summer league play was an anomaly instead of a sign of regression. He also will have competition for a roster spot in training camp.
The Dolphins had cornerback on their mind all offseason, signing two veteran free agents, drafting two, making a late, unsuccessful attempt to snag starter Buster Skrine (who joined the Jets) and looking closely at a first-round corners had receiver DeVante Parker not been available. Now they’re in a position where they might need to keep seven corners, one or two more than normal. With camp opening Thursday, some nuggets on what Miami has assembled around Brent Grimes:
### Jamar Taylor: Here’s the good news on Taylor, who’s a front-runner to start: He’s technically sound, highly competitive, a very good tackler, strong against the run and generally doesn’t get beaten for huge gains. He allowed 10.2 yards per reception last season, which would have been in the top 12 among 108 corners if he had enough snaps to qualify. And he has been solid this offseason.
“He’s confident, determined, wants to win a job,” defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. “Each and every day he’s performed at a high level. That’s been very encouraging.”
The concern: He has given up a high completion percentage through two seasons: 37 of 53 caught against him, per Pro Football Focus. And health has been an issue: a sports hernia before his rookie season and a shoulder injury that cost him four of the final five games in 2014.
Grimes believes Taylor is ready to break out: “I’ve been saying for a few years that Jamar is a great player,” Grimes said. “He has a lot of tools. He’s explosive. He’s aggressive. He’s competitive. He just had a lot of nagging injuries.”
### Will Davis: He made a quick recovery from an ACL tear and the Dolphins say he should be ready for preseason. They loved his play-making ability coming out of Utah State and convinced him last season, before his injury, to become more sound in his technique and gamble less.
Davis showed improvement last season, allowing only 12 of 27 passes thrown against him to be caught in 10 games. Among NFL cornerbacks targeted at least 25 times, only one had a better completion percentage against: new Dolphin Zack Bowman. But balls completed against Davis averaged 14.3 yards, which is too high.
### Bowman: The fact he allowed only 13 of 36 passes thrown in his coverage area to be caught with the Giants last season was great. But those 13 receptions averaged an absurd 19.3 yards, which was the worst in the league. He allowed four touchdown passes, lost his starting job in December and was criticized for a subpar effort on a Marshawn Lynch touchdown run.
Bowman, who at 6-1 is taller than the 5-10 Taylor and 5-11 Davis, has started 28 games in seven seasons (five with the Giants in 2014) and said the Dolphins told him he will have a chance to compete to start. But he’s clearly behind Taylor and did little to distinguish himself in the offseason program.
“Solid player but not a starter on a good team,” an NFC scout said.
### Brice McCain: Has had some good moments in practice (“he’s sneaky in coverage,” Matt Moore said) and appears to be an upgrade over San Diego’s Jimmy Wilson as Miami’s slot corner.
McCain allowed a 72.5 passer rating in his coverage area for Pittsburgh (12th best among 108 cornerbacks) in 2014; Wilson’s 129.2 was fourth-worst. McCain had three interceptions, Wilson one.
“I’ve seen a ton of McCain because I live in Pittsburgh and he played well as a slot guy,” ESPN/com analyst and former Browns scout Matt Williamson said. “He’s stable, won’t get toasted over the middle.”
McCain, who started nine games for Pittsburgh last season after starting just 10 in five years with Houston, was Miami’s first-team slot corner in June practices but also has gotten some work on the boundary and would love a chance to compete there.
Playing in the slot, at 5-9, is “what I thrive at” because “I'm experienced. I'm quick. I'm fast. I can jump. I've got good instincts and good awareness. I think that separates me from a lot of people.”
Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey agrees and loves his “quickness and speed” in the slot.
### Bobby McCain: This is neat: When he met with the Dolphins at the Senior Bowl, “he was breaking down every part of Brent Grimes’ game that he loved and admired and said how great it would be to be on the field with Brent Grimes,” Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said. Four months later, Miami drafted him out of Memphis.
Though it’s difficult to envision him playing ahead of Brice McCain in the slot, the Dolphins love the rookie fifth-rounder’s playmaking skills: He ranked seventh in college football with six picks in 2013, 15th with five last season. McCain, 5-11, has been impressive in practice, deflecting passes and showing good awareness. He’s also getting some work on the boundary.
“People look at his [OK] speed or his height, but he’s very competitive and he has good foot quickness,” Dolphins president/football operations Mike Tannenbaum said.
Whereas coaches call Brice McCain B-Mac and linebacker Chris McCain C-Mac, Bobby “hasn’t earned a nickname,” Brice joked. “Right now he’s plain old McCain.”
### Tony Lippett: Teams don’t typically keep seven cornerbacks, but the Dolphins have said privately that they want to keep Lippett, a rookie fifth-round pick, considering the skills he has shown in practice, including a three- interception day. Only a bad preseason could possibly change those plans. Even beyond his size (6-3), “he’s got excellent ball skills and great hands,” Coyle said.
Within a span of 24 hours, the Heat has whittled its roster from 17 to 14 by trading Shabazz Napier to Orlando, Zoran Dragic to Boston and cutting Henry Walker a few minutes ago.
That 14 includes Ennis (see the update above) and Tyler Johnson --- whose contracts are not guaranteed --- but does not include Josh Richardson, the second-round guard who will be offered a contract shortly.
Johnson has been told that chances are very good that he will be retained beyond Aug. 1, when half of his contract becomes guaranteed.
The three trades were made to thin the roster, make room for Richardson and reduced the Heat's luxury-tax bill, which has decrease by several million dollars (the exact amount is based on Miami's final payroll next April). Miami has been trying to trade Mario Chalmers but found no takers.
The Heat gave Boston a second-round pick in 2020 and paid Dragic's entire $1.7 million salary for the Celtics to take him off Miami's cap. Miami will receive a second-round pick from Boston in 2019 only if the Celtics finish with one of the league's five best records in 2018-19.
Similar terms are in place with the Magic on the Napier deal, with Miami getting a second-rounder only if Orlando finishes with a top five record next season.
As for Walker, less than half of his $1.1 million salary for 2015-16 would have become guaranteed on Saturday.
Agent Mike Naiditch said the Heat left "the door open if there is an opportunity for his return" but the Heat didn't indicate the likelihood of Walker getting an invitation to training camp. "It was amicable," Naiditch said.
Richardson, meanwhile, is expected to receive a multiyear offer from the Heat.
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