The Miami Dolphins are once again scouring the Canadian Football League, looking for players to add to the roster. They appear close to competing a deal with Edmonton Eskimos running back Jerome Messam, adding depth to the running back position.
Messam is the CFL's Most Outstanding Canadian Player, given to the best native Canadian each year. Messam rushed for 1,057 yards and six touchdowns this past season in Edmonton, becoming just the third Canadian rusher since 1965 to rush for over 1,000 yards.
According to an Edmonton Journal report, Messam agreed to the deal last night.
"Yes, it's true. Jeff Ireland (Dolphins general manager) phoned me late afternoon and said they had decided to offer Jerome a contract, but their proposal would not include a signing bonus," Edmonton Eskimos General Manager Eric Tillman said.
"We weren't positive that proposal would be accepted, but in the past couple of hours, Darren Gill, Jerome's agent, confirmed they had discussed the situation and would be accepting the offer from Miami.
"Obviously, Jerome departs with our best wishes and our focus immediately shifts to free agency as a terrific opportunity to improve our club in the coming days."
Messam's playing is similar to Dolphins' restricted free agent Lex Hilliard. Hilliard was utilized as a short yardage rusher and a fullback by Miami this year, and the 6-foot, 3-inch, 245 pound Messam could fill that role if MIami does not re-sign Hilliard.
Messam does have a troubled, off-the-field reputation, including an incident where he broke a teammate's jaw in a locker room fist fight. He has been suspended by the CFL on two separate occasions.
Adding Messam to the roster would bring the Dolphins' depth chart to four at the running back position. Currently, the Dolphins have starting running back Reggie Bush, backup Daniel Thomas, who just completed his rookie season, and Richard Medlin, who spent the majority of the 2011 season on the practice squad, before being activated near the end of the year to provide depth at the position.
The Dolphins have previously signed starting outside linebacker Cameron Wake from the CFL, as well as signing Marcus Thigpen earlier this offseason to a futures contract.
The deal to bring Messam to Miami is not yet complete, and is still pending Messam passing a physical. He is expected to be offered a contract of around $390,000 for 2012, with no signing bonus.