The Miami Dolphins have officially announced that they have waived 3 players today. They waived/injured defensive back Jalil Brown, who had been having a good training camp and was making a case for sticking on the roster perhaps as the 6th cornerback before getting injured. They also waived defensive tackle Micajah Reynolds, who was no better than the 9th best defensive tackle on the roster, behind Randy Starks, Jared Odrick, Earl Mitchell, AJ Francis, Anthony Johnson, Isaako Aaitui, and Garrison Smith. Those two players being waived wasn't that surprising, but the third name was a bit of a shock.
Tight end Michael Egnew, who was a former third round pick, was the third player waived, and this is notable for a few reasons. First, Egnew's draft status would have protected his roster spot if he had shown any development at all this offseason, as most teams are reluctant to give up on early round picks while they're still on their rookie deal. The previous Dolphins third round pick to be cut well before his rookie deal expired was 2009 third round pick Patrick Turner, wide receiver out of USC, who was cut at the end of the 2010 preseason after just 1 full season on the team.
Second, the Dolphins aren't particularly deep at tight end. Former 6th round pick Charles Clay had a breakout season last year, and former 4th round pick Dion Sims had drawn rave reviews for his development this offseason, but otherwise, the Dolphins had just rookie 5th round pick Arthur Lynch (who has been limited by injury for much of this offseason), and a bunch of undrafted free agents such as Brett Brackett and Harold "Gator" Hoskins at tight end. Given the importance of tight ends in providing versatility in offensive coordinator Bill Lazor's scheme, Egnew's roster spot was viewed as likely safe, even if he were just a fourth string tight end, due to the lack of quality competition.
Third, Lazor was asking Egnew to line up flexed out as a wide receiver more often, which many thought would play to Egnew's strengths of being an athletic tight end who could shine if asked to operate in space. Egnew was a raw route runner coming out of college, given that most of his receptions came on simple and short routes against defenders that Egnew had a significant size advantage against. Former offensive coordinator Mike Sherman used Egnew more as a fullback because he was skeptical about Egnew's ability to get open against NFL caliber defenders, but it was assumed that a new offensive coordinator would want to experiment with Egnew more to see if he could get more out of the young tight end than his predecessor.
Last but not least, Egnew had barely played in a single preseason game due to a concussion that kept him out of practice for about a week. He had played just 8 snaps total, according to Pro Football Focus, and he was less than 36 hours away from making his second preseason appearance, but the team was apparently so discouraged by his lack of progress that they decided to cut him before seeing him in live-game action against the Dallas Cowboys.
Egnew finishes his Dolphins career with 7 catches for 69 yards in 2 seasons, and he'll be hitting the waiver wire as a young player still on his rookie deal. He can either be claimed by another team on Monday afternoon, or he can go unclaimed and hit unrestricted free agency. According to both the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero and the Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly, one of the motivations behind the early release of Egnew was to increase his chances of being claimed by another team with perhaps enough time to impress them enough to stay on the 53-man roster. If true, that's a very benevolent move by Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey. Egnew is practice squad eligible under new rules that allow more "veteran" players to occupy the additional spots added to the practice squad.