Three days ago, the Miami Dolphins made the surprising decision to waive third year player Michael Egnew, who was drafted in the third round of the 2012 to ideally become the "seam threat" receiving tight end the team had lacked. The decision to waive Egnew wasn't necessarily a surprise - even with the benefit of being a player who was entering his third season in the NFL with the physical talent to be an early round draft selection, Egnew not only failed to outcompete former 6th round pick Charles Clay in training camp, but he fell behind sophomore former 4th round pick Dion Sims on the first official depth chart of training camp. During training camp, Egnew was also outshone by undrafted rookie Gator Hoskins, as well as former undrafted free agents like Brett Brackett. The Dolphins tight end coach Dan Campbell said Egnew's greatest weakness was his route running, since he was never able to play as fast as his athleticism should have enabled. Meanwhile, even with his blocking greatly improved from his rookie year, he still was average at best in that area.
With his position coach openly admitting that a "receiving threat" tight end couldn't run routes well, Egnew being on the roster bubble wasn't a shock. However, what was surprising was how early he was released because it meant the Dolphins front office was giving up on Egnew before he could play significant snaps in preseason. With his physical talent and status as a still relatively young player at age 24, it was always likely Egnew would be claimed by another team, particularly if he hit the waiver wire before most of the early roster cutdowns.
Sure enough, the Detroit Lions (who are an opponent of the Dolphins this upcoming regular season) claimed Egnew and are therefore inheriting Egnew's remaining rookie deal, which had two base salaries left of $585,000 in 2014 and $687,500 in 2015. The Dolphins meanwhile absorb a $295,000 dead money cap hit onto their salary cap because of the signing bonus the Dolphins gave Egnew in 2012, and the money from that cap hit will be spread out over the next 2 seasons due to Egnew being a post-June 1st release. Even with the dead money cap hit, the Dolphins gain just over $1.15 million in cap space over the next 2 seasons.
It'll be up to Egnew to see if he can carve out a role on a loaded Lions offense that features two former 1st round talents at tight end in Brandon Pettigrew and rookie Eric Ebron. Egnew played just 8 snaps in his final preseason as a Dolphin, during which he had 1 catch for 7 yards. Over the past 2 regular seasons, he's been active for 18 games, and he totaled 7 catches for 69 yards and zero touchdowns.