The Miami Dolphins picked up Monday where the team left off on Friday. After releasing wide receivers Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson, the team did not make another move over the weekend, but got busy as soon as the work week began.
The Dolphins released two more players on Monday. They started with reserve offensive lineman Nate Garner, who joined the team as a waiver claim in 2008. He had been the New York Jets' seventh-round draft choice that season, but was among the final round of roster cuts. After being inactive for all of the 2008 season, Garner played in all 16 games for Miami in 2009, starting four times at left guard and four times at right guard. He also played center during the season.
After a foot injury landed Garner on injured reserve for all of the 2010 season, he has played in 58 games, with 11 additional starts. He developed into a key utility reserve for the Dolphins, playing all five positions on the offensive line and on special teams. He was passed, however, on the depth chart this season by Dallas Thomas, who was drafted in the third-round of the 2013 season. Garner finished the season on the non-football injury list, missing the final six games, due to a head injury.
The team followed that move with the release of cornerback Cortland Finnegan. The veteran defensive back joined the Dolphins last year as a free agent, signing a two-year contract worth $11 million. Finnegan paired with Brent Grimes as the Dolphins' starting cornerbacks, and he was a solid addition until an ankle injury sidelined him for four games. He was never able to return to form after the injury.
The two moves added $7,125,000 to the Dolphins salary cap space. The space did not last long, as the team then used the transition tag on tight end Charles Clay. The 2015 transition tag for tight ends is set at $7,071,000.
Clay is free to negotiate with other teams on a free agent contract, but, under the terms of the transition tag, Miami has the right to match any offer. Thus, the team keeps Clay if he does not agree to an offer sheet from any other team. If he does, Miami can either match the offer and Clay signs back with Miami, or the Dolphins can choose to not match, in which case, Clay signs with the other team. There is no draft pick compensation with the transition tag.
The Dolphins' starting tight end was slowed by injury in 2014, but he still was able to record 58 receptions for 605 yards and three touchdowns, all good enough for third on the team, despite missing two games. The Dolphins are said to like the idea of Clay and third-year tight end Dion Sims as a combination, especially after Sims stepped up during Clay's absence this past season.
Miami had a busy Monday. There is still more to come over the next week as the team prepares for the start of free agency.