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Dolphins free agency: T.J. Yates re-sign, tag, or walk

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NFL: AFC Wild Card-Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is slowly working their way toward the start of the 2017 league year, with just the Pro Bowl this weekend and the Super Bowl next weekend left on the schedule before everything is focused on next year. Free agency will begin with the new league year on March 9, which gives teams a little over a month to come to terms on any players they want to prevent from reaching the open market, or they can choose to use their one franchise tag.

The Miami Dolphins are currently in that exact decision making process, working out what to do with the 20 players they have with expiring contracts. Some of these players are starters on the 2016 team that earned Miami’s first postseason appearance since 2008. Some of them are depth players who may have never seen the field, but served in a key role for the team.

Throughout the next several weeks, we will be asking for your input into what Miami should do with each of their pending free agents. We will break down the history of the player, the player’s 2016 season, contract that is set to expire, the estimated franchise tag value, and ask for your vote on what decision the team should make. Today, quarterback T.J. Yates is on the block.

Player history

Yates was a fifth-round draft choice of the Houston Texans in 2011, coming out of North Carolina. He spent three years with Houston before a one-year stint in 2014 with the Atlanta Falcons. He then returned to the Texans in 2015. He appeared in 13 games with five starts during his first Texans stint, then made one appearance with the Falcons before four games and two starts in 2015 back with Houston. His 2015 campaign ended in December when he tore his ACL and was placed on injured reserve. He has a career stat line of 127-for-132 for 1,534 yards, six touchdowns, eight interceptions, and a 72.8 passer rating.

2016 Season

Yates joined the Dolphins in December 2016 as a free agent signing following a knee injury to starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He made one brief appearance for the Dolphins, taking one snap in the AFC Wildcard game against the Pittsburgh Steelers when Matt Moore was forced to the sideline after being hit in the jaw. Yates did not attempt a pass.

Contract

Yates’ expiring contract is officially a one-year, $760,000 contract, but was prorated to account for a $105,882 salary cap hit (via overthecap.com).

Franchise tag

A quarterback franchise tag will probably be around $22 million for one season.

The Phinsider thoughts

Yates actually served in a critical role for the Dolphins over the last few weeks of the season, even if his whole experience is the one snap taken in the playoffs. After Tannehill’s injury, Miami had to start Moore, but only had Brandon Doughty under contract after that, and they did not seem keen on moving Doughty up from the practice squad. Yates was available as he came back from the ACL tear, and Miami took the chance on bringing the veteran on to the roster, despite him not having knowledge of the system or terminology being used. Ultimately, other than the one snap, Yates was not needed, but having him was clearly preferred over potentially turning the team over to an inexperienced rookie, seventh-round pick as the Dolphins were heading into the postseason. Keeping Yates seems highly unlikely, as Miami will have Tannehill, Moore, and Doughty under contract heading into 2017.

Fan vote

What should the Dolphins do with Cameron? Vote below and feel free to discuss in the comments.

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