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Dolphins free agency 2017: Thomas Duarte tender, tag, or walk

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, we shifted the “re-sign, tag, walk” series, looking at the Miami Dolphins 2017 free agents, into a “tender, tag, walk” post with a look at soon-to-be exclusive rights free agent linebacker Mike Hull. We continue with another ERFA today, keeping the series in the tender side, not the re-sign side.

To explain exactly what an exclusive rights free agent is, it is a player who has an expiring contract, while having two or fewer years of service in the league. If the team chooses to extend a tender (which has no guaranteed money included in it), the player must accept it if he is going to continue playing in the league. If a tender is not extended, he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

And, really, the franchise tag is never going to be in play for an ERFA.

NFL free agency begins at 4pm ET on March 9. Anyone who is not under contract for the 2017 season will be able to begin signing with new teams - barring any restricted free agent tenders that have been placed on players with less than four years of service time in the league. Over the next few weeks, teams all across the league will be trying to re-sign their own players to new contracts in an effort to prevent players they want to keep from testing the open market.

The Dolphins have 20 players about whom they need to make decisions. We have been asking you as fans of the team to provide your thoughts on what the Dolphins should do for each of their upcoming free agents. We break down the history of the player, what they did for the team in 2016, the terms of their expiring contract, the estimated value for the franchise tag, and then as you to vote on the decision the team should make.

This morning, we resume with a look at tight end Thomas Duarte.

Player history

Duarte was one of Miami’s two seventh-round draft choices this past year.

2016 Season

Duarte was released by the team in the final round of roster cuts at the end of the preseason, but was signed to the practice squad. He spent the first two-months of the season there before being promoted to the active roster to provide tight end depth. He made one appearance during the season.


Duarte’s expiring contract is a one-year, $450,000 contract, that was prorated into a $238,235 salary cap (via He is one of those weird situations where he was released and re-signed during the season, meaning he also accounted for dead money for the Dolphins, with a $55,200 hit to the cap and a $19,700 hit. He will also account for $59,139 in dead money in 2017 as part of his signing bonus from his original, four-year rookie contract.

Franchise tag

The franchise tag is not a reasonable option for an exclusive rights free agent.

The Phinsider thoughts

Like Hull, Duarte’s ERFA tender would be a low amount with no guaranteed money tied to it. The Dolphins are going to be in need of tight ends this offseason, with Jordan Cameron, Dion Sims, Dominique Jones, and Duarte all having expiring contracts. While the team could be looking to re-sign Sims and Jones, offering a no-risk tender to Duarte keeps a draft pick with the team and allows for camp and preseason development from a player who could continue to provide depth. Miami should place the tender on Duarte.

Fan vote

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

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