The Miami Dolphins offense is in desperate need of another weapon.
Outside of DeVante Parker, head coach Brian Flores and company simply don’t have another reliable offensive threat in the passing game. Sure, Mike Gesicki is a mismatch due to his size and speed, but the enigmatic tight end simply hasn’t proved himself to be the week-in-week-out chess piece that the Dolphins need to help rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa develop. Preston Williams was supposed to be that guy heading into the season, but a case of the dropsies and a foot injury kept Williams’ potential from coming to fruition, at least for now. With the Dolphins still a ways away from recruiting help either through free agency or the NFL Draft, who’s left to potentially morph into the pass catcher Miami needs with playoff positioning at stake?
My vote goes to Antonio Callaway, a 23-year old wideout with plenty of untapped potential and the talent to be Tua’s next go-to-guy. Callaway’s journey to NFL relevance has been a precarious one. The talented pass catcher has been the subject of numerous off-the-field incidents. During his collegiate career at the University of Florida, Callaway was accused by a female student of sexual assault, though was he was found not responsible for the misconduct during an independent Title IX hearing.
Callaway was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. After a promising rookie year, the former Gator was suspended for the first four games of the 2019 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Callaway was subsequently waived by the Browns after allegedly showing up late to team meetings and practices. He was then suspended for 10 more games, seven of which would take place during the end of the 2019 season, and three of which would toll into 2020.
While searching for work in the NFL, Callaway found a place in the reborn XFL. He signed with the Tampa Bay Vipers, but soon suffered a season-ending leg injury. The injury kept Callaway from ever playing meaningful snaps for the Vipers, and his contract was terminated following the league’s temporary shutdown due to COVID-19.
Callaway was eventually signed to Miami’s practice squad, after which the league extended his suspension from three games in 2020 to a total of seven. Earlier in November, he was finally activated from the suspended list and given a spot on the 53-man roster on November 15th.
At this point, you’re probably thinking, how can a player who has endured so many off-the-field troubles, suspensions, and setbacks be the reliable contributor Miami so desperately needs? The short answer is: he might not be that guy. However, looking back on Callaway’s highlights during his collegiate career and his rookie season in Cleveland, there’s no doubt that the kid has talent. Callaway is shifty, quick, and dangerous with the ball in his hands. During his rookie season, Callaway started 11 of 16 games for the Browns and accumulated 43 receptions on 79 targets for 586 yards and five touchdowns. He can line up in the slot or outside, and his versatility is something Flores and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey should certainly take advantage of while Miami is searching for answers on offense.
Last week, Callaway finally took some snaps on offense for the Dolphins, and with just over 10% of the team’s offensive snap share, he managed to find himself open and caught one pass for 13 yards and a Miami first down (on a day where first downs were hard to come by for the Dolphins). Our esteemed Josh Houtz highlights the play here:
antonio callaway’s first with the dolphins was a big one. pic.twitter.com/EhOXOvFSUs— josh houtz (@houtz) November 22, 2020
With veteran Jakeem Grant questionable for Sunday’s contest and Williams still unavailable, this is the perfect time for Tagovailoa to get acquainted with Callaway on the field. There’s no questioning Callaway’s talent, and in his first media available just a few days ago, the young receiver expressed that the team’s strict regimen has given him structure and allowed him to take advantage of his second chance. Here’s to hoping he can show as much this weekend. Miami’s offense could certainly use the help.