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Dolphins sign Cethan Carter in free agency 2021

NFL: JAN 03 Ravens at Bengals Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins have had a quiet first day of the “legal tampering” period as the 2021 NFL free agency period begins. While teams like the New England Patriots are spending money and looking to be the champions of the offseason, the Dolphins, who for several years were one of the teams slinging money around like it was nothing, have been looking for the pieces that fit the team the best, while not overpaying for players.

They have made moves like bringing back linebacker Vance Biegel or officially sign punter Michael Palardy, a move reported last week but made official on Monday. Now, the team has added another piece, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, with the agreement to terms with former Cincinnati Bengals tight end/fullback Cethan Carter. The deal is a three-year contract.

Undrafted out of Nebraska in 2017, Carter signed with the Bengals, appearing in all 16 games as a rookie. He missed the 2018 season after a shoulder injury landed him on injured reserve, then returned to play in 15 games each of the last two seasons, including five starts last year. He has caught seven passes in his career for 66 yards and a touchdown. He has also been a key member of the Bengals’ special teams coverage, as the Miami Herald’s Adam Beasley pointed out by stressing that he has never played fewer than 63 percent of the Bengals’ special teams snaps in his three healthy seasons.

The Dolphins are not done making moves in the free-agent period, which officially begins on Wednesday, but they are being systematic with how they attack the market in a down-year for the salary cap. The team is believed to still be looking for a starting wide receiver, but the rest of the moves are likely going to be a few solid, core players for the team rather than a splashy, big-named, high-priced veteran.