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Dolphins free agency 2023: Walk, tag, or re-sign - Clayton Fejedelem

Our annual look at the decisions the Miami Dolphins have to make about their upcoming free agents kicks off for 2023 season with a look at special teams ace Clayton Fejedelem.

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins made the postseason for the first time since 2016 with a wild-card appearance in this past year’s playoffs. Their appearance in the championship tournament was brief, however, losing their first game to their AFC East division rivals, the Buffalo Bills. While the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles, the AFC and NFC Champions respectively, are the last two teams standing, preparing for the Super Bowl this weekend, the Dolphins and the rest of the NFL are getting their offseason plans ready.

First up on the checklist will be decisions about each player scheduled to hit the free agent market in March. Miami has 31 players with expiring contracts. They have from February 21 through Mach 7 to decide if they want to use a franchise or transition tag on any player this year. The free agency negotiating period, or “legal tampering period, opens on March 13 at noon Eastern time, with the full free agency period beginning at 4 p.m. ET on March 15.

The NFL has set the 2023 salary cap at $224.8 million per team. Miami has 44 players under contracts for the 2023 season and, according to, are currently $16.3 million over the cap. Over on, the Dolphins are estimated to be $12.8 million over the cap. Whichever number proves to be closer to the actual cap number for Miami, they both show the Dolphins have work to do to create cap space.

While they are going to have to focus on re-signing players already on contract or cutting players to create cap space, they also have to decide which of their players with expiring contracts are they going to bring back. Each year, we work our way through the list of soon-to-be free agents from the Dolphins and try to work out who Miami will allow to hit the free agent market, who they will re-sign, and if anyone could find themselves tagged by the team. First up on our list is safety and special teams ace Clayton Fejedelem.


Position: Safety/Special Teams
Age (at start of 2023 season): 30
College: Saint Xavier / Illinois
NFL experience: 7 years
Expiring contract: 1-year, $2 million

2022 Review

Fejedelem returned as a depth safety and a special teams player for the 2022 season. For the season, he played 77 percent of the special teams snaps, down from the mid-80 percent mark he has played the last five years, but he also only played 13 games after starting the season on injured reserve. With the injuries to the defensive secondary throughout the season in Miami, Fejedelem saw his defensive playing time double from last year - but it was still only four percent of the defensive snaps on the year. He really is a solid special teams player for the team, but he is not seen as much more than that.

2022 stats: 13 games played, 12 defensive tackles, 1 pass defensed, 9 special teams tackles

2023 Outlook

Entering his eighth season in the league and hitting 30-years old this year, Fejedelem is a special teams player at this point with little chance of suddenly breaking out as a major contributor on defense. After three years with Miami, he clearly has a role on the special teams unit, but if Miami is looking to bolster the depth of the secondary, a player who is limited to just special teams could be on the outside looking in according to Miami’s plans.

Walk, Tag, Re-Sign?

Fejedelem is one of those work-hard, do-whatever types you want on special teams. But, with Miami needing to create salary cap space this offseason, it might be cheaper to look for a younger special teams player rather than re-signing Fejedelem. If he does return to the Dolphins, it likely would be after free agency begins, signing him later in the offseason.

Verdict: Walk


Should the Dolphins allow Clayton Fejedelem to walk in free agency, re-sign him, or franchise tag him?

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