As the Dolphins transition to a new regime, they did well to ensure Nik Needham will be part of their 2022 squad. Miami placed a second-round RFA tender on Needham.
Friday’s tender decision ties Needham to a $3.9MM salary for 2022. Barring an extension agreement, Needham will play for that amount. It marks a nice raise for the fourth-year cornerback, who earned $850K in base salary last season.
Needham caught on with the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2019 and has played extensively, even as the Dolphins added reinforcements at his position. The Dolphins signed Byron Jones to a then-cornerback-record deal in 2020 and drafted Noah Igbinoghene in that year’s first round. In 2021, they signed Justin Coleman. Needham still logged a 60% defensive snap rate in 2020 and played 54% of Miami’s defensive plays last season.
A UTEP product, Needham has intercepted six passes in three Dolphins seasons. He took one of those INTs back for a touchdown, this coming last season. Needham allowed a 73.4 passer rating when targeted last season, by far the lowest figure of his career. Unless an extension is reached, Needham will be set for unrestricted free agency in 2023.
Needham has been one of the Dolphins’ better hidden gems in recent years. Needham went undrafted out of UTEP in 2019, and after catching on with Miami during the offseason, he was cut by the team at the end of the preseason. He subsequently joined the Dolphins practice squad, and he was promoted to the active roster in early October. He proceeded to start 11 of his 12 games that season, collecting 54 tackles, 11 passes defended, and a pair of interceptions.
Despite the addition of Byron Jones last offseason, Needham still managed to contribute in a lesser role this past season. While he started only six of his 16 games, he still finished the year with 58 tackles and two picks.
The Dolphins had previously retained their other two ERFAs: linebacker Calvin Munson and cornerback Jamal Perry. Quarterback Jake Rudock was also set to become an ERFA, but the Dolphins declined to place a tender on the player.
The restricted free agent and exclusive rights free agent tender decision deadline is a little more than a week away. Some teams are already making their calls in advance of March 17. We’ll keep tabs on the latest here:
- Vikings: CB Chris Jones
Here are Saturday’s minor moves:
- Released: OL John Wetzel
Los Angeles Chargers
- Promoted from practice squad: WR Jason Moore
- Waived: TE Stephen Anderson
Los Angeles Rams
- Promoted from practice squad: CB Nik Needham
- Waived: S Doug Middleton
- Promoted from practice squad: LB Cameron Smith
- Waived: WR Davion Davis
New York Giants
- Promoted from practice squad: TE Jacob Hollister
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Placed on IR OG Zack Bailey
The Dolphins cut Kiko Alonso en route to reaching the 53-man max. Both moves were rumored this week, but the Fins were waiting to see if they could arrange a trade for the linebackers before letting them go.
Alonso requested a trade during training camp when he realized that he would be squeezed out of the Dolphins’ plans in one fashion or another. New coach Brian Flores is overseeing a defensive overhaul and he didn’t have much use for the veteran, despite his three years of starting experience in Miami. Originally drafted by the Bills in the second-round back in 2013, Alonso won’t play out the two years left on his four-year, $28.9MM deal.
Here are the other moves made by Miami to make their roster kosher by Week 1:
- QB Jake Rudock
- RB Kenneth Farrow
- WR Reece Horn
- WR Trenton Irwin
- WR Isaiah Ford
- WR Brice Butler
- WR T.J. Rahming
- OL Kyle Fuller
- OL Aaron Monteiro
- OL Tony Adams
- OL Michael Dunn
- OL Jaryd Jones-Smith
- DL Cory Thomas
- DL Tyrone Holmes
- DL Jamiyus Pittman
- DL Durval Queiroz Neto
- DL Dewayne Hendrix
- DL Joey Mbu
- DL Tank Carradine
- LB Terrance Smith
- LB Tre’ Watson
- LB Nick DeLuca
- CB Tyler Patmon
- CB Jalen Davis
- CB Nik Needham
- CB Davis Rivers
- CB Cornell Armstrong
- CB Torry McTyer
- S Maurice Smith
- LS Wesley Farnsworth
We’ll wrap up the 2019 undrated free agent process with the Dolphins, who have announced the signing of the following 18 UDFAs:
- Ryan Anderson, C (Wake Forrest)
- Shaq Calhoun, G (Mississippi State)
- Wesley Farnsworth, LS (Nevada)
- Terrill Hanks, LB (New Mexico State)
- Montre Hartage, DB (Northwestern)
- Dewayne Hendrix, DE (Pittsburgh)
- Tyler Horton, CB (Boise State)
- Trenton Irwin, WR (Stanford)
- Patrick Laird, RB (California)
- Jonathan Ledbetter, DE (Georgia)
- Aaron Monteiro, T (Boston College)
- Chris Myarick, TE (Temple)
- Nik Needham, CB (UTEP)
- Rob Rolle, S (Villanova)
- Cory Thomas, DT (Mississippi State)
- Tre’ Watson, LB (Maryland)
- Preston Williams, WR (Colorado State)
- Stone Wilson, P (FIU)
Most evaluators pegged Miami’s six-draft class as mediocre, but the Dolphins may have hit it out of the park with their undrafted free agents, as Thor Nystrom of Rotoworld ranked the Dolphins’ UDFAs as the second-best crop in the NFL (behind only the Saints). Calhoun is particularly interesting, as the poor state of Miami’s interior offensive line could give him a real chance at a roster spot. Williams, who was barred from testing at the scouting combine due to a 2017 altercation with a woman, is another Dolphins UDFA with a shot to make the 53-man roster, as Brad Kelly of The Draft Network writes.