Michael Dogbe, a former seventh-round pick, got into 40 games for the Cardinals through the first four seasons of his career. This included 2021 and 2022 campaigns where he appeared in 29 games, collecting 55 tackles and one sack. He caught on with the Texans last week and proceeded to appear in about 25 percent of the team’s defensive snaps this past weekend.
Kyle Peko will bring 31 games of experience to the Titans defensive line. The veteran has already been promoted by the Titans twice this season and started both of his appearances, collecting four tackles. He’ll be taking the spot of Jayden Peevy, who got into two games across two seasons with the organization.
5:23pm: McKenzie’s release has proven to be a paper transaction. The Colts announced he has been re-signed, so his time with the team will continue. To open a roster spot to make the McKenzie reunion possible, second-year tight end Jelani Woods was placed on IR. The latter – who has been named by some as a breakout candidate for 2023 – will thus be sidelined for at least the first four weeks of the season.
1:50pm: Making three waiver claims Wednesday, the Colts needed to clear roster space. Isaiah McKenzie will be one of the players moved off Indianapolis’ 53-man squad.
The Colts claimed tackle Ryan Hayes (from the Dolphins), defensive end Isaiah Land (from the Cowboys) and guard Josh Sills (from the Eagles). D-tackle McTelvin Agim and offensive lineman Carter O’Donnell join McKenzie in being cut to make room.
This is the second time a team has cut McKenzie this year. The Colts gave the 5-foot-8 slot receiver a one-year deal worth $1.32MM. The only dead money that will come via this release will be the $403K guarantee Indy authorized. The Colts picked up McKenzie not long after the Bills dropped him this offseason.
Downs is on track to work in the slot alongside Pittman and Pierce, while the Bills picked up Deonte Harty from the Saints shortly after cutting McKenzie. The Bills had given McKenzie a two-year, $4.4MM deal in 2022, keeping his Buffalo resurgence going. McKenzie scored 15 touchdowns with the Bills, including five in 2021, and posted a career-high 423 receiving yards last season. Despite the Bills also using him as a gadget weapon, they did not opt to keep the 28-year-old playmaker around after an inconsistent receiving campaign.
Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These Colts, Jaguars, Texans and Titans moves are noted below.
The Dolphins began trimming their roster yesterday, cutting 14 players. That made today’s daunting task a bit more bearable, but the team still had to cut a number of players to get to the 53-player roster limit:
Nik Needham, a 2019 UDFA out of UTEP, has spent his entire career with the Dolphins, appearing in 51 games (27 starts). He started five of his six appearances in 2022 before landing on IT in October with a torn Achilles tendon. His placement on PUP means he can’t make his season debut until at least Week 5.
Tight end Tyler Kroft signed with the Dolphins back in May, but the veteran was unable to beat our younger options for a roster spot. Kroft has seen time in 92 career games (52 starts), hauling in 105 catches for 1,081 yards and 13 touchdowns. He spent the 2022 campaign with the 49ers, collecting four receptions in 11 games (four starts).
In most cases, the Dolphins aren’t utilizing camp position battles to determine starting roles. But as the deadline to cut the roster down to 53 players draws nearer and nearer, decisions have to be made throughout the roster. Here’s a look at who’s battling for a roster spot as the preseason continues, thanks to some helpful analysis from Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:
At quarterback, the starter is set, but the backup job may be closer than you’d think. Miami signed quarterback Mike Whitein the first hour of free agency, making it seem like they were dead set on him taking over at QB2. Last year’s backup, Skylar Thompson, doesn’t seem willing to go down without a fight, though, making the battle more competitive than some would assume. White is the presumed winner of this position battle, but if Thompson has a stellar preseason, he has a chance to surprise.
After failing to sign free agent running back Dalvin Cook, the room is shaping up to hold Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, and third-round rookie De’Von Achane, at the very least. If the team is going to open up a fourth roster spot for the position, it’s likely that one of Myles Gaskin or Salvon Ahmed will fill the role while the other will be on the chopping block, if not both. The Dolphins will have to determine if a fourth running back will help the team, and if not, Gaskin or Ahmed’s time in South Beach may be over.
Behind the team’s top two wideouts, there are a number of options to plug in. According to Jackson, AFC East mainstay Braxton Berrios seems to be taking direction from wide receivers coach Wes Welker well, giving him an edge on the depth chart. He’s competing with Cedrick Wilson, Erik Ezukanma, and Chosen Anderson for the WR3 role, and seems to have a handle on it. Anderson has been making up for a slow start to camp lately but may need to compete with River Cracraft if the team only decides to keep six wide receivers.
At tight end, the battle for the third tight spot poses the most intrigue, assuming the team only takes three tight ends. The starter, Durham Smythe, and the rookie, Elijah Higgins, are likely to make the roster, leaving backups Eric Saubert and Tyler Kroft fighting for what is likely going to be the final roster spot at the position. Neither is much of a factor in the passing game, so whoever shows the best blocking ability throughout the rest of camp may be rewarded the short-term job security.
The biggest battle on the line is the battle for the starting left guard spot. Liam Eichenberg and Isaiah Wynn appear to be in a dead heat for the job, according to Jackson. Wynn has more NFL starting experience, but Eichenberg is more familiar with the franchise. Aside from that, the other big battle is for the swing tackle role. Veteran and former starter Kendall Lamm reportedly has established a lead over Cedric Ogbuehi for the job. Seventh-round rookie Ryan Hayes could also contribute to the team depth at the position if he makes the roster.
Thanks to a forfeited first-round pick and multiple trades, the Dolphins had a relatively small draft class in 2023. After seven rounds, Miami walked away with only four drafted rookies. The team tweeted out today that they had succeeded in signing three of the four rookies to their initial four-year contracts.
Texas A&M running back Devon Achane was the Dolphins’ third-round selection. Not only did Achane excel on the gridiron for the Aggies, he was also a participant in several track and field events including the 100m, 200m, 4x100m, and the indoor 60m. The elite sprinter displayed his abilities when he put up the third-fastest 40-yard dash time (4.32) at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. According to the coaches in the conference, Achane was a first-team All-SEC selection at both the running back and all purpose slots. In his final two seasons, Achane totaled 2,012 rushing yards for 17 touchdowns and caught 60 passes for 457 receiving yards for four more scores.
Achane joins a running backs room that returns four players from last year’s team. He likely should slot ahead of Salvon Ahmed and Myles Gaskin on the depth chart, but he may need to earn his stripes before taking any snaps away from Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert. His speed may make him a perfect fit for a strong special teams role as a rookie, as well.
In the sixth round, the Dolphins decided to add a developmental receiver in Elijah Higgins. While he never had his hand in the dirt at Stanford, Higgins reported that 28 of 32 NFL teams saw him as a tight end at the next level. Higgins improved every year as a Cardinal wideout, racking up 1,380 receiving yards and six touchdowns in his college career. As a rookie, Higgins’s focus will likely be on adding the right kind of weight and transforming his body for the position change. In the meantime, he should still be able to add some receiving ability to a tight end group that hasn’t recently put up big numbers between Durham Smythe‘s 129 yards, Tyler Kroft‘s 57 yards, and Eric Saubert‘s 148 yards in 2023.
Lastly, the team signed seventh-round offensive tackle Ryan Hayes out of Michigan. In five years as a Wolverine, Hayes was a two-time All-Big Ten selection who started 29 of 40 college appearances. He had a cemented role at left tackle in Ann Arbor and, at 6-foot-7, 305 pounds, Hayes has a favorable frame to remain at the position in the NFL. Miami acquired some tackles with starting experience this offseason in Isaiah WynnandCedric Ogbuehi to go along with returning starters Austin Jackson and Terron Armstead, as well as Kendall Lamm. The Dolphins won’t have any need to ask much of Hayes anytime soon, which should allow the seventh-rounder some time to develop and adjust to the NFL game.
With Achane, Higgins, and Hayes all signed, that leaves only South Carolina cornerback Cam Smith as the team’s lone unsigned draft pick. The team selected Smith in the second round, making him the Dolphins’ highest draft pick and only pick on defense this year.