Nate Clements can potentially join the Miami Dolphins this year but is Jeff Ireland interested? Does the former first-round cornerback from Ohio State have any high-level play left?
First, let’s look at the scenario that makes his availability possible.
The Cincinnati Bengals drafted Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick this year and starter Leon Hall is expected back from an achilles tear. The Bengals also signed free agents Terence Newman, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys, and ex-Dolphin Jason Allen. Nate Clements’ cap number is 7.3 million and the Bengals can save 4.3 million by cutting him. Rumors abound about Clements’ days being numbered in Cincinnati. Hall’s health is a big factor and, so far, his return is on schedule.
Why would Clements want to come to Miami?
Last year, Clements played under secondary coach Kevin Coyle, who is now the Phins’ Defensive Coordinator. Clements is familiar with Coyle’s system and found success last year, leading the Bengals’ secondary to a top ten finish in passing yards allowed, passing touchdowns allowed, and average yards allowed per passing attempt.
Can he help the Dolphins?
The 32 year-old Clements played every game for the Bengals last year, including their playoff loss. He amassed 58 tackles, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions, and 13 passes defended. After Leon Hall was injured mid-season, Clements led Pac-Man Jones, Reggie Nelson, and Phin cast-offs Chris Crocker and Gibril Wilson, among others, to top ten secondary status. This is also a testament to Coyle, but Clements played a major part.
If the price is right, he can serve as a mercenary on the opposite side of Vontae Davis, and shift Sean Smith to the free safety position. Richard Marshall would serve as the nickel corner.
The Dolphins currently have 3.13 million in cap space, and may create more, though Clements would come cheap. Ireland, like all other NFL GMs, is carefully tracking potential training camp cuts. In the end, the Bengals’ trash can be the Dolphins’ treasure, as Nate Clements can be golden.
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