The Miami Dolphins have not made it official but according to several mainstream media outlets from ESPN to NFL.com the season for TE Dustin Keller is over. Citing sources with knowledge of the injury, many are reporting that Keller’s knee injury will require surgery and that his one year deal in Miami will end with him seeing only pre-season action.
According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, via Twitter, the Dolphins’ Jeff Ireland has picked up the phone and began calling to find possible replacements. Whether that is through trade possibilities or VIA street free agents is unknown.
Jeremy Shockey, Kevin Boss, and Randy McMichael literally are the top three names on the free agent list and two of the, Shockey and Boss didn’t play last season. The NFL has become a TE friendly league and as such teams are far more reliant on pass catching tight-ends than in the past.
The Dolphins entered training camp exceptionally thin with veteran talent at the position relying heavily on Keller who himself was coming off a 2012 marred with injury. Keller signed a one year deal in March after failing to get a multi-year contract offer.
The Dolphins will turn to rookie Dion Sims and second year player Michael Egnew but it’s likely Charles Clay that will be asked to step into Keller’s seam threat role. Clay is far more athletic with more speed than Egnew but he hasn’t been able to display the kind of consistency that Keller has. Of course as of now comparing anyone to Egnew would look good.
Egnew thus far in camp and in pre-season has looked much better than his 2012 season in which he looked very bad and sat out all but two contests (didn’t see the field in either). Kyle Miller is the third TE in play but the Dolphins haven’t seen enough of him to warrant leaving the position in his hands.
The teams best options are as follows. Seek a trade for teams number two TE or a veteran who is on the bubble or likely to be cut do to salary. The Dolphins still have money they can spend and trading will save the team from other competition. A younger number 2 is a solid option as it could help in the future but will likely be more expensive. The Dolphins will likely be better suited with a guy like Tony Scheffler in Detroit if he were available.
The next option is waiting for the cuts to start and picking up someone from that group for free. It may be the best option in the long run but there are no guarantees that a veteran will sign with Miami or that a waiver player won’t get picked up from somewhere else.
The third option is the current street group but as stated, there isn’t much there to offer and the Dolphins have passed on two of those players the last few years. Not likely they kick those tires now.
Regardless of what they decide to do, they will need to do something. Dustin Keller will be gone and judging by the impact he has made thus far on the offense with Ryan Tannehill, it’s a loss the team needs to replace.