The Miami Dolphins took a risk when they re-worked the contract of linebacker Koa Misi without him being cleared to play. He will not start training camp on time.
According to a report by Miami Herald reporter Armando Salguero, Koa Misi will begin the training camp session on the physically unable to perform or PuP list when practice starts on Saturday.
Misi injured his neck early in the 2016 season and missed almost all of the year. Questions remained well into the off-season as to whether or not he would be able to play football again. After undergoing surgery on the injury, Misi was told that he potentially could return to the field.
In March the Dolphins opted to redo Misi’s contract instead of releasing him. The Dolphins saved some cap space with the reworked deal and also guaranteed Misi around $1.7 million in 2016 regardless of whether he was cleared to play or not.
It was a show of good faith on the part of the Dolphins but it is looking more and more like Misi may not return anytime soon. With Misi out the obvious replacement is rookie Raekwon McMillan who will face little challenge on the outside barring the Dolphins signing a street free agent. McMillan is solid against the run but struggles in pass coverage.
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Over his career, Misi has yet to finish a full season of games with his rookie season being the only complete season of his NFL career. While the Dolphins continue to hope he will return it may be later in the season and that may not be a bad thing.
The Dolphins will get a boost when safety T.J. McDonald comes off suspension in week eight. If Misi does not return to start the season the Dolphins will likely put him on IR and bring him back at the midway point in the season. Misi could give the Dolphins another healthy set of legs for the final half of the season.
Regardless of whether Misi does or does not return, the Dolphins need to be careful with him given the nature of his injury and there is still a chance that he will not return. For now, it’s a waiting game as camp opens with veterans reporting Friday and first practice on Saturday.