Hey everyone. It looks like (for the moment anyway) the Dolphins are not very interested in talking to free agent, OJ Atogwe, the lone free safety prospect on the market.
Personally, I'm glad to hear it. Firstly, Atogwe is as over-rated as Gibril Wilson was last year and would likely cost as much financially (if not more). Secondly, it means all the talk lately from Coach Sparano about the rise of incumbent Free Safety, Chris Clemons, the 5th round draft pick from a year ago, is probably not just blowing hot air.
When we drafted Clemons last year, I thought he could be a potential starter. He was very impressive at Clemson, showing incredible range, if not huge physical skills of the Eric Berry's of the world. Last year he had the misfortune of playing behind Wilson, which meant once Wilson started crumbling (which was pretty much right away), Clemons got thrust into the game possibly before he was ready, and he had some shaky moments, but ultimately was usually in better position than Wilson was during passing plays.
The questions - has Clemons settled into the role of secondary Captain (Y Bell is still the field General)? Has the games slowed down for him? Has he gotten 'Bigger, Stronger, Faster'?
From all accounts he has, but Free Safety is one of those positions you can't really judge until you're in the actual game and the opponent starts pulling out play after play in succession. Free Safety is not about winning one on one battles - it's about keeping the opposing playbook from taking over the game. If Clemons can be in position 85% or more of the time, then he's doing his job. Of course, it goes without saying he has to tackle 100% of the time as well.
Clemons' biggest competition right now is Reshad Jones, the rookie. Jones is a lot more physical than Clemons, but lacks experience and is a bit of a 'tweener. I suspect the Trifecta wants to keep him out of a set role incase they decide to move him to Strong Safety in a year or two in case Yeremiah Bell gets hurt. In 2011, Bell's salary is going to double what it is now and a new CBA could affect how the Dolphins feel about having both Bell and Tyrone Culver on the team considering they're scheduled to make a combined $5m between the two of them just in salary alone. Clemons, on the other hand is scheduled to make $395k this year and $480k in 2011. Reshad Jones is unsigned.
The Dolphins also have safeties, Johnathon Amaya and Nate Ness on the roster, but neither is anticipated to make the 53-man roster at this point.