A day after undrafted rookie SirVincent Rogers quit the team and opted for retirement, another Miami Dolphin has followed suit. This time, it's safety Ethan Kilmer, who the team signed as a free agent in January.
A former walk-on at Penn State, Kilmer saw action at wide receiver, cornerback, safety, and special teams with the Nittany Lions. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the seventh round of 2006 NFL Draft.
Kilmer recorded 19 tackles while playing in every game for the Bengals his rookie season. The highlight of the season, and perhaps his career, came in a game against the New Orleans Saints, when he intercepted a Drew Brees pass and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown.
Injuries forced Kilmer to miss the entire 2007 season, and he spent the first half of the 2008 season on injured reserve before being let go by the Bengals in October. He spent the rest of the season out of football.
The Dolphins signed Kilmer to a two-year contract on January 20. He was competing for a role on special teams while also battling fifth-round pick Chris Clemons for the backup free safety job behind Gibril Wilson.
Without knowing all the facts at this point, it's hard to know what exactly Kilmer's reasons were for quitting. He has been on injured reserve the past two seasons, so it's possible his body just wasn't going to allow him to play at a high enough level. It's also possible Kilmer just didn't like his prospects in the NFL at this point and decided to move on.
This isn't a huge loss for the Dolphins as I considered Kilmer the underdog for the backup free safety job all along. If things were close between Kilmer and Clemons, the team was always going to opt for the younger and Miami-drafted player.
Despite being a fifth-round pick, I for one believe Clemons has the potential to be a starter down the line. He should at least be sufficient as a backup in his rookie season, especially considering he's not likely to see the field much except on special teams.
A few other things to consider in my mind:
- With Kilmer being the second player in as many days to quit the team, one has to at least entertain the possibility that the Dolphins could be one reason for this. Is the team or staff doing something that is turning off these players from the game? It's impossible to say at this point, though I would consider the scenario unlikely. Players around the NFL do occasionally quit for various reasons, and usually those reasons are personal more than anything else.
- With Kilmer leaving, Clemons is essentially uncontested for the backup free safety job. While it's true they could bring in someone else, it's likely they'll pick someone up off the street that would have a realistic chance of beating him out. Competition brings out the best in everyone, so ideally this rookie would at least have someone to battle. Let's hope he has enough self-motivation to succeed without it.
Chris Nelson is a journalism major at Georgia State University. He operates his own Miami Dolphins blog, which can be found here.