Three days after Joey Haynos suffered what appeared to be a serious foot injury against the Atlanta Falcons, the Miami Dolphins have confirmed the team has waived/injured the third-year tight end.
Haynos immediately fell to the ground untouched coming off the line during an offensive play in the fourth quarter against the Falcons, leading many speculate a serious foot or Achilles' tendon injury had occurred.
While specific details remain unknown, the injury does appear to be significant and Haynos has been on crutches and a boot since Saturday.
Originally signed by the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent out of Maryland, Haynos has spent nearly two full seasons with the Dolphins and has amassed 21 catches for 184 yards and three touchdowns in 23 career games.
After serving as the team's No. 3 tight end for most of his rookie season, Haynos moved into a the backup job behind starter Anthony Fasano and started eight games.
Initially assumed to retain the No. 2 job in 2010, the Dolphins shook thing up by re-signing veteran David Martin after a year away from the game.
Despite head coach Tony Sparano saying Sunday that Haynos would be out "a little while" many of us expected the injury to force Haynos out for the entire season. It looks like that indeed is the case.
Technically speaking, Haynos has been waived/injured, which means he will be exposed to waivers for any NFL team to claim him if they choose. If he goes unclaimed, he will revert to the Dolphins' injured reserve list.
Unlike players like Kory Sheets, who was waived/injured earlier this month to clear a space on the 80-man roster, Haynos was not waived/injured for this season, as the Dolphins are already at tomorrow's new 75-man limit, after which time players placed directly on I.R. don't count toward the active roster.
Instead, the Dolphins are simply giving the league an opportunity to claim Haynos and take on his entire contract (a base salary of $470,000 in 2010) if a team is willing. Of course, this is unlikely given Haynos' lack of upside and the likely severity of the injury, but it's worth a shot on Miami's part.
With Haynos likely to clear waivers, he'll simply revert to I.R., which will force him to miss the entire 2010 season. It is possible he could be released from I.R. with an injury settlement at some point this season, which would allow him to sign elsewhere if he can get healthy.
Although such events usually spell a permanent end for a player's tenure with a team, we've seen with recently re-signed David Martin that the Dolphins are open to bring back previously injured players which they have released.
Now that Haynos is out of the 2010 picture, two questions remain: 1) Will the Dolphins keep two or three tight ends on the active roster? and 2) If they do keep three, will the third spot go to John Nalbone?
My guess is that the Dolphins will keep two tight ends, and re-sign Nalbone to the practice squad. Nalbone has shown little since being taken in the fifth round out of Monmouth in 2009, and even failed to get a promotion to the active roster last season. The team instead opted to promoted undrafted rookie Kory Sperry, who had significantly less experience with the team.
With Sperry now in Denver, Nalbone looks to be headed for the practice squad as the Dolphins' third tight end. Of course, the team will continue to scour to the waiver wires for any potential practice squad tight ends, or perhaps even someone worth adding to the 53-man roster at the position.
Until then, expect Miami to roll with just Fasano and Martin to begin the regular season, with a roster spot at another position potentially opened as a result.
As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.
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Chris J. Nelson majored in journalism at Georgia State University and is currently a programming coordinator for Turner Sports in Atlanta. He operates his own Miami Dolphins Web site, The Miami Dolphins Spotlight, and he can be followed on Twitter here.