Free agent Kevin Curtis has been working toward a return to football since beating testicular cancer in November, and the Miami Dolphins have made that happen by signing the veteran wide receiver to a contract.
Reports of the deal were broken Monday evening by the twitter account of Curtis' representation. A confirmation from the Dolphins will likely come Tuesday, along with a corresponding roster move.
The Dolphins, who lost wide receiver Brian Hartline for the season to a hand injury last week, are coming off a narrow 10-6 victory over the New York Jets in Week 14 that saw the passing game total just five completions and 55 yards.
Now 7-6 and still alive in the playoff hunt, the Dolphins head home to face the Buffalo Bills (3-10) in Week 15.
A JUCO All-American at Snow College, Curtis walked on at Utah State as a junior. He set numerous school records in his first season, leading the nation in receptions with 100 and totaling 1,531 yards in addition to being named the Aggies' Offensive MVP.
Curtis' performance earned him a scholarship as a senior where he racked up 74 more catches and 1,258 yards. In just two seasons, Curtis had set school records for receptions (174), receiving yards per game (126.8), receptions per game (7.9), as well as finishing second in career receiving yards (2,789).
A stellar performance at NFL Scouting Combine before the 2003 NFL Draft saw Curtis run an official 4.35 forty and score an impressive 48 of 50 on the Wonderlic—the third highest score ever on the test.
Drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the third round in 2003, Curtis' production grew steadily to his third pro season, in which he amassed 60 receptions for 801 yards and six touchdowns.
After hitting free agency in 2007, Curtis signed a six-year, $32 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. He started all 16 games in his first season with the team, leading all receivers with 77 receptions, 1,110 yards and six touchdowns.
Various injuries allowed Curtis to play in just 12 games over the next two seasons including just three in 2009, and the Eagles released Curtis the following offseason.
Curtis worked out for the Detroit Lions and New York Giants and received inquiries from numerous teams in the 2010 offseason, but he was not signed. In September, he underwent an orchiectomy to remove a cancerous testicle.
Just two months later, Curtis' agent announced he was ready to return to football.
This is the kind of low-risk, high-reward signing I absolutely love. The Dolphins are in need of receiver help with Hartline's injury, and Curtis bringing a former starting-caliber talent to the roster.
It's hard to know what kind of shape Curtis is in after all he's been through, and lingering knee issues were a concern during his final years with the Eagles.
Curtis has always been an extremely intelligent, hard-working and blazing fast player, so it will be interesting to see if he has anything left at age 32.
Similar to the man he will essentially be replacing, I expect Curtis won't take long to get involved in the offense and could even be ready for a role in the passing game this Sunday against Buffalo.
If he's anything like he was before this year, he'll provide the Dolphins with a good deep threat and sure-handed target for quarterback Chad Henne over these final few weeks.
I've always been a fan of Curtis for his football ability, and it's impossible to not root for the guy knowing all he's been through in the past year.
There is no certainty at this point, but in a best-case scenario of Curtis staying healthy and still having the talent he used to, Curtis could remain with the Dolphins beyond just 2010 and actually play a significant role in the passing game next season as well.
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 website, The Miami Dolphins Spotlight, and he can be followed on Twitter here.
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