Miami Dolphins Sign CFL Linebacker Mark Restelli to Contract
The Miami Dolphins have signed Canadian Football League linebacker Mark Restelli to a future contract, according to Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
The news comes just one day after it was reported the team is one of four teams negotiating a contract with wide receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux of the CFL's BC Lions.
A two-year veteran of the CFL, Restelli (6'2", 215) played college football at Cal Poly, where he was an honorable mention All-Great West selection as a junior in 2007.
In 44 starts for the Mustangs, Restelli racked up 267 tackles (16.5 for a loss), three sacks, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), 14 passes defended and one blocked kick in 46 games (44 starts).
After going undrafted in the 2009 NFL Draft, Restelli signed with the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos. He started 17 games during his rookie season, recording 58 defensive tackles (three for a loss), 16 special teams tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
A knee injury limited Restelli to just six games (three starts) in 2010, during which time he totaled 16 defensive tackles, five special teams tackles and four sacks.
Contract details with the Dolphins have not yet been released, but Restelli likely received a two- or three-year deal worth the league minimum. The Dolphins now have 56 players on their 80-man offseason roster, not including their 16 free agents with expiring contracts.
Those hoping for Restelli to become the next Cameron Wake should probably curb their enthusiasm (which reminds me—when is that show coming back in the air?).
Restelli was a solid player at Division I-FCS Cal Poly and held his own in the CFL, where linebackers can afford to be smaller and quicker due to the width of the field compared to the American counterpart.
In the NFL with the Dolphins, however, Restelli likely does not possess the necessary speed or skills to play safety, but he also lacks the bulk to be an inside linebacker in the Dolphins' 3-4 scheme at just 215 pounds.
Rather than think of Restelli as the 2011 version of Wake, think of his as the 2011 version of former Dolphins and BC Lions fullback Rolly Lumbala.
That is, Restelli is the type of prospect that projects solely on special teams at the NFL level, which hurts his overall chances of making the team because he lacks the versatility to contribute in other areas.
With little upside, Restelli will have to be head and shoulders above the rest on special teams to earn a spot on the team's active roster in training camp.
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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