The signing of Mitchell comes just two days after Dolphins' linebacker Austin Spitler was in a walking boot after suffering an ankle injury in the preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons. The exact severity of Spitler's injury is not yet known.
It is unknown if the Dolphins made any other moves upon the addition of Mitchell, although no moves necessarily need to be made as Mitchell would give Miami 84 players on their 90-man training camp roster.
The Dolphins will have to cut down to 75 players on August 30, and eventually to 53 players on Sept. 3.
After attending and playing football, basketball, track and shot put at Lake Taylor High School in Norfolk, Va., Mitchell played college football at Tennessee. He appeared in 40 career games for the Volunteers, serving as a team captain each of his final two seasons. As a senior, he led the team with 104 tackles and added three pass deflections and two forced fumbles.
Mitchell was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the seventh round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He began his rookie season on the team's practice squad before being promoted to the active roster in October, where he remained over the next three-plus seasons.
After recording 11 special teams tackles as a rookie and 15 special teams tackles in 2008, Mitchell appeared in 14 games (including two starts) in 2009 and set a new career-high with 27 tackles. He also registered a start in the Saints' Super Bowl XLIV victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
A restricted free agent entering the 2010 season, Mitchell was re-signed to a one-year contract on April 10. He went on to appear in 16 games for the first time in 2010, totaling 43 stops, his his first NFL sack, two forced fumbles, and two pass deflections.
Mitchell, who wore No. 50 with the Saints, will wear No. 52 with the Dolphins. The number was previously worn by longtime starting linebacker Channing Crowder, who was released on July 29 and has since announced his retirement from the NFL.
After messing around with the likes of Mark Masterson, who was never going to make an NFL roster, it's nice to see the Dolphins are at least adding some experienced special teams competition with David Nixon last week and now Mitchell here.
Between Mitchell, Spitler, Nixon, and Mike Rivera, Mitchell has the most NFL experience and has by far the largest body of work on special teams with 55 stops over four seasons with the Saints. He has good size (6-3, 249) for the Dolphins' scheme and even drew a couple starts in New Orleans when the team utilized some 3-4 looks.
With Spitler in a walking boot and far from a lock to make the roster when healthy, I have to think Mitchell jumps right into contention for that fourth and final inside linebacker job behind Karlos Dansby, Kevin Burnett, and A. J. Edds.
Of course, Mitchell will not be a lock to make the Dolphins' roster despite his superior experience. He already has four years of NFL experience and the regularly linebacker-needy Saints never gave him a real chance to start, so there are questions of whether or not he has an real upside on defense. Mitchell also carries with him a likely inflated salary due to being a five-year veteran, so he'll be a little more expensive to keep than any of his competitors.
Mitchell is probably the most talented option on the roster right now, but whether or not he makes the team remains to me seen. I may put my money on him at this point given the lack of intriguing competition, but guys in this position are never safe and can be replaced at any time.
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 currently works 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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