In a move that goes a long way in shoring up one of the team's weakest positions and biggest needs, the Miami Dolphins have signed free-agent linebacker Karlos Dansby to a multi-year contract.
Dansby receives a five-year, $43 million contract that includes $22 million guaranteed. The deal makes him the highest-paid linebacker in the NFL who isn't primarily tasked with rushing the passer.
One of the most highly-regarded and sought-after free agents on the market in 2010, Dansby had garnered interest from the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, among others.
Originally drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Dansby has amassed 553 tackles, 25.5 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries, 10 interceptions, and 25 pass deflections in six pro seasons.
Dansby's signing comes the same day the team released the man he will replace—veteran inside linebacker Akin Ayodele.
Although he can play any of the linebacker positions in the Dolphins' 3-4, Dansby is expected to start inside alongside Channing Crowder.
As an Auburn fan, Miami Dolphins fan, and simply a fan of good football players, I could not be happier about this signing.
Inside linebacker was one of the biggest areas of need for the Dolphins heading into this offseason, and this was the move I was hoping they would make to address it all along.
Dansby gives the Dolphins something they've completely lacked since implementing the 3-4—a quality all-around inside linebacker.
In Dansby, the Dolphins get a strong, athletic linebacker with good tackling ability, excellent coverage skills, and the ability to rush the passer as well.
Dansby gives the Dolphins what they didn't have in Ayodele and Crowder—a playmaker.
For comparison: In two seasons with the Dolphins, Ayodele had zero sacks, two interceptions, and a forced fumble.
Meanwhile, Crowder, while a solid tackler, has had an incomprehensibly difficult time making big plays, posting 2.5 sacks, one interception, and three forced fumbles in 71 NFL games over five seasons.
Quite simply, what Ayodele and Crowder do over a few years or half a decade, Dansby does every season. I expect new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, who has tutored some of the NFL's great linebackers, to get even more out of Dansby's talent.
While the Dolphins aren't finished building their team into a contender just yet with needs at receiver, right guard, nose tackle, outside linebacker, and free safety, they have greatly improved the squad with a play-making, Pro Bowl-caliber linebacker.
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