Profootballtalk.com has reported that the Miami Dolphins have released veteran cornerback Richard Marshall. It’s a curious move as Marshall was listed as a starter across newcomer cornerback Brent Grimes. His release still comes as no surprise to some – cutting Marshall allows the Dolphins to avoid paying him $4.55 million in 2013. Marshall was limited to four games in 2012 due to a back injury. The Dolphins tried to trade Marshall, but no one was willing to pay him his inflated salary, which jumped to $5.3 million in 2014. The team has reportedly not closed the door on a reunion, however, and will consider resigning him if he fails to receive any compelling offers on the open market. Marshall shouldn’t struggle to find a new home, as he is a 28-year old versatile, hard-hitting defensive back capable of playing both corner and safety.
So what does Marshall’s departure mean for the Dolphins’ secondary, specifically the cornerbacks? Make no mistake – this move was purely for financial reasons. Per Jeff Darlington, several players were not surprised by Marshall's release, as they believed “he wasn’t playing well enough to merit big” money. “One Dolphins player says the team has some good, young defensive backs to compliment Brent Grimes, who has been a star in training camp,” added Darlington. That’s a curious notion as second-round pick cornerback Jamar Taylor has been extremely limited throughout training camp due to his sports hernia surgery, and third-round pick cornerback Will Davis has had his highs and his lows. While the jury is still out on Taylor, Davis has had a serious knack for takeaways, but has still been way too inconsistent to be a viable starter.
If the season were to begin today, the starters would probably be Brent Grimes and Dimitri Patterson on the outside in base packages, with Patterson kicking inside on nickel packages, with Nolan Carroll or Jamar Taylor covering the outside. If rookie-cornerback Will Davis cleans up his play, he could make a case for playing time in nickel packages. Patterson, who was claimed off waivers from the Cleveland Browns in Week 16 of the 2012 season, is by all accounts having a sensational camp. He opened camp as the defense’s No. 2 cornerback, and he hasn’t looked back since. Many pundits had him predicted as a roster casualty due to his $4.5 million non-guaranteed base salary, but the 30-year old corner seems to have officially beaten out Richard Marshall as the team’s No. 2 corner. The Dolphins are showing a tremendous amount of faith in their youth at the position by releasing a veteran two weeks before the season begins.