The Miami Dolphins signed former Tennessee Titans and St. Louis Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan to bolster their defense on Friday afternoon. According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, the deal is good for around $11 million at the top end. The move, along with the re-signing of cornerback Brent Grimes, the acquisition of ex-Detroit Lions safety Louis Delmas, and the continued development of 2013 rookies Jamar Taylor and Will Davis, mean that Miami's secondary will have a different face in 2014.
“We’re really excited with what he’s going to bring to the table,” said General Manager Dennis Hickey of Finnegan. “He’s been a tough playmaker over his career with veteran presence, leadership and a love and passion for the game [and] that’s what we’re all about.”
Known as an aggressive player and a leader in the locker room, Finnegan was excited about his new environs.
“I think first and foremost I’ve got to earn the respect of these men, not by what I did in the past but by how I’m working now,” Finnegan said on a conference call with the local media. “It starts in the locker room and in the weight room and on the field. I know they have younger talent here and so it’s just trying to mentor them and trying to take my experience of film study and things of those nature along with the coaches and trying to intertwine that into making them the best players, because the younger guys are the future of this organization.
“I’m also looking forward to learning from Brent because I think Grimes is one of the best in the NFL in my opinion if not the best all around. So I’m excited to play with him and learn from him, so I couldn’t be more excited about this whole opportunity.”
Finnegan said that he will look to compete for a starting job, which could be difficult if he played as he did through his two seasons in St. Louis. Alternating between outside and the slot. Finnegan struggled mightily, especially in 2013, when he played through injuries. Last season, he allowed a 136.0 quarterback rating when covering outside on 199 targets, giving up 26 catches for 353 yards and four touchdowns in 34 targets. In the slot, he allowed a 131.9 rating on 24 targets, giving up 19 catches for 248 yards and three touchdowns. In both categories, he ranked among the bottom three cornerbacks in the league among players who had taken at least 25 percent of their team's snaps. He wasn't that much better in 2012, and at age 30, there may not be much left in the tank.
To Finnegan's credit, he didn't gloss over his recent struggles when he met with the media.
"At times I played good, and at times I didn't," he said. "I know I was hurt most of the time." Grade: D It all depends on the guaranteed money, and what kind of gymnastics the Dolphins would have to do to get out of the deal, but ... well, this isn't good. The Dolphins have proven in the last year that they have some serious gaps in their understanding of personnel, and even with a new general manager, that disconnect seems to still be in place. Finnegan's tape matches his stats, which is not good. At this point in his career, he gets turned around by savvier route runners, and he gets flat-out owned by speed receivers outside and up the seam. It's sad when a formerly great player loses it, but unless a miracle turnaround is on the horizon, the Dolphins made yet another highly curious move here.