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Breaking Down the Weaver Move

The Miami Dolphins made what looks like a surprising move when they waived/injured defensive end Curtis Weaver

The decision to waive rookie fifth-round pick Curtis Weaver with an injury designation caught a lot of attention in South Florida, but what it means has been misrepresented.

In short, the Dolphins basically decided Weaver simply wasn't worth keeping around.

Weaver sustained an injury during practice Saturday and they had two options based on NFL rules depending on the severity of the injury.

If the injury was deemed major, the Dolphins simply could have put Weaver directly on injured reserve without having to expose him to waivers, where any other team can claim him.

That exactly what the Cleveland Browns have done, according to the NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

Also today, the Browns placed safety Grant Delpit on injured reserve. Delpit is a rookie. He's not vested. That means, as we indicated earlier, that, yes, the Dolphins could have moved Weaver straight on IR had they chosen to do so. That they didn't indicates they didn't have a desire to keep Weaver.

If the injury was deemed minor, defined by an absence of six weeks or less, then the Dolphins would have had the option of keeping Weaver on the active roster until he was healthy; or waiting until the cutdown to 53 to then place him on IR; or take the route they chose with the waived/injured designation.

Again, if the Dolphins thought Weaver was a good prospect who could help them down the road this is not the path they would have chosen.

With the injury designation, Weaver will revert to injured reserve if he clears waivers and he'll stay on that list unless he can a physical or gets an injury settlement.

Either way, he won't be playing for the Miami Dolphins unless they decide to re-sign him at some point in the future.

This move was noteworthy because Weaver was seen by some draft analysts as a potential steal as a fifth-round selection.

But there was a reason he was selected in the fifth round despite putting up great sack numbers at Boise State, and that reason was that he simply didn't possess any one outstanding physical trait.

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Weaver set the Mountain West Conference career record for sacks despite playing only three seasons at Boise State, but there were concerns whether he could achieve that kind of success at the NFL level.

Again, there was a reason he was a fifth-round pick.

This is what NFL.com's Lance Zierlein wrote about Weaver before the 2020 draft: "Stand-up end whose production as a pass rusher must be balanced out by his below-average ability and athleticism in stopping the run. Weaver is a naturally instinctive counter-rusher who uses synchronized hands/feet to attack both inside and outside edges as a rusher, but his lack of explosiveness and athletic traits could dull his rush production against NFL offensive tackles. He plays with football intelligence, but his level of NFL success could be determined by whether his skill can overcome below-average explosiveness."

Weaver was given a grade of 5.99, which translated to backup/special teamer.

While there was a lot of hope that Weaver could become a dynamic pass rusher in the NFL, head coach Brian Flores was very cautious in his assessment when he was asked about him and fellow fifth-round pick Jason Strowbridge after the draft.

“Yes, Strowbridge is an outside, inside player. He lines up outside in some situations, inside in some other situations. Good strength, good quickness. There’s a lot to like about him. He played multiple positions, (is) versatile, tough. Weaver is a good pass rusher, or showed that over the course of his college career. Hopefully that translates. I think he has got to do a better job in a lot of areas, but so does Strowbridge and so does every one of these rookies. They all have to improve, they all have a long way to go. There’s definitely some things that we really liked out of Weaver from a pass rush standpoint. Hopefully we continue to develop those as well as every other part of his game. We like both guys. We like most of the guys we picked.”

In the first week of padded practices, Weaver didn't show much explosiveness off the line or the ability to disengage from opposing offensive linemen, and it became clear pretty early he might have a hard time just making the 53-man roster.

Head coach Brian Flores explained the decision to waive/injured Weaver on Tuesday morning.

"A lot goes into these decisions: the injury itself, player performance, salary cap, depth at the position, next year’s draft," Flores said. "Those conversations happen with myself, (General Manager) Chris (Grier), (Vice President of Football Administration) Brandon (Shore), the coaching staff. He’s waived. He could get claimed. It’s a small percentage of players who do get claimed in this situation. We’ll see if we get him back."

A draft pick not making the initial 53-man roster actually is very uncommon.

Since 2010, the only Dolphins draft picks other than seventh-rounders to be waived before the start of the regular season were fifth-round pick Cedric Thompson in 2015 and sixth-round pick B.J. Cunningham in 2012.

All six 2019 Dolphins draft picks made the opening-day roster, though sixth-round selection Isaiah Prince was waived during the season.