Put simply, the Miami Dolphins got Brent Grimes — one of the NFL’s better cornerbacks in 2011 — because they made him feel wanted.
The Dolphins signed the former Falcons defensive back Saturday after a two-week pursuit, agreeing on a one-year contract Pro Football Talk reported is worth $5.5 million.
Despite coming off a major injury, Grimes was one of the most coveted corners on the free agent market. So in the two weeks since Grimes visited the team’s training complex, the Dolphins’ brain trust never got too far out of touch, flooding his phone with calls and messages.
“After the visit, they kept in touch with me and told me they really wanted me to be here,” Grimes said.
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The persistence paid off.
Grimes is a huge upgrade — if healthy. He tore his Achilles tendon in the first week of the 2012 season and hasn’t played since.
The expected recovery time for such an injury is just shy of a year, putting into question whether Grimes will participate in spring camps.
“I’m not going to do time frames,” Grimes said when asked of his rehabilitation schedule. “I just know, the surgeon told me it’s a six- to eight-month injury.
“I feel great. I don’t have any restrictions. I’m running, building [my] strength. That’s part of the process.”
Years back, an injury that severe was career-threatening. But there have been great advances in sports medicine, best exemplified by Terrell Suggs’ return to the field five months after having his ruptured Achilles repaired.
Grimes said he was encouraged by Suggs as well as the speedy return of Bengals corner Leon Hall, who started 14 games in 2012 — a year after tearing his Achilles.
Should Grimes make a full recovery, he probably would compete for a starting job. Before Saturday, the top three corners on the Dolphins’ depth chart were Dimitri Patterson, Richard Marshall and Nolan Carroll.
“We are very excited that we were able to reach an agreement with Brent,” Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said in a statement. “His experience and history of play-making production will add a great deal to our secondary.”
In his six-year career, all with the Falcons, Grimes has appeared in 59 games, recording 13 interceptions and 254 tackles. He credits his ability to play the ball as his greatest strength.
By playing out a one-year deal, Grimes has a chance to prove himself and re-enter free agency in 2014. It also gives the Dolphins more latitude in the draft, not forcing them to focus on that position in the early rounds.
“Dolphins continue their aggressive offseason by signing CB Brent Grimes,” former scout and current NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah wrote on Twitter. “Wouldn’t be shocked if they trade up for an elite [left tackle] in the draft.”