Armando Salguero: Value of Miami Dolphins’ Brent Grimes increases with each play

09/22/2013 12:49 AM

09/08/2014 6:52 PM

Physical freak of nature Brent Grimes picks up two 50-pound kettle bells, raises one leg perpendicular to his torso and does a series of one-legged squats, dropping his backside practically to the floor while amazed Dolphins teammates look on shaking their heads in disbelief.

“I go all the way down to the ground and the guys are just, ‘What the hell?’” Grimes said, recalling the mental image. “I do little stuff like that. Even on the field I do stuff and don’t realize it, like some flip or something crazy.”

Last week after breaking up a pass against Indianapolis, Grimes found himself on his stomach, so that seemed like the perfect time to get up by doing a handstand that led to a push up that finally landed him on his feet.

Some Miami players call him Mighty Mouse. At 5-10 (maybe) and 190 pounds, Grimes can squat-lift 405 pounds. He can do five repetitions and not break a sweat.

“I’m strong on squats,” Grimes said.

It’s an achievement considering Grimes couldn’t walk last fall after he ruptured an Achilles tendon and detoured his career.

Before Grimes tore the tendon, he was atop his craft. He was a Pro Bowl player in 2011 and the Atlanta Falcons designated him their franchise player before the 2012 season because, well, Grimes was unsigned and good cornerbacks are valuable in a passing league.

But then came the injury and the surgery and the fallout.

Suddenly, Grimes’ value dropped like the 2008 stock market. Suddenly, the Falcons weren’t too eager to pay him. Suddenly, everything he’d done in the past to prove himself was overshadowed by the doubt about his future.

And that’s when Brent Grimes, looking for a job, decided to gamble on himself.

Although several teams, including the Dolphins, Browns and, yes, the Falcons, showed interest in signing him last spring, none had interest in paying for what he’d accomplished. Everyone wanted to pay based on what he might no longer be able to accomplish.

“What happens when you come off an injury, just the nature of business, you’re going to get, for lack of a better term, lowballed,” Grimes said.

So Grimes, his agent and the Dolphins decided the best course was a one-year deal that allowed Grimes to prove himself while insulating the team from a long commitment on a potentially lessened player.

“You’re coming off an injury, so you get a one-year deal so that after that year, people say ‘he can still play and is still a good player,’ ” Grimes said. “Then they can’t really lowball you anymore. Off of an injury, even if all the studies show you’re fine and you come in and show you can move and do everything, it’s still like, ‘We don’t know.’ They play the we-don’t-know game. So you have to overcome that. That’s how it is.”

Grimes is playing on a prove-it contract this year.

And so far, he’s proving it.

He had a drive-killing interception in the end zone against Indianapolis last week. He leads the team with four passes defensed. He fits the system. He fits the culture coach Joe Philbin is trying to establish — that means he’s not controversial or a problem child.

Grimes is in short order becoming a best friend to Dolphins pass rushers.

“He’s a guy that makes plays all over the field,” Dolphins defensive leader Cameron Wake said. “You look at his stature and he’s smaller than you, but he has that pit bull mentality that no matter how big the receiver is, he’s going to go out and cover him and make plays.”

That raises a wonderful problem for the Dolphins and Grimes.

Because he is so far everything the Dolphins could want, Grimes is raising his value. Every week he remains healthy, every week he plays well, Grimes gets closer to a contract after this season he would no longer consider a lowball document.

The Dolphins know this. And management is wisely thinking about this already because everyone sees what might happen if Grimes continues to play well.

The Dolphins would like to keep Grimes long-term, but they have to weigh those desires against the risk that if they give him an extension now, something might happen the next 14 games to change the current course. The team also recognizes Grimes is already 30 and corners rarely get a big contract after their 30th birthday.

So the choice is pay now and take a risk or wait and pay more later. It’s an intriguing quandary.

The team has decided to stand pat for now. The team has not and will not try to sign Grimes to a contract extension anytime soon.

The Dolphins want him to continue playing well and being a significant part of the defense’s success. If Grimes earns a big paycheck later on, at least the Dolphins know he surely earned it.

And, interestingly enough, Grimes is happy with that approach.

“Truth be told, when I signed, everybody was saying ‘we want to see if you’re healthy,’ and that’s what I’m doing,” Grimes said. “I think I’m doing a good job of showing that I’m good. Whatever happens, happens. I come out here and prove it on the field every day and let my agent handle the rest. I just play football.”

He plays and he makes plays, which is something the Dolphins have lacked at cornerback for a long time. And although he has been doing good work, not once has Grimes shown the Achilles problem that changed everything is an issue anymore.

“I don’t think about it much unless I look down and see the scar,” Grimes said. “As far as when I’m playing or doing anything, I don’t think about it at all.”

Teammates — witnesses to Grimes’s weight-room feats — are completely convinced about that

“He might be, next to me, the most athletic guy I’ve been around in quite a while,” Wake said half-jokingly. “He’s explosive. He’s quick. He’s strong. I’ve been in the weight room with him. Trust me, he’s strong. And he has no problem covering receivers. He’s good at what he does.”

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