Cornerback Brent Grimes said Monday that new Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey made him feel “appreciated here.”
A four-year, $32 million contract, including $16 million in guaranteed money, tends to make any 30-year-old cornerback feel that way.
The Dolphins re-signed the player who was arguably their best and most consistent last season, giving him the multiyear deal he sought.
“I’m extremely happy about this,” he said. “They made me feel like I’m wanted. I wanted to stay here.”
The deadline to use the franchise tag was 4 p.m. Monday, and the Dolphins did not use it on anyone — not Grimes nor Randy Starks (who was given the tag last season) nor Paul Soliai (who received the designation in 2011).
Defensive tackles Starks and Soliai will hit the free agent market unless either receives and accepts an offer from the Dolphins in the next week. Players can begin speaking to other teams on Saturday but cannot sign with other teams until March 11.
Two of the Dolphins’ likely free agent targets — Baltimore left tackle Eugene Monroe and Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert — also did not receive the franchise tag. The Dolphins are expected to try to sign one of them.
Neither the Dolphins nor Grimes wanted to use the franchise tag in his case. The tag would have come with a huge cap hit ($11.8 million), and Grimes wanted long-term security.
Grimes, 30, signed with the Dolphins last offseason after missing 15 games for Atlanta in 2012 because of a torn Achilles. He immediately returned to his previous Pro Bowl form, finishing last season with 60 tackles and four interceptions. He did not allow a touchdown to be caught against him.
Pro Football Focus rated him the NFL’s second-best cornerback last season, and opposing quarterbacks had a 66.3 rating in his coverage area.
Grimes said Hickey made a point to tell him recently how much he values him. Hickey said Monday he likes Grimes’ “physical talent and competitive nature.”
Grimes, who will be 34 when his contract expires, cracked: “I don’t really look like the oldest guy on the team. I don’t feel that way either.”
Grimes said he feels “even better” now that he’s 1 1/2 years removed from his Achilles injury.
Grimes joins Dimitri Patterson, Jamar Taylor and Will Davis as the team’s top cornerbacks under contract. But Patterson, who’s due to earn $5.4 million, might be asked to take a pay cut — a subject that has been discussed.
The Dolphins have interest in signing free agent cornerback Nolan Carroll, but he reportedly is expected to test the free agent market.
Inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, released by Cleveland last month, is visiting Dolphins headquarters on Tuesday, after visiting Tennessee and Denver last week. Jackson will visit an undisclosed fourth team before making a decision.
Jackson, 30, was seventh in the league with 141 tackles last season, and the Dolphins like him not only for his ability but also for his leadership skills. Last month, Cleveland general manager Ray Farmer called Jackson “the epitome of class, leadership and professionalism.”
Agent Drew Rosenhaus, on his weekly WSVN-Fox 7 segment, said Sunday night that negotiations with the Dolphins regarding safety Louis Delmas have not started but believes Miami’s interest in his client is “significant.”
“There’s enough interest that hopefully we can get some negotiations going,” Rosenhaus said
If Miami signs Delmas, it likely would part ways with Clemons.
Delmas, who attended North Miami Beach High, has six interceptions in five NFL seasons, all with Detroit. He visited the Dolphins on Friday after visiting the Saints on Thursday.
The Dolphins have shown some interest in re-signing Clemons but have told his representation that they are comfortable with him testing the free agent market and coming back to them.