Miami Dolphins

April 4, 2014

Miami Dolphins bring in veteran WR Nate Burleson for visit

The Dolphins have scheduled a free agent visit with veteran receiver Nate Burleson, a somewhat surprising move considering Miami’s depth at receiver.

The Dolphins have scheduled a free agent visit with veteran receiver Nate Burleson, a somewhat surprising move considering Miami’s depth at receiver.

Burleson arrived in South Florida on Thursday night, with his Dolphins visit scheduled to continue into Friday. Burleson plans to visit the Cleveland Browns after his Dolphins visit is completed.

The Dolphins have signed every player who was invited to visit during veteran free agency except linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who received an offer from Miami but signed with Indianapolis instead.

Burleson, 32, has caught 457 passes for 5,630 yards and 39 touchdowns in 11 NFL seasons. He spent his first three seasons with Minnesota, then four with Seattle and the past four with Detroit.

The Lions signed him to a five-year, $25 million contract in 2010 but cut him in February to clear $5.5 million in cap space. The Miami trip is Burleson’s first free agent visit since the Lions released him.

Burleson played in nine games for Detroit in 2013 and started eight, finishing with 39 receptions for 461 yards (11.8 average) and one touchdown. In 2012, he had 27 catches for 240 yards in six games.

But he has missed 17 games because of injury over the past two seasons. Last season, Burleson broke a bone in his arm in a car accident caused by his attempt to keep a pizza from sliding off the passenger seat of his car.

Burleson then posted a photo on his Instagram account of a letter from DiGiorno Pizza offering him a year’s worth of free pizza along with a pizza cutter.

Burleson’s best NFL season was with the Vikings in 2004, when he caught 68 passes for 1,006 yards. He was named a member of the Seahawks’ 35th anniversary team.

He is the first player to return three punts for 90-plus yards. But the Lions did not use him as a punt or kickoff returner last season. In fact, he hasn’t returned a punt since 2009.

Burleson’s visit is somewhat surprising because the Dolphins already have four solid receivers in Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson and Rishard Matthews, plus Armon Binns.

Hartline, Gibson and Binns are coming off significant knee injuries, but coach Joe Philbin said last week that all will be ready for the start of the season.

• The Dolphins signed receivers Kevin Cone and Mike Rios and quarterback Jordan Rodgers, who played at Vanderbilt and is the brother of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Rios, who grew up in Kendall and played at Belen High, signed with the Arizona Cardinals after the draft last year but was cut in July because of a broken foot.

Cone has played in 28 games for the Atlanta Falcons, mostly on special teams, and has one career reception.

Rodgers, who spent time with Tampa Bay and Jacksonville last season, will compete with front-runner Pat Devlin for the No. 3 quarterback job.

• The Dolphins sent 11 staffers to the University of Miami’s Pro Day on Thursday, led by Philbin and general manager Dennis Hickey.
• The Dolphins hired Ryan Grove as their head athletic trainer. Grove, who had been the Pittsburgh Steelers’ assistant athletic trainer for the past 15 seasons, replaces Kevin O’Neill, who was fired shortly after the release of Ted Wells’ report about the team’s bullying scandal.

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