Armando Salguero

Miami Dolphins are trying to upgrade at nickel cornerback spot and whether that involves Darrelle Revis

Dolphins Michael Thomas on joining Kaepernick protest last season.

Michael Thomas, Miami Dolphins safety, talks to media about how he joined in a protest last season started by San Francisco 49er's Colin Kaepernick.
Up Next
Michael Thomas, Miami Dolphins safety, talks to media about how he joined in a protest last season started by San Francisco 49er's Colin Kaepernick.

About three weeks ago, Darrelle Revis’ name was making the rounds on the Miami Dolphins grapevine because someone started a rumor the former New England Patriots, New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback was on the Dolphins’ radar.

Obviously, nothing came of that rumor, and Revis isn’t on the team now.

And that’s because, per sources, his name has not even come up in any personnel meetings within the organization. Not once. So much for the credibility of whomever started that rumor.

But the idea of the Dolphins benefiting somehow from having a Darrelle Revis is nonetheless interesting because it would improve the competition at the slot cornerback position — a position Revis has played during his career.

Right now, the Dolphins have a fine competition at the boundaries. Byron Maxwell, Xavien Howard and Tony Lippett — all three starters at different points in 2016 — are competing for what is essentially two starting outside cornerback jobs.

And while Maxwell and Howard are considered favorites to win the two starting jobs, that still doesn’t settle the slot corner job, which is very important because that player is in on approximately 65 percent of the snaps.

Miami Dolphins' cornerback Byron Maxwell, a member of the 2013 Super Bowl winning Seattle Seahawks, talks about facing his former team Seattle on Sept. 6, 2016

Miami’s slot cornerback job is unsettled because it’s not as easy as simply giving Lippett the job if he doesn’t win one of the two outside jobs. The slot cornerback has to be probably quicker and shorter than the 6-3 Lippett. Bobby McCain, last year’s slot cornerback, has the job for the time being.

And he’s not getting a ton of competition from Lippett because that’s not what Lippett does. He’s not getting a ton of competition from Michael Thomas, who has played the position in the past, because the Dolphins see Thomas more as a safety these days.

(My two cents: Thomas would be better competing for the slot cornerback job. He’s comfortable doing it. He’s happy doing it. He has done it in the past. He’s better there.)

So the Dolphins need someone else with a legitimate shot to win the role to compete with McCain.

Why?

Because McCain had good moments playing the spot last year. But he also had a lot of bad moments, too. So yielding him the spot without a competition is not a great idea.

“I could be better,” McCain said last week. “As a player, I could be better. I can’t sit here and tell you what my goods and bads were; but I can tell you that I know I can be better. I know I can do better, and I will do better.”

Miami Dolphins defensive back Bobby McCain talks about giving up the game-winning touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 14, 2016.

The Dolphins last season had the idea they would use Howard in the nickel by sliding inside on passing downs. But that plan was cast aside when Howard injured his knee twice. And while that long-ago play might see light again some day, it isn’t in the offing anytime soon.

So forget that for now.

As an aside, Howard is doing great so far, I’m told. The team has high hopes for what Howard can do this season if he stays healthy.

Maxwell isn’t going to be that slot corner, either. We already established Lippett isn’t. And the Revis rumors aren’t true.

This has you thinking now, right? Why aren’t the rumors true? Doesn’t it make sense?

Well consider:

There’s a question about what kind of shape Revis is in — because he wasn’t in good shape last year.

There are questions about his desire to tackle — because the slot corner has to stick his nose in there, and Revis last season showed no desire to do that.

There are also questions about money because Revis loves money, and the Dolphins are not in a position to pay a lot of it right now.

So that’s a lot of questions that are unanswered, and that explains why Revis hasn’t even been discussed.

That leads us back to ... McCain.

Right now the most likely upgrade at nickel cornerback the Dolphins might make in 2017 as compared to 2016 is if McCain improves.

The Dolphins might simply need McCain, who is entering his third NFL season and trying to improve.

“Just getting hands on the football — that’s what I want to do,” he said. “That’s what we want to do as a team. The more turnovers we have, the more chances the offense gets to score, and that’s how we look at it. Being able to create turnovers, being able to get hands on the football, that can make you championship team.”

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments