Julius Thomas will be visiting with Dolphins officials and taking a physical on Tuesday and Wednesday, the final step in completing a trade that would send Miami’s seventh-round pick in April’s draft to the Jaguars for the veteran tight end.
But even as they move to acquire Thomas, the Dolphins still would like to re-sign tight end Dion Sims, according to someone with direct knowledge.
The question now is how receptive Sims will be. Sims told me last month that he’s proven that he’s a starting tight end and that would be an important factor in his free-agent decision.
Sims told me, in early January, that Adam Gase “told me he wants me back as a No. 1. I want to be back. I have obviously proven myself to be a starting tight end in the league and want to continue in that role. I’ve done some great things this year and improved a lot.”
But circumstances obviously can change, and the Dolphins did not know at that time that they had an opportunity to acquire Thomas.
Among the reasons the Dolphins would like to keep Sims:
1) He’s a skilled blocker, while Thomas is considered a pedestrian blocker. Pro Football Focus rated them about even as run blockers last season, but rated Sims the slightly better pass blocker.
2) The Dolphins like how Sims played after Jordan Cameron suffered a season-ending concussion. Sims finished the season with 26 catches for 256 yards and four touchdowns.
3) Thomas has had trouble staying healthy, missing time with back, ankle, tailbone and elbow injuries. He has missed two, three, four and seven games over the past four seasons (two with Denver and two with Jacksonville).
That’s why Thomas’ physical is more than a simple formality.
The Dolphins also have MarQuies Gray signed to a two-year contract. He caught 14 passes for 174 yards last season.
Even before moving toward acquiring Thomas, the Dolphins were not inclined to pursue free agent tight end Martellus Bennett, as we reported here weeks ago.
• The trade for Thomas (provided it’s finalized), coupled with last year’s trade for Leonte Carroo, means the Dolphins will have only their first, second, fifth and sixth rounders. (Carroo was acquired in exchange for third- and fourth-round picks.)
But Miami is expected to be awarded at least two mid-round picks for free agent losses sustained last offseason.