Barry Jackson

Stephone Anthony mincing no words about open Dolphins' linebacker job

Miami Dolphins linebacker Stephone Anthony (44) celebrates after stopping Buffalo Bills fullback Mike Tolbert from getting a first down in the second quarter of their regular season finale on Dec. 31 last season. Anthony is trying to win the Dolphins' open starting linebacker job.
Miami Dolphins linebacker Stephone Anthony (44) celebrates after stopping Buffalo Bills fullback Mike Tolbert from getting a first down in the second quarter of their regular season finale on Dec. 31 last season. Anthony is trying to win the Dolphins' open starting linebacker job. adiaz@miamiherald.com

After starting 16 games as a rookie first-round draft pick for New Orleans in 2015, Stephone Anthony has started just three games since.

No wonder he conceded Monday that he would love to win the third starting linebacker job alongside Kiko Alonso and Raekwon McMillan.

“That should be one of my first goals,” he said. “Before I do anything else, I’ve got to become the starter.”

Anthony has received a lot of the first-team work in the team’s offseason program but said veteran Terence Garvin (who started three games for Seattle last season) and third-round rookie Jerome Baker are also getting snaps with the starters. “Right now, they’ve just got us rotating,” Anthony said.

After being acquired from the Saints last September for a fifth-round draft pick, Anthony played 130 defensive snaps in eight games for Miami and had 12 tackles.

According to Pro Football Focus, Anthony was in pass coverage on 89 of those 130 snaps, and his overall grade of 43.4 would have ranked 67th among all linebackers if he had more snaps to qualify — barely ahead of Lawrence Timmons, who was cut by the Dolphins this spring and remains unsigned.

Newest Dolphins linebacker, Stephone Anthony, meets with reporters the day after he was traded to Miami.

Anthony, 6-3, said he has dropped his weight from 245 to “235-240. I’ve been one step ahead. I’ve been more comfortable with the system.”

Though Miami is open to keeping him beyond this season if he plays well, the Dolphins declined to exercise his 2019 fifth-year option.

“I didn’t talk to anybody about that,” he said. “It’s kind of what I expected. I needed a little more snaps. Not my job to worry about. Whatever opportunity is presented to me, it’s my job to take advantage of it…. The business side really hits you in the face when you get traded.”

McCAIN’S CONTRACT

A few details inside a confidential copy of cornerback Bobby McCain’s four-year, $27 million contract extension that actually takes effect in 2019 but gives him an immediate signing bonus:

McCain’s cap hit actually decreased for 2018, from $1.9 million to $1.5 million. Because he received a $3.7 million signing bonus, he agreed to lower his base salary this season from $1.9 million to the league minimum of $705,000.

Miami Dolphins cornerback Bobby McCain gets friendly with newly acquired and former New England Patriot receiver Danny Amendola during OTAs.

McCain’s cap numbers will then be $6.34 million in 2019, $6.24 million in 2020, $7.14 million in 2021 and $7.74 million in 2022.

McCain is due $13 million in guaranteed money but nothing is guaranteed after the 2020 season. He’s due $5.6 million in guaranteed money in 2019. And in 2020, $3.02 million of his $5.5 million salary is guaranteed.

DERBY’S SHOT

Tight end AJ Derby, who had two catches for 20 yards in two games for the Dolphins after he was claimed off waivers from Denver last November, is among several competing not only for a roster spot, but a starting job.

He stayed in Jupiter this offseason and drove down to Davie anytime Ryan Tannehill wanted to throw passes in February and March — which was “a lot. He is very detail-oriented. I wanted to take exactly what he wanted and put it into my game.”

When Derby signed with Miami last year, he told his wife and their young daughter not to join him for the final few weeks of the season because “I tried to have the least amount of distractions as possible” after joining a team late in the season.

His family is with him now and he feels more comfortable in the offense.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill speaks to the media after practice at Dolphins training facility on Tuesday June 5th, 2018.

“This is going to be my fourth offense in three years I have to learn,” he said. “As a former quarterback, I pick stuff up pretty quickly. I look at things differently than most guys on the team.”

Concidentally, the Dolphins have two former quarterbacks playing tight end — Derby and former Minnesota Golden Gophers QB MarQueis Gray.

Derby played quarterback at Iowa and Coffeyville Community College before transferring to Arkansas, where he started one game at quarterback and moved to tight end before his senior season. The Patriots drafted him in the sixth round in 2015 and traded him 18 months later to Denver, where he had 35 catches for 384 yards in 15 games over parts of two seasons before being released.

Derby heard offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains tell reporters that “I need to work on my blocking, so that’s what I am really doing this offseason.”

He said working with Adam Gase is “exciting. He’s done a lot of great things with tight ends in the past. We have a great room – we’re going to surprise a lot of people this year.”

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