In a surprising move first reported by Tom Curran of CSNNE.com, the New England Patriots officially waived former University of Florida DT Dominique Easley Wednesday. The former Gator was selected No. 29 overall in the 2014 draft.
Easley, 24, has been plagued with injury throughout both his collegiate and professional career. Not only did he tear both ACL’s in college, he was also placed on season-ending IR with knee and quad injuries in 2014 and 2015.
Only appearing in 22 career games, including a mere 25.1% of defensive snaps last year, the former Patriot recorded 25 tackles, three sacks, and one interception in two seasons.
So why should the Miami Dolphins sign Dominique Easley?
Ranked as the No.12 defensive tackle in the league according to Pro Football focus, Easley only trailed JJ Watt in pass rushing productivity and also ranked as the most effective interior rusher for 2015. Used in mostly sub-package rushes, Easley is extremely disruptive in short run situations. His explosiveness off the line, and relentlessness to make the play, often results in collapsed pockets or closed A-gaps in which Easley feeds tackles to the players around him.
Adding solid depth to its depleted defensive line is still a top priority for the Dolphins, who are still left with multiple question marks like Cameron Wake and Dion Jordan. At only 24, Easley is a young prospect who pairs nicely with Jordan Phillips or Ndamukong Suh, and his versatility on defense allows him to be placed outside in rushing situations. With the former Patriot being subject to waivers, the Dolphins would only have to take on his $1.08 million 2016 salary, a mere $2 million total if the Dolphins were to keep Easley for the remainder of his rookie contract.
While multiple sources suggest the cut was made due to his unreliability and immaturity, adding a quality run stopper who also knows your rival’s defensive schemes could be a giant payout for a team that has taken multiple leaps on injury-prone players.
Signing Dominique Easley off waivers is a “low-risk, high-reward” opportunity for the Dolphins, and one they should take full advantage of.