The Miami Dolphins have made a few splashes in 2013 free agency, and one new addition has me excited the way he is talking (plus of course, his skill and potential). New tight end Dustin Keller is a guy who is coming off an ankle issue which saw him have a 2012 that was way below his standards. However, he is talking like NFL fans haven’t seen his best stuff just yet.
In 2008, Keller was a first-round pick of the New York Jets and he progressed annually up to last season. His targets were increasing yearly, but 2012 was the first time in his career that he was sidelined by an injury. After bonuses, etc., Keller will be paid about the same amount as Miami paid Anthony Fasano in 2012.
The ‘Phins are looking to upgrade the position, and a healthy Keller should be a great way to do it. ‘Phins phans did seem to like Fasano, but I do understand the teams desire to improve the pass catching abilities of the position to try to help the franchise (Ryan Tannehill) develop. In Fasano’s five seasons with Miami, the team went an amazing 16-5 in games where he caught a touchdown pass (23-36 when he did not catch a TD … wow, massive difference) but he averaged just 35 catches for 421 yards and five scores. Compare that to Keller, who came into last season averaging 53 catches for 640 yards and four TDs (2012 saw Keller play only half the season).
Another key check-mark in Keller’s column is his ability to make a big play, as in 40+ yarders. Fasano has never had a pass-and-catch go for 40+ while Keller has done it five times (and hopefully counting). Fasano is a guy who will get in the low 20′s for first down catches, while Keller is going to get in the mid-high 30′s.
On paper, this looks like an upgrade to me. The one-year “show me” contract will provide plenty of incentive, plus he seems to be committed to taking his game to the next level. ‘Phins phans have seen first hand the damage that Keller can do (four career TDs vs Miami). He also has four career TDs vs the New England Patriots plus four vs the Buffalo Bills. The 6’2″ 250 pounder is 28 and will turn 29 during the season. Mike Wallace will make it so that Keller’s routes will look more open to him than ever before as M-Wall insists on extra attention and coverage on every snap. All of this adds up and I am excited about the upcoming season for Keller.