After finally getting past some groin issue, we are seeing Miami Dolphins safety Chris Clemons start to develop and blossom. 2011 saw Clemons limited to just over 20 plays, but he started all 16 games last season for new defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. Coming into 2012, the 6’1, 215 pounder had 87 combined tackles and he eclipsed that with a 98-tackle campaign. Despite his arrow pointed upwards, his future in Miami is somewhat in question.
Back in March, the Florida native inked a one-year deal, which puts him on the same footing as fellow safety Reshad Jones in that both are scheduled to be free agents at seasons end. Other members of the ‘Phins secondary are also free agents after this season. Guys like Nolan Carroll, R.J. Stanford and Brent Grimes are all up for grabs in 2014. The team will be looking to re-up with any of these guys that show an ability to learn from Coyle and develop into players that create turnovers. I would think even guys like Richard Marshall and Dimitri Patterson will need to show an ability to create turnovers as both will make $5.3 million in 2014; so to avoid being cut, their production will have to be very good. This franchise has struggled for ages now to create turnovers, but Coyle (entering second season running the defense) has a history of coaching up secondaries and creating interceptions.
Clemons had just one career INT in his first 40 NFL games, and last season he nabbed a pair. It is good that both interceptions came vs. AFC East foe New York Jets, but it is underwhelming to see just two total in a 16-start season. I would think that if either safety got the franchise tag in 2014, it would be Jones (article on Jones’ upcoming season is HERE) so Clemons will need a big season to see a raise from his $2+ million salary. I think a 100-tackle season will not be enough for Clemons to earn a big payday with Miami. He is going to have to show an ability to scoop-and-score and create interceptions. Over the past decade, the Dolphins average being ranked no.20 for earning interceptions. I have a huge feeling that turnovers are the be-all and end-all focus for Miami’s 2013 defense, and any player that does well in that area will be rewarded with a multi-year contract in the offseason. Go get ’em, Chris Clemons!