In a continued effort to improve the wide receiver corps, the Miami Dolphins signed veteran receiver Damian Williams to a one-year, $800,000 deal on Thursday evening.
Williams, who has played four seasons and is only 25, accumulated 106 catches, 1,313 yards and five touchdowns during his time with the Tennessee Titans, who made him the No. 77 overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft.
As a relative disappointment through four years in the league, Williams gives the Dolphins depth at receiver if nothing else. He also potentially provides them with insurance for the injuries of Brian Hartline, who tore his PCL in December, Brandon Gibson, who tore his patella tendon last October, and Armon Binns, who tore his ACL last July.
All three players are said to be on track for training camp, but signing Williams equips the Dolphins with a capable set of hands in case one or two of them isn’t.
Is that all there is to see here, though? Potentially, no.
May’s draft is said to be the deepest class at receiver in recent memory. The Dolphins might look to take advantage of that by selecting a receiver at some point, most likely in the middle rounds. If they do, an already crowded group will get even more uncomfortable.
Mike Wallace, thanks to egregious cap number, Brian Hartline, thanks to his salary and chemistry with quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and Rishard Matthews, thanks to his low cap number and continued development, are all likely safe. After that it gets a bit murky.
Gibson is coming off a serious knee injury — much more serious than what Hartline suffered — and would save the Dolphins $1.735 million in 2014 if cut. Although Gibson had a solid start to his tenure in Miami, catching 30 passes for 326 yards and three scores in his first seven games with the club while exemplifying a strong rapport with Tannehill, he’s still perceived to be a relatively average receiver who is certainly replaceable.
Matthews’ emergence after Gibson went down complicates the matter as well. With an increased workload, the second-year receiver appeared just as capable as Gibson in the slot and arguably has a higher ceiling with continued improvement. A $570,000 salary in 2014 — $2.13 million less than Gibson’s — makes Matthews the far superior value.
Gibson, in reality, is no safe bet to don aqua and orange in 2014. He’ll have to earn his spot on the 53-man roster this summer.
The same can be said for Armon Binns. That was likely the case long before the Dolphins inked Williams, but another veteran in the mix makes for a more challenging camp for Binns.
Binns is only 24 years old and will cost the Dolphins a mere $495,000 in 2014. He also brings some much needed size to the table (6-foot-3, 215-pounds) on a corps that is void of a true red zone threat. But with just 277 receiving yards to his name since 2011, Binns is far from a proven commodity and could be the odd man out come August.
Of course, Williams must earn his keep as well. Two factors are playing in his favor, though: a) He’s a more proven target than Binns, and b) he’s a much cheaper option than Gibson.
Gibson nor Binns nor Williams should feel safe entering the Dolphins’ offseason training regimen. And if a rookie is added in May, each player’s job security will dwindle even further.
For all the uncertainty in Miami’s receiver corps, one thing is imminent: there will be competition.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.