When the Dolphins signed wide receiver Brice Butler during their bye week, they did more than simply add depth for the rest of this season.
They might also have found their replacement for DeVante Parker on next year’s roster.
With the Dolphins likely needing to create cap space to fill needs this offseason, the odds are against Miami retaining Parker at the $9.4 million he’s owed next season, barring an amazing close to the season. That amount is guaranteed only in the event of a serious injury.
And though Butler said he wasn’t given an explanation, it was notable that when the Dolphins signed Butler on Nov. 14, they gave him a two-year deal through 2019. He will earn $810,000 next season.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the Dolphins open next season with Danny Amendola, Kenny Stills, Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant and Butler as their receivers.
The Dolphins coaching staff thinks highly of Butler, and it’s telling that he received 34 offensive snaps last week, compared with none for Leonte Carroo.
Butler has 4 catches for 25 yards in two games for the Dolphins and has averaged 15.6 yards on 77 catches with eight touchdowns in six NFL seasons, including parts of four with Dallas.
“I like his route running, his ability to go up and get balls,” coach Adam Gase said. “We’ve seen more than what you guys have been able to see in practice. He’s done a really good job of learning fast and developing chemistry with Ryan [Tannehill] and be a guy where you throw it up to him and let go get it.”
With the 5-7 Grant and 5-9 Wilson on injured reserve, the Dolphins now have a taller group of receivers, including the 6-3 Butler, the 6-1 Carroo and 6-2 Isaiah Ford.
“Our body types have changed because you had Albert and Jakeem, who we were kind of using in a different way but now we’re taller guys,” Gase said. “Everybody is like a tall, fast guy now. So we’ve kind of lost that element of different body types because everybody is kind of the same right now, but that’s where we’re at. There’s nothing … We can’t go back in time and change that right now. We’ve just got to kind of use those guys and use their strengths to our advantage.”
Asked if he would like to put good work on tape for other teams to see over the final month of the season, Parker said: “I’m not worrying on putting anything on tape for everybody. I’m just focusing on getting better each week, improving each week.”
His first touchdown of the season last Sunday “was a great feeling. Felt great to get back in the end zone again.”
Tannehill said his shoulder continues to feel progressively better since returning from a five-game absence.
“It’s still not 100 percent but trending in the right direction,” he said. “Excited how things are progressing there.”
▪ New Dolphins cornerback Dee Delaney, claimed off waivers from Jacksonville, said his one season at the University of Miami was helpful.
“It gave me more confidence,” he said of his ability to play high-level competition after transferring from The Citadel.
He said UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph last year told him to “trust your speed.”
UM safeties Jaquan Johnson and Sheldrick Redwine were among those who sent him congratulatory texts on Tuesday. Delaney had seven interceptions for The Citadel in 2016 and one for UM in eight games in 2017. He appeared in two games for Jacksonville.
▪ Beyond news about Xavien Howard’s knee injury – Gase said he expects him to play again at some point this season – six Dolphins were limited at practice: Danny Amendola, Cornell Armstrong, Jake Brendel, Kenyan Drake, De Vante Parker and Travis Swanson.
Amendola and Swanson –who missed the Buffalo game – remain in question for Sunday’s home game against New England.
On Wednesday, Amendola “ran some routes and did punt return [work],” Gase said. “We tried to keep him from running around too much.”
▪ Asked what motivated the Dolphins to sign tight end Nick O’Leary for 2019, Gase said he “comes to work every day and grinds. You like guys like that who give everything they have.”