GM Chris Grier has busy day as Miami signs three players, including TE Jonnu Smith

Smith highlights pre-free agency signing period where Miami picks up a tremendous asset without having to use a draft choice.

Jonnu Smith shown here running with the ball in a 2023 game against the Carolina Panthers has signed a two-year deal with the Miami Dolphins that could be worth as much as $10 million.
Jonnu Smith shown here running with the ball in a 2023 game against the Carolina Panthers has signed a two-year deal with the Miami Dolphins that could be worth as much as $10 million. / Grant Halverson/GettyImages

For a team that started Thursday $18 million over the cap, the Miami Dolphins added to that red number and added perhaps the best tight end on the market as they inked former Atlanta Falcons tight end Jonnu Smith to a two-year contract that could reach as high as $10 million. Smith will earn $4.075 million per season plus incentives.

Smith and the Dolphins had a meet and greet and preliminary discussions on Wednesday and agent Drew Rosenhaus said that a signing was not imminent. However, matters turned more serious Thursday morning and an accord was struck.

This adds a weapon that Tua Tagovailoa can put in his already deep arsenal. Equipped with two of the most explosive wide receivers in the game, in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, the Dolphins have added a tight end that can line up on the line, out of the backfield or in the slot and score from any place on the field. Smith has the speed to turn a checkdown route into a 60-yard catch and run.

With defenses doubling Hill and Waddle or playing with two high safeties, Smith can find a soft spot in the zone or take a linebacker on one on one and get a big gain. This gives Miami another big threat the defenses have to account for.

Smith was originally a third-round pick by Tennessee out of Florida International University and played for the Titans for four seasons before going to New England where he was released after two seasons. The big target caught 50 passes and three touchdowns for the Falcons last season who were really dismal on offense. This will be the most explosive and dynamic offense that Smith has enjoyed in his eight prior seasons in the league.

The Falcons were so dismal at the quarterback position that new coach Raheem Morris joked at the Combine last week that if the quarterback play was any better, he might not have the job in Atlanta.

How good can Smith be with an accurate lefty like Tagovailoa? That remains to be seen, but if he performs like he did last season, Miami has a new weapon that can light up opponents and the scoreboard. This also gives the Mad Scientist, head coach and offensive guru Mike McDonald, a tight end that he has not had the likes of since he had George Kittle in San Francisco.

Tagovailoa did not have much of a weapon at tight end last season and relied on Durham Smythe and Julian Hill who was in his first season in the league. Miami was looking to add a big-bodied tight end that can split the seams, either in draft or free agency. Smith checks all the boxes as he can block off the edge and can also run any route in the passing tree.

Miami only has six draft choices this year, barring any unforeseen trades, so signing Smith takes the need to draft a tight end off the table.

Dolphins also add defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon and re-sign defensive back Elijah Campbell

Nixon, a fifth-round selection by the Carolina Panthers in the 2021 NFL Draft appeared in a total of 14 games and I do not project him to play in any for the Miami Dolphins. Nixon was signed for camp depth, in my opinion and if he cannot pierce the lineup in Carolina, how is he going to be anything more than camp fodder for Miami, who has Super Bowl aspirations.

The Panthers waived Nixon in December, who was on the practice squad at the time. He was picked up by Seattle, had a cup of coffee with them for one week and was promptly released. Nixon is the second such player signed by the Dolphins this week as they also added fellow DT Isaiah Mack. I do not project either player to make the final active roster.

Miami also resigned defensive back Elijah Campbell, who was set to be an unrestricted free agent, to a one-year deal. Campbell entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Cleveland Browns. He was cut in camp and took the long route to the league. He played minor league football in Birmingham before joining the XFL's DC Defenders in 2020.

He was claimed off of waivers from the New York Jets, by the Dolphins in September 2021. Over the past three seasons, Campbell recorded 29 tackles and two PBU, but excelled on special teams.

Miami has to trim and renegotiate contracts by 4:00 pm Eastern time on Tuesday. Miami is expected to restructure several contracts and also cut some additional players. Jerome Baker, Keion Crossen and Xavien Howard were already released as cap casualties.