Every Curtis Weaver transaction, from his arrival to his departure, captured the attention of Miami Dolphins fans despite the fact each looked like a small blip on the radar screen of the 2020 season.
And this is the reason Coach Brian Flores was asked multiple questions about the Dolphins former fifth-round pick on Wednesday and it’s a thing: Because the Miami Dolphins got it wrong.
They swung and missed.
The Dolphins last April invested one of their fifth-round draft picks on the 6-foot-2, 265-pound Boise State pass rusher. Fans were fired up about the pick because Weaver left the Mountain West Conference with a record 34 sacks, led the league in sacks in 2017 and ‘19, and was the conference defensive player of the year in ‘19.
One Dolphins fan website called the Weaver selection back in April a “phenomenal value pick.”
Except Weaver got through only four padded practices with the Dolphins before injurying his foot and leaving the fifth and last padded practice of his Dolphins career on Saturday.
The Dolphins then faced a decision:
▪ The Dolphins could put Weaver on injured reserve outright, saving themselves a roster spot, but keeping his contract on the salary cap books and having him for next year.
▪ They could have kept Weaver on the active roster until he was healthy with him counting against the 53-man roster.
▪ They could have waited until the league roster cuts to 53, then placed Weaver on injured reserve for the season, where he’d count against the cap but not against the roster limit.
▪ Or the Dolphins could cut Weaver with a waived/injured designation. That option, which the Dolphins ultimately picked, would expose Weaver to all other teams through the waiver wire. If Weaver was claimed by someone, the Dolphins would lose him. If he had gone unclaimed, he would have reverted back to the Dolphins and been placed on IR.
Weaver was claimed by the Cleveland Browns Tuesday afternoon.
Interestingly, the Weaver injury is significant enough that he is scheduled to have surgery on Thursday and will not be available to play in 2020.
Like all rookies, Weaver didn’t get a spring to hone his conditioning or build his body. No matter. The Dolphins had only seen him in those four complete practices but they’d apparently seen enough.
(Fake GM Mando also wasn’t too impressed with Weaver, which is the reason he was rated tied for last among the draft picks after the first week of practice.)
So here’s where the Dolphins run into a problem ...
Curtis Weaver, kind of pudgy and a tweener at 6-2 and 265 pounds, was either a wasted pick and a bust after only four full practices ...
...Or the Dolphins made a premature decision on casting off a rookie without giving him even one year to reshape his body, get used to the speed of the NFL game, and perhaps live up to the hopes of the team’s own draft evaluation.
One way or another the Dolphins kind of messed up.
We’ll know the mistake came in parting ways prematurely if the outside linebacker ultimately develops into a productive NFL player.
We’ll know the mistake came in the draft process if Weaver is as unimpressive in Cleveland and beyond as he apparently was with the Dolphins.
“I understand the question,” Flores told reporters Wednesday when pressed about the decision to expose Weaver to a waiver wire claim, “but look, we waived/injured Curtis Weaver. He was claimed. I wish him all the best. He’s a good kid. He had a great time here, but I’m more focused on the team today and trying to improve and trying to get better. We’ll basically leave it at that.”
Multiple times Flores said he, general manager Chris Grier, vice president of football administration Brandon Shore, and the coaching staff discussed the decision to expose Weaver on waivers.
Good to know the Dolphins talk before they make a decision. But I’m guessing they talked before making the decision to draft Weaver, too.
So one of those conversations led to a bad conclusion.
Something to consider: I’m told 18 teams did homework on Weaver after they Dolphins cut him, so obviously they talked, too, and thought Weaver was worthy of attention.
And here’s a guess: I think we’ll see the Dolphins’ mistake happened in the draft process.
Because Weaver had a ton of sacks at Boise. But he got most of those against guys who’ll never play beyond the Mountain West Conference.
Because Weaver had a jovial demeanor and was considered something of a team clown in college. But the NFL is a job and it’s time to be about business first -- especially for someone who hasn’t proven anything in the league.
Finally, I know some of the same folks who thought Weaver was a “phenomenal value pick” will now say it’s no big deal to waste a fifth-round pick. Because, they’ll argue, it was only a fifth-round pick. And fifth-round picks don’t matter.
Zach Thomas, Bryan Cox, Reshad Jones, Davon Godchaux, Nolan Carroll, Chris Clemons, Norman Hand, Chris Gray, Jeff Uhlenhake, Don Strock, Jim Kiick, and others were fifth-round picks.
Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill, San Francisco’s George Kittle, Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs, Indy’s Robert Mathis, Philly’s Trent Cole, San Francisco’s Richard Sherman, and others were fifth-round picks.
Fifth-round picks matter.