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Dolphins free agent profile: No need to bring CB Eli Apple back

The Miami Dolphins have 29 players who are set to hit free agency in March, including a cornerback who was signed during training camp and played a big role in 2023 – Eli Apple.

Apple, 28, was originally selected with the 10th overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft by the New York Giants after a collegiate career at Ohio State that included a national championship and Second-team All-Big Ten appearance in 2015.

He spent 2016-18 with the Giants, 2018-19 with the New Orlseasons Saints, 2020 with the Carolina Panthers and 2021-22 with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Miami signed Apple last July after cornerback Jalen Ramsey suffered a meniscus injury that sidelined him until midway through the regular season. At that point, the Dolphins needed another healthy veteran, and Apple was who they decided to give opportunities to instead of their rookie second-round pick Cam Smith.

Apple ended up playing 49.9% of the team’s defensive snaps, which was a big drop-off from his previous years where he often played 86-88%. In the 10 games that he played for the Dolphins, he recorded 46 tackles, nine passes defensed, an interception and a half-sack while allowing a 65.2% completion percentage and a 91.4 passer rating when targeted.

Pro Football Focus graded him as the 102nd-best cornerback in the NFL.

The Dolphins have three other cornerbacks (Justin Bethel, Elijah Campbell and Nik Needham) also hitting free agency this offseason, and Xavien Howard may be a cap casualty, so they definitely need help at the position.

However, Apple’s performance in 2023 should have shown the coaching staff and front office that they can more from someone else, whether that’s another free agent, a draft pick or someone like Smith or Ethan Bonner, who will be entering their second year and didn’t get many opportunities last year.

Story originally appeared on Dolphins Wire