Report: Dolphins expected to finalize bringing back DB Nik Needham

Per Barry Jackson, the Dolphins are interested in bringing back defensive back, Nik Needham. An undrafted free agent in 2019, Needham re-signed with Miami last season, and clearly, the versatile boundary cornerback/turn slot-specialist/safety candidate’s work is not done in South Florida.

The potential deal will help maintain consistency in a secondary that will not have Xavien Howard, the longest-tenured defensive Dolphin from last year’s team. Connecting some dots, as a rookie, Needham subbed in for an injured Howard and performed well on the outside in 2019, playing in 12 games in which he started 11. He registered 11 passes defensed, including two interceptions in relief.

Needham followed his rookie year with two consecutive seasons in which he registered a pair of interceptions, and in 2021, he was considered a top-tier slot corner in the entire NFL. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, his 2021 coverage grade from the slot was the best in the league (90.8), as he didn’t allow a single touchdown from that area of the field that season. 2022 was looking to continue that momentum until an Achilles injury occurred in Week 6 against the Minnesota Vikings, ending his season.

2023 was essentially a wash, as Needham rehabbed his injury and returned to the 53-man roster yet didn’t have ample opportunity to show his skills to then-defensive coordinator Vic Fangio during OTAs and training camp. A new defensive coordinator in Anthony Weaver could create a chance for Needham to return to his 2021 form if utilized in the slot, or should he be a prime candidate to step in for Xavien Howard, as he has proven to handle that task as well.

Intriguing as well is the fact that Needham has safety ability, and Miami does have a few more unrestricted free agents in DeShon Elliott and Brandon Jones to think about. The move to retain Needham creates flexibility, and it’s a bit unknown how this Dolphins’ secondary will look in 2024. All-World defensive back Jalen Ramsey could be used a bit more as a chess piece with this new scheme, and like Needham, fellow defensive backs Cam Smith and Kader Kohou could be moved around to different spots in the defensive backfield.

Whatever happens with the rest of the secondary, the defense, and the Dolphins, as a whole, is still up in the air. However, as this week ends, re-signing Needham was a step in the right direction. His work ethic, overall knowledge of the game, and potential are all reasons he was re-signed yet again by the team that saw his ability as a college student and took a chance on him five years ago.

Over his five-season career with the Dolphins, Needham has recorded 199 total tackles, 25 passes defensed, six interceptions, a forced fumble, and a recovered fumble. He also took an interception to the house against the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football back in 2021, a “Nik-6” as some would call it.

Story originally appeared on Dolphins Wire