The Dolphins decided replacing center Mike Pouncey with Daniel Kilgore last year would be a virtual wash, that they would be getting a similar player who would be cheaper and less injury-prone.
It didn’t work out that way. While Pouncey played generally effectively in all 16 games for the Chargers, Kilgore tore his triceps in the fourth game, missing the rest of the season.
Kilgore was made available to reporters on Tuesday for the first time since last September and said he’s fully healthy but that the Dolphins have not conveyed to him whether he will be on the team (it appears very likely he will be) or if he’s part of the plan moving forward.
At 31, Kilgore is actually two years older than Pouncey. In terms of sticking on the roster, it helps that he’s a cheap, serviceable starter.
Kilgore has two years left on his contract, with a $2.2 million base salary in 2019 and a $3.0 million salary in 2020.
Pro Football Focus gave Kilgore a 52.9 grade for his four games last season, which would have ranked 31st of 38 centers if Kilgore had enough snaps to qualify. PFF gave Pouncey a 56.9 grade, which was 25th.
For all the concerns about Pouncey’s health, he has now played in all 16 games two consecutive seasons. And the Dolphins didn’t urgently need the cap room when they released him.
Kilgore said his injury was healed enough for him to have played in December if needed. But he couldn’t, because the Dolphins had placed him on injured reserve.
“I would say if I was needed at the end of last season, I probably could’ve fought through it, but no reason to risk it,” he said. “I feel good. No limitations now. Everything is full-go.”
Every AFC East team has been allocated one player as part of the expansion of the International Player Pathway program. They are ineligible to play in 2019.
Coach Brian Flores said of Neto: “ I talked to him yesterday and I said ‘This is a great time for you to be here.’ He’ll be working hand placement and footwork. I’m excited to have him. He’s a good-looking young kid. He seems like he’s eager to learn, he’s eager to put in a lot of effort and we’ll try to maximize his potential, which I think there is something there.”