By Omar Kelly
5:25 PM EDT, March 10, 2014
With the start of free agency only hours away the Miami Dolphins released cornerback Dimitri Patterson in a move that creates an additional $5.5 million in cap space.
Patterson, who earned a starting spot last training camp, contributed 19 tackles, four interceptions and one sack in the six games he played last season. But his time on the field - practice and games - was drastically limited by a troublesome groin injury that lingered all season.
The Dolphins eventually placed the seven-year veteran on injured reserve in the final month of the season.
By cutting Patterson the Dolphins now have $40.6 million in cap space to spend on free agents, re-sign their own players, and pay for the 2014 draft class.
Only the Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns presently have more cap space to spend when free agency opens at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
The Dolphins re-signed Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes to four-year, $32 million deal last week, but now they'll be searching for a new starting cornerback to pair him with.
Nolan Carroll, who started 12 games for the Dolphins last season, contributing 47 tackles, three interceptions and 11 pass deflections, is also a free agent.
The Dolphins drafted two cornerbacks - Jamar Taylor and Will Davis - early in the 2013 draft. But neither player contributed much as a rookie. With Patterson gone they will each be expected to step up and contribute as Miami's boundary cornerback, and possibly the nickel cornerback.
The cornerback market has been flooded by an influx of recently released players like Antonio Cromartie, Cortland Finnegan, and Asante Samuels. These established veterans could drive down price of available free agent cornerbacks.
The Dolphins typically carry five or six cornerback on the 53 man roster, and at least one on the practice squad. The Dolphins presently have five - Grimes, Taylor, Davis, Don Jones and Jalil Brown - under contract. But safety Jimmy Wilson has been used as a nickel cornerback for the past two seasons.
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