With only a short time before the NFL's official tampering period begins, the Miami Dolphins took care of one more piece of unfinished business. They re-signed their restricted free agent defensive tackle A.J. Francis and also announced that they re-signed safety Jordan Kovacs,
The 6-5, 330-pound Francis spent the entire 2014 season with the Dolphins on injured reserve. He originally was signed by Miami on May 3, 2013 as an undrafted college free agent and spent training camp with the Dolphins before being waived on August 31. He then spent time on the New England Patriots practice squad prior to being signed by the Dolphins to the active roster, where he was inactive for the final five games of the season. Francis played collegiately at Maryland where he saw action in 49 games with 35 starts. He recorded 149 tackles, 19.5 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks, one forced fumble, four fumble recoveries, seven passes defensed and three blocked kicks. Born May 7, 1990 in Washington, D.C., Francis attended Gonzaga High School.
The 5-10, 210-pound Kovacs enters his third NFL season in 2015 after spending the previous two seasons with the Dolphins, both on the active roster and practice squad. He also spent time on the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad during 2014. Kovacs originally signed with Miami as an undrafted college free agent on May 3, 2013. In his career, he has appeared in 17 games and made four solo tackles as well as three special teams tackles.
Kovacs played collegiately at Michigan where he saw action in 50 games with 46 starts. He left the school ranked 12th on the team’s all-time tackles list with 331, becoming the 15th player in the school’s history to record 300 career tackles. As a senior, he started all 13 games at safety and won the school’s Bo Schembechler MVP award, while also being named Academic All-Big Ten. Born June 12, 1990 in Toledo, Ohio, Kovacs attended Clay High School.
Francis, who will turn 25 in May, has spent time with both the Dolphins and the Patriots during his career, and he has the talent to possibly be a good NT at 6'5" and 330 pounds. The team has needed a stout lineman to help stop the run ever since Paul Soliai departed for Atlanta, and defensive tackle Earl Mitchell has been limited in his effectiveness.
Should Ndamukong Suh come to Miami, that issue should be well taken care of since he's on a level all his own, but Francis has the potential to be a pretty darn good player himself. If Suh doesn't sign, the Dolphins will likely look elsewhere to bolster the line, starting with re-signing Jared Odrick. But don't dismiss players like Francis.
Francis was having a stellar training camp last season until an unfortunate knee injury against the Atlanta Falcons that forced him to get it scoped put him on injured reserve. Francis had actually been playing on the second-team defense in camp and had actually been able to play with the starters against the Falcons before he got hurt. If Francis can come back to form, expect him to make a real run at a starting spot.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter. @FLSportDebater. Portions of the story can be attributed to a press release by the Miami Dolphins.