The Miami Dolphins have re-signed linebacker Kelvin Sheppard to a one-year contract, signed safety Michael Thomas and placed a second-round tender on defensive end Derrick Shelby, the team announced today.
"I am pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement to keep Kelvin and Michael with the Miami Dolphins," general manager Dennis Hickey said in a release. "Kelvin and Michael both played important roles for the team last season, filling in on defense as well as being key contributors on special teams. Additionally, we placed a restricted free agent tender on Derrick with the hope to retain him as a member of the Dolphins."
Shelby will either return to Miami with a $2.35 million salary next season or the Dolphins will have a chance to match any other contract offer he receives. If another team poaches him, however, Miami will receive a second-round pick.
Shelby, 26, has played in 47 games for the Dolphins over the last three seasons, recording 68 tackles, 5.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception in that span.
An undrafted free agent out of Utah in 2012, Shelby serves as the third defensive end in Miami’s rotation, behind starters Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon.
If the Dolphins had failed to tender Shelby before free agency opened on Tuesday, he would have become an unrestricted free agent with the ability to sign with any team with no compensation for Miami.
Sheppard, 27, recorded 24 tackles and one forced fumble in 14 games with the Dolphins last season while seeing most of his playing time come on special teams.
"As soon as last season was over, I expressed my desire to come back to the Dolphins," Sheppard said via conference call. "I feel like it was a place that I could continue to grow and mature myself on the field.
"I love the culture that Mr. Hickey is putting into place in South Florida and I just really wanted to be a part of it."
In his only start of the season, Sheppard registered 10 tackles and a forced fumble in Miami’s Week 15 loss to the New England Patriots.
An a third-round pick, 68th overall, of the Bills in the 2011 draft, Sheppard has recorded 139 tackles, three sacks, one safety and one forced fumble in 61 games split between Buffalo, Indianapolis and Miami.
Thomas, 25, played in played in eight games with two starts for the Dolphins in 2014 prior to being placed on injured reserve on Nov. 3.
An undrafted free agent out of Stanford in 2012, Thomas has recorded 10 tackles and one interception in 11 games split between San Francisco and Miami.
The team also announced it had released guard Shelley Smith.
Smith, who started three of the 11 games he played for the Dolphins last season, was unable to earn a full-time spot on Miami’s ailing offensive line in 2014, despite the team’s glaring need at guard.
In cutting Smith, who signed a two-year, $5.5 million deal with the Dolphins last offseason, Miami clears $2.75 million in cap space.