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Dolphins cornerback Nik Needham signs restricted free agent tender

Miami Dolphins cornerback Nik Needham signed his restricted free agency tender on Monday.

On March 11, the Dolphins placed a second-round tender on Needham, who largely contributes as the nickel cornerback in Miami’s defense but has also played on the boundary and even at safety.

Signing the tender guarantees Needham just under $4 million in 2022, a substantial raise from the $850,000 he made last season as an exclusive-rights free agent. It also finalizes any chance that another team could poach the versatile cornerback from Miami this offseason.

While Needham receives a nice payday this upcoming season, it still, however, isn’t the multi-year deal most players in Needham’s position look for.

The Dolphins could have used the right-of-first-refusal tender, which is worth $2.4 million, to retain Needham, but Miami decided against it because another team could then offer him a multi-year deal that would put the Dolphins at risk of losing Needham without compensation. The second-round tender made it so that any team offering Needham such a deal before he signed would have to give up a second-round pick if Miami didn’t match.

Needham has been with the Dolphins since joining the team as an undrafted free agent out of UTEP in 2019. He has 171 tackles, six interceptions and three sacks in three seasons.

In 2021, Needham had 59 tackles, two interceptions, one sack, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup, while scoring a touchdown on one of his interceptions in the Monday night victory at the New Orleans Saints on Dec. 27.

Needham will likely be the team’s third cornerback with Xavien Howard, who signed a lucrative extension on Friday night, and Byron Jones manning the outside when both are healthy.

Miami also placed a tender on tailback Salvon Ahmed and cornerback Elijah Campbell, committing to pay both third-year players the NFL minimum as exclusive-rights free agents.

Along with Howard, Jones, Needham and Campbell, the Dolphins have 2020 first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene, free-agent signing and special teams ace Keion Crossen, Trill Williams and Javaris Davis as cornerbacks on the roster this offseason.

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