After ranking 24th in special teams last season under first-year coordinator Danny Crossman, the Miami Dolphins knew some changes had to be made. The addition of defensive back Clayton Fejedelem as a core special teamer is bound to help the Dolphins this Fall.
Fejedelem, who turned 27 in June, signed a three-year, $8.55 million deal with Miami in the offseason, pulling him out of a Cincinnati Bengals franchise where he spent his first four seasons at. He served as Cincinnati’s special teams captain, along with providing needed depth at the secondary position.
Drafted in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the former Illinois walk-on has served a great role in kick and punt returns. At the same time, Fejedelem can do his thing at safety, most notably in 2017, when he recorded an interception along with multiple passes defended.
Known for his tackling, athleticism and fearlessness to get into contact, Fejedelem has continued to improve his game every season he’s been in the NFL.
Fejedelem has played in 694 snaps on defense and 1,441 on special teams, appearing in every game for the Bengals in his four seasons. His 2019 campaign saw Cincinnati prioritize him in special teams, playing in just 112 snaps on defense and 379 return coverages. He’s totaled 177 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble, and two pass breakups in his early career.
The signing of Fejedelem, along with Kamu Grugier-Hill, among others, is with the intention of forming one of the league’s better special team units. The Dolphins ranked fourth in special teams in 2018, under Darren Rizzi, who spent nine years with Miami until taking a job with the New Orleans Saints. Last season, the Saints ranked as the NFL’s No. 2 rated special teams coverage.
And despite a disappointing 2019-20 campaign for the Bengals, special teams remained impressive, collecting a No. 1 ranking by Football Outsiders DVOA. Fejedelem, who played in over 80 percent of the special teams’ snaps in 14 of Cincinnati’s 16 games, has the potential to make the same drastic impact on his new squad.