The Most Important Offseason of Miami Dolphins DB Nik Needham’s Career: Inside His Position Change

After five seasons almost exclusively at cornerback, Miami Dolphins DB Nik Needham has a new contract and a new position in 2024.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Nik Needham probably has one path to not just making the Miami Dolphins‘ opening day roster but extending his career past his late 20s:

Become the latest career cornerback to successfully transition to safety when his body says it’s time.

Miami Dolphins DB Nik Needham’s Second Act

Needham, who is still just 27 years old but also has a scar on his heel from a 2022 Achilles tendon repair surgery, barely has played on defense the last two seasons.

Given that the Dolphins barely used him at cornerback last year when there were a bunch of injuries, it’s hard to envision him seeing the field there now that they have improved depth at that position.

And yet, they re-signed the unrestricted free agent this spring to a one-year, $1.8 million contract this spring that included $750,000 in guaranteed money.

Why? They knew they had a big-time question mark at safety beyond starters Jordan Poyer and Jevon Holland. If Needham proves he can handle the change in assignment, there’s strong reason to believe he not only makes the team but is also their primary backup at safety in 2024.

Needham, who has worked at safety in years past but only in emergencies, is getting an extended tryout during this spring’s offseason program and presumably this summer’s training camp and preseason.

“It’s just kind of breaking it back in, hitting up some old notes that I had on safety, and talking to Jevon and having Jordan, too, helps as well — two of the best safeties,” Needham said this week.

Asked about the biggest challenge of making the move from cornerback, Needham — one of the team’s sharpest and most engaging players — replied:

“Just the mental aspect of it. At corner, it’s really your physical abilities. It’s 1-on-1, you versus the guy right in front of you. When you move to safety, you kind of control the whole defense.

“You have to understand how to put guys in certain positions and in certain situations what to do. I think that’s probably the hardest part, but I feel like I’m a capable guy and versatile enough that I can handle the workload and play corner, safety, nickel, linebacker. Like I said, whatever they need me to play, I’m going to play.”

The good news for Needham? He’s far from the first cornerback to transition to safety to prolong his career. Some of the best defensive backs in league history have done it, including Aeneas Williams, Rod Woodson, and Charles Woodson.

The Dolphins don’t need Needham to be a Hall of Famer. They just need him to be better than Elijah Campbell and rookie Patrick McMorris, who are his primary competition for the Safety-3 job.

“You’re trying to introduce and apply consistent techniques so that players can know where their help is, know what to depend on, know how they communicate, and so everyone is on the same page,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said.

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