2003 REPORT CARD: JUNIOR SEAU

As the Dolphins start working on the changes in preparation for the 2004 season, we take a look back at their just-completed season and examine every player's performance. Today we look at linebacker Junior Seau.

Coming into the 2003 season:

The San Diego Chargers shocked many around the NFL last offseason when they told Seau's agent he was free to pursue trade opportunities for his client. The Dolphins got involved, and acquired Seau in April for a conditional 2004 draft pick that is believed to now be a fifth-round choice. Seau's arrival meant the end of Derrick Rodgers' days in Miami.

His performance in 2003:

Seau came to Miami having earned 12 consecutive invitations to the Pro Bowl, so expectations obviously were high. And Seau, despite perhaps not making as many highlight-material plays as some would have hoped, delivered. You have to remember that the Dolphins' defensive scheme isn't conducive to outside linebackers making many big plays. So given that variable, Seau performed admirably. He looked early in the season as though he was feeling his way with a new defensive scheme, but by the fourth or fifth game his play really took off. Seau wound up with 133 tackles, second-best on the team, and led the team with 12 tackles for loss. His performance was very good, and a tremendous upgrade over what Rodgers was giving the Dolphins.

His future with the team:

Seau will carry a cap number of $3.8 million next season, but there's no reason to think he won't be back for a second year in Miami. He showed last year he's got plenty of life left and his number isn't that exorbitant. Besides, if the Dolphins decide his salary-cap number is too high, then they'd have to go find somebody to replace him. So count on him being back, at least for next season.

Grade for 2003: B+.


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