Re-Sign or Release: FB Darian Barnes

With the start of free agency not too far ahead, we take a look at the Dolphins' free agents and weigh in on which players the Dolphins should bring back and which players they can afford to let go. Today we examine the case of fullback Darian Barnes.

When he joined the Dolphins: Barnes signed with the Dolphins as a free agent on Oct. 24, 2005.

His 2006 season: Barnes played all 16 games as the starting fullback, although he was limited to six starts because the Dolphins often opened with two tight ends. Barnes never carried the ball in 2006, but did catch three passes. He also saw action on special teams, although he was not credited with a tackle.

2006 base salary: $585,000

Forecast: Barnes surprised many observers by beating out Fred Beasley for the starting fullback job, but his role was very limited because Mike Mularkey preferred using two-tight-end formations. Cam Cameron made good use of the fullback in San Diego, where Lorenzo Neal blocked well enough to earn an invitation to the Pro Bowl. That means the fullback likely will become a more important part of the offense next season since Cameron will be the one calling the plays. That means the Dolphins needs a fullback, and there's nobody on the roster besides Barnes, who thus becomes a re-signing priority.

Projection: Barnes is a good blocker, a good special teams player and a good locker room. Nick Saban loved the guy, but we won't hold that against him. Barring unexpected developments, the Dolphins will re-sign him.

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