Insiders: Miami Closing In On Traylor

Patriots Insiders have learned that the Miami Dolphins are speaking with the agent for Keith Traylor about having the veteran nose tackle join the Patriots' division rival for the 2005 season. Talks heated up when it became apparent that Miami's current interior linemen may not be ready in time for the season. More on the former New England nose tackle Traylor inside.

PHOTO: Defensive tackle Keith Traylor #98 of the New England Patriots talks to linebacker Ted Johnson #52 during the game against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 5, 2004 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Patriots defeated the Browns 42-15. (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)

Miami in Pursuit of Traylor
By NFL Scout & Patriots Insider Staff

The Dolphins may not be done with their offseason bolstering of their defensive line, as the team has expressed interest in signing free agent Keith Traylor.

"We have had talks," Dallas-based agent Jordan Woy said. "We are talking with a few teams."

The Dolphins have signed free agents Kevin Carter and Vonnie Holliday this offseason, both of whom could play at either end or defensive tackle. Miami also spent a second-round draft choice on defensive end Matt Roth.

But none of those players has the bulk to effectively man the nose tackle position in the 3-4 looks first-year coach Nick Saban wants to install as part of the team's overall defensive package.

The 6-2, 340-pound Traylor filled that role well in New England last season. The Patriots released Traylor earlier this month because of plans to make 2004 first-round draft choice Vince Wilfork a full-time starter.

The pursuit of the 35-year-old Traylor also seems to indicate that Miami may be seeking insurance in case defensive tackles Larry Chester and Tim Bowens are unable to rebound from the serious injuries that sidelined both players for almost all of 2004. Chester tore two knee ligaments, while Bowens spent most of the season on injured reserve because of herniated discs.

Chester and Bowens also may be struggling to get back into football shape, as evidenced by Saban's recent comments when asked if any Dolphins players were not at their ideal weight.

"We have a couple of guys that have been injured and guys that are injured and inactive," Saban said. "Especially if they are big guys, it's more difficult for them to come back. We're not disappointed in where they are. We just know we have a plan that we have to implement to try to get them to where they need to be by when we get started.

"In some of those cases, that may be difficult to do, too, relative to their injuries. We just do the best we can to get them as ready as we can and go from there. Other than that, I have been pleased with the attendance we have had in the offseason program, the conditioning level of our team and the way they worked here in the offseason program. I think it's been very, very good."

Chester, who for his part has been working hard to return from a recent knee operation, plans on returning to the team. There were rumors that he might retire this season after battling weight and injury problems, but Chester's agent David Levine is denying those rumors. "These rumors of retirement are not true," Levine told the Florida media.

The Palm Beach Post is reporting that Chester made his target weight at his physical on Monday. He also plans to return to the team in August.

If Chester and Bowens cannot go, then signing Traylor to a one-year deal may be the Dolphins best option. Traylor started ahead of Wilfork for the Patriots most of the season. After Wilfork became more familiar with the game, he managed to edge Traylor out for the second half of the season. Traylor could fill the middle for the Dolphins either as a starter or part of a rotation, the same as he did for the Patriots.

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