Miami Dolphins sign safety T.J. McDonald

Los Angeles Rams safety T.J. McDonald tries to bring down Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi in Los Angeles, California, last season. (Getty Images)

The Miami Dolphins have signed safety T.J. McDonald to a one-year contract.

The signing of McDonald is fascinating because he is going to be suspended by the NFL for eight games following driving under the influence and drug charges last May.

McDonald, 26, has started 53 games in four NFL seasons, including 16 with the Los Angeles Rams last season and 16 with the St. Louis Rams in 2014.

McDonald, whose father is former NFL safety Tim McDonald, was a third-round draft choice in 2013.

Jones pleaded guilty to a reckless driving charge involving drugs in January. He was issued three years probation and court-mandated community service, among other punishments.

According to NFL rules, McDonald can do everything in OTA’s, mini-camp, training camp and preseason. Once the season begins, he can be in meetings but can’t practice, play in games or travel with the team until the suspension is complete.

“I’m definitely paying the price for the mistakes that I’ve made, that I’m definitely going to own up to,” McDonald said Friday. “It was something that I’ve learned from. I’ve been a free agent. This whole entire time I’ve been on the street and just being a free agent, that’s something that’s been tough in my free agent year as far as that to happen.”

McDonald has assured the Dolphins a similar mistake will not occur.

“Words are only so much,” McDonald said. “For me, I definitely … This is something that will never happen again and I’ve learned (from it) and owned up to (it). I definitely want to grow from (it). (My) priorities changed, everything’s changed.”

The Dolphins have signed free-agent safety Nate Allen in the wake of releasing Isa Abdul-Quddus due to a serious neck/shoulder injury. Veteran safety Reshad Jones agreed to a long-term deal this off-season.

But McDonald, who can play free safety and strong safety, could give Miami depth and options in the secondary. This could also ease pressure on Miami to draft a safety in April.

“I just got to be hungry, stay clean and be open and honest about everything and make sure that this doesn’t happen in the future,” McDonald said. “I think that goes without being said, I don’t have … My back is up against the wall. I’m just happy to be able to move forward with this and be able to just get back to playing ball. It’s all about ball for me right now.”

According to Pro Football Focus, McDonald was the 58th-ranked safety in the NFL last season.

“The one thing I can do is earn the respect for my work – through camp and OTAs – of my teammates and the coaches and provide a spark when I can. Week 9, I’ll be chomping at the bit,” he said.

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