Was 2016 blip on radar or beginning of end for Miami Dolphins LB Koa Misi?

Dolphins outside linebacker Koa Misi (55) chases Buffalo Bills tight end Charles Clay (85) on a touchdown reception in 2015. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

(Note: This continues a series in Daily Dolphin spotlighting members of the team individually. In addition to reliving highlights and lowlights of the past season for each, we’ll provide analysis and criticism, plus take a look at how each player fits — or doesn’t fit — into the team’s plans for 2017.)

LB Koa Misi

Height, weight: 6-3, 256

College: Utah

Age: 30

Experience: Entering eighth season, all with Dolphins

Acquired: Miami’s second-round pick (40th overall) in 2010

Contract: Restructured his contract in March; will count $2.8 million against the cap instead of previous $4.8 million

Pro Football Focus rank: Unranked

In 2016

Stats: Three games played, two starts, 22 tackles (all career lows)

Notable moments: Had nine tackles at New England and 10 at Seattle.

Straight talk: Misi’s career with the Dolphins appears at a crossroads.

On one hand, his numbers had a steady climb the three years prior to 2016.

On the other hand, steady play, rather than eye-opening plays, have been his forte. Problem is, the Dolphins have had too much steady (and, frankly, mediocre) linebacker play in recent years. Admission of that fact came in Round 2, when they drafted Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan.

As for Misi, he took a small pay cut last year in exchange for a guaranteed contract. It didn’t work out the way the Dolphins hoped. Misi played only three games before landing on injured reserve with a neck injury. Moreover, he was examined by Dr. Robert Watkins, a neck specialist who once cut on Peyton Manning, which would indicate it was a cause for long-term concern.

If Misi is healthy once more, at least his salary won’t make him a cap casualty. If Lawrence Timmons and Kiko Alonso can make the type of run-stuffing hits painfully missing from the 2016 Dolphins defense, perhaps the steadiness of Misi would make the right complement. Perhaps he can help mentor McMillan. Plus, Misi did make 78 tackles in 2015.

Prospects for 2017

In a word? Uncertain.

For the second consecutive March, Misi has agreed to another pay cut to stick around, this time counting just $2.8 million against the cap. Still, there is the question of his health. The Dolphins expect him to get the medical OK, but he didn’t participate in offseason activities.

If he gets the OK, it will be time for Misi to show he belongs in a linebacking corps that includes the re-signed Alonso, ex-Steeler Timmons and obviously McMillan. One other factor: The Dolphins hope to continue to develop LBs Neville Hewitt and Mike Hull.

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