In a move that likely ends the Miami Dolphins' flirtation with Kyle Turley, the team has signed unrestricted free agent tight end Keith Heinrich, a four-year veteran who missed all of last season while rehabilitating from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Heinrich, 27, will vie with Jason Rader for the No. 3 spot on the tight end depth chart, behind starter Randy McMichael and Justin Peelle. The former Sam Houston State standout is a better blocker than McMichael and Peelle, and the Dolphins want to add a solid in-line player to the position.
The Dolphins invited Turley, a former standout offensive tackle who is attempting a comeback as a tight end after battling back problems for two years, to their mini-camp last weekend. Coach Nick Saban said he was impressed by Turley, but allowed the veteran tackle still had some work to do in transitioning to a new position at this point in his career.
As a result of his audition with the Dolphins, though, Turley has drawn interest from other clubs.
In landing Heinrich, who garnered only modest interest in the free agent market, the Dolphins are getting a hard-working veteran who understands his place as a role player. Heinrich had knee surgery last June, was placed on the Cleveland Browns' injured reserve list a month later, then spent nine months rehabilitating from the injury.
Heinrich has appeared in 18 games and started three of them. Reflecting his role as a situational blocker, he has just nine receptions for 65 yards, but has scored two touchdowns.
Originally selected by Carolina in the sixth round of the 2002 draft, he played one season with the Panthers, was waived in 2003 and claimed by the Browns. He spent three seasons in Cleveland and became eligible for free agency this spring. Contract details on what is believed to be a modest deal were not yet available.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.