Mike Rios didn’t feel nervous on Wednesday as he stepped on the field in front of Miami Dolphins scouts with three other wide receivers. In the 11 months since he first signed a rookie contract as an undrafted free agent with the Arizona Cardinals, and the eight months since he was waived with a broken left foot, he knew he had done enough to prepare for his second chance in the NFL.
“I know I’ve been training for such a long time,” said Rios, who played for the Marist College football team from 2008-12. “I’ve been investing so much time and energy at trying to perfect my craft.”
He was right. Rios was offered a one-year, non-guaranteed contract after the workout and signed with the Dolphins, his hometown team.
“I am a Dolphins fan turned official Dolphin,” he said. “It just feels right on both sides. It has the potential to work out for everyone.”
After being waived by the Cardinals at the end of July, Rios held out hope to catch on with another team late in the season, as he rehabbed a broken foot that required a pair of surgeries to fix. When the offseason arrived, he “embraced” the opportunity to attend combines and workouts for scouts to regain attention.
“Most guys, after they sustain that injury, would have just said that’s it for them,” Marist coach Jim Parady said. “That’s a credit to Mike. It was a long battle to get back to being healthy again.”
Though he trained outside of the structure of being part of a team, Rios credited his parents for pushing him forward.
“Their support emotionally and their support financially has been a godsend,” said Rios, who owns several Marist records, including touchdown receptions for a career (17) and receiving yards in a season (1,173). “They gave me that sense of structure that’s so crucial when you’re training.”
And Rios found another friend interested in helping his cause. In February, he hired agent Sean Stellato, a 2001 Marist graduate who led the Red Foxes football team in receiving in 2000 and 2001, and played on the men’s basketball team. Stellato set up workouts for Rios and helped draw the attention of several possible suitors, including the New York Jets.