As we inch closer and closer to free agency and now with the combine officially wrapped up, the Dolphins are still left to play catch up with the rest of the league. There has been rumors and a lot of discussion about the Dolphins future in general. Despite these so-called rumors of “tanking” or “youth movement” to describe a franchise “rebuilding the right way, you’d be surprised how many fans I’ve talked to are in the “win-now mentality” on social media. It’s understandable. For fans, we’ve been going on this rebuilding roller-coaster for the better part of the last decade and a half. Here is what I’ve got to say to all of that: Upgrade the positions you can and get rid of what isn’t working for you.
When I do my week-to-week analysis, I break up the Dolphins roster and the team they are facing that week into nine units: Quarterbacks, Running Backs (including fullbacks, if a team uses them), Receivers, Tight Ends, Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Linebackers, Defensive Backs, Special Teams. Then, I take all that data and use it to determine a variety of other things at the end of the year. Because, I think I speak for all Dolphin fans when I say, whatever game we are watching our favorite team play against, we do in fact, have certain expectations. So, let’s play an “if” game. If I was Chris Grier, how would I handle this roster?
Well, starting with the quarterbacks and looking over the data I compiled over that unit this past season, I was not impressed with the position in 2018. So, I would not feel inclined to bring back any of those quarterbacks this season. Obviously, the big name is Ryan Tannehill. Dolphins were trying to shop him at the Combine but as expected, there were no takers. I would just give him his outright release and move on.
I like the talent we have at running back but this was another unit that was below average in 2018. There are a couple players to discuss at this position. I like Frank Gore but I don’t think it’s necessary for him to return in 2019. I also like Drake and Ballage. But if the right team calls and offers a mid-round draft pick for either of these guys, I’m making that deal, no questions asked.
The receivers and I have mentioned this many time, but they were in fact, the best part of our offense in 2018. They weren’t great or even good I would say but they were average and the two best of the bunch were Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola both who come with interesting story-lines.
Amendola was let go earlier this week so that takes care of that.
Now, Albert Wilson did end up on injured reserve his first season in Miami, but he was by far our best playmaker in that offense up to that point. He is scheduled to make around $7 million this year but in 2020 the price skyrockets to $9.5 million. For what he did for us last year, he deserves to come back.
As for Grant, Stills and Carroo, I would try to shop around and see what you can get for them. Carroo, I can see as being tough because the Dolphins spent a second-round pick for him in 2016 and he just hasn’t been able to live up to his billing. In the grand scheme of things, he isn’t costing the team that much so maybe you bring him back one more year. And as for Parker, I’m pretty sure this is already in the works, but rescind his tag. Get the $9,337,000 back. The Dolphins could use a big-body receiver, but Parker just hasn’t lived up to his first-round hype in 2015 and it’s just best to mutually part ways at this point. For my idea for a possible solution, see my Karl Dorrell is back article. And if you have read any of my other articles you know, I don’t put much stock in receivers early on in the rebuilding phase.
No position was probably more disappointing than the tight end position last year. To add insult to injury, the Dolphins spent not one but TWO quality draft picks on the position in the 2018 draft. These were not late round picks. The Dolphins spent their second-round pick on Mike Gesicki and their first of two fourth-round picks on Durham Smythe. They couldn’t even cut it as receivers on my impact analysis and their blocking left a lot to be desired.
Dolphins currently have four tight ends on their roster after the signing of Dwayne Allen on Saturday. The two sophomore’s and Nick O’Leary. MarQuies Gray, who is coming off injured reserve and A.J. Derby are free agents who I don’t expect to be back. As for O’Leary and Gesicki, honestly, the thought of shopping them is not above me. Put feelers out there and see what teams can offer you. You can always say no. I would go ahead and keep Smythe just because of the ensuing void on the offensive line.
Next up is the offensive line. Outside of Laremy Tunsil, there really isn’t anybody else. I want to talk about Tunsil before I move on. Fans are upset he didn’t get a pro-bowl bid and it’s understandable. Fact is this is yet another unit that severely under-performed last year, so it didn’t surprise me that he was not going to be joining his teammate Xavien Howard in the pro bowl.
Sitton and Kilgore are also on the books for 2019. I would keep Sitton for now just to see if he can rebound this year. That way we at least have the left side protected. Kilgore also ended up on injured reserve, but I would try to move him and rebuild the line from there. He didn’t do as good as a job as we thought and with such an important position to manage, you really can’t afford to try the “wait and see” approach.
Jesse Davis and JaWuan James are free agents. We need an upgrade over both those guys. James is good but never great. He gets manhandled way too much in the trenches and tries to overcompensate and ends up costing the team a penalty which in a bad offense that just makes it worse. Let someone else pay him the big bucks and let’s use the draft to fill that spot. As for Davis, he really struggled in his first season, as a full-time starter for this team. I would just move on and again look to the draft.
The defensive ends I’ve already touched on previously so I’m just going to summarize some of the high points. I’m okay with the Dolphins making a big splash at defensive end in free agency. But, I’m not happy about the potential of getting Trey Flowers. We already have two guys on the roster who can do what he can do.
Robert Quinn is entering a contract year. Not only that, he was the best DE we had last year. So, I don’t get why everyone is in on the Flowers rumor, who by the way will cost way more money than Quinn is costing us now.
Wake and Hayes were solid but are set to be free agents. I’m not opposed to either coming back. Hayes will probably be cheap because he’s coming off injured reserve again. Wake, I would like to see retire a Dolphin but curious as to what his asking price is.
Hopefully, we can nail us a good DE in the upcoming draft because Charles Harris has been a bust. At least, the Dolphins are doing right and releasing Andre Branch.
At defensive tackle, I am fine with Vincent Taylor and Davon Godchaux starting. But Miami needs more depth and more bodies at this position for sure.
At linebacker, there are some building blocks but in this supposedly new defense the Dolphins are going to be running, I just don’t know how Jerome Baker and Raekwon McMillian fit. Maybe you keep them for now and see. But all it takes is the right team to call and the Dolphins get a high-round pick because this unit last year, I was expecting more, and I just didn’t get it. I would make this position a high-priority in the draft because I like the linebackers in this draft class, and I think they are being overshadowed by the defensive ends. Heck, I would even consider doubling down in the draft.
Kiko Alonso, I think in the right scenario is tradeable. In my first mock, I have the Dolphins trading up with the Lions and using him to do so. It would help clear a lot of cap space as well.
I can’t say enough good things about the secondary, even though they were weak at the position at times, those that did play were constantly showing they were up to the task. Xavien Howard, Bobby McCain, Walt Aikens. Even mid-season pickup Jalen Davis had an impact. If there was one area the Dolphins could shore up, it would probably be boundary cornerback. I’m willing to give Cordrea Tankersley another chance though. Let’s see if he can bounce back from his injury and definitely get an extension done with Xavien Howard.
As for safeties, I would put feelers out there for Reshad Jones. He is making $47,335,000 over the next three years. That is almost just as bad as Tannehill’s contract. I’m not opposed to trading T.J. McDonald either/
Nothing needs to be with the specialists. Dolphins have their guys in Matt Haack and Jason Sanders. They re-signed John Denney which after looking over the options at long snapper in the draft, it’s understandable. He doesn’t cost that much.
So, that’s how I would handle the roster. In other news, the Dolphins are set to release Ted Larsen and there are rumblings that Robert Quinn will be traded. I’m not opposed to the idea of Quinn being traded but it’s got to be the right price. Dolphins gave up a fourth for him a year ago. So far, I can’t complain about the moves the Dolphins have made.