The Dolphins set ablaze to their roster heading into the 2019 season with one goal in mind: build a consistently successful and winning team. The team collected a total of 14 draft picks to spend in the 2020 draft. The 2020 offseason will be one of Miami’s most important in recent memory, and if they fumble this one it could be even longer before Dolphins fans can dream of doing what the 49ers or Chiefs are doing right now.
Chris Grier and Brian Flores must make the correct moves.
What, exactly, are the correct moves, though?
There are no simple answers to that question, as this team is currently riddled with holes. However, we can observe where other teams have gone wrong in their respective team construction and learn what sort of moves that the Dolphins should avoid making during such a crucial period of time for the organization.
- Problem: Miami’s Primary Focus Must be on drafting Tua Tagovailoa.
That means that Miami cannot afford to allow another team (possibly the Panthers, Raiders, or Chargers) to leap-frog them and take the left-handed phenom out of Alabama. With their abundance of draft picks, the team has no excuse for allowing someone else to take their guy, if he truly is their guy. If it becomes clear that Miami is not safe in waiting for Tua to be there at 5th overall, then I believe it is paramount for the team to move up, almost regardless of the cost. The early reports on the southpaw’s health, and recovery from his hip injury have been increasingly positive, and it appears that he will be ready to throw by spring. This could only serve to enhance Tua’s draft status, making it more likely that Miami has to move up. I believe that Tua has been the apple of the Dolphins’ eye for some time now, and I don’t see Flores trying to set sail on 2020 without the right captain.
Solution: Do whatever it takes to be in a position to take Tua.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) January 22, 2020
2. The Problem: Miami does not have a serviceable NFL running back.
Mark Walton, to the surprise of very few, couldn’t keep his act together long enough to sustain an NFL career and was dropped by Miami early in the season. Kalen Ballage put together one of the worst seasons ever by a running back in 2019 when he averaged just 1.8 yards per carry, the worst in the Super Bowl era. Myles Gaskin and Patrick Laird never had too high of expectations to live up to, but neither back showed much promise either. The point is the Dolphins desperately need some talent in the running back room. How they acquire that talent, though, is worthy of debate.
Do not sign Derrick Henry or Melvin Gordon to big-money deals.
Derrick Henry ran through some of the best teams in the NFL while the Titans fought their way to the AFC Championship game this year. He seemed to single-handedly be winning games for the Titans at some points. He is an absolute monster, no doubt about it. However, he is not the kind of signing that Miami should be considering. First, the Dolphins are not close to being constructed in a way that would allow Henry to thrive like he has in Tennessee. The second issue in this scenario is that there are many cautionary tales around the league that suggest paying a running back a big-money on his second contract can be risky business.
Do you think the Rams or Cardinals are thrilled about their investments in Todd Gurley and David Johnson, respectively?
Absolutely not. And I’m not saying that Henry or Gordon will turn into lemons once they ink new deals, but there are too many alternatives.
Solution: Sign Kareem Hunt and draft a back in round 3 or later.
Kareem Hunt returned to the playing field in week 10 for the Cleveland Browns after facing serving a suspension related to domestic violence. With that in the past, Hunt put together a promising backend of 2019 paired with Cleveland running back Nick Chubb. Hunt looked to still possess the speed and ability that once made him a top-3 back in the league. I think it would be wise for Miami to take a chance on Hunt, who should not command top-of-the-line money, and could provide a welcome veteran presence to the locker room. Grier and Flores have already shown a willingness to give once-troubled players chances – see Preston Williams and Mark Walton. Even if the Dolphins were to sign Hunt, they would still need to add at least one more RB, likely through the draft. Signing Hunt would be a way to avoid exhausting a first-round pick on a running back, too.
3. The Problem: The wide receiver room is full – don’t invest too heavily in another.
Miami currently has a wide receiver group consisting of DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Allen Hurns, Jakeem Grant, Albert Wilson, and Isaiah Ford. If they decide to enter the 2020 season with that exact group, there would be nothing wrong with that. Miami should not be concerned with spending a first-round pick on a guy like Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb, however talented they may be. There are too many holes on the roster for the Dolphins to spend lavishly on a position they have proven depth at.
Solution: Leave the receiver group as-is. The team, however, could stand to add a tight end who specializes in blocking to pair with the receiving threat that is Mike Gesicki.
4. The Problem: Miami in dire need of help on both sides of the line.
The offensive line, which was tasked with protecting Ryan Fitzpatrick for most of the 2019 season, did the Harvard grad little favors. FitzMagic was sacked 40 times – 9th most in the NFL. If not for his surprising level of mobility, and willingness to take on a linebacker one-on-one, Fitz certainly would’ve been tagged even more than he was. Fitz also led the team in rushing yards with 243. The point is that the offensive line was a depressing unit for Miami in 2019, and one that will require immediate attention before Miami can begin constructing a potent offense.
The defensive line has been a seemingly answer-less part of the Dolphins’ roster for years now. Plenty of draft day mistakes and wasteful free agent signings have come with the intention of developing a productive defensive front.
Miami must focus on adding impact players on the defensive line – an edge rusher would be at the top of the list. The Dolphins have more money to spend in free agency than any other NFL club, and they should indulge themselves a bit here. Yannick Ngakoue will be a free agent, departing from Jacksonville. Miami should have him on the phone as soon as free agency opens. Spending draft capital here is also more than acceptable.
Solution: Invest heavily in both the offensive and defensive line. Miami needs to be capable of protecting Tua, and they need to be able to rush other teams’ QB’s much more effectively.
The Dolphins impressed most of the NFL world by winning 5 games this season, and there is plenty of optimism about the team’s future in South Beach. It cannot be understated how crucial this offseason will be to the near, and far future of the organization. There are many ways to build a successful team, and though I trust Flores’ and Grier’s vision, I believe these are some general guidelines that should be followed throughout this offseason.