This off-season has been like no other, with no NFL Scouting combine and a reduction in individual workouts due to the covid pandemic. There was a Senior Bowl, but with limited access to players unless you were coaching one of the teams. There was limited access for the media at these events, if at all, and typically you would hear rumors of what was going to happen. It’s something the Miami Dolphins like because coach Brian Flores doesn’t like divulge too much information. With the salary cap shrinking due to the pandemic, teams are trying to get under the cap or create more cap space. The Dolphins had more than 20 million under the cap at the beginning of the week, and no one knew what they were doing until one domino fell Tuesday.

The Dolphins released linebacker Kyle Van Noy. It was a surprising move considering a year ago; the Dolphins gave him a 4 year 51-million-dollar deal with a lot of guaranteed money. Also, coach Flores had a history with Van Noy from his days in New England, making it a little more interesting with their history. However, Van Noy wasn’t a difference-maker last year, and with the Dolphins paying most of his guaranteed money last year, the team decided to move on. It was surprising, but at the same time, Van Noy was the 3rd best linebacker on the team at best, and Flores probably saw it was time to on now. The Dolphins saw growth in Jerome Baker and Andrew Van Ginkel, making Van Noy’s release easier to make, knowing those guys are getting better. Van Noy wasn’t bad last year, but when you give a free agent a $51 million-dollar contract, you expect more than 69 tackles and 6 sacks. 3 of those sacks came in one game against the woeful Cincinnati Bengals. Van Noy wasn’t making the impact expected, so it was time to move on.

The next question is, what are the Dolphins going to do next? The NFL is approaching the franchise tag deadline, so that some players won’t be available in free agency. The Dolphins have more than $30 million in cap space and don’t have any pressing free agents, so they could take their time if they wanted to unless they wanted to create more money under the cap to make a run at a free agent. The two biggest names you hear are safeties Bobby McCain and Eric Rowe because the Dolphins benefit more from a salary cap standpoint releasing them, and they might look to upgrade the position. The Dolphins should be careful with that decision. McCain and Rowe are both valuable in the secondary. McCain might not be the biggest safety, but he is a good communicator in the secondary, as evidenced by the Dolphins not giving up many big plays, and he’s a smart player that can make plays. The Dolphins can also move him around at the nickel position, where he excelled before the move to safety. Rowe has found his spot at strong safety and is very good at covering the tight end. Think about it before Rowe coming to the Dolphins; the team had issues covering tight ends, and teams would always exploit that. Sure, he had bad games against Travis Kelce and Darren Waller, but those guys are the top tight ends in the league. Other than that, Rowe holds his own. I hope the Dolphins think hard about those two and not just get rid of them to save some money because the Dolphins don’t have depth behind them at safety, unlike the linebacker position.

The Dolphins could shake up the wide receiver position, which is a big priority this off-season. Jakeem Grant is a dynamic kick returner, but he is unavailable or disappointed when asked to help at receiver. It might be time to move on, but then who would replace him as the kick returner? That’s a tough call. Albert Wilson, who opted out last year, is another receiver that could get released, but he is dynamic when healthy. He started to come back from a serious hip injury towards the end of 2019. With the pandemic, he decided to opt-out last year, which is understandable, but if the Dolphins decide to move on, I hope they have a good plan to replace him or Grant.

There also could be something brewing that we don’t see coming like a trade when free agency starts; we don’t know. As fans, all we can do is speculate what our teams are going to do. The Dolphins cap situation is fine, and it’s not a mess like a lot of other teams in the league, who are more than 20 million in the hole. The Dolphins don’t have to rush to create more money unless they have a plan when free agency starts. With media availability, we can’t get a read for what the team is doing, and that’s what makes this off-season more interesting as free agency approaches. Van Noy was the first to go; who is next?