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Miami Dolphins

Agree with it or Not, Miami Maximized Value in the Fire Sale

Travis Wingfield

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Depreciating asset, rising star, regardless of the item Chris Grier and the Miami Dolphins brought back above-market returns on almost every move this offseason

In 2019, everybody’s got a take.

The thing that people with an opinion and a platform don’t realize, is how intricate this entire operation has been. Securing the first pick of a draft that features a highly touted QB prospect is just one of many, many benefits of Miami’s fire sale.

By clearing out salary and actively choosing to not spend that money on free agents, Miami accomplished the following:

Earned likely 3rd and 5th round draft choices via the compensatory formula.

Were able to eat portions of Ryan Tannehill and Robert Quinn’s contracts to extract 4th and 6th round picks for a now backup QB and middling pass rusher.

Push future payroll into 2020, to the tune of nearly $150 million in cap space, in a year where they were unlikely to accumulate comp picks.

Those draft picks helped Miami maneuver trades with multiple picks involved. It cleared the decision making process of any win-now mandates, which allowed them to maximize the value through more desperate operations around the league.

Sep 9, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; Houston Texans offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (78) against the New Orleans Saints during the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland, in 2018, traded two marquee players. In return for the best player in the sport, at a premium position, and a dominant wide receiver, the Raiders raked in three first round picks and a third round pick. Oakland, however, had to kick back a second round pick, along with their two pro bowlers, to complete that deal.

Jalen Ramsey, an NFL all-pro, wants out in Jacksonville. Early indications say the asking price is two first-round picks — more than what Oakland received for Khalil Mack or Amari Cooper, but still less than the haul retrieved by Miami for Laremy Tunsil.

Miami parlayed two good players, neither all-pros or pro-bowlers, into three first-round picks and a second-round pick. The Dolphins also dealt Kenny Stills and rearranged some late-round picks in the process.

One of those three first-rounders belongs to an 0-2 Pittsburgh Steelers team that is playing without Ben Roethlisberger for the final 14 games. This, after waving goodbye to Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and Mike Munchak this off-season. Possessing the first-round pick of a team that regressed in all phases of its offense, and never had a good defense to begin with, is a calculated risk that could turn up gold for Miami.

In a deep quarterback class, the opportunity to turn a top-10 pick into even more premium picks exists, and the Dolphins will have already secured their quarterback with presumably the first pick in the draft.

It’s a shame we have to end every praise of Chris Grier and Miami’s execution of a well-orchestrated, forward thinking plan with the caveat that, if the draft picks fail, this fails.

But if Grier held on to those depreciating assets and bandaged up the roster for a run at New England, the outcome of that approach, and a failed tank, are one in the same.

How’s that for a take? People are scared of something new, even if the old way is a proven failure 20 times over. What the Dolphins are doing is new, and if the plan fails it will be looked back upon as a strange detour from the league’s standard operating procedures — even though it was an offseason full of wins for Miami.

@WingfieldNFL

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Daniel Meehan

    September 18, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Every dolphin fan that opposes this rebuild should read this article, but in particular the last paragraph. Great article Travis. I’m with you 110 per cent.

  2. Avatar

    Rich McQuillen

    September 18, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    Offense – Departures:
    LT Laremy Tunsil
    RT Juwuan James
    WR Kenny Stills
    WR Danny Amendola
    RB Frank Gore
    QB Ryan Tannehill
    QB Brock Osweiller
    TE Marqueis Gray
    RT Sam Young

    Offense – Additions:
    LG Michael Dieter (Draft)
    QB Josh Rosen (Draft)
    RG Evan Boehm(Backup)
    C Chris Reed(Backup)
    WR Preston Williams(Undrafted)
    RT JMarcus Webb (Cut by Indy)

    Defense – Departures:
    DE Cameron Wake
    DE Robert Quinn
    LB Kiko Alonso
    FS Minkah Fitzpatrick
    FS TJ McDonald
    DT Vincent Taylor
    DE William Hayes
    DE Andre Branch
    DT Akeem Spence
    LB Chase Allen
    CB Cordrea Tankersley(Injured)
    LB Stephone Anthony

    Defense – Additions:
    DT John Jenkins (cut by Giants)
    DE Tank Caradine(cut and resigned)
    LB Sam Eguavoen(FA)
    LB Vince Biegel(Trade)
    CB Eric Rowe(FA)
    CB Jomal Wiltz(FA)

  3. Avatar

    Joe Lavis

    September 18, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    But i constantly hear it , Grier is to blame for everything in the past …………… He had to put up with T Bomb as his boss and then had to deal with Gase ? But everything is his fault . Well we know who the boss is now do we not ! When was the last time you saw a team with 5 # 1s in the upcoming 2 years ? And with the first pick in the draft being able to add another first in and more in 21 and still have 3 first rounders and more in 20 for moving back a few spots ? This is truly drafting a whole new team . Chosse your free agents wisely and we are competition for any team . Of course flores and his staff may prove to be the worst coaching staff ever and Grier bat a 2 % on hitting all those picks . But i do have faith that by 21 we will be a team to tend with . And for many years after that !

  4. Avatar

    Neil Wolfe

    September 18, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    Solid work as always Travis. Thanks for the perspective and the continued efforts on the podcast

  5. Avatar

    BobLoblaw

    September 18, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    Another thing people are forgetting is that Ozzie Newsome is involved with our scouting/drafting. He had plenty of success as Baltimore’s GM. Hopefully his input helps land some quality players.

    • Avatar

      Addie D

      September 19, 2019 at 6:32 am

      Ozzie is not with the Miami Dolphins. Reggie McKenzie and Marvin Allen are. Allen is great at scouting and will be in Grier’s ear.

  6. Avatar

    Rich V

    September 18, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    Very nice piece. A must read for all the fans that are against what they are doing right now. I’ve been on board with this since day one. Looking forward for my beloved franchise to be proud once again and get back to winning and playing Dolphins football.

  7. Avatar

    Papapickett

    September 18, 2019 at 10:27 pm

    Great comparison about Mack and Tunsil. Also consider Mack was due a new contract Tunsil is not. Valid point on maximization however. It is interesting though that every player on this roster is essentially disregarded for a year and that Miami will somehow be able to bring in big players next year without massively overpaying. I cant argue that the Dolphins didnt get the most back possible. What I question is trading away known young rising commodities for unknown ones. If you havent seen that play out before then youre just not paying enough attention. Just look at our roster for example. And if you think Grier can stomp out any disgruntled players in the future who dont want to be part of a losing culture, Id bet you alot of money on that. Fitzp was bad precedent. Let Tua take some hits, he’ll be just as eager to leave when were 2-14 next year.

  8. Avatar

    Marchcool

    September 19, 2019 at 7:48 am

    The old way and the current way is the same since S.Ross is the common denominator of both ways: getting read of the best players to acquire worst playerd. The only impact players for the Dolphins in the past few years are: J. Landry, L. Tunsil, J. Ajayi, O. Vernon, L. Miller, X. Howard, C. Wake,M. Fitzpatrick…all of them are gone except Howard…well not yet.
    Look at the Dolphins 1st rnd picks of the recent past:
    Wilkins, Fitzpatrick, Harris, Tunsil, Parker, J. James, D. Jordan, R. Tannehill, M. Puncey, J. Odrick,V. Davis, J. Long.
    None of them have been a key to rebuild that promised playoff caliber team let alone a SB one. And some of those picks rank between partial to total busts.
    Now look at the roster right now. The only players that remain without mentioning Wilkins are Parker and Harris. Two players whose tenure with the team was highly in doubt. Does it tell you something?
    Moreover look at the recent past and present HC: Sparano, Philbin, Gase, Flores. Elite ha?
    Yes, it tells us sonething: this organization is a total mess. And even when they found some player in later drafts with value they traded.
    So please don’t come up and try to sugarcoat about the new way, because there’s no such thing as the “new way”. It’s the same garbage organization since Ross came here period. Now the team is worst than ever in history. So where is the improvement that Ross has promised year after year? Well it’s not within this team certainly…far from that.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Sign Tight End Michael Roberts

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins are beginning to bulk up the depth of their roster as they head into free agency.

According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, the Dolphins have signed tight end Michael Roberts. The exact terms of the contract are currently unknown.

Originally a 4th-round pick by the Detroit Lions, Roberts has served mostly as a backup tight end; accumulating 146 yards on 13 receptions in 23 active games between 2017-2018.

Roberts was placed on injured-reserve towards the end of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury, and was traded to the New England Patriots for a conditional 2020 7th-round pick prior to the 2019 season. Due to medical reasons, the trade was voided a couple of days later.

The Green Bay Packers claimed Roberts off of waivers, but he was subsequently released by the Packers two days later for failing a physical. Roberts was not active for any games in 2019.

Signing Roberts doesn’t necessarily mean the Dolphins aren’t going to pursue tight ends in free agency or in the draft. Mike Gesicki is the only “lock” to make the 2020 roster, as Durham Smythe‘s blocking ability might not survive if the Dolphins find themselves in an advantageous situation at the position.

Look at this as a way for Miami to get ahead of evaluations.

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Miami Dolphins

A second Dolphins mock draft from someone who doesn’t watch football

Shawn Digity

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J.K. Dobbins 2020 NFL Draft
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

(Locked On Dolphins) – Last week, Person A dazzled us with their blind mock draft, and now we’re back with the next entry in the series.

Person B is ready to go with their mock.

Keep in mind that all the blind mock draft contributors have little to no knowledge of the NFL.

I had all the contributors standardize their boards and the process so that everyone was on an even playing field.

They all used The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator with seven rounds, the predictive board, and had to choose the players manually.

Without further ado, here’s Person B’s mock draft.

(1) 5. Tua Tagovailoa – QB, Alabama
(1) 18. J.K. Dobbins – RB, Ohio State
(1) 26. Terrell Lewis – Edge, Alabama
(2) 39. Lloyd Cushenberry III – iOL, LSU
(2) 56. Xavier McKinney – S, Alabama
(3) 70. Rashard Lawrence – iDL, LSU
(5) 135. Chase Claypool – WR, Notre Dame
(5) 144. Justin Herron – OT, Wake Forest
(5) 147. Terrell Burgess – S, Utah
(6) 165. Lamar Jackson – CB, Nebraska
(6) 177. Jacob Breeland – TE, Oregon
(7) 223. David Reese II – LB, Florida

As I did with Person A, I reached out to Person B to get their reasoning behind the selections.

Me: “I noticed that you took Tua [Tagovailoa]. What led you to that decision with the fifth pick?”

Person B: “I knew the Dolphins wanted to get a QB, and Tua has been talked about so much that I just went with him.”

Me: “Which of your other selections did you feel particularly good about?”

Person B: “I need you to send me the link to my draft. I forgot who I picked since it took five attempts.”

[resends mock draft to Person B]

“I like my J.K. Dobbins pick. O-H-. And Rashard Lawrence. Because I figure he’s pretty good since LSU was really good this year.”

Me: “Your picks are really good. I’d put yours ahead of Person A. But it’s almost suspiciously good. Did you put your thumb on the scale somewhere along the line?”

Person B: “Well, by my 5th attempt (1 and 2: I didn’t select manual mode, 3: I didn’t pick 7 rounds from the drop-down menu, 4: I completed, but the site froze, and I lost everything), I figured out that I should probably pick from the top of the list first because if you don’t then those players just go like hotcakes.

So, I just matched up the positions the Dolphins needed to fill with the players highest on the list, and if I recognized a name or team, I would select them over someone I had never heard of.”

Me: “OK, well, we’re all out of time. Do you have any parting messages for Dolphins fans?”

Person B: “Well, I think the Dolphins are on the right track, and I hope that all of the true blue fans who have hung in with them for all these years will get to see another Super Bowl in the near future. GO FINS!”

And that wraps things up with Person B.

What are your thoughts on Person B’s mock draft? Leave a comment or tweet your thoughts at me directly on Twitter (@DIGITYnodoubt).

Tune in next time for Person C’s mock…

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Miami Dolphins

Top 5 Miami Dolphins of 2019

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins weren’t supposed to be a productive team in 2019.

A team meant to lose every game somehow ended up with a 5-11 record; simultaneously sabotaging their draft status and leaving us with a promising future at the same time.

Brian Flores, the former scout, scoured the transaction wire every day in an attempt to uncover potential “acorns” – as one former general manager infamously put it. And with a keen eye for development, his constant shuffling and retooling paid off for him.

You might think a 5-11 team wouldn’t have too many options for a Top 5 list, but the Dolphins were littered with productive “surprises”. Most have promising futures, while some have already solidified themselves as perennial starters.

Take a look at our top 5 Miami Dolphins of 2019 down below. If you’d like to see who made our list of top 5 most disappointing players of 2019, click here.

5) Davon Godchaux

After two elite seasons, we’ve come to expect nothing less out of Davon Godchaux.

Starting 16 games for the second year in a row, Godchaux has continued to ascend as one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. If the Dolphins weren’t so busy staying out of the lime light, Godchaux would be a household name across the nation.

His 52 solo tackles were tied for the most in the NFL among interior defensive linemen. His 2 sacks, 75 total tackles and 7 QB hits are all improvements over his 2018 campaign, which already had fans clamoring to extend the young, former 5th-round pick.

Though some might point to Miami’s overall defensive rushing numbers as a sign that Godchaux (and Christian Wilkins) weren’t good at their jobs, that’s wildly misleading. Godchaux was stout in the middle of the defensive line; inadvertently tasked with absorbing double teams and giving players like Vince Biegel or Jerome Baker room to blitz.

It’s quite possible that Godchaux is lower than he should be on this list, simply because we take his performance for granted.

4) Mike Gesicki

I’m going to hold my hand up high and admit that I thought Mike Gesicki was going to be an absolute bust for the Miami Dolphins.

More-notorious for not staying on his feet than Brian Hartline, Gesicki overcame a (very) rough rookie season and turned into a reliable seam threat for Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Gesicki finished the year with 51 receptions, 570 receiving yards (an 11.2 yards-per-reception average) and five touchdowns – the first of his career. He proved to be a mismatch against linebackers; and whether he lines up in the slot or on the outside, the Dolphins are going to take advantage each time they see him 1-on-1 against an LB.

Athletic and deceptively quicker than we might realize, Gesicki honed his route running and displayed a much better catch radius than what we saw his rookie year. The image of Brent Grimes wide-eyed after Gesicki went up for a touchdown says more than a thousand words – but if nothing else, it tells us that the Miami Dolphins have a legitimate tight end.

3) Vince Biegel

Vince Biegel came to Miami as a complete afterthought.

The Dolphins traded incumbent linebacker Kiko Alonso to the New Orleans Saints in an effort to alleviate cap space in 2020. In return, they received a little-known, former 4th-round pick who was about to play for his third team in 3 years.

For all the grief we’ve given Chris Grier over his scouting, we have to give him a ton of credit for this one. Saying the Saints got fleeced is an understatement.

In 13 games (4 starts) with the Saints, Alonso recorded 31 tackles, 0 sacks, 3 tackles for a loss (TFL) and 2 QB Hits.

In 15 games (10 starts), Biegel accumulated 57 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 7 TFL, 13 QB Hits and an interception to boot.

Biegel was such a force at linebacker, that Dolphins fans forgot he was going to be a free agent this offseason and just assumed they had him for years to come. Most of us hope the Dolphins find a way to keep Biegel around at a reasonable (yet worthy) price.

The growth he, Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker can make with another year together could all together eliminate the need to use assets on a linebacker in the near-future. Especially when the team will get Andrew Van Ginkel back for a full, healthy season.

2) Jerome Baker

Arguably Chris Grier’s best draft pick, Jerome Baker has evolved into one of the best all-around linebackers in the league. You can consider that an overstatement, but his versatility, durability and play-making ability make him a prime candidate to burst into the national spotlight in 2020.

Baker and Eric Rowe were the only players who logged over 1,000 snaps last season (1,079 for Baker, 1,071 for Rowe).

After a rookie season that showed a ton of promise, Baker’s sophomore season ended with 124 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 5 QB hits, 2 forced fumbles, 4 passes defended and 1 interception. Versatile in coverage, as a spy, diagnosing the run, and when he blitzes, Baker may be the real Swiss-Army knife of this Dolphins’ defense.

The biggest question we now have to ask is: what do the Miami Dolphins do with Jerome Baker? He’s still two years away from free agency, but if his 2020 season is any improvement over what we’ve seen, Baker is going to command A LOT of money when he enters the final year of his rookie deal.

Don’t let Baker turn into another Olivier Vernon, Jarvis Landry or Lamar Miller. Pay the talent you successfully scouted and maintain a sense of culture and camaraderie.

Honorable Mentions:

Christian Wilkins:

Christian Wilkins came to the Miami Dolphins with a ton of charisma and a jovial personality unmatched by any top draft pick that came before him.

From the moment the 315lbs linebacker did a split after Clemson won their national championship in 2018, to the time he had Roger Goodell go up for a chest bump after he was drafted, Wilkins was a beloved figure.

But personality can only take you so far, and when the season started Wilkins needed to back up his charity work and infectious smile with the brutality necessary to win at the line of scrimmage. And boy did he live up to it.

Wilkins may not have finished with the most-gaudy numbers, but they’re still impressive nonetheless. For his rookie season, Wilkins totaled 56 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 passes defended. He’s caught every pass ever thrown to him (1), and it even resulted in a touchdown.

His 888 total snaps (between defense, special teams and the 2 he accumulated on offense) are noteworthy for a rookie defensive tackle.

The other 1st-round defensive linemen drafted in 2019 finished with:

  • Quinnen Williams (3rd-overall): 577 total snaps
  • Clelin Ferrell (4th): 716 snaps
  • Ed Oliver (9th): 572 snaps
  • Wilkins (13th): 888 snaps
  • Brian Burns (16th): 609 snaps
  • Dexter Lawrence (17th): 866 snaps
  • Jeffery Simmons (19th): 368 snaps
  • Montez Sweat (26th): 817 snaps
  • Jerry Tillery (28th): 436 snaps

The 2019 draft class was stacked on the defensive line, and yet, the Dolphins may have managed to draft the best one of the bunch midway through the round.

Nik Needham:

The Miami Dolphins signed Nik Needham as an undrafted free agent with the hope that he would provide depth for a position group that already featured plenty of expensive and starting-caliber players within it.

Instead, the Dolphins add another commodity to that list.

Competing for playing time with players like Xavien Howard, Eric Rowe, Bobby McCain, Minkah Fitzpatrick and a plethora of other roster invitees, Needham had an excellent camp, but found himself just missing the final 53-man roster.

That didn’t stop him from honing his craft and earning a promotion from the practice squad one day before the Dolphins were set to take on the Washington Redskins in Week 6.

Needham went on to start the final 11 games of the season, and ended the year with 2 interceptions, 11 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 1 sack and 54 total tackles.

As a rookie cornerback, you’re expected to be picked on, but Needham was bullied by the refs more than he was by opposing quarterbacks. Questionable calls against Needham towards the end of the year put a slight damper on his otherwise stellar season.

Though in the eyes of some Dolphins fans, that erroneous (non-existent) pass interference penalty that was overturned on the final drive during the New York Jets loss was a blessing in disguise.

1) DeVante Parker

It may have taken slightly longer than we originally hoped, but Ryan Fitzpatrick’s aggressive style highlighted just how elite DeVante Parker can be when you just throw him the damn ball.

Previously marred by the occasional health concern and offensive schemes that didn’t cater to his skillset, Parker was deemed a “bust” by most Dolphins fans. Drafted 14th-overall in the 2014 NFL draft, Parker was expected to transcend the offense. Instead, bubble screens became the focal point for an offense that was littered with deep threat specialists (Parker, Kenny Stills and Jakeem Grant).

Parker’s recent 4-year, $40m extension is a reward not only for the production Parker put up in 2019, but for the potential Parker still has left in him.

In 16 games this past season (the first time he’s been active for 16 games his entire career), Parker caught 72 passes for 1,202 yards and 9 touchdowns. In his four years prior to 2019, Parker caught a combined 163 passes for 2,217 yards and 9 TDs.

As long as he can stay healthy, and the Dolphins don’t revert back to a scared, anemic offense, you can expect annual 1,000 yard seasons from the team’s #1 receiver.

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