Other than Kyler Murray‘s hand size, the biggest mystery concerning Miami Dolphins fans this offseason centers around what the team is going to do with its premier cornerback, Xavien Howard. The former 2nd-round pick is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is looking to be rewarded for his performance throughout his career.
Coming off of a Pro Bowl year, Howard was tied for the league lead in interceptions (while missing the final 4 games of the season) and further proved the end to his sophomore season wasn’t just a hot streak. Xavien Howard is a legitimate #1 cornerback, and he wants to be treated as such going forward.
So while our focus has been on Howard and the hope that he’s not the next elite, homegrown talent to leave South Florida because of our front office’s ineptitude, we might want to look at another player who was drafted the same year as Howard; and, like his draft story, seems to be an afterthought.
Laremy Tunsil has anchored the left side of Miami’s offensive line for the past three seasons and, barring a Jake Long-esque injury arc, should be manning the left side of that offensive line for the next 7-10 years. Every team searches for a left tackle they don’t have to worry about, and the Dolphins already have one.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) April 29, 2016
While both players are still under contract for 2019, it would be unwise to, once again, avoid having the foresight to extend football players you drafted with conviction.
Laremy Tunsil was a public relations nightmare that evening, and the team traded up in the 2nd-round for Xavien Howard. There’s no way to deny that the Dolphins wanted these players…so why not follow-through with that conviction?
This isn’t to say that Xavien Howard shouldn’t be extended or that he isn’t a priority; quite the contrary. He’s a top player at an imperative position; you can’t just let these players walk away. But let’s not overlook another player the front office should be looking to extend this offseason. Not just out of “good faith”, but to dedicate a level of consistency going forward.
Needless to say, Chris Grier and company have a hard decision to make, and I’m certainly glad I’m not the one who has to make it. Take a look at why Laremy Tunsil should be the Dolphins #1 priority this offseason:
Extending Our Misery
If long-term contracts are any indication of the consistency you’re trying to develop, the Dolphins have proven why they’re consistently mediocre.
You should never let the past results of a previous general manager cloud your judgement going forward; however, Chris Grier was still here in the organization when all of these moves were made. Was his opinion just shunned or did he have a hand in dictating how this team was built?
With that said, we can’t let these results contaminate our desire to extend Laremy Tunsil or Xavien Howard.
Miami’s latest contract extensions are relatively minimal, such as Nick O’Leary receiving $1.5m (500k guaranteed) for 2019 and John Denney returning for another season as well, but taking a look at the ‘bigger’ extensions Miami has done recently, they’ve been something like:
- Bobby McCain: 4-years, $27m ($13m guaranteed)
- Kiko Alonso: 3-years, $29m ($18.5m)
- Andre Branch: 3-years, $24m ($16.8m)
- Cameron Wake: 2-years, $19m ($11m)
- Reshad Jones: 5-years, $55m ($35m)
- Mike Pouncey: 5-years, $52.1m ($22m)
There isn’t much here to brag about.
Not like you need to be reminded of such, but the following is a short list of players the Dolphins drafted but decided not to extend for whichever (terrible) reason: Jarvis Landry, Olivier Vernon, Lamar Miller and Rishard Matthews.
Do we want to go as far back as the 2000s and recall players like: Vontae Davis, Sean Smith, Samson Satele or Ted Ginn Jr.?
No, Miami doesn’t extend these players, they just decide to give multiple contract extensions to Koa Misi and his broken neck.
The reason these players weren’t retained was because they became too extensive for Miami to justify. However, a little faith and foresight in their own player development could have kept most (if not all) of these players around for a longer period of time than their rookie contacts called for.
Laremy Tunsil and Xavien Howard need to buck this trend the Dolphins have been on. And if the team isn’t going to commit to their top talent, they need to strip each veteran bare and start anew.
Buying Your Foundation
This section of the article actually surprised me a bit; to the point that I had to completely change my thought process. What I originally had written (prior to crunching the numbers) centered around how an expensive contract for a “top” left tackle returns more value than an expensive contract for a “top” cornerback. And I have to admit, my perception didn’t match the reality of the NFL.
Left Tackles are essential for keeping your opponents’ best pass rushers at bay, and to keep your quarterback’s blindside upright. An entire offense can collapse with even an average left tackle. It’s why their values surge far beyond their skill – similar to every quarterback’s value around the league.
Take a look at the most expensive contracts for left tackles compared to cornerbacks:
The most-telling statistic to me is the Average Annual Contract for a top-16 player at each position. The top-16 LT contracts average $12.54m a year while the top-16 CB contracts average $12.42m a year. That differential is semantics, and has more to do with the timing of when the player signed the contract – they’re basically “worth” the same annually in terms of their contracts. Cornerbacks have the luxury of requiring more roster spots (since you need at least 3 on the field most of the time), so they have a slight advantage in terms of having more possibilities to receive the rich contract.
The advantage the Dolphins have is selling Tunsil on the fact that they can make the 4th and 5th years of his rookie contract much richer than they would be otherwise. They also have the most important chip at the bargaining table, and that’s the fact that they essentially have team control for 3+ years (accounting for the franchise tag).
If you take an average of the top-5 left tackles today, the amount Tunsil would make on the franchise tag would be: $16.44m
Now, this will obviously go up in two years as contracts get richer, but the following 5 players make up those top-5 salaries:
- Nate Solder: $17m cap hit
- Taylor Lewan: $16.7m
- Andrew Whitworth: $16.7m
- Russell Okung: $16m
- Terron Armstead: $15.8m
It’s safe to say, given his age and upside, that most of us would rather have Laremy Tunsil than anyone else on this list.
At $16.44m, Tunsil would be 4th on this list and that would still be considered a bargain.
By locking up Tunsil before he enters Year 4, you might be raising 2 years of his contract (in what may be deemed an unnecessary raise), but you’re lowering the cap hit against your team in years 3-5 (let’s just say it’s a 5-year extension for all intents and purposes). You might be able to sell Tunsil on a deal that’s closer to Cordy Glenn (5-years, $60m – $38m guaranteed) than a deal that will easily surpass Taylor “Bodybag” Lewan‘s 5-year, $80m ($50m guaranteed) contract the closer Tunsil gets to free agency.
Deciding Tunsil Over Howard
Right now, Tunsil is set to cost ~$4m against the cap in 2019 – which is astronomically low for one of the best left tackles in the game. Xavien is an even better bargain at ~$2m. You could choose either player to extend first, and you wouldn’t really be wrong. Frankly, Miami should extend both of them and establish two of the most difficult positions to lock down.
But, if you have to choose one, you reward Laremy Tunsil, and here’s why:
A left tackle is essential for a team that’s looking to establish a franchise quarterback. It’s not just about the fact that you don’t have to worry about his position, it’s more about the fact that your quarterback won’t have to go through the same punishment Ryan Tannehill absorbed at the beginning of his career.
It’s debatable which player will “win you” more games than the other – both are necessary. But Miami isn’t looking to win games right now, they’re trying to create long-term success. Xavien Howard is going to be one of the top cornerbacks for the next 3-4 years, but how much winning is Miami going to do during that time? How many games do we actually want Xavien Howard to sway in our favor when we’re trying to ‘Tank for Tua’ in 2020?
No sacks allowed this season by Laremy Tunsil.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) November 16, 2018
Between the two, both would net a haul in a trade. Prime players that would be under their new team’s control? Of course they would both warrant a first-round pick! They’re probably more valuable than Josh Rosen is at this point, and people would have thought you were crazy to say that before last year’s draft.
In a situation where Xavien Howard’s best return for this team is a valuable draft pick, it’s hard to say he should be paid more than the player drafted one round ahead of him.
Would it suck to watch Howard lead the league in interceptions with his new team? You bet it will. But how much are we willing to risk on an expensive cornerback that has only played in 73.4% of the games he’s been eligible for? Or would you feel more at ease giving that money to someone who’s participated in 91.8% of the games he’s been eligible for?
If you’re under the impression that the Dolphins can become the next version of the Los Angeles Rams or Philadelphia Eagles and make/win the Super Bowl within a couple years of drafting a young quarterback, then you probably want both Tunsil and Howard to be around for awhile. Those teams had top talent surrounding their young quarterbacks, and while it’s a completely different debate whether or not Miami is 1-2 years away from being a serious playoff threat, if you want the team to retain their best players, you don’t let either of them follow Landry, Jay Ajayi, Vernon, or Miller out the door.
Your main reason for extending Howard first is the fact that his rookie contract ends one year earlier – in a literal sense, you have to make a decision on Howard earlier than you have to decide on Tunsil. That advantage Miami has with Tunsil in extension talks (3+ years of team control when you institute the franchise tag) is the reason Howard gets paid before Tunsil, but all other signs point to rewarding the best public relations move the Dolphins ever made prior to (or alongside) their best defensive playmaker of the past two years.
Local Residents Sue Miami Dolphins over F1 Race Track
This may be the last thing on the mind of Miami Dolphins fans everywhere, but there seems to be a prominent legal battle taking place in South Florida.
A new Formula 1 race track was recently approved (by a 6-6 vote) to be “built” around Hard Rock Stadium, with races beginning in 2021.
The F1 Miami Grand Prix will showcase Miami-Dade and Miami Gardens to the World. See new track below – world-class racing w/o using 199th St, and no racing during school hours. We hope the County Commission will support our effort to deliver this huge global event to you! pic.twitter.com/VqF5AnPMJT
— Tom Garfinkel (@TomGarfinkel) January 21, 2020
While city officials press to approve the new track, local residents are up in arms about the potential race. F1 cars are notoriously loud, and as we mentioned above, these races aren’t contained within an arena or stadium.
City officials believe this will bring in additional revenue for Miami and the surrounding area, as annual races are expected to be held around Hard Rock Stadium for the next 10 years. The local populous is arguing that these races are too loud for local streets, and will cause an enormous amount of disturbance and will be detrimental to the environment. Overall, this will cause a “serious degrade to their quality of life.”
Just so you can have a reference, F1 engines tend to run between 130-145 decibels. If you go to a concert and stand relatively close to an amplifier, you’re only dealing with about 100-110 decibels. The average lawn mower is about 90 decibels. Needless to say, these engines are LOUD.
Unlike NASCAR, Formula 1 (F1) race tracks are essentially “created” using local roadways that are already in place. Though there is obviously a lot of preparation that goes into “creating” the course (to ensure the safety of racers and fans alike), no new venues need to be built.
With that said, the City of Miami Gardens and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross are attempting to host the race solely on Hard Rock Stadium grounds. Given Ross’ ownership in the land surrounding Hard Rock Stadium, it’s possible this race doesn’t officially occur on any public roads.
To give some background, Stephen Ross attempted to buy F1 a couple of years ago, but the sale ended up going to another group. Though he didn’t win the bid, he reached an agreement with the new owners and is now one step closer to making the Miami Grand Prix a reality.
Tom Garfinkel, President and CEO of the Miami Dolphins, issued the following statement on behalf of the approved 6-6 decision:
— F1 Miami Grand Prix (@f1miami) February 20, 2020
This recent vote was the biggest hurdle potentially preventing the Miami Grand Prix from happening. Though the legal battles aren’t over, it seems unlikely that the decision to host F1 races will be reversed.
Miami Dolphins Sign Tight End Michael Roberts
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.
#Dolphins are signing former #Lions TE Michael Roberts, source says. Roberts had four workouts the past week and more on the docket but will sign with Miami. Missed last season with a shoulder injury that nixed a trade to the #Patriots. Healthy now. 3 TDs in 2018 and can block.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 19, 2020
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.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) June 13, 2019
A second Dolphins mock draft from someone who doesn’t watch football
(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…
- Local Residents Sue Miami Dolphins over F1 Race Track February 20, 2020
- Miami Dolphins Sign Tight End Michael Roberts February 19, 2020
- A second Dolphins mock draft from someone who doesn’t watch football February 19, 2020
- Top 5 Miami Dolphins of 2019 February 14, 2020
- A Miami Dolphins mock draft from someone who doesn’t watch football February 12, 2020