Looking back, looking ahead, and everywhere in between ahead of a critical Miami Dolphins offseason
This publication has always fancied itself as an unaffiliated extension of the Miami Dolphins operation. In an attempt to arm fans with the researched clues about the team might do — and commentary on what they should do — we like to follow the same timeline as the coaches and decision makers at the facility in Davie.
The time for reflection is now. The coaching staff will be reviewing the 2019 season with an eye on self-scouting, and evaluating the job of every member that donned the Dolphins logo this past fall. The college scouting staff is buried in draft prep, and the pro personnel side is under water searching for potential free agent targets.
Since Locked On Dolphins is the most comprehensive Miami Dolphins outlet in existence, we’ll tackle all three subjects.
1. Reviewing the incumbents
2. Identifying free agent targets
3. Stacking the draft board
And we’ll do it for every position. It’s 10 days of offseason preparation, here on Locked On Dolphins dot com, as well as the Locked On Dolphins Podcast.
The converse of the running back position, the Miami Dolphins receivers entered the season with little expectation and turned into one of the better units in all of football.
Devante Parker etched his name near the top of a lot of franchise record lists with a dominant 1,200-yard season. Preston Williams was on-pace to beat the undrafted rookie receiving yardage record in the Super Bowl era before a knee injury cut his season short. Albert Wilson looked healthy for the first time since last October and Allen Hurns provided a quality slot option.
One big decision lies ahead of the Dolphins this offseason with regards to Wilson’s contract. He’s owed $9.5 million, but releasing the Port St. Lucie native will carry just a $1.3 million cap hit. Perhaps the Dolphins can re-work the deal to backload money, requiring Wilson to prove his complete return from the hip injury. He came on the final three weeks of the season, and that was without coming all the way back to full health — next year will be all systems go.
Parker and Williams (when fully recovered from the November ACL injury) are a budding perimeter tandem, and Grant offers a stark juxtaposition to the style of play from the aforementioned trees. Grant is a suitable perimeter backup with elite return ability. Inside, Miami are stocked with Wilson, Hurns, and impending ERFA Isaiah Ford.
Stats: 72 receptions (56.3%), 1,202 yards (16.7 YPR, 9.4 YPT), 9 TDs
PFF Grade: 79.2 (21 of 200)
Snaps: 909 (84%)
“Devante looks different this year. Stronger, smoother, more imposing.” That was my note from watching the 2015 first-round pick at training camp, and the uber-talented pass catcher vindicated that note. He dominated some of the game’s best corners. He was fifth in football in receiving yards, and he plucked 50-50 balls at a rate that should really change the metric to 70-30 chances.
Me at training camp: Devante Parker looks different. Added muscle and definition, fast, loose. Probably his best chance to stay healthy and have that breakout year.
Devante Parker: pic.twitter.com/qj37IEhAQN
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) December 1, 2019
Note the situation, the matchup… this is ELITE from Devante Parker. pic.twitter.com/hz50nYAXRC
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) December 29, 2019
The first-team all-pro cornerback tandem resides in the AFC East. Miami played Buffalo in November and New England in December games that saw Parker draw Tre’Davious White and Stephon Gilmore to the tune of 14 pass targets. Parker caught 12 of the 14 passes for 199 yards, including utter domination both at the catch point and in his route running against Gilmore.
You can’t see the route develop, but this is man coverage and Parker creates a solid five yards of separation on Gilmore. Then finishes the play with attitude. pic.twitter.com/JddXwED0QI
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) December 29, 2019
If Parker can repeat his offseason focus of a dedicated workout regimen and nutrition discipline, there’s no reason to believe that this is the player Miami will get for the next four years. Four years of dominance at a rate that pays him the same annual salary as Devin Funchess got from the Colts last March.
Stats: 32 receptions (53.3%), 428 yards (13.4 YPR, 7.1 YPT), 3 TDs
PFF Grade: 67.7 (67 of 200)
Snaps: 404 (37.4%)
Williams was the team’s number-one receiver prior to his injury. The rookie was breaking through post-bye in a manner that had fans believing he’d take on the same trajectory that Parker currently occupies. Williams can sink his hips at the top of the route like a short, shifty slot receiver. He can get vertical and stack defensive backs with acceleration. He had first-round talent coming out, but off-field red flags turned him into a priority free agent.
They ran Preston Williams along the end line in every goal-to-go package I saw at camp. Here, he stacks his man and scores the first TD of the 2019 season. pic.twitter.com/akmmkeb22A
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) September 8, 2019
Drops are an issue, but that’s a correctable problem. Williams creates consistent separation and runs the full complement of routes. Miami would be wise to ease him back from the ACL injury that occurred the first weekend in November. We might not see the complete return of the unicorn until 2021, but he’s worth the wait.
Stats: 43 receptions (69.4%), 351 yards (8.2 YPR, 5.7 YPT), 1 TD
PFF Grade: 62.3 (123 of 200)
Snaps: 439 (40.1%)
An underrated, electrifying first year in Miami came to a premature end with a devastating hip injury in 2018, and it took nearly all of 2019 for Wilson to return to form. When he did, he offered the short-area burst and explosion that single-handedly defeated the Bears two years ago.
We’re gonna get a deep shot to Parker eventually, but here he does a good job getting the inside release to create the natural rub. Then it’s Wilson doing Wilson things. pic.twitter.com/e9Rw7Tl4wW
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) December 15, 2019
Wilson spent all of camp doing work on the side of the field during team periods. He rushed it back and missed more games in 2019. By late December, he was finally back to making tacklers miss and providing Ryan Fitzpatrick with a reliable underneath target. His ability to carry the football will go a long way in an offense that loves fly sweep, jet motion, and pre-snap window dressing.
This all hinges on what happens with his contract in the coming months.
Stats: 19 receptions (57.6%), 164 yards (8.6 YPR, 5.0 YPT), 0 TD
PFF Grade: 62.1 (127 of 200)
Snaps: 217 (20.1%)
Grant is here for the 2020 season, but it’s the biggest year of his football career. He must remain healthy and finally make good on the potential he has teased fans with for his entire career. He has an out in his contract in 2021 that will require he gives Miami more. Many believe he’s a slot receiver, but Grant’s far more proficient outside the numbers. He has game-changing speed and darts through defenses when presented the slightest crease.
Fastest man in football. Jakeem with a sensational kick return. pic.twitter.com/xVUCT4yrPf
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 17, 2019
Grant has been one of the game’s best — if not the gold standard — return men for a couple years running. His contract is commensurate with a part-time receiver (perfect complement outside to Parker and Williams) and a full-time return ace. He needs to be exactly that.
Stats: 47 receptions (68.1%), 416 yards (13.0 YPR, 8.9 YPT), 2 TDs
PFF Grade: 57.0 (160 of 200)
Snaps: 523 (48.5%)
Hurns was a camp addition that was thought to be just a body for the numbers game, but he earned a two-year extension in-season with his consistent performances. Hurns dropped way too many passes, and he’ll have to clean that up to break camp with the team.
Stats: 1 target, no receptions
PFF Grade: N/A
Snaps: 16 (1.5%)
Hollins was a special teams’ dynamo in college and with the Eagles, but never materialized as a threat on offense. The Dolphins called upon his services when the group was decimated by injury. He’ll have an uphill climb to make the team.
PFF Grade: N/A
Snaps: 1 (.09%)
Jennings was a fourth-round pick of the Seahawks last April, and didn’t finish the year with the team. He arrived in Miami and hurt himself on Grant’s kick return touchdown celebration in the Buffalo game.
Futures Contracts: Andy Jones, T.J. Rahming, Terry Wright
Unrestricted Free Agents: Trevor Davis
Restricted Free Agents: Ricardo Louis, Isaiah Ford*
*denotes priority player
Stats: 23 receptions (65.7%), 244 yards (10.6 YPR, 7.0 YPT), 0 TD
PFF Grade: 68.9 (79 of 200)
Snaps: 224 (20.8%)
Ford’s Dolphins career was on the line prior to this December call up. He’s out of practice squad options and two knee injuries figured to put his South Beach stay in jeopardy. Then, Ford ended the 2019 season with 21 catches, 235 yards and a touchdown over the final four games.
Rudock getting that Dolphins OL treatment. Goes off script and finds Isaiah Ford, who makes a hell of a catch. pic.twitter.com/PhJjkFKSmV
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) August 30, 2019
He’ll be cheap to retain and has the physicality off the line of scrimmage and catch point to win a lot of the short, slot routes this offense requires.
The Guy — Emmanuel Sanders
If we’re talking about a premier slot option to create a triumvirate with the incumbent Parker and Williams, look no further than Sanders. He has game-breaking speed, he’s one of the league’s most nuanced route runners, and offers the inside-outside versatility this program covets.
— NFL (@NFL) September 15, 2019
The 49ers have to make Sanders a priority as he helped transform the passing game upon his in-season acquisition from Denver. He’ll be 33-years-old next year, but touchdowns count the same regardless of age, and Sanders can still beat the game’s best nickel corners. He quelled some injury concerns this year by playing in 17 games.
The Reasonable Route — Phillip Dorsett
Free agency isn’t the route Miami should look to improve this unit, if it does at all. However, if Dorsett’s market softens in the offseason, the Dolphins could look to bring the former Hurricane back home. Dorsett plays outside four times as often as he does in the slot, but he has the speed and versatility to give Miami’s offense something it could lack next year.
Dorsett’s familiarity with the current staff is worth mentioning.
The Sleeper — Nelson Agholor
Miami are going to be a program that takes small gambles on reclamation projects; be warned. Agholor has more tribulations than triumphs in his brief career, but he plays a near-even split on the perimeter and slot, and his 2017 season demonstrated his true potential.
Other Notable Free Agent Wide Receivers:
The Guy — Laviska Shenault
This distinction is more about fit than best player. Shenault is a rich man’s Albert Wilson. He has a thick lower-half that allows him to stay compact as he gets in and out of his breaks, and shakes tacklers both in space and short areas with ease.
Laviska Shenault Jr. does incredible things every game pic.twitter.com/LwZxPT12we
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) November 24, 2019
He’s a first-round pick, no question about it. The question for Miami, is a perfect scheme fit reason enough to select a player at a position that might be the only satisfactory unit on the team? Shenault played H-back, tailback, in-line Y, X, Z, slot, and wildcat triggerman for the Colorado offense. He’s an absolute beast.
The Reasonable Route — Tyler Johnson
Possibly the best route runner in the class, all Tyler Johnson did was produce for an upstart Minnesota program. He’s big enough to play outside, and shifty enough to win with regularity inside. He catches everything and has the intelligence-feet pairing that allows him to excel in a sight-adjustment offense.
Tyler Johnson is just another stud receiver in this year’s class. 1v1 to the boundary, little crossover step, stacks the freshman DB, one handed grab — then accesses grown man mode to finish the play. pic.twitter.com/uj3sc7ZbbC
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 9, 2019
He’s not physically imposing, so pre-snap shifting and alignments off the line-of-scrimmage might be necessary, but he’ll always be in the right place and work off of leverage as well as any receiver.
The Sleeper — Jalen Reagor
Calling Reagor a sleeper is a tad disingenuous, but the deep class could force him down the board a bit — no later than the third-round. His game relies on natural athleticism and sheer explosiveness. He has the easy gas to blow by defenders, and the quick-twitch to separate quickly.
Rewatched some TCU-Baylor yesterday. Jalen Reagor is so dangerous. Should be one of the nation's best in 2019. pic.twitter.com/UbHo3IFGaF
— Max Olson (@max_olson) May 7, 2019
He will fight the football and that leads to drops. The concentration lapses and lack of overall route tree experience in college makes him something of a developmental player, but someone figures to steal this game-breaker on day-two.
Travis Wingfield’s 2020 Wide Receiver Draft Rankings:
|1. Ceedee Lamb||Oklahoma|
|2. Jerry Jeudy||Alabama|
|3. Tee Higgins||Clemson|
|4. Henry Ruggs||Alabama|
|5. Laviska Shenault Jr.||Colorado|
|6. Tyler Johnson||Minnesota|
|7. Justin Jefferson||LSU|
|8. K.J. Hamler||Penn State|
|9. Jalen Reagor||TCU|
|10. Devin Duverney||Texas|
Every part of those draft rankings — picking the three targets, as well as the top 10 — was challenging. This year’s class is the deepest in decades with a mix of speed/size guys, and outside/insider players. For Miami, finding a version of Julian Edelman is the top priority, given the likelihood that the perimeter positions are taken care of for the foreseeable future.
Adding a layer to the difficulty, Miami have three viable options to fill that role. Albert Wilson is best from the slot, but also acts as a quasi-tailback that can line up anywhere between the numbers. Allen Hurns is a reliable slot with a knack for finding the soft spots against leverage and presenting a quick target for the quarterback, and Isaiah Ford’s emergence down the stretch demonstrated some valuable traits.
The hope, for the Dolphins, is that this loaded class pushes some talent into day-three and presents an opportunity for a steal. It’s difficult to imagine a premium pick or high-priced free agent as a priority for the team this offseason.
2020 Wide Receiver Prediction:
Go-To Guy — Devante Parker
The Sidekick — Preston Williams
The Slot — Albert Wilson
Off the Bench — Jakeem Grant
Off the Bench — Isaiah Ford
Off the Bench — Allen Hurns
Tomorrow: Tight Ends
Turning the Machine in the Right Direction
Nearly a year ago, 11 months to be precise, I wrote this piece for Locked On Dolphins: “Small, Important Steps in the Right Direction”. It was me opining on what I felt like were a series of small steps Miami, specifically Chris Grier and the front office had taken in the right direction just after the Draft. At the time, Miami had accumulated a Draft Pick haul of a: 1st rounder, two 2nd rounders, a 3rd, two 4ths, a 5th, two 6ths, and two 7ths. We know war chest has expanded, and Miami’s sure to put that to effective use in just over a month at the 2020 NFL Draft.
So, where are Miami now?
Well, that’s an interesting question, but I’ll attempt to answer it. With a haul of 11 free agents, counting TE Michael Roberts who was signed before the new League Year, Miami’s managed to fill some of the holes the exited 2019 with. Perhaps most important, despite shelling out big money deals, all of them are structured in smart, team-friendly ways. Kudos to Chris Grier and Brandon Shore for that. It’ll pay dividends down the road.
With the Draft still a month away, at least as things stand with the COVID-19 outbreak right now, Miami’s needs have become clearer. Quarterback was always and still is the top priority for the Draft. Running Back is a need still, and there’s a plethora of top notch backs in this year’s class. Offensive Line, obviously. Miami can use help across the board there. With the defensive free agent signings, I’m not sure edge defenders are a need anymore, but I think Miami will still bargain shop there. Safety, specifically free safety, and a true nose tackle round out the needs list. At lest in my mind.
With 14 picks, and Miami probably won’t use all of them to make actual picks – I think some get used in trade ups and some get pushed to 2021 – Miami will likely be able to fill that remaining chunk of needs, which is a great place to be in. Perhaps Miami still shops around a bit in free agency, maybe for O-line depth or a cheap running back, but I think the focus now narrows to the Draft. Since that’s next month, let’s review the free agent crop.
Free Agent Fits
Our pal Travis Wingfield has done plenty of in-depth reporting on all of Miami’s free agent signings, so I’m going to give you my broad stroke takes on what Miami’s added this past week.
Miami added defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah to help set the edge against the run. Kyle Van Noy is an outside linebacker with a sneaky amount of strength and ability to play with heavy hands and good leverage who can help set the edge too. What this means for Miami’s defense is that we’ll likely see more 4-man defensive fronts. Remember, when Brian Flores called the Patriots defense in 2018 his most used for formations were:
4-2-5 (307 snaps)
3-3-5 (226 snaps)*
3-2-6 (132 snaps)
4-3 (97 snaps)
* With the 3-3-5 package, there’s really two versions: The Bear front and the slide front. The Bear front typically included bigger defensive lineman to cover the opponents G-C-G with Hightower and Trey Flowers or Kyle Van Noy on edges, with Van Noy or Elandon Roberts off-ball. Think of the slide front as really a 4-2 front, but you have an OLB playing as a stand-up DE.
A potential hidden bonus here is that both Lawson and Ogbah have some experience playing in stand-up OLB/DE roles. Shaq Lawson did it some at Clemson and Ogbah had some limited experience in doing so last year with the Chiefs. I think Ogbah was used primarily as a rusher as I haven’t seen snaps of him dropping into coverage from that spot. But he’s been aligned there.
With the additions of Lawson, Ogbah and Van Noy, Miami’s going to try and be able to find analogs similar to Van Noy himself, more on that in a minute; Ogbah compares pretty well in play style to how the Pats used Adrian Clayborn and Deatrich Wise that year; and Lawson’s versatility might lend him to be used in some, and I stress some, of the capacities in which they used Trey Flowers. With Van Noy, in 2019 he was almost an exclusive on-the-LOS edge LB. In 2018, his duties between being an edge player and off-ball linebacker were about 50-50. I don’t know that we’ll see that, but I think Van Noy’s snaps won’t be as an exclusive edge – he’s so versatile in how he can be used.
As much as I love Khalid Kareem and really like guys like K’Lavon Chaisson, Curtis Weaver, Yetur Gross-Matos, and Marlon Davidson I have a difficult time picturing Miami spending a top-level resource on an edge defender. I think they’ll take a stab on a guy that falls or try and find value later on like Trevis Gipson, Jason Strowbridge, Chauncey Rivers, James Smith-Williams, etc.
No Fly Zone Southeast
I’ll admit, I in no way shape or form saw Miami going after someone like Byron Jones. In fact, I wonder if the Patriots franchise tagging Joe Thuney meant that money Miami might’ve offered to him was “freed up” to pursue other options. And man, did Miami get a nice player in Jones. Yes, he doesn’t have a ton of interceptions, but he does have 20 PBUs the past two years, and 44 for his career – nearly nine a year.
I’m a little dumbfounded that so many Dolfans think this signing means that Xavien Howard is on the trade block. Why would he be? Why would you dismantle a CB tandem this good? I get that X had the legal issue, but that was dismissed. I feel like if Miami wanted him gone, he’d have been gone by now.
What it means having a tandem like Byron and X is that you have a pair of corners that excel at press, can play off man, can both play on either side of the formation, and both can travel to the slot. That gives them some really nice flexibility and the opportunity to get creative with coverages. I’ll be really intrigued if they add a FS that allows Bobby McCain to play in the slot more, like he did in 2015-17. Miami could disguise a lot if that becomes an option.
When you combine Jones with the additions of Lawson and Ogbah up front, and Van Noy as someone who can play on the LOS or off-ball, you have to tip your cap to Miami for adding help at all three levels of the defense.
Depth and Special Teams
Miami apparently isn’t bringing back Walt Aikens, who was their best special teamer the past few seasons. Instead, Miami opted to bring in a trio of damn good special teamers, two of whom were captains. The one that wasn’t, Elandon Roberts, figures to get a chance to play in some packages on defense, just as he did with New England, and is a core special teams guy. It wouldn’t surprise me if he ate some of Chandler Cox’s reps as a fullback either. He’ll be fun to watch on whichever unit he’s getting snaps at.
Kamu Grugier-Hill, a fellow 6th round pick mate of the 2016 Patriots Class with Ted Karras and Elandon Roberts, is an intriguing player. While he might have been a better fit for Miami’s previous staff under Gase and Burke, he’s a fantastic special teamer and has shown well as a blitzer and coverage linebacker. His presence probably means guys like Sam Eguavoen and Calvin Munson are in the danger zone.
Clayton Fejedelem is more a like-for-like replacement for Aikens. A hard-hitting safety who’s a demon on special teams. Fejedelem probably won’t get a lot of looks on defense, especially if Miami ends up drafting another safety, but the bonus with Fejedelem, as compared to Aikens, is if you have to call on him to play on defense, he’s going to be better equipped to handle it.
Improving the Ground Game
I’ll admit, with Ereck Flowers being the first reported signing of free agency, I was a little worried the ghosts of Jeff Ireland and Mike Tannenbaum were summoned by the Tequesta. Flowers reputation carries stains, but he played well the second half of 2019 as LG for the Redskins. I hope Miami leaves him there. Ted Karras comes over after playing as center for the Patriots in 2019. He’s a bigger guy than Daniel Kilgore. He’s smart. He’s tough. He struggles a little in space and with power. I do wonder if Michael Deiter gets a shot to compete with him at the C spot with Flowers at LG, where Deiter played last year.
Both Flowers and Karras will get the opportunity to block for newly signed running back Jordan Howard (a favorite of my wife’s as he’s a fellow Indiana Hoosier). Howard’s a bigger back at 225lbs, but he’s more well rounded than he is a power back. He can catch and be a weapon in the pass game. He’s also pretty savvy with inside and outside zone runs. With Chan Gailey and Eric Studesville working on the ground game, Howard’s sure to get plenty of use.
Tight end Michael Roberts has played just 12 games over the past three seasons due to injuries and poor play. He was traded to the Patriots last year but failed a physical cancelling the trade. Detroit waived him and he was claimed by Green Bay but failed a physical there. He battled weight gain, depression and had his left shoulder surgically repaired. More of a blocking TE, he roasted the Dolphins in 2018, naturally, when Detroit came to Miami. If Roberts plays up to his potential, I think he’s got the ability to challenge Durham Smythe for that #2 TE role – being an inline TE.
Prepping for April
While the Draft won’t have the party that Vegas would’ve offered, that’s the next major step for Chris Grier. Miami needs to get the Draft right. We’re talking 2017 Saints right. We’re talking 2019 Raiders right. Miami has the opportunity to inject a lot of talent, in addition to the quarterback, into this team.
Go figure that the year Miami as FINALLY loaded up on picks, the COVID-19 breakout has forced Pro Days and 30 Visits to mostly be cancelled. And unless something drastically changes in the next few weeks, Miami and the rest of the league aren’t going to have as much operating information as they normally do. Miami will have to rely more on scouting than in the past.
The outbreak also likely puts a dent into each team’s offseason program. Teams will have to head into their offseason programs storming to get ready for the season. Let’s hope Miami doesn’t have a truncated offseason like they did in 2011 under Tony Sparano, which lead to an 0-7 start.
For now, with quarantines in place, there’s likely not going to be a lot happening for the Dolphins between now and the Draft. Hunker down. Watch tape (Game Pass is free). Familiarize yourself with Flores’s scheme. Watch “Humble and Hungry” – I highly recommend it! But above all, stay safe. We can get through this together.
You may recall Travis and I made a trip to Miami last year for the Bengals-Dolphins game. We were credentialed for it, meaning we were members of the media for that day. I think one of the most lasting impressions I have from that trip is just how many pieces work to create the “machine” that is each NFL team. Miami have a lot of great people in place.
I’d only ever been to one other Dolphins game in Miami. That was back in 2010. I don’t remember what Hard Rock Stadium was called at the time; it’s had many different iterations since it was Joe Robbie Stadium. But I remember walking around that stadium thinking it was dumpy. And I’d been to some dumpy stadiums – Old RFK Stadium for a Washington Nationals Game, whatever they call the Coliseum where the Raiders played, and the A’s still call home. Riverfront Stadium – the stadium of my youth. These were the stadiums that Hard Rock rivaled in 2010.
What Mr. Ross and Tom Garfinkel have done to the place is INCREDIBLE! I’ve been to Lucas Oil Stadium and the renovated version of Lambeau Field (2010 and 2016). Those two places are crown jewels. Hard Rock Stadium as it stands right now is nicer than both!
Miami’s building a fantastic new team headquarters and training complex. Travis and I stopped by Team HQ in Davie on our trip to pick up a parking pass for the game. The current HQ is nice (I live in Cincinnati and drive by Paul Brown Stadium daily on my way to work – that’s my comparison, but Miami’s is nicer), but it’s small. This new place is going to be world-class.
Brian Flores the Head Coach. While it’s only been a year with him at the helm, just by being in his presence, hearing him speak and listening to what the players said about him – there’s not a man in that building that wouldn’t run to the TNT Wall for him. Miami’s finally got the Head Coach they’ve longed for since Don Shula strode the sidelines.
The Dolphins have added 11 pieces so far, and the have the opportunity to select a new franchise quarterback in a month. If Chris Grier, Marvin Allen, Reggie McKenzie, Brian Flores, the staff, and the scouts get this right Miami’s going to have built one hell of a machine. Just in time for the post-Tom Brady Era in the AFC East.
It’s a wonderful time to be a Dolfan! All is certainly not right in the world. Not by a longshot. But in these trying times where we all need to cling to some form of solace, the Dolphins are providing one. It’s a small part of my everyday life, but it’s one of my favorite parts. Always has been. Always will be. FinsUp!
Free agency opens; Reshad Jones, Mike Hull lead Miami Dolphins cuts
MIAMI (Locked On Dolphins) – While the two-day legal tampering period has already been underway, free agency officially opened on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Since many of the heavy-hitting signs and trades have already been announced, the start of the new league year will be more about ratifying all those moves.
The Miami Dolphins, at the time of writing, have announced 10 free agency moves.
And with that, there has been the consequential announcement of cutdowns to counterbalance the roster spots of incoming players.
Reshad Jones leads the list and is also the only technical release, but the Dolphins had already announced that.
Jones was going into his 11th season and spent the first 10 with the Dolphins.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Jones sign with a new team in the coming days of free agency.
Nearly half a dozen players were also waived: wide receiver T.J. Rahming, cornerback Rashard Causey, tackle Chidi Okeke, interior offensive lineman Evan Brown, defensive lineman Kendrick Norton, and linebacker Mike Hull.
Rahming, Causey, and Okeke spent the 2019 season as practice squad members.
Brown saw playing time late in the 2019 season but had been plucked off the Giants practice squad.
Hull might be the most interesting name on the list. He had been a scrappy ‘backer presence for the Dolphins after signing with the team as a UDFA in 2015.
Hull re-signed with the Dolphins last spring.
But he spent the 2019 season on the Physically Unable to Perform list with a knee injury and didn’t play.
Norton was also kept on the team during the 2019 season by way of the Non-Football Injury list after a car accident last summer.
Miami Dolphins Bring On Another Ex-Patriot, Sign LB Elandon Roberts
The Miami Dolphins are loading up on leadership. If there’s one thing the Dolphins have made a priority this offseason, it’s adding smart, determined football players to their team. Under Brian Flores‘ stewardship, I doubt we ever see a broken locker room again.
According to Cameron Wolfe of ESPN, the Miami Dolphins are signing linebacker Elandon Roberts to a contract. Financial details are currently unknown.
Dolphins agreed to a deal with former Patriots LB Elandon Roberts, per source.
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) March 18, 2020
Roberts is yet another ex-New England Patriot to leave Boston this offseason for warmer pastures down south, following fellow-linebacker Kyle Van Noy, and the recent addition of (center) Ted Karras earlier today.
Originally drafted as a 6th-round pick by the New England Patriots in 2016, Roberts has primarily served as a special teams ace, while also serving as depth at linebacker.
If you were impressed by Biegel’s production last season, you will be pleased with the type of versatility Roberts brings. Over the past four seasons, Roberts has been active for 60 games (starting 33 of them), and has accumulated 4 sacks, 6 passes defended, 206 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss and 14 QB Hits.
Roberts is stout against the run, something the Dolphins have lacked over the past couple of seasons.
Run-stuffing LB/FB Elandon Roberts, a team captain in 2019, reunites with Brian Flores. The Patriots have Dont’a Hightower and Ja’Whaun Bentley as top ILBs. https://t.co/yvYxvVgMV4
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) March 18, 2020
If you were curious what all the additions at linebacker meant for Vince Biegel, this doesn’t make things any clearer. Biegel is tendered at a “cheap” rate next season, so there’s no need to trade him or let him walk, but with the additions of Roberts and Kamu Grugier-Hill so far this offseason, it seems snap counts are becoming sparser.
Right now, the Dolphins currently have the following linebackers on their roster for 2020:
- Chase Allen
- Jerome Baker
- Vince Biegel
- Jake Carlock
- James Crawford
- Jamal Davis II
- Sam Eguavoen
- Terrill Hanks
- Trent Harris
- Mike Hull
- Deon Lacy
- Raekwon McMillan
- Calvin Munson
- Andrew Van Ginkel
They recently added:
- Kyle Van Noy
- Elandon Roberts
- Kamu Grugier-Hill
Sam Eguavoen was a budding linebacker and special teams player for the Dolphins last season, but it looks like he’ll need to have an excellent training camp to remain on the team. It’ll also be interesting to see what this means for last year’s 5th-round pick, Andrew Van Ginkel.
- Turning the Machine in the Right Direction March 22, 2020
- Free agency opens; Reshad Jones, Mike Hull lead Miami Dolphins cuts March 18, 2020
- Miami Dolphins Bring On Another Ex-Patriot, Sign LB Elandon Roberts March 18, 2020
- Miami Dolphins sign center Ted Karras March 18, 2020
- Miami Dolphins Bolster Their Running Backs, Sign Jordan Howard March 17, 2020