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Miami Dolphins Mock Offseason for 2020

Travis Wingfield

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Version 1.0 of Mocking Miami’s Busy 2020 Offseason

This is a crucial point for all passengers of the tank. We are 25% of the way through our patrol of the battlefield, and fast approaching the point of no return. Epic beat downs from four formidable opponents confirms what we speculated leading up to the season — this Dolphins team is pretty terrible.

Some will argue that pivotal contests remain on the itinerary. Three meetings with the futile football teams that play in New Jersey are ahead. A late date with the bungling Bengals could serve as a satirical Super Bowl of sorts. Perhaps none are bigger than next Sunday’s home tilt against an outfit who’s on-field product is superior, but represent an utter mess behind the scenes.

My empathy for other football teams is nonexistent these days — the result of donning the aqua and orange. But if I were to feel any modicum of remorse for another team, it might be Washington. While they can outclass the Dolphins on the field on Sunday, the long-term prospects for that organization are as dire as Miami’s 2019 playoff hopes.

The counterpoint to importance of these games that ultimately allow Miami to control its own tank destiny is tangible. Tangible in the sense that, while there’s plenty of bad football currently being played in the NFL, nobody has scratched the surface on the Dolphins level of futility.

So, as fans, how do we survive that?

Hope. It has always been about hope.

While the interim is as bleak as ever, the Dolphins are in a position to add double digit premium players to its roster next offseason. Of most significance, a high-grade, potentially elite quarterback that could rise the tide in South Beach faster than climate change.

Life as a Dolphins supporter/analyst revolves around finding ways to repair the proverbial vehicle after a disappointing season. Usually, that occurs around the holidays. This year, however, we’re quoting the cost to replace the transmission and restore the paint job prior to the conclusion of baseball’s divisional playoff round.

The downside — the loss of a precious, precious football season. The upshot — it’s different this time around. Opposed to a needs-focused approach that results in underwhelming bandage attempts, Miami will start the process of a new…well, process.

Stephen Ross’ reported greatest objection with the football operations came during the 2018 NFL Draft. Whether he was motivated by the idea of Lamar Jackson, or simply was not sold on the value of Minkah Fitzpatrick, the true origin of his desires was based in gathering draft picks.

The owner of the Dolphins doubled-down on this philosophy. Ross, in his state of the franchise address back on New Year’s Eve, discussed his preference to acquire multiple draft picks.

With over $150 million in available cap space, and the promise of an aggressive free agent period, Miami are in a unique position. All of those draft picks will play on cheap, rookie deals that last between four and five years.

Juxtaposing those contracts, paying the high market values for free agents in 2020 will be offset by the cheap nature of rookie contracts. In an ideal world, Miami will run into a problem five years down the road. A welcome problem where the Dolphins brass have to choose which players get second contracts.

For reference, think about the current Dallas Cowboys. The result of terrific drafting has put Dallas in the enviable position of having too much talent in a salary capped league. If Miami can get to that point, the team’s annual manipulation of the draft board will keep the cupboards perpetually stocked, allowing Miami to preemptively draft replacements for free agent departures.

The beauty of that plan is that Miami can use the draft as its own personal pipeline. At that point, the team can sit on its hands in free agency and collect compensatory picks to sustain the model of winning the draft by simply possessing more picks than everybody else.

New England has done this for years, and the plan is certainly aided by rostering an elite quarterback. Something the Dolphins believe they will be getting in short order.

Alright, that’s the lengthiest lede in the history of sports columns. Let’s get to the real reason you’re here — the mock offseason.

Free Agent Haul (Primary Signings):

DB – Byron Jones – Dallas
DB – Tavon Wilson – Detroit
LB – Kyler Fackrell – Green Bay
DL – Adam Butler – New England
OL – George Fant – Seattle
OL – Brandon Scheff – Washington
TE – Mo Alie-Cox – Indianapolis
WR – Emmanuel Sanders – Denver
RB – Austin Ekeler – Los Angeles (Chargers)

Dolphins 2020 Draft (First Three Rounds)

  1. (1) QB Tua Tagovailoa – Alabama
  2. (10) CB Jeffery Okudah – Ohio State (after a trade back)
  3. (25) C Creed Humphrey – Oklahoma
  4. (33) WR Henry Ruggs – Alabama
  5. (55) OT Lucas Niang – Texas Christian
  6. (65) Edge Khalid Kareem – Notre Dame
  7. (100) RB J.K. Dobbins – Ohio State

Projected 2020 Line Up

 

Position Players (Offense – 24)
QB Tua Tagovailoa, Josh Rosen
RB Austin Eckler, J.K Dobbins, Mark Walton, Patrick Laird, Chandler Cox
WR Preston Williams, Henry Ruggs, Emmanuel Sanders, Jakeem Grant, Devante Parker
TE Mike Gesicki, Mo Alie-Cox, Durham Smythe
LT Jesse Davis, George Fant
LG Michael Deiter, Evan Boehm
C Creed Humphrey
RG Brandon Scherff, Shaq Calhoun
RT Lucas Niang, Isaiah Prince

 

Position Players (Defense – 26)
DL Davon Godchaux, Robert Nkemdiche
DL Christian Wilkins, Adam Butler, Jonathan Ledbetter
DL Taco Charlton, John Jenkins
LB Kyler Fackrell, Andrew Van Ginkel, Sam Eguavoen
LB Jerome Baker, Vince Biegel
LB Raekwon McMillan, Kareem Khalid
CB Xavien Howard, Ken Webster
CB Jeffery Okudah, Chris Lammons
CB Bobby McCain, Jomal Wiltz, Cordrea Tankerlsey
S Byron Jones, Johnson Bademosi, Walt Aikens
S Tavon Wilson, Steven Parker

 

This roster checks in with nine significant free agent signings — five on the offense, four on the defense. We retained some of the personnel previously deemed as players the Dolphins could move on from, and some of those are simply placeholders for mid and late-round draft picks that I need to spend more time studying.

In total, we have 17 new players, but consider that five or six of these players won’t be here with the later round rookies infused, we’re looking at 23-man changeover from last season – a 44% upheaval. The point of this article is to demonstrate that this rebuild can happen in one offseason. It’s more likely that it’ll take two offseasons to completely reshape the team, but this roster will be gutted this coming winter.

Relying on this many rookies is a risky proposition. Relying on this many players left over from 2019 that are more projections than solidified quality NFL players is a risky proposition. But if we are riding into this rebuild with Brian Flores, and the staff he assembled, we need to expect that they will do their part and develop all this talent.

The potential for 2020 could be big, but it’s more than likely about identifying which areas need final reinforcement for the real run in 2021.

It’s dark and dingy inside the tank right now. Stomaching the next three months won’t be for the faint of heart. But when we crack the seal on the turret, and emerge on the other side, hopefully the glorious view of utopia makes all of this worth the ride.

@WingfieldNFL

 

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Daniel Meehan

    October 6, 2019 at 8:47 pm

    Travis, I love this article but I don’t see additions that get to QB. Patriots on pace to get 60 sacks and where on pace to get 20 sacks.I would forget about trade and either draft issah Simmons or grant delpit.

    • Avatar

      Sammy Evans

      October 7, 2019 at 11:13 pm

      I’m really high on byron jones but we a lot of other teams are as well and he would be looking to get paid. It’s highly likely that someone may outbid us. An alternative would be Trae Waynes (Minnesota) or Dre Kirkpatrick (Cincinnati) to play opposite X and Vonn Bell to take over for Reshad Jones. Additionally I think our primary target in free agency should be Nick Van Noy from New England. He’s a great pass-rusher who can stuff the run and cover TEs. He’s a perfect fit for the defensive scheme that Flores is trying to implement. After Van Noy I’d look to building the trenches. Possibly trading for Trent Williams and signing Brandon Scherff. I’d use the draft to obtain skill position players instead of overpaying for a RB like Eckler. The 33rd overall pick is a great spot to draft a good back. If we are able to sign a CB drafting a player like Chase Young would be ideal to stack the defensive front.

  2. Avatar

    Daniel Meehan

    October 6, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    I did look at the film of Kareem and Frackell.They may be decent options. I’m also high on Curtis weaver. The bottom line is we need players like Van Noy and winovich. Travis, thanks for all you do.

  3. Avatar

    Baatdad

    October 6, 2019 at 10:29 pm

    Absolutely Love your suggestions

    • Avatar

      Raul

      October 7, 2019 at 3:19 pm

      I do not see spending a cent on anyone other than Fackrell, Scheff and Fant as s Backup with Manageable Salary,
      Scheff is a Great a Player with several years to Play, Fackrell has potential and Young.
      The others are either too Old or little Production, dirty fo not see the Point. Spend on Young with Potential and relatively Good Production,

    • Avatar

      Raul

      October 7, 2019 at 3:23 pm

      I do not see spending a cent on anyone other than Fackrell, Scheff and Fant as s Backup with Manageable Salary,
      Scheff is a Great a Player with several years to Play, Fackrell has potential and Young.
      The others are either too Old or little Production, do not see the Point. Spend on Young with Potential and relatively Good Production.
      Like and agree with your Draft except for the Kid from ND,

  4. Avatar

    Christian Benvenuto

    October 7, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    This is a 5 win roster. No pass rush or run defense improvement.

  5. Avatar

    MikeyMoore

    October 7, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    Great Article

  6. Avatar

    Marchcool

    October 7, 2019 at 10:33 pm

    Wishful thinking!
    The FO are composed by morons, starting with the owner S. Ross.
    Otherwise this kind of brilliant and master plan had happened years ago. But no, Ross had Ireland and Tannenbaum and didn’t want to acknowledge their stupidity until it was too late. Ross cannot acknowledge his own, and now is already late…very late. This is the tragedy of our beloved team, sadly.

  7. Avatar

    Darry

    October 8, 2019 at 3:20 am

    Go for Tevin Coleman instead of Ekeler and I know it’s early but Boehm has looked competent so far.
    The team should see what they have in him before signing a FA guard to a mega deal.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins Waive TE Michael Roberts

Chris Kowalewski

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As the doors of the Dolphins’ training facility open to the newly signed rookie class, they close for another former Miami-hopeful after an active weekend of roster moves.

The Miami Dolphins have today waived TE Michael Roberts.

Roberts began his NFL career in 2017 out of Toledo as a 4th round pick of the Detroit Lions, possessing ideal measurements (6’5”, 265lb) for a playmaking TE.

A shoulder injury in December 2018 cut short Roberts’ time in Detroit and he was waived by the Lions following a failed physical as part of an attempted trade with the New England Patriots and subsequently waived quickly again after being picked up by the Green Bay Packers.

Roberts underwent reconstruction of the injured left shoulder in August 2019, having struggled both physically and mentally as his career path veered away from his dreams. Signed by the Dolphins in February 2020, it was hoped that Roberts could revive his NFL career in Miami’s TE room, competing with Durham Smythe for the TE2 spot behind Mike Gesicki.

At only 26 years old, it remains to be seen whether the young TE will be able to regain full health and return to the game, but the craziness of 2020 only puts further hurdles in his path as training camp rosters are reduced across the league to 80 players in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Don’t expect Brian Flores and his staff to sit on their hands when it comes to competition – 2019 highlighted on a regularly churning roster of names being given a chance to succeed – and this approach is expected to continue at certain positions. As such, Saturday’s news that former Chicago Bears’ TE Adam Shaheen had been acquired by the Dolphins ensures that healthy competition can continue to spread through the roster, and proves the willingness of the front office to give chances to promising players who may not have achieved during their first NFL stop.

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Miami Dolphins

In A Perfect World, Tua Tagovailoa Doesn’t Start a Single Game

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

If everything goes right, Tua Tagovailoa isn’t going to start a single game for the Miami Dolphins in 2020.

Nope, you didn’t misread that last sentence. Tua Tagovailoa riding the bench is the best thing that could happen to the Miami Dolphins this season, and if you think otherwise, then you haven’t been paying attention to what Brian Flores has been preaching since his arrival.

The obvious factor everyone is taking into consideration is the health of Tua’s hip. And while that definitely plays a part, it has minimal affect on his playing time. You see, barring a trade, Tua is the third-best quarterback on the roster right now.

Combine his inexperience, a COVID-restricted offseason, and that pesky hip injury, and it’s safe to say our questions have already been answered.

The Better Player Plays

With this team, it’s no secret that playing time is awarded based on a player’s performance both in games and during practice. It doesn’t matter where you were drafted or how much money you’re making, if you aren’t better than the athlete next to you, you aren’t playing.

In fact, didn’t we just go through a very similar situation last year when the Dolphins acquired Josh Rosen from the Arizona Cardinals for a 2nd-round draft pick?

We all assumed that Ryan Fitzpatrick was keeping the seat warm until Rosen – a top-10 draft pick one season prior – was ready, but when Flores had the opportunity to simultaneously give a young quarterback experience and tank for Tua, he did neither. Instead, opting to (nearly) sabotage the opportunity to draft Tagovailoa and win as many games as possible with Fitzpatrick.

Rosen has much more upside than Fitzpatrick, but he couldn’t muster more than 197 snaps under center last season.

Just like that, the culture was set. Flores wasn’t fucking around – it was win at all costs, and the players bought in. One season later, that mantra certainly hasn’t changed.

Tua has more talent and better quarterback traits than Fitzpatrick and Rosen (probably combined), so there’s no arguing which quarterback we want to build a franchise around, but who is going to win the team more games this season?

I don’t doubt that Tua is a football genius that will pick up a playbook quickly, but knowing your plays and executing against an NFL defense are two completely different things.

Fitzpatrick has been in the league for 15 years while Tua has been in the league for 14 weeks; there is A LOT Tua has to learn before he can make the kind of reads Fitzpatrick can instinctively make after 139 starts in the NFL.

Josh Rosen may not evolve into an elite, franchise-saving quarterback, but he’s not terrible either. Two years of experience and a season-worth of starts (16) under his belt gives him an instant edge over Tua. The only thing that levels Rosen with Tagovailoa is they’re both learning Chan Gailey‘s offense for the first time – and for Rosen, this would be his 4th different offense in the past 4 years.

Otherwise, Rosen already has a rapport with the coaching staff, the medical staff, all of the workers in the building, and the receivers on this roster. In other words, he’s comfortable in his surroundings while Tua is trying to get acclimated to a brand new life.

There are going to be growing pains and a learning curve – two things we admittedly need Tua to experience in order to evolve. But the question becomes, when can Miami afford to experience those “opportunities”? Certainly not if they believe they are…

Playoff Bound

The Miami Dolphins – and most importantly, Brian Flores – believe they are in a position to make a legitimate playoff run.

Scoff however much you’d like at the notion that this team, one year removed from being “the worst team in the NFL”, is on a cusp of making a playoff appearance, but don’t tell anyone in the Dolphins’ organization that you think that.

A remastered secondary, a veteran presence among the front-7, an entirely new offensive line, and real, productive running backs means the Dolphins are all-but-guaranteed to improve on their 5-11 record.

In fact, the only thing holding them back from a legitimate playoff run is the quarterback position.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has won more than 6 games as a starter just once in his career, and Rosen only has 3 wins to his name (none as a Dolphin). If the team falters, it’s because these two quarterbacks couldn’t carry a well-built football team to the playoffs.

And that’s where the disappointment of another lost season is met with hope for the future. It won’t be until the Dolphins are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs that the team will trot Tua Tagovailoa out onto the field.

Waiting until so late in the season checks off every single box you need. It gives him time to:

  • Learn his way around the NFL
  • Understand the playbook better
  • Observe the game from the sideline
  • Gain chemistry with his receivers

Oh, and it also helps ensure that his hip is healthy, because…

I’m Sure He’s Healthy…

Being stuck inside during an international pandemic may have made it seem like a lifetime ago, but it’s only been three short months since we all clamored to a 14 minute video of Tua Tagovailoa throwing scripted passes; our eyes inexplicably glued to a man’s hips, unscientifically judging whether or not he was healthy. Try explaining that one to your significant other.

While we are all thrilled with recent medical reports and first-hand accounts from the quarterback himself, it would be downright idiotic to mess around with a hip injury.

The only reason Tua Tagovailoa was available at the 5th-overall pick was because of the uncertainty surrounding his hip, those concerns don’t suddenly disappear just because he’s on your roster and we’re excited to see our prized possession play.

Let his hip heal and let him practice against a secondary that includes Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, Bobby McCain, Brandon Jones, Noah Igbinoghene, and Eric Rowe. He’s going to learn just how quickly throwing lanes close and how tight they are to begin with.

Don’t convince yourself that Tua has to start games this rookie season to be the elite quarterback he’s projected to be. Patrick Mahomes started one game his rookie year. Aaron Rodgers didn’t start until his forth season in the NFL. If all of the hype is real, then his career will be just fine.

The plan isn’t to count moral victories, but to win football games – and Tua Tagovailoa gives the Miami Dolphins the best chance to do that for the foreseeable future. But for now, Ryan Fitzpatrick is your starting quarterback, and until Josh Rosen relinquishes the job as backup, it won’t be Tua’s until 2021. Mission Accomplished.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Trade for Tight End Adam Shaheen

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

After a breakout 2019 campaign, it looks like Mike Gesicki will have some competition.

According to Pro Football Talk, the Miami Dolphins have traded a 2021 6th-round pick to the Chicago Bears for tight end Adam Shaheen.

A former 2nd-round pick (2017) out of Ashland University (Division II), Shaheen excelled during the combine, which led to an increase in his draft stock. The Bears jumped at the opportunity of molding a raw prospect, and selected Shaheen with the 45th pick in the draft. He was the 5th tight end taken in the draft that year, well above where he was originally projected when he declared for the NFL.

Though the Bears were optimistic, it seems Shaheen hasn’t lived up to his draft status. After three seasons, Shaheen has 26 receptions for 249 yards and 4 touchdowns. His playtime has diminished from 239 offensive snaps in 2017, to 160 in 2018 and 174 in 2019; with injuries playing a part the past two seasons. For comparisons sake, Durham Smythe had 482 offensive snaps last season alone (Shaheen has 573 for his career).

Shaheen became expendable after the Bears drafted Cole Kmet in the 2nd-round of the 2020 draft and signed Jimmy Graham to a 2-year contract earlier this offseason. With 8 tight ends on the Chicago Bears roster, you know something had to give. And from the perspective of a Bears’ fan, receiving any compensation for a likely roster cut is rewarding enough.

Trading a 6th-round pick means Shaheen is a favorite to win one of the backup tight end spots, should the Dolphins keep 3 on their roster.

It’s unlikely that Shaheen is a possible replacement for Smythe, as Shaheen is meant to be a receiving threat more than an in-line blocker, but there is so much untapped potential with Shaheen that it’s hard to guess what the Dolphins will receive from him.

We assume Mike Gesicki will continue to grow, but behind him, the cupboard is pretty barren. Shaheen adds much-needed depth to a tight end room that currently includes Smythe, Michael Roberts, Chris Myarick and undrafted rookie Bryce Sterk.

 

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