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Minor League Miami Dolphins

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins truly are a pathetic organization. This isn’t about Ja’Wuan James “worth” and if he was paid more than his value dictates. That aspect can be debated thoroughly; but when you finally do come to a conclusion, you realize he wasn’t one of those players that was absurdly “overpaid”.

Regardless, what’s the point of drafting talented players if you aren’t going to retain them?

Do any of you have any hope that your Miami Dolphins are going to re-sign Laremy Tunsil or Xavien Howard? And if you do believe Miami isn’t that stupid and they will actually re-sign them, do you think they’re going to get it right?

There’s a common theme with the Dolphins. They have the ability to identify talent in the draft, but they refrain from trusting their judgement enough to pay them “early”. As if paying someone for their current accomplishments and future performance is too risky for them.

There’s also one common theme with the organization throughout that time. You can say it’s Stephen Ross (though he wasn’t around when Bill Parcells took Jake Long #1 overall), but no, that person is Chris Grier.

I’m not sure what his actual role was this entire time, but it seems to be uncovering “acorns” in the draft and then allowing them to walk away. Did he not have a say in the players he scouted? Did he believe players like Andre Branch and Kiko Alonso were worth more money than Jarvis Landry?

What exactly did we get ourselves into by promoting Chris Grier? Which successful decisions can we attribute towards him and which mistakes can we blame on Mike Tannenbaum or Joe Philbin?

Here are the draft picks Miami has offered extensions to since Stephen Ross became 95% owner of the Miami Dolphins in 2009:

Note: this doesn’t include players who have received a 5th-year option; these are players that have received a brand new, multi-year extension from the Dolphins

  • Brian Hartline
  • Koa Misi
  • Reshad Jones
  • Mike Pouncey
  • Ryan Tannehill
  • Walt Aikens
  • Bobby McCain

Here is a (long yet incomplete) list of draft picks that have gotten away since Stephen Ross took over:

  • Jake Long
  • Kendall Langford
  • Vontae Davis
  • Sean Smith
  • Jared Odrick
  • Nolan Carroll
  • Charles Clay
  • Olivier Vernon
  • Lamar Miller
  • Rishard Matthews
  • Dion Jordan
  • Jamar Taylor
  • Dion Sims
  • Mike Gillislee
  • Caleb Sturgis
  • Jelani Jenkins
  • Ja’Wuan James
  • Jarvis Landry
  • Jay Ajayi

This list doesn’t include (every) draft “bust” like Jordan Phillips or DeVante Parker. Nor does it include undrafted free agents (like Cameron Wake), but even if we did, it’s fairly obvious which list is more alarming that the other.

We can blame Bill Parcells, we can blame Jeff Ireland, and we can blame Mike Tannenbaum, but there’s one underlying constant and that’s the current GM of this football team.

Now that he has his opportunity, we watch a franchise right tackle walk away, even though he could have been retained a year or two ago for a price you actually would have wanted.

We might watch a cornerback get traded or walk away next season because Miami is too scared to pay him one year “too early”.

It’s possible we watch the best emerging left tackle in the game walk away in two years because his price skyrockets far above anything the team expected.

Look at all of the “stupid money” floating around in free agency this offseason.

  • Trey Flowers for over $80m
  • C.J. Mosley for $85m
  • Landon Collins for $84m
  • Nick Foles for $88m!
  • Tyrann Mathieu for $42m
  • Justin Coleman for $36m
  • Jamison Crowder for $28.5m

Now look at what Trent Brown – a converted offensive guard that had one successful season at left tackle – made with the Oakland Raiders: 4-yr, $66m ($36.75m guaranteed).

If you say “who” to anyone on this list, it only further exasperates the point. Other than Flowers, Mosley and Collins, who are all very good players, the rest of the free agents are nowhere near the caliber of player Laremy Tunsil or Xavien Howard are.

If you think Laremy Tunsil is going to sign for anything close to what Brown just made you are most certainly mistaken. Again, this isn’t about if the money is “stupid” or not, it’s taking into account the current market, mixed with the influx of available cash/cap, paired with an increasing cap each year – which means Laremy Tunsil is going to cost far more than any left tackle is making currently. Especially if you decide to wait two more years.

The Dolphins might be sacrificing current cap space if they sign these players early, but they’re saving themselves future cap space. Foresight….it’s a crazy concept.

The main reason the Dolphins can’t afford to spend early on their draft picks is because they’re always putting themselves in cap hell with the horrendous free agents they sign. Extending Reshad Jones, Mike Pouncey, Ryan Tannehill and signing players like Ndamukong Suh and Mike Wallace forces you to a tight cap space which means you can’t allocate extra money to players that actually deserve it.

So now that you can take all of the players the Dolphins have released and pit them against the current Dolphins roster and win, I’d say Chris Grier has a lot on his plate.

Is he going to let Tunsil, Howard and eventually players like Kenyan Drake and Minkah Fitzpatrick just walk away (or traded for pennies on the dollar)? Then you have a building case for why Grier shouldn’t be running this team, and why it’s probably more-likely that he’s a spy for the New England Patriots than a productive general manager for the Miami Dolphins. Maybe he can manage that 33rd NFL team he’s sending all of these draft “finds” to each offseason.

While we should all be cheering the fact that the Miami Dolphins haven’t unnecessarily splurged on players “just cause”, we have to wonder why it gets to the point where Miami either overpays or has to be honored for not overpaying.

Because seriously, this year’s free agency victory was “Miami didn’t do something stupid!”

How do we change that narrative? Is it with Chris Grier as the general manager? Right now, I’m not so sure about that one….

Growing up a passionate Dolphins fan in Jets territory, Jason learned from an early age that life as a Dolphins fan wasn’t going to be easy. Previously the Sports Editor for his university newspaper, Jason has experience writing columns, creating game recaps and conducting interviews with Hall of Fame athletes (Harry Carson and Yogi Berra are two of his proudest interviews). When he’s not dissecting the latest sports news, you can find him perplexed over the Dolphins offensive line woes or involuntarily introducing music to his neighbors.

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Kevin Chapman

    March 12, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Keep it positive bro-seph.
    Hang in there, the climate change is in full swing!

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      March 12, 2019 at 1:03 pm

      That change is definitely coming, Kevin! Glad to see this team hold off on splurging for the FA. Now if only they begin to sign their own top players before they become too expensive. Fingers crossed that comes with the climate change as well

  2. Avatar

    Joe Lavis

    March 12, 2019 at 9:46 am

    Do understand you point . But once again all that matters is what they are doing going forward from here. Is Grier the main culprit? Somehow doubt it but he is the only one left to blame other than Ross. Football money gets more stupid every year, well all sports actually. Tunsil is going to cost us a fortune . Bong boy most likely will become the highest paid left tackle if not this year then next. X on the other hand might very well be traded. His value will never be higher and on a rebuilding team the 1st and 3rd we could get for him would help keep our salary cap in place for years to come. Even with making Bong Boy the highest paid left tackle. Our past is littered with stupid move after stupid move. How they rebuild this team from here is what matters . Grier has surrounded himself with experience ,and yes some of that was failure and hard lessons . Flore’s is also trying to cover his ass with experience around him also . Most of the fan base is pissed off because as they see it we are not trying to go to the big game. And we are not . This is a long term rebuild , many of the players on this team will be gone next year when the salary cap hit will no longer matter. There intent is to build thru the draft and young free agents. If it works we will be a powerhouse in 21 . If not , well if you are an older fan like me you know you most likely wont live thru the next staff . Right now i like the coaches and the plan . Other than Tunsil any one could be gone on this team and i could live with it .

  3. Avatar

    Mojo

    March 12, 2019 at 10:04 am

    “Franchise Right Tackle”? Is there such a thing? If there is it certainly isn’t James. James is an average right tackle getting paid elite money. I’m overjoyed they let him walk at that price. He will be easily replaced. And we will get a compensatory pick in 2020.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      March 12, 2019 at 1:08 pm

      Right tackle certainly isn’t on the same level as LT, CB, QB or even DEs, but James could have been your right tackle for an extended period of time.

      The compensatory pick will be very nice for Miami, that’s true. Just wish they took the risk and signed him earlier in his career rather than waiting until his value ballooned higher than his worth.

      Then again, hard to predict that when he was coming off of a year in which he played in only 8 games.

  4. Avatar

    Herb

    March 12, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    It’s fair to critique the Dolphins for how they handled their draft picks in recent years, but you can’t fault this individual decision based on where they were entering free agency. This was the smart move given where this team. (cough: they don’t have a QB if you think tannehill is getting cut.) I feel like somehow James has improved exponentially over the last few months, as there was not this kind of fire about his play at Week 17.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      March 12, 2019 at 1:07 pm

      This FA period certainly hyped up James more than his play was warranting at season’s end. That said, I still believe he was a good RT for us. My biggest complaint with this move is that Miami had the ability to re-sign James going into 2018 and held back due to the uncertainty he provided (which, can’t deny, was there coming into 2018 with his injury history). If they would have taken the risk it’s possible they have James at a 4-yr/$36m deal ($9 per year) rather than paying the 5th-year option at around that price and now losing him to Denver. It will require additional assets (spending $ on lesser talent or using a draft pick) just to replace him.

      Wonder if Jesse Davis is their answer.

      Can’t fault them for letting James go on that contract, just wish they would have nabbed him a littler earlier.

  5. Avatar

    Ken Booker

    March 12, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    I know how you feel. Been a fin fan for over 46 years. They were the only sports team in Fl. I love my fins, but the team has been run badly since Shula was run out of town. But i could never turn my back on them. I pray to holy God that this team can turn it around before i friggin die.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      March 13, 2019 at 1:55 pm

      It’s been some dark times – if only I was able to experience those prime Shula and/or Marino years. They will eventually turn it around, and it’ll feel very sweet when they do. Hopefully that comes sooner rather than later.

  6. Avatar

    Marchcool

    March 12, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    The Dolphins are indeed pathetic since S. Ross became the owner. All the miscues you mentioned on extending contracts are the fault of the stupid FO. They overpay millions to players like M. Wallace, but let go players like Landry, Vernon, Miller, etc etc.
    No hope that this team can regain the excellency that once enjoyed as far as this moronic and dilettante owner remains in the (dis)organization…sadly for us the faithful and all-time Dolphins fans.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      March 13, 2019 at 1:59 pm

      Have to like that Ross is always willing to spend, but it took him awhile to acclimate to being an NFL owner (if he’s even there at all) and in that time the Front Office has built this team terribly. Have to just hope that they turn it around this time.

  7. Avatar

    Miamimanman

    March 12, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    While I totally understand your frustration with past FO’s letting some in house talent walk, I see this as Grier/Flores and Co. trying to bring a bit of the Patriot way down south via the compensatory draft pick model.

    If Miami hones in on some low tier free agents, and especially dudes who’ve been cut (since they won’t count against the comp. pick formula), we can net a 3rd and a 5th potentially. We’ll survive the loss of James, although it would have been nice if we signed him a year ago at a slight discount.

    I just messed around with Spotracs salary calculator for 2020, and with a bit of tinkering its not out of the realm of possibility that we can have over 100 mill in cap space by then as well. Plenty of funds to bring back X, Tunsil and even Drake if he excels this year.

    Now if Grier decides to let X walk, then I’ll be a pissed as well. If we hit on a second CB this draft we can have Surtain/Madison 2.0 (or 3.0 depending on if you count Smith and Vontae lol).

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      March 13, 2019 at 2:02 pm

      I agree and do believe that this team is setting their cap up nicely for 2020 (have a piece coming out on that in the future). Between Grier getting his own grip on the show and with the input of Flores and the rest of the Patriots staff (along with Jim Caldwell and other experienced coaches coming over), Miami may finally be building it right.

      Hopefully this regime learned from past mistakes and don’t let Tunsil or Howard out the door. Would absolutely love that shutdown tandem at corner (especially with Fitzpatrick back there as a safety or in the slot)

  8. Avatar

    Jhary

    March 12, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    So let me get this straight…PFF ranks James tied for 34th in the NFL…there’s only 32 teams in the league, which puts James in the bottom half of the league…and the Ponies just made him the highest paid RT in the league??? So in a contract year, James busts his butt to be the very best he could be, and average was the very best he could achieve…and that’s worth $13 mil a year??? Denver paid him TWICE what he was actually worth…and now that James got the big bucks, do you REALLY think he’s going to bust his butt to get any better??? If I was a gambling man, I’d wager good money Denver cuts him in 2 years when they realize just how much they over-paid his average at best butt.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      March 13, 2019 at 2:07 pm

      There are a few things that irk me with James walking. Is he “overpaid”? Yes. That’s not the kind of money I want to pay James. But, if we are looking to build around a young quarterback this year or next year you’re going to want to protect him. By letting James go, you now have to spend $ on lesser talent or use a valuable draft pick on a replacement (or find a replacement lower in the draft, but Miami hasn’t been able to uncover that in the past – with Grier as director of college scouting or “general manager”).

      If Miami looked into extending him last year, coming off of a season in which he only played in 8 games, they could have had him for $8-$9m/year. It’s risky, of course, but it’s the kind of risks Miami takes and seems to get wrong (Hartline, Tannehill, Jones, etc).

      James may have been ranked 34th, but it’s something to take with a grain of salt. Todd Gurley is the 18th-ranked RB and I’d rather have him over anyone except Barkley, Zeke or maybe Chubb (contract plays a huge part). I do think James is a very good RT – good enough that he isn’t necessarily elite, but you don’t have to worry about him.

  9. Avatar

    PapaPickett

    March 12, 2019 at 10:26 pm

    This is a severe overeaction. I dont know why your acting like his performance was something that was worth what he was paid. Juwuan James is not an impact player. He is simply replaceable yet is now the highest paid RT in the NFL. His work in the run game was also atrocious every single year he was in the league.

    Alot of the players you mentioned that we let go made sense to let go of, but lets just focus on James. If we sign James to anything near what he was offered, he continues to be mediocre while costing top dollar, which restricts our ability to resign key difference makers like Howard and Tunsil.

    Your arguement goes against your own logic. James is not a great player. He was above average to average and will not see the end of his contract. See Olivier Vernon/Jarvis Landry. In the mean time we can pay real play makers.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      March 13, 2019 at 2:14 pm

      Depends which playmakers we’re deciding to pay? We didn’t extend guys like Vernon or Landry early because we were too busy extended Branch or Kiko or reworking Tannehill or Suh’s contracts because we needed the cap space.

      It’s the poor overall cap management and the inability to retain/extend the right players is what gets me. Although James is not worth the money he received, he could have been retained for $8-9m/year if the team jumped on signing him early (coming off of a season in which he only played 8 games). Now, Miami needs to spend $ on lesser talent or spend draft picks on his replacement.

      As for others, it’s safe to say there are a bunch that didn’t/won’t “earn” the contracts they received; it’s just that Miami never finds a way to retain them. If you sign Olivier Vernon a year early you don’t extend Andre Branch, spend a 1st-round pick on Charles Harris, and then send a draft pick to eventually use the same amount of cap space on Robert Quinn….that’s the repercussions of letting good players walk.

      Miami replaced Jarvis Landry with Albert Wilson and they were only able to get 7 games from him and who knows if he’ll be the same player last year.

      Miami spent 2nd and 3rd round picks on Jamar Taylor and Will Davis to try and replace Vontae Davis and Sean Smith and they weren’t all that great. Then Miami sends Taylor to Cleveland and he becomes a viable starter (at worst, a really good depth player).

      Why does Miami constantly extend the wrong players?

  10. Avatar

    Mike

    March 13, 2019 at 9:31 pm

    The future is here! Can anyone say 3-13 or 3-12 for the next dozen or so years? A good season is going to be 7 or 8 wins. The Dolphins front office has made some big mistakes over the years, by not signing players early enough, spending too much on free agents and making just plain stupid mistakes. Top all of these moves off with the amazing incredible and completely moronic idea of signing a coach that has NEVER been a coordinator and guaranteeing his contract for 5 years! That is the ultimate in stupid decisions. And hiring a guy from the Cheatriots makes it even worse.

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Miami Dolphins

Local Residents Sue Miami Dolphins over F1 Race Track

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: MotorSportWeek.com

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.

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:

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.

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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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