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Miami Dolphins

Quarterback Search Snapshot

Travis Wingfield



Familiar, unwelcomed territory is upon us once more. A recent influx of talented youngsters leaves a small faction of the NFL devoid of viable long-term answers at the game’s most important position. Living among that faction, the QB-needy faction, are the Miami Dolphins.

Not that this is uncharted territory for an organization starving for a savior for the better part of two decades. Starving for something beyond a stabilizing force. If everything is cyclical, after 17 years of the curly-haired kid from Pittsburgh, the Dolphins are due to end the suffering – in fact, they’re overdue.

The most popular test trivia of a modern-day ‘Phins fan is also the most painful bar banter topic – list all the quarterbacks to start a game in the post-Marino era.


Quarterback Years with Miami (Games Started)
Jay Fiedler 2000-2003 (59 + 3 playoff starts)
Damon Huard* 2000 (1)
Ray Lucas 2001-2002 (6)
Brian Griese 2003 (5)
A.J. Feeley 2004 (8)
Sage Rosenfels 2002-2005 (2)
Gus Frerotte 2005 (15)
Daunte Culpepper 2006 (4)
Joey Harrington 2006 (11
Cleo Lemon 2006-2007 (8)
Trent Green 2007 (5)
John Beck 2007-2008 (4)
Chad Pennington+ 2008-2009 (19 + 1 playoff start)
Chad Henne 2008-2011 (31)
Tyler Thigpen 2010 (1)
Matt Moore 2011-2017 (30 + 1 playoff start)
Ryan Tannehill 2012-2018 (87)
Jay Cutler 2017 (14)
Brock Osweiler 2018 (5)

*Huard was with the team for the end of the Marino era in 1998 and 1999
+Runner-up in 2008 NFL MVP voting

Tumultuous, to say the least. The improvement from 2012 to the present, just in stability alone, is a massive upgrade to the eight previous years. Going from annual change, to a pair of quarterbacks whose tenures both outlasted any of the prior aspirants. Tannehill and Moore, providing the stability, were solid, yet unspectacular.

Fiedler was a limited gamer capable of doing enough to support a dominant defense en route to some early playoff exits.

Chad Pennington spun magic for one-year in gimmick offense sans Tom Brady competing for among his AFC East foes (missed 15 games with a torn ACL).

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

And then Ryan Tannehill teased Dolphins fans for seven years.

Three decent QB eras that will only be remembered those that done the aqua and orange on a regular basis.

So, now, Miami embarks on the search once more. It’s been 19 years, 19 men have tried, and Miami’s QB cupboard is as barren as ever.

The Dolphins figure to hire a coach in the coming days (or weeks) – that will certainly have impact on the impending assemblage of side arms.

Days of old, in the NFL, called upon one of two options to secure this ever-important role with little additional resources allocated to the position. Whether it was a highly-priced free agent, or a bright and shiny rookie, clearly defining the face of the franchise was commonplace.

And it still is – to a degree.

But the en vogue rebuilding process of a quarterback room, the most important room at any of the NFL 32 facilities across America, has become as much about quantity as it is quality.

Merely 9 months ago the Browns made Baker Mayfield the first overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. This selection was made a month after acquiring then Bills Quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, for a 3rd round draft pick. Taylor brought his $16 million salary with him to pair with Mayfield’s $22.3 million earned in cash in 2018 – not exactly frugality at its finest.

The Cardinals inked Sam Bradford for $20 million in 2018. Arizona made a jump in the draft, from the 12th pick to the 10th spot, to select UCLA Quarterback Josh Rosen.

In 2017 the Bears traded up one spot to select UNC Quarterback Mitch Trubisky with the second pick in the draft. Trubisky’s $15 million in cash earned that season was narrowly outdone by free agent Mike Glennon – the former Buccaneer signed for $16 million.

The Eagles executed a similar approach, this time going for the trifecta, in 2016 with Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel and Carson Wentz.

Seattle pioneered the practice in 2012 with a marquee contract for free agent Matt Flynn. Flynn would never start a game when it was quickly realized that 3rd round rookie Russell Wilson was destined for stardom.

The Dolphins are next in line to go bulk shopping – the Quarterback’s section of Costo. And it might not be confined to the 2019 off-season. Even as four quarterbacks under the age of 25 started their first playoff game over the weekend (or will make that playoff debut next week), another crop is on the horizon.

From five-star recruits, to potential big-money free-agents, Miami has a three-year window to aggressively attack the position and put an end to the growing list of post-Marino failures.

Before we explore menu, let’s first take a look at how each present starting quarterback was acquired by his respective team.


Tom Brady 6th round, 1999
Ryan Tannehill 8th overall, 2012
Sam Darnold 3rd overall, 2018 (NYJ traded up from 6)
Josh Allen 7th overall, 2018 (BUF traded up from12)


Ben Roethlisberger 11th overall, 2004
Baker Mayfield 1st overall, 2018
Lamar Jackson 32nd overall, 2018 (BAL traded up from 52)
Andy Dalton 2nd round, 2011


Andrew Luck 1st overall, 2012
Deshaun Watson 12th overall, 2017 (HOU traded up from 25)
Marcus Mariota 2nd overall, 2015
Blake Bortles 3rd overall, 2014


Patrick Mahomes 10th overall, 2017 (KC traded up from 27)
Phillip Rivers 4th overall, 2004 (traded from NYG to SD)
Derek Carr 2nd round, 2014
Case Keenum FA signing – 2 years, $36 M, $25 M gtd.


Carson Wentz 2nd overall, 2016 (PHI traded up from 13; 8)
Dak Prescott 4th round, 2016
Eli Manning 1st overall, 2004 (traded from SD to NYG)
Alex Smith Via Trade (Sent CB and 3rd rounder to KC)


Aaron Rodgers 24th overall, 2004
Matthew Stafford 1st overall, 2009
Kirk Cousins FA signing – 3 years, $84 M, fully gtd.
Mitch Trubisky 2nd overall, 2017 (CHI traded up from 3)


Drew Brees FA signing – 6 years, $60 M, $24 M gtd.
Matt Ryan 3rd overall, 2008
Cam Newton 1st overall, 2011
Jameis Winston 1st overall, 2015


Russell Wilson 3rd round, 2012
Jared Goff 1stoverall, 2016 (LAR traded up from 16)
Jimmy Garappolo Via Trade (Sent 2nd round pick to NE)
Josh Rosen 10th overall, 2018 (ARI traded up from 12)


That’s 27 of the 32 starting quarterbacks acquired via the draft and still with the original team -84%. Nine of those 32 were not drafted by the team that organically held that draft position. More than a quarter of the starter signal-callers were acquired via a draft day trade-up.

If the Dolphins want to find that quarterback prospect in April’s draft, they might have to follow suit.



Notable Free Agents: Teddy Bridgewater, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Fitzpatrick
Day 1 or 2 QB prospects: Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, Daniel Jones, Will Grier, Brett Rypien

Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

This list of potentially available players has been universally criticized. The top two names on the draftable list are still undeclared and, frankly, are the only two that could be considered long-term answers.

The free agent crop offers up that trio of underwhelming players with recent, relevant starting experience. Bridgewater is the big mystery of the three. His last meaningful snaps (aside from a spot start in a mop-up game week 17) came in the 2015 playoffs.

Any free agent signing would provide a bridge to the imminent rookie selection.


Notable Free Agents: Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Phillip Rivers, Tom Brady, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Nick Foles,
Day 1 or 2 QB prospects: Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Jake Fromm, Jacob Eason

A little more attractive, isn’t it? Of course, several of those names are a sure-fire bet to retire or re-sign with their present teams. But that list of potential draft prospects is equally salivating for quarterback-starved franchises.

The one big name from the free agent list that has been rumored to potentially be on the move is Russell Wilson. That rumor is entirely unsubstantiated, however, and the Seahawks operate at too high of a level to do anything near the level of stupidity required to move on from an elite quarterback.

Tagovailoa is going be the most hyped prospect since Andrew Luck in 2012 – maybe even before. Herbert has plenty of growing to do as he returns to Eugene for his senior season and Jake Fromm has the make-up that will impress NFL decision makers.

Jacob Eason sat out 2018 after transferring from Georgia to Washington – he can spin it.


Notable Free Agents: Kirk Cousins, Cam Newton, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz
Day 1 or 2 QB prospects: Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields

The pair of five stars in the draft column are worth a three year wait – especially Lawrence. The Clemson Freshman, set to play for a national title tonight, looks like he came straight from a quarterback production machine that spits out the perfect product.

Fields hasn’t started a game at the college level and his upside might be clouded by his decision to transfer and sit out the 2019 season.

Of course, all of this could change as quickly as a year – or even sooner. Player’s market value is constantly evolving and most years fail to prove impervious to that fluctuation. Entering the 2018 college season, for example, Michigan State Junior Brian Lewerke was believed to have QB1 potential. After a miserable season, Lewerke isn’t even considered a professional prospect.

The 2018 class staved off major change from early projections. Darnold, Rosen, Allen and Jackson each played under the spotlight throughout their final seasons as amateurs in 2017. Baker Mayfield, as he is wont to do, stormed the castle and stole the show rocketing up the draft board to be the first QB selected.

A couple of prospects have that same feel (Tagovailoa in 2019 and Lawrence in 2020). The accompanying names will surely jockey to round out those future first round draft slots.

As long as Miami can stay true to two principles, the long-awaited arrival of the “Next Dan Marino” should be obtainable in the coming years:

1.) Attack the position aggressively, in multiple facets. The draft, free-agency, trade, this is not a position to practice frugality with. Miami needs to sink resources into the quarterback until they find one good enough to permit the team from doing otherwise.

2.) Continue the aggressive nature once the draft target has been identified. If “THE” guy is out there, and the Dolphins are sure of it, sitting idly by would not be in the best interest of the franchise. The Chiefs, the Texans, the Eagles, the Rams – each pushed their chips to the center of the table and now each hold pocket aces at the game’s most crucial position.

The rebuilding process begins here. Get this right, and the entire fan base collectively, deservedly, steps off the wheel of mediocrity.


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    January 9, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Excellent Column agree 100%

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NFL Draft

Scouting College Football’s Top 2020 Quarterback Prospects – Week 12

Travis Wingfield



Recapping Week 12 of the College Football Season

During the college season, here on Locked On Dolphins, we’re going to keep an eye on quarterbacks all throughout the country. Our primary focus will be on the big four, the options that Miami will likely choose from with an early pick in the 2020 draft.

Those quarterbacks are:

Tua Tagovailoa Scouting Report
Jake Fromm Scouting Report
Justin Herbert Scouting Report
Jordan Love Scouting Report

2019 Week 1 Recap
2019 Week 2 Recap
2019 Week 3 Recap
2019 Week 4 Recap
2019 Week 5 Recap
2019 Week 6 Recap
2019 Week 7 Recap
2019 Week 8 Recap
2019 Week 9 Recap
– No Week 10 Recap
2019 Week 11 Recap

*LSU’s Joe Burrow has been added to the prospect watch list.

We’ll go in chronological order from when the games were played.

Week 12 Recap

Tua Tagovailoa vs. Mississippi State, Win
Stats: 14/18 (77.8%) 256 yards (14.22 YPA) 2 TD

Today was a collective “L” for the football community. One of the best collegiate players, and widely praised good guys, Tua Tagovailoa suffered a hip injury that leaves his football future in question.

What started out as an ordinary onslaught of explosive plays — a product of perfectly placed passes — ended in potential tragedy. Reports say that Tua’s hip is both dislocated, with a fracture of the wall that retains the ball joint. This injury calls for immediate surgery and significant recovery time, if a football career is possible at all.

Tagovailoa will do everything in his power for a full recovery, and hopefully the advances in modern medicine can allow him to make a triumphant return to the gridiron.

Jordan Love at Wyoming, Win 26-21
Stats: 18/29 (62.1%) 282 yards (9.72 YPA) 2 TD, 2 INT

This game was my favorite quarterback tape to watch this season. Jordan Love exhibited the sometimes unfathomably unique arm-talent that has endeared him to scouts nationally. After two interceptions — one a bad read, another bad luck — Love showed the shortstop-like arm, supreme athleticism, and general freaky traits that have scouts drooling.

The arm-strength to squeeze the football into a tight window from 40 yards away, the rare elasticity to sling it on a line across his body while on the move, the quick release to get the ball out in the face of pressure…it looks like he’s throwing a baseball.

The added element of a designed run package and RPO game, paired with the threat of throwing the ball to any blade of grass on the field, coaches will line up to get their hands on this prospect.

Jake Fromm vs. Missouri, Win 27-0
Stats: 13/28 (46.4%) 110 yards (3.93 YPA) 3 TD

Fromm hit his best throw of the season in another big SEC road victory. Few quarterbacks have the number of scalps that Fromm keeps in his back pocket, and he displayed tremendous poise in another hostile environment.

At times, the crowd noise was deafening, yet Fromm communicated his line checks and audibles with urgency and a steady heartbeat. He made cutch, accurate throws on third down, and beat the defense with his pre-snap prowess.

Fromm has quiet feet when he gets to the top of his drop. That’s not a trait he shares with a lot of the new-age, successful quarterbacks in the NFL. Kyler Murray went first in the draft for his ability to glide weightlessly about the pocket, creating passing lanes.

While Fromm is capable of mitigating some deficiencies with his ability to get the offense into the right play, and accurate passing, he’s not going to erase free rushers with his athleticism, and he’s not going to overcome situations with a fastball throw.

Joe Burrow at Ole Miss, Win 58-37
Stats: 32/42 (76.2%) 489 yards (11.64 YPA) 5 TD, 2 INT

And in one afternoon, Joe Burrow is left with nothing to prove. The now heavy favorite to come off the board with the first pick, the second half of Miami’s season would have to take some considerable turns to get the LSU Quarterback.

Burrow remains as cool as ever in this one. He rushed his Tiger offense out to a big lead with a couple of impressive improvisational plays. The big day was saddled by the two turnovers, but Burrow ends the day as the new QB1 due to Tua’s medical situation.

Justin Herbert vs. Arizona, 10:30 ESPN
Stats: 20/28 (71.4%) 333 yards (11.89 YPA) 4 TD, 1 INT

If this was your first viewing experience of Justin Herbert, you probably came away convinced he’s a top-10 draft pick — and he will be. If you’re a regular to his tape, this game was more of the same — flashes of brilliance when the circumstances permit, but the same inconsistencies in the most important aspects of the game.

Arizona’s defense hasn’t stopped a nose bleed this year, and they sure as hell weren’t going to stop the draft’s most physically impressive specimen behind the country’s best offensive line. Herbert’s long touchdown throws displayed the hand-cannon that has scouts conjuring up the prototypical quarterback build — particularly the toss in the second half.

On the rare occasions where Arizona got heat, you saw Herbert’s lack of quick-twitch to get off the spot, without the inherent ability to keep his eyes downfield to keep the play alive. You saw Herbert make an egregious decision to throw the ball into coverage (the INT was dropped) on a first-and-goal play from the two-yard-line.

The problem with Herbert, is that this has been the story for over 30 games. He still has no signature wins or moments, and the Oregon offense is still predicated on the running and screen game.

Herbert’s best bet at the next level is a run-heavy offense that can utilize his premiere weapon — throwing on the move. Lining up in 12-personnel (2 tight ends) and allowing Herbert to get out in space to throw into layers or flood concepts on the move will be the smoothest transition for the Oregon QB to have some success.

I’m of the belief that you have to put Herbert in an absolutely ideal situation, because he’s not going to mitigate your issues offensively.

Week 12 Conclusion

Reports from the University of Alabama doctor responsible for tending to Tagovailoa say the quarterback will make a full recovery, but he is certainly in for a long rehab process. If anyone can come back from this, it’s Tagovailoa, though his draft stock will surely be impacted. If Tua enters the draft and clears all the medical hurdles, he’ll still be a first-round pick.

Miami might be fortunate if Tagovailoa is still the target. With Brian Flores willing his team to underdog victories, the chances of obtaining the first pick was becoming grim, but so too are Tua’s chances at going off the board number one.

The Dolphins will have a difficult decision to make, though an apparent contingency plan is developing behind Tua.

Jordan Love is making progress the last two weeks in his overall effectiveness, and the highlights he produced today were utterly absurd. Though he has shortcomings in his approach for the game and playing the quarterback position, his physical tools give him — far and away — the highest upside in the class.

Miami’s interesting draft season took a jump to a whole other level of intrigue with the events of Saturday.

Week 13 Schedule

Fromm vs. Texas A&M, 3:30 CBS
Burrow vs. Arkansas, 7:00 ESPN
Love vs. Boise State, 10:30 CBSSN
Herbert at Arizona State TBD


Additional Prospect Videos

A.J. Epenesa – Iowa Defensive End 

Bravvion Roy – Baylor Defensive Tackle

Julian Blackmon – Utah Safety (former corner, invited to Mobile for the Sr. Bowl)

Ben Bredeson – Michigan Left Guard

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Miami Dolphins

Should the Miami Dolphins be interested in signing Colin Kaepernick?

Shawn Digity



Miami Dolphins Colin Kaepernick
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

Miami (Locked On Dolphins) – Should the Miami Dolphins be interested in signing Colin Kaepernick?

It was only a matter of time before someone posed the question, and maybe it’s already been asked. Does Colin Kaepernick make sense for the Miami Dolphins?

I think the answer could be yes but not in a vacuum. The circumstances would have to be aligned for it to work out.

As it stands, for 2019, I don’t think Kaepernick would be viewed as a starter to fuel any tank or non-tank talk, regardless of how good he looks in the jerry-built workout on Saturday.

Any potential for signing Kaepernick would come with a big asterisk. I think it would have more to do with the some of the draft-eligible quarterbacks that could be a Dolphin next year and the traits and abilities they possess than it does with Kaepernick and what he could do directly for the franchise.

It boils down to who the Miami Dolphins have on their quarterback short list in the 2020 Draft. A lot of this franchise’s future boils down to the quarterback. But I’ll save that lecture for another time.

I’m not sure who will be the quarterbacks on the roster next year. Josh Rosen is likely out, and I’m not sure about Ryan Fitzpatrick. Maybe he stays, maybe he goes.

Regardless, there will be a rookie quarterback on the team, maybe even two if the Dolphins double-dip like the Redskins did in 2012 with Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. I’ll save that theory for another time, too.

But once the Dolphins have taken their guy next spring, I think they’ll look for an experienced veteran to fill in for a pedagogical role in the QB room.

One of them could still be Ryan Fitzpatrick, but it could be someone else, like Cam Newton…or Colin Kaepernick, but I’ll get to that in a second.

Newton would be a better fit for that role compared to Fitzpatrick, and he offers the ability to kill two birds with one stone. He can win games and bring up the rookie as he goes.

Travis Wingfield tossed around the idea of trading for Cam Newton on Tuesday’s LOD podcast. I liked the idea. Trade for Newton and draft someone like Jordan Love or Jalen Hurts, who are both much rawer than their Joe Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa counterparts.

Of course, that’s Plan B. If Tagovailoa is still within reach, then draft him. If Burrow’s there, take him. If either of those two situations plays out, then all of the contingency plans go out the window.

But getting either Tagovailoa or Burrow is not a guarantee. So, having a scope on the other potential first-rounders is essential. I still like Jordan Love and his traits, but I also like Jalen Hurts, and I’m coming around on Justin Herbert. All three would benefit from redshirt seasons when entering the NFL.

And having the appropriate veteran guidance will be a huge blessing for the rookie’s development.

While I hope Plan A still comes to fruition, I also like the first backup plan. Here’s a caveat to Plan B, though. Trading for Newton is also not a guarantee.

There are several factors out of the Dolphins control, and that’s assuming that they are, in fact, interested in trading for Newton. If they are interested, then it becomes paramount that they can trade for him. At least they have their 2020 war chest of draft picks.

Now, back to my Kaepernick spiel. If Newton becomes a distant memory and Plan B crumbles, then Kaepernick jumps into the picture.

Kaepernick offers flexibility if the Dolphins do want Newton but can’t land him or if they’re going to save their picks outright.

If Newton is Plan B, then I’m viewing the signing of Kaepernick as a next-best Plan C. Newton and Kaepernick could both fit into the mold of teacher, but both also offer more upside than Ryan Fitzpatrick when it comes to winning games. It’s a way of having your cake and eating it too.

You wouldn’t have to trade for Kaepernick, and I doubt you’d have to fend off many other teams to sign him, either.

Allow an incubation period for the rookie quarterback while Newton or Kaepernick takes the reins for a season or two. Similar to how Patrick Mahomes held clipboards for most of his rookie season, grooming a rookie quarterback under the wings of a veteran could provide more sustainable growth for the rookie.

It’ll set up the rook to eventually blossom in a few years instead of being thrown to the wolves and also allow the Dolphins to find relevancy in short-term eras from one of the two mentioned veterans (Newton and Kaepernick).

So, would signing Kaepernick make sense? Yes, but only under certain conditions. I could see it become more likely that Kaepernick never joins the team, but there are scenarios, albeit limited ones, that could see him in orange and aqua.

But he could become a leader for the team and a teacher for the next-gen quarterback waiting in the wings.

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Miami Dolphins

Brian Flores – The Solution to Miami’s Two-Decade-Long Problem

Travis Wingfield



The talent has been here all along, but the coaching hasn’t been, until now

Hot, muggy August mornings signal the best time of year for football fans in South Florida. As the Dolphins head to camp, the start of a new season looms on the horizon. This past August — Brian Flores’ first with the Dolphins — we saw a training camp in Davie unlike any before.

Individual drills, focusing on fundamentals and the core basics of the sport (blocking, defeating blocks, tackling, and drilling mental toughness and a mistake-free mindset), the practices featured very few team portions.

Boring as all get out for the fans in attendance, sure, but those foundational bricks have already laid the groundwork for the least-penalized team in the NFL. In the midst of a challenging season, those repetitive, grueling days have resulted in a team that ranks in the top 10 in tackling (9th-fewest missed tackles).

The 2019 Miami Dolphins training camp period was the most important month of Flores’ tenure as the man-in-charge, and it’s already paying massive dividends. The top-of-the-league rankings in the minute, yet crucial details of the game are tremendous, and even more valuable when considering the gems Miami discovered along the way.

Those gems aren’t exclusive to undrafted free agents and reclamation projects. The Dolphins are getting career years out of former top 50 picks in Devante Parker, Mike Gesicki and Raekwon McMillan.

Good coaching with premium talent is the best way to curate household names across the league, but a team without depth is a team that can’t succeed in this league. Uncovering both bonafide starters, and rotational parts from that scrap heap is the most encouraging aspect of Brian Flores’ first year in Miami.

Vince Biegel’s pass rush productivity marks are top 10 at his position from an efficiency standpoint.

Nik Needham was an undrafted free agent who’s gone from Conference USA to holding his own against NFL receivers. Needham’s coming off a two-game stretch where he made 14 tackles, and his first career sack and interception.

Jomal Wiltz was on the Patriots practice squad last season, and now he’s a valuable, versatile part of the defensive backfield. Ryan Lewis, Ken Crawley, Ken Webster have all contributed as in-season defensive back free agent signings as well.

Sep 15, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) is sacked by Miami Dolphins linebacker Vince Biegel (47) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

John Jenkins was a cut-down day acquisition, and all he’s done is led Miami in overall Pro Football Focus grade.

Eric Rowe was signed for close to nothing — a one-year, $3.5 million deal back in March. He struggled at cornerback early on, but since moving to a strong safety role — where he covers tight ends and plays a lot in the box — he’s playing some of the best ball of his career.

That list is impressive in its own right, and certainly inspires confidence in the Dolphins ability to succeed in this rebuild going forward. Even for the fan apprehensive to trust Chris Grier and company, it’s impossible to deny the widespread individual growth.

That’s where this next list comes into play. The Dolphins have had talent, and that’s evident by the players that have departed South Florida, and gone onto successful careers elsewhere.

For the sake of continuity and time elapsed relevance, we’ll go as far back as the beginning of the Joe Philbin era. Grier has been in Miami since 2007, but his role in each individual acquisition is impossible to gage. And that remains true even today as Miami — and all NFL teams — act as a gigantic collaboration.

With more than 30 scouts, college and professional personnel directors, a General Manager, Assistant General Manager, and nearly 20 coaches all serving underneath Owner Stephen Ross, nobody outside the walls in Miami knows who is responsible for which move.

To borrow the famed Bill Parcells mantra, the front office buys the groceries. From there, it’s up to the coaching staff to best prepare those ingredients and cook up a winning recipe. From Joe Philbin to Adam Gase, Miami have done very little to take on talent and produce an even better product on the other side.

We start in 2012 with the decision to trade the biggest name receiver this franchise has employed since Chris Chambers left at the 2007 trade deadline.


Brandon Marshall – Marshall was an pro-bowl-level player at every stop except for Miami. His career fizzled towards retirement at the end, and he had a decent stretch in the 2011 season, but his two years in Miami produced the two worst statistical seasons out of the prime of his career. Marshall’s first year with the Bears resulted in a first-team All-Pro selection, a product of 1,508-yard season with 11 touchdowns — topping the two-year total (nine TD) with Miami.

Vontae Davis – The infamous grandma phone call request will never be forgotten, but Vontae got the last laugh on Miami. After three promising seasons with the Phins, Davis’ next four in Indianapolis produced two pro-bowls and 12 interceptions.


Karlos Dansby – This move was a double whammy, as it was made to create space for all-time free agent bust in Dannell Ellerbe. Dansby didn’t make any pro-bowls after leaving Miami, but his first season in the dessert was a smashing success. He picked off four passes (two for touchdowns), broke up 19 passes, made 12 TFLs and registered his second-highest sack total of his career with 6.5.

Sean Smith – Smith infamously made a public comment during the Seahawks rise to prominence in 2012 about Richard Sherman and the freedom of Seattle’s cornerbacks within that scheme. Smith was promptly allowed to depart via free agency, but didn’t break the bank with the Kansas City Chiefs. Fresh off his new three-year, $18 million deal, Smith’s first year in KC resulted in an 84.7 passer rating against. Then, in 2014, Smith was PFF’s 6th-highest graded corner (Davis was 2nd.)

Tony McDaniel – Arriving via a conditional pick in 2009, McDaniel earned his way from the bottom of the depth chart into a rotational role. Then, in 2013, he left for Seattle and his career took off. His Pro Football Reference Approximate Value metric was never higher than 3 with Miami. His first two years in Seattle, McDaniel had an AV of 9 and 7. He made 94 tackles those two years, 12 more than his four-year total with the Dolphins.


Nolan Carroll – A fifth-round pick in 2010, Carroll took some time to develop his game. Just as he did, the Dolphins allowed the Maryland product to walk in free agency. Carroll never became a lockdown cornerback, but he was a key role player for three years with the Eagles, starting 27 games his final two years there. His contract with Philadelphia paid him $5 million over two years — plenty affordable for cornerback depth.


No notable losses. Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Charles Clay and Randy Starks never had jumps in production in their post-Miami careers.


Olivier Vernon – Vernon received a monster contract from the Giants, but an extension could’ve reduced Miami’s cost on the hometown product. Drafted out of The U, Vernon’s breakout season happened in his contract year, and pushed Miami out of the market to bring him back entirely. Vernon’s highest AV mark in Miami was 8; his first season with the Giants nearly doubled that with an eye-popping 15 approximate value figure.

Lamar Miller – Another Miami native, Miller never took the league by storm the way some assumed he would, but he signed a cheap deal to move to Houston after the 2015 season. This is more of a nod to the Dolphins scouting staff to find a good player in the fourth round.

Rishard Matthews – Miami used a first-round pick on Devante Parker the year before, but that premium pick could’ve been used elsewhere if Miami were capable of self-scouting their own receiver corps. Matthews first season in Tennessee was the best of his career. His 945 yards and nine touchdowns were both career highs.

Billy Turner – A left tackle at North Dakota State, Turner was shuffled about the offensive line before flaming out in embarrassing fashion through a difficult 1-4 start to the 2016 season. Turner went on to start for the Broncos, where he impressed the Packers to the tune of a four-year, $28 million deal this past offseason.


No notable departures


Ndamukong Suh – The original signing was probably never a good idea, but Suh was an integral part of the Rams run to the Super Bowl last season. Again, this piece is to prove that Miami has done plenty to acquire talent over the years.

Mike Pouncey – Pouncey was a shell of his former self at this stage. Injuries were always the primary issue with Pouncey, but he was a first-round pick in 2011 that played in four pro bowls. There isn’t a football fan on earth that wouldn’t sign up for that return on the 15th pick in the draft.


We can’t write the final story on Laremy Tunsil or Minkah Fitzpatrick yet, but those two, along with Kenyan Drake, provide Grier with quite the endorsement of the 2016 NFL Draft. Fitzpatrick wasn’t a part of that class, but Xavien Howard was, and he remains in Miami.

We might look back on these trades of Tunsil and Fitzpatrick as catastrophic failures, but both will always hold superiority to Miami’s decision to part with so many of the names we just mentioned. The Dolphins received premium compensation for both players, including quarterback prices for Tunsil.

The Skinny

Now, with almost no considerable resources on his roster, Brian Flores is getting similar production from his stripped-down squad than what Adam Gase got the last two years. And Gase did it with far more money and accolades scattered throughout the locker room.

These types of blunders stretch all the way back to Rob Ninkovich, and Evan Mathis before him. The hope, with Brian Flores and his unique ability to develop players acquired off the scrap heap, is that those days are gone.

If they are, with all the premium resources Chris Grier, Marvin Allen, Reggie McKenzie and the entire front office has to work with, the Dolphins can quickly become a team to be reckoned with for years to come.


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