The Miami Dolphins as of last night had to trim their roster by 24 players. Around the league, teams are making their final roster decisions and while some have already reached the mandated 53 man roster, others will release as many as 27 players making today “Bloody Saturday” across the NFL. This year teams kept upwards of 90 players due to the off-season limitations placed upon teams by the lockout. In past year, the final cuts while rough, are usually slated for around 10-15 players.
So far the cuts have not been surprising. Few starters have found their way onto the market or unemployment line. That does not mean that by the end of the day a few names will pop up and inevitably the chatter will start about who the Dolphins should go after. Looking at the Miami Dolphins roster as a whole there are three positions that could possibly be upgraded should a surprise cut be made and the Dolphins can move quickly. Currently the Dolphins are reportedly about 9.5 million under the cap.
Here are my top three positions for the Miami Dolphins to possibly examine in free agency tomorrow. From least important to most important.
Safety - Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons have battled out the entire pre-season for the starting gig. It’s been so tight of a battle that Tony Sparano has not officially announced his decision. Indications seem to point towards Jones but indications are not absolutes. The fact that they have had a tough battle in camp still does not mean that th position is a lock to not be adjusted. The Dolphins need more than hard hitters at the free safety position. They need a ball-hawking game changer and so far, neither Jones or Clemons have established themselves as being more than adequate.
It’s hard t say who might be released today that could be a better option than the above mentioned duo and it’s even more difficult to imagine that Jeff Ireland or Tony Sparano would want to add another safety to challenge at this stage of the season. Of course Ireland did bring in veteran safety Gerald Alexander a short two weeks ago. He was released yesterday.
TE - It’s difficult to list this as the second most important position to fill on the roster because it is such a glaring need. While Anthony Fasano has had a good camp, there is no denying the fact that he can be erratic and inconsistent at times. The Dolphins simply have nothing beneath him and if he get’s hurt the Miami offense is going to have a problem. Jeron Mastrud, Mickey Shuler, and Brett Brackett are all young and relatively unproven. Of the three, Shuler seems to have more upside, but that is not saying much at this point. In fact, Shuler really should be a practice squad player at this point or the third TE if the Dolphins chose to keep 3. Not the number 2 where he sits he now.
The good news about the need for TE is the fact that there should be plenty to choose from at the end of today. Will any of those be starters or have starter qualities? That’s the bad news. It’s not likely. The Dolphins best bet to find a tight end is through a trade and teams that are deep at the position may be willing to listen.
Oline - Yes, I am aware that it’s vague. But so is the offensive line. Simply put, the right side is a hole. Vernon Carey has not made the transition to guard easily and Marc Columbo has actually played worse on the right outside than Carey did. The Dolphins appear to be passing on free agent Pro-Bowl center Andre’ Gurode who also has played tackle. He is scheduled to meet with New England today. Whoever signs him prior to week 1 of the season will have to fully guarantee his contract under the new CBA rules.
The good news for Miami is that there should be a plethora of offensive lineman available today and over the next few days. There are a lot of solid offensive lineman that simply won’t make rosters for salary cap reasons, injury history, contract status, and age. I would be surprised if the Dolphins didn’t try and add at least two new faces to the offensive front.