Miami Dolphins: 53 Man Roster Projection

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Next week, the Miami Dolphins must trim their current roster to a 75 man roster on Monday August 27th at 4:00 pm (EST) and then to a 53 man roster on Friday August 31st at 9:00 pm (EST).  Since the normal 90 man roster now sits at 89 because of the retirement of Eric Steinbach, that means at least 36 current Miami Dolphins will no longer be Miami Dolphins next weekend.

April 28, 2012; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland fields questions before introducing the Dolphins new quarterback Ryan Tannehill (not pictured) at the Dolphins training facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

This article is one man’s Miami Dolphins 53 Man Roster Projection based on the performance of players in training camp and in the first two preseason games.

But, who stays and who will be let go will have a lot to do with performances in the final two preseason games.  The Dolphins play at home against the Atlanta Falcons tonight (7:30 pm).  And then, the Dolphins play in Dallas against the Cowboys next Wednesday (8:30 pm).

However, the “at least 36 current Miami Dolphins” stems from the fact that General Manager Jeff Ireland could pick up players released by other teams to fill needs for the Dolphins.  Each team will release up to 15 players by Monday afternoon resulting in the availability of more than 450 NFL players to choose from next week.  Each team will also release another up to 22 players by Friday night resulting in the availability of more than 1,000 total NFL players to choose from next weekend.  That means, it is possible more than 36 current Dolphins will not make the 53 man roster by next weekend.

The make-up of the 53 man roster will be a balance between offense, defense, and special teams.  It will include the starters plus special alignment players (e.g. nickel and dime defensive backs), rotational players (e.g. defensive linemen), players for special teams (e.g. defensive backs and linebackers), and an adequate number of backups to provide for coverage in case of injury (e.g. offensive linemen).

It is important to note that the make-up of the 53 man roster will be chosen by the General Manager Jeff Ireland.  Head Coach Joe Philbin will have input.  But, Ireland will have the final say.  Therefore, two additional considerations will come into play.  Ireland will not likely give up so easily on players he has selected in the recent 2012 NFL Draft — he will want to prevent draft picks from being poached from the practice squad.  Also, Ireland has to consider the salary cap.  He will likely want to lock up some players in 2012, who are currently scheduled to be free agents in 2013 (e.g. Jake Long and Sean Smith).  So, some of the more expensive backups may be released to create more cap space to sign 2013 free agents.

Three special team players are a lock to be on the 53 man roster — Dan Carpenter (kicker), Brandon Fields (punter), and John Denny (long snapper).  That leaves 50 additional players.  I think that will break down into 26 offensive players and 24 defensive players.  The greater number on offense is attributed to keeping more wide receivers for the west coast scheme, than backs for the defense.

So, here is the projection for the 53 man roster, one week before the final cuts.  Note that all salaries quoted in parenthesis are for 2012 (not including any signing bonuses).

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