Miami Dolphins: Final 53 Man Roster Prediction

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Quarterbacks (3)

Starter:  Ryan Tannehill
Backups:  Matt Moore, Pat Devlin

Analysis: I believe the Dolphins will not keep two veteran QBs on the roster for the entire season due to their impact on the salary cap.  Moore ($2.5 million) and Garrard ($2.35 million) have high salaries for 2012 with both being free agents next year.  Therefore, the Dolphins will release Garrard due to his lack of readiness to play in the first game.  The Dolphins will keep Devlin on the 53 man roster to prevent him from being poached from the practice squad by another team.  So far, Devlin has had a pretty good preseason, which has actually been better than Moore.  It is possible that Garrard could be the “marquee” player placed on the IR List and then Moore could be traded before the deadline to a team in need of a veteran QB due to injury.

[Update:  Garrard is now reportedly working out, which means Moore may become trade bait sooner than later.]

Running Backs (4 TBs + 1 FB)

Starters:  Reggie Bush, Jorvorski Lane (FB)
Backups:  Daniel Thomas, Marcus Thigpen, Lamar Miller

Analysis: I believe Lane will make the roster at FB — he has had a pretty good preseason. Thigpen will make the roster as a KR and PR on special teams.  Ireland will choose Miller over Steve Slaton because of Miller being a 4th round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Wide Receivers (6)

Starters:  Brian Hartline, TBD (Legedu Naanee)
Backups:  Davone Bess, Rashard Matthews, Marlon Moore, TBD (Chris Hogan)

Analysis:  Nannee has looked good in practice, but bad in games with multiple dropped passes (including one in the Dallas game on Wednesday night).  Ireland will replace him with a veteran free agent or a veteran player acquired via trade with another team.  Matthews, Moore, Hogan, Roberto Wallace, and Jeff Fuller have all shown flashes during the preseason.  But, Wallace and Fuller have not shown enough and will be cut — Fuller will be a practice squad candidate.  Clyde Gates and B.J. Cunningham have not shown much at all and will also be cut — Cunningham could be a practice squad candidate.  Hogan has shown promise in practice and has become a fan favorite.  Ultimately, Ireland will look to replace him with a free agent and then hope to place Hogan on the practice squad.  It should be noted that I believe there is more to the “calf injury” of Brian Hartline than the Dolphins have been letting on to — he has missed almost all of preseason to date.  I believe he is most likely to be the “marquee” player placed on IR at the beginning of the season, becoming available in Week 8.  Hogan or Fuller could be moved from the practice squad to the 53 man roster, in Hartline’s place for the first 8 weeks.

[Update:  Hartline is reportedly going to practice today for the first time in a long time.  This is good news for the Dolphins and bad news for some of the younger WRs.  Additionally, Clyde Gates, Roberto Wallace, Jeff Fuller, and B.J. Cunningham have been released -- additionally, Chris Hogan was one of the final three players to be released.  Finally, Ireland has begun working out veteran free agents to include Donte' Stallworth, Mike Sims-Walker, Brian Tyms, and Jabar Gaffney.]

Tight Ends (3)

Starter:  Anthony Fasano
Backups:  Charles Clay, TBD (Michael Egnew)

Analysis: I believe that Jeron Mastrud should make the roster before Egnew — he is a better blocker in third & short situations.  However, Ireland will not admit that he made a poor decision drafting Egnew in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL Draft.  Egnew will eventually wind up on the practice squad being replaced with a veteran free agent (like former Redskin Chris Cooley).

Offensive Linemen (9)

Starters:  Jake Long, Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, Artis Hicks, Jonathan Martin
Backups:  Josh Samuda, Nate Garner, John Jerry, TBD (Will Yeatman)

Analysis: I believe that Lydon Murtha ($1.927 million) and Ryan Cook ($1 million) will be let go because of lack of performance and salary cap — Jerry ($540,000) and undrafted rookie Samuda, respectively, are more cost effective alternatives.  Garner ($1.4 million) is kept for his performance and flexibility over Ray Feinga ($540,000) and Will Barker ($540,000).  I chose Yeatman over rookie Andrew McDonald because Yeatman can play TE in a pinch — McDonald is a candidate for the practice squad.  However, Ireland will pick up a veteran free agent due the fact that Hicks has been somewhat injury prone and Long recently developed knee problems, possibly not being ready on the 9th — this makes Yeatman expendable.

[Update:  Ryan Cook was reportedly traded to Dallas for a 2013 seventh round pick.  This is a good move for the Dolphins to get a draft pick for someone who was going to be released -- it also unloads $900,000 of his $1 million salary.  Ray Feinga, Lydon Murtha, Andrew McDonald, and Will Barker have reportedly been released.]

Defensive Linemen (9)

Starters:  Cameron Wake, Paul Soliai, Randy Starks, Jared Odrick
Backups:  Jamaal Westerman, Kheeston Randall, Tony McDaniel, Derrick Shelby, Olivier Vernon

Analysis: I believe that the Dolphins will keep 9 defensive linemen on the 53 man roster for rotation purposes and to protect against possible injuries. Undrafted rookie Randall beats out Ryan Baker ($615,000).  Undrafted rookie Shelby beats out fellow undrafted rookie Jarrell Root.  I believe that Westerman ($615,000) is on the bubble and could be cut, if a veteran pass rusher becomes available.

[Update:  It has been reported that the Dolphins have already released Ryan Baker and Jamaal Westerman -- I guess Westerman's bubble burst sooner than I expected.  Jarrell Root was a late released -- official designation was waived/injured.]

Linebackers (6)

Starters:  Austin Spitler, Kevin Burnett, Koa Misi
Backups:  Jason Trunsik, Gary Guyton, TBD (Karlos Dansby)

Analysis: Here is the big shocker — I believe there is a good chance that Karlos Dansby ($8.8 million) will be traded (maybe in a deal to get a WR).  He makes too much money and does not know when to keep his mouth shut.  His spot on the roster will be replaced by a veteran free agent.  But Spitler ($540,000) will likely start the season at MLB — Philbin really likes Spitler reminding him of Packers (and fellow Ohio State) LB A.J. Hawk.  I believe that Trunsik ($1 million) is a real keeper based on his performance in the preseason and play on Special Teams.  The selection of Guyton ($720,000) over 5th round draft pick Josh Kaddu and over undrafted rookie Cameron Collins is based on preseason performance and veteran experience.  If Ireland chooses Kaddu for the 53 man roster, this will mean Ireland fears Kaddu will be poached off the practice squad and/or mean Ireland is unable to admit failure — I believe Kaddu was a very poor pick.   It should be noted that Jonathan Freeny has been a real disappointment in the preseason.

[Update:  Cameron Collins and Gary Guyton have reportedly been released -- I guess Ireland was unable to admit failure.]

Defensive backs (9)

Starting Corners:  Sean Smith, Richard Marshall
Starting Safeties:  Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons
Backups:  Nolan Carroll, Jimmy Wilson, Tyrone Culver, TBD (Quentin Lawrence), TBD (Anderson Russell)

Analysis:  I believe the Dolphins’ defensive backfield is in desperate need of acquiring some depth.  Smith and Marshall are locks to start at the corners.  And, Jones and Clemons will start at the Safety positions.  Carroll is a good back-up at CB, Culver is a good back-up at Safety, and Wilson is versatile back-up being able to play both CB and Safety.  But, the trade of Vonte Davis has left the Dolphins with a depth problem — I do not believe either Lawrence or Russell are the answer, especially if one of the starting CBs go down with an injury.  Next to WR, Ireland will focus most this weekend on filling this weakness with a veteran free agent CB.  I think it is worthwhile to keep in mind that Clemons makes a relatively high salary ($1.308 million) and is a free agent in 2013.  The coaching staff is not thrilled with his performance.  Ireland may also be looking for a starting Safety, either via free agency or trade.

[Update:  The Dolphins have already begun working out veteran free agent CBs including Roderick Hood.  Kevyn Scott, Vincent Agnew and Quentin Lawrence have been released.  Additionally, Anderson Russell was a late release -- one of the last three.]

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So, there you have it — my cut at the first regular season game 53 man roster.  I have as many as seven (7) changes to the 53 roster between tonight and next Sunday.  The new additions will mostly come via free agency, but one or two could come via trade.  I believe the turning over of the roster after training camp will be costly for the Dolphins early on in the season.  They will have to integrate the new comers into Philbin’s scheme and way of doing business.  But, the Dolphins will be better in the long run for making the moves now, rather than later.

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What do you think?

PLEASE check back during the day for UPDATES to this article.  I will try to keep up with the news related to the cuts and trades.

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