While the Miami Dolphins themselves may not have qualified for this year’s playoffs, there are a variety of Dolphins castoffs littering the post-season scene. Whether you’re the type of fan who falls in love with guys when they are on the roster and become life long fans of the individual or whether you develop a hatred of all former players for no longer being a part of your team, it can be an interesting review of team history and GM performance to observe what former unwanted players remain on the most successful of NFL teams. I don’t claim to recall every player who has ever graced the Dolphins roster, but the below should represent a comprehensive list and I would be interested in your comments if I forgot anyone!
Starting with the AFC…
- The top seed in the AFC, the Denver Broncos, only have one former fin in DT Kevin Vickerson. Vickerson was drafted in the seventh round by Miami in 2005 but never saw the field as a Dolphin. He’s gone on to a solid if unspectacular 7-year career serving as a rotational D-lineman first for the Tennessee Titans and now the Broncos.
- The New England Patriots represent perhaps the most painful collection of names on this list. Rob Ninkovich was a run of the mill depth/special teams player for the 2007 Dolphins, but has morphed into a situational pass rusher and turnover machine (at least against Miami). Donald Thomas was pretty useless in Miami but has been a strong backup interior lineman in New England. And of course, former Dolphins GM Randy Mueller made the catastrophic mistake of only offering Wes Welker a second round tender in 2007 and then tried to make himself look better by prying the princely sum of an extra seventh rounder out of the Patriots in return for the diminutive wide out Welker, whom has gone on to a spectacular career on one of the Dolphins’ biggest rivals.
- The third seeded Houston Texans have four former Dolphins of varying significance. Wade Smith was drafted by the Dolphins in 2003, but saw most of his time in Miami derailed by injury before moving on to be an above average guard in Kansas City and Houston. Punter Donnie Jones made a name for himself in Miami before taking a big contract with the St. Louis Rams and then moving on to the Texans. Tim Dobbins was seeing playing time in Houston, but was recently placed on IR, and Andrew Gardner got on the field only once in Miami, and barely any more in Houston.
- The Baltimore Ravens’ biggest connection to Miami was offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, the mention of whose name is nothing if not offensive to Dolphins fans. However, his recent dismissal leaves special teams maven Brendan Ayanbadejo as the only former fin in Baltimore.
- The surprising and fifth seeded Indianapolis Colts also have four former Dolphins, the most notable of which is pre-season acquisition Vontae Davis, whom was injured most of the year but should up with Stick-um hands in Week 17 like he had never shown in Miami. The Colts also start former Dolphins disappointment Samson Satele at Center. Satele has improved over his days in Miami, but is still a below average starter at the position. Finally, AJ Edds and Jamaal Westerman were recent rosterees of the Dolphins, though they barely ever saw the field in regular season play for either squad.
- Rounding out the AFC are the Cincinnati Bengals, who roster two veterans whom will not bring out fond memories in the minds of Dolphins fans. Jason Allen was the first round pick of Miami in 2006 whom was never bad enough to get cut but never good enough for anyone to want him on the field. Mercifully, he was released in 2010. Safety Chris Crocker had a disastrous stint with Miami in 2008, but somehow was better than his replacement in 2009, the great Gibril Wilson (whom also was once a Bengal, but is now out of the league).
- The Dolphins connections are much more sparse in the NFC playoffs. The top seeded Atlanta Falcons roster only kicker Matt Bryant with any ties to Miami, and his stint was a mere 3 games in 2004.
- The San Francisco 49ers harbor a whole family of Dolphins, as they employ the great Ted Ginn Jr. Of course, the Niners have banned Ginn from ever taking the field as an actual WR, so they have proven much more successful in their use of the speedster.
- The third seeded Green Bay Packers also have only one Dolphin in OLB Erik Walden, who was a little used special teamer in Miami but is now a solid rotational player for the Pack.
- The Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks both manage to have no former Dolphins on either of their rosters, but I would recommend watching their showdown anyway because Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson are surely a treat.
- Finally, the Minnesota Vikings have three former Dolphins who all had small roles in Miami. Marvin Mitchell was a solid backup LB for the 2011 fish. Joe Berger spent time as a rotational O-lineman in Miami. Devin Aromashodu was drafted in 2006, and while he has never developed into anything spectacular, he has managed to have a fairly lengthy NFL career.
While it certainly isn’t the same as watching the good guys in the playoffs, keeping an eye on former players can add another level of intrigue to what is already an exciting postseason tournament. Hopefully next year we will have a 53-man list of Miami ties in one of these bullet points!