Dolphins off-season begins at square one


The Miami Dolphins are back at square one.  New coach, new coordinators, new philosophies and game planning.  Basically we are looking at a blank white board.  With Adam Gase picking up the sharpie, what should be the first thing he writes on the board? The best and the most logical word – rebuild.

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The Miami Dolphins are not the Denver Broncos.  A new coach with an existing player base will not solve the problem.  Gase is not inheriting a team that is one or two players away.  The Dolphins are a mess.  The majority of their best players are over the age of 30.  There are only a limited set of young players that Gase can build his team around.

That’s the honest truth.

Stephen Ross, the outspoken owner of the Miami Dolphins, signed Gase to a five year contract.  That should allow Gase to start from the bottom.  The first thing he should do, is cut players that won’t be a part of this team in his 4th or 5th year.  That type of reality might potentially hurt a lot of Dolphins fans, but an organic rebuild is what this team needs.

Cameron Wake
Brent Grimes
Koa Misi
Jordan Cameron
Greg Jennings
Earl Mitchell
Brice McCain
All should be cut.  By doing so, the Dolphins will free over 42 million in salary cap.  The Dolphins would not have to re-structure Suh or Tannehill contract, which allows for better cap management in the subsequent years.

But, Gase shouldn’t be done.  By watching the game film from this past season, the pink slip will continue to be shown to the following players:
Dallas Thomas
Billy Turner
Jamar Taylor

Releasing these previous second and third round selections would clear an additional 2.5 million in salary cap space, thereby assigning 45 million for the Dolphins to work with.

Releasing these players definitely creates major holes in the Dolphins depth chart, but that is a good thing. The players that have been cut are no longer apart of the blueprint, and haven’t lived up to expectations or just too old.

The Dolphins would be wise to focus their draft strategy and free agency on young players that can develop into Gase new culture.  The Dolphins front office, could potential start with the resigning of Lamar Miller. A running back that has similar skills set of Ronnie Hillman, a player that Gase developed during his tenure with the Broncos.  Furthermore, Miller is young, and will be hitting his prime age when the Dolphins start making an ascent into the playoffs.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Dolphins could be wise to let Olivier Vernon walk.  Although Vernon is a young player with potentially his best days ahead of him, I don’t see the heart.  Vernon has special talent, but does he do enough to change the complexity of the game? Vernon is going to the highest bidder, the Dolphins should let him walk, and focus on signing a younger and cheaper version for quality depth, that player, Derrick Shelby.

With the free agent pool, the Dolphins armed with over 45 million in cap space would be wise to shore up three positions; Offensive Guard, Linebacker and cornerback.  Teams could potentially input young players into these positions, however, it doesn’t always lead to positive results.  Allow players that have experience make the difference.

Amini Silatolu and Jeff Allen should be two targets that the Dolphins could potentially sign to resolve their open door policy they currently have at the guard position.  Silatolu is coming into his prime years and had a breakout year this past season.  He was part of the Carolina Panther rushing attack, which was the best in the entire NFL.  Allen has shown similar progress with the Chiefs shoring up the right side of the line.  Signing an Alex Boone or Evan Mathis would provide quality veteran depth that the Dolphins sorely need.

On the opposite side of the ball, Trumaine Johnson should be the Dolphins primary focus.  TJ is starting to show off his stellar play and is ready to take his game to the next level.  Adding a seasoned veteran, such as Leon Hall and/or Adam Jones, can provide the element of veteran leadership that is missing in the secondary.  Add in the fact that both played their best seasons under the Dolphins new defensive coordinator, Vance Joseph, this pairing make sense.

At the ground level, the Dolphins would still need a presence to make up for the loss of Vernon.  The Dolphins would be wise to focus on Malik Jackson.  Watching the Bronco’s playoff run, it was evident that Jackson was the best player on the field outside of Von Miller.  Jackson is entering his prime, and understands how to properly get to the quarterback and not cause a 15 yard penalty.  Jackson is going to be expensive, but he deserves the contract.

Following the same methodology, the Dolphins would be wise once again to pick apart the Broncos defence, by trying to lure in Danny Trevathan.  Trevathan speed and agility is exactly what the Dolphins have been lacking.  A standup linebacker that can play all three downs, is a significant area resolved by this signing.

Amini Silatolu
Jeff Allen
Trumaine Johnson
Malik Jackson
Danny Trevathan
Lamar Miller
Derek Shelby

A complete roster adjustment, where aging players have been replaced with prime candidates that are entering their best years in the NFL.  Add in the fact that all the players entered above are under 26 years of age, the Dolphins now have building blocks that can grow with Gase’s game plan.

Next up is the draft…stay tuned