The Miami Dolphins had some choices to make heading into last March. With free agency beginning, the Dolphins needed to decide the fate of three of their top players.
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When free agency was over this past off-season the Miami Dolphins decided that the price tags of three specific in house free agents compared to their play on the field wasn’t worth the retention. On Sunday, those three players wore new uniforms for the first time in their pro careers.
How did Rishard Matthews, Lamar Miller, and Olivier Vernon do in their debuts with new teams compared to their replacements in Miami?
Olivier Vernon vs. Mario Williams
The New York Giants paid Vernon the highest guaranteed money for a defensive end when they signed him shortly after Miami removed the transition tag. On Sunday he lined up against the Dallas Cowboys.
Vernon recorded three tackles and one assist in the game with no sacks. The Giants defense held firm most of the game. The Cowboys ran for 101 yards and passed for 227. Vernon’s debut was solid if unspectacular.
Mario Williams seemed to have returned to form early in his debut with the Dolphins. He had 1 tackle and 1 assist with 1 sack. He missed a big portion of the game as he went into concussion protocol and was not on the field in the 4th quarter.
Lamar Miller vs. Arian Foster
There was a lot of debate over Lamar Miller prior to him hitting free agency. Miller was asking for over $5 million per season and the Dolphins wanted him closer to $4 million. He refused and got the contract he wanted from the Houston Texans.
On Sunday, Miller ran for 106 yards on 28 carries and caught 4 passes for 11 yards. Miami found him expendable because they wanted a running back who was better in the passing game. Miller came in just under his normal 4 yards per carry average. Miller also fumbled once.
Arian Foster faced a very tough defensive front from the Seahawks on Sunday. The offensive line continued to struggle to make holes for Foster to run through. On a 4th and inches call he hesitated for an instant and could not pick up the first down. Foster ran the ball 13 times for 38 yards but looked like he was fresh after sitting out most of 2015 with an Achilles’ injury. He added 62 yards receiving on three receptions.
Rishard Matthews vs. Leonte Carroo
Rishard Matthews found a home with the Tennessee Titans after the Dolphins opted to not re-sign him. Matthews looked good through pre-season but on Sunday he was limited to just three receptions for 26 yards. He was outplayed by rookie Tajae Sharpe who led the team with 7 receptions for 76 yards.
Carroo’s debut for Miami didnt’ amount to much as he made two receptions for 14 yards total. He was behind Kenny Stills however. Stills caught 1 pass for 16 yards and dropped a perfectly thrown pass that would have been a touchdown.
Whether the Dolphins made the right decision or the wrong one no longer matters. The players have moved on and so have the Dolphins. By the looks of the stat lines, none of three players would have likely made the difference against Seattle although it’s tough to say that about Miller who was improving in his pass catching abilities.
With the situation of Jay Ajayi still in question, Miller’s loss stings a little whereas the others do not.