The Miami Dolphins have 14 players in this age group (four of them on IR). Typically these are the players that are on their 2nd NFL contracts. They are normally players that are no longer developing but honing their skills as they reach for the peaks of their careers.
Eight of these 10 players are starters. Including 28-year-old Ryan Tannehill. Kiko Alonso is the youngest of the bunch and is coming off his rookie contract and will be an impending free agent in March. Andre Branch started much of the season as did Byron Maxwell. Mike Pouncey, Isa Abdul-Quddus, Jordan Cameron, and Reshad Jones are all starters who finished the season on IR.
When comparing these players age to salaries to production it gets a little harder due to the injured members of the team. Five of these players are paid in the top 10 of the Dolphins salary cap. Tannehill is the highest and will count $20 million against the cap
Jordan Cameron is an impending free agent that the Dolphins shouldn’t re-sign. Reshad Jones should get a new contract as he enters the final year of his last contract.
In this group the Dolphins are getting top performance and value vs. the players contract when the players are healthy. Jones, Pouncey, and Abdul-Quddus were huge losses for the Dolphins but all three were top starters who produced. Maxwell has been up and down all season and may not warrant his salary. The Dolphins can save $5 million by releasing him only having $3 million in dead money. The question with Maxwell is whether he is getting better.
For the most part, Miami has good player in this stage but they need more players in this group. The Patriots for comparison have 17 players in this age group with most of them high contributors. They have 24 players in the first stage, five less than Miami.
The Dolphins need to target this range in free agency and add proven players that fit their schemes. In addition, three-year players coming off their rookie deals that are under the age of 25 should also be targeted beause they will improve this group in future years.
The Dolphins shouldn’t have a need to replace these players but they do. Jordan Cameron needs to be replaced and his replacement is not on the roster. The last eight game tapes of Byron Maxwell will determine his value to the Dolphins and his replacement is not on the roster making a decision on Maxwell’s future harder.
Consideration needs to be given to Mike Pouncey as well considering his injury history. Ideally the Dolphins will look for a player to develop behind Pouncey this off-season in case Pouncey’s injury gets worse. Kiko Alonso needs to be re-signed as the linebacker group is a mess.
When health though, the Dolphins are getting solid play from this group.