Over the years, and if you have noticed we have been sticking to trades as they happened rather than a ranking system, the Dolphins have made many trades. Some for draft picks like when they traded Jim Mandich and netted both Glenn Blackwood and future starting Super Bowl QB David Woodley. They also swapped players like Hugh Green and Keith Jackson for picks. And even swapped player for players. Sammy Smith for Bobby Humphrey.
Each in its own way had an impact on the roster but in 1995 the Dolphins sent a 2nd and 3rd round pick to the Chicago Bears for DE Trace Armstrong. Armstrong would have a very good career with the Dolphins and registered 16.5 sacks in 2000. While the trade for Armstrong made the Dolphins front defensive line better and Armstrong himself would carve out a niche in Dolphins history it was what he brought to the locker room.
Over the years Jason Taylor has credited Armstrong with helping him adjust to the NFL and develop into the player he became. In his six seasons with the Dolphins, Armstrong would force 16 fumbles, recover seven fumbles and register 56.5 sacks.
Despite his attempts with the Dolphins, Jimmy Johnson could never turn the team into a Super Bowl champion. He lacked the players on the roster that could net him a big trade and while he tried to move up and down the draft boards like he had with Dallas, it never quite worked out in his favor.
After a blowout loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the playoffs, Johnson called it quits and Dave Wannstedt took over. Wannstedt tried to follow the JJ plan but it didn’t work well for him either so in 2002 Wannstedt made the biggest trade in Miami Dolphins history. He traded for Ricky Williams.
Miami sent a first and fourth round pick to the New Orleans Saints in 2002 and a first round pick in 2003 for the troubled yet very talented runner.
Williams would explode in his first season with the Dolphins. Rushing for over 1800 yards but the Dolphins finished out of the post-season. In his 2nd season he added another 1300 yards to his Dolphins resume. And then the wheels fell off.
Williams would find himself “retired” in 2004 and it would later be learned that he had failed a league drug test. His absence would spiral the Dolphins to a 1 and 8 start that would contribute to Wannstedt resigning after the teams bye week.
Williams would return to play under Nick Saban in 2005 but his drug abuse would lead to his suspension in 2006. Perhaps not ironically Saban would resign at the end of the season.
While suspended in 2006 Williams played for the Toronto Argonauts in the CFL he would return from his NFL suspension in November of 2007 and make his debut on Monday Night Football on November 26th. He rushed one time for six yards and was injured. He was placed on IR the following day.
After Cam Cameron left following the 1-15 season Bill Parcells convinced Williams to continue playing. Williams would play another three years with the Dolphins splitting carries with Ronnie Brown. He would end his career in Miami with over 6,400 yards rushing and 48 touchdowns leading the Dolphins to one playoff appearance in his seven seasons with the team.
Dave Wannstedt wanted to make a last impression and while he tried to turn the Dolphins into winners he simply couldn’t handle the salary cap and ultimately he failed.
Following the trade for Ricky Williams Wannstedt tried again when he sent a 5th round pick to San Diego for Junior Seau. Seau brought his leadership to the Dolphins for three seasons before leaving for New England where he had more success.
The Dolphins wouldn’t stop with Seau. At the start of the 2004 season Rick Spielman was named general manager and his first job was to fix the personnel problems on the team. Spielman traded a 4th round pick to the Vikings to move up one spot in the first round of the draft to take offensive lineman Vernon Carey. He traded his 2nd round pick to Philadelphia for quarterback A.J. Feeley. He didn’t stop there.
2004 saw Spielman trade for WR David Boston sending the Chargers CB Jamar Fletcher and a 6th round pick. In August he would ship promising defensive end Adewale Ogunleye to Chicago for a 3rd round pick in 2005 and WR Marty Booker.
Despite his attempts to fix the team, Spielman was out of a job at the end of the season and the players he traded for were not too far behind with none of them coming close to the trade value they cost the team.
In 2005 Nick Saban was supposed to be the next Jimmy Johnson. A college ‘God’ who would turn the NFL on its head. His first order of business was to trade CB Patrick Surtain to the Kansas City Chiefs for a 2nd and 5th round pick and then jettisoned quarterback A.J. Feeley for a 6th round pick and quarterback Cleo Lemon from the Chargers.
It wasn’t until 2006 that Saban realized the NFL was way above his pay grade. Entering the season with a promising team make-up and coming off a season that ended with an 8 game win streak Saban had two options to solve the Dolphins quarterback problems. Trade for an ailing Daunte Culpepper or sign ailing free agent Drew Brees.
Saban opted to throw a 2nd round pick to the Vikings for Culpepper allowing Brees to sign with the Saints. Culpepper would play in only four games for the Dolphins before ending on IR. He would be released less than a year after joining the club. Saban would quit following the 2006 season and the trade will go down in Dolphins history as one of the worst. Making it especially harder to swallow is the success that Brees brought to the Saints in what will be a Hall of Fame career.
Following the departure of Nick Saban, then owner Wayne Huizenga decided to go with a hot assistant prospect rather than a big name. With Cam Cameron and hold over general manager Randy Mueller the Dolphins would travel a road that would lead the team deeper into despair.
In March the duo would trade slot receiver Wes Welker to division rival New England and Welker would help establish a Patriot dynasty for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. They would squander the 2nd round pick on center Samson Satele but the entire draft was a doomed failure. From Ted Ginn, Jr. and his family to quarterback John Beck in round two.
Cameron and Mueller were not done however. They traded Olindo Mare for a 6th round pick and then in October shipped receiver Chris Chambers to the Chargers for a 2nd round pick they would never get to spend.
Oh, and they traded a 5th round pick to the Chiefs for often concussed Trent Green. Who would finish the season on IR….with a concussion.
Bill Parcells was yet another big name on the Wayne Huizenga hiring list but the Dolphins never got “The Tuna”. They got the “Albacore” Dolphins friendly version of Parcells.
Parcells immediately fired Cam Cameron and Randy Mueller followed shortly thereafter and he then commenced to hiring his own people and making trades. Just prior to the draft Parcells deal for Anthony Fasano, Akin Ayodele, and Jason Ferguson and would trade away Lorenzo Booker, Travis Daniels, and Josh McCown by the time the season arrived. None of that however compares to the trade of Jason Taylor.
Taylor immediately rubbed Parcells the wrong way by appearing on Dancing with the Stars instead of working out with the team during OTA’s. The feelings between the two escalated further and in August Parcells sent Taylor to the Redskins for a 2nd round pick in 2009 and a 2010 7th round pick.
Fans were not thrilled with the departure of Taylor who had one of his worst professional seasons while with the Redskins. The trade would cost the Redskins who released him a year later. It would cost the Dolphins as Taylor would play for the Jets before finally returning to Miami to finish his career.
After two years of calling the shots Bill Parcells hands most of the power off to Jeff Ireland before exiting the franchise for good. Ireland’s first season with full control is 2010 and he wastes no time putting his prints on the franchise.
Between April and the start of training camp Ireland makes several trades including a trade for linebacker Tim Dobbins of the Chargers and sending Ted Ginn, Jr. to the 49’ers but it’s the trade out of the free agent gate that left the biggest sting of his early G.M. career.
Brandon Marshall was all kinds of problems for the Denver Broncos but he was very talented and the Dolphins needed WR help. The trade sent the Broncos two 2nd round picks with one coming in 2010 and the other in 2011. Marshall would not only bring his talent to Miami but all of his troubles as well.
His arrival to the Dolphins brought with him off-field troubles that kept him away from off-season workouts as he rehabilitated a hand injury. In his 2nd season Marshall would only be on hand for a limited amount of work. He often clashed with the coaching staff and was not viewed as a team player. Two years after he joined the Dolphins, Jeff Ireland shipped him to the Bears for a pair of 3rd round draft picks.
In 2012 the Dolphins had finally seen enough of Tony Sparano and with Wayne Huizenga now gone the job to find a replacement fell on new owner Stephen Ross. Ross opted to not clean house when he fired Sparano and he would repeat that mistake with Joe Philbin three years later.
The Dolphins would ship Brandon Marshall off to Chicago as the free agency period opened but it wasn’t until training camp when the Dolphins became the focus of the HBO series Hard Knocks that we got to witness a trade of a former first round pick.
With viewers watching, Vontae Davis appeared out of shape and almost non-interested in what was going on around him. A phone call from Jim Irsay got the attention of Jeff Ireland and the inside view of the Dolphins allowed fans to see the general manager and coaches discuss the trade options.
Ireland pulled the trigger on the deal that sent a 2nd round pick in 2013 and conditional picks in 2013 to the Dolphins for Vontae’ Davis. Cameras caught the interaction between Ireland and Davis as Ireland informed a stunned Davis that he had been traded to the Colts.
Davis’ response is still quoted often by fans of the Dolphins and other teams as well. As Ireland was breaking the news to Davis, Davis simply said, “I need to call my grandma”. Ireland responded by saying “you can call your grandma later” or something to that effect.
Davis’ career with the Colts has been a little better than average but it turned out to be a wasted trade for the Dolphins who used the pick on CB Jamar Taylor who himself would get traded in 2016 to Cleveland.
With the Dolphins now under the control of Mike Tannenbaum and a new coaching regime trade talk didn’t wait until the start of free agency. Tannenbaum orchestrated a trade with the Eagles that would bring LB Kiko Alonso and CB Byron Maxwell to the Dolphins for a swap of draft positions in round one.
The trade, thus far has worked out well for the Dolphins who got solid play in 2016 from both players and still landed a first round talent that they never dreamed of landing. Laremy Tunsil.
While Kiko Alonso will be a restricted free agent this year the Dolphins are hoping to keep him in Miami and Maxwell’s improvement over the course of 2016 should help him continue an upward trek in 2017.
Now coming full circle the Dolphins have traded left tackle Branden Albert to the Jaguars and in a separate trade have acquired TE Julius Thomas from the Jaguars. Both trades will be official on March 9th when free agency opens.
The question remains whether we have seen the final big trade of the Dolphins this year or if Tannenbaum is working the phone lines behind closed doors.