Are the Dolphins relying too heavily on Julius Thomas?

Dec 20, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas (80) during the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 20, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas (80) during the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Adam Gase really wants to get his tight ends more involved in the offense in his second year as head coach. Gase and the Dolphins are relying heavily on Julius Thomas to be the difference, believing that he again can be the dominant tight end he once was in Denver.

One of the holes on the offensive side of the ball for the Miami Dolphins entering this offseason was the tight end position. It was originally thought that Miami would address the position in the NFL Draft. Many mock drafts even had the Dolphins using their first round pick on University of Miami TE David Njoku. Those talks quickly dwindled, however, after Miami agreed to a pair of trades with the Jacksonville Jaguars that helped bring in veteran Julius Thomas. The Dolphins quickly then signed former Dolphin Anthony Fasano, who originally played for Miami 2008-2012.

The acquisitions made it clear that Miami was not about to use their first round pick on a tight end. It was still believed, however, that they would draft a tight end at some point in the draft, but that didn’t happen either. In case you are wondering, Miami did not sign any undrafted free agents at tight end as well. With OTAs now under way, it is evident that the Dolphins are betting high on Thomas to be the player he once was in Denver.

It seems like forever ago when Thomas was lighting it up in Denver with Peyton Manning throwing at him. That was just 2014 though, and even though his time in Jacksonville was a disappointment, Thomas still has time in his young career to bounce back. Reuniting with head coach Adam Gase might just be the answer for him.

Gase was the Broncos offensive coordinator in 2014, and a big part to Thomas’ success during that time. It was a struggle for Thomas in Jacksonville, but players have bounced back before. Miami seems like the right spot for Thomas to do that. The primary concern is whether or not Thomas can stay healthy.

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Remaining healthy is something that Thomas has not yet been able to do, not even in Denver. He has yet to complete a full season in his career. The most amount of games he has played is 14 in 2013. As last week’s article from the Palm Beach Post points out, the Dolphins are only a Thomas injury away from being where they were last season.

For the past two seasons, Jordan Cameron could not stay on the field, and Miami had to rely on Dion Sims to carry the load. Sims played admirably in Cameron’s absence, but he was far from an elite tight end. Should anything happen to Thomas this season, the Dolphins would be forced to look at Fasano as their primary tight end.

Fasano is familiar with that role, but the Dolphins brought him in primarily to block. He is rated as one of the highest blocking tight ends, and Miami could use the additional help on their offensive line. Receiving has not been a big part of Fasano’s game since he left Miami. He has not caught more than 26 receptions in a season since he left the Dolphins, and finished with just 8 catches last year.

The Dolphins did ink MarQueis Gray to a two-year extension this offseason, and he would be expected to fill the void should anything happen to Thomas or Fasano. It’s a big drop off in terms of production, however, that could play a major impact on the Dolphins offense. At times last season, it seemed like the only thing the Dolphins were missing on offense was more consistency from their tight ends.

I’m afraid with a lack of depth that it could be similar for them this year. I have all the confidence in Gase that he can get Thomas back to form, but not as confident in Thomas remaining healthy. With more needs at other positions, most notably defense, I was not surprised that Miami elected not to draft a tight end either.

There is still some time before the start of the season, however, if they want to add some additional depth or not. Even now in June there remains some credible free agents still available. I’m not sure they would be interested in signing anyone, however, and definitely not right away. Miami wants to add depth in other areas first.

If Miami does consider signing another tight end it will be at little to zero risk for them. Well-known players are available, and more may soon be with teams continuing to make cuts. The Dolphins would have options to choose from. Most of them will probably still be available by the start of the season. Miami likes their tight ends as it stands, and therefore, probably won’t be making any calls unless something happens to Thomas.