With the 27th of July circled on the Miami Dolphins calendar, training camp is right around the corner as football returns. With that comes the end of the off-season.
The Dolphins were not huge players in free agency this year but they made some moves that they believe will make the team better. The off-season provides little proof of whether a team is going to get better or be worse. Every NFL team seems to win the off-season grind.
Players that perform well in OTA’s and mini-camps are often forgotten or lost when the shoulder pads and helmets cover their head and body. When the reality that being hit is going to hurt takes a hold, some players inevitably can’t compete.
Looking back at the last five months of no-football has seen some good things and some bad moves. The Dolphins have gone through free agency and the NFL Draft. Here is a look at a couple of the best off-season moves and a couple of the worst.
Re-signing Reshad Jones was very smart. Not only did it show a commitment to the player it showed the commitment to the team as well. Miami is abandoning the last decade of not keeping their own players in favor of higher priced veterans that are not necessarily proven. Jones is one of the top NFL safeties in the league and his shoulder injury should not be a problem in 2017.
Guaranteeing Koa Misi $1.7 million of his contract without knowing if he would be cleared to play is not a smart move. The Dolphins could have released him and saved almost his entire cap number and then re-signed him when he was cleared to a modest contract that may have reached more than the $1.7. Instead the Dolphins are banking on Misi being cleared and being able to play. While it’s not a smart business move, it’s a good gesture to a player that has given his body to the team. So in that regards he has come level of protection.
Take your pick. The Dolphins not only re-signed by Reshad Jones but also brought back Kiko Alonso, Andre Branch, Kenny Stills, and Jermon Bushrod while adding Lawrence Timmons, T.J. McDonald, and William Hayes. They also traded for Julius Thomas and brought back Anthony Fasano. Miami improved at key starting roles on both sides of the ball without terribly overspending on top end free agents. They took a far more frugal route to outside players and spent more internally to keep some of their own.
Despite bringing back several players whose contracts were expiring and despite adding some spot starters to defense, the Dolphins failed to address to huge issues on their roster. Guard and defensive tackle. Both positions lack quality depth of any kind and while most believe the guard position is by far the worst, defensive tackle could be the position that kills Miami’s season. Miami enters the season with two starters at DT and no experienced depth behind them. They will enter the 2017 season with one starting guard in Bushrod and a big question mark at LG where Ted Larsen and Kraig Urbik will compete. Both are good depth players but can they be full-time quality starters?