When national media outlets talk about the Miami Dolphins’ defense, they always single out their strong secondary. They’ve earned that distinction, but Miami’s front seven might be competing for attention after 2021.
They may lack the big names and bloated contracts that usually accompany such a distinction, but that makes it all the more impressive. Chris Grier and the front office should be praised for assembling this group because they did it on the cheap and they used a variety of roster building techniques. First, we’ll break down how we got here and then do a quick overview of each position group.
The first thing we should look at is how Miami has distributed their cap resources on the defense. How much and where teams choose to spend money can hint at what positions they prioritize and which they feel confident in developing.
"Position Cap Dollars % of Cap NFL rank Defensive Line $27,166,343 13.78% 23 Linebacker $16,603,995 8.42% 23 Secondary $54,014,596 27.39% 2 -Data is courtesy of Spotrac"
These numbers are set to increase as some players need to be resigned or already have. For example, Jerome Baker’s cap hit will double next season with his extension kicking in. But still, the Dolphins have 24 linebackers and defensive linemen rostered, and managed to spend less than they did in the secondary which only has 19 players currently rostered (over 50% of all spending in the secondary is going to two players-Byron Jones and Xavien Howard).
They rank in the bottom third in spending for both the defensive line and linebackers group, but have the opportunity to produce as a top third group in 2021. For all my Marxist economists out there, that’s called finding surplus value.
That leads us to the second reason that the front office deserves some praise: they used every strategy at their disposal to put this group together. They drafted players, claimed them off waivers, and signed free agents. Lets take a look at exactly how they added each member of this group.
|Jerome Baker (LB)||2018|
|Christian Wilkins (DT)||2019|
|Andrew Van Ginkel (Edge)||2019|
|Jason Strowbridge (Edge)||2020|
|Raekwon Davis (DT)||2020|
|Jaelan Phillips (Edge)||2021|
|Sam Eguavoen (LB)||2019|
|Calvin Munson (LB)||2019|
|Elandon Roberts (LB)||2020|
|Emmanuel Ogbah (Edge)||2020|
|Duke Riley (LB)||2021|
|Brennan Scarlett (Edge)||2021|
|John Jenkins (DT)||2021|
|Shaquem Griffin (Edge)||2021|
|Adam Butler (DT)||2021|
|Vince Biegel (Edge)||2019|
|Benardrick McKinney (LB)||2021|
|Zach Sieler (DT)||2019|
|Jonathan Ledbetter (Edge)||2019|
|Tyshun Render (Edge)||2020|
|Benito Jones (DT)||2020|
|Kylan Johnson (LB)||2020|
|Jerome Johnson (DT)||2021|
It is impressive how many different strategies they have used to fill out the roster, but we can pick up on a few obvious patterns here. They have built the foundation through the draft and are using the other avenues as a way to fill out the roster and look for diamonds in the rough. What really stands out is that they have managed to add impact players within each group.
Now lets take a quick look at each position group…