The Miami Dolphins have found their new head coach in Mike McDaniel who will be charged with fixing an offense that has looked beyond poor the last few seasons.
While his short term goal will be to transform this offense into an elite unit and helping Tua Tagovailoa develop into the franchise quarterback we were expected to get, McDaniel will need to build a perennial contender to finally be the coach of the now and future.
While one offseason will never make or break a coach’s (more than likely) tenure, this one is important for the new head coach especially when you consider how close the team was to the playoffs last year and the amount of money the Dolphins have to spend. If McDaniel navigates this offseason well, he could position himself to make a run at the playoffs sooner rather than later. That run could start with Miami retaining a few of their key free agents that were major players for the team last season.
That conversation starts with Emmanuel Ogbah. Ogbah was one of Miami’s best defenders last season. He was incredible against the run, did a great job getting after the quarterback and played smart, showing off his ability to time an opposing quarterback’s throws and knock the pass down at the line of scrimmage. He is a vital piece to a defense that has really played well the last two seasons and needs to be on this roster come next training camp. He will undoubtedly look for a big pay day, but Miami could afford it and his talent is worth it.
The conversation should then shift to the other side of the ball, where the Dolphins should do what they can to bring Mike Gesicki back. He was on pace for a monster year until he tapered off during the second half of the season. He seemed to be somewhat phased out of the offense which says more about the coaching staff than it does his talent. He’s another guy that could command a lot of money on the open market, but McDaniel, who was around when George Kittle turned into a dominant monster of a tight end, should make sure that he never leaves South Florida.
Mike Gesicki and Emmanuel Ogbah should be on top of Miami’s in house free agent list. The others are a complete toss up.
The other free agents on this list are tough to consider and really come down to preference. Miami should keep Elandon Roberts if he can agree to a low deal and maybe consider the same approach with Nik Needham who has improved every year that he has played in the NFL. Offensively, Miami would be wise to let Will Fuller and Preston Williams walk. Albert Wilson is a toss up because he has proven to have some athletic capability but can’t really stay healthy. Captain Mack Hollins could come back, too, even if it’s only to make sure we can keep his leadership in the locker room. He won’t command mega money, so it would be worth it.
Other than that, a lot of the free agents on this team are total toss ups and will be down to McDaniel and Chris Grier working together to prioritize the players that can take this team to the next level. It won’t be easy and the conversations could sometimes be complicated between the two, but this offseason could be the one that actually gets Miami back to the playoffs if McDaniel plays it correctly.