To purge or not to purge, that is the question. As you will read below, there is no question.
I am one to believe that the Dolphins should not purge their roster in exchange for more draft choices, but they should add to it, make replacements, and get ready to compete for an AFC Championship in 2024.
Miami is a few players on offense and a few players on defense away from becoming a powerhouse. Instead of trading players away and stockpiling draft choices, I would go out and get the pieces that they need and win now.
For many, there is no tomorrow, so all that counts is what you do today. Mike McDaniel and Chris Grier have the wherewithal to change what needs to be changed and upgrade that in which needs to be upgraded.
When it comes to bringing player personnel, in Miami brass, we trust.
To begin with, the offensive line needs to be retooled.
The Dolphins need to replace Connor Williams at center and Liam Eichenberg at guard. They also need to find a replacement for Robert Hunt, who they will more than likely lose in free agency. They also might have to replace Terron Armstead who indicated that he might retire in the off-season.
Williams might not be fully functional and operational by the start of camp due to an injury that he sustained during the season. The center makes all of the offensive line calls and is the quarterback of the unit. They need to grab a veteran or spend a mid-round draft choice on Williams' replacement.
It is also time for the Dolphins to move on from the Eichenberg Express as he has proven that he is not a quality lineman who deserves to start in the National Football League. He is cheap enough to hold on to for depth purposes, but I never liked him at guard, or spelling Williams at center late in the season.
The offensive line did well at the start of the season when they were all healthy, including Armstead, and they protected Tua Tagavailoa very well. However, when the injury bug hit, it hit hard and it separated the men from the boys.
Miami also needs a reliable pass-catching tight end. Durham Smythe is a serviceable player, but he has not proven that he has the ability to run crisp routes and provide a safety blanket for Tua when they need five yards on third down. Brock Bowers is probably the best pass-catching tight end coming out of the college ranks, but he might not be around when the Dolphins select at number 21 in the first round.
Miami is set at quarterback and running back, although there have been rumblings of Derrick Henry wanting to come play for the Dolphins. I could see a big power back complimenting Raheem Mostert and De'Von Achane. Jeff Wilson, Jr. is disposable and Henry, even at his advanced age would be a quality replacement. I would make that move in a New York minute.
As for the wide receiver positions, they are set with Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill as the top two pass catchers. They also seem set with Braxton Berrios in the slot. After that, it becomes a little sketchy. Cedrick Wilson, Jr. made some big catches this season, but he has not proven to be the reliable playmaker that he was when he was with Dallas. Chase Claypool is hot garbage and he might be fast, but so is my mailman, and neither will make the opening-day roster next season. The Dolphins will need to replace their two outside threats not named Waddle or Hill, for when they go four or five wide.
The last offensive player that they have to replace is punter Jake Bailey. It is Bailey's fault that the Dolphins lost to Buffalo and lost the division. Bailey finally hit a booming punt, with no hangtime and outkicked his coverage. The gunners could not get down in time and the BIlls scored on a 95-yard return to turn the game around and give them the momentum going into the latter stages of the game. Bailey never lived up to his pre-season hype and could not duplicate the success that he had when he went to the Pro Bowl with New England.
On defense, the Dolphins need to replace a host of players on the defensive line. However, first and foremost, they must find a way to keep Christian Wilkins on the inside. Tag him, pay him on a long-term contract, and do something to keep big number 94 in Aqua and Orange.
Miami has to find a way to replace their edge rushers as both Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips will start the season with injuries that they sustained this season. Chubb could miss the entire season as his torn ACL will take 9-12 months to heal. Same for Phillips. Additionally, Andrew Van Ginkle, who spelled Phillips after the game in New York, suffered a gruesome knee injury against Buffalo and will most likely miss next season. Either way, AVG is a free agent and will command big dollars on the open market once he is healthy.
The Dolphins showed after Phillips went down that they could not put any pressure on the quarterback from the edge position. It only got worse when Chubb went down late in the game at Baltimore.
There was virtually no pressure applied late in the season when they needed it the most, against Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes. The retreads that Miami brought in might have been the best available on the streets at that time, but they now must grab some available free agents that are serviceable and capable of duplicating the schemes that Vic Fangio likes to run. He has always been a proponent of the blitz, but when the edge is bare, it makes it more difficult to get to the quarterback.
The $25 million question is what do you do with Xavien Howard? He has missed a lot of time due to nagging injuries, that players suffer as they get older and he has been burnt just about as often as Eli Apple, who has been rotten to the core. They both need to be replaced through the draft or free agency as Miami needs to complement Jalen Ramsey and not put all the pressure on Ramsey to be all over the field.
It's been nice, X, you made some plays for Miami, and you were paid well, but your days remaining in Miami are few and far between. I would look to trade Howard and his contract for draft picks and find his replacement in the early part of the draft. It's also time to admit that Cam Smith was a mistake and realize that he is not the answer to replace Howard. His replacement is not currently on the roster.
As you can see from this diatribe, the Dolphins need to make a few personnel moves to upgrade their roster and they will be a much better team in 2024 and will be able to compete with the likes of Buffalo, Baltimore and Kansas City, for supremacy in the AFC.