The NFL season is almost underway, with the first preseason game kicking off this Thursday night. Teams are currently carrying 90 players on their roster, but must trim it down to 53, whilst adhering to the salary cap. This means that some good players may end up cut before the start of the regular season, free to sign with any team they choose. Here are a few possible cut candidates that the Miami Dolphins should have on their radar.
1. LB Patrick Queen
The Baltimore Ravens had quite the spending spree this summer as they locked up both quarterback Lamar Jackson and linebacker Roquan Smith to lengthy lucrative contracts, while also spending some decent cash on free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Baltimore also used a third-round pick on Clemson linebacker Trenton Simpson, a player the Ravens obviously have high hopes for. Following Smith's extension and the selection of Simpson, the Ravens declined Queen's fifth-year option.
Patrick Queen was a first-round pick by Baltimore in the 2020 NFL Draft and has been a consistent 100+ tackle per year player since, including 117 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 interceptions and 6 pass defenses in 2022. Linebacker is not a major need for the Dolphins, but Queen would add a nice element of pass rush and run support to Miami's defense.
2. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire
The reigning Super Bowl champs may need to be another team needing to create some cap space and make some tough decisions before the regular season starts. With only a little over $500,000 in cap space remaining for Kansas City, it may make sense for Kansas City to part ways with some decent players.
One of which may be running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who is set to make north of $3 million in 2023 as possibly the third-string running back behind emerging star Isaih Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon. Edwards-Helaire, a first-round pick in 2020, has been a solid dual-threat running back in the best offense in football over the last three years. However, staying healthy has been a struggle for the running back, as he's never played more than 13 games in a season in his career. Still, Edwards-Helaire's talent is there if he can stay healthy -- and sign for the right price in this broken running back market.
3. QB Malik Willis
As unfortunate as it is to admit, the Dolphins need to carry three quarterbacks on the roster due to the health of quarterbacks in the past. If Miami can't find a good-enough third quarterback in camp, there may be a high-potential young quarterback on the waiver wire this fall. Tennessee Titans' QB Malik Willis is not guaranteed to make the roster after the Titans signed QB Josh Dobbs and used a third-round pick on Kentucky QB Will Levis in April's draft. Willis, in his minimal appearances in 2022, did not look comfortable in Tennessee's system and could be on the move just a year after he himself was drafted in the third round in 2022.
Willis was a late riser in the 2022 draft after lighting up the combine and his pro day with his fantastic arm strength and athleticism. A small school player, from Liberty University, Willis was compared to Jalen Hurts for his elite athleticism on the ground and his cannon of an arm. In the right system and with the right coaching, perhaps Miami could unlock his potential as a utility quarterback or even just a reliable backup to Tua.
4. TE Zach Ertz
One of the better tight ends of the last decade, Zach Ertz may not make the roster for the Arizona Cardinals this fall. As new brass takes over the Cardinals who plan on ushering in a new era for the franchise, there could be some turnover in the roster -- especially the veterans on the wrong side of 30.
32-year-old tight end Zach Ertz, a 12-year veteran, is coming off a solid, yet shortened, season in which he only played in 10 games due to injury. Last season, Ertz signed a three-year $31.65 million deal with Arizona, but with a new front office, that may be cut short. Enter the Miami Dolphins, who have a gaping hole at tight end. A veteran pass catcher in a young offense could be the missing piece for the Dolphins.
5. CB Adoree Jackson
After paying Daniel Jones, Dexter Lawrence and Andrew Thomas a LOT of money in the past couple months, the New York Giants may be looking to free up some cap space. One way to save almost $20 million in cap space would be to release cornerback Adoree Jackson. After drafting cornerback Deonte Banks in the first round, the Giants could certainly afford to cut Jackson.
In Miami, we know Jalen Ramsey will be out for a while. The team did bring in veteran Eli Apple, but Apple is infamous for struggling in coverage and may not be the immediate answer for the open cornerback spot currently. Adoree Jackson is only 27, and is a former first-round pick back in 2017. Coming off an MCL sprain last season, Jackson may be more affordable than his original $39 million contract he signed with New York in 2021.
6. OLB Khalil Mack
A few years ago, cutting Khalil Mack for cap considerations would have been an asinine thought. However, at 32 years old, Mack is set to account for a $16.6 million cap hit in 2023 for the Los Angeles Chargers. Seeing as how the former Defensive Player of the Year hasn't had a double-digit sack season since 2018, Mack may figure to be a cap casualty after the Chargers gave Justin Herbert a 5-year, $262.5 million contract last week.
Miami Dolphins' defensive coordinator Vic Fangio coached Khalil Mack in Chicago and would likely welcome Mack onto his new defense in Miami. There is not a huge need for pass rushers in Miami, but getting a player like Khalil Mack to rotate in and out of the pass rush would be an asset that would be hard to pass up for the Dolphins.