What losing Howard and Ogbah means for the Dolphins offseason plans

Miami will need to use draft choices or free agent signings to replace to outgoing starters

Xavien Howard will be a post-June cap casualty, as decided on Friday.  Miami will need a new corner to start opposite Jalen Ramsey.
Xavien Howard will be a post-June cap casualty, as decided on Friday. Miami will need a new corner to start opposite Jalen Ramsey. / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

Daniel Jeremiah just might be correct.

The NFL Network Draft Analyst predicts that Miami will not only keep its first round draft choice, but that it will use it to select an edge pass rusher. Jeremiah has Miami selecting UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu.

""Lat is a technician, man. I compare him to Trey Hendrickson. He is really good with his hands. He can win a variety of ways. He has a natural feel for pass rush. Some parts of the pass rush remind me of wide receivers. There's route runners. There's an artistry to it. Latu is an artist. He is really, really gifted that way. So a totally different style than the guys that maybe they haven't hit on in the past.""

Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Draft Analyst

Latu might be a pick of necessity now. With Miami's top two edge rushers, Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb likely to start the season on PUP, and Miami releasing Emmanuel Ogbah Friday afternoon, the question remains as to Miami will start on the edge when the season starts? The release of Ogbah could signal the return of Andrew Van Ginkel who became a star in the making once Phillips went down with the achilles tendon injury versus the New York Jets.

Miami is going to have to get edge rushers and a starting cornerback after Friday's announcement that Ogbah was a cap casualty and was released. It was also learned that starting cornerback Xavien Howard is scheduled to be released after June 1.

Emmanuel Ogbah
Emmanuel Ogbah, who has played good football for the Miami Dolphins was released on Friday. Miami will need to sign some top-flght, cap-friendly edge pass rushers in free agency and possibly take one or two in the NFL Draft in April. / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

This clears about $32 million in cap space at the end of the day. Ogbah would account for a saving of $13.7 million, while Howard is expected to save Miami in excess of $18 million. That means that after the team restructures a few contracts, Miami will have enough cap space remaining to sign new free agents and their draft class.

Miami has only six draft picks and could use more. Players generally come cheaper in the middle of the draft then they do in free agency. Miami could trade the pick and stock pile picks to get a starter at both the edge and cornerback that can come in and start.

Jeremiah said in a conference call with NFL media members on Thursday that Miami needs to take a plug and play guy right off the rip.

""I think I'm the Miami Dolphins. I want somebody to come in that can help me, that I feel is a rock solid player, ready to roll right now. That would be kind of the area that I would be leaning to. If you have a choice between player A or player B, I might be a little bit more conscious of the floor just personally where they are. A lot of times those high floor picks end up being really, really good players.""

Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Draft Analyst

In his first-round mock draft, Jeremiah has more high praise for Latu and says that if the Dolphins keep the 21st pick, Latu is an easy choice. It should also be noted that he played for UCLA and wore jersey number 15. This is analogous to Phillips who started at UCLA before transferring to Miami and donned jersey number 15 with the Bruins as well.

""Latu would give the Dolphins three outstanding pass rushers with Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips already in place. Keep in mind: Miami could lose Andrew Van Ginkel in free agency.""

Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Draft Analyst
Laiatu Latu
Laiatu Latu shown here during the UCLA-USC game, could be the first-round selection of the Miami Dolphins according to NFL Network Draft Analyst Daniel Jeremiah. / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

As for the cornerback position, Miami has last year's second-round pick Cam Smith waiting in the wings to show what he can do, but former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was afraid to put Smith on the field. It will be interesting to see how new defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver uses Smith this pre-season, or whether Smith becomes just another Dolphins' draft bust.

Miami has all-everything cornerback Jalen Ramsey starting at one corner position, but Miami likes to play with three and four corners, so the questions remain as to who will replace Howard opposite Ramsey, and who is left for depth. Eli Apple is leaving through free agency and hopefully will go far away from the Dolphins. Apple was burned so bad last season that he was literally rotten to the core.