Like every season change inevitable for every NFL team. Teams cut players to get under the cap, trade players, and gear up to throw a boat load of money at players. The Miami Dolphins made a lot of cost cutting moves to get under the salary cap. Mike Tannenbaum likes to be aggressive, but this year he has taken a different route for better or worse.
One of the first moves was slapping the franchise tag on wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Placing the tag on Landry came at a price of 15 million dollars, but the Dolphins put the tag on him and actively looked to trade him because both sides were far apart in negotiations. The Dolphins ended up trading Landry to the Cleveland Browns for a 4th round pick this year and a 7th round pick next year. Did the Dolphins get the best value for him? No, they didn't, but they got something in return. The Dolphins could have let Landry walk and get nothing in return which would have been dumb. Now they could have gotten compensatory draft picks in next year’s draft, but that formula is so complicated there is no guarantee the Dolphins would have gotten anything in return. The Dolphins went out and signed Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola to soften the blow with the loss of Landry. Wilson is a short slot receiver with speed which is something Landry didn't have game breaking speed, but the problem is he is so inexperienced and was the Kansas City Chiefs number 3 or 4 receiver so what are the Dolphins getting? Amendola is a seasoned veteran from New England who will be 33 years old next year and who knows how much he has left in the tank, but they are getting a receiver who has a knack for getting open and making timely plays as he did for the Patriots in the playoffs this past season, so his veteran presence might help the receiving core.
The Dolphins also cut Julius Thomas and Lawrence Timmons. Both guys had big salaries, but no production last year, but the biggest surprise for me was the Dolphins decision to retain Ja’wuan James at his 9 million dollar 5th year option. I was stunned the Dolphins brought him back because I didn't think he was worth the 9 million, but the Dolphins must have looked at the draft and free agency and didn't see any good options. James hasn't been a bad player, but he needs to play more consistent.
The interior offensive line got a shake up as well. The Dolphins sign veteran Josh Sitton and traded for center Daniel Kilgore. I love the Sitton signing because he is a tough left guard and a leader with an attitude. I loved his line when asked if he would play on the right side of the line "that's like wiping your ass with your off hand" funniest quote ever. I think his attitude and leadership will help the line and the development of Laremy Tunsil. Kilgore I'm not sure what the Dolphins are getting because the 49ers signed him to an extension in February but trade him a month later very odd. However, with that trade the Dolphins cut Mike Pouncey. This one is a tough move, but I believe will be the right move because Pouncey is coming off multiple hip surgeries and yes, he did play a full 16 game season, but he isn't the same player anymore and hip replacement might be in the cards before age 40. On top of that he was still owed 23 million the next 3 years, and the Dolphins could get out of the contract easily now. Plus, he is coming off a career high in penalties this year and only practiced once a week makes you wonder if he was going to hold up. It's a case of getting rid of a player a year early then a year late.
The defensive line got a shake up with the Dolphins releasing Ndamukong Suh. The move will save 17 million this year, but the Dolphins must absorb a 22 million hit against the cap the next 2 years. Heft price to pay to get rid of a player especially a player who continues to play at a high level and is still one of the best at his position, but he is going to be turning 32 years old maybe the time is now. Plus, he isn't considered a leader on the team and after the season head coach Adam Gase said he was looking for more leadership maybe this was what he was talking about. The Dolphins opened a need for another defensive tackle, but they did add another defensive end in trading for Robert Quinn. Quinn is a premier pass rusher who didn't fit in the Rams 3-4 scheme so maybe going back to a 4-3 will rejuvenate him. The problem is now you have Quinn, Cameron Wake, Charles Harris, Andre Branch, and William Hayes so how is this going to work and who is the odd man out? I think the pass rush got better, but how they use these guys will be something to watch and who are they going to get to fill Suh's shoes?
I think overall the Dolphins downgraded some talent, but they did add some players like Quinn and Sitton who could help bring some leadership and experience that could help this team. I'm not saying these were great moves at all. Head scratching? Yes of course, but now we are going to find out if the team got better with leadership to help the team when the times are rough, and adversity strikes the team because that was lacking last year, and Suh and Landry aren't leaders. Time will tell.