The Miami Dolphins are working toward rebuilding their roster in the image of new head coach Adam Gase. It is not always a straight forward, easily identifiable path, with fans trying to determine exactly where several of the new pieces, such as Jermon Bushrod or Byron Maxwell fit into the scheme. The team has, undeniably, allowed a lot of talent to leave South Florida, including running back Lamar Miller, defensive end Olivier Vernon, and wide receiver Rishard Matthews, and they have cut a Pro Bowl player, Brent Grimes, at a position of need. The front office, however, seems to be systematic and specific on what they are trying to do.
The team has been responsible with money, identifying the price point for which they want to pay for a player, and not exceeding that mark. Was Vernon worth the $17 million a year he received from the New York Giants? Maybe, but not in the eyes of the Dolphins this offseason. Was the team right to try to sign Miller between $4.5 million and $5 million a year, or were the Houston Texans right in giving him $6.5 million a year? Maybe.
At the end of the day, the Dolphins seem to be sticking to a plan that they made before free agency started, they are not panicking, and they are not straying. Right or wrong, the Dolphins are being systematic, and they are working to undo some of the issues of the past, they are looking toward the future, and they are realizing that they were not in the position to commit massive amounts of money to players in an offseason where the team has to fill numerous roster holes.
All of that said, it has not stopped outsiders from jumping to immediate reactions to what is happening in Miami. For example, the Dolphins made a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles that provided the team with cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso. The compensation for the two players? A move from the eighth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to the 13th overall pick. Essentially, the Dolphins used the eighth pick in the Draft to select two starting defensive players and the 13th pick. That is not really that big of a move.
On the New York Jets blog Gang Green Nation, however, the story was not about Miami's additions, or the five draft position move. Instead, if was all about how former Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum, now the Vice President of Football Operations for the Dolphins, was "already trading draft picks for overpaid players." They add, "[Tannenbaum] became famous for trading away too many Draft picks and spending too exorbitantly on players. [H]e is already up to his old tricks trading for Byron Maxwell, widely considered a free agent bust for the Eagles."
If I can do the math correctly, the Dolphins traded away the 8th pick in the Draft, but received back two players and the 13 pick in the draft. Traded away the 8th pick, received the 13th pick. One pick out, one pick in. I think that balances out to no picks traded away. Sure, you can argue that Maxwell was overpaid by the Eagles, but he was also played in a system that did not suit him and was injured during the season. Can the Dolphins get more out of him than the Eagles did? They seem to think so.
And, on the Alonso side, he was scheduled to make less than a $1 million in 2016 (the Dolphins have since signed him to a contract extension, with the exact salary cap number for next year not yet known). It is hard to say he is "overpaid." Will he return to the Rookie of the Year form he had in 2013 with the Buffalo Bills? Maybe, maybe not. But, if he does, the Dolphins will have actually stolen him from the Eagles.
Meanwhile, while focusing on Tannenbaum "trading drift picks for overpaid players" Jets fans are also having to deal with the ridiculous situation where the team is trying to lowball, and appears closing in on losing, their starting quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for nearly 4,000 yards last year, with a team-record 31 touchdowns, and led the Jets to a 10-6 record. How is he rewarded? With a contact "less or comparable to what Chase Daniel received from the Eagles."
(To be fair, Gang Green Nation is not the only blog that wants to make the Dolphins' trade a joke. The New England Patriots' blog Pats Pulpit also decided to ridicule the trade, writing "I'm talking about the three-time offseason champion Miami Dolphins making the first move of their title defense." They then added, "The move reeks of Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum. Tannenbaum has a penchant for trading away draft capital in exchange for veterans, which makes sense, except it always leaves the team incredibly top heavy because he doesn't leave room for depth. It's the anti-Bill Belichick team building strategy....This will eat up a fair chunk of the Dolphins cap space." (It didn't.) Finally, they write, "Congratulations to Miami for making the first major move this offseason to grab the inside lane on the impressive task of winning four-straight offseason championships." You've got to love division rivalries.)
The Dolphins are ridiculed for trading for two defensive starters with a five draft position slide in compensation by the fans of a team who are offering their record-setting quarterback a contract around three-years, $21 million. The Eagles paid their starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, a two-year, $36 million deal. The Jets want to pay Fitzpatrick, who may now be on the radar of the Denver Broncos, like a backup.
And the Dolphins are the joke?
Just to make sure you are laughing, apparently the Jets are "comfortable with Geno Smith" as their starting quarterback. The Geno Smith who in 2014 led the Jets to a 3-10 record in 13 starts, with 2,525 passing yards, 13 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a 77.5 passer rating. (Of course, one of those wins was in Week 17 against the Dolphins, keeping Miami from a playoff spot.) That could be the quarterback with whom the Jets are comfortable.
And Tannenbaum is the joke?