This has been a quiet offseason by Miami Dolphins standards.
There was no blockbuster deal or earth shattering trade, nor was there a widespread firing of staff or a mass exodus of talented players. The past few months have amounted to the sum of calculated and precise moves, resulting in the shoring up of an already talented roster, one that should continue to compete for a playoff spot next season.
Looking back at the first half of Miami’s offseason, let’s examine the most impactful moves made by our ever-entertaining front office, and see where they leave the team heading into the summer months.
Keeping talent in house
The Dolphins executives did an excellent job of ensuring that our best players will be wearing aqua and orange for a long time, something that has been elusive to previous regimes. Instead of following in the footsteps of talented young athletes such as Lamar Miller and Olivier Vernon, Dolphins players decided to stay in Miami, even taking less money to do so.
That new trend is the result of the enthusiasm and stability that Adam Gase brings to this franchise, and it began with the resigning of key contributors such as Kenny Stills, Andre Branch, and Jermon Bushrod. The only major contributor that Miami had hoped to resign who elected to play elsewhere was tight end Dion Sims. Retaining the majority of our talent will allow the Dolphins to keep familiarity throughout the locker room, prevent the coaching staff from having to re-teach schemes and re-work the playbook, and help Adam Gase build on the already established culture in Miami.
The Dolphins also took care of players who proved themselves worthy of long-term extensions. Reshad Jones, Kiko Alonso, and Cameron Wake, will provide examples to the rest of the team that production and patience will be rewarded.
Low-risk high-reward trades
Mike Tannenbaum has been known to execute the occasional trade, as evidenced by the move down to pick 13 in the 2016 NFL draft which resulted in stealing future franchise offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil.
This offseason was no different.
The Dolphins quietly gained two players that should have big impacts this season in exchange for bottom end draft picks. Newly acquired tight end Julius Thomas, if healthy, will provide a big target for Tannehill over the middle of the field and in the endzone, adding to an already deep pass catching corps. Run stopping defensive end William Hayes was also brought in and will definitely be a welcome addition to a run defense that lacked any punch last season. Finishing out the series of trades was the shipping of Branden Albert to Jacksonville. While Albert’s play was solid last season, his services were no longer required as the Dolphins plan to shift Tunsil to left tackle, his natural position on the offensive line.
Building the defense
One of the most vital aspects of building a winning team is being aware of one’s own weaknesses. This is an area that Miami’s decision makers thrived in this offseason. Knowing that the largest contributing factor to the Dolphins’ downfall last year was a lack of depth on the defensive side of the ball, the Dolphins targeted playmakers on all levels of the defense.
Starting with acquiring a hard-nosed reliable veteran in linebacker Lawrence Timmons, the Dolphins began to build a defense with a rugged attitude. As noted above, the run defense was further improved by trading for former Los Angeles Rams defensive end William Hayes. Nate Allen and T.J McDonald were then signed to add depth to the safety position.
After a productive free agency period, the Dolphins turned their attention to the draft, where five out of seven picks were devoted to shoring up the defense. With their first three selections, the Dolphins added a pass-rushing stud in Charles Harris, a future defensive leader in linebacker Raekwon McMillan, and an ultra-athletic cornerback in Cordrea Tankersley. Rotational defensive tackles Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor were then selected to back up Ndamukong Suh and Jordan Phillips, wrapping up a very solid draft by General Manager Chris Grier.
That very solid draft wrapped by a very strong first half of Miami’s offseason. If that half of the 2017 offseason is a sign of things to come, Miami Dolphins fans should feel comfortable that our team is in good hands going forward into the future.