Over the weekend, NHL teams were given a difficult task, deciding which players would be “protected” in this year’s expansion draft. Thanks to several media outlets and the “kind” folks over at Buffalo Rumblings, I was left wondering what players the Miami Dolphins would protect if an NFL expansion draft was imminent. First, here is a look at the NHL’s official expansion draft rules.
To make things more interesting and less like everyone else who’s doing this sort of thing, I’m going to throw the rules out the window. Instead, I’m going to decide which twelve players I would protect based on skill, age and salary. In my hypothetical expansion draft, even rookies must be protected. Without further ado, Houtz’s hypothetical expansion draft.
Experience: 1 year
Salary: 4 yr(s) / $12,457,650
This was an easy decision, as left tackle is one of the most important positions on an NFL roster. It is his responsibility to protect the quarterback’s blindside and despite only playing one game in 2016 at left tackle, Laremy Tunsil is one of the league’s best at this position. I’m absolutely protecting Laremy Tunsil.
Experience: 7 years
Salary: 6 yr(s) / $114,375,000
Suh has consistently been one of the NFL’s best defensive tackles and shows no signs of slowing down. He’s a mean, big-bodied anchor in the middle of the Dolphins’ defense. Without Suh, Miami’s defense would be missing one of the truly elite players in the NFL. He regularly draws double teams, opening things up for those around him. Back off other 31 NFL teams, Ndamukong Suh is protected.
Experience: 7 years
Salary: 5 yr(s) / $60,000,000
Jones is heading into his eighth-NFL season and has proven to be one of the league’s top strong safeties. Without Jones, Miami’s defense took a massive hit in 2016 and fans and players alike can’t wait to get him back on the field this season. He’s a menace in the run game and a playmaker vs the pass. Reshad Jones will retire a Miami Dolphin, in my ideal scenario.
Experience: 4 years
Salary: 4 yr(s) / $28,910,000
A newly signed contract should keep Kiko in south beach for the foreseeable future. When healthy, he remains one of the best run-stopping linebackers in the league. and at just 26-years old, there’s plenty of room for improvement. He must continue to get better vs the pass but overall, Kiko Alonso is a big part of Miami’s defense. PROTECTED!
Experience: 1 year
Salary: 4 yr(s) / $6,128,039
This is where those NHL expansion draft rules would come in handy. Howard would be protected under these rules, since he’s only played in one NFL season. However, that is boring to me, so I live with my decisions. Despite an injury-filled rookie season, Xavien Howard has the potential to be one of the league’s better NFL defensive backs. I strongly considered Maxwell or Lippett, but I have to go with Xavien. Probably my riskiest pick in this hypothetical article.
Salary: 4 yr(s) / $10,843,739
Again, Harris would be protected using the NHL’s expansion rules, but I’m not about that life. In shorts he’s looked the part of a quarterback-deprived monster, waiting to be unleashed at his foes. Harris has an insane first step and a spin move that will make Dolphin fans very happy for years to come. Now if he could only unblock me on Twitter, that would be greatly appreciated. Black Ice is PROTECTED!
Salary: 4 yr(s) / $4,697,537
We all know my thoughts on rookie linebacker, Raekwon McMillan, or as the cool kids like to say Baekwon. At just 20-years old, McMillan has a long career in front of him. He was a captain at Ohio State, and should be the anchor in the middle of the Dolphins’ linebacking corps for years to come. He might not be the team’s MLB in 2016, but that is where he will make a name for himself for many years to come.
Experience: 5 years
Salary: 4 yr(s) / $77,000,000
Quarterbacks are hard to come by in the NFL and when you have a good one, there’s no reason to muff it up. Tannehill continues to be one of the most polarizing players in Miami, perhaps the entire NFL. Prior to his injury last season, Tannehill looked the part of an NFL franchise quarterback and appears well on his way to reaching top-10 status. As long as he continues to excel in Gase’s offense, Tannehill will be the Dolphins’ quarterback for many years to come.
Experience: 2 years
Salary: 4 yr(s) / $2,500,813
Jay Ajayi is my favorite Dolphins’ player and I would absolutely protect him from all other NFL teams. In 2016, Ajayi single handily turned the team’s season around. With three 200-yard games, he solidified himself in the league’s record book. The man known as Jay Train makes a living out of running over his foes and in year two under Adam Gase, I expect an even more dynamic player. If he can become a legit pass-catching threat, Ajayi will be among the league’s best for years to come. PROTECTED!!!!!
Experience: 4 years
Salary: 4 yr(s) / $32,000,000
Kenny Stills just signed a handsome new contract with the Dolphins, so he projects to be a big part of the offense moving forward. Stills has speed that no other player on the roster does, and can blow the top off of opposing defenses. He proved in 2016 to be one of Tannehill’s favorite targets and expects to continue to feast in Gase’s offense. I’m excited to watch him produce, in year two with this offense.
Experience: 3 years
Salary: 4 yr(s) / $3,474,911
We all love Jarvis Landry and this whole ordeal with a new contract, has many of us on edge. I do believe Miami will do the right thing and sign Landry prior to the 2017 season. He’s the heart and soul of the offense, and plays with a certain grit many players do not. His impact can be felt in the run game as well as the pass, and no one works harder than Landry. If everything goes as planned, Jarvis Landry will finish his career in south beach, and go down as one of the greatest wide receivers in Miami Dolphins’ history.
Experience: 2 years
Salary: 4 yr(s) / $10,876,543
We have all heard by now how DeVante Parker is on the verge of a breakout season. He looked better than years prior in pads, and coaches are excited for what he’s about to become. He has a certain skill set none of the other wide receivers on the roster have and has the makeup of being a true No.1 wide receiver in the NFL. If he can keep his head straight and avoid any nagging injuries, Parker will have a monster year in 2017. In an offense consisting of Ryan Tannehill, DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry and Jay Ajayi, the Dolphins should have one of the league’s better offenses for years to come.
To be honest, I went through this entire article without writing Kenny Stills’ name until the very end. That is a sin in my opinion, so I had no choice but to go back and alter a few things. With that said, I already didn’t play by the NHL expansion draft rules, so why must I play by my own rules? Since adding Kenny Stills name to the list, I moved this man down to the bottom. Because he is awesome, and isn’t going anywhere.
Lucky Number 13!!!!!
Experience: 8 years
Salary: 2 yr(s) / $16,125,000
This might be the fan in me or even the Grinch when his heart grew 100 sizes or whatever it was. Wake has shown the entire NFL that age is just a number and a decline just doesn’t seem imminent with this guy. Without ever winning a playoff game, I’m keeping Wake in Miami so he can reach that plateau. Hell, I’m keeping him here so he can go out with a Lombard trophy or at worst, Tom Brady’s right arm. This might not be the best move for the future of the Miami Dolphins, but Cameron Wake isn’t going anywhere.
All contracts were taken from Spotrac
This article was written by Josh Houtz. Follow him on Twitter!