According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins are looking to make some big changes to the roster this offseason, and that starts with trimming some fat on the roster by ridding the team of bulky contracts. In that vain, it appears the team is likely to part ways with three players who were key starters throughout Miami’s 2017 campaign.
According to Salguero, the Dolphins are going to release tight end Julius Thomas and linebacker Lawrence Timmons, while also rescinding right tackle Ja’Wuan James’ fifth-year option. Thomas signed a two-year $12.2 million contract with Miami after being traded from Jacksonville during last offseason. When head coach Adam Gase and the front office brought Thomas to South Florida, they were hoping he’d provide the same game-changing mismatch he gave to Peyton Manning in Denver three years ago. Unfortunately for Miami, Thomas looked lethargic and washed up all season, and he was rarely the red-zone weapon quarterback Jay Cutler desperately needed.
Timmons was also brought to town last offseason. The longtime Pittsburgh Steeler was signed to a two-year $12 million contract with a hefty $11 million guaranteed. However, in a bizarre turn of events, Timmons went AWOL for Miami’s week 2 game against the Los Angeles Chargers and was subsequently suspended by the team. The suspension voided the 2018 guaranteed portion of his contract, leaving the Dolphins with the ability to release Timmons this offseason without a large cap penalty.
Timmons played well early on this year, making key tackles and providing veteran leadership for the defense, but he disappeared over the latter half of the season and could be cut in favor of younger talent like Stephone Anthony, Mike Hull, a high draft pick, or a free agent acquisition.
The most curious move of the three is the rescinding of Ja’Wuan James’ 5th year option. The up-and-coming right tackle was a rock solid blocker and a stable presence amidst a shaky offensive front. His $9.2 million option was a steep price, but in a league where quality offensive line play is hard to find, it wasn’t entirely unreasonable. The most likely scenario at play is that the coaching staff and front office feel that Jesse Davis could be a viable replacement. Davis is a 26-year old former underrated free agent who played well at both guard and tackle this season, and could likely fill in at either as a capable starter.
It’s also a possibility that the front office is hoping to ink James to a long term contract at a yearly cost lower than the initial $9.2 million. They will have the chance to do so before James becomes an unrestricted free agent in march.
Should the Dolphins follow through with these three moves as Salguero suggests, $21 million in cap space will be opened for the team to use in free agency, the draft, and in resigning impending free agents like star wide receiver Jarvis Landry. The Miami Dolphins have a busy offseason ahead and plenty of holes on the roster to fill, and no one can argue with a team that is attempting to clear out aging and costly veterans to make way for younger and cheaper talent.