Let the Wild Rumpus Start: A Guide to Miami's 2018 Offseason

Oof. That's the best way to describe the 2017 season for Miami Dolphins fans.

Moving on.

This article doesn't aim to predict what the Dolphins will do or really even what they should do. It's just what I would do. And I'm just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him what the hell the Dolphins' problem is.

Hey, Didn't You Do This Last Year?

Who told you? GIVE ME A NAME. It's true: last year I wrote an article with the same premise. And I'd have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for you meddling kids and that dog! But just to keep myself in check, at least in terms of the draft (because to rehash the entire list of suggestions would be cruel and unusual), I'd like to start by listing my theoretical picks, along with their 2017 contributions. Compare them to the Dolphins 2017 picks at your leisure.

Round 1.22 - Zach Cunningham, LB Vanderbilt - Starter for the Texans with 90 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Arguably could have helped down in South Beach. Raekwon McMillan was drafted in the 2nd and we've yet to see his ability thanks to injury.

Round 2.22 - Demarcus Walker, DE Florida State - 7 tackles and a sack for Denver. Charles Harris had 19 tackles and 2 sacks as a 1st rounder.

Round 3.33 - Eddie Vanderdoes, DT UCLA - 18 tackles for the Raiders. 5th rounder Davon Godchaux massively outplayed him with 40 tackles.

Round 5.22 - Kyle Fuller, C Baylor - Can't find any evidence that he played. Let's assume he'd still start on Miami's OL and be a Pro Bowler. Or be instantly bad. I honestly forget how it works for us.

Round 5.34 - Stacy Coley, WR Miami - Odd, no stats.

Round 5.40 - Jalen Myrick, CB Minnesota - Hmm, none here either. Starting to think perhaps I didn't have that stellar of a pretend draft.

Round 6.22 - Sefo Liufau, QB Colorado - Oh, here we go! Wait. Cut and now a free agent.

Well, you can't win em all. Just like Miami! I kid. I cry and I kid.

Current State of the Union

Things keep changing a mile a minute. Landry's tagged, maybe traded, probably traded. Robert Quinn shows up for a mid rounder and nobody knows where his money's going to come from, exactly. I'm gonna get right into it before they make any other moves that force me to rewrite sections again.

The Dolphins have a decent core of young players at their disposal (depending on your perspective, which has hopefully been espoused in the excellent 'For Real' segment the Phinsider is currently running). Kenyan Drake, Xavien Howard, Cordrea 'Tank You Very Much' Tankersley, Davon Godchaux, even throw a little (HAH) Jakeem Grant in there, all made contributions toward success. So why aren't we in the Superbowl? Well, we also have a lot of good players being paid like great players, young players not taking the next step, and holes in our depth like Swiss cheese platter? Some sexual pun? I'll say some sexual pun and you pick your favorite.


For the first time in a long time, the offensive line played okay. I realize that's not a ringing endorsement, but 'okay' for a Miami OL is a long cry from where we've been in the past. We stumbled into some talent with Jesse Davis, have some potential in Eric Smith, and have something or other in Isaac Asiata (hopefully something other than just a 5th round pick invested).

I'm going to use my one profanity per article right now to point out that we had Smokin' Muhfuckin Jay Cutler at QB. Love him or hate him: he is a guy that played quarterback for us. And like Forrest Gump, that's all I have to say about that. We'll be getting a fresh-off-an-injury Ryan Tannehill back to presumably assume the starting role with a who's who of backups tailing him. As in, who?

Our wide receivers had some solid individual performances, but left a lot to be desired with their overall performance. Everyone knows the big ticket item is what to do with the Juice. I'm assuming that my Landry jersey is yet another wasted $100 on quickly outdated Dolphins merchandise and, for the purposes of this exercise, I'm going to have him playing elsewhere in 2018 and beyond.


For the money we have invested in the defensive line, there has to be more impact. Robert Quinn brings yet more money but also, ideally, some of that impact. We also have some up-and-comers that could infuse some life. Harris flashed potential as a pass rusher, Jordan Phillips started showing up for work, and both late round DT picks, in Godchaux and Taylor, looked to outplay their draft positions.

Linebackers were negatively impacted by scheme, to a degree, but we know what we have in the guys we've seen. We're a little saddled with Alonso's contract, which his play last year didn't live up to. Meanwhile, there's a complete unknown with Raekwon McMillan, who there are obviously high hopes for, given he was a second rounder. Someone has to cover a TE. Will it be you?

The secondary flashed a lot of potential for the future and, with Tony Lippett coming back from injury, there's a lot to be hopeful for in the back of the defense. We're still without a true cover FS and rumors abound about 'hybrid' defenses, so there still could be room to maneuver.

With all that said, here's a picture to break up all this text, and let's get to goin'.

Cut Players

- Julius Thomas: Thomas looked like a grandmother all season long. Just a gigantic grandmother all slow and gangly and not open and making cookies and dropping passes and collecting Social Security. ($6.6m Cap Savings)
- Lawrence Timmons: Great on paper, poor in practice. And also in games. And missing for a game to boot. By the end of the year, Matt Burke was phasing him out for Stephone Anthony and Chase Allen. Whoever fills that OLB role, it shouldn't be Timmons. ($5.5m Cap Savings)

Team Needs

The truth behind whatever we fans hear regarding changes to scheme, i.e. hybrid defenses, switching to 3-4, fielding an offense solely comprised of little kids stacked three high wearing trench coats, will dictate the real priority of positions. For now, we can agree that we need all of the following in some order.


- Tight Ends, Free Safety, Linebackers, Interior Offensive Line


- Running Back, Quarterbacks, Wide Receiver

"But EgregiousPhilbin" you say to your monitor like an idiot, "That's almost all of the positions!" It is, Sutton. It is.

So how do we get such a lofty shopping list fulfilled?

Restructures and Extensions

We can start by restructuring some of our players to provide more cap space with which to work free agency.

- Restructure Mike Pouncey: Last year I wanted to restructure recently rehabbed renegade Mike Pouncey and I have the same feelings a year later. He needs to cost us less money and take on a mentor role for a future center. He lost a step in his run blocking (a former strength) and the sooner we get younger at the position, the sooner the line can work together as a unit for a longer stretch. If he won't restructure, I'd entertain cutting him altogether. Jake Brendel and/or a draft pick could be worth the $7m savings.
- Do Whatever Cam Wake Wants: He's earned it. He's going to count $8.6m against the cap in 2018, which is too much. If he wants to retire a Dolphin, work the contract to lower his number and extend his years. If he wants to go to a Superbowl contender, so long and thanks for all the fish. He deserves whatever send off he desires.
- Restructure Ja'Wuan James: If James will stay at a reduced rate, he should get the RT spot. If he won't, we can try our hand with Jesse Davis or Eric Smith in exchange for $9m in savings. For the sake of this experiment, I'm considering him cut because we never have nice things.
- Restructure Ndamukong Suh: A man can dream.

Team Free Agents

Let Walk

- Jarvis Landry: I love Juice (Landry, not O.J. Simpson). I have his soon-to-be-worthless jersey and he's on my fantasy team every year that I can snag him. All that said, I'm having a hard time seeing him sticking around.

Now that we've offered him the franchise tag at $16.2 million for next year, he's likely to either be traded (saving us that $16.2m) or we could be stuck with that cap hit. My choices for addressing Landry would be:

1) Offer him 4 years $13.5m and structure it to keep this year's number lower.
2) If he says no, keep courting possible trade partners and take whatever you can get from your weak ass position.
3) Rescind the tag and get nothing for him.
4) If he signs the tag and that's that, work some cap magic to eat that $16.2m.

- Smokin' Jay Cutler: Enjoy the booth, bud.
- Koa Misi: Always solid, never spectacular, and now never healthy.
- Nate Allen: We need a true cover FS and he wasn't it.
- Jermon Bushrod: I give him a ton of credit for switching positions and being a team guy, but he's past his serviceable years.
- Matt Moore: Good for a spark and 2 quarters of solid play. We need a backup or two who might one day grow into a starter.
- Anthony Fasano, Damien Williams, Sam Young, David Fales, Walt Aikens, Anthony Steen, Lamin Barrow Neville Hewitt, De'Veon Smith

Sign as Starters

- Cody Parkey: Smooth like butter. 4 yr, $790k
- John Denney: He is your master. You will obey. 1 yr, $915k

Sign (or Tender) as Depth

- Williams Hayes: 2 yr, $790k
- Michael Thomas: 2 yr, $790k
- Alterraun Verner: 1 yr, $915k
- Mike Hull (Tender): $630k
- Jordan Lucas (Tender): $630k
- Jake Brendel (Tender): $630k

Doing all of the above using the OTC Salary Cap Calculator leaves us with $21.3m. Factoring in Robert Quinn without details, let's just call it $15m. It will still take some finagling here and there (maybe Tannehill and Suh are interested in throwing the team a bone) to give us meaningful FA buying power. Fortunately, our FA shopping list isn't all that long.

Sign Market Free Agents

I'm of the philosophy that you spend in Free Agency to acquire those players whose positions warrant affordable contracts (relatively speaking for a game that pays guys millions of dollars per year) and acquire those players whose positions warrant exorbitant contracts through the draft. This generally means that I'm looking to Free Agency for interior offensive linemen, linebackers, and tight ends. Which, coincidentally, are often needs for the Dolphins. Perhaps because instead of being judicious, we keep going out and signing expensive Mike Wallaces, Branden Alberts, Ndamukong Suhs, and Jay Cutlers.


- Andrew Norwell: G, CAR (Market Value = $11.7m/year) - Norwell's the top choice because he's got the most skill and is only 26 years old. He'll also (obviously) cost the most and we won't have a ton of money to play with.

- Zach Fulton: G/C, KC - Fulton is also 26 years old and has positional versatility. He likely comes at a more reasonable price tag than Norwell.

- Josh Kline: G, TEN (Market Value = $10.2m/year) - Kline is a bit older at 28, but would still help our cause.

If we still devalue the Guard position as we have in the past, we can always shoot for someone like Jonathan Cooper from DAL who likely won't command a $10m/year salary and could help improve the line.


- Tahir Whitehead: OLB, DET (Market Value = $8.5m/year) - At age 27 and coming off of a 2 year $8m contract with Detriot, Whitehead could likely help fill our coverage OLB role.

- Nigel Bradham: OLB, PHI (Market Value = $6m/year) - Bradham is 28 and ending his 2 year/$7m contract with the Eagles, but being on a Superbowl winning team likely ups that price a bit.


- Trey Burton: TE, PHI (Market Value = $7m/year) - Speaking of players from Superbowl winning teams, Trey Burton is the only guy I'd consider 'overpaying' for. We've been in dire need of a complete TE for a while and Burton (26 years old) can be it. Paired with A.J. Derby, we could have flexibility at the TE position where no one is a liability in any aspect of the game, e.g. Grandma Thomas trying to block.

- Austin Seferian-Jenkins: TE, NYJ (Market Value = $4.1m/year) - As a consolation prize if Burton goes elsewhere, we could look to the currently successful reclamation project of NYJ Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

Bold Decision: QB

Here's where I might jump the shark a bit. I like Ryan Tannehill. He's tough as they come and seems like a stand up guy. But he's also turning 30 and coming off of a major knee injury. He's shown flashes, but rarely consistency, the reasons for which have been discussed on here to the point where it makes my eyes bleed. No matter which side of the war you fly the flag for, the reality is that we aren't sure which Tannehill we'll get post injury and, 6 years in, we're not totally sure what the best Tannehill looks like. If we've made the space, I think we should look at signing a FA QB to compete. Doing so wouldn't negate the possibility of drafting a QB as well.

- Josh Johnson: Just kidding; could you imagine?

- Teddy Bridgewater: QB, MIN - Injury concerns? Love 'em. The guy has all the talent in the world and, given his heinous knee injury, he'll probably come cheap. He can compete with Tannehill and I could see a world where he wins. Worst case, you have a viable backup and, once you've seen RT2018, you can make the long term decision from there. Well, worst case, everybody's knees explode, but let's say it doesn't come to that. I'd be content to see a Tannehill/Bridgewater combo and hope for one to surprise us while we wait on Jake Fromm.

Other FA QB Options Sort of, Kind of

- Case Keenum: QB, MIN
- A.J. McCarron: QB, CIN
- Brock Osweiler: QB, DEN


I don't like to include trades because then it's easy to devolve into Madden roster management. I'll just note that if I could find a trade partner for Andre Branch and insert Cameron Malveaux in his place, it'd be done yesterday.


For the draft, I think the Dolphins should hope and pray they can trade out of pick 11 to a QB hungry team, fall down into the 20s of the 1st, and hoard extra picks. The top end talent doesn't really fit their needs (you still draft it anyway, if you really believe in it), but there are holes everywhere. Even if some are filled via Free Agency, we are in dire need of an infusion of young talent across the board. For this mock, I ran the FanSpeak simulator enough to make sure it wasn't all impossible and took no trade offers.

Just in case anyone wanted a shouting match, here are how I laid out the needs:

- FS, LB, TE, QB, OL, RB

2018 Draft Picks

Round 1.11 - Roquan Smith LB, Georgia
Round 2.42 - Marcus Allen S, Penn State
Round 3.73 - Sony Michel RB, Georgia
Round 4.107 - Adam Breneman TE, Massachusetts
Round 6.169 - Tanner Lee QB, Nebraska
Round 7.199 - Bradley Bozeman C, Ohio State
Round 7.203 - DaeSean Hamilton WR, Penn State

Side Note: (because this needs more content) the big boards for these sims are so variable that one draft let me have the following: Minkah Fitzpatrick FS, Tremaine Edmunds LB, Mark Andrews TE, Rashaad Penny RB, Equanimeous St. Brown WR, Luke Falk QB, Tony Adams G

If the real world let it play out like that, I'm all in, but I don't count it because it seems insane.

Depth Chart

May I introduce you to your (my, really) 2018 Miami Dolphins. And the crowd goes wild!


QB - Ryan Tannehill, Teddy Bridgewater
RB - Kenyan Drake, Sony Michel, Senorise Perry
TE - Trey Burton, A.J. Derby, Marquis Gray, Adam Breneman
WR - DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Jakeem Grant, Leonte Caroo, Isaiah Ford, DaeSean Hamilton
LT - Laremy Tunsil, Zach Sterup
LG - Zach Fulton
C - Mike Pouncey, Jake Brendel
RG - Ted Larsen, Isaac Asiata
RT - Jesse Davis, Eric Smith


DE - Robert Quinn, Cameron Wake, Andre Branch, Charles Harris, William Hayes
DT - Ndamukong Suh, Davon Godchaux, Jordan Phillips, Vincent Taylor
WLB - Tahir Whitehead, Stephone Anthony
MLB - Raekwon McMillan, Kiko Alonso, Mike Hull
SLB - Roquan Smith, Chase Allen
CB - Xavien Howard, Cordrea Tankersley, Tony Lippett, Bobby McCain, Alterraun Verner
FS - T.J. McDonald, Marcus Allen, Michael Thomas
SS - Reshad Jones, Jordan Lucas

Special Teams

K - Cody Parkey
P - Matt Haack
LS - John Denney or everyone dies

Practice Squad

Tanner Lee, Bradley Bozeman, Other players, I'd have to imagine

Looking forward to seeing everyone this time next year under better circumstances.

Like 7-9. Or 8-8!

Just kidding.

I hope.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Phinsider's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of The Phinsider writers or editors.