With the Miami Dolphins officially in offseason mode, the team must begin looking ahead towards rebuilding the team in 2019. One of the most important factors in how to reconstruct the Dolphins into a contender will be deciding who stays and who goes, something that will be evaluated through March 13th: the official start of the new League Year.
Until NFL free agency opens on March 13th, I will be reviewing the impending free agents on the Miami Dolphins and evaluating whether or not the team should retain them, tag them, or let them walk. When front offices choose how to handle their upcoming free agents, they take a variety of factors into account, including age, production, and value, so I will be doing the same. Today, we continue with tight end MarQueis Gray.
To read about pending free agents already covered, consult this list:
Experience: Entering 7th season
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 260 lbs
Expiring Contract: 2-year, $2 million
Heading into the 2018 season, Gray was set to be Miami’s number one tight end. Unfortunately, a non-contact Achilles injury suffered during one-on-one drills during training camp ended his season before it even started, thrusting rookies Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe into larger roles on offense. Prior to last year’s injury, Gray was a key role player in Miami’s attack.
Under former Dolphins head coach Adam Gase, Gray wore multiple hats, acting both as a blocking tight end or a fullback in varying formations. Coming over from the Buffalo Bills as a free agent in 2016, Gray carved out a role for himself not as huge threat in the passing game, but as a facilitator that allowed other players to thrive through his blocking prowess.
Rapidly approaching age 30 and coming off of a severe injury, there’s definitely concern over whether Gray will be able to return to form. That being said, if the veteran tight end is at a stage in his rehab where he’d be ready to take on training camp at full speed, there’s little doubt that he’d be able to continue his role as a minor contributor on offense and a voice of wisdom in the locker room. Whether or not Miami’s next head coach (likely New England Patriots de-facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores) and general manager Chris Grier have a place for Gray on the roster is another matter altogether.
With the Dolphins hoping Gesicki and Smythe can progress into key weapons, and with free agent signee Nick O’Leary performing well enough to earn a contract extension, there is little room on the depth chart for a 29-year old veteran coming off of a torn Achilles. As much as I sympathize with veterans who are phased out simply because they suffered brutal injuries, the Dolphins are in a rebuild mode, which means the team isn’t in a place where precious roster spots can be sacrificed. Miami needs to import as much young and cheap talent as the front office possibly can, even at the expense of bidding farewell to established veterans.
As some will remember, I advocated for the retaining of Frank Gore this offseason, who, much like Gray, is an aging veteran who could take up the roster spot of a younger player. However, Gore showed last season that he can be a valuable weapon on offense and consistently moved the chains on the ground. He’s also a key leader in the locker room, and is someone that Kenyan Drake has lauded for his leadership and mentoring ability. With that in mind, I see Gore’s evaluation as different than Gray’s, especially given the latter’s lack of statistical production.
I will not include the tag option for Gray, because there is no realistic reason to use a franchise tag on him.
My vote: Let walk (regretfully)
Should the Dolphins retain MarQueis Gray or let him walk?
This poll is closed