The Miami Dolphins have cut their roster from the preseason 90-man limit to the regular season’s 53-man limit. These cuts are always tough, with players having given it their all to try to make it to the roster, but roster moves having to be made. Some of the cuts, however, are surprising. A veteran who was expected to be a starter is suddenly gone (T.J. McDonald). A young player showing promise is released (Chase Allen). And both of those were last week before we reached Saturday. Things that were not expected become the main stories on cut-down day.
The first surprise came, not from a player who was cut, but one who is still with the team. Speculation had the Dolphins trading or cutting linebacker Kiko Alonso, to the point that he was said to have asked for a trade and cleaned out his locker. Yet, he is still on the roster. Are the Dolphins holding on to him in a hope of finding a trade partner? Or, can the two sides come back together and the veteran remain on the roster this year?
The Dolphins clearly are going with a youth movement this season. The team as a whole averages 25.2 years old, with 2.6 years of NFL experience entering this season. If you take out quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and long snapper John Denney, both of whom have played 14 years already and are entering their 15th season, the Dolphins drop to an average age of 24.2 with 2.1 years of experience prior to this season. They have 13 rookies on the roster, with another three players in their first season.
To compare, the Dolphins have two players entering their 15th year, one his tenth, one his ninth, two their seventh, three their sixth, and four their fifth. The Dolphins have more players entering their first year on an NFL roster than they have entering their fifth-or-more season.
Defensive end Tank Carradine may be the biggest surprise cut on the day. He has worked with the first-team defense and he plays at a position that does not have a lot of depth for Miami. The Dolphins head into the season with just three defensive ends on the roster. They are either going to be acquiring someone over the next few days, or the 3-4 may have a much bigger role for the defense than they have shown this summer. The team could also look to re-sign Carradine after Week 1, avoiding making his full contract guaranteed as a vested veteran.
The Dolphins releasing Isaiah Ford and keeping Allen Hurns at wide receiver is a little surprising as well. Hurns did not really show anything this summer, while Ford had a pretty good preseason. Hurns could be a player the Dolphins look to cut as roster moves happen this week, but for now, he is one of six receivers on the roster.
Miami is deep! at running back. Counting fullback Chandler Cox, the team has six runners on the roster. Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage were obviously making the team, then there was competition between Myles Gaskin, Patrick Laird, and Mark Walton. All three showed flashes and made a good case to be among the players kept - it is just surprising that the team would go ahead and keep all of them. Miami could look to slide one to the practice squad later this week, but as of Saturday, Miami has a ton of running backs on the roster.
Chris Myarick making the roster is impressive. After the team came to an injury settlement with Dwayne Allen, it was expected the team would move forward with three tight ends, Mike Gesicki, Nick O’Leary, and Durham Smythe. Myarick played well in the summer and now finds himself on the roster.
And finally, for the 743rd time, John Denney is on the roster. It is not a surprise. It is just a statement of fact. John Denney is always on the Dolphins’ roster.
Changes will still happen over the next few days, but for now, the Dolphins have a 53-man roster.