One regime’s misguided obsession can be another regime’s treasure trove, and despite a profound dearth of talent in virtually every other area of the roster, one position group the Miami Dolphins won’t have to worry much about this off-season is receiver.
The Dolphins signed former Pittsburgh wide-out Mike Wallace, at the time, to one of the richest contracts ever for an NFL player, and the team spent more high draft picks on wide-outs in a three year period than any team in league history. While Wallace, Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker were, and remain, pretty darn good players, the Dolphins have yet to win a playoff game since acquiring any of them and only Parker remains with the team. The aforementioned players helped get Joe Philbin, Dennis Hickey, Adam Gase and Mike Tannenbaum fired, but set current Miami head coach and general manager Brian Flores and Chris Grier up nicely for the foreseeable future.
After the scintillating 2019 season he turned in, any conversation about the Miami Dolphins and wide receivers has to start with Parker. After a forgettable first four years in the league, Parker’s 1202 receiving yards in 2019 easily represent more a third of his five year career total, and perhaps more than any other player on the team, his play last season embodied the indomitable, ‘never say die’ attitude of the 2019 Dolphins squad. His ridiculous fourth down touchdown reception against Philadelphia, in which he out-muscled the defensive back, then tight roped down the sideline to the end zone, probably would have earned him Pro Bowl consideration, had he played for any other NFL team than the Dolphins. What’s more, he just turned 27 five weeks ago and is under contract with Miami through 2024.
It’s much easier to flesh out a wide receiving corps when you have a true number one in place, and with Parker now firmly ensconced in that role, the rest of the team’s players at the position look much better. Undrafted rookie Preston Williams was a revelation for the team last season. Despite starting only seven games before tearing an ACL, Williams still had more than 400 receiving yards and four touchdowns. If Williams isn’t ready to go in September, Isaiah Ford looks like the most likely candidate to line up on the other side opposite Parker. Like Williams, Ford is big and rangy, and may have better hands than Williams.
But the Dolphins have so much more to draw on from their now robust stable of wide-outs. Jakeem Grant and Albert Wilson are both a threat to go the distance every time they catch a pass in the flat, and recently acquired Mack Hollins and Gary Jennings, Jr are viable options for the Dolphins, as well. Both came into the league as fourth round picks, Hollins by Philadelphia and Jennings by Seattle. The Seahawks tried to slide Jennings through waivers and onto their practice squad last November, but the always watchful Chris Grier poured cold water on those plans by signing Jennings before he could clear waivers. Other than Grant, Jennings Jr might be the fastest receiver on the team.
Like many observers, I was skeptical when the Dolphins passed on tight end Dallas Goedert in favor of Mike Gesicki in the second round of the 2018 draft, but Gesicki showed us a tantalizing glimpse of what he can be as the 2019 season came to a close. Catching the winning touchdown pass from Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in the closing seconds of their epic upset at Foxboro against New England was the proverbial icing on the cake for Gesicki, during a season in which he established himself as a player who should be a big contributor in Miami for years to come. The third year tight end is big, long, lithe and deceptively fast. He also possesses a ridiculous catch radius, and with the talent the team has around him at receiver, Gesicki is definitely not someone opposing linebackers are going to want to try and cover one on one.
After expending a tremendous amount of resources on receivers in recent years, the Dolphins are now well positioned to do what the Patriots have done for a long time, which is to improve the unit mostly by adding low cost, low risk players who didn’t work out at their previous stops. I don’t know whether there’s another Randy Moss or substance abuse free Josh Gordon out there, but if a guy like that becomes available, look for the team to try and bring him in. That’s the wrap for today, have a great week, everybody.