Over the weekend, the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reported the NFL and NFL Players Association are considering a proposal to lower roster sizes from the standard 90-man preseason limit to somewhere around 75-80 players, allowing for more distancing in locker rooms and training facilities. Miami currently has 87 players on their roster, with one roster exemption for defensive tackle/guard Durval Queiroz Neto, meaning any change to the roster size could require up to 11 players be cut from the Dolphins before training camp can begin.
Those cuts could be costly for a team like the Dolphins. While the players who are released would not likely be on the roster come the regular season cuts, there is always a surprise in training camp who earns a roster spot and eventually becomes a contributor. This could be a lost opportunity for the players with something to prove, and it could be a lost opportunity for Miami to find that gem. That said, it is not a guarantee that the Dolphins will only look to the younger, unproven players as potential roster cuts.
The Dolphins currently have 21 rookies on their roster, 11 draft picks and 10 undrafted free agents. Taking the 11 draft picks, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, tackle Austin Jackson, cornerback Noah Igbinoghene, tackle Robert Hunt, defensive tackle Raekwon Davis, safety Brandon Jones, guard Solomon Kindley, defensive end Jason Strowbridge, defensive end Curtis Weaver, long snapper Blake Ferguson, and running back Malcolm Perry, out of the equation, that leaves the 10 undrafted free agents as potential targets.
Wide receiver Matt Cole, tackle Jonathan Hubbard, linebacker Kylan Johnson, defensive tackle Benito Jones, tackle Nick Kaltmayer, defensive tackle Ray Lima, wide receiver Kirk Merritt, defensive end Tyshun Render, center Donell Stanley, and tight end Bryce Sterk all could be in consideration for release. Some of them are more likely to be released, than others, though, simply based on roster positions.
Miami has a deep wide receivers group, with DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant, and Allen Hurns likely already locked onto the roster, with Isaiah Ford a strong possibility to claim a sixth spot as a depth option. That makes it easier to see players like Cole and Merritt on the potential list of cuts.
The same can be said for the tight end position, where Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe will likely lead the way. Assuming Miami wants to keep three tight ends, Sterk, third-year Chris Myarick, and fourth-year Michael Roberts will battle for the last slot. Roberts, who signed as a free agent in the offseason, could have the inside track for the position, which could put Sterk and Myarick on the cutting block.
The Dolphins have 15 offensive linemen on the roster, which could make someone near the back of the depth chart at any of the five positions a possibility for a pre-roster cut. Ted Karras will likely work as the starting center, which could leave Stanley available to cut while Keaton Sutherland works as the primary backup. The guard position will likely have Shaq Calhoun, Michael Dieter, Ereck Flowers, Danny Isidora, and Solomon Kindley all make it to training camp as the team looks for the best combinations on the interior, a battle that could include tackles Jesse Davis, Jackson, and Hunt as well. Along with Davis, Hunt and Jackson, the team will likely bring Julién Davenport to camp, which leaves Hubbard, Kaltmayer, and veteran Adam Pankey all in jeopardy.
On the defensive side of the ball, the defensive tackle position could see some cuts before camp. Assuming Davon Godchaux and Christian Wilkins are locked into the roster, while Davis will make it to camp as a draft pick, Miami has Jones and Lima, as well as Zach Sieler as potential releases. Of those three, Sieler may be the one most in danger as the Dolphins look to bigger defensive tackles.
The linebacker group is 12 players deep right now, which could lead to a few of the pre-camp cuts. Jerome Baker, Raekwon McMillan, Elandon Roberts, and Kyle Van Noy are all roster locks this year, with Andrew Van Ginkle, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Sam Eguavoen, James Crawford, and Vince Biegel will all go into camp, with the possibility to fight for a starting or depth position on the 53-man roster. That leaves Trent Harris, Kylan Johnson, and Calvin Munson as possible cuts. Harris was claimed off waivers last year, then Miami signed him to a one-year, $585,00 tender this offseason, while Munson was signed off the Patriots practice squad near the end of the 2019 season.
The cornerback group could see cuts as well. With Xavien Howard and Byron Jones locked in as the two starters, while Igbinoghene, both as a drafted player and as the potential top nickel cornerback option, will make it to camp. Nik Needham showed flashes last year and could have a larger role this year. He is also an example of an undrafted free agent who can quickly turn into a contributor. Assuming Ryan Lewis, Jamal Perry, Clayton Fejedelem, and Cordrea Tankersley all make it to camp (though if Tankersley is not 100 percent healthy, he could be released), that leaves Tae Hayes, Nate Brooks, and Ken Webster as potential cuts.
16 Potential cuts (11 may be required)
- Nate Brooks, CB
- Matt Cole, WR
- Trent Harris, LB
- Tae Hayes, CB
- Jonathan Hubbard, T
- Kylan Johnson, LB
- Benito Jones, DT
- Nick Kaltmayer, T
- Ray Lima, DT
- Kirk Merritt, WR
- Calvin Munson, LB
- Chris Myarick, TE
- Adam Pankey, T
- Zach Sieler, DT
- Bryce Sterk, TE
- Ken Webster, CB