After months spent studying and acquiring players, the next four months will be used to trim rosters and make a few last-minute moves in preparation for the opening day.
Of course, one of the biggest moves the Miami Dolphins made in the last 10 years came when the team traded away Laremy Tunsil just days before the 2019 season. With that in mind, it is hard to imagine general manager Chris Grier making any ground-shaking moves between May and early September.
Starting jobs and roster spots are officially up for grabs and here are three questions surrounding Miami’s roster that will be answered before Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season.
Which receivers will survive the purge?
The state of Miami’s receiving core seemed to change overnight. The 2019 season ended with DeVante Parker leading the league in receiving yards and Albert Wilson looking healthy after suffering a hip injury the year prior.
Despite questions as to why Preston Williams was returning kicks, expectations grew after he impressed in his injury-shorted rookie season. Allen Hurns was rewarded for his work in relief with a new contract and Jakeem Grant was out to prove he was more than a returner.
Being Just A RETURNER Days are OVER!!! I AM A RECEIVER! pic.twitter.com/YYHoyJwEEI— Jakeem Grant (@_TheDreamIsHere) June 9, 2020
One pandemic and numerous injures left Miami’s receiving core decimated, in need of an overhaul. Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller are now in the fold, but so are all the receivers listed above — and then some.
It is a loaded room, who will float and who will sink?
Parker, Fuller, Waddle, Preston Williams and Lynn Bowden Jr. are likely locks to be on Miami's opening day roster. That leaves Grant, Wilson, Hurns, Mack Hollins. Isaiah Ford, Malcolm Perry, Robert Foster, Kirk Merritt and Kai Locksley fighting for one, maybe two roster spots.
The team could lean towards players like Hollins and Foster, players who signed contracts with the team this offseason. However — we know how much Brian Flores loves competition.
What surprises are in store for the offensive line?
It could be Austin Jackson, Solomon Kindley, Matt Skura, Robert Hunt and Liam Eichenberg. It could be Jackson, Fluker, Michael Dieter, DJ Fluker and Jesse Davis — okay, probably not. The point is that predicting Miami’s starting five in early May is nearly impossible.
Knock on wood, the Dolphins are rolling into the 2021 training camp period with plenty of depth on the offensive line — something we don’t see often out of the team.
After being picked at No. 18 overall last year, Austin Jackson is most likely the team’s left tackle. Every other position, though, is certainly up for grabs — that is a good thing.
What will year two look like Hunt and Kindley? Will they both be at guard or will Hunt be the team’s right tackle for the second-straight season. Either way, Kindley starting at left guard doesn’t seem like the worst decision.
Solomon Kindley's first snap at left guard after Ereck Flowers left the game with an injury. pic.twitter.com/8xvhZYrvpa— Jake (@JMendel94) December 7, 2020
Fluker is a solid player added late in free agency. Last season he was a right tackle in Baltimore but has spent time at both right guard and right tackle throughout his career.
The team spent a high pick on Liam Eichenberg, listed as a tackle during the draft and can also play inside at guard. Michael Dieter, Matt Skura and Adam Pankey are also on the roster— guys who might’ve used the offseason to flip the switch.
Special shoutout Jesse Davis, a versatile piece who belongs as the team’s sixth-or-seventh linemen due to the fact he can play any position on the line when needed.
How did we not envision the Miami Dolphins drafting a tight end, even if Kyle Pitts was not available?
Mike Gesicki is entering the last year of his contract. The same is for Durham Smythe. Bigger than both of these contracts, the tight end unit as a whole set a franchise high in receptions (91), receiving yards (1,061) and touchdowns (11) last season.
While Gesicki is the star of the unit with 703 yards and six touchdowns, Smythe and Adam Shaheen each scored a pair of touchdowns. A case could be made that the Dolphins leaned on this position due to the issues at receiver, but it was apparent that Chan Gailey used multiple tight ends in his offense. That means George Godsey and Eric Studesville will likely do the same.
Hunter Long wasn’t the tight end most penciled in for the Miami Dolphins, but he can play right away, due to his abilities blocking and catching the ball — we know how much Grier and Flores like flexible players.
Most would think that the Dolphins want to extend Gesicki’s contract (the same could be true for Smythe) and that may be the case, but it is always easier said than done. The Dolphins currently have six tight ends in Gesicki, Smythe, Shaheen, Long, Chris Myairick and Cethan Carter, who was signed this offseason.
With six players in the mix, the Dolphins will likely pick three or four guys who can have an impact every Sunday.