The preseason is now complete, with the Miami Dolphins concluding their schedule with a 29-26 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. With the end of the preseason comes one of the most difficult days on the football calendar - roster cuts day. Tuesday afternoon marks the deadline for teams to reduce their rosters from the current 80-player limit down to the regular season’s 53-man roster size.
Over the course of Monday and Tuesday, 864 players from around the league will be released, waived, traded, or placed on injured reserve, all as teams try to figure out the right combination of depth players at each roster position. Do you keep a seventh wide receiver on the roster at the cost of a defensive lineman? Should a linebacker be kept instead of a tight end? How many players can play both safety and cornerback, providing space for an extra tackle? How does the roster come together between offense and defense, while making sure special teams is not ignored?
Most coaching staffs around the league already have an idea of who is making the 53-man roster, even before they play the final preseason game. Maybe a player or two could do enough to force the team to re-look their roster position, but for the most part, through the first two preseason games and weeks of practices, the roster has already been built. There are always surprises, especially when salary cap and special teams considerations are added to the equation, but it is time for our final prediction of the Dolphins’ 53-man roster.
As always, let me know in the comments where you disagree with my prediction. Who do you think I left off the roster that is going to make it, and who would you remove?
Changes: None. Reid Sinnett looked really sharp in the Bengals game and Miami could be looking to put him back on the practice squad and give him another year of development before he could be the primary backup in 2022.
Running backs (4)
Changes: None. Doaks was on last week’s roster prediction, with the note that he or Patrick Laird could claim the final running back spot with a strong performance on Sunday. Doaks had that performance and should have slammed the door on making the roster. Laird could be practice squad bound if he clears waivers.
Tight ends (5)
Changes: Cethan Carter added; Cethan Carter still feels like an immediate injured reserve candidate, but he has to make the 53-man roster first. Chris Myarick is probably practice squad bound.
Wide receivers (7)
Note: Will Fuller V is on the roster, but starts the year suspended for the first game.
Changes: Lynn Bowden, Jr., off (IR), Merritt on; Bowden landing on injured reserve freed up a roster spot. The Dolphins could risk Merritt to create an additional spot for a player who is going to be placed on IR, but it would be risky. I will take a guess that, should be pass waivers, Malcolm Perry will end up back on the roster once the team places Cethan Carter on injured reserve. He provides versatility that the team loves. He probably did not have a place if Bowden was on the roster, but the team could look to have Perry fill the spot Bowden vacated. At worst, Perry lands on the practice squad. When Fuller comes back for Week 2, Williams or Merritt could be the player who loses his roster spot. And Isaiah Ford, despite being released last week, will play into this somehow because he always factors into the Dolphins roster/practice squad somehow.
Offensive linemen (9)
Changes: Matt Skura, Larnel Coleman off, Greg Mancz, Adam Pankey on; The bottom part of the offensive line position group is a perfect place for some churning. Typically you are not going to spend any draft capital on a player, then immediately cut him, so Mancz, for whom Miami swapped late-round picks with the Baltimore Ravens last week, makes the roster. Pankey’s position is not a locked spot, so he could be on the wrong side of the cut line. Skura gets cut with the addition of Mancz, but it would not be a surprise to see him re-signed after Week 1, when his salary is not fully guaranteed for the year. Coleman lands on the practice squad as the rookie continues to develop.
Defensive linemen (5)
Changes: None; Jason Strowbridge and Jonathan Ledbetter continue to be practice squad targets. John Jenkins could factor into this group as well.
Andrew Van Ginkel
Changes: Vince Biegel off (IR); Duke Riley on; The Dolphins placing Biegel on IR last week was a surprise, as it seemed they would wait for the 53-man roster, so they could place him on IR with the ability to activate him later in the season. Instead, barring an injury settlement, they ended his season. The open roster spot goes to Riley, who has been solid this summer and was someone on the bubble, though Miami could look to not sign Riley until Week 2, keeping his salary from being guaranteed for the year. In that case, Miami could try to keep someone on the roster after initial cuts so he is not subject to waivers in the immediate rush for claims, or use the roster spot for a player headed to IR.
Changes: Moved Jason McCourty and Jamal Perry to safety; This position seems thin when you move McCourty and Perry to safety, where they have been playing more in camp and the preseason, but those two are depth options and will rotate up to play cornerback. Trill Williams will be a practice squad target.
Changes: McCourty and Perry moved from cornerback; Clayton Fejedelem off. Fejedelem is a practice squad target.
Long Snapper (1)