The Miami Dolphins find themselves scrambling to adjust to a season-ending injury yet again, this time it is in relation to defensive back Tony Lippett's (achilles) departure. With Raekwon McMillan's injury already impacting the depth at linebacker, Miami is now forced to find a way to replace Lippett's production at cornerback.
Miami has addressed the injury to McMillan by promoting Mike Hull to starting middle linebacker, as well as signing Florida native Junior Sylvestre to add depth to the position. It is unclear at this point what the Dolphins plan to do to replace Lippett's team-leading four interceptions from last season, but they do have options as the 2017 season quickly approaches.
Assuming that Byron Maxwell, Xavien Howard, and Bobby McCain will all continue with their current roles - let's now look at some of the available routes Miami might take moving forward.
Replacement Options on the Current Roster
Verner appears to have found a home in Miami after failing to live up to his contract in his three-year stint with the Buccaneers. The 28-year-old cornerback is only a few seasons removed from his dominant days with the Titans, where he had five interceptions and 23 passes defensed in 2013. A return to his Pro Bowl form might be wishful thinking, but he certainly has the chops to provide the Dolphins with some quality depth at corner.
The Dolphins selected Tankersley in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft with his future potential in mind, but the rookie's opportunity to produce on the big stage might arrive earlier than expected. The former Clemson defensive back recorded four interceptions in his final season with the Tigers, and his man-to-man skills provide him with a sturdy foundation to continue his ball-hawking ways at the next level. Patience will be key with Tankersley, however, as rookie cornerbacks often face steep learning curves.
Thomas is currently competing for the starting free safety spot, but he has shown the ability to play cornerback in the past. Unlike the two players mentioned above, Thomas has the added benefit of being familiar with the Dolphins organization. The former Stanford standout has started in 20 games for Miami over the last two seasons, and he has proven he can produce in whatever role he is asked to fill.
Potential Trades & Outside Options
According to The New Orleans Advocate's Nick Underhill, the Saints could be looking to trade Breaux before training camp concludes. Breaux's 2016 season was limited to six games due to injury, but he is only one year removed from a stellar 2015 season. After two successful Canadian Football League campaigns, the former LSU defensive back deflected the third-most balls in the NFL in his debut season with the Saints. Sacrificing an asset to acquire Breaux would be a risky move by the Dolphins, but they can reduce some of the risk by offering a conditional draft pick that hinges on performance benchmarks.
Wait for training camp cuts
Every year teams are forced to jettison desirable talent when they trim their rosters before the regular season. It is possible that the injury-depleted Dolphins get lucky and find a quality defensive back within their grasp before the season starts. This appears to be a low-risk approach, but it would force the incoming cornerback to adjust quickly to his new surroundings.
How should the Dolphins address Tony Lippett's season-ending injury?
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Promote from within
Look to add someone new