So far the Miami Dolphins have had a thoughtful and intelligent off-season. Pretty much uncharted territory given the team’s history over the last 20 years. We don’t know whether this is the influence of Adam Gase, Mike Tannenbaum, or GM Chris Grier, or some combination therein.
The major move was a trade which sent LT Branden Albert to Jacksonville in return for TE Julius Thomas. Albert’s good when he’s healthy, but that’s been somewhat seldom recently. Thomas was a high-priced bust for the Jags, but the reason he got the big free agent bucks were the two Pro Bowl years he enjoyed in Denver with Adam Gase as his Offensive Coordinator.
Obviously this means bong-meister Laremy Tunsil. who looks like the steal of last year’s Draft, will be moving over to Left Tackle, his natural position, and will hopefully anchor that key position for many years to come.
Heading into free agency the Fins said their main objective was to retain the talent which they already had on the roster, helped them get to the Playoffs last Season.
To further this they re-signed WR Kenny Stills, coming off the best year of his career. The experts had him signing for big bucks elsewhere, so this is encouraging the Fins were able to retain his services. They also re-structured the deal for S Reshad Jones, gave DE Andre Branch a 3-year extension and assigned a Restricted FA tag to LB Kiko Alonso.
In addition, Miami did not break the bank signing high priced Free Agents. They did bring in Safety Nate Allen, who underachieved in Oakland, signed LB Lawrence Timmons from the Steelers, Interior Lineman Ted Larsen from Chicago, and brought back blocking TE Anthony Fasano.
This is all well and good so far, but no matter how much things change…
We can’t blame the Fins for parting ways with Branden Albert. Apparently they didn’t feel they were getting a very good return on the large salary they were paying him. The question now is whether the team is going to do anything to replace him. So far they have only signed one journeyman O-Lineman (the aforementioned Ted Larsen from Chicago) in addition to re-upping Jermon Bushrod, who was rated one of the worst Guards in the League last Season.
When Miami’s starting line was intact last year RB Jay Ajayi ran for consecutive 200 yard games. Then C Mike Pouncey went out. Branden Albert was in and out. Miami’s run game suffered when the team starting shuffling and plugging 2nd stringers into the mix. It was obvious to anyone with a brain the Fins need a little more depth on their Offensive Line.
This has been a recurring theme over the last several Seasons, and the Dolphin Front Office has seemed relatively oblivious. Last year they brought in a couple journeymen, but when they got to the Draft they only selected ONE Offensive Lineman. Laremy Tunsil. That was it. They traded away a lot of later round picks to get WRs Leonte Carroo and Jakeem Grant, when Receiver was the one position on the roster where the team seemed stocked.
As a result, in spite of the low-key and relatively intelligent off-Season we have seen so far we still have lingering doubts about the Miami Front Office. Heading into the Draft the team needs Offensive Line, Linebackers and Defensive Secondary. Hopefully they will address these needs seriously – i.e. draft more than one guy at each position before they start trading away a lot of later round picks for more Wide Receivers.