By: Jorge Hinojosa
Look, the Dolphins are in the midst of a playoff hunt, at 6-4 in year 2 of the rebuild and just snapped a 5-game winning streak that saw them go 3-0 v the NFC West, arguably the best division in football in that span. But now, after a cross-country defeat at the hands of the Denver Broncs the sky seems to be crashing down on the Dolphins. If you are looking for a doom and gloom outlook and for me to tell you these are the same ole’ Dolphins, then stop reading, that’s not what you’re getting from me today.
No, today I’m here to tell you why everything is okay right now, how everything this season will be fine and how the Dolphins are on the right path to be not only good, but very good next year and in the years to come.
Now, I want to make it very clear I do not attempt nor do I want to take away from what is being a great season and I do believe they’ll make a hell of a push for the playoffs and might get there, but this column is focused on the future. On the 2021 off-season, 2021 season and the ensuing years that are shaping up to be great for this franchise.
First of all, let’s identify the things the Dolphins have going for them:
Now, let me live out my dream-job fantasy and assume I get a call from Chris Grier informing me he is going off on a sabbatical to track the migrating patterns of the rare Böhms bee-eater (a small and lovely bird that is endemic to Sub-Saharan Africa but I digress). Mr. Grier calls me and asks me to take over the Dolphins Front office during the 2021 off-season: Free agency and Draft are now my responsibility. Well what do I do? Let’s look at who might leave the team next year (i.e. players on last year of their contracts):
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Matt Breida, WR Mack Hollins, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, C Ted Karras, T Julien Davenport, DT Davon Godchaux, OLB Vince Biegel, P Matt Haack, LB Elandon Roberts, T Adam Pankey, LB Calvin Munson, CB Jamal Perry, CB Nik Needham, S Kavon Frazier, RB DeAndre Washington and RB Salvon Ahmed.
Wow that’s a lot of names, see the team is going to have so many holes next year, right? No. From those let me tell you who I would absolutely sign back, who I would sign back for the right price, who I would sign back if it’s a team friendly contract and who I would let walk:
Sign back no matter what:
Want back at the right price:
Who I’m letting walk:
Now that we have settled who’s coming back let’s talk about what we need and what we want:
Needs: WR and RB.
Wants: LB, NT, OL, backup QB and some additional depth at DE and Safety.
Now, let’ see how many of those holes I can fill-in with free agency.
My number one priority is giving ourselves as much flexibility come draft time as possible and not having to reach out of a desperate need to fill a hole.
So without further ado here are my targets by position in free agency:
WR: Cordarrelle Patterson, Juju Smith-Schuster, Allen Robinson and John Ross. I would need to sign at least one, but two would be ideal.
RB: Phillip Lindsay, Malcolm Brown James White, Mike Davis. Mike Davis and Lindsay coming in as relief? What a great 1-2, something that the Dolphins have missed terribly this season.
LB: Matt Milano, Lavonte David or Mark Barron. Honestly not great depth at the position which make signing one of them key for me. They fill different roles, yes, but either would help solidify an already strong unit.
NT: No one really, that I’m crazy about in Free agency.
OL: Evan Boehm (only if Karras is not resigned).
S: Justin Simmons. Hard to get, and will probably be too expensive, but would check it out and if it doesn’t break the bank then I might consider it, it would allow Flores to use more of a 3-safety set.
Now for the draft, I used a mock draft tool from a free website and this is what I got for the Dolphins. This was done with the assumption that the Dolphins had already signed from the list above, at least 1 WR, 1 RB, 1 LB. I also takes into consideration that Fitzpatrick stayed with the team, as well as Karras and Biegel.
So with this draft Miami would get in the top 3 rounds:
1st (9) Jaylen Waddle, WR (17) Creed Humphrey, C
2nd (40) Alex Leatherwood, OT (53) Rakeem Boyd, RB
3rd (80) Tyler Shelvin, NT
So, let’s look at what that potential 2021 starting lineup would look like, shall we:
RB: Mike Davis, Rakeem Boyd
FB: Chandler Cox
WR: Juju, Devante Parker, Waddle, Albert Wilson, Grant, Preston Williams
Edge: Lawson Biegel/AVG
LB: Van Noy
Now look at that and tell me ti doesn’t seem exciting. This is just one possibility with the resources and talent this team already has! Yes losing sucks, but the sky is not falling. I have also seen several people ask for the head of Chan Gailey. Now, I’ve been critical and praising of Gaily at different times this season but here is the thing: He might not excite you with the play calling but he is a great teacher and is going to be fundamental for Tua to learn from him the fundamentals. I also don’t believe he was ever appointed as a long-term option but as a bridge OC and I for one, trust Flores to make the right call, after all look at what Boyer has done with that defense!
Dolfans, the team is 6-4 a year after being 2-9. Great strides were made this year but no one expected us to be a top-10 team this year and yet they are on the brink. Let’s trust the process, let’s enjoy the grind, let’s cheer for them every week knowing that the future is bright for our franchise.
Please welcome Jorge Hinojosa to the PhinManiacs team! Please follow him on Twitter @FranciscoHinoPe