It’s the final game of the 2014 season today against the New York Jets and as soon as tomorrow, the entire team, including coaching staff, will be evaluated heading into the 2015 season. For several playyers on the Miami Dolphins, this may mean that today is their last game in a Dolphins uniform.
“That’s the reality. I think the guys that have been in the National Football League, be it players or coaches, understands that transition happens every single year, some more than others,” Joe Philbin said. “I told you guys the other day, it’s difficult. It’s hard because you spend an awful lot of time. You build strong relationships. At times, for a variety of reasons, those relationships, at least the closeness of them and the proximity from a physical standpoint, ends.”
One player who will be heavily scrutinized this offseason by the front office and coaching staff is kicker Caleb Sturgis. For a fifth round draft pick in 2013, he has been nothing spectacular and calling him average may be putting it nicely. Nonetheless, Philbin wasn’t committing either way about his future on the team.
“Just continued develop is the real goal for every player in the program. He’s no different in that regard. I think he’s done some really good things. Our expectation is when our kicker takes the field that he’s going to make every single one of them. We want him to have that standard and that type of expectation for himself. He’s a hard-working kid, and he’s dedicated to his craft. He would be just like any other player who is a guy entering his third year. We want to see continued improvement and development, (and) more importantly do a great job on Sunday.”
Jimmy Wilson is another player who will be evaluated. His contract expires at the end of the 2014 season and the Dolphins may be interested in bringing him back, based on his versatility and flexibility to move around throughout the entire secondary.
“He’s real versatile. To his credit, he’s an intelligent, aware football player. He understands the game,” Philbin said. “Like you just mentioned, you can put him in a lot of spots and that’s really important in terms of your roster. He certainly has contributed throughout my tenure here at the nickel position quite a bit and played well. He played a lot at safety this year as has done a nice job as well. He’s been a good performer on special teams. He’s done a lot of different things. That’s certainly a benefit for the team.”
But perhaps, the biggest player that will be looked at is Brian Hartline, who hasn’t had much of a productive year in terms of stats. This year, he’s only accumulated 380 yards on 34 receptions with 2 touchdowns. With his salary set at $7.35 million, he will either need to take a pay cut or will most likely be sent off to the open market, although if you listened to Philbin, it would seem that Hartline was one of the stars of the offense.
“I haven’t really sat down and studied every single target of Brian’s this year at this point in time. Certainly, there will be a time and place for that. He’s made a very good contribution to the team. I think he’s had a good year. He works extremely hard every single day. He works hard every time he gets to the game field. I think he’s contributed nicely.”
It will be an interesting offseason to say the least for the Dolphins. With general manager Dennis Hickey fully settled in, it’s possible we see a different approach to 2015 than we did for 2014. Instead of numerous one-year deals, we may see more long-term deals with established veterans. Only time will tell though how things shake out.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManics