Projected Lineups: Miami Dolphins
Facing a challenging offseason by anyone's standards, the Miami Dolphins get an overview of their starters heading into 2014 by Nathan Jahnke
Projected Lineups: Miami Dolphins
Last offseason the Dolphins went on a spending spree bringing in a few big name free agents like Mike Wallace, Phillip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe. The new players along with a strong sophomore season from Ryan Tannehill helped lead Miami to be a competitive team in an up-and-down season with a disappointing finish.
While there are certainly needs on the roster, they are in position to spend even more money this free agency to again make a playoff run. If they can get more of an impact from their spending this year and have their 2013 rookie class step up, Miami could be a team to watch in 2013.
Here’s where they stand with their unrestricted free agents removed from the lineup:
– Player markers are colored per class on a five-step ‘Poor’ to ‘High Quality’ scale based on their overall performance and the league’s elite are marked separately in blue.
– Colored outlines suggest a potential change in class.
– Underlined players will be 30+ years old for the 2014 season.
– Red player names suggest injury risks.
– Click on the image to enlarge.
– Of the eight players that are either poor starters or unknown, four were players drafted within the first four rounds of the 2013 draft. All eight are at positions where a starter is a free agent and in most cases where a top backup at the position is also a free agent.
– If you wanted to judge a team just on their elite and quality starters, than you would consider the Dolphins one of the worst teams in the league. There are only four teams with one or fewer elite/quality starters with Cameron Wake being the only one in Miami.
– While the question marks going forward on the offensive line have been more public, there are just as many question marks in the secondary for 2014. Three of the four players with the most snaps in 2013 are free agents. While the team has been preparing for it, I’m sure the Dolphins want to re-sign quality players like Brent Grimes and Chris Clemons.
– In the past a big strength has been defensive tackle, but both Randy Starks and Paul Soliai are free agents and will be on the wrong side of 30 by the time next season begins. Even if one of these players is re-signed, the Dolphins will need to address the position as they currently lack depth behind Jared Odrick.
2014 Cap Situation
Per overthecap.com, the Dolphins are sitting at just over $32 million in cap space which is the fifth most in the league. Miami has just one player who has a cap hit over $8 million next year and only six with a cap hit above $4 million that will definitely not be cap casualties. That should be enough for Miami to re-sign a few of their quality defensive players as well as acquire a little help on the offensive line.
While the Dolphins have a lot of spending money, they have a few opportunities to create more cap space if they would like. One cut they could make is cornerback Dimitri Patterson. While he played well when healthy, the Dolphins would save $5.4 million by releasing him. Another move could be releasing backup quarterback Matt Moore. While there are few backup quarterbacks as good as Moore, there are also few backup quarterbacks who get paid as much as Moore. Finally if Miami was desperate, they would save over $2 million by cutting punter Brandon Fields.
Opportunities from the Roster
While we show our best guess at the Dolphins offensive line, chances are it will go through a lot of changes between now and September. The player who didn’t receive much time last year that is likely to make a jump is Dallas Thomas. The 77th overall pick of the 2013 draft saw only two offensive snaps during the 2013 season. Even if the Dolphins are able to bring in two or three new offensive linemen, Thomas should get a chance to start at either tackle or guard.
A lot could also happen at cornerback with Brent Grimes and Nolan Carroll as free agents, Dimitri Patterson possibly being a cap casualty and Jimmy Wilson possibly playing safety rather than slot cornerback. No matter how things shape out, we should see more than a combined 110 snaps from 2013 rookies Will Davis and Jamar Taylor. They might have to compete against each other for playing time.
Projected lineups by team:
Follow Nathan on Twitter: @PFF_NateJahnke