Offseason In Review: Miami Dolphins

The post-Ryan Tannehill era in Miami has seen the Dolphins go 24-25 through three seasons. The organization is looking to take that one final step of their rebuild and return to the playoffs in 2022, and their offseason moves indicate that they’re serious about that goal. They have a new coach in Mike McDaniel leading the way, and they made a number of moves (including acquiring wideout Tyreek Hill and offensive tackle Terron Armstead) to put QB Tua Tagovailoa in a position to succeed (despite their continual flirtation with other quarterback options).

The Dolphins distracted a bit from their successful offseason following the fallout from the organization’s tampering investigation, leading to the suspension of owner Stephen Ross. With those distractions now behind them, the team can focus on the upcoming campaign, and the front office is clearing banking on their offseason moves guiding them back to the postseason:


  • Acquired WR Tyreek Hill from Chiefs for 2022 first-round pick, 2022 second-round pick, 2022 fourth-round pick, 2023 fourth-round pick, and 2023 sixth-round pick
  • Traded WR DeVante Parker and 2022 fifth-round pick to Patriots for 2023 third-round pick

The Dolphins made one of the biggest splashes of the offseason, winning the Tyreek Hill sweepstakes. Miami had to pay up to acquire the Chiefs Pro Bowl receiver, both in draft capital and in literal dollars. The organization gave up basically a year’s worth of draft picks to acquire Hill, and they later signed him to a four-year, $120MM megadeal with $72.2MM guaranteed. Sure, there’s question marks surrounding Tua Tagovailoa‘s ability to guide a top-end offense, but the acquisition of Hill gives the QB one of the deepest WR corps in the NFL, with the 28-year-old wideout joining a depth chart that also features Jaylen Waddle and Cedrick Wilson. Considering that depth and the obvious downgrade from Patrick Mahomes, it’s tough to see Hill reaching the career-high 111 receptions or 159 targets he saw in Kansas City last year. Still, there’s no denying his talent, and Hill provides a huge upgrade to an offense that’s hoping to take a step forward in 2022.

The Hill trade ultimately cost one of the Dolphins’ longest-tenured players their job. DeVante Parker spent seven seasons in Miami, but the former first-round pick only had one standout season during his stint with the Dolphins (2019, when he finished with 72 receptions, 1,202 yards, and nine touchdowns). Of course, Parker’s lack of production was reflected in the team’s trade haul, as the Dolphins only managed to upgrade a 2022 fifth-round pick to a 2023 third-round pick. There’s a world where the team could have rostered all of Parker, Hill, and Waddle, but the offseason signing of Wilson would have downgraded Parker to a fourth WR at best. The Fins ultimately decided to hand that role to a younger player and acquire an asset for their former top wideout.

Notable signings:

The Dolphins made a big trade to add to their offense, but the team was also active adding receivers and running backs in free agency. Former Cowboys wideout Cedrick Wilson is the most notable of the bunch, especially after the 26-year-old set career-highs across the board in 2021 (45 receptions, 602 yards, six touchdowns). The Dolphins clearly believe he’ll be an important part of the offense, as the front office gave him close to $13MM in guaranteed money. The acquisition of Hill probably means Wilson will be on the second-tier of receiving options in Miami, but that’s probably an ideal role for him, anyway.

The Dolphins also completely revamped their RB depth chart. Chase Edmonds‘ combination of age and recent role probably makes him the favorite to see a consistent role out of the backfield. While James Conner led the Cardinals in carries last season, Edmonds still saw a career-high 116 rushes for 592 yards. Plus, Edmonds has already shown to be a high-end receiving back, having averaged 48 receptions over the past two seasons. Mostert could be Edmonds’ biggest threat to steal rushing work between the 20s, especially considering his experience in Mike McDaniel‘s system. Mostert was limited to only one game last season and eight games the season before, but if he’s able to stay healthy, he’ll undoubtedly have a role. The addition of Alec Ingold probably hints that Miami will run their RBs similarly to how McDaniel operated in San Fransisco; while the free agent acquisition didn’t threaten Kyle Juszczyk‘s place atop the fullback salary hierarchy, the Dolphins were still willing to commit a chunk of money to an often-overlooked position.

The Dolphins’ biggest free agent splash came on the offensive line, as the team committed a whopping $43MM to offensive tackle Terron Armstead. The Dolphins were in dire need of offensive line help; Pro Football Focus ranked the team’s offensive line 32nd in 2021. The three-time Pro Bowler will help in that regard after finishing as one of PFF’s top-10 tackles each season between 2018 and 2020 (including a first-place ranking in 2018). There are a handful of risks, of course. Armstead has missed a game in each of his nine NFL seasons, including nine games missed in 2021 thanks to elbow and knee issues. Still, whenever Armstead does take the field, he will help provide a consistent, veteran presence to an uncertain OL. Connor Williams is another notable add on the offensive line, as the former second-round pick started 51 games for the Cowboys over the past four years. The lineman ranked as PFF’s 10th-best offensive guard in 2021, although he drew 15 flags and found himself in and out of the lineup.

Teddy Bridgewater was brought in to help provide some continuity to the offense if Tua Tagovailoa is forced to miss any time. The eight-year veteran held off Drew Lock to be Denver’s starter last season and had the team at 7-6 before suffering his second concussion of the year. Entering his age-30 season, he’s an elite backup QB, and while the Dolphins have made it clear that they’re all-in on Tua, there’s a world where Teddy could crack the starting lineup if his teammate struggles.

Defensively, the Dolphins added some intriguing depth to their defensive line and secondary. Melvin Ingram was a pass-rushing monster during his time with the Chargers, and he was expected to play a similar role opposite T.J. Watt in Pittsburgh during the 2021 campaign. Things didn’t go according to plan, as Ingram saw a reduced role during his stint with the Steelers. He ended up starting only one of his 10 games, collecting only 10 tackles and one sack. He was traded to Kansas City late in the season and matched his Steelers numbers in only six games. He also started three playoff games for the Chiefs, collecting another two sacks. There’s probably a reason why the veteran saw a drastically reduced role in 2021, and the Dolphins will see if they can squeeze something out of him as a linebacker on defensive coordinator Josh Boyer‘s 3-4 defense.

Trey Flowers signed with the Dolphins earlier this week, returning to the AFC East after three years spent with the Lions. He was a full-time starter in Detroit, but injuries marred the final two years of his tenure there. He’ll provide the team with another rotational pass rusher, especially if he can rediscover the pass-rushing skills he showed during his stint with the Patriots.

Keion Crossen profiles as more of a special teams ace, although he did play a role on Houston’s secondary in 2020. Speaking of special teams, the Dolphins brought in veteran punter Thomas Morstead. The long-time Saints punter spent last season split between the Falcons and Jets, with his 47.2 yards per punt being his best mark since the 2016 season.

Notable losses:

The Dolphins mostly added to their squad this season, with the team’s most notable losses having already been replaced by clear upgrades. Offensively, offensive lineman Jesse Davis is the most notable of the bunch after having started 72 games for the Dolphins over the past five seasons. He was mostly made expendable following the signing of Terron Armstead, but Davis didn’t do himself any favors with his performance last season. He graded as one of PFF’s worst offensive tackles (79th among 83 qualifiers), and he surrendered eight sacks in 1,063 snaps. His release saved the Dolphins a chunk of money, and there was no coincidence that the move immediately followed the Tyreek Hill acquisition (and mega extension).

Veteran Allen Hurns and Mack Hollins were not retained. Hurns earned his walking papers after only one season in Miami. He was plenty servicable in 14 games (seven starts), hauling in 32 receptions for 416 yards and two touchdowns. Hollins showed a bit of intrigue during the 2021 season, but he would have been buried on the depth chart following the Dolphins’ offseason moves. The same goes for veteran running back Duke Johnson. The 28-year-old was fine in his five appearances for Miami in 2021, but with Chase Edmonds now in town, there was little chance the pass-catching Johnson would have seen a significant role.

Jacoby Brissett started five games for the Dolphins last offseason, but Teddy Bridgewater is most likely an upgrade. Brissett made out fine for himself; he should be the Browns’ starting quarterback until Deshaun Watson returns from suspension.

Adam Butler got his walking papers in early August following a failed physical. Despite being used mostly as a rotational player, Butler’s 591 snaps in 2021 marked a 100-plus-play increase on his single-season Patriots usage. Although Butler played in all 17 games, his production dipped in Miami, with the defensive tackle finishing with only two sacks and a career-low 17 tackles. Justin Coleman is another former Patriots player who didn’t see a significant role in Miami during the 2021 campaign. The cornerback started four of his 16 games, finishing with 27 tackles and a pair of interceptions.


Emmanuel Ogbah inked a two-year, $15MM deal with the Dolphins in 2020, and he’s more than proved his worth through two seasons in Miami. Ogbah has transformed into an integral part of the defensive unit, collecting nine sacks in each of the past two seasons. The Dolphins surprised some when they decided to use their tag on tight end Mike Gesicki instead of their top pass rusher, but the move made more sense when the front office backed up the Brink’s truck and inked Ogbah to a new four-year, $65MM deal. Ogbah should continue seeing a major role on Miami’s defensive line for the foreseeable future.

Nik Needham has settled into a role in Miami’s secondary, starting 22 of his 45 games while hauling in two interceptions in each of his three NFL seasons. The Dolphins ended up slapping a second-round tender on the former undrafted free agent, and Needham ended up signing the tender to lock him in for the 2022 campaign. Brennan Scarlett and Sam Eguavoen were key special teamers last season, but the duo also got their fair share of defensive snaps. In 2022, the duo could be the primary backups at outside linebacker and inside linebacker, respectively. John Jenkins also profiles as more of a backup, and his long resume probably means he’ll stick on the roster come the start of the season.

Draft picks:

3-102: Channing Tindall, LB (Georgia) (signed)
4-125: Erik Ezukanma, WR (Texas Tech) (signed)
7-224: Cameron Goode, DE (California) (signed)
7-247: Skylar Thompson, QB (Kansas State) (signed)

As part of their 2021 NFL Draft manueverings, the Dolphins left the 2022 draft with only four rookies. It remains to be seen if any of these first-year players will play significant roles for Miami during the upcoming campaign. The team’s top selection, Georgia linebacker Channing Tindall, could find himself with a role if one of the veterans ends up suffering an injury, although the team’s decision to bring back Sam Eguavoen and Brennan Scarlett likely means the rookie will only see a special teams role. The same goes for fourth-round wideout Erik Ezukanma, who has little chance of cracking the top of the depth chart during his rookie season.

Cameron Goode has the versatility to play linebacker and defensive end, which could give him a path to playing time. Assuming he lands on the practice squad and eventually earns a promotion, there’s a good chance the majority of his playing time with come on special teams in 2022. Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater are firmly atop the depth chart, and considering the organization’s trust in both players, it seeded likely that they wouldn’t carry around a third QB. Rookie Skylar Thompson showed flashes of NFL potential during his time at Kansas State, and for the time being, he’ll stick on the 53-man roster.


The biggest news of the Dolphins’ offseason could have been the acquisition of Tyreek Hill, the free agent signing of Terron Armstead, or the hiring of Mike McDaniel as their new head coach. Instead, a bombshell dropped in early August when owner Stephen Ross was suspended and the organization docked two draft picks for their role in a tampering scandal surrounding Tom Brady and Sean Payton.

The investigation found “tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity” as the team pursued the QB and coach, and Ross will have to step away from the team until the end of October. In terms of the on-the-field product, the lost draft picks will have an impact on future variations of this squad. Plus, while the investigation stemmed from Miami’s “impermissible communications” with Brady when he was still on the Patriots, rumors persisted throughout the offseason that the organization was pursuing the future Hall of Famer…this probably give us a hint at Miami’s feelings about their current QB (it’s worth noting that the organization was also included in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes).

Besides the scandal, the Dolphins made some significant changes to their coaching staff. Despite the fact that Miami was coming off arguably their best two-year span since the early 2000s, the Dolphins decided to move on from head coach Brian Flores. The coach sparked another investigation into the organization when he claimed Ross offered him money for losses, and he attributed his firing to his refusal to tank. With Flores now out in Miami (and with Payton no longer a target), the Dolphins hired 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel to be their next head coach. McDaniel made a name for himself as San Francisco’s RBs coach, and he earned a promotion to OC in 2021. McDaniel will likely roll with a similar offensive system to what he ran in San Francisco, and new offensive coordinator (and former Chargers run game coordinator) Frank Smith will be trusted to guide the unit.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins hit Mike Gesicki with the franchise tag. The tight end has taken a step forward during each of his four seasons in the NFL, leading to him setting career-highs in 2021 with 73 receptions and 780 receiving yards. With a revamped offenses that provides Tua Tagovailoa with new targets at wide receiver (Tyreek Hill, Cedrick Wilson) and running back (Chase Edmonds), Gesicki is in line for a lesser role in 2022, and that could explain why the front office has recently shopped him.

The team committed to Xavien Howard by redoing his deal, with the defensive back setting records for most new money gained by a player signing a re-worked contract and the most guaranteed money ever given to a corner. After six seasons in Miami, the three-time Pro Bowler has totalled 27 interceptions and 71 pass deflections, leading the league in each category during an All-Pro 2020 campaign. This move will assure the team’s top defender remains content from a financial perspective for the foreseebale future.

Finally, the Dolphins committed to Christian Wilkins for the 2023 campaign when they picked up the defensvie tackle’s fifth-year option. The 13th-overall pick in the 2019 draft disappointed a bit during his first two seasons in the NFL, but he took a step forward in 2021, finishing with 89 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 13 QB hits in 17 starts.

Top 10 cap charges for 2022:

  1. Emmanuel Ogbah, DE: $11.3MM
  2. Mike Gesicki, TE: $10.9MM
  3. Jerome Baker, LB: $9.7MM
  4. Tua Tagovailoa, QB: $8.2MM
  5. Xavien Howard, CB: $8.2MM
  6. Teddy Bridgewater, QB: $6.5MM
  7. Tyreek Hill, WR: $6.4MM
  8. Jaylen Waddle, WR: $6.1MM
  9. Cedrick Wilson, WR: $5.9MM
  10. Connor Williams, C: $5.6MM

The Dolphins’ off-the-field headlines distracted from front office’s success in improving its on-the-field product. This is a crucial year for Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins organization, but Miami’s offseason moves will put them in a position to be competitive in the AFC. The conference is undoubtedly deeper than it was a year ago, but the Dolphins have their best chance in years to play beyond the regular season.

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