More than a few Dolphins players privately admit that they have grown either unhappy with or confused by the team’s general direction over the past month.
Their growing frustration bubbled over when well-liked veterans Chad Johnson and Vontae Davis were shown the door.
Good news for any locker room malcontents: You might soon get your own change of scenery.
With final cut-downs due Friday and the team open to a trade, the Dolphins’ roster will likely look markedly different on opening day than what that takes the field in the team’s preseason finale Wednesday at Dallas (8:30 p.m., CBS).
Of the 53 players who will make up Miami’s Week 1 roster, a league source estimates as many as 10 are currently free agents or the property of another franchise. That means nearly 20 percent of the team could be brand new come Monday.
“Nobody’s job is safe at all,” Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll said.
Added tight end Charles Clay: “You have to have that mentality, especially with a whole new coaching staff. Everybody’s auditioning.”
A good many, it seems, are botching that tryout.
The Dolphins have been largely not competitive in the team’s first three exhibition games — all losses. First-year coach Joe Philbin and his staff are particularly unhappy with the bottom fifth of the projected roster, sources said.
It’s no secret which positions are the biggest underachievers: the Dolphins receivers, tight ends and certain offensive linemen.
One source familiar with the franchise’s decision-making expects to see some “crazy things” transpire the next few weeks.
With rookie Ryan Tannehill locked in as their starting quarterback — he’s expected to play some, but not a ton Wednesday night — the Dolphins are desperate to get him some help. They enter Wednesday with 10 receivers on the roster, but aside from Davone Bess and maybe Brian Hartline (if he can get healthy), the rest might be just one bad drop away from unemployment.
The team will most certainly address the receiver position in some way over the next few days, with the waiver-wire addition the most likely route. Several notable veterans — including offensive weapons Jabar Gaffney, Donte’ Stallworth and Chris Cooley — already have been cut, with more sure to shake free.
League sources expect the team’s Davie training complex to be a revolving door for tryouts this weekend.
Furthermore, general manager Jeff Ireland told The Miami Herald this week that he made the Davis trade, at least in part, to give the organization more ammunition to trade for a dependable pass-catcher.
Receiver-rich Green Bay is the most logical place to look, given Philbin’s ties to the club; backup James Jones’ name has surfaced most often.
And despite management’s insistence that this is no rebuilding year, independent observers agree that this team is looking to the future.
No doubt, that doesn’t sit well with veterans who are tired of losing and are closer to the end of their careers than the beginning. Still, Philbin appears undeterred. Even with Ireland presumably on the hot seat after three disappointing seasons, Philbin has been given the latitude to ship off anyone not on board with his no-nonsense approach.
“I think you have to have any idea for what you’re looking for in terms of a vision for the team,” he said.
“You know there are some guys that aren’t going to fit. That doesn’t mean they’re bad guys or they’re not good players. But when you’ve been doing it for a while, you get a sense of the people that you feel like you can work with, you can connect with, guys you can help reach their potential.”
Those Philbin believes he can’t reach — such as Johnson, Davis or Brandon Marshall — already have been given or will soon get their walking papers.
And for players such as Carroll, Clay and receiver Roberto Wallace, all they can do between now and Friday’s cuts is produce — and hope they fit in the team’s long-term plans.
“If I can go out there and dominate [Wednesday],” said Wallace, an inconsistent player firmly on the bubble, “there’s no question I can lock down a job.”
A fourth consecutive loss Wednesday would be discouraging, but not fatal, as 21 teams have gone winless during the preseason in the past decade. but in the regular season that followed, those clubs were a combined 159-177 — an average of 7.6 wins per season.