This is retooling, for sure.
But it is not a rebuild.
By moving on from arguably their two best players in the span of a week, some have wondered if the Dolphins are just hitting the reset button.
They, we hear, are most certainly not.
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If the Dolphins were tearing it all down like Chip and Joanna, why trade for Robert Quinn, taking on a contract that will pay him $11.4 million this year?
Yes, the Dolphins have shed a ton of salary in recent days — more than $38 million this year alone between Ndamukong Suh, Jarvis Landry and Lawrence Timmons.
And more is coming, in the form of Julius Thomas and, as Armando Salguero points out, perhaps Ja’Wuan James, too.
But just because big-name players are heading out the door, a smart observer would withhold judgment until the full offseason picture comes into focus.
The Dolphins will have the money they need to target the free agents they want (and we do not expect them to spend on the sexiest names, but rather on smart, tough players who are good leaders). They will have $17 million in additional cap space come June, which can be carried over if not used. And they will have a much healthier financial situation in the years to come.
Suh was a very good, productive player for the Dolphins. He made the Pro Bowl in 2016 and should have gone in his other two seasons here. But is he a $19 million a year player?
The market will dictate that in the days to come, but here are a few reasons to doubt he is:
▪ 1. You can count on two, if not one, hands how many game-changing plays he made as a member of the Dolphins. This is the most important point. He was paid $60 million over the past three years for 15 1/2 sacks and zero touchdowns.
▪ 2. He jumped offsides. A lot. Teams accepted 14 penalties committed by Suh in 2015, and seven in each of the past two years.
▪ 3. Should your highest paid player be a leader? Suh, while he tried to improve in that department, just does not have that makeup naturally.
The Dolphins brought in Suh three years ago to fix their defense. He could not, so instead they will use the money that would have gone to him to build a deeper roster.
A final thought: Yes Landry, and to a lesser extent Suh, were stars in this market. Fans gravitated to them. They sold jerseys.
But last year, the Dolphins went 6-10 and were below average on offense and average, at best, on defense. Suh and Landry, as Miami’s top players, share some blame for that.
The Dolphins were not good when they combined to account for $20 million of their salary cap.
So how good of a team would the Dolphins be with Landry and Suh in 2018, when they were set to count more than twice that amount?