That’s basically it. The remaking and improvement (they believe) of the Miami Dolphins is largely done this offseason.
Barring an unexpected trade or free agent godsend dropping from heaven — as Chad Pennington did years ago — the 2015 Dolphins are pretty much in place.
So are they better?
Is this roster an upgrade over the past two years that ended in 8-8 seasons?
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“We feel like it’s a talented roster,” general manager Dennis Hickey said Saturday after the team’s final pick in the NFL Draft was made. “We’re real excited about the guys we brought back and plus the guys we’ve added.”
Hickey launches into an enthusiastic roll call of Miami’s offseason additions that he obviously believes but won’t say are upgrades over the men he replaced from a year ago.
“You’re talking about the receiver room and all the new playmakers we have,” he said, “whether it be Jordan Cameron, Kenny Stills, the development of Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker.
“All the guys we added [Saturday] and the last several days, we feel like we’re building a quality team. And we’re just anxious for them to get on the field together over the upcoming weeks.
“Every person we talk to, to a man, they’re just chomping at the bit for this 2015 season.”
The Dolphins this offseason completely demolished and then rebuilt most of the moves of the 2013 offseason. Remember the 2013 offseason?
It wasn’t that long ago.
It started with such promise, offering three selections in the draft’s first two rounds, and five picks in the first three rounds. It was an offseason offering nearly $50 million in salary-cap space.
It was supposed to be an offseason that launched future championship runs for the Dolphins.
So much for all that not-too-long-ago optimism.
The Dolphins spent this offseason systematically undoing what they did that offseason.
The linebacker additions of Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler are gone. The receivers signed or re-signed — Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson, Brian Hartline — are gone. And the fateful first-round draft pick that year is on drug suspension and Hickey was trying to trade him before news of that suspension, that third suspension, came from the NFL.
So now the Dolphins are new. Again.
And that’s all that we can really say with conviction. They’re new.
Whether they are, in fact, better will be decided starting in September. Even Hickey could not or would not say categorically why he thinks his receivers are better now than a year ago other than to bring up the idea that this group complements each other better.
“We feel like it’s a talented group that brings a lot of different things to the table, whether it’s Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry,” he said. “We feel like we have a lot of different types of weapons that complement each other well. And a really good quarterback that we’re excited to see on the field all at the same time.”
Look, the Dolphins are confident these receivers will be better than those other receivers. At least they’ll be a better fit.
But the Dolphins were also confident the last set of receivers would be better than the previous set of Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess and others.
The Dolphins are confident Ndamukong Suh, second-round pick Jordan Phillips and Earl Mitchell will be better than Mitchell, Randy Starks and Jared Odrick. But we were told those latter three would be better than Starks, Odrick and Paul Soliai.
This team has ridden the carousel of fixing problems of its own making for years.
Think about it: How many times has the offensive line been constructed, often with high-priced talent and high draft picks, only to be eventually torn down and remade?
How many cornerbacks have the Dolphins gone through — Cortland Finnegan, Dimitri Patterson, Vontae Davis, Sean Smith, Richard Marshall, Jason Allen, Will Allen — without finding a pair they could stick with for a long time?
Converted Michigan State receiver Tony Lippett, drafted in the fifth round, is the latest addition to the 2015 cornerback candidates who will vie for a starting job opposite Brent Grimes. Will Jamar Taylor win that job? Will Davis?
It is unsettled at best, but despite the fuzziness at this and other positions, such as linebacker, the Dolphins go onward to their offseason program with lofty goals.
“Jelling is what the offseason is about,” Hickey said. “That’s the focus of our coaches. That’s the focus of our players. A lot of these guys have been here over the last several weeks working together, and that’s the goal — building that through the OTAs and the minicamps and growing together.
“All with the goal of winning a championship.”