It was late February, and the Dolphins were just back from the NFL Scouting Combine.
The organization knew its roster had several holes. And the Dolphins knew they couldn’t compete financially with some of the league’s most cap space-flush teams in free agency.
So they thought differently. The result: a trade for Philadelphia’s Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell.
Now, this wasn’t some knee-jerk panic move.
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The now-polarizing trade with the Eagles was the result of extensive conversations with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, team CEO Tom Garfinkel, and of course general manager Chris Grier and coach Adam Gase.
“We started kicking around,” said Dolphins football czar Mike Tannenbaum. “... We had a lot of discussion about it. In a cap system, you only have finite resources. So to trade back and get two guys we’re projecting as starters -- and it’s reasonable to think we’ll get a starter at 13 if we stay there -- to get three starters in one trade we just all felt like, ‘Hey, we’re not one player away.’ This is an efficient use of cap resources, of capped resources and just felt like it was in our best interest.”
Gase went a step farther. He all but promised that whomever the Dolphins take with the 13 will start for the team this year. Ross, meanwhile, endorsed the deal Tuesday, calling it “a good move.”
Neither player the Dolphins acquired is without question marks, both in health and performance. But the Dolphins believe that both Alonso and Maxwell will return to their previous high levels because of better scheme fits and the team’s robust sports science department.
When asked if Maxwell is a No. 1 corner, Gase responded: “I’m not looking to label anybody as a No. 1 or No. 2. I’m looking for guys that are going to play well. I feel like Byron is going to fit well into what we’re going to do on defense. He’ll be able to do more of what he has done in the past where he had success.”
As for Alonso, who has battled knee injuries in each of the past two seasons, Gase said: “We see a guy that runs well, that he hits, he strikes. He’s going to fit into what we do really well. Him being back in a 4-3 defense, that probably suits him a little bit better. We’re really excited to get this guy going and getting him in our program. Having that kind of speed at linebacker is really going to be helpful for us.”