The Miami Dolphins tried to trade Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas before they cut them earlier this week, and obviously no one was interested enough in the offensive linemen as to offer anything for them.
And that’s where the Dolphins find themselves this already disappointing 1-4 season: They have a lot of players other teams don’t want. The Dolphins, frankly, have a significant number of players they don’t want.
The roster Mike Tannenbaum, Chris Grier and Adam Gase put together with almost 100 percent agreement from all the parties involved, was built to be rather easily rebuilt.
And that’s just what is going to happen if an already derailed season becomes a full-on train wreck.
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Think of this: Seven of the 10 players carrying the highest salary-cap value on the team this season might be gone next season. As many as 12 starters from this team could be out of here once the season ends.
We’re talking names such as Mario Williams, Andre Branch, Koa Misi, Jelani Jenkins, Jermon Bushrod, Arian Foster, Byron Maxwell, Jordan Cameron, Jason Jones, Kenny Stills, Branden Albert and yes, perhaps and even Ryan Tannehill
All these players should be on notice they could be considered more renters than buyers in the Dolphins’ future.
Most of them must improve significantly over their current performance to avoid being shown the door — regardless of their contract status for 2017.
Well, all were signed (hired) to do a job. And most of the folks on this list aren’t getting that job done.
Williams and Maxwell, the team’s biggest-name additions of the 2016 offseason, are the personification of what is about to happen.
Williams was brought to Miami to redeem himself. He came after being cut by the Buffalo Bills for not fitting in and not playing up to his salary. He came to the Dolphins with what everyone said was a new attitude and new inspiration.
But through the first five games, in 263 snaps, Williams has five solo tackles. He came to the Dolphins averaging 9.6 sacks in his 10 NFL seasons, but has one sack for Miami and none in the past four games.
That’s not the worst of it. Williams apparently isn’t playing hard enough, which might not be an NFL career killer but already has his Dolphins career on life support.
“He’s got to play better. He’s got to play harder. He got to play better,” defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. “He has to play faster and more consistently.”
Williams, signed through 2017, is guaranteed $3.5 million of his $8.485 million salary if he’s on the roster the fifth day of the ’17 league year. At his current level of play he will not be on the Miami roster that day.
Maxwell is all but certain to be cut at the end of the season, assuming he lasts that long. He has been benched. He has been called out by Joseph publicly. And privately, team personnel doesn’t understand his unwillingness to tackle and play smarter.
The Dolphins will save $5.5 million in 2017 cap space by cutting Maxwell, although they will be on the hook for $3 million in guaranteed base salary they must pay regardless of whether he’s on the team.
But with Maxwell playing uninspired ball four games and being benched a fifth this season, the $3 million will be considered a cost of doing business.
Foster? He signed a one-year deal. He has missed three of five games. The Dolphins are not going to be offering him another contract at the end of the season.
Cameron? He’s in the final year of a two-year deal that has yielded little return. Aside from the fact he hasn’t produced, he has also sustained his fourth concussion in four years.
Cameron is playing his final season in Miami.
Same with Bushrod. He is the starting right guard and a positive locker room presence. Coaches like him and appreciate his professionalism.
But Bushrod has declined. He played left tackle his entire career until he came to the Dolphins. Miami has him at guard because he can no longer play tackle. The Dolphins will be shopping for his replacement next offseason.
Jenkins and Stills are young players in the final year of their rookie deals. The issue with Jenkins is he’s often injured. He hasn’t played a full season since his rookie year in 2012 and he has already missed two games this season.
The Dolphins want to upgrade to a bigger-bodied weak-side linebacker who can be more durable and, yes, make more plays.
Stills is a Gase favorite. The coach has noticed times when the offense loses some of its fire in practice if Stills is not on the field.
But Stills simply is not producing. He has nine catches in five games for 205 yards.
The Dolphins were not certain before the season if they would want to pay Stills significant money. At his current production, the Dolphins are definitely not going to pay Stills significant money.
The stories with Albert and Tannehill are more complicated.
Albert is a fine player and worth keeping, but he might have to move to guard if the team decides Laremy Tunsil is its future left tackle. Will Albert agree to that?
Tannehill already carries an $11.6 million cap hit this year and that almost doubles to $20.3 million next year. Except the Dolphins can save as much as $14.5 million of that if they break from the quarterback before the fifth day of the ’17 league year.
The Dolphins likely will keep Tannehill and Albert as neither has frustrated the organization to the heights others have and both still have upside. But if they don’t respond the remainder of this season their futures with Miami are just like everyone else’s in the locker room — uncertain.
That’s how it is on a roster seemingly constructed with demolishing it in mind.