Armando Salguero

How Miami Dolphins defensive end spot stacks up, what that means for Dion Jordan

Miami Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan spent much of the 2016 season rehabbing from knee surgery.
Miami Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan spent much of the 2016 season rehabbing from knee surgery. lriely@miamiherald.com

When this offseason began, the Miami Dolphins recognized they had a problem at the defensive end position.

Cameron Wake, coming off a fine 2016 comeback season, had recently signed a contract extension but he’s 35 now so he’s not exactly the player to count on the next five years.

Terrence Fede and Julius Warmsley were solid prospects but that only means they’re offering possibilities rather than certainty and the Dolphins needed more of a sure thing.

So the Dolphins re-signed Andre Branch, traded with the Los Angeles Rams for Williams Hayes and became reconciled to the fact it must (and almost certainly will) draft a defensive end early in the April NFL draft.

So the 2017 defensive end corps will likely be Wake, Branch, Hayes, the rookie draft pick, and Fede or Warmsley or both.

Who are we missing?

Oh, yes, Dion Jordan.

He is not going to be on the Dolphins when they begin the 2017 regular season. Multiple people are telling me that while the former first-round pick remains on the roster, he is not in the plans.

And the reasons are easy to understand.

First, forget the idea the Dolphins drafted Jordan with the No. 3 overall selection in 2013. Put it out of your mind because that Jordan, 245 pounds, fresh from a career at Oregon where he made plays as both a linebacker and edge rusher, and with a reputation that was filled mostly with grand possibilities, does not exist anymore.

That guy is gone.

The guy the Dolphins currently have is 275 pounds, assuming he’s in shape, which often times he has not been.

The guy the Dolphins currently have has been suspended by the NFL not once but twice after failing multiple tests in the performance enhancing substances and substances of abuse (street drugs) drug programs.

The guy the Dolphins currently have has not played football since 2014.

The guy the Dolphins currently have required at least two knee surgeries between 2015-16 even though he was not playing. How does that happen?

And this: The guy the Dolphins currently have was drafted by another general manager and coach and they’re gone now. And when the new administration last year wiped Jordan’s slate clean, hoping he would rally and begin to make good on his athletic potential, they were generally unimpressed by what they saw.

Jordan did indeed work hard while he spent all of last season on the non-football injury list. He did try his best -- based on what sources think -- in the three weeks of practices he got to show his abilities late last season.

He was legitimately trying to salvage his Dolphins career.

But the guy that once ran step-for-step with Rob Gronkowski 40 yards down the field in a 2013 game and afterward told me “it was easy,” is gone. The guy who was used by the Dolphins to cover Calvin Johnson late in a 2014 game at Detroit -- a defensive end covering Megatron because he’s 6-6 and could ran like a deer -- is gone.

Jordan had no explosion in practice last year. The position techniques that needed polishing so he could compete had actually tarnished. Basically, he didn’t show a lot.

One coach last year compared him to cornerback Chris Culliver,who also was trying to make a comeback. He said neither Jordan nor Culliver could really run.

The Dolphins, by the way, cut Culliver before the season was over.

So Jordan, given a fresh start with a new Dolphins staff and administration, wasn’t the guy on the field everyone hoped.

That wasn’t all. I’ve been told by two people now that Jordan had some sort of “issue” that did not involve football. No one is comfortable going beyond that.

It is not fair to assume the worst. But when a player has been suspended multiple times and hasn’t played a game for a couple of years, and his physique wasn’t exactly a living, breathing statue of David when he returned to the team, any issue -- small as it might be -- is a significant setback.

So Dion Jordan is not in the Dolphins’ longterm plans.

It’s a shame. A team with an urgent need at defensive end has a 27-year-old former first round pick on its roster but it makes a handful of offseason moves to fill the voids and is about to draft another player -- very likely in the first round -- to secure the position.

That says all you need to know about Dion Jordan’s future in Miami.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter @ArmandoSalguero

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